Sunday, July 31, 2005

You know it's been a slow news week when...

...the news that Carolyn Parrish hasn't rejoined the Liberal Party has been the Globe's top national news story for two days running.

And good on Paul for keeping her out. Anyone who openly says she has no loyalty to the party's leader shouldn't be in Caucus. Martin knows better than anyone how disruptive people like that can be.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Glad As Hell: Mini-Update

Thanks to our readers, I have two quick updates for the Glad as Hell Tour.

First up - OAKVILLE

Click here for the full story, but, as usual, a picture is worth a thousand words (or a thousand Liberal votes).

So that's the cowboy and the construction worker; He's just plowing through his Village People costumes. I think I'd even consider voting for the guy if he gets the biker outfit on.

second - Greg Staples has a full recap of what he calls "Harper's KW adventures". Follow the link for the full recap.

The Next One

In honour of Sidney Crosby being drafted first over-all, I thought I'd bring back what is one of the greatest political quotes of the past few years.

Courtesy of Tory strategist Tim Powers: "Every day Paul Martin is looking more and more like Alexander Daigle."

Friday, July 29, 2005

Volpe Mania

I had two readers e-mail me in response to the leadership post, with comments which I loosely translated to be saying: “Joe Volpe for Liberal leader? I thought the Liberals were against euthanasia.”

But, yes, Mr. Volpe appears to be serious about running. And since nothing short of a Jean Lapierre leadership run would be more hilarious than seeing Big Joe throw his hat into the ring, I’ve given his campaign team their first eight slogans, free of charge:

“Yes, I’m a serious candidate. Don’t laugh.”

“Loyal to the leader since 2004”

“Being in Cabinet has nothing to do with my flip-flop on gay marriage”

“Only he can defeat the Klansmen”

“Hey, if Belinda Stronach is a serious leadership contender, why not?”

“Joe Who?”

“Romanian Strippers at every campaign stop!”

“Not only will I ban the Sopranos in Canada, I’ll ban Joey!”

KINDA AN UPDATE: As Anonymous mentioned in the other leadership thread, I've also heard the rumour that Volpe has never worn a pair of jeans in his life. Apparently that's why he refused to don them when he came out to the Stampede. And you think Harper has image problems...

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Unofficial Race

With the Bob Rae talk bellow, I got to thinking about the Liberal Leadership race. I did some Liberal Leadership Speculation last winter but a lot has happened since then, so it’s likely worth revisiting.

The Contenders

John Manley: Likely still the front-runner and, in my opinion, he has the most substance of any of the serious candidates. But his obsession with not wanting to be disloyal to the leader is hurting him vis-à-vis the other contenders on the ground game.
My advice: Participate in a US flag burning or something to dispel the “pro-American” label.

Scott Brison: Rumour has it that Herle and a lot of the other Martinites are quietly laying the groundwork for a Scott Brison leadership run. And, you know, if he loses he can always jump to the NDP or Bloc.
My advice: Say anything of substance at some point. So far, he’s been nothing more than a pretty “let Justice Gomery do his work” doll.

Martin Cauchon: Has developed a habit of “coincidently” bumping into Liberals at conventions and conferences.
My advice: Don’t talk to your fishing buddy Jean Lafleur…ever again.

Frank McKenna: If there’s a leadership race within the next year or two, he likely won’t run. It will likely take him at least two or three years to get on the same page with the government on missile defense anyways.
My advice: Make sure nobody reminds Liberal delegates of the record of Provincial Premiers who believe they are Prime Minister material.

Those who have deluded themselves into believing they are contenders

Joe Volpe: Unless he goes Tony Soprano over the other candidates, it ain’t gonna happen.

Maurizio Bevilacqua: I keep getting mail-outs from his guy explaining how Maurizio slayed the deficit and orchestrated eight straight balanced budgets.

The Academics

Michael Ignatieff: He’s definitely been the hot topic at Liberal barbecues this summer. How he does in Cabinet will make it or break it for him.

Stephane Dion: Hasn’t been organizing but he’d make for a very intriguing and popular candidate if he did run. His best chance would likely be at a Liberal Leadership convention which happens about a month after a PQ victory in Quebec.

Remember Me?

