Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fantasy Leadership

A reader writes in with the following suggestion:

I think you should host a thread on people's fantasy liberal leaders. Dead or alive, fictional or real, canadian or convince-to-immigrate. I've had this chat with some of my friends and heard some good responses. After all, there's no reason the LPC shouldn't be able to attract anyone in the real-live-canadian category (even if you've only just returned...). I've heard Gretz's name mentioned, and with his team's poor showing he may be up for a career change. And the recent gambling scandal (and his emphatic denials) suggest he may have the sand for politics.

I'll toss in a few other names to get the ball rolling:

Jack Bauer
Pros: He's used to making quick decisions in pressure packed situations. No one could question our commitment to the war on terror. Since he's played by Kiefer, who is Tommy Douglas' grandson, he'd be very appealing to NDP voters.
Cons: He supports the use of torture and has been out of the country for long time. Surely that would exclude him from Liberal leadership, n'est-ce-pas?

Ralph Klein
Pros: Has done a great job at making Stephen Harper's life as miserable as possible over the years. Could lead to an Alberta breakthrough for Liberals (of 2 or 3 seats - let's be realistic).
Cons: He's a Conservative. But hey, who in this race isn't?
Everyone in Ontario hates him. Not that that's stopping Bob Rae...

Jesus Christ
Pros: Last JC won 3 majorities.
Ability to perform miracles gives us a fighting chance in Calgary.
Speaks in tongues so he should know French.
Difficult to run an attack ad against him.
Cons: Like Paul Martin, seems to be living in his father's shadow and has been known to wander aimlessly for 40 days at a time.

So send in your suggestions and post them in the comments section bellow. The field to date is rather uninspiring, so hopefully we can find a hidden gem out there.

Distinct Society

On another note, since Quebec has Senate seats, will the candidates run in their "ridings"? Or will it be done province wide? If so, will the winning candidates simply buy 4,000$ worth of property in certain ridings? Will the parties try to put forward candidates from different regions in the province? Will the Conservatives hire Tom Long to find them candidates in regions where they don't have a lot of members such as the Gaspe? Inquiring minds want to know.

Draft Fortier

Ralph Klein is certainly an equal opportunity shit disturber - he's determined to cause Stephen Harper as much grief as he ever caused Paul Martin and Jean Chretien. After costing him the 2004 election, and predicting Harper would lose in 2006, he's now let it slip that Senate elections may be on the way this fall (or not...Ralph has "clarified" his statement, by making it murkier).

On this topic, I do hope that the Bert Browns and Ted Mortons of the world who believe in accountability and an elected Senate will join me in encouraging Michael Fortier to resign his Senate seat and run in the upcoming Senate elections, whenever they may take place.

Monday, February 27, 2006

In Support of a Floor Crossing Bill

David Emerson is in the news again, with his claim that he could win a by-election. With this one day story into week 4, I'd just like to voice my support for a law to force MPs to run in by-elections if they cross the floor.

I don't have a problem with an MP quitting their party over a decision of conscience. We've seen this with the likes of David Kilgour and Pat O'Brien who quit the Liberals to sit as independents (this marks the first, and only time, I will ever use Kilgour and/or Pat O'Brien as examples of honourable politicians). Parties change and the individual MP has a right to quit if he or she doesn't like the direction of the party.

However, when an MP joins another party in the manner that David Emerson or Belinda Stronach did, it really comes down to fraud. Fraud against the party and volunteers who helped elect them - but more importantly, against the voters of the riding. Voters have a right to get what they voted for and when 82% of the riding didn't want a Conservative, you can't have David Emerson decide that it's "better for his riding" to get a Cabinet Minister. Yes, politicians don't always deliver on their promises, but everyone expects politicians to lie. Just like when you buy fruit you're risking that it might not taste great, there's a buyer's risk involved in politicians breaking their promises. And we did see Sheila Copps run in a by-election for a major break of a direct promise.

But there isn't an expectation that a politician will switch parties. Because this goes above and beyond the usual broken promises and failed expectations, it's necessary for the constituents to validate the MP's decision in a by-election. Otherwise, you've violated the entire principle of representative democracy. In our system, voters vote for the party well above the individual MP. So if the MP switches parties, there needs to be some sort of accountability involved and some sort of approval by the voters of their MPs new affiliation.

Otherwise, we'll just see cynical voters feel that votes are being traded for Cabinet positions. Regardless of whether or not Emerson feels he could win a by-election, he should voluntarily run in one. Hopefully we'll see some legislation over the next few years making such a move mandatory.

More Thrilling than Finland-Sweden

You can read play by play of the Supreme Court quasi-hearings here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Our Olympic Champions

While Canadians have picked up Golds, Silvers, and Bronzes, those three medals alone cannot fully recognize all of the achievements at these Olympic games. So it is with great pleasure that I present a series of other awards to the Olympians:

The "Victory March Down Central Alberta" Award: This award is presented for downright stupid showboating, in honour of Harper's final weekend "Victory March" to close out the 2004 campaign. I am very pleased to award this trophy to Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States.

The "David Herle Campaigner" Award: Given to the group running an Olympic campaign where absolutely nothing goes right. This one, of course, goes to the Men's Hockey Team.

The Scott Reid "Beer and Popcorn" Bowl: For boneheaded comments. This year it is awarded to Team Sweden Coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson for suggesting his team throw their final round robin game.

The Monte Solberg Massacre Trophy: In honour of his 70%+ margin of victory, this trophy is given to someone who "runs up the score" to a ghastly level. The Canadian Women's Hockey team are worthy winners this year.

The "NDP is Sick" Award: Is given to the sport whose very existence should be questioned. I'm pleased to award this one to Nordic Combined which combines ski jumping and cross country skiing. I look forward to the hockey-curling combined event at the 2010 Olympics...

The Robert Borden Enfranchisement Trophy: Just as giving women the vote helped Robert Borden win the 1917 election, this award is given to new sports that were created seemingly just to give Canada more medals. This year, the award goes to the "Team Pursuit" in speed-skating, where Canada won a pair of Silvers.

The David Emerson Patriot Plaque: Is presented to the Olympian flying the best "flag of convenience" (formerly known as the "CSL Plaque"). This one goes to Canadian-turned-Aussie Dale Begg-Smith.

The "We Won the 2004 Election" Cup: In honour of the Liberal campaign which felt salvaging a minority win in 2004 was an epic victory. This year, our female curlers get both this trophy along with their bronze medals.

