Saturday, December 30, 2006

Holiday News Roundup

1. Finally! The recognition Ralph deserves:

Former premier Ralph Klein is to be presented with the Cam Fella Award next month in Mississauga by Standardbred Canada. The organization says no other provincial government has been as supportive to Canadian horse racing as the Klein-led Progressive Conservative government in Alberta.

The provincial government is pumping about $63 million into horse racing this year alone.

2. I'll be updating my links and sidebar at some point in the next week and when I do, I'll be sure to include this new blog. More than anyone else around, Darryl defines what it means to be a Calgary grit, and it's great to see people blogging who have been around this party for as long as him.

3. While Darryl has been a Liberal for decades, this new blogger has been a Liberal for weeks - nevertheless, he'll also be up on the link list when I update.

4. I'm never one to jump to conspiracy theories, but something is rotten in the state of Denmark with this one:

OTTAWA — Canada's chief electoral officer, who was involved in a months-long spat with the Conservative party over whether it broke federal election laws, is resigning.

There was no immediate reason given for Jean-Pierre Kingsley's decision to step down as head of Elections Canada at the end of next month.

The Conservatives said Mr. Kingsley's departure and the dispute were completely unrelated.

5. So long Mr. President.

6. So long James Brown.

7. And, Saddam Hussein is dead.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Man of the Year

Time doesn't have a copyright on it so, for the third straight year, I'm ready to crown my Person of the Year. Last year, Belinda took the honour for her waltz across the floor which grabbed headlines and changed history. In 2004, I went with Ralph Klein for his re-election and interference in the federal vote. And while Stephen Harper is the obvious choice this year, I think picking the PM is a big cop out (although not as lame as picking "You", I guess) so this year's Calgary Grit Person of the Year is...

Michael Ignatieff

A year ago, Michael Ignatieff was fighting for a seat in Etobicoke Lakeshore, admit virulent criticism that he was anti-Ukrainian and supported torture. It was as messy a run for office as you'll ever see in a safe Toronto seat (which, for the Liberals, are most Toronto seats). A year later, he came within a few gaffes of winning leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada and, despite his loss, he drove much of the political agenda in 2006 and is now Deputy Leader of the LPC. Not bad for a rookie.

As the frontrunner, Ignatieff grabbed most of the headlines in the year long Liberal leadership race and, as Dion said in his acceptance speech, took the lumps because of it. Everytime he sneezed, his critics said it was proof his immune system couldn't handle the top job and his supporters said it was a sign he wasn't a typical politician and that the sniffles were why they loved him. His stand on Afghanistan may have been the reason Harper called a snap vote on extending the mission and he led the debate throughout the entire leadership race (often arguing both sides, as one scribe wryly commented).

But despite what many Liberals say, the Liberal Party is not Canada and to be man of the year, there needs to be some meaningful and lasting contribution to the country. Ignatieff did just that during the Quebec nation fiasco this fall. While Ignatieff's ownership of the nation motion was proportional to the motion's popularity for much of the year, it's hard to deny that he got the ball rolling on it. No policy this year was more controversial and none has the potential to have a larger long term impact on the very nature of our country. Those who support the motion feel it will squash separatism while those who opposed it (such as myself), feel it's a very dangerous step towards the edge of the cliff. Time will tell, but for better or worse, Ignatieff's role in this debate made him influential in 2006.

Michael Ignatieff is not a politician but that's what made him a gift to blogging in 2006. Big ideas, big gaffes, and a polarizing figure - the holy trinity of blog material. One presumes Iggy will continue to provide good fodder in 2007.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I guess this won't land Steve in the slammer and it is an honest mistake, but it's hard not to get slightly amused at the Tories finally admitting they broke election finance laws and that Harper himself went over his donation limit in 2005:

OTTAWA (CP) - After months of heated denials, the federal Conservative party has quietly admitted it failed to publicly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations.

And the muddle over the disclosure meant that at least three party members - including Prime Minister Stephen Harper - donated more than the legal limit last year.

Last Thursday, the party filed a revised financial report for 2005 with Elections Canada, acknowledging that it did not report delegate fees collected for its national convention that year as donations, contrary to political financing laws.

In their defense, it is impossibly hard for political parties to find a lawyer in their ranks to read over these laws...

Big Red Auction

If you didn't like what you got in your stockings and have some cash laying around, the EBay auction for Martha's Big Red Bus is closing today on EBay.

In Other News...

Adam Radwanski is over at the ever growing Macleans blog empire.


A couple of gents who know a lot about the Liberal Party weigh in with their take on the state of the party.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Right Side Up

Paul Wells first book, Right Side Up (can't really link to Chapters now that Heather Reisman isn't a Liberal...), has been called everything from "a masterpiece" to "sheer brilliance"; and those are just the comments from Wells himself. I picked up the book back in November at the Calgary launch and quickly read through it. Unfortunately, between the Liberal convention and the real world, I didn't have the time to do a proper review and I forget many of the what were no doubt brilliant and insightful comments about the book I thought up as I read it the first time. So instead, I offer up a condensed review and the recommendation that the book is certainly worth picking up at the mall tonight if you're last second shopping for that political geek near and dear to you.

For those who don't already know the gist of Right Side Up, it's a summary of Canadian federal politics from 2003 to present day, framed as the clash between Stephen Harper and Paul Martin Jr. The book jumps back and forth between the two men and while I don't believe there were any direct interviews with either of the protagonists, we see a lot of analysis from the strategists close to them. Which is a good thing since this is a book on political strategy and maneuvering rather than an academic analysis of elections you'd see in something like Big Red Machine. And there certainly is a lot of talk about maneuvering, from internal Liberal feuding to Tory market analysis and election strategy.