Brian Tobin: For a guy who likes to make a lot of noise, he’s been really quiet. I doubt he’ll run but the guy did call his autobiography “All in Good Time” so ya never know.

Bob Rae: The mere fact that people are actually speculating about Bob Rae running shows how shallow the talent pool is.

Intriguing, but I wouldn’t count on it

Belinda Stronach: “Being Prime Minister is a very complex job. But if we just grow the economy and bake a bigger economic pie…”

Ken Dryden: Deflecting shots from right wingers since 1971.

Dalton McGuinty: Maybe in 5 or 6 years…

Token Western Candidate

Reg Alcock: Honestly, I think the Liberal Party will likely look a bit higher up in the gene pool for their next leader. Sorry, Reg.

David Emerson: You know, because it might be the only possible way for him to ever get his name in the news. I doubt that even political geeks could name Canada’s Industry Minister.

Ralph Goodale Jack Layton: Only because the Finance Minister is always a possible candidate.

Ujjal Dosanj: Ha ha. Just kidding.

Token Female Candidate

Anne McLellan: Would allow her to dust off a few more Richard Nixon campaign slogans.

Umm…uhh…ahh….I dunno….Sheila?

Friday, July 22, 2005


“By the time this book is published, the tension between Martin and Chretien will have waned, if not disappeared.”

I decided I’d take the time to re-read Susan Delacourt’s Juggernaut to bring back all the great memories of “vendu” chants, restricted membership forms, and bloodthirsty backbenchers at the Regal Constellation. Given that the book was written by a reporter who, while being fairly balanced, did think highly of Paul, at a time when 200 seat predictions were the norm, I was curious if the book had any hints of what was to come. In addition to that beautiful nugget above, here are some other highlights I noticed:

p.55: At an April 1989 gathering of the old Grindstone group at Montebello, Quebec, where criticism of Meech was the primary topic of conversation, Martin delivered a vague, shaky performance in groups discussions, with no one sure what he was trying to say. Globe & Mail columnist Hugh Windsor described Martin as “dithering” before the microphones.

For fun, I kept a “dither counter” going of times Martin is described as being unsure, undecided or a waffler. The dither counter hit 28. From Meech, to the Clarity Bill, to his decision to quit…no, get fired…well, maybe not quit after all…

p.66: As soon as the results were known, Jean Lapierre announced to the media that he was leaving the Liberal Party. Fifteen years later Paul Martin was left wishing that Lapierre had stayed away.

OK, that second line was made up for fun.

p.78: “We, the Liberals, are not ashamed of our previous leadership and our record.” Chretien told the current and future MPs hamming the huge ballroom in the West Block of Parliament Hill [during the ’93 election]. While the Tories will spend the next election ducking their past, Liberals would present themselves as the proud heirs to the legacy of Pearson, Trudeau, and Turner. Yes, even Turner. Chretien could afford to be magnanimous in his new position as Turner’s successor.

And that strategy didn’t work too shabbily, did it? Of course, after the glorious Turner years, how could Chretien run away from such a successful record?

p.98: On every other issue, Martin came across as smooth, sophisticated, and savvy. When he opened his mouth on Quebec, he seemed accident-prone. He became even more reticent on the subject.

The more things change…

p.98: In candid moments with confidants, the Prime Minister would accuse Martin of being soft on separatists and too eager to grant concessions to the provinces.

If nothing else, Jean Chretien always had good political sense.

p.306-7: Martin placed a great emphasis on words, in the power of language to make a lasting impression. It was why he fretted so much over speeches and why it took him so long to come up with even the simplest responses to reporters’ questions. For his part, Chrétien believed in deeds. His decisions weren’t always explained, but they were carried out, sometimes too hastily.

I think this may have been one of the finest paragraphs of the book. It’s a pretty fair assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the two Prime Ministers.

p.320: Jokes began to circulate that [Martin] was hiding in a cave somewhere, releasing the odd video or audio tape, like Osama Bin Laden.

There's no real relevance to this quote - I just thought I'd include it to make poor old Jeff Norquay feel better.

p.341: Only Sheila Copps remained as a rival, possibly to test Martin’s ability to treat a second place finisher as he had been treated after 1990.

Safe to say Sheila is likely regretting putting Paul to the test on that one…

In all, it's almost surreal to read about this stuff again, given all that's happened since Martin took over.

