Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Fun

I'm not sure how to directly link to the video, but I must say Stephen Harper did a good job on the Mercer Report tonight. The return of "the handshake" was, dare I say it, more laugh out loud funny than even Bob Rae's skinny dipping and it's sure to cause fewer nightmares.

Ed Stelmach Profile

Previous Profiles:
Dave Hancock
Lyle Oberg
Mark Norris
Ted Morton

Before I get to my Ed Stelmach profile, this is certainly newsworthy:

Starting next fall, the outgoing premier will lecture and tutor in media studies at Mount Royal College, but in a digital environment far different from the one he experienced as a broadcast journalist in the 1970s.

Students in this class are reminded that Professor Ralph will most likely have a very lax plagiarism policy...

Ed Stelmach
(Ed's Blog)

Ed's Platform: Needless to say, it's looking a little thin so far. To put it into perspective, the privacy policy on Ed's site is lengthier than his campaign policy.

In 30 words or less: A well liked, competent guy. Not overly exciting but, hey, who is in this race? Think Ralph Goodale.

Ed's History: First elected in Vegreville-Viking in 1993 when he defeated the NDP incumbent. This was remarkable for the fact that there was an NDP incumbent in Vegreville. Since 1997, he's served as Minister of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Transportation and Intergovernmental Afairs.

Ed on Emissions: Haven't seen Ed weigh in on this issue yet.

Stelmach's Backers: Has 8 MLA endorsements, which leaves him a distant, but strong, second to Jim Dinning. Iris Evans is the most high profile of the bunch.

Can he win? Would be the logical Anybody But Dinning candidate if he makes it to the final three ballot.

My Take: Stelmach is one of those guys whose name I've seen in the paper a lot but I'd have a very hard time putting a face to his name or naming anything he's done. In all honesty, he's probably the best choice for the Tories and if I were your typical Tory, I'd probably be voting for the guy.

(Thanks again to Hatrock for the South Park images)

Liberals Have Nothing To Hide

Scott Brison joins Bob Rae by posing nude. The gauntlet has been thrown down to the other six contenders...

In Other News...

I was going to put together a series of quotes and links on the nation story but Andrew Coyne beat me to the punch. Paul Wells' has the latest on Jean Lapierre (remember him?). Cerberus says Trudeau is dead and gives the Ignatieff side of things. And the Globe looks at the Quebec position of all the candidates.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Simple Solution: Cancel the Election

Apparently Hugo Chavez's company owns some of the US voting machines. Luckily those on the far right in the United States aren't prone to believing conspiracy theories or else this would certainly generate a few, one imagines...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ralph Weighs In

Previous Profiles:
Dave Hancock
Lyle Oberg
Mark Norris

Before I get to the fourth profile in my series, I'd like to take a minute to reflect on the man all eight contenders hope to replace. Love him or hate him, it's impossible to deny that Ralph isn't quote worthy. So while I profile provincial PC candidates, Ralph has begun to profile federal politicians, starting off with Bob Rae and Stephen Harper:

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein is giving Stephen Harper a B grade for his performance so far as prime minister.

Harper loses points with the outspoken premier when it comes to his dealings with the media.

Klein says Harper should be more like him and make himself more available for comment.

"Bob Rae is a Rhodes scholar. He's well educated, but he's dumb when it comes to politics," said Klein, a high school drop-out who later completed his education in a vocational school after a brief stint in the air force.

"He knows nothing about street politics."

I, for one, can't wait for the rest of the profiles in Ralph's series. But, until then, everyone will have to be content to read up on one of the more controversial figures in the race - everyone favourite Senator in waiting, Ted Morton:

Ted Morton

Ted's Platform
-Guide and manage Alberta’s full growth potential with our own pension plan, police force and made-in-Alberta immigration priorities
-Defend non-renewable resource revenues from federal raids
-Place curbs on harmful judicial activism
-Protect freedom of speech and religion via Bill 208 for those who support traditional marriage
-Embrace citizen initiative and referendums

In 30 words or less: Right wing University of Calgary professor and a former Senator in waiting. Think Stockwell Day with a PhD.

Ted on Emissions: Unless it turns out that homosexuality is running rampant in the oilpatch, I wouldn't expect much action from Ted on this issue.

On the Net: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say I don't get an interview with Morton so I invite everyone to watch his chat with Stephen Taylor.

Ted's Backers: Ted Morton has gotten an endorsement from the leader of the Alberta Alliance. So he has more caucus support from outside his own party than from within.

Can he win? Maybe if the Martin Liberals had eeked out another electoral win. With Harper in charge, I just can't see his "anti-Ottawa" platform firing up the grass roots.

If He Loses: Will likely jump to the Alberta Alliance or run in the next Senate "election".

My Take: Obviously the farthest right of anyone in this race. Since getting elected as an MLA, he's shown an unhealthy obsession with banning man on man monogamyy and has made it clear that he'll wage war with Ottawa on...everything. A Morton victory is something the rest of the country would have to take notice of.

Completely Off Topic

On occasion, people go and do something to make me doubt my faith in humanity. For example, every election night when the Calgary West results roll in.

Yesterday, I once again was forced to question the collective wisdom of my fellow Calgarians. I went to Blockbuster to rent Thank You For Smoking (which totally rocked!) and was amazed to see that all 126 copies of Click were rented out. A quick internet search let me know that there are over 50 Blockbusters in Calgary. Throw in all the other movie chains and I don't think it's a stretch to say that 8 or 9 thousand Calgarians spent their Friday night watching Click. Kind of sad if you think about it...

Mandatory Political Comment: I'm sure Peter MacKay wishes he had a remote control to rewind his life...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Rejected Endorsement

Wow. The Iggmentum continues to spread across Quebec. Is there anyone there who's not supporting the guy?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Better Know a District

The Globe has some interesting US poling results with mid-term elections less than two weeks away. Looks like American voters are finally waking up and seeing the disaster the Bush Presidency has been (or, more likely, they're upset over a few instant messages by Mark Foley...).

Breaking it down into actual races is electoral-vote.com which has the Senate in a near dead heat and the Democrats re-taking the House.

