Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Get out and vote! I guess. If you want to, anyway.

No, you really should. Not that anyone will judge if you don't feel particularly inspired. Speaking as a reformed political junkie, I fully understand the desire to throw them all under the bus.

But, it's important and since policy has been in short supply in this New Kind of Strong Anyone But Harper Dion's Not a Leader Ontario NDP No you suck campaign....

Below the jump a summery of the Liberal, Green, Conservative and NDP platforms on sport and recreation.

The Conservatives are short on details, and are the only party that doesn't include sports and recreation policy with the health care platform--the CPC seems to view sport in the same way Reagan era Republicans did. It's a form of culture and nation building--something to get the juices flowing and the flags waved.

The platform reads:
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will continue support for sport and amateur fitness in Canada, at both the elite and recreational levels. We will also enhance the Children's Fitness Tax Credit by making it refundable.

As said, a little short on the details. However, I'm sure a Conservative candidate would tell you that the government just did increase spending on Own the Podium by $10 million and that Stephen Harper really likes hockey. He's a Leafs fan.
The opposition will tell you that the Conservatives aren't really offering anything of substance and that, other than a tax cut aimed at the middle class, they haven't really delivered over the past two years. Also, they would suggest, Stephen Harper is evil.

The Liberals don't offer a lot more detail than the Conservatives, although they do throw a number out--$3 billion. Tying the increased spending into the promotion of a healthier society, the Liberals seem to be suggesting that the majority of that money would go to improve sport infrastructure.

The platform reads:
...At least $3 billion for Sports and Recreational Facilities because an active
society is a healthier society and Canada must renew and expand its arenas
and other leisure facilities.

I'm sure the Conservatives would tell you that the Liberals had a decade plus in power where they paid little attention to the file. The Liberals would counter that that was then, under the leader with the funny accent (in either language) that they don't talk about, and that
really likes hockey. He's a Habs guy, clearly.

The NDP, always big fans of detailed policy, are a little more detailed in their plans. Again tying it into health care policy, the dippers are committing 1 per cent of federal health care spending to sport and recreation. Although they don't mention elite sport at all...they don't mention elite sport at all. The party's entire focus is on improving access to recreation for, (sigh), everyday working families.

The platform:
Dedicate one per cent of the Health Canada budget to physical fitness and amateur sports promotion, including:

Investing in the development of more community centres, seniors centres, recreational facilities and playing fields.

Launch a federal Determinants of Health Initiative with emphasis on clean air, safe water, reducing poverty and improving children's health and nutrition. We will ban trans fats and expand other initiatives to promote healthy foods and healthy eating, including:

Addressing the crisis of childhood obesity by implementing a pan-Canadian strategy, and limiting the exposure of children to "junk food" promotion.

Ensure that all infants in Canada have access to hearing testing, in cooperation with the provinces and territories.

Increase support for provincial and territorial health initiatives, including the Cancer Control System.

Invest in trails associations across the country, joining forces with Canadians who are blazing new trails by walking, cycling, wheeling, skiing and running their way to healthier, more active lifestyles.

The Grits and Tories will tell you that the NDP doesn't have a chance in hell of forming the government anyway, so they can promise anything they want (the Libs will have less of an argument about comparative relevancy than the CPC does) and they might point out that there is little for Canadian Olympic athletes in that platform. The NDP will counter by suggesting that there platform is the only one that focus on everyday needs of Canadians and that the creation of more bike paths is a unique green initiative that is overlooked by the traditional ruling parties. Also, Jack Layton really likes hockey. He cheers for the Parkdale Flames atom girls.

The Greens aren't going to get elected, but they do have a nice, detailed policy platform that addresses both elite and recreational sport. Here it is:

* Promote a broad-based national program of active living as a prescription for better health and lower health care costs, to be delivered in partnership with provincial, municipal and non-governmental bodies to achieve the goal agreed to by all ministers responsible for physical activity across Canada of increasing physical activity by 10% over the next five years.
* Introduce a national standard of daily, quality participation in physical activity in schools, colleges and universities to combat the epidemic of youth obesity.
* Make a strategic investment through Health Canada of $500 million over five years to aggressively address inactivity and obesity.
* Re-introduce a national school-based fitness-testing program.
* Promote the “Walking School Bus,” as developed by the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, in which adult volunteers supervise neighbourhood children walking to school thereby reducing pollution, improving fitness, and promoting community street safety.
* Endorse and promote the Olympic Movement’s Agenda 21 for Sport, which advocates sport and recreation management practices that are sustainable and encourages sustainable practices at all sports events and facilities.
* Establish an Olympic Spending Accountability Act, to ensure the effective long-term use of taxpayers dollars provided to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
* Support the development of high-performance athletes both by encouraging broad-based participation in sport, and by contributing to the provision of essential facilities, coaching and medical support for high-performance athletes, as outlined in the 2003 Canadian Sport Policy.
* Structure the spending for sports to ensure there is a practical progression of long-term financial support for sport at all levels in the sports continuum.
* Establish a Canadian Sports Spending Accountability Act, to ensure the effective long-term use of taxpayers dollars provided to high performance sports programs.

