Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Random Election Thoughts

Biggest Disappointment: Tony Valeri wins his seat. CBC projected
Valeri to lose it early in the evening and I let out a cheer. But, sure
enough he came back to take a squeaker. Stan Keyes, however, did fall - after spending years complaining about how he lost votes because of Chretien. Regardless, there were obviously some bad feelings left around from the Copps fiasco in Hamilton and I'm fairly sure Sheila would have taken the riding had she run as an independent. Just so people don’t think I’m taking joy in every Liberal losing, I was upset to see Bob Speller and Glenn Murray go down in defeat. As for David Pratt, good riddance.

Falling Stars: The nomination double standard didn't help Bill
Cunningham, John Bethel, and even David Emerson had a tough time. In fact, the staunch Martin advisors/organizers had a terrible night - in addition to Billy C and Johnny B, Richard Mahoney and Denis Dawson were taken out. Oh, and David Herle's sister lost too.

Falling Stars 2
: Glen Murray is obviously having second thoughts this
morning. And boy, I was shocked to see Tony Clement hit the ground so
hard. Even Belinda barely pulled it off. As a word of advice to Stephen
Harper - this woman is a godsend to you. Use her at every opportunity to show the softer side of the Tories on social issues.

Why we shouldn't read too much into one poll: The Marxist-Lenninists
were winning a seat early on last night. Unfortunantly, it was short
lived...if only they could unify with the Communists and unite the far

Cabinet Making: I think Ken Dryden would make an excellent Minister of Heritage and I hear the post is open. I imagine Emerson will take over for Stan Keyes in revenue. Stephane Dion has to get back into cabinet, there’s no other way around it. The biggest question will be whether or not he’s joined by Jean Lapierre. Smart money says they both make Cabinet but Dion gets a much more important post.

Time Zone: Is there any chance the Liberal upswing in BC was due to the results being revealed early? After the Maritimes came in and it looked good for the Libs, did BC voters jump on the bandwagon?

Albertan View: Boy, Alberta is pissed today. Pissed at Klein. Pissed at Ontario. Pissed at everyone.

Liberal Media: If anyone out there thinks the Globe & Mail is biased, the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and National Post have absolutely gone off the deep end since the election. They absolutely cannot understand that Canadians didn't vote Conservative and there's hell to pay over that decision.

Harper’s future: Unless they can get Bernard Lord, Harper is the best they’ll do. He’s a very smart man in a party full of very stupid people. The Cons have got to muzzle the wing nuts in that party if they ever want to form government.

Biggest Winner: Chuck Cadman. Goes from an obscure backbencher in opposition to the hottest interview in Canada.

One More Comment on Strategic Voting

With the election finance laws, it likely cost the NDP over 1 million dollars a year in funding.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Perils of Strategic Voting

Without a doubt, the reason for the major shocker on the election night were the NDP voters going Liberal in the last minute out of fear of the big, bad politician from Alberta. The NDP fell from 20% to 15% and the Liberals increased by a similar amount. But was this a smart move? Did they save the government from Harper?

To test this, I took 5% of each riding's vote and shifted it from the Liberals to the NDP. I ignored Quebec and simply gave 1 Liberal seat to the Bloc. Now, since voter shift didn't happen in Quebec and the "key" ridings voted strategically more than, say, Red Deer Alberta, this is likely minimizing the impact of the strategic voting. But it gives you an idea of what the effect was.

So, as a result of this shift, the following changes occured on election night:

8 NDP ridings went Liberal
5 NDP ridings went Conservative (mostly in BC)
7 Conservative ridings went Liberal

With our 1 Quebec seat, this gives us election night results of:

Lib 119
Con 101
NDP 32
Bloc 55
Cadman 1

Wow! Good thing those NDP voters jumped ship, eh? All the strategic voting did was cost the Tories 2 seats, at a price of 13 NDP seats. Once again, the two coalitions have similar numbers but the NDP lost well over a third of their seats due to strategic voting. Prominent victims include Lorne Nystrom and Olivia Chow.

I think the NDP should comision someone who knows what they're doing (unlike myself) to do a study and find out just what the strategic voting likely cost them. Since we're in for an election in another year, they need to stress the point that it doesn't work before the next election.

Neck and Neck

At 12:23 Mountain time, the results are as follows:

Lib 135
Con 99
BQ 54
NDP 19
Ind 1

Which means the Liberal/NDP voting bloc has 154 seats...exactly half of parliament. Which means a few things:

1. Chuck Cadman is the biggest winner tonight
2. We might not see a Liberal speaker of the house
3. The party whips are going to have their work cut out for them

I'll have some more thoughts tomorrow. Suffice to say, this is the best result for the country in my opinion, even if I would have liked to see Martin lose and get booted by the party.

The moral of the story - attack adds work. You can shoot guns at Canadians, outright lie about a party's stand on an issue like abortion, and associate leaders with people they had absolutely nothing to do with...and it will win you elections.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Here We Go!

The polls open in the East in 12 hours time. I encourage everyone to vote - I can think of a good reason to vote for all the parties.

As for'll be nailbiter. Coyne's site has collected various predictions:

Coyne Readers: Con 124 Lib 102 NDP 26 BQ 55 Ind 1
ElectionPrediction: Lib 122 Con 104 NDP 29 BQ 52 Ind 1
Globe/Ipsos: Con 117 Lib 101
CanWest/LISPOP: 115-106
Star/Ekos: Lib 117 Con 109

Throw in the fact that every opinion poll seems to have the Libs up by about 1% and it's definitely too close to call (yes, I know I already called it...silly me). As for my prediction:

Con 118 - 33%
Lib 112 -33%
BQ 53 - 11%
NDP 24 - 19%
Ind 1
Greens 0 - 3%

But hell, it could do either way. The way I see it, the Bloc will be at 50-55, the NDP anywhere from 20-27, and the two major parties...who the hell knows? Anywhere from 105-125 each.

