Thursday, July 30, 2009


The new Angus Reid poll shows a deadheat. I don't have the regionals yet, but the poll looks like more of the same. One item is particularly noteworthy, the Liberals at 34% represent their highest percentage for an Angus Reid poll. Angus Reid has generally shown Liberal support to be on the low end, relative to other pollsters. Even when the Liberals were "riding high" early this year, Angus Reid never put Liberal national support at this level, nor have they for any poll dating back at least two years.


This is a classic example of how the Conservatives are lowering the bar on political discourse. For months and months, the opposition has complained about these obnoxious partisan flyers, that use taxpayer money to slander. These complaints have gone nowhere, if anything the Conservatives are now even more brazen, comforted in the knowledge that nobody seems to care, they suffer little politically, while simultaneously spreading propaganda. Only a fool sits there for eternity, watching an opponent land body blows with impunity. It's for this reason- even though I'm sad to say- that the Liberals are right to enter the fray:
They couldn't beat them, so now they're joining them.

In a report out of Ottawa, the Winnipeg Free Press says the federal Liberals have started sending out highly partisan, taxpayer-funded flyers to constituents in Conservative-held ridings.

The move comes after the Liberals didn't get anywhere with complaints about the Tories doing the same thing in Liberal ridings.

"We've started doing them," said Winnipeg South Centre Liberal MP Anita Neville. "We couldn't let them continue to do it without a response."

Ms. Neville has been complaining bitterly for years that constituents in her riding are regularly bombarded with mailings from Conservative MPs attacking her party leader and Ms. Neville herself.

Ms. Neville and other Liberals have complained repeatedly to the House of Commons about the mailings, but when those complaints didn't result in any action, the Liberals decided to join in.

You have two choices it would seem. Claim the moral high ground, while you get taken out at the knees, dignified but down. Or, you realize that you can't let these bottomfeeders get away with their relentless partisanship, so you respond in kind. It ain't pretty, but given the lack of accountability, the fact that all the complaints apparently go nowhere, you fight fire with fire. I say GOOD, even though it's objectively a BAD development. About all I would ask at this point, the Liberal platform offers to ban these type of flyers when they take office. Until then, when in Rome...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Fantasyland" Is Right

What a pathetic and embarrassing display these Conservatives put on. What might be worse, the way they continually get away with throwing out complete falsehoods, the media just laps up the nonsense. Finley rushs to the microphone, she has a story to tell:
Finley emerged from a Conservative caucus meeting to blast as "straight out of academic fantasyland" a Liberal proposal for a 360-hour minimum work requirement for employment insurance benefits.

"I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to find common ground, but the Liberals are going to have to move off this 360. Nine weeks work just is not enough. It's an academic fantasyland right now."

The Liberals better move on this 360 requirement, a line in the sand has been drawn. It's just so absurd that these pipsqueaks, armed with their CRAP get to spout to the media and they get their headlines. This latest illustration is so patently false, the media is really OBLIGATED to point to the dishonesty.

Last week Ignatieff said the Liberals have a "certain flexibility on 360". Ignatieff's spokesman referred to the requirement as a "starting point in negotations". In the sky is blue world this translates to CLEAR language that the Liberals aren't in the posture Finlay suggests, and yet here we see another Conservatives spewing the garbage. Oh sure, a member of the media pointed out the inconsistency in Finlay's argument, but it's no matter, the wanted headline is published- "Tory minister blasts Liberal EI demand as 'fantasyland". Somebody ought to "blast" this hyper partisanship when it's supposed to be about EI.

You know, if you want to chide politicians from their crass behavior and dubious motives, it might help if you didn't perpetuate the CRAP you constantly decry by giving it a vehicle. You want a different kind of politics, then the headlines should read "Finlay's fantasyland argument doesn't match facts: Tories playing games with EI". That's the bottomline, but mission accomplished, LAP IT UP. Mmmmm, goood! Can't wait for the next editorial board commentary on the lowly state of our political discourse.

Almost Jimmer, Almost

I've sort of been out of the loop, but I managed to read Flaherty's latest prognostications on the economy. For the first time I can remember, it seemed the Jimmer had it right, optically speaking. WHOA on this end of recession talk, Flaherty took a prudent, understated stance, that effectively set up the Conservative storyline moving forward. For months and months the government has continually been behind the curve, stubbornly holding on to outdated language and circumstance, only to humbly come before the mics weeks later to admit they had it wrong. This time, Flaherty didn't overstate the reality, in fact he lowered expectations with a sober outlook. Flaherty was managing the message, to the point he actually looked competent. But, just when he finally sang in key, Day reverted to Conservative form:

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty warned Tuesday that it's too early to declare the recession over, despite a recent Bank of Canada forecast that the economy stopped shrinking this quarter.

His comments came on the same day that the number of people on employment insurance benefits surged to its highest level in more than a decade.

But on Wednesday, Liberal finance critic John McCallum drew attention to a column written by International Trade Minister Stockwell Day in which Day contradicted his cabinet colleague.

``I'm not kidding. The recession is over,'' Day wrote the Penticton Western News, noting the rosier outlook recently put forward by Canada's central bank. In a quarterly outlook released last week, the bank raised its forecast for GDP growth in the current quarter to 1.3 per cent on an annualized basis, after three straight quarters of decline.

Whether or not the recession is technically, statistically, over is irrelevant to the Conservatives. What does matter is not letting people get too excited about the prospects for recovery. While the worst may be behind us, and the maddening "shoots" talk finds worth, the government MUST remain cautious- a balancing act that highlights brighter days, but doesn't seem to be ahead of itself. Flaherty's dampening language provides cover for the Conservatives, it's actually quite shrewd. Too bad then that Day is planning the parade route, because that over zealous proclamation can come back and bite you in the ass. Flahery looks like he's FINALLY learned the lesson, but that's undermined by this conflicting optimism from Day. Not a good day, for a party that prides itself on tight message control.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Back in a few :)

Rolling In The Mud

Apparently they serve lamb, but Conservative MP Denis Lebel brings something else to the menu:

It must be hard for Conservatives to swallow the fact they've become EVERYTHING they used to detest, what DROVE them. Full circle, isn't it wonderous?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Smoke But No Fire

Pierre the poodle is criticizing the Liberals for going on the "attack", while going on the attack:
Poilievre said Tories were "a little bit surprised" that Ignatieff chose to kick off the negotiations by going "on the attack."

But Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, a member of the bipartisan working group struck last month to negotiate an agreement with the Liberals on EI reforms, says the Harper government will "never" accept Ignatieff's proposal.

"The bottom line is we're not going to be supporting the notion that someone could collect EI for almost a year after working only 360 hours or nine weeks," Poilievre said in an interview Friday.

"All the costing shows that a nine-week work year would cost billions and the only way to fund it is through higher taxes, so we can't support that proposal."

Pierre's predictable bluster is just that, because the Conservatives know darn well that the Liberals won't insist on the 360 hour pre-requisite. Ignatieff has already intimated that the Liberals will move, which comes on the heels of this plain as day declaration from Fairbrother earlier this week:
While Ignatieff has said he's open to other suggestions, Fairbrother said the 360-hour standard remains "clearly our starting point" in the negotiations.

A starting point in negotiations, could it be any easier to comprehend? Last time I checked, and Pierre knows this well, a starting point does not a final resolution make, in fact it suggests COMPROMISE. For the poodle to get his curls in a lather, when he knows it's a disingenious argument, says that the government is more interested in optics than seriousness. What Pierre is doing, is making this 360 hour requirement an issue, so that when the final agreement doesn't include this number, the Conservatives can declare some kind of victory. All smoke, no fire.

The Path To Power

Just for fun, a superficial "playing with numbers" scenario.