Streetfight for the Crown: Dave Hancock

Before I get to my third profile of the PC leadership candidates, check out the latest from the party's biggest shit disturber (who I profiled yesterday):

Alberta Tory leadership candidate Lyle Oberg called a news conference to allege misconduct on another candidate's campaign, then backed away from revealing details Wednesday. Lyle Oberg planned to reveal all the details of the alleged misconduct at a news conference Tuesday morning.

"The bottom line on this is, I would have loved to bring this out," he told the gathered reporters in Edmonton. "And I may well bring this out at some time in the future, but I am very concerned about the people involved, and I am protecting the people involved."

Oberg wouldn't reveal what the alleged misconduct is or which candidate is implicated.

If you're reading this saying to yourself "He called a press conference to announce that he has top secret information but won't say who or what it's about?", that's my interpretation of this story too. Talk about weird.

So while we eagerly await information on which candidate is the source of Oberg's super secret information, I present my third profile - Dave Hancock.

Dave Hancock

In 30 words or less: Hancock is pretty well liked by everyone although he's never really made a name for himself, good or bad. Closest thing to a Red Tory you'll find in this race. Think Jim Prentice, except with a name 14 year olds would find funny.

Background: He's served in several portfolios including Advanced Education and Justice. During this time he seems to have taken credit for every major improvement which has occurred to the city of Edmonton ("Dave encouraged Kevin Lowe to trade for Dwayne Rolloson...").

Hancock on emissions: Dave has a fairly lengthy environmental platform with a lot of ideas, although it's short on specifics. He's promising to work with industry to set targets and standards and to offer incentives for energy efficiency. There's also a video on his site of Dave (not) answering questions on oilsands development.

Hancock's Backers: Dave may have an MLA or two, I honestly don't know. I'd say these are the key backers:

On the Blogs: Rather than getting a sixteen year old staffer to ghost write his blog, the Hancock website features a blog by Dave's wife, Janet. Surprisingly, I didn't see a recap of Dave's photo-op with the cheerleaders on it...

Can He Win: No, not really.

My Take: Hancock is seen to be the closest thing to a Red Tory you'll find in this race. He's well liked by most Liberals I know in Edmonton and seems like a pretty good guy. Given all this, he's got no chance in hell of winning.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What He Said

I was going to go into a long rant on the Quebec is a nation thing today but then I found out that Kennedy's Alberta team has "an affinity" for Michael Ignatieff (according to Senator Grant Mitchell) so, as part of my newfound affinity for Michael, I'll lay off of him for today. Besides, I've already gone on about why this is a horrible idea before so people can just click on the link if they want to know my take.

Instead, I invite everyone to take a look at Paul Wells who, as usual, is bang on. Oh, and so I don't have to post a link to it later, go visit Andrew Coyne's site (he's baaaack!) since I know he's going to have something good to say when he gives his two cents on this tomorrow.

UPDATE: Gerry Byrne clarifies everything:

At the other extreme, Newfoundland MP Gerry Byrne, another Ignatieff supporter, said recognizing Quebec as a nation is no big deal. He said Acadians and aboriginal peoples are routinely called nations, so why not a province? Indeed, why not his own province?

"We are a nation of nations so I don't really see this as a thin edge of the wedge issue," Byrne said in an interview.

He noted that Newfoundland and Labrador "was actually a nation until 1949" when it joined Canada. And he wouldn't rule out recognizing Ontario or other provinces as nations as well.

UPDATE: PDO breaks down the actual resolution which was passed in Quebec. And Coyne's column can be read here.

Streetfight for the Crown - Lyle Oberg

Today, I continue my series on PC leadership candidates with one of the serious contenders, Lyle Oberg. Thanks to Hatrock for the South Park pictures.

Lying Lyle Oberg

Lyle's Platform. He's promising massive tax cuts, paid for by slowing the increase in health spending.

In 30 words or less: Long time Cabinet Minister who was never really liked by his colleagues. Told his riding to dump Ralph and got fired for it. Think Peter MacKay in a few years.

Lyle on Emissions: With the exception of one or two throw-away words about new technologies, Oberg doesn't touch the oilsands emissions except to say that Eastern Canadians don't understand climate change.

Campaign Sales Pitch: "Oberg is not wishy-washy. He's not afraid of detail. He's an ideas guy, but it's not big-picture, bland-sandwich with the meat to follow. The meat's there. And the lettuce, tomato and mayo." (ed note: what about the pickle? or mustard? or bacon?)

Lyle's Backers: Lorne Taylor is the lone MLA backing Oberg. He does, however have the endorsement of Dexter Durfey - I have no clue who this guy is but I just love that name. UPDATE - It appears Lorne may have lost his one MLA endorser.

Can He Win? He's polling well. I'm not sure if these are "Dryden polls" or not, but it would be surprising if he didn't make it to the top 3 run-off vote.

If He Loses: "If I were the premier, I wouldn't want me sitting as a backbencher ... I know where all the skeletons are."

My Take: An Oberg win is probably the best case scenario for Alberta Liberals. He's not as scary as Morton but his victory would trigger serious internal PC feuding. As for Lyle himself, I have less than favourable memories of his time as Education Minister but I will give him credit on having a very well organized campaign.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Streetfight for the Crown

I've talked a lot about Liberal Leadership lately but I suspect things may quiet down on that front over the next few weeks. So, for the Tories who visit this blog and are sick of reading about those god damn Liberals, I'm going to spend a bit of time talking about the provincial PC leadership race. Given that the winner of this race will become the Premier of one of Canada's most important provinces, there are certainly national ramifications to this race. And, after Ralph Klein, there's certainly a big flask to fill.

So, once a day for the next eight days, I will be putting up mini-profiles of the candidates. I would also like to add to anyone working on a campaign that this blog offers an equal opportunity to all campaigns who would like to anonymously smear a competitor. Jokes, funny slips of the tongue, negative stories...my e-mail box is always open.

Mark Norris

Mark's Platform: Dubbed "the real plan" (so clearly Mark has no hidden agenda). It's already drawn fire on Tory blogs.

In 30 words or less: Lost his seat. Will lose this leadership. Think Tony Clement.

