Paying back the link karma:

Steven Clift is “an online strategist and public speaker” based in Minneapolis (which makes him kinda Canadian, eh?) and is behind a site called — short for Democracies Online Wire — which is a meeting place for resources, info, etc. on what you'd generally call e-democracy.

There's a lot of e-democracy in Canada, of course, and takes notice of that with a special section on the our elections. Check it out — it's a little thin in some areas (how can you not have Garth Turner in your list of “Best Individual Candidate Websites“?) , but relatively fulsome in other areas with some new resources I'm excited to say I had not yet run across. Definitely worth the bookmark.

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Well, that's that then, right?

Just in from the Tory press office:

OTTAWA – Statement by Owen Lippert:

“Since the beginning of the election campaign, I have been employed by the Conservative Party of Canada at Conservative Campaign Headquarters.

“In 2003, I worked in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. I was tasked with – and wrote – a speech for the then Leader of the Opposition. Pressed for time, I was overzealous in copying segments of another world leader’s speech. Neither my superiors in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition nor the Leader of the Opposition was aware that I had done so.

“I apologize to all involved and have resigned my position from the Conservative campaign.”

In GEDS, the government employee directory, Lippert is listed as a senior policy advisor in the office of Bev Oda, the minister for the Canadian International Development Agency.

Irony of ironies: Lippert is the author of a book, which I've not yet read, on “Competitive Strategies for the protection of intellectual property.” Perhaps the Liberals read it?

And here's [an old] bio at The Fraser Institute:
“Owen Lippert holds a Ph.D. in Modern European History from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Following his graduation in 1983, he worked as managing editor for the Asia and World Institute in Taipei, Taiwan. Returning to Canada in 1984, he worked first as a caucus researcher for the Social Credit government and, then as a policy analyst for the Office of the Premier until 1991. He joined the staff of Kim Campbell as press secretary during Campbell's tenure as attorney general of Canada and minister of Justice. In 1993, while an advisor during Campbell's leadership campaign, he taught at Carleton University and the University of British Columbia and he was a senior policy advisor in Industry and Science Canada during Campbell's tenure as Prime Minister. In 1994, Dr. Lippert worked on contract for the Canadian department of Justice before going to work as a senior policy analyst at The Fraser Institute in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 1996, he joined the Editorial Board of The Globe & Mail in Toronto. His specialties are public policy and legal reform.”

Green Party parties on debate night

The Green Party is organizing debate parties in pubs and restaurants across the country for the English language leaders' debate on Thursday night.

The party just published this list of watering holes at which Greens will gather to cheer on their leader:

The Paisley Restaurant, 880 Esquimalt Road
West Vancouver
Taso's Restaurant, 1337 Marine Drive      
The Common House, 402 – 30th Ave NE  
Tony's Pizza Palace, 9605 – 111th Avenue  
Joe Dogs, 345 2nd Ave North 
LUXALUNE Gastropub, 734 Osborne Street
Maverick's Restaurant and Pub, 804 Danforth Avenue 
Beaches-East York
McArthy's Irish Bar, 1801 Gerrard Street
Toronto Centre
The Green Tymez Café, 117 Dundas Street East                    
Campaign Office, 75 Broadway           
The Fox and The Fiddle, Old Quebec Street Mall
Brock Pub, King Street East       
Sir John A Macdonald Pub   , 284 Elgin Street
The Sanctuary Cafe Lounge, 1735 College Ave     
Red Dog Tavern, 189 Hunter Street West
New Glasgow, NS
Elizabeth May Campaign Office, 121 George Street

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Abortion comes to the campaign

You can set your watch to it. With two weeks left in campaigning, the abortion issue has once against surfaced on the Conservative campaign. The issue came up at the same time in 2006 and in 2004.

This morning at a press conference in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was asked why, as a conservative, he would not be in favour of changing Canada's abortion access laws.

Here's his response:
“I've been clear throughout my entire political career. I don't intend to get into the abortion issue. I haven't in the past. I'm not going to in the future. Yes, there will be people in the Conservative Party who wish I would and there are some in the Liberal Party who also wish I would. But I have not done that in my entire political career and I don't intend to start now.
We have a lot of challenges in front of the country … That has to be the focus of government. And I simply have no intention of ever making [abortion] a focus.”

Conservative advisors knew this was coming. It was one of the reasons, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson abruptly announced a few days before the election that the government was co-opting a private member's bill from Edmonton Conservative MP Ken Epp, re-writing it to make sure, as Nicholson explained, that it could be not be interpreted as having any impact on Canada's current abortion access laws.

