Saturday, December 31, 2005

Still Early

Take a look at Jacques Saada's official campaign website:


Hello and welcome!

Since we are still at the beginning of this federal election campaign, we have yet to finalize the content of some sections of this site.

Please come back and visit us soon!


And, if you're wondering, the French page says the exact same thing.

Glad to see the Liberals are so convinced about the referendum election that a month into the campaign is still considered "early". Especially in one of the key battleground ridings, with a Cabinet Minister fighting for his life.

UPDATE: Jean Lapierre and Pierre Pettigrew seem to suffer the same fates. But, as you all probably know, I'm very hesitant to criticize Mr. Lapierre so I'm glad I noticed Mr. Saada's site before his.

Week(s) in Review

Well, with the campaigns shut down over the holidays weeks 4 and 5 were predictably dull and...what?...HOLY CRAP!

Weekly Winner: Judy Wasylycia Leis. She sent to the RCMP to investigate the Income Trusts and then broke the story this week when they told her they'd oblidge.

Weekly Loser: Paul Martin. I've tried to stay away from picking party leaders for weekly winners and losers, but it's been a bad, bad week for Paul Martin. You'd have to have some strong stuff in the kool-aid to think anything else.

The Polls: There's not a lot of recent polling data out there, but here's the average of the most recent SES, Ipsos, Leger, and SC polls:

Lib: 34.5% (115)
CPC: 31% (107)
NDP: 15.75% (23)
BQ: 13.5% (62)

The Gamblers: Things are really tightening up in the UBC election stock market.

Lib: 32.6%
CPC: 32.5%
NDP: 16.1%
BQ: 13.1%

Blog of the Week: Was there any doubt? Mike Klander takes this one hands down.

Scott Feschuck Line of the Week:

"for months, I though LOL was some snappy new verb that Webster's had sneaked into the language while I was away camping"

Nostradamus Award: It really does seem like the Liberal campaign has gone into a tailspin ever since the wheels came off Paul Martin's sleigh ride.

Nostradamus Award 2: Jason Cherniak serves up the boldest campaign prediction to date:

"Far from being the death-knell of the Liberal campaign, I think this investigation could be the final leg of a majority."

Liberal Weeks in Review: F

It's hard to imagine a worse possible week for the natural governing party. Several blog gaffes and the Income Trust leak-riddle-thingie could mark the turning point of this campaign. Martin also looked bad before Christmas when Duceppe turned the tables on him with his offer to meet him on every corner in Quebec.

Conservative Weeks in Review: B+

Harper gets marks for campaigning through the holidays while the other leaders enjoy the eggnog. The policy keeps coming, including a tax break for transit users which I think a lot of people will like. The latest ad is likely smart but, truth be told, most of the Tory gains this week comes from Liberal losses.

NDP Weeks in Review: B+

Layton and Olivia may have been mercilessly smeared by Liberals this week, but that certainly bodes well for them as they try to convince fickle NDP voters to not vote Liberal on E-day. The new ad doesn't do it for me but the NDP seems to be on the right track.

Bloc Quebecois Weeks in Review: B

Duceppe has been MIA over the holidays, but that's likely a good strategy for him. He seemed to turn the tables on Paul post-debate with the debate offer and most concede he'll likely be cruising to the finish line in Quebec.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Pre-Emptive Strike

Well, this is...interesting. I really don't know what to make of the new Tory ads which are attack ads accusing the Liberals of...going negative. The plan is obviously to counter the near certain Liberal attempt to demonize Harper before it begins which is something the Tories need to do. Does this ad work? I'm undecided.

As the World Turns

I don't want to be accused of being a "bad Liberal" or of being overly negative towards the party, so I'll simply say this.

The PMO being investigated by the RCMP during an election campaign likely is not good.

Turning of the Tide

SES is the first polling company to have some results from what has been a truly horrific week for the Liberals between Klander and Income Trusts.

Today's results:

Lib 35%
CPC 34%
NDP 15%
BQ 13%

In itself, these numbers aren't the end of the world. But, consider a few things:

1. SES has consistently shown the Liberals well in front throughout this campaign.

2. Yesterday, SES had the Liberals up 38-32. If we assume all three days in the rolling poll were roughly equal, that means that the single day totals for Thursday (albeit with a high margin of error) were probably in the neighborhood of 29% for the Liberals and 38% for the Tories.

3. I can't remember the last time I've seen the Conservatives at 34% in the polls. If they get 34% on election day, they'll form government.

It's somewhat reassuring... find out that the Liberals aren't the only ones making asses of themselves in cyberspace.

Courtesy of Bouquets of Grey (formerly Buckets of Grewal), comes ramblings of Peter Goldring's campaign manager (or someone impersonating him) has been posting online in support of Alberta separation. Not surprising, but still troubling if true.

Anyone who lives in Edmonton East should certainly consider helping out the Liberal candidate there, long time blogger Nicole Martel.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

2005 Person of the Year

Just as Time doesn’t always pick a saint as their Person of the Year, I gave Ralph Klein the “Calgary Grit Person of the Year Award” in 2004 for his interference in the Federal Election and his rather underwhelming provincial campaign. This year, the Person of the Year goes to none other than Belinda Stronach.

Belinda’s defection is one of those events that will make a great “what if” history essay in twenty or thirty years, the same way political followers love to play the “what if Joe Clark could count” game these days. A June election would have been completely different – we would have had the Grewal fiasco and Jean Brault dominating the headlines at the start and the Chaouli decision dominating the headlines at the finish. Perhaps Gilles Duceppe would have run for PQ leadership in the fall, and at least one of the two major parties would be in a leadership race right now.

Although Chuck Cadman was just as crucial in the cliff hanger vote, nothing will compare to Belinda crossing the floor. It told us a lot about Harper and Martin. It thrust Peter MacKay into the spotlight. It got Canada the “political play of the week on CNN”. It left a lot of people, myself included, absolutely stunned. When I saw the headline on Bourque, it took about five minutes for it to actually register, and about six different media sources before I believed it was true.

So while she hasn’t made a splash as one of the twelve Ministers of Democratic Reform, because of her floor crossing, Belinda Stronach gets my “Person of the Year” award.

Paying Dividends

With the story now out, the four parties now have to draw up game plans for handling the Income Trust leak (ITScam? GoodaleGate? Broken Trust Scandal? Income-trust-insider-trading-riddle-scandal-thingie?).

For the Bloc, it will be business as usual and another excuse to bring up Adscam.

For the NDP, this is certainly Jack Layton's best Christmas ever. He's got the Klander slander comparing his wife to a dog, he's got the President of the LPCBC writing about Layton's "boiled dog's head smile", and now there's an RCMP investigation thanks to a letter his Finance critic wrote. It's an abundance of riches for Jack to go after the Liberals on. The Income Trust leak plays perfectly into his whole "Liberals help their rich friends" shtick and you can bet he's going to milk that for all it's worth.

For the Tories, Stephen Harper has got to be as close to giddy as Stephen Harper can get (which, for most of us, translates to "solemn"). As I mentioned in the earlier post, it's the perfect way for him to segue into the attack phase of the campaign when the Tories will hit the Liberals hard on corruption. Harper has been grasping for Martin era scandals to link with Adscam and I'm almost positive he would have been hitting the Libs on Herle contracts and Dingwall chewing gum if it hadn't been for this.

Which brings us to the Liberals. Watching Ralph Goodale on The National tonight was...almost sad. I mean, even though Goodale is one of the "Martin guys", I've always felt he was an extremely competent Cabinet Minister. I never loved Ralph Goodale (but, then again, who does?), but I've never disliked him in that very special Jean-Lapierre-Joe-Volpe sort of way. Mansbridge absolutely tore his talking points apart and it's obvious that the pressure for him to step aside is going to be intense. Dalton McGuinty has made a habit of making Paul Martin's life difficult and the Greg Sorbara precedence is still fresh in the minds of Ontario voters.

For the Liberals, the end game is out of their hands now. If the RCMP links someone in Goodale's office to this, the Liberals are done like the turkey dinner. If the RCMP clears everyone before election day, then there's only minor harm done. But it's unlikely the RCMP will finish this investigation in three weeks so it all comes down to how you handle the climate of rumours and speculation. I suspect Paul has learned from the Mad as Hell Tour and won't be fanning the flames this time (it also helps that the flames are on Ralph Goodale and not, you know, on Jean Chretien). The big question is now whether or not Goodale resigns. On the one hand, having the Minister of Finance step aside during an election campaign only makes this story bigger. And, like I said, Paul's learned his lesson about making scandals bigger. On the other hand, if Goodale steps down you can simply say you won't comment on an RCMP investigation and the story dies down under the barrage of negative ads. So long as Goodale is Finance Minister, the opposition can keep calling for him to step aside.

