Monday, April 30, 2012

Where's Waldo

Bruce Anderson articulates well the challenges we Liberals face moving forward.  The very last line sums up nicely the predicament
The choices the Liberals make over the next few months may alter the course of Canadian politics, for decades to come.
Simple, obvious and stark. There is only one "event" on the horizon that can impact future fortunes in a seismic way. Many Liberals rail at the notion of leadership as premium, "leaderitis", looking for the next "messiah", relevant concerns given the PAST, but truly not grasping certain realities TODAY. Liberals need to rebuild the party from the ground up, nuts and bolts, not waiting for a saviour to come down the mount and make our problems vanish. As well, Liberals need to "find who we are", as though a loosely binding party meandering aimlessly can possibly find that. No, you need a vessel at this stage, you needs someone that can galvanize like minded ideas, spirit, direction and articulate with inputs, with boots on the ground, you need a carrier. This leadership allows Liberals a timely potential invitation to reach beyond our base, have someone resonate with the general public as opposed to narrow glad handing that is particularly apparent within this party. I am looking outside the box for that inspiration, that person or team that has the capacity to truly alter the landscape. Keeping it real, anything less and Liberals really are "walking dead", not only do we have to defeat Harper, we now have to convince Canadians to BYPASS the next logical option, the NDP, a long odds endeavour, no question about it. No offence, Dominic Leblanc is not even a consideration. Ditto a man I respect greatly, Marc Garneau. How Bob Rae becomes the beacon of the new Liberal brand forever escapes me, it's never on in my mind, despite the eloquence and grace that he brings. I've heard other names mentioned, one's Liberals have heard before, none of which truly strike me as having the capacity to bring what is necessary, almost revolutionary to be honest. In other words, the early floatings I've heard, talk of "Bay Street" lawyer types scouring ranks, none of that strikes me as quite digesting the task at hand. I'll be looking at every city council, every community organizer, every distinguished local citizen, anyone armed with ideas that make you turn your head. I'll be looking for that organic outsider, a true populist without the polished political jargon, someone who articulates PRACTICALITIES. someone who has the capacity to obliterate all the stale notions you have about the Liberal Party of Canada. I have no idea who that person is quite yet, a tall order for sure, but finding him/her, I think history will show that Anderson's last sentence musing was spot on.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Conservative "Tarnish"

Every government has a shelf life, prior to outright rejection you begin to see erosion on trust, competence, it's the first sign of moving past your "prime" as a political force.  In recent weeks, the cynical and jaded have scoffed at the scandals swirling around these Conservatives, but given they go right to the issues of trust and competence, I've found the dismissive tone from some quarters amateurish in analysis.  In other words, when voters stop trusting you, when they think you are dishonest, when they feel you are pulling the wool, when there's a sense of cheating, it's NEVER welcome news for a government.  In addition, once people flip that switch, regaining said trust isn't easy, a known quantity doesn't just recreate themselves, there is a tarnish which can last.

Conservatives have a rock solid base of support, a divided "opposition" to their policies tends to insulate from full electoral impacts.  However, a spate of polling today brings some serious warning signs that intimate the "best before" date may have passed, Harper in all his majority glory is starting to wear thin. 

Perhaps the most concerning finding today comes from Nanos finds a dramatic drop for Harper on trust and competence.  I've watched polls for some time and rarely have I seen such a large drop, Harper's numbers have effectively fallen off a cliff.  Nanos notes a "new low" for Harper, clearly these issues that many in the punditry have dismissed are resonating in an important way.  A Prime Minister normally enjoys healthy advantage on these measures, Harper's numbers are downright dreadful, well below base support, a significant problem is apparent.  Given how leaders drive their party's, particularly in a campaign, another red flag for future Conservative prospects.  I'm not suggesting anything definitive, or extrapolating to the long, long road until all this stuff actually matters, only there is some germination at hand.  History suggests these type of findings can be a precursor to waning future fortunes.

A Forum Research poll actually gives the NDP the edge nationally, but honeymoon warping aside, I find the F35 findings more problematic moving forward.  Canadians don't believe the Conservatives on this file, they have no faith that this government is acting ethically or will do so moving forward.  Again the key word is "trust" here, and that is in short supply on a file which will hang around and haunt this government. 

There is no word that has more political significance than "trust", without it you are nowhere, you can have all the slogans, goodies, arguments you want, if people don't trust you, you're dead in the water.  Canadians are getting a taste of the Conservatives in their full majority regalia and it would appear they are less than impressed.  Again Harper benefits from certain divided political realities, but the dramatic drop in personal stature is objectively worrying.

Try to get rid of tarnish, do an experiment, it's never easy...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Whip It Good

Yes, MP's should have more latitude to vote their conscience and/or represent their constituents.  Yes, too much control is isolated in to few hands, individual MP's deserve a more influential role, not the subordinate kneejerk reality we have presently.  BUT, beyond these philosophical desires there are certain core underpinings that supersede the parts and necessity the whole.

