Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Draft Hellyer - Day 5

The movement is gathering steam!

On Thursday I brought the "Draft Hellyer" movement to light, and a mere four days later, Frank McKenna dropped out of the race. Today, Brian Tobin packed it in. Coincidence? Or are they afraid?

Now, it comes to my attention, that a blog has been started up to champion the campaign. I encourage everyone to visit Hellyer For Liberal Leader. And vote on your favourite slogan, while you're there.


A new poll out has support for Quebec independence at a shockingly low level.

As he prepares to leave office on Monday, Canadians everywhere owe Jean Lapierre a great deal of thanks for this. Thanks 100% to him, and him alone, support for independence is now down to the levels it was at...when he first took over as Martin's Quebec lieutenant in January 2004.

Lawrence Cannon has a tough act to follow.

It Could Be Worse

A lot of pundits are screaming about how no one wants the Liberal crown. About how it's not a prize worth winning. About how McKenna, Manley, and Tobin bowing out show that the party is in shambles.

That's ridiculous.

I'd like everyone to remember a certain leadership race which featured the following candidates:
Stephen Harper
Belinda Stronach
Tony Clement

That's about the equivalent of a race featuring Manley, Belinda, and Andy Mitchell.

Lord, Harris, MacKay, Prentice, Strahl...the list of high profile candidates who took a pass on the Tory leadership goes on and on.

And guess who is Prime Minister today?

I, for one, am looking forward to the prospect of 8 or 9 candidates in a wide open competition. I think it's exactly what this party needs to bring in new members and create some excitement. Party members will be able to look at the contestants and see who really speaks to them, rather than just jumping on the bandwagon to ensure they're on the winning team. It's shaping up a lot like 1968 and I think most Liberals liked the way that one ended.

The fact that there are still over a dozen credible candidates out there shows that there's still some interest in the job. This could be just the chance for some fantastic candidates, lacking only name recognition, to show what they're made of.

The Real Losers

Licia Corbella looks at the real losers from last Monday's election.

Leadership Speculation

Michael Ignatieff
Gerard Kennedy
Stephane Dion
Joe Volpe
Scott Brison

Ken Dryden
Maurizio Bevilacqua
Martha Hall Findlay

Carolyn Bennett
John Godfrey

Still Possible...
Denis Coderre
Hedy Fry
David McGuinty
John McCallum
David Orchard
Paul Zed
Ruby Dhalla

Taking a Pass
Frank McKenna
John Manley
Belinda Stronach
Martin Cauchon
Brian Tobin
Allan Rock
Ujjal Dosanjh
Joe Fontana
Glen Murray
Jane Stewart
Sheila Copps
George Smitherman
Anne McLellan
Christy Clark
Clyde Wells
Dennis Mills
John Parisella
Paddy Torsney
Louise Arbour
Dominic LeBlanc
Marlene Jennings
Robert Pritchard
Borys Wrzesnewskyj
Tony Ianno
Dan McTeague
Carole Taylor
Ralph Goodale

Monday, January 30, 2006

Wide Open Race

I'm shocked at McKenna's decision to bow out of the Liberal leadership race, but this is certainly great news for the Liberal Party in my opinion. The prospect of a McKenna coronation was extremely unappealing to me for a wide range of reasons:

1. It would scare off a lot of prospective candidates. Now, many dark horses might be more inclined to run.

2. McKenna's association with the Martin people would have inevitably led to a "Martin candidate" and a "Chretien candidate". With McKenna (and Manley) gone, the prospect of the party uniting behind the winning candidate has been increased dramatically.

3. Reading several books and articles on McKenna leaves me with the impression that he's one of those "all things to all people" politicians, not what the party needs now as we search for a clear path and vision.

4. McKenna's baggage with the Carlyle Group, big business, and his abortion position would have been perfect fodder for an election campaign. McKenna as LPC leader was Jack Layton's ideal scenario.

I'm not sure of McKenna's reasons to pass it up and, truth be told, I'm a little suspicious that he might still enter the race at a later date. But we should remember that he declined offers to run federally in 1997, 2000, and 2004. He's also in his late 50s and the Liberal Party isn't in spectacular shape right now, desperately needing to rebuild.

Hopefully this will encourage a lot of other candidates to run, which should set us up for a wide open, fascinating race. Belinda and Volpe are the only candidates left I have apprehensions about, so I'm really liking the way this race is shaping up.


I'm not sure I believe this, but if it's true, it will certainly shake the Liberal leadership race up quite a bit.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Tory Cabinet Spec

Obviously, I don’t know the inner working of Stephen Harper’s mind (only the scientist who programmed him truly does), or of the Conservative Party of Canada for that matter. But, like analyzing daily poll results and Liberal leadership speculation, I think all bloggers are required to engage in a little bit of wild Cabinet speculation. So, after contacting my Conservative sources (ie. The comments section at Coyne’s site), here’s my predictions for the first Harper Cabinet.

Deputy Prime Minister: Monsieur Cannon
Finance: Flaherty
Justice: MacKay
Foreign Affairs: Monte
Industry: James Moore
Health: Tony Clement (pending recount)
Social Development: Ambrose
Defense: O'Connor
Intergovernmental Affairs: Verner
Immigration: Lynne Yelich
House Leader: Jay Hill
Heritage: Bev Oda
Transport: Stockwell Day
Fisheries: Hearn
Agriculture: Finley
Aboriginal Affairs: Prentice
Veterans Affairs: Greg Thompson
Treasury Board: John Baird

I think Cannon, Flaherty, MacKay and Solberg in those above positions are fairly common consensus picks (so they’re likely wrong). I’m also going to assume Lawrence Cannon gets another portfolio to go along with Deputy PM, but I’m not sure where Harper will want to use him. James Moore is a rising star, so I suspect he’ll get something bigger than Transport. After seeing Lapierre in Transport, I just felt Stockwell Day would be the perfect follow up act. With the fiscal imbalance as his big issue, Harper should likely take a Quebec Minister for intergovernmental affairs, so even though Rona is the name most often mentioned for that post, I’ll give it to Josee Verner. For a lot of the other spots, I tried to match the Cabmins with their critic portfolios, since this will cut down on the learning curve.

At this point, I realized how futile it is to match people up to potential portfolios (and do we really care what poor soul gets saddled with veterans affairs?), and I’m not sure how many Cabinet positions Harper will have. He likely will trim it down (not needing three Ministers of Democratic Reform), so I’m just going to pick 25 names total. Feel free to add a few secretary of states in there for kicks.

Blackburn and Bernier are locks from Quebec. Every site I’ve seen has those two, plus Verner and Cannon in Cabinet. It wouldn’t at all surprise me to see Harper pick a fifth Quebec Cabmin, but I’m not sure who that would be.

Peter Van Loan and Helena Guergis from Ontario will get probably something. That will give him a strong seven Cabinet Ministers from Ontario. Garth Murray is also a possibility, but I don’t think he cracks the top 25.

Fletcher and Toews likely get in, and one should likely get a descent portfolio. I think Clement is too obvious a choice for Health for Fletcher to stay there and as for Vic Toews…he’s likely not the best Justice Minister available, to put it mildly.

And I’m also going to assume Chuck Strahl gets in somewhere, because he’s a swell guy. Originally, I would have had him pegged for speaker, but I suspect Miliken will get the job again.

So those are my predictions. Harper needs to trim the Alberta voices in his Cabinet, so Rajotte, Kenney, Ablonczy and others get the shaft. Unfortunately, so do Myron Thompson and Rob Anders.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Gerard Kennedy Experiment

I'm still in negotiations with Hellyer's people to try and convince him to run. His following in Vulcan should help him deliver the MacLeod riding (you only really need 4 or 5 instant Trekkies to take it over anyways), if nothing else.

However, should Paul turn down the offer, I think Liberals everywhere should take a long, hard look at Gerard Kennedy. I'm not endorsing him or anything, but at first glance he seems like the perfect candidate. Consider this:

1. He's an outsider, free from the Chretien/Martin battles

2. He's young (42) which is something this party needs as we try to rebuild. Ignatieff and McKenna are in their late 50s.

3. He's bilingual (but, then again, who isn't, these days?)

4. He's got over a decade of experience in government and is considered to be Dalton McGuinty's best Cabinet Minister.

5. He grew up in Manitoba, and went to University in Edmonton so he's got Western roots, which will be useful for a leadership run. And also for reaching out to Western Canada.