My prediction? Goodale will try to hang on for the rest of the week and wait for Herle's latest poll numbers to come in. The best time for him to step aside, media wise, is on December 31st, so I suspect we may be in for a New Year's Eve announcement, hoping that no one notices.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On The Bright Side... one's going to be talking about Klander much.

This is HUGE. Martin will use the "can't comment on an RCMP investigation" line and I doubt we'll find out much else before voting day, but the mere fact that Goodale's office is being investigated is a massive blow to the Liberals. It's also an absolutely golden way for Harper to switch to "Phase 2" and the corruption issue which I've always assumed was his intention for the second half of the campaign.

Stay tuned.

Much Ado About Klander

There's been some media attention given to the Klander comments, but it really doesn't seem to be generating a ton of traction. It may just be because the story broke on Christmas. It may just be because of the tragic shooting in Toronto which is sure to dominate the news for the foreseeable future. It may just be because it's a blog and most people assume that blogs are all full of zany racist hijinx.

But I think the real reason this story won't go anywhere is because it's easy to write Klander off as a nutjob; This won't reinforce any beliefs of fears about the Liberal Party. If the Tory version of Mike Klander had made similar comments, people would pay attention because a lot of people think the Conservative Party is full of Mike Klanders (be that a fair or unfair opinion). The general public doesn't see the Liberal Party as bigoted so they're more likely to write Klander off as a "bad apple". Had he embezzled from his riding association, that may have fed the Liberal corruption theme, but the only underlying fear of the Liberals this incident will feed is that Liberals make for bad bloggers.

That's why beer and popcorn got traction. It was based on policy and there's a feeling out there that Liberals feel the state can make decisions better than Canadians. The Klander blog will certainly help Olivia Chow, and a few people who follow politics will no doubt shake their heads and say "Paul Martin has the dumbest advisors in political history" but I expect the buzz around these comments to die down quickly, causing little movement of public opinion.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Paul Martin's Braintrust...

...has had a tough couple of months, eh? Herle, Reid, Mike Klander. I'm taking bets on how long it will be before Karl Littler does something incredibly stupid.

While it's not exactly shocking to see the Board mess up, there are two surprising things about this:

1. It wasn't Scott Feschuck's blog that got the Liberals in trouble.
2. Someone named Klander made fun of someone else's last a somewhat racist way...ouch.

This may have been the best Christmas present Stephen Harper and Jack Layton could have asked for.

UPDATE: I was going to spend Boxing Day sifting through the archives to find the juiciest bits from Klander's slander, but Stephen Taylor has the "highlights" detailed here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Warning Signs

I'm not sure how much I'll post over the next week, so this is pretty much an open thread - throw any thoughts on the campaign so far or predictions for the second half in the comments section.

However, I will say this. Even though the polls aren't moving, the Liberals should be worried. Canadians want change and the electorate is volatile. The Conservatives have laid out their policy for everyone to see, inoculating them against the "hidden agenda" attacks. Harper has raised himself to Martin's level on the SES poll, even if his party still trails. The Conservative and BQ support is seen to be the most "locked in", while 20% of Canadians are undecided and many are willing to change their vote.

Add it all up, and it's still too close to call. Which means we're in for a fun January.

If at first, you fail miserably...

...try, try, again.

This is actually a pretty nice Christmas present for Pelletier, once you consider the huge cash settlement he's going to get in court.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Phase Two

With the Christmas break fast approaching, the question now becomes how the three campaigns (well...four...we shouldn't forget Jack) will handle the January dash to the finish line.

Stephen Taylor, who has been doing a great job blogging this election, has obtained what appears to be outlines of the Liberals "Phase Two" strategy. Not surprisingly, they show the Liberals going negative on Harper, using the following lines of attack:

1. The GST cut helps the rich get richer

In my opinion, mentioning the GST cut in ads is free advertising for the Tories. I would really stay away from this one if I were running the national campaign. Attack it during the debates if it's brought up, but I can't for the life of me imagine why the Liberals would pay money to remind people Harper wants to cut the GST and they don't.

2. Jack Layton is working with Gilles Duceppe and Stephen Harper

I guess they need to take some shots at Layton and it's hard to do it on the policy front. However, reminding people that Layton has worked with Harper in the past might put it in voters' minds that Layton could work with Harper in the future.

3. Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe will form a coalition government

This has been a common line of attack in the past and is probably one of the reasons Harper challenged Duceppe to a debate. For Harper, he needs to go after Duceppe hard in order to dispel this. It's really interesting watching this morph into a National Unity election right before our eyes.

4. Remember Mike Harris?

The attempt will be to link Stephen Harper to the former Ontario Premier, playing to Ontario voters. Probably a good strategy, especially with all the tax cuts Harper is offering.

5. Harper doesn't value the Charter?

Interesting, given Harper continues to do the hokey-pokey on the gay marriage issue. I keep going back and forth on who benefits most from this topic and I have no clue.

So that's how we can expect the 2004...errr....2006 Liberal campaign to finish up. I presume we'll also see some more policy announcements from Martin in the New Year.

And before the CPC supporters come on here and trash the "dirty" Liberals, I fully expect the Conservatives to go negative just as hard in January. They've shown they have policy and have softened up Harper. Now, they need to hammer away at Adscam, which has been completely forgotten. I fully expect ads showing "highlights" from the Gomery Report, Brault testimony, and AG's report.

As for Duceppe, more of the same. All Adscam, all the time.

As for Layton, I expect he'll continue to do what he's been doing and maybe drop a bombshell along the lines of "Harper as Prime Minister no worse than Martin" in the dying days of the campaign, to try and stop the flow of NDP votes to the Liberals.

UPDATE: It's been confirmed that these are real, although the Liberals will drop the Layton and GST move since those were, by far, the two weakest of the bunch.

[Cross-Posted to CTV Weblog]

Vote Out Anders...part 79

I'm not sure if the campaign is up and running again, but Right of Center Ice seems to imply it is.

On Ice

I hate going off-topic, but with Christmas around the corner and my reluctance to dissect Stephen Harper's northern Arctic miltary defense spend....zzz.....

Oh, sorry. Anyways, I've decided to skate off topic on this one. As you know, Team Canada was announced yesterday. And, with Gilles Duceppe's comments on Quebec getting their own sports team, I think it's fair game to comment on.

So, if I were picking team, here's who I'd take:

Martin Brodeur
Roberto Luongo
Marty Turco

Rob Blake
Chris Pronger
Scott Niedermayer
Wade Redden
Adam Foote
Robyn Regehr
Paul Martin (Curses! Turns out he's American. And, from what I hear, all talk. So let's take Jovo instead).

Forward Lines

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Frappeur Suppliant

Continuing my Quebec theme this evening, this is interesting. I can't see a Duceppe-Harper debate on unity happening; I suspect there would be problems with the election laws. But it's an interesting proposition.

On the one hand, it's somewhat irresponsible for Harper to be doing this. It plays into the entire "referendum election" mentality and Stephen Harper is not the best voice to speak for Canada - I think even his supporters would agree to that. Duceppe is a master debater (he he) and would wipe the floor of Harper in a French debate.

That said, this is a friggin' brilliant ploy by Harper. Regardless of whether or not Duceppe accepts, it makes Harper look gutsy. It puts an end to the "in bed with the separatists", "can't stand up for Canada", and "only Liberals can fight separatism" rhetoric, while making Martin look weak. Come the January 9th and 10th debates, Harper can now say "I was willing to speak for Canada when you were not Mr. Martin". The downside is, of course, if he debates and looks bad, but it's likely a beau risque worth taking at this point for Harper, especially since such a debate is unlikely to happen.

Captain Canada

In candid moments with confidants, the Prime Minister [Chretien] would accuse Martin of being soft on separatists and too eager to grant concessions to the provinces.

-Susan Delacourt (p.98 Juggernaut)

Say what you will about a CBC bias, but Terry Milewski has a biting report tonight which can be seen here. In it, we see a clip of Martin panning Harper's UNESCO proposal. One problem: Martin said the exact same thing last year, and Maleski has the video to prove it:

"Quebec must not only be with us at the UNESCO table. The door must be wide open to them. And I promise unequivocally, it will be."