I think the main lesson to be taken from the book is that the Scouts have been on to something with their "Be Prepared" motto. After reading the book, you get the sense is that the Tories lost in 2004 because they just weren't ready to fight a campaign. In 2006, it was the Liberals who weren't prepared for an early election whereas the CPC had a tightly choreographed campaign down to the hour...until the last two weeks when Harper ran out of messaging and things went sour, likely costing him a majority. Liberals eager for a spring non-confidence vote would be wise to remember what happens to parties who are rushed into elections.

As for the writhing itself, if you like Inkless Wells, you'll like this book. It's written in the same style you see on the blog and reads like a collection of lengthy posts slapped together. Of course, if you don't like Wells' writing style then this probably isn't the book for you and I imagine the Bob Rae books are going to be really marked down for obvious reasons so maybe that's the one you should pick up.

The one knock I would give the book is that it goes on too long. Not in terms on length - I could have read another hundred pages easily. What I mean is that the book should have ended after Harper's win on January 23rd and been left with a quick epilogue. Instead we see lengthy analysis of Harper's first months and the Liberals return to the wilderness. It's not that this isn't interesting material, it's just that it's too soon to get any meaningful interpretation of what it all means. The two things which really stick out is the talk of Harper's environmental strategy and the Liberal leadership race - Wells' analysis is already out of date by the time the books hit the store shelves and not just because it took so long for the books to hit the store shelves in many cities. The book was about Harper's rise and Martin's fall and I think the post-election chapters should have been saved for the sequel (The Rise of Stephane Dion and the Fall of Stephen Harper?).

Festivus News Basket

1. On the nomination front, there's more buzz about a Trudeau run, Christy Clark in Vancouver Centre, and the rumour is that Anne McLellan will shortly announce plans not to run in the next election.

2. Today's Globe article has a few interesting nuggets on the Liberals' election campaign:
-There's talk of a 308 riding strategy
-Kennedy has a quote on the importance of winning seats in the West
-Mark Marissen and Nancy Girard, the party's Quebec vice-president, will be the campaign co-chairs
-A focus on local platforms such as the Made in BC and Made in Alberta policy documents we saw during the last election

3. Susan Delacourt has a fun little Christmas Carol in today's Star.

4. This Decima poll has some interesting snap shots of what Canadians think of the new Liberal leader.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2006 Year in Review Quiz. In Canada. We're Not Making This Up.

Grab a pencil and paper - it's test time. I've prepared a year in review quiz to look back on the year that was 2006. I've posted the answers at the top of the comments section, so resist the urge to cheat and see how you do.

1. How did the New York Times describe Peter MacKay when speculating about him and Condi?

a) "A horse faced charmer"
b) "The closest thing to eye candy on the diplomatic circuit"
c) "The Britney Spears of Canadian politics"
d) "An elfin type with fierce eyes"

2. Which of the following did Stephen Harper do on the Rick Mercer Report this fall?

a) Had lunch at Harvey's with Rick
b) Visited Canadian Tire with Rick
c) Read Rick a bedtime story
d) Went skinny dipping with Rick

3. Which of the following parties finished dead last in terms of the popular vote, with a mere 72 votes nationally?

a) Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada
b) Canadian Action Party
c) Marijuana Party
d) The NDP

4. Andrew Coyne's longest blogging hiatus this year was:

a) 20 days
b) 50 days
c) 90 days
d) 150 days

5. Which Harper communications director was fired less than a month into the job?

a) Sandra Buckler
b) William Stairs
c) Jeff Norquay
d) Toby Ziegler

6. What percentage of the vote did Ralph Klein get on his leadership review, prompting him to call it quits?

a) 45%
b) 55%
c) 65%
d) 75%

7. According to Alf Apps, who best understands Pierre Trudeau's view of federalism?

a) Justin Trudeau
b) Alexandre Trudeau
c) Stephen Harper
d) Alf Apps

8. Which of the following Liberal MPs and onetime leadership hopefuls did not participate in the leadership Q & A session in Edmonton this April?

a) Belinda Stronach
b) John McCallum
c) Joe Fontana
d) Ruby Dhalla

9. How many MLAs from Alberta's two largest cities were included in Ed Stelmach's first 18 member Cabinet?

a) 4
b) 8
c) 12
d) 16

10. According to Lawrence Cannon, the Quebecois are:

a) Descendants of the French settlers
b) Francophone Quebecers
c) Francophone Canadians
d) Everyone living in Quebec
e) All/some of the above

11. Who won my "best Prime Minister we never had" contest this summer?

12. Put the following leadership candidates in the chronological order that they endorsed Bob Rae: Carolyn Bennett, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Scott Brison, Ken Dryden, Hedy Fry, Joe Volpe

13. How many provinces changed Premiers this year?

14. For another point, name the new Premiers.

15. Which two Liberal leadership contenders voted against Harper's "nation" motion?

16. Put the following celebrity break-ups in chronological order:

-Britney Spears and Kevin Federline
-Michael Ignatieff and Susan Kadis
-Joe Volpe and Jimmy K

17. Who is the Minister of National Revenue and Western Diversification?

18. Who is this man?

19. Who was named Canada's Greenest Prime Minister?

20. Within +/- 1%, what percentage of the vote did Stephen LeDrew get in the Toronto moyoralty race?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Red Tory To Take Green Portfolio

The latest rumour has Harper doing a three way shuffle in January.