Epp introduced his bill to essentially make it a special kind of crime to assault a pregnant woman. Those who opposed this measure believed that it was the thin end of the wedge: If the law provides for special crimes and punishments for harming a woman and fetus, then surely the law recognizes the fetus has some kind standing under the law and, presto, you're down the road to banning abortions …

Nicholson said the government agreed that harming a woman who is pregnant should require some additional sanction or punishment but, as he stressed time and again at an August 25 press conference, his bill “leaves no room for the introduction of fetal rights.”

Nicholson may well in fact believe that but the his announcement was also a strategic one, designed by the Conservatives to try to insulate themselves from what they believe were going to be the inevitable charges from the left that they have a hidden agenda to roll back abortion access rights.

“What is on our agenda is being tough on crime and punishing criminals, and what is not on our agenda is re-opening a debate on abortion,” the prime minister's director of communication, Kory Teneycke, said at the time. “That clarity I think is helpful for Canadians, especially as we go into a period where they might be forced to make a choice.”

And, for the record, the Conservative grassroots itself voted in support of resolution in 2005 to not do anything on abortion.

Now Canadians are free to believe politicians when they make these promises but if the sole issue motivating you as you cast your ballot is to prevent abortion access rights from being rolled back, then you should cast your ballot for either an NDP or Bloc Quebecois candidate.

Though no leader likely to be prime minister — neither Harper nor Dion — would introduce any abortion law in the next Parliament, there are MPs on both sides of the House who have in the past and can be expected to again in the future introduce private members bills that address abortion. Liberal Paul Steckle had just such a bill introduced in the House in 2007. He wanted to to make it a criminal offence to have an abortion in the 21st week of pregnancy or later.

And if it did ever come to a vote, NDP and BQ MPs would be “whipped” to vote against any changes. That means NDP and BQ MPs would risk explusion from their caucuses if they voted to change abortion laws. (In late 2005, NDP MP Bev Desjarlais did just that, voting against same-sex marriage laws. She subsequently was stripped of her official critics role and then resigned from the caucus.)

If, on the other hand, you are hopeful of restricting abortion access then you to ask both your local Liberal and Conservative candidates who they would vote. There are a number of sitting MPs from both those parties who would, in fact, vote to restrict abortion access rights.

In fact, so far as we know, it is only MPs from the Liberals and the Conservatives who make up a parliamentary anti-abortion caucus. Many members of this caucus appear each year at a rally held on Parliament Hill to oppose abortion but, we are told, that there are some MPs who prefer to keep their membership in this caucus a secret.

A spokesman for the Liberals calls to say that, if there were a vote on a bill that would restrict a woman's right to choose, then Dion would, like Layton and Duceppe, whip his caucus to vote against such a bill.
And Kory Teneycke, the prime minister's chief spoksman, said that Harper would whip his front bench — i.e. his cabinet — to prevent an abortion bill from becoming law though backbenchers would be free to vote their conscience.

Now what about the Green Party? Leader Elizabeth May was asked – by a nun, no less – about this issue during a byelection she ran in London, Ont. You can review her complete answer here, but she did refer to “a frivolous right to choose” and told her audience that she is against abortion and that she has talked women out of having them. That said, the official line of her party is to preserve abortion access rights as it now stands. May was in the air when I phone the Green Party war room. They expect to have her answer on this issue later today.

UPDATE: Here is the response from the Green war room:
“Ms. May would not vote to erode a woman's right to choose and she  would expect all Green MPs to vote with her on this issue. There would  be serious expectations of solidarity on such a vote, but no tossing  MPs from caucus for voting out of personal conscience.”

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Small-c conservatives look back, sometimes with anger ..

“…there are [those] who cut their political teeth with Harper who say he's abandoned “principled conservatism”, that his government has let spending run out of control and broke his word on fixed election dates – just like the Liberal governments before him.

“There's a real sense of disappointment among the small-c grassroots conservative Reformers that are out there,” said Gerry Nicholls, who worked with Harper at the National Citizens Coalition and is now a columnist and frequent critic of his old boss. “Harper's betrayed the principles that he once stood for.”

