Thursday, September 30, 2010


The new book by Lawrence Martin "Harperland: The Politics of Control" is based on the notion that "hatred for his opponents" is what drives this Prime Minister. Although Conservatives are already up in arms, Martin's thesis is primarily backed up by Conservative sources, fancy that.

I've held this belief for some time, and I've articulated it here in the past. Martin uses "hatred", which is similar to my view that Harper, and more broadly, the reformer group he led, was always more about negativity, what they were against, than any real commitment to substantial change. If you look at almost every policy position, the starting point seems to be an expression of what is wrong, something to rail against, more angst than vision. The entire status quo was the enemy, the Liberals a lightning rod for a rebellion against entrenched interests.

In practice, Harper has betrayed almost all of his former supposed beliefs. In addition, his merry band of ideologues have compromised all the former core tenets, whether it be egalitarian democracy, transparency, entitlement, etc- you name it, one can point to a tinge of sheer hypocrisy. The fact Harper has so quickly ignored the supposed philosophy, confirms to me that it was always an inherent negativism that drove him, rather than the superficial presentation. Harper only wants to tear down, disband, undermine, question, divide, there is little where one can point to a positivity.

If you review Harper's ascendency, you see writings and speeches littered with a profound dislike for almost all of Canada's institutions. Everything the enemy, which has become plainly obvious now that Harper has practical power. It's this bizarre "anti" disposition that causes unnecessary confrontations, where none need exist. Harper wants to destroy things, the Liberals a symbol for that deep seeded motivation. This is why Harper's "conservatism" departs from other manifestations, because it lacks balance, it lacks a positive horizon. Without something to attack, there is nothing really there, there is no passion or warped conviction. On the foreign policy front, it's always stark, because we need to have an enemy, so we can rally behind an ally. We don't like certain initiatives, but we don't offer alternatives, all energy is merely spend obstructing or stopping.

Step back and look for an overarching theme, and you see that most of the policies or positions are reacting to something already in place, in a decidedly pessimistic fashion. I firmly believe, if Harper had nothing to dislike or decry, he would have little impetus or inspiration to achieve anything. Harper needs a THEM, and his entire career has been based on this rudimentary construct.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Poll

A new poll from Angus Reid, which shows a widening Conservative lead, up to 8%:
Con. 34%
Lib. 26%
NDP 18%
BQ 11%
Grn 10%

Conservatives up 1%, Liberals down 3%, NDP down 1%, Greens up 2%. Looking at the regionals, the Ontario numbers have held firm, virtually no change from the last Angus Reid poll. Ditto for Quebec, which means the national race change is largely due to a more reasonable Liberal tally in Atlantic Canada and a noticeable pullback in British Columbia and Man/Sask. With regard to regionals, really only Ontario and Quebec have a low enough MOE to say anything definitive (based on one poll), so whether this is noise or real, remains to be seen. Regardless, the headline shows a widening Conservative lead, and that's all that really matters.

A couple things that struck me with this poll. While AR still shows Layton relatively "popular", we do see a very noticeable change on some key measures, well outside the normal incremental moves with AR. For instance, in one month Layton's disapproval total has risen 5%, a relatively large swing. Even more telling, we see a large 8% rise in the number of people who's opinion of Layton has worsened. Further on the question of "weak", with Ignatieff dropping and Layton rising, we see a statistical tie, for the first time I can remember. Dippers will still point to the overall tallies, but in this case the devil is clearly in the details.

As far as Ignatieff, obviously large challenges still exist. I would note however that we see another drop on the "arrogant" front. This means that since October 2009, Ignatieff has brought this number down a full 16%, from a half to a third of Canadians. The trend is positive, and it's important, because this perception one of the chief achilles heels. I also note, another slight drop on the "out of touch" front, again a key consideration.

Overall, Angus Reid seems to put the horserace numbers back where they've had them most of the year, with the exception of their poll last month. Ignatieff mania is still a indie consideration- get in while it's still cool!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Opinion Amendment

A couple of weeks ago I questioned the wisdom of having Ignatieff spend a great deal of time "out of Ottawa" this fall. The idea of Ignatieff trying to recapture what was a positive summer in my view, coupled with being outside of the Ottawa glare, made for a risky strategy. However, after seeing what Donolo has unveiled, I'd like to amend my previous concern.

