Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Week Ahead

Speculation and anticipation surrounding the Gomery report is building. There are lots of theories floating around about what will happen but I don't think we'll get the same sort of twists and turns we saw last spring. There won't be a WTF moment like when Belinda crossed, there won't be a nail biting vote, there won't be ambiguous confidence motions or boycotts of the House in protest. There won't be an election until 2006 (which pisses me off since I win 50$ from an old bet if the House falls this November). Instead, I suspect we'll see:

Monday: Someone somewhere leaks a lot of the Gomery report to the press, providing us a sneak peak.

Tuesday: This is the big day and I'll be sure to be on-line at 10 am Eastern when the report is released for live blogging reaction. It's a safe bet the report will be harsh but won't be any worse than Brault's testimony from last spring. I think we can also assume Paul won't be fingered but a lot of the guys close to Chretien will be blamed for negligence, even if JC himself isn't directly implicated. Chretien will say that Gomery was biased, Martin will say things were bad but he's fixing it, Harper will scream in anger and rant about "moral authority to govern", Ducceppe will say the same thing in French, and Layton will come out and talk about the issues...well, maybe not, but he's not going to insist upon an election.

Wednesday: More of the same. There will be fireworks in the House of Commons but no confidence vote.

Friday: Martin will flip-flop from his initial reaction. I have no idea what he'll change his position to, but knowing this government, it's safe to say the talking points will change.

Mid-November: No confidence motions in the House but the parties begin testing election strategy and laying the groundwork for campaigns. Polls show the Tories on the rise and neck and neck with the Liberals.

Mid-December: People forget about politics and polls show the Liberals back in front.

Early 2006: The pundits begin speculating about the opposition parties bringing down the House. They don't. Valeri avoids any possible confidence votes until Ralph Goodale can bring in a budget with all sorts of goodies and tax cuts.

The Election: It happens, within 30 days of Gomery's final report, as predicted. As for the result? Your guess is as good as mine.

A Festivus for the Rest of us

I got this in my in box today. I'd say Paul has a very liberal definition of what the holiday season includes...

Holiday Wishes from the Prime Minister

As 2005 draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect on the year past, and the year beginning.

We think of those in need, and the compassion and generosity of Canadians at home and abroad; we think of the sacrifices our soldiers, police, diplomats and aid-workers have made to preserve peace and build institutions of governance around the world.

We think of what we represent at home – defending the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, by respecting the rights of same-sex couples to be married; working with the Provinces and Territories to lay the foundation for a national program for Early Learning and Child Care, to nurture our children in their formative early years; implementing the New Deal for Cities and Communities, to ensure the places we live are dynamic and prosperous.

In each of our initiatives we are preserving the values that have made and continue to make Canada unique in the world – a nation enriched by the traditions of every community it fosters and protects; a country people come to from all regions of the globe, in search of new hope, tolerance and understanding. These are the values your government is proud to uphold.

In the coming year, I look forward to traveling this great country once again, to share our goals with you and to describe the Liberal Party’s vision for the years ahead, to hear your stories and to share your hopes for the country’s future.

Until then, Sheila and I extend our warmest wishes to you and your family for a peaceful and joyful Holiday Season, and all the best for 2006.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Reign of Terror

This is interesting:

QUEBEC -- Governor-General Michaëlle Jean's husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, lashed out at Quebec separatists yesterday, saying they promoted terror by calling him a "traitor" and a "renegade" after his wife's appointment last summer.

Does anyone else think it's rather odd that a man who is good friends with several FLQ members is accusing others of promoting terror?

Alberta Content

Three quick, Alberta based comments I'd like to make:

1. Although I awoke in a bad mood this morning after my crushing lottery defeat last night, I got a big kick out of this, in my morning Herald:

Robert Remington
Calgary Herald
Thursday, October 27, 2005

Twenty-five years after the National Energy Program brought Calgary to its knees, Liberal revisionists are urging Albertans to "get over it" and claiming that the stories of lost houses and failed businesses are overblown.

Here's what one Internet blogger, CalgaryGrit, had to say about it in a posting on Aug. 5:

"I have been door knocking and had people who were in pre-school when the NEP was brought in tell me that it's the reason they won't vote Liberal. Over time it has grown to mythic standard even though no one in Alberta really knows what it was or what it did," says CalgaryGrit.