A New Voice

-You can add Marlene Jennings to the list of rumoured candidates, according to this news story.

-"On Veut Michael" joins the growing list of leadership blogs. This one certainly looks like a professional site, so I'm guessing it's not just some PoliSci geek who likes Michael's books doing it for kicks.

-Speaking of all but declared candidates, Scott Brison has been jetting across Western Canada this week, with stops in BC, Calgary, Edmonton, and Manitoba.

Update: The Globe looks at the field in today's paper.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

5 O'Clock Shadow

The Liberals announced their Shadow Cabinet today and I guess you can call it an "evening shadow", since the 26 man Tory Cabinet has given birth to a shadow Cabinet of well over 40 individuals. Throw in the helper monkeys and it seems that over 85 Liberals MPs now have tasks; you've got to wonder how the 15 or 20 who got snubbed are feeling right now.

All in all, I like it. Big names in the big portfolios, but almost everyone has been given something new to signify a "new start". Among the Highlights:

Leadership Contenders
Maurizio Bevilacqua - Competitiveness and the New Economy
Joe Volpe - Treasury Board (I'm not sure how wise it was to put "Mr. 100$ Pizza" as the Treasury Board critic)
Belinda Stronach - Transport (from what we hear, it's a very complicated critic portfolio)
Ken Dryden - Health
Scott Brison - Environment
Stephane Dion - Foreign Affairs
Joe Fontana - Science and Research
Carolyn Bennett - Social Development
Denis Corderre - Economic Development
John Godfrey - Intergovernmental Affairs
Dominic LeBlanc - International Trade (him and Heddy get to tag team against Emerson)

The Snub
Michael Ignatieff becomes Geoff Regan's assistant at Human Resources and Skills. So the Liberal Party feels Belinda Stronach is competent enough to run the department but that Michael Ignatieff isn't ready to be its critic. Ouch.

Big Hitters
Jean Lapierre - Industry
Ralph Goodale - House Leader
Irwin Cotler - Public Safety (which puts him up against Stockwell Day)
Ujjal Dosanj - National Defense

Big Promotion
Sue Barnes - Justice
John McCallum - Finance ( good choice)

Don't Drink and Hunt

While my good mood might soon disappear if Team Canada can't come through against Russia this afternoon, I'm feeling some mighty fine schadenfreude after reading this news story.

Rebuilding the Big Red Machine - 3

Last week, I opened it up for suggestions on the direction the Liberal Party should take. There were a lot of great ideas tossed around. The most common themes I could pick out were:

-Funding of post-secondary education as part of a larger innovation strategy
-Promoting environmental sustainability

In my opinion, both of these would make excellent planks in the new LPC philosophy.

For a cross-section of the comments left by readers, simply read on:

National Programs

"To me a Liberal Party that embraces Canadian Nationalism and a strong centralized government would provide a sharp contrast to the Conservatives and their decentralizing ways.

A commitment to a truly national Day Care Plan would be a great start. "

Democratic Reform

"First, I say seriously address the “democratic deficit”. It was that tagline that originally attracted me as Paul supporter way back in the day. It’s really sad nothing ever came of that, we squandered away our credibility on the issue and now the ball is back in the Conservative’s court (well it was until Harper picked his Cabinet anyway). "

"I think Proportional Representation, Elected, Equal Senate and other reforms to our sick Democratic system would be a good place for the party to start as one of the "Big Idea's" "

Canada and the World

"Third; a clear focus of where Canada sits in relation to the rest of the world. What can we do about third world poverty, ethnic genocide, disease, terrorism? "

"Our immigration policy is focused on inviting the top skilled people and turning them into embittered servants rather than inviting people who could build business ties around the world, and then be leaders in those industries. "

"What about Canada's role abroad? Canada Corps is a good start, but can't we do more? Shouldn't we be using our fabulous wealth to make a real difference in Africa and other developing nations? "

"Addressing the productivity dilemma, with a tie to getting immigrants into their skill-set and utilizing their previous training quicker. Provincial medical boards are holding back and limiting the # of foreign doctors who can apply for positions. "

"A more effective approach would be to build an effective network of 'middle powers' (Europe, UK, Australia, maybe Japan, Taiwan, etc.), working in close partnership, willing and capable of taking on a two-generational project to assist the world's poorest nations to achieve peace, order, good government, population stability, gender equity, and conservation of biodiversity. "

Research, Innovation, and Technology

"How about keeping the fiscal management and the commitment to a united Canada, but also bring a focus on developing education, research and technology. Make sure every kid who wants one can get a university or college education, or some sort of job training. Fund health research and help start-up technology companies. Develop and encourage sustainable transportation and energy. Make these things a national priority and the economic and social benefits will start to snowball. "

Post-Secondary Education

"Boost education levels to the highest in the world?"

"I agree that Post-Secondary Education is the big issue of the early 21st centruy for Canada. we need a federal government that can think strategically about education and back it up with the funding hammer."

"We have the second worst ratio in the world of public expenditures on education to student performance. Our unionized school systems need reform so that bad teachers get the boot, not library duty. "

"Accessible high-quality post-secondary education is vital to Canada's economic, social, and cultural growth. If the Liberals took this on as their major issue, they could positively distinguish themselves from the NDP and the Conservatives quite easily. "

Environmental Sustainability

"Clearly a focus on environment is the future. Go throuh the Green party plank and steal everything that will be remotely viable over the next decade."

"Want Green. Get back to rail for heavy freight and LRT to move people and get them off the highways. "

"The theme is sustainability. We must take as good the continued existence of our society in our place, recognizing that things that change too much disappear from view, and things that change to little are destroyed by the changes around them. We must make our society sustainable where we can, and we must change or abandon those things that cannot be made sustainable. "

National Unity

"[Dion] also said that the separatists have been dominating the discourse and that part of winning back Quebec hearts and minds would be a massive assault on the separatists on everything from the language ("souverainte" v. "separatisme") to the politics (he said flat out that "there is absolutely no fiscal imbalance, the very idea is illogical")."

Social Issues

"If I had to pick two galvanizing issues that might be winners for the Liberals it would be euthanasia and marijuana decriminalization or even better legalization."

General Strategy

"I agree we need focus, but we don't need any more focus groups."

"I think the Liberal's need to do an anti-Martin and come out with 1 or 2 BIG 'dream' policies in which they can throw their entire party and country behind.

