Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
2008 Man of the Year
2005: Belinda Stronach
2006: Michael Ignatieff
2007: Jean Charest
It’s time to crown the Calgary Grit “Person of the Year”. As the above list of past winners shows, this award doesn’t necessarily go to my favourite politician, or to the politician who had the best year. Rather, it goes to someone whose influence was felt on the Canadian political landscape – with that said, I try to stay away from the PM whenever possible, since that’s always an easy cop-out.
So who wins in 2008? Well, let’s look at the runner-ups first. Maxime Bernier and Julie Couillard injected some life into the droll world of Canadian politics, but had little long-term impact. At the provincial level, Jean Charest and Ed Stelmach were re-elected in a pair of rather uneventful elections. Few Premiers made bold political moves, outside of Gordon Campbell’s carbon tax – but its rejection in the federal election limits his influence to the West Coast. And, once again, few in the Harper Cabinet distinguished themselves, although Jim Flaherty’s fiscal update certainly makes him a candidate. Guy Giorno is also a tempting choice, but it’s difficult to say what percentage of PMO decisions were his, and what percentage were Harper’s.
I toyed with the idea of thinking outside the box and picking Barack Obama. After all, Canadians paid far more attention to the US election than to our own. And the don’t-call-it-NAFTAgate scandal did bring it home, to a certain extent. However, I see little evidence of an “Obama effect” on our election so while his election was historic and may change Canada significantly over the next 4 or 8 years, it didn't change Canada significantly this year.
No, in the end, the three most significant political events of the year were likely: the Green Shift, the federal election, and the coalition confidence crisis. And one man was at the center of each of them.
The fall of Stephane Dion in 2008 wasn’t unexpected. It wasn’t unique. But, it was the story of the year.
His bold policy, the Green Shift, was a great metaphor for Dion himself. Canadians said they wanted action on the environment, just like they said they wanted thoughtful and honest politicians. The Green Shift was a good policy in theory and, if given the chance, would have accomplished a lot. But, it could not be messaged or sold properly, and was soundly rejected by voters - as was Dion.
That rejection came during the 2008 federal election, when Harper became only the 5th Conservative Prime Minister ever to earn re-election. However, the election was never about Harper. From the very first attack ad in 2007, it was clear the election would be about Dion. So, despite a strong showing in the French debates and some spirited attacks against Harpernomics, voters chose Harper over Dion.
Or so they thought.
This brings us to what was, hands down, the defining moment of 2008 – the fortnight of insanity that began November 26th. Every hour, the political world moved a little. An election was on, an election was off. A coalition was rumoured. The vote was Monday, no it was next Monday. Dion would be PM, no it would be Ignatieff, no it would be Dion, no it would be Harper. For political junkies, this was better than an election.
The impact of those two weeks will be far reaching – from the Liberal leadership (non) race, to how Ignatieff will define himself as a leader, to the timing of the next election, to the constitutional precedents that were set. Sure, Dion was no more a player in the coalition saga than any of the other leaders, but his lame-duck leader status no doubt hurt the opposition insurgents. It also turned political insanity into Liberal insanity, leading to the crowning of a new Liberal leader 5 months ahead of schedule. Just as Dion's win in 2006 was due to a rejection of Ignatieff, Ignatieff's win - nearly three years to the day later - was due to a rejection of Dion.
So while 2008 was not the best of years for Stéphane Dion, his influence was felt throughout it.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Gone Ice Fishing
I'm back in Calgary for the holidays and have placed a blogging hiatus on myself until early January to allow for some political detox. I have a few "year end" posts drafted and scheduled to go up at some point over the next two weeks, but don't expect anything else unless something big happens politically.
I'd also like to take a moment to thank everyone who voted for me in the Canadian Blog Awards - yes, all awards are kind of silly, but I'm pleased to have taken home the "best political blog" trophy, and your votes are much appreciated.
Beyond that, thanks for reading. See you in 2009!
PS - There's some good discussion going on in the Senate and Ignatieff threads below, so feel free to keep it going.
Monday, December 22, 2008
At least now it's factually correct to say Mike Duffy is part of the Conservative caucus
Also in the broken promises department, Harper has appointed Thomas Cromwell to the Supreme Court, despite a promise to hold public consultations first. I'll give Harper a pass on this one, since this appointment probably had to be made before January for the court to function properly - and Cromwell's frequent appearances on the Tudors is as good as a public consultation.
UPDATE: Upon closer inspection, two other things stand out from these appointments.
1. 4 out of the 18 are women. This is completely unacceptable, when you consider that one of the reasons for appointing, rather than electing, people to any position is that it allows for a more balanced representation.
2. Remember how Harper spent the past month talking about how the separatists weren't legitimate, blah, blah, blah? Well, one of the picks - Michel Rivard - spent the 1995 Referendum sitting as a PQ MNA campaigning for the oui side. Huh.
Labels: so long John Tory
26 ways to attack Michael Ignatieff…
Micahel Ignatieff: Not A Canadian
Michael Ignatieff: Man of Mystery
Count Ignatieff, the Russian vampire
An elitist egghead who is out of touch with the reality of the every day Canadian
Viscount Iggy of the (American) Ivy Towers.
An intellectual who knows nothing about the economy.
“Who do you want at the helm? A torture expert or a trained economist?”
An arrogant man who ONLY came back to this country to get the PM's office he thought was entitled to. He felt so entitled he didn't even let his party vote for him.
The least experienced party leader in Canadian history
A guy who belongs in the Conservative caucus
A person who sees an opportunity to gain power and is seizing it.
Snob, egghead, "out of touch" with Canadians.
Harper will be made out to be the Tim Horton's guy, while Ignatieff will be portrayed as too snooty to know what a Starbucks even is. Tim Horton's vs Canoe.
