back to article Canadians taking to spying on their spies

As Canadians settle in for the longest general election campaign since 1867, some uncomfortable incidents that had been ignored by commercial media outlets are gaining new exposure. Allegations that Canadian spooks are spying on protesters have become a hot topic online. The result is that Canada's online civil liberties …

  1. keithpeter
    Windows

    Groundswell

    "Today, you can hear it discussed (and debated) in depth at any number of blue collar bars."

    That's good. When stuff gets there and outside of the broadsheet reading classes politicians usually get the message and start tacking to the wind.

    Is there a catalyst for this groundswell of concern? The NDP you mention, is that a populist party?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Groundswell

      NDP are Canada's left-wing party. That said, they've moved more towards the center (by Canadian standards) as they started to have a real shot at the crown. They are not as populist as the Pirate or Green parties, but they do stand more for the people than the corporations.

      The NDP got elected in Alberta (which has had 43 consecutive years of Conservative government!) on a mandate of moving from flat taxes to progressive taxation, increasing oil royalties, increasing corporate taxes on large organizations, rooting out government corruption and cronyism, balancing the budget (which should be possible in Alberta, of all places!) and spending rationally on infrastructure instead of vanity projects.

      The NDP federally are running a very similar campaign, though there are some important differences. For example, federally, we already have progressive taxation, and the federal government doesn't control resource royalties.

      1. thames

        Re: Groundswell

        During the provincial election in Alberta the polls regularly showed the NDP as winning. The conclusion the pollsters, the press, and the pundits drew from that was that the polls must be wrong, because everyone knew that the Conservatives were going to win, and that it was inconceivable that the NDP could win. Instead, they talked about how disturbing it was that the polls could be so wrong, and so consistently wrong. We may be entering a new era they said, an era where we can no longer trust the polls because changes in society were making it more difficult for pollsters to gauge the true opinions of the populace. And this must be so, because everyone knew that it was laughable to even think that the Conservatives could lose, and the NDP of all parties win. And then the NDP won, just like the polls said they would.

        As for the federal NDP, there is something that ought to be mentioned about their leader, Thomas Mulcair. He was a Liberal cabinet minister when he was in provincial politics in Quebec. When he left provincial politics, both the federal Conservatives and the federal Liberals tried to recruit him. However, he joined the NDP and later took over as leader when the very popular and highly regarded Jack Layton suddenly and unexpectedly died.

        So, if Mulcair was considered to be quite acceptable to all three parties, there can't exactly be a huge ideological gap between them despite what Conservative propaganda might say. And quite frankly, there isn't. Politics in Canada is more about personalities than ideologies, which is why MPs cross the floor so regularly. You know like how the BQ, the leading "socialist" party in Quebec (before the NDP recently destroyed them) was formed by a faction of the Conservatives who split off over egos and personality conflicts in cabinet (Mulroney versus Bouchard)?

        Oh and Trevor? You forgot to mention that if/when the Conservatives get the boot this autumn, it's all over the press that Doug Ford secretly wants to take over the leadership of the party. Ha ha ha ha! I'm really, really, looking forward to that campaign, especially when his brother Rob pitches in to help him out. It's going to be comedy gold!

        1. LAGMonkey
          Thumb Up

          Re: Groundswell

          Thames, I would like to thank you for summarizing what for me is turning out to be a steep learning curve of Canadian politics. As a current Permanent Resident (as of March this year) I am unable to vote but I am taking an interest in such matters for future reference.

          My wife being a Citizen is able to vote and obviously has a much better grasp of whats going on.

          My impression at the moment is that the Liberals are the equivalent of the left, NDP the center and the Conservatives are the right.

          I do however remember the "New strong" (from my first visits to Canada) and was saddened to hear of his untimely death (My wife voted for him at one stage)

          1. thames

            Re: Groundswell

            @LAGMonkey - "My impression at the moment is that the Liberals are the equivalent of the left, NDP the center and the Conservatives are the right."

            Not exactly. The Liberals are the "centre", the NDP are the "left", and the Conservatives are the "right". However, the left isn't by and large very left, and the right isn't by and large very right. Everyone is really more or less centre. Mulcair started out as a Liberal, and so far as I can see he didn't have to change his opinions on anything to join and lead the NDP. His former boss (premier) in provincial politics was Jean Charest, who switched from being the leader of the federal Conservative Party to being the head of the provincial Liberal Party when he jumped the other way in politics. I could name loads of other very senior members of all three parties who jumped from one party to another at various times.

            However, left, right, and centre are not really that useful of a definition in Canadian politics. The Liberals for example don't even pretend to have any ideology other than being the party of sound budgetary management, competent management, and "knowing what is best for the country". If that sounds a bit arrogant, well that arrogance is what tends to get them kicked out of power on a regular basis until the voters have forgiven them. Aside from that, their nickname has been "the natural governing party". I just googled that phrase, and the top hits all refer to the Liberal Party of Canada.

            I said before though, politics in Canada tends to be more about personalities than policy. A lot of traditional Conservatives hate Harper and what he has done to their party. They don't consider him to be a "real" Conservative, since he came into the party via a merger with the Reform Party (which had a name change to Canadian Alliance before the merger). This is where you see the references to "Reform-a-Cons" - implying a distinction between the traditional Tories and the much disliked "Reformers". Even some of the original Reform Party members didn't seem to like Harper or his associates much. Here's Deb Grey 10 years ago on retiring from politics (the Conservatives were not yet in power) - look at the section from 1:18 to about 2:15

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMUb2Dkji6k

            She does not sound very thrilled with the then new leadership.