6. He made a name for himself setting up Edmonton's Food Bank, and running Toronto's. Try running an attack ad against that.

7. Every single Liberal I've talked to who ever met the guy likes him. One reader sent me an e-mail saying "he screwed me over at the 1984 leadership convention but I still like the guy and might support him". He sounds like a very personable, friendly, sincere guy.

8. He's supposedly charismatic. Never heard him speak, so I don't know.

9. He's clean of scandal.

10. He's left leaning, making him Jack Layton's worst nightmare.

11. He finished second to McGuinty for leadership of the provincial Liberals in 1996, so he must have a bit of an organization in place already.

12. He's got the best...political...name...ever. I mean, at a time when Canadians are cynical of politicians, what's better than a Kennedy? And Gerard is a name which works well in French and English.

Some people say he isn't running. Some say he might. If I were Kennedy, I would absolutely run. Think about it. It's going to be a wide open race, which could go multiple ballots. This might be a Trudeau '68 scenario or a Joe Clark '76 scenario. He'd appeal to the party's left wing, and would be someone Liberals leery of McKenna could rally around. At the same time, he's free of the civil war baggage, meaning both Chretien and Martin supporters would back him. Even if he doesn't win, I'm certain Kennedy would fare well, which could set him up as the favourite next time around, when he'd be around 50.

I don't know enough about the guy to guarantee I'd support him if he ran. But in a field of 20 or 30 rather uninspiring candidates, someone like Kennedy might be exactly what the Liberal Party of Canada needs right now.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Another Name...

I'm hesitant to call this guy a "serious" candidate, because I don't put much stock in his chances. But, unlike my previous post, this is a serious rumour.

I've heard from the son of an Ottawa power player that Glenn Murray is considering a run at the Liberal Leadership. Glenn just better hope that he doesn't have to face any stiff competition like, you know, Steven Fletcher.

Draft Paul Hellyer

With my guy out of the race, I've been browsing the rumoured names: Anne McLellan, Allan Rock, George Smitherman, Gerard Kennedy, Lloyd Axworthy, Dennis Mills, Ujjal Dosanj, Clyde Wells. It seems every individual in Canada who has ever remotely been associated with the Liberal Party is being called into service. So, Calgary Grit is pleased to be the first blog to start the draft Paul Hellyer movement!

This is not just some random endorsement; I have weighed the candidates carefully and have several reasons for supporting Paul. First of all, the Liberal Party is broke. If our next leader is named "Paul" we can keep the "Paulberta" t-shirts and various other "Paul" merchandise we currently have. Let's be practical people.

Secondly, despite his name, which will no doubt make him more appealing to Martinites than Chretienites, Hellyer is not directly associated with either side of the Chretien/Martin feud. This makes him the sort of consensus candidate that all Liberals could get behind - something we desperately need at this time.

Most importantly however, is Hellyer's electability. Having been a member of virtually every political party in Canada at one time or another, he is certain to garner much cross-party appeal in the next general election. As founder of the Canadian Action Party, we can likely expect a good number of their votes to come our way in the next election. Yes, I know they only received slightly over 6,000 votes, but if that vote broke down the right way in key swing ridings, it could elect us an extra 5 or 6 MPs. Remember, Andy Mitchell lost by a mere 29 votes.

Finally, I also think Hellyer will appeal to many who do not traditionally follow politics and vote. I am, of course, talking about the OMNI vote, made famous by Scott Feschuck and Jason Kenney during the last campaign. As a UFO advocate, Hellyer would no doubt appeal to the many X-Files and Roswell fanatics out there who feel their belief in extra terrestrials is not fully represented by any of the mainstream parties (well, except for the Greens).

I know his organization may not be as strong as McKenna's, but he still has many supporters from his 1968 and 1976 leadership runs who would spring into action at his word. And while some Liberals may have doubts about his frequent crossing of the floor, we must remember that Belinda Stronach and Scott Brison consider themselves serious leadership candidates.

So, Liberals. Today we start the dawning of a new era! Join me as we enter the final frontier of Liberal dominance. Sign up bellow and join the winning team! The truth is out there: And his name, is Paul Hellyer!


The Real Question

Now that the election is done, we can get back to discussing issues which all Canadians care about. Namely:

Is there anyone out there who likes the new CBC graphics and intro music for their news shows?

More Proof He's A Cyborg

On the news last night, they showed Stephen Harper shaking his daughter's hands as he sent his kids off to their new elementary school.

In Ottawa.

In Canada.

No Marathon

John Manley becomes the first high profile candidate to take a pass at the Liberal leadership, for personal reasons.


I had all but decided to support John for leadership this time around. Yes, yes, I know the prospect of a Harper-Manley debate is enough to put you to sleep just thinking about it, but if Harper has shown us anything, it’s that substance trumps style every day. John Manley was exactly the kind of person the Liberals needed – experienced, proven, consistent, and impeccably clean on the ethics front. I don’t know a more ethical politician out there and Manley is someone who would never get a “Mr. Dithers” label. I also happened to agree with him on a lot of policy specifics and on his overall vision of Canada, so supporting John just made sense to me.

Here’s a quote from the New York Times October 27th, 1993:

The Conservative Party derided him as "yesterday's man" because he faithfully served Prime Ministers Lester B. Pearson, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and John N. Turner. But by placing today's problems in the hands of Jean Chretien, who will become the country's next Prime Minister, Canada's voters said experience must count for something.

There’s no doubt in my mind that John Manley would have been the right person to rebuild the Liberal Party.

So, with him dropping out, I’ve decided to endorse Joe Volpe.

Just Kidding.

No, I’m going to play very close attention to the field over the next couple of weeks. Tobin and Brison are charismatic, but I wonder if the substance is there. I like Martin Cauchon but worry about the Adscam/Chretien cloud. I like Ignatieff but am absolutely petrified by his lack of experience in politics, and in Canada. I’m a HUGE Stephane Dion fan but wonder if he’ll have the organization to actually win. Gerard Kennedy sounds too good to be true, but I know next to nothing about the guy.

My only hope is that we get a long, fair race with a lot of candidates to choose from.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pool Results

Thanks to the close to fifty people who entered. I've added the scores up and am prepared to crown a "Champion of Miscellaneous Canadian Political Prognostication" in the First (annual?) Off-Beat Election Pool.

Before I reveal the winners, here are the question answers:

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

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

3. Which party will run the most vicious attack ad (I get to play judge and jury on this one) (5 points)
LIBERALS or BQ. I explain my reasoning here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. What date will the first abortion reference be made during the campaign? (5 points for person who is closest, 4 points for second closest, etc.)
JANUARY 10th . This one may take a bit of explanation. Abortion was brought up in the Washington Times article which Harper responded to before Christmas. However, journalists mention abortion all the time - the real question is when it becomes an issue. No one jumped on the abortion part of that story at the time so I don't consider it a real reference...it barely registered in Canadian newspapers (and I was google searching "abortion + Harper" quite frequently). On the 10th, we saw the (former?) CPC party president bring the issue up and the papers and politicians jumped all over it.

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

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

14. Which party leader will the CTV instant poll claim to have won the first English debate? (5 points)
MARTIN. CTV didn't have an instant poll, but Global did and Martin won it. Every post-debate poll had Martin as the winner too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since I don't want to embarrass anyone, I'll only post the 20 highest scores here. If you're not listed here, you can e-mail me for your score and rank. Apologies in advance for any adding errors.

1. Saskatchewan Grit 70
2. Mustafah Hirji 63
3. Judy 57
4. Blake Robert 49
5. John G 48
5. James MacDuff 48
7. Mike Berthold 47
7. Mike Gilis 47
7. McGuire 47
10. Michael 43
10. Sacha Peter 43
12. Dorion Hawk 42
12. DeClan 42
14. Hack 41
15. Don 38
16. Roby 37
17. Jason Cherniak 35
17. Matt Oberhoffner 35
19. Freedominion Watch 31
20. Thursday 29

Least Surprising News Story Of The Week

McKenna resigns as US ambassador.

In other, completely unrelated news, David Herle is also clearing his schedule.

Fly on the Wall

TDH strategies has all the inside dirt on the Liberal National Exec meetings going on now. Among the highlights:

-They want McKinnon out due to his huge McKenna bias
-There's talk of a spring policy convention and a fall leadership convention
-A lot of Paul's people want him to stay on as interim leader

Follow the link for the full details.

