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Stop the culture of resort politics – Hindustan Times

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The sight of legislators being packed off in buses, and lodged in comfortable, even luxurious, hotels and resorts, has become a common feature of Indian politics. It usually happens when a state government is in crisis, when a crucial election for a Rajya Sabha seat is underway and numbers are fluid, or when a rebellion is underway to change the regime in a state. A political party — or the rebel faction — then rushes to consolidate the legislators who are in its favour. The objective is to ensure that these legislators don’t succumb to temptations and inducements offered by the other side; and instead remain under constant surveillance. The method then adopted is to lock them in, till the crisis is resolved one way or the other.

While Rajasthan is only the most recent example — members loyal to Ashok Gehlot were sent off to a hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur and members loyal to Sachin Pilot were brought to a resort in Haryana — this is neither unique to one party nor to one state. Similar examples of resort politics were witnessed in Madhya Pradesh (rebel legislators went to Karnataka), Karnataka (legislators were brought to Maharashtra), Gujarat (to preserve numbers for a Rajya Sabha poll, legislators were taken to Karnataka), among others.

It is important to go back to first principles here, to understand how this growing pattern makes a mockery of Indian democracy, speaks poorly of elected representatives, is a reflection of the distortions in political party structures, and is an insult to the voter. Voters elect representatives, who belong to a political party or who may be an independent, for their ideas, agenda and ideology. These representatives are, within the framework of party discipline, understood to be autonomous leaders who act in public interest. But, instead, what resort politics shows is that these legislators can shift allegiances based on whoever can offer a better prize (either price or position); even parties have little faith in their integrity and so they are locked up; public interest is far-removed in these calculations; and money is an active determinant in how legislators make their choices. Resort politics is, in many ways, a symbol all that is wrong with Indian democratic politics.

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Alberta still a Conservative stronghold, but politics of COVID-19 wounds Tories – The Globe and Mail

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Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole waves as he walks alongside his wife, Rebecca, and children Jack and Mollie during the election night party, in Oshawa, Ont., Sept. 21, 2021.

MARK BLINCH/Reuters

In Alberta’s coin-toss ridings, the federal election was about provincial politics.

A handful of ridings in Calgary and Edmonton hosted competitive races, while the Conservative Party of Canada continued to dominate the rest of the province. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s management of the pandemic has angered voters across the political spectrum, damaging his federal Conservative counterparts at the polls.

The federal Conservatives, under leader Erin O’Toole, lost two Alberta ridings Monday – one to the Liberal Party and one to the New Democratic Party. A third Alberta riding was too close to call.

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Because Alberta is a Conservative stronghold, even a small dent in the party’s standing is notable.

“There’s such symbolic value when a riding shifts in Alberta,” Janet Brown, an Alberta pollster, said. “If six ridings flip in Ontario, nobody really pays attention.”

Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party is in turmoil, with moderates arguing he fumbled the pandemic by lifting public-health restrictions on Canada Day, creating a hospital crisis prior to Labour Day. Meanwhile, the right flank accuses him of overstepping when he introduced a vaccine passport system and reintroduced some restrictions last week.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pounced on Mr. Kenney after he declared a state of health emergency and Alberta cancelled all non-emergency surgeries to make room for COVID-19 patients in its ICUs. They pointed to Mr. O’Toole’s previous praise for Mr. Kenney’s pandemic management, implying such failure would be widespread with the Tories in charge in Ottawa.

Mr. O’Toole refused to answer questions about his earlier support for Mr. Kenney and cancelled interviews in the final days of the campaign. He also would not disclose how many CPC candidates are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

George Chahal, the Liberal candidate in Calgary Skyview, released an ad highlighting Mr. O’Toole’s praise for Mr. Kenney’s pandemic policies near the end of the campaign. Mr. Chahal, a former city councillor and well-known community member, unseated the Conservative incumbent and now has a shot at joining cabinet in the minority government.

Calgary Skyview was previously known as Calgary Northeast, which the Liberals captured in 2015.

In Edmonton Griesbach, NDP candidate Blake Desjarlais will replace the Conservative incumbent Kerry Diotte. In Edmonton Centre, the Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP, were in a tight three-way race Monday evening. The Conservatives held the seat prior to the election.

Voters in Edmonton Strathcona returned the NDP’s Heather McPherson to Ottawa. Conservatives won the rest of Alberta’s seats.