          2. Deryk Barker

            Re: Groundswell

            "My impression at the moment is that the Liberals are the equivalent of the left, NDP the center and the Conservatives are the right."

            The NDP are less rightwing than the Liberals, I wouldn't call either of them particularly left, although the NDP is more so than the Liberals.

            Harper's Conservatives are, as the old saying goes, somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: keithpeter Re: Groundswell

      "Today, you can hear it discussed (and debated) in depth at any number of blue collar bars." Yes, and Potty has personally gone and measured the volume of such paranoia in how many "blue collar bars"? It seems to be a common symptom amongst the politically-naive that they fall victim of their own hype and begin to baaaaahlive their most fervent ideals are "common", only for another election result to urinate all over their delusions (see posts in many threads here on El Reg complete with much wailing and gnashing of teeth after the recent UK elections led to the "impossible' Conservative victory). I suspect the tinfoil-clad Canucks will shortly be just as disappointed as their UK brethren.

  2. hplasm Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Go Canada!

    The People, not the would-be rulers.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I hope that we're watching this in the States

    I hope that the populace south of you is watching this and how it goes., but I know better. The people aren't paying attention. We're in the same boat (or one like it) and while maybe not as bad yet, it will be. How our neighbor to the north deals with this will set a precedent for our government. Scary times, indeed.

    In many ways, the Arab Spring reference is good in that it epitomizes the way things spread... In this case, one democracy becomes more repressive, the others follow all in the name of the security theater. Before we know it, we'll be worse off than the regimes we rail against.

    While we all blame politicians for these shenanigans, much of this is the result of the effort of corporations and their lobbyists. What's good for corporates isn't (usually) good for the people and what's going on to our north is a good example of what's going on here. No longer are terrorists classified by political leanings but by their stance on the corporations.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Liber8 yourself!

      The Global Corporate Congress would like a word with you, citizen...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Liber8 yourself!

        That program showed promise but promptly went downhill when it stopped corporate bashing imo.

    2. Jeff Lewis

      Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

      Americans aren't even generally aware Canada exists.

      I'm not being sarcastic here. I live in Vancouver and when I was shopping in Bellingham - which is just 12 miles from the border on the Washington side, the clerk wanted my phone number for their system. I said there's no point since I'm from Canada. He seemed surprised that I was shopping there.. "Isn't that a long way to go just to go shopping?'

      When I pointed out that it was just 12 miles up the road, he apologised and said that he was new here - and that he'd moved from Texas and so didn't know the area well.

      I've run into people who think the fact that we have a Queen is so 'quaint' and that apparently, the Queen is just waiting to take over Canada and turn it back into a colony (yes... more than one American has suggested this and no, it's not possible).

      And don't get me started on the health care issue. The American view of how that works up here is nothing short of surreal

      In the end, Americans have a deep belief that their country is absolutely unique and thus no solution found for a social problem in another country could possibly apply to them or situation in any other county be parallel to theirs in any way.

      The recent discussion over gun violence is a classic one in this respect. Games, movies, TV, comics.. all blamed - except that Canadians play the same games, watch the same movies and TV and read the same comics - yet we kill each other with guns 1/4 as much per capita. Population density? Over 1/4 of the entire population of Canada lives in just five cities. Downtown Vancouver has one of the highest population densities in North America.

      About the *only* reasons for the difference in gun violence between our nations are cultural differences (such as a fearmongering media in the US which is far less the case up here, a stronger integration of religion - and one religion at that into politics in the US while up here it's far more secular) and strong gun control laws, yet both of these are rejected out of hand by most Americans, if they're even considered at all.

      1. thames

        Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

        @Jeff Lewis - "I've run into people who think the fact that we have a Queen is so 'quaint' and that apparently, the Queen is just waiting to take over Canada and turn it back into a colony"

        You might simply answer them by saying that Her Majesty the Queen is our head of state, so she's already "taken us over". Whatever it is she was planning on doing, I imagine she's probably already done it.

        Ask your American acquaintances how many woman presidents they've had thus far. None they say? How quaint. When they've had women presidents for a long a proportion of their country's existence as we've had Queens in Canada, then they can talk about "quaint" social attitudes.

        1. LAGMonkey
          Alien

          Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

          Don't forget that "The Queen" is often used to refer to Her Royal Highness of Great Britain and Northern Island.

          Technically the head of state in Canada is the Queen of Canada.

          Yes shes the same woman at the moment, but i don't think there isn't anything stopping it from being another woman. Much like the Queen of Australia, the Queen in Right of New Zealand, and all the other Commonwealth Realms.

          I believe this kicked off when Empire stopped being fashionable.

      2. virhunter

        Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

        I'm surprised it's like that out west. In the Buffalo-Niagara region, we didn't think twice about going to Canada for shopping, seeing the other side of the Falls or even going to a Chinese restaurant before they started requiring passports or special driver's licenses to cross the border. Those of us with them still don't.

        1. DubyaG

          Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

          The person that did not know Canada was only 12 miles away was a transplant from Texas. I am surprised he found his way to Washington State as Texans are generally ignorant of anything outside of Texas.