Current seat totals=Cons 143 Libs 77 NDP 37 Bloc 49

Atlantic Canada 2008:

Libs 17
Cons 10

The Liberals held 22 seats in 2004, 20 in 2006. There are potential takebacks in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and one in PEI. For arguments sake, let's say the Libs pickup three seats from the Cons, NDP remain the same because they do appear to have some strength:

Libs 20
Cons 7

Cons 140 Lib 80 NDP 37 Bloc 49

Quebec 2008:

Bloc 49
Libs 14
Cons 10

Current Liberal support is akin to 2004 totals, which translated to 21 seats. A optimistic scenario might look like:

Bloc 45
Libs 24
Cons 4

Cons 134 Libs 90 NDP 37 Bloc 45

Ontario 2008:

Cons 51
Libs 38
NDP 17

In 2006, the NDP actually scored a higher percentage than in 2008, yet where only able to garner 12 seats (2004 same support as 2008, yet only 7 seats). This speaks to a real weakness in the Liberal vote, which by all accounts is no longer present. Obviously the key battleground for the Liberals, something in the order of a 7% gap, which is entirely doable, would come up with:

Libs 58
Cons 36
NDP 12

Cons 119 Libs 110 NDP 32 Bloc 45

Manitoba 2008:

Cons 9
Libs 1

In 2006 and 2004 the Liberals had 3 seats. Some evidence that the Liberals have the capacity to pickup a couple of seats, noteably a recent poll that shows the party doing well in Winnipeg. Let's allow the Liberals to return to previous pedestrian form:

Cons 8
Libs 3

Cons 118 Libs 112 NDP 31 Bloc 45

As for Alberta and Saskatchewan, let's say the Liberals manage to pickup one seat, the NDP hang on to there lone seat in Edmonton.

Cons 117 Libs 113 NDP 31 Bloc 45

British Columbia 2008:

Cons 22
Libs 5

The Liberals had 9 seats in 2006, 8 in 2004. There is some reason for optimism that we could get back into that terrority, although anything more might be a stretch:

Cons 20
Libs 8

Cons 115 Libs 116 NDP 30 Bloc 45

For arguments sake, the northern seats remain the same.

This is obviously a generalization of the highest order, but it does speak to how much it takes for the Liberals to eke out the most miniscule of victories, from our current lowly seat total. The only way we see a more stable minority situation is if the Liberals really romp in Ontario, a double digit advantage, which is on the outside of realistic. That said, I don't believe anything in the above breakdown constitutes "crazy talk".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Liberals Have Room To Grow

The new EKOS poll brings a statistical tie, more concerning numbers for the NDP, as well as interesting results for the Greens and what that may signify. EKOS also asks a series of questions asking Canadians what kind of government they would prefer and which parties have the most potential to breakout of the current dynamics. Not surprisingly, the Liberals have the most room for optimism, as it appears there are votes available, should they provide enough impetus to move them:
“The Liberals certainly appear to have more potential to break out of this deadlock,” said Graves.
“There are some structural elements that should favour the Liberals. The recession for one thing. Another is the fact that the Liberals easily outstrip the Tories as the voters’ second choice.

However, the Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, has failed so far to potentiate that secondary support, and the party has stalled.”

In fact the Conservatives lag not only the Liberals, but also the NDP and (very narrowly) the Greens as Canadians’ second choice. Almost every party apparently has more room to grow than the Conservatives do.

Second choice:

Libs 22.1%
NDP 19.7%
Greens 14.1%
Cons 13.2%
No choice 26.8%

Graves cites a Liberal inability to "potentiate" any secondary support, which basically agrees with my arguments about failing to "maximize capitalization". Still, the numbers suggest that the Conservatives are swimming in a far more narrow pool, we have more growth potential.

Along the same vein, this poll also shows the Greens doing quite well, for the first time leading all parties amongst the youngest demographic. The Greens also take third by a whisker in Ontario and Alberta, near tied with the NDP in Quebec:
But at the moment, no party is growing, except the Greens, who may be benefitting from general dissatisfaction with the political options Canadians have. Their support is near the top of the range they have enjoyed in the polls historically, and much higher than their 2008 election result.

In fact, the Greens may have crossed a new threshold in that they are now in the lead by the narrowest of margins in one demographic cohort that will grow in influence in coming years those currently under 25.

“It is hard to know whether this Green strength among the young is simply an expression of disenchantment with the existing political options, and whether the Greens can actually translate it into enduring political support,” said Graves.

You don't want to take anything away from the Greens, nor assume people aren't attracted policy wise, but Graves is probably right that their strength is also a sign of disappointment with the more traditional parties. This reality is further evidence that other parties, particularly the Liberals, are failing to make the sale with available voters, failing to attract or represent anything beyond the status quo. When you consider the second place choices, as well as the emergence of a "protest" vote, you see that we could be squandering a real dynamic at play with the electorate.

In addition, this problem seems to extend to the NDP, who in the past have capitalized on just this sentiment, but more and more are getting lumped in with the others. The Ontario result of 12% is a dreadful score. While people can comfort themselves in a differing poll here and there, I've checked the 2008 numbers and at no time did we see these low mark fluctuations (NANOS last gave the party a 11.5%, Strategic Counsel a 11% in Ontario). If there is dissatisfaction with our political process, the NDP are more part of the problem than a safe refuge for voters- the Greens are filling this space. Something to keep an eye on for sure, particularly when the high profile environment argument isn't such a glaring casual relationship.

On Worrying Mentalities

Lawrence Martin picks up on a theme that I've been arguing of late. What I found somewhat surprising were the comments coming from "party central". First, the opinion:
“The plan,” a senior Ignatieff strategist said yesterday, “is steady as she goes.”

If there is worry among the rank and file about lack of policy, there isn't at party central. “The game is not policy, it's politics,” the adviser bluntly observed. He noted how Stéphane Dion brought out his Green Shift plan well before an election. Look what happened, he said. By the time the campaign rolled around, the Conservatives had undermined it. “You don't draw a target on yourself. Sure there are many in the party who are upset. I can live with it. We started in January with a plan - and we haven't moved off it.”

But if the Liberals don't change tack now, if they continue to drift, what position will they be in to go to the polls at that time? They would have only a short five-week campaign to turn things around. No big deal, said Liberals at party central. “In politics, things change real fast.”

Yesterday, I spoke about being "nimble", constantly adapting to the forever changing political terrain. With that agility in mind, the "steady as she goes", same strategy we've had since January mentality, appears rigid and dangerous. The final quote about things changing fast in politics is the one to grasp, and it betrays the earlier stay the course mentality. Things are changing, as predicted the government is already starting to crow about the economy, we even see the Bank of Canada declaring the recession over. This ain't January, it ain't even June, this is the right now, projecting forward.

Please, please, don't use Dion and the carbon tax as your reference point to justify keeping your head down. Those were desperate times, which lead to an admitted "hail mary" policy position. The Liberal Party of last year bears no resemblence to our current circumstance, no matter your measure. Using the Dion example as representative is so full of holes I frankly shutter that it's now become the "not to do" template. Ditto for anybody using John Tory, because that speaks more to controversial positions, rather than any debate about putting out substance. Nobody is suggesting Ignatieff come out with some "radical" proposal that is risky by nature.

What is the greatest challenge for the Liberal Party? Ask the pollsters, and I guarantee you they will say a lack of definition, a sense amongst voters that they don't where the party stands. Taken further, that reality is a DRAG on our popularity, it is part of the equation that explains why we see this constant see saw in the polls. People move to the Liberals when they become disenchanted with the Conservatives, other parties, but we don't DRAW them. Big, big difference and one that needs to be considered.

It isn't "risky" to address your chief liabilities, it's called "shrewd". That's politics, as far as my history reads. What liability did Harper and the Conservatives address that helped him gain power? The overwhelming sense that he was a scary guy, a ideological party that would take Canada in a radical direction. The Conservatives confronted this perception by manipulating Harper's image, by portraying him as a moderate, armed with mostly centrist ideas. The Conservatives confronted their chief obstacle to forming government, that's what you do. With that in mind, any sense amongst Liberals that you can just keep to the script- when you see more and more evidence that lack of definition is your achilles heel- isn't sound strategy it's a stubborn refusal to adapt accordingly.

