Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Electability"

Another "senior" Liberal, who refuses to be named, probably because his/her analysis is so ridiculously obvious to be embarrassing. You mean, electability is a consideration?:
'Getting an electable leader' will be crucial, one insider says, if the party is to position itself as a viable alternative to the Tories

Thought I might put up a poll, to see if others agree with the electability argument:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back In The Day

Hilarious on one level, absolutely pathetic on another, it's hard to reconcile the Conservatives today, from those guys way, way back, a little over TWO WEEKS AGO. Reading the news reports, it's as if the Canadian election is a distant memory, no journalist capable of venturing back into the archives to do a compare and contrast. Let's try and jog your memory, because I do realize we live in different times now, than those earlier days THIS MONTH.

Remember when the markets really went into the shitter, Bush on television daily, bailouts, meltdowns, unprecedented uncertainty? Did you know the stock market is now higher today than when Harper was running around the country accusing Dion of "panicking", offering a plan, which Harper then mirrored once clear of the electorate? Remember within that meltdown, Harper and Flaherty were promising no deficits, accusing others of ruining our fiscal advantage? Remember when Dion hesitated when asked about the possibility of a deficit, and was then mocked by Conservatives? I know, it's hard, so long ago, geez there were still leaves on the trees for cripes sake.

If there is one thing that needs to happen when parliament reconvenes, it's that the Conservatives MUST wear the complete hypocrisy, the intellectual dishonesty, displayed over the course of mere weeks. The FLIP FLOPS are of biblical proportions, so obscene that they've made a mockery of the past election, voters effectively hoodwinked.

Listen to Jim Flaherty today, it's simply amazing:
OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty warned Wednesday of "misguided" attempts of balancing the books during a period of global economic uncertainty - the clearest sign yet his Conservative government may be forced to post a deficit.

"We will do what we can, despite challenging economic circumstances, to keep the budget balanced," Flaherty told a luncheon business crowd in Toronto. "But we recognize that we work for Canadian families, not fiscal forecasters. What we will never do is engineer a surplus at any price, because that price would ultimately be paid by Canadian families."

"But also unacceptable," he added, "is a devotion to surpluses simply for the sake of saying you achieved them. That view refuses to take into account the long-term damage that can result from misguided attempts to balance the books during a historic global downturn."

If you read between the lines, Flaherty isn't just softening the ground for future deficits, he's also leaving room for one THIS fiscal year. I seem to recall people musing about that reality during the election, but why split hairs, that was so yesterday.

It will be fascinating to watch "Deficit Jim" and the gang navigate through their own contradictions. Even moreso, will the Conservatives be allowed to get away with their ruse, what has no amounted to pulling a fast one on the Canadian people, to ensure re-election? How it unfolds, will be a definitive referendum on any semblance of accountability. At least on income trusts, the government waited a few months to do a complete 180, but this flip flop is so FRESH and blatant, surely all those fair minded, unbiased media types will rightfully NAIL THEM TO THE WALL. Dare to dream...

New Liberal Buzzword: "Renewal"

Right out of the gate, Dominic LeBlanc puts the focus on Liberal party "renewal". Expect to hear all the candidates speak to the concept, akin to the nauseating "change" mantra of our American cousins. Everyone agrees that the Liberal Party is in need of reform, but the crucial point for me, who best articulates "renewal" in a substantive way, who puts meat to the bone, beyond easy platitudes and generalities.

We've heard it before, it was only a couple years ago that various candidates spoke to the need for "renewal", but in the final analysis, nothing really came of the rhetoric. In my mind, that failure to translate words to action is the greatest regret of the Dion reign. There was no sense whatsoever of a comprehensive plan to re-energize and expand the grassroots, make the party more egalitarian, less elitist, no direction in terms modernization and outreach. Maybe we ask too much, but the harsh reality, little evidence of even incremental evolution, it's still pretty much status quo.

Leblanc is wise to seize the "renewal" mantra, because I suspect many will see the other principles as representative of the Liberal establishment, the word brings an outsider flavor that will resonate with rank and file. But, I think we need to be careful, it's not about generational change or fancy slogans, no matter the candidate, who brings a real understanding of the institutional challenges, who demonstrates a depth and the drive to really make it a focus, rather than a convenient talking point.

I have plenty of real world ideas, and from what I gather, many ordinary Liberals are starting to express their concepts for moving forward. Rather than a pat on the head, it will be interesting to see who presents detail, a firm timetable, a credible plan. Within that discussion, obviously policy will be key, but it must go beyond simple arguments of appealing to different constituents.

The heart of the discussion, revolves around a simple practicality, MONEY. It's fine to articulate lofty ideals for "renewal", but any real application is dependent on cold, hard cash, it's all irrelevant, if you don't have the machine to drive the concepts.

I read yesterday, that only 5% of Liberals give to the party on a regular basis, a fact which is both a positive and a negative. That figure means there is a latent pool of support that already exists, the need to bring new membership not as crucial as first blush would suggest. That doesn't preclude a plan to draw in new members, but it means that the first step is motivating what already exists. Who steps forward with practical ideas to change the present apathy?

Rather than go through a leadership process, which effectively puts on hold the "renewal" until after the captain is chosen, I want to see if any of the candidates begin the practical now, give us something we can point to in their riding, as a template for the greater party. In other words, rather than taking to the stump to win over support, let's hope we see some multi-tasking, wherein a candidate can demonstrate some example of how the rhetoric meets the road. What strategies are you employing in your corner of the national party, what innovative ideas are you bringing to the table, what's working and why? Something you can put in a resume, rather than an essay. Everyone will seize the "renewal" agenda, it's a trendy necessity, but practical application, with a comprehensive depth, will move us beyond simple pandering.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Leadership News

Below, two prominent Liberals react to the news that Frank McKenna has decided against a run for the party leadership:




I must confess, it makes me happy too :)

Sour Grapes

One thing about the post-election discussion that really irks me, anybody who mentions potential media bias against the Liberals, or points to the role of negative attacks, is rejected as simply a case of "sour grapes". It's as though Liberals are the only one's who need a period of reflection, don't dare address other avenues that clearly FAILED during the process. Even more stunning, the fact many conservatives still cling to the empirical fallacy of a "left wing media".

I've argued before that the Conservatives attack ads on Dion were effective in two ways. Obviously, the ads themselves created an impression with Canadians, no reasonable person disputes the success. However, where these ads really pay dividends, is the way in which they influence the media frame. The ads plant the seed, and then the journalists run with the characterization, further cementing the impression, to the point of conventional truth. In other words, the ads themselves gain traction because the media effectively carries the water, they reinforce the terms with the public. The Conservatives have mastered the art of succinct terminology, which is then validated by a media which is passive, merely a conduit for propaganda.

Today's must read comes from The Tyee, which details much of what I believe, in terms of the media puppeting the chosen Conservative spin, bereft of any journalistic filter:
If the commercials seemed true to the electorate, it was because the media were repeating the same message in their news stories and commentaries.

It was the combination of paid (ads) and free (news stories and commentary) messaging that did Dion in. But the role of the media in that endeavour has been pretty well expunged from history.

It's a good read, which details how the use of the "flip flop" characterization was primarily effective because it became part of the media assumption. The article points to the usual media suspects, but the terminology extended to all media outlets, even those Conservatives place in the "left wing media" camp. A great example of this general theme, the Afghanistan debate. If you actually go back a year prior to the actual "compromise", you will find the Liberal rhetoric hadn't really changed in a substantive way, particularly when compared with the light years "flip" of the Conservative position. Despite that, Harper was seen as pragmatic during the exercise, the Liberals were the "flip floppers". The superficial analysis was simply breathtaking, but yet there it was, primarily it worked, because it fit nicely into an already established frame, lazy journalism found another example.

The media must share some blame for the Liberal woes. That fact doesn't shelter the Liberals from their own self-reflections, which is clearly required, it isn't an "excuse", merely a recognition. It is empirical fact that the Conservatives have received more favorable coverage than the Liberals the last THREE elections (two of which have already been statistically verified, the 3rd will be, I have NO DOUBT). You don't just GLOSS over a reality, which has nothing do with partisanship, it's part of the equation. The media failed badly this election, they failed to use a critical eye during the election, the failed to present a honest discussion of the issues. That should bother everyone, regardless of preference, because what we receive now is becoming more and more slanted, it is part of a manipulation. Anyone who posits a left wing media should be laughed at hysterically, so detached from reality a sad statement on naked ignorance. Anyone who doesn't factor in the role of the media this election, when drawing conclusions, omits a central theme, unless of course information dissemination is a minor affair, how people receive messaging trivial.

Liberals need to do some soul searching, but part of this introspection should bring a realization that we are "up against it", when it comes to slick propaganda that has perfected the art of using the public medium to validate their frames. The Liberals can either play this game too, or develop a strategy that finds ways around entities which don't have the public interest at heart, which are so institutionally arrogant that they see no need for their own reflections, their own need for "reform". Liberals need to understand the climate, and know it's predisposed to be harsh, relative to their chief opponent. That ain't sour grapes, that's fine wine.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Liberals Should Move...

