Wednesday, April 30, 2008

If You Thought Dion Had Problems... least he's doing better than this Liberal Party leader:

TROUBLED WA Opposition leader Troy Buswell has broken down in tears at a press conference and admitted he sniffed the chair of a female Liberal Party staffer.

With tears in his eyes, Mr Buswell had to compose himself before telling the media in Mandurah this morning that his behaviour had been unacceptable.


As revealed by The Sunday Times, Mr Buswell crawled around on his hands and knees in front of a former Liberal staffer before she left the job late in 2005.

In a separate incident, he lifted her chair and started sniffing it after she had sat in it in his parliamentary office. The scandal follows an admission by the Liberal leader earlier this year that he had snapped open the bra of a Labor staffer.

Then again, Bushell seems to have his party fully behind him which is...uhh...odd:

Mr Buswell said his leadership would not be discussed at the next party meeting. He would not be resigning as leader of the Liberal Party.


Deputy Liberal leader Kim Hames was today standing by Mr Buswell, describing him as a "rough diamond with a robust sense of humour''.

Dr Hames said his leader needed to change his behaviour, but also acknowledged there was no one to replace him.

No one to replace him? That kind of makes you wonder what the rest of his caucus is sniffing...

(h/t tGPOitHotW)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Call in the UN Election Observers

Maybe it's best to just treat opposition motions as meaningless stunts but, at the same time, it's hard to see the governing party voting non-confidence in the body tasked with organizing fair elections as inconsequential.

For starters, William Corbett and other top officials are going to have to resign or be Keened. The government can't say it doesn't trust elections officials and then not replace them. So that alone means it's gonna get messy.

As for the talk about this hurting Elections Canada's credibility abroad...well, I doubt many Canadians will even know this has happened, never mind many Haitians (then again, I'm sure those with a satellite dish always tune into Don Newman). Domestically, the Tories are going to have to clarify their position because, with an election around the corner, this leaves things in a bit of an awkward position.

In short, I don't think this feud is going to go away anytime soon...

UPDATE: Via a very knowledgeable anonymous poster in the comments section, clarification on how this whole thing works:

There's an important distinction between the positions of the Chief Electoral Office and the Commissioner of Canadian Elections and the positions of a member of the CNSC and the president of the CNSC.

Linda Keen is a permanent member of the CNSC appointed by the Governor in Council under s. 10(1) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. She was formerly designated the president of the CNSC by the Governor in Council pursuant to s. 10(3). A permanent member may only be removed by the Governor in Council for cause (s. 10(5)).

It appears that the government received legal advice that it had no cause to remove Keen from the Commission. Instead, it stripped her of her designation as president. She remains a member of the CNSC.

Contrast that with the positions of the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Canada Elections, who are actually even more protected against reprisal by the government.

Under s. 13 of the Canada Elections Act, the House of Commons appoints the Chief Electoral Officer by resolution. The CEO may only be removed for cause by the Governor General on address of the Senate and House of Commons. In other words, the Governor in Council has no power to remove the CEO, for cause or otherwise. Only the Governor General, on the advice of Parliament, has that power.

The Commissioner is appointed by the CEO pursuant to s. 509 of the Canada Elections Act. As it is the role of the Commissioner to ensure the Act is enforced, I doubt anyone other than the CEO could remove the Commissioner, and then only for cause.

So, it is irrelevant insofar as the CEO or Commissioner's security of tenure is concerned that the government has voted no confidence. What is important is that the CEO retains the confidence of Parliament, which he has.

So, I'm not too concerned about Elections Canada. They're protected against reprisals, and even if the Conservatives did damage the institution's reputation, I think Canadian democracy will survive.

The really interesting question is where we go from here.

What happens if and when the Conservative lose a court case on this. What happens if their judicial review application gets dismissed? What happens if the Conservative Fund or the Conservative Party gets charged with and convicted of an offence? Will they then vote no confidence in the courts?

It is one thing for the government to vote no confidence in the institution that runs elections.

