Monday, April 30, 2007

No Room For Partisanship

When the Clean Air Act first went to committee, I criticized the initial Liberal reaction, which was decidedly negative. There was a partisan tone that seemed counter-productive, if your chief concern was the potential for meaningful legislation. My attitude, who cares who initiated the process, if there is an opportunity, jump all over it, if it's a fraud then criticize. However, this resistance waned and the Liberals actively engaged, helping to craft a comprehensive bill. Kudos.

Today, I must confess, I heard the same kind of partisan rubbish coming from Ralph Goodale, when asked about Layton's attempt to get C-30 back on the agenda. First the semantics of the Layton letter to the Liberals:
"the letter, typical of Jack the Joker, it came after 3 o'clock, after the deadline for submission. Nice PR gesture, a bit of a trick...but there is no substance in it".

Factually correct, opposition days must be clarified prior to the session, within a certain time frame. NDP MP Nathan Cullen:

"We came together on Friday after question period, a few of sitting around the table, and said was is available to push this. We looked at who had the next opposition day and it was the Liberals. The sincere effort was to bring something to Mr.Dion and Mr.Duceppe, we all have tools available to us, will you work together"

"There was no holding of the letter, anything like that. We brought it forward as quickly as we could."

I can't convey body language, but Cullen did appear sincere, speaking with CBC's Don Newman. What I find disturbing, not so much the debate of timing, but Goodale arguing the following:
"The focus for the debate on the environment is going to continue to be question period, that is the hot crucible of the day. Were the coverage comes from, where the public focus is achieved is in question period."

"We are not losing focus, we are focusing on it during the most intense period of the parliamentary day"

The Liberal path will be question period, which might be high profile, but serves no purpose, as it relates to legislation. Goodale argues a different path on the environmental file, which is suspiciously at odds with the NDP proposals. Can the Liberals not do both? I don't understand the need for a decision, as though the two are mutually exclusive. Hammer Baird in question period, and do everything in your power to bring C-30 back from the dead. The posture is disappointing, the opposition must work together. Have the Liberals concluded that they will await the Rodriguez motion, ignoring the NDP overtures. I could care less if Jack is a Joker, if the process could lead somewhere, then that is the primary concern.

Also odd, Goodale admits that the two major issues for Liberals are currently Afghanistan and the environment. Why then, two opposition days last week, both devoted to Afghanistan, and the decision this week to focus on the Native residential school issue? Don't get me wrong, but this week's decision doesn't quite jive with the priority argument. Count me as hardly impressed at this stage. There is an air of partisanship here which is decidedly unattractive.

Have The Conservatives "Neutralized"?

When John Baird took the environmental helm, Conservative strategists were quite open in admitting the goal was to "neutralize" this issue with the electorate. Baird's mandate, present Canadians with a package that gives the Conservatives credibility, on their weakest file. The logic, Conservatives don't have to win the issue, only relegate it to the back burner.

The early stages of this campaign were quite effective, so much so I thought Baird was well on his way to achieving the goal. The series of eco-announcements, lifting old Liberal ideas, etc, gave the Conservatives strong counters to any attack. There was the sense that the Conservatives were clearly in the conversation, and the opposition were losing their favorite talking point.

Having said that, I would characterize last week's crescendo announcement as a complete failure, if "neutralizing" was the goal. In fact, while Baird does have his supporters, the debate looks to become even more pointed and high-profile than ever. If the Conservatives felt this plan would make the environment a secondary discussion, the flurry of passionate criticism should serve as proof that nothing could be further from the truth. The Conservatives now have a concrete direction, which puts them at odds with ever other national political party in Canada. The talking points are clear, the Conservatives can expect consistent attacks from all sides in a campaign, and the issue is a guaranteed focus.

Some would argue that the environment will fade in a campaign, when voters focus on "bread and butter" issues. Others suggest that our environmental concern is just a superficial condition, so don't read too much into the polls that show it a number one concern. I disagree, we should take the circumstance at face value. The media gives us daily environmental coverage, proof positive that they have concluded the issue has reached the "big time". If Canadians put the issue front and center, then let's proceed as though that were fact- afterall did anyone question health care as a chief concern, when it cited most often?

I believe that Baird has failed in his primary goal. This issue will dominate any campaign, and might just be the election trigger. The lines of distinction are drawn, and after all the "shock and awe" announcements, I still see the Conservatives right where they always were, weak on the environment, despite the new found talking points.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gore Competitive

I saw this poll of Florida voters, with different hypothetical matchups. The numbers suggest that Al Gore looks credible, despite criticism he has moved out of the mainstream:
49 per cent of respondents in Florida would support the former New York City mayor in the 2008 election, while 41 per cent would vote for Democratic New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Giuliani also holds an 11-point lead over Illinois senator Barack Obama, and a four-point edge over former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.

If the 2008 election for President were being held today, and the candidates were (the Democrat) and (the Republican), for whom would you vote?

Rudy Giuliani (R) 49% - 41% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
Rudy Giuliani (R) 49% - 38% Barack Obama (D)
Rudy Giuliani (R) 47% - 43% Al Gore (D)

John McCain (R) 45% - 45% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
John McCain (R) 41% - 41% Barack Obama (D)
John McCain (R) 46% - 43% Al Gore (D)

Fred Thompson (R) 38% - 48% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
Fred Thompson (R) 35% - 42% Barack Obama (D)
Fred Thompson (R) 36% - 48% Al Gore (D)

Gore has the smallest gap of the three Democrats against Giuliani and Thompson, slightly off against McCain. These numbers tell me that Gore is a realistic choice for the Democrats. You get no sense that Gore is too left or divisive in these numbers.

Oh The Harpocrisy

Andrew Coyne offers a succinct entry that speaks to the Harper duplicity, as it relates to Quebec nationalists. How far will Harper go? Apparently, as far as he needs to quench his thirst for power:

Conservative political parties have long recognized that their relative weakness in Quebec is a critical factor in limiting them to opposition rather than government status. Conservatives have also observed that, when they came to power in Canada in the past century, they did so in coalition with the province's so-called "nationalist" forces. This lesson has been interpreted by the Canadian Alliance as meaning that the party should position itself as a nationalist force in Quebec and focus on the significant anti-Liberal vote.

Over the past few years I have concluded that this strategy is fundamentally mistaken. It ignores the real lesson of Canadian history -- that while Conservatives have come to power by exploiting a nationalist strategy in Quebec, such coalitions have never lasted very long. Indeed, they have ended in political disaster.

The broad lesson of history is that Canada's natural governing coalition always includes the federalist option in Quebec, not the nationalist one. This is what the Liberals were in the 20th century. In the 19th century, when the Conservatives usually made up the government, they occupied a similar position. It would therefore be a mistake, in my judgment, for the Canadian Alliance to focus on simply grabbing the anti-Liberal vote in order to build a beachhead in Quebec. The party must undertake the long-run work necessary to become a federalist option in Quebec acceptable to a significant number of Liberal as well as anti-Liberal voters.

Steve Harper 2002


Prime Minister Stephen Harper championed his "open" brand of federalism in Quebec's rural heartland Saturday night, finding an echo in the province's newly emboldened autonomists.
Harper - speaking exclusively in French - painted himself as a defender of the Quebec nation, and the federal leader best positioned to fight the province's separatist forces.

"When you are a nation, it is perfectly natural to be a nationalist," he told a crowd of more than 400 people gathered in the community centre of this farming town south of Quebec City.

"Open federalism is what we did when we asked the Canadian Parliament to recognize that Quebecois form a nation within Canada," Harper said.

He said a re-elected Conservative government would lead a Canada that was "strong, united and free, with a Quebec (that was) autonomous and proud." ...
Monday is Harper’s birthday, and after his speech, which was entirely in French, he was serenaded to the Quebec birthday theme (the seperatist song), "Mon cher Stephen, c’est a ton tour de te laisser parler d’amour," to the tune of Gens du Pays.

Stephen Harper 2007 dreaming of majority

Harper quotes Duplessis, engages in heavy petting with seperatists, and then enjoys the PQ national anthem. I guess the question for Quebecers, and I believe this an important point, does sincerity trump opportunism? Stephen Harper cares nothing for the aspirations of Quebecers, the talking points are merely a means to an end. Utter targeted phrases, offer token gestures, speak to the wallet, all in an effort to win over Quebecers.

The common assumption, Quebecers are a sophisticated electorate. The next election will put this belief to the test, because clearly Stephen Harper has concluded he can manipulate the Quebec voter. As for Canada, from a federalists perspective, last night serves as one more clear example why this country can't afford a prolonged Harper reign.

A Challenge To Conservatives

Scanning the blogs, it is interesting that every post I read on the new Green Plan has the requisite Tory apologist hurling invective. I'm just wondering, is it possible when someone questions the merit of the plan, if the retort can cobble together one simple sentence, without a reference to the Liberal Party or the past? I know it's hard, because afterall, even the Conservative platform mentions the Liberals before it does policy, but let's break new ground shall. ACCOUNTABILITY means just that, so please show some responsibility and stop deflecting your own embarrassments, on every issue imaginable, and step up like adults. Can Conservatives make a salient point without using the standard crutch, that really has nothing to do with the NOW? It's your time, your government, your policy, your failures, your scandals, your problem. Thanks.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Economists on Green Plan: What Cost?