"The bottom line is the NEP was a legitimate policy that fell victim to poor timing. It's been an easy scapegoat all these years, even though no one understands its intent or consequences. There are a lot of good reasons for Albertans to be p---ed off with Ottawa and the Liberal Party -- I just wish they'd focus on some of them instead of living in the past and an ill-fated, good-intentioned policy."

I'm actually more surprised that the Herald bleeped out "pissed" than I am that they quoted me as a "Liberal revisionist". Regardless, the article follows with quotes from several very smart people and Rod Love, explaining how terrible things got in Alberta in the 80s. For the record, I don't disagree with that at all. I just think that the collapse of the world price of oil had more to do with the bust than the NEP. Especially when the federal government re-negotiated the deal multiple times as the price of oil fell. The oil economy tanked everywhere around the world, not just Alberta.

2. For those who say that transfer payments never come to Alberta, take a look at this.

3. I saw this on Daveberta yesterday and it made the Globe this morning. Trust me, if my cheque looked like that, I'd gladly flip-flop in support of the rebate idea.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Award Show

The second annual Canadian Blog Awards are now taking nominations.

Chew On This

An independent audit appears to have cleared David Dingwall. While I'm not sure this "completely exonerates" him, it should quiet this story down for a bit.

Gosh, now what possibly will the Conservatives have to ask questions about?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Layton's Tune

Jack is unimpressed that Paul is refusing to crack down on private health care. Not too surprising since looking Ralph Klein in the eye and saying "no" is different than looking Jean Charest in the eye and saying "no". And hypothetically looking Ralph Klein in the eye and hypothetically saying no, during an election campaign, is a while lot easier than either of those two options I listed above.

Picking health care as their new number one issue is certainly a new strategy for the Dippers - they didn't even mention health care in their deal last spring. Obviously health care polls as a bigger issue than democratic reform or the environment so it might not be a terrible choice as their wedge issue with the Grits, especially if they're serious about getting tough with private health care in Quebec, where they have no hope of winning seats and the Liberals are in deep, deep, deep trouble. It also has a benefit of reminding people that a certain someone didn't exactly fix "health care for a generation". But...despite all of this, my gut instinct is that this isn't really the best choice of an issue for the NDP. Let's face it, when health care is the issue, Canadians vote Liberal.

Regardless, if Layton says he wasn't happy with his meeting, he's keeping his options open vis-a-vis a fall election. No one I talk to seems to think we'll see an attempt to bring down the government after Gomery but I'll definitely be paying a lot more attention to what Stephen Harper, Jack Layton and Gilles Ducceppe say next Tuesday than I will to what Gomery does.

Monday, October 24, 2005

C'est qui vous connaisez dans l'OPM

According to the Hill Times, the opposition leader's office has more Quebec content than Paul Martin's PMO. This, in itself, isn't of the utmost importance since Paul has the greatest political mind in Canadian history as his Quebec lieutenant. Still, it bring us back to the question of what the Conservatives need to do to win in Quebec?

Harper has certainly tried a lot of tactics to make inroads in La Belle Province but he's still at single digits there and will be shut out come next election. Is it simply a matter of the province being too far left for the Tories? Are we still feeling the fall-out from the catastrophic implosion of Mulroney's old coalition with the separatists? Is there anything Harper can do to drum up his support in the province? Would another leader be more successful? And, if so, who?

I'm not sure I have the answers to these questions. I view the Mulroney years as an anomaly and tend to think his supporters are lost to the Bloc for as long as Quebecers see the BQ as a viable voting option. And while I'm sure someone like Bernard Lord would do better than Harper, I really do think the policy differences would still leave the province a wasteland for the Conservatives.

If they ever want to form a majority government again, the Conservatives will need some sort of breakthrough in Quebec. I honestly have no idea as to how they can pull it off. Do any of you?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Take Tim Murphy. Seriously, take him.

Tonight was the parliamentary press gallery dinner, a time for politicians to poke fun at themselves (or, more specifically, for their speech writers to poke fun at their bosses). Since watching CPAC was how I spent my Saturday night, here are the highlights:

Host - Anthony Germaine

"Lucien Bouchard called. He told us that Mike Duffy just died."

"No one can impersonate Paul Martin...except Bob Newhart."

"It's no longer who do you know in the PMO? There's a new rhyme in the capital: Who's butt can you kiss at Earnscliffe?"