These aren't the so-called social conservatives, though they too are disappointed Harper, as prime minister, has not done more to roll back abortion access rights or repeal same-sex marriage laws. These are the philosophical small-c conservatives who wanted a government in Ottawa that would address judicial activism, turn the Senate upside down, introduce free-market principles for health care delivery, but most of all, lower income taxes by slashing government spending. “… [Read the rest]

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Polls, Pollsters and politics

I had a piece in a lot of papers today that reported on the latest results of our Ipsos Reid poll. Ipsos has the Conservatives at 40 per cent and has the Liberals at 23 per cent. (My friend Tonda M. reports on a poll today her paper commissioned that has the Liberals doing even worse: tied with the NDP at 21 per cent)

A grumpy Facebook friend wrote in to say:

“Why isn't anybody doing a story about how wrong the polls were last election, and how seriously flawed they may well be again?”

This complaint comes up a lot and is often followed by accusations from the misinformed that report on polls as a replacement for “old-fashioned reporting.”

Personally, I've written probably 12-15 'old-fashioned' election-related stories over the last two weeks, of which precisely one was a poll story.

Canwest isn't unique: There's a helluva lot of reporting on the issues but at some point we have to rely on an electorate that actually wants to learn about the issues and will seek out reportage on a variety of topics. If all you read are the poll stories and you ignore others, what can the MSM do about that?

Poll stories, it seems to me, are a perfectly legitimate complement to overall election coverage. Political parties have sophisticated overnight polls using large population samples which they would never in a million years share with the public. Why shouldn't media organizations hire pollsters so that we can report on what backrooms of each political organization know but won't tell us?

But back to my grumpy Facebook friend. As I messaged him, in 2006, the pollsters weren't that far off. Nik Nanos, whose firm was then known as SES Research, got it pretty much spot on with a poll that finished its work on Jan. 22, four days before E-Day. But other pollsters were close enough on the main issue, that Stephen Harper was going to win a minority government.

Races to watch: Grudge matches, star turns, and trendsetters

The Ottawa Citizen picks up a piece I put together over the last week in which we wanted to spotlight some of the local races that have a little extra spice in them. We called it Grudge Matches, Trend Setters, or Star Turns. Here's the 20 races the Citizen ran and I've thrown in a few more.

Grudge Matches

1.    Halton (ON) – Garth Turner ran as a Conservative in 2006 and won. He then annoyed the rest of his caucus so much they threw him out. Turner then signed up with the Liberals and will carry their banner this time around. Local Tories were annoyed that head office appointed a candidate – Lisa Raitt – to face off against Turner. But Conservatives will cheer loud and long if they can oust Turner on Oct. 14.
2.    Whitby-Oshawa (ON) – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty should win here but his Liberal opponent is Brent Fullard, who was a key organizer of investors that were furious over Flaherty’s flip-flop on income trusts.
3.    Edmonton-Strathcona – (AB) Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer had a tough fight in 2006 to beat NDP candidate Linda Duncan. Duncan is back for round two in a riding where the NDP holds th provincial seat. Mark everything else in Alberta Tory blue.
4.    Churchill  (MB) Liberal Tina Keeper won this in 2006 partly because the NDP vote was split between NDP candidate Nikki Ashton and Bev Desjarlais, the MP who had been kicked out of the NDP caucus and was running as an independent. Ashton’s back for a rematch and there’s no independnt on the left.
5.    Avalon – Politics could hardly be more personal. Conservative incumbent Fabian Manning was, at the time of his election in 2006, famous for being one of the few island politicians to stand up to Premier Danny Williams and live to tell the tale. Manning, who was part of Williams’ caucus in the provincial legislature refused to tow the party line once and earned Williams wrath. Now Williams, of course, is heading up the Anybody But Conservative campaign in that province and Manning, the only Conservative incumbent in that province, will earn some special attention from Williams.
6.    West Nova –Liberal Robert Thibault beat Tory Greg Kerr by a little more than 500 votes in 2006. Then, this summer, Thibault added insult to injury suggesting Kerr was too old to run against him again. Kerr and the Tory war room hope to make Thibault eat his words.
7.    Vancouver Island North – A grudge match pitting NDP MP Catherine Bell and three-term former MP John Duncan. Bell and Duncan first squared off in 2004 with Duncan prevailing. Bell beat him in 2006 and the two are fighting it out once again.
8.    Skeena-Bulkley Valley – NDP MP Nathan Cullen should probably hold this riding but as his party’s environment critic, he’s been a sharp critic of the Conservatives. The Tories would love to see him lose but it might be wishful thinking
9.    Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley – Bill Casey got turfed from the Tory caucus over the Atlantic Accord. This is the first time his constituents will get to vote on his decision and they’re expected to send him back to Ottawa as an elected independent MP. A grudge match for the voters of this riding who want to give Tory HQ a piece of their mind.
10.    Burlington – It took Conservative Mike Wallace three tries before he knocked off Liberal Paddy Torsney in 2006. Torsney wants a rematch but Wallace hopes that a reputation he earned for solid committee work on the Hill combined with suburban fear of a carbon tax will make Torsney a two-time loser. Keep an eye on Liberal MP Bonnie Brown next door in Oakville. If the Conservatives have an Ontario breakthrough, Brown is one of those who will be vulnerable.
11.    Gatineau – A grudge match. In 2006, the BQ’s Richard Nadeau ousted Liberal incumbent Francoise Boivin. Nadeau is facing Boivin again but this time Boivin is running for Layton’s NDP and she says BQ volunteers are moving over to her side.
12.    Trinity-Spadina – NDP MP Olivia Chow took three kicks at the can to win this riding, which she did in 2006. She narrowly beat former Liberal cabinet minister Tony Ianno. Ianno isn't running again against Chow — but his wife his. Christine Innes is carrying the Liberal torch hoping to steal this downtown Toronto riding back from Chow, the spouse of NDP leader Jack Layton.