It was quite strange, listening to John Baird actually bragging about the economic costs of his green plan. Normally, a politician will try to downplay hardship when presenting a new initiative, not Baird, .5%GDP this, 8 billion that, higher gas, electricity, appliances, etc. That immediately sent up a red flag in my mind, that posture suggested Baird felt he needed to highlight cost to demonstrate that his plan actually had teeth. According to economists, it's much ado about nothing, one just laughs:

Consumers are unlikely to notice a significant rise in costs as a result of the climate plan announced this week, economists say.

But they also doubt the plan will achieve the targets stated - stabilization of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 and a 20 per cent cut by 2020.

Philippe Crabbe, a University of Ottawa economist, LAUGHED when asked about the likely impact on consumers, suggesting the plan is so weak that the impact will be negligible. "I wouldn't worry," he said.

Crabbe was skeptical that in-depth analysis has been done. "There's no evidence there was a complete study of the plan."

He was particularly critical of a provision that will allow large polluters to avoid cutting emissions by contributing to a technology fund at a rate of $15 a tonne.

He said there is a consensus among experts that a price of at least $30 is required to force emissions cuts and set the stage for a trading system, which the government says it wants.

"If you can get out of the game by just paying $15 into the tech fund, why would you buy a permit?"

David Keith, an environmental economist at the University of Calgary, said there would be an impact on consumer prices if industry were really required to achieve the targets stated in the plan, but said he doesn't think the targets will be achieved.

"If they were really going to meet the emissions targets they set, yes, it would be noticeable. Given what they've actually implemented, not so clear.

"It will be hard for them to get the emissions reductions they say because people will buy their way out at $15 a tonne."

Chris Green, an economist at McGill University, said he found it difficult to comment on the possible impact on consumer prices because he finds the plan confusing.

He said he does not understand how the targets in the plan can be achieved.

"My questions about this is, at what rate can you force these changes even with the best efforts?

Much of the outrage to date has centered around the target dates, and how we get to the numbers the Tories presented. As this farce of plan is digested, expect to see more analysis that demonstrates that even those lowly targets will never be met. They change the starting point, they offer small long term decreases and now we begin to learn that those paltry numbers are unachieveable. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings, as more experts pour over the loopholes and smoke screens. What a joke.

Baird Releases Statement on Al Gore

I'm sure everyone has already read Al Gore's comments regarding the Conservatives Green Plan. A "complete and total fraud" characterization sounds appropriate. Apparently John Baird is feeling the heat, since he was compelled to post a rebuttal on the Environment Canada website. In typical Baird fashion, he attacks the messenger, to avoid his own responsbilities:
News Release
Minister Baird Responds to Statements by Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore
OTTAWA , April 28, 2007 - With respect to the comments of former United States Vice President Al Gore, the Honourable John Baird, the Minister of the Environment, made the following statement:

“Former Vice-President Al Gore deserves acknowledgement for the success of his film in highlighting the huge ecological challenge of climate change. It is regrettable, however, that the former Vice President has criticized Canada’s recently released action plan to cut greenhouse gases and air pollution.

“It is difficult to accept criticism from someone who preaches about climate change, but who never submitted the Kyoto Protocol to a vote in the United States Senate, who never did as much as Canada is now doing to fight climate change during eight years in Office, and who has campaigned exclusively for hundreds of Democratic candidates who have weaker plans to fight greenhouse gases than Canada’s New Government.

“It is equally regrettable that the former US Vice President decided to speak out without ever having been briefed on the contents of our plan.

"The fact is our plan is vastly tougher than any measures introduced by the Administration of which the former Vice President was a member."

“I am ready to meet with Mr. Gore at any time to discuss the climate change threat and our Government's tough plan to reduce Canada's emissions”.

Mr. Baird, forever the pitbull, seems to forget the historical facts of a Republican dominated Senate and House of Representatives during the Clinton years, not to mention the fact that he again looks to the past to excuse the NOW. I'm also confident that Gore knows the "contents of our plan", so his opinion is valid. Given the fact that Baird makes it personal again, and then offers to meet with Gore, I recommend a public debate with either Gore or maybe Suzuki. Afterall, Baird should have no problem arguing the merits of the toughest climate change plan on the globe should he? I agree, these two should really meet, with the cameras rolling.

Good Strategy?

Yesterday, I argued we need an election, based on principle. Moral obligation aside, is there not a strategic dynamic that also makes an election call attractive? If you scour the issues that speak to Conservative vulnerability, the two that first come to mind are the environment and Afghanistan. If there is opportunity for the opposition, relatively, those two files offer the best chance to derail the Conservatives ambitions.

I've already read that the NDP and Bloc are both rejecting an election call over the Green Plan. However, there are efforts underway to introduce the opposition's revised Clean Air Act and have a vote, as well as the Rodriguez motion that is set for passage in the Senate. These two looming realities mean that the environment will remain front and center in the coming weeks, with the potential for a climatic showdown.

We are already seeing a theme develop in the media that has the potential to backfire on the aggressive opposition. Yesterday, two separate columns, two mentions on newscasts, that all present the same question- if the situation is so dire, as the opposition argues, then can they afford not to have an election? Andrew Coyne jumps on theme today:
"If they are truly as committed to stopping global warming as they claim, and if the Tory plan is as much of a betrayal of that aim as they will say, then they have no choice: They must defeat the government, as soon as possible. If they do not, then they will have admitted, we are every bit as hypocritical as they are."

The opposition has the upper hand on this file, but if they continue to avoid election talk, then they run the risk of losing the "high ground". The media is almost challenging the opposition to put their money where there rhetoric is, and this potential negative connotation might make an election the politically prudent counter.

When you look at the Liberal leader, the man awash in green at the convention, who has made the environment his central thesis, articulated in the recent television ads, you have to conclude- if not this issue then what? A red hot debate on the environment is Dion's best opportunity. You can debate the pros and cons of Dion's legacy, but there is no question that he has made this argument his make or break issue, so tactically now might be the time, while we are guaranteed a high profile debate. What issue best plays to Dion's supposed strengths?

From the NDP perspective, the rallying cry of "getting things done" is no better illustrated than Layton and others working to revise the Clean Air Act. Layton can accurately take some credit, and use the revised bill to demonstrate why the NDP needs substantial representation in parliament. I can't think of any other issue where the NDP has distinguished itself in this parliament, why wouldn't they welcome an election that highlights their "achievement".

The NDP also has some potential as it relates to Afghanistan. The only party that advocates immediate withdrawal, there is an audience for that perspective. The lines of distinction could work in the NDP's favor.

As for the Bloc, you can make concrete arguments why an election might have an attraction. Afghanistan is a killer in Quebec, particularly during the busy insurgent season. Quebecers are also reject Harper's environmental policies, which creates a favorable landscape to take it to the Conservatives.

The harsh reality, we can expect more casualties in Afghanistan as the Taliban become seasonally active. The best way to gauge if an election call is politically smart is to look at it from the Conservative perspective. I doubt many in the PMO see the merit in going to the polls with Afghanistan a big unknown and a united opposition on the environment. I'm sure the Tories would prefer an election fought on say, a mini-budget, crime, record of achievement etc. If you accept the premise that the Tories would rather avoid any election with Afghanistan and the environment as the two main talking points, it tells you all you need to know about what the opposition should do. Let's not forget, Tory insiders freely admitted that their hope with environmental initiatives was to "neutralize" the issue. I would hardly characterize the present situation as neutered, more like hot button.

There are many arguments why the opposition should delay an election, and most of them are valid. Having said that, I don't think people should dismiss a quick election call out of hand, because the landscape is starting to look favorable, never mind those pesky principles.

Friday, April 27, 2007

New Ipsos Reid Poll

This is the first poll that has results from this week (Tuesday to Thursday). National numbers:
The survey says the Conservatives have 38 per cent support, up two points from the election; the Liberals are up one point to 31 per cent; the NDP is down three points to 14 per cent; the Bloc Quebecois dropped three points to eight per cent, and the Green party is up three points to eight per cent.

For context, last week's Ipsos numbers:
The survey said support for the Tories was up three points to 39%, while support for the Liberals dropped three points to 29%. The NDP climbed two points to 16%, the Bloc Québécois edged up to 9% from eight and the Green party slipped to 7% from eight.

Not much movement, although the Liberals tick upward, while the NDP falls slightly.

The regional numbers are suspicious, as I've brought up before, particularly British Columbia:
Across Canada, Conservative support declined in every region except British Columbia, where it rose 17 points to 47 per cent. It dropped eight points to 62 per cent in Alberta, six points to 22 per cent in Atlantic Canada, three points in Quebec, two points in Ontario and two points to 46 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The Liberal numbers were up five points in Ontario and four points Quebec.

Grit support declined six points in B.C. to 28 per cent, four points in Alberta to 10 per cent and two points in Atlantic Canada to 44 per cent.

The Liberals remained flat in Saskatchewan and Manitoba at 22 per cent

Support for the NDP fluctuated mildly in most regions, while the Green party got its largest bump in Alberta, up seven points to 15 per cent.

The margin of error in regional breakouts ranges from a high of 12 percentage points in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to a low of five percentage points in Ontario.

Someone please explain to me how Tory fortunes rose 17% in British Columbia in a week? Did I miss the announcement that all British Columbians would receive a $1000 tax rebate effectively immediately? Last week Ipsos had the Conservatives down 9 in British Columbia, maybe they should just stop releasing the regionals with high MOE, because it's just useless information.