An elitist who's never had a real job
How can this elitist who lived outside of Canada for 30 yrs understand the hardships facing average Canadians?
Paul Martin...the dithering sequel
Wait until Ignatieff defines himself and then pounce on any weaknesses
Ignatieff has a "hidden agenda" to bring back the carbon tax
Michael Ignatieff: Arrogant. Out of touch. No government experience. Not Worth the Risk.
The Conservatives will NOT try to define Ignatieff but will instead focus on defining the Liberals as a whole.
The parachute candidate
Unknown. Untested. Risky. Who is Michael Ignatieff?
Yorkville, Toronto, academic, too good for Canada, friend of separatists, wishy-washy, intellectual
Smarter than Harper.
Michael Elliot Trudeau.
An intelligent, calm, even-tempered leader with the ability to stick to the high road.
The Great Canadian Thinker.
Worldly leader with balls.
A guy who has a vision vs. Harper no vision
A guy who wants to unite Canadians vs. Harper who wants to divide them
A guy who wants Canada to live up to its full potential vs Harper who just clings aimlessly to power
Will change the tone in Ottawa
A person willing to tell it like it is in tough times.
Emphasize Ignatieff's team
Ignatieff - not Harper. A man who listens. Ignatieff Liberals, let's build together.
Paint him as someone who thinks through his decisions
Pull a little Obama and make him out to be a politician who hasn’t grown up in Ottawa and the Canadian political machine.
Straight-talker on the economy
Make him the Obama of Canada, without mentioning the name Obama.
Promote his intelligence, promote his stance of human rights, promote his stance of child care.
I forgot to ask how the NDP will attempt to define him, but I think it’s fairly obvious they’ll go at him on policy – specifically foreign policy. My hunch is that the Bloc will use a similar battle plan given that he’s not perceived to be a hard line federalist like Dion or Chretien and I suspect the “not Canadian enough” argument would be a tougher one for them to pull off.
So, from this list of 26 attacks, what will the Tories use? The two areas where Ignatieff is most vulnerable would appear to be on his time outside of Canada and his academic background. However, using those attacks directly could backfire. I’ve heard Ignatieff turn around the “out of Canada” argument beautifully and the Tories would just look petty attacking him for being “too smart”. So I think they’ll be more nuanced (since, if there’s one thing the Tory war room is, it’s nuanced, eh?). It won’t be he’s “un-Canadian” – it will be more of a “he hasn’t been here, he doesn’t understand the problems facing average Canadians” argument. The academic attack pairs nicely with this when it’s framed from an “out of touch” angle – and you can be sure they’ll sprinkle in a few “elitist”, “arrogant”, or “condescending” topings whenever they can.
So, what do the Liberals do to counter?
When I talk to people who aren’t overly political, even if they don’t like Ignatieff they all say they can visualize him as a Prime Minister. I'm not sure what the tag line would be for that, but you want to convey the message that he's "ready to lead". As for an image, it’s no secret that voters want to be inspired – we saw that loud and clear in the US. Ignatieff doesn’t need to pretend he’s a new Trudeau or a northern Obama, but I believe most people would be willing to buy him as a man with a national vision and big ideas. Just as the Tories want to attack him as a “smart academic” without saying it in those words, the Liberals want to sell him as a “smart academic”, without saying it in those words - the “vision thing” might be the way around that.
That said, the best defense is a good offense, so I would hope that Ignatieff and the LPC aren’t afraid to get their elbows dirty. Governing in tough economic times is never easy, and the first goal should be making sure Harper wears this recession tighter than a sweater vest.
Labels: Michael Ignatieff
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Value of Progressive Blogger Coalition Still Hotly Debated
With the 2009 Canadian Blog Awards now in the history books it seems fitting to look back on one of the biggest stories that came out of last year's awards in 2008. For those that don't remember, 3 attention deprived bloggers, Dave Cournoyer (Daveberta), Danielle Takacs (Galloping Around the Golden Horseshoe), and Dan Arnold (Dan Arnold) decided to form a coalition using their combined vote totals to try to overthrow the first place finisher 'we move to canada' in the Best Progressive Blogger category. It was officially a coalition between defending champion Dave Cournoyer and Danielle Takacs, but was supported from the outside by the separatist leaning Dan Arnold.
While these kinds of coalitions are very common in blogging awards in Europe, this was a first for our country. However, the reaction from across the country was fierce. Polls showed massive nation-wide opposition, everywhere except Western Canada, the home of two of the members of the coalition. In fact, the snubbing of the two Alberta based blogs, Daveberta and Calgary Grit, had a major impact on the separatist movement in their home province.
But what started out as a coalition merely trying to get some extra recognition for Calgary Grit who 'we move to canada' refused to acknowledge (at least that's their official story) spawned a whirlwind week in Canadian progressive blogging the likes of which was never seen. Rallies happened all over the country for and against the coalition, with each side seeing themselves as the true champions of democracy. Even Prime Ministers and Premiers got involved. Then came a late poor quality video aggress by the coalition leader Mr. Cournoyer that inflamed the media and many believe was responsible for his overthrow as leader of the coalition by his old nemesis Premier Ed Stelmach.
When Stelmach took over many coalition supporters were still optimistic of they would take power and Stelmach and Takacs would get to share the 1st place progrssive blog award button as outlined in their accord. However, the Canadian Blog Awards administration refused to cede them power immediately and, with time, the coalition began to fall apart. When it came time for a final showdown just before a deadline set by the Canadian Blog Awards Administration, Premier Stelmach had turned on his coalition partners and decided to prop up we move to canada. It's rumoured Premier Stelmach was given a jet ski and a wet suit in return for his support. Feeling betrayed and demoralized, the coalition fell apart and 'we move to canada' retained her title to defend in the next election.
