Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Two Down...

A few thoughts on Day 2 of the campaign...

1. Just when you thought Gilles Duceppe couldn't screw things up, he comes out with the first mind-numbingly stupid policy of the campaign. The BQ has announced that they want Quebec to field their own teams at international sporting events. Maybe Quebecers are willing to look past the economic ruin a "Oui" vote would bring but they are not willing to look past having Patrice Brisebois on their defensive corps.

2. This whole Michael Ignatieff thing has me a little miffed. While I'm not a big fan of parachute candidates, the fact is that, like it or not, the Liberal Party leader has the ability to appoint candidates. The reason he has this power is to get people like Michael Ignatieff involved in politics. So it's beyond me why he just didn't appoint Ignatieff like he did with his good friends last year, instead of screwing around and refusing to let other candidates run.

As for the "local" riding association, it's hard to feel too sorry for them when you read articles like this. Either way, the entire thing is a mess and the Liberals have turned what should be a great story for them into a downright mess.

3. Mark your calendar for the four, count 'em, four debates. There's a new format this year too which should cut down on the childish squabbling.

4. Good grief. We can put Harper down as 0 for 2, after another bad day. By suggesting he'd appoint a federal prosecutor, Harper:

a) Showed he doesn't understand law
b) Showed that he doesn't consult with Peter MacKay
c) Told Canadians he wants to bring Ken Star north

5. Canada made the Daily Show last night! And the Colbert Report! You can catch the Daily Show clip here and the Colbert clip here. I'll admit I'm like most Canadians and get downright giddy when Canada is mentioned on US television. I guess it's just because I, unlike Stephen Harper, love Canada!

6. I'd keep an eye on this story. It's not real news yet, but it could become huge.

Election Strategery: The Grits

Over the past week, I've previewed the NDP, the Bloc, and the Tories. I wrap up my election preview with a look at the Liberals (sorry Green Party fans).

As an added bonus, I'll lead off with a recap of the national caucus election conference call from earlier this evening. A contact of mine sent me a recap of the call (gosh, I feel just like Susan Delacourt).

Herle's Strategery: The Liberals will, not surprisingly, treat this as a two part campaign. The first part will be damage control, as they expect Harper to go negative right off the bat and get a bump in the polls. Since the electorate is still quite volatile, they're advising local campaigns to stay away from identifying voters and, instead, to find volunteers and fundraise (while people are Christmas shopping? Huh?). The second part of the campaign will feature an all out ad blitz and they're banking on Harper not having any substance past the corruption issue to maintain momentum through a lengthy campaign.

The 2004 Campaign: John McCallum and Judy Sgro were sent out to heckle Stephen Harper. Paul stumbled through the debates. David Herle said his own campaign was in a "spiral". Yes, things were looking bleak for the Liberals in the Most Important Election Ever. Then, the Liberals launched some of the most effective attack ads in Canadian history and the Conservative campaign imploded upon itself. Paul talked about the economy and his record, and then scared the bejesus out of NDP voters. I'll give the big guy credit - he digs himself out of holes better than most politicians in recent memory.

The Result: 135 seats and 37% of the vote.

Since Then: After promising to fix healthcare for a generation in front of the TV cameras, Paul hammered out a backroom deal which gave 42 billion to the provinces in exchange for nothing. And Quebec didn't even have to give the nothing. Then Danny Williams threw a hissy fit and Paul gave him a few billion. Then Lorne Calvert felt Saskatchewan was getting a raw deal so he got bought off. Then Dalton McGuinty proved why Ontario has always been the problem child of confederation and he got a few billion. Starting to see a pattern?

The Leader: Paul Martin. (I think I'll just follow the old adage - "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all")

The Team: The Grits continue to show why resistance is futile, luring over Belinda Stronach and recruiting Marc Garneau and Michael Ignatieff, among others, to run.

Unofficial Slogan: "Shit happens. But do you really want Stockwell Day in Cabinet?"

Campaign Song: Money for Nothing

The Issue: The record. The recent spending spree could really hurt Martin's credibility on the economy but it's been twelve years of, more or less, good government. Even though I don't necessarily think he's handled all of the following issues well, it would likely be a good idea to mention his accomplishments since the last election: Health Accord, Child Care, Same Sex Marriage, "No" to BMD. And, of course, Goodale's proposed tax cuts.

The Commercial: Go negative or go home. It worked last time and I think it's worth going down that path again. Make Harper the issue and the Liberals will be in good shape.

Other Advice:
1. Marginalize the NDP. Don't even acknowledge Jack Layton's existence - focus squarely on Harper to frame it as a two horse race. And it might be a good idea to help the Green Party out, however possible.
2. Ask Harper a few times if he'd repeal the same sex marriage legislation. (I actually wrote this before Harper's comments today...keep the issue alive)
3. When Harper attacks the recent roman orgy of spending, ask him which bills he wouldn't honour.
4. Campaign extensively in BC and Ontario. Ignore the rest of the country.
5. That said, play for federalist votes in Quebec. Let Dion run the show there, rather than Lapierre. Wells has a good article on this.
6. Bring up foreign policy. I know most Canadians don't give a rats ass about it, but a lot of people think Martin is his best on the international scene. If there's a big summit or meeting he can sneak off to during the campaign and look Prime Ministerial at, then he should definitely go.
7. Oh, and this may be asking a lot, but if Paul could somehow get a clear vision for Canada, that would be a big boost.

Prediction: While I don't necessarily share Paul Wells' somewhat fantastic range of "Liberal majority to Liberal wipeout" that he mused about on the National last week, we're probably looking at anywhere from 100 to 135 seats.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Same Old Same Sex

Stephen Harper has re-iterated his promise to hold a free vote on Same Sex marriage should he get elected as Prime Minister.

I can sort of see what Harper is trying to do here. Announce it on day 1 and you get the troops fired up - the people door knocking in minus thirty need a reason to go door knocking. Media pundits often forget about the ground war and, with the cold weather, mobilizing volunteers is going to be harder than ever.

But, geez. This is an issue that's better off staying dead. And I'm not just saying that because I'm in support of SSM. The fact is, the law has been passed and it's time to move on. A lot of people who were against SSM have seen that the sky hasn't fallen and it just looks petty when Harper won't accept the will of Parliament on this one. Even if 2 or 3 Liberal Cabinet Ministers were forced to vote against their conscience, the vote still passed and Harper should just move on.

More troubling for Harper is the fact that this election will be fought in Ontario and British Columbia. I can't for the life of me see how this will get Harper any votes in either of those two provinces. Any time the talk turns to social issues, the Conservatives get hurt. Harper looked good this morning talking about change, crime, and cleaning up government - talking about social issues is just stupid.

Stephen Harper Hates Canada least, that's the Liberal spin for the day. And I thought the BQ's attack on Christmas lights was lame.




Today Stephen Harper was asked by a reporter: "Do you love this country? "

Instead of saying yes, Harper gave the following response:

"Well, I said Canada is a great country. You know, all of us who get involved in public life spend a lot of time away from our families to go across the country, probably get in many ways the most
rewarding experience you could have, you know. It's not tourist travel, you don't see all the hot spots and all the great sights but you get a real sense -- the kind old and the of traveling I've done, especially the last seven or eight months, you get a real sense of Canadians, where they live, who they are and what their challenges are. And I think the country has unlimited potential.

That's why I think it would be so exciting to take over at this point in our history. But I think it's necessary to make a change if we're going to realize that potential."


The simple answer is 'Yes', especially from someone who wants to lead this great country.

Saying that Canada only has great "potential" are not the words of a passionate, committed leader with a vision to shape the Canada's future.

Let me get this straight? Someone who wants to be Prime Minister is supposed to give a simple "yes" rather than a thought out paragraph detailing what sounded like, to me, reasons he loves Canada? Claiming Stephen Harper doesn't love Canada is as stupid as saying Paul Martin supports child pornography or saying the Liberals are involved with organized crime.

More fun is the line I bolded above. Saying Canada has "great potential" (or, "unlimited potential", which is what Harper actually said) are not the words of a leader with a vision for Canada's future? Umm...I tend to think this country would be a lot better off if our leaders started looking at Canada's potential. It'd be nice for a change.

The Off-Beat Election Pool

James Bow has the election pool. RevMod has the Gaffe pool. So I figured I'd jump in with a little game of "20 questions". You just answer the 20 questions bellow and get a score out of 100 - call it your political IQ, if you like.

No prize for the winner as of yet (except for pride of course...). You can enter your answers in the comments section bellow or via e-mail. Contest closes at midnight Friday.

