Saturday, March 31, 2012

CBC Cuts 115 Million/CPC Advertising 136.3 Million

One of the more maddening refrains we keep hearing OVER and OVER again, the observation that this budget didn't cut as deep "as expected". What that insight reveals is that one had already succumbed to government spin and manipulation, in effect an admission you bought into propaganda and were effectively played like a fiddle. The Conservatives float massive cuts, the very notion ORIGINATING with them, and when they bring in "relatively" tame, it appears just that, when really it is an exercise in manipulation.

This isn't a fiscally prudent budget, this is a vendetta budget, wherein the Conservatives go after their perceived foes. Environmentalists are attacked on the charity angle, the environment is attacked on the review angle and our public broadcaster takes a DISPORPOTIONATE and massive 12% hit, for no apparent reason, given cuts to other areas. This isn't a budget concerned with getting our fiscal house in order, this is a budget that is once again political and mean spirited. Perhaps when people are done tripping over themselves to tell us how "relatively small" the cuts, they can digest just how obscene the cuts to CBC are for example.

The title of this post tells a relevant story. It was left to a Liberal partisan on CBC itself to note this government didn't cut ONE DIME from it's advertising budget, ONE NICKLE from the PMO budget or the Privy Council, all three of which have BALLOONED under this government, to such a degree it should equate to outrage. These Conservatives spend more than THREE times that of their predecessors on government advertising. In 2005-6, the Liberals spent 41.3 million on advertising, last year the Conversatives spent 3.3 times more, a staggering 136.3 million. As well, most objective observers agree advertising has taken a decidedly partisan tone, many see the Conservatives ads as very close to a concerning ethical line. And yet, we hear very little about the nature of the advertising, even moreso the gross misuse of taxpayer money.

Perhaps the Conservatives could pledge to exclusively advertise on the public broadcaster, which would offset the CBC cuts and STILL leave 21.3 million in advertising to spread around elsewhere, basically half what the former Liberals spent. This government sees no need to cut back on self promotion, and yet we apparently need to gut our public broadcaster? This government is so self assured, they didn't even bother to announce some window dressing cutbacks on the size of the PMO, Privy Council, advertising, any organ or expression which contributes to political fortunes, which plays to Conservative advantage.

When are people going to start calling out these nonsensical advertising abuses of power, masquerading as vital means of government communication? Perhaps Canadians should weigh in with an answer to a very simple question: would you prefer the government cut the CBC or advertising promoting the government itself? I suspect the Conservatives wouldn't like the answer, but alas, no HEAT is forthcoming.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

NDP Bounce

Not surprising, the first post-convention poll gives the NDP a sizeable bounce in support:
A survey done this week had the NDP tied with the Conservatives in public support at 35 per cent each. Just one in five Canadians — 19 per cent — backed the Liberals, their level of support in the last election.

The NDP are now seen as the most effective opposition, with 40 per cent of those polled endorsing the party’s performance. That’s up from 32 per cent earlier in the month.

At the same time, fewer than 25 per cent see the Liberals

To put this result in perspective, the last poll from this outfit had it 36% for the Conservatives, 28% for the NDP and 26% for the Liberals. A 9% rise for the NDP, which mostly comes at the expense of the Liberals, the Conservatives relatively unchanged. This result is perhaps instructive for those intrigued by the Nathan Cullen proposals.

They call it a "bounce" for a reason, because like a ball, it usually comes back down, but still this first post-convention offering suggests a honeymoon and a successful outcome for the NDP. As well, while some of my fellow Liberals are in denial about Mulcair, this poll also shows the terrific challenge we now face in Quebec with Mulcair at the helm. We don't have the regionals, but I suspect much of the seismic change this poll is Quebec driven, as Mulcair surges and erases any Liberal uptick in the province. Some have suggested Quebecers really don't like Mulcair, I suggest we understand that they rarely turn their back on their own, particularly a guy that has appeal with soft nationalists, less alienating. Time will tell, but rather than try and spin, understate or wait for implosion, Liberals had best realize a Mulcair led NDP is very much cementing itself in Quebec and react accordingly. Time will tell.

Everybody loves the minty fresh leader of the opposition, what else is new. I suspect we don't see the Rae attack ads much anymore...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Liblogs

The new Liblogs site is up and running. I've been brought on board as an admin, along with Nancy Leblanc. David Graham remains as an admin, and Adam Miron( former president of the Young Liberals and currently involved with iPolitics and the Wellington Street Post) now owns the site.

You'll notice a few changes, particularly a twitter component. I'd encourage more people to start a blog or apply for membership on Liblogs. Although we now have social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook to communicate, blogs still afford unique opportunities to express yourself. Twitter is limited by character discussions, whereas Facebook tends to be the same people talking within a limited audience. The great thing about a blogging aggregator, frequency of posting isn't a concern, you have a built in wider audience and blogs remain the best vehicle to flesh out opinions. I see all of social media as complimentary, blogs a great avenue for grassroots expression. There will be a lot of things happening with this government and party, so if you're considering participation, start a blog and join Liblogs ("Contact" on the site). Also, I don't think the feed is up yet, but give @Liblogs1 a follow on twitter to receive the blog posts as they come up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Liberal "Convention"

I'd largely echo what Jeff has to say about the NDP Convention as it relates to the eventual Liberal leadership. The Liberals would be wise to poach a few of the ideas from the NDP, particularly the made for TV flare, as well a centralized location to give an old style convention flavour. While it may seem like early days, the Liberal Party would be wise to start fleshing out the nuts and bolts of our leadership race now, because our format presents unique challenges.

The online voting component of the NDP race was a utter failure, both in terms of abysmal turnout, as well as the process being hijacked. Given the Liberals will be conducting an "open primary" across the country on a single day (I still hold out hope we reconsider and stagger), we are looking at a herculean organizational challenge, particularly when it comes to polling stations. A robust online option will cut costs and organization, meaning we can have fewer concrete polling stations in ridings, a more manageable undertaking. As well, the concept of "open" should embrace as many ways to participate as possible, there is much room to fully realize the potential of online inclusion.

While the Liberals will have an open primary, I maintain it is important that the eventual winner achieve a majority mandate from voters. I would support a preferential ballot, it isn't perfect, but with only "one" voting opportunity, Liberals should see the wisdom of perceived unity coming out of our exercise. It is quite conceivable, if we just have one raw vote, we will end up with someone taking the helm with less than 50% of support, perhaps not a big issue, but why not canvass further to find a more unified choice in the end? I see little downside in having voters give preferential choice, although I would argue this should be the sole option. Liberals could still have live voting at the Convention venue, but it should also be preferential and we merely read each "ballot" result in successive fashion, creating an air of anticipation as the process unfolds. To my mind, a preferential component creates some intrigue as we potentially wait between announcements to see how the results shake out.

