Saturday, April 30, 2005

A Festivus for the Restofus

The Blogging Dippers initiative by Robert at My Blahg has created a lot of talk about blogging groups. James Bow started up the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians and I'm sure it won't be long before everyone from the Marxist-Leninists to the Communist Party (why can't those two just merge already and stop splitting the far, far left vote?) will have their own groups set up.

This led to a lot of scrambling behind the scenes by many of the Liberal bloggers to set a similar group up. However, while I'm a proud Liberal and would gladly join a group of Blogging Liberals, this blog is not affiliated with and does not speak for the Liberal Party, and a lot of bloggers out there are hesitant to openly declare their affiliation for a given party. We also felt that the only real way to provide balance to the Blogging Tories would be to unite all bloggers who share a Progressive vision of Canada. That isn't a slag at the Blogging Tories because there are a lot of great blogs in that group, but there needs to be a way to bring centre and centre-left blogs together.

So, thanks to Wayne at freethought, we have decided to launch the Progressive Bloggers. Whether you're NDP, Liberal, Green, a Red Tory, or an unaligned blogger with a progressive vision of Canada, you're welcome to join this group. On the main page you can see recent posts from the Progressive Bloggers and we hope to shortly allow posting directly to the site by Progressive Canadians who do not have their own blogs. So spread the word, add the code to your site, and join the group.

With Or Without You

For those of you who thought the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes coupling was the hot gossip of the week, think again. For those of you who thought that Peter MacKay and Belinda Stronach were the ones turning the gossip wheels around Parliament Hill, think again. No, instead the media has been diligently doing their job by speculating about the relationship between Paul Martin and...Bono. Yes, Bono.

Luckily, Paul reassured everyone who thought the two might be feuding:

"It's no rift," Martin insisted Friday after reporters asked him questions about the sour reaction.

"We are very, very good friends."

Pfewf! That's a relief! Hopefully the media will continue to keep the Canadian voters informed on this crucial spat since I know I'll be basing my vote on Bono's opinion of Paul Martin.

But, I suppose the real question is: How long before Paul decides to go on national TV to reassure the nation that he and Bono are still very, very good friends?

Friday, April 29, 2005

Paul on Paul

"IMMENSELY SELF-SATISFIED, LOG-ROLLING UPDATE, next morning: Coyne admits I was right when I predicted, about ten minutes after Martin finished speaking, that he would win his play. This is especially gratifying because Andrew is almost always smarter than me. I've kept track of assorted blogs and pundits who said I was wrong, and will be watching to see whether they eat similar crow. Fun times!"

OK, OK. Given I'm one of the "assorted blogs and pundits" who said Wells was wrong, I guess I should give the guy some credit on this one. I presumed that a Prime Minister begging for his life on National TV wouldn't go over as well as it did and assumed that Wells' love affair with all things Martin had clouded his judgment.

I do still think we're heading for a spring election because:

1) As Andrew Coyne points out, there's a big groundswell of pity for Martin. I've seen elections won on fear, on hope, on anger, but never on pity. Even Uncle Louis went down over scandal.

2) The polls are really fluid right now. Allan Gregg had the Green Party at 10%. And, I'm sorry, but as much as Canadians love their Muslix, I can't for the life of me believe that the Green Party who has polled 5% in every single poll for the past two years has suddenly doubled their support. I suspect a lot of people are simply parking their vote with the Greens. The GPC poll also asked for undecided votes and found 13% of Canadians undecided. This means there's a lot of volatility out there. It's hard to make definitive predictions in an environment like that. A month ago, I was convinced we'd see a November election. A week ago, I was convinced we'd see a spring vote. A lot can change really quickly.

3) Speaking of a lot changing really quickly, I believe Monsieurs Corbeil, Gagliano and Guite still have to take the stand. None are very big fans of Monsieur Martin. Given the decline of the Conservatives in the polls is likely due to the focus shifting from sponsorship to the NDP deal, it stands to reason they'll get a bounce if more "explosive" testimony is revealed.

4) Harper is under a lot of pressure from his own party to go now. And after declaring war, it'll be hard for him to back down.

5) Even if the polls are in a dead heat right now, will things be better in January? This June, we'll have the end of the Gomery witnesses, the criminal trial and Jean Chretien trying to remove Gomery. That ensures Harper he'll get material to work with throughout the campaign. I can't imagine the conditions being that favourable next January. It's pretty clear Harper won't win on policy or charisma - his only chance at victory is on scandal.

6) Returning to the original topic of Martin's gambit, even if he's gotten a bump in the polls, he's further framed the election question on corruption. But, like I'd said, Martin really had nothing to lose by speaking to the nation. I'm just surprised he gained from it.

But yeah. Paul Wells was right and I was wrong, Paul Wells was right and I was wrong, Paul Wells was right and...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The 30 Million Member Ridings

Chuck Cadman is now the centre of attention in Ottawa, for obvious reasons. One also imagines, once David Kilgour returns to Canada, that he will be sharing the spotlight.

The Globe & Mail is all over Cadman today as the Surrey North MP details how he’s listening to his constituents before deciding whether or not to topple the government. While this is a great exercise in grass roots democracy, it also lends itself to several problems. For example, I think a lot of die hard Liberals lucky enough to live in Surrey North or Edmonton Beaumont will be picking up the telephone and saying something along the lines of:

“Hello, I’m a long time resident of Surrey North/Edmonton Beaumont and I feel I need to share my opinion with Mr.Cadman/Mr.Kilgour. I’m a long time Conservative even though I voted for Mr.Cadman/Mr.Kilgour last time but I must say I’m in no hurry to see an election right now. I think Mr.Cadman/Mr.Kilgour should vote against bringing down the government this spring since we really owe it to Canada to see the Gomery Report through to the very end. I’ve talked to a lot of friends and family and they all share this opinion. Thanks for listening.”

In fact, I imagine a lot of Liberals who, say, live outside of Surrey North or Edmonton Beaumont will be calling or e-mailing Monsieurs Cadman and Kilgour with e-mails of this sort. All they’d really need is a good BC/Edmonton accent and the knowledge that Mr. Cadman can be reached at 604-589-0338 or that Mr. Kilgour can be reached at 780-495-2149.