One of the bigger questions moving forward, where should the Liberals position themselves on the political spectrum, to maximize their electoral chances. Do they move left, and attempt to appeal to soft NDP supporters and to some degree Greens, or should they move to the center and retake some lost ground to the Conservatives? It's a pretty complicated reality, especially when voters don't necessarily fit into neat segments on a spectrum, so any overt positioning is problematic.

There isn't much argument that the Dion reign represented a move left for the Liberals, relative to his predecessor. Given the lack of voter support, one could argue that Liberals are mistaken, if they think moving away from the center is politically shrewd. Further confusing, any verdict must also factor in Dion's low personal appeal, maybe the message was attractive, the messanger not so much. Another leader, with the same progressive agenda may very well have delivered a mandate, so the latest election results shouldn't translate to any statement on the political spectrum.

However, no matter the equation, you do hear many Liberals now arguing that the party needs to sit firmly in the center, if we are too form the next government. Forget about the NDP, and remember Greens voters have more of a tendency to cut across the political spectrum. One could argue the Bloc is left in orientation, and yet, the Conservatives were within a serious gaffe or two of drawing away considerable support, ideological considerations aside. Moving to the center, doesn't necessarily alienate progressive voters, but it would appeal to soft Conservative support, you could build a winning coalition.

You don't find much in the way of striking evidence, if you look at the past elections. You look at where Chretien and Martin positioned themselves, and review the other party shares, it's hard to find consistency that would show a political preference. The Conservative share was down, but it was divided, and the NDP share was down too, and yet those Liberal governments were viewed as centrist. In the final analysis, any decision ultimately comes to down to a "gut" feel for where the party needs to be.

Apart from our leadership problems, I don't think there is much debate, that Liberals lost the battle with voters on the economy. Although, the strategy allowed for pumping past fiscal management, the Liberals were never able to get much traction, relative to Harper. Moving forward, with the economy almost a certain central argument next election, any spectrum considerations must incorporate this reality. The middle class will simply not endorse the Liberals on the economy if they were to move left, or stay left, with another advocate. Most voters, rabid partisans aside, are simply terrified of a federal NDP approach to the economy, particularly when uncertainty reigns. If you want to appeal on the economy, the Liberals are wise to return to their centrist ways, a mix of free market endorsement, that understands the global economy, fiscal prudence and competitiveness. A modern Liberal approach on the economy that is innovative and balanced, a program which rejects the left arguments, which isn't at war with business, which understands, as most already do, you need healthy big fish for the ecosystem to sustain. On the economy, a move back to the center is a good idea.

On social issues, it depends on the topic, but in general, the Liberals are fine where they are under Dion, possibly some room to move farther left. Two exceptions on this score, one crime and two immigration. The modern Liberal party must respond to people's concerns about crime, so that the perception of favoring criminal over victim doesn't remain. I don't think the party has to move much, just make a more coherent case for why their approach on crime is proper and forward thinking. On immigration, it's time for the Liberal Party to re-examine it's kneejerk policies and quit treating this file as a sacred cow. There is great risk for potential alienation, but the Liberals can stand apart if they develop a modern interpretation of integration and cohesion.

In a perfect world, I would like to see the Liberals centrist on economic matters, social progressive on others, within that a hint of practicality and pragmatism. Center-left on the spectrum, but more complicated than that on further review. Afterall, most people aren't philosophical purists, the trick is viewing each issue as a subset and understanding the appeal overall. Maybe the best strategy, the Liberals should let other parties be left and right, while we draw on each where applicable, morphing into something of a moving target on the spectrum.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Turning Off A Nation

Although somewhat effective, the Conservatives unprecedented GUTBALL attack ad regime is responsible for historical low voter turnout. Congratulations Prime Minister, the path to victory, that turned off a nation:
Officials from Angus Reid Strategies on Thursday revealed polling results to The Vancouver Sun that showed the ubiquitous roll-of-the-dice TV ads that targeted Liberal leader Stephane Dion as a flip-flopping advocate of a carbon tax persuaded 11 per cent of Canadian respondents not to vote for any candidate at all.

The roll-of-the-dice attack ad -- as well as a series of anti-Dion TV spots that aired soon after the Quebec MP was elected party leader in December, 2006 -- were key to producing the lowest voter turnout in Canadian electoral history, pollsters Andrew Grenville and Mario Canseco said in an interview...

“poisoning the well”...

The most common words those surveyed associated with the roll-the-dice TV ad were “disgust,” “lies” “unethical” and “unCanadian.”

Whiny Stephane had a point:
Grenville said Dion was absolutely right on Monday when, in announcing he would step down as Liberal leader, he remarked that he’d been backed into a corner by being targeted by more than a year of vicious TV ads.

The Conservative ads typically portrayed Dion as bumbling and ineffective, repeatedly showing an image of the party leader shrugging his shoulders.

“It’s up to the people of Canada to say they’re sick of this,” Grenville said, “to say they’re sick of being misled and lied to and having politics driven down into the mud.”

The ads did convince some of those that bothered to vote to change their preference, which is clearly the only thing that matters to Conservatives. That said, the above provides some validation that this government is the LOWEST of the LOW, in terms of ethical conduct, moral integrity and capacity to inspire. You've made the once dirty Liberals, look like the Glad Man.

Abstaining

One of the chief questions, being asked of returning Liberal MP's- are they prepared to endure another period of abstentions? The theory being, a weakened opposition, with no leader and no money, will be forced to dodge and weave to avoid another election. I would argue, that there should be little chance for a repeat of last spring's embarrassing string of abstentions. One simple reason, Canadians will crucify any party that forces us back to the polls within the next year.

Let's not forget, that the Harper strategy of making everything a non-confidence motion came after his government had been in office for some time. The Conservatives could leverage the Liberals, because the minority government was well into any mandate, the prospects of any election were real. The reality is much different now, and the Liberals have the benefit of potential voter wrath as useful counter.

The Liberals need to make the case immediately, that this is a minority government, that must reflect the views of a majority of members to survive. That frame is crucial, on any occasion wherein the Harper government attempts to ram through legislation, without proper input from other parties, the Liberals can argue that voting against translates to the Conservatives forcing an election, because of simple arrogance and bullying. The Liberals are in a weakened state, absolutely no reasonable scenario wherein they welcome another election, which means that as long as they make an honest effort to accommodate, they have the luxury of voting against the government, with little chance of recourse. Canadians recognize the Liberal predicament, should they draw a line in the sand, it will be rightfully characterized as a simple matter of principle, Harper would bear the full weight of plunging the country into another election.

It remains to be seen, but in the coming months, I would argue the onus is on the Harper government to be conciliatory. Should Harper begin to act as though he has a majority, attempting to jam legislation down the weakened Liberals throat, he could well face a surprise, rather than abstaining to avoid, a vote against, with the full knowledge that the government would be held to account. It is in NOBODY'S interest to play games of brinksmanship in the coming months, because in reality, there won't be an election. The party that is perceived to be playing games, acting outside of the minority reality, will pay the price, and in this way a weakened Liberal Party can turn this around to their advantage. Explain in no uncertain terms, right from the onset, that the Liberals are prepared to come to mutual agreements, but should the government present legislation, based on the assumption the Liberals will abstain, they willfully set the stage for an election of their own making.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crazy Idea?

On one level, it's the height of elitism, decidedly undemocratic, downright unfair. However, the idea floated yesterday, one I've also considered, of simply having the Liberal caucus lock themselves in a room until they come to relative unanimity on the next leader does have merit. A vote, whomever wins, that person is the defacto leader.

One of Dion's biggest challenges, he lacked the institutional support, noteably the endorsement of our caucus. This simple reality hobbled Dion from the onset, and it does speak to some simple, cold facts. As much as we like to think the grassroots have a voice, if a potential leader doesn't enjoy support from the upper echelons of the party, then friction will always exist. Further to that, while we clearly need to change the composition of the party appartus, to better reflect rank and file opinion, no rational person expects any transformation prior to any leadership convention, in fact any efforts will be put on hold, as everyone becomes transfixed with the race.

I agree with Rae, that we "need to get on with it", although I suspect my motivations are quite different. Moving up any convention date, would effectively disallow the possibility of a third candidate emerging, the two established frontrunners would benefit, their teams are in place, they have the organization, a quick race, no problem. A longer timeframe does allow the lesser knowns an opportunity, but I still fail to see anyone emerge beyond Ignatieff or Rae, particularly if they develop a eventual mutual support strategy. That strategy seems entirely logical at this stage, because a move of one to the other, will help heal any wounds, will unify, rather than leave one on the outside of the selection. In other words, unforseen events aside, it's a two horse race, which again brings us back to the caucus.