I do like the new branding, the "Open Mike" tour, because it denotes a seperation from the "Liberal Express". Minor in one sense, but keeping things fresh is key, otherwise everyone grows bored and you're left in the wilderness, while Ottawa rages.

What is a much more important point, this idea of Ignatieff in constant contact with the average Canadians. It is this messaging that reveals the Donolo strategy and why I've changed my view. When you hear Ignatieff in interviews now, rather than high minded proclamations, his answers are rooted in what Canadians are saying. It's "what I'm hearing", "if you travel around", "Canadians are clearly saying", which congeals into an overall picture of a person intimately in touch with Canadians. This becomes more important, when you pull back and do the compare and contrast with the Harper approach. Ignatieff just sounds more grounded, concrete, when he references the outside Ottawa perspective, and he does so with real conviction. Whether it's changed Ignatieff, I don't know, but rather than aloof, he has developed a practicality that people will relate to.

There are still pitfalls with this strategy. Whatever the planned tour, I think people should be ready to cancel events at a moment's notice, should serious moments develop in Ottawa. That said, for the first time in a long time, I'm starting to "get it", the Liberals have a layered strategy that works on multiple fronts. Mike it up Michael!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Play Defence On Corporate Tax Cuts?

The nature posture of this government is aggressive and accusatory, no matter the issue. On the economic front, the CHIEF point of divergence to date- between the Liberals and Conservatives- is this issue of corporate tax cuts. It's just one policy distinction, but it speaks to a much wider philosophical gap and looks to be a central election debating point.

To date, the Liberals messaging on corporate taxes has been a bit to sporadic and defensive for my liking. Depending on the speaker, we hear different talking points to justify or "sell" our position. Much of this defensive rationale is clearly in response to what I first mentioned, a belligerent opponent. You start with "the Liberals want to raise taxes on corporations", followed by "job killers" who want to "stunt economic growth" and it's an alarmist rhetorical carpet bomb approach. The Conservatives, positioning themselves as the one's who want to keep Canada competitive, a simple message that attempts to trap the Liberals. I assume more policy surprises come a campaign, but I would argue, dealing with the know, if the Liberals lose this tax cut debate, they will have lost the economic file.

I've heard Ignatieff a few times now on the topic, and while he raises the key points, it's more in rebuttal mode, rather than instigator. Liberals need to make the case, over and over and over, that Canada is already very competitive, relative to our competitors, by almost ever measure you can cite. Canada has already cut corporate taxes, a simple graph visual tells the tale and shows the relationship to other jurisdictions. This knee jerk concept that you just keep slashing corporate tax cuts loses its practicality when you show clearly, the current state not a drag but a stimulant. The former "unanimous" sentiment amongst business and analysts is no longer, there is a divide within this community whether further cuts are really needed at this time. This development alone, wherein self interest seems somewhat trumped, speaks volumes about the current state, speaks volumes about the simplistic approach of this government.

The real kicker in this entire debate is the HST. A new development, in two key election provinces, the HST represents a massive shift in taxation. No matter your opinion of the HST, every citizen knows that the provinces have sold it as "business friendly", that spin tattooed on our brain. The Liberals can use this political hot potato for rare advantage. We've already cut corporate taxes, 20% lower than the Americans AND we've completely overhauled our taxation system to make it more attractive to business growth. The Premier's use these arguments all day to long to justify, the Liberals merely reinforce without the responsibility. The HST is the current reality, why then do we have to do more, why do we need "corporate welfare", everyone should pay their share. The argument speaks to fairness, people think they are already paying to much, if you remind what governments have already done on the competitive argument, you render further concessions almost obscene.

Ignatieff is on record saying Liberals support the spirit of the HST, for economic reasons. The HST will be discussed during the campaign, in some form or another. Why not pivot and use the HST to undercut the government's hysterics on corporate tax cuts? At the very least, it provides another vein to counter. While you don't want to unilaterally highlight an unpopular tax and risk detached ownership, it is also true that this tax is high on voters mind, in crucial jurisdictions. Pointing to the already shifted tax burden will only make the Conservatives look that much out of balance, that much more ideological, rather than practical.