The debate about abortion is over.  The question about a woman's rights over her own body are actually not in question, any effort to reopen this issue should be met with solidarity, a united front.  Whatever personal views a MP may have about the nature of an abortion is irrelevant to the wider questions revolving around personal freedoms.  No "Liberal" can consider themselves as such if they can't separate their own personal stance with the wider questions.  I actually have no qualms with people who have a problem with abortions, perhaps one day we can have civil disagreement on this score.  That said, whatever your own view, it doesn't extrapolate to the wider issues at hand, issues that are so fundamental and unequivocal, any wavered presentation is simply offensive:
“If there are individuals in my caucus who feel strongly for moral reasons one way or the other, we’re not going to whip the vote,” Rae said.
Cop out. It is time for the Liberal Party of Canada to stop playing this game on these particular issues. It is time for the Liberals to draw a line in the sand around the "big red tent" and make it clear, you are free to personally hold whatever view you choose, which is actually in accordance with the similar freedom to have ultimate governance over your own body. Hiding behind feeling "strongly", voting your conscience, is contradictory because it applauds the openness with voting that attacks another core right of citizens. Freedom of expression isn't much different than freedom of choice, at least the underlying ideological belief system seems consistent in my mind. Therefore, yes have an opinion, have a feeling, go so far as to express your displeasure, but when it comes down to sanctioning squashing another right, stand down and vote for that freedom. There is no contradiction here, it is entirely consistent, that's the bottom line. Mr. Rae must whip the vote, again the Liberals need to meet this Conservative backdoor nonsense head on and offer a firm rebuke. If an MP can't see that one right supersedes another then perhaps this party isn't an appropriate home, perhaps the days of trying to be everything to everyone need to end and we plant our flags, proudly, unabashed, this is who we are and this is what we stand for, PERIOD. You want a real world example of why the Liberals fail to resonate, why our wishy washy ways have led to erosion, indifference, a worry ambiguity of purpose? Look no further than this "debate", which a strong party wants NO part of and demands a certain responsibility beyond some personal view of a preferred world. I appreciate tough choices, but sometimes they must be made, this is one occasion. Whip it, whip it good!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Below, members of Danielle Smith's inner circle discuss where Wildrose goes from here:

Forget The Band, Listen To The Drums

One day, my hope is politics- or more correctly how citizens weigh political considerations- becomes primarily a conversation of practical expressions rather the useless banter that now dominates.  Currently, every issue is reduced to dueling arguments, whatever objective truth exists largely lost in the noise, this reality now a tried and true political tactic to present confusion as the end game.  There is only one way to ascertain the "real story", but this involves a level of inspection most people can't devote, it takes a lot of energy and motivation to sift through the stench of partisan bull.  I submit, the "noise" is a major contributing factor to voter apathy, a decided turnoff that renders an honest undertaking almost impossible, to the point of seeing the political world as a place that bears no relationship to the one we inhabit.

The Auditor General issued a report on the F-35.  The opposition seized on it and went on the attack.  Because the AG is considered "objective", the government took the only path available and "embraced" the recommendations, "accepted" what he said and vowed to open up the process, bring in accountability and move forward responsibly.  The argument has devolved within these parameters, a back and forth, one trying to make it stick, the other walking a tightrope and countering with their own talking points.  Money has been spent, money hasn't been spent, contracts have been signed, contracts haven't been signed, you knew the real numbers, there are different numbers, you can't include those numbers, how can you not include those numbers.  Enter the public, again, besides the diehards like myself, one can't really begrudge anyone for throwing their hands up in the air and tuning it all out, the noise just that.

What needs to happen is quite simple, our sensibilities need to evolve to a state where the noise isn't just ignored, but we seek the practicality.  We do what we do now, tune out the CRAP, but we find the back beat, simple and true, it exists in every song, it exists in every issue.  Back to the F-35 debate, we welcome the Auditor General's report, we accept his recommendation, we have nothing to hide, lots of sounds but the back beat is out of time:
"Tories try to stall auditor’s testimony on costly F-35 purchase"
Isn't it perfect? The practicality, not a dueling talking point, not noise, but a concrete expression that gets us to some semblance of truth. You accept the AG report, you welcome the suggestions, you pledge to be OPEN and TRANSPARENT moving forward, but when forced to ACT, you reveal yourself, you contradict everything you've said, your hypocrisy is there and it is unambiguous. There is no debate here, the practical expression supersedes, you can't reconcile, there it is, stripped down, the THROBING back beat.  It is here we find what TIME it really is, no more inspection required, a simplicity that will always exist.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Alberta Takes Its Place

The Alberta election result will be digested for some time, apart from a last minute lone poll showing movement, almost nobody predicted this result.  In fact, if you were listening or watching yesterday, there was a certain fait accompli in the commentary, an now almost embarrassing presumptive analysis, that went so far as to use past tense.  Oh dear.  For my part, I was never entirely convinced, intimated as such to some tweeps, but was as shocked as anyone when the results came in.  A few thoughts on what I think happened last night.

I note Danielle Smith put some electoral blame on the controversy created by two of her candidates.  I would agree with that conclusion, but would also add her reaction to the comments as equally impactful, it denoted a person not ready to lead, it revealed the absurdity of Smith's libertarianism,  amateurish the way she didn't categorically rebuke intolerance.  I'll add one more candidate that changed the dynamic of the campaign, Danielle Smith herself, her views on climate change for instance are something hasn't been given the attention they deserve in this equation.

In my experience, Albertans have a rebellious spirit which is pervasive and vibrant.  That said, Albertans are also aware and pay attention to outside perception, despite the eff you disposition at times, there is a real pride which finds much inspiration from contrast.  I also believe the Albertan voter is highly sophisticated, political conversation is routine in the province, people are engaged, past turnout belies robust debate relative to some other parts of the country.  Within that, I think what we saw last night, first and foremost, was many reacting to the potential perceived negative realities of life under the Wildrose.  The optics of a denier trying to sell Alberta oil to an already sceptical audience was a factor.  A perceived return to "redneck" Alberta, undercutting all the positive reassessments of late, played a role in sober second thought for many.  Alberta has changed, and last night represented a confirmation at the ballot box, a highly calculated resistance to superficial change mantras, a real weighing of consequence which is rare and to be applauded.

