Monday, May 09, 2011

Big Victory for Stephen Harper and Conservative Party in May 2nd Canadian Elections

While the United States was celebrating our Navy SEALs successful attacking of the Al Qaeda compound and the killing of its leader, Osama Bin Laden, in Abbottabad, Pakistan last Sunday (May 1, 2011) another historic event took place to our North the next day.

On Monday, May 2, 2011 Canadians went to the polls to elect a new Parliament which resulted in Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party winning a majority of the 308 seats in Parliament.

Stephen Harper first became Prime Minister following the 2006 elections in which he led the Conservative Party to victory by winning 124 of the 308 seats in Parliament.  While not a majority, the inability of the opposition Liberals (103 seats), Bloc Québécois (51 seats) and New Democratic Party (29 seats)  to come together in a coalition resulted in the Governor General of Canada calling upon Stephen Harper to form a minority government.

Harper’s first government lasted until 2008 when he was forced to call for new elections.  While the Conservatives succeeded in increasing the number of seats they held by winning 143 out of the 308 total seats they were still a minority in Parliament.  However, both the Liberals (77 seats) and Bloc Québécois (47) lost seats while the more radical New Democratic Party or NDP (36 seats) gained seats.

Much like the United States, Conservatives were gaining among the people while the left was losing but becoming more radical.

Even in traditional liberal bastions, like the City of Toronto, capital of the liberal province of Ontario, voters are becoming more conservative as evidenced by last October’s local election in which Rob Ford, the conservative candidate (small c for conservative here as local elections in Canada are technically non-partisan but Ford was known for his conservative philosophy and his campaign platform was conservative) was elected Mayor while running on a fiscally conservative platform.

Again Stephen Harper was called upon to lead a minority government which he did until March of 2011 when he was forced to call for new elections.

Running on his record of holding taxes down and refusing to follow his counterpart to the south, U.S. President Barack Obama, with huge stimulus spending to fight the world wide economic downturn.  While the United States has suffered high unemployment and the longest period of recession since the Roosevelt led Great Depression of the 1930s, Canada has done very well economically during this period.

Not only has Canada done well with its economy growing, unemployment kept in check and the Canadian dollar, which for decades has been valued well below the U.S. dollar, has steadily risen to where it is now on par and, frequently worth slightly more than the U.S. dollar.

In last week’s election, Stephen Harper and his Conservatives won 167 of the 308 seats giving them a solid 54.2% majority in Parliament.  

Having won on a platform calling for:

  • Creating jobs through training, trade and low taxes.
  • Supporting families through our Family Tax Cut and more support for seniors and caregivers.
  • Eliminating the deficit by 2014-2015 by controlling spending and cutting waste.
  • Making our streets safe through new laws to protect children and the elderly.
  • Standing on guard for Canada by investing in the development of Canada’s North, cracking down on human smuggling and strengthening the Canadian Armed Forces.
and with his newly elected majority in Parliament, Canada can look forward to more growth and a even more prosperous economic future under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The one cautionary note here is that, while the majority of the voters are moving to the right, the remaining voters and their leaders on the left are not shifting rightward to the new center as voters in the United Kingdom and the United States did during the Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan years, but, instead are moving toward the far left New Democratic Party (NDP).

While the NDP ended up in a strong second place with 102 seats in the new Parliament, the Liberals came in with only 34 seats and the Bloc Québécois with a mere 4 seats.  

This leaves Canada with a right of center Conservative government  facing a far left loyal opposition in Parliament.

For Additional Reading on Canada:

Toronto's New Mayor Rob Ford Calls for Privatization of Toronto Community Housing Corporation
A Very Civil War in the Arctic - an article about a dispute between Canada and Denmark over an island in the Arctic that may be sitting on a sea of oil.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Mothers Day 2011

This Sunday (May 8, 2011), the second Sunday in May, is Mother’s Day in the United States.

In addition to honoring their mothers on this Mother’s Day with a at least a visit or phone call, most of us will also be spending some money on them with a card and gifts. Popular Mothers Day gifts include flowers, candy, taking them out to dinner, etc.  

In fact, according to Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation, as quoted on the Voice of America News website, the average person is expected to spend about $140 on Mothers Day presents this year.  

This translates to some $16 Billion dollars in total retail sales for Mother’s Day 2011.  

While candy, especially chocolate candy, is a popular gift for Mother’s Day it is not the most popular gift.  Things like cards, flowers, being taken to a restaurant, etc. all seem to overshadow candy sales.

According to industry statistics, the big holidays for candy, especially chocolate candy, sales are Halloween, followed by Easter, Christmas and Valentine’s Day in that order although Easter sales are just slightly  less than those of Halloween.  

Mother’s Day is good for sales of chocolate but the boost in sales of this product is not enough to put sales of chocolate candy in league with the other holidays.  However, sales of chocolate candy are a part of the $16 Billion sales figure retailers are expecting to reap this Mother’s Day.

So, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all the Mothers, Step-Mothers, Grandmothers, wives, grown daughters, aunts and others who will be honored with gifts this Sunday.

Links for Further Reading:

For a History of Mothers Day in the U.S. see this article about Anna Marie Jarvis the Woman Behind Mothers Day

For more data on holiday sales of chocolate see this article on Origins of Chocolate Easter Eggs

Voice of America News article on 2011 Mothers Day sales expectations 

Nielson article on holiday chocolate sales data