The "game is not policy, it's politics" might be true, but it should be about policy when it's a political necessity. It's good politics for the Liberals to put forth a vision for Canada, with a certain boldness that captures people's imagination. It's good politics when you address your weak spots, perceptions which are holding you back and in turn giving your opponent more reason for optimism than they deserve. Don't get cozy with outdated assumptions and completely imperfect analogies, we're in for the fight of our lives and nothing is coming our way by default.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


That's the one word that describes a successful political strategy. You come up with a strategy, based on the evidence at hand, but you keep your eyes on the future, try and stay ahead of the curve and then quickly adapt where necessary. I would describe the current economic state as an example where one has to remain nimble at all times. Today's fairly impressive retail sales figures provide further evidence that the worst may be behind us on the economic front. That doesn't mean to suggest it's still not a rough road ahead, only that we're in the stage of recovery where mixed signals will abound, replacing the daily diet of cataclysmic data. For an opposition party, the past few months have made for easy pickings, as we could constantly bombard the government with the most offensive of figures. The government had no control, simply in damage control mode, trying to ride it out and keep themselves above water. These dual dynamics no longer apply.

Looking forward, there will be plenty of evidence to bash the government with, so we still have the "wear it" factor on the recession. However, there is enough good news now to make a credible counter, not to mention a rising sense within the public that better times are around the corner. No point debating the validity of that psychology, but we should proceed with that in mind.

The new debate will most likely shift from present economic circumstance to one of future direction. The Conservatives will obviously use the "turned the corner" argument, they've taken us through the worst and we're well positioned to come out strong, particularly on the world "relative" front. We will obviously continue to attack their record, but that won't be enough I suspect. What will be required is an effective counter that resonates, something akin to a "5 year plan". The Liberals need to stake the new ground, position themselves as best able to bring us back out of deficit, best able to modernize our economy. Rather than simply beating the Conservatives over the head, we will know have to look the better alternative. "Kick the bums" out, under the pretext of falling economic fortunes isn't the winner it looked just two months ago.

The fact the government still sits tied in the polls, having come through this maelstorm isn't easily fluffed off, it gives reason for some optimism on their side. Not great optimism, problems still abound and the Liberals have plenty in our quiver as well, but much better placed than anytime this year. This reality necessitates that we bring more to the table than simply opposing. Harper isn't popular, but we're not a compelling alternative either, which might explain why we've lacked maximum capitalization. Timing is another consideration, but beyond that, I now think there is no doubt of one thing, which again speaks to a nimble approach- we have to give them a reason to turf the government, the benefit of friendly headlines no longer a given.

Future forecast calls for partly cloudly skies and near seasonable temperatures. Let's dress accordingly.

Dog Days

It's kind of comical in one sense. A leader keeps a low profile for a couple of weeks, during what amounts to the biggest NOTHING time of the political calendar, and it's "news". The reason it's "news", really a testament to the NOTHINGNESS available to scribes, so that could be irony. Anyways, another snippet today, to go with yesterday's inquiry- where's Iggy?

Conventional wisdom, the summer represents a political wilderness for opposition leaders. With that well known fact established, one can hardly get to concerned with a voluntary low profile period, a "recharge your batteries" time. It's especially irrelevant if said leader is using this time to develop a fall strategy, entertain policy directions, basically prepare. What better time to get off the treadmill?

There is one valid criticism, in keeping a low profile, Ignatieff isn't touring ridings that will be pivotal to our chances. Maybe you don't get national attention, but you get a pretty picture of yourself eating ribs in the local paper. You also don't hurt your fundraising efforts, if you can get people together for the Liberal "cause".

Apart from that, the real reason Ignatieff should maybe adopt a higher profile is so we don't have to read media items asking where he is, even though if he was somewhere they won't talk about it. It's strange, but it's true. Embrace the nothing period, or else nothing becomes something.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Voter Turnout

Since the American election, there's been a bunch of conflicting data on what exactly was the voter turnout. This census release is interesting, and maybe a bit surprising:
For all the attention generated by Barack Obama's candidacy, the share of eligible voters who actually cast ballots in November declined for the first time in a dozen years.

Census figures released Monday show about 63.6 per cent of all U.S. citizens ages 18 and older, or 131.1 million people, voted last November.

Although that represented an increase of 5 million voters -- virtually all of them minorities -- the turnout relative to the population of eligible voters was a decrease from 63.8 per cent in 2004.

Those numbers would seem to put a damper on the thesis that Obama really captured people's imagination, the election looks a ho hum affair at first blush. While it's true that the overall percentage was down, the numbers also show that it was really Obama voters that came out, while more traditional Republican support stayed home. Young voters came out in higher percentages, as did all visible minorities- so the overall figures don't quite capture what the Democrats did on their side of the ledger and they tend to mask a real malaise around McCain. The overall numbers might be supressed because some were dejected at their prospects so they stayed home (I can think of similar recent example here).


I agree with everything Scott said, a worthy idea for sure and something the Liberals should/could embrace.

Tossing this idea around, one criticism or hesitation, the notion that this environmental plank could be complicated. First off, seems a pretty simple concept, that anyone with a mortgage or knowledge of personal finances should be able to figure out with little effort. In addition, when you look at some of the incentive programs now, the audit retrofit concept, this idea hardly seems daunting in comparison.

I won't rehash the program, Scott and Antonio provide excellent reviews. What I find fascinating, how will the Liberals approach the environmental file in the next election. Everyone knows the economy will be the central issue, but that fact doesn't mean other files don't deserve innovative attention and/or that voters won't focus on them. In many ways, now more than ever, there is a practical imperative to tie environmental considerations with the new economy, countries that understand this reality will be best placed to thrive. The Liberals would be well advised to formulate a union, a coherent economic package that puts all measures at their disposal into concert, towards the new "green economy".

A chief worry I have, that Liberals will shy away from a green agenda, given what happened last election. It would be a colossal mistake to confuse poor messaging, a poor messenger (let's keep it real) and a "hail mary" political motivation as a conclusive template. That's not to say I think we should rehash the carbon tax, as much as I found it easily the best policy, it's a political albatross at the moment, it just reads TAX, TAX, TAX to Canadians. I have no interest in trying to change perceptions, so the idea is effectively dead and that is one legacy I can concur with. That said, stepping back, it doesn't mean Liberals need cede the whole file- put out your basic timid and bland platform, with pedestrian goodies, nothing that DARES, nothing that DARE offend.

The last polling I saw, the Liberals were actually tied with the Conservatives on the environment. Ick! Tied on a measure that is one of Harper's worst, we can do much, much better than that. People can comfort themselves that it's not a "big" issue anymore, but that doesn't consider the economic tie in, nor does it recognize what our opponents will use. To date, about all Canadians know about the Ignatieff Liberals, we're big supporters of the tar sands. To be fair, Ignatieff has talked about environmental sustainability, not viewing development with a "klondike-like" mentality, but really the central theme is support for a dirty technology. Because of this perception, I think it makes it doubly important that we articulate a progressive, innovative, creative environmental platform, so that our message is more coherent in totality.

Do we really want Elizabeth May scoffing at Ignatieff during a debate? Do we really want Gilles painting the Liberals as "pale green"? There is potential bleeding at hand, rather than looking at the environment as a vote winner, at the very least you need to consider it as a way to shore up your flank, to stay in the conversation with credibility.

Don't let past perceived failures and misfounded fears turn us into VANILLA.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Street Art

I'm not sure how well known Julian Beever is, but I was recently exposed to some of his street art. A pretty amazing talent.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Harper: Not Exactly A Juggernaut

The new Angus Reid poll shows a narrowing national race, more in line with other recent results. It also seems to suggest that Harper's gong show last week has hurt his standing with Canadians, continuing a negative trend which has gone on for months.

Nationally, we see a 33-30% spread in the Conservatives favor. Liberals unchanged, Conservatives down 3%. Pretty much the usual when it comes to the regionals.

Angus Reid asks a series of questions about the leaders. While Ignatieff no longer enjoys positive momentum, he still leads the pack, Harper continues to erode:
Momentum Scores: Ignatieff -13, Duceppe -15, Layton -17, Harper -28

Each time AR asks this question, the opinion of Harper deteriorates at a pretty significant clip. This latest installment probably reflects his recent performance at the G8, among other things.

AR found a pretty big swing on the economy question, a very good result for Ignatieff:
34% (-3) say Harper best suited to handle economy; 26% (+6) pick Ignatieff

A 17% gap becomes a 8% edge for Harper, a number which is manageable from the Liberal perspective. This might just be some rebound for Ignatieff, after the dive he took during the election standoff.