I see no reason for the Liberals to play defence on this issue. We have the facts, and we have a certain voter anger that we can exploit to neuter the Conservative distortions, which attempt to frame the Liberals as jeopardizing our economy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Taking Off

We're heading up north for a week. Best time of the year, colour, decent weather, good fishing and NO bugs! No posting, maybe the odd tweet :)

Undeveloped lake we will call home:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Liberal Fall Strategy: A Caution

I think the summer tour achieved the modest goals. I can see where people want to continue the same sort of messaging, imagery, in an effort to improve the leader's fortunes and the party as a whole. However, I had to admit I worry that Liberals have "fallen in love" with the summer formula and our desire to replicate into the fall session opens us up for voluntary criticism.

Don Martin's column is titled "New Liberal strategy — keep Ignatieff out of Ottawa". I think the internal enthusiasm fails to recognize one simple fact- summer is over. In the summer, Parliament isn't sitting, there is NO reason to be in Ottawa. However, with a raucous fall session awaiting Parliament, the idea that Ignatieff will be awol, conducting a marginally covered town hall, while important issues are debated, brings with it the most obvious or risks. Frankly, this strategy risks undermining all the perceived "leadership" gains.

There were a few times last session where Ignatieff was out of Ottawa, during key debates. Do we remember how that went, and the damage it did? Where's Iggy, why is Rae at the forefront, where's the leader, who's running this party? The other parties will be quick to seize on Ignatieff being away, should the opportunity arise. The media won't be following him on a bus, they'll be in Ottawa, and if Ignatieff isn't around, his leadership image will take a hit.

I loved the jeans, the ball cap, I thought the Liberal team proved itself smart and quite capable. However, I also believe that we've extrapolated that temporary feel good period and it's led to a needlessly risky fall strategy. Ottawa is the game, there is no other arena and the opposition leader gets the most traction where that action exists. Ignatieff will get some local coverage, he will get some national coverage, he will get some "on the road" soundbites, no question. That said, it seems pretty obvious from here how those perceived positives can be quickly undone. Factor in the "it gets old" component, the story loses its new, fresh appeal and Ignatieff might look like he's nowhere.

Right now, the thing the Liberals need is a strong leader, leading a strong, united, capable opposition, give all the appearance of a government in waiting. I'm just not sold with the idea that "getting out of Ottawa" addresses our current need, and in the end the strategy may just produce a few self inflicted wounds.

Two cents.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Life After The Lightning Rod

In the big picture, I think QMI's decision to part ways with Kory Teneycke will prove to be a shrewd move. Of course, this departure is all by accident- Teneycke's behaviour forced every one's hand- but when the dust settles, his absence could ultimately help the upstart news network.

Teneycke was a lightning rod- the unnecessarily goading, immature, obnoxious style only served to harden opposition, as he morphed into a unattractive caricature. Particularly stunning to watch, considering the COMMUNICATIONS pedigree. Couple the amateurish style with the very real ties to the Conservative Party and it all congealed into a very large net negative from the QMI perspective. With today's announcement, a chief irritant and mounting obstacle is removed, meaning SunTV just got closer to reality.

Today QMI dumped a obvious problem, and they gained a Charles Adler. I can barely listen to five minutes of "Adler nation"- a windbag if there every was- but he's entitled to his opinion, conservative and proud of it. Adler is certainly a better "face" from the upstart network's perspective, an ideologue, but so what? What I'm getting at, it's a little harder to get worked up over an Adler vs a Teneycke, for obvious reasons. Throw in a "straight shooter" like David Akin, and it tends to offset an Ezra Levant. With Teneycke gone, the NAKED partisan connection is removed, at least in terms of stark appearance. Teneycke's resignation announcement raised some valid points, much of what he said is true and shouldn't be dismissed.

Given the abrasive zeal, there's a certain inherent justice in watching Teneycke fall flat on his face. However, when the final chapter is written, this perceived victory might turn out to be a turning point, a plus for QMI and their aspirations. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

OTTAWA Is A Big Town

It looks like the AVAAZ vs Kory Teneycke battle is heating up. Kady has the documents, wherein AVAAZ is seeking a criminal investigation into the fraudulent signatures to their petition.