Ipso concludes the Afghanistan mess hasn't cost the Conservatives:
Bricker said a lack of significant movement in this week’s national numbers from last week’s results suggests the political uproar in Ottawa over what and when the Conservative government knew about the alleged torture of prisoners of war in Afghanistan is not resonating with most Canadians.

I disagree, this issue really boiled over on Thursday(poll ended) and most of the punditry agrees there will be a cost. Coupled with the pale green plan and this is one of the worst weeks I can remember for the Conservatives. It will be interesting to see if subsequent polls show further erosion.

Let's Go To The Polls

First off, check out this video of David Suzuki CONFRONTING John Baird, classy but firm.

I'm done with strategic thinking (until tomorrow). If the opposition, rarely united, on an issue that everyone agrees is the number one concern, doesn't force an election now, then it's all hot air. Chantal Hebert and Don Martin both make the same point today, and it's a valid one, isn't it time for the opposition to put up or shut up?

This is the issue of our time, a moral obligation, that supercedes any particular parties ambitions. The time to debate this issue, once and for all, is RIGHT NOW, while everyone is engaged. Parliament is clearly dysfunctional, when the majority will is ignored, and the minority uses trickery to avoid accountability. That is the bottomline, the government isn't accountable to the Canadian people, through their representation. On a critical issue, parliament is apparently irrelevant, and the government acts like monarchy.

Parliament has crafted a bill, and this revised ACT enjoys the support of virtually everyone, except for Conservative MP's and some oil execs (poor Exxon, only a 9 BILLION profit for the first quarter this year). It is time for the oppostion to hang their hats on the revised Clean Air Act. If the government chooses to ignore and present a substitute fraud, then the opposition has no choice but to introduce a non-confidence motion.

The moment is now, pull the plug and let Canadians decide the direction they want, once and for all. How can anyone who argues urgency sit on their hands, while we waste more time? How can anyone who pontificates the moral obligation, stand down because the political winds look risky? Time to match the rhetoric with action fellas. BRING THEM DOWN.

Scott Tribe feels the same.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Countdown Clock Obsolete

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The masters of foreplay have finally delivered their "Climate Disaster" plan (h/t Elizabeth May), which makes the countdown clock obsolete. However, might I suggest the following replacement. You don't even have to change the ticker:

Only 6823 days until we reach our Kyoto targets

Any other ideas?

Stockwell Day Is Right

In response to a question today in parliament, Stockwell "Mr. Cool" Day made the following comment (paraphrasing):

"It's common in debate, that when you raise you voice you're losing the argument"

I completely agree. BTW, did anyone happen to catch Harper turning beat red, screaming and ranting during Question Period today?

No Election

In my mind, the next available window for an election is late winter/early fall in 2008. Apparently, the Tory's election-date bill (Oct 2009) will now become law, but that piece of legislation may be irrelevant to the election conversation. Given the fact the opposition can still defeat the government on confidence, and Harper still decides what is a matter of confidence, you could drive a leopard tank through the holes in this legislation. Why spring of 2008?

First, you have to assume that the opposition doesn't unite to bring down the government anytime soon. I take that premise as a reasonable given, which means the onus still lies with the government. When you look at the future landscape, you see an opportunity in the fall, when the government could deliver a goodie-filled mini-budget. However, the fall brings incredible risk for the Conservatives.

The last few weeks have shown us a very relevant point, Afghanistan is the wildcard moving forward. I think there is some co-relation to the Tory fall in the polls and what has happened recently in Afghanistan. Of note, we saw the same pattern last year during the Taliban's "busy" season. It is realistic to assume that Canada will suffer more casualties this summer, through the fall. It is also probable that for the first time casualties will come from the province of Quebec. Harper, the control freak, moving toward an election, with the uncertainty in Afghanistan on the front burner, I don't think so.

The Afghanistan reality brings me to the late winter/early spring of 2008. We will have another budget, but maybe more important, Afghanistan should be relatively quiet, if the standard pattern persists. That's not to say Afghanistan won't be an issue, because it clearly will, but only that the odds are better that it won't be THE issue in the early spring.

There is another important point with regard to Afghanistan. Any election after the spring 0f 2008 and the Tories face the rising crescendo, as it relates to extending the mission. The Conservatives can fluff off the calls for future clarification now, but the debate will only intensify the closer we get to the 2009 deadline. Again, that potentially heated discussion essentially guarantees Afghanistan as central topic in any election.

Time will tell, but I'm inclined to think that the Tory strategists have circled early 2008 as the earliest, and maybe only, window on the horizon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Best Before Date Expired?

Two polls today, different results, both show the Conservatives fading:
The poll, conducted between April 21-24 for CTV and The Globe and Mail, gives the Conservatives a six-point lead (percentage-point change from a March 20-21 poll in brackets):

Conservatives: 36 per cent (-3)
Liberals: 30 per cent (-1)
NDP: 13 per cent (unchanged)
Bloc Quebecois: 9 per cent (+1)
Green Party: 12 per cent (+3)

Bloc Quebecois: 39 per cent (+6)
Conservatives: 21 per cent (-3)
Liberals: 19 per cent (-5)
Greens: 12 per cent (+1)
NDP: 9 per cent (+1)

The Conservatives have lost their post-budget surge in Ontario:

Liberals: 41 per cent (+1)
Conservatives: 33 per cent (-7)
NDP: 16 per cent (+3)
Greens: 11 per cent (+4)

The West(whatever that means):
Out West, the Conservatives lead the Liberals by 27 points (50 per cent to 23 per cent). The NDP has a one-point lead over the Greens (14 per cent to 13 per cent).

Unlike today's Decima offering, no NDP bounce, in fact they remain 5 points under their 2006 total. You decide who to believe?

Strategic Council has the Conservatives at a higher level than the Decima poll (36-30), but the trend in both is DOWN. Both polls have the Liberals stable, in the same terrority. Particularly good for the Liberals, Ontario has trended away from the Conservatives. Quebec offers bad news for both, while the Bloc apparently benefits. The West results are essentially useless, because you don't get any provincial breakdown.

Other interesting findings, Kyoto:
Sixty-one per cent say Canada should try to meet its commitment under the Kyoto Protocol, while only 32 per cent agree with the view that the Kyoto targets are unachievable

Baird's doom and gloom show failed:
Thirty-six per cent say they find it believable that Kyoto would cost 275,000 jobs and trigger a recession, while 60 per cent don't find it believable. Only eight per cent find the claim very believable, while 25 per cent say it's not believable at all.

36 per cent of respondents support the sending of troops, while 57 per cent are opposed. The 'opposition' respondents hold a majority in Ontario and the West, but opposition is particularly pronounced in Quebec. There, 72 per cent of respondents oppose sending troops.

Donolo said it's noteworthy that only six per cent express very strong support, while 26 per cent are very strongly opposed.

A substantial minority, 46 per cent, think the troops should be brought home now. Eighteen per cent think the troops should have been returned after the original February 2007 deadline, and eight per cent support the troops remaining until 2009.

Twenty-four per cent say the troops should stay until Afghanistan is stabilized and rebuilt.

Conclusion, a rough day for Tory fortunes all around. Anyone want to rent a 17000 square foot warehouse?


Wayward son made a relevant point that I failed to mention. Both polls show Green support impressive and SOLID, which suggests no erosion due to the May/Dion pact.

Go Figure

Very interesting poll results from Decima, that gives the NDP something to crow about for a change:
The Decima Research poll, released today to The Canadian Press, put Tory support nationally at a mere 30 per cent, compared with 29 for the Liberals, 18 for the NDP, 11 per cent for the Green party and eight per cent for the Bloc Quebecois.

But the pollster added: “This isn’t a story about how well the Liberals are doing. It’s really a story about the Conservatives back to the range they were in before they did the advertising and before they had the budget. It’s also a story that the Liberals aren’t benefiting from that sag in Conservative support. The NDP is.”

If there was good news for any political party in the poll, it was for the New Democrats.

Over the last six weeks of Decima surveys, NDP support on average is up six percentage points in Ontario, five points in B.C. and four in Quebec.

There is no way to spin these result for Harper, except to use the word devastating. An aggressive ad campaign, a feel good budget, and the numbers actually fade in the aftermath. I might be over-analyzing here, but I have to wonder if Tory internal polling shows the same fade, which might explain this sudden flip flop on their environmental approach. I had the sense that Baird was delaying the release of his environmental plan in the last weeks, possibly to re-tool and make it more attractive. I can't logically explain the apparent epiphany, where the contradictions are so profound, so it does seem reasonable that the Conservative brain trust concluded they needed more to turn around their fortunes. As an aside, CTV is reporting they will release a poll tonight, which also shows little in the way of good news for Harper.

Why are the NDP rebounding? Im not sure I buy the Conservative votes moving to the NDP argument. It could be more that some soft Conservative support has moved to the Liberals, while concurrently some soft Liberal support has moved to the NDP, which leaves the Tories the loser, the Liberals stagnant and the NDP the benefactor. Having said that, I do remember someone who posted the daily SES numbers last election, wherein the graph showed a definite co-relation between NDP and Conservative support, one down, the other up, in tandem. Of the three parties, it would seem the NDP has benefited from little negative coverage, while the Liberals have been hit hard in the media with the Dion/May angle and the Conservatives with various issues. Laying low might be the real story for the NDP here. Whatever the reasoning, these numbers, should give NDP supporters some encouragement, it's now a consistent upward trend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The New/Old Liberal Party

Truth be told, I probably wouldn't have joined the Liberal Party, had it not been for Gerard Kennedy's leadership bid. Reading Kennedy's comments tonight, after he was acclaimed in Parkdale-High Park, reminded me why I saw this man as vehicle for real renewal:
"It's not going to be easy to bring back a Liberal government. ... It's really fundamentally important that we understand as Liberals that we don't have a right to be the government in Ottawa, but what we have a right to do is to compete and put in front of Canadians what we really stand for.''

