Friday, October 10, 2008

Star Pheonix Reporter sounds miffed at limited penetration by Socialists and their cousins the Liberals in Saskatchewan

The following is a letter to the editor submitted 10/10/08 to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, based on a column by Randy Burton, October 9/08 where he criticized incumbent MP, Maurice Vellacott, for having the temerity to criticize Supreme Court Judges and support changes to the federal divorce act to allow for, what should be a right of equality in our constitution, but is not practiced that way in family courts. Fathers have few discernible rights when it comes to family breakdown and are marginalized by courts, lawyers, feminist imbued services in the woman's support ecosystem and have a 6 times higher suicide rate than women after divorce or separation. Mr. Vellacott is a brave and pioneering person to help bring this grave matter of inequality to parliament in support of equal and shared parenting in PMM 483.

Dear editor:

I find it interesting your columnist thinks Supreme Court Justices are above criticism by an MP or any judge for that matter. Does that mean he thinks newspapers ought not to criticize them as well - or are they above suspicion? (Tougher times for Tories in Saskatchewan Randy Burton, The StarPhoenix, October 9/08)

Mr. Vellacot is not afraid to act on principle and he knows thousands upon thousands of Canadian Fathers have been marginalized by Family Courts in Saskatoon and across this vast nation. He apparently has a vision much broader than Burton's.


Mr. Burton can feel comfortable in his criticism as long as he is 1) Not married 2) thinks he is happily married and his wife doesn't get a restraining order against him based on false accusations of abuse 3) Has no children 4) has children but doesn't care if the wife takes off with them and then gets the family home, half or more of his income and pension contributions, complete legal and physical custody of the children and puts him on the street looking for a place to stay...there is more but it can fill a book.


All I can say to Burton and his ilk - look further into the seamy underbelly of the family court system in your community and the take home pay of family law lawyers who have a vested interest in the current status quo then you will know what it is like right across this country.


Tougher times for Tories in Saskatchewan


Randy Burton

The StarPhoenix



Thursday, October 09, 2008


As the hourglass on the federal election draws down, the ballot question across the country has become which party can best handle the economic crisis.


The Conservatives are losing ground on this issue, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, but there is some question whether that trend will have any significant impact on the outcome in Saskatchewan.


How to defend the economy is not a question Conservatives have had to answer in this province for years, given the recent boom.


The success of the Reform/Alliance/Conservative movement in Saskatchewan has been largely based on corralling the majority of the anti-Liberal vote. Until now, the Conservatives haven't tasted tough times.


The buoyant provincial economy allowed them to laugh off any notion the province is owed federal equalization money and it's unlikely the turmoil of recent days will put much of a dent in their electoral results next Tuesday.


The Conservatives' domination of the federal scene is so complete here that the biggest question going into the election was whether they could sweep the province. With just days to go, it would appear the answer to that is probably not, but there can't be any more than two or three seats in play.


Ralph Goodale will likely hold on to his Wascana riding, David Orchard may yet be able to score an upset in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River and the NDP's Nettie Wiebe may still be in the picture in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar.


Beyond those possible exceptions, the federal electoral map of Saskatchewan is likely to remain a sea of Tory blue on election night. With just 21/2 years in a minority government, the Conservatives have not yet gathered enough enemies here to opt for any significant change.


Yet when you look at the pattern being established by the party's Saskatchewan MPs, you have to wonder when their off-centre behaviour will begin to affect their electoral fortunes.


Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has become the figurehead for this trend with his ill-advised jokes about the listeriosis outbreak. He has almost completely disappeared from the radar since he wondered if the government would die a death of "a thousand cold cuts."


That incident might be all but forgotten except for the fact that it tends to refresh memories of the misdemeanours of other MPs during the years.


Whether it's ancient videotapes starring Regina incumbent Tom Lukiwski, former MP Brian Fitzpatrick joking about being scalped by upset First Nations voters or Saskatoon incumbent Maurice Vellacott slamming Supreme Court judges, the Conservative record of verbal gaffes is a long one.


At some point, these miscues are no longer going to be forgiven by the public as isolated mistakes and will begin to be perceived as accurate reflections of character.


As to when that might happen, the answer is a resounding . . . not yet.


The Conservatives retain an iron grip on rural voters and continue to attract enough urban support to keep them well out in front in most ridings.


However, there are some signs of stress. Either because they're leading, or because many of their candidates are not exactly eloquent debaters, Conservatives across Saskatchewan have been running peekaboo campaigns this year. It has become the norm for them to duck candidate forums and debates in favour of riding the coattails of the national campaign and handing out leaflets.


This makes some sense insofar as it minimizes the chances of having to explain embarrassing issues such as why the Conservatives failed to honour their single biggest promise to Saskatchewan, which was to exempt the value of Saskatchewan's non-renewable resources from the national equalization formula.


In the meantime, they continue to trot out their personal hobby horses. Standing on the brink of a recession, one of Maurice Vellacott's priorities is to amend the Divorce Act. While it's hardly top of mind for most voters, he and others are able to get away with this kind of campaign because of their overwhelming pluralities in past elections.


It doesn't hurt the Conservatives that the available alternatives aren't particularly appealing either. The Liberals essentially poisoned the well for themselves in most of Western Canada with gun registration in the '90s and then finished themselves off with the sponsorship scandal that drove them from office in 2006.


The NDP has its own problems. The brand name is not exceedingly popular in Saskatchewan at the moment, and while he might look good compared to Stephen Harper, Jack Layton somehow fails to connect with most Prairie voters.


The reason this election in Saskatchewan is a foregone conclusion is not because there are no progressive voters here, but because they are hopelessly split between the Liberals and the NDP. If they could coalesce behind one or the other candidate, they could take four or five seats away from the Tories.


Instead, they continue to fight among themselves rather than co-operating in some way. This is why you see things like Bob Rae coming to Saskatchewan to trash Layton as nothing more than a "Ralph Nader" who can only ruin the election for the Liberals.


The odd thing about that visit was that Rae came to Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, where the Liberals managed to attract only 12 per cent of the vote in 2006 compared to the 39 per cent the NDP attracted.


The Conservatives should be sending Rae a thank-you note for coming into the riding because every Liberal vote he scares up comes directly out of the NDP's column.


Naturally enough, Rae doesn't want to entertain any questions about electoral co-operation between the Liberals and the NDP in the midst of a campaign, even though he understands the problem as well as anyone.


But if things continue on their present course, the two parties could very well be facing another Conservative minority government after the dust clears.


At some point, progressive voters in Canada are going to have to come to grips with this issue, in the same way the conservatives did.


The question is where the leadership for such an initiative is going to come from.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008




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