Here's what Martin is saying today:

Speaking to reporters in Ayr, Ont., Prime Minister Paul Martin said: "Let me be clear: My position is we are one country, and you don't strengthen Canada by weakening the federal government."

Canada is one country that speaks with one voice internationally, "not two and not ten," he said.

Problem is, Martin has never had this opinion before. One of the reasons I could never support Martin for leadership was his position on Quebec. He supported Meech. He opposed the Clarity Act (albeit in his usual, "stay silent and leak it through backbenchers" kind of way). He brought in Jean Lapierre to be his Quebec lieutenant and tried to drive Stephane Dion out of the party. While I do appreciate Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, I doubt it's legitimacy. For his entire career he has believed in the Mulroney federalism and suddenly he'd like to have Canadians believe he walks in Trudeau's shadow? I don't think so.

This shouldn't surprise anyone. Martin quietly doubted Chretien's decision to stay out of Iraq and ran commercials attacking Harper on it last election. Martin quietly opposed same sex marriage until this election and now he's viciously attacking Harper on the issue (without ever once saying he supports Same Sex Marriage - it's the Charter, stupid). Martin quietly made his objections to Kyoto known during the leadership race and now is attacking George Bush on it. He quietly complained about Jean Chretien's poor relationship with George Bush and now...well, see the last point.

There's also talk Martin will try to fight the rest of the campaign by painting Harper as a patsy the provinces can push around. Oh boy. Why doesn't he just fight the election on decisiveness? Or on off-shore tax havens?

[Cross-Posted to CTV Weblog]

Winning Conditions

How's that referendum election working out for you Paul?

Bloc 60%
Lib 20%
Con 8%
NDP 8%

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Random Campaign Notes

-Jib-Jab has George W. Bush's Year and Review up here.

-Anyone else notice that Scott Reid has been benched from all the pundit shows...and seemingly has been replaced by John Duffy? I really don't see why Duffy hasn't gotten any flack for repeating Reid's comments - Reid can blame it on a poor choice of words or a slip of the tongue, but Duffy knew it was coming and stood by the comments.

-Stephen Taylor proves that bloggers do a lot more research than anyone in the mainstream media would ever put into a story. While I don't think it's really news that the spat with the US was orchestrated, it's a fine piece of sleuthing.

-Although Layton may not want to talk about it, James Bow isn't afraid to bring up the subject of a Tory-NDP coalition government.

-Speaking of Jack, he was hitting the right notes today, accusing Paul Martin of flying opinion flags of convenience with respect to Iraq, Same Sex and BMD. Fair enough. If the Liberals are going to attack Harper for eight year old quotes, I think it's fair game to remind Canadians that Paul Martin has flipped his opinion on those three issues (and Kyoto, and the Clarity Act...) in the past two or three years.

-I was watching Mike Duffy Live this afternoon and it appears the Liberals are attacking the Tory "change" ad as being an offensive attack ad.


This is the least offensive of the Tory ads (in that the other ones are so bad that it's offensive for the Tories to think people would respond to them). But it baffles me how the party of aircraft carriers, guns pointed at viewers, and false abortion claims can accuse this low key ad of being offensive. Never mind that all three parties are going to air far worse come January. If you think this is bad, you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

Christmas Plans

The schedules are out and it looks like it will be a very minimal cease fire. Like, three days. From the sound of things, Harper and Martin will be taking Christmas Eve through Boxing Day off and then will be right back campaigning.

With Ben and Rachal out of school, I strongly suspect we'll be seeing a lot the Harper kids over the next few weeks. It's the perfect way to de-scarify Stephen and the media will be looking for the photo ops and fluff pieces over the holidays, rather than the policy announcements. If Harper has smart people running his campaign, he'll buy some cute snow suits for the kids and drag those two adorable children out to every contrived photo op imaginable.

Monday, December 19, 2005

How the Grinch Stole the Election

With Christmas fast approaching, here's a Christmas rhyme - apologies to Dr. Seuss.

They stared down at the polls
Tories covered their eyes!
Then they gasped!
What they saw was a shocking surprise!

Every poll from the pollsters, Leger to SES,
Had them losing! Despite this whole sponsorship mess!
They HADN'T stopped Dithers from winning,
Despite income trusts, he was back from the dead!

And then Harper, with his grinch-frown ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
We're down despite tax cuts! Big daycare checks!
Despite great photo ops and stylish turtle necks!"
He'd promised them change, to slice the GST.
But then Harper began to finally see
"Maybe Voters," he thought, "don't care about policy,
Maybes voters, perhaps, simply just don't like me!"

And what about Paulie?
Well, the PMO say
That Scott Reid's big ego
Grew three sizes that day!
In a move that could cripple this blowhard's career,
He started to muse about popcorn and beer.
So it's the gaffe prone Board, versus Harper the scary

So who?


Which of these Grinches, will win in January?

Who Speaks for Canada?

Oh good...Stephen Harper wants to give Quebec a voice in foreign affairs.

You know, it'd sure be nice if there was at least one federalist party running in this campaign. I posted this last spring, but it's probably worth throwing back up, especially given some recent events. This was my prediction for the election...back when it looked like the election would be in the spring.


Campaign 2005 – The race to decentralize

May 22: Jack Layton says that an NDP government would tear up the Clarity Act. "People don't care about Clarity," Layton says. "They care about smog warnings." (Ed: I'll give Jack credit for going back on his Clarity Act musings)

May 24: Paul Martin offers “side deals” on equalization to British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and PEI. But adds “Stephen Harper would cave in to Ralph Klein and do a deal with Alberta. I will look Ralph Klein in the eye and say ‘no’.”

May 25: After 28 hour bargaining session, Paul Martin gives Ralph Klein a blank cheque. Says he’s still standing firm by refusing to cave in to Nunavut.

May 26: After David Herle reviews the northern poll numbers, Liberal give Nunavut 3 billion dollars over 254 years.

May 28: Stephen Harper says Martin has “not gone far enough” and offers to give all future surpluses to the provinces. Also promises to take feedback from Premiers on writing future budgets. Says “that still beats having Jack Layton write your budget.”

June 4: Jack Layton announces he supports a European Union style system between Quebec and Canada. However insists both countries must elect their Parliaments by proportional representation.

June 7: Paul Martin, falling in the polls, offers to turn over transport portfolio to the provinces. Cynics say it’s just an excuse to boot Jean Lapierre from Cabinet.

June 9: Stephen Harper promises to turn over all federal powers to the province with the exception of foreign affairs, defense, and some taxation powers. “We felt we needed to keep the ability to offer corporate tax cuts” says Harper.

June 10: Paul Martin muses that the province of Quebec should take over foreign affairs. “They’ve made every major foreign affairs decision over the last decade anwyays” he reasons.

June 15: Jack Layton says he supports complete Quebec independence including their own passport and currency. Gilles Ducceppe cautions Layton he might be “going too far”.

June 19: Stephen Harper announces a Conservative government would demolish the Parliament Buildings and run the “country” out of the ten provincial capitals.

June 20: Scott Brison says a Liberal government would one-up Harper by destroying all federal government buildings in Canada. “We were just going to sell them and rent them back but then we concluded that that was perhaps the stupidest idea by the federal government in the last fifty years,” says Brison. “So this was the logical solution.”

June 24: Stephen Harper, trailling in the polls, in a last ditch of desperation promises to abolish the federal government altogether.

June 26: Paul Martin announces that Canada will cease to exist for all purposes except for sending hockey teams to international sporting competitions. (Ed: heh heh. Didn't see Duceppe's hockey team musings coming at all)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Week in Review 3

Weekly Winner: Ed Broadbent. He's not running, but seeing Jack Layton name drop Ed's name a half dozen tims in the debates, shows he's still a star. Plus, the NDP went and recruited another Ed is his 70s, Ed Shreyer.

Weekly Loser: Ambassador Williams. "I recognize it's good for politics when the US attacks you. I will not attack Paul Martin."

The Polls: The average of the most recent polling numbers, with projected seats in brackets:

Liberals 35.7% (122)
Conservatives 29.7% (99)
NDP 16.3% (27)
BQ 13.0% (59)

The Gamblers: This site has the Liberals with a 15.5 seat lead. The UBC Stock Market has the Liberals at 35.3%, the Tories at 31.4%, and the NDP at 16.0%.