It also occurs to me that a lot of Conservatives lucky enough to have an area code in one of those two ridings will be doing likewise and saying something along the lines of:

“Hello, I’m a long time resident of Surrey North/Edmonton Beaumont and I feel I need to share my opinion with Mr.Cadman/Mr.Kilgour. I’m a long time Liberal but even I have been thoroughly disgusted by what has come out of the Gomery Inquiry. I certainly will not be voting Liberal next time and I think it’s imperative that Mr.Cadman/Mr.Kilgour vote to bring down the government right now. Clearly, Paul Martin has lost the moral authority to govern. I’ve talked to a lot of friends and family and they all share this opinion. Thanks for listening.”

It also seems likely that a given individual might call from home today, then try again from their work number tomorrow and maybe drop the MP (or, hey, why not, both MPs) a call from their cell phone over the course of the weekend. As for those with 4 or 5 e-mail addresses…

Gotta love grass roots democracy, eh? Now excuse me, I have some phone calls to make…

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Question Needs to be Asked

How long before David Kilgour gets his turn at re-writing Ralph Goodale's budget?

Let's Make a Deal!

I'd love to go into a big long policy discussion debating the merits of spending money on corporate tax cuts versus affordable housing, public transit, post-secondary education and foreign aid . Honestly, I think this is a huge improvement on the budget and the areas where Layton is redirecting money are areas money should be spent (notice how Jack didn't say "throw it all into healthcare"). But, let's be perfectly honest - it ain't gonna make a difference. With Chuck Cadman hinting he'll vote against the government and both sick Tory MPs declaring themselves able to make it to Ottawa, this government is likely to go down before the budget is passed. And I have a sneaking suspicion that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is unlikely to keep 1.6 billion for affordable housing while the eight car garages of Canadian CEOs remain half empty.

So, let's assume the government falls and look at the fallout of this deal from a purely political perspective.

NDP: For years the NDP has been nothing more than that collection of Shakespeare books in your bookcase that you never read; no real purpose and mostly for show. But people are finally reading the Bard! The NDP is...gasp...relevant! I know, I'm as shocked as you to realize this. I can only imagine how giddy NDP supporters must feel to be making a difference (well, in theory) on the national stage. This deal works for Layton on a few levels:
1) It makes him seen as a real player and gets him a ton of media exposure
2) It shows people a vote for the NDP is not a wasted vote
3) It gets his message out there. He supports education, the environment, and affordable housing over corporate tax cuts. That's not a bad message.
4) It shows he's trying to make Parliament work.
5) It shows he's against an early election.

The only real drawback is that he might be seen as propping up the Liberals and it gives Harper full control of the sponsorship issue. It'll be harder for Layton to argue the Liberals don't have the "moral authority" to govern when he's supporting them.

Liberals: The good for Paulie is it may put off a spring election. But even if we go to the polls this spring, there's some good in this:
1) Having the "moral conscience" of Parliament support your government is a big plus when the next election will be fought on corruption.
2) The Liberals will be seen as moving left which might bring back some disgruntled Bloc and Dipper voters to the fold.
3) Martin will be able to talk up the unholy alliance of Stephen Harper and Jean La...I mean, Gilles Ducceppe.

But, there are some drawbacks:
1) Martin will be seen as trying to buy his way out of an election.
2) Having Jack Layton set the agenda will not help dispel the perception that Martin is a pushover.
3) The business community will not be amused.

Conservatives: For Harper, this is likely about as appealing as a candid Randy White tell-all press conference. Harper will be seen as the one bringing down the government and he'll be seen as the one working with the Bloc to do it. And with campaign finance laws in place, having Bay Street turn on Martin won't make much of a difference.

Bloc: Quoi? Quelle deal?

Bordering on Insanity

Heck, if Martin needs to save some cash for the big Jack Layton pay-off, maybe he should consider a cut to the border security budget. These guys will handle it for free!

Monday, April 25, 2005

You Don't Know Jack

Robert at My Blahg has set up about the "Blogging Dippers" to counter the "Blogging Torries". I suppose we'll have to get "Blogging Liberals" going one day, if only because the NDP being more organized that the Liberals is a little embarrassing.

Regardless, I was browsing through the Blogging Dippers blogs and they had surprisingly little on Jack Layton's latest gambit. So I'll throw my two cents in on the topic.

The way I see it, there are three possible reasons Layton might be trying to set up an alliance with the Liberals:

1) He doesn't want to go to the polls now, feeling the NDP are unlikely to increase their seat totals dramatically. On a more altruistic note, he realizes that Same Sex marriage legislation is finished if there's an election now.

2) He wants there to be an election but also wants to be seen as the guy who's making an effort to make Parliament work. Canadians don't want an election but they don't want the Liberals either. So if Layton gets "dragged" into an election against his will, maybe voters will turn to him.

3) He sees this as the one change for the NDP to be relevant and actually make a difference. This is his change to get rid of evil corporate tax cuts and save the environment. He'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony...

In my view, it's probably a little bit of all three reasons. Regardless, Martin is desperate right now and he knows this alliance can save him. Layton holds the cards and if he really is interested in making a deal, he can place Paul in a vice and squeeze. If he settles for dropping corporate tax cuts that are back loaded and likely won't happen during the remaining Martin years (months? weeks?), he's letting Paul off easy. Now's the chance for the NDP to become more than a cute little party; Layton should milk this for all it's worth and make the NDP relevant again.

There's obviously the fear that he'll be seen as propping up a corrupt government and that's where the risk lays in all of this. My gut instinct is that this would only piss off Conservatives but it certainly has the potential to backfire since the next election will most likely revolve around the corruption issue.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Sheila Friend

Sheila Foe

Saturday, April 23, 2005


-You know you’re in campaign mode when innocuous comments by a communications director and critique from…Bono, become big news. It’s kind of funny, if you think about it. Paul Wells recently posted a link to the “Making History” speech and I remember the buzz at the leadership convention was of whether or not Paul could crack the 200 seat plateau, whether or not we’d win 9 Alberta seats, whether or not he’d be PM for 10 years. Looking bad, Bono’s comment that "About a year from now he's going to regret tonight" was probably the only prediction that came to fruition.