Unfortunately for the coalition, 'we move to canada' went back to her old ways following their collapse, running smear campaigns against Mr. Cournoyer (who re-assumed his control of his blog after Stelmach lost interest in it). Daveberta's former coalition partners did likewise against Mr. Cournoyer, holding him responsible for the betrayal they experienced.
Premier Stelmach was also punished in his home province. At his first press conference after propping up 'we move to canada' he was pelted with a shoe which he apparently lacked the ability to dodge. It remains the defining moment of his Premiership. At the time of this writing the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party are at an all-time low in polling in Alberta and the Western separatist party is in lead and may in fact win a majority in the next provincial election. Albertans won't forget Mr. Stelmach's betrayal any time soon.
Could the coalition have done anything different to be successful? Some of their supporters believe if they had just held firm and continued their resolve to seize power than the Canadian Blog Awards administration would have been compelled to give them power based on precedent and we move to canada's own statements in favour of government by proportional representation. We'll never know how Canadians would have responded had that come to be, but supporters insist a coalition would have been popular with time. And many do credit the coalition with garnering more respect for Western Canada than we had seen before.
What we do know now though is how Canadians responded to the coalition bloggers in this year's 2009 Canadian Blog Awards. As many of you now know 'we move to canada' won a sizable majority of votes in the Best Progressive Blog category. Coalition leader Daveberta failed to make the finals, while Takacs fell back from second to fourth place. The only one that seemed to benefit was Calgary Grit who moved up to second.
Howevver, all 3 bloggers faced their own forms of punishment for their behavior. Daveberta's readership steadily declined to the point of where he was only getting 20 hits a day. Ms. Takacs saw a similar decline in her readership, while both her and Mr. Arnold were kicked off Liblogs for "failing to follow the party line" during this affair. However, Mr. Arnold became somewhat of a hero in his home province and was showered with praise upon his return at Christmas time in the immediate aftermath of the coalition's collapse. It's believed that it was a freeping effort from Alberta that helped him bring home the number two prize this year.
Perhaps Canadians just weren't ready for a coalition or perhaps this coalition just didn't have what it took to be successful in such a cut-throat place as the Canadian blogosphere.
Ed Stelmach takes over blogging coalition
Canadians Take to the Streets Over Blogging Coalition
Motivations of Blogger Power Grab Revealed; Public Widely Opposed
Coalition of Progressive Bloggers lose confidence in "2008 Best Progressive Blog"
2. Speaking of which, we've finally seen the Iggy picture that will be donning the front page of conservative.ca for the next few years. I must say, it's really not that bad, except for the dark eyes that look as if they want to steal my soul.
3. Back in Alberta, it appears Iris Evans may be heading off to the Drumheller penitentiary before long, as Alberta is poised to break its own no-deficit law.
4. The Winnipeg Sun offers up a year in review.
5. The headline of the week comes from the Ottawa Citizen: Harper set to leave 24 Sussex.
6. Al Franken is looking good in the Minnesota recount.
7. Looking for that last minute Christmas gift for that special someone this year? Well, check out cheatneutral, which offers fidelity offsets. (Hat tip JT)
8. Courtesy of reader KD, come this wonderful suggestion:
I have an idea that would help ensure the PM has a good selection of highly qualified candidates [for the Senate]. All Canadians should be encouraged to send him their CVs. Yes, I mean every Canadian. What better way to show our support for the PM's job creation efforts in these dark economic times. And who knows, some lucky Canadians who might not otherwise be considered for such an appointment would have a chance to serve their country. The best part is there's no cost! You can mail your resume to the PM's office (free postage) at:
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
House of Commons
I'm sure his staff would appreciate receiving all these CVs as it would demonstrate the interest that Canadians have in this fine initiative.
Just remember, you must be 35 and own property in the provinces with Senate vacancies. Oh, and if you're a Tory bagman, be sure to highlight that on your cover letter.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
The Small Man of Confederation Gets his Way
If we assume that these seats, plus the 7 new ones in BC and 5 in Alberta, break down along current support lines, here's what the current parliament would look like (with the seats gained for each party in brackets):
CPC 162 (+19)
Lib 86 (+9)
NDP 42 (+5)
Friday, December 19, 2008
Ed Stelmach Takes over Blogging Coalition; Future of Coalition Uncertain
Friday, December 19, 2008
The story of the fledgling coalition of bumbling progressive bloggers has taken yet more dramatic turns. After a day of rallies Wednesday, the leader of the coalition, Dave Cournoyer was to address the nation to make his case for why his coalition is best suited to hold the best Progressive Blog prize in these troubled times; however, Mr. Cournoyer's address never arrived. He sent a note to the networks saying "Super busy at work today, so I didn't get a chance to record the vid, sorry, maybe tomorrow or the next day." The video eventually surfaced (apparently filmed on a low quality webcam) but the networks were so furious that have vowed to give no further airtime to Mr. Cournoyer at all.
CTV News reporter Mike Duffy was livid, "The single most important test in leadership is delivering a video in high quality and on time. I don't really care what you have to say, but there are no higher values than punctuality and cinematography skills in politics and these guys obviously just aren't cut out for the job."
A spokesperson for first place winner 'we move to canada' could hardly contain her glee, "If these guys can't do v-blogging right they are clearly not worth the risk of being handed the prize of top progressive blogger."
Though this was just the beginning of what will go down as one of the most surreal days in Canadian blogging. The morning after Mr. Cournoyer's video SNAFU, he found himself locked out of his blog, Daveberta. To his dismay he discovered through a breaking news report in the Toronto Sun that Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach had bought the domain name for Daveberta's blog and formally taken it over.