Better Than Volpe But Still...

Is it just me or has every Canadian except Warren Kinsella and Wayne Gretzky been rumoured to be after the Liberal Party's Leadership.

Like him or hate him, you know a party's in trouble when this name is being seriously considered.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Community of Communities

A few links worth checking out:

1. Andrew at Bound by Gravity has launched Cancov. Basically, the goal of the system is to classify all the posts on the net together. So, for example, if you wanted to see everything bloggers are writing about Stephen Harper or Health Care, the posts would all be grouped by topic. Hard to say how it will turn out but it's a pretty nifty idea - worth checking out.

2. Senator Catalyst has the most recent Wild Rose Roundup. Reading through the roundup, I came across Rantastic's recap of her first hand account of Harper's Glad as Hell stop in Victoria. Since I always give big Steve a hard time, I thought it was only fair to post a link.

3. I came across this new blog - as a big Chretien fan, I just had to link up to it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Long Live The King

Via Daveberta, comes this (troubling/frustrating/useless/glorious) news that Ralph Klein is planning to stay on until the fall of 2007.

With at least half a dozen leadership candidates vying for the cushiest political job in Canada, one imagines things are going to get very testy between the candidates if Ralph does decide to stick around for that long. And, as an Alberta Liberal, that's music to my ears.

I also suspect we're in for never-ending speculation about Ralph's true departure date. So, with that in mind, I'm pleased to launch the "Overstayed Welcome Pool". All you have to do is predict Ralph's departure date. Closest wins...well...nothing really, except the pride of knowing you are by far the greatest political pundit in Canada. And, remember, if Ralph tries to pull a Chretien, it's the date of departure, not the date of announced departure that matters.

So, enter one and all. Myself, I'm going to go for May 20th, 2006.

Making History

It's official. Canada becomes the fourth country in the world to recognize Same Sex Marriage. I guess this means Canada is in for the same social chaos and anarchy that the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain have had to live with.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Glad as Hell; Let's Rock Barrie!

In all the excitement over the Village People incident in Calgary ("it's fun to stay at S-T-O-R-N-A-W-A-Y!"), I missed Harper's stop last week in Barrie, Ontario. Luckily for Canadians everywhere, the Conservative Party website is keeping people up to date on Harper's summer adventures at their far less cleverly named "Summer Tour '05" page. The front page on this site has, I kid you not, Stephen Harper holding a baby. Unfortunately, they seem to have missed Harper's Calgary stop.

Regardless, thanks to the Tory website, I am pleased to present the third installment of the Glad as Hell Tour:

Stop 3: Barrie, Ontario

Location: Barrie, Ontario. A town so dull, Stephen Harper can only seem thrilling by comparison.

Positives: No assless chaps! No backwards cowboy hat! No tight, tight, tight leather vest! No necktie! See what happens when you dress yourself Steve.

Negatives: Still has the world's most awkward smile. And...uhh...he's 11 points behind a government screaming to be defeated.

Human Index: Harper jumps to level 3 - Data. He's dressed like a human but based on the goofy grin, is still having problems using his emotions chip properly.

See Previous Editions of Glad as Hell:
Stop 1: Nova Scotia
Stop 2: Calgary

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Numbers

God bless pollsters for throwing some fodder to bloggers during the dog days of summer. Two polls came out this weekend which, while not overly surprising, are likely worth talking about (at least until Harper’s next trip to the tickle trunk).

Allan Gregg’s Saturday poll reconfirms what everyone has known for a long time. Mainly, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper are hugely unpopular. The numbers for each leader and whether Canadians’ opinions of them have improved or worsened are:

Martin 15-42
Harper 14-41
Layton 32-15
Ducceppe 17-17

When it comes down to a dump or keep vote, it’s similar:

Martin 48 (keep) -52 (resign)
Harper 41 – 59
Layton 78-22
BQ 76-24

More alarming is that fact that 37% of Conservatives and 20% of Liberals want to remove their own leader. Given that 76.2% wasn’t enough for Bernard Landry to stick with the PQ, it’s abundantly clear that both leaders are skating on thin ice. It also means that both will be very desperate come the next election campaign. Which could make the campaign kind of fun, or really sickening.