We need to focus a bit less on being all things to all people and making every policy a priority, hoping that will garner some votes. Develop the policies that work for us - no more ad hoc. And I have to agree, a "Great National Endeavour" or two would not go amiss! "

"Please. It’s called focus people, and we lack it.

The Martin fiasco tells us many things, but most importantly it tells us that the principle matters.

We need a complete re-think...that moves us left."

" I don't think a major shift in policies is warranted. The liberals were not defeated because of their policies, but because of lack lustre leadership, a sense of entitlement and scandal."

"Look, the problem with the Liberals is fundamentally similar to that of the Democrats- they're too wedded to centrism and triangulation and all the other political consultants' concepts that, ultimately, go nowhere. It has forgotten that its positions need to be rooted in something, and that something has to be a little more ambitious than feel-good pablum."

"First have a regional focus: a plan which targets specific regions, in particular B.C.and Quebec. Ontario and Atlantic Canada their doing fine."

"I’m a conservative, which means generally not a Liberal, but I would point out here that despite a gazillion tactical campaign mistakes the Liberals are still on the sunny side of 100 seats. If the Liberals had been reduced to 60-some seats despite running a tactically smooth campaign, a major strategic re-think would be in order. But it is entirely reasonable to believe the Liberals will be back big time once the Tories lose the protest vote and the “change” vote so perhaps one shouldn’t just throw that away with a big time repositioning effort."

"Here's my take: we need a visionary yet ultra-competent leadership that sets these goals...
* the world's best education system
* the world's best health system
* the most equitably prosperous society in the world
* a transition to a carbon-neutral economy by mid-century"

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Right Up There With Horse Proctologist...

...on the "World's Worst Jobs" list has got to be the PM's Communications Director.

Francoise Ducros was forced out for her "moron" comment. Scott Reid started the Liberal tailspin during the election campaign with his "beer and popcorn" remarks. And now, just two weeks in, William Stairs has been axed as Harper's Communications Director.

Sandra Buckler now enters the lion's den.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Follow the Leader

SES has a poll out today, asking Ontarians who they want as the next Liberal leader. While these polls are fun, keep in mind:

a) It includes Brian Tobin and Frank McKenna.
b) It's missing the names of a lot of people who will run.
c) It only polls people in Ontario, which one imagines works in favour of Dryden, Stronach, Ignatieff, and Rae. (And, I guess, Volpe too...although you wouldn't know it by the results)
d) Most importantly, it's a poll of everyone in Ontario, regardless of political affiliation. Just as my choice to be the next CPC leader would be Stockwell Day, I'm sure a lot of Tories would be salivating at the prospect of seeing Belinda as their opponent.

All we can really read into this poll is that average Canadians have no overwhelming favourite.

In other news, the Hill Times is floating Domic LeBlanc's name for leadership. Wikipedia also has him on their very thorough list of candidates. They've also got Cotler and Ianno listed but until I see their names somewhere else, I'll leave 'em off my list.

With the National Executive laying down the timeline and rules for the leadership contest on March 18th, I suspect we won't see many more candidates officially declare until then. But anyone who's serious about building a credible organization will have to announce their intentions in the last half of March. Until then, we can only speculate:

Martha Hall Findlay

Likely To Run
Frank McKenna
John Manley
Michael Ignatieff
Belinda Stronach
Scott Brison
Joe Volpe
Maurizio Bevilacqua

Possible Candidates
Ken Dryden
Martin Cauchon
Gerard Kennedy
Bob Rae
Brian Tobin
Allan Rock
Stephane Dion
Ujjal Dosanjh
John Godfrey
Borys Wrzesnewskyj
Denis Coderre
Carolyn Bennett

Wild Speculation
Glen Murray
Jane Stewart
Sheila Copps
George Smitherman
Anne McLellan
Christy Clark
Clyde Wells
Dennis Mills
Hedy Fry
David McGuinty
John Parisella
Paddy Torsney
Joe Fontana
Ruby Dhalla
Louise Arbour
Paul Zed
Dominic LeBlanc

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Winning Strategy

Mr. Hellyer's former party has come up with the winning strategy:
As part of its new strategy, the Canadian Action Party will get its candidates to run as Liberals or Conservatives in the next election. They will, unlike in the past, be well financed and organized, and have an army of volunteer workers.

Then, the week after they are successful in the election, they will announce that they are crossing the floor of the Commons, to join THE CANADIAN ACTION PARTY and sit as CAP Members of Parliament.

...Bringing the Total to 37

Yet another wild rumour from the Liberal leadership race. Former Supreme Court Justice and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, is being urged to run for Liberal leadership (try running an attack add against her).

While Arbour is certainly very accomplished, I'd at least like to have a leader with some experience in, you know, politics (Cabinet, MP, High School Students Council...). I wouldn't take these rumours very seriously though.

First The Tories Win...Now This...

Unbelievable. Canada loses 2-0 to Switzerland?!?!?

This would never have happened under a Liberal government...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Catching Up

A few news stories from the past couple of days:

1. Harper has brought in Jenni Byrne, to help with hiring staff. Her close connections to the Reform Party (and to Pierre Poilievre, for that matter...) should certainly be taken as a sign that the old Alliance crowd will be well represented among Cabinet staffers.

2. Ezra Levant sure isn't trying to make any friends. After the Western Standard posted the Mohammed cartoons earlier this week, we now see this about Ralph Klein's wife:
"Once she [Colleen Klein] stops being the premier's wife, she goes back to being just another Indian."

I'm not a big fan of Colleen Klein and her insistence that she be called "Doctor Klein" because of her honourary degree, but Ezra should know better than to allow stuff like this to make it to press. (Update: As explained by people who obviously pay more attention to the news than I do in the comments section, the Standard was reporting these comments, not making them - read their comments for context. It does raise an interesting debate about media citing anonymous quotes though - there's a good post on that here.).

3. There's a Decima Poll out showing the Tories comfortably ahead:

CPC 35%
Lib 25%
NDP 24%

Now, there are very few things less popular than leaderless parties (except, perhaps, parties led by Paul Martin) so it's likely not worth reading too much into these numbers. However...it should be clear to everyone out there that the main threat for the Liberals right now is on the left, not the right. Which means that, when it comes to picking a new leader, the Liberal Party would be well served to look to left-leaning candidates who would annoy the heck of the NDP. Bob Rae anyone? Or, what about a fan favourite of this blog's comment section?