Prentice > Environment
Van Loan > Indian Affairs
Ambrose > Intergovernmental Affairs

Building the Team

After naming Iggy deputy leader yesterday, Dion put a few more titles into the stockings of his former rivals today:

-Kennedy to advise on election readiness and renewal.

-Rae and Brison to co-chair the platform committee.

-Martha to do platform outreach.

As for the other two, my guess is Dryden gets to start in goal for the parliamentary hockey team and Volpe handles youth outreach.

Monday, December 18, 2006

As Close To Me As Possible

Just like it was a no brainer for Harper to make Peter MacKay his deputy after winning CPC leadership, this one seemed fairly obvious too:

Federal Liberal party leader Stéphane Dion appointed former leadership candidate
rival Michael Ignatieff as his deputy leader in the first of a number of a
pre-election moves that will also include important roles for other former
leadership candidates.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Nomination Watch

'Tis the season for election speculation. Here's a run down of some of the high profile Liberals who might have a safe seat on their Christmas wish list now that the parties are starting to gear up for the next vote.

Bob Rae - I must first say that I find it someone ironic that the candidate who put out the least policy during this leadership race will be writing the Liberal platform but I'm sure Bob will do a good job the offer is very reminiscent of Chretien putting Martin in charge of the Red Book after his win in 1990. As for where Bob'll run, that's the $845,000 question. A lot of Liberals are talking about Rae taking on Jack uno a uno in Toronto Danforth and the proposal certainly has it's merits. Last election Layton beat Deborah Coyne by 14% of the vote but it was a lot closer in 2004 and with every poll we saw this summer saying Rae could steal NDP votes, this would be The battle of the election and likely the best use of Rae's star power.

Gerard Kennedy - There are a lot of options for Kennedy but the most logical would seem to be to take on Peggy Nash in Parkdale. Even though the riding is now NDP both federally and provincially, Kennedy has stolen this riding from the Dippers before and won the seat in 2003 by an uber-majority (over a 40% lead on his closest challenger). Kennedy could also try and establish his credentials as a Western Liberal for a future leadership run which would make several Manitoba seats appealing. The Dan Report speculates about a run in Winnipeg South.

Martha Hall Findlay - After the campaign she ran, her impact on Dion's win, and the fact that she's been shuffled aside in the past for a "star" candidate, you have to figure Martha will get a safe seat. And since the safest seat around is Toronto Centre, that's where my money is.

Justin Trudeau - It's been speculated for a long time that Justin would one day run and the stars seem to be aligning for it. He raised his Liberal profile during the convention and the party is in desperate need of fresh blood in Quebec. Justin is as good at retail politics as any of the pros and it would give the Liberals some youthful energy in the Quebec caucus if he won a seat. Outremont seems to be the most talked about target, although daddy's old riding in Mount Royal could open up if Cotler decides to not run again.

Christy Clark - I haven't heard this rumour anywhere so I figure I'll be the one to start it. Given that Dion is looking for strong female candidates and Christy's husband just happens to be Dion's national campaign manager, it certainly seems like a logical fit. There are a few BC ridings which are ripe for the taking and Christy would be a fantastic addition to the federal caucus.

Martin Cauchon - After reading the Macleans leadership spectacular, one thing which struck me was how blunt Martin Cauchon was about still hosting future leadership ambitions. With that in mind, now might be a good time for a return to federal politics and his old riding (Outremont) has conveniently opened up with Jean Lapierre's retirement from politics.

Other Names
If Cauchon is making a comeback, certainly a few others in the "Chretien gang" might be considering it too. Allan Rock's endorsement of Stephane Dion was interesting, considering the neutrality of the likes of John Manley and Frank McKenna. It's also not out of the realm of possibility that a Jane Stewart or Bob Nault might consider returning to the kingdom they were driven out of three years ago. Jane Taber mentions a possible Collenette run in Ottawa Centre, although it's Penny, not David. Fuddle Duddle has speculated about some of the Quebec seats and tosses out Brigitte Legault's name as a young female candidate. There's also some talk of a Liza Frulla comeback. As for fellow defeated Liberals Anne McLellan and Reg Alcock, they haven't tilted their hand one way or the other.

That Time of the Year

Time Canada has picked Stephen Harper as it's Man of the Year. At least their choice makes more sense than that of their US counterpart.

Coyne Leaks Tory Platform

Coyne had a thoroughly entertaining Saturday column.

My only problem with his proposal is that many Conservatives are going to have arguments about what constitutes a gift. Does a "gift" begin at purchase or does it only become a gift once it's given?

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Tory Cabinet

Ed Stelmach announced his new Cabinet today. At first glance it's very white, very male, and very rural. Among the highlights:

Lyle "skeletor" Oberg - Finance
Dave Hancock - Health
Ted Morton - is the man for sustainable resource development
Rob Liepert - Education
Iris Evans - Employment, immigration, and industry
Ron Stevens - Justice and Attorney General
Doug Horner - Advanced education

Thursday, December 14, 2006

At Issue

The National did their year end At Issue roundtable to look back on the past few months. Here's a run down of what the panelists had to say, with my own two cents (off the top of my head - I'm sure I'm missing some good answers):

Best Political Play
Chantal Hebert: Dion taking ownership of the environmental issue
Andrew Coyne: Kennedy endorsing Dion
Rob Russo: Kennedy endorsing Dion
Rex Murphy: Yup. Make it three for that.
CG: Gotta agree with the majority on this one. Gerard's walk to Dion's box was definitely the political play of the past few months, both for impact and drama.

