Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Harper self-destructs. Voluntarily.

It is November 29th. Parliament dissolved this morning, and campaigning has officially begun. I have said before that sometimes it seems as though Harper has never seen a bullet he didn't want to jump in front of.

Even the stray ones.

Now, it seems, he's gone a step further and is willfully firing those bullets into his own head.

Harper volunteered this little gem this afternoon - that he would introduce a "traditional marriage bill" should his party win the January 23rd election.

Damn it, the man just can't help himself. Never mind that such a bill has no chance of being effective in any way. He still can't stop himself from saying it.

He seems to still not recognize that 'civil unions' are outside of Federal jurisdiction. So nice of him, though, to commit to honouring the 3,000 same-sex marriages already existing.

I said in an earlier post that the CPC wasn't about to make a campaign issue out of this. It seems that whatever his handlers may tell him (or should be telling him), Harper ain't listening.

Who, exactly, is he playing to? He already has Alberta locked up.

Political instincts of a ... gawd, I don't know. Political instincts of a something-that-has-no-political-instincts. How's that?

Unbelievable. This issue isn't even alive, anymore.

Wasn't. Wasn't alive anymore.

Ok. I get that this is a concern for much of his base. Maybe he wants to get it out there early, since it is going to be coming out (pun!) eventually, anyways. Brison or the party faithful would guarantee it.

Maybe volunteering it after the cameras were already off was the way to handle it, politically.

Still, I'm stunned.

Sure, some CPC candidate somewhere was going to say something ridiculous about SSM. It was bound to happen.

But Harper decides that he wants to be that someone?


Bye bye whatever slim chance the CPC might have had.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Layton vs. Dosanjh

I haven't seen this reported anywhere, so thought I'd make a note of it.

A war of words between NDP leader Jack Layton and Health Minister Ujjal Donsajh.

Nov. 07: Layton's original letter to Dosanjh

Nov. 25: Donsajh to Layton
Nov. 25: Layton responds

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

liberals, conservatives, tax cuts, *sigh*

The chronic meta-commentary of the blogging world sort of gives me the creeps. That is not so much a criticism as a confession.

But I'm posting this here because the site referenced doesn't seem to allow comments, and hey, sometimes if you don't vent, you're liable to blow a valve. That's likely why most of us are here in the first place.

Trodwell over at RightThinkingPeople lends credence to a Toronto Sun article lamenting the lack of media criticism over the Liberal Party's proposed tax cuts, when tax cuts by the Conservative's usually draw fire.

Now, I'm no Liberal Party apologist. I enjoy seeing them taking a good ribbing as much as the next guy. But it is the fiscal circumstances surrounding such measures that make the difference.

Nobody hates tax cuts when they think that the social expenditures to which they are committed, or for which they are concerned, are being covered. Seeing as the Liberals are practically pissing money at the moment, the notion that anything important need go underfunded is far from anybodies mind. (That important things do go underfunded when they needn't, does in fact get criticized).

The realm or justification for potential concern isn't just remote. It is remote in the remotest way that things can ever possibly be remote. It's not just Pluto -- it is planets yet to be discovered in galaxies far, far away.

Every working person approves of tax cuts when they are assured that their priority concerns are being met.

Would Goldstein (or, by extension, Trodwell) care to revisit the social, political or fiscal climates under which such oh-so-woefully criticized Conservative tax cuts were put forward?

The New Democrats are proposing tax cuts under this federal economic environment, for [insert preferred vulgarity or religious verbiage here]'s sake.

From the closing remarks of the article:
Anyway, I'm still searching for liberal outrage over tax cuts
Keep searching. And in your contextual blindness, try not to knock over the lamp.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Need an excuse to ignore polls? Here's one.

(I started writing a piece early on this morning when the papers came out about today's competing polls. My attempts at a side by side comparison were thwarted, however, because I can not get Blogger to act sanely with tables. Here's what I had saved as a draft:)

There are plenty of reasons. Even when polls are accurate, what they are measuring is fleeting. The wording of the questions often shapes the results. The numbers themselves are worth little without the proper context and analysis.

I follow them anyways. I like to have a general sense of where opinion is, and how it has shifted.

