Friday, January 13, 2006

He Lives

So I had pretty much figured out, before going to work this morning, which candidate I was going to vote for. I had it narrowed to the Liberals and the NDP last week. Then I had pretty much decided on the NDP after our first burst of excitement in the local campaign, which happened Tuesday night.

During the candidates’ forum, the NDP candidate Bill Riddell sideswiped Nancy Karetak-Lindell, the Liberal MP, with the information that Revenue Canada was going to start taxing subsidized rent in Iqaluit. It caused a collective freak-out by a lot of people in Iqaluit. Between government and businesses, a lot of the apartments being rented in town are subsidized. Some are subsidized quite a lot.

For example, I estimate about a third of our rent is paid for by the government. That is part of Cathy’s contract. That subsidy is tax-free because Iqaluit is considered a “prescribed zone”. That means the federal government acknowledges “that a natural housing market does not exist, and considers housing subsidies a necessary — and non-taxable — benefit for employees.”

Read this very good story in the Nunatsiaq News about what it would mean in terms of money. Millions would be out of the community. It would have caused a bureaucratic nightmare getting the paperwork straightened out. Not to mention how much money it would have cost individuals. The article states it would be taxed at a rate of about 29 per cent. That would have hit a lot of people very, very hard.

As it stands, the freak-out was unnecessary. By yesterday Revenue Canada was in full damage control mode saying it had been a mistake, that there was never any plan to make people in Iqaluit start to pay tax on the rent subsidy. The CBC (The Nunatsiaq News had already gone to press by the time the problem got cleared up) has the story here.

Of course, more than one person is wondering if Riddell hadn’t brought up the issue, whether it still would have been cleared up or whether people would have been stuck with it and told to deal. It’s a fair point and we’ll never know. But I think it’s safe to say that Karetak-Lindell would have had a hard time winning this seat if a good chunk of Iqaluit, with about 20 per cent of the population of Nunavut, was in revolt over the “tax grab.”

So I was leaning NDP because it was good that Riddell caught it, I’ve liked what I’ve heard him say and he seems pretty energetic considering how late he got into the campaign.

Then I read today’s Globe and Mail and got the chills. It was, in fact, The Fear. It was this story, talking about how the long knives are already being sharpened for Paul Martin. Since it appears very likely, barring a massive screw-up by the Conservatives, the Liberals are about to spend some time in opposition. That means Martin is toast. It’s a matter of does he fall on his sword (cursing on Jean Chretien’s very effective knee-capping of him before he does so) or back up to the wall, only to discover it’s a prop and that there are a couple of hundred pissed of Liberals with pointy knives waiting for him behind it.

And who are some of the Liberals with the knives? Why, potential leadership candidates of course. Just when you thought the matter of the Liberal leadership was over, it’s back.

And you know what that means, don’t you? Oh yes, McKenna is back. And so is Manley. But so is he.


Dear sweet Lord, saints and martyrs preserve us, Tobin is going to come back. You always knew he would. Much like Freddy or Jason, you just can’t kill him. Stakes, holy water, silver bullets and screwing up Newfoundland’s economy didn’t do the trick. I honestly don’t know what will.

But we better find it and we better find it fast.


Liberal leader Brian Tobin.

Opposition leader Brian Tobin.

Prime Minister (shudder) Brian Tobin.

It’s enough to make you vote for Martin and the Liberals. Anything to forestall his return.

Currently playing on iTunes
An Irish Evening - The Chieftains


Jason Bartlett said...

Isn't Tobin making a disgusting ammount of money from sitting on various boards and raking in pensions? Also isn't the very fact he's a Newfoundlander pretty much destroy him in any leadership race, remember Crosbie. Smart money is on Mckenna, longer shot on Michael Ignatieff, but even he has much more of a chance then Tobin.

towniebastard said...

Let's not forget, Tobin is in the same mental territory as a Martin or a Williams. It's not the money they can make as a private citizen. It's about stroking the ego, having the power and seeking a place in history.

And being the first Newfounlander to become Prime Minister of Canada? That's something I'm convinced Tobin still wants.

And who says Tobin will run in Newfoundland? I think he's bunred a lot of bridges there. He's just as likely to seek a seat, if he wins the leadership, in Ontario.