I also agree with the notion that candidates should have speeches the night prior to the actual vote and the notion of riding meet ups to watch the proceedings, a no brainer to enhance participation. I'd even push for a vote eve DEBATE, held live in the convention hall, which would garner national coverage and create much high stakes drama, quite a visual spectacle, loud and boisterous. As well, in this way, you give the Convention venue added importance, a centralized place of action, to make up for the lack of traditional elements.

Now, let's just hope we actually have a competitive race...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Challenges For Mulcair

Yesterday, I mused about Mulcair presenting a challenge to the Liberals. This assertion doesn't equate to some belief that a Mulcair led NDP will sweep the nation and form government, only a relatively strong obstacle for the Liberals themselves, as we try to reassert ourselves on the political landscape, particularly "traditional" ground. In fact, there is much to wonder about when it comes to Mulcair as we move forward and the NDP attempt to solidify themselves as government in waiting.

I'll refrain from commentary on facial hair, because frankly if that's your big contributing insight one day out of a leadership finale, you should probably seek other employment, this clearly isn't your calling. For my money, one of the more intriguing commentaries on Mulcair comes from Judy Rebick, harsh but full of refreshing candour, this particular passage something to watch:
The third narrative is what has been called a whisper campaign against Mulcair. It was a pretty loud whisper turned into a shout by Ed Broadbent. No one can get along with this guy. He is a bully who doesn't brook opposition. Kind of like a certain Prime Minister we know. It was also suggested that Mulcair had nothing to do with the victory in Quebec. Quieter but just as widespread was the knowledge that not very many women who have worked with him for more than a few months were supporting him. I was shocked by how few women were among his published endorsers. Some of these whispers are true from what I can tell.

Personality, this could well be Mulcair's chief Achilles heel. Also relevant, our current PM has personality issues of his own, but has shown an ability to bring his own people together in common purpose (power tends to help in this regard as well, which should be mentioned). "No one can get along with guy", that is where it can all unravel, especially when he takes the helm after an era of the Layton style, wherein inclusion was a centerpiece ideal. Mulcair must bring people together, that is a leader's primary job, should he fail to give voice to others, domineer and dismiss, we will see his leadership undermined, there will be problems moving forward. While Broadbent's comments were ill timed, the underlying message conveyed a problematic aspect to a Mulcair rule, the idea that people who have worked closely less inclined to support, a red flag moving forward for sure.

Lost in this Mulcair victory I think, the fact that the early rally behind Topp, particularly the Layton loyalists, looked very much like a pre-emptive strike to undercut Mulcair. There was a very QUICK move to put up an alternative to Mulcair, this inner circle obviously feared something and they pivoted quickly from mourning to maneuvering, the speed quite telling. Smiles and standing ovations now are irrelevant, the real test will come in the months ahead as we watch to see if all oars are enthusiastically pulling together, or if under the surface tensions distract from the task at hand.

Mulcair is not a populist, one wonders if he can resonate with his type of personality. You listen to Mulcair in interviews, I find him engaging, thoughtful, interesting and compelling, he has gifts no question. However, I can recall many a failed politician- some recent Liberal examples come to min- who sounded great one on one, but failed to touch the electorate in any compelling way. I found Mulcair's victory speech incredibly flat and frankly it bored me to tears, I packed up halfway through as it was felt like sitting through the credits after a long movie. How Mulcair performs on the stump, walking the streets, interacting and engaging, this is a large unknown moving forward.

Those of us who follow politics closely know full well Mulcair has a nasty temper, as well as a habit of saying certain outlandish things. Fine when you're an attack dog, a subordinate, quite another when you're perceived as a possible PM in waiting. Again, one can point to our current PM and allay any fears on the "angry guy" front, but I contend to this day, Harper is largely the benefactor of good timing, rather than a wave of affection that brought him to office. In other words, I don't consider his rise a template to copy, anger is not normally a preferred trait when it comes to "lik3ability". Layton thrived because he was likeable, we did want to have a beer with him, he had that common touch, authenticity, sincerity and above all a sense of compassion. Mulcair has big shoes to fill, particularly within a party which isn't as angry by nature as some others, if you "get" me. I think Mulcair did a masterful job during this campaign of holding his perceived anger in check, he looked a statesman, his message was positive, so perhaps we overstate these concerns. Still, history is just that, so I'll be looking for flaring nostrils, red faced rants and how that could potentially play.

Like every new leader, Mulcair will be a work in progress. Leader of the Opposition is never an easy gig, at many times thankless and you always appear wanting and incomplete, perceptual hurdles a given. Let's see if Mulcair can handle the heat, both in front of the cameras and perhaps more importantly, behind the scenes within his own party.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rae Reacts To Mulcair On Co-operation

I'm a bit surprised how little attention Bob Rae's appearance on Question Period today is receiving. Worth a view, because if I'm reading it correctly, Rae seems to be taking his co-operation cues from Mulcair, almost reactionary in tone, rather than unilaterally rejecting outright. Here is the exchange:

Oliver referenced Cullen's co-operation idea, asked Rae "what's your view of that, is that something you would welcome as a good idea in order to prevent a split which elects Conservatives?"


"Well, as I said, I think we have an effective three party system. Mr. Mulcair last night, as I heard him, was very definitive in saying no co-operative arrangement with anybody else, ever, which is very much in keeping with Mr. Mulcair's accomodating personality. I think we'll just respond to that by saying look, we're going to be carrying on as very effective national party, we're going to be running candidates in 338 ridings and we're going to continue to do that. I think it's a big mistake for people to start speculating, this isn't a political science seminar. You know, you've got a newly elected leader of the opposition saying he doesn't want to have anything to do with any form of co-operation or discussion with other parties, and frankly we just respond in kind, if that's the way it's going to be, that's the way it's going to be, we're very determined to carry on as we have done and will continue to do"

I find Rae's posture here fascinating.

Mulcair Presents Challenge For Liberals

When I picked the order of preferred NDP leader coming out of Toronto, Tom Mulcair was at the bottom, primarily because he brings built in advantages that other candidates simply don't possess. There are no guarantees of anything, of course everything can and will happen, predictations largely irrelevant at this stage, but still one can see challenges for the Liberals with Mulcair at the helm.

Mulcair isn't an unknown in Quebec, when Liberals point to certain perceived traits that will undermine his leadership, that analysis tends to gloss over a politician who has a track record in his home province. Mulcair is a Quebecer, his political bent is also squarely in the pocket of the mainstream, there is every opportunity for this leader to shore up the gains made in the last election. This isn't to say Mulcair will succeed, only that he is well placed to do so. For the Liberals, some sort of resurgence in Quebec is an electoral must, Mulcair represents a stiff headwind, a considerable challenge, no doubt about it.

I would have preferred a "dyed in the wool" Dipper to emerge out of the convention. A Nash, a Topp, someone holding the traditional lines, because this stance speaks to a perceived limited base. However, Mulcair very much moves the NDP- whether a positive remains to be seen given reservations from certain NDP quarters- but there is potential with an updated philosophical presentation. The question becomes, will a Mulcair led NDP further "squeeze" the Liberals on the political spectrum.

