Friday, August 31, 2007

What A Hoot

Pretty rich stuff coming out of the Conservative website:
Dion is quickly becoming one of the most negative Opposition leaders in Canadian history.

Instead of making Parliament work, Dion has done nothing but criticize.

Dion’s negativity stands in stark contrast to Stephen Harper’s record in Opposition –putting forward positive alternatives...

While Dion continues to criticize from the sidelines, Canada’s New Government is building a stronger, safer, better Canada.

I suggest a re-read of the Hansard, because from my recollection Harper was full of piss and vinegar on a regular basis. All we heard, for months on end, attack, attack, threaten, attack, slur, attack... The Conservatives were such a constructive lot, their platform book started with broadsides directed towards the Liberals, as opposed to actual "positive alternatives", which speaks volumes. If Stephane Dion is the most negative Opposition leader in history, then he takes the title from our current PM, the master of all things counter-productive.

Flesh It Out

When it comes to policy, there seems to be a widely held view that is best for a party to release initiative ideas heading into an election. The logic of maximum exposure, a relatively attentive audience, coupled with the idea that you limit the opportunity for your opponent to counter seems to make sense. However, in the case of a party struggling to find a new identity, where the electorate has questions about direction, is it not better to flesh out the program immediately, rather than wait for the glare of a campaign?

At the Liberal retreat, advice was given that suggested the Liberals needed to articulate a clear alternative. Obviously, the best way to layout a vision, that people can relate too, is a platform. You have a leader that is still a question mark, leading a party that doesn’t seem to resonate, in the sense it lacks a real draw. The anti-Harper is only part of the equation, and this may explain why the Conservative erosion hasn’t brought the usual conversion to the Liberals. The Liberals are stagnant, because there is a idea deficit. Lately, we are starting to see some direction, but I think it an objective truth that most people would be stumped if asked- what do the Liberals stand for?

The Liberals don’t have to release a full platform, but given the circumstances, addressing the current weakness, I can’t think of a better strategy than articulating some concrete policy now. As a matter of fact, the usual barrage of policy we see come election time can be overwhelming to people. Case in point, the McGuinty onslaught, which makes me wonder if the Ontario Liberals are getting full value for the policy buck. Attractive polices are one-day stories, as the next plank is released, resulting in sensory overload. Slow and steady, release and digest, might be a more shrewd strategy.

The Liberals would be well served if they heeded the advice of this week, and put some flesh on the bone. Rather than trying to push voters away from Harper, it is more important to pull.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sore Losers

With almost religious zeal, the Conservatives continue their assault on the Canadian Wheat Board. Back to the courts, for another sound defeat:
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Thursday the government will appeal a federal court judge's ruling that the Conservative cabinet overstepped its authority in trying to end the monopoly.

"We in the government have not hidden the fact we are disappointed with the decision of that federal court," Ritz said while standing next to grain bins at farm in Balgonie, Sask.

Instead, lawyers have been asked to file an appeal in the Federal Court of Appeal. Ritz couldn't say how long that might take, but said it will happen well within a deadline date of Oct. 10. He was also vague on the legal details, but insisted that the government's arguments "are solid and defensible."...

"What this shows from the Harper government is absolute arrogance and contempt for the courts and for Parliament," said Wayne Easter, the Liberal's agriculture critic.

"What are the legal grounds for this appeal? They haven't mentioned any of those," said Easter.

"These actions create further uncertainty, damage the credit rating and certainly damage Canada's international reputation abroad when a government will not abide by a court decision and the law of the land."

The CWB does not believe there is a strong legal ground for an appeal.

"We had a very strong case when we launched our judicial review and received a decisive decision," Flaman said in an interview in White City, Sask., just outside Regina.

I don't claim to be a lawyer, but from all appearances the original ruling was pretty unambigious about proper channels for "reform". I don't see how an appeal could be successful, but if the Conservatives want more bad press, let the political tin ear guide.

Actually, this appeal looks more like bitter stubbornness, than a coherent strategy. The government knows Parliament isn't an option, nor is the CWB democratic process, so rather than just give up, the sanctimonous press on.

This issue represents the best case example of what type of government we would have if the Conservatives were to achieve a majority. On this file, we see the repressed ideologues forget the appearances and the poll driven makeup. No respect for process, manipulation, smears, dishonest choices, bully tactics and now sore losers, with a vindictive streak. As it relates to the CWB, this is the real "new" government, uncensored and hardly attractive.

Kennedy Takes Job, Election Called Off

I love the National Newswatch, but this inference is a real stretch- "Kennedy Appointment Raises Questions About Dion's Plans". Gerard gets a job, you do the math:
Dr. Ken Jones, Dean, Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, today announced the appointment of Gerard Kennedy, former Ontario Minister of Education, past federal Liberal leadership candidate, and former Executive Director of the Daily Bread Food Bank as a Distinguished Visiting Professor for a one year term effective September 4, 2007.

"We are very pleased that Gerard Kennedy is joining the Ted Rogers School of Management," said Jones. "The appointment gives students the opportunity to nbenefit from Kennedy's tremendous management, leadership and problem-solving experience, and to connect and engage with him so their skills and insights are as relevant as possible."

"When you talk to Gerard, you are energized," said Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University. "That is what every university wants for its students. His intellectualism, ingenuity and drive are a great fit for our teaching and research, which is about real issues and making things better for the community."

This appointment is absolutely meaningless, in the grand scheme, offering no indication of Dion's plans. There are plenty of other would-be Liberal candidates who are working in the interim, with an election date anything but certain. Does anyone doubt an understanding, that if an election is called, Kennedy will relinquish his new post? Kennedy can't sit idly by, waiting on possibilities. Much ado about nothing.

Thanks For Sharing

Ignatieff probably meant well, drawing the comparison between the puffin and the Liberal Party, but his illustrations are wanting:
"Ignatieff Champions Bird That Hides Its Excrement As Symbol Of Liberal Party" (great title)

"It's a noble bird because it has good family values. They stay together for 30 years," Ignatieff said Thursday outside a Liberal caucus retreat in the Newfoundland capital.

"They lay one egg (each year). They put their excrement in one place. They hide their excrement. ... They flap their wings very hard and they work like hell.

"This seems to me a symbol for what our party should be."

Ignatieff was charmed by the birds during what was supposed to be a whale-watching tour for Liberal caucus members Tuesday.

Liberals are paper trained, Liberals hide their poop in the closet. I'm not so sure that is "a symbol for what our party should be", but the imagery is striking.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Canadian Military Doesn't Support The Troops?

The most practical way to support the troops in Afghanistan, give them all the tools available to best protect. If there is a threat identified, and the military requires additional help, there should be no hesitation in terms of "hardware". The recent rise of the IED, as tactical choice of Taliban, has revealed a dangerous reliance on ground supply operations. The argument, Canada needs helicopters to lessen the risk to soldiers, who are forced to travel dangerous routes because there is no alternative.

I was reading an article, wherein a Liberal Senator is demanding that the military send over Griffon helicopters:
The head of the Senate's defence committee is calling on the government and the military to immediately send Griffon helicopters to Afghanistan as part of an effort to cut down on casualties.

Liberal Senator Colin Kenny says the use of the choppers as resupply transports would reduce the time troops spend operating ground-supply convoys that are highly vulnerable to insurgent attacks and IEDs - improvised explosive devices.

Fair enough, there seems to be some debate over the Griffon's effectiveness, but then you read this tidbit:
The Canadian American Strategic Review, a defence-oriented Internet site operated out of Simon Fraser University, points out that until July 2006 the U.S. Marines flew convoy escort duties from Kandahar airfield in Huey helicopters. Those choppers are similar to the Griffons but less powerful, the site adds. It also questioned why the marines can operate such choppers when the Canadian Forces considers the local conditions in Kandahar too extreme for the Griffons.

The Canadian American Strategic Review also suggests that the reason the Griffons are not being sent is because the Canadian Forces fear that deploying helicopters to Kandahar would take the pressure off politicians to approve future equipment purchases.

What an amazing conclusion, and if true, a complete betrayal of the troops. Equipment is being held back, for fear that the use will prevent the purchase of more modernized equipment? If the Griffon proves itself relevant, then it gives the impression that Canada doesn't need the new Chinook helicopters. In other words, the soldiers wellbeing is nothing more than a pawn, in an elaborate game of maximizing leverage. People could die, because the Canadian Forces braintrust doesn't want the Griffon in the field, undercutting their poor cousin arguments. If the above is actually part of the thought process in the upper echelons of the military, then "support the troops" doesn't quite amount to the absolute we are constantly sold. "Support the modernization of the military" seems to be the real catch phrase.

The Right Balance

The Liberals are positioning themselves as the reluctant combatant, and I think it shrewd moving forward. Acknowledging that the party isn’t really ready for a fight, the timing anything but perfect isn’t an admission of weakness. In fact, by articulating that position, it effectively insulates the Liberals from any cynical criticism, should they decide to vote against the government and force an election.

