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By: Clement Nocos

(Full disclosure, I was one of the nearly 2000 delegates in Montreal this weekend for the party’s first policy convention since Jack Layton’s passing in 2011. Pardon the partisanship.)

I would like to briefly point out to readers something that has irked me this past weekend regarding the NDP’s position on the values and principles it is supposed to be basing its policies and goals off of. Headlines such as NDP votes to take ‘socialism’ out of party constitution, NDP tempers historical socialist rhetoric by adopting new mission statement’,  and most other titles have gone on to paint a divisive narrative in the party.

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Much of the ink spilled regarding the ‘abandonment of socialism’ by the NDP is in reference to the preamble of the party constitution that sets the parameters of policy. Often described as a mission statement, the preamble is described as having not made any mention of socialism and that the party has now drifted rightward for a chance at forming government in 2015.

But many arguments against the NDP and its ‘abandonment of socialism’ have formed for many people who are now reacting across the Internet without ever having actually read the preamble. So is socialism missing from the preamble? Well, read on:

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By: Clement Nocos

Making big waves amongst the Canadian political pundit class is a new book by Globe and Mail political correspondent John Ibbitson and Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker titled The Big Shift:The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business, and Culture, and What it Means for Our Future. The authors point to census and polling data along with the booming influx of immigrants over the past few decades as the driver of the federal Conservative Party’s recent wins. They make the case that due to these demographic trends, the Tories are set to dominate the 21st century much like the Liberal Party of the 20th century.

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It is the ethnic suburbanites of Southern Ontario engineered by decades of Liberal government immigration policies that have served as the inroads to Conservative dominance, afar from the party’s Western base. Ibbitson and Bricker foresee the accelerated growth of Pacific-oriented immigrants as evidence that Conservative hegemony will likely continue for the next couple of decades. To them, immigrants apparently share the conservative, everyman values that the CPC tout as Canadian values. The immigrant class find it hard to relate to the old “Laurentian Consensus” of the Liberal Party elite and have thus strayed. There is an apparent big, rightward shift in Canadian political culture and it’s driven by newcomers.

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By: Clement Nocos

My sincerest apologies in advance for the snarkiness that is to follow. The existence of Ben Affleck’s (now Academy Award winning) film Argo has really rustled Canadian jimmies in a way usually reserved for when Team USA beats out Team Canada in some form of hockey. Some feel the “Canadian Caper”  in the film doesn’t depict enough Canadian involvement; that it gives too much credit to the CIA and America.

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So when the film won the Oscar for Best Film last Sunday, you can see the continued outrage over the movie when the cast and crew were thanked and Canada was thanked, but Mr. Affleck had apparently forgotten to give a shout out to former Canadian ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor who was central in orchestrating the [SPOLIER] escape.

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By: Clement Nocos

“There would be no use of an Upper House, if it did not exercise, when it thought proper, the right of opposing or amending or postponing the legislation of the Lower House. It would be of no value whatever were it a mere chamber for registering the decrees of the Lower House. It must be an independent House, having a free action of its own, for it is only valuable as being a regulating body, calmly considering the legislation initiated by the popular branch, but it will never set itself in opposition against the deliberate and understood wishes of the people” – Sir John A. MacDonald, 1865

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Senate Reform has been on the docket of “things-to-do” for Canada’s Parliament since pre-Confederation. The Red Chamber faced difficulty from the start, with the Fathers of Confederation debating heavily on the parameters of the Upper House before agreeing to Confederation.

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By: Clement Nocos

For whatever reason we’ve been given in the last week, the Senate of Canada has once again found its way somehow to the top of the Canadian political agenda. Solutions like Triple E senate reform or the institution’s complete abolition usually come to mind when it comes to treating its chronic democratic incapacities. These resolutions, nonetheless, come with their own sets of problems, while Canadian federalism further complicates any attempts at reform.

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As the debate over what to do with the senate heats up, I would like to take a crack at solving the senate question. I propose not abolition or reform, but the replacement of Senators with representatives that have already been elected, have proven to be responsible, are already under the accountability spotlight, and who already properly represent their constituents: Canada’s provincial and territorial Premiers.

As Parliament’s chamber of independent, sober second thought, who better and “independent” enough to exercise secondary legislative review in the Senate than the leaders of provincial governments? Premiers are already charged with intergovernmental affairs responsibilities and meet regularly to discuss united actions in interacting with the federal government through the Council of the Federation.

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By: Clement Nocos

Alberta’s economy has been riding a “bitumen bubble” that is set to burst. Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s recent announcement on the poor state of the province’s fiscal well-being is surprising on the surface. Alberta is the wealthiest “have” “petro-province” seemingly swimming in “petro-wealth”, albeit one of the most unequal in terms of wealth distribution, so why is the government strapped with $6 billion shortfall in revenue?

The simple answer, according to the provincial Wildrose Party, is too much spending which is peculiar considering the province has one of the lowest spending per capita governments in the entire federation. Some could point to a slowing global economy. Others could say Alberta’s oil industry isn’t big enough and needs to find more buyers. Whatever the reason, Alberta’s financial woes are not good news for the rest of Canada.

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Underneath it all are the historic missteps and missed opportunities in establishing Alberta’s oil industry that have led to this latest fiscal hiccup. The continued deregulation of Alberta’s oil and tar sands has certainly allowed corporations to expand the industry to the size and breadth that it enjoys today, but the continued revenue-reducing (i.e. tax cuts) of the Alberta government has wreaked havoc on its ability to share wealth throughout the federation, much less,  its capacity to fund its own social spending.

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