1. Will the Liberals win a seat in Alberta (10 points)

2. Over/Under Conservative support in Quebec - 9% (5 points)

3. Which party will run the most vicious attack ad (I get to play judge and jury on this one) (5 points)

4. Which party will win Ottawa Centre? (3 points)

5. Svend Robinson or Heddy Fry? (3 points)

6. Will the Bloc crack 60 seats? (5 points)

7. Will Marc Garneau win his seat? (3 points)

8. Will Allan Cutler win his seat? (3 points)

9. Will Olivia Chow win her seat? (3 points)

10. Will Jean Lapierre keep his seat? (3 points)

11. What date will the first abortion reference be made during the campaign? (5 points for person who is closest, 4 points for second closest, etc.)

12. Number of times Stephen Harper mentions "corruption" in first English debate (5 points for correct guess, minus 1 for every one away you are)

13. Number of times Paul Martin is "clear" or "perfectly clear" during the first English debate (5 points for correct guess, minus 1 for every one away you are)

14. Which party leader will the CTV instant poll claim to have won the first English debate? (5 points)

15. Will Belinda Stronach appear in a nationally televised Liberal TV ad? (2 points)

16. Monte Solberg's popular vote over/under - 75% (5 points)

17. Which leader will get the most points in the Gaffe pool? (5 points)

18. Voter Turn-Out (5 points for actual percentage, -1 for every percentage point off by)

19. Which polling company's final poll will be the closest to the actual election results? (10 points)

20. Which party will get the most seats? (I guess it had to be asked) (10 points)

Clarification: To be clear, the abortion question refers to a candidate from one of the major parties bringing up the topic and having said comments mentioned by the mainstream media.

Scott Feschuk Supports Pornography

First of all, I'd advise any young staffers in the CPC war room to avoid sending out a press release with the above title.

That said, here's how Paul Martin speechwriter Scott Feschuk decided to start off his official blog on the Liberal website:

Wow, look at me! I'm in "cyberspace," where no one can hear you scream. Or maybe they CAN hear you scream but they don't pay attention because they're too busy looking at naked ladies.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Starting Line

I'm undecided as to how much of a poll whore I intend to be this election. So feel free to comment on whether you'd prefer I go orgasmic over every 1% shift in the regional breakdowns ("OMG! The Liberals are up 2 points in Newfoundland!!!!"), or would rather I live in blind ignorance of the numbers on the ground ("my gut tells me the Liberals are doing well in Quebec!").

However, it's good to see where the parties are starting off from so I'll post the two polls which came out today:

Liberal 36%
Conservative 31%
NDP 16%
BQ 14%

Liberal 35%
Conservative 30%
NDP 20%
BQ 14%
Green 1%

The Quebec numbers are just ugly for the Grits right now with the BQ at, or near, 60% in both polls. If those numbers hold (and they rarely do for the BQ), that would translate to a near sweep of the francophone ridings.

The Liberals are up by 12 in Ontario in the Environics poll, but only 4 in Pollara. Safe to say, if the Tories can somehow stay at (or above?) 38%, they'll be in very good shape come election day.

Most important, in my opinion, is that 17% are still undecided. So the campaign will matter.

Now, with all this in mind, I encourage everyone to head over to the second (annual?) James Bow election pool and cast their predictions. I'll be posting my predictions later this week...every day I go back and forth between who I think will come out on top.

UPDATE: The pollsters are surprisingly consistent. Allan Gregg has it as:

Liberal 35
Conservative 29
NDP 17
BQ 14
Green 5

The best news for the Conservatives? More voters feel the Liberals are harbouring a "secret agenda" than the Conservatives. Wow.

TUESDAY UPDATE: Ipsos has it 31-31.

Th-th-th-th-th-that's all folks!

And so ends the 38th Parliament, the reality TV of politics: It was dysfunctional and, at times, disgusting, but you just couldn't turn away.

We saw historic same sex marriage legislation passed. We saw a cliff hanger vote that made the late Chuck Cadman a star and made politics thrilling to watch. We saw every obscure tactic in parliamentary procedure dusted off and attempted. We saw Gurmant Grewal run his own little Alias mission. We saw the Belinda and Peter saga get CNN's "political play of the week".

In the end, we saw the Canadian government fall on an explicit non-confidence motion; historic enough by itself.

So RIP 38th Parliament. While you may not be missed, you certainly won't be forgotten.

While Rome Burns...

A few thoughts in anticipation of the government's imminent collapse.

-Luckily the BQ has found an issue, other than Adscam to run on! This one comes from an alert reader. On the front page of the BQ site, you'll find what is probably the lamest attack of this election: (in french, of course)

"Young Liberals encourage energy waste"

Montreal, 26 Nov 2005 - While environmentalists meet in Montreal, the Youth Commission of the Liberal Party of Canada, Quebec section, encourages its members, through a competition on its website, to waste energy by decorating their homes with as many red lights as possible.

"Once more, the Liberals prove to us that their words don't match their actions," said Chantale Bouchard, president of the Youth Forum of the Bloc Quebecois (FJBQ). "While we try to be conscious of and change the habits of Quebecers, the Young Liberals of Paul Martin encourage overconsumption," added the FJBQ president.

-CTV's election blog is up here. They'll be taking the feed of several blogs, including the Progressive Bloggers.

-Michael Ignatieff will be running for the Liberals (as reported here last Wednesday!) in Etobicoke Lakeshore. It seems like some members of the Ukrainian community are a little peeved but, honestly, when you've spent a lifetime discussing ethnic conflicts, you'll inevitably piss a few people off along the way.

That said. It's a little disingenuous for Paul to claim he isn't appointing anyone this time around. He's simply not signing the nomination papers of anyone who isn't the chosen candidate in many ridings, leading to de facto nominations. And most people can see through it.

-Political Staples, Let it Bleed, Sinister Thoughts, and James Bow have banded together to do a weekly bloggers podcast of the election. You can check it out on James' site here.

-Some bloggers are already up in arms over the grant this blog has received. No word yet on what he thought about Paul's Sunday address a few weeks back.

-Speaking of Sunday, Paul got booed at the big game last night. Just be grateful the Grey Cup wasn't in Calgary this year.

-I'll make my election predictions sometime this week but here's my bold predictions for Alberta:

I haven't included riding names so, as a contest, let's see who the first reader can be to link the result to the riding!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Election Strategery: The Tories

I've already previewed the NDP and the BQ, now we move on to the official opposition.


The 2004 Campaign: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. After uniting the right (except for Joe Clark...and Scott Brison...), the Conservatives capitalized on an ineffective Liberal campaign to surge ahead by the midway mark. Harper won the English debate and began musing about a victory, a majority, and redecorating 24 Sussex. Then - Randy White, Ralph Klein, child pornography, and a victory march down Highway 2 sealed a Liberal win.

The Result: Just under 30% of the vote and just under 100 seats.

Since Then: Belinda and Peter started dating! But then she, like, dumped him!!! OMG! (for full details see what should be the post of the year). And Harper wore a funny cowboy outfit!

Yeah, there was some policy mixed into all of that and the Tories did back 1/3 of Goodale's budgets. But really, once you get past tight leather vests and Belinda's romances, the rest of the stuff just seems trivial.

The Leader: Stephen Harper. It's hard to know what to think of Harper. He can be the star of the Press Gallery dinner, but is one of the most charismatically challenged politicians to come to Ottawa in a long time. He has a reputation for being a smart guy, but then says that the SSM legislation lacks legitimacy because the BQ supported it. He can orchestrate a complex merger between the Tories and the CA and wind up as leader, but then kisses away an election that was handed to him on a silver platter through bone headed strategy decisions.

The Team: While their leader is probably holding them back, the Tories have a very strong team around him. Peter MacKay could be a future Prime Minister, Monte Solberg could easily be a future talk show host, and Rona Ambrose could easily be a future shampoo commercial model. OK, OK, there a few nutjobs in there too, but Harper has been able to relegate most of them to the backbenches.

Unofficial Slogan: "We won't win a bad can we mess it up?"

Campaign Song: The Odds' "Heterosexual Man"

The Issue: A change would do you good (which is, by the way, my serious suggestion for their campaign song). The most recent Decima poll shows how dangerous the desire for change has become for the Liberals. Don't get me wrong, they should hammer away at the Liberals on Adscam at every opportunity. But they need to somehow show that they'll be different. Harper's Federal Accountability Act should be the focus of his campaign. Forget tax cuts - this is what he needs to base his entire campaign on.