If you eliminate opportunism, and Canadians buy into the idea that you would have preferred to wait, then the decision to support a non-confidence appears to be a principled stance. Dion doesn’t want to go to the polls, but there is just no way his conscience will allow him to prop up the government. That theme will get traction, because all the media is well aware that the “Liberals not ready” angle isn’t pure creation, it is actually an objective truth.

Everyone remembers the frenzy of the potential election call in the spring. The Conservatives went to great pains to try and pin any move towards an election on the Liberals. Every quote from a Liberal that mentioned an election was used by Conservative stooges as proof that the Liberals were itching to bring down the government. This was done, because it is common knowledge that you don’t want to look opportunistic, particularly when the public doesn’t want another election. Given the recent conflicting signals from the Liberals, I think the Conservatives would have a very hard time painting the Liberals as political calculator now. The Liberals have the principle-counter, Dion as integrity first, with no regard for the polls or the coffers. If we do have an election, the Liberals should be able to sell the idea that they were dragged into an election, as opposed to actively orchestrating.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Which National Post online headline screams click me?:

Balloon pilot 'shattered' by deadly explosion

First Nations protest over uranium mining continues

U.S. senator arrested in toilet says he’s not gay

More spy planes needed in fight against Taliban

Teen girls held in beating of elderly woman

Murder acquittal a 'dream come true' for Truscott

Iran vows to ‘fill the gap’ in Iraq if U.S. leaves

U.S. passport deadline unrealistic, Canada warns

The Full Monty

If the NDP loses the by-election in Outremont, it won't be for lack of effort:
The 29 NDP MPs spent Monday evening door knocking in the riding of Outremont, where some observers have said the by-election taking place there is turning into a race between the Liberals and the NDP.

“The reaction of seeing so many NDPers in the streets was very positive,” said Mr. Layton.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this might be the first time an entire national caucus has canvassed in a by-election. I have to hand to Layton and the NDP strategists, they are leaving no stone unturned.

Read The Fine Print

If you read the synopsis of the new Strategic Counsel poll, you would have to conclude it's nothing but roses for the Conservatives, order the champagne. However, if you actually read the numbers, the conclusions look more like spin than reality. First the "expert opinion":
"Don't let the neck-and-neck party standings fool you. After a year and a half in office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has built up some impressive political capital.

Or, after a year and a half Harper is below his election totals, which resulted in a fragile minority. Or, for the first time since the convention bump, the Liberals are polling at 33%. Don't let voter intention fool you? Hello, where you mark the X is the bottomline, isn't it?

On the right track:
"Nearly six out of 10 Canadians think the country is on the right track."

What the article fails to mention, the 57% right track number is down 4% nationally since last year, 6% in Ontario, 9% in the West. Hardly a trend to suggest Conservative momentum.

Breaking out in Quebec:
Conservatives continue to have the potential to make more gains in Quebec outside Montreal. At this point, the Federal Conservatives are now the federalist party of choice outside Montreal.

A clear example of painting a picture, by playing with the variables. Liberal support is actually up in Montreal since the election, Conservative support down to a concerning 14%. Outside of Montreal, the Liberals are up 3% since the election, Conservatives DOWN 3%.

Some internals might suggest hope, but the simple reality there has been no translation into actual support. In Quebec, the Liberals scored 21% in the election, they now score 24%, while the Cons have dropped to 21% from the 25% in 2006. The poll concludes that the Cons are now the second-choice outside Montreal. In reality, the Cons were the second choice in the election, but that gap has eroded since then- 17% gap with the Liberals in 2006, now down to 11%.

The best part of the poll, the conclusion that Harper is getting traction with Canadians. You may be surprised to learn that the internals show Harper with a higher negative impression, than positive:


positive 27%
neutral 40%
negative 32%


positive 25%
neutral 43%
negative 31


positive 24%
neutral 40%
negative 33%


positive 33%
neutral 40%
negative 24%

Harper's negatives are higher than his positives, which is the best indicator of the leader's support. Harper's negatives are higher everywhere, except the west, with the caveat that the Conservative's support is down significantly in B.C. since the election (-6%). How Strategic Counsel concludes that Harper is making inroads, or the inference that the horserace numbers don't tell the whole story, is absolutely beyond me. If you look at the poll itself, I see very little to crow about for the Conservatives. I wonder if Strategic Counsel is currently bidding for another government polling contract?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Liberals Talking Tough

Stephane Dion is clearly ramping up the rhetoric, sounding combative and willing to force an election. In making clear statements on contentious issues, Dion is effectively drawing a line in the sand. I'm starting to think the Liberal braintrust has concluded a fall election isn't necessarily the bad option first blush would suggest:
Dion said it will not matter if the polls suggest, as they did last spring when a bout of election fever evaporated, that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals had enough support to secure a majority in a federal election.

"Never, as leader of this party, will I recommend to my caucus to support a bad throne speech or a bad budget bill," Dion said. "So even though we are tied or somewhere like this in the polls with the Conservatives, we are not obligated to vote for something wrong. There is no way."

He said if the Conservatives, in a throne speech, insist on proceeding with their green plan and kill the opposition legislation requiring a faster reduction of greenhouse gas emissions "we will not be able to support it and look Canadians in the eye."

"It's not that I want to go in an election but everybody will understand that as a man of honour, I cannot stand for something that I think is wrong."

There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that the Conservatives will accomodate the opposition on the environment file. As a matter of fact, a high profile battle is guaranteed, with no room for compromise. That fact makes Dion's statements all the more telling, because there is no wiggle room in his stance, he and his advisors know the landscape.

If you assume the NDP and Bloc will vote against the government, and all the recent rhetoric suggests they are ready, then Dion knows that his "demands" are anything but hollow. On the political calculation front, the announcement last week of the obscene first-quarter surplus, the revised growth figures for the fiscal year, translate into a government that will be awash in money come the next budget. Facing the prospects of a massive taxcuts, a goodie filled budget that will supercede this year's, the Liberals might see benefit in moving quickly.

Conventional wisdom assumes the party needs more time to fundraise, more time for Dion to get his bearings, but those shortcomings might fade in the thinking if you balance the advantages. The Liberals are very well placed on Afghanistan, wedged within the mainstream. Dion's primary issue is guaranteed to be on the frontburner if the government falls on the environment file. Couple this fact with a government trying to find their second wind, and you have a scenario which isn't that unattractive.

I take Dion at his word, as it relates to honor, integrity and the lack of concern over polls. Having said that, everyone is well aware that others in the inner circle are consumed with strategy and Dion's words are vetted to some extent. The odds of a fall election look more realistic, as the preamble to the return of Parliament unfolds.

Support The Troops, Lower The Flag

Absent from the "support the troops" debate, any criticism of the Harper government. I find the silence deafening, and another indication that the troops are secondary to partisan politics. Where are the cries, the patriotic passion, from the faithful, to change this decision:
reversing the previous Liberal government's practice of lowering the flag on Parliament Hill's Peace Tower to mark military deaths.

The Conservatives say they are returning to the traditional protocol of honouring fallen soldiers by lowering the Peace Tower flag only on Remembrance Day.

People are scouring any potential vehicle to honor our soldiers, and yet none of the uber-nationalists has seen fit to reprimand the Conservatives for failing to fly the flag at half-mast, whenever there is a casualty. If you want to highlight support, it seems natural to want the federal government to acknowledge the sacrifice. Why hasn't one patriot seen fit to start a petition, demanding the federal government reverse its purely political decision?

According to the Harper government (h/t Scott Tribe):
Harper, who didn't use the word "Afghanistan" in the speech, wouldn't answer reporters' questions afterwards.

Officials from the Prime Minister's Office say Harper refuses to play politics with the deaths of soldiers.

Politics are irrelevant, so it begs the question, why exactly can't we honor the fallen by lowering the flag at our national institution? Where is the petition drive? Where is the lively debate on conservative talk shows? Crickets.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bumper Stickers

Some of the Blogging Tories are having fun with the DNC request for bumper sticker slogans. It made me think of some ideas for our own Conservative Party, that might be effective in the next election. Feel free to add your own:
"Science Is A Fad"

"Say One Thing, Do Another"

"Pandering To Quebec Since 2006"

"Taking the Fiscal Out Of Conservative"

"Winter Is Over Rated"

"How Do You Like The Liberals Now?"

"White Men Do It Better"

"People That Work Hard, People That Don't Have Time To Protest"

Stephen Harper, today in Quebec, telling his fellow Conservatives who his government represents.

Anti-Gun Registry Rally:

Anti-Gay Marriage Protest:

Anti-Abortion Protest:

Lazy Farmers Bitching Again:

Calgary Slackers Protest Income Trust Reversal:

I applaud the Prime Minister for identifying all these deadbeats, that put a drain on Canada's productivity. Get to work.