Mulcair is a force in many respects, and we can make reasonable assumptions he will be a strong performer in Parliament. Not a question of ultimate resonance, because I do see real challenges, but with Mulcair, his strength will serve the NDP well in bubble Ottawa, as the NDP fight to change old mentalities and receive their electoral due.

Mulcair brings a potential rock solid regional base from which to grow. The Conservatives have a dependable geographic base, Mulcair offers the NDP a chance to solidify one of their own and if that occurs, it works to the Liberals disadvantage. Not pessimism, but perhaps a dose of realism, the gradient for the Liberals today seems slightly steeper in my view.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Second Ballot Results: Mulcair Grows

Results from the second ballot:
Mulcair: 23902(38%) Topp:15624(25%) Cullen:12595(19%) Nash:10519(16.8%)

Reads of this blog will recall I thought the Martin Singh factor was something to watch on the second ballot. Indeed, that scenario looks to be critical as Mulcair comes out of the second ballot with the most growth, a full 8% more than his first ballot score. With Singh encouraging his supporters to put Mulcair as second choice, they've been activated in this round creating perceived momentum, relative to the others. I suspect when the dust settles we will see Singh delivered a high percentage of support to Mulcair.

Nash is out, as pointed out the classic convention floor move to another candidate muted by the preferential vote, much is written in stone, impact less than old style brokering. Conventional wisdom on the floor many Nash supporters would have Topp as second choice, but that remains to be seen, I suspect a more divided breakdown. While Topp is still viable, he is a full 15% behind Mulcair, which means he requires a monolithic move to his side, a scenario which looks a reach, given the format.

Really hard to see Cullen going anywhere now, so far back, without a confined room of real time voting, I can't see the momentum to pull it off. However, assuming Cullen drops off the next vote, it will be fascinating where his vote breakdown. Many see some synergy with the Mulcair campaign, but I'm not convinced, suspect a fractured dispersion.

I think we're in for two more votes. I'll be looking to see if Mulcair can get to 42-45%, that should be enough to put him over the final ballot. Again, this format doesn't lend itself to dramatic consensus moves at this stage.

NDP First Ballot Results

Pretty surprising results on the first ballot:

Turnout - 50%. Mulcair 30, Topp 21.3, Cullen 16.3, Nash 12.8, Dewar 7.4, Singh 5.8, Ashton 5.7. Singh out. Dewar out. Ashton out.

Mulcair comes in on the low end of expectations. As I mentioned yesterday 35% was the arbitrary number many had floated on the convention floor. However, with Singh at a decent 6%, one wonders what kind of a boost this will give Mulcair in the next round. Mulcair has a decent lead, but there is no air of inevitability in this building, people are prepping for a potentially long day. I would describe this result as somewhat disappointing for Mulcair, not fatal, but much in doubt.

For me, the two big surprises, Topp comes in a strong second and Dewar a very disappointing fifth, and barely that. Looks of chatter about Topp fading, but he's delivered a decent result, with some speculation of more British Columbia votes coming in the next round, an added dynamic moving forward. Topp is well placed moving forward.

Cullen is the interesting one, in the hunt, but well back. This is where second choice could be important, particularly with a relatively low "live" vote on the first ballot. Many votes are locked in, given Cullen had quite a bit of momentum the last couple of weeks, one wonders where the second choice shakes out. Cullen very much in the game.

Nash seems to be a point of disagreement, some saying she can still move up, others, like myself, see her to far back to truly challenge. Fourth is a tough spot, and with Topp very, very viable, one wonders where the support comes from. What I will look for, where does Nash go, does she move to Topp after the second ballot, that is the type of move required to take out Mulcair.

It's going to be a long day, and I'm loving every second of it...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mulcair's Magic Number?

One number everyone will be watching, Mulcair's first ballot percentage. Some talk about a Mulcair first ballot win here at the NDP convention, but I think that would be a stunner. The conventional wisdom is multiple votes, and within that a conversation about what Mulcair needs on the critical initial ballot.

I'm thinking 35% is a key number for Mulcair, anything above that and he takes on an air of inevitability. Rather than a real alternative emerging, a unifying sense develops and serious challenge looks remote. Factor in a muddled field behind Mulcair, and it's hard to see the wheels coming off, whether he inches or surges, 50%would look to be within his grasp.

On the other hand, should Mulcair come in around 30%, a couple percent either way, then this race looks wide open, everything in play. With so many reasonably strong contenders, Mulcair could end up with the lead, but not a pronounced one that looks unstoppable. A number on the low end could still work for Muclair because of a "divided opposition", but I see much intrigue should he fail to reach this arbitrary threshold.

I'll be looking for how the second to fifth shakeout, fully expecting a surprise within. Equally important, if Mulcair can meet expectations on the first ballot, create a sense of inevitability and in turn win without much consternation.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Convention Bound

I'm heading to Toronto as an accredited blogger for the NDP Leadership Convention, which starts tomorrow. Should be a fascinating couple of days, particularly with so many scenarios in play, a junkies dream. I'll be blogging, as well as tweeting @FarAndWide some insights and commentary. An added bonus, this week is "Slacker Canadian Music Week", so I'm taking a detour tonight to the Horseshoe to catch a couple indie bands before the political mayhem ensues!

Pre-Mature Verdicts

I've been utterly amazed at how many supposed political "experts", pundits, observers, have been so quick to pass judgement on the robo-call affair. There is a dismissive tone, intertwined with some sort of misplaced arrogance, that thinks the electorate fits into some neat theorem. There is a reason all study involving humans is called SOCIAL science and not SCIENCE, and these over bearing cynics get lost in their own smug assertions to recognize the error. Seems to me true wisdom first understands the folly of rash judgements, particularly when the facts are evolving and the debate looks to be protracted. That recognition isn't to say robo-calls resonate or move numbers, or cost the Conservatives anything, only that to scoff with finality the realm of a fool, ripe for future red faced revision.

With this backdrop in mind, imagine my surprise to see a fresh poll that shows Conservative support tanking to their core number, now tied with the leaderless NDP. More striking, this particular commentary:
The Conservatives are clearly paying a price for the robo-calls affair, plans to increase the qualifying age for Old Age Security, legislation that would give the government information on individual Internet accounts, and increased uncertainty over the costs of new fighter jets.

A host of reasons, at the top, the robo-call scandal. Given this issue has dominated the political landscape, fair to make the connection. I wouldn't understate the other reasons cited, because we have seen a rather rough patch for the government on many issues, only that the pollster seems to see robo-calls contributing to falling fortunes. As well, you'll note other polls have shown less than flattering numbers for the Conservatives on the robo-call scandal, as well as failing "right track" numbers, there is some noteworthy erosion occurring when it comes to confidence in this government.