Premier Stelmach was defiant at the ensuing press conference, "Payback's a bitch isn't it Dave?" The comment was clearly in reference to the legal squabbles Premier Stelmach had with Mr. Cournoyer when Dave angered the Premier by purchasing the domain edstelmach.ca without his permission.
Despite Premier Stelmach's apparent disdain for Mr. Cournoyer, he made it clear that as the new proud owner of the Daveberta blog (which the Premier promptly renamed Edberta) he was entitled to lead the coalition of progressive bloggers and would respect the terms of the deal signed by Mr. Cournoyer with Danielle Takacs (Galloping Around the Horseshoe) and Dan Arnold (Calgary Grit). However, Premier Stelmach did leave the door open for a compromise with 'we move to canada', "Coalition if…umm…necessary, but we need…umm…a coalition…some of the time…uhh…unless it's needed," said the Premier.
Mr. Stelmach's coalition partners appeared unfazed by the change in the leadership of their coalition. "I could care less who leads the coalition as long as I get the 1st place progressive blog banner on my blog for a quarter of the year like I was promised in the accord," said Ms. Takacs.
Mr. Arnold who has been critical of Premier Stelmach in the past seemed willing to accept him this time around, "Sure I've campaigned against him, but everyone I've ever supported has always ended up losing so what do I know about winning? It's time I start doing the opposite of what my instincts tell me."
The coalition's efforts will now be bolstered by Preston Manning and Ralph Klein who will be launching a national tour to promote the coalition as the sort of democracy in action they've always championed. Even Prime Minister Stephen Harper has now come out in support, "We move to canada is playing the biggest political game of her life! Let me be very clear, if this coalition of bloggers is not allowed to take power, I think it's time for Alberta to seriously consider building firewalls around itself and start running these awards under their own legitimate jurisdiction. There's nothing more important in this country than blogging and mark my words, Westerners shall not take this lying down," said the Prime Minister.
Though despite the new heavyweights lining up to support them, there were the first signs from the coalition leaders themselves that perhaps they won't succeed in their ultimate goal, "We'll see what happens, but the coalition has definitely made a positive impact. Before the coalition existed we move to canada was refusing to acknowledge my existence, and lo and behold within 24 hours of our accord she was saying I had an "excellent blog". That kind of respect for Western Canada didn't come easy and we have to make sure to hold we move to canada's feet to the fire. But the ball is her court now, maybe we'll get a miracle," said Mr. Arnold.
The new tone in rhetoric may be due to the massive public opposition reflected in the latest polls. Even so, the coalition's efforts to take power have been put on hold for several days as the Canadian Blog Awards (CBA) administration have been refusing to answer e-mails or take calls from any of the coalition members wishing to discuss this matter. The members of the CBA administration pronounced that a "time out" was needed and they expressed hope that the warring parties would sit down and resolve this matter on the weekend and if extremely unethical or borderline illegal (e.g., offering life insurance policies) deal making was required to end this once and for all, so be it. A final decision shall be made following the weekend, should it prove necessary, the Administration said.
Canadians Take to the Streets Over Blogging Coalition
Motivations of Blogger Power Grab Revealed; Public Widely Opposed
Coalition of Progressive Bloggers lose confidence in "2008 Best Progressive Blog"
Tory times are...well, you know the rest
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Stephen Harper: Economist
The next month: Dow Jones plunges 2,340 points
October 7, 2008: "I think there's probably a lot of great buying opportunities emerging in the stock market as a consequence of all this panic." - Stephen Harper
Six week later: TSX down over 2,000 points
September 26, 2008: "All the fundamentals of the Canadian economy are good. It's not the time to do anything new, wild or stupid." - Stephen Harper
September 26, 2008: Harper accused Dion of attempting to "drive down confidence in the Canadian economy without foundation, and quite frankly, sitting on the sidelines, virtually cheering for a recession."
October 6, 2008: "I know economists will say well, we could run a small deficit but the problem is that once you cross that line as we see in the United States, nothing stops deficits from getting larger and larger and spiralling out of control." - Stephen Harper
October 8, 2008: Asked if running even a small deficit would be bad in these difficult times, Mr. Flaherty said flatly: “Yes, it would be.”
October 10, 2008: "This country will not go into recession next year and will lead the G7 countries." - Stephen Harper
November 22, 2008: "These are, of course, the classic circumstances under which budgetary deficits are essential." -Stephen Harper
November 27, 2008: Flaherty predicts recession, offers no stimulus package
December 15, 2008: "The truth is, I've never seen such uncertainty in terms of looking forward to the future. I'm very worried about the Canadian economy. [...] Obviously, we're going to have to run a deficit." - Stephen Harper
December 16, 2008: Canada's leader [Harper] says depression possible
December 17, 2008: "It’s quite clear on the basis of the forecasts, and the continuing decline in the forecasts, that there will be a deficit." - Jim Flaherty
December 18, 2008: Harper says deficit could hit 30 billion
Canadians Take to the Streets over Blogging Coalition
In Toronto, about 4,500 coalition supporters flooded Nathan Phillips Square to hear bloggers Dave Cournoyer and Danielle Takacs explain why their united progressive blogging front, which is backed by well-known Western Separatist Calgary Grit, is better for Canada than We Move to Canada.
"we move to canada has done enough for progressive blogging and that is why the it has lost our confidence as 2008 Best Progressive Blog," Takacs told supporters.
Meanwhile in Ottawa, about 3,500 people converged on Parliament Hill to protest the possibility that a coalition of the progressive bloggers could try to unseat the 2008 winner without another vote.