It is undemocratic to entertain, but then again, we are talking about our democratic representatives, so you could feebly argue that the rank and file has a voice by proxy. Each MP consults with his/her consistency, before reconvening to make a choice between the two. Problematic, those ridings not represented with an MP are shut out.

The only reason I entertain this scenario, we don't have the time or energy, not to mention the resources, to go on another torturous leadership journey- despite the early talk of "civility", experience tells us nothing of the sort, particularly when you have two well established "camps". Maybe it better to short curcuit the whole flawed exercise, and just let the people who will ultimately have to work with the new leader a vote of preference. These are extraordinary times for the Liberal Party, and anything that avoids WASTING months, so that we can get to the real and MASSIVE problems, has some appeal. Crazy idea, or shrewd understanding of the circumstance?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things To Consider

We'll have to wait and see how all the jockeying shakes out, but I think it important to view the looming race in a strategic sense, rather than personal want. Here are a few considerations that will be key in my view, when deciding who to support:

Quebec

As Hebert points out, there is a "vacuum" in Quebec, due to Harper's failure, the NDP's inability to breakthrough in any meaningful way. The Liberal Party now has the opportunity to move beyond the sponsorship stench and re-engage the Quebec electorate. As far as I'm concerned, Ontario will never be the electoral monolith for the Liberals again, the advantage of a divided or unpopular right evaporated, if we are too hold power again, then Quebec will be key. When perusing the various contenders, the person best equipped to possibly succeed in Quebec should be given priority.

Fundraising

Whichever contender demonstrates the capacity to raise money, without relying solely on loans, should be given due respect. A leadership race isn't viewed in isolation, those best able to mobilize supporters to give show that they have the capacity to inspire and motivate, a trait which will continue after a leader is chosen. Given the new rules, where the money moves is indicative of something beyond elitist tendencies, you need the grassroots to bankroll.

Political Spectrum

Much debate about whether we should move to the center, stay the same, or gravitate farther left, which point on the spectrum is best suited to maximize and harvest voters. This will be a personal decision for many, but my litmus test will be a leader that provides enough of a contrast with Harper to be a true philosophical alternative, but has the capacity to still be attractive to the center, they don't call it that for nothing.

The Economy

We are heading for a sustained downturn, even if the next election is three years away, it is entirely conceivable that our economy will still be challenged, our fiscal house more of an issue than this election. Baggage on the economy is important here, our leader must be credible and forward thinking. I assume the economy, how we move Canada forward within the global reality, will be the key issue in the next election, so we should consider that, and which regions we can find economic appeal. You do the math on that one.

Sales

Who has the moxy, who has the eloquence, who has the common touch. Someone that highlights Harper's lack of charisma. One thing this election reinforced again, it's a game of superficial attributes, who has soundbite appeal, who can articulate in a concise and direct manner.

Dion Announcement Open Thread



Thoughts?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Outside The Beltway

The mainstream media has made up it's mind, when really if any collective should be "soul searching", it's them because journalism is DEAD in Canada (get your own obnoxious, pontificating, fickle house in order, because it's a pig sty let me tell you). The fellow that made Liberals cringe during the last leadership race, the guy who should have dropped out if he had any scruples, the guy we all patiently waited to get off the stage in Montreal, so the embarrassment wouldn't linger, has weighed in (thank-you pariah, much appreciated). All those brave anonymous sources have weighed in, but the rank and file of the party not so much.

This is a complicated circumstance, and you entertain all possibilities, as you try to think through just what happened, and what needs to happen, moving forward. What I find stunning, the swift verdicts, the fence sitting, the whispers, the conclusive judgements, all in the span of two days.

Newsflash power hungry Liberals, Dion, or more rightly the perception of Dion, is a symptom not the cause. Maybe if Dion inherited a party that hadn't relied on fat cats, instead of PEOPLE, to fill the coffers, he could have countered the early onslaught of attacks. But no, Dion was powerless, because our party was shooting blanks, a victim of structural impotence. Nobody disputes that, so let's not do convenient historical revisions now, when it suits your fancy.

Do Canadians think more of Dion now than prior to this election? Fair to say the former, even the punditry class gives Dion some due for his performance, particularly from the debates onward. Hmmm, this was his first campaign wasn't it? Duceppe has campaigned for a generation, Harper's third, Layton has been on the stump before he could grow facial hair. The question then becomes, and this is the CRITICAL point- did Stephane Dion demonstrate a capacity to grow, did he improve over time, did he season? Yes, why yes he did, now that I think about it. Isn't that how new leaders are normally judged?

The Liberal Party has some problems, but instead of focusing on the obvious, it's "let's kill the leader" and all will be well. Let's invest all our energies in dusting Frank McKenna off, for a boring run that reeks of yester year, he can save us (I hear he has the itch, go get a yardstick then, we don't have time for ego driven, I need something to do cures). Nothing says victory like Bob Rae in Ontario, in the midst of a protracted economic slowdown? Ignatieff, oh yes, he ran such a great campaign for the leadership didn't he, that's why NOBODY moved too him in the convention, it was a gaffe fest. I'm not slagging these fine men, just reminding people that what looks like a life line, might just be a mirage, once it becomes reality. It's the quick fix mentality, change the coach and things will improve.

I don't like what I see, in fact it really is souring me on this party, seems like the same mentality I used to view with disdain. Instead of absorbing the root causes, we want to chop down the tree. How can any deep thinking individual have figured this all out, in such short order, it speaks to entrenched DIVIDED loyalties, just waiting to pounce.

I'm not sure what "senior" Liberals think, but take a gander what ordinary Liberals are saying. You know, the people that have the best intentions, not corrupted by a want of power or control, only wanting a better country, as I like to call them REAL Liberals. Oh, what do they know:

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

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Here

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Anybody else who feels the same, now is the time to speak up, while Dion still has a pulse:

info@liberal.ca

In Case You Missed It


Don't mind me, if I don't go to the cutlery drawer just yet, I'm still trying to digest. And, don't draw any inferences from this post, I don't want him to run, no matter how this all shakes out. What I would like to draw attention too, the fact that despite long odds, given the dynamics of last night, the Liberal Party now has the benefit of a true progressive within it's ranks, a man who understands the bottom up approach that is demanded, if the party is too regain its footing.

In the days leading up to the election, we heard much talk about Kennedy facing an uphill battle. Peggy Nash was a popular MP, having met her once, I found her quite personable and engaging, no surprise to hear her constituents were satisfied with her as MP. When the Ontario popular vote totals started pouring in, and we began to see a bad Liberal trend, it looked like Kennedy would fail. I had several conversations with people, who felt that Kennedy would never win, unless the Liberals showed well in Ontario, a sentiment which I believed. Within this environment, it was simply amazing to watch the returns come in, not only did Kennedy persevere but he won by an astounding 3000 votes plus. If there was one feel good story of the night for the Liberals, it was the Kennedy victory (aside from another race in Ontario I won't mention here- woohoo!).

Had Kennedy lost, it would have been a sad end to a promising career in federal politics. History would have shown a rising star, who made a fatal error, never to recover, a footnote. However, Gerard Kennedy triumphed, and by all accounts, he did so because he pounded the pavement and engaged, in a way that people connected too, in a way that drew them away from their popular incumbent, the voters came out in droves. That speaks to grassroots appeal, that speaks to substance and character, that speaks to personal strength which trumped the ebb of the party as a whole. It really was a a brilliant moment.

I take some comfort in knowing that Kennedy heads to Ottawa, apart from all the other nonsense swirling around. Kennedy is one of the good ones, a real deal progressive, coupled with a economic sensibility, that to my mind, encapsulates what the Liberal Party must become. I'm glad his voice will be heard, in whatever capacity, it would have been a shame to see him fade into the night, because Kennedy understands what is required for this party to ultimately succeed. Some are irked by his criticisms, but I think we see today, why he was right all along, an arrogant, entitled party, that is preoccupied with power first, principle second, is a doomed entity.

Good for you Gerard Kennedy, well deserved!

We now return to the Dion death watch...