Mark on Emissions: (Given how much everyone is talking about the environment these days, I plan to share the environmental platform for each candidate) Mark takes a very firm stand - "The oilsands and coalbed methane development, parks and public land management, clean energy sources and climate change are important files that require decisions."

Celebrity Endorsement: As pointed out in a Daveberta comments section post a while back, Mark Norris (in the middle on the left) bears an uncanny resemblance to Peter Griffin:

Fun Policy: What I like to dub "Mark Norris' plan to bring Chuck Norris to Calgary" will give tax credits out to encourage movie production in Alberta.

Can he win? Despite spending $100,000 on his campaign, Mark Norris lost his seat last election to relative unknown Mo Elsalhy (who, I might add, is going to Montreal as a Gerard Kennedy delegate). So, given his track record, the short answer is no.

My Take: I know very little about Mark Norris and I'm not very impressed with what I do know. I'd say there are clearly some delusions of grandeur involved here and from the perspective of your average run of the mill PC member, I can't really think of a good reason to vote for Mark. But, then again, this Premier will be elected not by run of the mill PC members but by mass signups of pre-purchased memberships so maybe he stands a chance.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Yet Another Final Liberal Leadership Debate

I’ll confess I had a tough time paying attention to the Liberal leadership debate yesterday. Maybe it was because of the translation (I decided to just listen on CPAC en francais after hearing our translator argue with himself for an hour). Maybe it was leadership fatigue. Maybe the show in Toronto last weekend was too hard to top. But most likely it was because of the ridiculous choice in questions. “Do you support the francophonie?” Well, duh, I wonder. On a day when Quebec delegates voted for a contentious resolution which has divided candidates and could potentially lead us all to a new round of constitutional talks depending on who wins this thing, we were subjected to several debates on Quebec culture. I don’t think topics need to be picked solely to generate fireworks (or else, we’d talk about the Iraq war for two hours) but on a crucial issue like “Quebec as a nation” or the Middle East, I would think delegates would be curious as to where the candidates stand.

So all we really learned today was that Michael Ignatieff’s organizers did a great job packing the room and that the people they packed the room with don’t take very kindly to their man being criticized. So rather than subjecting those who were lucky enough to be doing something fun on Saturday afternoon to a tedious blow by blow recap, here are a few general comments on the frontrunners:

Ignatieff – Came out of this one in better shape than last week, maybe because his opponents were afraid of getting lynched in the parking lot afterwards by the IggyNation if they said anything remotely critical of Michael. The frontrunner didn’t get any fire on Quebec as a nation or on the Middle East so that alone makes it a pretty good day for him.

His most interesting line of the evening was probably “we must choose a new leader who has nothing to do with the errors of the past”.

Rae – Rae’s been good at attacking Ignatieff in these debates but going after him on torture was weak. Like I said back in March, there are lots of things to criticize Ignatieff on, but his position on torture isn’t one of them. At the same time, Ignatieff’s defense that he couldn’t support torture because his mother’s fiancé was killed by torture was just odd. I mean, for starters, if her fiancé hadn’t been killed, there’d be no Michael Ignatieff.

Also loved the Bob Rae common touch when he mentioned in the same speech that he was the Chair of the Royal Conservatory of Music before quoting Moliere.

Kennedy – Gerard’s French seemed fine to me in the parts I listened to online, although I’ll be curious to read the reviews in the local papers. Kennedy was really hitting the party renewal theme which I like and, once again, stayed positive. As much as it pains me to say so, David Herle was right in his commentary – Kennedy should have played up his Afghanistan position a lot more than he did since it certainly would have resonated well with the Quebec delegates.

Dion – It was certainly fair game for Dion to bring up Ignatieff’s former writings in his closing statements but I really do question how well Dion’s “attack everyone” strategy is going to resonate with Liberals who are looking to move past twenty years of infighting. He also should realize that if he says it’s fair to criticize Rae’s economic record and Ignatieff’s academic record, that Dion’s very mixed record as Environment Minister should be fair game as well.

Dion was definitely playing up the “Quebec candidate” aspect in his opening speech and once again vigorously defended the Liberal record.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Kinda Sorta Final-ish Numbers

The final DEM numbers are now up on Liberal.ca. It should be noted that these results don't take the Rae funny business in BC into account. And they don't take the backfill spots into account (for those not familiar with the Liberal delegate election system...it'd take a 13,000 word post to explain it, so I won't even bother attempting). And they don't take into account ex-officio votes or turn-out for delegates at the convention. But, they still provide us a very good snapshot at how the first ballot should look:

Ignatieff 1309 (30.2%)
Rae 881 (20.3%)
Kennedy 751 (17.3%)
Dion 694 (16%)
Volpe 211 (4.9%)
Dryden 187 (4.3%)
Brison 153 (3.5%)
Findlay 38 (0.9%)
Undeclared 109 (2.5%)

To get a better picture of the first ballot, I factored the undeclared among the other candidates using the same percentages. I then cruised over to the wikipedia ex-officio endorsement page, portioned out the undeclared ex-officio and added it all up. Put it all together and bippety boppity boo - you've got a projected first ballot:

Ignatieff 1566 (31.3%)
988 (19.8%)
877 (17.5%)
840 (16.8%)
254 (5.1%)
226 (4.5%)
203 (4.1%)
43 (0.9%)

As for what that all means:

1. Ignatieff needs to pick up 18.7% of the delegates to get over the top. Which means if he's facing Rae, he'll need 38.2% of the non-Rae and Iggy delegates to cross over to him when their man (or Martha) drops off. If he's facing Gerard, he'll need 36.5% of the other delegates and if he's facing Dion, he'll need 36%. So if the delegates break 2 to 1 against Iggy, he can't win. If he manages to get 40% of them, he'll come out on top.

2. Despite the early hints of a neck and neck duel, Gerard Kennedy should be in third place, ahead of Dion, on the first ballot.

3. Either Kennedy or Dion could blow past Rae once the bottom four contenders drop off if they get a key endorsement. However, I ran the math and even if Iggy only gets 1/3 of the bottom four delegates, Rae just needs a little over 10% of the free delegates to drift his way to stay ahead of at least one of Dion or Kennedy. So, what that means is that Bob is in your final three, although it's hard to tell if he's second or third. And with so many delegates in play by this point, I think whichever of Kennedy or Dion make it to the final three stand as good a chance as Rae of being the challenger to Ignatieff on the final ballot.