4. There's talk that some of the other "big shot" Martinites in Alberta and BC are none too pleased at John Bethel's decision to jump on the Brison bandwagon so early. So we may see some fracturing of the old "Team Martin"...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Revolving Door

What do ya know? Looks like John Reynolds is going to do a little lobbying now that he doesn't have to spend his time selling voters on the idea of accountability and all that unpleasant campaign stuff.

UPDATE: Reynolds clarifies things. Sort of.

Lady in Red

The Sheila Copps foundation for women in leadership, is holding a fundraiser in March to raise cash for female leadership candidates. While this is a very admirable goal, I question how much Belinda needs the extra cash...

Speaking of a rumoured female leadership candidate, Jane Stewart has accepted the Chief of Staff job in Bill Graham's office. Great choice. However, one imagines this means she won't be running for Liberal leadership - I've updated my list accordingly, and have also shifted a few other names around based on the latest rumours.

UPDATE: The Winnipeg Free Press speculates on another lady in red with her sights on the top job.

Easy Target

A few readers have e-mailed asking why I didn't post about the Dick Cheney incident. Yes, I suppose I could have given a one liner. Or linked to the Dick Cheney hunting game. Or linked to the video gags. Or ranted on the fact that he didn't even have a hunting license.

But I won't blog about the topic since this is no laughing matter.

Besides, Dick's just too easy a target to make fun of. It'd be like shooting ducks in a barrel. Or quail in a fenced off pen...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Medicine for the LPC

Jason Cherniak has caused a storm among NDP bloggers by claiming that their party is "sick". Jason starts off by asking the following questions:

Why does the NDP exist?
What is their purpose in Canadian politics?
Should a political party be celebrating because they won less than 10% of the seats in the House of Commons?
Should a political party be celebrating because the group most opposed to their ideology is now in government?
Should a political party be kicking out lifelong members because they do not adhere to party policy?
What is the purpose of the NDP?

The short answer to these questions would be:

1. Because the Liberals and Tories refused to accept the "big government" concept in the 30s.
2. "Results for people!"
3. Yes
4. Not really. But...
5. No
6. "Results for people!"

But this is probably worthy of a bit more of a response than that, so I'll give my take on the NDP.

Right off the bat, let me say that I agree that an NDP government would lead to some problems. There are a lot of things about the party I'm uncomfortable with and a lot of extremists in their ranks. But, that said, I think the NDP serves a valuable purpose in Canadian society. And, over the years, the NDP (and CCF before them) has done a lot of good for Canada.

I don't want to get into a history lesson here, but the only reason that old pragmatist Mackenzie King ever brought in the child allowance (which, as an ironical aside, is kind of like the Tories childcare plan) or any single government program was because he was scared out of his mind about the CCF. King, like all good Liberals, was concerned about staying in power and he recognized that to do this, he'd have to steal a lot of CCF policies, something he went about doing quite effectively. We've seen this pattern repeat itself over the years with Liberals either adopting NDP policy because they needed their support in the House or because they were afraid of losing votes to the left.

The NDP has always been about keeping the Liberals "honest". There are enough lefty-socialist-pinko-commie Canadians who would never feel comfortable voting for the Tories under any circumstances. Without an alternative to the Liberals, the Grits have no reason to work for their vote. It's the same reason I think Alberta would be better off with a strong Alberta Alliance party capable of pulling in 17% of the vote and a half dozen seats. At the very least it would keep the Provincial PCs on their toes and working for their votes.

As for NDP supporters being happy with election results, they have every right to be happy. To quote their mustached hero, they "elected more NDP MPs" and 1 in every 6 Canadians voted for them. I was happy when the provincial Liberals got 17 16 MLAs in the last provincial election and I'd streak down 17th Avenue naked if we ever got a federal seat in Calgary. I'm sure a lot of NDP supporters aren't happy about seeing Harper elected but that's the fault of the Liberal Party, not of NDP voters. In the eyes of a lot of people, the Liberals betrayed their left wing values and were a corrupt government in need of defeat. Blaming voters for not holding their nose and voting Liberal is just another example of Liberal arrogance that turns a lot of people away from the Liberals. Another example of Liberal arrogance that could turn people away from the LPC might be question another party's right to exist...

Drinking Spirits

An alert reader sent me the following press release, sent out my the BC Young Liberals during the election campaign. I guess it beats a Buzz Hargrove endorsement but there's certainly something a little surreal about the entire press release:


In Canadian politics, the Liberal Party of Canada is the friend of the Spirit Bear.

The Spirit Bear Youth Coalition - a Vancouver-based not-for-profit - today endorsed the Liberal Party of Canada and encouraged more than 2.5 million supporters in its Canadian network to vote for the Spirit Bear by voting Liberal.

As a part of their Made-in-BC Agenda, the Liberal Party unveiled a pledge to secure
the future of the Spirit Bear by working with the First Nations and the BC government to protect the bear's last intact ecosystem, an area that includes
the Green Watershed. The policy, for which the pledge is based on, was voted by
Liberal members as the party's top priority for British Columbia and marked the
first time any political party acknowledged the need to save the Green
Watershed, an area critical to the bear's survival, while protecting tradition

(it goes on... one key tidbit: "The Spirit Bear Youth Coalition....has a policy to endorse political parties that have a realistic chance of forming government").

Monday, February 13, 2006

Rebuilding the Big Red Machine - 2

We interrupt wild leadership speculation for this public service announcement...

While picking a new head will be important in fixing the Liberal Party, the body also needs some major work. The party is in debt, has a disillusioned base, and no real vision of where it wants to take the country.

So I'll pose the question: Does the Liberal Party needs a major shift in policy focus? I'm not talking about specific policies but rather a fundamental shift. To quote our former/current/quasi leader: "Fundamentally, a party's fundamental policy focus is very, very important" (well, it's not a direct quote, but it's something Paul could have said). In the 30s, the Liberals embraced the idea of "big government". During Diefenbaker's time in power, the Liberals decided to shift left and adopt social programs and the welfare state, vowing never again to let the Tories run to their left. In the buildup to 1993, the LPC decided that sound money management and deficit reduction would be an essential blueprint for the Big Red Machine.

With the Tories in power, Liberals need to now ask themselves if another major shift is necessary, or if a minor retooling and a new coat of paint will suffice. And, if a major shift is needed, in what direction should it be? Massive environmental policy? A renewed push for national programs (childcare, pharmacare, free tuition)? A move right? A return to being the defenders of a strong, central government, strongly against asymmetrical federalism?

From my perspective, I don't think we need to change the party's fundamental principles or focus, merely to sharpen them. I would like to see some bold policy and one or two "grand ideas", but I don't think the party's direction is in need of a major shake-up.

