Google Bomb Backfires

Remember how, in a fit of pique, some Blogging Tories tried to link Rick Mercer’s blog to the Google search term “Bloodthirsty Capitalist”?

Well, as of this day and this time, guess who’s the number one search result for the term?

If I may allow myself a small bout of immature laughter: hehehehehe.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Amended Budget Passed. Same Sex Marriage Will Likely Pass

It’s been such a good week for the Liberals that it’s easy to forget that they still find themselves no higher than their dismal performance during last year’s election. Still, they got their budget passed and, thanks to a surprise procedural maneouver, they managed to get the NDP amendments passed as well, clearing the way for Same Sex Marriage to pass parliament next week. With the NDP, the Bloc and the bulk of the Liberal caucus supporting Bill C-38, it will pass.

It was interesting seeing the manoeuvrings this past week. Over and above the deal the BQ made to agree to extend this session of parliament, there was their acceptance of the Liberal motion to close off debate on the NDP budget amendment.

Think about that: they have been trying to bring down this government for the past six months by voting against every confidence measure the Liberals faced. Unlike the Conservatives, which have postured support for the original budget (and its Atlantic Accord) and have tried to bring down the government on the amendments, the BQ have been consistently opposed to both budget bills as the best means to force an election.

But when the Liberals propose to extend the session of parliament to get the NDP amendments passed and pass Same Sex Marriage, the Bloc goes along. And when the Conservatives threaten to use the budget to bring down the government before Same Sex Marriage is passed, the BQ cooperate with the Liberals to bring in the budget vote early, leaving the Conservatives unable to muster enough MPs to win this vote of confidence. Even if the Conservatives had mustered all of their MPs in time, the BQ were quietly standing up in the house and counting the number of Conservatives present, strongly suggesting that some would have taken a walk if it looked like the government was about to fall.

And yet they still voted against the NDP budget amendment, knowing that they wouldn’t succeed. So, here’s the BQ’s priority for you: bring down the government while it’s advantageous to do so. If it looks like that can’t be achieved, make a deal to get Same Sex Marriage passed.

Why the sudden change of heart, I wonder? With the BQ standing at 52% in the polls in Quebec, it’s still advantageous for them to go to the polls. Did they finally clue in and decide that standing up for the principles of human rights was more important? Or do they know something about the polls we don’t?

Turning to the Liberals, the moves there (or lack thereof) are just as interesting. Ex-Liberal MP Pat O’Brien voiced what a number of anti-SSM Liberals were thinking: that maybe they should vote against this budget and bring down this government before SSM is passed. But the Liberals and the NDP were still lable to muster 152 votes between them (Anybody know how Pat O’Brien voted, or if he voted at all?). With Independent Carolyn Parrish voting with the government, that meant only one Liberal MP failed to show up to vote with his party. There was no promised back-bench revolt. Those 32 Liberals who oppose SSM don’t do so with enough ferocity to take the heat for defeating a moderately popular Liberal-NDP budget.

So the last confidence bill for this session has passed this house. Same Sex Marriage will likely pass this week, and thus ends one of the most fractious sessions of parliament — not with a bang, but with a relative whimper. There are some bright lights here: I, for one, think that the NDP amendments to the budget aren’t fiscally irresponsible. They don’t put the government into deficit and they route funds into areas that desperately need investment. And, with SSM finally out of the way, we can at last concentrate on some pressing issues: like the state of health care, and the problem of the corruption within the Liberal government.

And as inept as the Conservatives came across Thursday night, scrambling to get their MPs back into their seats as the Liberals pulled their “surprise”, everyone comes away with a positive this summer. The Conservatives can at least lay claim that the Liberals thwarted democracy through procedure — a contention most Canadians will find to be hyperbole, but one which should play well to the Conservative base. The Liberals, once again, lived down to expectations and, better yet, the Conservatives don’t have to walk into an election they engineered with only 25% popular support. The BQ, although they didn’t bring down the government, can bring home victory in the emotional issue of Same Sex Marriage.

The NDP are the big winners, here, however. Their budget victory is mostly symbolic, since the commitment they’ve forced the Liberals to make isn’t permanent and isn’t sufficient to make a big difference to the cities, but they’ve shown that they can box well above their weight in this parliament. They’ve shown that they are a positive force, rising above the shameless partisan antics of the Liberals and the Conservatives. As a result, they’re being rewarded with an increase in popular support.