Worst Political Play
Coyne: Harper's nation motion
Russo: The Tories handling of the environment issue
Rex: Volpe's kiddie donations
Hebert: Ignatieff wading into the nation debate since it shows he doesn't understand the Liberal Party. [hmm...I seem to recall many a columnist who claim to understand both the Liberal Party and Quebec claiming this was a brilliant play on his part back when it happened...]
CG: I've got to think Ignatieff's "war crimes/losing sleep" comments and Harper/Ambrose's handling of the environmental file take the prize.

Significant Event of the Fall
Russo: Clean Air Act
Rex: Dion's win
Hebert: Nation motion
Coyne: "Decapitation" of the LPC old party establishment at the convention
CG: The nation motion or Dion's win are the obvious choices here, but I am surprise no one mentioned the Tory flip-flop on Income Trusts

Rex: Nation motion
Hebert: Elizabeth May
Coyne: Ontario Citizen's Assembly of electoral reform
Russo: Economic changes in Canada
CG: The disappearing wait times guarantee fifth priority

Underrated Politician
Hebert: Pass
Coyne: Starts off on Rona Ambrose, saying the Tory plan wasn't that bad but settles on Jim Prentice
Russo: Rob Nicholson
Rex: Dion, who is underrated by the Tories
CG: Given who was just sworn in as Premier of Alberta today, it's hard to think that Ed Stelmach wasn't completely underrated by everyone over the past few months.

Overrated Politician
Coyne: Ken Dryden
Russo: Lawrence Cannon
Rex: Jack Layton
Hebert: Gilles Duceppe
CG: Some interested choices all around. Instead of making my pick, I'll refer to what I said back in June when they asked this question: "The Jim Dinning bubble is going to burst and it's going to be beautiful when it does".

'Sup with Afghanistan?
Russo: Big because the Quebecois nation are sending troops over in June
Rex: This will be a huge issue!
Hebert: Duceppe's proposal was panned in Quebec
Coyne: Rex is way off base
CG: Elections rarely are based on foreign affairs in this country, but it's hard to see how this won't be an election issue

When do we Vote?
Rex: Spring
Hebert: Spring
Coyne: Spring...maybe February
Russo: NDP saves the Tories bacon
CG: Like I said on the hotstove, later rather than prediction is early 2008.

Who is this lady?

None of the four panelists got it, although I'm proud to say I guessed right. Admittedly, it was a guess though.

Rona to be Gona?

There's a lot of speculation making the rounds about Harper's first Cabinet shuffle, expected in early January. I wouldn't expect a massive shuffle, but most agree Rona Ambrose's days in environment are numbered. Since it's become the highest profile Cabinet position of late and it's in the mutual interests of the NDP and Tories to cut a deal on the environment, Harper's decision will be a crucial one. Among some of the people I could see winding up there:

1. Lawrence Cannon - Having a Quebecer in the file might be a wise move for political reasons and Cannon seems to be one of Harper's most trusted Ministers.

2. Peter MacKay - Would allow Harper to change things up at Foreign Affairs as well, where MacKay's performance has been rather mixed.

3. Monte Solberg - Handles the media better than anyone and with an election around the corner, half the job for the Minister of the Environment is really just PR.

4. Dianne Ablonczkskszxtckzktxckzzy - Was one of the more high profile omissions in Harper's first Cabinet.


No one knows a thing about him, including Albertans. And now he's our Premier.

Since no one knows much of anything about him, his first Cabinet will certainly help define Ed. Daveberta speculates on who will make the cut in Friday's announcement. The CBC has also made a list of his 42 promises and will presumably be checking them off over time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hard Curve

The NDP has their mid-term report card out for Harper's Cabinet, with Lawrence Cannon and Tony Clement leading the C-. I had a teacher who gave out marks like this once - everyone hated him.

I'll save my report card for the one year mark but it is difficult to pick out Ministers who have excelled in their roles. If I had to pick a top performer so far, I'd probably have to go with Flaherty.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Lazy Blogging Alert

One of the drawbacks to the entire leadership process is that I'm now way behind on school work and with finals this week that means you'll have to look elsewhere for insightful and/or entertaining blog materials.

So, instead, I'm going to do the lazy blogging thing and just slap up links to various Globe & Mail stories with comments like "this is an interesting story" or "this is an interesting idea". Enjoy!

-This is an interesting story; The opposition is threatening to pull the plug over Afghanistan. I must say, I'm looking forward to the daily election speculation we're sure to see in the new year. It'll bring back fond memories of pretty much all of 2005 when every time Jack Layton sneezed, it was interpreted as a sign an election was imminent.

On the same topic, I'd wager money that once the new critic portfolios are handed out, Michael Ignatieff doesn't find himself in foreign affairs. Just a hunch.

-This is an interesting story on the unraveling political career of Andre Boisclair. Were PQ members stoned when they picked this guy? Everyone keeps saying that Stephen Harper is Jean Charest's best chance at re-election but I tend to think it's Mr. Boisclair.

-This is an...umm..."interesting" story on the Cape Breton separation movement. Maybe they can get advice from Jerry Boyle.

-Gordon Gibson proposes the interesting idea of going to a preferential ballot for elections. Makes sense to me. It'd remove some of the silly strategic voting strategies we're forced to employ and would ensure that MPs command the support of a majority of voters in their riding.

-Cindy Klassen is Canada's athlete of the year. What an interesting choice.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Welcome to the Podcast

Greg Staples hosted a post-Liberal leadership roundup on the blogger's hotstove this week which I guested on, along with Cherniak and Gauntlet.

Feel free to give it a listen here.