Still, it's a question worth asking over the next few months, since I'm sure there are those who'd like to see major changes.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Do You Believe In Magic?

Rodney MacDonald wins the PC leadership, becoming the next Premier of Nova Scotia.

McUpdate: There's some talk in the comments section about the Nova Scotia Tories going for a "next generation" leader. If you think about it, since the Liberals crowned a senior citizen in 2003, the trend across Canadian politics seems to be towards youth:

BC NDP (November 2003): Elect 45 year old Carole James.

Federal Tories (March 2004): Vote in 44 year old Stephen Harper as their leader.

Ontario Tories (September 2004): Vote in 50 year old John Tory.

Nova Scotia Liberals (October 2004): 44 year old Francis MacKenzie becomes leader.

Quebec Pequistes (November 2005): Line up behind 39 year old Andre Boisclair.

Nova Scotia Conservatives (February 2006): Vote in 34 year old Rodney MacDonald.

I might be missing a few leadership runs in there, but the trend does seem to be to go for younger leaders. If Liberals begin to start itching for youth, it certainly won't work in Michael Ignatieff or Ken Dryden's advantage.


Jennifer Heil wins Canada's first medal of the Olympics, a gold in Moguls.

Let's just hope she doesn't defect to Latvia before the medal ceremony...

New Numbers

For anyone longing for the days of daily poll numbers, CTV released a new poll on their newscast tonight. (Haven't found the online link for it yet)

The highlights:

(Among Liberal voters) Who did you vote for?
23% Emerson
62% Liberals
10% both

(Among Liberal voters) Would you vote for Emerson if he'd run as a Tory?
11% yes
76% no

Should there be a bi-election?
61% yes
23% no

So, to all the usual suspects in the comments section - start spinning...GO!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Who You Know In The PMO

It's still rumour at this point but, after what we've seen this week, I wouldn't be surprised by this at all:

Earlier, one of our astute readers reported federal Conservative godfather John Reynolds (who is not a lawyer) would be "joining Lyall Knott" - a well-known provincial Liberal fundraiser - at Clark Wilson LLP. A senior Tory operative couldn't immediately verify that report. But he did say Mr. Reynolds has received job offers from a number of Vancouver law firms. In a brief interview with Public Eye, Mr. Knott declined to comment on whether he would be working with Mr. Reynolds, saying "Why don't you talk to John?" The company's more notable clients include Concert Properties Ltd., HMY Airlines Inc., HSBC Bank plc, Methanex Corp. and Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment Corp.

John Reynolds as a lobbyist? Well, you know what they say: Campaigns are Campaigns.

Hat Tip: A BCer in Toronto

Party On Garth

Since all the cool bloggers are doing it, I'll post a link to Garth Turner's blog, where he trashes his party and leader over the Emerson and Fortier fiasco.

I applaud Turner for his principled stand, and think he has every right to speak out about these hypocritical appointments. But, that said, his blogging is certainly not doing the Conservative Party any favours. And it's certainly not appropriate to discuss a private dressing down he got from the Prime Minister. There's something to be said for being a "team player" (within reason) and if I were a Tory, I think I'd be a little peeved towards Garth right now.

But I'm not a Tory, so: Blog On Garth! Blog On!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Never Ending Story

Courtesy of Andrew Coyne, here are two more all too delicious news stories on everyone's favourite topic:

Michael Fortier may be Montreal's representative in the newly elected Conservative cabinet, but the Senate riding he will represent in Quebec doesn't include any part of the city in its boundaries.

Heh heh.

Members of Parliament who bolt from their parties and cross the floor of the House of Commons should have to quit and face their voters in a byelection, says new Public Works Minister Michael Fortier.

Tomorrow: David Emerson speaks out in favour of an elected Senate!

I think Michael Fortier is making a strong case to be the blogging equivalent of Jean Lapierre in the new Harper government - the gift that keeps on giving.

Must See TV

The Liberals are talking about televising Question Period in the Senate, so that Canadians everywhere can watch Michael Fortier.

I'm hoping that this will lead to a "Much More CPAC" TV station. In addition to Senate hearings, we could have a Real World type show where washed up politicians (I'm looking at you Joe Clark) share a loft. There could be a "Political Punked" where Ben Mulroney plays tricks on MPs (Stockwell Day finds out that his new limo driver is flamboyantly gay - hilarity ensues).

It'll be Must See TV.

Above Politics

I sincerely hope that David Emerson will continue to put partisan politics aside and base his decision on whether or not to support this private members bill from a non-partisan perspective.

David and Goliath

We're now getting word that "non-partisan" David Emerson helped delay a softwood lumber deal with the United States for partisan reasons. Sure, the Martin PMO helped, but we expect duplicity and incompetence from them so their role in this isn't really news.

First of all, I have a hard time believing that this was part of some Machiavellian plan on Emerson's part (OMG! Was he the mole?!?!) but, once again, the optics aren't good. It certainly reveals that Emerson was willing to "play politics" (leaving the saint among men, Jack Layton, as the only politician left refusing to "play politics").

And now that the Liberals, in a completely out of character move, have leaked the deal, it's going to make it hard for Emerson to sign the same deal. Further compounding his difficulties in negotiating a deal would be this.

All that aside, most worrisome is the fact that the PMO felt it would help their re-election campaign by not having a deal with the US on softwood. I mean, why sign a deal to help the softwood industry when you can take cheap shots at George Bush for seven weeks? More evidence that the Liberal "banned member list" should include the people who ran this election campaign.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Lyin' Brian


Given that he's been copying Martin at every opportunity since taking office, here's my bold prediction for this week:

Harper claims he's "Mad as Hell".
Calls inquiry into Airbus Scandal.
Appoints Eddie Goldenberg as chief counsel.

Move Over McKenna

Huzzah! No doubt encouraged by Harper's first days in power, the high profile names are now stampeding towards the Liberal Party leadership. The first to declare? Martha Hall Findley. Yes, THE Martha Hall Findley.

OK, OK. In all seriousness, she has a pretty good bio:

Martha is a successful, well-respected lawyer, businesswoman and entrepreneur, with extensive experience with both large and small business.

- She is fluently bilingual in English and French, with training in several other languages.

- She is 45, and has 3 grown children: Katie, 23; Everett, 21 and Patrick, 19.

