Monday, June 29, 2009

You May be seated

After her befuddling decision to run in Central Nova last election, Elizabeth May appears to be on the right track:

OTTAWA–The federal Green party is expecting an election this fall and the new, number-one strategic priority is to make sure leader Elizabeth May has a seat in the House of Commons when it's over.

"Now the party is convinced that our number-one goal is to elect me to the House of Commons. So that changes quite a lot of things," May told Green party members in Eastern Ontario yesterday at an election-preparedness briefing.

May says she's ready to switch ridings to make that happen and is now deciding whether she should run in Guelph, Owen Sound or on Vancouver Island in the next campaign.

Her short list also includes Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley in Nova Scotia, now vacant because of the retirement of independent MP Bill Casey, a former Conservative.

The Green leader confirmed publicly for the first time yesterday that she's unlikely to run again in Central Nova, where she was defeated by Defence Minister Peter MacKay in the 2008 election. (MacKay won 46 per cent of the vote in Central Nova, while May won 32 per cent.)

The party is polling and testing the ground, in an unprecedented way, May said, in ridings such as Guelph, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, and Saanich-Gulf Islands, where the Greens did well last year.

Having recently updated my election spreadsheet, I figured I'd have some fun and try and look at where May stands the best chance of winning.

To get a rough idea, I took the average vote totals from the past three elections, and made the following two assumptions:

1. The Green vote will double
2. May will convert half of everyone who currently has the Greens as their second choice. To get these numbers, I averaged out the second choice preferences of the final Ekos, Angus, and Decima 2008 election polls. For example, 18% of Conservative voters and 22.6% of Liberal voters listed the Greens as their second choice, so I transferred 9% of the Tory vote and 11.3% of the Liberal vote in every riding to the Greens.

This isn't intended to predict how May would fare...only to give a relative ranking of seats, based on how close the Greens are to winning the seat (projected Green vote - highest vote total of another party). I did try different variations of the above formulas, and the results were all similar.

So, based on this, what are the ten most winnable seats for the Greens?

1. Guelph (Lib)
2. Saanich-Gulf Islands (CPC)
3. Victoria (NDP)
4. Vancouver Centre (Lib)
5. Ottawa Centre (NDP)
6. Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound (CPC)
7. Esquimalt Juan De Fuca (Lib)
8. West Vancouver Sunshine Coast yada yada (CPC)
9. Central Nova (CPC)
10. BC Southern Interior (NDP)

Off the bat, we can strike Central Nova from the list - it's only there because of the increased May-vote in 2008. If you base this on only the 2004 and 2006 elections, it's the 146th best riding for May to run in, further illustrating just how awful a choice it was for her last time. Similarly, I tend to think the Greens are already punching a bit above their weight in Vancouver Centre, as they fielded a very strong campaign there last time, thanks to Adriane Carr.

Looking at the other 8 ridings, there's a case to be made for pretty much all of them, as most feature relatively weak incumbents, and were won on the strength of vote splitting. And the Greens seem to be on the right path, with the three ridings they're polling in (bolded above), all placing highly on my list.

Of the three, Guelph certainly seems the least daunting, with Green candidate Mike Nagy only 11% back last time - with the vote split there, May could take this riding with 30% of the vote. Running in Guelph would, however, mean tossing overboard a young man who has run for the Greens in the riding three times, growing their vote substantially over this period. It would also mean defeating a Liberal, or possibly handing the riding to the Conservatives off a Green-Liberal vote split. Given her previous statements, risking this would be out of character, but it could signal the begining of a shifting strategy where the Greens focus on running against the Liberals (and NDP), rather than the Tories.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the other two seats May is targeting are held by Conservatives. May would certainly enjoy giving Gary Lunn a go in Saanich Gulf Islands, as she has been highly critical of the man before. But, then again, knocking off a lower-profile target like Larry Miller (I'd wager most of his own family members haven't even heard of him) in Bruce, might be easier. On the flip side, the Green vote sky rocketed there last election, presumably on the strength of the candidate (former councilor Dick Hibma), the Greens had running.

So, taken all together, I'd expect May to make a run at Lunn. Either way, she should decide soon, and spend August and September tricycling through the riding, because direct voter contact will make a difference, and she simply won't have the time to do a lot of it during a national election campaign.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hudak versus McGuinty in 2011

That'll be the match up, after Tim Hudak's third ballot win yesterday.