The second poll is on same sex marriage and it shows that 55% of Canadians believe the government should keep Same Sex Marriage while 39% believe they should repeal it. While the media is spinning this as a sign Harper needs to drop the issue, we should all remember that his party is well bellow 39% in the polls. So I fully expect the Conservatives to keep the issue alive during the next election campaign, even if it might scare a few NDP voters back to the Liberals.

In a related question, 46% said they favour gay adoption while 51% oppose it (presumably the same individuals who believe gays shouldn’t marry because they can’t have children).

There was also this tid-bit on Paul Martin’s biggest accomplishments:

When offered a list of options, 39 per cent chose same-sex marriage as the most notable achievement; 28 per cent picked the health-care accord. The tsunami relief effort was next at 14 per cent, while a series of preliminary daycare deals was chosen by 10 per cent of respondents.

However, when asked to think of an achievement without the prompting of a list, 60 per cent could not come up with one.

Personally, I’m a little surprised that the Health Care Accord fared so well. I know, I know – it’s difficult to get the provincial premiers to accept billions of dollars with next to no strings attached. And, in the words of Steve MacKinnon, it’s “courageous” to tell Quebec they don’t even have to meet those standards. But, if nothing else, the PMO will be pleased that it's not only Chretien legislation on Paul's achievements list.

Harper Mania

For any Conservatives afraid Canadians wouldn't be interested in Harper's summer image makeover, it looks like people have taken qutie an interest in Mr.Harper. Here's the complete, unedited listing of recent google hits to this site:

4 stephen harper funny picture
3 steven harper calgary stampede picture
3 stephen harper funny outfit
2 stephen harper calgary stampede

2 calgary grit
1 paul martin was a ruthless finance minister
1 stephen harper cowboy hat
1 stephen harper photo leather vest
1 cowboy picture harper

1 fort mcmurray separation lawyer
1 steven harper cowboy
1 stephen harper calgary stampede herald cowboy
1 stephen harper stampede outfit

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Summer Fun

It's a warm day in July during Stampede and I don't have the heart for a serious political discussion. So, instead, let’s have a bit of fun.

1. Top Comments for the Stephen Harper Picture
(These are all courtesy of Comments, this site, and Cerberus)

10. Now, to stay one step ahead of the backlash backlash: It's true, you're right, this actually doesn't matter at all. Fashion sense is the least of this guy's problems. All true. But holy cow.
-Paul Wells

9. "Hey, Monte, I thought we agreed that we'd all go with the vests too."

8. The first thing I thought (well actually, the second, after my initial dismay) upon seeing that photo was: "Well, at least it might help us in the gay community".
-Toronto Tory

7. Harper has second thoughts about whether trying out for the Village People will win him more votes in Toronto.
-Dudley Morris

6. Harper: So, how do I look?
Incompetent staff: You look great sir.

5. Never thought I'd ever say this about anyone, but he coulda got some fashion tips from .. wait for it ... JOE CLARK, and come off looking less like a dork.
-Mark Kealey

4. I wonder why Peter and Bernard gave me this funny little rope-tie to put around my neck. Looks an awful lot like a noose.

3. The look on his face is absolutely priceless. Like, "Perhaps if I very obviously soiled myself, I'd have an excuse to leave."
-Chris Selley

2. At least we now know what Harper would have worn to Toronto Pride if he hadn't been otherwise occupied.

1. The expression on Harper's face is the same one I see on my dog whenever my daughter plays dress-up with him.
-Robert McClelland

2. To Be Fair...

3. Juvenile, But...

With a hat tip to Don, it's "The Hottest MP Besides Ken Dryden". I'm hoping that the above pictures will cause a massive write-in campaign for Paul and Steven.

4. CrossFire

Jon Stewart was on fire last night giving a smackdown of Bernard Goldberg. Everyone should go take a look at this interview. I especially loved Jon's "There IS a bigot channel" line.

5. Time for Another Minister

Paul Wells pokes some fun at the Democratic Reform agenda.

6. King Ralph

Rick Mercer, meanwhile, has a whole slew of Ralph Klein photoshop fun! (here and here)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Glad as Hell Tour '05: Calgary Stop

I must say I was quite disappointed today. I'd heard that Harper would be flipping pancakes at two breakfasts in Calgary this week and was expecting a lot of material for the Glad as Hell Tour updates. But I have yet to see any news stories recapping the events.