And, although the Liberals emerge battered and bruised, they can at least point to a session where their budget passed and where SSM passed. They’ve weathered an onslaught on their support levels and their government will survive until the fall. And with SSM out of the way, the feared split within their caucus may not materialize.

Reaching Out: A Meme

Here’s a meme bourne out of my involvement with the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians. I’m pleased to say that the diversity we’ve been able to attract among our 34 members has been matched, for the most part, with mutual respect from all. Yes, there have been disagreements and heated arguments, but we’ve certainly stepped outside the echo chambers that sometimes characterize more partisan blogrolls (for more diversity, be sure to check out the blogs on Andrew Anderson’s Ontario Blogroll).

So, with that in mind:

Name three political individuals (they don’t have to be politicians; they can be bloggers) with whom you frequently disagree. Be careful who you choose, because you’ll have to use them in your next answer.

Okay… George W. Bush, Mike Harris and Jay Currie

For each individual, identify one characteristic of theirs that you admire, or one policy of theirs that you strongly agree with and write a paragraph or two on why.

George W. Bush is the hard one, what with his deficits, his tax cut policies, and Iraq, but there is one policy his administration has pursued that I do agree with: the Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership. The jingoistic name aside, the Bush Administration has done a lot to get a lot of American families, particularly minority families, owning their own homes.

Home ownership is, for too many Americans, an impossible dream. Families who can put their living expenses into a mortgage rather than tossing it away in rent become more prosperous and secure. Inner city neighbourhoods which transform their rental accommodations into family-owned homes boost urban renewal efforts by giving families actual ownership over their own neighbourhoods.

It’s not enough to make up for the clipping of the Americans’ social safety net and the fiscal irresponsibility of high deficits and tax cuts to rich folks that marks the Bush Administration, but for thousands of families, Bush has made a real and positive difference in their lives, and I salute him for it.

As for Mike Harris, despite he has done to this province, he had a few characteristics I respect, and one of which was the fact that he didn’t have a social conservative chip on his shoulder. As premier, he made no move on social conservative issues, including abortion (my position regarding abortion is complicated. Though I have great qualms about the procedure, I’m not sure banning it outright does as much good as certain people think).

For me, it was clear that his position was, at least, consistent: he distrusted government, full stop, and he felt that it should be removed from individuals’ lives as much as possible. This included the government’s intrusion into the bedroom as much as the government’s helping hand to families. The social conservatives hated him for it, but this is the reason why, if he were to take over from Stephen Harper at the federal level, he might just beat Paul Martin.

I supported a number of Harris’ policies as well: his decision to take over funding for GO Transit, and to propose a three-way funding split for public transit, for example, although I can’t cite these examples as they simply fixed up earlier mistakes (the decision to hand GO Transit to the GTA, and to back out of public transit funding altogether). One Harris polilcy I can wholeheartedly support, however, was his decision to fully fund midwifery — pre-natal, birth and post-partum care through the Ontario health insurance system.

The move both pulled new parents out of the hospitals, freeing up resources, and provided parents and their babies with a high quality of care at a critical stage in their lives. Midwives are some of the most qualified medical professionals I know, and their bedside manner is simply wonderful. They take a lot of the stress out of the birthing process.

Yes, I know Harris’ move was motivated in part by his decision to fire thousands of nurses and reduce the quality care of hospitals throughout the province, but in this one move he’s made a big difference.

Finally, Jay Currie is a blogger who often makes me want to tear my hair out. We disagree on most issues, from the merit of government social programs to U.S. policy in Iraq, and occasionally I find that he takes too much pleasure when his perceived opponents get the short end of the stick. He walks the fine line between exposing the problems he sees in his opponents, and maintaining a respectful attitude towards them. As a result, you know you’re being insulted, but unlike other bloggers, you can’t quite cite him for behaving boorishly. Most frustrating.

And he’s intelligent as all get-out. When he and I do agree, I nod with such power that I could light a light-bulb. In other words, he’s a powerful opponent, whose opposition will force the better of us to improve our arguments and ourselves, in order to keep him off our tails.

Pick five individuals you wish to send this to.

Hmmm… Andrew at Bound by Gravity, you have been tagged. Dave at Blogography, you have been tagged. Jay Currie, of course you have been tagged. I’m also adding Greg at Sinister Thoughts and Allyn Gibson.

I’d also be interested in seeing Warren Kinsella’s take on this meme, if he’s interested.

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