1.    Richmond –  The Tories are gunning for former Liberal MP Raymond Chan. This is one of three ridings the Liberals won in 2006 that the Tories think they can steal. They also hope for Vancouver Quadra and West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea-to-Sky
2.    Nunavut – For the first time, voters in Nunavut get to choose from an all-Inuit slate. Liberal Nancy Karetek-Lindell is retiring and though the Conservatives haven’t won anything in the north since Erik Nielsen held the Yukon back in the 1980s, they think their candidate Leona Aglukkaq, a former health minister in the territorial government, might be their breakthrough. Harper campaigned in Iqaluit with Alukkaq last weekend.
3.    Ottawa West-Nepean – A bellwether riding whose MP always seems to be on the government side of the House. In 2006, voters here picked John Baird who became environment minister. The Liberals are running David Pratty, a former defence minister, against Baird. Pratt got ousted in 2004 next door in Nepean-Carleton by Pierre Poilievre. Keep an eye, as well, on Ottawa-South, the riding held by David McGuinty, the brother of the Ontario premier. He should win but some Conservatives think he is vulnerable.
4.    Oshawa – This is a grudge match pitting the country’s autoworkers against the Conservatives. In the last year, more than 70,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Canada, many in the auto sector that powers Ontario’s economy. Conservative incumbent Colin Carrie faces a stiff challenge from the NDP’s Mike Shields,  a popular CAW leader. Autoworkers are also looking unseating Conservatives in the southwestern Ontario ridings of Essex, Chatham-Kent-Essex, Elgin-Middlesex-London, and Sarnia-Lambton
5.    Parkdale-High Park – A downtown Toronto riding that NDP MP Peggy Nash stole from a Liberal incumbent in 2006. Now the Liberals want it back and failed leadership candidate and convention kingmaker Gerard Kennedy is the candidate. Nash is putting up a tough defence, though, making this race too close to call.
6.    Trois-Riviéres – If Parkdale-High Park highlights the NDP-Liberal battle, Trois-Rivieres is a good proxy for the Conservative-Bloc Quebecois  contest. BQ incumbent Paule Brunelle faces Conservative Claude Duran, who has a high-profile locally. If the Tories can win steal the Trois-Rivieres of the world, the BQ MPs in ridings like Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, Richmond-Arthabaska, Drummond, and elsewhere ought to be worri
7.    Outremont – Can Thomas Mulcair hold the NDP foothold in Quebec? Mulcair won what had been viewed as Liberal stronghold in Montreal in a byelection. General elections, though, are a different kettle of fish. Mulcair benefited from the collapse of the separatist vote in this riding and there is no sign that support has revived.
8.    Saint John – The ghost of former premier Bernard Lord lurks over this riding and one other the Tories hope to steal from the Libs. Here, incumbent Paul Zed faces off against Lord’s former chief of staff. In Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, Liberal incumbent Brian Murphy is facing one of Lord’s top aides. The Tories wanted Lord himself to run in Moncton but he declined and is one of the co-chairs of the Conservative campaign. The Tories were keen on Moncton-Riverview but they have a new respect for Zed’s ability to survive after he survived an all-out Conservative assault in 2006.
9.    Quebec – The Conservatives enjoy their strongest support in the province around the provincial capital. Christiane Gagnon, though, was the lone BQ member to win in 2006 in the city of Quebec. She faces a tough fight to keep that riding out of Tory hands. 