4. Bear in mind, this is all working under the assumption that delegates will vote for the candidate they were elected to support until their man drops off the ballot. As Susan Kadis will tell you, this isn't always the case.

So, after all of this, the only real conclusion is still that any of our four frontrunners could win this thing. I know that doesn't sound overly insightful but it will sure make for an interesting convention.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Today, We Resolve To One Day Act"

I think Stephen Harper may be on to something with his vow to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions by 50% by the year 2050. All too often, politicians paint themselves into corners with promises which they are expected to deliver on during their time in office (or, during their lifetime for that matter). By giving himself until 2050, Harper has in effect given himself a 43 year window where he's immune from criticism.

Just imagine if other politicians were clever enough to adopt this strategy. If Jean Chretien had vowed to scrap the GST by the year 2037, he could proudly say "we're one sevenths of da way dere. Gives me thirty more years!". And it doesn't even matter if the politician follows through on his promise. If George Bush gave himself a 44 year window to get out of Iraq, I'm not fully confident that's a promise which could be kept. But, even then, Dubya will be long gone by the time 2047 rolls around and with midterms around the corner he could proudly proclaim today that they're still on track.

And timelines like this could be golden for all aspects of life. Leaf fans may be demanding of a Stanley Cup but John Ferguson Jr. should patiently explain to them that he's working on a 44 year plan and that they'll win one by 2050 (once again, still a longshot, but at least it's not his concern). At work, insist that your deadlines be mapped out in terms of years rather than days or weeks. If your wife asks you to do the dishes, promise to do the dishes...within the next few decades.

So while the Clean Air Act itself may be a lot of hot air, I for one applaud Harper for his cunning political play.

Peter MacKlander

What a typical Peter MacKay flip-flop. One year he says "dogs are loyal", implying Belinda Stronach isn't loyal. The next year he's comparing her to a dog. Does this mean that he now thinks she's loyal? Or has he changed his position on the loyalty of dogs? Which is it Peter?

I don't think it's too much to ask for a little consistency on important issues like this from the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Mail Arrives in BC

What's the old saying about elections being decided by the time BC results come in? Well, in this instance, the delay was a bit more than 3 hours, but BC has finally reported their delegate totals (pending appeals related to the Bob Rae funny business). With 23 ridings to go, the Liberal delegate totals sit as such:

Ignatieff - 1379 (29%)
Rae - 949 (20%)
Kennedy - 817 (17.2%)
Dion - 770 (16.2%)
Dryden - 244 (5.1%)
Volpe - 230 (4.8%)
Brison - 185 (3.9%)
Findlay - 42 (0.9%)
Undeclared - 133 (2.8%)

One imagines the ex-officio count will shift Iggy up slightly and Rae down a tad but the real key will be how effective campaigns are at getting their delegates to Montreal.

As for the convention itself, I think the likeliest scenario is something along these lines:

Ballot 1: Similar results to above. The bottom four all drop off before round 2.
Ballot 2: The three-way mexican standoff has it's first round. In all likelihood, either Dion or Kennedy finish fourth and drop off.
Ballot 3: The standoff becomes a two man race between Rae and either Kennedy or Dion. If the fourth place finisher endorses one of the other two, that man moves on. If number 4 endorses Iggy, Ignatieff is likely close enough to make the last ballot a formality.
Ballot 4: Kennedy/Rae/Dion take on Iggy for the top prize.

I'm still trying to figure out permutations where Joe Volpe comes out on top but most of them involve massive earthquakes swallowing up large amounts of the Montreal Convention Centre.

Turner Turfed

In a move everyone has seen as inevitable for months, maverick MP Garth Turner has finally been suspended from the Tory caucus.

I know Turner is a bit of a cult hero to many bloggers but I personally never cared much for the man. His criticisms of Harper's Cabinet selection rang a bit hollow given that they came after he had been left out of Cabinet himself. And while I certainly didn't object to him going to every conceivable news source in the country to voice his opinion, I know that if I were a Conservative, that would piss me off to no end. As for Garth's constant musings and speculation about upcoming announcements, I think Scott Brison has learned the hard way why it's not wise for people in government to do this.

And finally, there was this John Ibbitson article a few months back which really annoyed me:

For Mr. Turner, however, the little guy is the bleeding upper middle class.

Halton, on the edge of Greater Toronto, is full of them: Mr. Turner chronicled their plight in his speech.

He recalled talking to a man whose house "was worth maybe half a million - modest for his neighbourhood. He told me it felt like his life was being squeezed now from all sides. Property taxes, income taxes, GST...'All I've got is this' He kicked the bricks at his front door."

Then there was the woman who decided to stay at home and raise her kids. Her husband makes six figures, but "our friends who have two incomes make a lot less, and always have more money to throw around. The system is killing my family."

I wouldn't consider myself a communist but it rubs me the wrong way when someone considers families making six figures the "little guys".

So, yeah, there's no major point to all of this except to say that I never really cared much for Garth Turner and the Tories are probably better off without him.

No Leader? No Problem!

Looks like an outlier to me, but here's the latest Gregg poll:

Lib 32%
CPC 32%
NDP 17%
BQ 11%
Green 9%

While Gregg also has a "John Kerry poll" out on Liberal leadership, judging from his numbers, there's only one conclusion which can be reached: The best person to lead the Liberal Part is...Elizabeth May!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Staying Home

Lady luck shines on Iggy.

Ignatieff trip to Middle East cancelled
Oct. 17, 2006. 06:46 PM

OTTAWA — Michael Ignatieff’s attempt to douse controversy over his views on Middle East conflict were stymied today when his invitation to visit Israel was postponed until after the Liberal leadership race.

The Canada-Israel Committee didn’t want an all-party parliamentary delegation to the Middle East to turn into a leadership side show.

Tuesday Liberal News

1. It almost seems cruel to pile on after the week he's had, but Rick Mercer gets a few good zingers in at Ignatieff in his latest post.