Then, lo and behold, Warren digs up a great picture of Harper from the Stampede parade on Friday. So, although I have no eye witness or news accounts of Harper's time in Calgary, given his lack of predictability I feel confident giving a full recap of the event. Besides...if he'd, like, you know, bludgeoned Jim Prentice with a spatula, we likely would have heard about it.

Stop 2: Calgary Stampede

Location: Calgary, Alberta. (Harper no doubt wanting to convert the final 7 non-Conservatives left in the city)
Positives: Resisted the overwhelming urge to wear the matching assless chaps for his outfit. Also, no media attention means no one in Toronto saw the words "Stephen Harper" and "Calgary" and "cowboy" together in one sentence. Which is likely a good thing for a guy still carrying Reform Party baggage.
Negatives: I know people say he wears suits to often but...I'm not sure this outfit is really the look he's going for.
Human Index: The cowboy outfit moves him above Johnny 5, but he's not quite at Agent Smith level yet. So, he gets level 4.5 - Bender.
Image Hosted by

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Health of a Province

Well, as much fun as it will no doubt be over the next week to watch Paul Martin dance around Klein's health reforms, I suppose it's only fair to examine them and see just how scary they really are.

In typical Klein fashion, everything is very vague:

The two politicians stressed that the discussion paper was only a starting point meant to encourage industry and public feedback.

"Nothing is cast in stone," Evans said. "We put the paper out to be consultative with Albertans."

So, presumably, a lot will depend on the public backlash or support these proposals receive. It also means that Klein may be leaving his successor with a huge hot potato. My hunch is that Jim Dinning is probably the least happy person in Alberta over these proposed reforms.

As for the reforms themselves, here are the highlights:

1. Allowing patients to pay extra to upgrade their hospital rooms or surgical procedures; for example, by paying extra to get a better hip replacement than is medically necessary.

2. Possibly tying how much a person pays for medications to how much money they earn.

3. Implementing an Electronic Health Record for all Albertans

(Note: by and large, I pulled those four points from news stories because the only official report I could find had such specifics as "Taking serious action on wellness" for its 12 points. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more vague report on health care...or anything. If anyone has a link for the full report, I'd love to see it.)

As much as I hate to do it, I'm actually going to give Klein some credit. A lot of theserecommendationss sound good. Yeah, I'm surprised to be typing those words. Electronic health records make a lot of sense. Tying medication costs to someone's income would (presumably) help lower income Albertans. And allowing someone to splurge for a first class room is hardly a two tiered system.

However, I think once you start to allow people to get private delivery of medical procedures, you're into a two tiered system. Klein and Evans said that there would not be private delivery of necessaryy" procedures so it really comes down to where they draw the line at necessaryy". Either way, you're dancing with two tiered health care, even if it isn't anything new (Quebec has been doing this for years).

Friends of medicare also raised the concern that this could lead to doctors pressuring patients to get these "bonus" procedures since they'd be cashing in on them. I'm not sure if that's a major concern, but it's worth keeping in mind.

Bottom line: These reforms in themselves aren't profoundly scary. A lot of them actually sound good and Klein deserves some credit for trying to do something with health care. However, I really don't like having two tiers, even if it is only for hip and knee replacements and I hope there's enough public backlash against that to force Ralph to back down.

Third Way Or The Highway

I'll have more thoughts on Ralph Klein's "third way" once I take a look at all the details.

For now, I thought, I'd bring back this little blast from the past:
"Well, unlike Stephen Harper, I do care.... And unlike Stephen Harper, I will look Ralph Klein in the eye and I will say 'no,' unlike Stephen Harper, I will defend medicare."

UPDATE: I will look Ralph Klein in the eye...and blink.

In Ottawa, federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said his initial reaction was positive.
"No user fees and no queue jumping are the linchpins of our medicare system," Dosanjh said in a prepared statement. "These fundamental characteristics of our system will continue to be protected for all Canadians. "
"I am pleased to see Alberta has reaffirmed its commitment to the Canada Health Act, and that the proposed package, in my view, indicates a generally positive step in ensuring better health care for Albertans."'s the real question: How long before Ujal is "Pettigrewed" and forced to retract his statement?