- She is the founder and principal of The General Counsel Group, management and legal consultants since 1997. As a member of The General Counsel Group, Martha has worked primarily in the high-tech and telecommunications fields, in both Canada and Europe.

- Prior to forming The General Counsel Group, Martha was:

◦ Vice President, Corporate Development and General Counsel of The Rider Group;
◦ General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Mobility Canada, Bell Mobility Corporate Counsel;

◦Lawyer with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie (in Torontpracticingsing international corporate and commercial law.

- She also co-owned and operated two retail stores while completing law school.

- Martha graduated from the University of Toronto's International Relations Programme and then from Osgoode Hall Law School.

- In her youth, Martha was a competitive skier, ultimately being named to the Canadian National Training Squad before retiring and pursuing her formal education. Martha supported herself throughout university working as a waitress, in construction (primarily as a carpenter) and coaching young ski racers.

Given that her candidacy will make Belinda uncomfortable, and I'm all for making Belinda uncomfortable, I'm glad Findley is running.

In slightly more troubling news, two very strong candidates who I'd like to see run are sounding less than enthousiastic. Gerard Kennedy is saying he won't run while rumours are circling that Martin Cauchon will back down too. Paul Hellyer anyone?

Blind Partisans of the World Unite...

...You have nothing to lose but your credibility!

Magnanimous in the Great White North has compiled a list of Conservative bloggers who have...well...I'll let him explain:

The issue of David Emerson's appointment to Stephen Harper's cabinet has most conservative bloggers furious. A doughty band of brother and sister bloggers have staked out the hill opposite, and on it they've hosted the flag that reads: "Hey, this makes sense!"

A small band, to be sure, but stout of heart. And not a single one a stooge of the Conservative Party, but each of us, based on the facts of the case, convinced that this was a good move, and possibly a brilliant move.

I've got to admit that the "brilliance" of this move is lost on me. But, then again, I never understood the "brilliance" behind calling the Gomery Inquiry, so I'm not always that quick on these things. On the bright side, this list will make the nominations for Wells' SDA awards easier to compile.

What would be extremely fascinating would be to see how many in the Myron Thompson school of thought ("I don't understand it, but I'll trust Stephen") have made comments over the past year disparaging certain Liberal bloggers as being "stooges of the Liberal Party".

Ahh...the joys of opposition...

(It should be noted that most of the fair and balanced. I'm actually surprised.)

Community of Communities

Stephen Harper has raised the prospect of Quebec being given a "transition period" while Harper slowly takes apart what Ken Dryden would have you believe is a national child care program. This raises a very important question:

"Why is it that the province with the fewest strings in their child care agreement needs the most time to transition to the new system?"

Enquiring minds want to know...

Meet Your New Minister of Defence

Gordon O'Connor has come under some scrutiny for his lobbying work in the military industry. Harper has been quick to defend his new Minister:
"having worked in an industry in the past does constitute a conflict of interest"

...unless you're a low level assistant to the western desk, that is. It certainly is odd that Harper would appoint a former lobbyist to Cabinet, when he's trying to bring in new legislation banning government workers from lobbying for five years after they leave office.

Luckily, O'Connor has a better explanation:
"Years ago, I went and represented companies to find out what was involved in projects to advise them how to approach projects to advise them how to approach projects, how to bid, how to produce their documents, that sort of stuff,"

If Harper has shown Paul Martin ethics, O'Connor is showing Paul Martin hyperbole. "Years ago" translates to February 23rd, 2004.

Yes, it's nice to have a Minister of Defence with military experience, but the optics on this one certainly aren't ideal.

So Long, Farewell

The Tory Cabinet may be richer, but the blogging community is poorer.

Monte Solberg calls it quits.

No Public Works Minister Like An Old Public Works Minister

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

At Least He's Honest

On CPAC, just now, John Reynolds was in a scrum outside the House. When asked about how he reconciles Harper's actions with the fact they ran on an accountability platform, Reynolds answered:

"Campaigns are Campaigns"

UPDATE: More gems of honesty. This time, from the Minister of Public Works:

"I didn't run, because I didn't want to run"

A Relic of 19th Century Canada


There are three critical reforms. First, we need to get on with modernizing our upper house. We should get on with the job of electing senators. Secondly, we want fair, fixed election dates, not dates chosen simply for the partisan political interests of the Prime Minister. And finally we want to clean up internal party politics, beginning with grassroots democratic control of the nomination process. All three of these initiatives will strengthen democracy of Canada and require a Prime Minister willing to bring in legislation and enact reform.

First, let’s get on with the job of electing senators. A senate chair should be occupied by someone with a democratic mandate, and Canadians should be able to mark their ballot for their Senator, as well as for their MP. We need a ballot with senators’ names, and seats with senators that have been elected. Under a Conservative government, Canadians will choose who sits in this chair.

In the 21st century, those who want to sit in the parliament of a democratic state should have a mandate from the people. The Prime Minister currently holds a virtually free hand in the selection of Senators. As Prime Minister I will use that power to establish a federal process for electing senators. Alberta has already held provincial elections for individuals aspiring to the Senate. A national Conservative government will establish a national process for senatorial elections in each province and territory on an interim basis.

Electing senators is, of course, only the first reform we need. Establishing a fixed term for senators – a term consistent with the norms of democratic office – will also be a particularly high priority. The naming of elected senators will get the ball rolling on these and other senate reforms. Once we start electing senators, we will engage the provinces and Canadian voters to start building a broad consensus on a more comprehensive plan of senate reform. An appointed Senate is a relic of 19th century Canada. An elected Senate, reflective of the federal nature of our democracy, will be a defining feature of the 21st century Canada. The Liberal position of all-or-nothing reform, of no change until everything is changed, is designed to take us nowhere. It has succeeded, to Canada’s detriment. It is time to move ahead.

Democratic Deficit

From the Conservative Party's very own website, a three week old press release:

OTTAWA – Yesterday, Paul Martin repeated his mistaken assertion that he has never broken an electoral promise. The claim is simply incredible. In truth, Paul Martin and the Liberal Party have repeatedly broken promises on some of their flagship initiatives. What follows is an extended version of “Reality Check” highlighting some of the most memorable broken promises of the past
eighteen months.

Paul Martin on broken promises:
I would never stay in office if I did not keep my promises,” he said (The Record, June 2, 2004).
A government that does not keep its promises is a government that does not have the moral authority to govern” (Toronto Star, December 16, 2005).