-For anyone who missed it, Friday’s broooooooaaaaaadcast of Politics featured back to back interviews with Paul Martin and Stephen Harper. I must say that Martin looked a lot better there than on the 2004 Mad as Hell Tour. He didn’t look that desperate and seemed about 5 years younger than on Thursday night (but, I only say that because he seemed about 80 during that broadcast). He gave fairly credible answers when Don Newman sent some really hard hitting questions his way. Harper seemed defensive but he did make the valid point about Paul Martin's offer amounting to a "10 month campaign".

-This talk of an NDP coalition is very interesting. I would have never in a million years thought a government would completely re-write its budget two months after the fact but with the kind of desperation we’ve seen lately, you never know. And why wouldn’t the Liberals want to give the NDP whatever they want? It would push back the election and tell NDP voters who are considering voting Liberal that their own leader approves of Paul Martin. This is a very dangerous game Jack Layton is playing.

It also raises the very fun to speculate about numbers game. Mike Brock points out the obvious fact that commentators everywhere seem to be missing – there are two sick Conservative MPs. That means 151 Bloc/Con votes and 151 Lib/NDP votes. Which means the fate of the house rests with the three independents. Chuck Cadman has said he won’t bring down the government and David Kilgour has said he might. Everyone assumes Carolyn Parrish will vote with the Liberals since her political career and political paycheck both come to an end when this House dies. That means the Liberals would survive…or would they?

What if Cadman is too sick to make a vote? What if the Tories manage to fly in their two MPs? What if Carolyn Parrish is vindictive and sees this as her chance to be the person who ends Paul Martin’s political career? We might very well be heading towards one of the most exciting votes in the history of the Canadian Parliament.

-Courtesy of “Trudeau’s Children” comes this hilarious picture. Gallows humour seems to be spreading across the Liberal land, eh?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

State of the Disunion Address

4:55 pm: I check the TV Times to see my viewing options: it’s basically between Everybody Loves Raymond and Everybody Hates Liberals…I guess I’ll give Paul a chance.

Round 1
5:02 pm:This occurred under a Liberal government”, “unjustifiable mess”, “I will be politically accountable”…boy, Harper’s going to have a tough time toping this.

5:03 pm: Paul says “I’m sorry”. Good move.

5:08 pm: Gomery will report December 15th…an election within 30 days means a January call for a February vote. So Martin's begging for close to a year – that’s a long time in minority government politics.

5:09 pm: The camera slowly zooms in as Paul Martin talks about his father being in Cabinet. I think this election might mark the first time in the history of Canadian politics that a politician will be playing for “pity votes”.

Analysis of Paul: Good performance. I strongly disagree with Paul Wells that this challenge will work, but it gives the Liberals a campaign "issue". They can get up and say “Stephen Harper didn’t let Judge Gomery report”. Martin’s always good on a prepared texts and he’s got that Uncle Louis vibe to him…very strong performance, as expected.

Round 2
5:10 pm: Harper comes out swinging. I still can’t get over how confident this guy has looked over the past two weeks. He bluntly says that Prime Ministers do not go on national TV “begging for yet another chance” and that “this is not how a Prime Minister should act.” Like I predicted, Harper is trying to look like a Prime Minister and is succeeding.

5:11 pm: Mentions the Liberals shutting down the Public Accounts Committee last year…expect to hear a lot of that during the election. Also mentions the “fiscal imbalance” during his French speech.

5:15 pm: The guy is really playing to Quebec voters. Lots of French and he spends the last half of his speech talking about La Belle Province.

5:16 pm: The “corruption” counter hits 7. I’m disappointed in Steve – he’s well bellow his usual 2.5 CRpM ratio (corruption references per minute).

Analysis of Steve: Looked really good and hammered home the key points. Kept bobbing back and forth which was kind of annoying – I don’t want to sound like his mother but the guy needs to work on his posture.

Round 3
5:18 pm: (NOTE: I didn’t actually keep track on the times - I’m pretty much making them up…) Opens by saying that when Jean Chretien addressed the country in 1995 “he did so to save Canada”. Seriously. I think that’s the most (only) shocking thing anyone said during the half-hour.

5:20 pm: The CBC translator translates Ducceppe’s statement into “besmirched Democracy”. This girl deserves a raise…besmirched isn’t an easy word to pull out.

5:22 pm: I don’t know who Ducceppe’s English coach is but he’s talking in this drawn out Texas drawl: “fe-dee-rawl-ism”.

Analysis of Gilles: Playing up the separatist angle a lot in his speech. Also trying to draw Martin into it as best he can with the “you were Minister of Finance when this happened” line.

Round 4
5:25 pm: Jack Layton echoes the opposition leaders by saying “this is not a national crisis.” This is probably the first time in the history of politics that the opposition is trying to downplay a scandal.

5:26 pm: Jack refuses to talk about the scandal and is instead discussing issues. ISSUES? Who does this guy think he is? That’s it, I’m changing channels.

5:27 pm: Ha ha ha. Oh, that Raymond. When will he ever learn…

Analysis of Jack: In all seriousness, he was the best of the bunch. Actually talked about the issues and making Parliament work. The NDP base soaks up stuff like that. The commentators spent as much time talking about Layton’s offer to modify the budget as they did about Martin’s offer to call an election in January. This NDP ploy could backfire, but I really like the way Layton is approaching this. Play the good cop in the “good cop/bad cop/separatist cop” routine with Harper and Ducceppe.

Post-Game Show:
-The CBC shows us George Strombalopalopalopapoulos talking to Canadians instead of the opposition leaders’ scrum. Thanks a lot. I really care what Angie in Vancouver has to say more than Stephen Harper.
-Way to win over the BC voters with a 4 pm Press Conference Paul.
-The local CBC news shows this blog on their newscast. Cool.
-Allan Gregg hits it right on the money when he says Martin continues to help his popularity at the expense of the Liberal brand.