2. I got a link to this from the Liberal party today. It seems to still be a work in progress but it's good to see the party looking at technology.

3. Campbell Clark has a good article on the different approaches being taken by Kennedy and Dion at this point in the race. I think Gerard really needs to be focusing on the party's need for a fresh face and on electing a leader Liberals can rally behind once this is all done. The positive campaign and focus on party renewal may not be getting many headlines but it might not be a bad strategy to continue with.

4. I can see why Google opened the vaults for them. You can see a pair of You Tube videos of Gerard on Sunday's debate here and here. (hat Tip LLT and Scott Ross)

5. Dynamite Online breaks down Iggy's interview on The Hour last night. Ignatieff appears to be saying that his initial comments in Quebec were that Hezbollah had committed war crimes at Qana. But, to be perfectly honest, I think it would be easier to try and understand the nuts and bolts of equalization than to try and understand Ignatieff's Israel position, so I'm not going to lose much sleep trying to figure this one out.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Well that was Fun

This was, hands down, the most entertaining debate of the five we've seen in this leadership race. Here's the recap:

The show got started when a girl paraded by in a bikini carrying a sign (about income trusts? huh?)...better her than Bob Rae. Then we get an old guy with a microphone screaming something but, given that no one had any clue what his cause was, he really didn't make for a very effective protestor.

Women in Politics (Findlay, Dryden, Volpe)
Rick Mercer had a sketch called "the race for 5th place" on his show this week which I guess is what this debate was. Martha holds up the Globe "backroom boys" page as a sign of what's wrong. Dryden revealled that the best way to get to 50% women is to get to 35% first but, before this, 30% which, while being accurate, doesn't tell us a heck of a lot about how to do this.

Homeless & Poverty (Dion, Brison, Rae)
Rae talks about his record as Ontario Premier on social housing. Dion tells Rae "he can't have it both ways" which I imagine is some sort of attack on Rae's record. Rae gets fired up defending his record by saying "it's better to make mistakes out of caring for people" to which Dion retorts that Chretien and Martin had compassion while they were cutting programs.

Infrastructure (Kennedy, Iggy, Martha)
Gerard seems quite forceful today and puts a lot of passion in his voice. He talks about the gas tax and on the importance of Western initiatives like the Pacific Gateway. He later says government shouldn't just be about "cutting ribbons and cutting cheques" - you need to get tangible results. Iggy talks about rural Canada and the need to avoid gimmicky politics. Findlay concludes that the trio has been succesful in "making infrastructure sexy".

Environment (Dion, Dryden, Iggy)
Dion reminds people about the secondary costs of climate change and the health consequences which is good. Iggy mentions the carbon tax without actually calling it a carbon tax which shows he's learned a bit on how to handle the subject. Dion says we would have a carbon market had the Liberals been re-elected, and seems really upset that Ignatieff doesn't mention that. Ignatieff fires back, saying bluntly that "we didn't get it done". Dion jabs back with "this is unfair - you don't know what you speak about". At this point, I was just chewing my popcorn and sipping my beer, enjoying the show because this is ten times more entertaining than any of the other debates have been. Dryden then agrees with Ignatieff that "we didn't get it done".

Same Sex (Kennedy, Volpe, Brison)
The audience seems amused that Brison got the same sex question. Either way, this is a pretty easy question for Brison and Kennedy to score points on (although a bit more difficult for Volpe since the honest answer to "why did you vote for same sex marriage?" for him is: "to keep my Cabinet position"). Brison explains that it's important for the party to make decisions on principle rather than to be "dragged kicking and screaming by Supreme Court decisions" which is very good point. He then attacks Volpe, saying: "I've watched you give speeches against same sex marriage". Gerard sums it up nicely saying that human rights come ahead of making people feel comfortable.

Foreign Policy (Martha, Iggy, Rae)
I'd been praying all week that Kennedy would wind up with Ignatieff on the foreign policy question and this matchup is really a gift from God for Bob Rae. All three candidates open by blaming Harper for playing politics on the Afghanistan question and all say, to varying degrees, that we need to look at the mission and make sure we pay proper attention to rebuilding the country and providing humanitarian aid. It's interesting how the position Kennedy came out with in August has pretty much morphed into the universal Liberal Party position on this issue.

Then things get interesting. Bob calls it an "imperial mission" and cut Iggy off when Ignatieff tried to protest. Rae continues, saying that "we need to choose our words carefully" on foreign policy. Annoyed, Turner Ignatieff says that Rae's position is muddled and that "I had no option" "I don't know where you stand". Rae can barely believe the juicy gopher ball he's been served up and quips: "this from the man who's changed his mind on the Middle East three times this week". Ignatieff says Rae should know that's not his position since they've known each other for forty years (I guess they talked a lot about war crimes back in the U of T days).

Gun Registry (Brison, Dion, Dryden)
Dryden says he doesn't like guns and doesn't trust guns because "all of us are capable of doing really stupid things" (the man did just watch Ignatieff bring up Middle East flip flops after all). Brison does what he does best and attacks Harper. Dion points out that they all agree.

Culture and Communication (Kennedy, Volpe, Rae)
GK jokes about the Bob Rae skinny dipping sketch. Volpe leads off by saying he's the "wrong guy to ask about whether we should regulate press and media". Heh. Kennedy reminds people that we can't just focus on the big ticket items and need to look out for smaller cultural groups and to pay attention to projects outside of Toronto. Also points out that the Internet is really changing the way we look at culture, especially for young people.

Closing Remarks

Martha says "I wasn't running as a woman before...but now I am".

Dion says he's "proud to be a Liberal and it doesn't take a leadership race to say so". heh.

Kennedy says it's unfortunate that no one has talked about Liberal Party reform. Says that we need to be proud of the past but that it's essential that we reinvent ourselves and regain the trust of Canadians.

Dryden attacks Harper as "the great divider" then compares him to the Broad Street Bullies who were "wrong for hockey". After the Flyers had won two cups, he says the Habs roared back and "we won four straight". Given that the debate was in Toronto, I'm not sure this was the best story to use. Especially since the Leafs are pretty much the NDP in his analogy...

Brison says it's ridiculous that there wasn't a single question on the economy and he probably has a good point there.