As a result, you've got the first election worth staying up late for in a long time. Forget BC, the Yukon results might decide it. Or the recounts.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

You Be the PM

I came across this really interesting game last night:

I've only tried the demo version but I think I'll likely put down the cash for the full version. Has anyone tried it? Any comments?

In it, you get to be one of the party leaders (or, in the full version, you can create your own leader or party. So, I guess you could run as Joe Clark, or Pierre Trudeau or Jean Lapierre). The candidates in each riding are the actual candidates and have their local levels of popularity (very impressive considering it's an American game). Each turn, you can barnstorm campaign in targeting ridings, travel province to province, give speeches, fundraise, or prepare for debates. The leaders have endurance and limited budgets so you can't spread yourself too thin. You also have a platform, spin doctors, and scandals. There are certain things I'd rather the game have - maybe the ability to give multiple speeches on one topic during the course of the campaign. I'd also like to see certain issues become more predominant and every now and then morph into a 1 issue campaign (ie. 1988).

In the demo I played, I took on Paul Martin and, although it took me a while to play the game, I have new found respect for Paul Martin. By the time my 2 week demo had ended, I was poised to win 80 seats in their projections (even though I was only 2 points back in popular vote???). I had also taken the Liberal bank account from 10 million dollars to 1.5 million, not realizing that I was spending half a million dollars a day for my clever adds attacking Stephen Harper on being too close to the US. I'd decided to spend most of my time in BC and Ontario and while I was in very good shape in BC (ahead of the Tories), I was only keeping even in Ontario and was getting destroyed in Quebec and the Prairies.

All in all, looks like a fun game. I think I'll buy the full version (it's only 15 bucks Canadian) sometime next week.

Friday, June 25, 2004

No Hidden Agenda Here

Why aren't any of the major parties paying attention to this very important election issue?

Always the Statesman

A few days after burying Anne McLelan and ending his promise to reach out to the West by playing the Alberta card, Martin has decided that improving US relations is no longer a priority.

So there you have it. The choices are:

1) A George Bush loving, health care privatizing, anti-abortion, pro-Bloc Albertan with a secret agenda (which he may or may not be conspiring with Ralph Klein on).

2) A health care destroying, homeless killing, corrupt, arrogant, senior citizen who enjoys a little child porn every now and then.

And, I guess, Jack Layton. He does have Ralph Nader's endorsement which is right between an Al Gore and Ralph Klein endorsement on the list of endorsements you'd least like to get.

It's kind of sad that Gilles Ducceppe has run on the highest road of the four parties.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Hot and Not

Early on in the campaign, the Liberals clung to a small lead. As we head for the finish line...the Liberals still cling to a small lead. But a lot has changed on the way here. With due respect to Jane Taber, here's a look at what's Hot and what's Not as the campaign nears its finish:

Hot: "Hidden Agenda"
Not: "Politics of Achievement"

Hot: Gilles Ducceppe eating food
Not: Gilles Ducceppe wearing hairnets

Hot: John Manley
Not: Bernard Lord

Hot: Stephane Dion
Not: Jean Lapierre

Hot: Ken Dryden
Not: Bill Cunningham

Hot: The SES poll
Not: Personal interest stories

Hot: Ed Broadbent rap video
Not: Shooting guns at TV viewers

Hot: Minority Governments
Not: Coalitions

Hot: Peter MacKay
Not: Joe Clark

Hot: Sheila Copps
Not: Tony Valeri

Hot: Green Party
Not: Canadian Action, Marxist-Leninists, Communist, and Marijuana Parties

Hot: Belinda Stronach
Not: Flatmark

Hot: 1957, 1979 election comparisons
Not: 1984, 1993 election comparisons

Hot: Paul Wells
Not: Jean Lapierre (so cold, he gets his name mentioned twice)

Hot: Child Porn accusations
Not: Killing homeless

Hot: Voting
Not: Politicians

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

And People Say the Jays Need Pitching...

Two comments this morning:

1) Is there any doubt that Harper's "day off" yesterday featured at least a couple of hours of Harper pracricing his change-up?

2) Is there ANY national party leader who is ever going to do anything ever again to help out their provincial counterparts?

Jean Charest and Dalton McGuinty have been nothing but trouble for Martin. Ralph Klein may single handedly cost the Conservatives a win if he says too much today. And now, Bernard Landry is doing his best to destroy the momentum Gilles Ducceppe has created. Throw in TV commercials attacking McGuinty, Harris, Devine, and you just know the Greens are thankfull they don't have any prominent provincial politicians.

With friends like this...

Return of the Wise Man

I see Stephane Dion was out again fighting for the Liberals in Quebec. It's funny. Stephane Dion was a huge Chretien loyalist. Stephane Dion was excluded from cabinet despite being the brightest mind in the entire Liberal Party (in my humble opinion). Stephane Dion watched the Quebec show be handed over to the co-founder of the Bloc Quebecois who recruited separatist candidates for the Liberals and called the Clarity Act "useless". Stephane Dion watched the same Quebec Lieutenant fall flat on his face. Stephane Dion faced a Martin led challenge to his nomination. In fact, to use Martin's favourite phrase, he was "perfectly clear" that he didn't want Dion and his federalist views anywhere near the Liberal Party of Canada. Yet Dion, who could have returned to his University, or anywhere else for that matter, decided he'd stick it out and serve as a Paul Martin backbencher, in a government where he wasn't wanted. You have to admire that.

You also have to see the delicious irony in the fact that Dion has now been transformed into the de-facto face of Liberalism in Quebec due to the absolute implosion of Jean Lapierre. Dion was out writing letters today attacking the Bloc and he was at a press conference with Pettigrew and (a surprisingly quiet) Jean Lapierre. To paraphrase Paul Wells, Martin picked the football star over the class geek and now that it's test time, the quarterback is slipping him answers. Luckily, even though he's gotten the first 50 questions wrong, Martin is now calling on the right guy to write the last half of the test.