But here's a doozy:

The National Post today has a poll (Ipsos-Reid) it claims as a "tight" race.
The Toronto Star today has a poll (EKOS Research) showing the Liberals with majority government levels of support.

Both polls were conducted over the same time period (November 22 - November 24).

Here is how they compare --

Polling data comparison
LPC34% (-3%)38% (+5.7%)
CPC30% (n/c)29% (+1.5%)
NDP16% (n/c)16% (-4%)
BQ15% (+3%)10%
sample size1,000802
margin of error3.1%3.5%

Ultimately EKOS and Ipsos-Reid numbers are different, but not dramatically so. If you take the margin of errors into account, they aren't so far off. What is more interesting is how the newspapers spin the numbers, and how the polls seem to so nicely fit into the overall philosophy of the organizations who commissioned them.

You find what you are looking for, I suppose.

Anyways, I obsess over polls a bit. I reserve my right to do so. But I pretend to myself that I follow them because I am concerned about how people are reacting to what happened yesterday, rather than as prophetic insights into what might happen tomorrow. Yesterdays are important. We learn from yesterdays.


Something about Ipsos-Reid's BC numbers seem off to me (Liberals down 18% and Conservatives up 14%?). I'm not sure I like the EKOS sample size, so much, either, and the Bloc seems quite unbelievably low at 10%.

But the results aren't as far apart from each other as the headlines suggest. Other than divergent trends of a few percentage points among the LPC and BQ, they are practically identical.

One thing both do seem to show is that the Liberal support that bled off to the NDP has gone back to the Liberals and the Conservatives are - again! - stagnant.

Hmm. You know what? Your time is valuable, and the speculation isn't worth it. My suggestion for today is: read Mallick's latest column. It's a good read.

Bono on Martin

You just knew that Bono wasn't going to come to Ottawa without taking the opportunity to take a shot or two at his old buddy Paul Martin.

The U2 frontman, of course, is upset with Martin for not living up to his promise to increase foreign aid spending. Bono wants Canada to commit 0.7% of the country's GDP towards eliminating poverty internationally.

The best part, though? Bono was literally wearing rose-coloured (sun)glasses at the press conference in which he remarked - "I'm personally not just disappointed, I'm crushed, actually, because I really believed the Prime Minister would do that."

That belief was optimistic, certainly. But a bit naive, given the circumstances.

In the late 1980's, there was a commitment to eliminate (hey, we'd settle for reduce at this point) child poverty in Canada by 2000. And where are we, nearly six years since that target date has passed?

  • One in six Canadian children is poor
  • Canada's child poverty rate of 15% is three times as high as the rates of Sweden, Norway or Finland.
  • Every month, 770,000 people in Canada use food banks. Forty percent of those relying food banks are children.
(from the National Anti-Poverty Association)

It clearly isn't only internationally that our efforts against poverty are lagging.

Oh, and that commitment to raise foreign aid spending to 0.7% of GDP? It was the unanimous will of the House of Commons, based on the UN recommendation of Lester B. Pearson, back in 1969. (Incidentally, Pearson's Liberal minority government - propped up by the New Democratic Party - introduced universal health care, student loans, bilingualism, the Canada Pension Plan, and Canada's flag. Where oh where has the Liberal Party gone?)

While we are far from the only country to fall short of the 0.7% target, our foreign aid has routinely dropped over the years, to almost half of what it once was. This is certainly not an encouraging signal that we ever intend to honour our pledge. If we don't mean it, can we please at least stop pretending that we do?

Story links: here, here & here

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Liberals threaten legal action over Conservative remarks

About two minutes ago, Mike Duffy got a message on his blackberry from a Liberal Party insider who suggested the Liberals are reviewing transcripts and considering legal action against certain members of the Conservative Party.

The complaint stems from mentions in the House of Commons and in scrums afterward, in which the opposition suggested that the Liberals had "broken every conceivable law in Quebec" and had done so with the "help of organized crime".

Statements by CPC Deputy Leader Peter MacKay, BC MP John Reynolds, and others are currently being reviewed.

My understanding is that statements made within the House of Commons or Senate are immune from legal attack, even if they would otherwise be found to be slanderous or libelous. Technically, however, I suppose that this doesn't apply to statements made in the foyer, leaving MacKay and Reynolds vulnerable should the Liberals actually try to pursue this.