Ignatieff says this was a wonderful debate and a great afternoon to be a Liberal. Goes into his "party of hope" speech similar to the one he gave in BC. Says the hall is full of dreams (and protestors).

Volpe says all of the candidates "talk of a great Canada, some as if they've just discovered it".

Rae, unlike Dryden, plays to the home crowd, congratulating Mats Sundin on his 500th goal.

General Thoughts

The media clip of the debate was, without a doubt, Rae's "this from the guy who's changed his position on the Middle East three times this week" line. Because of that, it's impossible not to call Rae the winner of this debate.

Ignatieff took a beating all night long and has got to be thankful that there won't be any more official debates between now and December.

Dion was definitely the most aggressive of the eight, attacking Rae and Ignatieff hard. He was also extremely defensive about the Liberal record and seemed a touch arrogant at times, especially with his "you don't know what you're talking about" line to Ignatieff. Personally, I wasn't very impressed with his performance but the CBC guys thought he was the best of the bunch tonight so I'm guessing the reviews will be mixed.

Kennedy, I thought, was really on today. I know I'm biased but I thought he was one of the best speakers in the debate, even if he won't get any memorable media sound bytes out of it (mainly since he didn't attack anyone). His closing statement was very concise and he also sounded good in the post debate scrum talking about party unity and the need to bury past feuds.

Brison was also one of the better speakers but that shouldn't be too surprising (although it leaves one to ponder why he only wound up in 7th place...). He also performed really well in the post-debate interviews, cracking a few funny one liners.

Dryden had a good closing but seemed almost invisible during the debate (which isn't easy for a man of his size).

Volpe was...himself.

Martha turned in a very solid performance and made people listen to her, which isn't easy when you only have 40 delegates.

UPDATE: You can find good recaps here, here and on pretty much every Liblog.

UPDATE deux: The Frog Lady has a wildly entertaining recap.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Daily Dinning

It seems that Jim has hired Scott Reid to be his new communications director:

Jim Dinning says it's time governments recognized the cost of post-secondary education includes not just tuition fees, but other costly items like accommodation and transportation - and beer.

"Today students have to cobble together a budget that doesn't reflect the full costs of books, supplies, living accommodations, transportation - and, frankly, beer," he told reporters as he laid out the education plank of his Tory leadership platform.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Forget Flying Under The Radar

This is certainly a rather unconventional strategy.

Liberal leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff says he'll travel to the Middle East next month in the wake of comments that have enraged Canada's Jewish community and members of his own party.

"We will be meeting with the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian leaders to discuss peace, long-term solutions and how Canada can help the parties get back on the path to peace," Ignatieff said today during a speech at the University of Toronto.

I know Joe Clark lost his luggage there, but I'm not sure this is the best way to ditch the Qana baggage a few weeks before the convention.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Insert Clever "Hot Air" Pun Here

Despite some encouraging leaks about mandatory targets, the early reviews of the Conservative Green Plan seem to be mostly negative. A lot of the criticism seems to stem on the fact that the targets will be intensity based rather than fixed caps, which means emissions will continue to rise over the next few years. Here are a few of my preliminary thoughts on this:

1. It's a little unfair to slam the "intensity" based approach until we see what the requirements will be. I mean, if you force an industry to cut back their per capita emissions at a larger rate than the industry is growing you have, for all intents and purposes capped that industry.

2. Mandatory intensity based targets are better than voluntary intensity based targets which is what the Liberal Kyoto plan called for.

3. Given that oil sands production is expected to double in the next decade, would it even be possible to put a hard cap on emissions for this industry? Without causing an armed uprising in Alberta, that is.

4. That said, given that the oil industry is the biggest emitter in Canada, that Alberta is the province with the most emissions and that six of the top 10 worst polluting companies are in wild rose country, Harper is going to have to upset some people in his home province if he wants to make any sort of progress on this file. No Prime Minister has ever had as much political capital in Alberta as Stephen Harper does right now so if there is every anyone who can afford to burn some political goodwill for the good of the country, Harper is the man to do that. As I said above, you don't need to cap oilsands production, but you need to come down hard on the oil and gas sector if you want to make real changes.

5. The timeline for this is really bad. Another year of consultation and no mandatory limits until 2010? There's been enough talk, it's time for some action.

6. The Conservatives are counting on future technologies to cut greenhouse gases in the long term. This marks the first time a Conservative government has ever put their faith in science...

7. Since he's the resident environmentalist in the comments section here, I invite everyone to check out Green's Clues' take on this.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sleepless Nights

From today's Post:

"I was a professor of human rights, and I am also a professor of the laws of war, and what happened in Qana was a war crime, and I should have said that. That's clear."

Leslie Church, director of communications for the Ignatieff campaign, said that even though he prefaced his comment by referring to his expertise in the law of war, he did not intend to apportion legal responsibility.

"This isn't a deliberation that Michael would make on his feet. There is no way that he would make a pronouncement on international law in this format, and that's not what he's driving at here," Ms. Church said.

"He meant that this was a tragedy of war, that this was a deplorable act in war, that this was a terrible consequence of war."

Remind me again why a candidate with a decade of political experience needs time to "grow into the role" of party leader and one with a year of political experience is our best bet to beat Harper right now?

UPDATE: MP Susan Kadis has withdrawn her support for Iggy over these comments.

The Full Rae

I think Bob Rae may just have found a winning strategy for this leadership race. For the entire campaign, the concern has always been that when thinking of Bob Rae, Ontarians would remember nothing but his record as NDP Premier.

However anyone who watched the Rick Mercer Report last night isn't going to remember anything other than a completely naked Bob Rae (there's a google search term you'll never see) jumping into the lake. I don't care if you suffered through Rae days or lost your job in the early 90s - nothing could be more horrific than having Bob Rae's ass ingrained in your memory for ever and ever...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

They Misunderestimate Him

Paul Jackson writes an ode to Rob Anders in today's Sun which is something else. In it, he recounts his hard hitting interview with Anders which starts with something along the lines of "tell me why you're the greatest MP in your riding's history". Rob and Paul then go on to discuss why Liberalism is to blame for the collapse of all civilizations, including the Roman Empire. And he works a shot at Jimmy Carter in too, for good fun.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Anything Goes

With Super Weekend behind us, I intend to look a bit more at the Alberta PC leadership race over the coming days. The Globe has an excellent run down on the wild west lawlessness associated with the race. Say what you will about the federal Liberal race, but if any of these PC candidates come even close to running a campaign as ethical as Joe Volpe's has been, they would be going miles above and beyond the "rules" laid down for the race. Among the highlights:

-No spending limits. Jim Dinning will spend more on his leadership bid than any federal Liberal leadership candidate (in a province 1/10th the size of Canada).