Scott Feschuck Line of the Week:
4:31 PM - I want to thank the many loyal blog readers who have sent in witty and/or hostile remarks in relation to the unfortunate "beer and popcorn" commentary by my good friend Scott Reid, who is sitting next to me on the plane at this moment and who just now made me write the whole "good friend" part - which, between you and me, is completely bogus in the sense that now he is a total social leper and I have every intention of cutting the poor bugger loose. (To gauge from my inbox, public opinion is currently evenly divided on Scott's comment, with half of people describing him as an "idiot" and the other half defiantly insisting he is a "complete idiot".)

Joke of the Week: Sent in by a reader:

Conservative Stephen Harper promises to eliminate funding for the Canadian Military. In order to provide Canadians with greater choice, Harper proposes that every citizen be given $100 per month to spend on 'whatever sort of weaponry they choose.' "It's not a tax break," claims Harper "It's a Military Plan."

Blog of the Week: Derision 2006. I only found this blog this week, but I'm loving the light hearted look at the election it provides. "Scott Reid hires own Communications director" has got to be the best spoof of the election so far.

Quote of the Week: Gilles Duceppe, from the English debates:

"It's not worth revisiting issues that have already been decided by a free vote"

Liberal Week in Review: B

Martin took aim at his enemies this week - George Bush and Andre Boisclair. The spat with the US hasn't seemed to have a lot of traction; A lot of people like to see the PM standing up to the Americans, but it's not exactly clear how he's standing up to them, or on what issue. The separatism stuff was "the clip" from the debate and will certainly be a theme for the remainder of the campaign. Martin's performance in the debates was better than last year, but still not spectacular, and the Liberals were still feeling the fall-out from "beer and popcorn" at the begining of the week.

Conservative Week in Review: B-

The daily policy barrage has died down, but we still saw tax breaks for kids in sports and help for the military. Harper didn't get a ton of traction in the french debate, but did well in English. The polls still show the Liberals well ahead, but Harper is looking good and the new TV commercial on change looks like a winner. Still, the old speech wasn't good news and the lack movement on the Income Trust Story means Harper has likely lost his silver bullet.

NDP Week in Review: B+

It's been a tough campaign for Layton, but I think he picked it up a notch this week with a strong performance in both debates. The NDP also launched their child care plan, recruited Ed 2.0, and hit Martin hard on climate change.

BQ Week in Review: B+

Duceppe has been helped by a rather abysmal Quebec campaign from the Liberals. He wasn't nearly as good in the English debate this year as in 2004, but he still won the French debate which is, obviously, a lot more important for him.

The Week Ahead
Expect things to quiet down as we approach the holidays. By Thursday, I expect the campaigns to be all but shut down.

Fresh Coat of Paint

If you shift your eyes to the right, you'll see that I've added a "(59% of) CANADA VOTES" section to the links. It amounts to various election pages that political junkies might find interesting in their never ending thirst for election news. If you know of any good pages I've missed, mention them in the comments section.

Also, Prime Minister Forever is back! For those who don't know, this is perhaps the greatest (well, only) Canadian political simulation game out there. You pick a party leader and then run the entire campaign: create attack ads, target ridings, campaign, give speeches, and run internal polls. If you want to keep Paul in Alberta the entire election, go for it! If you want to have Harper run attack ads on the NDP, go nuts! If you want Jack Layton to target Quebec ridings, be my guest!

The CBC has the demo version on their site for free. The full version costs close to 20 bucks Canadian but has some extra features, including every election from 1993 through 2004. So, if you're feeling a little nostalgic about Stockwell Day, I'd recommend the full version.

Master of his Domain Name

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Into the Lion's Den

From the sounds of things, both Martin and Harper will be making their first (only?) visits to Alberta today.

UPDATE: Well, they're still playing U2 to introduce Paul at these things, despite his lovers spat with Bono. For what it's worth, Paul was pretty good tonight - lots of emotion, looked rested, looked genuine.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Great Debate

Well, it was better than last night. At the very least, it was more entertaining than Wheel of Fortune, albeit not quite as good as Jeopardy. We saw some emotion, a few sparks, and harder questions even if the format made really debate tough.

I'm going to give this one to Jack "let's not play politics, let's send more New Democrats to Ottawa" Layton. Jack actually sounded like he was listening to the questions; he referenced them, rather than just going straight to talking points. He did get cut off on time a lot, but he seemed genuine, attacked the Liberals, and still showed a positive NDP vision.

Harper gave well thought out answers. Yeah, he sucked up to the questioners and pandered a bit...but less than everyone else. He didn't look scary and defended his policies, especially the GST, well. One problem for Steve was that Paul outdid him on the "proud to be Canadian" questions. I'll be curious how the Iraq stuff plays out once the media looks through Cellucci's book.

Duceppe I won't add anything else.

Martin was...Martin. Big words, big emotion, but a little weak on substance. He certainly felt most at home in this format and used it to his advantage. His attack on Duceppe was "the clip" they'll keep showing, which might make him the winner once all is said and done.

First, the scores for the off-beat election pool:

Harper "Corruption": 3
Martin "Clear": 5

And now, The Debate:

6:01 pm: "Welcome to the debate featuring the major party leaders". Sorry Jim Harris.

6:09 pm: Things start off with the same sex question and Harper handles himself better than last night, although Jack comes across as the most genuine.

6:12 pm: Duceppe says "we shouldn't have a free vote on a question that was already resolved." Yeah, that'd be like voting for something in 1980...then in 1995...and still pushing for another vote.

6:14 pm: Harper asks Paul about the God squad. Paul looks grateful that this isn't a real debate where he'd have to answer...uhh...questions.

6:16: Paul announces the gun gestapo to enforce laws that have been on the books for decades.

6:21 pm: Duceppe: "48 billion dollars is...48,000 times a million dollars". Thanks Gilles. It's also 5,241 times 9,158,558 dollars.

6:29 pm: Duceppe compares Ottawa to "that show from the 50s, Father Knows Best". I don't think Duceppe is winning, but he's definitely the most entertaining.

6:38 pm: Jack, for the 8th time, suggests that the problems of Canada will be solved by "sending more New Democrats to Ottawa". "We need people to work for people". It sounds like Jack's platform is based on the Human Fund ("money for people").

6:47 pm: The question is on forcing politicians to keep their promises. Harper gives a very smart point. Paul says "Duh. Promises made, promises kept." Layton goes after Martin forcefully.
Duceppe: "between promising something and keeping it, there's an ocean. And that ocean is called Liberal". Man, Gilles has brought his A material to the English debate.

6:52 pm: Jack Layton complains about "a ruckus in the house". Kids these days...
He then says there should be "money for post-secondary, even aboriginals".

6:56 pm: Paul talks about the opposition leaders poisoning the atmosphere in Parliament. Unlike Tony "I make Parliament work" Valeri.

6:58 pm: Jack says that voting NDP will help solve the problem of "not enough women in Parliament". Boy, is there anything voting for your (male?) NDP candidate won't solve?
Paul says that he (and Tony "I make Parliament work" Valeri) have always supported female candidates.

7:01 pm: "Beer and popcorn!!!" Way to go Jack!

7:07 pm: Jack announces that he's "from the Steves family in 1765 in New Brunswick." Paul makes a joke about Jack being related to everyone. Paul would never never mention a relative of his during a debate.

7:16 pm: Wow. Suddenly everyone came alive.
Harper: "Page 165 of Paul Celucci's book shows Martin wanted to send troops to Iraq."
Layton: "George Bush is better at the environment than Paul Martin."
Duceppe: "Paul Martin is hypocritical."

7:18 pm: Who's this Ambassador Wilkins the moderator keeps mentioning? Is he related to Ambassador Williams?

7:21 pm: "Putting money in your hands is the best way to go." Guess who? ....Paul?!? Paul!?!

7:36 pm: Paul absolutely wraps himself in the Clarity Act, an act he was dead against when Chretien brought it in. This is going to play really well - it'll definitely be "the clip", which works well for Paul.

7:57 pm: Jack brings his theme home - "When you vote NDP, you elect an NDP MP". This has been Politics 101.