People will remember, that during a CBC appearance, Kory Teneycke and Ricken Patel had an exchange over these fraudulent names. Prior to this appearance, Teneycke and others gleefully pointed to these bogus signatures as evidence of a flawed petition. In fact, people were making a big deal about these signatures to discredit the entire online petition. We then learned about the single IP address for ALL the fake signatures, the funny one's that Teneycke admitted he knew of, via a email "source", as well as the fake journalist signatures, of which Teneycke said he heard no mention from said "source". It was fascinating to see Teneycke suddenly trying to minimize these fake names. I believe the words on the CBC appearance were "no big deal", accompanied by adam's apple diving into stomach, when asked about the fake names, and the potential legal ramifications. We went from voluntary playing up the phoney signatures to decided playing down in a matter of hours. Infer from that what you will, but it was "a big deal" until AVAAZ discovered more about origin.

Back to today's developments. I find it very interesting that AVAAZ has contacted the RCMP, as well as the OTTAWA police. According to AVAAZ, they have determined that the single IP source, responsible for ALL bogus signatures, came from an Ottawa area source. I suppose the Ottawa fingerprint has no relevance, but given all the places in this vast country this IP could have come from, OTTAWA seems just a little fascinating, doesn't it? I hope the OTTAWA police, get to the bottom of this single source IP who has Kory Teneycke's email and also resides in OTTAWA. Again, fascinating.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New "Poll"

Ipsos has a new poll out. It shows no apparent change in the national numbers, although the pollster "analysis" seems to have missed the key shift. The numbers:

The poll, conducted from Sept. 8-12, found if an election occurred today, the Conservatives would receive 34 per cent of the vote from decided voters. That's unchanged from a poll taken a month ago.

Meanwhile, the Liberals would garner 31 per cent, also unchanged. The NDP, under leader Jack Layton, has the support of 16 per cent of decided voters — up one point —while the Bloc would receive 10 per cent of the vote nationally. Support for Elizabeth May's Green party holds steady at nine per cent.

Five per cent of voters are undecided.

Of note, in the last Ipsos poll, Bricker noted that the Conservative lead had been cut in half, Liberals up 2%, Conservatives down 1%. From that release:

Wright traces the Tories decline in popularity to the battering the government has taken over its decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census, and spending and security surrounding the G8 and G20s summits in Ontario.

The Ipsos-Reid poll said Tory support had slid one per cent since its last poll in early July. Liberal support was up two points over the same period, suggesting Ignetieff's cross-country bus tour may be paying some dividends.

The above serves as a good example why you need to go back more than one poll, in order to see the full picture. In this release, Bricker sees little erosion, and yet over the summer, the Liberals did gain on the Conservatives, undercutting the argument.

What is a bit surprising (or maybe not), that the pollster fails to even mention a substantial shift in Ontario. Considering this long gun registry debate, other pollsters noting the Liberals benefiting in Ontario, one would think some digestion:

The survey found a high level of political volatility in Ontario, the electoral battleground with the most federal seats. In that province, at 41 per cent, the Liberals have opened up a healthy lead over the Conservatives, who sit at 33 per cent. The NDP (15 per cent) and Green party (10 per cent) lag behind in the province.

You would probably be surprised to learn that last month's Ipsos poll actually had the Conservatives ahead 36% to the Liberals 35%. Quite a massive shift, 9 percentage points, Liberals up 6%, Conservatives down 3%. A curious mind might wonder why?? Ontario is very volatile, but this is the second pollster to peg the Liberals above the 40% mark in the last week.

If You Say So

Suddenly, in "Harperland", groups of rogue MP's are freelancing. Alright then, if you say so:
Stephen Harper apparently had no idea his MPs would sport the Quebec Nordiques jerseys last Wednesday in a photo op that would spark a controversy across the country.

Tory MP Steven Blaney told QMI Agency on Sunday the Prime Minister’s Office had no idea they would wear the sweaters.

“It was a little surprise,” he said.