Greg points out in the comments, that Harper followed the above with "or have money to hire protesters". It's almost like Harper forgets that he isn't speaking at a closed door meeting.

Fabricating Momentum

According to Angus Reid, President Bush is enjoying an uptick in support:
Public backing for the United States president is gradually improving, according to four recent public opinion polls. In a survey by Opinion Dynamics released by Fox News, 33 per cent of respondents approve of how George W. Bush is handling his job, up one point since mid-July.

It is almost laughable, that right after the assertion that Bush is bouncing back, they site a poll that shows a 1% rise since last month, statistically IRRELEVANT. Here is a quick run down of the four polls approval, which someone lead to this conclusion:

33%(August 22)
32%(July 18)


32%(August 16)
34%(August 5)





It is baffling that you conclude Bush is "gradually improving", when one of the four shows an erosion, one is basically the same, the other well within the margin of error. You could say that Bush has hit bottom and stabilized, but to suggest momentum is playing loose with the facts. If you average the four polls, you find a net +1 for Bush, hardly noteworthy.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Half The Battle

For an upstart campaign, half the battle is creating the perception that you can win. With marginal voters, the idea of backing a loser is unattractive, but if people sense momentum and viability, that creates possibility. Uncorrected Proofs has provided some first-hand accounts of the by-election in Outremont. I don't want to overstate the importance of one opinion, particularly a NDP supporter, but his/her perceptions are interesting. Visually, it would appear the NDP has done there job in creating a sense that Muclair is a force:
the NDP's much smaller signs are attached to almost every single post in Outremont and therefore Mulcair is hands down the winner of the sign war. Admittedly, these pictures were taken on the same street as Mulcair's campaign headquarters (pictured below). However driving through the riding would leave no doubt in the minds of the average voter that an NDP breakthrough is certainly within the realm of possibility, if not probability.

Quite simply, there is NO excuse for a supposed Liberal stronghold to play second-fiddle to anyone, particularly the NDP, when it comes to visual presentation. The casual voter, driving around the riding, is bound to think that the NDP is a force to be reckoned with, a marginal player no more. Just signs, but there is no doubt they are important cues that do influence.

Uncorrected Proofs also posted on a recent visit by Layton and Chow, which my count is 3 seperate visits to the riding by the NDP leader. That presence also sends a strong message that the NDP is in this race to win, not to mention the free press a leader's visit guarantees. You sense a measure of urgency in the NDP campaign, that quite frankly doesn't seem to be matched by the incumbent party. IMHO, this is a dangerous game, because this by-election will have aftershocks.

Fast forward to by-election night. The Bloc takes two seats, guaranteeing a good night. The Conservatives are likely shut out, hardly a statement of any momentum in the province. The NDP has the potential to steal the show, and I would submit even a narrow loss is a partial victory. If the Liberals win in a squeaker, we will hear whispers, people will talk about the last stronghold, now a competitive battlefield. A slim victory brings more questions, a loss disaster.

When I hear first-hand accounts such as the above, it makes me wonder (from the OUTSIDE) if Liberals don't quite appreciate the stakes. It would appear that the NDP is awash in energy and motivation, while the Liberals carry on like the old-guard, with a bit too much comfort for my liking.

Who Doesn't "Support Our Troops?"

Saying you support our troops is really a given, isn't it? Whether or not you support the mission is irrelevant to the well being of the troops. As a matter of fact, I've yet to hear anyone opposed to the war direct their anger or apprehension towards the military itself. The debate in Canada has now reached the absurd, ala America, wherein a nationalist peer pressure has emerged, equating ribbons and highways with loyalty. Anyone who dissents is somehow against the troops, or so goes the inference. The situation in Calgary, is a microcosm of manufactured battlelines, divisive politics, misplaced outrage, and overall marginal melodrama:
There have been protesters at City Hall and letter-writing campaigns. Talk-show lines regularly light up with callers cursing his name. But the uglier the political storm gets, the more determined Calgary's mayor seems in his refusal to let a few measly yellow ribbon decals adorn municipal vehicles, expressing support for the troops in Afghanistan.

But for five weeks and counting, the head of the biggest city in Canada's least-politically correct province has steadfastly battered through a war of his own making, fighting against putting the same stickers on Calgary vehicles, leaving citizens mystified at Dave Bronconnier's readiness to dig in deep on the unpopular side of a deeply populist issue.

Kudos to the mayor, for standing firm in the face of what amounts to national hysteria. It is funny that people have devoted so much energy and venom, on an issue that is really trivial in the scheme of things. Who cares if a few vehicles have a sticker, is it really a testament to national pride and loyalty? The problem, these stickers and other forms of expression have become politicized, and their presence blurs the lines between support for the troops and support for the war. Do you support the troops in their current mission? According to the polls, the answer suggests Canadians aren't exactly a monolith:
Conducted by Ipsos-Reid, the poll found 51 per cent of respondents across the country said they support the mission, while 45 per cent oppose it. The numbers remained virtually unchanged from a month ago.

"There's 24.5 million adult Canadians in this country and we have found that about 12.25 million have supported the mission and 12.25 million have been against it from the beginning. There has not been any drastic swings in support and opposition against the effort," said Wright.

Half of Canadians don't support the troops? Bullocks. I think the mission is flawed, desperately needs a re-think, places too much emphasis on military objectives, but that feeling doesn't translate to a lack of empathy or support for the people engaged. One's personal feelings about the war are irrelevant when you hear of death and I find it quite emotional to watch the images of caskets and fellow soldiers grieving for their friends.

Do were ever hear the "anti-war" crowd argue against spending on new armored vehicles, that provide better protection for the troops? No, because people are sophisticated enough to seperate the mission with the well being of the men/women. As a matter of fact, concern for wellbeing is a driving force in many people's resistence to this mission. If you conclude that we are engaged in a "whack a mole" scenario in Afghanistan, you see people dying needlessly and want it to stop. You don't want another mother to lose her son, in what you see as a flawed process. The soldier in question sees the value, you disagree, but that doesn't draw the co-relation the uber-nationalists like to argue. I'm sure they are a few relatives of the "fallen" who are against the mission, or question, does that mean they don't support their family member? If the mayor of Calgary doesn't support stickers, how is it that this translates to snubbing the troops, or lacking sensitivity?

This mission has reached a different phase, wherein we see the "with us or against us", "love it or leave it" mentality developing, with a vocal, grassroots lobby group trying to inflict their sensibilities on the rest of us. Put the sticker on your own car, that is your right. However, it is my right to dissent against using publicly funded vehicles, or highways, as a political statement. The argument is a illusion, no one is supressing anything if they don't support a statement, there are a myriad of avenues available that don't involve the herd approach. In many ways, I support the troops, I just don't support the troops supporters.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Where's The Video?

Two different scenarios, one supported by video, the other unsubstantiated diversion. Both the police and Stockwell Day, singing the same note:
"At no time did the officers in question engage in provocation or incite anyone to commit violent acts," said Savard.

He also said one of the officers was given a rock by protesters but the officer had no intention of using it.

"One of the extremists gave the rock to one of our police officers and he had a choice to make," Savard said.

"He was asked by extremists to throw the rock at the police, but never had any intention of using it."

Public Security Minister Stockwell Day, meanwhile, continued to brush of questions about a call for a public inquiry.

"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because were not engaging in violence," Day said Friday in Vancouver.

"They were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks. That's the irony of this," said Day, adding the actions were substantiated by the video that he has seen of the protests.

"Because they were not engaging in violence, it was noted that they were probably not protesters. I think that's a bit of an indictment against the violent protesters."

Day submits he has seen video to substantiate the claim that officers were given rocks, and only "found out" through their refusal. The simpliest way for the police to eliminate any confusion, release the video of the violent protesters. Everyone has seen the YT video, wherein a riot officer is clearly seen with a video camera, why not release the footage?

The video we have seen, shows no relationship whatsoever to the claims made by police. Even if you eliminate the "granny" protesters, the people dressed in black, berating the undercover agents, are clearly seen with NO rocks. These are the people that outed the agents, so if Day and the police are honest, we should see some evidence of objects. There were only four people arrested, from the C of Canadians, how is it that none of the rock throwers were arrested?

Day is making a crucial mistake, interjecting himself this way, because he is now shifting the burden of proof onto the government. For him to make these claims, Day must bring forth something to support them, otherwise he is open to the allegations of coverup. Where's the video?

Highway Of Cheese

It's official:
The stretch of Highway 401 running from Trenton, Ont., to Toronto will be officially renamed the Highway of Heroes in remembrance of Canada's fallen soldiers.

Ontario's provincial government consulted the federal government, municipalities along the highway and the Royal Canadian Legion about the name change on Friday.

The highway will not lose its official designation at the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway, but signs will be erected designating the route as the Highway of Heroes.

The design of the signs has yet to be determined.