Here are the ballot-by-ballot results:

First Ballot
Hudak 3512
Klees 3094
Elliott 2729
Hillier 1014

After the first ballot, 61% of the Hillier votes switched over to Hudak, with 20% going to Klees, and 17% to Elliott (2% had no second choice).

Second Ballot
Hudak 4129
Klees 3300
Elliott 2904

51% of Elliott voters had Hudak as their second choice (or, third choice, if they were Hillier voters switching over to Elliott), while 46% had Klees.

Third Ballot
Hudak 5606
Klees 4644

So Hudak pulled off the rare feat of being a front runner who was also the top second choice preference among the supporters of the defeated candidates. While Hudak and his campaign certainly deserve some credit for pulling that off, I'm sure the short time frame and the format of the leadership race had a lot to do with it.

Front runner resentment probably runs higher among the type of people who go to delegated conventions than it does in the grass roots. That's something federal Liberals will need to keep in mind for future leadership races, now that they've switched to a WOMOV system.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ontario PC Vote Results

It's looking like a Hudak-Klees showdown on the third ballot, with the end result a mystery at this point. Here are the round 1 results:

Hudak 3512
Klees 3094
Elliott 2729
Hillier 1014

There is no realistic way Elliott will catch Klees (remember, this is votes, not delegates, so you won't have people switch their first preference), which means it will all come down to Hudak and Klees on the final ballot.

UPDATE: I'm out for the rest of the day, so check out Stephen Taylor for results. Assuming Hudak increases his lead on Klees (with a Hillier assist), Klees will need Elliott's second place votes to split about 60/40 in his favour to overtake Hudak on the final ballot. Not impossible by any means, so we could be in for a close finish.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

"Vote Frank Klees. Let Him Lead the Party. The Party."

Remember when I said the Frank Klees campaign was more boring than watching paint dry (...or a Benjamin Button marathon)? Well I take it all back!

Because Frank Klees now has the absolute worst campaign theme song I have ever heard. It's so bad, it's amazing. Seriously, you have to listen to it.

And, since I'm not sure I'll run my usual summer voting contest this year, I now invite all blog readers to vote for the worst campaign jingle ever. You've heard Klees' entry above - now let your ears be soothed by the melodious chorus "Sing a Song for Jim".

Worst Campaign Jingle?
Sing of Song for Jim
Vote Frank Klees
Other (Specify in Comments)
See Results

Oh, and if you want to listen to good campaign jingles, I'd recommend the following:

Hat Tip - PerezHudak


This Week in Alberta - Lingere Party!

The Doug Elniski saga is just so good, it's worthy of a second post.

As reported earlier this week, Tory backbencher Doug Elniski got into some trouble for blog and twitter postings where, among other things, he advises young girls:

"Men are attracted to smiles, so smile and don't give me that 'treated equal' stuff, if you want Equal it comes in little packages at Starbucks."

This has prompted some to attack him as being sexist, to which Elniski has responded (and I am not making this up):

"If I were sexist I think I would certainly know about it by now."

This is eerily familiar to comments made by world famous economist Stephen Harper, just a week before the stock market crashed last fall:

“My own belief is if we were gong to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.”

I guess the good news for Elniski in all this is that if voters were going to punish him for his comments, they certainly would have voted him out by now...

Still, Elniski has deleted his blog, and purged his twitter archives...except that...well...I'll let the Journal's Graham Thompson fill you in:

Elniski has no doubt learned a political lesson from it, but he apparently has yet to learn the dangers of Twitter. As of Wednesday afternoon, he still had a Twitter posting from June 7 that said "lingere is always good." Whoever is screening his postings might want to take a look at that one for spelling, if nothing else. Journalists who noticed it and have reported on it assume he meant "lingerie, " but we haven't had a chance to ask him about it. His staff says he's not taking our calls. Taken on its own, a four-word declaration in favour of women's undergarments might not be overtly sexist, but it is overtly odd.

You have to wonder why, after all the complaints about sexism levelled at Elniski this week, he would leave that Twitter posting up. You also have to wonder why he made the posting in the first place.

In Other News...

Avalon Roberts knocks off Corey Hogan to take the Calgary Glenmore nomination for the Alberta Liberals. I would have liked to see Corey take this one, since he's exactly what the ALP needs right now, but Avalon is an experienced candidate and one of the nicest people in the Liberal Party, so I wish her all the best in the by election.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Go Randy Go!