Dead Issue

Bouquets of Grey has done the math, and predicts that Harper's promised free vote on same sex marriage would go down in flames, gathering at most 130 MPs in favour.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that the person happiest by this news is none other than Stephen Harper.

Political Nut: Round 2

Round two of the political nut of the year is well under way. It's a clash between Rob Anders and John Duffy.

While both are worthy winners, Anders has always been a personal favourite of mine, so he gets my vote. Maybe 2005 wasn't his nuttiest year ever, but think of it as a "lifetime achievement award".

Who was it? Mrs. Volpe?

Andrew Coyne is running a series of polls on Liberal leadership.

The most interesting is the "who should win from the Liberal perspective?". Currently, McKenna, Manley, Dion, and Ignatieff are all doing quite well.

But, with nearly 700 votes cast, there has been one single vote for Joe Volpe.

Even Belinda's got 28.

UPDATE: He's up to 3 votes! Can I presume the Wappell household has visited Andrew's site?

Rebuilding the Big Red Machine

While a lot of Liberals are no doubt upset about losing last night, the party now has a golden opportunity to rebuild itself. With Harper only winning a minority, the timeline will need to be sped up, but I still think the party needs to use a three stage approach:

1. Leadership Race
2. Policy Conference
3. Fundraising and Riding Rebuilding

Since the Liberals can keep Harper afloat as long they want, I'd budget about two years for this, which would set us up for a leadership race this fall. If Martin wants to stay on as leader until then, then let him. If he wants to step aside and let Dion or Graham be the interim leader, that'd be acceptable too. The important thing is to start the leadership race soon, since the new leader needs to be the one who participates in the rebuilding of the party. Ideally, it will be a wide open race with 8 or 9 candidates which will generate excitement on the ground, and in the media. While it may be a bit naive to think so, I do hope this race will bring Liberals together, rather than tear them apart. It won't be decided on the first ballot so the key players will have to "play nice" with the other candidates and their supporters, in order to ensure their support on the second ballot. Warren Kinsella has said he will sit the race out, and I would hope that Herle and the Board take his lead and do likewise, to prevent old wounds from opening up. I also hope that the eventual winner will reach out to his (or her I suppose...) opponents afterwards, giving them and their supporters prominent positions in the party. Yes, there will be some blood spilled along the way, but with a common enemy now, I suspect things won't be as ugly as last time.

The second stage is the policy conference. The "Kingston Conference" of 1960 was considered a watershed moment for the Liberal Party and the Aylmer Conference in 1991 was the most recent version of this. Hopefully some new ideas will be put forward during the leadership race, but the Liberals need to go outside their ranks to get others. Hold a massive policy conference, for members and non-partisan thinkers, and use it to start work on the next election platform. Harper showed the value of an opposition party having a clear policy platform (as did the Red Book in 1993).

Finally, the party needs rebuilding on the ground. The new leader will have to suck it up and go to spaghetti dinner after spaghetti dinner in ridings across the country, to boost the morale of party members and volunteers. He'll also need to recruit star candidates and fundraise, two things which are a lot more difficult in opposition than in government. This party is terrible at fundraising and it's in a big hole financially right now. That's why it's important to look like a party on the move, and hopefully a new leader and a policy conference will do just that.

The Liberals need to resist the urge for a "quick fix" or the "Joe Clark scenario". Let Harper govern for at least two years while we get our act together. It's going to take a lot of work from people willing to put aside past differences and divisions in order to rebuild the Liberal Party. This party is in serious need of repair and the rebuilding starts today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

We're Number Six!

Sure, the Tories got the most votes. And the Greens were fifth. But the real interesting battles were, yet again, overshadowed by the Liberal/Conservative/Separatist/Socialist/Green media bias. Did the Marxists-Lenninists win bragging rights over the Communists? Could the Animal Alliance bring people out to vote? How many marijuana supporters remembered it was election day?

Here's how the rest of the parties fared:

6. Christian Heritage Party 28273
7. Progressive Canadian Party 14446
8. Marxist-Leninist Party 9289
9. Marijuana Party 9266
10. Canadian Action Party 6201
11. Communist Party 3127
12. Libertarian Party 3003
13. First Peoples National Party 1340
14. Western Block Party 1094
15. Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada 72

Tuesday Morning Quarterback

Well, that was certainly a fun ride. For this week, I'll be posting thoughts on the election, the transition, and the new Cabinet. I intend to focus a lot on Liberal Leadership over the coming months, but I want to mull the choices over for a bit. For now, let me say that when it comes to selecting a new leader, it's crucial that we learn lessons from the past few years.

The sponsorship scandal crippled us, the people around Martin were terrible, the civil war has been horrific, while indecision and a lack of vision have hurt us. We saw a policy wonk from Alberta with zero charisma, beat "the next one", a man who was hyped to win 200 seats one day. There are a lot of lessons in there and I hope that Liberals take a few minutes to pick a candidate who they feel will be best for the party, rather than blindly following who the kool aid drinkers tell them to.

That said, here are a few day after thoughts:

1. Paul Martin: He could have been a great leader. We saw Martin at his best last night and caught glimpses of the real Paul over the past two years. But they were only glimpses. The man tried to be all things to all people and became nothing, as a result. He tried to crush his opponents, but it was his opponents in the Liberal party. He surrounded himself with terrible political minds out of a sense of loyalty, which is commendable, but it proved costly. He never got control of his own agenda and was constantly playing defense.

In the end, Paul Martin will be remembered as Canada's best Finance Minister ever. And that, in itself, is quite a legacy he should be proud of.

2. Stephen Harper: It's got to be a little disappointing for Harper. He did everything right, and the Liberals did everything wrong. And still only got "the thin blue line". Still...if Harper can go a year without flogging gays in the streets, he'll look a lot less scary. The fiscal imbalance issue could make it or break it for him in Quebec.

3. Jack Layton: Is going to have a tough time getting "results for people".

4. Andre Arthur: Is going to become a star.

5. Peter Miliken: Will be the speaker of the House again. No doubt about it.

6. Reg Alcock: Biggest surprise of the night to me (among those who lost).

7. Anne McLellan: It's a shame to see Alberta all blue. And the Liberals got a mere 15% of the vote - eek! The party has a lot of work to do here.

8. The Liberal Party: Not a bad outcome, all things considered. I'll post some more on rebuilding the big red machine tonight.

9. The Contest: I'll hopefully have the results of the "off beat election pool" up tonight. On the topic of "most vicious attack ad" run, I'm declaring joint winners here. "Soldiers in the streets" was the most vicious, but wasn't ever run. The Bloc attack ad against Alberta was the worst, but it was only a newspaper ad. Harper ran some nasty personal ads against Martin on the topic of CSL and Paul's private doctor. But, in the end, the last gasp abortion ads against Harper were probably the worst. So, anyone who said Liberals or Bloc get full marks in that category.

Nanos Celebrates

Final SES Numbers
CPC 36.4%
Lib 30.1%
NDP 17.4%
BQ 10.6%

Election Night Results
CPC 36.2%
Lib 30.2%
NDP 17.5%
BQ 10.5%

Monday, January 23, 2006


Feeling nostalgic for Paul Martin, "Soldiers in our Streets", and the ending of the Liberal dynasty?

Well, grab a beer, get a big bowl of popcorn, and read some of my posts recapping the election that changed Canadian politics.

Election Day

English Debate

French Debate

English Debate II

French Debate deux

Final Predictions

Week 7. In Review.

Week 6 Recap

Weeks 4 & 5 Recap

Week 3 Recap

Week 2 Recap

Week 1 Recap

Election Strategery: Grits

Election Strategery: NDP

Election Strategery: BQ

Election Strategery: CPC



Since I'd rather not make this blog "Calgary Grit...Live From Drumheller Penitentiary", I won't be blogging the election results tonight until the BC polls close at 8 pm Mountain time. But, rest assured, I'll have a draft of thoughts on the election results ready to post come 8:01. I'll also turn comments off before the polls close in Newfoundland. Andrew Coyne is of the opinion that you can get around this by simply saying stuff like "The early pages of Anne of Green Gables indicate that three quarters of the roads in PEI are red", but I somehow doubt that will work. If you're starved for the early results, just visit a US blog or, you know, call someone who lives out east.

Until then, I'll have random musings throughout the day. And, come 8:01 pm, tune in to see how Belinda, Lapierre, landslide Annie, and the rest of the bunch did. It figures to be an interesting night - I know I'll be up late.