They Live Among Us

While Ezra Levant and Pat Martin have raised objections to Stephane Dion's dual French-Canadian citizenship because they don't like the optics, I think people may be missing the larger picture here. I don't want to alarm anyone, but after minutes of sleuthing and deductive reasoning, I've reach some very disturbing conclusions. Consider the following:

Before being named GG, our current head of state had dual French-Canadian citizenship. If recent polls are to be believed, our next Prime Minister has dual French-Canadian citizenship. Hell, the star goalie for the Montreal Canadiens is a French citizen. And, assuming nothing has changed since I was in High School, French Immersion students across Canada are still being subjected to the complete works of Gerard Depardieu.

Add it all up and there's only one logical conclusion to be reached - a French invasion from within. We've known for a while that the French were out to get us - we all remember how the French figure skating judge tried to rob Sale and Pelletier of the gold in Salt Lake City. While their motive is still unclear (unlimited syrup for their French toast perhaps?), their intentions appear obvious. I call on all Canadians to hunt down your friends and neighbours with French citizenship and force them to renounce their dual citizenship. Only then can we truly be safe from this growing (bleu, blanc, et) rouge menace.

Now I Know How the NDP Feels

I'm currently only behind SDA by a factor of 24 in the Weblog Awards, 988 to 42.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Scared Green

It's probably too much to ask for parliamentarians to work together to save the planet but, luckily enough, I think we might get the next best thing. Between the hype around Elizabeth May and the triumph of the green scarves in Montreal, it seems that all parties are now scared of losing the environmental vote (such as it may, or may not, exist).

What this means is that the major parties will, one by one, try to cut each other off by offering more and more environmentally friendly policy. It's how we got the welfare state and if it gets us some sound environmental measures, then those Canadians who keep ranking the environment as their top priority on phone surveys deserve a big thank you.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Since Bart Ramson is no more and since google really needs the business, I've got a new e-mail address for all things blog related:

Links, tips, feedback, hate mail...send it all there.

French Whine

Surprisingly enough, the first major attack launched by the NDP and CPC on Stephane Dion is an assault on his dual Canadian-French citizenship. Despite all the bad blood among many of the contenders in the leadership race, we never even heard a whisper campaign about this (of course, had he been a dual Canadian-American citizen I doubt he could have won, but that's a rant for another day).

Dion appears to be going against his French instincts by refusing to surrender on this one. If he sticks to his guns, I don't think we'll see much political fallout from this, if only because it's easy to wrap yourself in the flag when defending it - "Canada is a great country because it is made up of people from many backgrounds. My loyalty is unquestionably to this great country which is why I've spent my life fighting for it." Or something like that.

Still, the question of whether the Prime Minister should be allowed to have dual citizenship is a tricky one. Michaëlle Jean gave up her French citizenship after she was named Governor General and if we're going to require that of a figurehead, surely the same standard should be applied to the leader of the government, n'est-ce-pas?

So while Dion could certainly hold his own in the duel over dual citizenship, in my opinion he likely should voluntarily give it up as a sign he's ready to be Prime Minister.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

There Goes the Neighbourhood

In 175 to 122 vote, the House has voted against re-opening the debate on same sex marriage. Among the notables who opposed the motion:

Peter MacKay
Lawrence Cannon (who no doubt will go into a 15 minute monologue on who exactly is a same sex couple if asked afterwards)
Jim Prentice
David Emerson
Josee Verner
John Baird
Michael Chong
Joe Comuzzi

However, some people just can't seem to get the idea of man on man monogamy out of their heads:

But opponents of gay and lesbian marriage said on Wednesday that rejection of the motion would not end their bid to have the legislation overturned.

“Oh no, absolutely not,” Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, told the Globe when asked whether his group will abandon the fight if the motion was defeated.

“We are going to continue to lobby members of Parliament, to raise up grassroots and to engage in the democratic process.”

So, expect McVety to begin lobbying Parliament to re-open the debate on re-opening the debate on same sex marriage.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Done Like Dinning

A lot of people are drawing parallels between the Liberal and Alberta PC leadership races. In both cases, the top two candidates faced strong "Anybody But" movements, allowing the blander but less disliked third place challenger to come up the middle and win. And while there are certainly some similarities, I don't think the comparison does justice to the sheer magnitude of Jim Dinning's loss.

For Michael Ignatieff, he was only the frontrunner because others took a pass at the race. He'd been assembling an organization for under a year before the race began and no one ever saw him as invincible. Frontrunners have stalled at 30% in many leadership races over the years and his loss was a tale as old as time.

Jim Dinning's defeat in Alberta, however, may have been the largest upset ever in a Canadian leadership race (putting aside the surprising 1925 PEI NDP leadership convention...). If readers can think of a comparable face plant, I would love to hear from you, because nothing comes to mind right now to me. Consider everything Jim Dinning had going for him. He was a hugely successful treasurer and had higher name recognition than anyone else in the race. He'd been building an organization for a decade and had been hailed by the media as the "next one" over that time period. He had, far and away, the largest war chest of any candidate. He had Rod Love and most of the backroom heavy hitters. He had 38 MLAs endorsing him. Everyone in Alberta believed his victory in this race was inevitable.

With everything he had going for him, Dinning's candidacy is comparable to Paul Martin's in 2003. Paul got over 90% of the delegates while Dinning lost. And it wasn't even close. So what went wrong?

Well, for starters, the rules of the game were different this time. Despite having the party apparatus onside, there was no ability or desire to restrict access to forms. Because of this, Dinning also had to face a field of 7 as supposed to...Sheila Copps (who even Jim Dinning could beat, I imagine). But these factors only made a loss for Dinning possible - he still needed to find a way to lose. And he did.