Expressions of support are breaking out everywhere, but pardon my cynicism, this idea reeks of cheesy nationalism and political opportunism. Just watch, as other jurisdictions try to out-patriot the lastest move, in a way that is frankly so American.

Everyone supports the troops, I haven't heard of any commentary that attacks or defames the military directly. If you want to express support, write a letter to the troops in Afghanistan, attend a rally, raise money for a memorial, put the flag at half mask, etc. How the renaming of a highway is relevant escapes me, as a matter of fact it seems hollow. What's next, everytime the terrible news comes home, we decide to shut the highway down for an hour, as a sign of respect? Will the uber-patriots litter the sides of the highways with ribbons and other expressions of support? It's a highway, it has no symbolism, other than the fact people have to drive it to get an autopsy. It's a highway, it's just a road. Sorry if I offend.

Flaherty Can't Add

People in Ontario are already aware of Jim Flaherty's problems with accounting. Having said that, the math gap with the federal budget is staggering:
The federal government is once again awash in cash thanks to a much stronger than expected economy.

The Finance Department says the budget surplus for fiscal 2007-08 will be much higher than projected.

In March, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty estimated the surplus would reach $3 billion.

However, the surplus had already reached $6.4 billion in the first three months of the fiscal year, from the beginning of April through the end of June.

In three months the surplus is more than double what Flaherty predicted for the entire year. I realize the economy is probably doing better than anticipated, but isn't it somewhat outrageous for the Minister of Finance to have a surplus potentially 8X the forecast? These aren't Paul Martin numbers, Flaherty is either incompetent or a complete fraud.

Let's not forget that the last budget was an election budget, and if Flaherty had concluded he could afford a big tax cut he would have done it. By the looks of things, Canadians could have a nice income tax cut, not to mention the contentious issue of income-splitting, which Flaherty nixed, on perceived fiscal grounds. Objectively, there is something amiss, when your budget predictions are shattered in the first three months, nevermind the fiscal year.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


New pictures emerge of the three undercover QPP, taken during their last assignment:

Laugh Out Loud

If this isn't complete and utter crap, I don't know what is:
Police say the three were told to seek and locate protesters who were not peacefully demonstrating to prevent any violent incidents. Police say the three were marked by protesters when they refused to throw objects.

Let me get this straight, the protesters "marked" the cops because they wouldn't turn violent. That jives nicely with irrefutable evidence of protesters YELLING at the cops to put down the "object", because it had the potential to ruin an otherwise peaceful march. Did anyone notice any of the protesters with "objects" in their hands? I saw one person, but he was a police officer.

If we take this sad explanation at face value, then we had a group of protesters ready to engage in violence, the cops moved in, and the protesters were able to peg the cops because they too had "objects". "Hey, you're rock isn't limestone, its granite. Fraud, fraud!" It is actually pathetic that the police explanation still attempts to put the blame on the protesters, when there is NO evidence to support the claim. We are all fools, who apparently will buy anything, no matter how ridiculous.

Media Suffering From ADD?

One of the more frustrating aspects of the modern media, is the way in which a story is plastered everywhere one day, virtually non-existent the next. Try to find a fresh story today on the Montebello provocateurs and you will be sadly disappointed. With all the video evidence, particularly clear facial pictures, wouldn't you think that journalists would pursue these "leads" to get to the truth? Surely, there is enough available to dig deeper and find some answers, and yet, judging by the media sites, the story is basically over. The only new development, the NDP is calling for an inquiry:
We are calling on you as Minister to order an immediate inquiry to uncover whether or not agent provocateurs were used at the peaceful protests in Montebello.

If agent provocateurs were present, the public deserves answers to valid questions, including:

Who are the three individuals alleged to be agent provocateurs?

Was the Government of Canada informed that such measures would be used as part of the security detail at the summit?

Were the RCMP or other security forces at the summit, including from the US, privy to the use of such a security tactic?

Who was responsible for providing direction to the agents?

Were the agents directed to use force and/or violent means to disrupt the peaceful protest?

Finally, if agent provocateurs were used, what was the expected outcome in deliberately trying to destabilize a democratic protest in Canada?

We believe these are critical questions that cannot go ignored - questions that concern the relationship between state security forces and the potential infringement of democratic rights to peaceful assembly protest and to freedom of expression. As Dave Coles, President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union said “in a free and democratic society, people have the right to peacefully protest something they don't like.”

The Liberals have asked the same, although less formally, but for real pressure to occur the media has to keep this story on the frontburner. I guess Lindsay Lohen's DUI plea takes precedence over fundamental rights, in a democratic society, not to mention security forces endangering people for apparent political purposes. Priorities, I understand completely.


I stand corrected, CBC and CTV both had items on their newscasts tonight, in the face of the police admissions.

Fall Election?

The summer lull looks to be over, with all three opposition leaders hinting at a fall election. Dion doesn't want to make threats, but:
"If they (shut down Parliament), and they go to another throne speech, everybody knows...that the risk of an election is going up," Dion said. "I can't speak for the other parties but there's no chance, or no risks I should say, that Liberal MPs would rise in support of a throne speech that we judged was going against the best interests of Canadians and the honour of our country."

Layton talking tough:
A Conservative decision to ignore a law requiring them to find ways to meet Kyoto targets is a provocation that could spell the end of the minority government.

"It is an explicit and important example of how the government is not respecting the wishes of the majority of elected parliamentarians," NDP Leader Jack Layton said. "They can't expect our party to take that kind of disrespect lying down."

Passage of the Throne Speech would require a confidence motion that could cause the government to fall - and Mr. Layton suggests the lack of action on climate change would force his party to vote against the Conservatives.

The Bloc, sounding fiesty:
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe says he's ready to take down Stephen Harper's Conservative government if the prime minister doesn't make a firm commitment to withdraw Canadian troops from Afghanistan by February 2009.

"Everybody knows there's a possibility of a ... confidence vote where the government can be defeated," he told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

The missing element, what would be the Conservative thinking on a fall election. It would be pretty easy for Harper to engineer his own defeat with a defiant throne speech, so you would have to assume the PMO is weighing pros and cons. One intangible, a fall election doesn't give the Liberals any traction with the Ontario by-elections and the "star" factor is negated.

Is all this talk from the opposition idle bluster or real desire? From the Bloc perspective, the fall is attractive, because they are likely to win 2 by-elections in Quebec, which should give them some momentum to argue relevance. Judging by Duceppe's reaction to the soldiers death, the cynic in me envisions a careful read of the calendar, with the Afghanistan winter in mind. The Bloc's fortunes in Quebec have turned around slightly in the aftermath of Duceppe's "I'm in, I'm out" confusion, so it isn't a stretch to think they would be prepared to pull the plug.

The NDP took a hit in the latest SES poll, but in all the other polling (online excluded) you find a nice upward trend since last winter. Layton's two big issues, the environment and Afghanistan are both on center stage when Parliament re-convenes, the NDP might conclude the fall has its advantages.

The Liberals are a harder read, and my instincts tell me they would prefer to hold off until spring, Dion's comments aside. Dion did reject Duceppe's language today, saying he doesn't want to make "threats", which might translate into less than enthusiastic support for a confrontation. Between shaky fiscal numbers, and the idea that time is Dion's friend, the Liberal perspective is more complicated. I'm also not convinced that Dion wants an election over the Kyoto Protocol specifically, because it does allow the Conservatives good counter for confusion. The NDP on the other hand, might enjoy watching the Liberals squirm, while Layton attempts to fill the environmental void, all pure and perfect. Tactically, some risk and possible pitfalls for the Liberals.

Conclusion, should be an interesting session.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Poll of Americans, which shows a disparity between reading and political affiliation. Take a wild guess which subset lags behind:
A new AP-Ipsos poll finds that liberals read more books than conservatives. Some highlights from the poll:

– 34 percent of conservatives have not read a book within the past year, compared with 22 percent of liberals and moderates.

– Among those who had read at least one book, conservatives “typically read eight” books in the past year. Liberals read nine, moderates five.

– “By slightly wider margins, Democrats tended to read more books than Republicans and independents. There were no differences by political party in the percentage of those who said they had not read at least one book.”

If you eliminate the "good book", I suspect the gap would be wider.


It's almost hard to fathom, but there it is in black and white, no room for exaggeration or political spin. The RCMP have always used undercover officers to infiltrate demonstrations. The RCMP have always photographed and identified people participating for their data base. Those tactics are debatable, but hardly surprising. What is absolutely outrageous, inciting people, creating a violent situation, which has the potential to endanger otherwise peaceful protesters.

What message does it send, when a concealed man, carrying a rock moves directly toward the police line? Is there any other way to interpret that action, other than a deliberate provocation? Can some apologist even attempt to argue that the rock and the movements were merely a tactic to "fit in"(good luck with that crap)? It really is BEYOND THE PALE that our security forces saw fit to try and incite people. Supposedly there to "keep the peace", it turns out the police are at the heart of any potential problems.