It is another thing entirely for the government to essentially deny the legitimacy of the institution that enforces the constitution and the rule of law. Enough wingnut Reform types have muttered about "activist judges" and "out of control courts" in the past that I would not dismiss this eventuality out of hand if a court has to make a decision on "in and out".

And that's when I'll get concerned.

A Letter From The Nigerian Prince

UPDATE: It appears the letter posted yesterday was an earlier draft of a Calgary Nose Hill fundraising letter. Kudos to SJ and the team there for thinking outside the box on this one. Here's the full version:

From: Conservative Headquarters
To: Conservative Candidates
Date: December 2, 2005
Subject: Urgent Request

Dearest Candidate,

Good morning, how are you and your family? I hope fine. Please, I am sorry to bother you with our problem.

Please know that it's not by mistake I am contacting you but by the special grace of God. Let my start by introducing myself. I am writing from Stephen Harper's Conservative Party with this urgent request from Party Headquarters.

Now is the time for all good men to come to our aid.

The Conservative Party has an extra ONE MILLION TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS in its bank account which is ordained to be used for TV advertising just before the January 23, 2006 election. But the Evil Chief Electoral Officer and his Satanic henchman, the Commissioner of Canada Elections, are watching us closely and are not permitting us to spend more than our puny $ 18.3 million limit.

Rules cannot be allowed to stop us from our destiny. Your campaign is identified as one which is not spending the limit. We will be switching our spending to your account by transferring $ 40,000 to your election bank account. But first you must give me a wire transfer form so that I can take the money out of your account as soon as it send you the money. I promise not to take more than I put in. Trust me.

After I use your bank account for this in and out transfer, you may claim 60% back from Elections Canada. This means you will get $ 24,000 and all you will have to do is let me use your bank account for one minute.

I assure you this is all legal. No one will suspect that this spending in not really for your campaign. And you can use the $ 24,000 anyway you wish.

Expecting your soonest response.

Stephen Harper Campaign Team
Conservative HQ, Ottawa*

*Dramatization of evidence use to obtain Criminal Code warrant to search Conservative Headquarters.


Help us bring real accountability to Canadian politics. We say, "if someone breaks the law, they should go to jail". We mean it, whether it is a former Liberal who steals from the government or our party, or a Conservative trying to steal from you. Send your cheque to the Calgary Nosehill Liberals - Accountability Fund at 108, 5211 - MacLeod Trail SW, Calgary, Alberta T2H 0J3.

Maximum donation is $1,100 (less any other donation made to a Federal Liberal Association). Tax receipt will be issued.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Que la Chambre exprime sa pleine et entière confiance envers Élections Canada

This should be fun:

Debate opens tomorrow on this Bloc Québécois motion:

Que la Chambre exprime sa pleine et entière confiance envers Élections Canada et le Commissaire aux élections fédérales.

That this House express its complete confidence in Elections Canada and the Federal Elections Commissioner (Inkless translation — ed.).

Say what you will about the usefulness (or lack thereof) of the BQ in Ottawa, but they sure do have a knack for putting forward motions designed to make other parties feel a tad uncomfortable...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Top Secret Liberal Strategy Memo Leaked

Via the Liberal mole, this landed in my in box this morning - full details of the "Elections Canada conspiracy" that has been hinted at by Fox Mulder and anonymous Conservative Party officials all week long:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Random Links

Random links from the past few weeks as I clean out my "mildly interesting blog stuff" folder.

1. Fast Company has an article on the Obama's branding and use of the internet (apparently Liberal caucus each got a copy).

2. From where the internet works to where it doesn't. This study shows that e-mail fails completely as a GOTV technique.

3. Two faced baby born. Do I smell a future in politics?

4. The Stuff White People Like blog is pretty darn funny if you haven't found it yet. Admittedly, it's a really "stuff upper class New England liberal white people like", but it's still funny.