The entire political calculus in Alberta changed, a seismic shift on the spectrum.  The right wing of the PC's are gone, replaced by an amalgamation of the center.  Redford has been criticized as a closet "liberal", but the strange irony in the end, that reality made her palatable to those more concerned about an extremist right wing movement taking control.  Wildrose attacked Redford's political leanings, but whatever erosion on the right flank was made up for by the new emerging reality in Alberta, this isn't your father's province and amazingly there existed enough centrist leaning voters to form a coalition of sorts.  Fiscally conservative, socially moderate, outward thinking, that view had an audience, or at least was tolerable enough for many to vote strategically.  I suspect moving forward the new paradigm will hold, Redford will govern from the center and Wildrose as official opposition will highlight the contrasts.

Last night is also a much needed repudiation of pandering policies, gimmicky rebates and other simplistic solutions to complex problems.  Again, Albertans showed a level of sophistication in resisting superficial goodies, a strategy which has worked quite well on the federal scene (sorry Tom Flanagan).  Wildrose preyed on insecurity, it created imaginary outside boogeyman, in the end a confident Alberta emerged, in many respects it appears the province has arrived and ready to assume its emerging role in the federation with certain responsibilities.

I don't want to be hyperbolic, but the federation dodged a bullet last night.  I sensed an almost last straw flavour from the outside, a perception that should a far right, firewall presentation take control, many in the rest of Canada would reach a breaking point.  Intolerance met with intolerance, no appetite for commonality, further inward erosions and lots and lots of acrimony.   Smith may have stirred up the federation, but niceties from some other jurisdictions would be replaced by equally blunt counter and I have no doubt whatever we perceive as Canada would suffer.  With Redford, at least we have a leader that is looking for partners, that is intellectually aware of a wider world, responsible.  I still see tensions, but relatively speaking, no comparison to the two way vitrol that would likely have emerged with Wildrose.

One thing to watch for moving forward, the relationship between the PC's and the federal Conservatives.  It is true that most of the federal Conservatives were lining up behind Wildrose, many openly trashing Redford and the PC's.  Now we have some awkward realities and a bit of a chasm between the two entities, which should add a interesting new wrinkle.

And with that, one of the more fascinating provincial elections in Canadian history comes to a close.  Sanity prevails, back to the caves deniers...  Phew.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's A Simple World: Canadian Libertarianism

There is a core attraction to libertarianism, although scholars differ on definition and expressions take different paths, almost all of us can relate to certain articulations.  In North America, libertarianism has been hijacked by the right wing and we have this bastardized belief system which frankly borders on the absurd.  In Canada, for the first time, we are starting to see the practical manifestations of this hybrid libertarianism and within that we see the convenient mirage, the simplistic belief system which bears no relationship to any world humans actually populate.

On the national scene, Harper is slowly but surely dismantling the federal core, in favour of free market forces, unencumbered by checks which have evolved out of necessity, rather than some misplaced argument against the nanny state.  Environmental reviews came to be because the free market failed to protect the citizens, their amoral zeal for profit  resulted in destructive impacts for society, they fouled our water, our soil, our air, etc.  The "state" intervened because intervention was required, only here was their any detached moral underpinning to counter naked greed that operates without consequence.  To now see the environmental review processes as intrusive may have validity in terms of degree, but it is dangerous and nonsensical when one doesn't incorporate how we GOT here in the first place.

If you want to see the new absurdity of the Canadian libertarianism, Wildrose is the case study.  Listen to a Danielle Smith, WORSE her apologists like a Joan Crockatt for example and you just don't understand that libertarian spirit in Alberta, somehow intolerance is flipped around into a virtue, it's about letting everyone express themselves, it's actually about tolerance!  Oh bull, the notion has been taken to such an extreme to render the assertion paralyzed.  The state has no role in admonishing views which think homosexuals will burn in a lake in of fire, that's your new libertarianism Canada!  That people actually turn a lack of leadership into an enviable trait, only serves to demonstrate that this libertarianism operates in a fantasy land that humans have never visited.  There is nothing admirable in tolerating intolerance and failing to distance yourself, failure to do so is tantamount to sanction, that is your libertarian end game here.

Nobody likes being told what to do, nobody likes excessive intervention in the affairs of men.  However, in a practical world we accept compromises between individual liberty and a greater interest that is the sum of our parts.  There is a naive idealism with these modern expressions of libertarianism, certain legitimate "beefs" taken to the level of borderline absurdity.  I would argue having a person who hopes to "lead" a province fail to admonish outrageous views is the byproduct of a simplistic view of the world that leads to dangerous practicalities.

If recent expressions are representative of Canadian libertarianism, Harper, Smith, the minons and their tortured tenets, I reject it all, see it as dangerous, reckless, woefully simplistic, lacking nuance, ironically close minded and the beginning of the true end of the Canadian federation, at least in any meaningful, cohesive expression.  Time is my unwanted friend on that score.  I believe we are just NOW beginning to digest the impact of rule under misguided ideologues and their almost fairy tale world they think humans can operate within.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mulcair Exhales Hot Air On Pot

The NDP have "clarified" Mulcair's stance on marijuana. It's a bit of sad update, only the most hardened partisans could spin this "progressive":
The New Democratic Party is trying to clear the air on leader Tom Mulcair's position on pot after the Young Liberals, hoping to score with younger Canadians on a day celebrated in marijuana culture, questioned his commitment to decriminalization. Mulcair had created confusion about his party's position on March 18 when he said decriminalization would be "a mistake" because of the health risks associated with marijuana currently on the market. But NDP spokesman George Soule said Friday that Mulcair was actually talking about legalization and said the NDP leader doesn't believe anyone should go to jail for possessing a small amount of marijuana. Mulcair has also suggested having the issue reviewed by a royal commission.
Good to know Mulcair doesn't favour jail, cutting edge. I actually didn't know Mulcair has advocated the incredibly bold step of arguing for a ROYAL COMMISSION! Wow, nothing says I have no intention of touching this issue with a ten foot pole than advocating for a ROYAL COMMISSION. We had a ROYAL COMMISSION in 1972, began in 1969, 43 years ago. Observers will note how well those marijuana findings became part of the Canadian fabric. Saying you favour a ROYAL COMMISSION means you will take no stand on the issues, hand it off to some long process, if that, basically a do nothing approach.