High profile races

1.    Wascana – Ralph Goodale holds down the only Liberal outpost between Winnipeg and Vancouver’s eastern suburbs. The Conservatives would dearly like to make it Tory Blue right across the Prairies but Goodale is no pushover. Meanwhile, the NDP are gunning for some Conservative-held ridings including Palliser, Regina-Qu-Appelle, and Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar
2.    Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River – The Liberals will take any riding they can get but winning this one might give Stephane Dion a few headaches down the road. His candidate is David Orchard,  who once tried to beat Peter MacKay to lead the Progressive Conservatives. The most northern of Saskatchewan’s ridings is now held by Conservative Rob Clarke who won a squeaker in a byelection. The Liberals won it in the 2006 general election by a hair over the Tories. And in 2004, the Tories won by a nose.
3.    Vaudreuil-Soulanges – Michael Fortier quit the Senate to carry the Tory banner in this west end Montreal against BQ incumbent Melli Faille. This is widely seen as the best chance the Conservatives have in Montreal
4.    Westmount-Ville Marie – The NDP is running a popular radio show host – Anne Lagace Dawson – against Liberal Marc Garneau, the astronaut. A riding that should be about as safe as it gets for Liberals in Quebec but the NDP thinks Jack Layton is connecting with Quebecers.
5.    Papineau – Justin Trudeau fought for and won the right to carry the Liberal banner in a riding that is by no means a safe seat. Bloc Quebecois MP Vivien Barbot beat then Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew for this Montreal seat in 2006. Trudeau will try to win it back for the Libs.
6.    Central Nova – Defence Minister Peter MacKay is the favourite but his challenger is Green Party leader Elizabeth May. The Liberals agreed not to run a candidate here to give May her best shot. May either wins the upset of the evening on Oct. 14 or is 0-for-2 when her name is on the ballot.
7.    Surrey North – No incumbent here with the retirement of NDP MP Penny Priddy. Dona Cadman, widow of former MP Chuck Cadman, is carrying the Tory torch. The Tories hope she gets elected but they won’t let her talk to the national press, hustling her out a back door at a Harper rally this week.

Dion angling for a spot in history he likely doesn't want

“The Natural Governing Party of Canada” is poised to hit new lows in terms of voter support.

We have a new poll out this afternoon that says that just 23 per cent of voters across the country would vote for a Liberal candidate. (Do click through this link for all the important stuff that goes with poll publishing during a writ period.)

So if the Liberals are at 23 per cent now, how does that stack up against previous election performance?

The Liberal Party's three worst days:   

The Liberals have never been so low since the very first federal election the young Dominion had in 1867. John A. MacDonald's coalition of Conservatives and Liberal-Conservatives bested the slate of Liberal candidates led by George Brown. Brown won 22.67 per cent of the popular vote in that election, which was good enough to put 62 MPs on his side of the 180-seat House.

* If Stephane Dion's numbers do not improve, this slot in history — at 23 per cent — could be his.

In 1984, Brian Mulroney would win the biggest majority ever at the expense of Liberal leader John Turner, who garnered just 28.02 per cent of the popular vote.

The 2006 election, the one that made Stephen Harper prime minister and cost Paul Martin his job, was the Liberal Party's third worst showing in terms of popular vote. In that election, 30.23 per cent of votes cast were for a Liberal.

The Liberal Party's three best days:

William Lyon MacKenzie King won 51.32 per cent of the popular vote in 1940.  

Sir Wilfrid Laurier is a close second, winning 50.88 per cent of the votes in the 1904 election.

Remarkably, Laurier's 1904 win improved on his 50.25 level of support in 1900.

Here's one interesting footnote: Harper's Conservatives are now showing up in some polls, though not ours, with 40 per cent and some commentators are saying that hitting the magic 40 puts him at majority territory. Well, back in the days before the Bloc and the Greens, Pierre Trudeau won more than 40 per cent of the popular vote on election day but his opponent, Joe Clark became the prime minister with just 36 per cent of the popular vote.

The numbers for this post, incidentally, are courtesy Wikipedia.

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The surplus grows: Bad news for Dion ..