SunMedia, with their typical high end journalism, puts this story out in a vacuum, no reference points, no chronology. Let's say one actually believes that the PMO had no idea about this jersey stunt. Isn't it a bit odd THEN, that the supposedly oblivious PMO sends out Dmitri Soudas, the NEXT DAY, on air, to SELL the Quebec arena. One will note, Soudas sings from the same hymn book as his boss, who also seemed entirely amenable to the proposed hockey arena. And yet, we're to believe that 24 hours earlier, a group of MP's unilaterally pushed the arena concept, with absolutely no knowledge of the PMO.

I suppose it's possible that these MP's unilaterally acted. But, given the well know fact that Conservative MP's operate under a very controlled atmosphere, everything they do, in and out of riding, vetted and approved, I'm inclined to scoff at the "surprise" angle. In fact, given how the Harper and the PMO immediately fanned out to sell the MP's "announcement", it actually looks like the typical, co-ordinated, top down, manifestation that is Harper's trademark. In the known world, based on a well established pattern, what appears to have happened is the PMO and friends jumped the gun on the arena funding, then faced unforseen blowback and are now dialing down the rhetoric and backtracking. Either that or Harper has no control over his caucus and the old Reform ideal of MP's actually acting with a measure of impunity and independence has finally reached Harper's Ottawa. I'll go with the former, thanks...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Take A Seat Ezra

It seems the more outrageous, controversial and just plain rude, the more attention one gets, to the point of disproportion. The most glaring example, this fringe American pastor, who draws more reporters than parishioners. In Canada, I've always been struck at how Ezra Levant manages to drive everybody into a frenzy. Extrapolating, it is for this reason that I firmly believe FoxNewsNorth will survive, not because of the right wing, but because of the left to moderate viewer, who engages in the "car wreck" fascination. Wouldn't it be sad if the extremist right finds a voice because of indirect support from those that so vehemently oppose that point of view. Isn't this blog post just another example of said dynamic?

Levant is on another tirade this morning, along with another "columnist", deriding those that dare question the philosophical underpinning of SunTV. Levant confuses freedom of speech with the idea of party affiliated propaganda, but that's an argument that will always find easy cover, cute denial. I won't like to the latest "column", but basically Levant rails against the left wing media and their allies, who are trying to suppress points of view, which doesn't jive with their own socialist agenda.

A photo, and a very important one when you REALLY delve into the supposed issues that exist:

From the September 8th, Power and Politics, a panel discussing the oil sands and energy. Note the participants on the mothercorp- we have REGULAR participant Tasha Kheiriddin from the National Post, Ian Capstick and the very respectable David Akin, of, you guessed it SUNTV. Look carefully, and you will see the host Petty with her left hand on a book. That book, which she earlier held in the air and promoted is called "Ethical Oil", written by none other than Ezra Levant. So, just to tidy this up, we have the left wing media's main player, the dreaded CBC, hosting a intelligent discussion on the oil sands with a three person panel consisting of a representative from a right wing newspaper, a left wing "pundit and the lead journalist from SUNTV. In addition, rather than shunning the view of people like Ezra Levant, CBC found it necessary to engage in a five minute conversation discussing the WORTH of said book, giving it free publicity and LEGITIMACY. Wow, that hardly seems like a bias, a conspiracy, evidence of this left wing media that these wayward ideologues LOVE to lean on, like old faithful.

I find it pure nonsense, the way these right wing zealots cling to their selective free speech, moral high ground. I find it offensive, because at the core, the fairness they enjoy from their supposed enemies is rarely reciprocated. If people were really trying to silence the Ezra Levant's of the world, I wouldn't have to see his radical mug on television so much, not to mention listen to fair minded discussion about his latest publication. The facts are the enemy, and forever ignored by these tunnel vision crusaders. Yawn.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"Our Conservative Government Is Focusing On The Issues That Matter Most To Canadians."

Quite honestly, this is just an astounding read:
And the government was so concerned with the placement of “Economic Action Plan” signage that Prime Minister Stephen Harper received briefing notes on the sign count from Canada’s top civil servant...

The “Update on Signage” memo, marked “Secret” and obtained by The Canadian Press under Access to Information, goes on to list the total number of signs – 5,275 – installed to that date. It cites 3,840 more that “have been ordered or are in production.”