"How many Paul Martin advisors does it take to change a lightbulb? 13. Twelve to hold a five hour meeting on how to change the lightbulb, and one to call Terry O'Leary and ask how it's done."

Michaelle Jean

Jean is definitely a charismatic lady and a great speaker, but when Jack Layton gets more laughs than you, you know you're in trouble. She did pull out the lone Andre Boisclair joke of the evening:

"We'll either serve French food and wines or just put out sandwiches and coke for our guests, to save money. Well, if Andre Boisclair visits, we'll definitely serve coke."

Paul Martin

I'll admit it. Paul was actually funny. Yes, it was in a "my grandpa isn't as funny as he thinks he is" kind of way, but he was funny nevertheless. His recap of Belinda's defection was definitely the highlight of the evening, even if his "rap talk" was a little scary.

"I haven't seen this many people from CanWet in one room since the annual meeting of the Fraser Institute."

"I sat down for 20 hours with Paul Wells...but he only turned the tape recorder on when he was talking."

"Now at this juncture, let me mention my father in an obligatory and awkward fashion."
-Paul, while pretending to address the nation on national TV

"David called and he said Belinda was totally thinking of crossing over and I was, like, NO WAY, and he was, like, YES WAY, she's totally thinking of crossing over, and I was like, NO WAY!"
-Paul, recounting his call when told Belinda was talking about crossing over. Proof that Scott Feschuk reads Paul Wells.

"Belinda was, like I totally want to be in Cabinet. And I was, like, duh, obviously."
-Paul, later.

Stephen Harper

Rumour is Harper wrote his own speech and, if that's true, I must say I'm really impressed. The guy was, as always, the best of the bunch...if only he could transform these brief glimpses of humanity into a personality Canadians could get behind.

This year, Harper added Brian Mulroney and Preston Manning to his impression collection but the highlight was, of course, his McCallum.

"I almost didn't come, I thought the audience would be hostile but luckily my party members couldn't make it."

"I'm actually really excited to be here...this is how I look when I'm excited. I'm probably the only person in the room who looks like his passport photo."

"I see a lot of new faces in the room...most of them are my staff."

"I'm not the life of the party. During this summer, I'd get up and leave during the middle of the BBQs and no one would notice. Sort of like the CBC."

"Mr. Chretien wore a fox hat to his first Stampede. When his staffers told him he needed to go to the Calgary Stampede, he said 'Calgary? Where da faucks 'at?
(imagine this in a thick Chretien might take a it?)

Jack Layton

Layton admited candidly "there's nothing funny about the NDP". So he axed the speech in favour of some guitar and vocals. I must say, he's actually a pretty good singer and got a few good lines off during his song parodies. Hopefully the clips will find their way to the net somewhere.

But, after all of this, the line of the night belonged to Brian Mulroney, live via satellite. After a lengthy Prime Ministerial greeting, Mulroney deadpaned:

"Peter Newman, go fuck yourself"

UPDATE: You can see the full video here. CTV also has a few clips up here (including a link to yours truly).

Je Me Souviens

In case anyone has forgotten about the more successful aspects of Chretien's post-referendum national unity strategy, today's polling numbers show the importance of the Clarity Act.

A murky question splits the province down the middle, a clear question leads to a confident no vote. More impressive, Quebecers themselves agree that there needs to be a clear question.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Conservatives: Winning Internet Polls...

There was an article a few weeks back accusing Canadian bloggers of being pussies. Well, luckily Canadian bloggers are out to show their relevance!

Faced with declining poll numbers, several Conservative blogs set their sights on a poll they might actually win - a poll on advanced education on the NDP website. I kid you not. Polls, by nature, aren't perfectly accurate. Internet polls are sometimes fun, but ultimately worthless. Internet polls on a political party's site are absolutely pointless. So why anyone would want to mobilize to win this poll is beyond me. I can only hope these Tories will spend as much time door knocking during the election campaign as they spend stacking Internet polls.

And while this, in itself, is mildly humorous, the NDP response is laugh out laud hilarious. Already there have been accusations that the NDP webmaster has fixed the poll to make sure Layton comes out on top. Maybe this is true, maybe it isn't. But given the choice between the NDP rigging the poll and the NDP mobilizing their supporters to stack an Internet poll on their own website, I'm not really sure which option is less pathetic.