The Commercial: Go for reality. Show clips of Sheila Fraser blasting the Liberals, a few "culture of entitlement" quotes, Jean Brault's testimony, Dingwall holding up the gum packet, newspaper headlines about Volpe's pizza party, and the Mr. Dithers economist article. End the commercial with a calming voice saying "there's an alternative".

Other Advice:
1. Highlight the team. I'm not saying you should air commercials of Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper strolling through the park together (or through MacKay's potato farm), but give the young talent on the front benches a prominent role on the campaign trail.
2. Pray for Snow. Seriously. The Conservatives have a much more dedicated base of supporters. An election day blizzard in Ontario is their best case scenario.
3. Push for more debates. Paul Martin is a horrible debater - even Martin supporters will concede this. Harper will wipe the floor with Martin in the debates so the more he can get, the better.
4. Play the underdog card. Start off slowly and don't muse about a majority government.
5. Muzzle your candidates. The last thing you need is another Randy White incident.

Prediction: That's the big question, isn't it? My hunch is 100 to 120 seats which means that come the end of January, Harper will either have resigned as CPC leader or he'll be Prime Minister of Canada.

Friday, November 25, 2005

For Immediate Release

Prime Minister Paul Martin Announces Money For Progressive Blogging

CALGARY - CalgaryGrit today thanked the federal government for a recent $660,000 blogging grant. The grant was part of Ralph Goodale's announcement of 23 million dollars in support for progressive bloggers, one of 78 spending announcements he made on Thursday.

"This move was in no way related to the upcoming election," said Goodale. "I've been working on this file for six months." Goodale's other recent spending announcements have included $342 million in arts funding, $29 million to help Happy Valley Newfoundland diversify its economy, and $270,000 for Toronto's Beta Shoe Museum.

"I don't think this will hurt Paul's reputation as sound money manager," said CalgaryGrit writer Bart Ramson. "This is the kind of valuable legislation that will die because of Stephen Harper's unholy alliance with the separatists and socialists to force a Christmas election on Canadians."

Despite this, Conservative leader Stephen Harper maintains the Conservatives will not cancel this spending announcement if elected.

Walk On

Please let this be the last time we have to listen to Bono during the election campaign. I like the man's music and I loved his speech at the leadership convention in '03 but, for the love of God, I am sick and tired of hearing about his relationship with Paul.

Bono has no place in the politics section of any Canadian newspaper (unless he starts dating Belinda Stronach).

Gaffe Away

Rev Mod’s Gaffe contest is back. For those who weren’t in on the fun during the 2004, you predict the number of “gaffes” the parties will make. With the current crop of leaders in Ottawa, I suspect we’ll see some high scores this time around.

So I encourage everyone to check it out and enter. It’s a way to add a bit of fun to what figures to be a dirty, dirty campaign.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Election Strategery: The Bloc

Ealier this week I previewed the NDP campaign. Today, I'll look at the Bloc. Keep in mind that a Calgarian isn't likely the best person to preview the BQ so the analysis might be a tad superficial. I know a lot of the usual suspects in the comments section are familiar with the Quebec situation so I'd invite them to add their two cents on the upcoming battle.


The 2004 Campaign: Popular opinion in 2003 was that the BQ was on death's door and that Paul would sweep across the province as part of his 200 seat rout. Then Adscam arrived, like mana from heaven. Duceppe had an easy ride during the campaign and drew very positive reviews outside Quebec from his performance in the debates.

The Result: 54 seats, tying a BQ record, and 49% of the vote.

Since Then: The BQ have been itching for an election since the Brault bombshell. They've been used as convenient targets by both the Liberals and Conservatives ("The Liberals are working with the Bloc!" "The Tories and BQ are in bed!") but their popularity in La Belle Province has never been higher. It's no wonder that Gilles Duceppe turned down a chance to become PQ leader.

The Leader: The aforementioned Gilles Duceppe is the elder statesman of the current party leaders. After a tough 2000 campaign, Duceppe's popularity has grown, both in Quebec, and in the ROC.

The Team: The BQ have been recruiting more and more ethnic candidates to try and broaden their appeal. They have a haitian lady running against Pierre Pettigrew, no doubt to try and counteract the Michaelle Jean effect.

Unofficial Slogan: "Maudit Libéraux!"

Campaign Song: "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do"

The Issue: Adscam and nothing but. Keep André Boisclair out of sight and downplay separatism. Just recycle the 2004 campaign book and Duceppe will be fine.

Other Advice: This one looks like an slam dunk so it's hard to see Duceppe messing up. Because of that, I can only offer four pieces of advice:

1. Avoid hairnets at all cost
2. Make sure there is always a microphone in front of Jean Lapierre
2. Don't kill any puppies in public
3. Do cocaine during the campaign. Quebecers dig that in their leaders.

Prediction: The BQ won't lose any ground and Pettigrew, Frulla, and maybe even Jean Lapierre could be major killings for them this campaign. I'd say 55 to 60 seats seems like a reasonable prediction.

King Ralph

The media has had a fun time with Ralph Klein's prediction of a Liberal minority government. The general consensus is that this is bad news for Harper and that it may be part of the long simmering feud between the two men.

I'm not so sure. The more distance the CPC can get between Harper and Klein, the better off they are. So, if anything, this might actually be a good thing for Stephen Harper.

Of course, I did come across another one of Ralph's old predictions here:

Premier Ralph Klein predicts Edmonton will roundly stomp Montreal 32-19.

That was in reference to the 2003 Grey Cup. The final score of that game?

Edmonton 34
Montreal 22

Not bad Ralph. Let's see how close you are to the mark this time...

Canadian Blog Awards

While I'm a little bitter Robert has thrust a holiday campaign on us all, the Canadian blog awards are up and running again.

This blog is nominated for:

Best Blog
Best Progressive Blog
Best Post
Best Post Series

While I have made fun of people who stack internet polls in the past, I'm a Liberal so I feel I have a right to be somewhat hypocritical at times, and I therefore encourage everyone to go vote for this blog. Mainly out of pity, if nothing else - being a Calgary Liberal means I've worked on very, very few winning campaigns over the years.

You can vote once a day for the next week at which time the top five finalists in each category will be announced.

Ignatieff Running

I just got back from the University of Calgary Liberal Association's Death by Chocolate fundraiser. Michael Ignatieff was the guest speaker and he took to opportunity to announce that he would be running for the Liberals in the upcoming federal election. He didn't say which seat he had his sights set on and, last I'd heard, the party still hadn't found anything for him, but he seemed pretty sure of it. So take it for what it's worth.

I'll throw a full recap up tomorrow.

UPDATE: I got an e-mail from someone who tells me that the Toronto Centre riding association has called a "very important" board meeting for Monday. This might just be for election preparation, or it might be because of those long time rumours that Bill Graham will step aside to let Ignatieff run in his seat.

UPDATE...err...RECAP: I figured I'd keep all the Ignatieff stuff in one post, so here's my quick recap of the event itself:

Good crowd (around 100 people) and most people I talked to were looking forward to the campaign, even though Calgary is a wasteland. As for Ignatieff himself, he's still got that Dalton McGuinty speaking style and he's certainly more of a polished politician than Ken Dryden (who they had at the event last year). He worked the room andhad some meetings with local Liberals earlier in the day (or so I hear...) which tells me there's a bigger plan in the works than being a humble backbench MP for Toronto Centre.

Content-wise, it was probably less critical of Martin than his Liberal convention address but still had more of an academic than a political feel to it (for starters, it was long). National Unity, as always, was his major theme and he emphasized having a strong federal government that treats all Canadians equally (hear hear!). This guy's best shot at becoming Liberal leader is definitely for a Liberal leadership campaign to fall during the build-up to a third Quebec referendum.

Speaking of which, he went after André Boisclair a bit and gave a few strong arguments against separatism - mainly economic but a few on "identity" as well.

All in all, a strong speech. I'm glad he's running for the Liberals. It's premature to talk about him for leadership until he's had some experience in Ottawa, but he'll be a nice addition to the Liberal benches.

Mid-Week News

1. The Conservatives have unveiled their confidence motion. The Globe story says this will mark the first time in over 100 years that a government will fall on an outright non-confidence motion, but I'm fairly sure Diefenbaker went down on a non-confidence motion in '63. To the best of my knowledge that's the only other explicit non-confidence motion to ever bring down a government so at least Paul is living up to his promise about "Making History":
"That the House condemns the government for its arrogance in refusing to compromise with the opposition parties over the timing of the next general election and for its 'culture of entitlement,' corruption, scandal, and gross abuse of public funds for political purposes and, consequently, the government no longer has the confidence of the House."