8:00 pm: "I hope you'll make your New Year's resolution to watch the next debates." I'm sorry, but I'd rather join a Gym or give up smoking. That'd be far less painful.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Le Grand Debat

The new format made for a more orderly debate but a far, far more boring one. You'd get a question and everyone would agree what a wonderful question it was, then move on to their platform. I'll give the moderator some credit for actually asking tough follow up questions, after the very off-beat questions from average Canadians.

There wasn't much on the big topics - child care, US relations, handguns. So, at the very least, it served as a way to shed some light on a wide range of policy issues. Duceppe was probably the best, but he always has the easiest ride in these things. The fact that Adscam got a lot of play is bad for the Liberals, and Martin, even if Paul wasn't that bad in this debate.

Anyways, here's my minute by minute recap. There may be some large lags in there, when I dozed off or switched over to Wheel of Fortune.

Opening Statements

6:03 pm: 15 seconds into his speech and Duceppe has already mentioned the Sponsorship Scandal.

6:04 pm: "A process that will end Canada" Way to keep the hollow rhetoric down Paul.

6:05 pm: Look at the bloody camera Stephen!

6:07 pm: "We will reduce the cost of drugs" - Jack Layton is trying to cozy up to Boiclair, I see.

The Questions

6:11 pm: Guess who? "We tried to make Parliament work".

6:18 pm: Duceppe loves talking Sponsorship, doesn't he? He's definitely winning so far.

6:23 pm: Duceppe, on access to information: "We got documents that looked like crossword puzzles with more black squares than white ones." heh.

6:30 pm: The moderator says "you have all made tens of thousands of dollars in promises..." What election are you watching? Hopefully it was just a bad translator.

6:35 pm: Paul's helping the hearing impaired by giving all his answers in sign language.

6:42 pm: Harper says he doesn't understand the question for the second time. I don't blame him - these questions are just...dumb.

6:51 pm: There's a question on homeless people dying. Be careful Jack...

7:01 pm: Booo! No beer and popcorn jokes during the child care portion. Is anybody going to say anything remotely confrontational tonight?

7:29 pm: Someone asks a question on when Quebec will ratify the constitution. Good grief.

7:33 pm: The CBC has live blogging updates here.

7:41 pm: Zing! Martin gets the question about the "referendum election" and whether or not he'd recognize a BQ majority as a "yes" vote. Martin tries to blame Duceppe for starting it. I'll quote Paul Wells on this one:
And what does he do when his adversaries say something absurd? Jump right in:
"If that's how they see it, we'll fight on that basis." So if Boisclair and Duceppe announced that Canadians would be electing the next prime minister of Spain on Jan. 23, apparently Martin would start campaigning in a lispy Castilian accent.

7:44 pm: Duceppe's response is very forceful, calling the Liberals "liars" several times. He gets the hard follow up from the moderator about a large number of Bloc MPs being good for sovereignty.

7:52 pm: I take back my prediction for question Duceppe would least like to see. The question is "what's your vision of Canada in 30 years?".

7:53 pm: OK, OK. Duceppe handles it alright. Layton rambles on about social programs. Harper goes on about "endless potential" again. Martin says "I've already made spending announcements up to the year 2036, so obviously I have the best vision for the country." (OK, not really)

CBC has a full play-by-play here. They're better people than I am for staying awake through this thing. Of course, they are probably getting paid for it.

Debate Prep

Like many Canadians, I intend to sit down with some popcorn and beer to catch the debates tonight and tomorrow. And, like many bloggers, I intend to use that cheap popcorn and beer joke to lead off my debate preview.

Paul Martin

The Stakes: While the Liberals are leading the polls, expectations are high on Martin, which is often the kiss of death for debates..

The Goal: Because of that, Martin's goal should be to firm up his support, especially in Ontario. A lot of the Liberal support out there is soft, so Martin needs to play to his base.

The Debator: When the Liberal leadership race was going on, the debates featured leaders sitting down, with hardly any clash. They were scheduled on Saturdays and were designed to generate the least possible amount of media exposure. Since it was the Martin supporters who decided the format, that tells you that, even the true believers, have doubts about Paul's debating skills.

The Enemy: Go after Duceppe hard in the French debate. In English, ignore Layton completely because Liberal success in this election requires the NDP to remain marginalized.

Style: The new format will work well for Martin since the leaders won't have to work off the cuff as much. Paul works well off prepared texts and looks like a Prime Minister, even if he doesn't always sound like one.

Keys: The only real reason I can see for the growth in Liberal support in Ontario comes from the child care and handgun ban policies. Martin needs to come up with good lines to defend these policies because, while they sound really good in principle, there are a lot of holes in them for the opposition leaders to pick at. Martin will be better if he stays on script, and with the Liberals up in the polls, there's no real need to attack Harper yet.

Question he'd like to see asked: "Could each candidate share their thoughts on the Mexican Pesso Crisis?"

Question he'd rather not see: "Could each candidate share with us their opinion of Jean Chretien?"

Stephen Harper

The Stakes: Harper's political future requires that he win this campaign. And, despite doing everything right so far, that's looking less likely. Still, the policy groundwork has been laid.

The Goal: Harper's in the tough position of needing to turn people against the Liberals and show that he's a somewhat not overly horrible alternative.

The Debator: Harper won the English debates last time, but his campaign collapsed shortly afterwards. That tells me that people liked Harper the debator but not necessarily the message he was arguing. Because of that, he needs to sell the CPC policies.

The Enemy: Paul Martin. Both in English and French. The Tories won't win in Quebec, and every seat the BQ takes is one less seat the Liberals will get. That said, it wouldn't hurt for him to try and get Layton involved in the discussion, just so that Jack becomes somewhat relevant in this election again.

Style: Harper's very cool and yet looks forceful and strong. It might be a good idea for him to use a little humour to try and soften his image up this time. At the very least, he needs to lighten up.

Keys: While the temptation will be there, I don't think it's time for the Adscam attack - save it for the second debate. Instead, keep the focus on the policy campaign, selling your ideas and attacking those of the Liberals.

Question he'd like to see asked: "What brand of beer goes best with popcorn?"

Question he'd rather not see: "I am a proud Albertan. Discuss."

Jack Layton

The Stakes: Since I'm a bit of a political geek, I've been having a lot of fun with the Election Predictor. When I crunch the numbers from some polls, the NDP are down to 12 seats. When I look at their numbers at the start of the election, they were over 40. This NDP campaign has been a disaster so far and they need to turn it around.

The Goal: Become relevant. I honestly don't think it matters what Jack says - he just needs to get noticed.

The Debator: I really liked Layton's feisty performance last year. But a lot of other people didn't. Regardless, Layton's French was surprisingly good so he'll do well in both languages.

The Enemy: Buzz Hargrove. But since Buzz isn't debating, it's Paul Martin. The soft NDP supporters have jumped en masse to the Liberals and it's essential that Layton goes after Martin hard.

Style: I suspect that we'll be seeing a lot more of statesman Jack who loves to talk about issues this time around. Calm and laid back, with the occasional dose of feigned moral outrage.

Keys: Layton should really hit the Liberals hard on child care. People say they like the Liberal child care plan because they think they're getting the NDP child care plan. Layton needs to emphasize that, like the health accord, it's just a cash transfer to the provinces with no real strings. He also needs to bring up the policies the NDP has proposed that have been completely ignored by the press.

Question he'd like to see asked: "Can each leader demonstrate how he has 'made parliament work' over the past year?"

Question he'd rather not see: "Compare and contrast the only two leaders who have a chance at winning this election."

Gilles Duceppe

The Stakes: Gilles is sitting pretty, despite a rough campaign so far.

The Goal: No major gaffes during the French debate and he should be fine.

The Debator: Duceppe was likely the best of the bunch last time. That's not saying a lot, but even anglos in Alberta and BC were raving about him after the 2004 debates.

The Enemy: Paul Martin. The separatists would love to see an angry Albertan as Prime Minister. Duceppe needs to go after Paul.

Style: Duceppe is the only opposition leader who can attack forcefully, without looking angry (Harper) or like a pest (Layton).

Keys: In French, Duceppe needs to play the "protector of Quebec" card, without looking too self righteous or arrogant. In English, he should just let loose and play the "bad cop". If they're talking about ethics, attack Paul on Adscam. If they're talking about health care, attack Paul on Adscam. If they're talking about the Environment, attack Paul on Adscam. Let Layton and Harper talk about policy, Duceppe needs to hurt Martin as much as possible.