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Missing Link

Link Byfield decided to extol the virtues of Alberta Separation in yesterday’s Calgary Sun. You can read some reaction to this here, here, and here.

It’s hard to know where to begin picking apart a column like this, so I’ll simply throw down some of “the best of Link” with my own rebuttal/snarky comments.

A University of Alberta professor I know sent me a lengthy article he's trying to get published, entitled: "Let's get while the getting's good."

Trying to get published? Sigh. If only the Alberta Report were still around…

Almost overnight, we would become one of the most prosperous nations in the world.

…until the price of oil drops. Or Canada decides not to let them into NAFTA. Or head-offices of Canadian companies leave Calgary. Or there's a mass exodus of human capital.

And there is no way a rich nation with 3 million people would have even remotely as much clout in the world as a slightly less rich nation of 30+ million people.

More importantly, we would create a country that reflects our own political and social beliefs, values and traditions, and our understanding of the common good.

Translation: This is the only way to prevent man on man monogamy.

Canada, says Craig, has been so badly governed since the Trudeau era, it has doomed itself to a Third World, banana republic fate.
We will become -- are in fact becoming -- the Argentina of the 21st century.

Is this guy serious? Canada has the best economy in the G8.

And Alberta owes it to itself, to its future citizens, and to like-minded people
in the rest of the country to save itself.

As a sovereign and independent nation, he suggests, our population -- viable to begin with -- would double in 10 years, even allowing for a welcome exodus of Albertans who would be happier back in Canada.

Alberta’s population will double in ten years? This means that either:

a) Alberta will dramatically increase its immigration rates - something I rather doubt.
b) There’s gonna be a lot of fucking going on in the new Alberta.

And you’re telling me Craig hasn’t found someone willing to publish his article? Colour me surprised.

We must now face the fact that the old Canada is gone forever and the new Canada is disgusting.

Yeah, Canada sure does suck, eh? I really hope that Link has just done a poor job of repeating Craig’s arguments because otherwise, this paper is really nothing more than an anti-Canadian paper with no real substance behind it.

And given the stern rejection of the Reform party by eastern Canadians, it's impossible to refute that the only forceful thing Albertans can do is to separate.

“I lost so I don’t want to play any more. Waaaaa!”

It’s hard to really argue against an idea that no one in Alberta takes seriously and I don’t want to waste too much time on it. Suffice to say, Canada is one of the best countries in the world to live in by any objective measure you choose and a new Alberta would have zero clout in the world. I also tend to think the economy might take a bit of a hit as, you know, all those head offices of Canadian companies in Calgary might prefer a different location to work out of. The only thing scarier than Link’s article is that the people of Alberta voted for him to be their Senator (even if it was, at best, a quasi-election).

One More Reason To Avoid Saskatoon

Saskatoon is banning showering. Ewwww.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ride 'em Cowboy

The Stampede is now in full swing - the annual event where Calgarians try to dispel the stereotype that they are red necked yahoos by dressing up in cowboy gear and shouting "yee-haw" at everyone. I attended a pair of Stampede breakfasts this weekend, and if I'm going to report on Stephen Harper's summer schmoozing, I suppose it's only fair that I give a recount of the not so subtle leadership networking going on in Liberal circles this summer.

Finance Minister Jack Layton Ralph Goodale was the speaker at the annual Liberal Stampede breakfast, as Paul Martin was a no show. For the record, those criticizing Martin for skipping the Stampede need to reasses their definition of a Prime Minister's role in governing the country. Regardless, Ralph gave a descent speech, although I thought he came on a little strong defending the NDP budget deal ("it's not that bad guys...really...I'm still the Finance Minister...really I am..."). There were 6 Cabinet Ministers at the event (Goodale, McLellan, Brison, Volpe, Stronach, Mitchell), several Senators, and 100% of Alberta's Liberal MPs. Belinda was clearly the most popular and after talking to her for 20 or 30 seconds, I'm convinced that I'm being a little unfair in describing Stephen Harper as a robot. Honestly, she's the most android-like politician I've ever met in my life. But I'll give her credit: considering how despised she is in Alberta right now, it took guts to come to the Stampede and to dance it up all night long at Cowboys.