Oh, and I must say that I wholeheartedly encourage this blog's readers to swarm the poll and help put Paul over the top! (Or, at the very least, over his current 2%) Paul! Paul! Paul! Paul! Paul! Paul!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mood Swings

It's that time of the month again. That time when you hear it from them on a daily basis. They can't make up their minds and seem to contradict what they told you just yesterday. The mood swings are intense and you don't know what to make of what they tell you.

Yes, the pollsters have a new batch of polls out and the Liberals are anywhere from 5 to 13 points ahead. Plus or minus 50 percentage points, from the looks of things.

180 Degrees

Remember the 2004 election? Remember how Paul Martin claimed there was no way Stephen Harper's promise of tax cuts was realistic? Remember how social programs were more important than tax cuts for Paul?

Well, if you answered "yes", would care you to remind this guy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Glitch in the Big Red Machine

In a surprising and unpredictable stand, Jason Cherniak has sided with John Duffy on a Paul Martin related topic. The topic in question? Stephen Clarkson's analysis of PMPM's handling of Sheila Fraser's infamous report in his new book, Big Red Machine (which is SO going on my Christmas list). Duffy, a Paul Martin strategist, feels that Clarkson is being a bit hard on...err...Paul Martin strategists and Paul's handling of the sponsorship scandal. Since this blog wasn't around when Adscam first hit, I figured I'd weigh in on the topic. For those who forget, here was Paul's response:

Day 1: Look of panic, no real message
Day 2: Blamed scandal on "rogue" civil servants
Day 3: Said there was "political direction", thereby implicating the Liberal Party
Day 4: Call an inquiry into the scandal

This was done against the backdrop of Martin's entourage blaming as much of the scandal on Chretien and the old regime as he possibly could. He then proceeded to go on the infamous Mad as Hell tour where the message was pretty much "This is the worst scandal ever! This is sickening! Liberals are corrupt! Someone should be punished for this! THIS IS A TERRIBLE SCANDAL!!!".

As you can probably guess by my unbiased recap, I tend to side with Stephen Clarkson (who has studied the Liberal Party for 30 years) and most pundits not affiliated with Earnscliffe , who agree this was one of the worst managed scandals in Canadian history. I don't think I've ever seen a political leader play up the seriousness of a money scandal involving his party, at a time when he was Finance Minister and Vice President of the Treasury Board. It's obvious that Paul thought he was bigger than the party and that destroying the Liberal brand name would not hurt his chances in the slightest. Clearly, he was wrong. Appointing a full public inquiry that would give everyone with an axe to grind with the government a pulpit where they could say whatever they wanted with immunity was also likely not a brilliant move in retrospect. I'm not debating what the "right" or "wrong" thing to do was - merely what the smart thing or incredibly mind numbingly stupid thing to do was.

Now, as for Jason's strategy. He feels Martin should have gone one step farther by publicly attacking Chretien and trying to pin the whole thing on him. I can see a few problems with this strategy...perhaps some readers can point out others:

1. It would have inevitably unleashed an all out Liberal Party civil war. You think Chretien Liberals sat on their hands during the last election? Well, despite that, they still voted Liberal, donated money to the Liberals, and did a bit of door knocking. Martin would have alienated half of his party's members in one swoop...

2. ...which would likely have caused him some problems come leadership review time. I also suspect he would have had more than a few losing candidates and Carol Jamieson clones to worry about.

3. As hypothesized by others, the Chretien guys would likely have hit back with a slew of Earnscliffe dirt and any other skeletons Martin has built up over the past decade.

4. By trying to pin the scandal on Chretien, Martin would look petty and vindictive. That might not go over well with the voters.

5. Blaming a Prime Minister for the scandal would have made the scandal bigger.

6. Blaming a Prime Minister for the scandal would have made it even more of a Liberal Party scandal. Chretien's staff and organizers are Liberals. Chuck Guite isn't. Martin would have been implying his government was behind the scandal and would have made Canadians even more angry towards the Liberal Party. And with an election around the corner, wouldn't you know it, voters would have had a great chance to punish the Liberal Party.

7. By distancing himself completely from the old rule, it would have been impossible for Martin to run on any part of the Liberal record. And when you have a record of a decade of good, popular government, it baffles me why anyone would want to throw that record out.

8. And here's the little fact Jason has overlooked: Chretien had nothing to do with the scandal. Sure, some members of his entourage have come across looking bad, but JC has overlooked the point that JC wasn't implicated. So, uhh, it would have been difficult for Paul to blame Chretien for it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Great Canadian Blog Survey

Over 1,000 responses - you can find the results here.