I'm not a PC Party member so I'm not going to make any endorsements. Well, scratch that, I endorse Randy Hillier. Please vote for Randy. Not just because it would mean an easy win for McGuinty, but also because, as was pointed out to me by a clever grit this weekend, it raises the very real possibility of a PC campaign run under a "Are You Feeling Randy?" slogan.

In all seriousness, Hillier has run a solid campaign. As I said in my profile of him, he's latched on to some good conservative issues people can relate to, and has been nothing but a consistent voice for the right wing of his party. Whoever wins is going to have a tough time marginalizing Hillier, especially if he's able to move his votes to Hudak for the win.

Frank Klees may be a good candidate. But, for the life of me, I'm so incredibly uninterested in his campaign and him that I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to complete my website profile series (other than to say: Damn, that is one big picture of Frank on his website). In fairness, a lot of people probably said the same thing about Dalton McGuinty when he ran for Ontario Liberal leadership in 1996, and they certainly said the same thing about Ed Stelmach when he won the Alberta PC leadership in 2006. But, I'm not a PC member, and life is just too short to spend it researching Frank Klees.

So this weekend's vote, if the pundits are to be believed (always a risk in leadership contests), comes down to Tim Hudak and Christine Elliott. Of the two, I think Elliott has run the best campaign, would make the better Premier, and would be a more formidable opponent to Dalton McGuinty in 2011. In a leadership race lasting all summer, I don't doubt for a second that she could have reeled in Hudak and won it.

But Hudak had a leadership-ready team in place, and a big lead when this thing started. In a short contest, that's worth a lot more than substance. In a delegated convention, he might have been Iggy'd in a front-runner gang-up, but I suspect the individual voters' second choices will scatter (or they'll leave the ballot blank), allowing Hudak to eek it out on the third ballot.

We'll find out this weekend.

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Romeo LeBlanc 1927-2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How to Offend in 140 Characters or Less

The latest out of Alberta...

A Tory MLA is under fire for online comments in which he advises girls to smile to attract men, scolds them for seeking equality and alerts his Twitter followers to a bikini car wash where "girls look cold."

Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski conceded Monday that his comments, posted June 13 on his blog and through Twitter, were "inappropriate" and "over the line."

In an entry that began with reflections on junior high school graduations, Elniski posted this advice to girls: "Men are attracted to smiles, so smile and don't give me that 'treated equal' stuff, if you want Equal it comes in little packages at Starbucks." [ed note: Worst. Commencement Speech. Ever.]

He also wrote: "There is nothing a man wants less than a woman scowling because he thinks he is going to get sh--for something and has no idea what."

On the same day, Elniski posted the following Twitter comment: "bikini car wash 82 129 ave girls look cold (...)"


Tom Olsen, a spokesman for Premier Ed Stelmach, said the premier isn't considering disciplinary action against the rookie backbencher, whose previous careers were in several fields, including safety management, forestry work and consulting.

Some gay-rights advocates have also taken issue with Elniski's Twitter posts from the June 13 Edmonton gay pride parade. The MLA noted he was "surrounded by bumping and grinding lesbians." He also apologized for that comment, adding that he thought the parade was a great event.

Furor over Elniski's online writings comes less than a week after Finance Minister Iris Evans garnered national attention for suggesting that two-income parents weren't caring for their children properly.



The annual Alberta Stampede Calgary Stampede Liberal pancake breakfast will be held this 4th of July - any Liberals in town should mosey on over to this website and pick up some tickets for it. Michael Ignatieff will be the guest speaker this year, and a ticket includes free admission to the Calgary Zoo for the rest of the day.

And, on a similar topic, I'll put out another request for pictures from anyone who happens to catch a politician "going western" during Stampede. Just send your pictures in to - hopefully I'll wind up with enough to be able to continue my traditional Stampede fashion round-up for the fourth straight year.


Monday, June 22, 2009

The One Thing Worse Than Low Voter Turnout

Iran's Guardian Council has admitted that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of those eligible to cast ballot in those areas.

The council's Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei -- a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election.

"Statistics provided by Mohsen Rezaei in which he claims more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said.