I love the humble tone, that mocks the notion of Liberal entitlement. In my mind, Gerard Kennedy represents the new Liberal Party and he will shine in Ottawa.

Unfortunately, the OLD Liberal ways of tribal warfare and petty posturing seems alive and well in Papineau:

Trudeau is also getting a cold shoulder from some Liberal Quebec MPs who bristle at his star status.

some Quebec Liberals may want to punish Trudeau for his support of Gerard Kennedy during the recent Liberal leadership race.

That support eventually helped Stephane Dion win, over the objections of MPs like Denis Coderre and Pablo Rodriguez who backed Michael Ignatieff's failed bid.

But Coderre has shown disdain for Trudeau in the past while Trudeau supporters say an incident at Sunday's Earth Day rally illustrates where the 35-year-old activist and onetime West Coast school teacher stands with MPs like Rodriguez.

Trudeau tried to lend a hand holding the banner at the head of the parade along with local environmentalists and politicians from all levels. Rodriguez sent him away, saying he could join the front of the parade and raise the banner if he's ever elected, Trudeau friends say.

First of all, who is Mr. Rodriguez to tell anybody where they can stand at a non-partisan rally, particularly someone who's OLD party did jackshit on the environment until its last days in office (let's keep it real people). Trudeau is a star, I would throw his face all over the rally if it meant more exposure and ink. From this outsiders perspective, the Quebec Liberals seem like an esoteric circle jerk, that holds grudges and can't seem to accept the basic premise of democracy. You can argue the merits of Trudeau's candidacy, but it really is distasteful to watch the overt attempts to keep him down. How about we let the voters decide if Trudeau is a fraud or phenomenon?

Canadians Reject Dion/May

Hardly surprising, in fact I've been waiting for this finding, given the negative media barrage. Canadians have an unfavorable impression of the May/Dion agreement.:
In the online survey of a representative national sample, 45 per cent of Canadians disapprove of the leaders’ decision of not running candidates in each other’s ridings in the next federal election, while just 29 per cent approve.

At least four in every ten respondents in each region is against the Dion/May agreement. In Atlantic Canada, the number of people who reject the deal reaches 50 per cent. People in Alberta are the most inclined to reject it (52%), while those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the most prone to support it (34%).

Among Liberal voters, 37 per cent disapprove of the pact to support May, while 52 per cent think otherwise.

The controversial deal will not encourage many people to vote for the Liberals in the next election. Two thirds (65%) of respondents say the agreement does not make them more likely to support the Liberals in the future. However, in Atlantic Canada about one-in-five (22%) do say the pact makes them more inclined to vote for the Liberals.

The Dion/May pact is perceived by many Canadians (44%) as a sign of weakness on the part of the Liberals and their leader. Twenty-eight per cent of respondents who voted for the Liberals in the last federal election agree with this perception. Respondents in Atlantic Canada feel particularly strongly about it, with 56 per cent of them saying the deal projects weakness.

Is anyone really surprised? There are a few, scant findings that are favorable, particularly the one in five Atlantic Canadians that are more inclined to vote Liberal, but objectively this online survey is bad news for the deal. However, because I've already braced myself for the initial reaction, I'm taking a long term view of this pact, and it may play better over time.

I've never believed that May has a great shot at MacKay's seat, so that isn't really the barometer to gauge if this pact will be effective or not. The real test will be the closely contested ridings, you don't need to win over many people for the deal to pay dividends.

I'm sure NDP supporters will trumpet these finding, but I think people are in error if they take anything out of this poll, besides the fact that it shows how perception is mostly a media construct. I would say 90% (I may be kind) of the punditry trashed this agreement in a knee jerk fashion. Given the overt lack of balance, I say again, is anyone really surprised?


More detail provided here. Very strange results, as it applies to party affiliation. NDP supporters are the only ones to give the Dion/May pact a favorable grade, 43% support, 40% against. On the question of who would you vote for in MacKay's riding, NDP supporters actually pick May over Loriface, 29% to 20%.

There may be a tantalizing nugget in those NDP voter impressions. If the goal was to pickup some soft left supporters, then the devil could be in the details.

Has Harper Peaked?

The media is finally turning their gaze towards a real truth, Stephen Harper has a ceiling. James Travers makes a relevant point:
At a time in the political life cycle when most governments are peaking in public opinion, Stephen Harper's is back about where it was on election day in January 2006 and keeps bumping up against the trust ceiling.

Barbara Yaffe:
How to explain such a situation when Conservatives have by and large provided competent, honest government that has been surprisingly non-ideological? And all this against the backdrop of a robust Canadian economy and an absence of public sector scandal.

Party organizers are sensing there's a problem out there. Which could be why the Conservative website features photos of the big guy taking son Ben to hockey practice and cuddling kittens.

Even more troublesome for the Conservatives, as outlined in this piece, the Tories don't have much left to offer:
Yet insiders say that, after 18 months of governing, many staff are exhausted and out of good ideas. "It's not directionless but there's nothing new in the pipeline," said one source.

But it is a pretty skimpy legislative agenda. Cabinet meetings are done in an hour; chiefs of staff meet for around 20 minutes.

The problem with "getting it done" is that you have to have a constant flow of new ideas or you end up becoming a victim of your own proficiency

If Travers is correct, that Harper enjoys the historic "peak" presently, then the future might not be so kind. If peak is a minority, then Conservatives should be concerned about future prospects, given the corresponding lack of new initiatives. In other words, the Conservatives have attempted to bombard us with legislation, all in the name of expanding support, but this effort hasn't translated at the polls. One has to wonder, if there is anything on the legislative horizon that can turn around Tory fortunes.

If we don't have an election, we can probably expect a mini-budget in the fall, with a whole new series of voter friendly payoffs. Other than that opportunity, there is nothing looming that has the power to boost Harper's fortunes. In fact, I would argue the calendar is the Conservatives enemy, because this government now has enough of a track record for themes to gel, some of which aren't flattering. If Canadians haven't "warmed" to this government, it's hard to see that changing anytime soon.

This reality may explain the negative attacks on all things Liberal. Having failed to expand support with legislation, the only option is to go negative and hope that pays dividends. The problem with that strategy, and it is starting to manifest itself in the media meme, the more they attack and don't get a bounce, the more it solidifies the "hard cap" theory.

It is true that Harper should be "peaking" in his political life cycle. What is interesting, it is also true that opposition leaders generally start off slow and become more effective, and popular, over time. Realistically, Harper is at the apex, while Dion has the potential, hardly a recipe for Tory confidence moving forward. With a lack of new initiatives in the offing, the Tories will take a more natural, defensive posture, another potential negative moving forward. Harper, the control freak, may be more spectator as the government reacts more and more, to events which they can't control.

It is possible, that we look back on the spring of 2007 as Harper's last, best chance to get what he craved most. The future looks far more uncertain.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Poll: 2/3 Want Troops Home By 2009

It would appear the Liberal motion before Parliament reflects the opinion of the vast majority:
Almost two-thirds of Canadians say the country’s troops in Afghanistan should be brought home on schedule by February 2009, a new national poll says.

...fully 63 per cent say they want the troops brought home on schedule by February 2009.

Regional breakdowns are interesting:
On the specific issue of the 2009 withdrawal, residents of Atlantic Canada (73 per cent) and Quebec (69 per cent), as well as young people (67 per cent) and women (68 per cent) were more likely to say the troops should come home by then.

Residents of Alberta (45 per cent) and men (38 per cent) were more likely to say the mission should be extended to a time when political and military officials feel the country is stable and self-supporting.

Support for the mission:
The poll, conducted exclusively by Ipsos-Reid for CanWest News Service and Global National, also said a slim majority of Canadians - 52 per cent - expressed support for the troops role in Afghanistan despite a rash of eight deaths in the field since Easter Sunday.

The Liberals are right in step with the mainstream, support for the mission, but a firm timetable for withdrawal. The Liberal position looks downright reasonable and balanced. The numbers are even more favorable for the Liberal position when you exclude Alberta, if your measure is electoral prospects. Also, Dion has a solid talking point in Quebec.

If I could offer my two cents to Liberal strategists, I would use this polls findings whenever Harper starts criticizing the Liberal position. Are you saying that the vast majority of Canadians are Taliban sympathizers, national security flip floppers and weak patriots?


Why mince words, the Conservatives are baldfaced liars, when it comes to the environmental file. I'll touch on Baird in a moment, but what really caught my attention today was listening to Conservative Whip Jay Hill throw out this load of bullshit, on Duffy's show:
"Let's be very clear about this Mike. We have said all along that we support the objectives of Kyoto. We ran on that in the last election and part of our election campaign."

Surprisingly, Hill's head didn't spin off his shoulders. I could pull out a million quotes, but this synopsis is a good reminder of the Conservatives pro-Kyoto "campaign". Even more surprising than Hill's quote, the fact the other Whips present didn't erupt in uncontrollable laughter as the audacity left his forked tongue.