This is a massive story, which might have tenticles that may never see the light of day. Was this an attempt to discredit valid political expression, with the distraction of violence? Earlier, I wrote a post expressing my frustration with certain "hooligans" sidetracking honest protest, with their excessive tactics detracting from the message. After watching the video of this incident, one can't help but wonder if this type of tactic is standard practice during demonstrations? Watching Larry, Curly and Mo, it all seemed very amateurish, but I doubt the orders and intentions weren't well thought out.

This is a disgraceful, simply despicable event, that challenges the basis of our freedoms. Disagreement is a sacred tenet, to try and discredit in such a shameful way is a scandal, by any definition. Let's hope the opposition and media don't allow this story to fizzle out, not for political gain, but so we can find out how warped things have become in Canada, wherein the RCMP think tank concludes its just fine to create violence, endanger people and effectively usurp honest expression.

Baird Carries NDP Water

When is the last time a Minister of the Environment has found it necessary to interject himself into a federal by-election, particularly one where the government party has no chance of winning? John Baird’s comments, surrounding a very old opinion piece, written by Liberal candidate Jocelyn Coulon, is odd at best, but revealing in a tactical sense:
The political attack was prompted by an opinion piece published in a Montreal newspaper by Jocelyn Coulon, the Liberal candidate in Outremont, which stressed the importance of Canada's natural resources, including its water.

But Coulon, a well-known political commentator and academic, said it's clear he wasn't referring to bulk exports of water.

Dion, radical lefty:
Baird said he was baffled by the remarks since Liberal leader Stéphane Dion last week accused the Harper government of "secret negotiations" to export water in bulk to the U.S.

"It's a joke, and it's almost like (Dion) can't find enough to oppose what's in the government's agenda that he has to join the extreme left in aligning himself to get any traction, which is crazy," Baird said.

Baird added Dion was starting to make NDP leader Jack Layton look Conservative by endorsing the "fear-mongering" of left-of-centre lobby groups.

Layton Conservative, Dion “extreme left”? Clearly, Baird is carrying the NDP’s water in Outremont, trying to undermine the Liberals for NDP advantage. Baird is obviously making his comments at the request of the PMO, as surrogate pitbull. The Liberals are being attacked from all sides, the NDP lumps them in with the Conservatives, the Conservatives liken Dion to a marxist. If you counter-balance the criticisms, it says mainstream, which probably explains the contradictory attacks.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Baird Misleads

It's funny how two unrelated news items come together to paint a picture. To nobody's surprise, the government plans on ignoring the Kyoto bill when parliament reconvenes:
The Conservative government has thumbed its nose at the opposition's legislative attempts to force compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, simply republishing its own greenhouse-gas reduction plan as an official response.

The reaction is likely to spur a fresh political and even legal battle over what the government is required to do.

The "plan" it published Tuesday repeats the argument that trying to meet Kyoto by 2012 would wreak economic disaster on the Canadian economy. It estimates astronomical gas-price hikes and catastrophic job losses.

The government is still trying to sell the apocalypse scenario outlined by Baird last spring. Talk about bad timing, just as the government continues with the doom and gloom, a news piece released on the same day illustrates Baird's exaggerations:

A newly released federal analysis of the impact of Canada's international climate change obligations suggests senior government experts were at odds with Environment Minister John Baird's doom and gloom warnings that the Kyoto Protocol would provoke an economic disaster.

The four-page briefing note for the minister, a clause-by-clause analysis of legislation introduced by Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez, said that the Kyoto Implementation Act would be a "major challenge" that could also force massive federal investments overseas. But it said nothing to support Baird's warnings that the law could lead to massive job losses, rising energy prices and a recession.

John Bennett, an environmentalist and spokesperson for, said the analysis demonstrates that the government may have forced its bureaucrats to help Baird produce a report to demolish the Kyoto agreement with statistics that were "made to order."

"They ordered the work done to prove their point," Bennett said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "Still, this government continued to ridicule this bill after they had received it, [when] they definitely could have worked with it."

Ouch. The government is justifying their snub of parliamentary will, by arguing that Kyoto obligations would ruin our economy. Too bad "analysis" doesn't support the alarmist rhetoric, "federal analysis" at that. The contradictions are striking, and the timing is pure kharma.

Wanted: Statesman

In the closing press conference today, Harper once again demonstrated his lack of diplomatic skill, as well as his hyper-partisan instincts. On the question of SPP, Harper eagerly answered first in English, taking shots at the opposition concerns, in particular:
"Is the sovereignty of Canada going to fall apart if we standardize the jelly bean, I don't think so, maybe Mr. Dion thinks so... In fact, it was my Liberal predecessor who initiated them....

Bush then criticized the naysayers, in a far more abstract way, then Calderon answered. After Calderon's comments Harper interjected again, this time in French with:
"I believe for Mr Dion it is a regrettable step backwards to our whole question of NAFTA discussions"

The only leader to mention an opposition leader by name, the only one to provide detail on Canada's internal politics. The fact that Harper found it necessary to comment again in French, after all the leaders gave detailed answers, was an obvious attempt to make sure he inflicted a jab at Dion in both languages, for maximum coverage. The first exchange was regrettable, the second answer was a glaring example of a political animal, who saw an opportunity and couldn't resist.

Today was another example of a clear trend on the international stage, wherein Canada's dirty laundry is aired publicly and the Liberals are directly referenced. There was no need to mention Dion by name, as a matter of fact Harper gained more if played the statesman. Images of Harper on stage, in the middle of two important leaders, are political gold in terms of imagery. The press conference was a great opportunity, in and of itself, why Harper found it necessary to treat it like Question Period is beyond me, but hardly surprising. Canada can do better than a trash talking opportunist, who lacks any sense of diplomatic tact.

Liberal Arts and Minds has more.

Time To Chuck Strahl?

In the flurry of cabinet shuffles, the really intriguing one was Chuck Strahl's move to Indian Affairs. It would appear Strahl's past, and his despot-like approach to the Canadian Wheat Board, have hardly made for a good start in his new portfolio:
Chuck Strahl faced tough questions from aboriginal leaders yesterday over his earlier remarks on treaty rights and his aggressive approach to reforming the Canadian Wheat Board.

Ovide Mercredi, the Chief of Grand Rapids First Nation and a former national grand chief, asked the minister to clarify a statement he made in the House of Commons in 1999, when he said "the Nisga'a treaty creates a separate race-based nation in the heart of British Columbia."

Mr. Strahl also told the Windsor Star in 1999, on the subject of aboriginal fishing rights, that the government has an obligation to all its citizens, not just select groups and "cannot allow the courts to draw racial boundaries through Canada's national resources."

Mr. Mercredi said he was concerned by Mr. Strahl's heavy-handed dealings with the Canadian Wheat Board, and was surprised that he ignored several of the most important issues facing natives in Canada

The negative reception brought this laughable quote from Strahl:
"There was a good exchange of ideas and we'll be back again soon," Mr. Strahl said. "Obviously, a good list of questions, but by working together, sitting down together, that's how you solve them. I was here today to start that and we'll continue as we go ahead."

Clearly, Strahl demonstrated this pragmatic, working together approach, as it related to the CWB. Cough. Given Strahl's past positions, which demonstrate some hostility to native rights, coupled with his authoritarian rule as Minister of Agriculture, this move by Harper shows every indication of blowing up in the government's face. It is a very sensitive time, and the above suggests native groups are reacting with suspicion to the new minister, which is objectively troubling. Strahl has all the attributes and pedigree to translate into a nightmare.

Monday, August 20, 2007

UN Climate Predictions Too Tame?

Hysteria, exaggeration, religious zeal, all descriptions attached by the denier crowd to recent United Nations predictions on climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conclusions were alarmist, alternative explanations deferred and ignored. Add Christopher Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, to the list of those criticizing the IPCC predictions. However, Mr. Rapley suggests the IPCC has under-estimated the problem:
The UN panel of 2,500 scientists said in February that summer sea ice could almost vanish in the Arctic towards the end of this century.

"There may well be an ice-free Arctic by the middle of the century...

Dr. Rapley also said the IPCC was "restrained to the point of being seriously misleading" in toning down what he said were risks of a melt of parts of Antarctica, by far the biggest store of ice on the planet that could raise world sea levels.

New islands:
Previously unknown islands are appearing as Arctic summer sea ice shrinks to record lows, raising questions about whether global warming is outpacing UN projections, experts said.

"Reductions of snow and ice are happening at an alarming rate," Norwegian Environment Minister Helen Bjoernoy said at a seminar of 40 scientists and politicians that began late on Monday in Ny Alesund, 1,200 kilometres from the North Pole.

"This acceleration may be faster than predicted" by the UN climate panel this year, she told reporters at the Aug. 20-22 seminar.

"I know of two islands that appeared in the north of Svalbard this summer. They haven't been claimed yet," said Rune Bergstrom, environmental expert with the Norwegian governor's office on Svalbard.