Polls Closed 36 Hours Ago

Below, some senior Liberals gather to discuss where the party goes from here:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ranking The Pollsters

With the onslaught of polls this election, I thought it would be interesting to rank the various outfits to see how accurate they were in the final analysis. In fairness, Ipsos did their last polling October 10, Angus Reid and Strategic Counsel October 11, NANOS, Decima and EKOS on October 13. Here are the actual results, and the pollsters final predictions, ranked on accuracy, with the difference in brackets:

CPC 37.6%

Ang Reid 38% (.4)
Ekos 34.8% (2.8)
NANOS 34.2% (3.4)
Decima 34% (3.6)
Ipsos 34% (3.6)
Str Cou 33% (4.6)

Lib 26.2%

EKOS 26.4% (.2)
NANOS 26.7% (.5)
Decima 25% (1.2)
Ang Reid 28% (1.8)
Str Cou 28% (1.8)
Ipsos 29% (2.8)


NDP 18.2%

Ipsos 18% (.2)
Str Cou 18% (.2)
Ang Reid 19% (.8)
Decima 19% (.8)
EKOS 19.4% (1.2)
NANOS 21.4% (3.2)


Greens 6.8%

Ang Reid 6% (.8)
Ipsos 8% (1.2)
NANOS 8.2% (1.4)
Decima 9% (2.2)
EKOS 9.6% (2.8)
Str Cou 11% (4.2)

To gauge the most accurate overall, we simply add up all the total "off" numbers for all the parties. Surprisingly to some, Angus Reid, the dreaded "online" pollster comes out on top, by a wide margin:

Total:

Ang Reid (3.8)
EKOS (7)
Decima (7.8)
Ipsos (7.8)
NANOS (8.5)
Str Cou (10.8)

One, small caveat here, if we take NANOS final night of polling, he is actually the closest. However, it was a rolling poll, one night of polling is only a partial sample, but it does show that NANOS saw the late breaking vote:

NANOS:
CP 37.1% (.5)
Lib 26.7% (.5)
NDP 20.3% (2.1)
Greens 7.1% (.3)

Total- (3.4)

Overall, the pollsters did a decent job this election. It seems the Conservative total was the least accurate, with the exception of Angus Reid. At the very least, these results should end the "online" poll= crap argument that occurs whenever somebody mentions this outfit. Angus Reid was also the most accurate in many recent provincial elections, so let's give the methodology it's due, the results should be taken as seriously as other, more traditional findings.

Stephane Dion

I have a ton of thoughts on where the Liberals go from here, but for a moment I'd like to focus on Stephane Dion. I joined the Liberals because of Gerard Kennedy, in him I saw the progressive, forward-thinking, humble, grassroots Liberal that the party desperately needed, easily something I could support. I was never a big fan of Dion, from a purely political sense, the baggage, the lack of charisma, having followed politics closely for so long, my rational opinion was hardly kind. Readers of this blog will know that I once called for Dion to resign, and was highly critical for a long stretch. That changed however, when I put aside my cynicism about political requirements, and merely focused on the concepts proposed and the sincerity of the orator.

What happened last night was disappointing by any measure, but for some odd reason I've never been prouder of Stephane Dion. Despite the talking heads, I completely understood the depth of the man, the ability to weave complex ideas together into a coherent thrust. If you actually listened, and could get beyond the pre-conceptions and spin, there was a real vision there, a vision which has been absent from immediate satisfaction election mentality for quite some time.

Dion isn't a natural politician, he doesn't necessarily think in a strategic sense, and snappy soundbites aren't readily available. That said, it was sort of refreshing, I mean here we have a man who is the anti-thesis of all those things we say we hate, all those attributes that make "politician" a dirty word. Just a man of conviction, demonstrating sincerity and honesty, presenting a view of Canada, which always had the country's prosperity at heart. We can agree or disagree on the substance, but nobody can question the character, bold ideas and firm resolve.

We all know our political discourse is a superficial game, I'm not naive enough to be surprised, but I guess what happened, I became invested. I believe Stephane Dion would make a great Prime Minister, I believe that this is the type of person, armed with solid ideas incorporating the skilled views of those with knowledge, that would benefit this country. People can heap scorn on the Liberal Party, in many respects I'd probably agree, but Dion wasn't part of all the jockeying really, wasn't involved in the game, devoid of ego, he just wanted to serve, his intentions were pure. Any fair observer would give Dion that admiration, it doesn't take much to agree.

Before I dive back into the realm of rational deduction, tactical consideration and political instinct, it is important to see someone outside of this arena, an arena which isn't particular attractive. In the end, the perceived failure of Stephane Dion is more a statement on the problematic nature of modern politics, than it is an accurate interpretation of the man's attributes or abilities. I'm proud of Stephane Dion, and despite the outcome, Canada was better for his participation.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Best Of Election 2008

Just for fun:

BEST CAMPAIGN

Partisan opinion aside, the NDP have ran the best campaign of the principles. Focused from the start, the language targeted and consistent, the NDP strategists were clearly ready for this election, and they've ran strong from start to finish. I also thought the NDP had some of the more effective ads, edgy and modern, quite different from the cookie cutter approach of others. Having ample funds helped, but Layton did a very good job of keeping the NDP in the headlines, the nonsensical "running for PM" line created some buzz, so in the final analysis it was a solid move.

WORST CAMPAIGN MOVE

From the "what were they thinking" department, Harper's criticisms of artists, more specifically the galas, will be remembered by historians as the turning point in this election. Others, might also highlight the youth crime policy, but really it was this tin ear attack on the cultural community that turned the Quebec race, Duceppe and other seized on the moment, and the Conservatives never recovered. A colossal error.

BEST DEBATER

Taking both debates in totality, Stephane Dion performed the best. I was simply amazed to watch Gilles Duceppe constantly refer to Dion when speaking in the French debate, it was there that I knew he was projecting an air of authority, he had taken control. Let's not forget, the Liberals were in freefall in Quebec, had Dion done anything less, the Liberal prospects quite dim. Dion didn't do as well in the English debate, but he had some excellent moments, and I think he helped his case.

BEST MOMENT

It's a superficial point, but then again it's a shallow pool election. Layton's sweater crack in the English debate was a winner, even if it was a cheap shot. As soon as I heard, I looked over to my wife and said, "there's your debate soundbite". I say it was the best moment, because it also highlighted how badly Harper performed, it was the beginning of the out of touch sentiment, and it also kept the NDP in the conversation.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Nobody could have predicted that the economic meltdown would occur in the midst of the campaign. Effectively, the election was divided into two, and Harper really suffered for a few days, while the Liberals enjoyed a bounce. It was very interesting to see how the various parties reacted on their feet, without the advantage of carefully crafted, predictable talking points. I actually think the Liberals out flanked the Conservatives on the economy, which was amazing, when you consider it was the supposed strength, but once again the Conservatives demonstrated their lack of pragmatism, an inability to roll with the punches. However, the Liberal strategy pettered out as the stock market decent proceeded, too timid for my liking, which allowed the Conservatives to regain the advantage.

BEST SPEECH

While it didn't seem to do much for our campaign, Dion's speech at the Economic Club in Toronto was the highlight. Don't take my word for it, rare praise given to Dion by the press, he hit all the right notes and everybody was forced to recognize. That the speech was in English, makes it all the more impressive, given the mindless criticisms of second language proficiency.

MOST ANNOYING WORD OR PHRASE

The best part about this election concluding, I won't have to listen to Harper say "friends" during a campaign rally. Like he was channeling McCain, Harper used the word ad nauseum, it was so hollow and repetitive, only a koolaid drinking partisan could stand it. A honorable mention for "the kitchen table", while probably effective messaging, Layton's usage got tiring fast. Ditto for Dion's "a richer, fairer, greener" Canada, I've heard this for months and it's always struck me as an empty generalization that never connects.

BEST ELECTION COVERAGE

The hands down winner, CPAC. Not because they did anything extraordinary, only because they showed unedited coverage of all speeches and press conferences. It allowed voters a chance to make up their own minds, rather than the subjective soundbite routine of the other networks. Less is more, when it comes to talking heads.

MOST EMBARRASSING COVERAGE

Wow, this is a hard one. If there is anything more pathetic than Mike Duffy announcing the Dion interview tape as though the Zapruder film let me know. To other's credit, both Duceppe and Layton came to Dion's defence, and some media outlets rightfully questioned the ethics of releasing the tape in the first place. A really shameful episode, that frankly hurt the Liberals, at the worst possible time. After the election, I would encourage all potential Liberals guests to boycott O'Reilly's, I mean Duffy's show.

FUNNIEST MOMENT

Listening to Conservative spokesman Kory Teneycke try and spin the Cadman tape expert analysis as validation of the Conservatives position. I don't think I've ever seen a man swallow that hard, as though the lie was a cement block running down a straw. It was so sad, it actually made me laugh, poor guy.

BEST VOTER MOMENT

The only time I've seen widespread passion in the public this election, when May was initially excluded from the debate. The reaction was forceful, and quite surprising, people were almost uniformally pissed. It really was a pleasant surprise, the apathetic public rose out of it's slumber and effectively forced May into the debates, despite the best laid plans of others.

Double Ouch



Elizabeth May, on Jack Layton:
"Life would be simpler if I acted like Layton and didn't care if Stephen Harper formed government again. Life would be simpler if I were a complete hypocrite like Jack Layton and pretended I cared about the climate when all of his strategy makes his own personal success more important than survival of the climate and decent climate policy." (Canadian Press, October 12, 2008)

The sad part, it's TRUE.

Things We Already Know

With much uncertainty heading into tomorrow election, it's hard to say anything definitive. However, there are a few reasonable conclusions that can already be drawn.