Now Baird, and you see a common theme emerge:
Environment Minister John Baird denies telling environmentalists that the proposed Clean Air Act is dead...

Mr. Baird seemed to suggest he objects to the revised bill because it's not compliant with the Kyoto Protocol, a surprising tack given his own rejection of the Kyoto targets.

“Mr. Dion has put forward with a plan that is nothing short than an unlimited licence to pollute,” Mr. Baird said.

“This carbon budget proposal that they tried to put in the bill isn't compliant with Kyoto. And it's an unlimited licence to pollute.”

The Liberal amendments don't help the Kyoto cause, and therefore Baird can't support the revised bill. For the love of.... Clearly, without doubt, the Tories are changing gears, trying to cling to the notion of Kyoto, hoping no one really pays attention. I am willing to bet that the Conservative brain trust has concluded that Kyoto is a winnable term, and we are witnessing a concerted effort to embrace the concept, superficially.

Mr. Baird lied:
John Bennett of the lobby group Climate for Change said Mr. Baird told environmentalists at a meeting Friday he had no intention of bringing the bill forward for a vote. “He's trying to spin what he said, but I heard it very clearly.”

Louise Comeau, executive director of the Sage Centre, who also attended the meeting, gave the same account of Mr. Baird's comments. “It was depressing,” she said.

Why doesn't someone call Baird on this naked contradiction? Mr. Baird, are you saying respected members of the environmental community are liars or just deaf?

The best part, Thursday looks like the big day for the Tory plan. The amount of spin and disinformation that looms almost scares me, given the preamble.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Funny Poll

Online polls are suspect at the best of times, but this Sun Media poll is particularly amusing:

If a provincial election were held today, which party would you support?

Conservatives 60%
Greens 5%
Liberals 18%
NDP 6%
Not sure 10%

What do we learn from the above poll of Ontario voters? We learn, that yes, Sun Media is essentially a Conservative propaganda rag, that draws the right-wing reader like flies.

Conservatives LOVE the NDP

It's laughable, listening to Environment Minister John Baird on QP, discussing the revised Clean Air Act. Did you know that the NDP was constructive to the process, but if the government doesn't bring forward the new legislation, it will because of the Liberals and Bloc?

I'm under the assumption, that all the opposition parties are in agreement over the revised bill. If that premise is true, which it is, then the NDP needs to share the blame for the failure to meet Baird's criteria. Again, the Conservatives attempt to separate the NDP from the other opposition parties, in what has become a recurring theme.

NDP supporters are quick to point out that the revised bill has virtually all the tenets of the party platform. Isn't it odd then, that Baird gives the NDP a free pass on the committee's conclusions? Why does the right-wing have such an infatuation with the NDP? Does this continual praise not hint at "backroom" understandings, or are we to be naive, and assume the Conservatives act unilaterally?

Don't Count Out Gore

First Bill Clinton muses about a possible Al Gore entry, now this interesting angle:
Friends of Al Gore have secretly started assembling a campaign team in preparation for the former American vice-president to make a fresh bid for the White House.

Two members of Mr Gore's staff from his unsuccessful attempt in 2000 say they have been approached to see if they would be available to work with him again.

One of his former campaign team said: "I was asked whether I would be available towards the end of the year if I am needed. They know he has not ruled out running and if he decides to jump in, he will have to move very fast.

The second aide approached by Vice-President Gore's allies said: "There is no love lost between Gore and Hillary. They don't think she can win and they're probably right. If Gore runs, he's got a really good chance of getting the nomination. And he has a good chance of pulling off the election, too."

Gore-watchers believe that a new book he is publishing next month on the state of US politics will keep his name in the public eye.

The most recent opinion polls show Mr Gore as third favourite to take the Democratic nomination, on about 17 per cent support, only a whisker behind Barack Obama, 45, who is aiming to become the first black US president, and ahead of John Edwards, 53, the senator whose wife was recently diagnosed with cancer.

You can debate the pros and cons of Gore entering the presidential race, but I don't think there is any question that Gore would be a formidable force. It's not just the environment, Gore would attract the anti-Iraq vote, given his clear opposition throughout the years. Gore as anti-Hillary is obvious, but his entry would also detract from Obama, because Gore has what Barrack lacks, experience.

The media currently loves Al Gore, although you know this affair won't last. The smart strategy for Gore, wait until the end of the summer, let the draft movement reach crescendo, avoid real scrutiny, and then jump in around Labor Day. The race doesn't really become pointed until the fall, and although Gore may be at a disadvantage in Iowa, where organization is king, the momentum he would enjoy elsewhere might just carry to the new year. Gore's entry would represent a seismic shift, and a late bid might keep everyone off balance long enough before the media turns on him.

This might be a trivial point, but as James Carville points out, if Gore starts to shed some weight in the next couple months, take that as a clear signal that he expects to jump in. The waistline might be the best barometer :)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Do We Need An Election?

All the election talk revolves around strategy and timing. We will have an election when a party, or coalition of parties, decide it is in their own self-interest to pull the plug. Procedure and posturing aside, on principle, an election looks more and more a necessity.

There is no question that the environmental rhetoric has ramped up to unprecedented levels. The divisions move in concert with a piece of legislation tabled by the government, re-worked by a majority in committee, that is soon to be rejected. I don't want to debate the semantics of what constitutes a confidence motion, but it would seem that an inability to deal with an issue that Canadians have selected as their number one concern, classifies as failure of government. The Conservatives don't enjoy the confidence of the parliament on this issue, and the government rejects the majority opinion articulated with the new Clean Air Act. The chasm between the two positions is extreme, and given the priority that the opposition parties have attached to environmental legislation, how can they continue to support this government?

Dion has made the issue the cornerstone of the entire Liberal platform. Layton has consistently argued that the NDP have always had this issue as primary. The Bloc sounds the "alarmist" rhetoric, reflecting the views of Kyoto friendly Quebecers. How then, can these parties continue to keep this government afloat? I suppose we need to wait, but we already know where Baird is heading. The Conservatives might not even introduce legislation, and just make more eco-announcements, to avoid a showdown that they know they can't win.

We have legislation, it is sitting there, after careful consideration, supported by the vast majority of parliamentarians. If there is no election, then that effort dies on the vine, an opportunity is missed and we waste more time, on an issue that they all argue is "urgent". It would seem if principle has any bearing, the opposition must bring down the government. The Clean Air Act was rejected, we went through a process, and now that is rejected by the minority. Confidence? It probably won't happen, because principle is largely an afterthought, but we really should have an election on such a self-described "critical" issue.

Friday, April 20, 2007

New Poll

Here are the results, that have wild, regional changes:
Conservatives retain a solid 10-point lead nationally over the rival Liberals but continue to fall short of the numbers needed to form a majority government.

The survey said support for the Tories was up three points to 39%, while support for the Liberals dropped three points to 29%.

The NDP climbed two points to 16%, the Bloc Québécois edged up to 9% from eight and the Green party slipped to 7% from eight.

By region:
the Quebec picture is a bright spot for the Conservatives. The survey said the party continues to run second to the Bloc, and well ahead of the third-place Liberals.
Bloc support stood at 34%, the Conservatives at 28%, and the Liberals were at 20%. The NDP and Greens stood at 13 and 4% respectively

In Ontario, the Conservatives were up five to 42%, the Liberals were down five to 35%, the NDP was up one point to 13% and the Green party held at 10%.

In British Columbia, the Liberals stood at 34%, while the Tories trailed at 30%, dropping nine points. The NDP garnered 27% and Greens had 7%.

In neighbouring Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the Tories surged nine percentage points to 48%, while the Grits dropped eight percentage points to 21% — one point higher than the NDP. The Greens were at 8%.

A total of 46% of Atlantic Canadians favoured the Liberals, while Tory support came in at 28%. The NDP stood at 24%, while the Greens had 1%.

I don't really understand what could have happened in three weeks, since the last Ipsos poll to justify a 9% Tory surge in the Prairies, or for that matter a 9% drop in British Columbia. The last Ipsos poll showed similar wild regional fluctuations, it might be time for a bigger sample size, or don't bother releasing the internals. I'm not putting much faith in these regional numbers.

Having said that, it is surprising that the National Post has the headline "Voters still nowhere near giving Harper his majority", because normally anything that comes close to 40% is hailed as big momentum. I wonder if the Conservative polling shows an uptick as well, given today's strange stall on fixed election dates.

It is noteworthy, the NDP is up in this poll, while the Liberals and Greens fade. This is the first post-Dion/May poll, given the harsh initial coverage, this result isn't particularly shocking.

The NDP As Pawn

John Reynolds, National Co-Chair of the Conservative re-election campaign, made several curious comments as it relates to the mission in Afghanistan, which reveals a great deal about Conservative strategy. Reynolds echoed the Conservative tactic of blasting the Liberal plan to end the Afghanistan deployment. Irresponsible, embolden the enemy, support the troops, international obligation, blah, blah, blah. However, Reynolds then found the need to defend the NDP position of immediate pullout as "principled". Reynolds disagrees, but he respects the purity of the NDP position.

The fact that this deliberate attempt to differentiate comes from the re-election Co-Chair is telling. What Reynolds said is patently absurd, and I'm surprised the Tories continually get away with the overt distinctions. From the Conservative perspective, how can you characterize abandoning NATO, the Afghan people, the fight against terror and our moral responsibility as "principled"? If the Liberals are "reckless", then Reynolds must view the NDP as "dangerous".