Interesting that while some still argue that the IPCC is spreading environmental propaganda, we keep hearing more and more expert opinion arguing that their predictions were too tame. While some still argue about the wisdom of relying on computer models, we have recent releases which suggest the computer models are wrong, the only difference, they tend to underestimate what is actually occuring.


Protests are important, and most of the time I'm fully supportive. Having said that, is there anything more predictable, and frankly boring, than hearing about the latest clash between police and a group of anarchists. I've read my Bakunin, but IMHO these constant clashes, everytime there is any type of summit, where a camera might be attendance, has lost the power to have impact.

It is now a pre-requisite that things must deteroriate to the point of tear gas, so that certain groups can claim success at any protest. A badge of honor, a self-fulfilling prophecy, wherein people provoke, to solicit a response, so in turn they can say "told you so". I find the entire spectacle mostly distraction, rather than a relevant "struggle".

When you read the press pieces today, the coverage revolves around the violence and the reaction. There were many groups present today, but their voice is overshadowed by others with an agenda to cause some mayhem and look defiant. That behavior detracts from the message of the more civil protests, and tends to paint the entire exercise in a bad light. To clarify, there are times when violence occurs, wherein it isn't justified, but sadly, it seems to be a "must do" when it comes to the black and red gang. I'm sure the small band of borderline hooligans take great pride in their exploits, but for someone who sees the value in civil disobedience, I find the predictable behavior more dull than thought provoking or relevant.

Cabinet Shuffle Bounce?

Two seperate polls, both suggesting Harper's cabinet shuffle is playing well. At closer glance, it would appear the government has received some good will, which doesn't necessarily translate to support. Quebecers react positively:
The Conservatives made inroads in Quebec with its Cabinet shuffle last Tuesday, according to a new poll by Innovative Research Group for The Hill Times, which shows that, as a result of the shuffle, Quebecers are twice as likely to be more favourable to the government than the rest of Canada.

"What we see is that in Quebec, the shuffle's being seen more positively than in the rest of Canada.... It isn't a political earthquake, but it is a tremor, and it does suggest for the first time in a while some momentum for the Conservatives in Quebec."

The poll also found that although Prime Minister Stephen Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) Cabinet shuffle made no difference in favour for his government with 55 per cent of respondents, but 20 per cent said they are more favourable. Mr. Lyle said this is partly because of Mr. Harper's decision to move former industry minister Maxime Bernier (Beauce, Que.) into the foreign affairs portfolio, and former international cooperation minister Josée Verner (Louis-Saint Laurent, Que.) into the Canadian heritage file. In Quebec, the moves for the Quebec ministers are supported not only by Tories, but "it's creeping into groups like the Bloc," Mr. Lyle said.

The poll really tells us the obvious, of course Quebecers would react positively to changes which raise Quebec's profile in cabinet. It is a stretch to say this poll is indicative of increased support, but more correctly an admission that Harper has been afforded a measure of good will, as a result of the moves. Whether or not this translates to voter intention remains to be seen, and any favorable uptick could be temporary.

The other poll, released by the Financial Post, which canvasses business leaders and CEO's is objectively irrelevant:
Stephen Harper received a passing grade from chief executives and other Canadian business leaders for last week's Cabinet shuffle, according to a National Post/ COMPAS Inc. poll.

The Prime Minister received a "moderately strong" performance score of 63% for the shuffle that included moving Peter MacKay to the National Defence portfolio.

The transfer of Mr. MacKay from Foreign Affairs drew the highest individual score, 72%, while Mr. Harper's decision to deliver Maxime Bernier, the Industry Minister, into the Foreign Affairs portfolio earned a grade of just 60%.

One of the more controversial ministers of the 18-month-old Conservative government, Jim Flaherty, was left in his position as Finance Minister, a decision that earned Mr. Harper a score of 68%, despite some misgivings about the government's treatment of income trusts.

Would you expect anything less from a group which is naturally sympathetic to the conservative cause? None of the changes really affects economic policy, so I don't see any value whatsoever in taking a sampling of rich white men. In fact, this type of poll seems more a vehicle to create the impression of positive response, within a subset that is pre-disposed to react favorably, barring any radical change. This result creates some good press, but it really is yawner in terms of relevance.

Conclusion, Harper gets some theoretical traction in Quebec, which was the goal. The FP poll is more free advertising than informative, rendering it meaningless.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Democrats Need Gore

I've argued before that Al Gore should run for President, primarily because he could actually win. Polls still show Gore running a solid third, despite completely denying any interest in a run, which speaks to some viability. However, after listening to several debates, keeping track of the candidates, over the past few months, I've now come to the conclusion that winning or losing is irrelevant- the Democrats need Gore.

I realize America is obsessed about Iraq and terrorism, but the environment is barely on the radar screen, and the Democratic candidates have done little to focus the debate, apart from a few tertiary soundbites. A far cry from polls in Canada:
CBS News Poll. Aug. 8-12, 2007. N=1,214 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?"
War in Iraq 34
Economy/Jobs 8
Health care 8
Immigration 7
Terrorism (general) 5
President Bush 4
Gas/Heating oil crisis 3
Poverty/Homelessness 3
Other 23
Unsure 5

The Harris Poll. July 6-9, 2007. N=1,003 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"What do you think are the two most important issues for the government to address?" Open-ended
The war 27
Health care (not Medicare) 19
Immigration 13
Iraq 10
The economy (non-specific) 10
Education 7
Terrorism 7
Foreign policy (non-specific) 7
Taxes 5
Gas and oil prices 5
Employment/Jobs 5

I'm not suggesting the Democratic candidates are stiffs on the environment, the League of Conservation Voters gave the following ratings:
Obama 98%
Biden 95%
Clinton 83%
Edwards 37% (ouch)

What I am saying, Gore would sharpen the debate, bring the issue to the fore and get people talking. As it stands now, the issue is discussed, but not to the extent it should be, given the scenario. Gore has much to say, on many issues, and lately he is being characterized as the "soul of the Democratic Party", but for the sake of the cause, a run for President would accomplish a great deal, beyond any personal ambition. Gore should run as an extension of his awareness campaign, I can't think of a better vehicle. Whether Gore secures the nomination is secondary at this point, his presence would clearly light a fire under the Democratic Party, which appears to be lacking at present.


Liberal Life and Times points out the use of the word "unlucky", used by the military to describe today's death of a Canadian soldier:
Pte. Longtin, who hailed from the Montreal area, was the driver of a 2 Platoon Light Armored Vehicle, or LAV, and was simply unlucky, Charlie Company's officer commanding, Major Patrick Robichaud, said sorrowfully this morning.

This isn't the first time the military has used the reference, and I've heard it mentioned many times when we see a flurry of casualties. I remember one post, wherein it was pointed out that Canada was second only to the United States in coalition casualties, there was a response that argued it might be indicative of plain bad luck. Luck is a relative term I suppose, because in you want to characterize one incident as "unlucky", it is important to remember all the close calls, that get far less coverage, but translate to "lucky":
August 18:

Two Canadian soldiers were slightly injured after their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, the Canadian military said.

Both were riding in a Track Light Armoured Vehicle, or T-LAV, along Highway 1 as part of a supply convoy for Canadian troops when they drove over the bomb.

"I am relieved the track vehicle was armoured, and protected their lives," military spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Hubert Genest said.

August 13:

Five Canadian soldiers injured this weekend in a Taliban ambush are recovering quickly and were not seriously wounded, Canada's top military commander in southern Afghanistan said yesterday.

The soldiers were travelling in a supply convoy early yesterday morning when their RG-31 Nyala armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device (IED).

The convoy then came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades.

Brigadier-General Guy Laroche said two of the soldiers had already been released from hospital yesterday, and the other three had sustained minor injuries.

I bring up the latest incidents, only because we tend to forget the close calls, or minor injury attacks. When you look at how many incidents there are, whether it results in a death is more a question of probabilities than "unlucky".

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Jeff already has a post, which rightfully calls out the gutless "unnamed source", criticizing Dion's power of appointment in Scarborough Southwest. However, I confess to complete disagreement with the tactics used by Dion to reach his quota of female candidates.

I don't profess to know Michelle Simson, but in a quick scan of her bio, she looks like a very strong candidate, with DEEP roots in the party. In this instance, it begs the question- does Simson really need Dion intervening, is she not capable of winning the nomination outright? IMHO, using this power, in this instance, actually does a disservice to the female cause. It projects the impression that Simson needs help, that her attributes and strengths have to be augmented by usurping a democratic process.

There are better ways to achieve the goals set out by Dion. It comes as no surprise to anyone, that the Liberal Party isn't exactly a grassroots first organization. If, the message was sent out, that people needed to rally behind Simson, she would already receive an advantage, without the spectacle of appointment. In other words, as I keep hearing about in other ridings, if you have the local powerbase on line, you are a virtual shoe-in. We can debate the merits of this elitist structure, but it does exist currently, which negates the need to appoint.