5. Blogging causes heart attacks? (h/t ABCer)

6. Susan Riley, Jim Travers and Paul Wells look at the state of the Liberal Party.

7. Paul Martin's backyard golf course has been approved at his farm which already contains a guest house, tennis court and "a herd of sheep". In the interests of Liberal Unity, I will avoid the obvious joke here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You've got a friend in Pennsylvania

Clinton takes Pennsylvania 55-45. In other words, an Obama win is still inevitable but not inevitable enough that this thing will wrap up anytime soon.

So the eyes of the nation now turn to...Guam!


Second Budget, Same as the First

In honour of earth day, it was a very environmentally friendly budget by Ed Stelmach's Conserva...ha ha. No, of course not. Now that the joke is out of the way, here's a serious rundown:

-Would someone care to remind me again how the Alberta Liberals got portrayed as "tax and spend Liberals" during the last campaign? Stelmach followed up one of the largest spending increases in Canadian history last year with a budget that increased spending by another 12%.

-Once again, there was no real focus or forward planning...this was mostly about playing catch up on infrastructure after years of neglect from Klein.

-I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the increased subsidies for horse racing and bingo weren't in Lyle Oberg's pre-election budget.

-Cutting health premiums completely by January 1st is a pleasant surprise given Stelmach's pre-election announcement planned to phase them out over three years.

-At first glance, there does not appear to be much for post-secondary education in this budget, which is disappointing given the massive spending everywhere else.

-Stelmach and Iris Evans will be criticized by the Alberta Liberals for, once again, ignoring the Heritage Fund and long term savings. However, with a low balled estimate of $78 a barrel oil, I'd expect a multi-billion dollar "unexpected" surplus, a third of which will be injected into the Heritage Fund.

I'll update this once other bloggers closer to the scene have a chance to weigh in. I'd also be curious to see some analysis about which election promises were included or ignored in this budget.

UPDATE: Daveberta has a good run-down, including this great synopsis:

Overall, the 2008 Alberta PC budget looked and sounded like a confused 37-year old: still paying for the mistakes of its youth, not quite ready to settle down, almost ready to hit that mid-life crisis point (hello, Ferrari!), and not quite ready to save for the future. It felt like it could have been something out of the 10th season of Friends.

Also, check out ES and get rich.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

"It's a private meeting Keith"

I know a lot of Tories read this blog so maybe they can help explain to me what the hell "strategic genius" Stephen Harper was thinking when he invited select media personalities to a series of hotel rooms a private spin session on Sunday?

First of all, assuming reporters are going to keep a private meeting secret is kind of like assuming what is said in a Liberal caucus meeting will stay secret. The Ottawa press gallery is one giant clique so of course they were going to tell each other about it.

And, given this, how did Harper's crew expect the non-chosen ones to react? If there's one thing the media love more than process stories, it's process stories about the media. And they were all over this one. You can read some very amusing recaps here, here, and here. And I bet Keith Boag had as much fun putting together this piece as I had watching it (Carole: "Can you imagine why some reporters were invited and others weren't?" Keith: "No Carole, I have no idea at all").

And I'd say judging from the newspapers and TV coverage so far that this attempt at media controle hasn't exactly gone according to plan...

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Let he who is without Hitler analogy cast the first stone

By good buddy "Ron" Anders has broken free of his muzzle and is in the news for comparing the Beijing Olympics to the 1936 Berlin Olympics:

Anders, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, said Thursday that Beijing was the wrong choice to host the Olympics.

"I absolutely 100 per cent think it compares to the Berlin Olympics in 1936," he said in an interview.

"You've got Falun Gong practitioners, which are not allowed to participate in the Olympics. Adolf Hitler had issues with Jews being able to participate in the Olympics in 1936."

Rob Anders saying something controversial is merely a side effect of Rob Anders opening his mouth, and is to be expected. Obviously the analogy stretches credibility and it certainly isn't something a member of the Canadian government should be saying.

Knowing that every time someone says Anders' name, the Liberals gain an extra thousand votes in Ontario, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae has been quick to pounce, taking Anders to task for his lame analogy:

“Now we have a senior government MP and chair of the Veterans Affairs committee further damaging our already-strained relationship with China by comparing its government to Nazis,” Rae said. “Such a comparison trivializes one of the most horrific regimes mankind has known.”