Oh, and I hope he talks about Fe-DEEE-rawl-ism. Just because I always get a kick out of it, when he says that word.

Question he'd like to see asked: "Could all party leaders share their thoughts on Jean Lapierre?"

Question he'd rather not see: "Who would be the starting defencemen for Team Quebec?"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Did Anyone Hear the one about the Welfare Recipient?

I'm sure we can expect to hear a lot about this in the coming days. Apparently, an old speech of Harper's has been dug up as "proof" that he's out of touch with Canadian values. While the speech is eight years old, it's fairly damning. The official line is that it was "tongue in cheek" but, to beat Scott Feschuck to the line, even Charlie Sheen couldn't make these jokes funny.

Among the highlights from Harper's stand-up tour:

He goes on to describe Canada as "a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term."

He adds: "Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States."

However, he tells his audience not to worry about the country's 1.5 million unemployed.

"They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance."

In the speech, Mr. Harper goes on to dismiss bilingualism, among other things:

"The important point is that Canada is not a bilingual country. It is a country with two languages. And there is a big difference."

"The leadership of the Conservative Party was running the largest deficits in Canadian history. They were in favour of gay rights offofficiallyfficially for abortion on demand."

"Canada is ... a troubled country politically, not socially. This is a country that we like to say works in practice but not in theory."

I know comedy is all in the delivery, but that's pretty weak material Harper was working with for a "tongue-in-cheek" speech.

Harper has looked really good this campaign and has been sounding the right messages. But he may go down as one of those people that simply can't live down his past.

Change (of Ads) is Good

Finally, after a series of awful ads most high school drama teachers would fail, the Tories have come out with their first winner: change.

It's got a simple message that appears to be resonating. The music works well. It's a negative ad, yet it feels positive. It shows the Globe & Mail "Martin Liberals Took Illicit Cash" headline, which is smart for several reasons. It's got more Paul than Steve in it, which is very interesting, and likely very wise.

So, after twelve failed ads (you can watch them all on their site if you're a masochist), the Tories finally have a winner. I'm not sure if that's some clever parallel for twelve years of Liberal rule, but the CPC now have something worth spending money on.

It's the Voters, Stupid

Watching this campaign, it's been interesting to see various media sources and blogs assume that Canadian voters are fickle, short-sighted, and simplistic when it comes to politics. When the Tories announced their GST rebate, the general consensus was "bad policy, good politics". When the Liberals announced their hand gun ban, most people acknowledged it wouldn't make a huge difference, but that it was smart politics. Yesterday, a very serious rebuke by the US ambassador, in respect to a comment the Canadian Prime Minister should not have made, was called "manna from heaven" for the Liberals.

So, this begs the question: How much credit should we give to Canadian voters? People who surf the blogs, read the paper, and watch the nightly news are fairly well informed - that's a given. But what do people who aren't as up to date on the issues of the day base their vote on? Are they influenced by "bad policy, good politics" politics as much as we think they are?

On a Lighter Note

1. Rick Mercer is pushing "beer, not kids" on an online petition, reminiscent of "Doris Day".

2. Cerberus looks at more Harper tax cuts.

3. I also recently came across Derision 2006, a satirical site looking at the election. Among the headlines: "Scott Reid hires own communications director", "Martin pledges 'total ban' on crime", and "Martin promises to reduce wait times at nation's Tim Hortons". Fun stuff.


Allan Gregg seems to be the one hold-out pollsters who has the race neck and neck. In the latest Strategic Counsel poll, it's down to 33-31, with Canadians "screaming out" for change.

On the other side, SES, Decima, Pollara, Ipsos-Reid, Leger, and (I can only assume) Ekos, all have the spread between the two parties at around 8 or 9%.

I don't really have a theory for this one but I feel it's my duty as a Canadian political blogger to post on polls at least once every three days. And between Income Trusts, Beer and Popcorn, we've all been neglecting our dirty little addiction to polling.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Popcorn and Beer aside

I've made my thoughts on Scott Reid's comments well known so I won't rehash them here. However, I'd like to jump into the child care debate a little bit, because of a lot of the reaction to Reid's comments I've been reading. A lot of bloggers and a lot of pundits have been talking about how the very idea of a national child care program is insulting to parents. "The government is telling parents how to raise their children" is the common line. I'll agree that Reid's comments were insulting, but I really don't understand the virulent hatred directed towards a National Daycare Program.

First of all, Harper is promising to spend money on creating more daycare spaces too. He's also promised tax breaks for kids who play sports which, to me, sounds a lot like someone trying to tell people how to raise their kids (and, for what it's worth, the tax breaks for kids who play sports are one of the few Harper tax breaks I support).

The fact is, there's nothing in the Liberal plan that forces you to enroll your kids in a daycare program. Well, to be honest, there's nothing in the Liberal plan that ensures this money will be more than a cash transfer to the provinces, so I should probably rephrase that. There's nothing about a National Child care plan that forces you to enroll kids in a daycare program. Parents still have a choice in how they want to raise their children. The idea of a child care program is simply to give parents the option of placing their kids in a child care program, by creating affordable spaces across the country.

It's the same principle as any government program. When the government spends money on post-secondary education, they're not forcing anyone to go to University. When the government spends money on job training, they're not forcing anyone to get job training. A lot of people hate the idea of any sort of government program, and that's fine. A lot of people feel there are better ways to spend government money and I'm tempted to agree. But I suspect a lot of Canadians like the idea of government run programs, and that may be why the Liberal poll numbers are high, despite the fact that the Liberal campaign has been rather lackluster.

On The Trail

Each of the three federalist parties are in the news today:

Liberals: David Wilkins has given Paul a slap on the wrist for dragging the US into the Canadian election. Wilkins says he understands it's good politics to be fighting with the he decided to fight with Paul Martin. Way to play into David Herle's machievelian plan Wilkins.

I think the NDP should really pounce on Martin's Kyoto comments at the debates this week. The environment is an NDP issue and the Conservatives are always afraid of looking too close to the Americans themselves. Layton should stand up and ridicule Martin for attacking George Bush on climate change when the US has a better record than Canada. The environment should be his issue after all.

Conservatives: Harper made the mandatory defense spending announcement today. Defense spending rarely wins votes in Canada but Harper did tack on the "no troops to Iraq" which will likely help him. Out of curiosity, does anyone know how the amount pledged for defense this time compares to his 2004 promise? I suspect it's less, but haven't been able to track down firm numbers.

NDP: "Only Jack Layton will look Ralph Klein in the eye and say no." Or something like that. Layton was very smart during his press conference today to attack the Liberals, rather than the Conservatives and he came across as very forceful and strong on the issue. Clearly a rehearsal for the debates on Thursday and Friday.

"Transformative Change" for BINGO

At his press gallery dinner speech, Jack Layton said "the NDP isn't funny". Well, they've proven everyone wrong this campaign.

I was going to come up with a debate night drinking game, but the NDP has beat me to the punch with "debate BINGO". Five Paul Martin catch phrases in a row and you win.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Out of the Blue

There's a lot of debate about just how damaging Scott Reid's "beer and popcorn" comments will turn out to be. I think these comments will have a fairly major impact for the following ten, count 'em 10, reasons.

1. It's snappy. Beer and popcorn rolls off your lips and makes for great water cooler talk. This is the sort of thing people will talk about at Christmas parties and over turkey.

2. It was on TV, so there's a video clip of it. In fact, both CBC and CTV (with Duffy) have clips of it, so the networks will both play it ad nauseum. It's also a quick little clip, so they'll keep showing it.

3. Scott Reid is the communications director. The communications director is the voice of the party and the Prime Minister and must be held to a higher standard. That's what did Francoise Ducros in.

4. It's something new for the media to pick at. We've had a policy campaign so far, which is great, but it doesn't sell papers. Now they have something a bit more racy to focus on. Heck, if an anonymous Conservative had said or written something stupid, it's hardly news, because they do it all the time. And, to be honest, I think the media feels a little guilty about not picking up Reid's "Alberta can blow me" comments from earlier in the campaign and this is their way to make ammends.

5. Child care has been the big policy debate of this campaign, overshadowing even the GST. The NDP released their platform today, ensuring the story will have more life. Since people will keep talking about child care, they'll keep talking about Reid's gaffe.

6. Harper will be able to capitalize on this during the Thursday and Friday debates.

7. These comments will be easy to spoof and have fun with. Already, the Tories have had beer and popcorn at their events today. I can see Tory candidates handing out little bags of popcorn as they go door to door too. It's easy to throw something like this into a commercial too.