The myth of the Conservative Party, under Stephen Harper, as a well oiled, master chess playing entity, has evaporated. We can all dispense with the lofty strategic adjectives attributed to this Prime Minister, the Conservatives have clearly ran the worst campaign of all the principles. From day one, we have seen a series of gaffes and forced corrections, only amplified by a disasterous habit of self-inflicted wounds. For a man who has spent the last two and half years courting Quebecers, the political tin ear shown in this election has been deafening. Checkers not chess, blunders not brilliance.

Journalism is dead in Canada, anything substantive treated as a novelty, as people simply chase polls, project bias and provide half truths. In this election, you can say anything, hide, without the threat of accountability, comforted in the fact that the attention span is so lacking, little chance for scrutiny. Any conservative that actually still clings to the unsubstantiated frame of "our liberal media" should be laughed at hysterically. I predict right now, any independent analysis of this election coverage will suggest "our conservative media". Book it, bank it, my eyes don't lie.

The Green Party have emerged as a mainstream political player, irregardless of the final election night tallies. The Greens are no longer "fringe", if they fail to elect an MP, it says more about our system, than a lack of support. A refreshing addition to our discourse, even though it further fractures the anti-Harper crowd, a party without the rhetorical partisan baggage, the Greens are here to stay.

Canadians are largely apathetic and dis-interested in our political process. Our leaders have failed to inspire and engage, a real sense that people are choosing the least offensive, rather than investing themselves in a positive choice. Our democracy has seen better days.

The Leafs suck.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pollorama

A new Strategic Counsel poll tonight, to go with the usual NANOS and Decima offering. First, the SC poll, which gives us some interesting Ontario breakdowns. Overall:
Conservative: 33 per cent (-3)

Liberal: 28 per cent (-2)

NDP: 18 per cent (none)

Bloc Quebecois: 10 per cent (-1)

Green Party: 11 per cent (+6)

The 2006 results are in brackets, and we actually have a tight contest, which is very similar to NANOS. Decima and NANOS both have a tight race in Ontario, SC the only ones to give the Liberals a slight advantage(again 2006 in brackets):
Liberal: 35 per cent (-5)

Conservative: 31 per cent (-4)

NDP: 22 per cent (+2)

Green Party: 13 per cent (+8)

Very competitive in the various regions, and for the first time in a SC poll, the Liberal are outpacing the Conservatives across the board, albeit by slight margins:
According to the poll, the Tories could find themselves in extremely tight races in those suburban ridings, running neck-and-neck with the Liberals. In the 905 region, the Liberals are at 41 per cent while the Conservatives are at 38; in the 519 region, the Liberals are at 32 and the Tories are at 29.

In the traditional Liberal stronghold of Toronto, party support remains relatively solid at 42 per cent, while the Tories are at 28 per cent. The NDP trails at 17 per cent, while the Green Part is at 13 per cent.

The big caveat, and it speaks to possible fluidity:
The poll also says that 46 per cent of Canadians are still thinking who to vote for during the Thanksgiving weekend, while 12 per cent say they won't make up their minds until they're actually at the ballot box.

"We know that increasingly people make up their minds at the last minute," Donolo said.

The basic thesis here, people aren't particularly impressed with anyone, not much conviction within the electorate.

NANOS gives the NDP some momentum in Ontario, up to a very impressive 26%, another possible sign of apathetic voters looking elsewhere to place their vote. Will it hold? The upper reaches of it are clearly soft, but the trendline is extremely positive.

With regards to Quebec, all the polls show the Conservatives well below their 2006 total, while the NDP is trending down, even NANOS now showing erosion. Decima gives the NDP a paltry 9%, while SC has them even lower still at 7%, running fifth in the province. Not really hard to believe, when you don't have traditional support, there is always the danger of fading in the final days. Here are the SC results, primarily because they're something new(2006 in brackets):
Bloc Quebecois: 42 per cent (same)

Liberal: 24 per cent (+3)

Conservative: 18 per cent (-7)

NDP: 7 per cent (-1)

Green Party: 9 per cent (+5)

All the pollsters have the Liberals at or above their 2006 support, the Conservatives lucky to hold on to what they have, most likely down to single digit seats in the province. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of two faced hypocrites, who have ran a shameful, intellectually dishonest and classless, but entirely predictable, campaign ;)

One more intruiging question from SC, the prospects of a coalition government:
Across Canada and party lines, 46 per cent said they would back a Liberal-NDP coalition to replace the Conservatives, while 41 per cent opposed the idea. Support was highest among Quebec voters at 54 per cent, and lowest in Western Canada at 35 per cent support.

Among Liberal voters, 76 per cent liked the idea of uniting with the New Democrats to form a government. NDP voters found it slightly less appealing at 68 per cent support.

Unsurprisingly, 81 per cent of Conservative voters said they opposed the idea.

When respondents were asked if they supported the Bloc being part of that coalition, 57 per cent of Canadians said they would oppose it, while only 30 per cent were in support. Outside of Quebec, roughly two thirds of voters said they didn't want such a coalition.

Liberal voters were largely split on the idea, with 41 per cent saying they would back a coalition involving the Bloc if it meant replacing the Conservatives. Another 47 per cent opposed the idea.

Among NDP voters, 57 per cent said they opposed the idea of a coalition government if the Bloc were involved -- higher than Liberal voters. Another 32 per cent said they backed the idea.

More support a coalition, than oppose, a fact which should be noted, given the dynamics at play.

Overall, still a race with many possibilities, small swings at the last moment could make an incredible difference. A Liberal victory is clearly optimistic, although it doesn't require koolaid, just an optimal end game. But on the other hand, the prospects of a diminished Conservative mandate look very real, so the ideas of what constitutes victory and defeat, a very sorted analysis.

Appealing To Greens

Quite a statement, for non-partisan, nobel winning scientists, to advocate that Green supporters vote Liberal. Not sure if this sort of argument will have much weight in the final analysis, but it does provide more validation for the Liberal plan, further evidence that the NDP are out of step with the main players in the climate change movement, despite their divisive rhetoric:
Nobel Prize winners urge "Greens" to vote red

OTTAWA – Three senior Canadian members of the 2007 Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are publicly urging those who really care about the environment to vote Liberal.

“We face a critical moment,” Dr. Andrew Weaver said in a news release.

Dr. Weaver, Dr. William Peltier and Dr. John Stone are urging potential Green Party voters to vote Liberal in order to stop the Harper government from winning.

"(Elizabeth) May and the Greens alone can help make the difference between the Harper majority that the climate scientists fear and a Liberal minority under which great progress can be made to fight climate change," said Dr. Weaver. (News Release, October 11, 2008)

Dr. Weaver told the Ottawa Citizen that a vote for the Green Party “is not a green vote.

“A green vote is for a Liberal government and St├ęphane Dion. There is no other candidate you can vote for,” he said. (Ottawa Citizen, October 12, 2008)

"Great progress", under the Liberal Plan. Another set of voices, outside of the partisan arena, that supports the Liberal argument. Their only self-interest is the state of our environment, nothing more, nothing less, the words should be heeded.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

If Harper Wants To Hide, Then Ignore Him

The above is what should happen, when you think about it. If the Conservatives have decided that Harper will no longer be available to the media, then why should the media bother covering the propaganda????

Here we are, in the final stages, and Harper will go into a cocoon, demonstrating zero accountability, while other leaders face the music with the media, the only conduit between voters and politicians, particularly with regard to a Prime Minister that doesn't interact with VOTERS.

Just what in the sam hell is going on here, and before I get the sour grapes routine, things are still fluid people. This tactic is successful in a modern day democracy? Didn't seem to fly with Palin, why should it fly here with the PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA. This is actually the crescendo to a central theme of obstruction and slight of hand. Delay your environmental regulations, file motions in court to delay court proceedings YOU initiated, tell the Heritage Department NO media availabilities, hide candidates FAR AND WIDE, hide your Agriculture Minister, you name it, a pattern of deception. And yet, one more announcement, everyone just swallow hard, the Conservative campaign has spoken.

Hello PASSIVE media, will you just cover the events and the emails in the blackberries? Will you strive for complete totality, giving Harper one final FREE PASS for good measure, while a democracy makes its most sacred choice. Ahh, you'll just roll over and hope someone rubs your belly and throws a few scraps. Meanwhile, the other guys, will stand in front, and subject themselves to your arcane questioning, because despite it all, it's PART OF THE PROCESS.

Yep, that's a leader all right, the accountable, transparent guy, that really seems to be growing into his job. Make sure to run those uncritical mug shots of Harpo on the stump, because the rationalization will be, "it's all we got". I suppose, dare I say it, the media could react by letting Harper hide, or at least highlighting his preference for the shadows. Dare to dream.