And, on this point, Rae is spot on. These sort of comparisons trivialize things which should never be trivialized. I mean, comparing the Berlin Olympics to the Beijing Olympics would be as silly as comparing Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler to Harper signing the softwood lumber deal with Bush.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008


Aaron Wherry digs up this gem of an old letter some guy named Stephen Harper wrote back in 2001. In it, Harper:

A) says "the jackasses at Elections Canada are out of control"

B) Criticizes Elections Canada for ordering an RCMP raid

C) Rails against election spending limits

D) Blames the Prime Minister at the time for the actions of Elections Canada

It makes for an interesting read, in light of the latest Tory conspiracy theories about Elections Canada.

UPDATE: It appears Harper has a long history of being upset at Elections Canada for prosecuting people who break the law. From alert reader KO comes this 2002 story (referring to a section of the Elections Act Harper has done nothing to change during his time as Prime Minister, I might add):

Peace River Block Daily News. Dawson Creek, B.C.: Apr 18, 2002. pg. 5

OTTAWA (CP) -- Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper lashed out at Elections Canada on Wednesday, saying the agency's charges against two Alliance campaign workers are unconstitutional and suggesting they smack of political bias.

Charges laid April 5 against two workers on MP Cheryl Gallant's 2000 election campaign were an "erroneous interpretation of a statute and an unconstitutional statute at that," Harper said in an interview.

He suggested the agency had motives for laying the charges other than enforcing the law.

"This is a real reach that frankly raises serious concerns in my mind about the objectivity of Elections Canada," he said.

"We are collecting some information that I think will raise real questions about Elections Canada's comportment in this whole affair. I think there's a lot here that's going to come out."


The act requires that when poll information is published, it must include certain information including who conducted the survey, the dates it was conducted, the number of people contacted and the margin of error.

On The Agenda

For those of you lucky enough to get TVO, I’ll be on “The Agenda with Steve Paiken” tonight (8 pm, 11 pm, and, best of all, 5 am), as part of a panel discussing the state of the Liberal Party.

Video and podcast will be up on this page after the fact.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blame the Refs

Boy, it must be tough to be a Tory. I mean, they have the Senate, the entire judiciary, the civil service, the CBC, the media, and now, the officials at Elections Canada appointed by Harper himself all working against them.

It’s amazing they ever won an election in the face of all this adversity! Just imagine the kind of trouble they'd be in if the official opposition ever joined in opposing them...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Maybe they were searching for the hidden agenda...

The RCMP were in and out of Conservative HQ today, helping Elections Canada obtain documents one assumes were related to the most-complicated-scandal-in-the-history-of-politics (also known as the catchier "in and out scandal", explained here in 30 seconds). We still don't know much about this raid or the status of the investigation but it looks like this story will be lingering around a bit longer.

Toss in Cadscam, Mulroney-Schreiber, don't-call-it-NAFTAgate, and a few other scandlettes floating around, and it's a safe bet that "ethics" is off the table as an issue for the Tories next campaign.


Are you now or have you ever been a Bruins fan?

Sports and politics often clash, and while the Olympics seem to be the real hot button issue of late, it’s Canada and it’s payoff time, so it’s not too surprising that pucks and politics have become intertwined yet again.

The latest round of controversy comes from Quebec. The Mayor of Montreal has demanded that local firefighters take down Habs logos painted on fire stations – by the time this one is done, this may make David Miller and Dave Bronconnier’s headaches over “support our troops” decals seem mild by comparison. We’ve already seen the CP headline “Montreal Mayor Defends Team Spirit”. I’m sure we can expect “Mayor denies ties to Zdeno Chara”, “Protesters demand Mayor wear jersey”, and “Mayor resigns amid Habs-gate scandal” headlines in the weeks ahead.