Obviously any self-selecting survey has limited scientific value, but it still makes for a highly fascinating read.

It's no surprise to see that that both bloggers and blog readers tend to be overwhelingly Conservative whereas us Liberals are very under represented (despite Steve MacKinnon's pleas to change this). So the big question is: why?

I tend to think that many people blog to share an opinion that goes against the mainstream view. With one or two notable exceptions, there aren't a lot of people who blog simply to say "gosh, I really like what the PM is doing." This could also explain why there are a lot of Liberal bloggers who aren't big fans of Paul Martin, and quite a few left wing blogs in Alberta.

But I'd be curious to hear other theories too - be they serious or not.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Coming Of The Lord?

While the resignation of the leader of a caucus of one in New Brunswick is not newsworthy in itself, I think most people can see the potential implications.

With his majority of one, now a majority of two, the door is open for a jump to the federal scene should Stephen Harper lose the upcoming election.

Shooting Up In The Polls

After Andre Boisclair saw his poll numbers rise following his admission that he used cocaine while in Cabinet, Pauline Marois has come out and said she tried marijuana once.

Pauline, Pauline, Pauline... If you want to beat out Andre, you better out do him. "Admit" you used crack, LSD, or crystal meth. Down some acid during the next debate. One joint 40 years ago, isn't going to do it.

I'd Also Like A Pony

Jack Layton has made his list of demands for continued support of the Liberals. Smart move on his part since it allows him to get the NDP message out and either:

a) be seen as relevant
b) distance himself from the Liberals

depending on how the Grits react. The conventional wisdom is that the Liberals want to wait as long as possible for a vote in order to put some distance between election and the Gomery report. I'm sure they'd also love to see Ralph deliver a pre-election budget full of goodies. We also know that Harper doesn't want to bring down the government without NDP support, for fear of looking like he's an election crazed separtist co-conspirator. Add it all up and Layton should continue to be the centre of attention.

As for his list of demands, it appears he's kept them vague enough so that he can say the Liberals either accepted them or rejected them no matter what they do. Once again, likely a smart move.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Talking to Americans

This is a pretty funny clip. How many of these guys do you think work at the Pentagon?

Thanks to Little Red Satan for this one.

Ed's Ethics

Obviously not satisfied with the performance of the half dozen Liberal MPs hard at work on Democratic reform, Ed Broadbent has announced the NDP's democratic reform package:

1. MPs should not be permitted to change parties without resigning and running in a byelection.

2. Election dates should be fixed and held every four years.

3. Reforming the electoral process by combining proportional representation with the current first-past-the-post system.

4. There should be spending limits and transparency conditions on leadership contests within political parties.

5. Tougher laws to end unregulated lobbying and political cronyism.

6. A fair process for government appointments to end unfair and unethical patronage practices.

7. Better access-to-information legislation to make government more transparent.

The party switching rule is a little silly in my opinion and likely just there out of mischief since neither the Liberals or Conservatives came out of the Belinda fiasco looking very good. Points five through seven are vague, although they can likely score on the lobbyist and patronage issues given the government's track record in these fields. I will comment on the other three points though, since they are significant proposals.

2. Fixed Election Dates: Although I'm fully aware that election speculation makes up a good percentage of my posts, I can really get behind the idea of fixed election dates. Obviously you'd still allow governments to collapse during minority situations but fixed election dates would remove the ability of the party in power to call an election at a time of their choosing because of sheer opportunism and it would provide all parties some certainty. It's extremely difficult to time nomination meetings when you don't know the election date and this would give the party structure for all parties a definitive timeline to plan nominations, fundraisers, conventions, etc.

3. Mixed Member Parliament: Call me old fashioned but I like the good 'old first past the post. It isn't perfect and the preferential ballot would help, but our system is based on the principle of voting for your representative and any form of PR goes against that. In addition, party leaders would have way too much power when it comes to selecting lists. It could easily turn into a patronage factory with the man at the top seeing this as a way to get the Johnny Bethels and Billy Cunninghams of the world into Parliament. The members of this list would lack any sort of legitimacy or accountability.