2. Although the recent...uhh...roman orgy of spending has clearly been prematurely brought on by the upcoming election, for once I'm tempted to agree with the official Liberal position. The fact is, the Liberals aren't pulling these announcements out of thin air - these are all policies that have been in the works for a while.

Were these policies written to win vote? Probably. Should they have been completed sooner? Maybe. Are they being rushed? Likely. Do I find it humorous that every Cabinet Minister on the news last night said their announcement had been "in the works six months"? Hell yeah! (apparently the whole government only started working the day Belinda crossed)

But it's a little unfair to say the Liberals are making up spending announcements on the fly to win votes.

3. Star Candidates: Marc Garneau and Allan Cutler will be running for the Liberals and Conservatives. I'm not sure either will win, but they certainly will help. Cutler, especially, is huge because he'll be able to keep the sponsorship issue alive.

4. It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of David Herle. But when everyone else is knocking the guy, there's not a lot else I can add. There are only three reasons I can see for not tendering the contract they gave to him:

1. The Liberals rushed the mini budget, out of fear the government was going to collapse.
2. It was an example of PMPM rewarding his friends on the government purse.
3. David Herle is the greatest pollster ever! And no one else could have come up with as good data as he did!!! The brilliance! The insight! The bang-on analysis!

Regardless, it looks fairly unethical. I really hope Paul decides to call an inquiry into this. "Come hell or high water" and all that nonsense about "getting to the bottom of it"...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool can't get fooled again

1. It looks like Paul is itching for another wrongful dismissal suit:
"I don't have confidence in him to chair the board of Via Rail," Transport Minister Jean Lapierre said Tuesday following a cabinet meeting.

Or...Lapierre won't have confidence in Pelletier after he gets proper notice. My head is just spinning with all the delayed confidence motions we're seeing in Ottawa these days.

I'll be very curious to see if the voters of Outremont have confidence in Mr. Lapierre following the next election...

2. On a similar note, when did Scott Brison go from bright political star to buffoon? Every day, it's a new mishap with him. A few months ago Brison was seen as a rising star in the Liberal party and one of Paul's best Cabinet Ministers. These days? Uhh...not so much.

3. Dan McTeague wants 50 cent to be banned from Canada. Personally, I'd like to see Dan McTeague banned from Canada.

4. Just so that I don't throw up four anti-Liberal points tonight, what exactly would people like Paul Martin to do on the softwood lumber file? More specifically, what would a Stephen Harper government do that the Liberals haven't done? And please don't tell me this is payback for anti-Americanism in the Liberal Party because I don't buy it.

Here's my prediction:

Today: Opposition leaders blame Liberals for not helping workers hurt by softwood tariffs.
Friday: Opposition leaders attack Liberals for "buying votes" with their aid package for workers hurt by softwood tariffs.

Martin on Martin

I was just watching PrimeTime Politics with Peter Van Dusen and he had a panel of MPs on. Although Monte Solberg was on the panel, the line of the night belonged to the NDP's Pat Martin. Check that. That should read, "the line of the year". I really don't know what to say so I'll just post what he said:

In response to a question about the recent Liberal spending spree
"(This recent spending) is like a Roman orgy. With the tightened election timetable, it's a Roman orgy with a premature ejaculation."

I'm speechless.

Election Strategery: The NDP

With an election around the corner, I'll be previewing the election on a party by party basis this week. Specifically, what I feel the key tactics for each of the major parties (and the NDP) should be.

Today, we start off with those lovable losers, the New Democrats.


The 2004 Campaign: Layton made some major gaffes early when he blamed Paul Martin for killing homeless people and mused that he'd tear up the Clarity Act (as an aside: even PMPM is on the Clarity bandwagon these days). Layton was accused by many of being too "chippy" in the debates and not appearing prime ministerial enough. Despite all this, his party found itself near 20% in the polls heading into the last weekend of the campaign. Then, NDP voters jumped in droves to the Liberals to "Stop Harper".

The Result: 19 Seats, 16% of the popular vote, and Layton barely beat Dennis Mills to win his own seat.

Since Then: Ask anyone, and they'll admit the Dippers have been the big winners of this Parliament. Layton has shown everyone that it's not size that matters, it's how you use it. Despite only 19 seats (now 18), he forced the Liberals to re-write their budget to suit his liking and is now controlling the timing of the next election. In addition, he's allowed the Tories to play "bad Cop" on Adscam, while he talks about the issues and "making Parliament work". He's looked like a Statesman, and has been consistently at 20% in the polls.

The Leader: Jack Layton. He's certainly the most highly respected of the three federalist chiefs. He's had a lot to learn during his time in Ottawa and seems to have come a long way over the past two years. He'd jumped straight from A-ball to the majors before the last election so he should perform better this time with the experience of 2004 under his belt.

The Team: Ed Broadbent won't be running again. And Bev Desjarlais in gone after losing her nomination (likely over her opposition to equal marriage). Apparently the NDP have actually recruited a few candidates with banking and/or economics backgrounds which is a small miracle in itself.

Unofficial Slogan: "Have you seen the other guys?"

Campaign Song: Nelly Furtado's Powerless.

The Issue: Jack used private health care to distance himself from the Liberals. This is a risky strategy since voters tend to flock to the Liberals when health care becomes the issue. Of course, if Jack can paint the Liberals and Tories with the same brush, it could be a winner.

Key Strategy: Above all else, the goal of the NDP this election should be to prevent their voters from bleeding to the Liberals in a "Stop Harper" movement. I did a rough calculation after the last election and the late rush to the Liberals likely cost the NDP around 13 seats. Because of this, Layton needs to bite his tongue and play nice with Stephen. Make it known that he could work with the Conservatives in a minority situation. Let it slip that you like Harper's ethics package and would back it. And, above all else, don't play into Martin's hands when the talk of private health care, abortion, and minority rights is brought up. I know the NDP is in a lot of tight races with the Tories, but voters on the ground don't realize this. So, when they want to stop Harper, they'll vote Liberal even if they're in a Tory/NDP riding where the Liberals have no chance in hell of winning.

Other Advice:
1. Don't forget the corruption issue.
2. Emphasize how your party tried to "make parliament work".
3. Look statesmanlike during debates. From all indication, there could be four debates this time, and with fewer candidates going door to door in the cold, the national campaign will take on greater importance.
4. Be frank about your prospects - you aren't going to win and everybody knows this. Be blunt about wanting to be the balance of power.
5. Watch out for the Green Party.

Prediction: I'll go into specific seat predictions later, but it's safe to say the NDP will finish somewhere from 20 to 30 seats. Expect some gains in Saskatchewan and BC.

Monday, November 21, 2005

In the News

It's been a busy couple of days here with the Orchard tip making Bourque, and then Kinsella saying some nice things about this blog and linking to the Brison post. Of course, this creates some pressure to put up fresh content. I'm a little busy right now so I'll just throw up a few news stories, but tonight I'll be starting my election preview series by looking at the NDP.

1. Speaking of Brison, he's been forced to do the Pierre Pettigrew walk of shame and apologize for several false statements he's made about Stephen Harper over the past week.

2. I'm a little sad that Jean Lapierre wasn't the one sent out to make this statement, but I'm glad Paul is showing the guts to come down strongly on the side of the Clarity Act. It's about time. I'm also starting to suspect André Boisclair is going to be really fun to write about over the next few years. I'm talking "Jean Lapierre" or "Joe Volpe" fun here.

3. Here's a headline that the Conservatives will not be glad to see: "Klein, Harper discuss private health care". I tend to think "Stephen Harper eats cute baby" would hurt them less than a rehash of the "hidden Ralph Klein agenda" talk.

4. And just because I never say anything nice about him, this seems like a very nice gesture on Ralph Klein's part. And because it is such a nice gesture, I won't even comment on how to some it might look like a cynical political ploy.

5. Paul Wells comes up with another brilliant one-liner!

UPDATE: Here's another news story from "world of weird" file, if anyone is looking for a break from the political talk.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Reptilian Kitten Eater

Scott Brison has tipped the Liberal hand on what their campaign strategy will be. First of all, let me just say that it's refreshing to see David Herle come up with such a fresh and ingenious series of tactics. And, I must say I was shocked that it was Scott Brison who was sent out to call Harper anti-gay. Stay tuned for next week when Liza Frulla accuses Harper of hating women, Joe Volpe accuses Harper being racist towards Italians, and Ken Dryden claims Stephen Harper hates hockey.

As for what exactly Brison said, here's the money quote:

Harper has consistently found himself at odds with such core Canadian values as multiculturalism, bilingualism, publicly funded health care and the Charter of Rights and Freedom, Brison said.