This guy really is a Liberal! And watch how nobody cares, so long as it's orange instead of red.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Should I Eat Today?

If you want to see how a Conservative talking point can be taken to the level of absurdity, look no further than salt, yes salt. Much debate about salt levels in our diet, the health effects and some pressure on Health Canada to better mandate to industry a more responsible approach. A new study just out finds salt levels in foods are higher in Canada relative to other jurisdictions, a fact which demonstrates companies can manage salt levels in foods. The study also reveals that other countries have stiffer standards, which contributes to the disparity. Enter the hilarity from Health Canada in response:
"We support a flexible approach... especially important consideration given the current fragile economic recovery"
Let that statement stew around in your brain for a few seconds. It's one thing for Conservatives to favour a voluntary approach, it fits within the theology revolving around intervention. However, to actual posit a potential economic hardship as rationale, that is mind numbing. Follow the logic then, should we mandate salt levels in food, Canadians will stop eating and this will have a detrimental effect on the economy. I was going to eat food today, but since it has 30% less salt, I'm going to pass. Hello. The Conservatives actually turn a debate about health- within that a staple known as FOOD- into a choice between jobs or legislation. You can have less salt, but it could plunge Canada back into recession, because somehow humans no longer need food to survive.

These Conservatives, just when you think they can't possibly blow your mind anymore, they find new and novel ways. In solidarity, I'm off to eat a bag of pretzels to help buffet Canada from the sea of economic troubles lapping at our shores.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wither The Federation

There is a great deal of interest in the Alberta election outside of the province. Some of the attention has to do with the province's growing status within the federation, part is due to a fascinating horse race and part is due to the fact everyone rubbernecks to see a car wreck in the making. Perhaps I'm being alarmist, or maybe I'm conveying some foresight, but should Albertans choose Danielle Smith as their Premier next week, I see storm clouds on the federal horizon.

Currently, Canadians operate within a bit of illusionary state of calm. The Harper government gets credit for the lack of acrimony within the federation, separatism is off the radar, relative to past dramatic periods, there is an argument to be made for good stewardship on this front. However, that superficial analysis doesn't quite understand the "drift" that is taking place, rather than calm it is disengagement and apathy, people simply moving in different directions, no binding force to bring cohesion. A high profile example, the environment file, wherein provinces are acting in hodge podge fashion, filling the vacuum left by federal inaction.

I contend tensions are just under the surface, the warning signs are everywhere, this federation is very close to a real, serious tipping point. What is required is a simple spark and much of this supposed federalist calm with evaporate and we will enter a phase of dangerous rhetoric and regional acrimony that is unprecedented. Enter Danielle Smith and her views on climate change:
The woman leading a front-running party in Alberta's provincial election has cast doubt on the widely accepted scientific theory that human activity is a leading cause of global warming.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith made the comment in an online leaders debate organized by two Alberta newspapers.

"We have always said the science isn't settled and we need to continue to monitor

Fast forward to post-election, the prospects of a climate change sceptic leading a province that is at the center of the climate change debate, both domestically and internationally. For all the progress Alberta has made in changing its former image, in one dramatic act, a Smith led government will obliterate that perception and will effectively signal to everyone that the kooks are in charge. Tough language I suppose, but there is no real debate occurring, only those who are intentional ignorant or downright intellectually stubborn still cling to the big "debate", serious science has moved WELL past this phase. Yes, many people still have doubts about climate change, but many people are frankly stupid, that is hardly an argument or an endorsement. The insanity of a climate change sceptic overseeing the oilsands will send a message to the world that Canada is a farce. As well, within the federation, you will now have the perception of a federal government disengaged, as well as a core province exposing nonsensical questioning, raising questions about fitness. To be blunt, many in the rest of Canada will have ZERO faith when it comes to true intent, it isn't a flattering picture. We will actually move forward on a central discussion about resources and consequences with what many will perceive as a whack job at the helm. Albertans decide for themselves, in many respects this is an "outsider" opinion, but when the dust settles, the chasms will be real and confidences will wane in favour of striking disconnect.

Rarely do people see a crisis coming, it's human nature to fail to see retrospective warning signs. In this instance, I envision a scenario where the last semblance of niceties are replaced by outright disdain, because there will be no credibility moving forward. How can a country move forward on a sensitive topic when you question the commitment from a core party? We aren't taking about a simple differing opinion on an issue, we are talking about science, we are confronted by the reality that Alberta may be run by people who don't even accept a fundamental problem. How can anyone have confidence that the "resource" will be managed responsibility? I won't, and I suspect I'm not alone. If you can't accept the science, I can't accept you as a credible actor and will see a province I actually have a great deal of affection for being run by the backward and ignorant, an entity that needs to be overcome, rather than any partner. Wither the federation, just watch...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Enough With This Game, Liberals Need Clarity

Bob Rae wants to run for the permanent leadership, so can we just dispense with the perceived ambiguity, make some clear decisions and get on with it please? As it stands right now, we have a man angling for the permanent job who is enjoying an unfair advantage that the interim leadership affords, as we ALL pointed out months and months ago. Getting old FAST:
Whether Rae will be at the helm of the party remains past 2013, when a new leader will be elected, is uncertain, even to him.

