Entries from November 2006 ↓

Godless Google

Thursday notes:

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(1) Google Video is having an identity crisis and, as such, uploading of our daily original content this week has been seriously disrupted. Just so you know, we shoot and produce new video episodes daily. Morning planning meetings are followed by interview set-ups, then afternoon shooting in and around the House of Commons, followed by editing, encoding, uploading and – when it’s all working as it should – live posting of the content on this site in early evening.

This week, however, Google has failed us and the videos have been hours and hours late in getting live. It is unavoidable, and I apologize. I have webmaster William Stratas looking at alternatives, but so far the bandwidth costs involved are far more than a poor MP’s budget can bear. THURSDAY EVENING UPDATE – We now have some technical workarounds in place, and new videos are now viewable.
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(2) My question on income trusts to Jim Flaherty on Tuesday is the subject of this column, by Jon Chevreau in the Financial Post this morning. The finance minister has put the kybosh on the idea investors might be able to write off trust losses from earned income in 2006. But, hell, it was worth asking.

(3) More technical difficulties and an impending lecture this morning at Carleton University in Ottawa are preventing me from posting NewDay headlines right now. This is a temporary situation, and you will just have to cope!

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(4) The House of Commons shut down uncharacteristically on a Wednesday last night for the Liberal leadership convention. MPtv will will be there and hopefully return with some interesting new stuff in a couple of days. Stay tuned.

By the way, the sum of all Conservative fears is Bob Rae, followed by Stephane Dion. That guy Michael Ignatieff is considered to be the Kim Campbell of the red tide, if you get my drift.

The SSM question

same-sex.jpg So, how should I vote on same-sex marriage?

The theme of democracy runs amok through this blog. Some people like my attempts to poll people, have Town Halls and solicit online comments to get a feel for the public mind. Others believe I’m an idiot for asking, since my job is to represent the people, not pander to them. Some believe strong leaders like PMSH are the best way to move a country forward, and their party discipline should rule. Others see such leaders are control freaks who don’t trust MPs, let alone the voters.

In the last few days, as we faced an unexpected issue and a surprise vote – on the Quebecois nation – the question of an MP’s loyalty was a burning one. All Conservative, NDP and Bloc members voted as their parties instructed. Fifteen Liberals did not. And I voted my conscience, which was fortunately bolstered by every morsel of constituent opinion I could get.

Now, of course, there will be considerable pressure on me to repeat my consultative process and vote the way a majority of citizens instruct me when it comes to SSM. And, consult I will. I have two Town Halls slated for this weekend, the 19th one since January in Milton tomorrow night, and the 20th in Burlington Saturday afternoon. At both I anticipate we will discuss this issue, and vote on it. I will listen and watch carefully.

But I already know how I will vote, and this will not be changed by the keen and effective lobbying that I anticipate will mushroom over the next week. Why? Simply because SSM was a key election issue in Halton. We talked about it at the all-candidates’ debates. We published our positions in the local newspapers. We did cable TV shows on it. We all answered endless email enquiries, and each candidate was the subject of voter pressure.

In other words, my position on this issue was a factor in how people voted – and for some of them, a major determinant. I arrived at my position after a huge amount of thought and consulting with a goodly number of people. After the election, I opened up debate again in my riding, convening a Faith Summit this past summer attended by 28 community religious leaders, to ensure their voices were heard and to reflect again on the validity of my opinion. In that meeting I heard wildly conflicting views.

As an MP, I now receive four or five letters urging me to vote to re-open gay marriage for review and possible rejection, for every one in support of the status quo. I attribute this to the vigour and conviction of many people of faith, and to the laissez-faire, non-activist attitude of most voters. Men seem far more bent out of shape about SSM than do women, according to my letters and emails. Young people hardly care, while many older folks violently support traditional marriage.

And in terms of lobbying. Charles McVety and Defend Marriage Canada and all its related and like-minded groups win hands-down over the few organized groups defending gay marriage. McVety, of course, will never give up – but don’t get me started.

At the end of it all – which I guess will be in about one week – I’ll be asked to vote yea or nay. But in advance of that vote, for the reasons stated above, I will not be running an online poll or attempting to use data to change any of my colleagues’ minds. In this case, my best course as a responsible politician is to stick with the position I campaigned on. I have done that with every other issue presented to the voters at that time, and won’t be changing now.

By the way, the question is expected to be on a motion asking if the current law allowing same-sex marriage should be amended or repealed. My vote will be, no.

Nation talk

mptvsmall7.jpg Day Two that the Quebecois have been a nation, and not much more clarity on what the heck this means. In fact, some serious differences of opinion are emerging as to how this thing might be interpreted by various governments and powerful politicians.

MPtv, never shy to throw its camera into the eye of a public hurricane, today brings you some voices on the issue – from a leading think tank, to a lobby group for a First Nation, to a bunch of average people on the street. What do you think? Watch this, then please leave us a comment.

To view the video, click here.