"Canadians voted for we move to canada, and I believe that Daveberta and Takacs are trying to overthrow the legitimate winner," said 39-year-old truck operator Chuck Branson, attending his first demonstration. "I don't believe Canadians are used to a system of a coalition, and we have to stick to what we know . . . and Canadians should know that the current system is functioning well."
Angry though it was, the Parliament Hill protest was civil. Shortly before the kickoff, organizers asked one anti-coalition demonstrator to tone down the rhetoric of his sign, which read "Calgary Grit scum."
In Red Deer, an estimated 8,000 people gathered for a demonstration of solidarity with the coalition. Retired MP Myron Thompson, speaking at the rally, said holding another election would be too much exercise, so he proposed a different solution.
"Pistols at dawn. Let's settle this the old fashioned way," he said, adding that if any good has come from the turmoil, it's that citizens seem to be more interested in blogging.
In Vancouver, about 1,500 people gathered in the rain on the steps of city hall, where they heard rally organizer and former MP Svend Robinson argue that the coalition was wrong to try to steal something as valuable as the blog award.
In Edmonton, demonstrators gathered at West Edmonton Mall for what they called an anti-coalition "Canada rally."
"We love Canada," said rally co-ordinator Josiah Martin, 19.
Even though Canadian Blog Award Administrator Jonathan Kleiman has denounced the coalition, Martin warned that the coalition remains a threat.
"We love Canada," he said. "A lot of people feel the same."
Newly appointed Senator John Tory, one of the headline speakers at a rally in Toronto, said he hoped the rally underlined the need to work together to resolve the situation.
"Canadians have had enough of all kinds of political games-playing everywhere. They're saying if you're a blogger, there's an important responsibility we've given to you and we're scared and we're uncertain and we're worried," he said. "Let's see some adult behaviour and get back to regular blogging."
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
As bad as Harper is...
Russian treason bill could target Kremlin critics
MOSCOW (AP) — Under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, people who fraternized with foreigners or criticized the Kremlin were "enemies of the people" and sent to the gulag. Now there's new legislation backed by Vladimir Putin's government that human rights activists say could throw Russia back to the days of the Great Terror.
The legislation, outspoken government critic and rights activist Lev Ponomaryov charged Wednesday, creates "a base for a totalitarian state."
Government supporters and Kremlin-allied lawmakers said the bill — submitted to the Kremlin-friendly parliament last week — will tighten up current law. Supporters say prosecutors often have trouble gaining convictions because of ambiguities in the definition of state treason.
The bill would add non-governmental organizations based anywhere in the world that have an office in Russia to the list of banned recipients of state secrets. The government has repeatedly accused foreign spy agencies of using NGOs as a cover to foment dissent.
Critics warned the loose wording will give authorities ample leeway to prosecute those who cooperate with international rights groups.
Labels: oh those Russians
Define or be Defined
The Liberals have vowed to not let it happen again. But to prevent the Conservatives from defining Ignatieff, the Grits will need to define him first.
So I'll ask two open questions here. Put on your strategist hats and give it your best shot.
1. How should the Conservatives try to define Ignatieff?
2. How should the Liberals?
I'll post some of the responses later this week, along with my two cents.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Motivations of Blogger Power Grab Revealed; Public Widely Opposed
December 16, 2008
TORONTO/EDMONTON/GUELPH - There has been wild speculation across the blogosphere about what the Sun chain has dubbed "the coalition of the idiot bloggers" – an accord between three power thirsty bloggers which could potential wrestle the "Best Progressive Blog" title away from We Move to Canada. Our sources have the inside story on how the plot was hatched.
Liberal insiders close to Dave Cournoyer paint a picture of a man desperate to stay in the spotlight following his high profile dispute with the Premier over edstelmach.ca earlier this year. These anonymous sources say that upon learning of his 6th place finish, Cournoyer quickly concocted the plan to let him keep the title of "best progressive blog" for another year.
Cournoyer contacted Takacs who, according to blogging insiders, jumped at the opportunity. High profile strategists close to Takacs confirm that ever since the departure of Cherniak on Politics, she has been maneuvering to replace him as the pre-eminent Liblogger – "Danielle aspires to be not only as influential as the mainstream media, but more influential than the mainstream media" say well-connected anonymous bloggers. Takacs briefly consulted with Liberal elder and UFO enthusiast Paul Hellyer, as she does before making all major life decisions, and then signed on.
From there, Takacs and Cournoyer recognized they would need a third blogger, a blogger desperate for attention, with an unquenchable thirst for power so strong that he would abandon all principles to become their patsy. "After supporting yet another losing candidate, it was obvious that CG would jump at the opportunity for power." Said well-connected bloggers who asked not to be identified. "Plus, he figured it would play well into the 'Canada's Greatest Temporary Ad Hoc Rainbow Coalition' contest he had planned for his blog next summer." Many feel WMTC's dirty "not a Calgary blog" smear campaign prompted CG's involvement.
From there, an MSN 3-way was set up, where leaked transcripts reveal Cournoyer promising to make his blog a "warm comfy splash page with lots of fur" for the coalition. The deal was signed and made public yesterday, mere hours after John Ivison reported that a coalition led by Dr. Dawg would be taking power.
The first poll out on the matter indicates that the Canadian public is uneasy with the coalition. A nation-wide poll by Ipsos-Reid showed that 75% of Canadians are opposed to the coalition and 64% believe the three bloggers who make it up should be banned from blogging ever again. Close to half of Canadians (43%) agree with the statement "Dave Cournoyer, Danielle Takacs, and Dan Arnold should be hanged, drawn and quartered for their treasonous efforts."
However, the coalition has found some strong support out West, where a majority were in favour of the 3 bloggers taking power away from We Move to Canada. Even Mr. Cournoyer’s old nemesis Alberta Premier Ed Stemach has come out in support, "I support the...uhh....coalition accord because it...ummm....promotes responsible blogging...errr....Albertans need to blog...uhh...the NEP destroyed Alberta..."