Also in hot water is Michael Fortier. The Senator appears to be far more forthcoming with his hockey opinions than with government polling reports, telling reporters he believes the New York Rangers will win the Stanley Cup. Uh-oh. Certainly a valid hockey opinion, but you have to wonder how the guy ever got elected in Montreal saying things like…what? Oh right.

So, anyways, Dion hears this and decides to score some points in Quebec so he goes and chews out Fortier for not having faith in the Habs. Unfortunately, a smart assed reporter asks Dion who Montreal is playing in the first round of the playoffs and Dion hums and haws until his aid jumps in with the answer. Oops. I guess it’s not too surprising that, given his blind faith in the Liberal Quebec election readiness team, he’d also have blind faith in the Canadiens.

Stephen Harper has yet to comment on the playoffs but this time of the year is no doubt difficult for a closet Leafs fan like him. Luckily, Jim Flaherty has jumped in to let Quebecers know that, yes, the Conservative Party’s respect for Quebec goes beyond the nation resolution, and includes a love of all things bleu blanc rouge. Although it's not mentioned in the article, I can only assume that Flaherty went on to blame Dalton McGuinty for the Leafs’ missing the playoffs.

Also showing a lack of faith is Mario Dumont, who has picked the Sharks to win the Cup. That prompted the following rebuke from Jean Charest, which I can only hope (but doubt) was tongue in cheek: "Mr. Dumont will have to explain to Quebecers. ... That is unacceptable." No word on Pauline Marois’ view but one assumes she’s just pissed that the team is called “Canadiens”.

All of this and we're just a few games into the first round! And you just know Denis Coderre is already drafting his witness list for the inquiry into Shane Doan’s upcoming re-appointment as Team Canada captain. So stay tuned.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Found in Translation

The new Bloc Quebecois slogan translates to “Here for Quebec”. Not bad. It’s no “un parti proper au Quebec” (one of the greatest slogans ever) but it’s passable.

However, rather than translate, I’d stick with the French original in English because it works oh so well: “Présent pour le Québec”. An Anglo looking at that and seeing “present for Quebec” would be forgiven for believing the Bloc had just launched the most brutally honest slogan in the history of Canadian politics.


Like Taking Candy From A Baby...

...should be replaced with "like taking beer from a Bowie".

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why let the facts get in the way of a good talking point?

Jason Kenney, my old MP, is in the news today for old comments of his, caught on tape:

In the eight-year-old audio recording, Calgary MP and Secretary of State for multiculturalism and Canadian Identity Jason Kenney says "overheated Sikhs" will use "the race card" to win arguments. Kenney did not know those remarks were being recorded.

"I did use those remarks in a particular context and I don't think they were appropriate. I expressed regret at the time, I do so again," Kenney said in a response to a Liberal MP's question about the comments.

This story is fun for a lot of reasons. And not just because whenever I see "Jason Kenney" and "secretary of state for multiculturalism" together, I can't help but giggle. What I love most about this is Kenney's line of defense. First, I'd love to know the "particular context" he's referring too and I'd also be curious who he expressed regret to at the time - because, while I haven't heard this tape, I doubt it goes something like:

"How do we know that and how do we know that this isn't overheated Sikhs using the race card, which they so often do when their credentials are being questioned?...oh my God, I can't believe I just said that. I'm so sorry and a truly apologize for offending anyone."

But the fun really begins when Kenney tries to hype up his record:

In the House Friday, Kenney tried to turn the tables on the Liberals.

"I would point out, for instance that this comment refers to the 2000 election campaign which I co-chaired and I am very proud of the fact that campaign had more visible minority candidates, more candidates of South Asian origin, indeed more Sikh candidates than did the Liberal party," Kenney said.

Snap! Now THAT is a great comeback, which will silence the critics. The only thing I can think of which would make that comeback any better would be if it were true.

A quick google search finds this table (scroll down to page 26 - if that link doesn't work, try this one), which details the number of visible minority candidates each of the parties ran in 2000:

Liberals 22
Alliance 14

Now, 14 is more than the 9 the Reform Party had in 1997 or the 1 they had in 1993. But it's still less than 22. Also, for what it's worth, the Liberals elected 55% of their visible minority candidates compared to 36% for the Alliance. And Liberal candidates ran in ridings the Liberals lost by an average of 8% of the vote in 1997, versus Alliance candidates running in ridings they'd lost by an average of 26% of the vote in 1997.