Basically, I don’t think this will make a huge difference. Everyone rehashed what they’ve been saying for the past few weeks. Martin looked really good, but he was followed up by half an hour of opposition leaders who also looked good bashing him. Still, he’ll get most of the media clips so it was likely worth the risk. I’ll be very curious to see if this has any real impact on voters – my gut tells me no, but we’ll see.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Voted Off the Island

The "Mad as Hell" tour will become "MadTV" tomorrow night as Paul Martin addresses the nation. From the sounds of things, Martin will make a 6 minute plea and will be followed by the opposition leaders (well, he'll be followed by Harper, and then everyone will turn over to Survivor at 8. Tough luck Jack!).

What will Paul say? My guess is he won't say he's "mad as hell". He won't say "there was political direction". He won't blame "rogue bureaucrats". He'll likely plead with Canadians to wait until Gomery has finished his report and try and distance himself from the scandal. Is this a good strategy? Hard to say. Normally, going on National TV to turn a scandal involving your own government into a national crisis isn't a good idea but we're so beyond downplaying things at this point that it's likely worth a shot. Desperate times call for desperate measures ("We have nothing to lose but our 25%"). Only problem is, an increasingly confident Stephen Harper will follow him so Canadians will be given a chance to compare the two. Heck, screw Survivor - why not end the broadcast with Ben Mulroney saying:

"If you'd like Paul Martin to be your next Prime Minister dial 1-900-VOTE-PAUL. If you'd like Stephen Harper to be your next Prime Minister dial 1-900-VOTE-STEVE. Then, tune in next Tuesday when I reveal the winner in a special two hour show!"

As a somewhat related offside, both Warren and Wells are on fire today - check 'em our for some real analysis of what has been a wacky week in Parliament. Oh, and Radwanski has been quite good lately as well. Who needs the NHL playoffs when we've got this Parliament to follow, eh?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Vultures Circling

Say I'm going to take on Tiger Woods one-on-one in a world televised match to determine the "ultimate golf champion of the Universe."

Now, let's say I cancel the first match because I'm sick. Then I back out of the rescheduled game because I have some business to tend to. Then, I cancel because it's Jean Lapierre's birthday, a holy day for Liberals coast to coast. After a while, Tiger is going to think I'm afraid of playing him. Worse, our worldwide television audience is going to realize that I know I can't beat the guy.

Well, that's exactly what this latest move will make people think. This is probably the most desperate thing I have ever seen a party in power do and it's only going to propagate the feeling that the upcoming election is hopeless for the Grits. Go to Blogs Canada and look at two most recent posts involving "Liberals": James Bow, saying the party needs to be defeated in order to rebuild and a card carrying party member saying the Liberals' goal should be to form a strong opposition.

The Liberal Party is dismayed, dejected, and divided. The Conservatives can smell blood and Harper is looking more and more confident with each passing day, quite shocking considering how tentative he's seemed this past year on everything from gay marriage to Goodale's budget.

To make matters worse, important policies like the Kyoto Plan and the Foreign Policy Review are being brushed aside as "electioneering" and aren't being debated on their merits. With an election a month away, what could be more important than an honest debate on the environment and foreign policy? But we won't get it because of a grandstanding opposition and a government that continues to shoot themselves in the foot to overshadow their own headlines.

Honestly, at this point, it's hard to say what Martin can do to save himself. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that trying to shut down the opposition isn't likely going to help. One of the most successful political parties in the history of democracy looks like a desperate, spent force clinging to power by the fingertips.

Sad times to be a Liberal.

Wednesday Morning UPDATE: Chantal Hebert has a good story on this in the Star.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Party Favours

Lots of buzz around Warren Kinsella's testimony today. Warren defends himself at his blog, but really, that hardly seems necessary. I mean, everybody who has even remotely followed politics over the past decade (or has taken the time to read Juggernaut) knows of the close ties between Earnscliffe and the then "PMO in waiting" (now the "death row PMO"). Earncliffe split in two for this very reason and Martin was hounded to death over the connection his first few blissful weeks as PM, before this bigger scandal made CSL and Earnscliffe problems of the past.

Not a word Kinsella said today hasn't already been said by hundreds of other staffers, pundits and politicians around Ottawa over the past few years. I mean, his testimony is about as shocking (or "explosive", since that's the hip word now) as if he'd gotten up there and said "Paul Martin owned a steamship line".

Wednesday Morning UPDATE: Seeing "operation discredit", as Warren calls it, hit full steam, it's pretty obvious that Kinsella isn't the only "disgruntled" one in the ongoing Liberal feud. Boy, these Martin guys sure do bear a grudge, don't they?

Also, if you scroll down to April 18th at Adam Radwanski's blog, he makes a very valid comment. When Jean Brault, a man on trial for FRAUD drops a bombshell, everyone soaks it up. When Warren Kinsella, a lawyer and longtime Liberal, says stuff not nearly as shocking, he's described as "disgruntled" and is taken about as seriously as Mariam Bedard. I don't remember Scott Reid going after Jean Brault even remotely as ferociously as this.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Polls, Predictions, and Political Putzes

-With all the fluctuations we're seeing in poll numbers, it's inevitable that the pollsters will get criticized. Here's a good article on that and here's a great post criticizing the CBC for misrepresenting their poll data. While the "horse race numbers" are usually fairly accurate in polls, it's obvious from seeing the NDP and Bloc numbers that either
A) The electorate is really volatile
B) Someone is running a bad poll
Two polls (Ipsos and Compas) that came out the same day had the Bloc at 41% and 60% respectively. Considering the Bloc has NEVER polled over 50% for any substantial period of time, I'd be inclined to think Compas is a little off-target on this one.

-Less accurate than the percentages are the "bonus questions" that get asked in these polls. You know, "Which leader is the most trustworthy, has the best fashion sense, etc". That's why we've seen answers to the "do you want an election now?" ranging from 42% to 90%. On that question, I think Allan Gregg said it best on the National Thursday: "It's like asking if you want to have sex during Desperate Housewives? People would prefer sex after the show but they'll take it during if they have to." So long as most of the Gomery trial is done, I don't think there will be any backlash towards Harper for not waiting for the final report.