The rest of the questions on leadership show some pretty concrete and unflattering opinions on Harper. These beliefs further my view that Liberals are wise to use Harper as a contrast to present something positive to Canadians:
When assessing Harper, 49 per cent of respondents brand him as secretive, while at least two-in-five believe he is arrogant (45%), out of touch (41%), and intelligent (40%). More than a third of respondents think the current prime minister is boring (38%) and uncaring (34%).

The only measure that translates as a liability for Ignatieff, he scores the same as Harper on the arrogance number. However, Canadians see him as more intelligent, open, far less secretive and uncaring, he stacks up well against Harper. Part of this is the blank slate syndrome, but it also translates to opportunity.

On the best PM score, which has a obvious inherent advantage for Harper, given that he is the PM, it's a very tight affair:
Preferred Prime Minister: Harper 26%, Ignatieff 22%, Layton 13%

Not exactly a juggernaut.

The difference here is that Harper is a known quantity, it will be very hard for him to reverse negative impressions. Ignatieff has the benefit of "newness", which we can use to our advantage. I see a lot more opportunity for the Liberals within these numbers, than I do the Conservatives. This might explain why we are starting to here more and more whispers about the Conservatives refocusing AWAY from Harper. That to me is a clear signal of real trouble, once you begin to question the appeal of your leader- a paramount consideration in a campaign- you're clearly quite vulnerable.

Waiting On A Statesman

The latest analysis of the attack ad effectiveness provides pretty clear evidence of a voter backlash. If you look at the numbers more broadly, there is a very compelling thesis behind the stats- Canadians are sick and tired of partisan crap, the party that can present itself as an alternative to status quo nonsense has a tremendously wide audience available.

The survey finds the Conservatives hurt themselves more than they do the Liberals harm, but it also finds the entire standing of political discourse is taking a hit. What this means, these views are just a byproduct of a more general disgust, disinterest and lack of respect for what politicians do. The most cheesy of terms is applicable here, people desperately want "change". With the government more and more representative of all that's wrong with Canadian politics, these ads further evidence, the terrain is ripe for the Liberals to draw a stark contrast. That said, the gamesmanship in June has seriously undercut that effort, people see more of the same coming from our side.

The Liberal party has a legacy with voters, and much of that revolves around a deserved cynicism. There's an unease with the Harper approach, but the alternative doesn't look distinguishable, it's basically a "same shit, different pile" mentality. The only way the Liberals truly set themselves apart is to have a concerted, consistent, overarching theme that presents a genuine "fresh start". A new approach to discourse that looks decidedly different from standard operating procedure. We hear dribs and drabs coming from Ignatieff, but there's no real organized thrust to get the message out, and honestly some of our own actions contradict the potential anyways.

People crave a true statesman, somebody who demonstrates the capacity to rise above, somebody who isn't always looking for an angle. The Liberals have a terrific strategy available, because they can make the case using Harper as a contrast, using HIM as representative of what people reject and in turn presenting Ignatieff in a fresh way. There's a certain cleverness to it all. You're attacking your opponent, their methods and distasteful approach, but by providing something uplifting as the alternative, the "digs" don't look opportunistic.

I think you start with a simple premise- ask Canadians if they are happy with their politicians? Get it out there and ask an audience, put it out at every turn, cement the discussion as part of the landscape. Embrace the general frustration as your own, share the disappointment and try to re-introduce the Liberal Party as something beyond the status quo. Whether that's a credible presentation remains to be seen, but the Liberals have the benefit of a leader that isn't a career politician, isn't part of the old guard- use his "novice" status to advantage. We have the perfect contrast in Harper, this latest finding shows people don't care one lick for his tactics, but until the Liberals aggressively reshape their own image, it's an untapped voter pool.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ignatieff On Peacekeeping

Maclean's has a piece, detailing an Ignatieff speech on "peacekeeping". I thought I would put up the actual audio, because it gives a better context from which to judge:

I don't really see the purpose in trying to ignore what Ignatieff said, rather it's better to have an intelligent debate about his viewpoint (any flaming comments aren't welcome, so don't waste your time- CLICK). I actually see his view as valid, because there is much "folklore" surrounding our international standing, but it really doesn't translate to reality. Ignatieff's statements are merely a recognition that you can't do peacekeeping if you don't have the means, if you don't invest in the forces required. Is that really controversial?

One irrefutable fact when we entered Afghanistan, our armed forces were woefully equipped, to the point of embarrassing. It was so bad we had to borrow uniforms, and we're still playing catchup. Now, this mission isn't peacekeeping, but that's splitting hairs, because it still served as an illustration of just feeble our military had become, and last time I checked it's the military that does the peacekeeping.

Canada did make choices, and I'm not sure I disagree in the final analysis. However, to have made those expenditure choices, but still boast about our capacity in the world, was never a honest presentation. Ignatieff does defend the Americans, but he also worries about a international community dependent on them as the only one's capable of adding the necessary might to moral imperatives. Taken further, a Canada that is well equipped to actively engage, is a healthy development, because then we act within our own sense of right and wrong, rather than relying on a singular country. You could look at the argument, as an empowering plea.

Ignatieff puts forth a debatable perspective, which is worthy of discussion. It's not a romantic view, particularly the "men with guns" idea, but it's a realistic one that includes the obvious, wants aside. I don't find the above offensive, I find it frank.

Isn't Diplomacy Wonderful?

Isn't it nice to see how a people's destiny is nothing more than a bargaining chip:
Diplomats said that Israel had offered concessions on settlement policy, Palestinian land claims and issues with neighboring Arab states, to facilitate a possible strike on Iran.

“Israel has chosen to place the Iranian threat over its settlements,” said a senior European diplomat.

It sort of reinforces one of my pet theories. Even when good things happen, it's rarely for the right reasons.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Whatever Dumb Dumb

Get a load of this dummy.

Tsk, tsk.

Liberals Should Support Euthanasia

I'm fixated with the word "bold" lately when it comes to Liberal policy. One issue that lingers below the surface, but nobody dares address, is assisted suicide. This timidity, despite evidence of broad public support, not to mention underlying moral imperatives within a certain support of individual liberties.

It's a central thesis, which Liberals supposedly defend, a simple CHOICE. Beyond that, it's a very complicated issue in terms of the politics. Despite public support, assisted suicide is a hot button issue and any mainstream party that advocates assisted suicide risks controversy. But, in terms of standing for something, in terms of resonating and engaging, I say no risk no reward.

Three American states have already passed some form of assisted suicide. We've seen private member bills come forward in Canada, but mostly the debate is silent, nobody really wants to address. IMHO it's a pretty simple concept- you don't have to approve, but your perspective shouldn't impact somebody else's decision, it should be left to the individual, within a set of morally sound rules.

I want to see the Liberals add some "spice" to our national debate, rather than just playing it safe and over analyizing every position, to the point we delute, for fear of offending ANYONE. That's where a party gets lost, that's when it becomes mushy, because it measures electoral success with not making waves and offering "goodies". No question the formula works to some degree, but does it really? Canadians are bored with their neutered political process, gotcha over gonna, packaging over policy. In other words, the formula isn't working, because people aren't engaged, the stay at home in droves. Advocating something like assisted suicide is good policy from my point of view, but it's also "bold", within that defining and purposeful, something Liberals desperately need. There's a growing sense, which nobody can deny- voters are having more and more trouble defining just what exactly Liberals stand for. THIS issue conveys that in spades, a policy that's consistent with an overarching view of society and the role of the individual. It's a practical application of the theoretical.

I'm no fool, the mere mention of this idea within a circle of prominent Liberals and strategists would bring a host of cautions, avoidances. Some of the logic is sound, but you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that the public is sympathetic, it's an issue which people deal with in their lives, it's something they've considered and formed an opinion on. Will it offend subsets? Absolutely, but trying to be everything to everyone is a recipe for projected weakness, which loses in the end anyways. Further, if you do regional breakdowns, you'll find opinion is most sympathetic where it matters most to the Liberal cause, so the risk is less pronounced than first blush might suggest.