For starters, he became seen as the "Calgary candidate" and the "establishment candidate". Anyone who has studied Alberta political history knows that Albertans have traditionally shunned the establishment - that's why protest parties were born here and that's why they don't really seem to care about having MPs in government. Further, those familiar with the PC Party are certainly aware that the Edmonton/Calgary/rural split among party members is, in many ways, stronger than any ideological divisions could ever be. Dinning's campaign (and most others for that matter) never realized what was happening and, as a result, he ran a campaign where he took few risks and contrasted himself only with Ted Morton, unaware that Morton could never win 50% + 1.

Ed Stelmach didn't do anything remarkable to win this race. I don't think Ed Stelmach has ever done anything remarkable in his life. This was Dinning's race to lose and he lost it in one of the biggest political shockers in Canadian political history. As someone who has been put off by Dinning quite some time, it's certainly a little satisfying.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Looking Back, the Road Ahead

I'm sure there will be plenty written about Stephane Dion's victory in the coming days. Mainly because, now that this race is done, everybody is going to need something to write about. But, before then, here's a look back and a look ahead at the seven who made it all the way to Montreal:

Martha Hall Findlay

Why She Lost: Winning was never about winning. For Martha, this was about making a name for herself and raising her profile in the party. I think it's safe to say she exceeded everyone's expectations; not so much on delegate totals, but on the credibility she's earned in this party.

The future: As one of only two candidates to endorse Dion and as the only female left in the race at it's conclusion, one imagines a seat in the GTA will be opened up for her by the next election. It also stands to reason that a seat in the front benches will be opened up for her once she's elected.

Joe Volpe

Whe he lost: Let me count the ways. Volpe was never going to win, but no one really imagined that his campaign would run off the rails the way it did. In a leadership race which showed that the grass roots can beat the backrooms, Volpe's old school politics were his undoing.

The future: For the sake of party unity, it would be foolish of Dion to marginalize Volpe in the party and he's likely still in the next Liberal Cabinet if he runs again. But any hope of career advancement is as dead as his supporters.

Scott Brison

Why he lost: The income trust story was the worst possible way imaginable to launch a leadership bid. But what really did Brison in was the general sense that he just wasn't ready for prime time.

The future: His poor showing and endorsements of, first Rae, then Iggy, certainly haven't done him any favours. Nevertheless, it's hard to deny that Brison is a rising star in this party. Still, no one wants to lose three leadership races before they turn 45 so unless Dion gets a decade as party leader (which is possible), it might be wise for Scott to sit the next one out.

Ken Dryden

Why he lost: Let's put it this way. Even Ken wouldn't have won 7 Stanley Cups if he played for the Leafs. You're only as good as the team around you and while Dryden had great people working for him, he just never recruited enough organizers to mount a serious bid. No doubt his somewhat unfounded reputation for being a boring speaker and shaky French turned a lot of people off.

The future: His leadership ambitions have come and gone, but the most respected candidate at the start of the race is even more highly thought of now. As long as he sits in the house, he'll be the conscience of the Liberal Party - our own Ed Broadbent.

Gerard Kennedy

Why he lost: There are two competing theories and I'm not sure which one I subscribe to. The "3 vote" theory says that had he been ahead of Dion on the first ballot, things would have played out differently. Kennedy had 17 Alberta delegates disqualified by Rae on Friday and a dozen snowed in from BC - maybe that would have made a difference. The other theory is that Dion had all the momentum and would have passed him regardless. If that's the case, then Kennedy's inability to be perceived as a serious candidate by both media and delegates was what did him in.

The future: The future looks bright. Kennedy's stature in the party has been raised immensely by this race and he's the undisputed heir apparent at this point. He's a young man who had a lot of young volunteers who will not doubt be with him whenever we do this again. In the meantime, he can work on his French, get some federal experience, and experiment with different haircuts. But for those fearing a repeat of the Martin/Chretien wars, keep in mind that Gerard stayed loyal to McGuinty after losing in '96 and crowned Dion himself this time so I'm positive he'll be a loyal Liberal soldier.

Bob Rae

Why he lost: Rae got 6 of the 10 candidates who dropped to come his way, had 2 million dollars to spend, but just couldn't excite grass roots Liberals. Some will point to his record as Ontario Premier, but I suspect it was his newness to the party which turned many off.

Let's talk about the future: Hopefully Rae runs in the next election, although that's probably a 50/50 wager at this point.

Michael Ignatieff

Why he lost: It's hard not to feel a little sorry for Michael Ignatieff. Like Dion said, Iggy took his lumps as frontrunner all summer long. In the end, he just didn't have the political experience neccesary and it showed on the campaign trail.

The future: Michael Ignatieff still has a lot to offer the Canadian Parliament and the Liberal Party. Dion would be wise to use this man as much as possible.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Back From Montreal

I'll have a more detailed post mortem of the Liberal and PC leadership races once I get a good 30 or 40 consecutive hours of sleep. I would however caution that polls conducted on a Saturday night, after an exciting convention should always be approached with caution.

For now, here are 10 signs you were at the Liberal the Liberal Liberal Convention in Montreal this weekend:

1. You can now text message 40 words a minute.

2. You have 50 button holes in all your shirts, a Gerard Kennedy bandana, Bob Rae balloons, Ken Dryden cookies, and a suitcase full of swag you will probably never wear again.

3. You find yourself spontaneously breaking into chants of "Di-on! Di-on!", "GK all the way!", or "Oh Rae, Oh Rae, Oh Rae, Oh Rae" at work.