“Departments have been using alternative methods for signage installation in order to sustain visibility by placing signs in windows, on buildings or employing other temporary measures,” Mr. Wouters wrote of the winter conditions.

The signage was so critical, in the government's estimation, that contracts for project funding hold back up to 20 per cent of the federal cash until a “certificate of substantial completion” is filed – including photographic proof of sign installation and, in some cases, Global Positioning System co-ordinates of the sign's exact location.


The opposition should be ALL OVER THIS ONE.

Hurts So Good

I understand the thesis that voters aren't particularly impressed with any of the federal options, but the latest NANOS poll is NOT bad news from the Liberal perspective. First, the national numbers, change from last NANOS in brackets:
Cons 33.3% (-2.3%)
Libs 32.8% (+3.6%)
NDP 15.6% (-5.1%)
Greens 6.2% (+1.1.%)

On quick note, a finding which I find a bit bizarre. NANO pegs Bloc support at 40.7% in Quebec, which represents a 2.1% rise poll to poll. How that translates to 12.1% in the national numbers, a rise of 2.7% I don't understand for the life of me. The national rise higher than the provincial tally???

Okay, hard to find the bad news here. The Conservatives polling at the lowest level we've seen in over a year, mirroring the height of the recession. The NDP taking a huge hit poll to poll, the Liberals clearly benefitting, particularly in Ontario. And, the Liberals up a noticeable amount, another pollster showing a statistical deadheat.

Let's see if we can find the "bad" news culprit in the regionals. Ontario:
Libs 43.2% (+8.8%)
Cons 36.2% (-7%)\
NDP 13.2% (-5.9%)
Greens 7.4% (+2.2%)

According to yesterday's Harris Decima poll, they found the gun registry support changing, particularly in Ontario. This finding might possibly explain the large NDP drop. In addition, the Liberal resurgence indicates that voters are more comfortable moving back to the fold, there is some new confidence in the "official" opposition. For months, the NDP and Conservatives have benefitted from relative Liberal weakness, rather than any great independent draw. It would appear Ontario is as volatile as ever, and the Liberals more palatable once again. We go from a 9% Conservative lead, to a 7% Liberal lead, with the added bonus of reduced vote splitting because of NDP weakness. Nope, still not seeing the "bad" news.

A quick peruse, another pollster showing some evidence of a marginal Liberal rebound in Quebec, both the NDP and Conservatives down. A bit of a fishy result in Atlantic Canada, but given the margin of error, one can never say anything definitive based on one poll. NANOS puts the Liberals well up in British Columbia, now tied with an apparent cratering Conservative party. More caution, with the higher MOE here. Hmmm, nothing "bad" yet...

Oh, okay, those leadership numbers. Here we see the impetus for the narrative I suppose. NANOS finds no movement for Ignatieff's numbers over the summer. NANOS also finds that Harper enjoys a 2 to 1 advantage over Ignatieff. This is "bad", right? I mean, here we have Ignatieff touring the country and his numbers haven't moved. Conclusion is clearly FAIL.

As a quick aside, I would note that both Angus Reid and EKOS have found some evidence of marginal improvement for Ignatieff over the summer. However, with reference to this finding, I would say these numbers only tell part of the story. In the past, one could argue that Ignatieff was a drag on the Liberal brand. It would appear that effect has lessened here, so whatever these leadership numbers, something positive has happened.

I would argue, that if the Liberals are tied with the Conservatives, despite this leadership gap, it bodes well for the future. Let's not forget, that when we've seen similar gaps between a sitting PM and opposition leader, the PM's party is usually ahead by a WIDE margin. The fact no gap exists here, should clearly concern the sitting government.