Stephen Harper didn't come to power because of the economy, a quick review of stuffed coffers, robust growth, low unemployment, any measure you choose, a potent confirmation. NO, Harper came to power because voters tired of the corrupt Liberals, it was ethics, arrogance, cheating, that is what undermined, eroded support, not "trains on time" considerations. Canadian history is full of examples, wherein scandal has undone a government, not coming clean with voters, cheating, dishonesty, which makes the scoffing crowd all the more confounding. The prospect of Conservatives in handcuffs, no matter their stature, trying to usurp democracy, that doesn't matter or come with a price? I'd say more a commentary on personal bias than any fair reading.

Maybe the robo-call story goes nowhere, maybe it fades and the Conservatives suffer little in the final analysis. And, maybe the Conservatives don't, maybe this scandal- which fits a wider narrative- does strike a cord, comes with price. The verdict is still out, anyone already reaching one, is really what should be dismissed as valuable commentary...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pollsters See "Co-operation" Merits

There seems to be two parallel conversations occurring, one involving steadfast partisans, the other detached observers with expertise in gauging political realities. Whenever the idea of co-operation, merger, arrangements are raised between the Liberals and NDP, there is hearty blow back and much of it is frankly understandable. However, I note in the last week two prominent pollsters have weighed in with alarming consensus, two firms who's job it is to pour over the data and ascertain political outcomes. As an aside, I've spent some time with electoral maps myself- without including the new pro-Conservative seat allocation- and come to similar conclusions, forever an uphill battle, the numbers are hard to run.

Both EKOS and Ipsos Reid have concluded that "only way" to beat the Conservatives is for the opposition to join together in some manifestation. Of note, the current NDP candidate for leadership with wind in his sails is entertaining just that as the required path forward. As well the leadership favourite is anything but your "far left", if he was running for the Liberal leadership, nobody would question his spectral lean, fit within the supposed "tent" with little effort. That the Liberals currently have a former NDP Premier as their interim leader, and we all think he's doing a terrific job, another indicator that tribal lines blur practical realities.

The pollster view offers a reality check to long odd "scenarios", they have no horse in this race, merely an objective read of the political landscape, one that is also supported by your own analysis. Part of the reason I've moved into the arrangement camp is because of the sober realities Graves articulates. I fully expect merger, co-operation talk, to increase moving forward as we get closer to the next election, for every difference we can highlight, there is also a compelling overlap. As well, any arrangement doesn't constitute the status quo, positions will be tempered, compromise, pragmatism will demand a reworking. This realization is important for those that point to incompatibility, because manifestations would resemble a coalition in spirit, an arrangement which articulates compromise anyways, just another to path to a similar result.

When the dust settles from this NDP race, we may be confronted with certain coherent avenues moving forward. I foresee the Liberal leadership race becoming a potential vehicle for the arrangement proponents. Much is to be determined, but the open primary concept will allow for participation beyond the hardcore partisans, meaning the general public- who are MUCH more open to arrangements- could have input if a candidate makes these ideas a rallying cry. There is a path for a proponent to bypass the narrow tribe contingents and reach out to a more receptive audience.

One thing is clear to my mind, the issues surrounding co-operation aren't going away, if anything I see a growing clamour moving forward. The pollsters are crunching the numbers, they see the daunting gradient, what is required now is some sober reflection, or it's very likely we revisit this conversation post 2015, facing another mandate, almost by divided opposition default, rather than true democratic expression.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Jumbo" Fail

One of my favourite places on the face of this earth is "Jumbo Pass" in southeastern British Columbia. When I lived in a little town called Windermere British Columbia, my future wife and I would regularly drive up past the Panorama Resort, down an ever narrowing and bumpy gravel road up into the most pristine wilderness one could imagine. Soaring glacial peaks, wildlife everywhere, peaceful, spectacular, accessible but yet remote, I can honestly say the place is magical. When I moved back to Ontario, I would return to Jumbo Pass, I've been back six times in the last decade. I've brought friends there specifically to share the place and they've come away thoroughly impressed. I've made an emotional journey with my dying mother, who was simply awestruck and thanked me for dragging her up there, despite her trepidation at being so far removed from anything. It was a memory my mom recalled on her death bed, it made that much of an impact on her, as it does to everyone who has the opportunity to see it.

Today, the British Columbia government looks set to approve the controversial Jumbo Glacier Resort. The proposed "village" site:

This approval has been a twenty year battle. You can get lost in the back and forth arguments, as with every project, differing points of view. What strikes me is the fact nothing is sacred anymore, there is no "enough is enough" with human beings. The Invermere valley below is BOOMING, every time I return that much more development, another golf course, more oil money pouring in from Alberta, the area is rocking by any economic definition. Frankly, the place is losing its charm, but that's what happens to attractive vacation spots. My point being, this isn't a town in dire need of employment, all the benefits argued only mean more people, not a required need for the already resident population. To think of 700000 visitors going up and down Toby Creek to some manufactured "village", hard for me to see the appeal. As well, on your way to this new resort, you'll pass the ever growing Panorama Resort, which begs the questions again, when is enough enough?

Why do we "have" to develop Jumbo Pass? Why does the government of British Columbia not see merit in preservation? Why must every developer win in the end, going through "hoops" fine, but can't we just say NO every once and a while, particularly for an area increasingly rare and unique? I feel quite confident in saying this particularly area doesn't "need" another resort, another golf course, another fine dining experience, another gluttonous excess at the expense of rarity. Leave it alone, leave the goddam grizzlies alone, even if you can't be there, you know it exists and that's enough. One day, they'll look back in wonder at our short sighted stupidity, and our perverse sense of "progress". A Jumbo fail, and I'm ready to join the fight....

Handicapping NDP Race

Political predictions are problematic at the best of times, but given the complicated voting structure, this weekend's NDP leadership convention is ripe for surprise. That said, the most likely scenario appears to be a Mulcair victory, for a number of reasons. Perhaps as compelling as the eventual winner, who will emerge as the primary alternative, or is the field so muddled that no "stop Mulcair" option can even be entertained.

The only two candidates that seem to have the slightest degree of "momentum" heading into Toronto are Mulcair and Cullen. Cullen has run a terrific campaign, his authenticity has served him well, as has a degree of boldness in his thought process. The question becomes, is the appearance of entering the "top tier" enough, moral victories aside, unless we see a very healthy first vote expression, it will all be for not in the final analysis. Should Cullen get lost within the pack chasing Mulcair, it's hard to see how subsequent votes coalesce around him, particularly when other candidates will similar potential stay on the board. Of course, all this speculations assumes more than one vote, as well as a presumption Mulcair isn't "on the cusp" after the first tally.

Nash to me has run a very bland campaign, I perceive her entering this convention flat, hard pressed to see how she emerges as a go to alternative. Ditto for Topp, although I don't think he's fallen as far as some suspect, difficult to find a winning path. Interesting here, both of these candidates represent the traditional NDP lines, pass the "purity" tests, but also a tired message in some respects. I foresee lots of pressure to drop out immediately, should either not look terribly viable. Given how many campaigns are vying for second spot, anything past third on the first vote is a certain loser, I expect to see a walk or two, with arms raised. If I'm looking for two "underperform" candidates to watch, it's Nash and Topp.