-After his flip-flop on Kyoto last week, Stephen Harper is at it again this week. Suddenly, he's all in favour of all things Liberal. It's amazing how rising poll numbers can change one's opinion on policy, isn't it? For the record, I think this is a smart move. "Liberal government without Liberals" is likely what the electorate wants right now.

-This is a smart move by Jack Layton, given what happened last spring. Jack Layton should be starting up the "Stephen Harper Fan Club" and complimenting on everything from his social policy to his haircut.

-Finally we get to one of this blog's favourite targets: Jean Lapierre. Lapierre was on "Mansbridge One on One" last night and was up to his usual tricks. Listening to him speak, it just amazes me how dense he is at realizing that the fate of the Liberals is related to the fate of the Liberal Party. When asked about poll numbers showing that people blame the Liberal Party he answered that poll numbers show they don't blame Martin. When asked how he'd defend his Party during the campaign, he answered that he'd say he wasn't a Liberal when this happened. The problem with Lapierre and the PMO "braintrust" is that they think Paul Martin is bigger than the Liberal Party. Apparently they also think Jean Lapierre is bigger than the Liberal Party which is a sign there has been some major Liberal Party shrinkage going on. (Paul Wells said it better in this post - go read it)

-BONUS JEAN LAPIERRE HIJINX: Courtesy of Norman Spector (who now has a comments section!!!), comes this head scratcher. The gist of it is that Lapierre says the Gomery Inquiry may be shut down if there's an election (my French isn't great so it's unclear as to whether he meant public viewing would be shut down or the commission itself would be shut down).

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Polls, Predictions and Prognostications

-Jack Layton has got to be feeling a little antsy right now. One day, polls show his party three back of the Liberals and poised for their best showing in years. The next, it looks like they might even lose seats. A lot has been made about the political future of Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, but with the NDP capable of winning anywhere from 15 to 45 seats next election, it's clear Jack Layton's future and, to a lesser extent, his party's are very much still up in the air.

-The same Ipsos Poll shows that Stephen Harper is actually more trusted than Paul Martin. Methinks this will make the "Stephen Harper will eat your children" campaign a lot more difficult to pull off this time. With a moderate policy convention behind him and a year to see that Harper isn't the monster he was painted to be last year, a smear campaign is going to be very difficult. Instead, the Liberals are going to need to give Canadians a reason to vote for them.

-A better reason than this...

-There are some interesting seat projections up all All Things Canadian.

-There are some wild theories being tossed around. In the past two days, I've seen theories printed about:
1. The Liberals proroguing the House to wait for a fall election
2. Paul Martin going to the GG and telling her to let Stephen Harper form government with Liberal support
3. Martin asking the GG for a longer election campaign than last year, feeling the longer it runs, the less the Tories can run on Adscam.
Will any of these happen?, but the papers do need to find a way to fill space.

-The Tories are going to have a huge advantage on the ground war next election. Maybe it's only because I'm in Alberta, but Liberals here are the most dejected I've ever seen them. The ridings can't find candidates and are going to have a hard time rallying volunteers once the election starts. Most alarming is there seems to be a feeling of acceptance that the Conservatives will win. I've heard a lot of long-time "true believes" saying stuff like "a Harper minority government wouldn't be the end of the world" and leadership talk has really been heating up - not a good sign heading into an election.

-I think the smartest thing Harper can do would be to reveal a massive ethics package as part of his platform. He needs to keep the issue on corruption and having a strong ethics platform would do something to remove the "all the parties are the same" mentality a lot of voters have. This week's CBC poll found only 29% think some parties are more ethical than others and Harper needs to fight that perception.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Sex Sells?

Now here's a platform Canadians can get behind...or under...or on top of...or, oh, never mind...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Three Ring Circus

What an odd day on Parliament Hill. First of all, the Liberal Kyoto plan was revealed, garnering less fanfare than Peter MacKay's speeding ticket last week. It certainly received less media attention than the never ending speculation about the innocuous Kyoto amendment last month that threatened to bring the government down.

On the topic of hot air, there were some absolutely jaw dropping quotes heard on the hill today. I almost wish the following was satire, but alas, the following were all said today:

"We have no room for traitors," said Anne McLellan on the National tonight, in reference to David Kilgour's defection. Well, except for Scott Brison and Jean Lapierre.

"You don't want to be a Liberal? Don't stay in my caucus. You don't believe in liberalism? Get the [expletive] out." said MP Jim Karygiannis about David Kilgour. Yes, the same Jim Karygiannis who has built up a reputation as one of the least Liberal and least loyal members of the Liberal caucus.

"It's a good position to be in, you don't want to peak too soon." Said Jean Lapierre, on the Liberals nose-dive in the polls in Quebec on the National. Lapierre, who took over as Martin's Quebec Lieutenant amid speculation the Bloc was about to go the way of the Socreds, refused to reveal when he hopes the party will "peak" in Quebec. 2008? 2012?

"Stephen Harper has a hidden agenda on health care." Screamed Paul Martin in the house. Woah. Health care is an issue again? Even after it's been fixed for a generation? Colour me confused.

"We are not prepared to see Stephen Harper and Gilles Ducceppe become this decade's version of Brian Mulroney and Lucien Bouchard." Said the Prime Minister in the House of Commons today as his Quebec Lieutenant, who co-founded the Bloc Quebecois with Lucien Bouchard, cheered him on.

And finally, the quote of the day:

"Stephen Harper sent Mike Harris and Preston Manning to reveal his health care platform" said Martin. I'm sorry. But this one is just too rich. A former Progressive Conservative Premier and the former leader of a defunct party can represent the Conservative health care vision but when high ranking Liberals are involved in scandal, they're "rogue Liberals"? This is an absolutely mind-boggling contradiction to me. I can't remember the last time a federal government looked this desperate.

Thursday Morning Update: Paul Martin is going to run on national unity and on a "who speaks for Canada?" platform. Wow. The ghost of RB Bennett's "new deal" is alive and with this deathbed conversion. If this is true, then Stephen Harper is going to have a fun time.