Something To Watch

The new EKOS poll gives the Conservatives a slight edge, up a couple points since last week, the Liberals virtually unchanged. What might be more noteworthy, the Conservatives get their highest marks on the "direction of the country" question, which is probably a more key finding.

34.1% CPC
32.4% LPC
15.2% NDP
9.6% Green
8.7% BQ

Mildly surprising that the Conservatives gain slightly, because last week wasn't a stellar one for the government. NDP down, Liberals unchanged, mostly just moving around within the margin of error. Of note, the Conservatives score a relatively high 18% in Quebec, more evidence that they're up slightly from the previous abysmal trend.

We can debate whether or not the economy has truly turned the corner, but really it's the voter psychology that's important. This EKOS poll puts confidence in the government at its highest since they began their weekly sample. We also see the lowest score for the government on the "wrong direction" percentage. Although it's minor changes, I would suggest this measure is one to watch, a very important indicator for the government:
Right direction 49%
Wrong direction 39%

To put that finding into context, a month ago the numbers were evenly split, slight edge on the "wrong" side. What might be even more telling, even in the economically ravaged province of Ontario, the Conservatives have a 50% right direction, 40% wrong direction. With a very volatile electorate, those numbers may prove quite important moving forward.

The Conservatives still lag behind overall views on direction of the economy, but that gap is narrowing. With the Liberals stalled, their numbers virtually identical week to week, the Conservatives seem to be capitalizing on higher confidence and a sense that things will improve. That is an entirely new dynamic, that wasn't present throughout the last session of Parliament, and it's one the Liberals should adapt to quickly.

When you've witnessed mind boggling negativity in the economy, it's only natural that any relative pause or the most miniscule of signs are seized on. I think we have a natural inclination to want to believe things will improve, once the numbers fail to keep us sober and negative, there's more room for optimism. I would suggest that is where we are now, uneven indicators will be enough to keep that sense alive and it will probably only improve. With that in mind- the numbers starting to support this thesis- the government can now move from raw knuckles damage control to projecting a "over the hump" argument, their stewardship no longer a liability, but a testament to ably seeing us through a economic downturn, not of our making. The question then becomes- what is the attractive counter argument for the Liberals to move the numbers back in their favor?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Staying Ahead Of The Curve

It's almost fair to say the worst is behind us on the economic front. That doesn't mean we won't see more job losses, stagnation, plenty of poor indicators, but there is a sense that we're turning the corner, emerging from the thickest brush. What that means politically- and we already see evidence of this- the government can start sounding more optimistic. It wouldn't surprise me, if we see further positive developments, that Harper and company start taking credit for a recovery on the horizon. Within this climate, nobody expects a robust economy to emerge, so the bar is set quite low for the government to turn meger into substantial.

I suppose that was the great danger in waiting to have an election, the economy would plateau or show signs of health and the opposition's attacks would hold less weight. It's actually starting to go according to script, from the HAWK perspective. What this means, is that while the Liberals can still go after the government for fiscal mismanagement, EI, other economic matters, the Conservatives are now better placed to counter. You can hear the lines, and it's already started-by fall expect a succinct message that conveys better days ahead, this government has lead us through the worst and Canada is "poised". That frame may well resonate with an electorate who's optimism is already rising.

For the Liberals, we need to stay ahead of the news and develop a detailed approach about how Canada does emerge, what do we want it to look like in the new economy, what are the policies to put us back in the black. Simply criticizing won't do, and the benefits of a government continually battered by absymal economic numbers has waned. The new battleground that will probably win the next election- who is best equipped, who has the most comprehensive plan, who has a realistic and honest program to return to fiscal health, who best brings a vision for the new jobs. The most obvious idea, the Liberals need to adopt a multi-layered mega theme, all revolving around the idea of the green economy. Yada, yada, every government in the world talks about this now, but behind the rhetoric there's a simple truth- the countries that best identify this economy and learn how to compete, develop ideas, will be the big winners during the recovery period. If the Liberals can develop an approach that draws on all areas to show a consistent thrust in this direction, it will be compelling. On top of that, you deal with the environment, but in a very practical way that speaks to the naked economic concerns that dominate the agenda.

The Conservatives don't really have any vision for the economy, apart from these simplistic notions. All the money being spent, it's a piecemeal, there's no overarching plan to retool the economy in a legible way. It's all bandaids, that only seek to get us through the rough patch, pretty much business as usual after that. The "big" idea deficit provides a real opportunity for the Liberals, because we can articulate a host of policy positions, all working in concert, towards the greater theme. Once Canadians digest the notion that brighter days are ahead, even if timid, then the next consideration moves to things like "5 year plans", looking to a party to show a path that sets us up for continued growth.

I think that's where we're headed, the Liberals need to seize the debate with something challenging, something that has imagination and direction. The green economy is so obvious, hit Canadians will a thousand small concepts, scattered throughout different jurisdictions, that allows Canadians to step back and see all oars in the water with common purpose. Within that, demonstrate a detailed plan to deal with the deficit in a responsible way, and we might start winning confidence. It's no longer about chasing the news, it's now about DIRECTION, that will be the point of distinction.

He Gets Around

Gene Simmons was in Ottawa yesterday visiting Parliament Hill:

The KISS bassist looks a busy man, because I'm almost certain I saw him at last week's G8 meeting:

He gets around apparently.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Canadian Media's "Agenda" to Divide Christians

It's always been a nothing story, made noteworthy because Harper has never actually said what he did with the wafer (example- I returned to my seat and consumed the host, simple, concise, nothing to see here). I find the glaring omission of the obvious telling, but that's just me I suppose. Instead of just clarifying any confusion from the tape, Harper decided to rail on the media, "a low moment in journalism" he argued.

Today we hear more from Harper, now it's part of an "agenda" from people that want to "drive a wedge between Protestants and Catholics". Leave it to low road Harper to turn this all into a conspiracy by certain people to cause religious discord. It's frankly amazing, the nonsense this guy can utter. If you follow Harper logically, he's basically saying the media are actively trying to sow division.

The real story here, AGAIN Stephen Harper uses any issue at his disposal to try and bolster his political standing. Turning it all on it's head, Harper positions himself as the champion of christian unity, fighting against the forces that wish to do them harm. This crap germinates in the same vein as his Ignatieff broadside at the G8 presser, never one to let a partisan chance pass without getting in his licks.

It was unfortunate, it was unfounded, it's laughable, I would never show a lack of respect for religious protocols, yada, yada, that's the simple proclamation. But no, this is about division in the land, shadowy attempts by the liberal media to "drive a wedge" amongst god fearing folk. It's all so crass and typical. If there are two things Stephen Harper knows well it's the "low" road and use "driving wedges", it's his forte.

Changing Gears

Today's Travers piece provides a pretty fair analysis of where the Liberals find themselves. If you accept the premise that the Liberals suffered a setback last month- which seems pretty self evident at this point- then it's time to entertain ways to re seize the momentum. Within that reality, it's also important to point out that "panic" isn't part of the equation, because the Liberals are still relatively well placed to have a realistic shot at winning the next election.

I actually see this change in tone surrounding the Liberals as a positive development, thinking long term. While it's a sound historical truth that "government's defeat themselves", this thesis can render the opposition far too careful and timid for its own good. It's hard to resist the temptation to merely not make waves, let your opponent self destruct, particularly when you know the news of the day is almost guaranteed to reflect poorly on the government. With that in mind, it's not really a strategic criticism that the Liberals have largely chose this path. However, with recent developments, it's becoming very obvious that this approach might be inadequate, or maybe that it fails to maximize the odds in its passivity.

When everything is going you way, there's no sense that tinkering or a rethink is required. When you meet with certain setbacks, then the status quo strategy can be challenged and reaccessed. I would argue the Liberals are in the midst of a "rethink" as we speak, at least I hope and assume so. It's time to be more proactive, and really offer an alternative vision that is easily distinguishable from the Conservatives. To articulate a clear choice demands a boldness which has been lacking to date. The problem with being bold, it comes with inherent risk. However, it is worth acknowledging that "playing it safe" is also risky, especially now when we see more and more evidence that people will demand more from Ignatieff and the Liberals.