I've always liked Paul Dewar, but his campaign hasn't been terribly impressive. A good campaign, but no real spark or compelling impetus to separate from the pack. Dewar is clearly in the mix, seems to have strong pockets of support and organization, but I sense Cullen has stolen a bit of his "grassroots" thunder. Curious to see where Dewar lands, as with the others anything from second to fifth is entirely possible.

Of course, all this jockeying behind Mulcair works for Mulcair. The best case scenario after the first vote is Mulcair ahead, with a unclear picture behind him, a bunch of candidates separated by a few points. Given 70% of votes are predicted to have been cast prior to the convention, it becomes a reach to foresee a truly effective counter emerge on the floor, as we've seen in the past. Mulcair at 30% is intriguing, Mulcair at 35-37%, that range, pretty much all over. Mulcair will grow, people can scoff at Martin Singh, but he looks poised to deliver on masse, even three, four percent of delegates will have impact, when other drifting is factored in. Other candidates would kill to have a built in growth mechanism on the second ballot, so this tertiary storyline is not without consideration.

Mulcair likely wins because we can't figure out who the anti-Mulcair is, reasonable to see nobody emerge as required to upset him. However, there may very well be some "deals" in play that only manifest on the floor, but even here this probably involves two campaigns working in tandem to support a third, given the pre-vote, this type of scenario really the only viable, effective option.

Where is Mulcair on the first ballot? Is there any separation on the first ballot, or are the chasers a muddled mess? Does this format of prefrential ballots and a majority of pre-votes allow for traditional convention floor jockeying? And, most importantly, despite all the predictalbe raised hands and talk of unity when the new leader is selected, will this process leave wounds and have consequence as we move forward?

Sunday, March 18, 2012


There is a story within the robocall story that is perhaps equally as fascinating, primarily because the dynamics of such have ramifications well beyond this one issue. Amazed implies surprise, a better word might be confirmed, because watching the various reactions, over reaches, underminings, slants, one thing is clear, objective reads are rare, almost everyone seems to have an agenda, rendering underlying truths merely one facet of a confusing maelstorm.

Stephen Maher has it right, when asked to speculate on various directions, he returns to the facts as known to date, reiterates that if you focus on those alone, you have a fairly formidable issue. As well, I note people like Andrew Coyne continually reaffirming that we need to see where the facts take us, keep an open mind, let the evidence guide us where it will. Seems to me that viewpoint is the foundation of good journalism, makes a good historian, is a pre-requisite to any worthy inquiry. And yet, this sober, detached perspective seems to be a rare viewpoint, said with urgency in the face of strong, dismissive headwinds, as well as over the top implications.

I watched a respected professor the other day dismiss the robocall affair, not based on merit, but his own viewpoint that Ottawa was to consumed with scandal rather than real issues, our political class distracted by triviality while serious matters put on the back burner. I think most would agree with that sentiment, however in this instance I refer to that bias as "baggage", to make this robocall scandal bear the brunt of a larger trend has the effect of nullifying it's INDEPENDENT significance. It is irrelevant to questions of overall Ottawa culture, let's look at the unique merits of this particular issue, without bringing in all these preconceived wider narratives, it does a disservice to the fundamental democratic problems swirling around this story. Leave your biased baggage at the door please, your cultivated cynicism offers no insight to whether vote suppression is real or imagined, the dismissive tone is insulting.

On the other side, I've cautioned against the over reach, making certain claims which could well fall short, and in turn marginalize transgressions simply because of relativity. For example, let's say 31000 complaints to Elections Canada wasn't known, the now revealed 700 plus genuine complaints are seen in a different light. As it stands now, apologists have been given a talking point, because true reality appears less than previous forecasts, nothing on actual merit, just a lowered bar that was a created marker. As well, when partisans try to make this a national campaign, orchestrated by the top echelons of the Conservative machine, if we end up finding limited voter suppression, THOUSANDS of calls in a particular riding, the true implications are somehow lessened by artificial expectation.

Everyone acknowledges something "bad happened" in Guelph, but even here we see how agendas attempt to manipulate these accepted facts. The PMO feeding certain journalists information which acknowledges an alarming problem but carefully supports the "one off" resignation, supports an isolated event, which has no somehow morphed into a freebie of sorts. The entire Conservative campaign in Guelph is lawyered up and we all agree thousands of non supporters where given bogus information, but really is that a big deal? Only if you must implicate the entire Conservative apparatus, otherwise yes the facts alone represent the biggest attempt at voter fraud in Canadian history.

Keep your eye on agendas moving forward, because they exist beyond this one issue and an sense of true objective pursuit is the casualty. It is frankly astounding to hear so many people scoff, actively suppress, in the name of personal bent, cynical indifference or a larger agenda, both revealing and concerning all at once. The facts are speaking, hopefully they don't get lost in the political tug of war, sadly the proxy media war, and everyone else attaching their own personal pet peeves that do a disservice to the fundamentally important issues at hand.

Friday, March 16, 2012

NDP Leadership Race Goes "Liberal"

It really is quite astounding, that someone with as much political experience as Ed Broadbent would so openly and fundamentally attack the candidate who is the consensus favourite to assume the NDP leadership. I would categorize his comments as reckless, but perhaps worse outright dangerous, leaving much potential for lasting damage. That the elder NDP statesman made subsequent comments in more than one venue, all the more amazing, because a moment of reflection should have solicited pause.

It's not that Broadbent doesn't make sense, isn't articulating genuine concern as to philosophical leanings and personal fitness, but it seems obvious that no good can come from so scathing an indictment. Broadbent has effectively opened up a deep chasm that will have ramifications moving forward. Should Mulcair lose the leadership, fair to ask about his future place in the NDP, particularly if there is the slightest sense that party purists have rejected his presence within. As well, the very real possibility that the verdict amounts to a rejection of the new Quebec breed, since Broadbent went out of his way to divide new and old MP's into tiers. If this convention reveals any sense of ganging up to stop Mulcair, this doesn't occur in a vacuum, there will be lasting impact and Broadbent's words will haunt.

The other scenario involves Mulcair winning, and while much is in doubt, surely Broadbent must realize this the most likely scenario, or at least a real possibility. Mulcair wins, and yet there will be this sense that his colleagues question his mental makeup, people are uncomfortable with his leadership style, some see an abandonment of the traditional NDP political bent. I'm not sure a bunch of smiling faces, arms raised in unity on the convention floor will adequately put to rest the Broadbent blindside, particularly when his expressions aren't without merit.

Broadbent represents a terrific blunder, a poorly conceived gambit inspired by narrow self interest. In trying to help his sagging candidate Topp, he has undermined Mulcair in a way that cuts deep. Actually, the fact that Broadbent didn't see the political pitfalls, didn't react with the slightest FORESIGHT, perhaps a testament to why his brand of NDP leadership never did reach the promised land, because yesterday was strangely amateurish for such a seasoned politician. To say Broadbent's broadside was ill conceived is being kind....