11:15 am: Did you know that the Elections Act gives you three hours off work to vote? My plan for my three hours is to vote, then catch Brokeback Mountain, since I have a feeling it may be banned in Canada very soon, if you catch my drift.

11:20 am: They're canceling the West Wing? Those bastards! While it would have been interesting to see Alan Alda or Jimmy Smits at the helm, it's somewhat fitting for the show to go out with the end of the Bartlett Administration.

4:03 pm: I'm just checking in with the Calgary Grit decision desk...what's this? Yes! We are prepared to call the riding of Crowfoot for the Tories in a shocker! I know it's a bold move, but the early exit polls look very promising for the Tories...

4:12 pm: I'm about to head home and vote. Yes, I will vote Liberal and I don't feel the least bit guilty about it. I'm closing down the comments now until 8 mountain (10 eastern) so be sure to check back then when 3 hours of random thoughts and results get posted all at once. And stay here throughout the night for the most in depth election coverage on the net (which will involve writing down what I see on CBC and occasionally adding a snarky comment).

5:53 pm: Highlights from the Rick Mercer Report:
"Every rally, Harper has his aids bring the prettiest girls in the audience backstage and Harper tells them to "save themselves for marriage".

"It's a great chance to celebrate nature before the Conservatives outlaw it"

6:33 pm: I've been surfing on US blogs, and the early returns are very favourable for the Liberals. (Note to self: Come back to this before I post, and add insightful comment about "what this means" for rest of country...based on how rest of country votes)

7:20 pm: Don Cherry and Ron MacLean are on providing political analysis. Uh-huh. Still...more insightful than Jim Travers or Link Byfield.

7:33 pm: Scott Brison wins and is on CBC now: "Harper doesn't support multiculturalism, bilingualism, or the Charter." Someone should tell this guy the polls closed two hours ago - he can stop campaigning now...

7:37 pm: GASP! We're down in Algoma! Shocker! OK, it's a 3-2 edge in votes (reminds me of rural Alberta Liberal nomination meetings). I love this part of election coverage.

7:44 pm: Snowshoe guy is up in Interlake, one poll in! I knew my endorsement would make the difference.

7:50 pm: Tories jump by 6 seats in 5 seconds. My guess is Alberta is reporting. As an aside, I remember back at the leadership convention when the Martinites were calling it "Paulberta". Sigh

7:57 pm: Global and CTV have called it as a Tory minority. CBC still hasn't made the call yet.

8:07 pm: Jack Horner Belinda Stronach is down early on...

8:08 pm: CBC calls it and the crowd in Calgary goes wild. The biggest surprise? They're watching the CBC at the Conservative Calgary party.

8:16 pm: Bernard Lord on CBC trying to look happy...John Manley on CBC trying to look sad...

8:27 pm: Tories leading in 10 Quebec seats - very impressive. Still...Liberals are leading in 94 so it's not a complete wipeout.

8:37 pm: The Quebec numbers have the Bloc with 43%, the CPC with 27%, the Liberals with 18%. So we won the referendum election - Jean Lapierre should be proud.

8:50 pm: Tony Valeri loses. What goes around...
Rob Anders wins handily. Democracy sucks...

9:01 pm: Early thoughts:
Winner: NDP. 30+ seats.
Loser: Bloc. Their seats drop and their popular vote plummets.
Chuck Cadman 2.0: Andre Arthur. If things hold up, he'll be the balance of power. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Peter Miliken back as speaker.

Oh. And for the second straight year SES and the Election Prediction Project prove to be the best predictors.

9:16 pm: Jean Lapierre wins Outremont. Phewf! This guy doesn't take losing well so it's a bit of a relief.

9:23 pm: Jack Horner Belinda wins! This bodes well for the hospitality suite situation at the next Liberal convention.

9:27 pm: Is it just me, or did Goodale and Belinda sound a little bit too happy in their victory speeches. I know they won but, still, the party lost. In other news, there's some speculation that Martin might not concede defeat. I'm sorry, but even for Martin, this is too far fetched to be plausible. However, the results are close enough that I don't think Paul will resign as LPC leader willingly.

9:33 pm: Clement by 21 votes. Bring on the recount!

9:57 pm: Funniest headline of the night on the CBC scroll: "Galloway demands Martin resign". Galloway may be the defeated MP I'm most happy to see go.

10:01 pm: Well, Martin certainly looks like he's in a good mood. His concession speech hit all the right notes and was probably the most genuine thing he's said in a long time. Honestly, it may have been his best speech as Liberal Party Leader.

And I wrote that before he announced his resignation. Wow. I always felt Paul would do the right thing and I applaud him for putting the party first.

11:47 pm: I can't believe we just elected a Prime Minister who lets his kids stay up past midnight on a school night.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Final Fix

After being bombarded with hundreds of polls during the campaign, the final ones are out tonight:

Lib 30.1%
CPC 36.4%
NDP 17.4%
BQ 10.6%

Somewhat interesting are the Sunday numbers in the poll which have the Tories up by a mere 2.8%, and only 1.7% among voters "very likely" to vote. Yeah, there's a big margin of error, but it should provide false faint hope to a few people out there.

Ipsos, meanwhile, has the Tories up by 10. The Globe is promising a Greg poll later tonight.

After tonight, we'll be back to monthly polls, so I suspect a few of us will be checking into rehab, once the SES-withdrawal symptoms start to kick in.

UPDATE: The Strategic Counsel has it 37-27-19-11...like pretty much every other polling firm out there.

UPDATE: The Election Prediction Project has their numbers down to 118 Tory, 99 Liberals, 58 Bloc, 28 NDP, 1 Independent, and 4 too close to call.

Final Predictions: Ontario

Atlantic Canada
Western Canada

From the start, the consensus was that this election would be decided by Ontario voters. In 2004, they didn't fully trust Harper and rushed back to the Liberals at the last minute. This time? We've seen hints of that, but I don't think it will be enough to turn the tide.

2004 Results

Liberals 75 seats (45%)
Conservatives 24 seats (32%)
NDP 7 seats (18%)

Riding to Watch: Newmarket Aurora

Belinda's defection from the Tories may have been the best thing to ever happen to Steven Harper. It delayed an election at a time he probably would have lost and brought his party together, giving them time to prepare a coherent election strategy. The Liberals are obviously worried about Belinda, bringing in big names to help her campaign, and moving people from other campaigns to her riding. Belinda herself has conceded that she's in trouble, and I'm going to predict this one goes Conservative.

2006 Outlook

Toronto remains the Liberal fortress. Jack and Olivia should be able to win their seats, and I expect Sam Butte will be going down in Parkdale. There's some talk about Peter Kent (CPC) or Paul Summerville (NDP) knocking off Bennett in St. Paul's but, like Ignatieff's riding, it's too safe a Liberal seat for an upset to happen. There are a few other vulnerable ridings, but I suspect that the Liberals will win all but three seats in Toronto.

The 905 is a different story. The NDP should sweep all three Hamilton seats, bringing a smile to Sheila Copps' face. The Tories will gain at least 6 or 7 new seats here, including Belinda's. It also looked like Jim Flaherty is pretty much a lock, and talk is he'll be the new head of the Treasury Board in a Harper government.

Ottawa itself will likely also see a few more CPC MPs. David McGuinty is in tough against Allan Cutler, and John Baird should win in Ottawa-West-Nepean. James Bowie will probably have a job in Maaaaaaahoney's office should he win, but I tend to think the NDP will hang on. Outside of Peter Miliken, I can't see any other Liberals in Eastern Ontario, outside of Ottawa, winning.

Expect four time loser Tony Clement to beat Andy Mitchell in Parry Sound, and get a fairly high profile Cabinet Position. A lot of other seats in the North and West should drift to the Tories too. Al Gretzky has an outside chance in London, but I have doubts. I'd love to see a few guys like Telegdi and Steckle go down in defeat, but I suspect they'll likely hang on (as will Wappell, obviously).