Given the few Liberals who will be heading to Ottawa from Quebec, I would hope that Martin will be smart enough to bring Dion into his Cabinet or shadow cabinet after the election. And the next time the Liberals form government, the PM, whoever that may be, would be insane not to give this man the cabinet portfolio of his choosing. Quite frankly, it's an insult to Dion that someone like Lapierre is even on the same stage as him for these press conferences.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Dying Days

-OK...My prediction record is a bit shaky but here's a prediction. The way Martin and Harper respond to this will decide who gets to be the next Prime Minister of Canada. If it looks like Klein is going against the Canada Health Act and Harper does not stand up and denounce him then it's all over for Steve. However, if Klein's proposal is harmless or Harper stands up strong to it, then he should be able to get his minority. Stay tuned.

-Courtesy of the guys at Vote Out Anders comes this tid-bit. Go to Google. Type in "feckless fascist". Click on "I feel lucky".

-The Ipsos numbers are odd. Liberals up by 6 points but even on the seat projection. Are we heading towards a repeat of 2000 in Florida? With recounts, it's not inconceivable we may need to wait days before finding out which party wins the most seats. And, of course, the closer it is, the more difficult Adrienne Clarkson's job becomes.

Poll Vaulting

I've seen it written in a couple of places that the SES nightly poll is like heroine for political junkies. Despite the CBC's reluctance to show them, polls are once again all over the place this election. The Globe & Mail led with an Ipsos-Reid poll this morning while the National Post led with seat projections based on a series of polls. I'll admit, I need my daily fix as much as everyone else but how will these poll results translate into voting day results?

If we look past the obvious margin of error, there are a few other things to consider. For starters, when everyone keeps predicting the lowest turnout in election history, not everyone will vote. Sure, 80% of Canadians polled say they will vote, but all this means that 20% of Canadians are liars. So which party will be hurt most by this? Since only 25% of young Canadians vote yet over 75% of seniors vote, this is a huge benefit to the Conservatives whose support increases among older Canadians.

There's also the question of whose supporters are most motivated to vote. I mean, sure, you could spend 10 minutes voting but since someone decided to call the election for the summer, there's BBQ, soccer games, Dharma & Greg reruns...for many Canadians, all of these take precedence over voting. In this domain, the NDP likely scores biggest since they have a core of rabid supporters. Among the two major parties, most Canadians will either want to "get rid of those bastard Liberals" or will grudgingly accept that the Liberals are better than Harper. My guess is the former will be far more likely to get out and vote.

There's also the organization to consider; Who has the ground forces who can get out the vote? This has been the Liberals strong suit in the past but with many Chretien Liberals sitting on their hands, the Big Red Machine may not be at full force this time around.

Finally, there are the voters that the pollsters just can't reach. Sometimes pollsters need to call 500 homes to get 100 people willing to take the poll. Are people who don't have the patience to talk to pollsters more prone to vote one way? Hard to say. Seniors may not want to take polls but then young people may be out in the evening and not home. Affecting the election day results are minor factors such as soldiers serving overseas who are most like to vote Tory, prisoners who would likely never vote Tory (which might actually make a difference in Kingston), and homeless who might lean towards the NDP for fear of Paul Martin killing them.

So, yeah, the polls are good for a quick fix but come election day, those who have become too addicted to them might be forced to suffer through some serious withdrawal symptoms.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Week 4 Review:

Blog of the Week: Andrew Spicer. I only came across this blog recently but it's one of the most updated and it's chalk full of election comments. Great observation on the effect the Gay Pride parades could have on the election.

Weekly Winner: Gilles Ducceppe. The latest Ipsos projections have him taking up to 67 seats. The Bloc is in such control right now that even a few hairnet pictures wouldn't hurt the guy.

Weekly Loser: Anna Maria Tremanti. The moderator of the English language debates got a lot of bad press for letting things get out of control.

Laugher of the Week: More gallows humour : From John Turner's 75th birthday comes the line "I didn't know the Titanic was registered to CSL."

Jean Lapierre mistake of the week: None. Although being the Quebec co-chair of a campaign which could leave the Liberals with 10-15 seats in the province won't help his resume.

We’re flying towards... A minority government. I've called it for the Tories but after this weekend, I'd say Martin may have a chance.

Grade: C-
Highlight: A rough weekend for Harper gives him life.
Lowlight: Terrible debate performance. "Do your handlers tell you to talk all the time?"
The Liberal fortunes may be on the rise but it's not because of Martin. Ducceppe cleaned his clock in the French debate and Martin looked bad during the English debate.

Grade: B-
Highlight: Looked cool and composed during the English debates
Lowlight: Air Canada story
The kiddie porn mishap may have been a low blow but it won't hurt Harper. It highlights the issue and will likely help him out with "soccer moms in Mississauga", as Harper himself put it when discussing the issue.

Grade: B+
Highlight: Strong debate performance in both languages
Lowlight: Getting very little media coverage
I may be in the minority here, but I really liked Layton's performance during the debates.

Grade: A+
Highlight: Winner of the French debate and put in a great performance in English which has everyone raving.
Lowlight: Nothing. He's still at zero on the Gaffe Meter.
Most puzzling is the reaction Ducceppe has been getting outside Quebec. Apparently SES found voters in the West saying they'd vote for Ducceppe. In addition, the Bloc claims they've been getting a dozen e-mails a day since the debate from Anglos outside Quebec asking the Bloc to run candidates in their ridings.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Time to go Negative.

OK. Maybe we just pulled a CNN and were a tad premature in our prediction. Today's SES poll has the Liberals back in front by 5 points.

I think it's time for Harper to get dirty. Make Canadians think Paul Martin is the biggest crook in the land. CSL, Adscam, Earnscliffe - tie 'em all together with a new commercial and see what happens. Keep the smilling children commercial running too but he needs some mud to sling with it to match the Liberal attack adds.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

A Few Post Debate Comments

-Pollara has the Cons up by 5 points while SES has the two parties tied. huh.