          Geographic ignorance in the States is appallingly common. I have been in many parts of the country where people did not know where New Hampshire (my home) was.

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            @DubyaG -- Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

            The person that did not know Canada was only 12 miles away was a transplant from Texas. I am surprised he found his way to Washington State as Texans are generally ignorant of anything outside of Texas.

            There...FTFY

          2. Someone Else Silver badge
            Facepalm

            @DubyaG (again) Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

            I have been in many parts of the country where people did not know where New Hampshire (my home) was.

            Now, don't get me started about my former home, New Mexico, where even some US senators thought it was a foreign country.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

            But I bet they don't think that your state is a Canadian province...

      3. Bring_Back_MPE

        Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

        My two American favorites after moving from Toronto to the Bay Area of California are:

        1. " Of course California has a greater population than that of Canada - California is bigger than Canada ! "

        2. " You have driven on every road in Canada - right ? "

        1. Deryk Barker

          Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

          Oh, but they are NOTHING compared to the comments made by US visitors to Canada.

          I live in Victoria, 1.5 hour ferry ride from Washington State. We are, of course, used to Americans thinking it's OK to bring RVs full of guns up here - "I haven't broken any American laws" one would-be importer remarked - but overall, well...

          In front of our parliament buildings is a statue with the legend "Captain George Vancouver, RN".

          "Gee, I didn't know he was a registered nurse" one American was heard to observe.

          You have to explain to them that, no, that can't use US stamps on their postcards home.

          But my favourites are the ones who ask for directions to the bridge back to the mainland.

          "There isn't one"

          "Yes there is, we drove over it".

          "No, that must have been the ferry"

          And so it goes.

          A nation with a collective IQ in single digits.

      4. Esme

        Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

        re 'the health care issue' the other year I was fuming on a women-only email group about the sheer idiocy and chutzpah of some cretinous US politician that was saying that the NHS in the UK showed that a socialist health system couldn't work (there had been numerous articles in the press about health-care related failings at the time), and he was stating that privatised healthcare was clearly superior.

        Now, I was cross because the things that had been going wrong had been going wrong because of the privatisation of parts of the NHS - like cleaning services being contracted-out, instead of being handled by NHS employees, So that American politician had been saying that a socialist health-system can't work, as demonstrated by the failures of the privatised bits that were indeed serving the nation so poorly, and therefore full privavtisation is the way to go with healthcare.

        Cue one of the other email group members from the USA, who immediately accused me of being a communist and completely failed to see the logical flaw in a US politician saying that because the semi-privatisation of the NHS was making it worse that therefore a socialist NHS couldn't possibly work well, and a fully privatised heathcare system must be the answer.

        When I pointed out the poor performance of the US healthcare system compared to the UK one even given the NHS's current deficiencies, all I received was an incoherent blast of hysterical rhetoric in response. I had, formerly, respected the woman - but then we'd never discussed anything political outside feminism before. What IS it with some USAians that they can't discriminate between a socialist care system and communism?

        Even the Conservatives in the UK that I've discussed the matter with have never claimed that a socialist NHS can't work - it so very evidently did work very well for decades, and continues to do pretty well despite continuous Conservative attacks. No, what the local right-wingers have tended to say is that they like the idea of a privatised healthcare system better simply because they don't want to in any way pay for someone else's healthcare needs. Now, THAT is fair enough - it's not a position I agree with, and I also feel it's ethically unsound, but at least they're honest about it.

  4. Tom7

    Good, but don't hold out hope

    The internet is an echo chamber that tends to sound progressive, libertarian and left-wing; too often the electoral reality comes as a profound shock to the twittering classes, who thought they had the event sewn up.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Good, but don't hold out hope

      That's what the Conservative party of Alberta said.

      Right before we turfed them.

  5. DanceMan

    The NDP in Alberta's provincial election benefited from a split in the right wing vote between the Conservatives and the Wild Rose parties. Unfortunately the opposite applies federally, with the centre and centre left vote split between the NDP and the Liberals. Unless something dramatic occurs during the campaign, like maybe enough younger people actually voting, expect another Harper win.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      The Liberals are splitting the right and the left. Lots of conservatives want nothing to do with Harper. It's pretty much the only reason they're still in the race at all, given how much of the Liberal base has gone over to the NDP.

    2. iniudan

      It depend if Quebec stay primarily orange (which from the pool it should), along with British Colombia and Ontario showing a rise for the NDP, there is some hope for the Conservative been kicked out of power.

      But indeed I have no hope of anything else but Canadian Alliance... I mean Conservative, winning in Prairies.

  6. Mage Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Hmm...

    Sounds like a UK or Irish Prime minister with a good majority too. Or indeed very many places not the USA.

    The USA President is more like a Monarch that can be limited by parliament. Like a Monarch, the USA President isn't elected directly but selected really by those with power.

    The USA President does though have some powers that UK or Irish Prime Ministers don't have.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Worth a reminder

      The US of NSA is no longer a democracy.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Hmm...

      In theory the Canadian PM has less power than the UK because the senate (the upper house) can block bills - while the House of Lords can't. In practice gerrymandering and the appointment system means that senate is pretty much aligned with the government.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    The fact complex things like strategic voting are being discussed in Canada

    And people are worried about laws that let the government declare anyone a terrorist just for protesting against an injustice shows that the people there have half a brain, and won't be led willingly down the path their political and corporate masters have planned.

    Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time, as evidenced by the success Trump is having. The only saving grace for Trump's success is a bit of schadenfreude for Fox News for trying so successfully to dumb down the republican base with their fact free brand of news that they've finally reaped what they sowed.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time

      Point of order: NO ONE has voted for the lunatic Trump and I doubt anyone ever will.

      I believe his function is to corral the loony right under one banner so they can be transferred to the real Republican candidate's ticket at an appropriate time. That way they will vote for the right guy instead of sitting at home drinking and cleaning their guns.

      I don't think for a minute the lunatic Trump is going to run. If - after the Republican primary is over and he is an Independant or nothing - by some belch in the Universe's laws of probablity he does run, he won't win.

      1. GrumpyOldBloke

        Re: Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time

        > so they can be transferred to the real Republican candidate

        They tried that with Ron Paul - didn't go so well for them. Ron's voting base couldn’t stomach the ordained stooge and went home. After Obama's performance the republican hope is that they are now the least worst choice even with a corporate / Israeli approved leader. But everyone can see the US is in trouble, Trump has outlined a number of problems and set expectations. These problems having been aired will not now magically disappear from the minds of voters, especially republican voters.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time

          Exactly. I believe he has a shot at it especially if broadens his topical choices for ranting. Scary? I'm on the fence about this but giving thought to packing some bags for a run to the border. My more liberal friends are listening to him now and agreeing... that's scary. Seems they are abandoning Hillary, though I can't imagine why other than things like email.. secrets... putting up with Bill all these years.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time

            If Trump's function was to "corral" voters to the proper choice down the road, he wouldn't be running down his opponents so much. He spends as much time criticizing other republican candidates as he does Hillary and Obama.

            He speaks to the same angry white man who listened to Joe the Plumber a few years ago, who listen to guys like Rush, who watched Morton Downey Jr back in the day. The guys who think things are rigged against them being able to move up in the world like they believe they deserve. That a billionaire is voicing it for them is kind of surreal, but that's what he's tapping into with his screeds against immigration, against Mexico, against China. He pays lip service to stuff like complaining about Obamacare because those people have already been trained to hate it, but he doesn't really care and knows he's just singing with the choir there since all the republican candidates are against it.

            He's taking extreme positions and finding support, and some of the republican candidates are being forced to echo his positions. Others like Bush are trying to honestly state their position rather than seeing how extreme they need to be to win the primary, but Bush has said he'd risk losing the primary to win the election. That may happen, and the republicans may be in a lot of trouble in a general election if they have a candidate who has taken up very extreme positions that the middle of the road voters who decide elections can't accept. Even if Trump isn't the eventual nominee, and I doubt he will be, he may cause them to lose the election.

            Of course if he runs as an independent he certainly would cause them to lose the election; while he'll pull some from the democrat side he's obviously going to pull more from the republican side and would effectively hand the presidency to Hillary or possibly Sanders.

            1. Greg 16

              Re: Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time

              Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn have a lot in common.

              12 months ago, no one on earth could ever have expected that to be true.

              1. Ray Merrall

                Re: Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time

                Er! Trump being likened to Corbyn, Nope. Try Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, both are getting bigger crowds than the rest of their respective competitors put together.

                1. Greg 16

                  Re: Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time

                  "He's taking extreme positions and finding support, and some of the republican candidates are being forced to echo his positions. Others like Bush are trying to honestly state their position rather than seeing how extreme they need to be to win the primary, but Bush has said he'd risk losing the primary to win the election. "

                  That's pretty similar to the situation in the Labour leadership election if you ask me. Of course some will say that Corbyn's policies are not extreme, but whatever.

                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                    Go

                    Re: Greg 16 Re: Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time

                    ".....Of course some will say that Corbyn's policies are not extreme...." I like Corbyn, at least he seems reasonably honest, even if I don't actually agree with just about any of his policies. The problem for Corbyn is his policies, whilst popular with the Left, will not appeal to the Center. Similarly, a lot of Trump's rantings may appeal to the extreme Right, but he will stand zero chance in an election when he has zero appeal to even the moderate Right, let alone the Center, and that's before you even get round to the fact he does not have Corbyn's honesty.

              2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

                Not very good grief

                Why have I read this far?

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile in the US, voters are getting stupider all the time (@ Myself)

        "I don't think for a minute the lunatic Trump is going to run. If - after the Republican primary is over and he is an Independant or nothing - by some belch in the Universe's laws of probablity he does run, he won't win."

        Another astonishing prediction from Stevie the Prescient. Wrong in every single detail.

        Stap moi.

  8. The Dude

    Alternatives

    The Libertarian Party of Canada seems to be doing much better in this election. Canadians are becoming more aware and receptive to that message.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Alternatives

      Sadly, the Libertarian Party also seem to be strongly socially conservative. But hey, if you guys want to - and can - siphon off some of Harper's support then by all means, please do!

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        @ Trevor_Pott -- Re: Alternatives

        Sadly, the Libertarian Party also seem to be strongly socially conservative.