"During the great debates around those issues...people like Stephen Harper consistently stood four-square against the types of policies that built the Canada we love,'' said Brison.

"As head of the National Citizens Coalition, Mr. Harper (and) his organization, held positions that were contrary to publicly funded health care, that were contrary to bilingualism and the charter, and to multiculturalism.''

Hear, hear Scott. I couldn't agree more. I think anyone who expresses views that go against Canadian multiculturalism has no place in Ottawa.

I think it would be a travesty if a Cabinet was assembled that might include people who are anti-Quebec and felt that Adscam was just "how business was done in Quebec".

And I would certain hope that Canadians would turn away from a party whose members have advocated against Same Sex Marriage.

As for the attacks against Harper being in favour of privatized health care, there may be some truth there. Just take a look at these quotes:

Roy Romanow was supposed to provide advice on how to change and create a more sustainable health care system in Canada. Instead, he clings to the belief that more money and an ideologically rigid opposition to private components in health care is the panacea – the universal solution.”
(Press Release, November 29, 2002)

"Whether for political or ideological reasons, Mr. Romanow refused to acknowledge private-sector involvement, quite possibly to the detriment of Canada's health-care system."
(Globe and Mail, November 29, 2002)

"If you want to gut the Canadian public health care system, the best way to do it is to… prevent any level of private participation in the Canadian system."(Hansard, December 10, 2002)

There's only one problem. Those quotes aren't things Stephen Harper said. They were said by a certain MP from Kings-Hants.

Note to David Herle: If you're going to send out an MP to accuse Harper of being against public health care, make sure the MP who is doing it doesn't support the privatization of the health care system.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Big Red Orchard

I have it on very good authority from a contact in Regina that the Liberals are in talks with David Orchard about running as a candidate for them in the upcoming election. There's no signed deal on a napkin yet, but it does seem like a serious possibility.

I presume most of Orchard's followers have already left the CPC so this wouldn't be a devastating loss for the Conservatives, but it would still be quite the catch for Paul, all things considered.


This is what happens when you try to make brash decisions based on accusations which are...well...insane.

I don't know if firing Pelletier was about political pay-back, or about scoring cheap political points, but it was clearly done for the wrong reasons.


Apparently the Tories are considering a plan to cut the GST by 2%. Very interesting...

Chretien's pollster, Michael Marzolini, has been crusading for this idea for years, and I presume he's got some polling number to back him up on it. While I don't really think it's a good idea for the government to kiss away such a large source of revenue, but it's hard to see how this wouldn't be a winning strategy politically. Everyone hates the GST, it would counter the Solberg budget, and it would remind people of Martin's flip-flop on the GST way back when (not that anyone really cares about that in my opinion...). Plus, it would be the kind of constructive policy the Tories could hold up as proof that they're not just campaigning against corruption.

On the flip side, it could make balancing the books very difficult if they do win, but I suspect that's a problem the Conservatives wouldn't mind finding themselves with, after twelve years in opposition.

Polls, Polls, Polls, Pennies, Predictions

1. Polls: The last few polls have shown a surprising degree of consistency.

SES: Lib 34% Con 28% Ndp 20%
Pollara: Lib 36% Con 28% Ndp 20% Bq 11%
Decima: Lib 33% Con 26% Ndp 22% Bq 13%
Ipsos: Lib 36%, Con 27%, NDP 16%, BQ 13%

In all cases, the Liberals have a 6 to 9% lead. However, this is a similar situation to where the Grits found themselves during the lead-up to the 2004 election. End result? It's still too close to call.

2. Polls II: The National Post has the results from a poll that shows that the whole notion of Canadians not wanting a Christmas campaign is a little overblown. Obviously if you ask people if they'd prefer a spring campaign versus a winter election, they'll say they'd prefer a spring campaign. If you ask me if I'd rather go to the dentist in January, or in April, I'd prefer the later date, even though I know I should get a cleaning. I can't for the life of me imagine anyone, in all of Canada, changing their vote because somebody forced a campaign over Christmas.

3. Polls III: While the Ipsos poll shows the Liberals well in front, they have some rather worrisome "bonus question" results:

39% say they would be comfortable voting for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives because there will be a minority government to keep them in check
35% say they would be comfortable voting for Paul Martin and the Liberals because they will have learned their lesson from Gomery
26% feel the tax plan was a good idea and makes them more likely to vote Liberal
43% of British Columbia residents say they would never consider voting for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in the next federal election
70% feel the Liberal tax cut plan is just an attempt to buy votes and it won't influence them
78% say an election over the holidays won't affect their party vote

4. Pennies: Finally, a smart move from the Board. It baffled me why the Liberals didn't make the economy their issue during the last campaign. Things are going very well in Canada, and Paul Martin has had a very big hand in making things go very well over the past twelve years. This should definitely be the theme for the Liberal election campaign.

5. Predictions: There is absolutely no way this will happen. Notta. Nope. Nein. Non. Nu-uh. One week from now, the Tories can bring down the government on a harshly worded motion on corruption. If they vote down Liberal tax cuts, they'd be forced to campaign against popular tax cuts, instead of against corruption. This one seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me, but maybe someone out there can explain the logic.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Elections? We Don't Need No Stinking Elections!

For the second time, our sources in the PMO have leaked Paul's Sunday radio address to the nation. I've re-transcribed it here:

"My fellow Canadians,'s cold outside. And if you think it's cold now, just wait until February. I know I'll want to spend my February curled up on the couch watching Olympic Ice Dancing with Sheila, not fear mongering against Stephen Harper door to door.

Polls have consistently shown that Canadians do not want a winter election and I have never been one to disagree with polls. Because of this, I will not be recognizing the NDP motion for a February election. I refuse to play politics when this government has such a full agenda to implement (pause for laughter).

But seriously. I have also been looking over the calendar and I have decided I will not be calling an election 30 days after Judge Gomery's first report as originally promised. This would lead us to an Easter campaign that would certainly offend Christians. A delay to June was considered but this would conflict with Father's Day. Speaking of which, did I mention that I used to come to Parliament Hill when my dad was an MP? He was a great Cabinet Minister who cared deeply for Canada. Je t'aime papa. (wipe a single tear from right eye here)

But I digress. No one wants to go to the polls during the summer or when school is starting in the fall. After that, we're into Yom Kippur. And since winter pretty much runs from October to April in Canada and Canadians do not want a winter election, those months are out.

There is really only one alternative; we will not have an election while I remain Prime Minister. The June 2004 election was the most important ever and, because of this, I believe its results should stand. Let me be perfectly clear: I am not canceling elections forever, only for my duration as Prime Minister. I am fully committed to a return to elections once my successor is chosen, especially if that successor is John Manley or Martin Cauchon.

I came to Ottawa promising to cure the democratic deficit come hell or high water. The largest abuses of democracy occur during elections. Therefore, I cannot think of a better way to fight the democratic deficit than to cease the holding of elections. Only by ending elections will we truly cease the playing of political games that plague our democracy.

Thank you. And enjoy your Sunday."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ignatieff Heads West

For a lowly University professor, the guy sure does get around. I've had several readers e-mail in Michael Ignatieff sightings which I thought I'd pass on.

1. A few weekends back, he hit the Saskatchewan Liberal Party convention.

2. He was speaking in Toronto earlier this week, on Canada-US relations.

3. Next week, he will be doing a youth fundraiser in Calgary. Mostly out of curiosity, I've already bought my ticket.

4. Rumour has it that he'll be hitting the federal Liberal convention in British Columbia Grey Cup weekend.

While I think it's a little premature to talk about him for leadership (even Trudeau made a name for himself in Justice first), I do hope he decides to run at some point since he would certainly bring a lot to Parliament.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Boisclair Sniffs Victory

Andre Boisclair has come out on top of the PQ leadership race. I must say that I'm extremely glad to see this, not just because Boisclair is a terrible politician, but mainly because it's going to lead to oh so many cocaine jokes.

That aside, with the PQ doing well in the polls, I imagine Boiclair is on quite the high right now. He also managed to get off the best line of the night while accepting the win: "This is a great step on the road to an independent Quebec."

(OK, OK. It's not a great line, and I just made it up so Boisclair may not have even said it, but I wanted to use the "line" pun and none of the news stories have quotes of his up yet)

23 + 5

I don't usually do these memes, but Cerberus tagged me so I figured I'd give it a go. The rules are:

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five people to do the same.

My 23rd post was on the very entertaining Vote Out Anders website (hopefully the guys will give it a go this election again). Unfortunately, it was only a four sentence post, so I'll reproduce the fourth line here:

But Anders is a guy who definitely brings down the collective IQ of Parliament.