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Harper Will Galvanize Opposition

The "anything can happen" camp in both opposition parties will resist any talk of co-operation, but if you live in the world of probability rather than possibility, sober conclusions must be entertained if we are to truly rid Canada of a government I personally consider a scourge. A divided opposition is Harper's trump card, it is the dynamic that allows an almost justified arrogance, simply take care of the base and Conservative prospects are guaranteed, the "rest" an irrelevant afterthought. A superficial review of issue after issue showing majority opposition to policies- yet little electoral recourse- proof positive that the Conservative equation is forever favourable. Look elsewhere, approval ratings at these levels amount to devastation, in Canada, it represents stable majority government, due to inefficient opposition.

Trudeau is the latest to openly muse about what may be required to defeat these Conservatives in the next election. His sentiment really no different that what we are hearing from certain quarters in the NDP, there are forces in both parties open to some level of co-operation, degree yet to be entirely fleshed out. Watching how the MP's from both parties GENERALLY interact- partisan constructs aside- there is a fairly positive mood, which is cultivated primarily by a sense of common "enemy". Liberals, NDP, Green, doesn't matter, we are all concerned about the government changing the environmental review process for instance, from my perspective the dangerous dimensions of application trump any tribal concern. In other words, this government is so offensive, on so many issues, as well as the toxic climate they cultivate, they will galvanize opposition. I firmly believe a Harper majority, their unbridled power, is beginning to act like a cold shower, it is putting the true damage into undeniable focus, which will allow for decisions beyond narrow self interest and arbitrary lines that pale in comparison.

Differences will always remain, fundamental philosophical departures, but surely a party with a "frontrunner" who sounds like a Liberal, and another with a former NDP leader at the helm, aren't that far apart that no rapprochement can be had. When faced with the reality of what another Harper mandate might mean for the country we desire, big picture epiphany will be reached, it is happening one member at a time, as we continually see the consequences of this particular reign.

I'm not sure what manifestation of co-operation will unfold, but I will remain open to ever proposal, because while there are fundamental disagreements, there is also a common realization of what the alternative means. There is a way to rid ourselves of Harper in 2015, there is reasonable path, but it will require brave thinking that puts common interest above self interest.

Monday, March 12, 2012

NDP Leadership X Factor?

As the NDP leadership approaches, I'm noting a lot of emerging digestion on the horserace, who to watch, who sits where after the first ballot, the juicy stuff that only a certifiable politics geek can love. After watching the last leadership debate, as well today's Joan Bryden piece, I think the real X Factor in this race may just be the lowly Martin Singh, and lowly is important as I'll explain:
Thousands of Martin Singh supporters in B.C.'s South Asian community are being urged to rank front-runner Thomas Mulcair as their second choice for federal NDP leader.

As recently as Sunday, Singh vehemently denied he's working in concert with Mulcair.

Yet Singh's former western organizer, Sukh Johal, confirmed Monday that he's now working for Mulcair.

Johal told The Canadian Press he signed up 4,500 members from British Columbia's South Asian community for Singh. He ceased working for Singh on Feb. 18, the deadline for signing up new party members eligible to vote in the leadership contest.

Now, Johal said he's volunteering for Mulcair, urging the same people he recruited for Singh to mark Mulcair as their second choice on their preferential ballots.

What's more, he said he suspects Singh might openly deliver the same message to all his supporters in the next day or two.

First, British Columbia is a LONG way from Toronto, fair to say many will be voting with mail in/online ballots, rather than in person. Of course many will be voting live online as well, but the fact Singh is directing supporters to put Mulcair as second choice indicative of how many of his people will ultimately participate. Under the leadership rules, the "mail in" participate lists a preferential ballot, meaning once their candidate drops out, their second choice becomes THE choice, a very important dynamic. The fact that Singh is universally understood as an "also ran" means he, more than others, will most certainly be dropping out, should we have subsequent votes. That reality means these "thousands" of Singh supporters who are being encouraged to vote Mulcair could have a relatively large impact, a fact that seems to be escaping conventional wisdom so far.

If we have a scenario where three or four people look viable after the initial vote(no one foresees a first ballot victory), the second choice preference for these contender supporters is irrelevant, it hasn't engaged, it sits there waiting to have impact, if ever. However, for candidates like Singh and Ashton- who will be dropping out- those triggered second place preferences can have sizable impact, both in terms of true results as well as momentum, perceived "growing" capabilities for those left in the race. You may very well have a scenario where the second vote is deciding, and if not, brings a certain inevitability that influences other supporters moving forward. Martin Singh, if he is directing a loyal base, has the potential to play a deciding role in this race. I suspect Cullen's volley Singh's way yesterday was also an admission of the behind the scenes concerns, "also rans" get triggered, "contenders" stay dormant.

I will be attending the NDP convention as an accredited blogger. Much thanks to the NDP for allowing me to attend, it should be a fascinating couple of days that I'm really looking forward to. I'll be keeping my eye on many things in Toronto, one of them is the Martin Singh factor, given the rules and his apparent INTENTIONS, perhaps a larger player than raw numbers would otherwise suggest.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Robocall Impact

I find it a bit odd, the rush to verdict on the robocall affair, particularly when it's clearly an evolving story, that is nowhere near crescendo. How anyone can make definitive conclusion on resonance escapes me, particularly seasoned observers like a Gerry Nichols for example. Much of the impetus for these rash pronouncements seems to stem from already held beliefs on what matters to Canadians, rather than viewing the robocall affair with non jaundiced eyes. Considering many a government has been harmed by non "trains on time" scandals, the dismissive tone from many quarters strikes me as misplaced cynicism.

Kinsella is on the money again, to date one of the better continual reads on this scandal:
"As a general rule, they will not pass judgment unless they see perps being led away in handcuffs and orange jumpsuits"

I've made this point as well, when we start seeing Conservatives walking into court rooms, no matter how far up the chain, it will tarnish, it will impact public perceptions, anything but irrelevant or inconsequential. We are at the early stages of this scandal, already we see a public that does want answers, but it is hardly surprising that an overwhelming judgement has yet to pass, unlike some who are covering the affair. Cheating, getting caught and going to jail, Canadians don't like, dismiss and time may betray you.

Kinsella makes a wider point, which "opposition" to Harper must tackle, if things like the robocall scandal will truly have measurable electoral impact. There is a very compelling, almost irrefutable, argument to be made that the current party divisions constitute a "free pass" for these Conservatives, relatively immune due to fundamental negating forces. It is for this reason that we can see devastating right direction/wrong direction polling for the Conservatives and it still translates into power, comfortable at that. Every conversation starts with 30-35% support in the Conservatives pocket, almost unshakable, something that can be depended on no matter the issue that arises, it simply has no place to go. It is a bit disconcerting that you can have two thirds of Canadians vehemently opposed to this regime and they can simultaneously feel no discernible threat. It is this dynamic that represents the single biggest reality in federal politics, if not addressed, much of the sound and fury is marginalized.