2006 Predictions

Liberals: 48 seats (down 27)
Conservatives: 46 seats (up 22)
NDP: 12 seats (up 5)


Conservatives: 132 seats
Liberals: 87 seats
Bloc Quebecois: 57 seats
NDP: 31 seats
1 Independent

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Final Predictions: Quebec

2004 Results

BQ 54 seats (49%)
Lib 21 seats (34%)
CPC 0 seats (9%)
NDP 0 seats (5%)

Riding to Watch: Outremont

Jean Lapierre has been the laughing stock of Parliament Hill since becoming Paul Martin's Quebec Lieutenant. Lapierre represented Paul Martin's desire to cozy up to separatists, in the hope of sweeping Quebec. But Lapierre, while being a competent Transport Minister, has been a disaster as a political organizer and strategist, and the Liberals had to turn to Stephane Dion to save their bacon in 2004. Recent polls have Lapierre neck and neck in the riding, with a remarkable 32% combined support for the NDP and Green Party. No doubt, these are federalists who just can't stomach Lapierre. I'm going to predict this riding stays Liberal, but not by much.

2006 Outlook

The big news in Quebec this election has been the surge of the Conservatives. Not only will this win Jean Lapierre his referendum election, but it will also end the doomsday national unity scenarios of a Tory government without a voice in Quebec. Quebecers love a winner and are certainly hoping to get a voice in Cabinet.

Lawrence Cannon, Josee Verner, and Maxime Bernier are the three candidates the Tories have targeted from the start, and I expect all three of them to win. Jonquiere has gotten a lot of media buzz after the Liberal candidate kinda-sorta stepped aside, conceding defeat to the Tories. I also think Levis-Bellechasse, Megantic-L'Erable, and Lotbiniere-Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere (boy, that's a mouthful) could swing Tory. The problem the Conservatives have is that their organization on the ground is weak so they won't be as effective at bringing out the vote as the BQ. I'll mark them down for 6 seats, with each and every one of the winners heading to the Privy Council.

The Liberal campaign, once again in the hands of Jean Lapierre, has been rather...umm...not good. Coupled with some vote splitting with the Tories and I think the Liberals may be heading for a complete wipe-out outside of the Island of Montreal. I'm going to predict that either Jacques Saada or Marcel Proulx hang on, but I can't see any other seats outside of the Island staying with them.

As for Montreal itself, it's gotten to the point where you can list the Liberal MPs by name: Scarpaleggia, Cotler, Jennings, Patry, Dion, Pacetti, and Robillard are all safe. I know a lot of people think Paul Martin might lose his seat but that's probably a little far fetched. Frulla and Pettigrew are gone for sure but they should be able to hang on to a few other seats (like Lapierre's) here and there. Add it up, and I'll give the party which used to win 74 seats in La Belle Province, 11.

Finally, I'm going to give Portneuf to independent candidate Andre Arthur. Arthur is a former radio host and poll numbers show him in the lead. Perhaps he'll be the next Parliament's version of Chuck Cadman.

So, add it all up, and you're left with:

2006 Predictions:
Bloc 57 (up 3)
Liberals 11 (down 10)
Conservatives 6 (up 6)
Independent 1 (up 1)

Calgary Grit Endorsement

A lot of other blogs are rolling out their candidate endorsements, so I figured I'd jump into the mix. After reviewing all of the 308 307 Liberal candidates coast to coast, I have decided to officially endorse Bruce Benson from Selkirk-Interlake.

Mr. Benson has been making a name for himself with the media this election. Instead of door knocking, phoning, and meeting voters, Mr. Benson has decided to spend the election snowshoeing across his riding. I for one applaud Mr. Benson. Too many politicians are obsessed with the crass act of trying to reach voters; Mr. Benson has taken politics back to its roots, reminding us that what it's really all about.

Here are some of the highlight quotes from CPAC and Global stories I've seen on Mr. Benson over the past few days:

"I respect him for what he's doing. I don't really understand what it has to do with policy though."
-Voter in his riding

"Couldn't your time be better spent...meeting voters?"
-CPAC interviewer

Interviewer: "Are you dejected that polls show you under 10% in this riding?"
Bruce Benson: "No, real candidates face adversity. You don't quit when you're down in the polls. You don't quit when your feet are sore."

Hear, hear. All too many candidates who try to snowshoe across their ridings, give up when their feet get sore - but not Bruce. Because of this, I am very pleased to endorse Bruce Benson as the next MP in Selkirk-Interlake.

Final Predictions: Atlantic

Yesterday I looked at the West. Today, the East. I should warn you that outside of the Rankin Family Christmas, Anne of Green Gables Miniseries, and Brian Tobin's memoirs, I know very little about the Maritimes. Given that, many readers probably have a better idea of what the big local issues are and how the mood feels there. I invite them to comment.


Lib 5 (48%)
CPC 2 (32%)

Nova Scotia
Lib 6 (40%)
CPC 3 (28%)
NDP 2 (28%)

New Brunswick
Lib 7 (45%)
CPC 2 (31%)
NDP 1 (21%)

Lib 4 (53%)

Riding to Watch: Kings Hants
Rumoured Liberal leadership candidate, and former PC leadership candidate, Scott Brison is in tough, trying to hold on to a riding he won easily last time. Brison hasn't been helped by a spat he had with a voter in his riding last fall. Despite all that, I expect this one to stay Liberal

2006 Predictions
The Tories have leapt ahead in Atlantic Canada - the real question is how many new seats it will get them. In Newfounland, the Liberals have some pretty impressive margins of victory from last time, but I'm going to say Avalon (Efford's old riding) and Bonavista swing Tory.
Lib 3, CPC 4

Harper took a trip to PEI this week, so he obviously thinks there are some vulnerable ridings there. Wayne Easter and Shawn Murphy seem like the most obvious targets and I'll assume one of the two loses.
Lib 3, CPC 1

Despite the rising Tory tide, I don't see a lot of ridings in Nova Scotia swinging. The seats the Grits are most in danger of losing are ones where the NDP finished second and their numbers haven't moved a ton out East.
Lib 6, CPC 3, NDP 2

In New Brunswick, the situation is a lot more precarious for the Liberals. It wouldn't surprise me to see Andy Scott, Paul Zed, and Andy Savoie all go down in defeat and that's just for starters.
Lib 4, CPC 5, NDP 1

2006 Predicted Totals
Liberals 16 (down 6)
Conservatives 13 (up 6)
NDP 3 (unchanged)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Alberta Can Blow Me

Paul Martin is frantically spending the last days of the election campaign reminding people that Stephen Harper comes from Calgary. Because, you know, everyone from Calgary in unfit to be Prime Minister.

If Martin does somehow win this election, he's going to leave Alberta extremely pissed, and a lot of Liberals out West in a foul mood. The "Alberta Card" may be good tactics when it comes to winning elections but, like the anti-Americanism, it's damaging to the country in the long run.

Remember the fuss when the Reform Alliance ran those ads asking if people really wanted a leader from Quebec? This is the same sort of regionalism that parties who pretend to be national should stay away from.

Especially from a leader who said his time as Prime Minister would be judged a "failure" if he couldn't end western alienation.

Ipsos Facto

Warren Kinsella has Darrel Bricker's thoughts on the election campaign. It makes for a good read.

Indecision 2006

OMG! CANADA! On US TV! That is SO cool!!!!

(hat tip Zerb)

Closing the Deal

Harper and Martin both finish off their campaigns with warm and fuzzy TV ads. Both work fairly well, in my opinion. The shots of Harper with his wife, at rallies, and genuinely happy should make people feel comfortable voting for him.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Final Predictions: The West

Since we're about to go dark on poll numbers, I figure it's time to post final predictions for election day. I'll start with the West today, and move east. Obviously, things could still change (especially if there's any truth to the somewhat wishful rumour about a "nuclear" CTV story on Harper set to air tomorrow). Regardless, here's how I see the Western Canadian numbers breaking down:


3 Liberals

8 Liberals (29%)
22 Tories (36%)
5 Dippers (27%)
1 Independent

1 Liberal, 1 quasi-Liberal (22%)
26 Tories (62%)

Ralph (27%)
13 Tories (42%)

3 Liberals (33%)
7 Tories (32%)
4 NDP (24%)

Riding to Watch: Edmonton Centre
An Edmonton Journal poll has Laurie Hawn up 42%-37% on incumbent Anne McLellan. While Anne always seems to find a way to win, with a Conservative government likely, I'm going to predict this one goes Conservative.

2006 Predictions
Western Canada should provide the NDP with a few new seats, although the region has always been very Conservative so I don't foresee the same kind of massive riding switches we might see in other parts of the country.