4. You find it offensive that you now have to pay for your own alcohol.

5. You've been woken up to "Ted Morton is the man" the past 5 days (this one only applies to the AB youth delegates who I had on my wake-up call list).

6. After spending a week in one of the most beautiful cities in North America, you now feel kind of guilty that you never left the 3 block radius of the convention centre.

7. Still stuck in convention mode, you find yourself saying things like "the only way to stop Iggy is to go for lunch now!" or "unless you wash the dishes, Bob Rae will win this thing!".

8. You've read four separate analyses of the MacLeans poll, all conclusively showing that a different man is the best suited to beat Stephen Harper.

9. You've spent at least 2 hours waiting for your plane to defrost at some point in the past week.

10. You have at least one picture of yourself with Justin Trudeau or something signed by Ken Dryden (hopefully not one of the Liberal thongs they had for sale at the souvenir table).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

C'est Fini

This one comes to you live from Stephen Taylor's laptop...round 3 is over and it looks like Stephane Dion is heading to victory. After Gerard dropped out, I put on a green scarf and followed Kennedy to the man who has been my number two choice from start to finish.

This whole journey began back in January when I looked around at the 50 or 60 candidates in the field. Gerard caught my eye for reasons which long time readers obviously know by now. And while I'll admit I was crushed earlier today, there's a lot to be happy about. Gerard went down fighting for his vision of Canada and gave the speech of his life on Friday night. I don't think I've ever been prouder of a candidate I've supported in my life. Like Andrew Coyne said in the Post this morning, Gerard had the right message for where the party needs to go and I hope that Dion listens to the advice Gerard has to offer. It also looks like Gerard was the kingmaker at the convention and may have been the only leadership candidate to deliver his vote to the man he endorsed. His future looks bright, to put it mildly.

I'll have more thoughts later but, while I'm obviously a little choked, this has been a great convention and I truly think it has brought the party together. There were some great candidates in the race and the party's future looks bright. Bring it on Steve!

Late Night Reaction

Since I'm fairly sure no delegates will be reading blogs much tomorrow, the following opinions are pretty much free of spin since no one reading them has a vote:

1. Today was fun. I mean, repeating the same chant over and over again and marching in seemingly aimless directions for hours on end doesn't sound like much fun but, man, it was. Compared to 2003 when myself and the other Sheila Copps delegates spent the weekend crying in small corners by ourselves, this was what a convention should be like. I also think the need to work people over on the subsequent ballots has done wonders to bring people together the way one member one vote never could. So I'm definitely glad that delegated conventions will continue.

2. The results:

Michael Ignatieff: 1,412 votes, 29.3 per cent (29.3 per cent)
Bob Rae: 977 votes, 20.3 per cent (20.1 per cent)
Stephane Dion: 856 votes, 17.8 per cent (16 per cent)
Gerard Kennedy: 854 votes, 17.7 per cent (17.5 per cent)
Ken Dryden: 238 votes, 4.9 per cent (5.1 per cent)
Scott Brison: 192 votes, 4 per cent (3.9 per cent)
Joe Volpe: 156 votes, 3.2 per cent (4.8 per cent)
Martha Hall Findlay: 130 votes, 2.7 per cent (1 per cent)

3. Lots of talk about the Rae-Volpe ticket in the hospitality suites last night which will probably do Rae more harm than good. There were also a few jokes about Joe providing the pizza for the Bob Rae hospitality suite...

4. Dion appears to have picked off a lot of Iggy ex-officios. I just don't see a scenario where Ignatieff can win this thing now - the real question is how quickly his delegates realize this. If the bleed is quick, that helps Dion and Kennedy more so than a stall which keeps him on the ballot long enough for Rae to beat him at the end.

5. The 2 vote spread between Kennedy and Dion should make rounds 2 and 3 very interesting as they go back and forth for that coveted third spot. We'll see just how much coming out against the Harper nation motion helped Gerard on round 2 since that's when people who were committed to other candidates on round 1 will be able to cross over.

6. That said, it's not completely impossible for both Kennedy and Dion to pass Rae. Hell, we could wind up with all four candidates around 25% by the time you hit round 3. This thing is really unpredictable.

7. Gerard had some bad luck with a lot of Alberta delegates being disqualified on a Rae protest, a dozen being stuck in BC due to plane delays, and one woman fainting while in line to vote.

8. Dryden will stay on the ballot, Martha will announce who she supports tomorrow morning, and Brison's status is up in the air.

9. As for the speeches, I didn't get to see all of them because of campaign work but I will say that Gerard kicked some serious ass. I had two delegates from other campaigns tell me he hit a "homerun" and his French sounded really good (of course, that might just be because I had to listen to Mark Tewskbury the night before). Gerard reminded people of what it means to be a Liberal and laid out what the party needs to do to return to power. I think Justin Trudeau was a much more effective introduction than the lengthy video montages we saw from some other candidates.

10. Speaking of which, say what you will about him, but Justin Trudeau is a campaigning machine, if nothing else. I don't think there's a single person in Montreal (including the candidates themselves) who has shook more hands or been in more pictures than Justin. He's been a machine this weekend.

11. For interest's sake, the 1996 Ontario Liberal first ballot:

Kennedy 30.1%
Cordiano 21.8%
Duncan 18.1%
McGuinty 17.6% (14 votes back of third)

Hmm... And it should be noted that McGuinty lost ground and was 34 votes back on the second ballot, before pulling ahead. I could see the same situation repeating itself if Gerard were to get an endorsement from, say, Ken Dryden, after the second ballot.