8. John Duffy said he was 100% behind Scott Reid. So it's not just one idiot on the board flapping his mouth, it's two. That makes it seem a lot more like party position, than just one mispeak.

9. Paul's retraction had horrible optics. Not just because he stumbled over his words, but because he was at a winery. It's funny because of the beer, but people seeing a rich millionaire Prime Minister sipping wine after a condescending comment by his spokesman is just bad optics.

10. This plays into the CPC platform. Their whole argument is that Canadians are better suited to spend money than the government. This is their line, not just with childcare, but also with many of their other tax breaks. By Martin agreeing that parents will spend the money wisely, and on childcare, they've neutralized a key Liberal counter argument.

[cross-posted to CTV Weblog]

Kwebec Keystone Kops

I always assumed Liberals in Calgary had it the worst. Several campaigns may not have the money for campaign office. The election readiness chair doesn't have call waiting. The candidate in Calgary West spent 80% of the nomination meeting speculating about laying criminal charges against Jean Chretien. So,'s bad.

But it looks like it could be worse. After reading this Hill Times article about the show in Quebec, the Calgary organization doesn't look so bad. Let's consider:

1. Candidates from the seven Quebec City ridings are sharing one office.

2. One of the candidates cozied up in the office, Helene Scherrer, called Quebec a "very poor province".

3. Luc Chiasson, in Roberval, has no phone, office, or car, and won't begin campaigning until he finishes his finals.

4. The Liberal candidate in Manicouagan was, one week ago, campaigning for an election boycott. Try spinning that one at the door.

5. An old press release by Marc Garneau is circulating around where he cautions against spending money on mentally challenged children.

6. The Globe & Mail has a front page story on federalists in Quebec who plan to vote for the Bloc. Obviously they didn't get the memo about the election referendum.

7. And, of course, there's Jean Lapierre. 'nuff said.

Week in Review 2

Two weeks down. The Liberals are up in the polls, but there are a lot of storm clouds brewing on the horizon for them. I still think the election is a 50/50 proposition. Here's my week 2 recap:

Weekly Winner: Bernard Lord. This was a tough one since no one came out of the week looking great. But Bernie has been the most effective at knocking Paul's Quebec strategy, and with Harper still down in the polls, Lord may very well be rising in the near future.

Weekly Loser: I had no idea who to pick for this one when I got up this morning. But Scott Reid, you made my day. Reid may feel that "Alberta can blow me", and while I certainly wouldn't go that far, this Albertan is very pleased to give him the "weekly loser" award.

The Polls: Here are the averages from the latest SES, Leger, Ipsos-Reid, and Strategic Counsel poll numbers, with predicted seats that translates to, in brackets:

Liberals 37% (133)
Conservatives 29.25% (99)
NDP 15.5% (19)
BQ 13% (56)

Look Familiar?

Blog of the Week: MK. Braaten has showed how bloggers can dig deep and potentially make a difference. He's been all over the Income Trust story.

Scott Feschuck Line of the Week:
6:56 AM - I didn't actually get a chance to watch Two and a Half Men last night, but darned if that's going to stop me from winning a vote by describing it:

The episode began with Charlie Sheen and that other guy, the one who didn't work between Pretty in Pink and the year 2002, proving just how wacky a wacky odd couple they are by having profoundly conflicting views about a variety of matters. Then events conspired to place Charlie Sheen in a "situation." Mayhem and canned laughter ensued. Charlie ultimately triumphed over his "situation" by learning a valuable life lesson and making anywhere from three to seven sly references to his own real-life promiscuous and badboy ways. And then everyone died a little inside.

Quote of the Week: Rob Anders. OK, it's not a quote per sey but his "homosexual sex marriage" line is the catch phrase of the campaign. I think this one has "comfy welcome mat with lots of fur" and "temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition" potential.

Old Man Winter: Jack Layton becomes the first victim of cold weather on Friday, when his plane got delayed.

Liberals Week in Review: Grade B
The Liberals were flying high in the polls this week. Maybe that's why they haven't gone negative on Stephen Harper yet, preferring to go negative against George W. Bush. I have my doubts that the attacks on Bush will do Martin much good because they've only served to highlight how pathetic Canada's Kyoto plan is. Martin actually came out with some policy that got people talking about daycare and gun control rather than tax cuts, which certainly is where he wants the discussion to be.

Conservatives Week in Review: Grade B
Well, it appears every imaginable special interest group has gotten a tax cut offered to them. But they don't appear to be biting, as Tory support continues to be stagnant. That said, Harper has looked comfortable and he's speaking well, which is certainly good news for the CPC with both them and the Liberals trying to make the campaign about Harper. The debates will likely be more important for Harper than any other leader.

NDP Week in Review: Grade C+
Second verse, same as the first. Like in week one, Buzz Hargrove was a pain in the ass, and good NDP policy continued to get completely ignored. In fact, the only policy of theirs that got serious media pay was the "Belinda Bill" against switching parties. It's a shame, because Layton has put forward some interesting policy proposals that deserves debate. On the positive side is their new commercial everyone is raving about and some fun they've had on their website. If the NDP can continue to go negative in a humorous way the rest of the campaign, they'll be in very good shape.

BQ Week in Review: Grade C
Gilles Duceppe was the star of last year's election campaign, so I've really been surprised by his performance so far. This week started with his "make the Liberals disappear" comments which were followed up throughout the week with a series of somewhat arrogant remarks and his chastising of a Bloc candidate who refused to talk about sovereignty.

Four Things to Watch for this Week:

1. The debates on Thursday and Friday will be key. We've had a lot of policy discussion and this will be a chance for the party leaders to explain it to a larger audience.

2. Income Trusts: The story has been flying through the blogs this weekend and it will be very interesting to see if the mainstream media picks up on it.

3. Daycare: The NDP will be revealing their daycare plan this week and, with Scott Reid's comments today, expect the topic to stay in the news.

4. Conservative Commercials: I'd expect the Tories to launch a new group of commercials this week. And after their first ones were panned across the board, they better be good.

We're Number Two!

The results are in, and the Accordion Guy pulled off a 10 vote win over us for top blog in the Canadian Blog Awards. Anne McLellan would be proud.

We were also second for best post series, losing out to rookie phenom Buckets of Grewal. However, I'm very pleased to have taken home "Best Progressive Blog". I'd like to take a moment to thank the following people for the win:

1. Jean Lapierre. How I owe you oh so much.
2. God. For taking the time out of helping football teams win Super Bowls and actresses take home Oscars, to help me pull it off.
3. Joe Volpe.
4. My "contributing editor", for giving me many quality post ideas.
5. The photographer who snapped the Stephen Harper cowboy picture.

And, of course, everyone who voted.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Two More for the Gaffe Pool

No doubt Stephen Harper's migraine is starting grow as he flashes back to 2004, after controversial comments by Brian Pallister. Pallister, it seems, felt it would be a barrel of laughs to call his non-answer a "woman's decision".

But, not to be outdone, Scott Reid has jumped into the gaffe pool by claiming that parents will blow their Tory child care cheques on "beer and popcorn". Reid does have a point on this one. Who knows what a parent might spend their cash on? Perhaps they'll spend it all on Medisys or Cargojet income trusts.

But, at the very least, one of the perks of having a unilingual communications director is that he can only make boneheaded comments in one language, so at least he won't be making any gaffes to cost Canada the referendum election.

UPDATE: As a die hard Liberal, let me just say I'm quite distraught to see Paul conceeding defeat already:
He went on to say: "There's no doubt in my mind that parents are going to use it for the benefit of their families. They're going to use that money in a way that I'm sure is responsible. Let there be no doubt about that.''

On a serious note, by having Martin get up and admit that the money will be spent responsibly, he's really painted himself into a corner on this one. Harper is going to have fun with those comments come Thursday and Friday at the debates .

Oh...and I just realized Paul was on a wine tasting tour when he made the appology. Too good...

War Rooms

The Bloc have some fun videos up of Jean Lapierre on their website. Fun because:
a) He's got a goofy mustache
b) He's talking about sovereignty

Update: Wells has a good post on Lapierre up.

Also, the NDP take aim at the Liberal commercials. You see, it turns out the "ordinary Canadians" in them are all prominent LPC members. I'm kind of sad I wasn't asked to appear in them - as always, Calgary Liberals get ignored...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Who Can You Trust?