-This is rich. Maybe my blogging friend should take a look at some of the posts where I've praised Stephen Harper. Or some ofthe posts where I've trashed Paul Martin. Also, good ready would be the weekly reviews - a fun drinking game to play with them is to take a drink every week where I say Martin performed better than Harper: It's a good game because even minors can play! And, for the record, Harper's french is good - likely the best by a Western Canadian party leader who has never lived in Quebec ever. But it was still a handicap.

-So much for working with the provinces. Stephen Harper is an evil, mean man because he comes from Alberta. Yeah, right - real classy Paul. So much for Anne McLellan's political career.

-I love how Paul is going down fighting for all the things he never believed in. Today, he's the champion of a strong federal government. Along with Kyoto, gay rights, the Clarity Bill, and staying out of the Iraq War. Chretien would be wiping the floor with Harper on these issues but Martin was so ambiguously neutral on each and every one of them that he has very little to stand on.

-I don't think I've ever seen as much praise for a separatist leader outside Quebec as I've seen thrown on Ducceppe in the past few days, following his debate performances. At least not since Bouchard nearly died. SES is saying that they've even come across a few Westerners who said they'd like to vote for Gilles.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


The mainstream media seems fairly mixed on the debate and most are calling it a draw. But boy, is Harper cleaning up among average Canadians. Every single post-debate poll, focus group, or panel of undecided voters has Harper as the decisive winner and, because of that, Martin as the obvious loser. There wasn't a knocko...err, defining moment, à la Mulroney in '84, but Martin took a beating all night long and it showed. He stuttered...even during his opening statements. The stammered. He was flustered. His "did your handlers tell you to talk all the time" comment followed by a laugh was likely the most replayed moment of the debate and it wasn't Martin's shinning moment. Martin also repeatedly stuck his hand up when he didn't like where his opponents were going. I half expected him to snap his fingers and in a sassy voice proclaim "talk to the hand." Or rather, since this is Paul Martin, "Let me be perfectly clear: talk to the hand."

Layton and Ducceppe were the attack dogs on this night. Layton attacked Martin’s record and since Martin has decided he refuses to talk about the positives of his record, he had little to offer in the way of defenses. Ducceppe, realizing that what he did would have little importance, casually leaned on his podium and taunted Martin: "Answer the question. Answer the question.". Having decided that he's going to ride the sponsorship scandal to the finish line, he had a one-track mind in these debates.

And this left Stephen Harper to simply sit back and look like a Prime Minister. Sporting a new haircut and a spiffy suit, Harper looked confident. He was the only debater who didn't feel the need to talk over everyone else at every opportunity. He calmly said "that's not true" whenever Martin launched a long winded, rambling attack and then calmly explained his position. Admittedly he dodged some questions such as Iraq. And he stumbled over healthcare (memo to Harper: If your advisors don't want you to talk about something, there's a very good reason why. They're running a very good campaign so far. Listen to them!). But, by and large, he explained himself on social issues well and I think he alleviated fears a lot of Canadians had about him.

By and large, all three opposition leaders performed well and accomplished what they had to do: Harper eased fears. Layton attacked Martin on social issues. Ducceppe, well, he could have dropped his pants in the middle of the debate and ran across the stage and it wouldn't have really mattered. Martin, however, looked weak. In the post-match analysis, Stephen LeDrew, an avid Martinite, summed up the debate by saying "Most Canadians were frustrated with this debate and turned the TV off after 15 minutes." I think that was more wishful thinking on Mr. LeDrew's part than anything else.

Jack Ducceppe and Gilles Layton Debate

In case you missed it last night, the highlight of the debate was not Martin and Harper going uno a uno. It was, without a doubt Layton and Ducceppe. When they went 1 on 1, it was probably the most agreement ever uttered in a debate. At one point in the second segment, Ducceppe responded to Layton's comments by saying "I have nothing more to add." It was absolute agreement between them on everything. For those who missed it, here's a rough transcript.

Layton: "Years of Paul Martin slashes have caused a fiscal imbalance across this country. It is time we restored money to the provinces."

Ducceppe: "I agree Mr.Layton. But I must take issue with what you said Sir. That is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. In fact, the cuts also severely gutted the health care system."

Layton: "Right you are Mr.Ducceppe. Never before have I heard truer words. But I am genuinely offended that you failed to mention the money wasted on scandal. So I want you to answer me this question, and I want you to give me a direct answer: Did the Liberals waste taxpayer dollars in the Sponsorship Scandal?"

Ducceppe: That is a difficult question you ask me. But I must agree the answer is yes. And yet, Mr. Martin refuses to tell us who was responsible for this scandal.

Layton: Preach on brother!

Ducceppe: Until Mr.Martin comes clean and tells us where the political direction came from, Canadians will not be able to trust him.

Layton: Amen! Say, Mr.Ducceppe, I must admit you have an outstanding haircut today. Far less scary than Stephen Harper's.

Ducceppe: Why thank you. I must say that your mustache is quite dignified and a bold statement on your part.

Layton: Oh Gilles, you are too kind.

Ducceppe: Say Jacques, would you like to go have a coffee with me after these debates?

Layton: It would be my honour.

This Just In...

We here at CalgaryGrit are pleased to be the first organization to call the election. After the debates last night, we are now declaring this a Conservative Minority Government. Please stay with us as the final few polls report and the results become official.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Les Debats

A disclaimer before I wade in on the French debates last night:

I absolutely refuse to use the word "knock out punch" at any time in the lifetime of this blog when referring to a debate.