Promises Paul Martin has broken since the 2004 Election:

18. Mr. Martin talked about reforming the Senate, but went ahead and appointed Senators the same old way, including disgraced former Liberal cabinet minister Art Eggleton, Liberal organizers like Jim Cowan, and Mr. Martin’s close friends Francis Fox and Dennis Dawson.

Recall, Remove, Elect, Repeat

There's tons of David Emerson material around the net today:

TDH Strategies has been digging through Hansard to find some old Emerson quotes.

There's an online petition to recall Emerson (what is he? our ambassador?),

A blog to remove Emerson,

And a blog to elect Emerson (I could have sworn we just did that two weeks ago...).

You can also see a full run-down on bloggers reaction to Emerson here.

Double Standard

I must say, I'm really looking forward to the cartoons we'll see tomorrow of Stephen Harper and David Emerson in bed. I mean, fair's fair, right? Right?

Monday, February 06, 2006

...Same as the Old Boss

First of all, let's put aside the fact that he appointed David Emerson to Cabinet.

Secondly, let's put aside the fact that Harper will appoint a Senator, and put him into Cabinet.

So what about the Cabinet itself?

1. I'm disappointed that James Moore got overlooked in BC. Moore is, without a doubt, a rising star in the Conservative Party and it's shameful that he got passed over for people like Emerson and Gary Lunn (and Stockwell, but...whatever...he had to be in).

2. Speaking of which, Public Safety sounds like a good choice for Stock. High Profile, but he's unlikely to say anything too embarrassing there.

3. While my Cabinet predictions were a bit off, I did manage the nail the four Albertans in Cabinet, including the Ablonczy snub. I actually like having Monte Solberg in immigration - after watching the conflict of interest that was Joe Volpe, having an Immigration Minister from Medicine Hat, with no leadership ambitions, is a very good thing imho.

An Albertan (Ambrose) Environment Minister is also interesting...especially with Harper promising to ditch Kyoto.

I was glad to see Jim Prentice become the second Calgarian in Cabinet, ahead of Ablonczy or Kenney. As for Kenney getting passed over - I guess he's saving himself for a majority.

4. Vic Toews stays in Justice? Ugg. This was probably Harper's biggest mistake and the one which will cause him the most grief in the long run.

5. Unlike some, I don't have a problem with Flaherty in Finance. The Tories have under two months to dish out a budget so getting someone with budget experience is a good thing. This government has a lifespan of two budgets, maybe three at most, so a learning curve just isn't an option. Ditto for Clement and Baird.

6. Peter over Stock in Foreign Affairs is a good call. I would have put MacKay in Justice but Harper didn't have a lot of good candidates for Foreign Affairs. Also, it's a good spot to put a moderate with leadership ambitions (keeps him out of the country, but it's still prestigious).

7. I like having a smaller Cabinet. It had grown pretty bloated in recent years.

8. Loyola Hearn in Fisheries? GASP! What a shocker!

Nice Comfy Welcome Mat

I must say, I'm very curious what the following Conservatives have to say about David Emerson's defection today:

James Moore:
"I think it shows there are two kinds of people in public life -- people with principle and people like Belinda Stronach,"

Pierre Poilievre:
"It has everything to do with the fact she was offered a plum job and Paul Martin is offering every bribe he can to cling on to power,"

Tony Abbott:
"To me, what it is, it's a little rich girl basically whoring herself out to the Liberals,"

Bob Runciman:
"I think she sort of defined herself as something of a dipstick -- an attractive one, but still a dipstick -- with what she's done here today,"

Dave Hancock:
"It's appalling,"

Bernard Lord:
"This is just another action, another moment, that breeds cynicism of electors,"

UPDATE: Ahab's Whale has this gem from Emerson, on election night:
"I'm going to be Stephen Harper's worst enemy," he warned. "We're going to stir the pot and you better believe we are going to make a heck of a lot of noise."

Well, he's certainly stirring the pot and making noise. And, considering the optics around this, his prophecy about being "Harper's worst enemy" may not be too far off the mark.

UPDATE Deux: Curious to see what our new Immigration Ministers has to say now.

UPDATE Trois: More from Poilievre:
Private Members Business - November 21, 2005: Bill C-251, Members of Parliament who Cross the FloorMr. Pierre Poilievre (Nepean⿿Carleton, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in support of a bill that I believe would restore some accountability around this place. I thank the hon. member across the way for having raised it. When members of the House crosses the floor, I believe they break a contract, not with their political party but with their constituents.

When a member of Parliament is elected to this place, he or she is elected with a party label, having made a commitment to serve with party's label attached to his or her name. Members of the public make their voting decision based on that commitment. Therefore, a contract is formed between the constituent and the member of Parliament.

And, of course, there's Harper himself:

"There's no grand principle involved in this decision, just ambition."

In The Interest of Gender Equality

David Emerson is a dipstick, who whored himself out to the Tories.

Seriously. At least Belinda sat with the Tories for a year - you could make the case that she didn't feel comfortable in the caucus, or wanted to avoid an election, or had a ideological difference with the party. I certainly didn't make that case and was fairly critical of her, but that's an argument one could make.

In the case of David Emerson, he was elected two weeks ago as a Liberal. There is absolutely no way to spin this, except as a case of blatant opportunism.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Unifier la Gauche

I'd say it's been a good couple of weeks for Jean Charest, wouldn't you?

The Harper win can only help him, a new poll shows sovereignty down (well...kinda), and now a new left wing separatist party has been founded in Quebec.

Anyone know how credible these guys are? How many votes can they realistically be expected to siphon off from the PQ?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A New Name

Blue Grit was the first to report the news that an anything but blue Liberal, John Godfrey, is set to throw his hat into the Liberal leadership race.

Don Newman mentioned it to lead off his Politics broaaaaaddddcast Friday...then ignored it for the rest of the show so I'm not sure if this is a done deal or just more speculation.

Hopefully this is true - I think Godfrey would bring a lot to the race. I've updated my scorecard accordingly.

On a semi-related note, Paul Wells inadvertently killing the Draft Dion blog is one of the funniest things I've seen on the net in a while.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Untold Story

I'm sure there will be a few books out on this election and the Martin months for Christmas 2006 but, until then, Paul Wells' Maclean's article on the campaign will remain the defining piece. He's got the great one liners:

"...his staff, whom [Martin] often calls the best campaign team in history - Martin is not a particularily meticulous student of history - had come up with a plan."