This summer was about Ignatieff getting election ready, showing everyone he had the stamina to run a full campaign. It was also about providing confidence, that this Liberal leader wasn't a gaffe machine, he could connect, he could appear competent and his team perform well. By all accounts, Ignatieff has passed these tests, which means when can have certain reasonable expectations come the glare of a real campaign. Whatever Ignatieff's numbers, they are not cemented in any sense, particularly when comparing him with his more well known opponents. The campaign will be an opportunity, and the summer provides some optimism. If you isolate the trendline, then the "bad" news is evident. However, when you step back, and put those numbers in historical context, as well as identifying the real goals of the summer, it's a bit more subjective. Factor in a much improved horserace, which is the bottomline afterall, it's pretty much all good relatively speaking. I doubt you'll find a long face in the OLO this morning. Can you say the same in other camps? That should tell you all you need to know on the "bad" news front.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Gun Registry Numbers Moving

Last week, some questioned the wisdom of the Liberals "wedge" play on the gun registry. The older polls were cited by commentators, to argue that there was no real upside from the Liberal perspective. I said at the time, that we needed new data, because the focus was sharpened and all this institutional support for the gun registry had probably moved the numbers. My gut instinct was that the debate was moving. With that in mind, a new gun registry poll, which for the first time in two years, shows significant movement on the
A new poll suggests public opinion was shifting in favour of keeping the controversial long-gun registry, even before the RCMP issued its favourable evaluation last month.

The late August poll by The Canadian Press Harris-Decima indicates that 48 per cent of respondents thought it would be a bad idea to get rid of the registry, up from 42 per cent in April and 41 per cent last November.

About 38 per cent thought it should be scrapped, down from 45 per cent in April and 46 per cent last November.

The shift in support for the registry came mainly among women, Ontarians and those earning between $60,000 and $100,000 a year.

We already know the registry enjoys overwhelming support in Quebec. The fact the numbers are changing in Ontario is very significant, and explains the wisdom in the Liberals strategy.

I've followed these gun registry polls for sometime, and I've clashed with proponents using them as backdrop. This is the first time we've seen significant movement, which speaks to the influence of the new evidence and advocates. This is a fluid situation, people make a mistake relying on ancient data.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Nice Priorities

It's your tax dollars at work. A consistent refrain from fiscal conservatives, many of whom still defend this government vehemently, and in the process reveal selective outrage and patent hypocrisy. I've been somewhat amused, that this government has somewhat successfully spun the ludicrous advertising expenditure for the EAP. After all, it was this batch of Conservatives that used to rise to the pulpit, puffed up with moral outrage, ridiculing those bastard Liberals and their free spending ways. Remember, it was your tax dollars at work. And yet, here we sit, these Conservatives spending THREE, FOUR times the amount on self promotion, more than Liberals ever dreamed of at their HEIGHT of entitled arrogance. It's almost surreal when you compare and contrast.

Another core tenet, the idea of streamlined civil service, because, well you know, it's your tax dollars at work. We're in the midst of an economic meltdown, the government coffers running dry. There are threats of massive cuts, leaner times, and YET these Conservatives find the time to worry about the most mundane in the name of self interest. What a colossal waste of your tax dollars:
Tories demand bureaucrats produce weekly count on stimulus signage

Civil servants across Canada were ordered by the Harper government to document every single sign posted anywhere promoting the federal economic stimulus plan, The Canadian Press has learned.

They've spent countless hours tracking every one of more than 8,500 signs posted since last summer, when the urgent, weekly exercise was ordered by the Privy Council Office, the bureaucratic support arm of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office.

It continues to this day.

Eighteen departments and agencies are involved, including the country's over-stretched food inspection agency, fisheries and oceans officials, health, public safety and environment workers and Parks Canada employees.

In the most stark terms, we see that priority wasn't making sure every dollar was stimulating the economy. But, more rightly we see that every MEANS POSSIBLE was employed to ensure YOU know who was paying for what, who was doling out the cash. Partisan ads, under the guise of the EAP. Forcing municipalities to pony up, partially pay for the signs, or risk not getting any funding. The civil service, distracted and wastefully used, with the only motivation- political self interest and partisan promotion.

How do these Harper fiscal conservatives still do it? How do they contort themselves so that they can someone rationalize selling their supposed "beliefs" to back this complete affront? We're paying for this, we're paying for 100 million in needless advertising per annum. We're paying for staged events, renouncements, announcements of reannoucements. We're paying our civil servants to effectively work on the government's re-election campaign. Yes, it's true and it only requires hind brain cognition to see it, in all it's glory.