Tomorrow looks to be a crucial day for the coalition with rallies scheduled across the country. As well, Mr. Cournoyer has asked for air time tomorrow night to address the nation in response to the Canadian Blog Awards Administration's address, and make his case for why the Canadian people shouldn’t fear him and his blogging coalition taking the reins of power.
Or we could just have Rod Blagojevich appoint them all
18 spots to fill
3 in BC
2 in Ontario
4 in Quebec
2 in New Brunswick
3 in Nova Scotia
1 in PEI
1 in Newfoundland
1 in the Yukon
1 in Saskatchewan
Brad Wall has been fairly gung-ho about senate elections, so Harper might decide to take a pass on that seat until they have a chance to vote. There's also heavy speculation that a Tory MPP (most likely Bob Runciman) might be moving down the 401 to sit in the Senate, so that John Tory could get a seat at Queen's Park. John Reynolds, Barbara McDougal, and Lewis MacKenzie also seem like solid bets at this point.
Beyond that, I won't speculate on the names, although there's already been a lot of speculation floating around. What I will say is that I don't think we're going to see 18 Tory hacks. My gut feeling is that Harper will find one or two Liberals or Dippers out there who favour an elected senate, so as to not look as partisan. We'll probably also see a notable Canadian or two, in an effort to deflect the attention away from Harper breaking yet another promise. As others have said, the hockey historian in Harper can probably find an old NHLer somewhere to keep the Big M company.
So feel free to comment away about who should and who will be appointed.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Coalition of Progressive Bloggers lose confidence in "2008 Best Progressive Blog"
TORONTO/EDMONTON/GUELPH — Bloggers Dave Cournoyer, Danielle Takacs, and Dan Arnold announced today that an agreement has been reached among the three bloggers to support a coalition of Best Progressive Blogs in the 2008 Canadian Blog Awards.
"Since the recent election of We Move to Canada (WMTC) as 2008 Best Progressive Blog, it has become clear that the WMTC has no plan, no competence and, no will to effectively address the crisis faced by Canadian Progressive bloggers," the three bloggers wrote in an open blog post to all Canadians.
"As 77% of voters in this category voted against the 1st place winner in the last election, we have resolved to form a new Best Progressive Blog winner who will effectively, prudently, promptly and competently address these critical times," said Ms. Takacs.
"Passing over Alberta blogs in favour of WMTC is sure to fire up the embers of western alienation. And WMTC didn't even acknowledge my existence in her post bragging about her win. We're tired of being treated like second class citizens! This is the biggest middle finger to Alberta since the NEP!" said Mr. Arnold.
Mr. Cournoyer informed Canadian Blog Awards administrator Saskboy of the agreement and requested that he exercise his webmaster authority to call on Daveberta, as the past 2007 Best Progressive Blog to form a new collaborative Best Progressive Blog coalition supported by nominees CalgaryGrit and Takacs.
Should Saskboy comply, then the defending champion in the progressive blogs category, Daveberta, will be named "Best Progressive Blog of 2008." However Takacs will have the privilege of posting the victory button on her blog for three months out of the year. This coalition will function thanks to Calgary Grit who, while not recognizing the legitimacy of these awards, agreed to support it.
"Although we all have very different opinions on the issue of colour schemes, and Danielle called me "an obscure frat boy with a sticky-up haircut" during the past campaign, we have managed to find common ground on the issues of Google analytics, RSS feeds, and Stephen Harper's blue sweaters," said Cournoyer.
Takacs has agreed to support the collaborative victory until next year's awards and Calgary Grit has agreed to support it until June 30, 2009.
A spokesperson expressed outrage on behalf of We Move to Canada, "This is nothing less that an undemocratic coup that will destroy the fabric of the blogosphere! Daveberta wants to take power after being resoundingly rejected in the last election in his worst showing ever. Canadians didn't vote for this! Worst of all, Dave and Danielle have cut a deal with Calgary Grit, a well known Western separatist who doesn't even want these awards to function!"
Ms. Takacs expressed the hope that this matter could be resolved peacefully and without delay, "We're calling on We Move to Canada to accept this defeat gracefully. It's time to realize that you are going to be defeated at the next available opportunity, it's too late to make amends. The sooner you relinquish power the sooner we can get back to blogging for all progressive Canadians."
These events have set off a firestorm across the blogosphere, with large scale rallies being scheduled on in the week ahead. However, barring any unforeseen events it would seem a virtual certainty that the coalition will come to power next week in an arrangement that would be the first of its kind in our country's history.
Respond to our demands or else...
EDMONTON — Alberta is demanding economic action from the federal government that would include reducing red tape for business and cutting some consumer costs.
Premier Ed Stelmach sent a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday that also said Alberta wants to have a seat at the table for any North American climate change talks.
Alberta's wish list in advance of next month's first ministers meeting also included a reduction in national park fees for Canadian residents, lower airport fees to reduce consumer travel costs, limiting credit and debit card processing fees and tighter rules for pension plans to ensure payments to retiring workers.
Aha! Lower debit card fees! I always knew Stelmach was a closet Jack Layton supporter!
In fairness to Ed, he goes on to ask for a trade and labour mobility agreement between the provinces, which would be a very positive development.