Ignatieff's speech last week in Britain serves as the philosophical underpinning for Liberal policy. It's far too theoretical, and frankly involved, to resonate with Canadians, but the vision gives a coherence if it also comes with practical, policy examples. What Ignatieff offered, was an approach that rejects the dogma of the right and left, but draws on both in a balanced and pragmatic way. A complex world doesn't fit nicely into approaches that are almost mathematical in their ridigity. The fact of the matter with many of the tired ideologies, you already know the answer to any question prior to the question- they often fail to incorporate inherent contradictory factors that don't lend themselves to positions of purity. What some would argue as "principled", I see as more intellectually lazy and often simplistic. The type of "liberalism" Ignatieff exposed brings with it the necessary ideological space to truly be pragmatic- a critic would say "mushy", but really I see it as freedom. In this way, the Liberals are free to meander as they see fit, as they react to events that unfold and the educated knowledge attained- a loose moral imperative that also incorporates the evidence when offering solutions.

The trick now for the Liberals is to move from the theoretical to practical, to put out ideas that show voters how Ignatieff will apply his approach. I would argue the standard lines aren't enough, the almost pandering policy positions to typical to resonate. In other words, promising the world to everyone, while simultaneously lacking the strength to oppose or offend any subset or interest, doesn't capture anybody's imagination, it's just more of the same and it will be viewed as such.

It's true, the Liberals could still win the next election by merely opposing, highlighting the shortcomings of the Conservatives. I would argue that approach is a 50/50 proposition, that's how I would catergorize the odds as they stand now, with the same approach moving forward. Not bad, but when you factor in what you want to hear, outside of partisan calculation, it seems a pretty pedestrian approach. We've got the impressive "mind" at the top, but it's wasted if we're hesitant in letting it roam. Recent events make safe less secure, so in the long run, it might just make for a far more compelling presentation come the next election.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Still A Liability

Curiosity Cat has an interesting post, which uses the latest HD poll to show that the idea of coalition is gaining traction with Canadians. It is true that the coalition idea now finds slightly more support, than those that oppose:
Opinion is split on the potential for a coalition government, with a slight plurality indicating they’d support
the idea of one. 45% of respondents said they’d support two of the parties coming together to form a coalition
government that would hold a majority of the seats in the House of Commons after the next election, while 42%
would oppose such an initiative.

The above represents pretty much the best numbers we've seen for the coalition question, so at first blush an encouraging sign. However, despite the growing acceptance of the concept, I think once you drill down into the numbers, you find the idea is still politically toxic.

First off, don't make the assumption that the perceived acceptance excludes a Liberal/Conservative dynamic. It's conventional wisdom at this point to think any support is for the concept floated last winter, which this poll doesn't attempt to distinguish. People want the parties to work together, and it's reasonable to think at least a small percentage of "support" entertains an alliance between the two principle parties, not a arrangement with the fringe. That is a minor issue however.

Where I would offer caution, you can't take the overall percentages and extrapolate political worth. This poll shows that Conservatives are more soundly against the idea of a coalition, while Liberal, NDP and Bloc supporters are less resolved in their support. What that means politically, the Conservatives can run against the idea of any coalition and not really risk their base support. On top of that, because a greater percentage of other party supports express a hesitancy with the idea of a coalition, the Conservatives can "peel" off those supporters to their camp, if they make the idea a central wedge issue. You can see the party splits here. Some quite math, when you add up all those against the coalition from the other parties and subtract those Conservatives who would support, you are left with a decided advantage in being the one party who actively runs AGAINST a coalition. There is no risk politically for the Conservatives, but there is plenty of opportunity. This means that overall percentages are deceiving, because one party can rally the anti vote, whereas the other parties split the pro sentiment, and within in there core support is less committed, more vulnerable.

The poll finds 40% support, 46% oppose in Ontario, which is a very concerning number for the Liberals. People will remember, that Ontario numbers for the Conservatives hit unprecedented heights when the coalition was the frontburner. Nothing in the above numbers suggests anything different, if the Conservatives successfully make the coalition an issue, they can hold their vote and expand, drawing away weary other party potentials. It's still a no lose proposition. The fact the Conservatives mention "coalition" whenever they can, and the fact it will be a campaign theme, tells me all I need to know about their calculations.

As I pointed out in CC's comments, I guess the comforting fact of this poll- should we see another minority after the next election, a coalition might find more acceptance. However, the trick for the Liberals, they can't entertain the notion until after any vote, because to do so would clearly hurt their chances.

This poll also shows that Canadians would prefer a Liberal majority, and if voters of other parties were forced to choose between the two principles, the Liberals would carry the day. A more shrewd strategy would be to try and rally soft support to the Liberal cause, in the name of turfing the Conservatives. This is certain to be part of the theme in Quebec, and the Liberals can exploit disenchantment with the government, by narrowing the choice to two parties. Nothing new really, and nothing the other parties haven't calculated- Layton's quest to be "Prime Minister" last election a testament to the strategy of remaining relevant, not wanting to get lost in the anti-Con sentiment.

Conclusion, the coalition idea is probably more popular, as we get used to the concept. That said, any talk of a coalition is still a Conservative wet dream and something to avoided at all costs by the Liberals.

On Honeymoons

The other day, Raphael penned a commentary in the National Post which declared "Obama honeymoon finally draws near an end". Raphael seized upon a Rasmussen poll, which seemly showed Obama's popularity seriously on the wane. I use the word SEIZED, because the partial and misleading assertion, says more about the author's BENT, than it does any meaningful analysis. First, here's the average of all polling done on Obama's approval/disapproval:

I would hardly call a large 20% spread, approval/disapproval, evidence of Obama being in trouble, if anything it's a testament to excellent approval with voters. Why Raphael uses one poll, while ignoring everything else is unfortunate, and it really speaks to his own WANT rather than an accurate presentation.

The funny thing about using Rasmussen, as your singular evidence, they've always been out of step with every other pollster. For instance, there was another poll by Gallup released the same day which gave Obama a 23% approval advantage, which came on the heels of two other polls the week prior, each showing a 24% advantage. If you look back over time, you'll find that Rasmussen is consistently an outlier on this measure. This month they gave Obama a slight 6% spread, in June a 9% spread. Interestingly, there were also three polls taken the same week of June, which showed a 20%, 22% and 34% spread respectively. Go back to May, and you see Rasmussen differs from other pollsters by an average of 17%. In other words, Rasmussen has always been on the low end of the polls, they've always unstated Obama's popularity relative to others, which means using them as your primary and SOLE measure to present any thesis is problematic at best.

I know Conservatives are desperate to see Obama fail, but when they are reduced to elevating and purposely misleading, it really does make them look foolish. Will the honeymoon end? Of course, that's a normal development over time. However, anyone with any credibility doesn't ignore 90% of the data at their disposal, so they can put forth what amounts to CRAP. Then again, looking at the publication in question, it's pretty much subpar for the course.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I was able to obtain an early draft of Harper's statement, relating to today's meeting with the Pope. I'm not sure if yesterday's embarrassing events lead to the final editing, but here is the never before seen original statement, omitted sections highlighted:

"It was an honour to meet Pope Benedict, whom Michael Ignatieff has never met I might add, or Bob Rae for that matter, and hear his perspective on a number of important issues, including human rights and an ethical response to the global economic crisis. It was clear from our conversation, that the Pontiff shares my view that a Liberal inspired carbon tax or GST hike in this current economic climate is a morally bankrupt position.

I expressed my deep appreciation for the Holy Father's moral and humanitarian leadership, his view that all Catholics have a moral responsibility to vote Conservative, as an advocate of human dignity, peace and religious liberty, and for the spiritual leadership he provides to Catholics in Canada and throughout the world, including all those other places Mr. Ignatieff lived when he was outside of Canada for decades"

Couldn't Agree More Mr. Powers

CTV had an interesting segment, wherein a very sweaty Tim Powers was debating Warren Kinsella over Harper's latest G8 "gaffe". Unable to really defend Harper's hyper partisanship, Powers made the point that we should be talking about serious issues. Powers highlighted African aid, climate change progress, those were the real issues to come out of the G8 meeting. It was sort of an amazing argument when you think about it, because Powers was unintentionally criticizing the man he was there to defend.