The latest edition of the Federal Fiscal Monitor is out. This is, essentially, the government's monthly balance sheet.

It's not great news for those Liberals who've been saying that the Conservatives are running us into deficit.

In fact, the federal treasury overfloweth with extra dollars.

Jim Flaherty, in his last budget, predicted that by the end of the fiscal year — in March 31, 2009 — the budgetary surplus would be $2.3 billion.

Well, today's fiscal monitor shows that, after just four months of the current fiscal year, the surplus is $2.9-billion.

Now there is a policy issue here that the parties might tussle over.

The Conservative plan is to take every extra dollar in surplus and use it to pay down the debt. Any savings in interest charges by doing that would be returned to taxpayers in the form of lower income taxes. Last year, the Tories paid down the debt by more than $14 billion but resulting  the interest savings didn't really amount to much when it came to income tax cuts.

Once upon a time, the Liberals said they would use unanticipated surpluses differently: One-third would be used directly for tax cuts; one-third would be used for program spending and one-third would be used to pay off the debt. In that scenario, the debt — which is already among the lowest in the industrialized world when compared to national GDP — would not be paid off so rapidly but Canadians would enjoy a bigger tax cut and seee some new government programs.

The different approach to debt repayment, it seems to me, is one of the major differences between Liberals and Conservatives.

From Budget 2008 on debt:

“The federal debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 32.3 per cent in 2006–07, down significantly from its peak of 68.4 per cent in 1995–96. Taking into account the projected debt reduction, the debt ratio is expected to fall to 27.5 per cent by 2009–10, the lowest level since 1978–79.”

Now, some Conservatives would like a debt-to-GDP ratio of 25 per cent but I've never heard a clear defence of why 25 per cent is the appropriate level. ('Course, I may have just missed it and would be grateful if you could forward it to me if you happen to have one.)

Unlike a Canadian household — who would prefer to have an overall debt level of zero, if possible — it's very important for the federal government to continue to issue debt in the form of Canada Savings Bonds and other government securities. Everyday Canadian investors like to buy this debt — to lend the government money, essentially — because it's a nice safe investment. The trading of this debt that happens every day on financial markets is important to the overall liquidity of financial market — the ability of a willing seller to be able to quickly and efficiently find a willing buyer for a given security. In other words, if governments, like households, aimed for 'zero debt', Canadians would not be able to buy government bonds and securities and most Canadians would probably see that as an undesireable outcome.

 So, given that public debt provides a tangible and definite 'good' to society, the discussion really ought to be about how much debt is 'good debt' and how much debt is 'bad debt.'

And if we agree that there is such a thing as 'good debt', then using scarce surpluses to pay off 'good debt' would seem to be a waste of surpluses that could have been used for some other public good, such as reduced taxes or spending programs. And so we come back to the policy debate for politicians: Where is the line between 'good debt' and 'bad debt'? Is at 25 per cent GDP and, if so, why?

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Conservatives, climate change and carbon taxes

Jim Manzi assesses U.S. conservatives, climate change, and carbon taxes and neatly states the political problem for carbon taxers on either side of the border right up front:

. . . no matter how much global-warming activists feel as if they have won all the debates in think-tank meetings, editorial pages, and faculty lounges, it is going to be a tough battle to convince the voting public to make huge sacrifices based on the evidence that we have now. After all, Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates has estimated that implementing even the limited emissions abatement envisioned for the United States under the proposed Kyoto Protocol would cost the average U.S. family about $225 per month. Ongoing polling conducted by researchers at M.I.T. suggests that the median U.S. family would be willing to pay $21 per month to “solve global warming.” That’s quite a bid-ask spread.

Manzi believes a carbon tax, even if it were to be implemented globally, would be ineffective in actually solving the problem (he would find well-reasoned opposition to this position from many academics) but this paragraph, though written with John McCain and the Republican Party in mind, could have been written for Stephen Harper's Conservatives:

. . . conservatives should keep in mind a few central facts. First, global warming is real—but it is a problem that is expected to have only a marginal impact on the world economy. Second, while it is economically rational to reduce (slightly) this marginal impact through global carbon taxes, such a global carbon-tax regime would be very unlikely ever to be enacted—and even if it were, the theoretical benefits it might create would probably be more than offset by the economic drag it would produce. And finally, a far better course—one much less costly to implement and much more commensurate with the likeliest risks—would be to invest in new technologies that could help avert the worst potential impacts of global warming.

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