Expect the Dippers to snatch the NWT from Ethel Blondin-Andrew, ensuring a lot of Orange on the electoral map.
Lib 2, NDP 1

In Manitoba, there are a few interesting ridings. Churchill is Bev Desjarlais' old riding, but I think the NDP can hang on to it. Selkirk-Interlake features Ed Schreyer and apparently the Liberal candidate has decided to snow shoe across the riding, rather than door knock (seriously...I saw it on CPAC). Still, local polls have the Tory hanging on to it. The Liberal seats are fairly safe, although I wouldn't be shocked to see Alcock or Neville lose. Still, I'll play it safe and assume everything stays the same in Manitoba.
Lib 3, CPC 7, NDP 4

In Saskatchewan, Ralph should be safe. The NDP lost a few close races to the Tories here last time, so I expect them to pick up at least one seat somewhere. While the Liberals have hopes for a few, the horrific national campaign is going to make it almost impossible for them to gain here.
Lib 1, CPC 12, NDP 1

In Alberta, I said 28 and 0 from the start and I'm sticking by that. Brad Lavigne seems to think the NDP will beat Rahim Jaffer, but I think Brad is a little out to lunch on this one.
CPC 28

BC is the wild card, and the EPP still has 15 seats there listed as "too close to call" (and they've called Vancouver Centre for Hedy over Svend which is a little premature imho). BC always seems to break Conservative on voting day, but I still expect some big gains for the NDP here, likely knocking off David Emerson and/or Keith Martin.
Lib 6, CPC 20, NDP 10

Liberal 12 (down 5)
Conservative 67 (down 1)
NDP 16 (up 7)

Harper's Migraine Inducing MPs

Speaking of a Conservative Cabinet, I think it's safe to say Myron Thompson won't be a member.

The best use of Harper's time right now would be to call up his candidates one by one and tell them to zip it.

Buzz Won't Be Happy

About this.

It sounds like the guy was misquoted if you read the original story. His campaign manager defected to help the Tories so that the riding can get a Cabinet Minister. The Liberal candidate apparently "understands" his former campaign manager's motives but is staying in the race and still would like people to vote Liberal.

Still, it's another sign of how the Liberals have fallen in the province Jean Lapierre was supposed to paint red for Paul Martin.

Conspiracy Theory

Two points on the conspiracy theory front:

1. I'm a little uneasy by Harper's implication over the past few days that the judiciary isn't independent. Remember, Harper will have at least one SCC seat to fill during his time as PM and if he's obsessed about partisan judges, I'm a little worried he might appoint a partisan judge.

2. Except For One Thing speculates about bloggers criticizing Martin in order to gather favour with the "incoming regime", as a way of landing plum political jobs. I can't speak for other bloggers, but I know I've been trying to turn this blogging thing into an ambassadorship...

The Front Bench

CTV starts off on the Cabinet musings. Among their predictions which I'm fairly sure we'll see are MacKay to Justice, Lawrence Cannon as Deputy PM, and Monte Solberg as Foreign Affairs (which is going to make for very interesting blogging).

It's probably too early to speculate, with the Ontario and Quebec numbers up in the air, but I think it's safe to say that there will not be seven Alberta MPs in Cabinet.

Courtesy of the Liberal Mole...

...come your January 24th talking points:

1. It's Jean Chretien's fault
2. It's the RCMP's fault
3. It's Warren Kinsella's fault
4. It's the media's fault
5. It's the mole's fault

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Soyons Clair

Hat Tip to Jason Cherniak for showing me the error of my ways. As per his suggestion, I will now be "blogging accordingly" to my Liberal affiliation.

With that in mind, here are a few random thoughts I have on the election:

1. When talking about his virtual elimination of the capital gains tax today, Mr. Harper stated "there is a lot of misinformation here. Only half of those who pay this tax earn above the average income." (Stephen Harper, St. Pauls, January 18, 2006)

It's true, there is a lot of misinformation and spin on this issue, and it's coming from Mr. Harper. Did you know that 95 per cent of tax filers do not even claim capital gains? That two-thirds of the total capital gains are claimed by the 140,000 Canadians earning more than $100,000?

In the last debates, Mr. Harper claimed his strength wasn't 'spin'. Could have fooled me.

2. Stephen Harper's New Deal = No Deal!

Today in Toronto, Stephen Harper confirmed the New Deal for Cities and Communities would be stalled under a Conservative government. Stephen Harper says he will 'honour' what the Paul Martin government has already put in place, but that's it - no more!

3. Jack Layton is consistent in one thing: he ALWAYS puts politics before people.

UPDATE: Scott Feschuck has a great blog post here.

FACT CHECK: Maybe this was a tad dry, but it seems very few people caught on that this was a word for word rehashing of Liberal talking points... I don't even understand what I posted on the Capital Gains Tax.

Strategic Voting Explained

NDP voters should vote Liberal to stop Conservatives

Layton (December)
NDP voters should vote NDP to stop Conservatives

Layton (January)
Liberal voters should vote NDP to help the Liberals (rebuild)

Quebecers should vote Liberal to win the referendum

Quebecers should vote Conservative to get seats in Cabinet

Quebecers should vote Bloc to stop the separatists

My Vote

In Calgary, truth be told, your vote doesn't really matter. There's no such thing as strategic voting so it's symbolic above all else. Because of that, I've been giving a bit of thought as to how I'd vote. Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I'm not a big fan of Junior and I can sympathize with those who believe that the current Liberal Party doesn't deserve re-election. It's also become apparent that the Liberal Party needs to renew itself. On the other side, Stephen Harper has run a flawless campaign, laying out a moderate right of centre view of the country. So, I won't be surprised if and when he wins on Monday.

But all that aside, I've decided I will be voting Liberal on Monday. Although I do like Harper, I'm worried about his potential Cabinet and I don't agree with his policies. And while I do like many of Layton's ideas, at the end of the day, I agree with Liberal policy. It would be immensely self satisfying to walk into the voting booth and mark an X against Paul, but I'll save the pettiness and the "I told you sos" for this blog. I've been out campaigning a few times this past week and have realized that it's important to look at the party as a whole and the local candidate, not just the leader and the dolts running the PMO. After weighing all of this, it just feels right to vote Liberal.

It won't mean much in Calgary, but I'm glad to give them my $1.75 a year; I'm hopeful it will be used to rebuild the party so that we can return to past glory soon enough.


Umm...vote separatist to save the country?

I'll give him marks for originality.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Free Falling

Holy Crap. Tonight's CTV poll numbers are downright shocking after Ekos and SES showed the race narrowing. Gregg has the race narrowing...the race for third place in the House, between Martin and Layton.

No link as of yet:

CPC 42
Lib 24

In Quebec, the Tories are up to 31%, with the Grits at 12%. 12%? 12%?!?!!?! It looks like those predictions by Alberta Martinites that the Liberals would be as strong in Alberta as in Quebec have finally come to fruition.

These numbers are so confusing that even the Hill & Knowlton seat predictor is confused, predicting 75 seats for the Bloc in the regional breakdown.

In The Driver's Seat

Joe Volpe's leadership campaign is off to a rocky start.

Out of curiosity, has anyone bought the domain name "www.toriesforvolpe.ca" yet?

It's All Explained

Rick Mercer takes a look inside the Liberal War Room.

Policy Matters

A few people have been subtly, or not so subtly, complaining that I haven't written much nice about the Liberals of late. Believe me, I'm been trying to come up with something nice to say about this campaign, especially as the prospect of a Harper majority becomes more and more real.

While it's really hard to come up with anything positive to say about this campaign, I will give four reasons, on the policy front, why I don't want to see a Harper majority.

1. Gun Registry: This one is contentious, even for Liberals in Alberta. But the two overriding issues which drove me to the Liberal Party when I first got involved were national unity and gun control so it's an issue I feel strongly about. Harper has said on numerous times that he'd scrap the gun registry, something which hasn't gotten much attention, despite all the emphasis on gun violence this campaign. I detailed why I support the gun registry a while ago. Yes, there have been cost overruns, but I still think the benefits outweigh the expenses.

2. Star Wars: We've had years of debate on this, and six movies, but Harper seems to want to bring the topic of Star Wars back to the forefront. Personally, I don't feel exceedingly strongly about this topic and I'll agree Martin and McKenna really mishandled the announcement of the decision last spring. But the system will never work and I see very few benefits of joining.

3. Same Sex Marriage: Is there anyone in Canada who can honestly say that their life has gotten worse over the past year, merely because they know that gays can legally wed in Canada? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

The only thing revisiting this question will do is cause a legal mess full of Supreme Court challenges and confusion. Even Harper must realize this. The fact of the matter is, Same Sex marriage was the right decision, regardless of what the Supreme Court said.