Ontario, Ontario, Ontario

The lastest batch of polls show differing results, but the general theme of a volatile and tight race in Ontario is clear. NANOS brings the gap down to 4%, Decima raises it 10%, and Ipsos weighs in with a survey that may already be outdated, the race at 5%:

Both Decima and NANOS paint the same picture in Ontario, the Conservatives staging a late comeback, the Greens falling off, but not to the Liberals benefit. I've argued previously that a tight national race favors the Liberals, due to regional breakdowns, but that isn't really the case anymore with NANOS in particular, the Ontario numbers, if they were too hold, translate to a clear Conservative victory.

The two pollsters give the Liberals a real edge in Atlantic Canada, but the numbers tend to jump around widely, so a dose of caution. Still, better way up, then way down, psychologically anyway. Same trends in Quebec, with the exception of the NDP, Decima has them nowhere, NANOS still quite competitive (a La Presse poll today put them at 13%).

It all comes down to Ontario, where we see no signs of NDP erosion yet, the support quite strong and consistent. As I said earlier, the Greens are fading (Ipsos agrees), but it hasn't helped the Liberals in the least. The trend is Conservatives coming back, Liberals stagnant or fading somewhat, NDP vote stubborn. Not exactly what I'd like to see at this stage, but then again, the swings over the past few weeks confirm a wavering electorate, no one can claim to have cemented anything. Ontario still looks impossible to predict, many ridings may well come down to a few hundred votes, which means minor movement could translate to massive impact.

Will we see a late break?

The Great Travesty

There he was again last night, the Prime Minister delivering another scathing attack on the Liberals Green Shift. At a time of economic uncertainty, the last thing the Canadian economy needs is some half-baked scheme that will punish ordinary people, a tax "on everything". What is truly staggering, and I think any fair minded observer would agree, the fact Harper has been allowed to tour the country, attacking the Liberals for their plan, while simultaneously hiding his own plan, a plan which acknowledges exactly the same hike "on everything". The sheer hypocrisy is amazing, more unbelievable, the fact our media has yet to call Harper on the logically disconnect.

We will have concluded an entire campaign, without one reporter positing the simplest of questions, a free ride of biblical proportions. It's the equivalent of Dion continually arguing that the Conservatives favor corporate tax cuts, pandering to big business, without anyone pointing out that the Liberals favor the same policy. In other words, the most ridiculous of contentions, and yet Harper is allowed to spew the nonsense, unchecked and not held to account.

The Liberals came out with a press release, that will surely be ignored, but it really is an objective point:
It is bad enough that Mr. Harper has skated through the election campaign without being honest with Canadians about what a fraud his climate change plan is, but Mr. Harper’s failure to be honest about the increased costs his plan will place on consumers—at the pump and otherwise—is simply inexcusable.

Every independent analysis of Mr. Harper’s climate change plan has determined it will not meet its own modest targets. These include studies by: CIBC, Deutsche Bank, Pembina Institute, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, CD Howe Institute, National Energy Board, and National Round Table on Environment and the Economy.

This week, 230 leading Canadian economists noted in an open letter to Canada’s federal party leaders that “all carbon reduction policies increase the prices individuals face” and concluded that reducing emissions through regulation, as Mr. Harper plans to do, “is the most expensive way to meet a given climate change goal.”

And while Mr. Harper plans a complex regulatory system that will lead to a price on carbon of $65 a tonne, his government has yet to release its final regulations and refuses to come clean and tell Canadians about the additional costs his plan will create before the October 14 vote.

While Mr. Harper plans to price carbon at $65 per tonne, he fails to be honest about this with Canadians on the hustings. Worse, Mr. Harper has no plan to help Canadians offset these additional costs with tax cuts on personal income, business and investments.

Nobody can deny the above, because the Conservatives own language admits a cost "which isn't trivial", the price of fossil fuels will increase, and the trickle down will result in increased costs for secondary items. That's a simple fact, that's the Conservatives own characterization. And yet, Harper is allowed to claim the Liberals are dangerous because they would do what he would do, minus the tax cut side to balance. In the final analysis, without the tax relief, one could easily argue that the Conservative plan would punish Canadians in a much more substantive way than the Liberal plan. Crickets, nobody seems to acknowledge this elemental fact, the media continually allows Harper to present his intellectually dishonest attack, without any critical questioning.

I'm hard pressed to find another example where one party has been given such a free ride, on such a central issue in a campaign. The entire Conservative argument is predicated on the carbon tax, it is their main thrust, and yet nobody seems to notice the contradiction, nobody finds it necessary to asked the pointed questions. Partisanship aside, that Stephen Harper has been allowed to mislead Canadians without being held to account, is the great travesty of this election. It really is...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Can We Get A Refund?

I finally thought the Conservatives had found one expert to agree with one of their assertions. Can't seem to find an economist, environmentalist, doctor, lawyer, but maybe a PAID expert, if we line his pockets, a better chance for a favorable review. Remember James Moore, remember all this nonsense about the "doctored" tape at the heart of the Conservatives suit against the Liberals, well what does it say when your own EXPERT refutes your basic premise:
A tape recording at the centre of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's $3.5-million defamation suit against the Liberal party was not altered as the prime minister has claimed, a court-ordered analysis of the tape by Harper's own audio expert has found.

The key portion of the recorded interview of Harper by a B.C. journalist contains no splices, edits or alterations, says the finding by a U.S. forensic audio expert.

The analysis was filed in Ontario Superior Court on Friday by lawyers for the Liberal party, despite attempts by Harper's lawyer to keep the opinion out of the court file until at least next week.

But that segment had not been altered, Koenig found.

He reported that it "contains neither physical nor electronic splices, edits or alterations, except for the over-recording start that erased and replaced the end of the first part of the designated interview."

That's Harper's guy, the same one LAUDED by James Moore in his silly press conference. No wonder the Conservatives fought to delay this case, even though it was supposedly Dion's biggest mistake.

I wonder if the Liberals would be bold enough to use the unedited, completely accurate, entirely suspicious, tape now?

Gap Increases

Both NANOS and Decima show the same trend today, Conservatives lead increasing. However, the state of the NDP seems to be a point of contention. NANOS points to an NDP uptick, at the expense of the Liberals, while Decima shows a steady decline in NDP support. No where is this more striking than in Quebec, where NANOS gives the NDP 19% on the upswing, while Decima has the NDP vote evaporating to a lowly 7%. Hard to reconcile these two polls.

In the NANOS poll the gap has increased to 6% points, still manageable, but curiously the Conservative vote is stalled, and Harper is at his lowest personal numbers for this pollster. The only caveat, the Conservatives are coming back in Ontario, this fact is also borne out by Decima. Conservatives falling further in Quebec, Atlantic Canada, slightly off in the "west". Overall, the Conservatives seem to have hit bottom, but they aren't really rebounding either.

The NDP strength is coming from Atlantic Canada and Quebec, not much movement in Ontario or the "west". Now, this is the partisan part of the post I suppose, but I'm just not buying a NDP surge in Quebec, primarily because there is really nothing to account for it, more inclined to see a fade, as the race gets down to the crunch. That said, I'm sure NDPers will disagree with this assessment, so cling forceably if you want. I'll take the Decima trendline ;)

Decima gives the Liberals a good lead in Atlantic Canada, they don't show any NDP uptick, if anything they're down. Decima also shows a slight rebound in British Columbia. The Liberal vote is holding, but the Conservatives have come back in Ontario, somewhat in Quebec.

Not the trendlines people want to see overall, no matter which poll you pick. That said, I still see a competitive race, and we will see what the late breakers do, my sense is this race is very fluid, as evidenced by the swings of the past two weeks.

You Sir Are PATHETIC



A touch of irony here, the guy who shuns the media on a regular basis, who refuses to take questions from VOTERS in an interview, who stifles his own candidates, now rushes to the cameras in unprecedented fashion to expose a new scandal. What a SMALL, small man:
The Tories delayed their flight so their leader could watch the tape and comment on it. Stephen Harper usually talks to the media only once a day, but last night he met journalists again.

“When you're running a trillion-and-a-half-dollar economy you don't get a chance to have do-overs, over and over again,” he said. “What this incident actually indicates very clearly is Mr. Dion and the Liberal Party really don't know what they would do on the economy.”

He said Mr. Dion can't blame his difficulties with English. “I don't think this is a question of language at all. The question was very clear. It was asked repeatedly.”

Delayed the flight? Oh my goodness war room, is it really this bad, are you really in such a dire circumstance, did you just read the latest battleground poll for British Columbia?:
Here are the parties' results in B.C. (Brackets show percentage-point change from Oct. 1-4 poll):

Liberal: 33 per cent (+6)
Conservative: 31 per cent (-7)
NDP: 23 per cent (+1)
Bloc: n/a
Green Party: 14 per cent (same)

I suppose when you're in freefall, naked desperation clouds your judgement. I watched the tape, and I seemed to have the same reaction as most fair minded observers- what's the big deal? I completely understood why Dion was having trouble, and I don't even equate with a hearing problem, although in politics, it would be wise to play up that angle, since we are in the gutter and all. The question was bizarre, Dion wanted clarity, it's a simple as that.