All of this surprises me, because Jason is usually very good with his facts. For example, when he told Libby Davies that gay people could marry in Canada...they just had to marry people of the opposite sex, his facts were correct. Now, Jason may be right about Sikh and South Asian candidates - I didn't check those numbers but maybe people whose job it is to look up stuff like that might want to do that.

The other line of defense used by Kenney is just as good:

In the House, Kenney appeared to criticize those who would do that, saying he thought it was "unfortunate" that the media was reporting "eight-year-old material" and that the official Opposition was resorting to using it in question period.

Hmm...I think this calls for a delightfully ironic question period exchange, don't you? And, just so I won't get accused of dredging up 8 year old quotes to prove my point, I'd like to point out that these are the words spoken by the MP from Calgary Southeast 8 days ago:

Hon. Gurbax Malhi (Bramalea—Gore—Malton, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the chair of the justice committee is the same person who, while immigration critic, blamed newcomers in Toronto for increasing crime rates. He said, “Do you notice that in Toronto there has been increased crime from certain groups, like Jamaicans?”

Is it not true that the Conservative opinion of immigrants has not changed in 20 years and that their proposed immigration reforms prove it?

Hon. Jason Kenney (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), CPC): Mr. Speaker, I find very curious these questions coming from members of a party whose predecessors introduced the Asian Exclusion Act, the continuous journey policy, the internment of Japanese Canadians, not to mention the War Measures Act.

If it's "unfortunate" that the official opposition is using eight year old material in Question Period, what adjective do you think would describe an individual using 85 year old material in Question Period? (answer: pathetic)


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stephen Harper versus Sara Stanley

For a guy who doesn't believe in big government, this Harper chap sure does like to have complete control over everything. The latest example deals with Bill C-10 which gives the government the ability to deny tax credits to Canadian (and only Canadian) films they deem offensive.

This has prompted some high profile criticism from Sarah Polley, among others, who was doing the media circuit today in Ottawa:

“If there's something artists fear, it's censorship,” Ms. Polley said Thursday at a press conference.

“Part of the responsibility of being an artist is to create work that will inspire dialogue, suggest that people examine their long-held positions and, yes, occasionally offend in order to do so.”


The group says that if Bill C-10 is passed, it could force artists to self-censor or to go abroad to work. Ms. Polley has also said that the proposed rules threaten the financial foundation of Canada's film and TV industry.


“This will put a chill on the entire TV and film industry,” Ms. Schechter said, adding that the tax credits are designed as an incentive to hire Canadian workers.

Equally upsetting to Canada's cultural sector is the fact that the legislation, criticized as a "morality hammer," applies only to Canadian TV and film projects. Hollywood and other foreign productions that apply for tax credits get a free pass.

Ms. Polley and other opponents say rules already exist under the Criminal Code to protect against investment in films featuring excessive pornography or hate.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Crossing The Border

I've generally been on the dovish side about bringing the Tories down. And I can buy the Liberal argument for voting against today's NDP motion - it's only fair to look at these immigration reforms in committee first.


Here's some of the language the Liberals are using:

"We believe the Conservatives are wrong when they treat newcomers who want to immigrate to Canada like commodities and not human beings,"
-Ralph Goodale

“This begs a simple question: What does the government have against refugees?”
-Michael Ignatieff

"For half a century Canada has pursued immigration goals based on fairness and objectivity.
Why is the Prime Minister trying to get rid of these principles of fairness and objectivity? Why does he want to replace them with abusive powers in the hands of his minister, to replace open arms with closed doors?"

-Stephane Dion

"Why is the government telling the world: 'Immigrants need not apply?"
-Stephane Dion

Forcing an election on your own terms makes sense. And trying to reform this bill constructively makes sense. But if these immigration reforms aren't altered, it's at the point where the Liberals have painted them as being so ghastly that they really have a moral imperative to vote against them.