Sunday was the Senator Dan Hays' breakfast, always a mini-festival in itself. Scott Brison and Joe Volpe were quite visible greeting the locals and not, I repeat, not, campaigning for leadership. Jim Dinning and Lyle Oberg were also there from 6:45 a.m. onwards, meeting the visitors and not, I repeat, not campaigning for leadership. I also bumped into Paul Wells who was on assignment investigating the growth of Equality Party support in Calgary.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Glad As Hell Tour '05

This summer we will witness Stephen Harper's transformation from a cold-hearted, scary fanatic with a hidden agenda to Steve, the lovable canuck who ladies want to dance with and men love to crack open a cold one and talk hockey with. As a special service, Calgary Grit will be keeping tabs on Harper's summer makeover so that Canadian voters can judge his worthiness as Prime Minister on such important factors as how frugal he is with mustard.

Every stop on the BBQ circuit will feature a recap and Harper's ranking on the human index; a scale ingeniously devised by myself where I determine how human he looked at the stop.

And, of course, I invite readers to send in pictures, news stories and fun personal anecdotes from your summer encounters with Harper (they don't even have to be true! Just like Stephen trusts Gurmant, I trust my readers). And slogans! Send me your slogans! I've settled on "Glad as Hell Tour" until something better comes along.

And, without further adieu, here's stop 1 on the Glad As Hell Tour!!!!!

July 4th, 2005

Location: Stellarton, Nova Scotia
Positives: Did not randomly break into the Star Spangled Banner, despite fourth of July celebrations
Negatives: Missed opportunity to visit Peter MacKay's potato farm and dog
Human Index: Johnny 5 - He's somewhat lovable and good intentioned but we all know he's still a robot

UPDATE: For those asking about the Human Index so that they can rate Harper themselves, here is the full scale:

1. 100% Human
2. Dick Cheney (we think he's human...but are we sure?)
3. Data (Looks human, tries to be human, is just an emotions chip away from the real thing)
4. Agent Smith (Looks human but is still a cold hearted killing machine)
5. Johnny 5 (Wants to be human, but it's abundantly clear he isn't)
6. Michael Jackson
7. Klingon

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Longing For A Bastard

I just finished Will Ferguson's "Bastards and Boneheads" and, I must say, it's certainly a fun way to read up on Canadian history. The catch behind the book is that Canadian leaders can be classified into two categories: white people from Quebec or white people from Ontario. Just kidding. No, obviously enough, the two categories are "bastard" and "bonehead". Ferguson describes the groupings as such:

"Bastards succeed. They are ruthless. They are active. Their cause may be noble or it may be amoral, but the Bastard is always the active principle. Boneheads fail, often by stumbling over their own feet. They are reactive. Inept. Indignant. They are usually truly amazed by their failures."

The book was written in 1999 so it doesn't touch on the current players in Ottawa, instead looking at past PMs (so, in case you haven't deduced it, Trudeau was a bastard and Clark was a bonehead). But after reading that descriptive blurb, it's hard not to think that Ferguson had Monsieurs Harper and Martin in mind while describing boneheaded PMs. Reactive? Indignant? Amazed by their failures? Check, check, check.

It's a pity too since both had such great bastard potential. Paul Martin was ruthless as a Finance Minister and ruthless in his coup d'etat. Harper took no prisoners in his Progressive Conservative takeover. Yet, in the past year, it's been a case of trying to screw up less than the other guy. It reminds me of when Anaheim played Minnesota in the Western Conference finals a few years ago.

Bastards succeed. Jean Chretien and Ralph Klein are clearly bastards. George Bush is a bastard. John Kerry was a bonehead. What Canada needs right now is a bastard.


Ever since the Madrid bombing this has looked fairly inevitable - but this is still shocking and tragic. It's hard to know what to say at times like these.

The war on terror is a battle worth fighting, even if it's a battle we can never really win.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In The News

1. This could prove to be a very useful site. You can track MP attendance records to see the keeners and the delinquents of the House. You can sort by words spoken and then scratch your head at what the heck Larry Bagnell needed to say in 73,000 words that couldn’t have been said in 12. You’ll also wonder who Peter Julian is and why he’s talking more than Stephen Harper or Paul Martin. All in all, a very fun website for political geeks.