4. Spending and Transparency in Leadership Contests: Great idea. I wouldn't even be against the idea of turning all leadership contests over the Elections Canada. The last few Liberal leadership races would make third world dictators blush and it's not any better in other parties. Better to add a bit of transparency to the entire process.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Notes From Here And There

1. Sometimes these quirky stories require a one liner. Sometimes, the headline itself is enough. This is a case of the later: Tories Stole Tampon Tax Cut Idea

2. A euthanasia bill could get a bit of media play this fall. Good. So long as the proper safeguards are put in place, I don't see any reason why a law allowing very limited assisted suicide shouldn't be brought in. At the very least, this will get the debate going.

3. Apparently marijuana isn't all that bad - at least for rats. In other news, we enter year 17 of the pot decriminalization bill being stuck in legislative purgatory.

4. More Gomery testimony will come out at 5 pm eastern today. Don't expect any shocking revelations but it might bring Adscam back to the minds of Canadians.

5. The buzz on the street is that Michael Ignatieff is hoping to run in Bill Graham's riding, while the party would like him to take on Jack Layton. It'll be interesting to see how this one unfolds...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ban Over?

Even though most of the juicy details were revealed in "explosive" headlines last spring, it appears we'll hear some more testimony from the Gomery trial. Gomery has lifted his ban and Jean Brault's lawyers have until 5 pm on Friday to ask for a new ban.

While there is unlikely to be much new information, the media will certainly cover it, providing a tasty appetizer for the big report on November 1st. And since all parties have hyped the report up to such a massive extent and have all but agreed to accept it as gospel, one man will very shortly be deciding the results of the next election.

In The News

1. Via Norman Spector's site, comes this very interesting story:
But even in an age when triple-digit bills are unremarkable, Gordon Ramsay's £100 pizza has caused a stir in the nation's dining rooms.

Anyone want to bet that the Minister of Immigration will be traveling to England on business sometime soon?

2. Stephen Harper has conceded he wouldn't win an election right now and might need the Gomery boost to form government. Even though that's likely true, I'm not sure how wise it is for Harper to publicly say this.

3. Dave Hancook is musing about giving Albertans two free years of University tuition. Assuming the Universities are funded to a level to ensure they remain (or, become) high quality schools, I think this is a great idea and the kind of "legacy" plan this government should attempt, rather than giving 400$ Ralph dollars to every Albertan.

4. Apparently the Canada West Foundation agrees. Their latest survey shows Albertans very cool to the rebate idea.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Race Is On - 2

Daveberta has found the odds for the PC leadership race in Alberta Venture Magazine:

Jim Dinning (former MLA Calgary-Lougheed): 2-1
Ed Stelmach (MLA Ft. Saskatchewan-Vegreville): 4-1
Dave Hancock (MLA Edmonton-Whitemud): 5-1
Ted Morton (MLA Foothills-Rockyview): 8-1
Lyle Oberg (MLA Strathmore-Brooks): 8-1
Mark Norris (defeated MLA Edmonton-McClung): 9-1
Iris Evans (MLA Sherwood Park): 16-1

It's no secret that Dinning is the frontrunner, but it's very interesting to see the Alberta Venture panel brush aside Ted Morton as nothing more than a fringe candidate. At 8-1, I'd be tempted to wager a bit of my rebate cash on Dr. Morton. I expect the Morton crew to be signing up the far right special interest groups en masse which could be huge in a one member, one vote format (assuming that's the route they go).

It'll also be interesting to watch Oberg and Stelmach jockey for the rural vote that will be needed to take on Dinning's Calgary support.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Race Is On

It appears the unofficial Liberal leadership race has moved to cyberspace. Joining "Martin Cauchon for PM" on the net is "John Manley for Leader". And, of course, this blog has made no secret about our desire to see Joe Volpe as the next Liberal leader.

We recognize that Ignatieff supporters would likely prefer writing 100 page theses, rather than blog posts, on his chances, and that the McKenna crowd have their hands full running the PMO right now, but surely there's a young Brison or Bevilacqua fan out there willing to lead the charge for their man, isn't there?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Take My Money. Please.

The Alberta Government has launched an ad campaign that will spend taxpayers' money to convince taxpayers...wait for accept the 400$ prosperity bonus. I swear I am not making this up:

Premier Ralph Klein's office is spending $65,000 on newspaper advertising to persuade Albertans they can accept his prosperity bonus cheques with a clean conscience.