To turn this incident into a indictment of Dion's capacity to lead is such a SORRY statement on the Harper Conservatives, and their media minions, that I actually thinks this helps Dion. I thought this last night, today Dion comes out and answers the questions, given an opportunity to turn it around, express himself clearly and PUMP his message. Well, that interview just occured this morning, if anything Dion is the sympathetic character here and he has done himself some favors.

Mr. Harper doesn't look Prime Ministerial, he looks like a man who can clearly see the possibility of defeat now, his team are flailing at anything, because they essentially have nothing left. More about the messenger than the message, as this shakes out in the media- advantage Liberals.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

That's A Mistake

I'm sure Conservatives would disagree, because after all every decision by Harper is pure genius, but referring to Dion as "Prime Minister Dion" is another tactical error. I actually think the Conservatives had it right in the first place, wherein Harper consistently lumped all opposition leaders into a common pool, "the other guys", a characterization which put them all on the same plane.

I understand why the Conservatives have chosen this new phrasing, but in so doing, they have essentially elevated Dion. You want to raise the spectre, because you think it will instill fear, the words meant to act as a linguistic smelling salt for voters, alerting them to the danger. However, the idea fails to recognize the downside of this terminology, the Conservatives are voluntarily separating Dion for the "others". Harper isn't referencing Prime Minister Layton, he's only speaking about Dion, and this is exactly what the Liberals want.

Looking at the electoral terrain, are the Conservatives best served by narrowing the debate, Dion or Harper, Liberal or Conservative vision. I know that's what the Liberals want, so that probably means its the last thing the Conservatives really desire. Keep calling him "Prime Minister Dion", it just raises his stature another inch or two, it actually allows people to think of him in that way. I know, I know, that's the point, voters will run when the words echo through their brains, but some soft supporters from other parties, more inclined to vote Liberal than Conservative as their second choice, might also realize the stakes and say "Prime Minister Dion", sounds a lot better than PMSH. That frame works for the Liberals, it works against the Conservatives, so in totality, this new phrasing is really a net negative, especially when the earlier terminology of lumping all the pretenders together kept the NDP and Greens on par with Liberals, in terms of messaging.

I hope Harper keeps using the term, because I have a feeling the more we hear it, the more it doesn't seem so hard to imagine, the more it narrows the debate, which is actually the central key to a Liberal victory.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Call It Four

Decima and NANOS both show a 4% Conservative lead today, and the regionals are also similar. Basically, the same scenario as yesterday, with one exception, the Conservatives continue to hit new bottoms in Ontario. NANOS:
Cons 33%
Libs 29%
NDP 20%
Greens 7%

Yesterday, I said we may see some statistical noise, that seems reasonable today. The only caveat, from a Liberal perspective, I don't like seeing the NDP coming back today, although much of the gain seems to come from volatile Atlantic Canada polling. That said, Decima also shows a tight three-way race in the region, so the finding receives more weight. On the other hand, NANOS now has a YAWNING gap in Ontario, the Liberals up a full 12%, the Conservative decline steep- to say the Conservative vote is in freefall is not an exaggeration.

It should also be noted, NANOS has the Liberals tailing off a few points, from their post-debate bounce in Quebec. Still, these numbers translate to holding their seats, maybe picking up one or two, because the support is so condensed.

As for Decima, the Liberals continue to pick up 1% a day, they maintain a solid lead in Ontario, stable in Quebec and still wanting in British Columbia.

The most encouraging thing about the Decima poll, besides the tight horserace, Dion now has a better favorable impression with Canadians than Harper. That, in itself, is a key statistic, the entire Conservative campaign is predicated on Harper's appeal, his perceived advantage over Dion. Personally, I don't think Dion needs to be completely on par with Harper, because we have other intangibles in our favor, but he has too be competitive, Decima suggests an even better proposition.

When Good Appearances Go Bad

I must say, watching Harper's interview on CBC last night, I thought he was doing a pretty credible job, defending his policies. Harper demonstrated a deep understanding of economics, particular positions aside, he was conveying a sense that he was capable, that he understood the complexities, very comfortable within that arena. So, there I am, thinking Harper is doing himself some favors, looking engaged and informed. That's when it went bad, real bad.

Harper is great when he sticks to the script, but as soon as he starts freelancing, loosens up, you enter a dangerous place. I almost fell off the couch, when Harper started talking about stock market opportunities. Here we are, in the midst of a historic meltdown, and Harper is chatting it up with some brokers, discussing the buying opportunities. Some of the quotes, which I'm sure many have already heard by now:
"I think there's probably some great buying opportunities emerging in the stock market as a consequence of all this panic." Mr. Harper told news reporters as the S&P/TSX dropped for the fifth straight day.

"We always know that when stock markets go up, people end up buying a lot of things that are overpriced and when stock markets go down, people end up passing on a lot of things that are under priced," Mr. Harper said in a later interview with the CBC. "I think there are probably some gains to be made in the stock market."

Harper's cavalier attitude was astounding. This isn't a market's go up, market's come down scenario, this is unprecedented instability. Whatever good Harper had done himself earlier, completely evaporated and we were left with the clear impression that this guy does lack real empathy, this guy doesn't grasp the gravity. People know what's going on, everybody is talking about the uncertainty, many are resigning themselves to a bleak future. To have Harper, thinking in opportunistic terms, that he would even posit this is time to make some money, it's just amazing. A cold perspective, the last thing Harper needed to convey, it just left a real bad taste, he managed to hurt himself further.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

New Ads

I particularly like this new ad, because it uses third party validation to show Harper is out of touch on the economy, and then ends on a positive note:



It's not the Liberals saying Harper is lost on the economy, which I think adds to the effect. Contrast that approach, with the Conservatives new attack ad today, and this tactic looks more credible.

The Liberals also have a feel good ad, which is pretty good:

Liberals Can Win!

All the polls are narrowing, NANOS now brings the Liberals to within the margin of error, the gap a MERE three points:
Cons 34%
Libs 31%
NDP 18%
Greens 6%

Liberals up 2%, NDP down 2%, Conservatives and Greens unchanged. Can we stop with the battle for second crap now MSM? We may be seeing the first signs of consolidation behind the Liberals, early, but that's the key.

The regionals show a big gap in Ontario:

Libs 40%(up 3%)
Cons 31% (down 2%)
NDP 22% (down 2%)

That tend mirrors Decima, who show the Conservatives Ontario support falling apart, down to a lowly 26%.

Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada, slightly ahead of the Conservatives in Quebec, an uptick in the "west".

Decima has a 5% gap today, a far cry from the 15% gap only a few days ago. EKOS also show a tightening race, the trends are irrefutable.

When the Liberals were well behind, and it looked bleak, my best case scenario was that we narrowed the gap to 4-5% by weeks end, knowing that it was a real possiblility to see late breakers moving to us in the last two days. Even if we see some back and forth now in the day to day numbers, the Liberals are now well placed to have a realistic shot at taking this election.

Harper's Historical Revision

I'll get into the platform details later, or more correctly the damage control measures, but the overarching theme from Harper- we foresaw what we are seeing today in the economy and took prudent action. That frame, an attempt to show that his policies have always incorporated the latest economic challenges.

Is that so? Here is Harper a mere THREE weeks ago:
PM believes worst over for economy
U.S. credit crisis fallout no reason for 'doom, gloom' in Canada, says an optimistic Harper

"My own belief is if we were going to have some kind of crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now, a year into the (financial) crisis," said Harper, who once taught economics.

Those "Crazy" LEADING Economists

When you are discussing the health of the economy, what you don't need, or want for that matter, is advice from economists. That seems intuitive enough, the last thing you do when formulating policy is to use expert opinion, especially when said experts detail plans that are good for the economy. Economists are "crazy" people, bent on destroying our country, with their "experiments". Now that you understand the asinine Conservative logic, isn't it amazing to see the unanimity of support for a carbon tax, from people in the know:
Back carbon tax, leading economists tell politicians

More than 200 experts say policy is best way to fight climate change

More than 230 academic economists have signed an open letter to the leaders of the federal political parties, urging them to acknowledge that putting a price on carbon is "the best approach" to combatting climate change. In a rare show of agreement...That's an astonishing number for academics not typically inclined to act collectively and quickly on policy issues, Mr. Finnie said.

Interestingly, the economists also mention cap and trade, but see it as more "complicated" and that "regulation" is the most expensive approach because you don't have a "choice". On that note, when confronted with the above, NDP Environment critic Nathan Cullen said the economists have it wrong. Yes, the NDP knows best, not economists. Gotcha.

What is really striking here, the fact that so many economists have jumped on board, which speaks to a real fundamental appeal. Last time I checked, economists don't generally endorse policies which would harm our economy. If, we take the Conservative logic, then Canada is doomed, because our economic ranks are full of "crazy" people, who are willfully endorsing financial peril.