4. Kyoto: I haven't written much on Kyoto in the past so I actually have to come up with some new content for this policy which is a bit of a drag. Let me just say that global warming is a real problem and Canada should do its fair share to reduce emissions. While we aren't likely to meet our target, I feel that having a target gives us something to aim towards. I also think that this will force us to research and refine more environmentally friendly technologies and energy sources which will actually help Canada economically in the long run. I'd like to see a much more comprehensive plan than what the Liberals have laid out so far, but I think there are benefits to staying in Kyoto and making an honest effort to meet the targets, especially since we've signed the deal.

So that's my salespitch to the disgruntled Liberal voter in a swing Tory/Liberal riding, who's worried about a Conservative majority. I don't think Harper has a "hidden agenda" or any of that nonsense, but these are four points in his "wide in the open agenda" that people should consider. And maybe, these are four points Martin should have tried to emphasize instead of baseless fear mongering.

Quiz Time

I posted on the CBC quiz before Christmas, and Politics Watch has finally come out with a vote selection quiz of their own.

Unlike the CBC one, I matched up 100% with Paul this time, followed by Layton at 94%, Duceppe at 73% and Harper at 42% (which is weird, since I put down that I was somewhat opposed to the notwithstanding clause's removal).

(hat tip Coyne)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Odds and Ends

-Paul Martin Quote of the Campaign: From this Saturday's Globe:
"I want to talk to you about what you're doing for the Liberal Party," he told his followers. "I want to talk to you about how important it is that between now and Jan. 23, some 10 days from now, we put out every single hour of the day to make sure that the Liberal Party comes forth."
I'm going to assume Gloria Galloway misunderstood Martin. What he actually said was "we put out every single hour of the day to make sure that the Liberal Party comes fourth." The way this campaign has gone, finishing ahead of the Green Party has become the new target.

-Andrew Coyne's Mole Poll has closed and the winner is...Scott Feschuck. Scott always did seem too funny to be one of the kool aid drinkers so this is hardly surprising.

-Speaking of Coyne, he shows us various seat projections today:

UBC Election Market (latest): Fascists 135 Crooks 88 Commies 31 Traitors 53
LISPOP (Jan 7-10): 139-84-25-60
DemocraticSpace (Jan 15): 135-82-32-59
jord.ca (Jan 10-12 Ipsos): 144-67-37-59
Trendlines (Jan 16): 141-75-31-60
ElectionPrediction.org (Jan 15): 97-77-17-51 Too close to call: 66
Loblaw Federal Election Pool (average): 130-97-22-59

-Courtesy of a reader, comes news that Tonny Ianno isn't exactly concerned about youth voter apathy. From the U of T Varsity:
U of T students and members of student government were shocked to learn this weekend that students would no longer be able to vote on campus.


Because concerns about the legality of the special stations were first expressed by members of Liberal Tony Ianno's campaign, and not ElectionsCanada, canceling the campus stations may have had a clear political motivation. Ianno is running for re-election in Trinity-Spadina (the larger of U of T's two St. George ridings).

-What do people think about Layton's new strategy? "Vote for us, just this once, so the Liberals can renew themselves." It's certainly different and it might just work since I don't think we're going to see the same stampede back to the Liberals from soft NDP voters we saw in 2004. The new NDP ads play on this theme.

-The Tories have a new ad which attacks Jack Layton. Didn't see that coming. I'm not sure that going after Layton is their best strategy, but it's a pretty funny ad.

UPDATE: Since people are discussing it in the comments, I thought I'd add the link to today's Ekos poll, which has the gap narrowing. For now, I'll assume this is just a blip, unless other pollsters start noticing this too.

Vultures Circling

In recent days, I've heard from several people that high level Martinites in Alberta have been preparing for the Frank McKenna leadership campaign and quietly pressuring others to join. I also know of at least one Martinite in a Senior Cabinet Minister's office who has been making similar sales pitches. None of this should be surprising since the Globe & Mail confirmed as much last week, reporting that McKenna is making phone calls to Liberals and that his supporters have been "pushing him" and "promoting him". There's also this news story about the people running the current election campaign already starting on McKenna's bid. So much for waiting until the body is cold.

I know this should bring me some satisfaction but I really find it unsettling. Paul was "their guy" and I do believe there's something to be said for showing loyalty, especially during an election campaign. Say what you will about him (and I've said a lot), but I do think Paul will put the party's interests first and will gracefully step aside shortly after the election, leaving plenty of time of a leadership race to rejuvenate the party. There will be lots of time to organize at that point and it's just tasteless for McKenna and his supporters, many of whom have key roles in this campaign, to start organizing until after the election.

Ad Wars

Given Liberal claims that the new Tory ad violates copyright laws, I see only one solution:

A Liberal ad attacking the Tory ad which attacked the Liberal attack ads.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Week 7. In Review. In Canada.

Weekly Winner: Steve Paiken, for asking tough questions which led to what was probably the best political debate in Canada in years. Honourable mention to Alex Atamanenko, of the NDP, who has all but locked up the British Columbia Southern Interior riding after the Derek Zeisman news broke.

Weekly Loser: John Duffy. The more I see this election unfold, the less I think Paul Martin is the problem, and the more I think his advisors are.

The Polls: The average poll numbers from the latest SES, Ekos, Ipsos, and Strategic Counsel:

Lib: 28.75%
CPC: 38.0%
BQ: 11.0%
NDP: 17.25%

The Gamblers: Here's the latest from the UBC election stock market:

Lib: 26.0% (88)
CPC: 38.0% (136)
BQ: 11.0% (54)
NDP: 17.2% (29)

Quote of the Week: Paul Wells, on the "nuclear" ads:

The Grits roll out the nuclear ads. Eight of them. Now Stephen Harper is about to find out what it felt like to be a mid-level Liberal who volunteered for Allan Rock in 2002.

Blog of the Week: Stephen Taylor has been breaking news on an almost daily basis this election. Sure, a lot of it is trivial (Ralph Goodale's Western Desk once got a jay walking ticket), a lot of it is a stretch (Paul Martin's former haidreser's nephew received a government grant), but most of it is well researched investigative reporting that the mainstream media simply does not do. I don't think it's a stretch to say that blogs have played a key role in this election, and not just in the "Mike Klander is an idiot" sort of way.

Scott Feschuck Line of the Week:

Top 10 Rejected Opening Lines for the Prime Minister's Statement in Tonight's Debate:

9. "To Mr. Layton, I say this: I come here tonight with a razor, a can of shaving cream and the unmistakable will of the Canadian people."
8. "What would you say if I were to tell you that I could save you up to 15 per cent on your long-distance bill?"
6. "I'm here tonight to tell you what I believe in, and I want to start with the Yeti."
4. "Tonight, we tell a tale of muuuurder most foul - and YOU, Mr. Harper, are the culprit."
2. "Jimmy leaves his house at 8:07 a.m., traveling west on his bicycle at 14 km/h; two minutes later, across town, Sally departs her clubhouse heading east at 8 km/h on her roller skates; at precisely what time does it become apparent to Canadians that Stephen Harper and I have very different values?"
1. "Vote Liberal and we'll stop metric. Who's with me?!"

Forecast: The weather could certainly play a huge role in voter turn-out and, therefore, the results. For the 23rd, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa are scheduled for snow and near freezing temperatures, and Vancouver has rain in the air from here until well after voting day. Halifax has rain on the agenda but Winnipeg...Winnipeg...has a fairly nice forecast.

Joke of the Week: From the Globe & Mail letters to the editor, Douglas Dodds on Stephen Harper's "evolution":

"Stephen Harper may claim he has evolved, but I'll bet Stockwell Day doesn't believe it."

Liberal Week. In Review. In Canada. We are not making this up: C

This week was about taking good news and messing it up. The military ad was certainly a tasteless mistake, but the other ads are actually quite effective and may have stopped the bleeding. Still, all twelve ads have lost credibility because of one boneheaded move. Similarly, Paul Martin was fairly good in the debates Monday and Tuesday, but his bizarre notwithstanding clause bombshell has been laughed at as a desperate move. Then, when it came time to launch the platform, the Liberal mole was the one who stole the headlines.