Of course, that doesn't mean they will.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Ha ha - this is great.

Step 1: Paralyze parliament
Step 2: Create an unwritten loophole to the fixed election date law

Not that this is the first time the Tories have speculated about breaking their fixed election date law.

That said, I can't see any logic whatsoever in Harper trying to dissolve parliament himself. Either Dion will bring him down or look kind of foolish not bringing him down - that's what we call a win-win.

So, I'd put this one in "not a chance in hell it will happen" bin.

Off topic post because nothing interesting is happening in Ottawa

The terms of reference are out for the Airbust inquiry. Apart from that, it's looking like a slow news week (where's Pat Martin to do something dumb when you need blog content?), so let's head off topic and toss up some first round playoff predictions. Feel free to play along or, even better, send me a link of something going on that's post-worthy.

Montreal over Boston
Pittsburgh over Ottawa
Washington over Philly
New York over New Jersey

Detroit over Nashville
San Jose over Calgary
Colorado over Minnesota
Anaheim over Dallas

Sunday, April 06, 2008

On This Date In History...

Forty years ago today, Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the fourth ballot winner of the Liberal leadership. You can watch the victory clip in the CBC archives.

One of my first history essays I wrote in undergrad was on the 1968 convention and it was an absolutely fascinating leadership race to study up on. What was really remarkable was that there seemed to be both a certain inevitability for a Trudeau win but, at the same time, this was a guy who'd been pegged as a 75-1 long shot at the start of the campaign and who nobody knew a year beforehand. Had Pearson not promoted Trudeau to Justice when he did, had Jean Marchand spoken better English, had Trudeau not spared with Daniel Johnson publicly, had Mitchell Sharp not dropped out and endorsed him...well, history could have been a lot different.

I dug out my old essay and present a dozen tid-bits about the '68 campaign - some well known, some not so much:

1. When first asked if he was going to run following Pearson's resignation, Trudeau answered "are you serious?"

2. What really launched Trudeau's leadership was the perfectly timed Divorce Bill and criminal code changes he brought in as Justice Minister a few weeks before Pearson resigned. This legislation upset one Cabinet Minister who sarcastically suggested their slogan be: "For abortion, homosexuality and easy divorce - vote Liberal!"

3. In his memoirs, Paul Martin Sr. claimed that "like any good puppet-master (Pearson) was pulling the strings behind the scenes".

4. The '68 race marked the third failed attempt for Paul Senior at Liberal leadership. It would eventually take five tries before someone named Paul Martin finally won a leadership convention.

5. The always fun Quebec caucus nearly revolted against Trudeau in the days leading up to the vote and threatened to support Winters, until Jean Marchand quashed the revolt.

6. Trudeau only officially entered the race February 16th. Runner up Robert Winters didn't declare until March 1st. Compare that to the marathon the 2006 leadership race was.

7. Paul Hellyer paid $2,000 for the rights to use the Broadway song "hey now Dow Jones" as his theme at convention.

8. Trudeau got 26% of the media coverage during the campaign - second highest was Mitchell Sharp at 10%.

9. A live mic overheard Judy LaMarsh telling HellyerDon’t let that bastard win Paul...He isn’t even a Liberal” at the convention.

10. During his convention speech, John Turner said he wasn't running to help him win a hypothetical convention in 1984.

11. One of Mitchell Sharp's advisors, a young Jean Chretien, moved with Sharp to Trudeau on the Wednesday of convention week.

12. Lloyd Henderson was a fringe candidate in the race who got zero votes at convention, despite the fact that his wife was a voting delegate. So I guess, it retrospect, it could have been worse for Scott Brison in '06...

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Friday, April 04, 2008


From an alert reader:

On Friday April 4, Stephen Harper will surpass the 787 days that Paul Martin Jr. served as Prime Minister, moving himself into 13th place on the all-time list. What kind of odds could you have gotten in December 2003 on this happening?