“The party is going to have to decide what the rules are and if they say they’re going to take the limitation on the interim leader than, obviously, I’ve got a decision to make. Arlene and I will make that decision once the party’s made up its mind,” he said in the one-on-one interview. “There’s going to be a contest for the leadership. It’s not going to be a coronation for the leadership. It’s going to be a very competitive, open race. I’m just waiting to hear whether or not I’m allowed to participate in it.”

Is Rae allowed or not, because if he is, he's running and that is becoming a problem? Clarity is required, whether perceived or real.


Great chronology of the Bob Rae evolution here

Conservatives Create Two Worlds

The elitist economic model places undo importance on the bastardized notion of "leadership". A successful company is the sum of its parts, everyone contributes, there are varying degrees of accountability, skills, stress, but any enterprise is really a community. The irrefutable income gap that is intensifying as of late is really a byproduct of greed; a free market incapable of fairly distributing riches, so obnoxious it even rewards those at the top further, even when performance or fiscal realities dictate otherwise. This isn't to say success shouldn't be rewarded, different "levels" don't deserve appropriate compensation, only that the trend is now towards the obscene, creating different realities behind a warped mindset.

Article today at iPolitics highlights the institutional disconnect these Conservatives are sanctioning, on the one hand preaching austerity to a certain "class", while simultaneously lining the pockets of the perceived elites, as though their value isn't tied to economic reality as well, the operate outside hard truths and simply carry on, while others bear the brunt of required cuts:
Top federal government executives quietly received hefty increases in performance pay and bonuses last year at the same time pay cheques for MPs and most public servants barely budged, iPolitics has learned.

The biggest percentage jump was in bonuses that were paid out on top of base salaries and basic performance pay known as “pay at risk.”

The amount of money the government paid out in bonuses jumped from $913,914 in 2009-10 to $2.2 million in 2010-11 – an increase of 144 per cent. The average bonus for executives fortunate enough to get them went from $1,671 in 2009-10 to $4,156 in 2010-11.

Pure nonsense. You ask civil servants to buy into cutback, under the guise of fiscal necessity, and yet this philosophy doesn't apply to those at the top of the food chain, they are immune. How anyone can possibly justify the disconnect here is beyond me, you'd have to turn yourself into an intellectual pretzel to achieve superficial coherence.

The article notes a large rise within the Prime Minister's Privy Council. Now to be fair, the budget did announce a 10% claw back within the Privy Council Office, but part of that was simply moving money around. As well, interesting that the sticker number expenditure merely takes us to 2010 expenditures, wherein it ballooned 12%, despite the initial government calls for "freezes". In other words, when you factor in departmental accounting moves, "cuts" are a fantasy. Good public relations though I suppose, I'm sure supporters will gloss over reality to make a tortured case.

The chief point, this government is giving top executives raises- performance based- yet the people under them who are also capable of important contributions are not only told bonuses don't apply, but they will fall behind standard of living wise. One group is getting ahead, the other group sees their relative place eroding, effectively sanctioning further disparity, widening the wealth gap. Given this government has preached austerity, SURELY a logical case could have been made for across the board freezes, suspension of bonuses until which time we get our house in order, blah, blah, blah, there would not be any real political blowback given the overall arguments. And yet, this government didn't see the hypocrisy here, they have exempted the upper tier, austerity is a concept foreign to the elites.

The escalating salaries for the top tier- those closest to these Conservatives- blends in nicely with exploding costs for self promotion, a growing PMO that serves partisan needs, basically one rule for everyone else, another for the self interested. It has become clear, if we do tackle this deficit, it will have been done on the backs of ordinary Canadians, while the vanguard lives in an other worldly existence, free from the necessary constraints of ordinary men.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wildrose: Noxious Weed

In the most obvious of ways, whatever Albertans decide is really none of my business, that's the way our federation works. That said, the potential victory of the Wildrose will have ramifications for the entire country, in my view contributing to and exasperating regional tensions in a wholly unproductive way. A supposedly progressive campaign between two highly intelligent woman has really devolved into a superficial personality contest, content replaced by simplistic sales jobs, if this is "change" consider me unimpressed, populism has seen better days.

Again I have no say in how people choose their own direction, but that doesn't disqualify from somewhat informed commentary. Having been exposed to certain tendencies in Alberta, I've always found the over cooked "pride" an almost admission of insecurity. My view, when truly arrived, one doesn't have to continually pat themselves on the back, needlessly pick fights to contrast and rally, a true swagger just is, it doesn't require continual projection and reaffirmation that requires a "them". I see a Redford stressing the relationship with the rest of Canada, she strikes me as "statesman" in approach, sophisticated enough to understand how to work within a team concept. On the other hand, Wildrose seems to be thrive on uber-provincialism, reminiscent of other "firewall" manifestations and all the bullshit narratives that narrow view exploits.

How Alberta deals with the oilsands will be a paramount consideration moving forward, all sides can agree on this reality and much of the subsequent debates during this campaign find their nexus in the sand. And yet, here we are on the cusp of having climate change sceptics manage the store?? Flanagan thinks it's all sun spots, Smith thinks there is a fierce scientific debate about warming, I'm not in the mood to be kind, this party reeks of backwater nonsense that hasn't even evolved to accept the most basic of premises, I actually think KOOKY applicable. Imagine moving forward on the environment in Alberta when people question if you are actually convinced there is a problem? The international optics will be dreadful and the inter-provincial tensions will bulge, I for on will have ZERO confidence in anything coming out of Edmonton. A recent report confirms other provinces doing the heavy lifting to offset oilsands emissions, which is fine, "overall" is important, but only if a sense we truly are in this together. There will be no together with Wildrose, what there will be is needless friction and frankly alarming perceptions. The Canadian Sarah Palin isn't exactly a welcome advancement from where I sit, but since part of the SELLING narrative is "who cares what anyone else thinks" anyways, a certain symmetry.