Nobody FORCED Stephen Harper to get sidetracked, abandon discussing all those supposed G8 accomplishments. The media would be discussing those issues, if not for Harper introducing petty partisan politics into the equation. Harper volunteered the diversion, he chose not to focus on the issues Powers lauded, but instead turned it all into a "gotcha" moment. So, when Powers laments that real issues have been ignored here, he is really criticizing the Prime Minister for misplaced priorities. I found that a fascinating irony.


In one of the comments, Joseph mentioned this idea that Harper did Canada harm by introducing this debate about our worthiness as part of the G8. Harper made the following comment, directed towards Ignatieff:
"Nobody, but Mr. Ignatieff has suggested excluding Canada from a meeting of major countries. Nobody. That's the first anybody has heard of it. I think it's a irresponsible suggestion."

As it turns out, NOBODY had suggested excluding Canada, except for Harper raising the issue. In the final analysis, "the first anybody has heard of it" came from the Prime Minister of Canada, which is quite "IRRESPONSIBLE" when you think about it.

I don't think you let this issue drift away, for the Liberals you revisit it, whenever you can. As a matter of fact, this gaffe is central to our campaign thesis. Kinsella made the point in the interview, and I hope we hammer it over and over again- the G8 press conference is a shining example of how this guy operates, how he represents everything about politics that Canadians increasingly despise, how he is more interested in partisan considerations than serious issues, how he simply isn't WORTHY of the job.

Friday, July 10, 2009


This is what happens when a tornado passes a moving train. As an aside, it also serves as a metaphor to describe Stephen Harper's day:

Bad Karma

Regardless of who made the actual error, the fact of the matter is that Harper's latest gaffe never happens if he and his team weren't such hyper-partisan, LOW RENT characters. With all the world's problems on display during an international meeting, isn't it just wonderful that the PMO is more concerned with scoring cheap DOMESTIC points against an opponent? Once again, as we've seen time after time after time, we witness a government which has warped priorities.

I could care less who apologizes for the latest incident, what really matters is further evidence that Harper simply isn't WORTHY of his office. How many other world leaders found it necessary to get so personal and partisan during this gathering? This isn't a one off, Harper has done this before on the international stage, never ceasing to calculate. It's for that reason that the responsibility clearly falls on Harper, because this is simply what he does, his approach to leadership, his STYLE.

I'd like to apologize too. I'm sorry Canadians elected such a bottom feeding CAD and put him on the world stage, when clearly he deserves to be "off Broadway".

Bob Rae sums it up best, and mediocre is RIGHT:
It shows terrible judgment on his part. It shows that he never is capable of rising above a cheap partisan attack and in so doing, he cheapens his reputation and he cheapens the office that he holds," Rae said in an interview.

"The country expects a prime minister on the world stage to show judgment, leadership, character, integrity, generosity of spirit, all of those things. Instead of which, we get somebody who cannot help himself. He can't stop himself from stooping to launch a mean-spirited, and in the end, stupid attack on the leader of the Opposition. "I'm sure people in L'Aquila are shaking their heads, well, why would you attack the leader of the opposition when you're on the world stage? You don't see Barack Obama going after John McCain. You don't see anybody else thinking about doing that. That's not what you do.... I just found it breathtaking in its mediocrity."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Ignatieff Losing Ground On Economy

Today's EKOS poll is a ho hum affair, but the new Angus Reid offering brings some interesting findings. What I find particularly noteworthy, the deteroriation of Ignatieff's numbers on the certain primary ballot question. Nationally, AR moves from a statistical tie to a decent Conservative advantage:
Cons 36% (32%)
Libs 30% (31%)
NDP 16% (18%)
Greens 7% (7%)

The regionals show Ontario at a virtual deadheat, not much change from the last AR poll:
Cons 37% (37%)
Libs 34% (35%)
NDP 19% (20%)
Greens 9% (8%)

A bit different from EKOS, but again it speaks to volatility.

In Quebec, not much change. Liberals at 27%, the Conservatives up to 16%, Bloc at 38%, NDP 12%.

Overall, AR gives the Conservatives their highest percentage of any pollster since March.

Behind the numbers, there are some revealing trends for Ignatieff, which partially explain the Liberal stagnation. I would describe these numbers as "worrying":
Part of the Conservative lead seems to come from a decline in the economic credibility of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. About one-third of Canadians (32%) say their either completely or moderately trust Ignatieff to do the right thing to help the economy recover, a drop of seven points since April. Also, the proportion of people who “completely distrust” Ignatieff to do the right thing to help the economy has risen from 19 per cent in April to 27 per cent this month.
The performance of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on economic issues is essentially unchanged since April. Harper is completely or moderately trusted by 41 per cent of respondents (no change) and completely or moderately distrusted by 48 per cent (down four points).

Harper's numbers are quite poor, but they are no longer as pronounced, relative to Ignatieff. Clearly, the election threat fallout has hurt Ignatieff's reputation. Or, maybe more correctly, the blank slate is being filled with negative connotations. Economic management will be the first, second and third most important issue in any campaign, so I'd address this growing weakness immediately and proactively. You don't want to read too much, or overreact, but you also need to recognize the potential liabilities with some foresight in mind.

Holding Pattern

The new EKOS poll is pretty bland, confirming a pretty static dynamic that will probably hold all summer. Statistical tie seems to be the order of the day with recent polls, this EKOS result shows little movement:
Libs 32.2% (32.2%)
Cons 31.8% (31%)
NDP 16% (16.2%)
Greens 10.7% (11.5%)

The Liberals still hold a good lead in Ontario, according to EKOS. 39%, 34%, 15%, 12%, not terribly different from the last poll. Graves uses one of my terms to describe Ontario voters- "vacillate".

In Quebec, it would seem the Liberals are settling in just over 30%, a minor pullback from their earlier highs. EKOS actually gives the Conservatives relatively good numbers, and it's been consistent. This time it's 16.2%, not good, but better than hovering around single digits. Of note, EKOS gives the NDP their lowest support number since the election, at a meger 7.5%, running fifth in the province behind the Greens.

Graves makes a comment about Ignatieff's courtship of Alberta, and concludes that his efforts "have gone nowhere". Silliness aside, about any breakthrough scenario, I'm not sure I'd catergorize a doubling of support, relative to the last election as "nowhere". "Barely relevant" seems a more apt description now.

All in all, ho hum.... Spring 2010 looks more and more the realistic election timing.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Damaging Damage Control

Jeff has a good rundown on Harper and the host. What I find fascinating is the response by the PMO, which has served to elevate the "scandal":
"It's totally absurd," the prime minister's press secretary, Dimitri Soudas, said. "The priest offered the host to the prime minister, the prime minister accepted the host and he consumed it."

"The story today alleges he put it in his pocket and did not consume it which is false. It's totally absurd and ridiculous."

There's nothing worse than damage control which actually causes further damage. What Soudas has done with this obvious fabrication, is demand further clarification. Making such a clear assertion, that Harper did consume the host, when the video clearly shows he did NO SUCH THING does the PM no favors:

As a recovered Catholic, I've seen people at funerals unsure what to do with communion. It can be awkward, and it's not reasonable to expect non-Catholics to understand the nuances of mass. As an aside, my childhood friend and I were "fired" as altar boys because of hunger pangs prior to mass. The bowl of little round bread bits was very inviting- the priest was not amused to say the least, but I felt very "godly" afterwards, either that or it was acute "host" gas.

Anyways, I'm prepared to cut Harper some slack on host protocol, apart from a criticism directed to his handlers who should have foreseen any potential awkward moment. However, with the stance of Soudras we now have a situation of apparent dishonesty, political considerations trying to mask the obvious visual. Will the PMO cling to this apparent disconnect, has Soudras painted the PM into a embarrassing corner? I want to know what happened to the host- in the garbage, in the wash, etc? You want to see outrage, tell people he consumed only to see a video where he did no such thing.

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind... ~Hosea 8:7


Tuesday, July 07, 2009


The new Strategic Counsel poll contains more of the same. Statistical tie, Liberal momentum has vanished, which raises some interesting questions heading into this looming fall election threat. Given that we're now in the summer season, wherein it's very difficult for opposition parties to gain any momentum, it's looking more and more like September might not be as climatic as previously thought.