The spokesman, however, said that although the vote tally affected by such an irregularity is over 3 million, "it has yet to be determined whether the amount is decisive in the election results," reported Khabaronline.

I'll admit I haven't been following this story as closely as I should, what with it being overshadowed by Laureen Harper's daring turtle rescue, both in Canada and in the international press.

But, by now, it's abundantly obvious that the fraud was widespread enough to warrant a re-vote - one monitored by international agencies.

Live Long and Prosper

Given this routine involves Barack Obama and a discussion on nerdiness, I presume most of the people who read this blog will enjoy it.

Hat tip - Red Tory

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Game Theory in Canadian Politics (3)

HoserToHoosier offers the definitive look at the Harper/Ignatieff stand-off from a game theory perspective. Based on his assumptions, the Nash Equilibrium from the current conflict suggested a compromise (which we got), but Ignatieff is almost certain to force an election in the fall.

Given this, I would take it one step further, and argue that the rational play for Harper would be to strike a deal with the NDP or Bloc. The drawback there is the high cost (political cost, not monetary cost...what's another 1 or 2 billion at this point?) associated with the deal, given the harsh words we've seen over the past year. I mean, I'm already relishing the idea of posts titled "Harper's separatist coalition", or "Gilles Duceppe looked in the mirror and saw Stephane Dion".

So, for any deal to happen, the "humiliation cost" would need to be less than the "electoral cost" of going to the polls. Or, failing that, if the Bloc or NDP could milk enough out of Harper such that the "results of people/Quebecers benefit" outweighs the "humiliation cost", it might be in their best interests to deal.

So, the long and short of it is this: if we do see a deal to keep this parliament alive past Christmas, it won't be with the Liberals, and the payoff will be a whole lot more than a blue ribbon committee.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

So Long For Now

Thanks to Jeff for this, and thanks to Don for all his great work over the years.


Friday, June 19, 2009

This Week in Alberta - Iris Knows Best

She may not know a lot about delivering balanced budgets, but Alberta's Finance Minister Iris Evans knows how you should be raising your children:

She reportedly said good parenting means sacrificing some income to stay at home when kids are young, which her children have done.

"They've understood perfectly well that when you're raising children you don't both go off to work and leave them for somebody else to raise," Evans told the audience. "This is not a statement against day care. It's a statement about their belief in the importance of raising children properly."


"The huge failure of Canadians is not to educate the children properly, and then why should we be surprised when they have mental illnesses or commit dreadful crimes?" she asked.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

According to Anonymous Senior Liberal Insider Strategists...

...former Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray is strongly considering running for the Liberals in the upcoming St. Paul's by-election, to fill Michael Bryant's seat.

The Toronto Star, in addition to floating Murray's name, also touts Tim Murphy, Helen Burstyn, and a host of other candidates.

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I Know What You'll Do This Summer

It seems highly probable that yesterday's deal between Ignatieff and Harper was actually the kick-off to a 5 month long election campaign. That's not to say the past 5 months, or even the last 5 years, haven't been a perpetual election campaign, but it seems a near certainly the Liberals will try to bring down the government this fall. Considering how little else he was able to squeeze out of Harper, Ignatieff clearly placed a high value on being able to force an election this fall. Wait longer, and the economy will pick up, as will the comparisons to Dion. If you thought the Liberal caucus was restless for an election in 2007-2008, back when it seemed likely many of them would lose their jobs, you have to imagine they'll be itching to go now that they can taste government.

So, baring a shift in fortunes, it seems the only thing that could keep the Harper government afloat until Christmas would be a deal with the NDP or Bloc. I wouldn't at all rule that out - but you have to imagine everyone in Ottawa is working under the assumption that we're in for a fall election.

Which means all parties will be spending the summer recess in high-level election readiness mode. I'd expect nearly all candidates to be nominated by the end of August (I just got my notice for the Trinity Spadina Liberal nomination meeting today), platforms to be finished shortly, and election strategy to be mapped out. Hell, a certain someone might even dust off the sweater vest for some family vacation commercial stock footage.

In short, I would get ready, because our fourth election in five years is coming up fast.

It's Not Quite Billy Bob Thornton Bad...

...but Danny Williams snaps at the "crap" being dished his way by a call-in radio show host.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

They may starve, but at least they'll be spared the unpleasantness of a summer election

June 16th - Denis Coderre in Question Period:

I would, however, like to ask a serious question.