It has been an interesting day, but I'm pretty bogged down with work so I'll have to refrain from commenting on the other events for now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Government to fall on Monday

The opposition parties are set to table their non-confidence motion tomorrow. A vote on the motion will likely be deferred until Monday, at which point Parliament is expected to dissolve.

The text of the motion reads as follows:
"The House condemns the government for its arrogance in refusing to compromise with the opposition parties over the timing of the next general election and for its 'culture of entitlement,' corruption, scandal and gross abuse of public funds for political purposes and, consequently, the government no longer has the confidence of the House."

According to a statement by constitutional expert Ned Franks, in a statement to The Globe and Mail, this will be the first time in over a century that a Canadian government has been defeated on a stand-alone (ie. non-money bill) confidence motion.

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adscam whistleblower to run for Tories

Allan Cutler, the man who blew the whistle on the sponsorship program, has announced that he will be running as a Conservative Party candidate in the next election.

Cutler is rumoured to run in the Ottawa-South riding. This would present a signficant threat to incumbent Liberal MP David McGuinty, as well as help the Conservative's keep the "corruption" theme and anger over the Gomery report findings alive.

The Liberal party must be wishing right now that they had given Cutler the apology he has been demanding - and deserves - over his treatment during the entire affair. It is too late, now.

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Conservative's GST cuts opportunistic

A Toronto Star editorial today makes much the same point about the Conservative's proposed GST cuts as I made here.

"Because income taxes -— both personal and corporate -— eat into the returns people make on their investments, conservatives argue income taxes take away the incentive for people to invest. And because investment is the primary source of wealth creation, conservatives see income taxes as akin to the devil's work.

That is why true conservatives favour income tax cuts over any other. It is also why some would even be prepared to increase a consumption tax, such as the GST, to pay for additional income tax cuts.

So why would a conservative ideologue like Harper be thinking about an election promise to cut the GST?"

The New Democrats need to start reminding people about their tax policy: complete elimination of the GST on family essentials, and targeted income tax cuts. While their proposal won't be free of criticism (those in favour of corporate tax cuts will continue to point out that the NDP intends to maintain them at present levels), the NDP has dropped the more controversial inheritance tax on inheritances over $1 million from their platform.

With the debate shaping up to framed in terms of income tax cuts vs. GST cuts, the NDP is once again in a position to present their ideas as a balanced "compromise solution".

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

another day, another poll

British Columbia is shaping up to be the battleground of the upcoming election. Nowhere else are so many seats volatile and up for grabs.

The Mustel Group released a poll recently which demonstrates potential voter support as the following:

LPC: 38% (down 8%)
NDP: 33% (up 7%)
CPC: 24% (no change)

Once again, we see Liberal support dropping with the lost support paying off in NDP favour. The CPC remain stagnant overall in BC, consistent with the national trend.

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Reviving the SSM debate

"Two former political opponents will work together to force the same-sex marriage issue onto the agenda during the coming election campaign.

Ontario MP Pat O'Brien - who resigned as a Liberal this year over the legalization of gay marriage - announced Tuesday that he has founded Defend Marriage Canada with a Conservative ally. He and ex-Tory MP Grant Hill say the group will raise money, publish letters, and lobby voters to elect candidates who oppose same-sex marriage."

You can read the article in its entirety here or here.

The Conservative Party of Canada may well end up wishing that these guys would just fade away. The CPC wasn't about to make a campaign issue out of SSM, as to do so only plays into the Liberal's hands. The "Defend Marriage Canada" organization may not technically be affiliated with the CPC, but that distinction is likely to be lost on most voters.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Mulroney Tapes documentary, Sharon quits Likud Party calls for election

- close to home-

CBC is airing the documentary "The Secret Mulroney Tapes" tonight.

"The documentary uses audio recordings and transcripts of the conversations between the former prime minister and his former long-time friend and biographer, Newman. These are mixed with archival footage of events during Mulroney's tenure and candid interviews with Newman in which he discusses his interviewing style."

This is apparently more than a simple rehashing of some of the juicier discussions chronicled in Peter C. Newman's book by the same name. They've mined the recordings and uncovered some previously unreported material, including a claim by Mulroney that Lucien Bouchard did not, in fact, resign voluntarily from the PC Party before going on to found the sovereigntist Bloc Québécois, but instead was forced out of the party by Mulroney.