"How many Bloc Quebecois founders are in the Conservative caucus right now?"

"Paul, give me one example of a time when you have actually stood up to a Provincial Premier."

And best of all, courtesy of matt in the comments section,

"Liberals: The cause of, and solution to, Canada's unity problem."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

(Same) Sex Sells

Ladies and gentlemen, for those who think the next election is a fait acomplit, Stephen Harper has just given the Liberals an issue to run on. The only chance the Liberals have next election (and I'm not even talking about winning here, but of coming close) is to solidify their base. Poll after poll may show the Liberals falling, but few have showed the Tories picking up ground. Instead, votes are being parked with the NDP, Greens and undecided. That's a sign that a lot of voters aren't ready to give Harper the keys to 24 Sussex and if Martin could finally start "making history", he'd be able to lure a lot of the voters back. Perhaps a bold Kyoto plan would be that issue. At least it would make Harper run on a "pro-polution" platform. Personally, I think same sex might be the ticket.

Think about it, if we have a spring election, the same sex legislation will likely die and, even if it doesn't, Harper is on record as saying he'll bring in new legislation to support the 2002-traditional definition of marriage. I think SSM is an issue Canadians feel strongly enough about that it could give traditional Liberals and some NDP voters a reason to hold their noses and vote Liberal.

Right now, Harper is going to run on a "Liberals are corrupt" platform and Martin is going to run on a "some Liberals are corrupt" platform - that may not work out great for Paul. If he has some real left-wing issue to bring Liberal voters back to the fold, he stands a fighting chance. Otherwise, it could get ugly.

Perspective is Everything

Gotta love this bombshell story from the Globe & Mail online today:

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 Updated at 1:35 PM EST
Globe and Mail Update

Prime Minister Paul Martin said Wednesday that if opposition parties band together to force an election, it's going to happen.

He again insisted, however, that Canadians should hear from the sponsorship inquiry before going to the polls.

“Obviously, if Stephen Harper and the Bloc Québécois are going to come together to force an election, there's going to be an election,” Mr. Martin told reporters following the Liberals' weekly caucus meeting in Ottawa.

Extra! Extra! It's a minority government! "The Globe & Mail: Telling you the news 10 months after it happens".

Monday, April 11, 2005

'Cuz I'm Free...Free Falling...

It may not be surprising, but today's EKOS poll is still shocking:

Con 36.2%
Lib 25.0%
NDP 20.5%
Bloc 12.6%

Take a minute to let that sink it.

Now think about what this means:

1. The NDP are within striking distance of the Liberals. They're in first place on the Prairies and in BC. The real question is how many Canadians will grudgingly vote Liberal after hearing the four magical words "Prime Minister Stephen Harper" over and over again. At the very least, if Harper appears poised for a majority, I think we'll see some people holding their nose and voting Liberal.

2. That aforementioned majority is going to be hard to pull off. With the Bloc at 65 seats in Quebec and the NDP looking to win at least 25, the Liberals would have to fall bellow 65 seats for the Conservatives to win a majority. They'd also have to swing 35 Ontario seats their way. That's not an easy task for a leader most people outside of Alberta don't really like.

3. The Liberals are at 10% in Alberta. Good grief.

4. The Conservatives are ahead of the Liberals in Quebec: good grief. We likely haven't seen that in 15 years. With the Bloc at 50% and no federalist party over 15%, Ducceppe could sweep nearly every French riding in the province.

5. If the Conservatives really cared about finding the truth, we'd wait until Gomery's final report for an election. But, this is all about political opportunism, rather than finding out the truth. Then again, that's likely fair enough. As others have pointed out, after last spring, the Scott Reid talking point of "wait for Gomery" isn't going to be very credible.

6. Finally, these polling numbers were taken when sensationalistic front pages were splashed on every newspaper across the country. People were mad as hell when the poll was taken. I tend to think these numbers and whatever other polling numbers come out this week will be the low water mark for the Liberals. Which, at the very least, means we're not heading for another John Turner 1984 meltdown.

Monday Night Update: Ipsos paints a much less scary picture for Liberals. Considering they were down 3 points to the Tories at times during the last campaign, this clearly isn't an insurmountable gap.

Bits and Pieces

-Everyone should take a look at the smackdown Warren Kinsella gives the National Post back on April 9th.

-Here's the latest from the Tory Convention last weekend. Apparently, the Conservatives are are raising the age of youth to 35. Which is kind of nice since some parents and their children will be able to attend youth events together.

-Leadership was, needless to say, the hot topic at the convention. Lyle Oberg, Ed Stelmach, Gene Zwozdesky, Dave Hancock, Ted Morton, Mark Norris and Jim Dinning are all being talked about. It looks like the Gary Marr campaign is pettering out before it even begins. The safe money is still on a Dinning/Morton showdown.

-Speaking of which, Jim Dinning has launched his website.

-I may post more on this later, but after seeing this, I think Paul Martin has been handed the one issue he might be able to use in a spring election to overshadow sponsorship.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Rats are Always the First to Jump Ship

With today's Ipsos poll showing the Liberals at a stunning 13% in Alberta, behind even the NDP, David Kilgour is considering defecting...again. Kilgour, you'll recall moved to the Liberals because he opposed the GST - and didn't have any problem with the Liberals failing to abolish it. He also isn't a fan of gay marriage, or really, any Liberal policy for that matter. There's a rumour in Liberal circles that Kilgour's brother-in-law, John Turner, called Chretien and warned the big guy not to give David Kilgour any sort of meaningful cabinet post shortly after Chretien won in '93.

One of my consolations when I saw that 13% was that it would finally mean the end of David Kilgour's political career. Unfortunately, not. Assuming he follows through with his threat, Kilgour will join Jean Lapierre as the only two "double-turncoats" in parliament. Well, that is assuming Lapierre doesn't bolt back to the BQ...

Scandal? Oui! Separation? Non!

There's a lot of talk about how the sponsorship scandal could lead to another Quebec referendum. Warren even says a yes vote is possible and he's not alone in this apocalyptic assessment. I don't buy it. First of all, even if Quebec turns on a federalist party, it doesn't mean they'll turn on federalists. That'd be like saying if Canadians turn on the party bringing in same sex legislation, they're against equal marriage.