2. In case you missed it last week, Michael Ignatieff is looking to run for the Liberals next election with his sights set on the party’s leadership. I think Ignatieff’s presence would add some nice flair and spark to the Liberal leadership race and, to be honest, this party could really use an exciting leadership race about ideas and Ignatieff’s candidacy would move the race in that direction. After listening to Ignatieff’s speech at the Biennial Convention I felt he had some interesting ideas but would need a lot of experience before being a credible leadership candidate. So my verdict would be that he’s not ready right now but the kid has potential. After three or four years in Cabinet, he might be ready for the top job.

3. This is really interesting. I know it’s been a tough year but it’s pretty obvious the Liberal National Executive has dropped the ball big time. I mean…we’re raising money at the same level as the NDP. The NDP! The NDP?!?! It’s almost as if the current National Executive was elected as a reward for their loyalty to the PM rather than their abilities to run and fund a party.

Saskatchewan Grit

For anyone who thinks the Alberta Liberal Party is in rough shape, it’s important to remember that things could be a lot worse.

Take, for example, the Saskatchewan Liberal Party. Just recently they sent out an e-mail to their members proudly announcing that…(wait for it)…


REGINA, Wednesday, June 29, 2005 The Chief Electoral Officer, Jean Ouellet, announced today that the Saskatchewan Liberal Association will keep its registered political party status in Saskatchewan.

The legal deadline for registered political parties to file their annual return of the party's receipts and expenses for the fiscal year 2004 was midnight, May 2, 2005, The fling deadline is determined by The Election Act, 1996 and an extension of the filing deadline is not possible. All registered parties in Saskatchewan, with the exception of the Saskatchewan Liberal Association, were able to meet this deadline.

Yes, it’s gotten to the point where the party is proud that them missing their filling deadline was deemed an act of incompetence rather than malfeasance. In itself, this isn’t too upsetting since they’re not exactly going to be forming government anytime soon but this is a party made up of, by and large, Ralph Goodale’s political machine. And since Ralph has been replaced by Jack Layton for all intents and purposes, it’s hard to understand how these people were too busy to meet the deadline.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Summer in Ottawa

With parliament done, I suspect most of the summer’s political news will be confined to Stephen Harper’s exploits on the dance floor and his ever-improving hamburger flipping technique (“notice…he now can flip with his left hand…and his elevation has improved…this man should be our Prime Minister”).

But, luckily the Hill Times is here to provided gossip from Ottawa. Among the (free) stories this week:

1. Election Speculation: It now appears that several Liberals want Paul Martin to break his promise of calling an election 30 days after Gomery. D’oh! I think it’s fairly safe to say that even Paul Martin isn’t dumb enough to do this. The article is still worth a read, if only for the so-stupid-they’re-funny comments from Liberal backbenchers. Among the highlights is Allan Tonks who believes all parties would support this and Jim Karygiannis who says voters “will freeze” if they go to the polls in the winter…as if Canadians can’t handle a 2 minute drive to their polling station.

I do however, still think there’s a good chance for a fall election. The final Gomery Report will be harmless enough since it will detail ways to prevent future abuses in the system – yawn. The juicy interim report might still come out November 15th and I can’t think of a more appetizing prospect for the opposition parties than a report like that being announced in the middle of an election campaign. So the temptation to bring down the government in October to force a, say, November 28th election will be very real.

2. Tony Valeri: Valeri has been drawing a lot of praise in the press for his performance this session. In my opinion, the jury is still out. Sure, the government survived, but this man has poisoned relations with the opposition parties to the point where he won’t even talk to Jay Hill. A lot of the tactics used to ensure survival were heavy handed and little was accomplished. We also saw Valeri take a page from his boss by repeatedly snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. This parliamentary session had to go into overtime to get anything accomplished after months of filibustering their budget and dithering on SSM. But they’re still standing, and for a government that has switched slogans from “The Politics of Achievement” to “The Politics of Survival”, that’s saying something.

3. Jean Charest: There’s no real substance in this article but the fall of Jean Charest has been remarkable to watch. In a province that always gives Premiers two chances, it’s really hard to explain. I know a few of the regular visitors to the comments section of this blog live in Quebec, so I’d be very curious to read their thoughts on why Charest has turned into such a dud.