"We want to make sure people realize we're also doing things for the future," spokeswoman Marisa Etmanski said as the ads began running Saturday in Edmonton, Calgary and smaller centres across the province.

Klein announced last month that every Albertan will receive $400 by the end of the year out of the province's expected surplus of at least $6.8 billion. The prosperity bonuses will cost the government $1.4 billion of the surplus, which has ballooned due to rising oil and gas revenues.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Welcome To The Privy Council

Since it appears we won't get a major Cabinet shuffle before the next election, we'll have to be content with the ever exciting Parliamentary Secretary shuffle. Gone is the timid voice of Marlene Jennings, while Jim Karygiannis ironically joins the ever growing cast Liberals working on democratic reform, showing that Paul Martin still has a sense of humour.

Prime Minister Paul Martin announced today the appointment of three new Parliamentary Secretaries to assist Ministers with their parliamentary duties.

Mr. Navdeep Bains (Mississauga - Brampton South) has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi) will assist the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Jean-C. Lapierre. Ms. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre) has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for the Status of Women, the Honourable Liza Frulla, with special emphasis on status of women.

In addition, two current Parliamentary Secretaries have been re-assigned. The Honourable Gurbax Malhi (Bramalea - Gore - Malton) will now support the Minister of National Revenue, the Honourable John McCallum. The Honourable Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough - Agincourt) has been asked to support the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal, the Honourable Belinda Stronach.

“Parliamentary Secretaries play an essential role in government, particularly in the minority context,” said the Prime Minister. “I am very pleased to welcome these colleagues to their new assignments and look forward to their contribution in support of the parliamentary process.”

The Prime Minister also expressed his thanks to the outgoing Parliamentary Secretaries, the Honourable Paul DeVillers and the Honourable Marlene Jennings, for the support and counsel that they have provided during their tenure.

Who Speaks For Canada

Richard Gwynn has a great article in the Star today about Martin's foreign policy today, where the role of Quebec in Canadian foreign policy will be discussed. Here's Gwynn's opening line:

No great political expertise is needed to guess that Prime Minister Paul Martin will respond to Quebec's demands for its own voice in foreign affairs with a firm, "No. Non."

A similarly minimal level of political knowledge will be enough to cause any observer to take for granted that Martin's eventual position on the Ottawa-Quebec negotiations on foreign affairs that began this week will be, "Yes. Oui."

The Critics Are Raving

Here's what some bloggers have to say about Martin stealing Ralph Klein's not-so-brilliant refund idea:

Accidental Deliberations:
As is so often the case, though, good politics makes for terrible policy.

Pample The Moose:
But returning it to the taxpayer? What a farce. In Alberta, Ralph Klein can at least point to an absence of provincial debt. But throwing away billions of dollars when you are still in debt doesn't strike me as all that wise.

The Wingnuterer:
Pay off the freaking debt, and start funding things that all Canadians deem important, and stop trying to buy our votes, cause no one is selling. Oh and Harper, are you taking notes?

One official described it as a “dividend on the performance of the economy.” Interesting spin. In reality, it, and this, amount to nothing short of sleazy bribery of the voters in this country.
I’d be much happier with the government making a firm commitment to healthcare and the national debt. I might even vote for them under those circumstances. If I get a rebate cheque, I will give it to charity and vote for another party.

To see our opinion, click here, and replace 'provincial' with 'federal,' '$400' with '$133,' and 'Ralph Klein's Tories' with 'Paul Martin's Liberals,' etc, etc, etc...

What should be noted is that the blogs I linked to above are all fairly progressive. With the exception of My Blahg, I couldn't find a single centre or left wing blog that supported the plan. Maybe this will get Martin some votes on the right but I strongly suspect voters will see through this plan for what it is - a cynical ploy to buy votes. Even in Alberta, support was only 50/50 for Klein's giveaway. I'd love to see one of the opposition parties be gutsy enough to oppose this.

Speaking of people who haven't won anything lately...

John Tory shows that his hockey instincts are as good as his political ones. The Leafs' chances of winning a cup this year are about as good as...well...John Tory's chances of becoming Premier.