OK. That said, let's jump in. I agree with most of what Paul Wells said (as I usually do) but here's my take:

Ducceppe was clearly the winner. He had the huge benefit of being the frontrunner without a record to attack and, unlike the other leaders, he didn't have to worry about upsetting the rest of Canada. He attacked Martin on EI in the best exchange of the debate and brought up CSL and Adscam as often as he could. He also went after Harper to make it clear he would not "sell them out" to prop up a Harper minority. He was always very pointed in his attacks and did everything which he had to do. Unbelievably, sovereignty never came up once. To me, this is unbelievable. This is the one issue the Liberals could use to scare federalists back to their cause and an issue Harper or Layton could use to score political points outside Quebec, but no one brought it up after Ducceppe's opening remarks. The guy was almost giddy after the debate (well, as giddy as Gilles Ducceppe can be) when asked if he was surprised no one mentioned it. I'm also shocked no one brought up the Clarity Bill since either Harper or Ducceppe could have pointed out both Martin and Layton's murky positions on it.

As for Martin...the thing is, debates reinforce your existing opinions of a candidate. This is why I really do think Ducceppe won - I hate the guy and detest the Bloc but even I'll admit he did a good job. Martin however did about how I expected he'd do. He lied numerous times about Stephen Harper and seemed a tad whinny at times. He was on the defensive most of the night but, to his credit, did a descent job defending himself. He looked a lot more rested last night and while he rambled on a bit, he didn't stutter as much as I thought he would. Given that Quebec was pretty much a lost cause for the Liberals, he did what he had to do - He got some confidence back and avoided looking really bad in the eyes of English Canada.

As for Layton, he was really irking me at the start of the debate. He seemed a bit over the top but as the debate wore on, I thought he did a lot better. His French was better than I'd expected and he seemed positive and sincere the entire time. He hit on social issues, which is what he had to do, and was really the only man in the room who wasn't marked as a target going into the debate, so it was hard for him to come out of it looking badly. I disagree with Wells that he'll get a boost in the polls because of it, but he looked very good in my opinion. I think he'll come off looking good in the English debates if he uses the same strategy since it was a good contrast to his reputation as a publicity whore prone to wild accusations and exaggerations.

And finally, Stephen Harper. I think Harper did the poorest of the four but that's likely to be expected given his weak language skills. The messages were all right but the delivery just wasn't there. He seemed extremely uncomfortable up there and a little nervous. He did a good job defending himself but was terrible in his attacks. Especially against Martin. How he can attack Martin for wild spending is beyond me when his platform spends 10 billion more than the Liberals each year. Contrary to what a lot of pundits say, Harper needs to land a blow or two on Martin tonight and he's going to have to go on the attack. But if he does what he did last night when defending himself, he'll do good. He was cool and patiently waited for his chance to speak before clearly laying out his position.

The Ipsos survey among francophone Quebquers had Ducceppe winning at 57% and Martin at 23%. Layton and Harper were just under 10%. Which is similar to where the parties stand in Quebec, although Ducceppe is a bit higher than his poll numbers and Martin a bit lower. Given this, Ducceppe clearly did what he had to do - he prevented a reversal. With only two weeks left and the election up in the air, Martin is going to have to give up on Quebec and focus on Ontario. Because of that, Paul Martin, the man who was supposed to kill the Bloc is going to have to do something he never imagined he'd have to do when he took office - write off Quebec.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Week 3 Review:

Blog of the Week: All Things Canadian had some fun with the hockey playoffs and then skewered one of my least favourite people in the world, David Herle.

Weekly Winner:
Star Candidates. Polling numbers show that most of the big name candidates across the country are headed for easy wins.

Weekly Loser: David Herle. More and more, the Liberal campaign is being criticized...including by Herle himself.

Laugher of the Week: From the Globe & Mail election notes, the running joke this week: "Why didn't Paul Martin go to Ronald Reagan's funeral? He was too busy preparing for his own."

Jean Lapierre mistake of the week: Not a mistake but he's now being referred to as "Comical Ali" and a poll in Outremont showed he's in tough in one of the safest Liberal seats in the country.

We’re flying towards... Still looks like a Harper minority. But with a strong debate performance, he could hit 140 seats.

Grade: B
Highlight: The Return of the King - Chretien, Copps, Manley and the old gang are called back in to try and save the sinking ship.
Lowlight: Herle calling the campaign "desperate" and "in a spiral"
Stayed out of the country. The way things have been going, that's likely a good thing.

Grade: B+
Highlight: Great TV spot portrays him as a family man and as a Prime Minister
Lowlight: More mind-numbingly stupid comments from his candidates
More and more confident. It will be interesting to see how the Liberal attack adds work.

Grade: B-
Highlight: Released a very good immigration platform this week
Lowlight: Becoming more and more marginalized
Interesting new adds which feature George Bush, Dalton McGuinty and Mike Harris.

Grade: A-
Highlight: Starts laying out demands for a Conservative minority government
Lowlight: With the Bloc doing so well, there's a fear their supporters will stay home voting day.
Maybe it's just because I'm outside Quebec, but this campaign is flying incredibly high. Not a single mistake in three weeks while the Liberals sputter in Quebec.

Friday, June 11, 2004

-I'm reminded of a quote Tim Powers of the Conservatives gave in the Hill Times about a year ago. At the time, I dismissed it as Alliance nonsense but now, it's looking a lot more accurate. "Paul Martin is looking more and more like Alexander Daigle each and every day. The number 1 pick that never panned out." Think about it. Has there ever been such a highly anticipated Prime Minister? He's been the Dauphin since the mid nineties and had such high hopes placed on him. Because people had claimed he was "The Next One" for so many years, Liberals saw no wrong with him and blindly chose him as their next leader without even glancing at the alternatives. And now? The guy has bust written all over him.

-Why does Ralph Goodale get off to easy for these comments after the field day the media had with Layton?