He's got the analysis. He's got the campaign preparation and strategy for the Tories. He's also got a great look inside the Liberal campaign, illustrated beautifully in this paragraph:

And the polls? Nationally they showed the Liberals tied with the Tories or
even a bit behind. Alcock said his only worry was that the Liberals were running
too strong, not too weak. "There's a lot of people who argue that we had to come
down in order to activate what we need, which is people needing to stop Harper,"
Alcock said. "In fact if we're going to do better than last time - that is, get
a majority - we'd rather be a bit lower than we are."

Alcock was describing a political version of the slingshot effect, by which
space probes fly dangerously close to planets so they can borrow some
gravitational energy to whip away even more quickly. The Liberals had decided
they needed to flirt with losing to win.

Two things were immediately obvious about this strategy. First, it was
extremely dangerous, because as a rule of thumb, when you flirt with losing, you
lose. And it was awfully familiar. It was as if somebody had taken the 2004
campaign and decided that its chaotic shape - trouble, decline, panic,
last-minute recovery - was the shape all winning campaigns must take.

Alcock paused and looked at his interrogator. "I know this sounds like

Who was arguing that the road to victory lay in near-defeat. "Well, David
Herle is certainly one of the big ones."

There you have it - a look inside the mind of David Herle. If that paragraph alone isn't worth buying a Maclean's, I don't know what is.


Interesting story on Scott Brison today, which brings back memories of the "kiss my ass" incident with a constituent last fall.

An e-mail message from his personal assistant Adele Desjardins, obtained by the Sun, scolds the outgoing public works minister for falling behind with his French lessons.

"I know you are the best to lead the Party and I am ready to work hard," reads the terse exchange with Brison. "But I am not a machine, and co-operation is needed."

The e-mail, sent out with the subject line, "You will never learn French the way you are doing it," included an angry response from Brison: "How dare u speak to me like that?"

Do I care that he has a short temper? Nope. Do I care that he's a former Tory? Nope. That his french is weak, that he advocated private health care, was pro-Iraq, wanted a flat tax, and was vicious towards the Liberals two and a half years ago? Well...maybe a bit.

But how can anyone out there support someone who uses "u" for "you", in their e-mails? Are we going to see press releases during the campaign saying:

"SB wants u're vote b-cuz he's SO cool. LOL. BS is lame. ;-) TTYL!"

21 To Go

Four down...

I never really put much stock in the rumours that Allan Rock was considering a run at the Liberal leadership. I was a big Rock supporter back in the day, but there always seemed to be a sort of finality to it all when he called it a career in 2003.

And, as much as I respect the guy, and as great a leader and PM as I think he'd be, this is likely for the best. Fairly or not, Rock would have been seen as the "Chretien candidate", and the guy was just the velcro politician - everything stuck to him. This party needs to shed some of it's baggage and needs a face with some "newness" to it, and Rock just didn't fit that bill.

And with another big hitter's organization now free, the opportunity for an outsider to do well in this race is even bigger. There are a lot of organizers out there without homes who will be getting a lot of phone calls this week me thinks.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Race For Stornoway

Eventually, I'll add a sidebar with Liberal Leadership links, but until candidates actually start declaring, that's probably a tad premature. For now, here's a rundown of some of the main sites out there devoted to the race. Let me know if I've missed any.

Leadership Sites

Liberal Leadership Odds: The most complete site out there with bios, a forum, and news. Their poll has Stronach (WTF?) and Ignatieff running neck and neck.

Transferable Ballot: Set up by Flash Point Canada. You can rank your candidates in order of preference. With over 500 ballots cast, the current result has Stephane Dion beating out Gerard Kennedy on the final ballot.

The Next Face: Posts news stories on the Liberal race. Seems to favour Ignatieff and Dryden but only pegs their odds at 7:1 and 16:1 respectively.

Liberal Party Leadership: Has candidate profiles and a poll (not many votes so far but, for what it's worth, the top 3 right now are: Kennedy (32%), Dryden (16%), and Ignatieff (16%)).

Candidate Blogs

Martin Cauchon for PM: This site has been running since last summer.

Draft Dion: No, it's not run by Paul Wells.

Draft Hellyer: Paul! Paul! Paul!

Blogs Obsessed With LPC Leadership

I'd include myself in this list. These blogs have had a lot of leadership content over the past week.

Liblogs: Probably your best source - the Liberal blog aggregator.

Vijay Sappani: The guy seems awfully certain of what he says. Not sure how much stock I put in it, but he provides daily rumours.

Jason Cherniak: Find out which candidates are "emotive".

Andrew Coyne: Lots of news, and a ton of comments.

No Ottawa: Mark Watton is a member of the LPC's national executive.

In addition to this, I'll be keeping a running tab on the candidates, rumoured and declared, here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"I'm Going To Make Paul Martin Seem Like Yesterday's Man"

When Frank McKenna decided he needed to spend more time with Brian Tobin's family, the big question was where all the Martin supporters would go to. Well, I can report that in Alberta, they appear to be drifting towards Scott Brison. I guess it's not too surprising that they see something magical in a man for whom deep political discourse consists of "Stephen Harper is against bilingualism". (To be fair, Brison is a charismatic politician with a bright future. I just wish he could speak French...or hadn't been calling for private health care two years ago...)

After spending fifteen years of his life to give Paul two as PM, John Bethel has signed on to the Scott Brison team. On Tuesday morning he was wined and dined by Mr. Brison in Ottawa, and by Tuesday evening he was preaching about Scottberta to Liberals young and old. He's assured everyone that it will be the "fun campaign", and he's probably right if you enjoy watching a forty year old man sign karaoke in a bathrobe until the wee hours of the morning.

UPDATE: I've added two more names to my speculation list. Vijay Sappani floated Borys Wrzesnewskyj (boy, that's going to be tough to chant at rallies...) tonight and I've heard his name mentioned in the Ukrainian community in Alberta as a possible candidate, so there might be some truth behind it. Also, one reader e-mailed in talking up John Parisella, so I figured I'd pass it on.


Mark Watton, a National Executive Member, is asking for feedback from Liberals as to when the leadership convention should be held.

I, for one, think we need a lengthy leadership race, in order for Liberals to have time to get to know the candidates and where they stand. There's no rush and I don't see much of a downside to keeping Harper in power for the time it will take the party to rebuild. Even a May 2007 convention date doesn't seem too unrealistic, although I'd be happy with a February or March convention, if logistical or financial reasons make that necessary.

There's nothing to say the policy renewal process can't take place at the same time as this is going on. For an example of a grassroots initiative by a few Young Liberals at McGill, check out this site.