The Bloc could not get over 50% in the last election and it's a safe bet that not every Bloc voter is a separatist. The issue last election was on the federal government trying to buy Quebec's loyalty - that's an issue that could play into the separation argument. Now? The issue is of one party's alleged corruption - that's a party issue, not a nationalism issue.

Some people say the scandal will destroy Jean Charest. Well, anyone who has followed Quebec politics over the past two years knows that the most effective person at destroying Jean Charest has been Jean Charest. He was hugely unpopular before the scandal broke and has done many things to make him far more unpopular since then. His disapproval rating is a mind-boggling 71% and that's before a single word was said implicating his party in the scandal. If anything, this scandal might actually help him since the PQ is getting dragged in. It's going to be very hard for the PQ to use this scandal as an issue when they've been caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

Some people say the scandal will propel Gilles Ducceppe to the leadership of the PQ and shortly afterwards as Premier of Quebec. Possibly. But, let's be clear. Gilles Ducceppe is popular and compared to the other three stooges on the national scene, he looks pretty good. But the guy is no Lucien Bouchard.

And that's the point here. No separatist party in the history of the province has ever gotten over 50% in a federal election, provincial election, or a referendum. In 1995, the OUI side had perhaps the greatest politician of his generation leading them, a year after he had almost literally risen from the dead. They had the failure of Meech to run on, they had a largely ineffective NON campaign, and they had a trick question. Despite all this, they still couldn't win. So I don't think a man who is a shadow of Lucien Bouchard will be able to do the job this time.

Let's also remember, we've got the Clarity Act in place. The fact that the OUI side has never gotten 50% on trick questions in the past tells me that them getting a clear majority on a straight-up question is nearly impossible. So before Mr.Travers and co try to pin a phantom minor up-peg in Quebec separatism (since I haven't seen any polling data to support this thesis) on Jean Chretien's shoulders, let's take a breather and remember that JC won two referendums in the past and brought in the bill that will make it nearly impossible for the separatists to steal the country in the future.

Yes, the Bloc will do very well next election. Yes, Jean Charest is likely finished. But the only way this scandal could threaten Canadian federalism is by Prime Minister Stephen Harper doing something incredible stupid. And if Brian Mulroney's time as Prime Minister didn't lead to a separate Quebec, I can't imagine Harper's leading to that.

Friday, April 08, 2005

This is Not Good

OK, I thought I’d take this time to share some thoughts on Senate reform…ha ha, just kidding. No, the dam has finally broken and the bulk of the “explosive” testimony is now public.

I don’t think we’ll know what this means for a few days yet. Harper and Martin are in Rome right now so Paul is probably more concerned with the Pope's funeral than his own. Darrel Bricker was on CTV yesterday and made it clear that Ipsos-Reid will be doing some intense polling on this. In my mind, the magic number is 35. When the AG’s report broke last February, the Liberals bottomed out at 35%. If they fall much bellow this number, they’re in trouble and the opposition may be motivated to go to the polls.

A few of my initial reactions to this:

1. This is bad. There’s no way to sugar-coat it. Jean Brault is not the most credible witness but he seems to have a lot of documentation to back him up. And it looks like several people in the Liberal Party did hand out these contracts in return for kick-backs. It’s ugly and there’s no way around this. My gut reactions is that a lot of Canadians are going to say “enough is enough”. And, to be honest, I’m not sure how volunteers, myself included, will be able to respond to comments about that during the next election.

2. TDH is reporting that several high profile ministerial staff have recently been let go in Ottawa. I’ve been hearing the same thing over the past few weeks and the opposition hinted at this in Question Period today. As the media starts digging, this story is only going to grow and there are going to be new revelations every day about key people in Ministers X, Y, Z offices. Liza Frulla’s chief of staff has been implicated but she won’t be the last Minister to have staff implicated.

3. The PQ angle is interesting. The Conservatives used a lot of Question Period time asking about the Parti Quebecois’ involvement in this. Apparently the Conservatives are polling at 16% in Quebec. Maybe they smell a breakthrough. On the provincial scene, Mario Dumont must be grinning from ear to ear this morning. Hopefully it will also make it a lot harder for the separatists to use this as the launching pad for another referendum campaign.

4. Before people make too much out of this, it's the word of one man - a man on trial for a lot of messy crimes. There’s little that can be pinned directly on Jean Chretien or Paul Martin. If this is spun right (and I have my doubts it will be), this isn’t fatal. Mike Pearson still won, despite scandal-plagued years in office. The problem is, the onus is now on Martin to give Canadians a reason to vote for him whereas before it was up to Harper to do this.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Explosive Gomery Testimony Revealed!!!

This site is going to go out on a limb and risk federal prosecution in the goal of spreading the truth. I have come into possession of the “explosive” testimony from a source of mine, revealed over the past few days at the Gomery Inquiry. Among the highlights:

-In explosive testimony, witnesses declared that Pierre Pettigrew really wears a hair piece!

-In an explosive demonstration, it was revealed that Paul Martin has a life-size cut-out of Ben Mulroney in his bedroom at 24 Sussex Drive.

-Explosive allegations claim that Ken Dryden received kick-backs from Montreal Canadiens fans while he was Leafs President in return for his pledge to keep the Leafs in perpetual haplessness.

-In an explosively explosive shocker, Jean Brault claimed that Paul Martin is a bigger fan of Sheila’s “special” brownies than he lets on.

-Soon to join Art Eggleton in the Canadian Senate? Judy Sgro, Alfonso Gagliano, and Progressive Conservative Sinclair Stevens, according to explosive leaks.

-Insiders explosively claim with explosive conviction that during the 70s, Paul Martin had a brief stint in the adult film business. His porn name? Mr. Dithers.

-It was explosively shown that the Liberal Party is responsible for the NHL lockout, a claim sure to enrage Canadians more than any explosive corruption scandal ever could.

-In an explosive moment on the stand, it was alleged that Scott Brison is preparing to defect to the Bloc Quebecois.