-Is there anyone out there even remotely fascinated by the Globe's series on Chandler, the troubled 20something who's agonizing over whether or not he should vote? The guy wails on, week after week, about how no party represents Chandler's views perfectly on every issue. First of all, Chandler should just suck it up and vote for whoever most represents his opinions. Failing that, Chandler should run for parliament himself and get the 1.5% of the vote that a 23 year old independent candidate who does nothing but whine would get. Putting this aside, is this really the reason youth don't vote? I mean, Chandler claims he's researched the platforms but do youth really read up on platforms, weigh their options, and then, in the end, decide they won't vote because no one speaks to them? Check that. Is there a single person other than Chandler in Canada who researches the parties, is completely up to date on the issues and then decides not to vote because no one speaks directly to them? Well...probably, but this segment of the population isn't deserving of a weekly Globe column in my opinion.

-I find it amusing that the same guy who's airing adds of 50$ bills being tosses into garbage cans while showing misleading dollar figures says he won't follow the Liberals "into the gutter". That said, Harper's new adds with him and his family are fantastic! Seriously, it's just what he needs to show he's a normal person. He looks Prime Ministerial. He shows off the little kids. The ending "my name is Stephen Harper" once again makes no sense to me and I know This Hour Has 22 Minutes is pissed that they're not airing new shows during the election. Think of all the wonderful parodies they could do to all of the adds being aired right now.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

How We Got Here: A Letter from David Herle

With the polls showing the gap narrowing down and the debates coming up, I thought I'd try and see how we got to this situation we never thought we'd find ourselves in and offer a solution as to how we could get out of it.

First of all, the thing to remember is that the big guy has coveted the job for years, since losing his first run for leadership as a fresh MP. However, the popular francophone PM who'd beat him just kept on winning (but don't let those election wins and high poll numbers deceive you: he was definitely past his best before date), causing a rift between the two of them which would eventually force the Minister of Finance's to resign. Nevertheless, when the time finally came to find an heir, he was still the golden boy and coasted to victory. Sure, him and his supporters had pissed off the Chretien wing of the party and there are some divisions but those will heal. I know he could have waited to call the election but this guy is the greatest thing to hit Canadian politics in a long time. So why not throw caution to the wind and call an early vote?

So now he's branded the party in his own image. Gone is the name "liberal", it's all about the leader. Sure, there have been some success in the past but this is a "new new new" government which means the Liberals have had to sever all ties with the past. The new vision has been put forward...and although no one really knows what this new vision is (the guy's always had a tough time making up his mind after all), I'm sure that by the end of the campaign, Canadians will embrace it. OK, the Liberals have been plagued by the same dirty politics he's campaigned against: Sticky nominations, patronage offers...but still, we’ve got leader who is ten times the politician his opponents are and Canadians are going to look past that and vote for him. After all, even though it looks like little has changed, we'll finally get the power out of the PMO which is what Canadians want to see after the last few years.

I mean, how could they not vote for him? The dude's as far right wing as the Conservatives which should get him some red Tory votes. OK - Ed Broadbent's back and the NDP is at record highs in the polls but the Conservatives are still infighting and no one is ever going to vote for them with that guy in power. Look what he did to Joe Clark! Sure, Joe's a bit of a loser but people respect the guy and that entire part of the right is pissed off right now. They'll vote Liberal. Because, after all, the Conservatives don't have Canadian values. Quebequers will come around and vote Liberal because we now have a leader who's not a hard line federalist (that just pisses them off) and the West will vote Liberal because we now have a leader who understands them.

Now, I know things are started to look a little shaky and we’ve dropped a couple points. Yeah, there's even talk of the Liberals losing. But c'mon, the debates are around the corner and the Liberals have the leader who is going to put them back on the right track.

John Turner is going to kick the snot out of Mulroney and the Liberals will coast to an easy election win.

And, if by some miracle, Turner falls flat on his face during the debates and the party needs a new leader, I've got the perfect candidate. He's young, bright, and, like Turner, has the business background. We'll draft Paul Martin Jr., make him our leader and then we'll be sure to win.

-David Herle, Young Team Turner Liberal, July 1984.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Hockey Talk

Glad to see Stephen Harper doning his Flames jersey and attending the game. If he'd brought his son along, it would have been better optics but at least he's following my advice.

It's a shame the Flames came up short. Most importantly, this spells bad news for Stephen Harper, according to my little theory. Mind you, the latest SES poll has...not get ready for this...the Conservatives up 35-31. Every day some idiot who has no business representing their constituents opens his or her mouth and spouts nonsense but the Tories keep rising, about a point every 2 days - just like clockwork. The party may be full of Neanderthals but Harper, unlike Stockwell Day, is a social moderate and it's going to make him Prime Minister.

I think we can all agree the Tories made the right decision with the merger and the right decision with their leader (although I think Bernard Lord would have blown Martin away. Hell, I doubt Martin would have called the election if he was up against Lord).

Oh, and for some real hockey talk, be sure to check out the Carnival at All Things Canadian.

5 Tips for Jack Layton

Here's a article I did for freethought last week. Layton's got his work cut out for him over the second half of the campaign if he wants to avoid being marginalized in the Harper/Martin clash.


I’ll admit it, I have a soft-spot for the NDP. They’re sort of like William Hung. You know, that singer on American Idol who was just terrible but America fell in love with a now he has his own CD out. His heart is in the right place and you’d like to see him do well but are you really going to spend 19.95$ for his CD? Same thing with the NDP – good ideas, nice people…but I’m not trusting my money to them. But since the NDP will never form government, they’re fairly harmless and I wish them the best of luck. Here’s some advice which could get them 40 seats.

1. Makeover time!

Unless you’re a 1940s dictator, mustaches rarely work. Shave it off Jack! I’m sure Earnscliffe has focus groups telling Paul what colour tie to wear so if mustaches got people votes, our PM would be sporting one by now.

2. Hire an accountant

Yes, I know no accountant would ever vote NDP. Neither would anyone who’s ever taken Econ 101 for that matter. But when you go around saying things like “paying down the debt will cost us 200 billion dollars over the next decade” when this isn’t remotely true, you come across looking like, well, the NDP Canadians know and love (but won’t vote for).