The two hour broadcast begins at 8:00pm on CBC TV.

- not so close to home -

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is planning to leave the Likud Party and to establish a new, more centrist political party.

The new party, which will include other defecting Likud members - some cabinet ministers among them - is rumoured to be called "National Responsibility".

This morning, Sharon asked President Moshe Katsav to dissolve Parliament and trigger an election.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A letter to the editor in this morning's Ottawa Citizen, captioned "A pox on all four parties", ends with the words
I'm sick of the game-playing. I'm sick of the whole lot of them. I think I'll be voting for the Green Party

The Green Party as repository for the protest vote. A Green Party vote as the guiltless equivalent of voiding one's ballot.

You needn't listen too long or too hard to hear the message repeated.

Certainly there are those who vote Green earnestly -- but there are increasing numbers who do so as a way of parking their vote with someone who isn't "them".

Is there actually good reason to believe that Jim Harris and company wouldn't act similarly to the other parties should they someday have the good fortune of finding themselves in Parliament?

Rick Salutin was lamenting in his most recent column that the pressure for electoral reform seems to have dissipated. Ed Broadbent has a letter in Saturday's Globe & Mail reminding Mr. Salutin that
"Last spring, we did achieve a comprehensive all-party agreement on electoral reform that included proportional representation. The reform process was scheduled to start by Oct. 1. Unfortunately for the country, the Liberals reneged on their commitment and killed the initiative"

Proportional representation means different things to different people. There are many different systems to be considered, with varying levels of complexity and differing benefits and drawbacks.

Electoral reform means different things to different people.

Democratic deficit resonates - we know it to be true - but points towards nothing specific at all.

Yet all the major parties, to my knowledge, are on record as supporting at least the discussion of electoral reform and the creation of citizen's councils, BC style, to come up with proposals for change. Should we end up with another minority Parliament, it may be our best and last chance for some time to take the necessary first steps towards substantive progress in this area.

Electoral reform isn't going to take the politicking out of politics. It won't be - and can't be - a cure all for voter cynicism and apathy. But at the least it can be an invigorating step towards re-engaging and re-empowering the electorate.

Fair Vote Canada website

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never have I read a more titillating lead-in

"UNLESS PAUL Martin starts appearing at news conferences in an evening gown and lipstick, or wearing a Nazi uniform on Parliament Hill, he can count on the votes of almost a third of Canadians.

The only way Mr. Martin can lose those votes is if he'’s caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy, in the words of former Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards."


"Mr. Martin is a sort of middle-of-the-road Conservative forced by political circumstances to govern like a left-wing Liberal. Mr. Harper is a Reformer -— well to the right of mainstream Canadian politics -— forced to act like a middle-of-the-road Conservative."

Damn skippy.

Full article here.

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Vancouver mayoral race settled ... maybe.

For those following such things, as of about 40 minutes ago, Sam Sullivan has been declared victorious over Jim Green in the Vancouver mayoral election.

No word yet how many votes "not Jim Green but James Green" received, or what effect voter confusion over names may have played in the results.

Larry "Da Vinci" Campbell's senate seat, however, is still safe and warm.

We now return to our regularly scheduled Federal electoral pre-occupation.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Conservatives toy with opposing tax cuts

Parliament Hill at 8:22am this morning - winter has come to Ottawa
(image courtesy of The Hill Cam)

The Ottawa Citizen (print edition) published an internal Conservative Party caucus memo today. It discusses the possibility of voting against the ways and means motion, which also amounts to voting against the tax cuts outlined in Goodale's "mini-budget".

This would be more of a symbolic gesture than an actual threat to the government. Both the NDP and the Bloc have indicated that they will vote in support of the government's motion.

So how will the party of tax cuts explain its decision to vote against tax cuts to bewildered Canadians? The memo includes some helpful talking points:
  • "We're in favour of tax relief but we're not convinced this is the best or quickest way to provide it"
  • "We do not believe that an unethical and corrupt government has the authority to commit future governments to their fiscal objectives in the dying days of a Parliament"
  • "In the coming election campaign, Canadians will have the opportunity to compare all parties' tax platforms and choose which one they'll support"
The third quote is most interesting, given that the CPC has been hinting that they might campaign on a promise to cut the GST.