The minister hesitated earlier. I am asking her to rise. Can she tell us why she cannot table her employment insurance plan immediately? People are going to starve this summer and they want to know what will be done about employment insurance. What is she waiting for?

June 17th - Liberal Press Release:

The working group [on EI reform] will deliver recommendations to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and Canadians by September 28, 2009.

Quasi-hat tip - I had this one all lined up to post, when I noticed Radwanski has already pulled up the same Coderre quote.

Peace in our time

A deal has been reached! A summer election has been averted! Instead, Canadians will almost certainly be given the joy of a wildly popular November/December election!

Sources say Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff have finalized the details of an agreement that will preserve the Conservatives' minority government - for now.

Under the deal, the parties will each pick two members of a blue-ribbon panel to recommend changes to employment insurance, including coverage for self-employed workers and lower eligibility thresholds.

There will also be more opposition days for the Liberals, which will give them more chances to force a federal election in the fall.

Score this one as a major win for Ignatieff. Not only did he avert an election he likely would have won, but Harper agreed to take Ignatieff's only real issue (EI) off the table for the foreseeable future by appointing a blue ribbon panel to examine it. Because, after all, this issue certainly requires the sort of immediate action and attention that only appointing a commission to study it further can deliver!

OK, OK. On a serious note, while Iggy comes out of this mess looking a bit clumsy, getting the opposition days in the falls presumably gives the Liberals a fall election if they want it, and personally I think they'd fare better then than now.

So let's just all enjoy our summer and be glad our parliamentarians showed a relative degree of maturity for once.

Game Theory in Canadian Politics (2)

I'd been contemplating writing a lengthier elaboration of my previous post, complete with payoff matrices and nash equilibriums, but Andrew Steele saves me the trouble, with a great run down of the game of election chicken we're in, from a game theory perspective. It's well worth a read.

However, any sort of "chicken" analysis assumes that an election is the equivalent of driving off a cliff or a head-on collision - the worst-case lose-lose scenario for both parties. And if that's the case, there's no way we're heading towards an election. The cost of backing down is so minimal that any rational person, and many New Democrats, could reach a deal to avoid driving off the cliff ("here's my plan", "we've agreed to talk", "we're all committed to making parliament work", blah, blah, blah). Unlike the game of chicken, we're in a game with communication and bargaining, which makes a compromise to avoid a lose-lose the logical outcome. As much as we'd like to think of politicians as hot headed rebels without a cause, they'll usually do what's in their best self-interest.

No, the only way we'll speed into an election is if the Liberals or Conservatives see the head-on collision as their best case scenario. If they both see it as their best case scenario, then we'll definitely be into an election next week.

It's hard to say if an election is in either of their interests. You could argue that one either way over and over again and reach a different conclusion each time. But, given the number of meetings they've had so far, it certainly looks like neither of them wants it. And if that's their assessment of the situation, it shouldn't be overly difficult for them to agree on a compromise.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

50 First Dates

Maclean's has the latest on the courting of Stephen Harper:

They met for about an hour. It was a productive meeting. There will be another meeting later today.

It looks like those two crazy kids might just make it after all...

UPDATE: The evening meeting was "productive", with yet another breakfast meeting scheduled for tomorrow. I take this as a sign that Ignatieff won't vote down the government, as a summer election would no doubt interfere with his plans to go cottaging with Harper this July.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Game Theory in Canadian Politics

OK, so what are the options?

1) Harper refused to compromise, opposition votes non-confidence -> ELECTION

2) Harper refuses to compromise, opposition rolls over -> NO ELECTION

3) Harper compromises, opposition votes non-confidence -> ELECTION

4) Harper compromises, opposition lets government survive -> NO ELECTION

5) Wild card (i.e. prorogation, Harper pulls the plug himself, etc...)

At this point, I just can't see option 2 coming to pass, as Ignatieff would look worse than Dion ever did and would be ridiculed by the press all summer long. I think rolling over was a very legitimate option today, but after issuing a new set of demands, it's just not in the cards. I suppose there remains a small chance the NDP or Bloc might keep Harper afloat, but they've been fairly definitive in saying they'll vote against him at every opportunity.

So, with that in mind, the ball is in Stephen Harper's court - what are his options?