Moving forward, I think what is imperative, understanding the best possible path that delivers the most comprehensive impact. What scenarios will make things like robocon truly BITE the Conservatives, how to take certain outrages and maximize the damage to their fortunes. One thing is now beyond clear, the current political makeup has a "scot free" component which undermines any notion of accountability or normal consequence.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


The first robocall specific poll is out from Angus Reid and it provides little comfort for the Conservatives. The poll also reveals the opposition will find much support in pushing for further inquiry. As well, on a couple key questions, there is some consensus across party lines.

The opposition should ramp up the calls for a full public inquiry, that is shrewd politically and the concept finds overwhelming support with votes, even Conservatives:
81% want an independent investigation to find out exactly who was behind any misleading robocalls that may have been made in the May 2011 federal election...including 72% of Conservative voters

That is a big number, rarely do you see such unanimity on any question, even more striking the large majority of Conservative supporters on side. If the opposition really ramp up the calls for a public inquiry, there is a VERY sympathetic audience.

As I mentioned in the last post, a real tug of war politically revolving around isolating the robocalls, is it a "one off" or is it "systematic". This poll shows the Conservatives face headwinds:
64% think the Guelph incident is “probably’ or “definitely” one of many that took place in the last campaign...only 18% think it isolated.

I would argue the above also supports the need for a public inquiry, as people clearly aren't buying the Conservative argument this is a rogue affair, in only one riding, they suspect more are in play.

As it relates to resonance, an even split, 50% following very closely or moderately close, 50% not much or not at all. Relatively, a pretty strong number as to the "water cooler" element, and perhaps moreso when you consider percentage of people who actually vote.

Another interesting finding, voters were asked if there should be by-elections in "every riding that was the subject of misleading robocalls should have a by-election as soon as possible." 50% of voters agreed, 37% don't, a finding which provides fodder for possible recounts. As well, 44% of people believe robocalls have "changed the outcome" of the federal election, 36% don't agree, concerning in that this controversy is undermining our democratic confidence.

This is a quite a bad poll for the government side, people aren't buying their arguments and they believe further inquiry is warranted, in overwhelming fashion. These results give the opposition some ammunition to keep up an aggressive posture, people are concerned and people are questioning.

Robocall Reset

It's important to keep some perspective here, as the Conservatives play the "contain" game with robocalls. The frame emerging seems to be that if the Conservatives can isolate electoral fraud to Guelph, they've effectively killed this scandal. On the other hand, the opposition is entirely focused on finding the smoking gun that leads right to Conservative central command. There is a tug of war at play, which has the almost bizarre effect of rendering Guelph almost irrelevant to the discussion. Oh sure, something really bad happened in Guelph involving Conservative operatives, perhaps some rogue element used the database for nefarious purposes, but if it can be contained to that riding, it equates to full "exoneration" in a sense for the formal Conservative Party apparatus, which is all that matters. Huh?

You don't get a freebie riding, you don't get to say "well this happened here, BUT", because that distracts from what DID happen in a riding very much in play. Backtrack to the last couple weeks of the national campaign, a Liberal Party CRATERING, there was every sense that no seat was safe, particularly a "swing" riding that was quite close in 2008. In the dying days of the 2011 campaign, Guelph was in doubt, look at an electoral map and you'll see a SEA OF BLUE surrounding it on all sides, a lone island, the last Liberal stronghold in an entire region. It was reasonable to surmise, given the state of things, that a few votes could well determine the outcome in Guelph, to say it was safe, historically asinine, perhaps moreso given the Liberals in TOTAL freefall. In other words, a prime riding wherein voter suppression could well have been perceived as a tilting factor, no doubt about it.

It is somewhat irrelevant if anyone finds formal sanction of what transpired in Guelph. Given the stance of people like Giorno, Harper, there is a certain confidence that no direct chain will lead right to the heart of the Conservative machine. I would submit that is a reasonable assumption, because serious people understand electoral fraud and paper trails, I suspect a certain cognition which wouldn't touch this formally. What remains in my mind, how far up the chain, was there nudges, winks, was their mid level assistance, all these questions remain to be seen. However, what happened in Guelph isn't in dispute, the Conservatives CONCEDE, their own database perhaps sheds some light, for whatever reason, on Guelph all parties agree.

Here's what we need to keep in mind moving forward. The Conservative frame is that Guelph yes, but there is no formal undertaking, nor was these a carefully orchestrated NATIONAL endeavour. That is a bar that is artificial, so it's important to not get caught up in demands to reveal more, when we already have SO MUCH acknowledged. There is a danger in treating Guelph like a mulligan, with the REAL onus somehow on the opposition to prove more. Bullocks! We have a swing riding that seems to be the target of WIDESPREAD electoral fraud, which according to Elections Canada seemly involves Conservatives, perhaps people involved in a formal campaign, using sophisticated data to usurp democratic will. Isolate yourself to Guelph all you want, but again that's a fictional distinction, because that type of frame distracts from the biggest example of electoral fraud in Canadian history, don't trivialize within a pursuit of something more.

Nobody knows where this scandal leads us, I suspect many more surprises moving forward. That said, this examination isn't about the aforementioned tug of optical war occurring, much is already known and it IS damaging to the Conservatives, let's not lose ourselves in dueling frames as "victory" measures. If no more investigations come, if no more ridings are put under the microscope, if no more evidence leads to a wider net, we are still left with an incredibly disturbing scandal which apparently involves Conservatives who are committed to this Harper regime. Hardly trivial or easily fluffed off as rogue nothingness, Guelph counts no matter where we go.....

Monday, March 05, 2012

"The military is to serve the Canadian public, not the Minister."

If there is one IMPORTANT story that is largely being ignored- as we sift through the robocall scandal and all its tentacles- it is the revelation that Peter MacKay employed the Canadian military to find DIRT on a political rival. The very idea is simply obscene, while current military officials are fluffing off this controversy, those with some perspective appreciate the very dangerous prospect of our military picking sides politically, using their resources to provide partisan cover:
The Canadian Forces is defending its decision to use officers to collect information on one of Defence Minister Peter MacKay's political opponents, saying the process is no different than its efforts to gather facts for the public and news media.

But former military officers say such activities, which prompted allegations about Canadian Forces personnel "digging up dirt" on the minister's political enemies, cross the line and jeopardize the longstanding political neutrality of the military...

Simms said he was taken aback by the efforts of the military officer in MacKay's office to collect information on him. "The fact that this military officer is using military resources to back up Peter MacKay is incredibly disturbing," he added.

First, I believe our military has better things to do than opposition research on our dime, that is way out of bounds. More importantly, if people begin to perceive our military as an "ally" of the Conservative Party, it effectively undermines the notion of neutrality, which in turn can erode the perceptions of Canadians, as to how they see their military. There is simply no reasonable excuse for military personnel looking into dirt on a Liberal MP to protect Peter MacKay, that very much crosses a line, despite the reassurances.

Everyone is a partisan in Harper's Ottawa, or at the very least, no institution isn't a potential tool to be exploited for self interest. Disturbing is right and these revelations deserve serious attention.