The only way to reconcile the logical contradictions is to accept the premise that the Tories have made it a priority to prop up the NDP. Keep the supposed left divided, make the Liberals the villians and hope soft support might leak the NDP's way, which lends itself to the grand scheme of capitalizing on fractured ridings. People like Reynolds don't respect the NDP, or their positions, they simply see the NDP as a convenient pawn that furthers the end game.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"The End Result Is A Lot Of Horse Manure."

National Post's Don Martin describing John Baird's presentation today. Relevant because this is the same man that argued polar numbers are actually increasing, not to mention his paper runs the great "Deniers" series.

All this debate comes down to one point in my mind. Has a government every invested so much energy in ripping apart concepts and negativism, at the expense of actually doing something? Think about it, well into the second year of governing and we all still must endure the infinite Kyoto bashing, from the Minister that actually has the power. If I hear John Baird say the word "soon" one more time, I'm going to scream.

What if the Conservatives had actually focused on something positive from the onset? Listening to Baird deflect questions today in QP, with the usual Kyoto tirades, it begged the question- what is the point of reference, where is your plan to compare? Something vs "coming soon", the theoretical is better, but we haven't quite figured it out yet. That is the Tory message, has been from day one, except for the train wreck Clean Air Act. It would seem to me that any party that released such an abysmal piece of legislation after "consultations" and months of "work" doesn't really merit the moral high ground to trash something concrete.

Where is the plan? Why are you wasting time spewing fire and brimstone, when you have a plan that needs crafting? Get to work smart ass, and please, just STFU until you have an actual alternative.

The Apocalypse Mirage

Baird delivered his intellectually dishonest assessment of what significant GHG reductions would mean. The apocalypse is a mirage:

Liberal environment critic David McGuinty said the study is skewed because it artificially restricts the use of international emissions trading and ignores the job creation that would come with a new focus on green technologies.

Dewar quoted Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank, whose study in October estimated it would take two per cent of gross domestic product in advanced countries to reduce emissions to an acceptable level. Dewar said he believes Canadians would accept such a cost.

The government analysis itself admits that the costs would be much lower with different assumptions. A section titled "alternate scenarios" says unrestricted access to international emissions credits would cut the cost to about $25 a tonne, rather than $195 a tonne.

The study assumes that Canada can get only 25 per cent of its reductions through international credits, even though the Kyoto treaty imposes no such restriction.
Stewart Elgie, a professor at the University of Ottawa who focuses on carbon markets, says that single assumption inflates the cost of compliance by 700 per cent. He also criticized the study for ignoring the benefits of curbing emissions.

Is it 195 dollars per tonne or 25 dollars a tonne? What a sham, particularly when Baird trumpets figures which fail to acknowledge options at hand. So, you can drop the cost almost 8 fold, which puts the alarmist rhetoric into perspective. Couple that fact with the failure to acknowledge any positive benefits to the economy, through green technologies, and you have a decidedly different picture.

I believe it will be almost impossible to meet our Kyoto targets in the short term. Having said that, that admission doesn't mean we shouldn't do everything in our power to get as close as possible, which is realistic. The true intentions of this government are revealed, with their preference for joining this fraud of an group. H/T Woman at Mile 0:
In a somewhat surprising development, Canada, a long-time supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, announced that it may want to join the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6), a six-nation coalition focusing on voluntary emission-reduction steps and technology transfers. Many environmentalists oppose AP6 out of a fear that it may undermine political support for the legally binding Kyoto treaty.

the Asia-Pacific Partnership is voluntary and technology-based, and lets each country set its own goals for greenhouse gas emission reductions, rather than legally binding them to a greenhouse gas reduction target. The group sees itself as "a voluntary, non-legally binding framework for international co-operation to facilitate the development, diffusion, deployment, and transfer of existing, emerging and longer term cost-effective, cleaner, more efficient technologies and practices

Baird went to Washington last week to argue for further emissions reductions beyond Kyoto. It would appear Mr. Baird's real purpose was to give the Americans the heads up that we were prepared to join the Bush shell game, to deflect environmental criticism. Voluntary, non-binding, which lets the participant countries do what they wish, that sounds like a winner!

I wonder if the other Bush crony, Australian PM John Howard, is starting to do the economic math of inaction:
Australians should pray for rain, because if substantial rainfall does not come in the next month the Government will ban irrigation in the country’s agricultural heartland so that there is enough to drink, the Prime Minister said today.

John Howard’s warning heralded a dramatic increase in food prices and the prospect that tens of thousands of farmers could see their crops fail.

Amid the worst drought in the nation’s history, Mr Howard said an expert panel had advised the Government that it had no choice but to turn off the water irrigation systems in the vast Murray-Darling basin in eastern Australia, an area about four times the size of the United Kingdom.

Its 55,000 farmers supply virtually all of Australia’s stone and citrus fruits, vegetables, cotton and rice. It is also the location of many of the nation’s vineyards.

It is expected that food costs in Australia will begin to rise immediately, and there were predictions that scores of farmers would be forced off their land.

Estimated cost, 30 billion dollars. Experts generally agree that this current crisis is related to climate change, which again begs the question, what exactly is a cost, what is the cost of doing nothing? The Asia-Pacific Partnership will be looked upon with utter disdain and contempt by future generations. Baird embraces nothingness, while simultaneously misleading Canadians. The apocalypse may be at hand alright.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Sky Is Falling

If pessimistic, exaggerated, alarmist rhetoric is your cup of tea, John Baird prepares a fine brew:

The Conservative government is preparing to table an economically apocalyptic estimate of the Kyoto Accord's implementation costs to Canada, CTV News has learned.

A leading Canadian environmentalist told The Canadian Press earlier Wednesday that she expects Environment Minister John Baird to present new research to say Canada can't meet its Kyoto commitment when he appears before a Senate committee on Thursday.

"We expect Mr. Baird to paint a picture of economic collapse if we comply with the Kyoto targets," said Louise Comeau of the Sage Centre, an environmental think tank.

She said the government has commissioned research based on assumptions that produce astronomical estimated costs.

Robert Fife, CTV's Ottawa bureau chief, is reporting the following details from the study, which he said has been backed by independent economists:

The economy would shrink by 4.2 per cent if Kyoto is implemented. "It says it will cause a recession on par with the 1981-82 recession."

Job losses will total 275,000 by 2009

Electricity costs will jump by 50 per cent by 2010

Gasoline costs will jump by 60 per cent almost immediately.

Home heating oil will double.

I wonder how many of these "independent" economists are associated with the Fraser Institute, or happen to have stock in Suncor?

Nail Meet Head

The new Dion ad is perfect in tone and addresses the key concern. I've already argued that Dion needed a presentation that highlights his leadership ability, and this ad picks up on one of themes.

I think it is simply brillant, the portion of the ad that has Dion sitting at the climate conference table, with the word PRESIDENT clearly visible. Dion raises his arms in victory, and you get the sense of accomplishment. Fantastic imagery, and a clear signal that the Liberal braintrust understands the challenge.

This type of ad also allows Dion to claim the high ground. The Tories roll in the muck, the Liberals choose a positive message. That theme is a key one, mean-spirited partisanship vs possibilities, something which will resonate well with Canadians.

If Dion can show Canadians that he is a leader, and there are other examples at hand, then the Liberals have a real chance come the next election. I view this ad as confirmation that strategists know the plot, and it represents a great first step in introducing Canadians to Dion. Well done.

What About The High Road?

I don’t mean to keep bashing the NDP, it’s just the hypocrisy is so striking. All the criticism surrounding the May/Dion agreement seems to revolve around the idea of limiting voter choice, disenfranchising people. People are entitled to all the available options, clearly the Green/Liberal pact has an anti-democratic angle.

With that sentiment in mind, this rhetoric is ridiculous:
"I don't think we need her in the debate," said Charlie Angus, the party's MP for Timmins-James Bay. "Dion is obviously her leader. I don't think there really is a place for Elizabeth May. She's not giving us a clear enough alternative."
Mr. Angus was joined in his criticism by former party leader Alexa McDonough.
"It's pretty hard to distinguish now between the Grits and the Greens," Ms. McDonough said. "So I guess she can have her leader, Stéphane Dion, speak for her in the debates. It seems an odd way to shrink down her party stature, but that's what she's done."

To be fair, others have come out favoring May’s inclusion in the debates, but the above is just absurd, for a party that prides itself on its egalitarian nature. I thought the electoral system needed reform, to better reflect the wishes of Canadians, open up the process? Don’t the 600 000 Green voters deserve a voice on the national stage, clearly the Green Party has moved beyond the fringe.

There is a danger here for the NDP, in its approach to the Green Party. The reactions come off as highly partisan, with little relationship to the rhetoric the party likes to project. Obviously I’m biased, but I would say the NDP has appeared bitter, slightly vindictive and entirely unproductive in the Day/Dion aftermath. The reaction should have been high signal, but instead it makes the NDP appear just like the other parties it so often loves to condemn.

The political risk, and this is where I think many in the NDP are being shortsighted, you give Canadians the impression that you’re not part of the solution, but more part of the problem. Core NDP supporters will remain steadfast, but I suspect we could see some erosion in soft support, as a stop Harper movement takes shape.