The five blogs I'll tag are:
Political Staples (since the guy needs a break from posting polling data)
Sinister Thoughts
Hacks & Wonks
On The Fence

Back In Ralph's World...

...just so I don't completely ignore the provincial scene, I should mention that today is a special day in Alberta. Special because it marks one of the handful of days in the year when Ralph Klein puts on the facade of democracy and allows the legislature to sit.

Yes, the Leg is back! With all the talk about federal politics, it's easy to overlook Klein's jam packed legacy agenda. In addition to the 400$ rebates (so popular that federal Ralph stole the idea), the PCs are set to legislate on...umm...a ban on criminal memorabilia? That was seriously one of three bills mentioned in the Post article.

In Chretien's last year, we got Kyoto, gay marriage, pot decrim, and a decision on Iraq. Agree or disagree, at least his "lame duck" period was a time of action. It's beyond me why Klein wants to stick around if this is the best he can do.

The Solberg Budget

Upon reflecting on Goodale's budget, I'm beginning to wonder if he's suffering from a multiple personality disorder.

I mean, last February, we had the Goodale budget. Then, in May, we got the Jack Layton budget with NDP spending galore.

Now, Ralph gives us the third budget in less than a year chalk full of tax cuts. Because of this, from now on, this blog will refer to it as the Solberg budget. Basically, we got the same budget Minister of Finance Monte Solberg would have delivered under a Tory government (minus the military spending).

So I'll open up the question to a vote: Of the three, which one is your favourite budget? Or are you holding out hope for the Duceppe budget this March?

Monday, November 14, 2005

The guy I'm really looking for, wink, is Mr. Bribe, wink, wink

I'm really not a big fan of tax cuts so Ralph's budget economic update doesn't have me exceedingly thrilled. I also find it odd that Harper's 18 billion dollar tax cut package was attacked as a recipe for deficit last campaign and now Goodale is ready to dish out 30 billion in tax breaks.

That said, this is definitely a budget that will appeal to a lot of voters out there and it gives the Liberals some substance to campaign on. It's also very good news for the NDP who will be able to play up the "Liberals and Conservatives: different logo, same party" angle.

UPDATE: The tax proposals contain a retroactive tax cut for 2005. Very clever indeed. Now the Liberals can go around saying that forcing the early election will cost each and every Canadian 325$. Say what you want about them, but when it comes to winning elections, no one does it better than the big red machine.

Oh, and just so I don't sound completely negative, there is 2.75 billion for post-secondary education and 3.5 billion for job training in the package which I think is money well spent. I'm still not big on the tax cuts though...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

If You Don't Like The Weather...

The saying here in Calgary is "if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes". Given the past week, I think Ottawa should adopt "if you don't like the election speculation, wait 15 minutes".

We've seen so many possible election dates bandied around over the past week, that's it's almost become futile to speculate on them. The latest rumour has the Tories set to topple the Liberals this Tuesday. The Tories are suggesting a December 21st election (Wednesday?), but you have to realistically think that would set up an early January vote.

What will happen? I'm all "speculated out" at this point so I have no clue. It's safe to say this Parliament will die before Christmas, it's just a matter of when.

UPDATE: Well, this seems like a fairly reasonable plan of action. Take the next week to frame the choice as a February vote or a Christmas campaign and then, when Martin refuses to give in, pull the plug the week of the 21st.

SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE: The Liberals have rejected the proposal...again. One therefore imagines things will unfold as follows:
1. NDP motion is passed this Tuesday.
2. A week of posturing over who is to blame for the Christmas campaign.
3. The government is defeated on a Conservative non-confidence motion on Tuesday, November 22nd. I imagine the Liberals will want as long as campaign as possible, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them push the election day all the way back to January 16th or 23rd.

Mind you, this is all assuming Tony Valeri doesn't have some fun with the procedural calendar...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Friday Night Election Buzz

A few things making news this weekend...

1. Deborah Coyne has announced she will be running against Jack Layton in the upcoming election. Coyne was one of Clyde Wells' key advisors during the Meech Lake saga and I would love to see her tag team with Jean Lapierre on the National Unity file following the next election. Let me just say that it's extremelly refreshing to see someone with a little Trudeau in them running for the Liberals.

2. Speaking of nominations, everyone's favourite nominations blog is back. Check by Nomination Watch to see who the major parties have coerced into giving up their Christmas to campaign. Now someone just needs to get Election Watch going again...

3. Decima has a new poll out: 33-30 Liberals. This is a lot more discouraging for the Grits than the Leger poll released yesterday that had them up by 8, even though both polls were conducted at around the same time. This poll, showing that Canadians do not trust the federal government, shows that the pottential is there for any politician who can build trust.

4. Boy, you'd have to be a real political dofus to consider this.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thursday Evening Election Speculation

It seems a day doesn't go by anymore without a few new twists and turns. Among today's developments:

1. The Conservatives will use their opposition day to introduce a motion calling on the House to re-resume on January 4th, on an opposition day. I think most people can figure out what they'd use that opposition day for.

I'm not sure how this really differs from Layton's proposal, but it should give them some extra amo to launch Martin's way when it comes time to blame someone for a Christmas campaign.

2. Monte Solberg is trying to block Ralph Goodale from delivering his mini-budget to the Finance committee. I know Ralph is boring, but this seems a little excessive to me.

This is a fairly pointless stunt since Goodale will just deliver his update from across the street to reporters if he's blocked from doing so in committee. And it makes the Tories look somewhat petty.

3. Paul Martin says he won't "play politics". Riiiiight.

4. Listening to Bill Blaikie on Politics today made it sound like the opposition parties will simply use their next free opposition day after the 24th to bring down the government if the Liberals refuse to accept Layton's compromise.

5. These guys sure do make an interesting foursome, eh?

Wednesday Night Election Speculation

The Liberals will turn their fiscal update into a mini-budget on Monday, chalk full of tax cuts. While I'm not too big on this idea myself and it completely contradicts everything Martin said during the last election, it's a smart play to remove the tax cut issue from the CPC. It worked in 2000 after all.

Regardless, this clearly shows the Liberals are worried. Every rumour we've heard over the past month has said that Goodale's update would only be turned into a mini-budget if the Liberals thought they'd fall. With the realization that they might not get a full fledged budget in February, as originally planed, the timeline had to be moved up.

As for Layton's gambit, it's now going to be an all out spin war for the next two weeks. The Liberals will try to convince the Canadian population that this is a meaningless resolution, forcing the opposition into the tough choice between a Christmas campaign they'll be blamed for, or a vote on Martin's timeline. The opposition will try to convince Canadians that this is a reasonable compromise and expresses the will of Parliament. If they do this, Martin will either have to go along with their plan, or be seen as power hungry, and he will be the one to shoulder the blame if the opposition brings the government down before the holidays.

Who will win this spin war? Well, after seeing the Liberal talking points on this, it should be obvious. I know they put these together on short notice but these are the worst...talking points...ever.

Jack Layton’s Muddled Election Proposal
· On November 9, 2005, Jack Layton said he will be proposing a motion on November 24 that would "call for an election to be called in early January for a voting day in mid-February."

· Mr. Layton's proposal is as clear as mud. He isn't saying what he's proposing. There is no wording to react to. It doesn't speak to the constitutional obligation of the Governor-General to seek her advice regarding elections from the Prime Minister alone. Ultimately, it's not an action, it's an inaction.
· Mr. Layton's proposal was immediately dismissed by Ned Franks, one of the nation's foremost parliamentary and constitutional experts.
· Even Mr. Layton seems confused: he himself said that the NDP would have to have "precise discussions with the other parties as to how [such a motion] can be done."
· Maybe the NDP and the other opposition parties will let us know what they're up to when they figure it out for themselves.
· This much is certain: It's hard to see how any leader or party can be taken seriously when proposing to vote confidence with the government on the spending estimates and then asking the government to call an election on the opposition's schedule.
· We'll let Jack Layton, Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe explain - or at least try to explain -what they're doing. In the meantime, the prime minister will continue to focus on getting things done: like creating good jobs, cutting taxes for the middle class, standing up to the Americans over softwood lumber and cutting wait times for patients in our public health care system.

Wow. Did anybody else read about four different ways of saying "I have no f'ing clue what's going on?" in there? The fact of the matter is, the Liberal story all along has been "let Gomery report". Layton's proposal will lead to a vote after Gomery reports. Since the Liberals can't publicly say "let Gomery report...and give the electorate two months to forget about his report" or "let Gomery report...and let Goodale bring in a budget", it's beyond me how they can hope to convince Canadians of the need to wait.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Clever Compromise

Jack Layton is now the man with the plan. Jack has announced the NDP will be proposing a motion on their opposition day for an early January election call, triggering a February vote.