Conservative Week in Review: B

Harper wasn't sensational in either debate, but he wasn't scary and the fact that he was being attacked, especially in French, has given him a lot of credibility as Canada's Prime Minister in waiting. Canadians have accepted a Tory win with a shrug and the Conservative numbers have stayed high. However, some funny accounting in the Conservative platform might cause Harper some problems this week.

NDP Week in Review: B-

Jack Layton's hernia surgery has been rather painful for him, since it hurts his credibility a bit on the private health care issue. Although, to be fair, health care hasn't really been a major issue this campaign. Layton has been getting more media attention this week than earlier in the campaign, thanks to some hard hitting attacks on both Harper and Martin.

Bloc Quebecois Week in Review: B-

The Quebec dynamic has been turned around with the Tory surge in that province (which Jean Lapierre is glad about). It's still unclear as to whether this will help or hurt Duceppe. Option Canada will certainly help him, but Duceppe turned in a sub-par performance in the debates by his standards.

The Week Ahead...
It's a blitz to the finish. Expect hard attacks on the now fully released platforms and a lot of "what if" questions towards the parties, especially the NDP, about how they'd work together in the next Parliament.


Voting has begun at Progressive Bloggers for the Political Nut of 2005. There are some good candidates who you can read about here.

I've got my choices narrowed down to Rob Anders, Gurmant Grewal, Scott Reid, and John Duffy, and am leaning towards Grewal, but I'll need to think it over a bit before casting my ballot.

Typical Day

Today, the Tories showed why they're in front. It's not because of brilliant policy, but because of a brilliant campaign.

The economist who had supposedly "endorsed" their platform has washed his hands of it. But their new commercial highlights the disorganization in the Liberal campaign and is a smart bit of advertising. (And as a Calgary Liberal, let me say, as an aside, that seeing Judy Stewart in a TV commercial was on my list of "things I never thought I'd see").

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dear Stephen

Former MP Dennis Mills has written a letter to Stephen Harper, warning against the decentralization of Canada.

To be honest, Harper's decentralization agenda is the only real plank of his platform that I'm "worried" about, should he get in. I'd encourage everyone out there who believes in a strong, central government to think twice about voting for Harper (keeping in mind that the other party leaders don't exactly share Pierre Trudeau's vision of confederation either).

Making History

Worst Liberal Party Results Ever (popular vote)

5. Lester B. Pearson (1962) 36.97%
4. Paul Martin (2004) 36.7%
3. Lester B. Pearson (1958) 33.40%
2. John Turner (1988) 31.92%
1. John Turner (1984) 28.02%

On that topic, I've just finished off "The Big Red Machine", and I must say it's well worth the read. I thought I'd include a few of Clarkson's thoughts on the 1984 campaign:

p.119 "Turner's accepting his advice indicated how his hubris had taken him to an overriding belief in the power of his own public persona. After all, he was devoting himself, a main of superior talents, to the mission of government. Deeds were not needed. His words alone should be enough to convince the public that he was bringing a new face to government. The very fact of his ascendancy would surely reverse years of discontent. He held Brian Mulroney in low regard, deeming him as lightweigh in politics as he had been in business."

p.120 "the lethargy that characterized the first three weeks of the Liberal campaign was due mainly to the prime minister's flat refusal to campaign in July. In waiting for Brian Mulroney to self-destruct, Turner lost control of the political agenda and let the media concentrate on the mistakes, small and large, with which he proceeded to oblige them."

p.121 "A leader-centered campaign requires that the leader have something to say."

p.128 "Having been described for years in flattering terms by reporters who built up his myth as dauphin-in-exile, he was unnerved by their switch to a more critical stance once he re-entered the political ring."

Friday, January 13, 2006

Good News Bad News

The Liberals have disowned their Abbotsford candidate over allegations he attempted to bribe the NDP candidate to drop out. Considering how safe Abbotsford is for the Tories, it boggles my mind why Dave Oliver would even bother.

On the bright side for the Liberals, they've gone on the attack against the Tory platform which has finally been costed. For the record, I think Harper is smart enough not to go into deficit, but I do think his "fiscal imbalance" pledge is going to cause him a lot of grief over the next few years. The amount of money the Premiers want, coupled with his tax cuts, is going to force him to cut back on other promises, or leave the provinces (and Quebec especially) upset.

UPDATE: Thinking it over, this whole Abbotsford thing is rather troubling. The NDP candidate makes an unsubstantiated far fetched accusation and, poof, everyone believes him? With Zeisman, the guy is actually going to trial - here it's just "he said, he said". Hopefully this story won't get too much media play, because it really seems like a non-issue to me.


Back in 2003 when everyone was walking around the Air Canada Centre in Toronto predicting Paul Martin's juggernaut would win 200 seats, I never realized that they were talking about his two election combined total.

Unprecedented Insight

After the "Duffy versus Duffy" incident, and John Duffy's seconding of Scott Reid's beer and popcorn remarks, my mind wandered back to a post Paul Wells wrote at the start of the campaign:

I don't know anyone who dislikes John Duffy, although having said that I suspect I'm now going to hear from them. Still, I usually take everything the dapper Torontonian writes as a challenge and diligently pick it apart. That's harder today, with his excellent piece in the National Post, than it usually is. John gives the best possible case for utter Liberal dominance lo unto the end of days, in what reads suspiciously like the chapter outline for the next, expanded edition of Fights of Our Lives.

Basically his argument is: if you don't vote Liberal, it will be bad. He writes it all fancy though.

Forty some days later, I'm left with these two thoughts:

1. I suspect there are probably a few people out there who have soured on John Duffy.

2. I'm really really looking forward to the next chapter of Fights of Our Lives.

Moley Moley Moley MOLE!

Andrew Coyne has a poll up, asking who the Liberal mole is. It's pretty funny stuff.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wacko Jacko

At least the fears that no one would talk about the NDP over the final days of the campaign won't materialize.

I imagine this should get Jack a bit of press.

Glad I'm Not Alone

It seems a few other people are starting to worry about a Tory majority government...Conservatives.

It actually makes sense. A Harper majority means:

1. Martin leaves cleanly, without trying to stick around.
2. He'll be expected to follow through on his entire platform.
3. He won't be able to use the minority government excuse for "shifting to the centre". Because of this, his base will become mighty peeved when he doesn't deliver what they expect him to deliver.
4. The same sex marriage free vote he's promised might actually pass. That's one head-ache he probably doesn't want.

For Immediate Release

TORONTO - (CP): Paul Martin upped the rhetoric today, promising to implement a national ban on lightsabers. This follows recent policy announcements by the Liberals to ban (already banned) handguns, as well as to ban weapons in space.

"This is another example of the fundamental differences between myself and Stephen Harper." said the Prime Minister in front of a mostly partisan crowd in Toronto Centre. "It is the role of the Prime Minister of this country to ban lightsabers."

Martin left abruptly when asked if this ban would require the use of the notwithstanding clause over fears it would infringe on the religious rights of Jedi.

UPDATE: It's been brought to my attention that Kinny's Comments broke this story long before I did. I was unaware of this, but it clearly offers yet more proof of a Liberal mole, if Kinny had this story so long ago.

Strategic Voting

Democratic Space has a very comprehensive strategic voting guide. As a Liberal in Alberta, my advice for strategic voting is to:

a) Move to Edmonton Centre
b) Pray for an Act of God on election day

But if you're lucky enough to live in a politically heterogeneous province, this guide could be useful.

(Hat Tip to Andrew Spicer)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Vote out...Vellacott?

In the midst of what has been a rather uninspiring campaign, it's nice to have guys like Rob Anders remind me of why I'm a Liberal. Taking a cue from the "Vote out Anders" campaign, comes "Vote out Vellacott".

Also in the news, it appears a Tory candidate in the BC interior is set to stand trial for smuggling booze across the border. This is far less damaging than had he, you know, said there should be minor restrictions on aborting 8 month old fetuses or something, but it marks the first time since Christmas that CTV has led off their news with a story negative to the CPC.

Oh, and there's also this, this, and this.

Still, they all seem like minor scratches when Martin needs to draw blood.

UPDATE: Zeisman won't be allowed to sit as a Tory. Mark this seat down for the NDP.

Back to School

On the National tonight, they had a segment where they showed the "spinners" for each of the parties what it's like to be a journalist, giving them their own little journalism school.

The Liberal participant was Susan Murray. Former CBC radio reporter Susan Murray.

I don't know about you, but that sure seems like bullshit to me.