12. I don't think I'll have time for much blogging tomorrow since I'll be doing campaign stuff but if Kennedy does drop, I'm grabbing my lap top from the hotel and live blogging the rest of the thing.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Race for Stornoway

Montreal Updates, Posts, and News
A collection of blog posts (mine and any others which catch my eye) and news stories from the convention - to be updated as things progress.

Convention Blogroll!
A BCer in Toronto
A View From the Left
Cherniak on Politics
Endless Spin
Fuddle Duddle
James Curran
NB Politico
Northern Ontario Young Liberal
Political Staples (evil Tory spy alert!)
Prairie Fire
Progressive Bloggers
Stephen Taylor (evil Tory spy alert!)
U of O Liberals
Western Grit

Other Montreal Resources
CG Endorsement for Marie Poulin
Bobbi Ethier Interviews - CG, Gauntlet
Senator Poulin Interviews - CG, Gauntlet
Tony Ianno Interviews - Gauntlet
Gauntlet Policy Roundup: Read them, international, economic, social justice, and all the rest
In Support of the Red Ribbon Report

Candidate Profiles
Final Thoughts on the Final Four - Bottom candidates, Dion, Kennedy, Rae, Ignatieff

Gerard Kennedy Endorsement and my Super Weekend endorsement
Stephane Dion
Maurizio Bevilacqua
Ken Dryden
Bob Rae
Scott Brison
Michael Ignatieff
Martha Hall Findlay
Carolyn Bennett
Hedy Fry
Joe Volpe

Globe & Mail Candidate Profiles
CBC Candidate Profiles

Michael Ignatieff in 14,000 words or less
The Globe on Dion
The Globe on Brison
The Globe on Rae
The Globe on Martha
The Globe on Kennedy
The Globe on Volpe
The Globe on Dryden
Diebel on Dryden
Diebel on Kennedy

Diebel on Iggy

Candidate Websites
Scott Brison
Stephane Dion
Ken Dryden
Martha Hall Findlay
Michael Ignatieff
Gerard Kennedy
Bob Rae
Joe Volpe

Blogs & Buzz
Lib News
Cerebus Leadership Central
Blue Blogging Website Reviews
Delegate Count

Conventions & Debates
A BCer in Toronto Recaps the LPCO Convention (links to other blog recaps)
CG Recaps the LPCA Convention
First Debate Thoughts
Wells on the First Debate
Second Debate Thoughts
Political Staples on Kitchener Forum

BC Debate Recap
Quebec City Debate Recap

A View of Two Interviews Martha Hall Findlay
CG Interviews Michael Ignatieff
CG Interviews Ken Dryden
CG Interviews Scott Brison
CG Interviews Maurizio Bevilacqua
Cherniak Interviews Scott Brison

Cherniak Interviews Maurizio Bevilacqua
CG Interview Martha Hall Findlay
Political Staples Interviews Stephane Dion
CG Interviews Dion - part 1, part 2, part 3
Maple Tree Interviews Martha Hall Findlay
CG Interview Gerard Kennedy - part 1, part 2
CG Interview Bob

Cerebus' Blogger Endorsements
Wikipedia Endorsements
Caucus Endorsements
Delegate Count

Gerard Kennedy News & Articles (As I am, after all, partisan)
Gerard Kennedy Newsdesk
Charismatic and Complicated
Kennedy's Apprenticeship
Young MPs Set to Back Kennedy
DemocraticSpace Endorsement
Kennedy Speaks on Immigration
Review of Immigration Platform
Edmonton Journal Profile
Madeleine Meilleur Endorsement
Kennedy Releases Immigration Platform
Provincial MPPs throw support behind Kennedy
Kennedy on Everyone's Radar Screen
Kennedy and Brison debate on QP
Kennedy on Afghanistan
Kennedy Closing Remarks from BC debate
5 Liberal MLAs endorse Kennedy
Trudeau on Kennedy
Trudeau endorses Kennedy

Candidates Blogging
Ignatieff Community blogs
Gerard Kennedy Group Blog

First Ballot Projections
Original Post
First Update
Second Update
Third Update


Fun Stuff
Youth for Volpe
Generation Kennedy


The little rumour which has been floating around for a few weeks about a Kennedion alliance seems to be gaining steam. (article also quotes Bob Rae saying what a swell guy Joe Volpe is)

Now, I'm certainly not in the loop on any high level negotiations but, from the outside, this seems like a logical alliance for both men. Both need to pass Bob Rae to get to the final ballot and they probably won't be able to do it without help from the other. Kennedy needs a high profile Quebec endorsement and Dion needs Kennedy's Ontario delegates after his tough showing there. Given that Kennedy and his campaign think they'll beat out Dion for third place on ballot 2 and Dion and his campaign think they'll beat out Gerard for third place on ballot 2, you're left with the perfect situation for a shotgun deal. From a game theory perspective alone, such an alliance is natural.

Obviously delegates will make up their own mind but after talking to people at the convention, I really get the sense that a lot of Dion delegates see Gerard as an acceptable second choice and vice versa. Both are young, have deep Liberal roots, and a proven track record in politics. On policy, they seem to be onside on most major issues. Just this week, Dion has followed Kennedy's lead on Afghanistan in calling for a withdrawal if the mandate isn't changed.

We'll obviously hear hundreds of rumours and scenarios over the next 2 days but this seems like the path of least resistance to Stornoway for both men. With Kennedy and Dion nipping on the heels of Bob Rae, a deal would allow the beneficiary to blow past Rae and onto the final ballot against a wounded Michael Ignatieff.