The world is a very simple place in Wildrose land, the solutions are easy, the goodies slick, the presentation disarming and pleasant. I see something else beyond the hoopla, something which will amplify threats to the federation, something which will return us to abrasive relationships at a very critical time, something that will contribute to regional drift and narrow realities, something which will make Canada a little more of a farce than is already it today. But, what do I know and who cares anyways right.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Liberal Leadership Is The Priority

The latest Hebert column is a sobering read for Liberals, which I personally find quite close to realistic in tone. I've contended for some time that Mulcair represents the worst outcome for Liberals, primarily because he comes with a built in regional base, which just happens to be quite critical to any potential Liberal rebound as well. This type of acknowledgement doesn't equate to no hope, but I also see little value in not properly digesting the steep challenges. Within the emerging new reality, I would argue our own leadership race becomes the primary vehicle in any attempt to recalibrate the political landscape. Many Liberals get quite irate when you mention leadership- partially warranted given past "leaderitis" that failed to create a formidable underpinning- but the fact remains, your leader is your vessel, particularly within our circumstance, picking the right person really a sink or swim proposition.

Liberals are doing terrific work rebuilding organizations, offering ideas, building policies, any talk of leadership isn't an exclusive argument, nor does it distract from the serious work that must be done concurrently. That said, without a compelling person to articulate the Liberal vision, you are forever swimming upstream. Anyone who has knocked on doors recently for the Liberals in the last couple of elections understands the fierce wall of perception one can face if battling leadership impressions. On the flip side, the last election brought a party to a landslide in a province with little organization, little "street" presence, primarily fueled by the power of personality, a resonance that caused a wave. This is a lesson that "anything can happen" if the messenger is compelling, if he/she is capable of conveying an attractive narrative. One party fighting against leadership impressions, another wrapping their entire campaign around one man because of perceived popularity(and you'll recall the Layton emphasis was a national choice by NDP strategists).

Liberals have to leap frog over a formidable Official Opposition and convince Canadians that should they turn on the Conservatives, we are the party to turn to. Canadians must forego the NDP and see the Liberals as a realistic option to form government, a tough task, ironically one the NDP themselves have faced prior. Within this dynamic, the necessity of an almost revolutionary spirit can't be understated, this Liberal leadership race must spark something within Canadians. In fact, I would argue the leadership choice has never been more important for a political party than this Liberal selection. Truth be told, this could be the last Liberal leader if we fail to properly assess the irrefutable urgency.

This "open" leadership process that actively seeks new participation is our chance, it will represent perhaps the only time remaining in this mandate where the spotlight shines brightly, were ordinary Canadians may very well debate the place of the Liberal Party. This leadership race is also the main opportunity to introduce a new, fresh vision and within that a messenger that truly pierces the malaise in some fundamental way, building a real springboard. Should Liberals squander this chance, we will be left to outside forces to determine our own fate, an unlikely proposition. It is for this reason that the leadership can't be a coronation of sorts, it really can't just be the usual suspects, it must be provocative and engaging.

We can scoff all we want at undo leadership focus, given the many challenges the party faces "nuts and bolts" wise. But, this mentality fails to properly understand that, whether we like it or not, the leader is paramount, the leader is your voice, the leader is who makes the connection, the leader is largely how a party is judged, particularly in a soundbite world. I make no apologies giving primary focus to the next leader, it is unquestionably in my view the single most important decision Liberals will make, the determining factor that will decide if the real work is rewarded or we end up in the historical scrape heap, once and for all. The stakes are incredibly high and within this coming leadership, possibilities and opportunities, if properly understood. Messiah might be a tad overstating, but Hebert isn't that far off....

Monday, April 09, 2012

Funniest Political Ad In Canadian History?

I dare anyone to make it to the end without laughing so hard your colon touches your tonsils:

Should be charged with fraud.

After The "Honeymoon"

These are great days to be the NDP. Whatever lull the party experienced after the death of Jack Layton has been corrected, terrific polling translates to realistic government in waiting proclamations. As stated prior, Mulcair brings a perceived "regional" base of support from which to grow, a challenging dynamic for we Liberals moving forward. However, acknowledging strength doesn't equate to envisioning Prime Minister Mulcair, that is an entirely different calculation.

The honeymoon phase, a politican can do no wrong, shiny and new, the simple ability to stand erect translates to fawning praise. Case in point, apparently Mr. Mulcair had a great week in Parliament, but really it was pretty ordinary by normal standards. Perhaps a human condition, we tend to exaggerate "newness" because of inherent attributes it entails, as opposed to simple recognition of objective performance. This sensibility works well during the "honeymoon" phase, but inevitability the "flavour of the month" wanes and in Canadian politics were are left with one of the most uneviable job, that of Opposition Leader.

The opposition parties have been working reasonably well together of late. People will recall during the Liberal years, even more ideological divergent parties also worked well together, a common enemy tends to blur edges. However, with the arrival of Thomas Mulcair, we have seen an almost instanteous poisoning of the "relationship" between the NDP and Liberals. Granted, the Liberals have reacted defensively, as they come to grips with life that involves a permanent, robust Leader of the Opposition, but it's more than that, and it is here we need to train our gaze moving forward.