May should be in the debates, period. The NDP should embrace this stance as a real reflection of the ideas it likes to champion. Anything less looks like petty partisanship, and detracts from the continual attempt to paint the NDP as different from the others. There is a “siege” mentality developing within the NDP, and I don’t think this posture will resonate well with Canadians, in fact I’m willing to bet it comes at a cost. If you prescribe to the idea that the Greens and Liberals are conspiring to marginalize the NDP, I submit the early disappointing reaction from the NDP only helps the cause.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I honestly can't believe what I've just read. When Rona Ambrose first introduced the Conservative Clean Air Act it was completely panned as inadequate. That legislation might just go down as the most ill received piece of policy a government has delivered in the last generation. With that as backdrop, the new Minister of the Environment, the guy who supposedly "gets it" is now set to deliver LESS. No really, I mean less:
A draft climate plan being considered by the federal government would weaken the long-term goal for cutting greenhouse emissions from what was announced by former environment minister Rona Ambrose last October.

Under the federal draft plan, marked secret and dated April 13, the government would undertake to cut emissions 45 to 65 per cent from 2006 levels by 2050.

Ambrose's plan, in the original version of the Clean Air Act, used an earlier base year when emissions were lower to calculate cuts. That plan would have cut emissions 45 to 65 per cent from 2003.

Since emissions have risen significantly since 2003, the shift in base year results in a less stringent target.

Environmentalist say the Conservative draft plan doesn't go nearly far enough.

"You have a target that wasn't strong enough to begin with and they've weakened it even more and they think Canadians won't care," said Louise Comeau of the Sage Centre, an environmental think tank.

"We're not even close to what scientists are saying is needed."

Unprincipled, political opportunist, anti-democratic, Elizabeth May briefly leaves the backroom and comments:

"We need to constantly pay attention to the base year," said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May at a news conference Tuesday.

"They have actually weakened the target Madame Ambrose announced last fall with the Clean Air Act, which is actually a target for a shrinking Great Lakes, disappearing Arctic ice, storms on our coasts and a dust bowl on our prairies"

Staggering. Who knew, Rona Ambrose, relative trailblazer. Maybe we do need an election?

H/T Woman At Mile 0

Tories Mothball The "War Room"

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Expanding on a point knb made in another thread, CBC was reporting that the Tories have effectively mothballed the "Fear Factory". Ramped up, ready to roll, just a couple weeks ago, the Tories now prepare to cool their jets. What is particularly striking, the co-relation between the polls and the Conservatives posture. I thought Stephen Harper governed on principle, polls weren't even a consideration. Cough, hack.

If anyone caught Question Period today, they may have noticed the Prime Minister appeared decidedly sullen, clear off his game. I was trying to figure out what his body language meant, and I actually thought about the polls. Later, I hear that the war room will collect dust and his mood made sense.

I believe the plan went as follows. Release a feel good budget, with a strong emphasis on expanding support. Hammer Dion as ineffective and weak. Release a revamped environmental policy to neutralize the achilles heel and then engineer a non-confidence vote, riding the wave of increased support. Up until a couple weeks ago, everything seemed to be moving Harper's way. However, the polls, which Harper actually follows religiously, have shown, no bounce, zero momentum and little chance of a majority. How depressing, you've spent billions of dollars on announcement after announcement, you've appeased Quebec, you've held election readiness conferences, opened up your state of the art facility, ran unprecedented preamble attack ads and you get nothing for your trouble.

It must be disheartening to focus all your energy on a singular goal and then have to face the realization that you've failed. What now? When will conditions be so favorable? Dion has nowhere to go but up, you spent all the money and you can't even call yourself "new" anymore. Back to square one, and Harper knows it, if my instincts are correct. Last one out of the fear factory, turn out the lights.

Statistically Tied

This is the first poll in awhile that shows a statistical dead heat:
A new poll suggests the gap between the Conservatives and Liberals has narrowed to three percentage points, another signal that a spring federal election may be on hold after all.

Tory support at 34 per cent nationally, the Liberals polled 31 per cent nationally, while the NDP got 15 per cent, the Green party 11, and the Bloc Quebecois, seven...

The situation is especially intriguing in Quebec, where the Bloc hit a new low of 29 per cent, and the upstart Greens tracked 13 per cent.
The Liberals led the Tories 23-20 in the province, while the NDP trailed with 10 per cent support.

The last Decima Poll had the gap at 35% to 31%, so not much has changed, except to say a majority looks less and less likely.

I find the Greens with 13% in Quebec intriguing, ahead of the NDP. That fact could be important in the aftermath of the May/Dion agreement, lending Dion further environmental credibility with Quebecers. Also noteworthy, Decima still puts the Liberals ahead of the Tories in Quebec, which differs from other recent findings.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"Liberal, Tory, Same Old Story"

National Newswatch has a backgrounder on Briony Penn, Liberal candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands. I think the intent was to paint Penn in a bad light, but I view this as a fantastic illustration of the new Liberal Party:

A field naturalist wearing only panties and an ankle length blond wig rode a horse through downtown Vancouver Monday in a Lady Godiva-style protest against logging on Saltspring Island.
Briony Penn, five more bare-breasted women and another 30-odd demonstrators became a traffic-stopping sight for more than an hour as they circled the city block around the Howe Street offices of Texada Land Corp. four times.

Penn said their action was the result of desperation.

"We've tried everything to raise awareness about endangered ecosystems, but they won't listen to the scientists and they won't listen to the people," said Penn, 40, who has a doctorate in geography.

"So we're exploiting the media, taking our clothes off. And look at all of you."

More than a dozen television camera operators, newspaper photographers and reporters encircled the 40-year-old woman on the horse.

"I've got a PhD and no one listens," she declared. "I take my clothes off, and here you all are. So thank you."

Now I know what my NDP friends would say, a real progressive wouldn't have worn panties ;)

The People, The Punditry and The Politicians

On of the more interesting dynamics surrounding the Green/Liberal agreement is the apparent disconnect between the punditry and the grassroots. Obviously, the politicians have all articulated typical responses, based on their own partisan consideration, so those conclusions are largely irrelevant. However, I am struck by the fact that traditional media has almost universally condemned the Dion/May pact. In contrast, I would describe the online response as far more balanced, whether it be bloggers, commentators on online news items or the more traditional letters to the editor.

If I were limited to traditional media, I would have to conclude that Dion is a foolish, misguided and dangerous leader, who hasn't a clue. Finding a positive piece on the May/Dion agreement, is akin to finding a needle in a haystack of negativity. That isn't to say there doesn't exist a myriad of less than glowing reviews online, but for every thumbs down, you readily find supportive arguments. If someone is trying to wade through all the ramifications of the Dion/May saga, it would seem the best source for balance clearly occurs beyond the professional journalist class.

Let's say you hear about the Dion/May agreement during a local newscast. You think to yourself, "that doesn't sound like a bad idea", but you're not sure. You don't go online for information, so you read a few papers, watch the National, whatever, trying to get a better handle on what actually took place. I would argue that any positive thoughts you might be inclined to have would be challenged, and you would surely be influenced by the mountains of disdain raining down. In other words, we are all impressionable, particularly as it relates to the storytellers, so your opinion might be altered.

Contrast that form of dissemination with what we have seen online, and it is clear, whatever your viewpoint, you can find ample evidence to support, confirm or revise your own sensibilities. A more open process, more engaging, less likely to accept the words of the anointed, critical thought. You read all the same papers, the same news telecasts, but you have the added oasis online. "Hey, not everybody thinks Dion is a complete moron, who toils in the backroom, usurping democracy. Who knew?" In this instance, the only real debate seems to be occurring with ordinary people, the professionals haven't really participated.

The bad news, from my perspective of support, most people still get their information the traditional way, which means I won't be surprised if some poll shows an unfavorable impression of the May/Dion pact. The good news, at least there are avenues available to pierce through the spoon feed streams, that too often tell us what to think, without our input. On this issue, it has almost been like two parallel worlds, that show no resemblence to each other. I choose the one where the people live to wade through it all.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"What The Hell Is Wrong With Jack Layton?"

Elizabeth May, asks a good question:
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she's been trying for months to get the NDP to talk about ways the two parties can co-operate on shared priorities, but the party has kept the door firmly closed to her overtures.

She admitted she has been frustrated with Layton's lack of co-operation, and turned to her old friend Lewis to try and open up the lines of communication.

"What the hell is wrong with Jack Layton that he can't answer a phone call?" she said on CTV's Question Period.

"I don't understand this. He talks to Stephen Harper all the time. Surely, our shared values are much closer between the NDP and the Greens."

She said the two parties should have been able to put partisan politics aside and focus on their shared environmental priorities -- such as solving climate change and reaching Kyoto greenhouse emissions targets .

"We're not identical. We're different parties, but surely there's room for a conversation. And that's where I was disappointed," May said.

"Despite months of effort to open the door to any conversation at any level, not specifically Central Nova, not specifically what I could do for him or what he could do for me, but just to open the door -- and the door as far as I'm concerned is still open -- to discuss whether there was some way that despite our first-past-the-post system, leaders who care about their country and are willing to put the planet first can't find some way to communicate."

May also told Question Period co-host Jane Taber she was "sad" the NDP had dragged Lewis into the discussion. She said she would have never said publicly that Lewis was trying to help kick-start discussions.