The carbon tax is a sound economic policy, supported by the vast majority of expert opinion. Period. Any other argument is just PARTISAN noise.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jack Is Whack

One a day when the world's financial institutions are in the midst of unprecedented turmoil, what's Layton's messaging today? It almost boggles the mind, but Jack serves up a steady diet of bank bashing:
Banks gouging Canadians with rate hikes, Layton says

NDP Leader Jack Layton attacked the banks today, accusing them of jacking up interest rates to pad their record profits and executive salaries at a time when consumers can least afford it.

At rallies in Vancouver and here, he drew attention to a headline in the Globe and Mail stating: Banks hike rate to the very retail customer that have helped them avoid a U.S.-style meltdown.

"They are going after you folks," Layton said told an afternoon rally.

"The banks are going to gouge consumers even more in order to keep their record profits and their sky-high CEO salaries in place," he said.

Layton told the partisan crowds it's time Canada had a prime minister who "stood up for the bank customers instead of just the bank."

Never mind if there is any validity to what Layton is saying, could you choose a more untimely day to declare war on Canadian's financial institutions? Breathtaking. What kind of bizarre signal is Layton sending to instill confidence that he understands the current circumstance? There's a TIME AND A PLACE, and yet the NDP highlights this angle to sell it's agenda.

My goodness.

Woohoo!!

The Conservatives already have a bad habit of introducing a measure, then months later re-introducing it as something new, but today's pathetic announcement is another manipulation. Harper is so desperate to look the concerned family guy, he actually touts something which, by my personal calculations, will benefit me 0.18 of a percent on my childcare costs. Actually, it wouldn't benefit me at all, because it's indexed to inflation, it's just the same impact, but why split hairs:
As the wobbly economy continues to dominate the campaign, Conservative leader Stephen Harper continued to make "modest" announcements of tax breaks for families.

Today, it was promising to adjust the popular monthly $100 childcare allowance to rise with inflation.

My childcare costs are approximately 12 grand a year, and I know I'm not alone. Today, Harper offered me an extra 30 bucks PER YEAR, about 22 bucks after taxes, because it's taxable for most of us. Hence, the 0.18% percent injection, which is actually insulting when you think about. I'd rather Harper announce nothing, than sit there with a bunch of kids and offer me the smallest of kernels and pump it like it's substantive.

Thank-you for the extra 0.18% sweater man, which is negated by inflation. You really do care. If I don't blog anymore today, it's because my wife and I are busy, figuring out how to divvy up the windfall.

"Stay The Course"

Just trying to help out the war room, putting the finishing touches on their platform (cough). A potential cover shot?:



A steady hand at the helm, keeping us on the proper path, maybe the iceberg will move...

Convergence

New numbers from NANOS and Decima, which are now in relative agreement. I think this similarity important, because the narrative of a Conservative downturn, a tightening race, has more weight, when we now have multiple sources, less opportunity for the media to hide behind whichever poll suits their bias.

NANOS shows little change from yesterday, the 4% gap now 5%. NANOS shows a further Conservative slide in all important Ontario, and like Decima, a strong NDP showing. On leadership, Dion bests Layton, but on best PM, Layton is now in new high terrority.

The Decima poll brings some striking trends. What was a 15% gap a mere THREE days ago, has narrowed to just 7%, as both the Liberals and NDP capitalize on failing Conservative fortunes. These Conservative numbers are pretty much bottom, so the Liberals need to consolidate some center-left support if they have a chance. In Ontario, the Conservatives are down to an extremely low 27%, but the NDP are up to a new high of 24% (Liberals 33%). In Quebec, Decima finally shows the Liberal bounce, up a full 10% in just two days, to a very encouraging 27%, within striking distance of the Bloc at 33%, the Conservatives support falling off a cliff, now at 18%, NDP stuck.

Liberals up noticeably with male voters, a full 7%. Dion now pulls even with Harper on favorable/unfavorable numbers, which may be the most important sub sample of all. It's all about Harper for the Conservatives, if Dion is relatively competitive, advantage Liberals.

What is becoming clear now, if the Liberals are too close the gap further, it must come at the expense of the NDP and Greens. There is no question the NDP are showing real strength, particularly in Ontario. One has to wonder how the economic argument plays in the final days, but while the Liberal numbers are solid, they need to draw the center-left support.

That aside, this week's narrative of a Conservative slump is cemented and it will be interesting to see the war room react to real negativity, the free ride over, some tightening around the collar, or sweater, as the case may be.

Harper Remains "Fundamentally Optimistic"

During a morning press conference, where Harper was peppered with questions of falling poll numbers and the economic outlook, Harper characterized our economic circumstance as "fundamentally optimistic". Harper's words are rapidly showing a disconnect with reality, because last time I checked there is nothing "optimistic" about the prospects of a recession.

The only lame excuse we here from the Conservative spinsters, Harper is using positive language because he doesn't want to send negative signals, impact the market. Are you kidding me? Last week, we saw two separate days, recording the largest drops in market history, and this came while Harper was doing his "don't worry be happy" routine. In other words, Harper's phrasing is largely irrelevant, the market has already factored in a sharp economic downturn, so anything Harper would have to add would be largely ignored. So behind the curve here, it is just WEAK to suggest Harper isn't out of touch, just prudent.

I'm not sure what Harper brings to the table tomorrow, but he is losing the battle of public perceptions. Of note, yesterday's SC poll actually gave Dion a better score on who is best to deal with the stock market crisis, which is very relevant when you think about it. Harper's supposed economic trump card, the able manager, is evaporating, essentially because people can see storm clouds gathering and Harper tells us the umbrella is unnecessary. There is a disconnect here, and the Liberals must continue to capitalize in the final week, because Harper is starting to look completely out to lunch.

I believe Harper has boxed himself in, no fiscal room to do anything, you can't preach fiscal discipline, then offer big ticket policies to stimulate. Everything Harper has said will be for not, if he takes this crisis seriously, if he changes direction or acknowledges action is required. Meanwhile, Dion's action plan has been well received, practicalities aside, it brings the optics of someone with a plan, contrasted with Mr. "Optimistic".

Sunday, October 05, 2008

More Bad Trendlines

This poll has been somewhat goofy from the onset, but when every measure is DOWN for the Conservatives, pretty much EVERYWHERE, we'll put this one in the "bad news Harpo" binder. The good ship majority has set sail, and Dion receives more validation:
The Conservatives are losing steam in key swing ridings in Ontario, B.C. and Quebec, a development that could put a majority government out of arm's reach for Stephen Harper.

Behind the Liberals in Quebec swing ridings:
Bloc Quebecois: 40 per cent (-2)
Liberal: 22 per cent (+3)
Conservative: 21 per cent (-1)
NDP: 13 per cent (+1)
Green Party: 4 per cent (same)

"The Liberals could stand to gain from Dion's performance in the next few days, even if they didn't get it right off the bat," Donolo said.

In Quebec's swing ridings, 33 per cent of those polled thought Dion won the debate, compared to 13 per cent for Harper and 18 per cent for Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.


Ontario:
The new numbers are down five per cent from the Tories' highest mark of 45 per cent in those same ridings in late September. The Conservatives' losses appear to be trending towards the Liberals, who gained a few points in the latest survey: (brackets show percentage-point change from Sept. 30-Oct. 2 poll)


Conservative: 40 per cent (-2)
Liberals: 28 per cent (+3)
NDP: 21 per cent (-1)
Bloc Quebecois: n/a
Green Party: 12 per cent (+2)


British Columbia:
Conservative: 38 per cent (-2)
Liberal: 27 per cent (same)
NDP: 22 per cent (-1)
Bloc: n/a
Green Party: 13 per cent (+3)
The Conservatives had as much as 46 per cent support in September polling in B.C. battlegrounds.

The best part, another headline of shrinking Conservative fortunes, just as we enter the final sprint. Harper shouldn't have taken today off, Dion looked very PMish on the helicopter over rugged Churchill, according to all the pretty frames on the news anyways :) Perfect.

Still a steep climb, but every number is negative for the Conservatives, and another poll showing some movement in Ontario (Decima too now puts us ahead) for the Liberals. I sense a new narrative to start the week, and this angle won't help either.

Where's Your Platform?

Yesterday, I posited that any argument that suggests the Conservatives always had a platform, the timing merely strategic, was just bad spin. I highlighted Harper's debate reactions, to demonstrate that the platform was only hatched in the aftermath of the debates, pure damage control, rather than a careful plan. Everyone knows Stephen Harper, does anyone really believe we would see the following, the blank stare, looking to the moderator for relief, if he KNEW that a platform was coming, if his team planned on announcing said platform the NEXT MORNING? You be the judge, Harper's deer in the headlights routine, as he takes it squarely on the chin, says it all from here:




6 minute, 18 second mark:


He never had a platform.