A very interesting observation from former MP Glen Pearson on his blog, well worth a read beyond the quotation I present:
Which brings us to Thomas Mulcair. I never talked to the man – by his own choice. We sat in the same lobby together for a number of years and not once did he acknowledge me when I said hello – likely because I wasn’t a significant player. He would journey down to our end of the lobby to grab a coffee or a tea, always with blinders on, and always with no intention of talking to any of us. If there were ever to be an initiative to work in compromise with other parties, this might prove difficult now.

Let me state here that I have always had an appreciation for the NDP, despite some difficult moments early in my political tenure. People like Paul Dewar, Chris Charlton, Nathan Cullen, Joe Comartin, Irene Matthyssen, and, yes, Jack Layton, came to be my friends.

I note, Rae has alluded to a similar point, obviously a sense that Mulcair is not someone you can collobrate with. You can chalk it up to partisanship, but I note this is the same vein that people like Broadbent, Rebick have articulated, the sense "nobody can work with this guy". Pearson conveys an arrogance, as well as looming liability, because a politican who can't build consensus is doomed, not a luxury trait, an utter must. When the honeymoon ends and serious critique begins, it is here that Mulcair may seem vulnerable. Is the pettiness we heard this week from the opposition benches the new reality with Mulcair? I posit that "edge" will wear thin and the inability of the opposition to get along will be a contributing factor to further apathy. As well, style is style, if one is abrasive and "impossible", you don't confine that expression to certain entities, this character flaw with also manifest within the family.

When the tan lines fade, I'll be looking to see if Mulcair is truly capable of reaching out, building consensus, rallying in inspiring fashion, demonstrating a capacity for team play. Say what we want about Harper's temper, Harper's almost anti-social disposition, he was and is a master at keeping all oars in the water rowing in the name of common cause, that's partially why he is Prime Minister today. The jury is very much out on Thomas Mulcair, the recollections of Mr. Pearson instructive when the real scrutiny begins.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

New Polls Impact Rae Negatively

Another poll out today showing a national dead heat between the Conservatives and NDP. The Leger offering mirrors Harris Decima, the NDP have surged back in Quebec, Leger actually pegs them well above their election totals. The polls are also showing the Liberals moving back to their election tallies, whether temporary or not remains to be seen, but reaffirmation of the new Liberal "base" if you will.

I've talked to a few Liberals in recent months, many of whom spoke glowing of Bob Rae's interim leadership. The polls were actually pretty kind, Liberals looked strong under his guidance, in many ways we were outperforming the NDP, creating some optimism about a permanent run. However, Liberals are now recalibrating themselves as the realization of a permanent NDP leader comes into focus, one that is armed with a firmed up support in a region critical to future Liberal fortunes. Let's call it sobering, and within that the "feel good" flavour surrounding Bob Rae is being re-examined.

If the Liberals stay around their 2011 election numbers, any sense of momentum under Rae is obliterated and this reality will force more bold thinking. In my view, the Liberals have ONE chance to beat back the electoral "squeeze" and this will be our open leadership process. The structure is set, which allows for a type of resonance rarely seen in politics, IF, and this is a big IF, Liberals somehow manage to find a vehicle capable of piercing the thick apathy. The Liberal leadership will be our best opportunity to mix up the new Canadian political order, squander it and the challenge is incredibly daunting, capitalize and room for some optimism.

Within that critical leadership frame, I think it works against Bob Rae moving forward. A coronation flavour leadership is political death in my estimation. As well, the pullback polling, the fight to remain relevant, get ink, all contribute to a sense that a dramatic turn of events is required. The Liberals well back in third doesn't work for Bob Rae, it impacts him negatively, people may well embrace a more ambitious generational change. I was your interim leader for a year with no sense of rising fortunes, that doesn't equate to wind in your sails. Let us not forget, the former mild uptick brought a rash of feel good Rae media, stands to reason a withering results in re-examination.

There was perhaps a false sense of the confidence, as a result of Liberals largely having opposition Ottawa to themselves, as the NDP were distracted with their leadership. I contend Mulcair was the least desirable outcome for the Liberals, and the regional breakdowns of polls are now revealing that perceived problem. Liberals will now go through another tough spot- Rae's posture this week evidence of newfound desperation- and these challenges will force a more ambitious course moving forward. Again, I see recent events working decidedly against Bob Rae, not a preference, just an observation.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

NDP "Honeymoon"

The latest Harris Decima poll is being reported as a "surge" in publications, which may be a bit of an overstate, at least in a truly national sense. I don't like comparing pollsters, but I think it quite instructive to compare poll to poll within a particular outfit. In this way you best ascertain true trends, rather than chasing various methodologies and continually being pulled in conflicting directions. Harris Decima had a poll out two weeks ago, so using that offering as the baseline we had:
Nationally, the Conservatives lead by 3 points. Over the last two weeks the Conservatives stand at 31%, the NDP 28%, the Liberals 24%, the BQ 8%, and the Greens 7%.

• The BQ are in front in the province of Quebec. Here, they stand at 34%, to 26% for the NDP, 21% for the Liberals, 11% for the Conservatives, and 6% for the Greens.

• A tight three way race exists in the province of Ontario. Here, the Conservatives stand at 33%, the Liberals 30%, the NDP 29%, and the Greens 7%.

• The NDP and Conservatives are neck and neck in BC. Here, the NDP stands at 35%, the Conservatives 33%, the Liberals 21%, and the Greens 9%

Today's release:
Nationally, the Conservatives hold a two point lead. The Conservatives stand at 34%, to 32% for the NDP, 19% for the Liberals, 8% for the Greens, and 6% for the BQ.