-No limits for corporate or union donations or requirement to disclose donors. Hello special interest money!

-Candidates are allowed to buy membership forms themselves and give them to people for free. Yes, you heard that one right. I'm not sure if the candidates are allowed to vote for these people they sign up but I don't see why not.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Media Star

Linda Diebel has a good profile of Gerard Kennedy in the Star today. In it you can find some rather "colourful" praise from Bruce Young and a few quotes from yours truly (although, for the record, I never compared Gerard to Trudeau).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Not So Super Weekend Leadership News

1. Joan Bryden reports on the massive recount in Quebec which, one imagines, will trim a few delegates off the totals of the three front runners in that province.

More alarmingly, the story claims that only 10% of Liberal Party members voted at their delegate meetings. With 37000 card carrying Liberals in Quebec, that means there were only around 3700 votes cast last weekend. By comparison, in Alberta there were 3299 votes (plus the aboriginal ballot). Given that Alberta has 37% of the ridings and 0% of the MPs Quebec has, I'd say there's a lot of work which needs to be done rebuilding the Liberal Party in Quebec. On a more partisan nature, I'd also say that it shows none of the candidates were overly successful at winning the hearts and minds of Quebecers over during this leadership race and that there will be big challenges for whomever wins. While Kennedy may have bombed in Quebec, the truth of the matter is, so did everyone.

2. Despite winning BC, Bob Rae's campaign manager from that province, Mason Loh, has resigned after it was revealed that 37 signatures had been forged on delegate forms. While the Rae team will be allowed to run alternates in most of those ridings, it may still cost them a handful of delegates in Montreal.

3. Gerard Kennedy gave a great interview on The Current which everyone can listen to here. Seriously - check it out if you're a delegate for this convention.

4. This is really interesting. Infoscape is tracking what bloggers are saying about the Liberal leadership race. Among the things they're tracking is the tone of coverage on the frontrunnes - as you can see, it's been a good week for Iggy:

They've also got graphs on the amount of volume of coverage candidates are getting on the blogs and in the media. For comparison's sake, I'll include the blog/media percent of coverage for all eight candidates here:

Ignatieff 25% blog, 24% media
Rae 20% / 28%
Dion 15% / 24%
Kennedy 13% / 6%
Volpe 9% / 5%
Dryden 8% / 5%
Brison 6% / 4%
Findlay 4% / 4%

I generally don't like to complain about media biases and all that, but given that Kennedy and Dion came out of last weekend neck and neck for the number of delegates, does it strike anyone as odd that Dion has gotten four times as much mainstream media coverage as Kennedy?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

We Always Knew He Didn't Like Senators

Maybe it'd be different if I lived in Ontario, but this has me a lot more upset than this.

I can put up with the social conservatism, hawkish foreign affairs stands, cancellation of social programs, voodoo economics, and lax gun control. But if there's one thing I simply won't tolerate in a Prime Minister it's cheering for the Maple Leafs.

An Affront On Our Values

I know I've been talking a lot about Liberal leadership lately, but this one story has forced me to come back to the real world and blog about the important issues of the day.

For those who may have missed it, those bloody activist judges have continued their affront on values and have overturned the traditional definition of shopping in Nova Scotia.

Clearly the solution to this is to pass legislation allowing hate speech against Sunday shoppers and allowing stores who wish to remain closed on Sundays the right to do so.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Poll Smoking

This post is really nothing more than an exercise in self-congratulation, but I'd just like to point out that my Liberal leadership predictions were way better than anything put out by the MSM or major polling companies. Political Mouse does the comparison and, while Greg Morrow comes out on top, every blogger who put out weekend predictions came closer than the polls or media. I mention this only because I got a bit of flack for saying the polls we saw on the Liberal leadership race were garbage and it just shows that, for internal party matters, your average Liblogger is more tuned in to what's really going on than your average journalist.

Anyways, as a refresher, here's how my national and Alberta predictions stacked up to the real numbers (pending the final few ridings):

Michael Ignatieff 29.9% (I said 26.7%)
Bob Rae 19.8% (17.9%)
Gerard Kennedy 16.8% (17.7%)
Stephane Dion 16.5% (14.6%)
Ken Dryden 4.6% (7.2%)
Joe Volpe 4.6% (7.8%)
Scott Brison 4.0% (6.3%)
Martha Hall Findlay 1.0% (1.9%)

Gerard Kennedy 27.8% (I said 26%)
Michael Ignatieff 24.7% (24%)
Stephane Dion 17.9% (16%)
Joe Volpe 9.4% (8%)
Bob Rae 9.0% (12%)
Scott Brison 2.7% (7%)
Ken Dryden 2.7% (2%)
Martha Hall Findlay 2.2% (3%)
Undeclared 3.6% (2%)

(and Brison should move up a bit once the aboriginal ballot is counted)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On Quebec

It’s abundantly obvious that the one knock on Gerard Kennedy’s candidacy at this point will be the “Quebec issue”. To be frank, his French is a lot worse than that of the other frontrunners and his performance in La Belle Province this weekend was embarrassing.

I think the criticisms of his French are fair. This country’s Prime Minister must be bilingual and while Kennedy is technically bilingual, he’s going to have to improve his French. I’m sure he’s dedicated to improving it and with a French family at home, he’ll certainly have time to practice. I’m convinced he’ll be up to Harper’s level by the next election and that’s good enough for me. If you think Kennedy’s French is a liability in Quebec, you have to concede that Dion’s English will be a liability in the rest of Canada.