Women are men's equals. Dion's intentions are admirable, but the idea of a pre-determined number, substitutes quality for quantity. Women are perfectly capable of winning nominations outright, particularly in a party that often takes directives from above. There is no need to implement a crutch, which has the effect of detracting from accomplishment. There is no reason to believe that Simson couldn't win this riding, based on her own impressive credentials, in my mind that represents real progress, as opposed to what amounts to an artifical quota. Two cents :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Stories You Won't Find On Blogging Tories

Pesky science, getting in the way of delusions again:
There was less sea ice in the Arctic on Friday than ever before on record, and the melting is continuing, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.

Satellite measurements showed 5.2 million square kilometres of ice in the Arctic, falling below the Sept. 21, 2005, record minimum of 5.3 million square kilometres, the agency said...

But, Serreze said in a telephone interview, while some natural variability is involved in the melting "we simply can't explain everything through natural processes."
"It is very strong evidence that we are starting to see an effect of greenhouse warming," he said.

Critics often argue that you can't trust the computer models, associated with global warming. A feather in the cap for denialists, the models are wrong, the situation is actually WORSE:
The puzzling thing, he said, is that the melting is actually occurring faster than computer climate models have predicted.

Several years ago he would have predicted a complete melt of Arctic sea ice in summer would occur by the year 2070 to 2100, Serreze said.

But at the rates now occurring, a complete melt could happen by 2030, he said Friday.
There will still be ice in winter, he said, but it could be gone in summer.

Maybe Canada won't need those icebreakers afterall.

Just The Facts

Steve McIntryre's discovery of minor variations in the temperature records has been seized upon by right-wing bloggers as a massive setback for global warming proponents. Hysteria, and political motivations aside, you won't see the following graph on any denier websites:

The red curve includes the revisions, the green curve the old data. The reason you can't see the green curve, is because it doesn't deviate from the new curve. In other words, such a minisule change to the trends, it doesn't even register on the graph. Nothing has changed, except the denier crowd will cling onto this new tidbit, extrapolate and exaggerate, confuse and try to muddy the discussion. Kudos to McIntryre for uncovering a real error, even if turns out to be empirically irrelevant.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Surge Working?

Practical arguments aside, it would appear that the American troop surge in Iraq has been somewhat successful, in terms of perception. I wouldn't characterize the "renewed optimism" as widespread, but there is an uptick in favorable opinion:
More adults in the United States are voicing agreement with their government’s policies regarding the coalition effort, according to a poll by CBS News. 29 per cent of respondents think the troop increase is making the situation in Iraq better, up 10 points since July:

As you may know, the U.S. has sent more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq. From what you have heard or read, would you say this troop increase is making the situation in Iraq better, making it worse, or is it having no impact on the situation in Iraq so far?

Aug...... Jul

Better 29% 19%

Worse 15% 20%

No impact 46% 51%

Unsure 10% 7%

From what you have seen or heard about the situation in Iraq, what should the United States do now? Should the U.S. increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, keep the same number of U.S. troops in Iraq as there are now, decrease the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, or remove all its troops from Iraq?


Increase 13% 12%

Same 17% 15%

Decrease 31% 39%

Remove all 30% 36%

Unsure 9% 7%

The numbers are still conclusive, but don't be surprised if findings such as the above, and Bush's minor uptick in approval, aren't used to support the idea that Iraq isn't a lost cause, even though it really is. It would seem that the concept of the "surge" is getting some traction with people, which might delude Bush further, into thinking he can carry on and pressure the legislature.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Apparently, both Stephen Harper and Stephane Dion were at the same event today, celebrating the Acadian national holiday. The article mentions that the two leaders never spoke:
Although they never spoke to each other, both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion joined the throngs of brightly costumed people as they paraded down the main street of Caraquet to mark Acadian Day.

Big parade, lots of people, easy to see how they wouldn't cross paths. However, the link also provides a photo:

Wow, talk about a childish display. "Oh, was that you, right there, can't believe we didn't see each other". Heaven forbid, we can put partisanship aside for a second, and maybe shake hands or share a brief laugh at a apolitical celebration. Has the situation deteriorated so much, that two grown men, leaders of the country, must pretend to ignore each other. Seems pretty petty from here. No comment on who was the likely "snubber", although I will lay odds.

Bad Liberal

I suppose I can reference this website the next time some boring stiff calls me a blind partisan :)

Obama Finds A Theme

I'm a uniter, not a divider, unlike my competitor:
Drawing a sharp contrast with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama said in an interview that he has the capacity she may lack to unify the country and move it out of what he called "ideological gridlock."

"I think it is fair to say that I believe I can bring the country together more effectively than she can," Obama said. "I will add, by the way, that is not entirely a problem of her making. Some of those battles in the '90s that she went through were the result of some pretty unfair attacks on the Clintons. But that history exists, and so, yes, I believe I can bring the country together in a way she cannot do. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be running."

Obama never used the term "polarizing" to describe Clinton but made it clear he has studied polls that show that many people have an unfavorable opinion of her. "I don't think there is anybody in this race who's able to bring new people into the process and break out of some of the ideological gridlock that we have as effectively as I can," he said.

The problem with clear frontrunner status, it is often followed by a period of introspection, as people weigh the consequences of the candidacy. The prospect of Clinton taking the nomination looks more realistic, which is why I see Obama's strategy as shrewd. Afterall, it isn't as though Obama's "polarizing" angle doesn't have ample merit:
WASHINGTON — Looking past the presidential nomination fight, Democratic leaders quietly fret that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top of their 2008 ticket could hurt candidates at the bottom.

They say the former first lady may be too polarizing for much of the country. She could jeopardize the party's standing with independent voters and give Republicans who otherwise might stay home on Election Day a reason to vote, they worry.

In more than 40 interviews, Democratic candidates, consultants and party chairs from every region pointed to internal polls that give Clinton strikingly high unfavorable ratings in places with key congressional and state races.

The problem is her political baggage: A whopping 49 percent of the public says they have an unfavorable view of Clinton compared to 47 percent who say they hold her in high regard, according to a Gallup Poll survey Aug. 3-5.

Her negative ratings are higher than those of her husband, former President Clinton, former President George H.W. Bush and 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry at the end of their campaigns.

A candidate's unfavorability scores almost always climb during campaigns. If the pattern holds, Clinton has a historically high hurdle to overcome.

An interesting counter to the inexperienced angle, Obama makes his inexperience a positive, in that he doesn't bring baggage. The fresh factor allows Obama to make the claim that he can heal the ideological rift that people like Clinton personify. Obama addresses his weakness, but in so doing, points to Clinton's, negating the apparent disadvantage. As the reality of a Clinton candidacy sinks in, Obama is positioning himself to capitalize that sense of apprehension. A great theme, and probably Obama's best chance.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Isn't That Special

In Harper's post-shuffle press conference, he made this comment, as it relates to Gordon O'Connor moving to Minister of National Revenue:
“Mr. O'Conner has spent his entire public service, which is almost 40 years, in one area. That's National Defence. And I think it's time for him to have some other experiences.”

Translation- Mr. Connor is a one trick pony, who has no understanding of economics and finance, but we thought it was important, that at age 67, he start to dabble in new things.

The Canadian public should be re-assured that Harper has so little regard for this department that he puts a novice like O'Connor at the helm. If O'Connor wants "other experiences" maybe he should travel to New Zealand, or try pot, but it is an insult to give him this portfolio, given the incompatible resume. Minister of Veteran Affairs or nothing, if we are to take this shuffle seriously.

Ominous Words

An elder statesman, who knows a thing or two about constitutional clashes, with some ominous words on the future of the federation:
A war is looming between Alberta and the federal government over pollution caused by oil sands development that will far surpass any previous federal-provincial battle in its political and economic stakes, former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed predicted Tuesday.

He said that Alberta's desire to bypass toughened federal environmental laws will cause considerable dispute within the province itself, and will “cause significant stress to Canadian unity.

“The government of Alberta, with its acceleration of oil sands operations, will in my judgment be seen as the major villain in all of this in the eyes of the public across Canada,” he said.

Mr. Lougheed predicted that the dispute will very likely go before the Supreme Court as a constitutional reference, forcing the Court to decide whether the British North America Act gives the province the right to develop its energy resources as it sees fits.

“My surmise is that we're into this constitutional legal conflict soon,” he said. “And my surmise is that – and this is strong stuff – national unity will be threatened if the court upholds federal environmental legislation and it causes major damage to the Alberta oil sands and our economy.”

Interesting perspective, considering Lougheed's recent call for a moratorium on future expansion of the tarsands:
What is the hurry? Why not build one plant at a time? I hope the new government in Alberta will reassess this and come to the conclusion that the mess, and I call it a mess, that is Fort McMurray and the tar sands will be revisited.