3. Adscam a no go

Don’t harp on Adscam. If people don’t think the Liberals can handle their money, they’ll vote in someone who can handle money like, oh, anyone but the NDP. Instead, keep doing what you’re doing – portray Paul as a coal baron who gives tax breaks to his rich friends. I’m actually a little upset the NDP backed out of a gimmick where Layton would fly to the Barbados during the election campaign.

The comparisons to Mulroney work great too. Just keep saying “More right wing than Brian Mulroney” over and over again.

4. Captain Planet

The Green Party is at 5% nationally. They’re in double digits in BC. Do whatever it takes to get prominent Green Party supporters (I’m sure they exist somewhere. Look for them) to endorse you. Hell, let them write your environmental platform.

5. I’m not saying you should open mouth kiss Ed Broadbent but…

Make gay marriage an issue. Ask Paul if he’s committed to it if the Supreme Court gives him civil unions as a way out. It’s a wedge issue which no other party likes talking about. Use it.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Indecent Exposure

Boy, that Stephen Harper sure does want Canadians to see his platform. Waits until a Saturday when few people care about the news and few papers publish the next day. And if papers are published on Sunday, I'm going to wager they'll be showing stories on:

1. 60th Anniversary of D-Day
2. Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals which could have (but didn't) featured the first win by a Canadian team in a decade.
3. A sure shot triple crown (which also didn't happen)

I guess Harper had nothing to do with Reagan's death (right???) so you can't fault him on that, but it does mean his platform will get pushed back another page in the paper. Sort of reminds me when Martin declared his first batch of contributors during the Liberal leadership race...on September 11th, 2002. Gosh, I wonder what the media would be devoting their coverage to that day, eh?

The weird thing is...the Conservatives actually have a pretty good platform. There's nothing scary in it, and I think it will appeal to a lot of voters. So I don't see why they'd want to hide it. Especially since the Liberals will be screaming about a "hidden agenda" for the rest of the campaign.

I guess the Tories are set to run a frontrunner's campaign. And given the way things are going, that's probably not a terrible idea.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Week 2 Review:

Blog of the Week: It's a tough time for Warren personally I'm sure but his blog was on fire this week.

Weekly Winner: John Manley, Brian Tobin, Frank McKenna...and anyone else who's got their eyes on replacing Martin. My guess is they won't need to wait 10 years like Paul mused back in January.

Weekly Loser: Dalton McGuinty. The true effect of his budget on the Liberals fortunes in Ontario is only now being seen.

Laugher of the Week: The line going around the media is that Dalton McGuinty has brought down two majority governments within the past year.

Jean Lapierre mistake of the week: Looks like a lot of Lapierre's old quotes are popping up. Including his longing for a minority government in 2000.

We’re flying money's now on a Harper minority. But it's sure going to be interesting.

Grade: B-
Highlight: Platform rolled out
Lowlight: McCallym and Sgro heckling fiasco
No major gaffes except for the absolutely baffling heckling incident. But, yet again, the polls keep heading south.

Grade: B
Highlight: According to Don Martin, Harper won the Calgary Flames trivia contest on the United Scarelines.
Lowlight: Merrifield's abortion comments.
Harper himself is running a fantastic campaign. He just needs to keep his MPs muzzled.

Grade: B
Highlight: Looked good on the student town hall last night
Lowlight: The Green Party getting a lot of media play, and actually projected for 2 seats.
As the race starts to polarize between Harper and Martin, Layton risks becoming an afterthought.


Grade: A-
Highlight: Now that we're heading towards a minority, the Bloc's influence will be immense
Lowlight: Very little appears to be phasing Ducceppe.
Ipsos has the Bloc winning 56 to 60 seats. WOW.

Time to Panic!


Liberals 32%
Conservatives 31%
NDP 17%
BQ 11%
Greens 6%

And Harper had a bad week? What the hell will happen if Martin gets beaten in the debates? Or makes a major gaffe?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

A few random comments:

-I made the Post this morning with this post. Cool. I think this "Blogger's Corner" feature of theirs is a good idea since there are a lot of good writings on the net (for those new to blogs, click the links on the right hand side for people who are far, far more insightful, witty and well-written than me). Of course, most people are thinking "Of course he thinks it's a good idea, they put a post of his in their paper. If Al Quaeda did the same thing, he'd be praising Osama Bin Laden." But, seriously, I think it's a good idea.

-This will not help Harper in the least.

-I chuckled at Ken Dryden's campaign slogan: "Protecting Canadian Goals"

-People may notice that I don't talk too much about any of the heated election races going on in Calgary. There's a reason for that, and it comes from this quote I found in the Star today:
"Maybe if they find one of the Conservative candidates accused of murder, the Liberal in that riding might win. But maybe not. People will say, 'It’s only murder.'"
David Taras, communications professor at the University of Calgary, on Alberta as a wasteland for Liberals, interviewed in Time.

-The Liberal platform is out and I like it. But will they follow through on it? That's debatable. This party always campaigns from the left and governs from the right. And given Martin's conservative nature, I'd be surprised if he follows through on all these promises. But full marks for realizing the only way to beat the Tories this election is to campaign from the left.

-Finally, watch out for other apocalyptic signs because I swear I saw Chantal Hebert defending Jean Chretien last night on the National. There was discussion about Martin running on "liberal" values but Hebert pointed out that Martin has been fuzzy on everything from the war to gay marriage to Kyoto. Then she proclaimed that Jean Chretien was a man of conviction who clearly laid out where he stood on "liberal" issues. Or something like that. I was so surprised to see Hebert stick up for Chretien that I may not have been paying complete attention.