For the record, Prime Minister Steve would (will?) dethrone Mackenzie King to grab the top spot on July 13, 2027.

Which is just when John Baird's greenhouse gas emission targets will kick in...


Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Lukiwski

Tom Lukiwski, shown above in the greatest picture of a Tory MP ever, is in hot water for comments he made back in 1991:

Random Thought Update: I know the provincial NDP had this tape and their real target was Wall, but this probably could have made a bigger impact had it been released during an election campaign…

In Other News...

-Kady O'Malley transcribes a joint NDP-Liberal press conference. Here is Scott Brison's part of the press conference all put together - put this to music and I think Scott may have a top 40 hit:

Well the fact is, no. No, no, no. That's no no.
That's Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy.
No, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy.
That's Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy.
That's Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, Peggy.
There's a Peggy, Peggy, Peggy.

Will you stop interrupting me? Peggy.

-Here's the Chuck Cadman scandal summarized in 155 seconds:

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Motions I would take more seriously if proposed by anyone but Pat Martin

I guess it’s fitting that a senseless MP wants to leave Canada cent-less. As for his proposal to scrap the penny, there’s a certain logic to it, and inflation makes the penny’s demise is inevitable. So I think I’m down with this.

As an aside, I’d love to see an election fought over this burning issue, but that’s just me.

I’m curious what others think? A penny for your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Son of Meech

Stephen Harper has been dropping hints about re-opening the constitution for a while. At least, he has ever since he traded in his Reform Party principles for a chance to become Brian Mulroney Jr.

So it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise that yesterday Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Rona Ambrose Jean-Pierre Blackburn suggested a Tory majority would lead to the Quebecois nation resolution getting some “meat around it”.

What kind of meat remains to be seen, although Blackburn’s mention of “historical demands” invites speculation. Given the lack of pressing current demands, I guess it makes sense to look at historical ones. My personal opinion is that revisiting Meech and Charlottetown is not something Canadians want or need but, then again, I don’t need to win 20 seats in Quebec to get a majority government. So my opinion is probably clouded on this topic.

Given the complete uselessness of the Bloc, this kind of talk probably will lead to Conservative gains in Quebec. However, it’s also a subject the opposition leader can talk about with some authority. And given that he doesn’t have a ton of friends left in Quebec to lose, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to come out strongly against this.

YUMMY MIXED METAPHOR UPDATE: There is no appetite for this because the fruit is not yet ripe to put more meat on the constitution.

What does it say when Lawrence Cannon, of the famous "who's on first Quebec nation press conference", needs to clarify the government's position on this? Is there any way the Conservatives could look more dazed and confused vis-a-vis Quebec?

Well, I guess they could do something like this.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Farce of the Penguins

Well, I felt I needed to put something up just so that the April Fools post isn't at the top of the blog come tomorrow.

The joke of the day went to a joint effort between the BBC for this delightful video:

On the political scene, Art Hanger was flying out of the Justice Committee again today in an effort to avoid those pesky Cadscam questions.

The question of the day is this: Why does the NDP keep objecting to a parliamentary investigation into the Cadman Affair? Because I sure can't figure out why.

Emphasis on "Fixed"

I haven't seen this hit the national media yet, but this news story out of Alberta is

Stelmach Promises Fixed Election Dates, Longer Terms

EDMONTON- Premier Ed Stelmach's first bill since his reelection has drawn heavy criticism from opposition parties who characterize it as "undemocratic". The bill, to be tabled today, calls for Alberta to adopt fixed election dates, but lengthens the time between elections to ten years.

"I believe this represents a good compromise between those who want fixed election dates and those who feel there are too many elections," said Stelmach in an interview last night. "This will save taxpayers a lot of time and money."

Stelmach has long since opposed fixed election dates and, until recently, had been critical of the idea of lengthening electoral terms from the present four or five years. Tory insiders say that the results of the recent election, which saw an 11th straight Tory majority, brought him around.

Should the bill become law, Alberta's next general election will be held April 1st, 2018.