I keep trying to see who the beneficiaries are. Not the people in Red Deer, because everything they have got is costing more. It is not the people of the province, because they are not getting the royalty return that they should be getting, with $75 oil. It is a major, major federal and provincial issue.

There are a lot of negatives about an overheated economy, and we truly have an overheated economy in Alberta today. And the question is the sustainability too.

Sept 2006

Lougheed is quite critical of environmental damage, caused by rapid growth in development. However, his reputation on provincial jurisdiction is well known, so he provides a unique tension. Lougheed argues against the tar sands, but that doesn't necessarily translate into supporting a federal incursion.

If Lougheed is correct, then Canada will face a seismic challenge to national unity. Stelmach's stance is entirely rigid and uncompromising, while the sense that something needs to be done gains traction. Hopefully, the situation can be resolved within Alberta itself, because there does seem to be growing resistance to unbridled growth, coupled with the realization of the boom pitfalls. Whether that sentiment will translate to government is questionable, but I think it fair to say that Albertans are environmentally conscious. The last thing we need, is Ottawa forcing its will on Alberta, right or wrong aside. A rational debate will quickly plunge into a seige mentality, with easy fodder for tribalists to ratchet up the rhetoric and create lasting damage. The scenario Lougheed points too is realistic, let's hope it never happens.

19 Times Out Of 20

Even the most respected pollster, statistically is bound to miss the mark. I would characterize polling guru Nik Nanos' latest SES offering as curious. The horserace numbers:
Cons 36% (+4)
Libs 33% (unchanged)
NDP 13% (-4)
Greens 8% (-2)
Bloc 9% (+1)

This is the only poll I have seen in months that puts the NDP this low. As a matter of fact, every other polling outfit has shown the NDP to be the only party with any momentum. I also am somewhat puzzled at the SES regional numbers for the NDP, particularly Quebec and Ontario:
NDP 7% (-6)

NDP 12% (-7)

Again, SES appears to be an outlier, because other outfits show no such erosion. I have a hard time accepting such a big dive for the NDP, in such a short time, given the lack of a crisis or negative coverage. Again, other polls show the NDP fortunes on the rise in Quebec, and no downfall in Ontario. When you apparently stumble this bad, there should be a glaring, rational explanation. What that could be eludes me, hence my scepticism.

There is some good news for the Liberals, particularly Dion's leadership numbers on the question of best PM (up 8 to 23%). Having said that, I have a hard time buying this outrageous surge in support:
33% Dion best PM (+18)

This figure screams fishy. If you take SES as fact, you could reasonably conclude that Dion has closed the leadership gap. Let's hope Liberal strategists put this poll to the smell test. Phew.

SES is the most historically reliable outfit, but on this release something just seems wrong IMHO.


No surprise, which blogger smells a rose, a big, red one :)

Monday, August 13, 2007


Below, a visibly distraught Diane Finley exits 24 Sussex, after being told she will leave Immigration, to assume the role of Atlantic Canada re-election co-ordinator:

What Farmers Are Saying

If you isolate yourself to Conservative propaganda, farmers are outraged and appalled that the Canadian Wheat Board is able to maintain its monopoly. If however, you venture outside ideological tunnel vision, a different picture materializes. Farmers are outraged, but it would appear the Harper government is the problem:
"The government's response so far really reinforces this notion that we have that they will do or say anything in order to destroy the Wheat Board. They are not remotely interested in trying to work constructively with the farmers of Western Canada and let the farmers of Western Canada decide," said Stewart Wells, president of the National Farmers Union. "If there's to be any kind of a change in marketing whatsoever, the farmers should recommend those changes to the Wheat Board directors and the Wheat Board directors should go to the minister and recommend those changes and then the minister triggers the formula that's set out in section 47.1 of the Wheat Board Act and that's how changes should be made, whether grains are added or deleted from the Canadian Wheat Board jurisdiction. Of course that's not what we're seeing. That's grassroots democracy. Changes of any kind should come from the farmers of Western Canada."

"If they want to indicate that they were going to start working with the Western farmers instead of against them, they would announce immediately that they're not going to appeal this ruling,"

"the anti-Wheat Board farmers, the anti-Wheat Board machine wants to present this as a fight between the Canadian Wheat Board and farmers and that the farmers are poor, downtrodden farmers that are first oppressed by the Wheat Board and now they're oppressed by the Federal Court decision. Nothing could be further from the truth. This Federal Court decision was a victory for grassroots farmers."

"Change" should come from the farmers, what a novel idea.

Bad Spin

Interesting article in The Hill Times on party fundraising. An up and down piece for Liberal fortunes, but the highlight for me, the bad spin from the Conservatives, to justify falling donations in the second quarter. Jeff has already pointed out the problems the Conservatives have with Canadian geography, but apparently the ignorance also extends to the seasons. Nothing says Canadian summer like April and May:
The Conservative Party's fundraising numbers also went down in the second quarter. In the first quarter, the Harper Conservatives raised $5.1-million but in the second quarter they raised $3.7-million. Mr. Sparrow said the numbers went down because it was summer. "Numbers traditionally go down in summer. If you look at our second quarter numbers from 2006, you'll also see that they go down like other parties. People are on holidays, people are not as engaged in the political process in the summer, that seems to be the way," he said.

To be fair, there are 10 days of summer in the second quarter, as opposed to the other 81 that are in spring. Is Sparrow projecting a bad Conservative third quarter, which is actually the summer period?

The bad spin actually makes a strong case for the Liberals. In the second quarter, donations were up threefold, which means the Liberals have successfully bucked the summer blahs, according to Sparrow. A new scandal emerges, the Tories have killed spring.

Right-Wing Media

One of the great illusions on the right, the notion of the left-wing media bias. The martyr-complex, the decided underdog, trying to get the message out against a sea of prejudice, who's sole purpose is to keep conservatives at bay. The idea of bias comes up daily on right leaning blogs, even though the convenient crutch has no relationship to reality. In fact, it is those on the left that should be crying foul:
Sun Media has become Canada's largest newspaper publisher with the acquisition of the operations of Osprey Media, with readership of more than 6.4 million every week.

The readership data shows the combined reach of the Sun Media and Osprey dailies is more than 1.6 million readers ahead of the nearest competition, CanWest Media.

Since Osprey's operations are all in Ontario, the acquisition creates a media powerhouse in that important marketplace. In Ontario, the Quebecor network has 31 daily newspapers - Sun Media's five large, paid-circulation and free dailies in Toronto, Ottawa and London plus six smaller dailies and Osprey's 20 smaller dailies. The companies have 102 smaller community and speciality publications in Ontario - Sun Media's roster of 68 Ontario publications and Osprey's 34.

The Osprey daily newspapers include The Kingston Whig-Standard, Canada's oldest continuously published daily, and The Peterborough Examiner

Just the facts please. Sun Media is an embarrassing, highly biased, Conservative organ, while CanWest is unbashedly center-right. The fact that these two operations are now the top two media outlets represents a clear threat to the notion of journalistic objectivity. Conservatives are right on media bias, they just have the political compass wrong.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


The thinking with a cabinet shuffle, convey a new flavor and a fresh approach. If the braintrust in the PMO thinks the looming cabinet shuffle will help the government, history would tend to suggest otherwise:
Consider the seven Cabinet shuffles CanWest News Service examined:

• A major Mulroney shuffle in January, 1989, had no impact on PC party standings, which remained at 43-44% in the three months before and after, according to Ipsos Reid polling data. Gallup recorded an even worse result - a drop of five percentage points in the month following the shuffle.

• Another Mulroney shuffle in April, 1991, was accompanied by a drop in support from 20 to 17%, according to Ipsos Reid.

• A final Tory shuffle in January, 1993, shortly before Mr. Mulroney announced his retirement, made no difference to the government's dismal standings of 17-18%.

• Mr. Chretien's major Cabinet shuffles also did little to help his political fortunes. After a shuffle in January, 2002, his government dropped from 49 to 45% in the polls.

• Another Chretien shuffle in May, 2002, was accompanied by a drop in Liberal support from 47 to 43%, despite the strong support the former prime minister received for firing scandal-plagued defence minister Art Eggleton.

• In June, 2002, when Mr. Chretien removed Paul Martin as finance minister - an unpopular move among many Canadians - support for the Chretien Liberals fell from 43 to 41% as expected, but was back up to 44% four months later, according to Ipsos Reid.

• In January this year, Mr. Harper made his first Cabinet shuffle, partly in response to growing public concerns about climate change. He appointed John Baird as the new environment minister. Months later, however, the Conservatives were still stuck at 32% in popular support, the same level as before the shuffle.

The problem with a cabinet shuffle, the newness factor is counter-acted by the perception that something is wrong. In some respects, you show weakness in admitting that change is required. The last shuffle surrounded the criticism that Ambrose was incapable of handling her department. This shuffle seems to key in on O'Connor, for the very same reasons. You ponder moves, because the people you have are demonstrating some incompetence, hurting the government.