A 2% cut to the GST represents a loss of $8.5 billion a year in Federal revenue. Why let the Liberals steal the show with modest income tax relief, when you could keep that income tax rates at present levels and dangle slashing the much maligned GST before hungry voters on the campaign trail instead?

It makes for good strategy. But it makes for poor policy.

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"they always throw stones at the best apples"

There is a little rumour out there that David Orchard is in negotiations with the Liberal Party to run as a Liberal candidate in the upcoming election.

One would be forgiven for entertaining the idea that the Liberals are becoming the new red tories. Indeed, while the Progressive Conservative party may have technically merged with the Alliance Party, the actual bodies and minds have increasingly chosen to merge with the Grits. If this rumour holds true and the deal pans out, it will be but one more example of the trend.

An awkward example, mind you. Orchard was never quite a clean fit even with the PCs, and always had his share of detractors among fellow party members. And as the late Dalton Camp once remarked -
“the Liberals are no longer Liberal in any historic or traditional sense. They more resemble neo-conservatives, something Blue Tories are likely to be but most Conservatives would rather not be.”
There is no doubt that the Liberal Party has shifted rightward, at least fiscally. The conservativism of the Liberals might be palatable to former Progressive Conservatives like Scott Brison and Belinda Stronach who felt out of place in the CPC - but it won't necessarily make for a merry match with the peculiar conservativism of a man like Orchard.

Is the tent of the "big tent" party large enough to accomodate a man who continues to crusade against NAFTA and free trade? Can Orchard still deliver the votes that the Liberals are fishing for? Must I always end a post with a question?

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don cherry as top public intellectual

The National Post has concluded its "Beautiful Minds" series with Don Cherry winning the honour of top public intellectual. How very adorable.

Liberal Party of Canada up-and-comer, Iraq war apologist, "coercive interrogation" cheerleader, and all around trumped-up bore Michael Ignatieff came in last at 15th place.

More interesting perhaps than Don Cherry being considered the country's top intellectual by National Post readers is that Robert Fulford, in his column, pretends to be shocked that Post readers are familiar enough with Mark Steyn to have voted him second place on the list.

Really? Fulford is surprised by an overlap in readership between the paper that Conrad Black and Ken Whyte built - whose lead story in this weekend's print edition is a piece bellyaching about the hiring of minorities and the disabled at Public Works - and The Western Standard - whose top headline today reads "Unliberating Women"? C'mon.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

powder, blood & ethics

- the Boisclair joke writes itself -

Much like Stephen Harper's prime ministerial ambitions, yesterday's white powder scare at Conservative Party headquarters amounted to nothing but harmless threat and nuisance.

Interestingly enough, none of the online counterparts of the major Canadian news organizations seem to have any coverage of the story available.

- blood poisoning ... again -

I have an interest in health issues and the politics of health, but such matters usually find expression in other forums. It is interesting to me, however, that stories that normally slide under the radar of the larger news organizations are beginning to find their way on to the 'top story' landscape.

First the limited study that suggested that even Canadians who lead careful and health-conscious lifestyles might be contaminated by all manner of nasty toxins actually got prominent coverage on every major newscast and newspaper.

Now, former DuPont employee Glenn Evers is getting attention for blowing the whistle on DuPont's knowledge and cover-up of the use of toxic food packaging.

This is just a point the size of a pin on the tip of the tip of a very large iceberg.

Mark my words.

- coming soon -

The New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party have both unveiled ethics packages which are sure to become planks in their election platforms. I will be conducting a side by side analysis of the two.

- on being noticed and linkbacks -

It is encouraging to be noticed outside of the often seemingly closed community of political commentators. Some kind words over at Snuper Blog.

I can't tell for sure, but he seems to be affiliated with the Charity Blog Network which is running something of a clinic on blogging. That is right up my alley, because I'm still trying to find my footing in this new medium. I'm anticipating lesson 19: "Blog Ethics".

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

polls, Layton, sleeplessness & hamsters

- more poll data -

A pre-occupation with opinion polls is probably not the healthiest of habits. Unless you're Gregory Morrow who wears that pre-occupation so well. Mind you, as far as bad habits go, I certainly have worse vices.