Well, if he wants an election, he has three ways to go about it (1, 3, 5). Presumably, he'd want to shift the election blame on to the Liberals, which might lead us to scenario 3, where Harper agrees to some of Ignatieff's rather ambiguous demands, but not enough to earn their confidence. Or, he could sneer at the opposition and simply dare them to bring his government down, trying to look like a strong, confident leader (option 1).

Now, if Harper doesn't want an election, he has the opportunity to avoid it. Ignatieff's demands really aren't that onerous (a plan here, a promise there...), and Harper doesn't even have to cave to Ignatieff - there are two other opposition leaders out there who might relish the opportunity of getting some "results for people"/"results for Quebecers". And, quite frankly, when the deficit is over 50 billion dollars, is anyone really going to care much if Jack Layton gets a few billion for a pet project of his?

So, the decision is Harper's. And, truth be told, I have no friggin' clue what he'll decide.

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This Time We Mean It

So, Ignatieff has either backed down or tossed down the gauntlet, depending on your interpretation of things. Here's Kady's recap of Iggy's demands:

11:09:39 AM
On EI – he wants to hear what the PM is proposing, as far as reform of the existing system, now – not in three months, and he’s willing to sit longer if necessary, which prompts a collective silent scream from the hostages currently mentally rebooking their summer vacations.

Second – he wants to make sure shovels are in the ground — no specific demand that I can make out, just a general gripe.

Third – our public finances, and the governmen’s hamhanded handling thereof. What’s up with that?

11:13:14 AM
Okay, he seems to be asking for a more detailed five year plan to get the country out of deficit — more detailed than the accountability report card, that is — but no firm deadline on when he’s expecting to see it.

Also, isotopes; the alternative supply of, and a plan for the future.

Which is all good because, really, who out there isn't eager for another week of parliamentary chicken, and election speculation!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Manic Monday

Iggy will spend the weekend reading Harper's 270-page progress report, before passing judgment on the Conservative government.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

So I Caught Mike Duffy Live Today...

...and it seemed a lot less biased than I remember it. Anyways, Harper was on the show and he was talking about how 80% of the stimulus money has been "implemented" already.

Now, being implemented apparently doesn't mean it's being spent...rather that there's a plan to spend it, or someone has thought about spending it.

Which is good news, because it means I've implemented at least 80% of my bill payments, household chores, and June office workload. I've also implemented some great blog posts, which you may or may not have the joy of reading at some point over the next year or two.

It also explains how Stephen Harper can be "writing" a hockey book, when all he's really done is watched a few hockey games and thought about how it might be fun to write a hockey book.

Vancouver Interviews: Scott Brison on the Economy

Last week I posted my interview with Ralph Goodale on western alienation.

Today, my video interview with Scott Brison on the economy, including what the Liberals would have done differently, free trade, and relations with China.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

One defends and the other conquers

I'm sure you've all been intensely following the Nova Scotia election (ha ha!). If you haven't, well, it might be worth at least glancing at tonight's results, because Nova Scotia is poised to become Canada's fifth province to succumb to the socialist hordes.

The latest polls have Darrell Dexter's NDP (campaign poster to the left) on pace for a majority government, so things do not look good for the fiddler, (outgoing) Premier Rodney MacDonald. The real intrigue in this one may be the race for second place, with the Liberals and Tories neck-and-neck by all accounts.

Speaking of which, I can guarantee that Liberal leader Stephen McNeil would not only have become opposition leader, but possibly also Premier, had he run TV ads with the tag-line "MacDonald fiddled while the economy burned".

I won't be watching this one too closely, but all you Nova Scotia politicos should feel free to discuss the results in the comments section as they roll in.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Well, at least she didn't crack any Wayne Easter jokes...

I can’t. I’d love to, but I can’t. That’ll be a career-limiting move, as we would say."
-Lisa Raitt, on tape

Speaking of career-limiting moves, the Rait tape is now public.

There's a good lesson for all you political staffers out there, in that you should never accidentally audio tape private conversations with your boss. And, if you do accidentally audio tape private conversations with your boss, you shouldn't leave the tape recorder in a House of Commons washroom. And, if you do accidentally audio tape private conversations with your boss and leave the tape recorder in a House of Commons washroom, you should get the tape back before, well, this happens.