(Very Important Update At Bottom...Scroll Down)

I'm a little hesitant to post this since I can't, for the life of me, imagine why something like this would be leaked to Medisys. If there was a leak (and it looks like there was), I always assumed it was because of negligence, or because some low level staffer was trying to make a few bucks. To assume that this was part of some massive Liberal conspiracy or that Martin was involved seems a little bit rich.

Regardless, here's the lead to MK Braaten's post:

The volume of shares traded for Paul Martin linked Medisys Income Trust shares the day before the Income Trust announcement is way to high to be a "co-incidence". The volume increased 3400% from the prior day, and the following day, dropped back down about the same amount.

Paul Martins personal doctor started a medical company called Medisys Income Trust, a chain of private health care clinics located across Canada.

The day before the Goodale income trust announcement, the volume of Medisys shares traded for the day went from 5,714 on November 21, to 203,953 oNovemberer 22. On November 23, the shares traded dropped back down to 6,220.

I'm hoping someone can provide a logical explanation for this because, scanning the comments of the various blogs which have linked to this, I haven't seen one yet.

I won't comment on this story since I know absolutely nothing about Income Trusts but it does raise very important points:

1. This story won't die. A lot of people made money on the Income Trust leak and some of them will, inevitably, have ties to the Liberals. Because a lot of people on Bay Street have ties to the Liberals. As people dig through the money trail, rumours are going to continue to swirl.

2. This is the type of thing where blogs could play a major role in the election. I imagine there are enough pissed off Blogging Tories out there who will sift through every single transaction on Bay Street to try and find connections.

Anyways, I'm hoping someone who understands stock trading better than I do can post about how suspicious people should be about the information presented in Braaten's story. Is this as out of the ordinary as it looks?

[cross-posted to CTV Weblog]

UPDATE: There's a good debate going on in the comments section of this post, so be sure to check it out. You might learn something about stock trading; I know I have.

Also, I was sent this chart for the year long trading volume of Medisys and, in this context, the leap doesn't look as dramatic. There was also a day of trading of over 500,000 Medisys shares a little over two years ago. Take a look at the long term graph:

So, while it's still an odd coincidence, the Medisys story is certainly not the smoking gun many are making it out to be.

That said, there's still a lot of fishy stuff going on out there. Goodale's meeting with several Bay Street investors for starters. And MK Braaten has some more stuff up about insider trading.

Vote Out Anders...part 78

From the CTV weblog, comes news that Rob Anders is British Columbia. Apparently Anders has sent questionnaires on Crystal Meth to Richmond, BC in an effort to help out the Conservative cause.

Among the questions: "Do you support homosexual sex marriage"?

At the very least I now understand why so many Conservatives are against homosexual sex marriage. It's not because they're traditionalists or close-minded; it's because they're against crystal meth.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Those in Glass Greenhouses...

Remember back when Jean Chretien lectured the Americans on the benefits of running surpluses? Remember how upset everyone got? Remember how everyone said it would be different once Paulie took over?

Well it is.

Our Prime Minister has gone from lecturing the US in areas where Canada excels, to lecturing the US in areas where we're failing miserably. And, not surprisingly, the Americans aren't very happy about it.

For those who are new to this story, Martin took the podium at the climate change conference and blasted the Americans for not signing the Kyoto accord. Here's the funny thing - even though we've signed the Kyoto accord, the US has done a better job at Greenhouse gas reduction than we have. So, I presume, Martin was urging the US to:

1. Sign Kyoto
2. Ignore it
3. Fly across the country in a gas guzzling jet, in order to get a photo op with Bill Clinton

Oh, and as an added bonus, comes the news that it was McKenna who requested the meeting and that the Americans claim it was very constructive. Now, I can't possibly think of a reason why the Liberals would try to make it seem like they're at odds with George Bush, and I can't possibly imagine that a Liberal would leak something, so this whole added wrinkle is quite perplexing. I also know that Frank McKenna takes his job as ambassador very seriously and doesn't consider it a stepping stone to the Liberal leadership, so he would never engage in a cheap partisan stunt like this.

So you can see how I'm perplexed by this whole thing.

Go Negative or Go Home

(Cross-Posted to the CTV Weblog)

The NDP are nice. They are a nice party full of nice people with good intentions. Ed is a nice man, Jack is a nice man, Jack’s wife seems like a nice lady. They poh-pah the Tories and Liberals for engaging in all out war, preferring to be respectful of the political process.

And what has it ever got them?

While Canadians consider themselves to be “nice” people, we don’t seem to have a problem with our politicians playing dirty. That’s why ads with teenage girls crying and guns being shot at viewers work.

That’s why I really think the NDP are on the right track with their new TV ads. Unlike the gawd-awful Tory ads, these ones look slick and go right at the Liberals, which is what the Dippers need to do. Only by hammering away at the Liberals day and night, running negative ads, and going after Paul during the debates, can the NDP avoid becoming marginalized, like they have been in almost every election in their history.

The fact is, there are 4 or 5% of the voting population who are soft NDP voters. These people tell pollsters they’ll vote NDP between elections and generally agree with the NDP. But as soon as they think an angry Albertan might become Prime Minister, they back to uncle Paulie. The only way the NDP can ever expect to make a breakthrough is if they convince those voters to stuck it up and vote NDP. There are two things they need to do in order to accomplish this:

1. Portray the Liberals as horrible monsters who don’t deserve to govern
2. Make it known that they don’t think Stephen Harper isn’t really such a bad guy

The fact is, no matter how great a positive message the NDP puts forward, the only way to get these voters back is to hammer those two messages home.

Nice doesn’t win.

CTV Weblog

For anyone who hasn't already noticed, CTV has set up "blogger banter" on their website for the rest of this election. In it, several quality bloggers, and myself, will post our thoughts on the election.

I've thrown my first post up there - a recap of the election to date. I encourage everyone to go read it, then bookmark the site.

Who Are You?

PoliticsWatch has yet to come out with their PM Picker for this election, but the CBC has a "vote by issue" poll up on their site. They ask you a series of questions and then match you up to the party you agree with the most.

I took the quiz, and agreed with Layton on 7 issues, Paul on 6, Harper on 4, and Duceppe on...0.

Last Day to Vote

There are some really close races for the Canadian Blog Awards this year, so I encourage everyone to get out and vote on this, the last day of voting.

Think of it as practice for voting on January 23rd...except you don't have to walk through the cold to a polling station. And there are actually some people you can vote for without feeling the need to shower afterwards.

And, if I win, I promise the post the next major Finance Department announcement before it's made public, ensuring each and every one of this blog's readers thousands of dollars!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Turning 40 - Part 2

SES proves more baffling by the day. The Liberals now have a stunning 40-26 lead in the SES poll. They're up by 20 in Ontario, and the two parties are neck and neck in Western Canada. What's more surprising is that the daily Gregg poll in the Globe has the two parties within 5 or 6 points of each other.

I stand by what I wrote yesterday, but I suspect this is going to cause a lot of frustration for a lot of people in the Conservative camp.

Just Shoot Me

(Warning: I know this is going to generate 50 comments from angry right wingers)

I'm in shock. Paul Martin has come out with a policy that is:
a) bold
b) smart
c) politically savvy

I was beginning to worry that the entire Liberal platform would consist of extending current policies to 2030 and re-announcing projects which had already been re-announced in various Ralph Goodale budgets. But it looks like Martin actually has something new to say - he's proposing a complete ban on handguns. This one really caught me off guard, especially since Grant Mitchell had floated the idea about weakening the gun registry at one of his "made in Alberta" policy sessions last month.

Gun control has always been one of the issues that drove me towards the Liberal Party. I support the gun registry and would probably support a complete ban on all guns within major city limits if anyone ever proposed that. So this is a policy I can really get behind and I think a lot of Canadians in big cities, especially Toronto, will strongly support it.

The fact of the mater is, there is no reason for anyone to own a handgun that won't be covered by an exception to this law (ie. police officers and target shooters). There's a reason that I'm not allowed to own a collection of antique grenade launchers. There's a reason I can't own an assault riffle to hunt rabbits in my backyard. And the same principle should apply to hand guns.

Yes, I'm aware this won't affect a ton of people. And I'm aware this won't stop gun violence in Toronto. But it's a good start and, unlike most of the policies announced so far this campaign, I really don't see a downside to it.