        Whazzat, Trevor? Canadian Libertarians being at least as hypocritical as their American namesakes?!? Whoodathunkit?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PM Harper vs The Supreme Court of Canada

    PM Harper was described as a 'policy wonk' (expert). In fact, his government has lost nearly all of the challenges that have reached the Supreme Court. The scorecard is about 12 losses in 14 cases (roughly).

    It's nice to see that Trevor Pott can write an article without the vile, bile and spittle that is often included in his comments. Hey, I mean that in a nice way. ;-)

  10. Johnny Canuck

    Trevor is way over inflating how much the average Canadian cares about the election and the issues surrounding it. The reality is that barely 50 percent of eligible voters will even bother to show up at the polls. These "hotbeds" of political discussion Trevor makes reference to are likely nothing more than already disenchanted, semi-radical types who hate absolutely anything to do with Steven Harper and the conservatives. But he is right about one thing, the NDP look poised to form their first national government ever, largely at the expense of the Liberals. As long as they don't start spouting radical leftist nonsense and Mulcair keeps his “Angry Tom” persona under wraps, They stand a very good chance of winning.

    P.S. I hate Bill C-51 as well.

    1. Keef

      " The reality is that barely 50 percent of eligible voters will even bother to show up at the polls"

      You think that makes you different from the rest of developed world?

      People who really want to vote often can't in any meaningful way and risk threats if they do.

      Those who have the right regard it as a low priority as the choices they have are usually so poor as to not make it worth the walk to the voting office.

      Either way it's the politicians who screw it up for all of us, whatever regime we live under, and it seems there is little that can de done to change regimes. Unless your name is Blair/Bush and you fancy a bit of illegal warmongering of course.

      Sad isn't it.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Trevor is way over inflating how much the average Canadian cares about the election and the issues surrounding it

      The only Canadians who matter are those who turn up to vote. They are generally the ones discussing the politics. As for the rest, quite literally, who cares? They are essentially "unpeople" as far as determining the fate of our nation is concerned. And they're unpeople by choice.

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        The only Canadians who matter are those who turn up to vote.

        I'm just letting you know out of courtesy that I am stealing that and modifying to fit my own ends. Well said!

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        The only Canadians who matter are those who turn up to vote AND live in marginal ridings in Quebec.

        The concentration of seats means that the election is decided before many people wake up - so there is no point in even campaigning in most of the country.

  11. EL Vark

    The BC pipeline issue isn't just about volume and safety (re: derailments). The intended pipelines are designed to carry Alberta heavy crude (Tar Sands product) to ports where the product will be shipped via tanker to Asia in general, and China in particular, with the usual "jobs and money for all" spiel. The election and current global economics have quieted the issue but it's still on the table.

    As it happens, the Reform Bill was introduced by my local MP, Michael Chong. A bright and apparently decent guy, he's nonetheless a loyalist (despite quitting cabinet on a point of principle) and sang the praises of his own utterly gutted, and therefore utterly useless bill when it was passed. Were this not a True Tory Blue riding, he would probably be elected on merit under any other flag; as it is, he can only remain so long as he's part of the CPC machine.

    This relates to your quasi-revolutionary position. No. While the Net is retentive unto itself, poll after poll have indicated that the social media generation do not vote in significant numbers. If whatever disconnect exists can be overcome, then perhaps your revolution might bear fruit, though this is contingent upon a ruling party's willingness to adopt new methods of representation and legislation. Alas, there is no evidence that a sitting government would cast away it's own power and influence in the name of actual Democracy. In our "First past the post" system, if every riding has, say, five candidates, a single party could win every seat with only 21% of the popular vote; it's this that needs to first be addressed but Every alternative so far brought to the electorate (not that there have been many) has been so hopelessly and deliberately convoluted and just plain strange that they were soundly rejected in favour of the status quo.

    The Centre-Left NDP (formerly a populist agriculture and labour oriented body - though not nearly so bent as the UK's "Labour Party") have risen in popularity nationally and, yes, the Alberta victory (which was far more than a PC/Wildrose split, the NDP captured ~41% of the popular vote) has contributed to that. The bulk of their support remains in Quebec, however, which tends to skew national polling, and the people of Quebec aren't so much pro-Orange as really, really Anti-Harper, even to the detriment of the recently resurrected Bloc Quebecois.

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      media

      "While the Net is retentive unto itself, poll after poll have indicated that the social media generation do not vote in significant numbers."

      Good point, but the "social media" that is really working here is different from things like Facebook. To quote the article:

      "Online civil liberties movements Leadnow.ca and Openmedia.ca are seeing membership and engagement treble ahead of the election."

      These are e-mail based and appeal to a politically engaged audience. This is quite different from the world of lolcats and selfies.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: media

        Now if they were allowed to vote via smartphone and text, the numbers would probably be a lot higher. <sigh>

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
          Coat

          Yeah, and most likely higher than the number of voters.

  12. WatAWorld

    The PM in Canada has same powers as PM in UK

    FYI, the PM in Canada has same powers as PM in UK. It's been like this since 1867.

    Yes, surprise, we aren't part of the USA.

    1. Nolveys Silver badge

      Re: The PM in Canada has same powers as PM in UK

      we aren't part of the USA.

      Someone should tell that to Stephen Harper.