What I don’t think is a fair criticism is saying that because Kennedy did poorly in delegate selection meetings, that he can’t win Quebec in a general election. Less than 1% of Canadians are members of the Liberal Party and those who are members will vote Liberal regardless of who the candidate is. Equating the general population to the Liberal Party is what led to ridiculous polls showing that Ken Dryden would come out of this weekend in first place. Now we’re seeing the same mistake being done in reverse. During the last CPC leadership race, Belinda Stronach cleaned up in Quebec. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that she would have been destroyed there in a general election. Instead, Harper was the right choice for the Tories in Quebec and he showed that last election. Belinda won Quebec because she had the best organization there and Kennedy’s weak showing in Quebec this weekend was because of a weak organization. And while organization is often an indicator of a candidate’s popularity among Liberals, it’s hard to infer those results to the population at large. Joe Volpe won more delegates than Scott Brison but does that mean he’s a better candidate than Scott? Nope. Ignatieff was first in Saskatchewan and fourth in BC – does that mean he’d win seats in Saskatchewan but lose them in BC? Not really. Any Dion or Rae supporter who says Kennedy couldn’t win Quebec because of his weak showing there is effectively saying that Gerard is more electable than their man in Ontario.

Given his perceived left leaning nature and progressive policies which I think should appeal to many in Quebec, I don’t see how electing Kennedy would be writing off the province in a general election. Gerard isn’t known there now but that means he’s not tied to the “old Liberal Party” of the Adscam years and he’d enter the province free of any baggage. It's a lot better to fail to get supporters because you're unknown than because you are known in my opinion.

Leadership races and general elections are two completely different animals. Obviously Kennedy will need to address the perception that he’s less electable in Quebec than other regions. That will mean calling Quebec delegates, doing events there, and trying to get endorsements from a few prominent francophones. It will also mean working on his French because how he speaks en francais on his Friday speech at the convention might very well determine whether or not he wins this race.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Super Weekend Thoughts

I’m still recovering from what was a very busy couple of days. Before I give my run-down on what happened, I’d like to do what the hip kids these days call a “shout out”, to a few people. First off, a big thanks to everyone I signed up who came out and voted for Gerard this weekend – it was really appreciated! To the U of C crowd – you guys rock and kicked some serious ass this weekend. And to the entire Kennedy campaign team in Alberta, congrats on a job well done.

As for my initial reactions based on the numbers as they sit this afternoon…

1. On The Race: The take home message from this weekend is that this is now a four man race. Ignatieff will be on the final ballot and it’s now just a question of whether he will be against Rae, Kennedy, or Dion. Given how close those three candidates are, the key for them all will be to get their supporters to Montreal and to work hard on the Brison, Dryden, Volpe, and Findlay delegates. I honestly have no clue which of the four frontrunners will win this thing and the performance of the candidates over the next two months and at the convention may very well decide that.

2. On the bottom four: To be honest, Brison and Dryden deserved better than what they got. Scott can at least be proud that he won his own province but this has to be a very disappointing result for two politicians who are strong enough candidates that they could have been contenders in this race. Martha Hall Findlay shouldn’t be discouraged in these results and hopefully she’ll stay in the race and get her delegates to Montreal. Martha has a well written message to her supporters on her website which sums things up nicely.

As for Volpe…what can be said that hasn’t already been said?

3. On Ignatieff: The Ignatieff campaign should be very proud of their performance this weekend – 30% in an eight person race is no small feat. However, that still means that Ignatieff will need to get close to 40% of the delegates who are released as their candidate drops out if he hopes to beat Kennedy, Rae, or Dion on the final ballot. Ignatieff needs to show that he’s learned enough over his first year in politics that he can win an election and he needs to ease fears that he’s out of line with the Liberal Party on foreign policy and the constitution question.

4. On Rae: The one drawback to all the Bob Rae hype we’ve seen in the past few months is that it may have raised expectations to unreasonably high levels. While some will try to spin Rae’s results as a negative, I can’t see this as anything but a positive for the Rae campaign. The challenge for the next two months will be to deal with the reality of a four person race since the media spin of a Rae/Ignatieff duel certainly helped his campaign immensely.

5. On Kennedy: The bottom line is that the media won’t be able to overlook Gerard as they have been doing, and that alone makes him the big winner from this weekend. Given that he was one of the last candidates to start organizing and had no national profile before this campaign started, the results are truly quite amazing. Quebec was a disaster, there’s no denying that, and the Kennedy campaign will have to focus on eliminating the false perception that he can’t win there over the coming weeks.

6. On Dion: Dion did better than I expected him to but worse than most in the media predicted. Despite a fourth place finish, he’s certainly still a contender as has as good a chance as anyone else to win this thing. I think the main challenge ahead for him will be the fact that he’s run on what amounts to an environmental platform. If Project Green gets good reviews, the Liberals lose the environment as an issue and last week’s AG’s report certainly shows his track record as Minister of the Environment is somewhat polluted.

7. On The Stupidest Argument I’ve Heard Today: Courtesy of Jeffrey Simpson:

“Mr. Dion has enough support in both Ontario and Quebec to remain credible. To put matters upside down: He didn’t win either province but he didn’t bomb, as did Mr. Rae in Ontario and Mr. Kennedy in Quebec.”

Ontario Results: Bob Rae 17% Stephane Dion 10.3%

8. On Alberta: Having worked on nothing but losing campaigns before, I must say I was very pleased to see the Alberta numbers roll in:

Kennedy 115
Ignatieff 102
Dion 74
Volpe 39
Rae 37
Brison 11
Dryden 11
Findlay 9
Undeclared 15

Daily Canuck

I'll have full thoughts on the weekend up soon but, for now, I did a quick guest post at the Daily Canuck explaining why the results are good news for Kennedy. Cerberus and John Lennard are also there pimping their guys.

To build on what I posted there, I'll post the first ballot results from the 1996 Ontario Liberal convention here without comment:

Gerard Kennedy 30.1%
Joseph Cordiano 21.8%
Dwight Duncan 18.1%
Dalton McGuinty 17.6%
No one else over 6%

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Open Thread

I'm too busy hitting refresh and too tired after two days of non-stop campaign stuff to try and write anything coherent.

Discuss the results among yourselves...