Heckles the Clown

Some gaffes are understandable. I can see how Jack Layton wanted to make homelessness an issue in the campaign. Even though I don't agree with them, I can see how someone might truly believe Reid or Merrifield's views on bilingualism and abortion. And if you look at the initial quotes in both cases, they're not as extreme as everyone is painting them to be. Even Martin pretty much agreed with Merrifeld's opinion that there should be counseling for a woman considering an abortion (though he phrased it better).

But sometimes, you're just left scratching your head. I cannot think of one single benefit speaking out against the Clarity Bill would bring a politician who has zero chance of winning seats in Quebec. And it's beyond me, what Martin hoped to accomplish by sending two cabinet ministers to heckle the leader of the opposition. Wells and Kinsella have already weighed in on this but how ridiculous was it to see the former chief economist of the Royal Bank heckling Stephen Harper? I mean, what possible victory could be gained from this? How could this possibly spin to the Liberals' advantage?

Say what you want about Chretien but the guy had some smart people running his campaigns. Attacking your opponent is smart. Implying Harper wants to turn Canada into the 51st state is smart. But bluntly saying he's "un-Canadian"? Stupid. Openly ambushing him in public with nothing substantial to say? Stupid. There's a difference between Warren Kinsella holding up a Barney doll on Canada AM and making a joke and Warren going on the show and saying "Stockwell Day is a religious nut! PLEASE VOTE FOR ME!!!" Right now, the Martinites are doing the later and they just look desperate. What they really need to do is to be either:
a) (more) subtle in their attacks
b) (more) clever in their attacks
I've put "more" in brackets since I haven't seen any subtlety or cleverness so far in their attacks.

The Martinites are really showing a difficulty winning anything where restricting membership forms isn't an option. It will be interesting to see if Herle survives the campaign or if he'll meet the same fate Bill Lee got in '84. My money is that Martin's seriously warped sense of loyalty (as in, he's loyal to those who are disloyal) will prevail and Herle will keep driving this CSL election freighter straight into an iceberg.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


Say what you want about her, but Adrienne Clarkson is about to become the most important person in Canada. For the first time in a long time, the Governor General will be on the hot seat because we are heading towards the most unworkable parliament in Canadian history. A Liberal minority is one thing but a Liberal or Conservative minority where the NDP is not powerful enough to prop up the government is another. More and more, it is looking like the BQ will hold the balance of power. Say we wind up with a parliament like this (or some variation of it):

Lib 120
Con 108
BQ 55
NDP 25

Even if Layton wanted to help the Liberals (and why would he if all they do is go onto the streets at night and kill homeless women with their bare hands?), it wouldn't get them over the magic 155 seats needed for a majority. As a result, the Liberals would need support from the BQ or the Cons to pass confidence motions.

Of course, the combined Con/BQ support would be over 155 so they could conceivably form government, but the political fallout for both parties would be immense. (Then again, maybe not. Jean Lapierre founded the freaking BQ and he’s Martin’s Quebec lieutenant)

I'll admit I was only in High School when we had our last minority government so I may not be overly qualified to speculate on what the GG's proper procedure would be, but based on precendence, here's what my understanding of the proper course of action for Adrienne Clarkson would be:

First, she’d have to ask the current PM if he still has support of the house. So, even if Martin wins fewer seats than the Cons, he could in theory tell he that he does and continue to govern as PM until he loses a confidence motion. Since this is bound to happen sooner or later, if little time has passed, the proper thing would be for Clarkson to give Harper an opportunity to form government. When he loses a confidence vote, we'd have to have a new election. Add it up, and we'll most certainly be back to the polls by Christmas 2005.

But that's only if everyone follows tradition. What if Martin finishes 20 seats behind the Cons, with less popular vote and tells her he wants to stay on as PM? Should she let him? Mackenzie King, back in the 20s, was the only PM to ever govern with fewer seats than the opposition leader. What if Martin takes over and then goes to her after 6 months, telling her to dissolve parliament? Should she give Harper a chance to govern or agree with him and go to the polls? This happened in '57 with Diefenbaker but it was a controversial measure. And Pearson had dared him to do it in the house. What if Harper was against going to the polls, feeling he deserved a chance to form government? The last time a Governor General went against the wishes of a sitting Prime Minister was in 1927, when Byng turned King down and it became the central election issue.

There are many more scenarios out there. What if neither leader tells Adrienne he has the confidence of the house? Would we simply start another campaign on June 29th? What if Harper forms government right away but can't hold it? Does Martin get a chance, even though he told her on the 29th that he didn't have confidence of the house? Now we're treading into territory where there isn't a historical precedence in Canada. Should Adrienne read up on 18th century British parliamentary history?

I don't think many people recognize what a historic parliament we could be heading towards. Minority governments are one thing - we've had lots of them. But minority governments where a separatist party holds the balance of power? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that neither leader makes the GG’s spending habits an issue during this campaign.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Give Rob the Full Nelson (Mandela)

Here's a site which is definitely worth visiting. Anders is without a doubt one of the worst MPs in all of Canada. He'll still win...Osama Bin Laden could win Calgary West, so long as he ran as a Conservative. But Anders is a guy who definitely brings down the collective IQ of Parliament.

Where do we go from here?

This is where things get interesting. Now that the prospect of a Conservative victory are very real to everyone, this campaign will change dramatically. And since it's happening so soon in the campaign, there's still lots of time for the Liberals to fight back or (in my opinion, more likely) for Martin to continue mimicking John Turner and see the slide get worse and worse. Without Quebec, Harper can't get a majority, but is 140 seats out of the question? A week ago I would have said yes, but now...

The question now shifts from whether or not people want to punish the Liberals by giving them a minority to who people want as the next Prime Minister (which may be a moot point since there's no way the parliament we're heading towards could last more than a year...and likely both leaders will be given a chance to test parliament's confidence at some point in the mandate). The Conservatives will soon release their platform and people will take a good look at it. It's all fun and good to say "Damn Dalton McGuinty! Damn Adscam!" but now it's more than punishing's actually about who will win the election.

Should be fun!