  13. Jeff Lewis

    First off, it's very weird to see the politics of my country discussed on El Reg. :)

    So, Bill C-51 is probably one of the most contentious bills ever passed in Canada and the Liberals' support of it probably marked the moment where they went from being the most likely party to replace the Conservatives to being a distant third, elevating the more left NDP to the lead.

    Even if you accept a need for C-51 - and that's not at all a given since Canada has experienced very little in the way of terrorist action so far - the construction of that bill far overstepped the usual governmental limits by being so broadly worded that gathering like protests could magically become illegal at the whim of the government. It technically doesn't even require the protests being branded terrorist or supporting of terrorist groups, amazingly. Even if they're just disruptive they can be stopped.

    The constitutionality of C-51 has yet to be challenged - most people suspect (or hope) it won't pass, but the fact that the Conservatives think this is a necessary bill and that the Liberals supported it has drawn political lines.

    Oh, and Canada's national sport may be hockey (well, actually it's lacrosse - but you know what I mean), but politics may be a close second. Canadians are VERY aware of their political system and the people who run it. In fact, it's a saying here that in Canada, politicians aren't so much elected as thrown out of office.

    Case in point, the election earlier this year of the provincial NDP in the far right, Texas-like province of Alberta which has had a strong majority Conservative government for the past 37 years. In one election, both right wing parties, the Progressive Conservatives and the Wild Rose Party were gutted and replaced with a left wing party majority mainly over the arrogant and disrespectful way those parties were behaving.

    The Federal Conservatives under Brian Mulroney experienced this first hand in 1992 when they went from being the majority government to having just six seats. And the Liberals had a similar moment in 2006 when Harper's Conservatives took the minority lead and held onto it for 10 years to now.

    1. EL Vark

      Just a little housekeeping for our friends who don't enjoy the privilege of residing in our perpetually naval-gazing (er, "inward looking") and frequently schizoid land of three down football :)

      The 1993 Federal Election that destroyed (literally destroyed) the former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada was in many ways a reaction to the Brian Mulroney years, but Mulroney had quit in favour of Kim Campbell's premiership; the first, only, blink and you'd miss her female Prime Minister of Canada. The PC's were reduced from a majority 154 seats (at dissolution) to 2. Two. Jean Charest and Elsie Wayne remained as the sole standard bearers. Charest later ran and won as the Liberal Premier of Quebec; federal/provincial party swapping is one of those weird traditions we have.

      The NDP is definitely "Left Wing" by American standards, but has been firmly entrenched as a centre-left party for decades, it's strident socialist policies having long since been hived off in favour of electability. Several provinces have elected majority NDP governments over the years, Alberta is merely the most recent and surprising. The federal branch are the current Official Opposition. No established party, federally or provincially, is "Right Wing" in the sense that one might mean in, say, Alabama. This isn't to say that they wouldn't be if they thought they could get away with it, but to our collective credit, our "far right" as it exists is still about three steps left of the American Democratic party.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      C-51

      I think the Liberals didn't speak out against C-51 because they feared a year of "they support terrorists" ads more then anything. After the "budget will balance it's self" attack ads were so effective they didn't want to give harper another stick to hit them with.

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

    The US has no hope in this kind of matter as things stand now. So, the Liberals and Conservatives are both supporting a Canadian surveillance state, and NDP opposing.

    Well, in the US, if people wake up to these types of abuses, what are they going to do about it? in the US, both main parties (Republicans and Democrats) give minimal lip service to opposing a massive surveillance state (at best, some talk about how great it is...), while doing NOTHING WHATSOEVER to even slow it down (obediently passing every surveillance bill they are asked to.). Without reforms there is no 3rd party to pick to kick these bums out of office, like there is in Canada. Don't get me wrong I'm voting 3rd party, but I'm realistic about the candidates chances. There are two reasons for this problem:

    The US's broken political polling system pretends 3rd parties do not exist (polls don't even give a choice of saying "none of the above", as far as these defective political polls are concerned, you are either voting for one of the main 2 parties, "undecided", or not voting at all.) So, people see polls claiming all voters are voting for the 2 main parties.

    Second, there's a sick attitude in the US that you are "throwing away your vote" if you vote for someone you want in office, if they don't have a significant chance of winning. It's even stupider than that, because you have counties where it's like 75% Democrat or 75% Republican, people will come out to vote Democrat in a 75% Republican county (or vice versa), but those very same people will claim it's "throwing away their vote" to vote for someone they actually want in office if they are 3rd party. A corollary is the sick argument "A vote for (3rd party candidate) is a vote for (whoever.. if it's a Republican saying this nonsense, the Democratic candidate, if it's a Democrat the Republican candidate.)", which is obviously bullshit since you're not voting for either one.

    1. thames

      Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

      @Henry Wertz 1 - "So, the Liberals and Conservatives are both supporting a Canadian surveillance state, and NDP opposing."

      Only certain parts of bill C-51 are controversial, the rest is not. The government has an absolute majority and can pass any legislation it wants. The Liberals took the tactical position of voting for the bill while stating that they would remove or change the unpalatable bits if they were elected to government. That decision was made simply to take the wind out of the sails of Conservative attacks on them. The Conservatives have been focusing their attacks on the Liberals, and were all wound up to jump on them over the issue and were left looking rather deflated when the Liberals took the position they did.