The other parties likely won't say much of anything about the Greens because they fear further legitimizing the party. The Greens will tell you that a green environment will allow for an overall healthier society and that their platform goes the furthest to address that. Also, Elizabeth May really likes hockey. She just knows that the Vancouver Blue Bombers are going to win the World Series this year.


Anonymous said...

The beauty of the Canadian electoral system is its simplicity and brevity.
A campaign that lasted barely a month and a half...although Harper was running anti-Dion ads for months before the election was called.
The US election process seems convoluted and protracted by comparison, seeming to have been going on for at least a year and a half by now.
The only problem with this election here at home is that it will probably change nothing.
Harper will likely have another minority government, failing to capitalize ultimately on Dion's infamous Carbon Tax policy.

John Edwards said...

Pretty much. There will be some shifting of the deck chairs on the Titanic, but I doubt the total change amounts to much of anything.

sager said...

What, nothing about Gerry Boyle and the Newfoundland Separation Party?

If you can mark an X, you're my kind of people

I've lived in safe Tory ridings the last 3 elections and safe Liberal ridings the 2 before that, so when my vote actually counts again, maybe I'll cast a ballot.

Mike said...

Alright I'll admit I'm pretty environmentally conscious however I'm not voting Green - even if they do have the most detailed platform in regards to sports.

I really was glad to see the Green Party included within the debates just to shake things up, offer different perspectives rather than the same old stagnant ones offered time and again by all the major parties. But like Duane said the parties aren't throwing the Greens any bones here even on their good ideas, which really just hurts us in the end in my opinion...at least consider changing up the tactics maybe? No?

Ah well, regardless I'm heading out to vote tonight, and agreed so should everyone - make your voice heard, even if it doesn't change much it's still essential!

Duane Rollins said...

I'm not advocating this--people get told what to think too much already--but a vote for the Greens does accomplish one thing. It gives the party $1.50.

So, if you like their platform, like the idea of having a new voice in the political discussion and aren't inspired by the other three choices...then there are probably worse things to do with your vote.

Duane Rollins said...

One more quick thing...

Although it's too late to take advantage of it now, if you feel like Neate (that your vote doesn't matter because of the First Past the Post system) there are options out there. Cote pairing--where you join up with another voter in another riding and agree to cast each others vote. So, if you are a NDP supporter living in Oakville, where the NDP is a non-factor, you agree to vote Liberal for a voter in Saskatchewan (where the Liberals area swear word), while they vote NDP for you.


sager said...

That doesn't do anything to repair a broken system, however.

Ethically, I have a real problem with that. How do I know for sure that the other person would cast her/his vote that way?

Duane Rollins said...

There are issues, no doubt. For one, there is the potential for manipulation by members a political party who sign up looking to double up their vote.

Votepair matches two voters and provides each with the other's contact information. It's then up to each voter to negotiate the terms of the switch...a buyer beware kind of thing

It's perfectly legal by the way...so long as money doesn't change hands.

I cast my own vote for a party that won't win my riding about two hours ago. I've actually only ever voted for a winning candidate once in my life, which probably says something about me...

Dennis Prouse said...

It looks like 1900 people registered. Pretty fair to describe the whole exercise as a flop.

The problem with the vote pairing concept is that it is dreamed up by hard core political junkies with an agenda. Your average voter is not a political junkie and doesn't have a detailed agenda. If they are going to show up at all, they just want to feel good about their vote. Therefore, you are never going to convince a significant number of real people to abandon their first choice in order to "stop" another candidate. One of the hardest lessons in politics is that the average voter doesn't hate your opponent nearly as much as you would like them to.

To paraphrase a line from 40 Year Old Virgin, want to know how I know Harper is going to win big? I heard this young girl on the bus, early 20s or so, iPod, basic campus wear, and someone I never in a million years would have pegged as a Tory voter, tell her male friend that she was voting Conservative. It was the best of a bunch of bad choices, she explained, and the most responsible decision she could make. I was floored. If Harper is picking up the votes of female U of O Arts students, he is going to do a lot better tonight than people think.

sager said...

When I look for political wisdom, I always look to the demo that's responsible for The Hills and Dancing With The Stars being on the air.

Duane Rollins said...

For the record, I chose to highlight Votepair because it was the only vote swapping site that did not have an "anti" agenda. There are other, more popular, "anyone but" sits out there.