Before everyone jumps in with their opinion on this, I'm going on record to say this plan is extremelly clever and it will work.

I still think Harper blew a golden chance by not going straight for the jugular, but Layton's timing works well for the opposition parties for several reasons:

1. It moves the vote up nearly two months, limiting the dissipating of Adscam anger.
2. They won't get blamed for triggering a Christmas election.
3. They won't get blamed for disrupting Paul's agenda.
4. The vote will likely be timed to be within a week or two of Gomery's second report. Although that report won't be damning, it will remind people of Adscam, giving the issue life down the homestretch of the campaign.
5. This will also prevent Martin from saying "why don't we wait for Gomery" - because the final report will be out by the time the vote occurs.
6. Most importantly, it won't allow Goodale to bring forward a budget before the vote.

Because Layton is framing it as a choice between an election over Christmas and a vote in February, I suspect most Canadians will see it as a reasonable compromise. And, because of that, it will be very difficult for Martin not to go along with it. Since the motion Layton will introduce on the 24th won't be an explicit non-confidence motion, I suspect the vote won't be binding. But will all the media attention that's sure to follow the vote, Martin really won't have an option but to accept it. And, if by some chance, he refuses to accept the vote, the stage would be set for the opposition parties to bring down the government on December 8th, or on their next opposition day, with all the blame resting squarely on Paul's shoulders.

While election speculation has been changing on an almost nightly basis over the past week, I'm fairly confident to say that we're heading towards a February vote. I really can't see this plan not being put into effect.

Signing Off

Andrew, at Bound by Gravity, is signing off the air, closing down his blog.

This was really disappointing to see. Since I first stumbled across Bound by Gravity, it's been a blog I've made sure to check out on a daily basis. In my opinion, Andrew has been one of the most fair and balanced Tory bloggers on the net, and I always enjoyed reading his take on the news.

Luckily, Canconv will live on. But Bound by Gravity will be very much missed.

Your Nightly Election Speculation

Developments for Tuesday, November 8th:

Top News

1. Stephen Harper is undecided as to how he will vote on the December 8th spending estimates, a confidence vote.

2. Jack, however, has said he will vote against the spending estimates on the 8th. Huh? So now the NDP is against the Liberal budget and the Tories are for it? Odd times...

3. Harper, as of now, does not intend to introduce a non-confidence motion on the November 15h opposition day, but says his motion will be "interesting". I personally can't see Stephen Harper ever doing anything "interesting" in his lifetime, but maybe he'll surprise me.

4. Gilles Duceppe has said he won't introduce a non-confidence motion, saying it's up to the federalist parties to do so, and he will join them on it when they do.


1. My Blahg has the funniest picture you'll see this week.

2. Stephen Taylor breaks down the latest polling numbers.

3. Monte Solberg rants about the current situation.

Key Dates

The first Tory opposition day is November 15th. The Bloc has one the 17th and the NDP has one the 24th. The spending estimates come to a vote on December 8th.


-I imagine Ralph Goodale is busy beefing up his economic update this week.

-A lot of people seem to think we might wait until the 8th for the non-confidence vote but, for the life of me, I can't see why the opposition parties would want to bring down the government on spending estimates when they could do it on a harshly worded non-confidence motion. I tend to think all signs are pointing to the NDP introducing a non-confidence motion on the 24th. That would likely leave us on track for a vote on January 7th or 16th, assuming a break from the campaign over the holidays.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It's French, bitch!

The Colbert Report has come to Canada!

Stephen had a great commentary on Canada last night that everyone should take a look at. Follow the link and click on the "hoser" video.

On a similar note, Monday Report resumes tonight...on...err...Tuesday.


Allan Gregg has another poll out and the Liberals are back up to their usual 35-28 lead (with the NDP down to 16, which may give Layton pause).

Despite this, I think Harper and Layton still need to go. Unless the economy really takes a sharp downturn, there is no way things will get any better for them than they are now.

The numbers are still extremelly unstable (the Greens are at 8% which is a sign of that) and the rulling party always falls during a campaign. Give the Liberals 3 months and a budget and things will solidy.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Free Advice

Dear Stephen,

Given that Tom Flanagan and your other strategists are prone to telling you things like “maybe we should hold a victory march down central Alberta to wrap up the election”, I thought you could use a little free advice. And here it is:


Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. None of this wimpy “wait for Jack” nonsense. One of the reasons people have soured on Paul is his “Mr.Dithers” label. Don’t look desperate, but you should stand up November 14th and announce that you cannot support the Liberals in light of the Gomery Report – toss a non-confidence motion out there and force Jack’s hand.

Martin has always had a cut-throat mentality – he forced out a three term PM, cancelled opposition days, enticed MPs across the floor; and no one cared. Chretien and Mulroney always went for the jugular and won five majorities between them. The Liberals forced down Joe Clark over Christmas in 1979 without a leader (admittedly, this probably left them in a better position than the current CPC) and weren’t punished for it. If you want to be the nation’s leader, then lead.

I just need to emphasize that THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE. Canadians don’t like you. They don’t want you as Prime Minister. Your only chance is to ride the Adscam wave to a victory and then govern well once in power. Come March, people will have forgotten about this and Goodale will have a budget out with juicy tax cuts.

You have to go now. Yes, you’ll have to release moderate, appealing policies, but you have to make government ethics and waste the theme. The reform package you released on Friday is brilliant. Sheer brilliance. It’s constructive and yet attacks the Liberals on a wide range of ethics issues, beyond Adscam. It’s also something you could get passed if elected, because the NDP and Bloc would support it.

So force an election over Christmas and hammer away at Liberal corruption. Launch vicious attack adds with media clips from various Liberal scandals and let the images talk for themselves. You might not win, but this is your best chance and if you give people four months for forget about Gomery, your political career will be toast.


Calgary Grit

PS: Burn your cowboy outfit

Dithers No More

Well, that was actually fairly quick - and probably smart of Jack to wait until Monday so that he could control the news cycle.

Ladies and gentlemen, we could very well be into an election campaign in 9 days time. The ball is now in Harper's court - I'll have more on this tonight, but baring a drop in the polling numbers for the CPC over the next week, it might very well be game on (although I can see the logic behind waiting until later this month to pull the plug).

UPDATE: Harper, obviously feeling burned by last spring, has said he won't introduce a non-confidence motion but, as Andrew Spicer points out in the comments bellow, Harper has said he might give Layton his November 15th opposition day (huh?). I have no idea if he's allowed to do this but, if this Parliament has been going for anything, it has been to put obscure parliamentary procedural rules into the limelight. If they work out some sort of deal, the government would fall on the 15th - otherwise, I believe the NDP opposition day is scheduled for the 24th. Mind you, as we've seen before, Tony Valeri might have some fun with the calendar, or the polls might improve for the Liberals causing the opposition to back down.

Either way, expect a lot of election speculation over the next week.

Mr. Dithers

The title says it all.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Blue Tide Rising

The full breakdown of the latest Allan Gregg poll is now on-line here.

I'll post more on this in the coming days, but for the time being I'm not as positive that we won't see an election call this year as some people. There are a lot of reasons for the NDP and Conservatives to pull the plug sometime over the next month and very few good reasons for them to wait.


Let me get this straight. Our Governor General is best buddies with an FLQ member and no one cares. She appears in a documentary toasting to Quebec independence and no one cares.

But she cracks a few jokes about Andre Boisclair and suddenly she has crossed the line?

(*CalgaryGrit smacks head against computer desk repeatedly*)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The One Poll That Really Matters

The NDP has a pretty funny poll up on their website that's definitely worth a look.

Taking a cue from the steps others have taken in the past to stack NDP web polls, I'm encouraging everyone to go vote for Grant Mitchell on the final question, in an effort to finally give an Alberta Liberal a victory.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Cause and Effect

Given this:

Liberal 31%
CPC 30%
NDP 19%
BQ 13%

How long before Dosanj caves completely on private health care? I give him about 5 hours.