Reading the transcripts, the rumours about Raitt's feud with the Minister of Health seem overblown. She calls Aglukkaq a "capable woman", then muses that she might be having some trouble adjusting to cut throat Ottawa politics. I've heard Cabinet Ministers say far far worse things than that about their colleagues, so there really isn't a story here, other than the fact that Leona Aglukkaq is apparently the Minister of Health.

No, the damning audio clip in this is certainly Raitt calling the isotope shortage a "sexy" issue. Again, I'd wager 90% of MPs have said far worse in private at some point in their careers but, on the heels of Gerry Ritz' listeriosis comedy routine, it certainly doesn't make the Harper government seem overly compassionate.

But Ritz survived, and his transgression showed a much larger lack of judgement since it happened on a conference call, on ministerial business, rather than during a casual chat with an aide. So it seems likely that Harper will stand by Raitt on this one.

But regardless of whether or not Raitt keeps her Cabinet post, a rising star in the Conservative Cabinet has been seriously bruised by this week-long fiasco. Which has got to suck for the Tories, given how thin on talent their front benches are looking these days.


In what will certainly be dubbed "Raitt-Tape-Gate"...

Apparently one politician doesn't like another politician. And there's tape to prove it!

For those just tuning in now, Lisa Raitt is in more trouble, with the Chronicle Herald set to release a "damaging" tape of her bad mouthing Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq (yes, I had to look the spelling up), after a failed injunction request.

Unconfirmed reports also have her calling the Conservative Party a warm and comfy mat with lots of fur on it. More details to follow...

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Friday, June 05, 2009

This Week in Alberta - The Saga of Calgary Glenmore

Corey Hogan is in. George Dadamo is out, presumably to run municipally in Calgary.

Other candidates can still declare for the Liberal nomination by June 8th, but you have to figure that Hogan (the campaign manager of Dave Taylor’s ALP bid) would have the edge over any other challengers.

So how would Mr. Hogan fare? Well, at first blush, the riding looks like a lock for the Tories – the PCs handily won 51% to 33% in 2008, and 50% to 35% in 2004. Still, the 2004 results in Glenmore mirror those in neighbouring Calgary Elbow, and the 2007 by election there (after Klein’s retirement) saw Liberal Craig Cheffins win the riding by a comfortable 7% margin.

Now, the Elbow by election was obviously a different ball game since:

a) Ron Stevens, while popular, is no Ralph Klein.
b) The visceral hatred of Stelmach that flowed through Calgary in early 2007 seems to have dried up.
c) PC candidate Brian Henninger ran a fairly under whelming campaign.

But with what will certainly be abysmally low voter turnout, the Alberta economy cooling down, and a rumoured Danielle Smith Wild Rose candidacy to split the vote, this one might just make for an interesting race.

UPDATE: Former Liberal candidate and all around nice person Avalon Roberts will also try for the nomination.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Political Games

Sent out by the NDP on Tuesday. I'm sure President Obama will be eternally grateful for Jack's "help"...

Dear Friend,

Today, Jack Layton flies to Washington D.C. to help President Obama in his fight for universal health care. And to fight to protect our cherished Medicare back here in Canada.

It’s an important few days, and I want you to share every step.

I’m inviting you to follow along on twitter as Jack delivers his speech on our fight for Medicare at the Woodrow Wilson Center. And as we meet with key Obama Democrats - like White House Director of Communications Anita Dunn.

Click here to follow Jack Layton on twitter.

And I’m also down in Washington to meet with key senior Democrats about how they waged a winning campaign for change that put everyday people first, ahead of the big corporate interests – just like we want to do in Canada.

You can follow me on twitter by clicking here.

While the other parties are staring each other down, playing political games, this is what your New Democrats are up to. Fighting day in and day out to get real results for real people [ed note: in the United States...] . Thanks for being a part of it.

Brad Lavigne
National Director


Liberal leader Ken Dryden was unavailable for comment

Tid-bits from Ontario's PC leadership race:

1) A poll of Conservative voters in Ontario shows Christine Elliott in the lead.

2) In a poll among actual PC members, leaked by the Elliott campaign, Hudak still leads.

3) Oh, and I got my first text message from the Hudak campaign the other night, highlighting his Mike Harris endorsement.