Mr. Trudeau’s return to power in the 2019 election angered Albertans, and Mr. Kenney frequently whipped up anti-Trudeau sentiments to bolster the UCP in Alberta. But in urban ridings support for the Liberals or NDP in part reflected voters’ frustration with Mr. Kenney, Ms. Brown said.

Calgary Centre is traditionally a swing riding, but the Conservative incumbent, Greg McLean, held on to his seat. He captured the riding in 2019, defeating Kent Hehr, then the Liberal Party incumbent. Mr. Hehr resigned from cabinet after allegations of sexual harassment, but remained in caucus after an inquiry cleared him of intentional wrongdoing.

Even with a handful of seats up for grabs, Mr. Kenney’s pandemic woes and turmoil in the UCP caucus overshadowed the election in Alberta. His future as Premier is in doubt as local UCP officials are rumoured to be pressing for a leadership review.

“Today is going to be the least interesting day of the week,” Ms. Brown said.

Lisa Young, a political scientist at the University of Calgary, noted the UCP’s pandemic performance may have pushed some traditional Conservative voters to the People’s Party of Canada. Indeed, the PPC was in second or third place, behind the Conservatives, in multiple races in Alberta Monday evening.

And while some on the right supported the PPC to protest Mr. Kenney’s pandemic response, Prof. Young argued moderates may have turned to Liberal or NDP candidates.

“I have never seen people as angry at a government as I’ve seen with respect to the Kenney government in Alberta’s cities,” she said.

Alberta cancelled all non-emergency surgeries last week because its intensive care units are overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. Alberta and Saskatchewan have the lowest rates of vaccination in the country, and their hospitals are struggling to cope with the crush of serious cases.

Alberta had 954 COVID-19 patients in hospital as of Sunday, and 216 of those were in ICU. There are now more than 20,000 active COVID-19 cases in the province, and front-line health care professionals are calling for the federal government to send support from the military.

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Justin Trudeau projected to form Canada’s next government-CBC News projects

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Canada‘s ruling Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to for the next government, CBC News projected on Monday, after a tight election race.

Elections Canada showed the Liberals leading in 146 electoral districts with only a small fraction of votes counted.

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“This does look like a decisive win for the Liberals that essentially preserves the status quo and ensures that the fiscal spending plans that have supported the economy for the last year and half are likely to continue and continue to support growth.”

“The more supportive fiscal policy is, the more likely the Bank (of Canada) is able to move from tapering to rate hikes in the next year and a half, and certainly that is going to support the Canadian dollar.”

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Denny Thomas)

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Trudeau’s Liberals on track to win Canadian election – CBC

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s Liberals were on track to win the Canadian election, CBC News projected, but with results trickling in the network said it was too soon to say how strong a government they would form.

Trudeau heads a government with a minority of House of Commons seats that relies on the support of other parties to pass legislation. He called an election two years early in hopes of securing a parliamentary majority.

“People would be very pleasantly surprised if there was a Liberal majority government, within the Liberal camp, but I think it’s still way too soon to make that call,” Gerald Butts, a former top Trudeau adviser and close friend, told CBC TV.

Elections Canada showed the Liberals leading in 146 electoral districts with only a small fraction of votes counted.

The House of Commons holds 338 seats and a party needs to win 170 to hold a majority.

Polls reported results much more slowly than usual, with some stations forced to limit occupancy due to COVID-19 restrictions. Long lines forced some electors to wait hours to vote in southern Ontario, a critical battleground.

The Liberals were leading in 113 parliamentary seats in Ontario and Quebec, which have 199 seats, or more than half of the national total.

In the first set of regional results, Liberals were leading in 23 of 32 parliamentary districts in the four Atlantic provinces. The Liberals held 27 seats before the election.

Erin O’Toole’s opposition Conservatives had focused on adding to their four Atlantic seats, and were leading in nine.

The Canadian dollar strengthened as early results came in, rising 0.4%.

A delay in counting mail-in votes could further hold up results in tight races.

Elections Canada will not start counting roughly 800,000 mail-in ballots until Tuesday, after it is able to verify them against in-person votes. Those could help to determine the outcome in at least two Atlantic districts and many more across Canada.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Additional reporting by Julie Gordon, Allison Lampert, Moira Warburton, Fergal Smith, and Amran Abocar; Writing by Rod Nickel; Editing by Peter Cooney and Edmund Klamann)

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