Months of effort? If anyone suggests that the May/Dion talks where kick-started as a mutual effort to squeeze out the NDP, the above seems to contradict that argument. It would appear, there was ample opportunity for a bi-partisanship effort between the NDP and Greens, but Layton decided that it wasn't in the NDP's best interest. So much for the rhetoric about putting partisanship aside to do good work for Canadians.

May turns to Lewis, because they are friends, and hopefully he can break the partisan posturing. Meanwhile, Dion is receptive, and May moves to find common ground. If the NDP is alone, against the big-bad Liberals and the upstart Greens, it is because the NDP decided to isolate itself, not because of backrooms and unsavoury motivations.

On an issue that Layton claims as his own, he couldn't find the time to hear May out. One thing is now crystal clear, Layton's move to bring the Clean Air Act to committee wasn't a noble gesture, it was a pure political manoeuvre, meant to help the NDP fortunes. I applauded Layton at the time, because it was quite a coup, but the corresponding shun of May's overtures completely undermines his "achievement".

Of all the political parties, there is no WIDER GULF than the policies of the NDP and the Conservatives. On pure principle, no one should want to rid Canada of the Harper Conservatives more than Jack Layon. On principle, any effort to engage and co-ordinate should be endorsed whole-heartedly. On principle, you own it too the environmental movement to find common ground with like-minded individuals. The complete rebuff speaks volumes, and shreds any illusion of moral compass. Where was the harm in talking, I mean really? I agree, what the hell is wrong with Jack Layton.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The "Backroom"

Everybody enters, but some like to pretend it doesn't exist. Case in point, the outrage coming from the likes of Layton, even Broadbent. Ed responding to May's rejection of the backroom:
"Did they have telephone conversations in front of the cameras?" former NDP leader ED Broadbent sarcastically asked.

I agree with the NDP, where is the transparency, why not have all this unfold in front of the cameras? When will Layton release the tapes of his phone conversations with Stephen Harper? When can we get a transcript of the discussion over sending the Clean Air Act to committee? I mean, the NDP is above such dastardly conduct, surely they wouldn't mind if Canadians had a front seat to any "discussions" with Harper.

I'm not mincing words here. There is no question in my mind that Layton has met with Harper and the Liberals have come up in the conversation. All you have to do is listen to the Harper and Layton rhetoric. Harper has continually tried to frame the NDP as constructive, the Liberals divisive and unhelpful. Given what we know of Harper's hyper-politicism, I submit only a complete fool, would take that assessment at face value. Clearly, the distinction is intentional, and when you couple that reality with Layton's early performance in Parliament, wherein he seemed to forget who the government was, you see the transparency.

I want to ask Jack Layton, have the Liberals ever come up in your conversations with Stephen Harper? Was there any talk between yourself and the Conservatives to undermine the Liberal Party, for your mutual benefit? It seems obvious from here, and that is why the last election was the last time I will ever cast a vote for the Layton-led NDP. The bottom line, these two weren't even very good at hiding their mutual intention, it was almost embarrassing on certain occasions. Two parties, who couldn't be farther apart on the political spectrum, enjoy a respect for each other, yet the one party that sits between them is the common foe. You do the math.

I want something done on the environment. I believe the revised Clean Air Act is excellent legislation. If there is any hope of those policies being developed, then the obstacle is clearly the Conservatives. With that reality in mind, any effort to come together to turf the Conservatives is welcome news, if you are pure in wanting action. Yes, the NDP did an great job getting the legislation to committee, and their role in that committee was paramount. However, small problem, until we have a government that favours the policies, the revised act is a practical mirage. The question then becomes, how to we get something done, that is real and progressive?

If May makes the call, you answer it. You don't ignore, you don't rebuff without hearing May out, you listen and see. If you conclude there is no commonality, then fine, but to put up walls and resist initially seems like pure partisan crap from here. I don't care about the past, I don't care what the Liberals didn't do anymore, I care about moving forward. One harsh fact, the NDP reactions confirm one problem, "getting things done" only seems to apply if it shines the light brightly on the anointed ones. Somewhere Stephen Harper laughs, as old tribal lines prevent a big picture approach- enjoy the purity.

Harper Going Nowhere

Another national poll, which demonstrates some interesting themes. Yes, it would appear that Harper has made strides in Quebec, but those gains are clearly countered elsewhere in Canada, resulting in a net nothing for the Tories:


Mar 28th poll______Apr 12 poll

Ont 35% down 8____Ont 37% up 2
BC 37% down 7____BC 39% up 2
Que 26% up 1_____Que 31% up 5
Alb 58% same_____Alb 68% up 10
SaMa 42% down 2____SaMa 39% down 3
Atl 37% down 3____Atl 31% down 6


Ont 38% up 5______Ont 40% up 2
BC 31% same______BC 32% up 1
Que 23% down 3____Que 21% down 2
Alb 18% down 6____Alb 18% same
SaMa 24% up 7_____SaMa 29% up 5
Atl 48% up 13____Atl 43% down 5


Tories 36_______Tories 38 up 2
Libs 31_________Libs 32 up 1
NDP 15__________NDP 14 down 1
Green 9_________Green 8 down 1
Bloc 8__________Bloc 8 same

The March 28 results from Ipsos show the trends from the prior poll. The Liberals are up a full 12% in Sask/Man in the last two polls, while the Conservatives have dropped 5%. In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals are still up 8% from two polls ago, the Conservatives down 9%. British Columbia, the Liberals stay firm, but the Tories are down 5%, following the trend. Ontario looks competitive, but again the trends show a Liberal bounce and a Tory erosion, Liberals up 7% in the last two polls, Tories down 6%.

I'm including three polls here, using the first as a baseline, because it gives a better flavor of the trends. The latest poll says Liberals down in Atlantic Canada, but given the 13% jump they enjoyed in the Mar 28th poll, it looks more like a simple correction than a real dip in support.

The real bright spot for Harper is obviously Quebec, where the Conservatives are now statistically tied with the Bloc, while the Liberals slowly fade. One caveat, if there is one province where Dion has the potential to rebound, it's his home province, and that should be factored in during a campaign. Having said that, Harper is well positioned to pickup seats in Quebec, although there is little chance of a "sweep".

The regional breakdowns are important because they show that whatever gains made in Quebec, the Conservatives could well lose elsewhere. The numbers in Sask/Man should cause some pause, and Atlantic Canada might be lost entirely, particularly when you factor in the new independent analysis that shows the cost of the Tory equalization proposals.

The Conservatives enjoy a slight bounce since the last poll, although it is within the MOE. However, when you factor out the irrelevant 10% rise in Alberta (you can't win more than the already 100% of seats), the slight bump looks like a plateau from here. Harper's courtship of Quebec has curried favour, but it has done little for his chances overall, as he clearly alienates other regions.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Dion/May Criticism

Jack Layton, comments on the May/Dion alliance:
NDP Leader Jack Layton says a deal between the Liberal and Green Party leaders will deny Canadian choices in the next federal election.
Layton says he's surprised and disappointed that supposedly principled politician like Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has "so quickly slipped into the muck of backroom wheeling and dealing."

I don't want this to be a partisan argument, because I respect many of the NDP supporters, but the above is weak at best. I have also heard the same type of criticisms from Conservatives. Tories will react in their typical way, but the NDP should take the high-road here, and resist criticizing May. Why? It's a tough sell, trying to convince voters that May is a political opportunist, who sacrifices principle for expediency.

If May were truly worried about her own fortunes, then why in the hell would she decide to run in a riding that gives her little realistic chance of winning? May's decision stands as one of the most apolitical moves I can remember. In fact, if I were a Green strategist, I would characterize that decision as politically naive, bordering on stupidity. The goal is to get Greens in parliament, particularly the leader, there were MANY other options that afforded May a real opportunity. The fact that she chose MacKay's riding serves as proof positive, this woman isn't a political animal in the traditional sense. With this reality as backdrop, any attempt by others to paint May as a "backroom" operator has zero legs. In fact, and this is the danger for the NDP, any attacks on May personally will simply look like sour grapes.

Canadians are sick and tired of partisan politics, as many in the NDP constantly remind us. I would suggest that May's approach as leader of the Greens represents a new style, that Canadians will find refreshing. I had wondered if May's decision to work with Dion was a good thing for the Greens. However, when you think about it, what better way to signal to Canadians that there is another option, that enters the political arena with a different mindset. Working together beyond partisanship, possibly undermining self-interest for a larger goal, those are themes that objectively play well, with a public whose cynicism is well-documented. After recent events, no one can say the Green Party is same old, same old.

The early Conservative attacks are downright amusing at this point. The Liberal Party is no longer a national entity, because it takes a pass on .29% of all available ridings. Yep, that will fly for sure, clearly a regional entity now, only Harper can speak for the whole country.

The other angle, Dion is disenfranchising Liberal voters in Central Nova, democracy is the victim. Not quite, Dion is endorsing May, she is essentially the defacto Liberal choice. If voters disagree, then there are other options available, and if voters feel slighted, the Liberal Party will pay a price. Sounds fine from here, particularly in a riding that is hardly a Liberal stronghold. For a party that has an unelected Minister at present, it might be better not to trumpet the idea of fair representation, lest the hypocrisy be to pointed.

My advice to Layton, take the high road and don't risk looking too partisan, especially when the whole "arrangement" will be framed as apolitical. Wish May luck, and fight her tooth and nail, in a riding the NDP could well win. My advice to Conservative critics, keep trying :) Does anyone really believe Conservative strategists were smiling when they heard the news? Exactly, and that's the only point in my mind.