      However, the NDP opposed the bill due to those controversial parts, and they have probably benefited from that clear stance. The Liberals are if anything masters of expediency, but it seems the NDP have benefited in this instance from taking a position of principle.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

        The NDP benefited because they aren't cowards whoa re afraid of Harper saying mean things about them and willing to betray the Canadian people in order to get a percentage point or two in the polls.

        Trudeau, however, is a coward and a traitor. At least Harper is openly against the Canadian people. Trudeau tries to hide his duplicity. Harper's a monster, but I actually have less respect for Harper than I do Trudeau. Never thought I'd see that day. But Trudeau just keeps finding a way to throw the Canadian people under the bus and demand we worship him for it.

        How about no.

  15. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    " I believe his function is to corral the loony right under one banner"

    I actually take this as a sign of the US's broken political system. In normal countries, the loony right have their own political party; the loony left have their own party; there'll be a party that is more or less centrist (which would more or less encompass the "core" of both main US parties), and probably a few parties along the *other* political spectrum (strong state versus individual liberties, which the US ignores in favor of pretending there is only "left" versus "right").

    The last several elections, the Democrats will have some bland centrists (meaning "center" politically) and some "we need a giant state for handouts" types, but more or less have kept things under control candidate-wise, having some minimal cohesion. The Republicans, due to the broken political system you'll end up with "we need a big state and military" types, *and* isolationists, *and* libertarians, *and* nutjob religious fundamentalists, *and* whatever Trump is, besides the usual bland centrists, all vying for control of the party, to set the platform, and to get all the candidates. In other words, people that would be under at lest 2 or 3 different parties in a normal country will vie for control and candidacy in this single party.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A couple (or maybe more) of thoughts here.

    " a Prime Minister with a majority can simply order laws into place. Party members that don't vote as the Prime Minister demands won't be party members any more."

    Same in the UK. The party whip provides a very strong impetus for junior politicians to vote along party lines rather than with their constituents desires.

    Should an MP not follow 'the whip' they can 'lose the whip', be kicked out of the party, and, in effect (in the UK at least) lose their seat. So the PM is an actual dictator, He decides the policy that the UK government is going to follow, if you don't like it, you are no longer a member of the government. And you lose all of those wonderful perks that that entails. (Search Tony Blair for details.)

    Disenfranchisement

    (first, I'm surprised I spelt it right. I have spelt it right haven't I?)

    How many people don't vote because their vote doesn't mean any thing? How many MP's have promised things that simply don't happen? How many election policies are 'forgotten' because of "political expediency"? Can our, and your, voters sack their MP's because they're not doing what the MP's promised? So many commentators have commentated about big corporations and lobbyists holding disproportionate influence over our governments (which ever country we are in.) All of this leads to disenfranchisement, the feeling that "my vote doesn't matter at all." And so why vote at all?

    Full disclosure.

    I am a UK born subject, a veteran (RN), now a professional, and, what one might consider a true blue tory. I don't vote, what's the point? Our 'politicians don't represent us, they don't protect us, and follow their own self serving interests at our expense. I will not cry when the revolution comes.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Politics et al

    AS a Canadian, I am sorely disappointed (but not surprised) that there has been no meaningful discourse about real issues.

    I am personally ok with protesters being INTENSELY scrutinized, especially those who would employ unlawful civil disobedience or willful property damage. I have little sympathy for those who would inflict their beliefs in that manner and the FULL force of the law should descend upon them.

    FYI Trevor, the Alberta NDP were voted in as a form of protest because of an odious sitting government, not because of any endorsement by the majority of the population of the NDP polices.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Politics et al

      Spoken like a true Tory. Clinging to the fantasy of the continued relevance of socially conservative ideals, are you? Well, when you move on from the past, drop me a post card.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Windows

      First past the post and voters' intent

      "FYI Trevor, the Alberta NDP were voted in as a form of protest because of an odious sitting government, not because of any endorsement by the majority of the population of the NDP polices."

      As a Canadian and a former Albertan, I think a correction is in order. The overwhelming majorities PC (and Socreds before them) used to get are an obvious byproduct of the first-past-the-post system, rather than a reflection the voters' intent. Let's take a look at the years of the PC rule in, shall we? I'll round the votes and sears percentages to the nears integers if you don't mind.

      Year %seats %votes cast

      1971 65 46

      1975 92 63

      1979 94 57

      1982 95 62

      1986 81 51

      1989 71 44

      1993 61 44

      1997 76 51

      2001 89 62

      2004 75 47

      2008 87 53

      2012 70 44

      So, for about half of their 44-year rule, the PCs in fact were in power -against- the express wishes of the majority of the population, and still had dictatorial-level majorities. Whatever Trevor says, the current NDP government in Alberta is also ruling -against- the express wishes of the majority of the Albertans, 59% of whom cast their votes against an NDP candidate. Even so, they command 63% of the seats.

      Unfortunately, every party seems to recognize the unfairness of the situation when they are in opposition (and I expect PC will be no different). Once they get the power, their outlook magically changes (and I expect NDP to be no differect) - so it seems we are stuck with first-past-the-post, and the increasing voter apathy.

    3. thames

      Re: Politics et al

      @Anonymous Coward - "I am personally ok with protesters being INTENSELY scrutinized"

      Yes, you have no objection to people being intensely scrutinized. Which is why you posted anonymously.