The parts in red are my additions. Here's hoping that the Liberal Party doesn't wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
A little over
We have started to create a strong nucleus of young talent like
As I said in my introductory news conference, I have three pillars that I base my
These three pillars created a winning culture for
I would like to thank
PS - Please make a donation today.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Alberta Liberals Vote
Name Change – Pro
Name Change – Con
(Don’t) Unite the Left
Taylor renewal document
Profiles in Courage: Dave Taylor
Profiles in Courage: Mo Elsalhy
Profiles in Courage: David Swann
Liberals Vote: Swann Wins
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Liberals Vote: Swann Wins
UPDATE: The hotly contested David versus David ALP leadership race has ended with David Swann emerging as the winner on the first ballot.
David Swann - 2,468 (54%)
Dave Taylor - 1,616 (35%)
Mo Elsalhy - 491 (11%)
This comes as a bit of a surprise, as everyone expected the race to be a lot closer than this, and most people I'd talked to thought Taylor's well run campaign would give him a ground game advantage. In the end, it appears that Swann managed to bring a lot of new faces into the party and that they were simply more motivated to vote.
While I would have voted for Taylor myself were I still living in Alberta, I've always had immense respect for David Swann as a person. As I said in my profile of him, you will never find a more genuine individual, politician or not. Although I have a lot of doubts about his electability in a right-of-centre province, I have nothing but the best of wishes for David, and I think he would make a fantastic Premier.
So what does it all mean?
I will say that a Swann victory is certainly more intriguing than a Taylor one would have been. Swann has been far more radical in his talk about working with the other opposition parties and of renaming the Alberta Liberal Party. He is probably the least conventional politician leading a major political party (using the term loosely) in Canada right now, so it's really hard to predict how he'll fare. But given the current predictability of Alberta politics and that province's history of Black Swan elections, a little unpredictability might not be a bad thing.
On this date in history
Friday, December 12, 2008
Liberal Leadership Vote Results
I'll be posting the numbers all afternoon as they roll in - there may also be a special bonus here too.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
A Fortnight to Remember...or Forget
November 26th: With a recession looming and Canadians losing their jobs, Stephen Harper decides the best way to turn the situation around is to...go for the jugular. In these tough economic times, opposition parties are a luxury we simply cannot afford.
November 27th: All hell breaks loose.
November 28th: Harper pulls the changes to the public financing rules, averting a messy showdown...or not.
November 28th: Harper postpones confidence votes and opposition days. But this is way different than when Paul Martin did it. Really.
November 29th: The Tories strike the anti-strike legislation from the fiscal update and announced a January 27th budget.
November 30th: The Tories pull a Grewal and tape an NDP conference call hinting at a secret NDP-Bloc deal.
December 1st: John Ivison announces that Michael Ignatieff will lead the coalition government. His sources weren't wrong, they were just ahead of their time.
December 1st - a few hours later: The coalition leaders meet and sign an accord, with Dion as leader. Hey, who invited Gilles Duceppe?
December 2nd: Tory attack ads begin airing.
December 2nd: "Separatists, traitors, betraying Canada, separatists, power grab, separatists, they didn't even have a canadian flag behind them!"
December 2nd: Michaelle Jean cuts her vacation short...again.
December 3rd: If you'd told me a week ago that a webcam video would force a politician to resign, I would have guessed you were talking about Maxime Bernier. Alas, Dion's address to the nation arrives late, out of focus, and with the production values of a Tory attack ad.
December 4th: After forcing the PM to sit through a two and a half hour slide-slow of vacation pictures, Michaelle Jean agrees to prorogue Parliament. After all, confidence in the House of Commons is like the stock market; you haven't lost money until you sell, and you haven't lost confidence until they vote.
December 6th: Are you for democracy? If so, there were several competing ways to express your support for democracy...and to voice your displeasure over what you thought was the worst thing to ever happen in the history of Canada - regardless of what specifically you thought that was.
December 8th - morning: Just over three years after winning the leadership, Dion resigns...again.
December 8th - afternoon: Dominic LeBlanc drops out and tosses his support to Michael Ignatieff.
December 8th - late night: Some people wanted 137 Liberal MPs and Senators to pick the next leader. Others wanted 68,000 Liberals to. The National Executive splits the difference and enfranchises a couple hundred party officials.
December 8th - later night: Did landing on CNN make this crisis important? No. Did landing as the number 3 story on google news make this crisis important? No. This story became important the minute it got the lead on the Daily Show.
December 9th: Ready to Roll...over. Bob Rae drops out of the race, handing the crown to his old roommate, Michael Ignatieff.
48 hours in 14 seconds
My uneasiness with the coalition
What If History: Martin Prorogues
How the Grinch Prorogued Parliament
Labels: political insanity
Harper's Job Creation Program
On The Agenda
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
How the Grinch Prorogued Parliament
How the Grinch Prorogued Parliament
Every MP on the Hill liked Voting a lot…
But the Grinch, who lived just north of the Hill, did NOT!
The Grinch hated Voting! The whole Voting season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be his new sweater vest was too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all, may have been that his caucus was twelve seats too small.
But, whatever the reason, his caucus or vest,
He stood on Voting eve, thumping his chest.
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown,
At the warm lighted windows below in the town.
For he knew every MP on the Hill beneath
Was busy now, preparing a victory wreath.
“And they’ve finished their plot!” he snarled with a sneer,
“Next Monday’s the vote! It’s practically here!”
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I MUST find some way to stop Monday from coming!”
For, next week he knew all MP girls and boys would wake bright and early.
They’d rush for the hill!
And then! Oh, the noise!
Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s one thing he hated!
The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
And THEN they’d do something he liked least of all!
Each MP on the Hill, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, Peace Tower bells ringing.
They’d stand hand-in-hand.
And end his power clinging!
They’d vote! And they’d vote!
And they’d VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!
And the more the Grinch thought of this confidence measure,
The more the Grinch thought, “This, I must try to censure!”
“Why, for three-years I’ve put up with it now!”
“I must stop Monday from coming!… But HOW?”