(Queen’s Park) – Progressive Conservative Party Leader John Tory today said that Dalton McGuinty is showing questionable judgement once again by supporting the Ottawa Senators and applauding a prediction that they would win the Stanley Cup.“The Senators have won the Stanley Cup quite a few times in October,” said Tory. “While I hope the Stanley Cup champion is from Ontario, I’m rooting for the Leafs to come out on top.”Like many Ontarians, Tory will join family and friends tonight to watch the game at home and cheer on the Toronto Maple Leafs.“I am a lifelong Leafs fan and will continue to support my team tonight as they take on the Sens,” Tory said. “Even though critics view the Leafs as underdogs this year, I still like their chances. Most of all, I’m delighted that hockey is back.”

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

King Ralph

You know things are bad in Ottawa when Ralph Goodale looks to Ralph Klein for inspiration. Yes, the federal government saw Ralph Klein's "prosperity bonus", saw the lackluster reaction of Albertans to it, saw it get criticized as an uninspiring policy and said: "gosh, maybe we should do that."

From now on, Canadians will get money from Ottawa whenever the surplus turns out to be larger than expected (no word yet on whether or not this kick back will be delivered in cash, in brown envelopes).

Even though I trashed Klein for this, at least he's in the position of having money to burn. Paul Martin has made a 25% Debt-to-GDP ratio his grand ambition (yawn) so refusing to pay down the debt seems like an odd course of action. It also seems like a rather haphazard way to shill out money for a guy who:

a) Was a good Finance Minister
b) Has been accused of lacking vision

Playing Defense

In a none too shocking move, Tony Valeri has pushed the opposition days back to the end of the House's sitting, dealing a blow to anyone who has a fall election date in their pool. For those who haven't already done the math, if the Tories were to use their first opposition day to bring down the government, that would set us up for a Boxing Day election. It's also fairly obvious the Liberals won't bring forward any confidence motions they wouldn't want to fight an election over.

The CPC has made it clear they won't trigger an election without the NDP but if Jack decides he wants to go now, that means we're back to bizarre parliamentary conventions and procedures no one has ever heard about. It wouldn't surprise me to see a quasi-confidence vote which could force the new GG into an awkward position.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Harriet The Judge

The right wing in the US is mighty pissed at George Bush's lattest Supreme Court pick. Are they upset because she has never tried a case before? No. No. Are they upset that she appears to be unqualified? No. Are they upset that this is blatant cronyism? (at least in Canada the boss' employees and friends only go to the Senate, where they can't do any real harm)

They're upset because...well, it's difficult to tell why...the general gist seems to be that she isn't conservative enough.

Tough times for the President...

Monday, October 03, 2005

On the Tube

With the fall TV season now underway, I thought I'd take some time to preview some exciting new shows this fall:

Lost: A plan with all 307 members of parliament crashes over the Pacific Ocean...and no one looks for them.

Desperate House: A Party in power resorts to every possible tactic to hold on to power: canceling opposition days, Cabinet posts for defectors, ignoring non-confidence votes, and pleading for time on National TV.

Everybody Loves Michaelle: See what wacky hijinx will happen at Rideau Hall this week when a former FLQ member comes for dinner!

Law & Order: Sponsorship - Jean Brault and Chuck Guite stand trial (this show has been postponed until the spring).

Alias: Starring Gurmant Grewal.

The Apprentice: Every week, 10 Liberal and Tory leadership hopefuls compete at a series of challenges such as taking over riding associations and stacking nomination meetings, for the right to replace their lame duck party leaders.

Seinfeld: Paul Martin's vision of Canada is explained in this show about nothing.

Everybody Hates Steve: A look inside the Globe & Mail newsroom.

The Biggest Loser: Joe Clark makes his return to the Canadian airwaves

That 70s Show: A Liberal/NDP coalition spends like it's 1973!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Team Harper

Election fever is in the air as the Conservatives have launched their Edmonton campaign. All the big stars are on the signs...with one conspicuous absence: Stephen Harper.

Luckily, rising Conservative star Rona Ambrose explained the omission:

Conspicuously absent from the signs is any mention of embattled party leader Stephen Harper. But the local candidates said the omission has more to do with north/south relations than with Harper's flagging popularity.

"You know how Edmonton feels about Calgary," kidded Rona Ambrose, MP for Edmonton-Spruce Grove.

Phfewf! I thought for a second the Conservatives had concluded Ken Epp had more voter appeal than Stephen Harper - luckily there's a rational explanation for the absence.

Still...I guess this opens the door for Toronto Liberal MPs to use the "Montreal-Toronto" rivalry as an excuse for the absence of "Team Martin" signs in the GTA this election.