4) As for that Frank Klees website review and profile? It will eventually arrive, but I find the Klees campaign about as exciting as Tuesday night's Nova Scotia leadership debate, so don't hold your breath in anticipation.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Second Raitt

Lisa Raitt is in trouble for leaving behind confidential AECL documents at a CTV studio. Before jumping in to this meltdown, kudos to Bob Rae for one of the best lines of the year:

"One plausible explanation is maybe she thought CTV was a branch of the government, I can't explain it"

As for Raitt, this one is definitely unfortunate – she was a rising star in the government, and people of all political stripes describe her as likeable and bright. But the Bernier precedent has been set (even if the circumstances aren't completely identical), and there doesn't seem to be a way around it:

"It obviously was not done on purpose. It was a mistake. But it doesn't matter. It was clearly done and that has to be treated appropriately. There are precedents and this obviously is a warning to all Ministers."

-Prime Minister Stephen Harper,, May 26 2008


Ray Heard - Tory Insider

You Heard it here first. Harper, late in the fall, will announce he is not seeking re-election because he knows the best he could do would be to win yet another miserable minority govt. That will force Michael Ignatieff to give the Tories at least six months to pick a new leader. He will be Jim Prentice, whose able Bay St. team has already done the heavy lifting for him without attracting media scrutiny.

Hat Tip - Delacourt


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Vancouver Interviews: Ralph Goodale

At last month's Liberal "leadership" convention in Vancouver, I had a chance to sit down with a few Liberal MPs. Today, I present the first of these videos - long-time Liberal MP Ralph Goodale on the topic of western alienation, and on making the Liberal Party competitive in Western Canada.

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Real News

There's a new news aggregator in town. Which is good timing, because there's actually some real news today, rather than the usual political games which are more fun, but less relevant in the scheme of things.

-It appears Jim Flaherty's great asset sale may include the CBC, VIA Rail, and a slew of other crown corporations. While there's a case to be made for unloading non-profitable corporations, this probably isn't the best market to do it in. And, in the case of the CBC and a few others, you need to look at the indirect benefits they create, which may not always show up in the ledger line.

-At the same time, both the Ontario and Federal government will be taking on a massive ownership stake in GM.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Side for the Soup

I figured Ekos and Angus Reid would be reporting I held off right until the end of May for my polling update, but it looks like I should have waited another day.

Two new polls are out today, both showing the Liberals with a slight lead:

Ekos (n = 10,986, demon dialed)
Lib 33.5%
CPC 32.3%
NDP 15.1%
Green 10.4%
BQ 8.7%

Angus Reid (n = 1,002, online)
Lib 33%
CPC 31%
NDP 17%
BQ 9%
Green 7%

So, what does it all mean vis-a-vis the infamous attack ads?

Well, off the bat, there hasn't been much movement in the polls. The Tories are down 2 in Angus Reid, while the Liberal lead has shrunk in Ekos - both polls are consistent with what most pollsters have been saying of late.

Angus Reid did some funky split samples, with 1/3 of respondents being shown the attack ads, 1/3 being shown the ads and Iggy's YouTube response, and 1/3 serving as the control group. Here's what they found:

The momentum score for Harper among respondents who saw the ad is -40 (10% improved, 50% worsened), and the prime minister posts similar numbers among those who saw the ad and the video (9% improved, 52% worsened) and those who were not exposed directly to either the ad or the video (7% improved, 49% worsened).

The momentum score for Ignatieff among respondents who saw the ad is -18 (24% improved, 42% worsened). However, the opposition leader bridges the gap with those who also saw his YouTube video (29% improved, 31% worsened) and is even among those who did not see the ad or the video (28% improved, 28% worsened).

For the purposes of the comparison, it should be pointed out that a month ago,
they had Ignatieff's momentum at +11 and Harper's at -20. So both men took a beating, even in the control groups. That's not to say the ads are necessarily the cause - over the past month we've seen Ruby Dhalla controversy, a 50 billion dollar deficit, Archie choose Veronica over Betty...who knows what could be responsible?

But back to the experiment. It doesn't seem like direct exposure to the ads changed impressions of Harper significantly (from -42 to -40), but they certainly had an impact of what people thought of Ignatieff (from 0 to -18).

However, most of this damage seems to have been neutralized by seeing the response video. The logical conclusion is therefore that the Liberals cannot afford to stay quiet. The only problem is, even with improving fundraising numbers, can they afford to respond?

And, you know, anyone who wants to help them do just that, might want to mosey on over here.