Conservative Cracks

Three years until we vote, meaningless, yes I understand! Nanos poll out with a few noteworthy results, not the least of which the walking dead party, the Liberals, touch 30% nationally, pretty remarkable, even if it's a one off result(I bet they can't keep Peter C. Newman's book on the shelves). As well, EKOS out with their poll, which shows the Conservatives barely outside a statistical tie with the NDP, dissatisfaction with this government skyrocketing. The two polls provide contradictory results in one sense, but both show some evidence of Conservative cracks.

Nanos describes his latest as "steady" for the Conservatives, and the top line national results support that notion, no change whatsoever. However, looking at the regionals, we see that two places show measurable change, Atlantic Canada with a large Conservative uptick which offsets a 6% drop in Ontario, creating the national sawoff result. Poll junkies will note, Atlantic Canada has a very small sample size, poll to poll the results vary wildly, whereas Ontario is the more instructive MOE wise, within a singular poll. A very encouraging result for the Liberals, particularly because Nanos has found Ontario resilience for consecutive results:
Libs 37.8% (35.1%)
Cons 35.9% (42.1%)
NDP 21.9% (16.9%)
Greens 3.9% (5.4%)

The third place Liberals are in first place in Canada's most populous province again for a Nanos poll. Noteworthy as well, this occurs with Bob Rae at the helm.

Nanos also puts the NDP back up to 32.6% in Quebec. As well, the Liberals remain pretty firm at 27%, a solid second place result in the province. The Conservatives are an afterthought fourth in the province. We have a circumstance were "steady" shows the opposition leading in Canada's two most populated provinces, and poll to poll, this result represents a seat loss for the Conservatives.

Moving to the EKOS poll, if you look at his trendline since the election, Libs gently moving up, Conservatives consistently falling, NDP off their highs. The Conservatives down to 31.5% nationally represents weak minority terrority, less than a year into their mandate. What is really concerning for the Conservatives, the EKOS right direction/wrong direction shows considerable erosion:

Confidence in this government is on the wane, an underlying result which has to be of some concern.

These two polls don't provide consistent narratives, one has the zombies at 30%, the other the NDP nipping at the Conservatives heels, but both show opposition to this government is manifesting itself, weakness very evident. The question now, what are we going to do about it and make that opposition optimal, in terms of effectiveness?

Sunday, March 04, 2012


There is an interesting tension underneath the robocall story, the debate about resonance, "legs", staying power, inside, outside, how much impact this scandal is truly having with the general public. Everyone will look to the next batch of polls to denote the impact, others already pointing to specific avenues of public expression, we will seek concrete reassurance to confirm what our sensibilities tell us. One caveat, as Kinsella shrewdly points out, rash judgements may not fit this particular scandal model, "tarnish" may be hard to ascertain short term.

I keep hearing the "trains on time" argument, all we care about is the economy and competence, this scandal, like many others, will simply fade as a vote motivator. I understand the logic in a certain sense, but I also see it a bit too simplistic and one dimensional in verdict. This scandal is simple at the heart, not some complicated scheme in the sense that it boils down to fairness and CHEATING. Nobody likes a cheater, when we watch a sport we leap out of our chair at a dive, when somebody butts in on a lineup we furrow our brows, tsk, tsk. The notion of fairness manifests itself everywhere, in our lives we confront it everyday, this isn't some abstract concept or complicated undertaking, it's a very elementary belief system.

If I care about the economy, it doesn't mean I absolve usurping my democratic right, it doesn't mean I condone people cheating to win an election. Whether or not the Harper government won handily anyways is utterly irrelevant, and I suspect people comprehend this fact. What matters isn't the overall outcome, but the attempt to influence any outcome using voter suppression, taking away that singular right we all have, attempting to nullify the core tenet of a democracy. To argue this issue doesn't matter is to say Canadians don't care about their individual rights, their system, the idea that we compete fairly and ethically. To date, the only people I see condoning the alleged behaviour are hopeless conbots and their media water carriers, the reality based community is largely aghast. Again, a simple digestion, people may have CHEATED during this election, people may have attempted to OBSTRUCT your democratic expression, people may have tried to STEAL an election.

This the most serious election related issue Canada has ever faced, there is no precedent for any of these allegations, it will force a re-examination of our political process. Much of the debate now is how much will stick, can the Conservatives maintain separation, can the stench be isolated down the chain, that will be important moving forward. However, admissions are already acknowledged, which means certain Conservatives have done things untoward, everyone admits CHEATING has taken place, the "who" still in question, the WHAT firm and no in dispute.

Conservatives CHEATED during the 2011 election, rogue, organized, isolated, pervasive, systematic, amateurish, whatever, Canadians merely see that one word and that it ties to a certain partisan expression. Nobody likes a cheater, simple as that...

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Sheer Arrogance

I'm not sure what's worse, having the stones to run self promotion ads for a budget that preaches austerity, cutting public service, or the fact the Conservatives will suffer little consequence. On a day when Harper blames the Liberals for the Election Canada's investigation of the Conservatives, the following still sticks out for sheer arrogance:
When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced this week that March 29 will be federal budget day, the very first words out of his mouth heralded the coming “Jobs and Growth Budget.”

If the phrase sounds vaguely familiar, it should.

Taxpayers are footing the bill for a $12.4-million government ad campaign with one common message: “creating jobs and growth”...

The irony is that the government-wide message — and its taxpayer-funded promotion — comes in advance of a federal budget that Conservative ministers have said could slash spending by as much as $8-billion.

“It does strike me as passing strange to be talking about restraint on the one side and talking about jobs and growth on the other side,” Doug Porter, deputy chief economist for BMO Capital Markets, said in an interview on Thursday.

A lot of the commentary these days gets lost in the "pox on all their houses" mentality, which tends to absolve individual transgressions in the name of some relative indifference, borne of past experience. Every government promotes itself, and with that a collective yawn that misses a central fact: NO government in Canadian history has come ANYWHERE near the expenditures of THIS Conservative government when it comes to self promotion, NOT EVEN CLOSE. These Conservatives have spent FOUR TIMES their predecessors on government advertising, a fact that gets little attention, which amounts to a free pass, which leads us to today's revelation.

Here we are, on the eve of the "toughest" budget in years, public servants BRACING for cuts, the axe will fall, everyone is prepared to belt tighten in the name of "austerity". And yet, we witness a complete contradiction, there will be no scaling back of nonsensical ads that offer little of substance, it's business as usual for self interest, you must show prudence, we will carry on with naked excess. If there is a more glaring disconnect currently, I'm hard pressed to find one. Unfortunately, the word hypocrisy has been so overused of late, it no longer carries any weight, but here, this is a classic and disturbing example.

As we wait for the budget, I'm just hoping as digestion breaks away to commercial, this government has the audacity to buy a spot or two, because for that one brief instance, it would amount to the perfect moment that highlights all that's wrong with Harper's Ottawa. Watch for it, and watch them pull it off as well....