Finally, care to lay odds that within a month of Martin quitting, it gets "leaked" that Tobin has been agressively learning French and is now nearly fluent.

I'm convinced he's going to run again.

Jason Bartlett said...

When Martin resigns, the spoils of his leadership organization will proably be divided amongest the leadership as Martin's chiefs, Goodale and Mclean aren't strong leadership contenders. The spoils of that organization will drift towards someone the liberals think can make them a winner. Ontario background, or Quebec, possibly the west. Fluent, moderately successful in private life. And for a party looking to reinvent itself it will want someone not associated with the Jean or Paul and their time.

The closest to Newfoundland, the party will consider will be our U.S. ambassador. The last Prime Minister from the Atlantic was Robert Borden.

I agree Tobin may run but I consider highly unlikely that he could win the leadership. Too many liablities, his past, his capablities, even if he learns french, he would be the first party leader in in forty years not to have a higher education or a profession. Tobin has only been a preimer and MP and a Cabinet minster, education wise George W. even beats him. He may have the ambition but he will never have the party's support. Especially the elite, even Chretian his boss wouldn't give him the defense portfolio because he believed him ambitious and loyal but not smart.

Anonymous said...

Since a Conservative government (can't believe I'm uttering those words) would likely be in a minority, and be less able than the Liberals at propping it up with alliances, we could expect another election again soon. Perhaps earlier than 18 months. So Paul Martin would have to be pretty dumb to resign, with the possibility of getting re-elected after a short time as an effective leader of the oppostion to encourage him.

towniebastard said...

Even if it's a Conservative minority, I doubt we will see another election for at leat 2.5 years. The Canadian public are getting burnt out on elections. Also, Martin isn't a spring chicken anymore. He's 67. Even if he stuck around and ran again, he would be about 69 or 70, and that's starting to get old.

Besides, I suspect a lot of Liberals just want him gone. They're going to want somebody fresh to come in and revitalize the party. I don't think Martin can do it. If the Liberals lose, Martin quits within a week.

And Jason, I don't think Tobin can win either. But least we forget, he was a serious contender in the past. It was him, Manley, Martin and Copps.

And didn't he have a $10 million war chest at one point? Did he give that back, or is that still stashed away somewhere, waiting to be unleashed?

I don't think he can win. But it's Tobin. I didn't think he would get as far as he did.

Anonymous said...

Don't ever rule Tobin out! No he is not the best person for the job and yes McKenna is the better candidate...but McKenna lacks charisma. Step back for a minute and picture Tobin debating Harper! Harper would be destroyed...he's about as exciting as watching paint dry. Tobin however is all sizzle and no steak. The country will fall in love with him again...not for what he says but how he says it. And if the Liberals think they can win with Tobin then Tobin will be their guy. Throw $10 m on top of that and corporate Canada's support (which he gained during and since his Industry portfolio) and he just might pull it off. I actually saw him on "Report on Business" talking about market trends and the future of the techonology sector! Whodathunkit?!? He knows about as much of the technology sector and the average future shop employee but yet there he was on a nationally respected investment broadcast being seen as an authority. But he looked good and sounded convincing.

So while it is unlikely that Tobin could be the next leader of the opposition, and ultimately(gulp!)Prime Minister, it could happen! Like Craig I didn't think he'd do as much as he has and look where he is today.

The best thing that could happen to this country is to have a Liberal minority government. The Tories would replace Harper with a viable alternative and shift their policy a little to the left to reflect what Canada has been traditionally. Then the Tories would form a solid majority government. If we get a Tory minority gov't though it will likely mean that Harper will face off against the next Liberal leader within 24-30 months. The Liberals will look to see who has "street cred", is seen as a national unifier, has big business experience, can work with the USA, and is central Canadian. Tobin is as much central Canadian as McKenna. In fact, Tobin has been there building his network ever since he left politics. McKenna will be seen as the Atlantic Canadian who was ambassador to the US when our relations were at an all time low. He has been a non entity in the softwood lumber dispute and doesn't seem to be given the time of day by the US government.

Mind you, I like McKenna and think he would be an outstanding PM. If the Tories form government though I just think that Tobin is slippery enough to take advantage of a minority government that was elected not on the strengths of their leader but to punish Martin and the Liberals. He will put together a new Liberal party and kick the Tories butt in the following election.

Now how's that for a scary scenario!?!