Yesterday's Decima poll is worth mentioning for two reasons.

1) It re-enforces the recent trend demonstrated by other recently released polls. It shows the national preference as:

LPC: 33%
CPC: 26%
NDP: 22%
BQ: 13%

This shows a slightly lower level of support for both the Liberal Party and Conservative Party, and slightly higher level of support for the NDP compared to the Pollara and SES polls from the past few days.

2) It has made me aware of certain mental assumptions I have been operating under, that have up until now, gone unexamined. For some reason - and the source has been more huntch than product of analysis - in my mind the absolute ceiling of support for the NDP is 23%-25% and the absolute floor of support for the LPC is 30%-32%. Not ever mind you, but in the elusive stretch of hard to define time of now and near-future.

So either those mental boundaries are about to be challenged and shifted, should this trend continue, or we are seeing the Libs and NDP as low and as high, respectively, in public support as they can get.

With the NDP only 4% behind the Conservative Party, how would it change the dynamic of the election if they could close that gap and match the CPC as viable second party?

- sadistic news cycles -

There is something just cruel about CTV Newsnet making the programming choice of running their "insomnia is a serious problem. insomnia will make you very sick. an increasing amount of Canadians suffer from insomnia. hopefully there will one day be effective treatment for insomnia. but not now." report incessantly throughout the night. From midnight until 5am, whenever I flicked on the television to provide some distraction from the familiar sight of the ceiling, that is what greeted me.

- yes to common sense -

A couple of days ago, I wrote of my desire for Jack Layton to cease his use of the word "arcane", at least in the context in which he had been using it. So far - knock on wood - it appears that my wish has been granted.

Unfortunately - difficult to please man that I can be - I am going to have to add another entry to my list.

Now, I'll admit to picking on Jack a bit. But I single him out for a reason. He is the only national leader who can be helped.

Gilles "cool as a cucumber" Duceppe can hold his own just fine in either official language. Sure, he is adverse to smiling or humour, but it has served him well.

Stephen Harper is hopelessly wooden, tirelessly repetitive, and just generally comes across as incapable of any emotion but barely constrained venom.

Paul Martin seems to have gotten his incessant "let me be clear", "make no mistake", and stammering under control somewhat, but at the cost of an increased reliance on script and talking point. And he still generally comes across as rattled and as though he isn't quite sure where he is, or how in the world he got there.

Layton speaks well. He generally comes out far above the fray in such venues as Peter Mansbridge's pre-election candidate interviews. He does well in leader's debates. He is collected, generally calm, and handles questions well. I have seen him speak and interact with his audience in person, and have been impressed.

So here is what I am proposing - Jack can keep "common sense" as in "common sense solution". For those of us who have thankfully emerged from the dark days of Mike Harris' rise and fall ... well, not so much fall as sudden exit ... from Ontario political life, the phrase retains something of an ominous quality to it. The hairs raise, just a little. Visions of angry rich self-professed conservative revolutionaries find their way before the mind's eye. Yet, I'm willing to let Layton have it. Maybe he can reclaim it for all of us and make it clean again.

But make no mistake and let me be absolutely clear: it isn't a gift. It's a trade. In exchange, I want Layton to never, ever again say "blame game". I imagine that anyone with even a casual interest in American politics would understand why, and would think my compromise solution more than fair.

- hamster -

While walking down Bank St. here in Ottawa last night, I passed a man who looked to be in his mid-twenties holding a cardboard sign. Written on the sign with black marker were the words:
hung like a hamster
spare change 4 enlargement?

Not so much as a smirk on his face or a camera in sight. No joke.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

the day so far ...

- Seperatism of the Warm and Fuzzy Variety -

Mr. Boisclair is calling for a kinder, gentler, and outward looking brand of sovereignty. This ain't your pappas secessionist movement!, so to speak.

Jean Charest and the Quebec Liberal Party have two years to shore up their tattered support levels in the province. It is enough time to get the job done, but it is also more than enough time to blow it. (The pun was unintentional. But I will let it stand.)

In related news, Charest is offering Boisclair an uncontested seat in the Montreal riding of Ste-Marie-St-Jacques for the upcoming by-election.