At this point, Layton could probably get the Liberals to nationalize the banks if they asked for it...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gomery II

For once, I've managed to scoop the Globe & Mail on a PMO leak. Last evening, I received a brown envelope with the transcript of Paul's radio broadcast he will deliver this Sunday. I've re-printed the text bellow:

"My fellow Canadians: We have finally gotten to the bottom of this horrible, horrible scandal, that has shown Canadians how terrible and corrupt the Liberal Party truly is. Let me be perfectly clear: I am mad as hell at what happened and would just like to re-emphasize how terrible this scandal was. But we must remember, this was a Liberal scandal, not a Paul Martin scandal. I'm sure all Canadians can agree it was well worth 80 million taxpayer dollars to see "Martin exonerated!" headlines.

But now is not the time to look back, but to look ahead. China and India are undergoing transformative change, and because of this, in my continuing battle against the democratic deficit I have been consulting day and night with my five Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries responsible for this file. Due to the immense success of the Gomery Inquiry, we have decided to bring back Judge Gomery for a new Public Inquiry. This time, he will investigate Earnscliffe Strategy Group. Especially close attention will be paid to the tendering process used to get government contracts and, in particular, Department of Finance contracts, from 1993 to 2002.

Some, such as Michael Robinson and Elly Alboim, may wonder why I am doing this. So let me be perfectly clear: I have already shown a willingness to publicly air the dirty laundry of my arch nemesis - now I must show that I, Paul Martin, am perfectly clean. A massive media circus inquiry where everyone with a bone to grind will be given immunity, is the only way we can achieve this.

And just as Bernard Roy was the ideal man to prosecute Jean Chretien, I will strongly recommend to Judge Gomery that the lead council for this inquiry be
Mr. Warren Kinsella.

Come hell or high water, we will get to the bottom of this!

Thank you, and enjoy your Sunday."

The Candidate

So Alfonso Gagliano is apparently considering a return to politics. Since he's been banned from the Liberal Party, he would, obviously, be running as an independent.

However, I feel that Gagliano shouldn't stop there. Idependents rarely get election and Gagliano clearly has the resources to start up his own party. I really think it's time Gagliano and the other nine banned Liberals joined together to create their own temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition.

Cracking Jokes

First, Gilles Duceppe boycotts the press gallery dinner because his act has fallen flat in past years and he doesn't enjoy being mocked.

Now, André Boisclair is upset that Michaelle Jean used this year's dinner to crack a joke about him.

Is it just me or does it seem like separatists have no sense of humour, whatsoever?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Judgment Day

7:45 am: I believe this is likely the earliest I've ever posted. But it's a big day and my Liberal friends rejected my idea to throw a "Gomery Party" today. It would have been great! Charades with your favourite Gomery characters, a game of Adscam Clue ( Restaurant Frank...with the brown envelope), and free golf balls in the goodie bags for everyone who attended. So, instead, I'll be blogging throughout the day.

7:49 am: The Globe & Mail has a sneak peak in today's paper - shocking! Who could have seen this coming? Given that PMPM is the only person to have an advance copy of the report, it's safe to assume this leak came from him. And - gasp! The leak makes it sound like Paul got off scott free! And it's all Chretien's fault! Well, I guess we know what the talking points will be today.

7:58 am: The anticipation is growing (since no one in the PMO leaked me the report last night). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get named in the report!

8:18 am: We've just obtained this e-mail, leaked to us by the Board:

Cher Claude,



8:23 am: Here's the report. It's a long one. Remember, if you want to buy that special someone the perfect Christmas gift, it's only 49.95$.

You can find major findings here.

8:29 am: The Blame Game. Here are the relevant paragraphs:

"Mr. Pelletier failed to take the most elementary precautions against mismanagement and Mr. Chretien was responsible for him," the commission chairman wrote.

However, Gomery said there was no evidence that either man was directly involved in Corriveau's "wrongdoing," entitling them "to be exonerated from blame for Mr. Corriveau's misconduct."

Also implicated is former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, "who chose to perpetuate the irregular manner of directing the sponsorship program."

As a result, Martin "is entitled, like other ministers in the Quebec caucus, to be exonerated from any blame for carelessness or misconduct."

The chief channeller of those payments was Guite, who seemed to be operating with little or no supervision from his deputy minister at Public Works and Government Services Canada, Ranald Quail.

"The commission accepts all of Mr. Brault's testimony as credible," Gomery wrote.

8:47 am: Chretien's lawyer, David Scott, has said he'll give Chretien a recommendation to take strong action in response to this report, hinting at legal action. This would definitely keep the story alive well into the next election.

8:49 am: Here's your morning smile. Courtesy of Scott Reid: "No one in the Prime Minister's Office leaked the report to the media last night."

9:06 am: Jack's at the podium! Time for a lecture on the environment and private health care.

9:14 am: Jack sounds annoyed but there's no way he agrees to bring down the government this week. And, no surprise, we get a ton of questions on private health care. "We're here to make Parliament work", "we're listening to Canadians", "we care about making a difference", "let's focus on saving puppies and orphans"...

9:40 am: Harper's at the podium. Nothing we haven't heard from him before. Some people will say he sounds too harsh and angry but, really, in this situation, I can't see any other way for him to sound. He's trying to frame the election as "voters holding the Liberal Party politically accountable".

9:43 am: I'll be taking a break from the updates so that I don't get fired, but I'll be back this afternoon with more reaction from the politicians, news people, and bloggers. Before I break, let me leave you with this thought: If Scott Reid claims the PMO did not leak the report to the press who did? It sounds to me like Scott Reid just implied that Judge Gomery leaked his own report, or a renegade worker at the printing press did (waiting until the report was in the hands of the PM, before he did so).

10:28 am: OK, I lied (call an inquiry), one quick update. I have gotten twelve e-mails from the Liberal Party this morning with various talking points on this report. Eek!

12:45 pm: Alfsonso Gagliano is on the list of ten people who are being banned from the Liberal Party. Interesting...

Oh, and I'm now up to 12 e-mails from the Liberal Party on their response strategy.

2:45 pm: Chretien is about to speak now and one imagines this will be the most interesting press conference of the day. Everybody knew how Martin, Harper, Layton and co. were going to react. I'm not sure anyone can say for certain what Chretien will say. Stay tuned.

3:11 pm: Chretien reminds people that he was the one who started to crack down on this scandal, calling in the AG and RCMP. He then says Gomery was wrong, wrong, wrong and wonders why the Judge would trust certain parts of Guite's testimony when, let's be honest, Chuck Guite is about as credible as Myriam Bedard. And...LAWSUIT!!! That should be interesting.

3:19 pm: "I haven't taken questions in a while so I'm kind of excited to do it again" - here we go!

When asked about the party banning people for life, Chretien gets off the line of the day: "Well, I never knew the party had that power. If I'd known I had that power...well...I might have used it on several occasions. For example, when Monsieur Lapierre left the party to found the Bloc Quebecois, I would have banned him for life." ZING!

3:29 pm: Chretien defends his record ferociously - on Iraq, on campaign finance (and gets a jab at Steve LeDrew in), on Kyoto. "One thing about me is I was always willing to make a decision"...gosh, I wonder where that one is directed?

Chretien is definitely coming across extremely forceful. I suspect a lot of people will be put off, but I'm loving this on sheer entertainment alone.

The reporters are trying to goat him into taking shots at Paul but, by and large, he's resisting. He agrees that Martin knew nothing and shouldn't have known anything.

A lot of shots at Bernard Roy on the bias angle...not surprisingly.

Paul Wells gets the hardest hitting question in - I didn't catch all of it, but I'll be curious to see his opinion on the response he got.

3:47 pm: Apparently Alfonso Gagliano is considering running as an independent in the next election. That would be fun, if nothing else.

4:03 pm: You can follow other bloggers' take on Gomery here.

6:51 pm: OK, here's the full text of Chretien's smack-down on Lapierre:

Reporter: "Today it was announced that some people would be banned from the Liberal party for life. What do you think of banishing someone from a party for life?"

Jean Chretien: "There are various statutes in various provinces. I never thought I had that power. If I'd had it, well...(laughter).
I may have used it on many occasions, in particular, regarding Mr. Lapierre when he founded or helped found the Bloc Quebecois. I would have banished him for life. I'm not sure he's going to be a federalist if things go badly here. So I would have given him his walking papers in person."

10:00 pm: Time for the National - this should give everyone a good idea of what the media reaction will look like in the papers tomorrow. And that doesn't bode well for the Liberals. Martin's "exoneration" is glossed over and the report is repeatedly called "a scathing report with scathing consequences which are downright scathing".

10:17 pm: Paul Hunter says the NDP won't bring down the government right away, but Layton is leaving the door open to force an election in late November or December. I do think the opposition parties will try and force a vote before Martin can bring in a budget since it will be full of goodies. Also, the Liberals going down on a harshly worded resolution would help frame the election question.