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!
"I know just what to do!" The Grinch laughed full of gall.
And he strolled through the snow over to Rideau Hall.
And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Grinchy trick!"
"I’ll prorogue this House, and I’ll prorogue it quick!"
"All I need is a reason..." The Grinch looked around.
But, since reasons are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch...? No! The Grinch simply said,
"If I can't find a reason, I'll create one instead!"
So he ran some commercials, like a good politician,
And blamed the whole thing on that darn coalition...
Liberal Leadership Race
Frank McKenna: Will he or won’t he? (Spoiler alert: He won’t)
8 Simple Rules of Liberal Leadership Races
Liberal leadership debate recap
In Support of Dominic LeBlanc
Bob Rae Blogger Chat
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Well, that was certainly less than ideal - especially when you look at the beautiful exercise in democracy the Democratic primaries turned into earlier this year. Sure, the Obama-Clinton duel featured controversy, vicious attacks, and hurt feelings, but it also featured real debate, a clash of ideas, and a thorough vetting of the candidates. More importantly, those primaries brought thousands of people into the fold, rejuvenating the party in the process. The candidates showcased themselves, the membership voted based on what they saw, and the party emerged stronger because of it.
I suspect that even Ignatieff supporters are feeling somewhat unsatisfied at this resolution. But I don't want to be a downer here - it could have been a lot worse. Rae could have easily gone negative against Ignatieff and the establishment, turning the next month into a bloody internal battle of the likes unseen since...well, pick one of a thousand bloody internal Liberal battles. Instead, Rae put his party ahead of his own self-interest and the man deserves all the praise in the world for that. Ever since Bob took out an LPC membership, there have been doubts about his motivations and his commitment to the party - no one can doubt him now. I'm not a Rae supporter by any means but after listening to his very gracious words of support for Ignatieff, I took out my credit card and made a $50 donation to help erase his leadership debt.
So what now? Well, the philosopher king, Michael Ignatieff, inherits the mantle of Liberal leadership. I've always felt that Ignatieff had the potential for greatness. The man is brilliant, is a commanding speaker, and has inspired many. I believe he has grown exponentially as a politician since entering the political arena just three years ago, and he has surrounded himself with some of the brightest minds in the Liberal Party. He would make a great Prime Minister.
But I said "would" rather than "will" for a reason. Liberals need to recognize that the days of the Liberal leadership being a direct path to 24 Sussex are gone. Despite Dion's failings, the problems with this party run deeper than leadership and there's a lot of work to be done. I've written about what I think should be done, and after an aborted leadership race that has left many feeling alienated, it will be even more challenging to improve party fundraising, engage the membership, and figure out what this party stands for. While preparing for the next election is important, I hope that Ignatieff makes the long term health of the party an immediate priority of his.
So congratulations once again to Michael Ignatieff. The Liberal Party faces many challenges and I will do whatever I can to help him meet them.
Labels: Michael Ignatieff
One Final Thought Before Moving On
The Next Liberal Leader
More thoughts tonight.
Instead of Caucus Appointing the Leader...
OTTAWA – Liberal Party President Doug Ferguson announced Monday that the Liberal Party’s National Executive has approved a consultative process by which it will appoint an interim Liberal Leader. This announcement follows the resignation of the Hon. Stéphane Dion announced earlier this week.
“I first wish to thank Mr. Dion for the courage and passion with which he led the Liberal Party of Canada ,” said Mr. Ferguson.
“At this critical time in our country’s history, the National Executive, in consultation with Caucus, is now tasked by our Party’s constitution with selecting an interim Leader who will preside over a very volatile minority Parliament, and a possible general election.”
Mr. Ferguson emphasized that the Liberal Party’s overriding objective is to select an interim Leader through a process which respects the principles of fairness and openness.
In this spirit, with respect to its decision to select an interim Leader, the National Executive has chosen to consult broadly with the Party’s constitutional bodies, including Caucus, defeated candidates from the last general election, Council of Presidents, and Commission Club Presidents. Through this process, an interim Leader is expected to be chosen as early as Wednesday, December 17, 2008.
"In keeping with our national Canadian character, the Liberal Party brought together good sense and balance in seeking broad consultation in an expedited timeframe," concluded Mr. Ferguson.
Perhaps the problems were far more deeply rooted than that, eh?
Monday, December 08, 2008
Over the past few days I have been honoured by the incredible surge of support from all parts of our party for my candidacy for the leadership.
The week ahead promises to be an exciting one and I wanted to share with you my thoughts as it begins.
First, every one of us owes a debt of thanks to Mr. Dion for his public service as Leader of our party, as a cabinet minister and an MP. I hope that we may continue to count on his contributions to Canada and to the Liberal Party.
Second, I want to share with you that I will stand as a candidate to replace Mr. Dion under the process outlined in the party constitution, as voted upon by the delegates of the grassroots of our party at the last convention in Montreal, for replacement of a Leader who resigns prior to a leadership convention. I am doing so because our parliamentary caucus and party need leadership now to confront Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
Third, should I succeed in winning the support of the national executive of the party and our caucus as leader, I remain committed to having that leadership confirmed by our party at our upcoming convention in Vancouver, as our party's constitution requires.
Fourth, should I become leader I hope to immediately engage the grassroots in the very real policy challenges facing our country at a time of peril and in the party renewal challenges that all Liberals must face together. I will need the best from each and every one of us in this regard.
Thanks to each and every one of you for all your hard work and support on my behalf. It is appreciated more than I can say. If you haven’t done so already please tell me what you think, volunteer or make a donation.
UPDATE: Set your TiVo as I will likely be on The Agenda tonight, discussing the state of the Liberal Party with the always awesome Steve Paiken.