- Animal, Mineral, Vegetable. And the Franchise -

I promised to revisit the allegations of voting irregularities resulting from the PQ membership's use of phone-in voting. The story goes something like this: a Chihuahua named Pixelle and a houseplant named Gilbert were able to vote in the leadership nomination. Nobody seems to know how many other non-people, or how many fake people, were able to do the same by exploiting the system. Ah, isn't democracy a hoot?

This is the sort of story that won't get much traction in english-speaking Canada, but should provide plenty of fodder for the Quebec press. Given that Boisclair won with a narrow 3% margin, the issue carries extra weight.


The Sun Media-SES poll was officially released today. No surprises - as mentioned yesterday, the Liberals show a 6% drop with 5% of that lost support finding its way to the NDP.

National support for the parties breaks down as follows:

  • Liberal Party: 34% (down 6%)
  • Conservative Party: 28% (no change)
  • New Democratic Party: 20% (up 5%)
These numbers are consistent with the recently released Pollara poll that showed the Liberals at 36%, the Conservatives at 28%, and the NDP at 20%.

and you thought cocaine would get you nowhere ...

To no-one's surpise, Andre Boisclair wins the PQ leadership. (You were surprised? Well then I'm dissapointed in you. No ... no ... listen ... it's just that I think that you should have known. Because it was obvious. What, you don't read La Presse? The GG did that thing at the Press Gallery and then everybody got all ... I don't want to do this here. Not here. Can't we do this somewhere else? I don't know ... somewhere. Else. BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE STARING AT US, THAT'S WHY!)

Openly gay and with a history of drug use. Well, that's something unique as far as leaders of parties go. Kinda gives you hope, doesn't it? I'm torn, because he's been such a god-damn baby recently,. Some outlets are reporting voting irregularities. More on this later, after some sleep. Regardless, the PQ has a tendency to eat its own. He must have known this going in -- I wonder what he'll have to say about it on his way out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

and so it begins ...

- Questionable Wording in Question Period? -

Did former NDP BC Premier-cum-Liberal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh just demand, in response to a question put to him by wheelchair-bound Conservative MP Steven Fletcher, that the Conservatives "stand up and say it"?


- Shrinking Support -

CTV is reporting that an SES poll to be released tommorow morning shows the Liberal Party slipping a further 6%, with most of the Liberal loss showing up as NDP gain. No or little change for the CPC.

- Layton Feigns Perplexed -

I really wish NDP leader Jack Layton would stop using the word "arcane" to describe matters of common Parliamentary procedure. It sounds as though his party just can't get their head around things as routine as non-confidence motions, which we all know to not be the case.

Of course, Martin and Liberal attack dogs like Scott Reid are trying to portray Layton's "compromise" solution as convoluted and untenable. Layton does well to counter those allegations when he insists that his proposal is straightforward, simple and desirable. He comes off as reasonable when he reminds people that Martin has already chosen an election date, and that the united opposition parties are simply advising him - strongly - that it is the will of the majority of the house that the election date should be changed. But he looks bad when he acts as though the more conventional approach to securing an election is somehow difficult to comprehend, rather than simply not ideal. Canadians aren't confused by confidence motions. Layton shouldn't pretend to be, either.

- The Liberal Image -

Watching Ralph Goodale's mini-budget presentation yesterday, I was struck by how these people no longer seem like elected officials, but ruling party establishment men. You know, like in those countries where the ruling party has been the ruling party for decades, and the faces don't change, only the neckties and portfolios.

Ralph wasn't Ralph, anymore. He was Minister of Propoganda & Dollar Allocation for the Natural Governing Party of Perpetuity.

It used to be cute when Chretien would pull out pre-election non-campaign campagining, even while it was frustrating. Maybe it was just because the scrappy lil' guy had more charisma. Maybe it is just that it has been going on for far too long now. What used to seem cynical yet crafty, now just seems cynical.

Paul Wells reminds us that the Martin crew was upset when John Manley - former finance minister under Chretien and potential candidate as Paul Martin's successor - made economic announcements that projected too far into the future. Now Goodale, with an election looming, is making projections and promises that won't take place until 2010. I'm thankful for people who have longer memories than my own. Lovely.

- And The Other Guys? -

Stephen Harper wasn't feeling well today, and had the day off. Chicken soup, dude. It's good for the ....

Oh. Right.