  18. Schultz
    Facepalm

    Money talks ...

    but doesn't yet vote in Canada.

    [So which way will it go in the future? Will the longstanding oppression of companies continue? Don't that have a constitution up there to protect those fragile flowers of capitalism?]

    1. Haefen

      Re: Money talks ... loudest in Canada

      Canada is still a colonial 1st stage economy dependent on the export of raw resources to a single customer. Money not only talks it does all the walking. The Canadian people can, of course, chatter on about anything they want as long as they don't start wanting their own country or any control that would change their status as drawers of water and hewers of wood for a more powerful country. That's Canada's past, it's present and even if the NDP were elected it will be their future as most Canadians are so new to Canada (a majority a few generations or less) they will not rock the canoe.

  19. Danux01

    Canadian Politics

    Regarding Alberta's current provincial government, it is important to note that the left NDP party was elected because the two right-wing provincial parties split the right vote. The greatest preponderance of votes were handily for the right, when combined, but the Conservatives' entitled attitude and belief that they were leading, rather than representing, caused a perfect divide in the right vote, allowing the left to garner more than either, separately (41% left, 52% right, 7% center).

    Federally, Canada does not have two right-leaning parties, so to win, one must win. The current prime minister, S. Harper, has really done a phenomenal job ensuring his party won't be re-elected, but it will take a significant effort by the new party, just to simply undo the mess Canadian's have allowed the Conservatives to make. Coupled with the recession, the only real democratic economic choice seems to be Keynes, but it is tough to convince people when most of us are making decisions using American propaganda as our primary influence.

    Of course, now that every nation's oil storage tanks are full, and all three superpowers have upgraded their military-industrial manufacturing capacity, conditions are set for a good old-fashioned global war. Raise your hands - who wants the economic reset button pressed?

  20. inquisition.ca

    Having lived almost all my life in Canada, and tried to get elected in the past three Federal elections (for the CHP), and having skimmed all comments up to mine, I would tend to agree with " Johnny Canuck" and "EL Vark". Additionally, I don't know anything about Trevor Pott, but I assume he is either unaware, or unwilling to learn about, the sad influence of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) on Canadian minds. My personal experiences with the CBC are described here: www.inquisition.ca/en/polit/artic/src.htm. Yes, this doesn't concern Bill C-51 directly, but it does tend to show that the CBC has great influence over what is considered important by Canadian voters.

  21. Zacpod

    I'm Canadian, and lean pretty far to the left. (socially WAY left, financially more to the center.) I was, however, planning on voting Liberal this election as I figured they'd have the best chance of ousting Harper.

    Then came C-51, and Trudeau happily went along with it, without so much as a whimper of protest. That, for me, was the moment when I knew I couldn't vote for the Libs. I can't in good conscience give my vote to anyone who cares so little for the privacy of the people they work for, and/or is so weak willed that he'd let something like that pass without screaming and yelling.

    So, NDP is getting my vote. I'm a little nervous that they've never had a federal government before, but I trust that Mulcair will do what he says, and more to the point, I trust that he actually respects the Canadian people - something Harper has never done, and Trudeau can't do since he's too busy contorting himself in to pretzels at the behest of his advisers

  22. Dave 32

    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quis_custodiet_ipsos_custodes%3F

    Dave

  23. AbeSapian

    What The Hell Happened to Canada

    Canada used to be so reasonable. They'd apologize for being helpful. What happened to them.

    I think the Canadians need to stand at the border with fans blowing south to drive away whatever is contaminating them from the U.S.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't believe everything you read

    Here's my message for the swing voters: take this ridiculous article with a grain of salt, have a look-see at Bill C-51 and decide for yourself whether or not it would actually affect you, and take a good long look at the individuals who will actually be on the ballot instead of voting with your ass and going NDP because you like Mulcair better than the spineless Trudeau or despiseable Harper.

    While you're at it, open a history book and look at where the worst fascists you can think of started their political careers.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Don't believe everything you read

      Hi, AC - let me fix that for you:

      By all means look at Bill C-51, swing voters, but look at who it will affect and how, and whether you care about the effects on those people. Then, and only then, decide how you are going to vote, taking into account how the leaders of the parties have behaved in the past, since the winner is going to be the de facto single leader of your country.

  25. Rather Notsay

    Who me?

    The 5th column HATES being spied on.

  26. E 2

    You are all terrorists and if you go to Canada a random minister of the Crown will incarcerate you without charge for an arbitrary period of time, after which Daddy Harper will ship you to Syria to be tortured.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Click bait="Canadians taking to spying on their spies"

    The article seems to have so little to do with the title it makes me wonder if an editor choose the title? I certainly wouldn't have clicked on "Many Canadians hope to elect a left-leaning NDP government". The article gets a promising start discussing protesters rights being violated, but just spirals into a veiled "I can't stand the Conservatives and despise Stephen Harper even more" rant.

    But on politics...Frankly, I'm not liking any of the main parties. Stephen Harper, the control freak, has done pretty much anything and everything he could have done simply to stay in power over the last few years. I'm opposed to any part saying they'll run a deficit budget, so won't look at the Liberals. And the NDP seems to just have another control freak at the helm with policies slightly to the left of the conservatives.

    I might be voting for my Green Party candidate!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    camerica

    lovely, simply lovely...

    at least Canadians don't have to lock their doors... right

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