-It the most explosive of all Brault’s testimony, it was explosively revealed that Paul Martin’s Quebec lieutenant is really a former separatist…wait a minute…

Obviously, once the publication ban is lifted, the political fallout figures to be immense for the Liberal Party. One might even call the consequences “explosive”.

What's in a Name?

Here's an interesting news story an alert reader sent my way today. It appears the Provincial Liberal Party are considering a name change. And, no, "Washington Generals" does not appear to be in the running.

Jokes aside, I have mixed opinions on this. I've long been in favour of a Liberal/NDP merger to create a new Party. I think such a party might have a legitimate shot at challenging the Conservatives. You'd eliminate the vote splitting and erase the stigma surrounding both parties. Let's face it, "Liberal" is a bad word in Alberta. People who weren't born when the NEP was brought in and don't even know what it was still bring it up...and this is during provincial elections. A new name might get us a few votes from Albertans who hate the Conservatives but just can't bring themselves to vote for the Liberal Party.

On the flip side, a lot of life-long Liberals wouldn't like this. I can just hear the voices of party members shouting "I've been a Liberal since Sifton was Premier and have always been proud to be a Liberal and...blah blah blah". So, with this in mind, it's likely not worth the flack it would cause.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? I'd be curious to hear what Liberals and non-Liberals alike think about this.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Fair Trial

From today’s Globe:

Said Mr. MacKay: "There is no question that if it is in fact now being circulated and is out publicly in the States or elsewhere, that this sole purpose of having the ban in place has just evaporated. There is no point. So once somebody has violated the ban there is no purpose in having it there."

Uh…no. The point of the ban is so that the jury pool for the criminal trials won’t get contaminated. Just because a few self-righteous US bloggers who want to feel like big shots broke the ban, doesn’t mean the jury pool has been contaminated. Just because a few Conservative bloggers in Canada are breaking the law to compromise a fair trial, doesn’t mean the jury pool has been contaminated. They aren't helping matters but how many Quebeckers do you think actively read English blogs? Given how small that number is, the ban still serves its purpose.

And from a purely political standpoint, it’s beyond me why Peter MacKay would want the ban lifted. Right now, there's endless speculation (much of it exaggerated) floating around. Since the testimony will spread by word of mouth, anyone who’s ever played telephone knows it’s going to get wilder and further from the truth with each degree of separation from the source. Better for the Tories to let rumours spread and then have it all come out at once with a big bang.

And politics aside, it strikes me as odd that the same people who call this the worst scandal in the history of mankind (no, no, not the Prime Minister. The other people who are mad as hell over this) are actively trying to undermine the criminal process. Don't they want the people who committed these crimes to be tried and made accountable for what they did?

Sunday, April 03, 2005


For anyone interested in the politics of a province that actually changes governments more than once a generation, the Election Prediction Project is up and running for the upcoming BC provincial election. I found the riding-by-riding prediction aspects of this group extremely interesting during the last federal election and they finished a lot closer to the final result than most of the polls leading up to the vote (they had the Libs up 121-105 on the Tories).

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Vote out Anders

I had the dubious chance to attend a Conservative function where Rob Anders was one of the speakers a few days ago. I have some Conservative friends and I figured it'd be good for a few laughs if nothing else. And Rob did not disappoint.

Maybe it was the fact that it was a Conservative event with no media or maybe he's just naturally insane. Either way, Rob had recently read a book on the decline of the Roman empire and couldn't help drawing parallels between the fall of Rome and modern Canadian society. The reasons Rome fell and the reasons Canada is in crisis today according to Mr. Anders?

Well, Rob started talking about all the splinter languages which formed in Rome and compromised the universal Latin. "He's not going to go there" I said to myself as he started this rant but, surely enough, he did. "Bilingualism is a problem today" Rob said. He complained that plaques that had been unilingual are now English and French and that it "didn't help" that people spoke "Chinese and Arab and other languages too" in Canada.

Completely shocked, he went on to explain why the clothes people wear today are a major problem. Since fewer and fewer people wear "respectable" clothes, there are some major problems on the horizon. This was followed with the predictable complaint about the lack of military spending. Then we got to Rob's favourite topic - "moral decay". "The problem with homosexuality and gay marriage" was that it led to a declining birth rate. He failed to elaborate on how the Romans forced gay people to breed but explained that they had tax breaks such that you didn't pay taxes if you had 5 children. Fair enough, but even with tax breaks, you aren't going to see a lot of gay people having five children since I'm pretty sure I can guess where Rob stands on gay adoption.

Finally, he touched on religion. Religion is on the decline in Canada and this has caused people to lose their moral compass according to Rob. Without religion (and by religion, I'm positive he meant "Christian religion", although he didn't say so), there's no way for people to know what's right or wrong. "You have to feel murder and thievery are wrong" if there's no church to tell you according to Rob. Personally, even though I'm a Liberal, I kind of feel thievery is wrong irrespective of what my Church tells me.

After listening to Rob speak for an evening, I truly hope the Liberals follow around the 10 or 12 most Anders-like Conservative MPs and wait for them to say stuff like this. It's a strategy that can't fail.

Friday, April 01, 2005

May the Most Cryptic Win

If you thought election speculation was bad before, you ain't seen nothing yet. With this new today and the media ban which could be in effect until May, or maybe even September, my guess is we're in for months of ominous accounts of "shocking", "explosive", and "damaging" testimony. No one will be able to say what it is but everyone will be trying to find an even more sensational adjective than the competition to describe it.

Which means we'll get speculation about news no one knows, or at the very least, speculation about news no one is allowed to talk about. Very odd.

Not an April Fools Joke... least I presume not. If it is, it's pretty funny. TDH is reporting that Glen Clark and Mike Harcourt will run for the Liberals in BC in the next federal election. I guess the BC wing of the party is trying to corner the market on disgraced BC Premiers. No word on whether Bill Vander Zalm will join team Martin or not, next election.

It's an interesting strategy considering the next election will likely come days after the Gomery Report and will be fought on government corruption and insider deals.

UPDATE: OK, Ok. It appears I've been had. It's just so difficult with a government that behaves this irrationally to tell fact from fiction.