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Friday, October 22, 2010

Democracy fail: Where are the local opposition Candidates?

We’ve been under the threat of a federal election for well over a year yet I see that many ridings are unprepared having few of their candidate’s selected, mine is no exception.

I’d prefer that candidates were chosen very early on so we have more time to learn more about them, talk to them, judge them and see how seriously they intend to run their campaigns. I want to see dedicated candidates that actually work at making local connections, communicating their ideas and listening to ours all year, not candidates that get pulled out of thin air right after the writ is dropped, do a 5 week campaign blitz and then disappear back into obscurity should they lose.

In the current municipal elections we’ve seen some great examples of hungry engaged candidates who’ve been active in the community long before the election started. Some contenders have been working towards their goal for the entire interval between elections showing a great deal of dedication and determination. These are the kind of people I want to see in ALL parties vying for the opportunity of representing us federally. I don’t want last minute municipal candidates who come out of nowhere and file their papers on the last day nor do I want federal candidates who refuse to state their intention and be scrutinized well before an election is called.

So my question is where are these tireless federal candidates in Newmarket-Aurora?

Naturally the Conservative incumbent Lois Brown is visible as she should be, it’s her fulltime paid job. She may be a 3rd string, lack luster MP but she is available.

Vanessa Long of the Green Party has been nominated for 9 months and has been increasingly active engaging the public through a variety of local community and business organizations. Here she is speaking at the prorogation rally in Newmarket just days after her nomination.

From what I can see the NDP continues their history of being the stealth party with little visible EDA activity and certainly no proactive nominations. To be fair their president and previous candidate did take part in last winter’s prorogation protests but they generally don’t make the effort to be seen, have never tried to run a credible campaign and have been trending down over the last 3 elections.

The biggest surprise however is the total lack of activity by the Liberal party who nominated and then lost candidate Margaret Black all within a 4 month period in late 2009 Not only did Black bail on the nomination but she wasn’t even a resident of the Newmarket- Aurora riding, her full time gig is Mayor of King City. This alone might not seem like much until you see this recent letter sent out by the Young Liberals of Newmarket-Aurora to their followers on facebook. My snide commentary is in the brackets

Hi Everyone,

It's unfortunately been a quieter summer than we anticipated. However, the house about to resume for the fall session so things are about to get exciting once more. (Iggy’s bus tour was a bore and we did no organizing; I hope the this session is more interesting)
As some of you may or may not be aware, the Newmarket-Aurora riding is currently without a Liberal candidate. (because she bailed on us after 4 stinking months)

As a member of the candidate search committee, we have been looking around Aurora for people who qualified to represent the riding and a desire to make a difference in the community. (Yet morally flexible enough to run Liberal)(P.S. Why just Aurora? Newmarket not good enough for ya?)

The committee has done some good work, however, further input by party members is desired. As a result, I'm asking the members of the Young Liberal group here if they know anyone who would be interested in seeking the nomination. (We’ve spend all summer looking for good a good candidate yet we came up dry and really need you to find a new sacrificial lamb)

If anyone has any specific names of who they would think make a fitting candidate, please forward them to me.

I hope to hear from you all soon. If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Nick (Nick Kelly)

I don’t know about you but I interpret this letter as an admission that after a wasted summer they found that no one of quality wants the job. Margret Black took the nomination in August 09 and then backed away when polls weakened for the Liberals at the end of the year, a Mayoral position in the hand is apparently worth a lost cause in the bush. The Liberals seem to be struggling in Newmarket-Aurora; unable to find “good” local candidates unless a win is guaranteed. Currently it looks uncertain and no one seems willing to be stuck with the Liberal label.

As I said before I want to see a quality selection of candidates representing all the flavours of the Canadian spectrum, I don’t want 5 week wonders or cardboard cut outs filling space on the ballot. I also don’t want parachutes candidates arriving because parties are too week to generate good local talent.

What I want to see are engaged candidates on the ground today listening to citizens. In Newmarket Aurora the Conservatives and the Greens are the only two parties who actually appear willing to work for the job of representing us and that’s not too encouraging.

.Recommend this Post

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rare Earths and the not so Free Market

I wanted to call your attention to the growing controversy over export restrictions on rare earths from China.

I’ve been on about this topic for about 2 years and it seems that China has finally realized the political and economic clout that arises from being the sole supplier (or at least damn close) of vital minerals that keep the modern economy operating. China has over the last couple of years become increasingly reluctant to export rare earths and several other vital metals required for alloying high end specialty steel. In some cases this was just pure industrial self interest but more and more its starting to look like a political tool to punish other nations who offend them.

Here is just a sampling of what some of these vital elements facing embargo are used for

Lanthanum – a cracking agent used to increase refinery yields by up to 10%

Cerium – a catalyst used for pollution control and more efficient combustion

Neodymium- permanent magnets in wind mills and hybrid car’s brakes, computers, cell phones, cd players etc.

Europium- computer/TV screens and florescent lighting

Yttrium – fuel efficiency, microwave communication, lasers

Erbium- fibre optics

Dysprosium- smaller faster electronics

While not rare earths and not totally concentrated in China’s control, Indium and Gallium vital for Photovoltics could also be restricted tightening the external market and giving China another price edge. This is not just idle speculation but the logical extension of the existing trend since China is already defending both tariffs and limits on magnesium and manganese exports at the WTO to maintain their edge in steel alloy production.

It’s well known that our current government didn’t see a recession, a credit crisis or a 50 billion dollar deficit staring them right in face. They didn’t see that people cared about prorogation, the census, the gun registry and torture. They certainly didn’t see how playing chicken with the UAE would turn out anymore than they realized how their Conservative policies would tarnish Canada’s international standing. This Government has absolutely no credibility in forecasting the future and there is no reason to believe they will notice the coming threat of international industrial blackmail or take it seriously.

In fact this issue has being brewing for some time yet almost no one has been taking it seriously except the Green Party of Canada which passed a policy this year at convention calling for an audit of supply/demand for industrial minerals in Canada and the creation of a strategic reserve for “at risk” materials. It matches nicely with the strategic oil reserves we want and clearly shows that our long term vision is a hell of lot more focused on real issues and solutions than the day to day posturing we get in the HOC. This however is more than just a simple I told you so issue but one that will greatly impact our economy so partisanship aside I hope someone else also speaks up on this issue.

Canada is a very mineral rich country and there is no reason that we shouldn’t have a stable supply of minerals needed for modern technology, especially green power generation and pollution control. It might come down to building up reserves (as the GPC proposes) to ride out short term supply glitches or it may require bolder steps such as the nationalization of a vital resource but the fact is we cannot be reliant on a suppliers who don’t believe in the free market or international trade rules.

We are entering an era of resource depletion where water, energy, specific minerals and even food may be in short supply; surely we need a discussion on this issue.Recommend this Post