The national numbers show a noticeable Conservative uptick, Liberals stagnant, NDP still showing poor results where it matters:
Cons 34% (30%)
Libs 33% (34%)
NDP 15% (16%)

Much of the Conservative gain comes in Ontario, where SC shows them retaking the lead. SC also shows a slight Conservative rebound in Quebec, although nothing to get excited about.

In Ontario:
Cons 43% (35%)
Libs 39% (44%)
NDP 11% (10%)

A pretty sizeable shift, and this pollster gives the Conservatives their biggest lead in months. The Liberal number isn't out of line, relative to other recent findings. Not necessarily a bad result, but it's more striking when you see such a high Conservative percentage. There is clearly a very real volatility between the two principle parties. What doesn't seem volatile, the consistent poor showing for the NDP. This number looks on the low end, along with the recent NANOS poll, but overall we don't see the NDP touching their 2008 numbers.

In Quebec, we see a widening gap, the Bloc clearly out front:
Bloc 44% (37%)
Libs 31% (35%)
Cons 15% (9%)

No results for the NDP and Greens, but they can't be good, given these numbers already add up to 90% of respondents. We haven't seen a Bloc result this high for some time, nor have we seen such a large gap. The previous SC results were in line with other findings, which makes this result intriguing. That said, this is also the pollster that gave the Greens 26%, the lead in the province, a few months ago, so caution is required.

No other regions provided, but with the Liberals barely off nationally, despite these Ontario and Quebec numbers, one can assume they are doing better in other areas of the country.

Difficult to imagine the polls really changing much over the summer. The only party you can see benefitting from the summer lull is the Conservatives. The government will have more natural exposure, relative quiet to push their talking points. There really isn't a rational argument available, that can see the Liberals regaining the lost momentum. The fall provides the next real opportunity to move the numbers. Within that reality, the September confidence vote looks problematic- hard to see how the Liberals are well positioned to pull the plug.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Do Your Homework

Whether you agree or disagree with Ignatieff's approach to the tar sands, that is really irrelevant to this argument about consistency. Ignatieff was in Calgary, and again forwarded his assertions on what the tar sands mean to the Canadian economy, the question of national unity, the idea of not "pitting" one region against another. Nothing new, that's the standard stump speech whenever Ignatieff speaks about the tar sands. However, the piece also commons with commentary from a supposed expert, political scientist Duane Bratt:
"The bigger question that I would have for Ignatieff is that's fine, saying that in Calgary. Let's see you say it in Montreal. Let's see you say it in Toronto," Bratt said.

Bratt echoes a criticism from some Conservatives, that Ignatieff is merely pandering to a region while present, not representative of any true core belief. Bratt, who should KNOW better, given his supposed expertise posits a complete falsehood:
Ignatieff touts Alberta tar sands

Oil industry key to Canada's geopolitical power, Liberal leader tells Quebecers in unity pitch

MONTREAL–Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff brought a pragmatic message to this environmentally conscious province yesterday, defending Alberta in the name of national unity.

Keenly aware that his greatest future electoral opportunity is in Quebec, and his greatest challenge in Alberta, Ignatieff essentially told Quebecers they needed to get with the program when it comes to the Alberta tar sands.

"The stupidest thing you can do (is) to run against an industry that is providing employment for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, and not just in Alberta, but right across the country," Ignatieff told an audience largely of business graduate students at HEC Montreal, a management school affiliated with the University of Montreal.

Aware that the tar sands, one of the biggest oil deposits in the world, and also one of the dirtiest, is a controversial subject in Quebec, Ignatieff told the audience that "all questions of energy policy are a question of national unity."

He said he toured the oil sands in August and concluded that they will determine Canada's geopolitical power for the 21st century.

"We provide more oil to the United States than Saudi Arabia. That changes everything," he insisted. "It means that when the prime minister of Canada goes into the White House, he gets listened to, in ways that Canadian prime ministers have not been listened to before.

"We're not the nice little friendly northern cousin. They can't run their economy without us."

Polls show Quebecers have serious environmental reservations about the resource's development. During the election campaign, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe repeatedly claimed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's favouritism toward western oil companies hurts Quebec.

Ignatieff repudiated that kind of rhetoric. "Alberta is a valued treasured part of our federation," he said. "Never pit one region of the country against the other when you develop economic policy."

Pretty much the VERBATUM arguments made in Montreal, as made in Calgary, as made in Edmonton. It isn't in the Liberals political self interest to tout the tar sands in Quebec, and this where Bratt's "challenge" probably stems from. The fact Ignatieff HAS "said it" in Montreal speaks to consistency, it rebukes this notion of convenient pandering, because Ignatieff has uttered the same words, where there is more negative than positive to be gained.

I expect more from a supposed "expert", and if Mr. Bratt is so detached from the details, then he shouldn't offer an opinion as though informed, nor should any publication seek his tertiary analysis.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

16 Minutes I'll Never Get Back

CBC has a story, reviewing an "embarrassing" episode in the Senate's Committee On National Security And Defence. Nice to see Conservatives act the same dreadful way in both Parliamentary bodies. Warning, over 16 minutes of time you'll want back afterwards:

More Of The Same

The new EKOS poll, with a large sample size, shows the Liberals regaining a very slight edge, primarily as result of the Conservatives falling support in Ontario. In what is becoming a noteworthy dynamic, the Conservatives seem to gain temporary support whenever the threat of an election or crisis looms, only to fade under normal conditions. Nationally:
32.2% LPC
31.0% CPC
16.2% NDP
11.5% Green
9.0% BQ

The Liberal vote is virtually unchanged, but the Conservatives dropped 4%. With nothing really newsworthy since the last poll, I think you can chalk this up to the election threat. I seem to recall similar upticks in the past year, of varying degrees, whenever any sort of parliamentary crisis arose. The uptick also seems to be largely an Ontario consideration, which then wanes when the threat passes. In this instance, the last EKOS poll had the Conservatives up to a statistical tie with the Liberals in Ontario. The latest offering returns to a more common theme in recent months, Liberals steady and back out front:
Libs 38% (38)
Cons 32% (38%)
NDP 16.5% (14%)
Greens 13% (19%)

In terms of the volatility in Ontario, more evidence that the vaciliation is between Liberal lead and deadheat, which translates to a pretty solid starting position for the Liberals in a campaign.

Elsewhere, not much real change. Liberals doing well in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, Conservatives in the west.

In a testament to national numbers being somewhat deceiving, Eric at ThreeHundredEight gives the Liberals 125 seats, Conservatives 106, NDP 26, despite the "dead heat" appearance.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Monarchy Is So Yesterday

I thought this was a timely finding on Canada Day:
Should Canada cut its connection to the monarchy after a new monarch is crowned?

Cut connection to the monarchy 65%

Next monarch named king of Canada 35%

Interestingly, the majority sentiment cuts across all of Canada's regions.

On the question of whether Canadians feel a strong connection the Queen or Governor General, only 20% find any affinity for the Queen, 10% for the GG, and a whopping 70% say neither.

My personal opinion, the monarchy is an obsolete application in Canada. Representative of old world elitism, in the most obscene fashion, nothing would make me happier than to erase any deference to blue blood in the Canadian constitution.

The above shows that Canadians no longer find much use for the monarchy, which provides political cover for any party who is bold enough to challenge outdated tradition. Taking my personal view to the partisan arena, if you want to make a statement which is mostly symbolic but has psychological weight, the Liberals would be wise to consider advocating a end to any ties to the monarchy. In Quebec, where the monarchy solicites nothing but negative connotations, a move to divorce Canada from the symbol of British imperialism bring obvious advantage. The fact that the monarchy's popularity has waned in English Canada, makes any proposition a less risky adventure.

In these supposedly modern times, I've always found our connection to the British monarchy as nothing more than romantic irrelevance, elevating an out of date hierarchy that has no bearing on the real world. Tradition is fine, but I see no need to revere and give status to entities which represent ancient entitlement. When you consider the "irritant" factor, why we maintain our outdated model escapes me.

Happy Canada Day!