It's all relative I guess. Your tax dollars at work, but it all depends on who is working the till I suppose.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


The new EKOS offers quite a bit of intriguing information. Here's a few things that stick out:

- LOWEST Conservative total since 2008 election.

- highest Liberal total since the spring, still not great, but much improved.

- noticeable dropoff for the NDP. Now polling in the single digits in Quebec,mirroring what Harris Decima found just last week. Registry?

- Greens actually 3.5% ahead of NDP in Quebec, only 4% behind in Ontario

- Liberals gaining in Ontario, at both the NDP and Conservative expense.

- Liberals at 39% in Ontario. Haven't seen this level for some time, represents big seat swing

- Conservatives losing more educated voters, base looking more and more like a "Deliverance" extra convention

- Ignatieff's app/disapproval numbers slightly improved over summer, more people have negative opinion of Harper. Ignatieff still has large "not sure" score, opinion hasn't cemented

- Layton's app/disapproval still best, but trendline bad, erosion on app, growing dis. Again, registry?

- Harper's app/disapproval getting worse.

Basically, it's hard to get terribly excited about the Liberals still below 30%. But, since everything is relative in politics, the appearance of momentum is there. What's important, the developing narratives find further oxygen, which can lead to more gains.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Fox News North Petition

I've been watching this online petition today, which is growing at quite an impressive rate. The goal is 100000 signatures, and it's already a third of the way there. By my calculations today, it is growing by over 1000 people per hour so far today alone. Give it a look and consider signing and/or spreading it around. Apathy is the enemy:

Canada: Stop "Fox News North"

Prime Minister Harper is trying to push American-style hate media onto our airwaves, and make us all pay for it. His plan is to create a "Fox News North" to mimic the kind of hate-filled propaganda with which Fox News has poisoned U.S. politics. The channel will be run by Harper’s former top aide and will be funded with money from our cable TV fees!

One man stands in the way of this nightmare -- the Chairman of Canada's Radio and Telecommunications Commission Konrad von Finckenstein. And now, Harper is trying to get him out of his job. Sign the petition below to send a wave of support to von Finckenstein and forward this campaign to everyone -- we'll publish full page ads in Canadian papers when we reach 100,000:

To CRTC Chair von Finckenstein and PM Harper:
As concerned Canadians who deeply oppose American-style hate media on our airwaves, we applaud the CRTC's refusal to allow a new "Fox News North" channel to be funded from our cable fees. We urge Mr. von Finckenstein to stay in his job and continue to stand up for Canada's democratic traditions, and call on Prime Minister Harper to immediately stop all pressure on the CRTC on this matter.


As an aside the total is live, so you can see it move up in real time. I think something is afoot.

Does Harper Really Have A Choice?

More digestion of the Conservatives purposeful "framing" of the next election- a majority or a coalition. While I believe some of the arguments have merit, I also think the main impetus for this "stark contrast" presentation isn't really addressed.

I think the main reasoning, behind the "stark choice" theme, is primarily a self interest consideration. The next election will be Stephen Harper's fourth as leader of the Conservatives. Harper has kept the conservative coalition together, no surprise, power tends to bind like glue. However, should Harper fail to get a majority in the next election, the obvious questioning of his leadership will begin, people will ponder the post-Harper era, wonder why he can't get over the hump.

Odds are higher that the Conservatives will receive less seats than more in the next election. Any result that brings a more fragile minority, the clock starts ticking on Harper, questions are raised. In reality, this next election is make it or break it for Harper. Should the government receive a slightly smaller mandate, Harper is weakened, people will openly wonder if he packs it in. In addition, you can expect the fully united Conservative coalition to fracture, as pretenders jockey for position.

I understand that the Conservatives see the "coalition" as a divisive issue that works in their favour. The highest polling the Conservatives have seen occurred during the coalition threat; they've never achieved anything close prior or before. For that reason, you can see why majority dreaming Conservatives want to re-create that formula. That said, underneath this motivation is a very simple calculation for Harper- it's now or never, do it or be doomed. Even if the Conservatives were to win the next election, should it be a smaller caucus, there will invariably be a "dame luck" feel to Harper. Of that, I have no doubt, and this consideration is part of the "stark contrast" rationale.