• The NDP has surged back in front in Quebec. Here, they stand at 39%, to 24% for the BQ, 14% for the Liberals, 14% for the Conservatives, and 8% for the Greens.

• The Conservatives are well in front in Ontario. The Conservatives stand at 41%, to 26% for the NDP, 24% for the Liberals, and 8% for the Greens.

• The NDP holds a strong lead in BC. Here, they stand at 44%, to 30% for the Conservatives, 13% for the Liberals, and 11% for the Greens.

Interesting, all the talk is of the NDP surge and yet the Conservatives are up 3% poll to poll, barely eclipsed by the NDP's 4% gain. In other words, a 3% national lead for the Conservatives is now a 2% edge, statistically irrelevant. However, that doesn't distract from NDP gains, particularly regional, nor does it mask a significant drop for the Liberals. I guess the relevancy, we see support for the opposition moving around-as used to see in reverse with the Liberals and NDP- but electorally the shift is less pronounced from the Conservative perspective.

We do see a pronounced uptick for the NDP in Quebec, which isn't surprising, Mulcair has rekindled fortunes. The NDP do surge past the Bloc, up a full 13% poll to poll, back in Layton terrority. Here as well, we see the cost to the Liberals.

Interesting, not only is there no NDP bounce in vote rich Ontario, their number is actually down poll to poll. Here, the Conservatives are well up and this is noteworthy, because one does expect a NDP uptick with their new shiny leader. Hard to find the Mulcair "honeymoon" in Ontario.

We see a healthy rise for the NDP in British Columbia, but there is a high MOE and we've seen previous strength prior to Mulcair. Still, we can concede a traditional bounce for the NDP here.

All in all, Mulcair is riding a nice wave in Quebec which presents as a decent national rise for the NDP. Elsewhere, I would describe the bounce as non-existent to nothing remarkable (as an aside HD had the NDP in first in Atlantic Canada prior to Mulcair winning, no noteworthy move post), which is something to watch moving forward. I recall the Liberals leading after Dion, tied/leading after Ignatieff, so I'm putting Mulcair in that context. Mulcair is firming up Quebec for the NDP- a fear I've had for sometime from the Liberal perspective- time will tell if it holds, but he is not an unknown quantity which bodes well.

Nowhere To Hide

Harper stands ups, folds his hands and in hushed tones acts as though everything is in complete control. Then his surrogate Ambrose rises, speaks with a purposeful disinterest, intimating it's all a minor issue that has been addressed, don't you worry. It's the typical Conservative response, understate, quickly pivot into address mode and now try to play out the clock. Trouble is, Rona Ambrose told committee it was her job to fact check what DND were selling, which apparently amounted to a one page letter according to CBC. Trouble is, Harper ran around the country stonewalling and dismissing, questioning the patriotism of those with legitimate inquiry, a now SHAMEFUL performance that would make an honourable man BLUSH. There is clear culpability here, and THIS time surely the Conservative game of riding out a crisis until we bore can't work. Should this issue end with no one held to account, our entire system has failed, because the choices are clear.

As stated previously, there are only TWO options: willfully ignorant or patently incompetent. That's it, it boils down to these two choices, anything else isn't even in the realm of possibility. How then can we not see some accountability? If DND actually "misled" this government, this Parliament then they should be HOPPING mad at the deceit and people should be fired immediately. The fact the initial reaction of this government doesn't seek out the source of the ruse is quite telling in my humble opinion. Normal reaction to being lied to, being made a NOW utter fool, surely one would hold people to account. And yet, the government reacts to the AG report by creating a new transparency, new mechanisms, NO action to deal with the deceivers in DND? Bizarre.

Ibbitson this morning:
Confronted with this approach by the department, the Harper government made two terrible mistakes. The first was to buy the military’s analysis without looking deeper into it. Civilian politicians allowed themselves to be hornswoggled by brass hats and bureaucrats.

The second mistake was to turn the F-35 into a political wedge issue. The Conservatives not only defended the purchase; they lashed out at anyone who questioned it, accusing them of being at best ignorant or at worst disloyal.

The first "mistake" actually a dangerous characterization, primarily because it conveys mere error. In reality, there was all kinds of concern IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, the opposition, the PBO, former procurement heavyweights, media analysis, to say you simply bought into the DND sales job, also incorporates putting your fingers in your ears and singing to yourself, in an effort to avoid the pungent shit storm surrounding you. None of the questions raised caused a Minister to look deeper into the file, require further confirmation, do their own cost analysis? Again, this indifference to emerging realities is incompetent at its core, but also denotes a predisposition against further disclosure. Part of the reason we had an election, resistance by this government to providing any costing on the F-35. If the government truly bought the DND lines, why then would they not provide figures to back up their analysis, why would they hold back the Statement of Operational Requirements (which was released publicly for other procurements), why did they themselves stonewall if they genuinely believed in their numbers, arguments? Perhaps DND covered up things, but the government apparently had no knowledge, so how then to we explain their systematic obstruction? As well, Kevin Page had little trouble providing a cost analysis and he wasn't privy to anything exclusive, in fact he relied on incomplete information to draw his conclusions, this government CLEARLY had more.

People have to be fired here, to think everyone just carries on in the capacities utter absurdity. DND "misled" Parliament, this government, this is high stakes stuff that demands retribution, people held to account, sanction. This government "misled" Canadians, fellow Parliamentarians, surely someone has to go? This government failed to inquire further, despite the emerging realities- in the public view for years- incompetence of am almost biblical scale, these people shouldn't run a hot dog stand, never mind a Department. Pick your avenue, they all lead to Heads Must Roll Road, one way and a dead end. Should everyone wiggle off the hook, this time, accountability is lost, as is a certain moral underpinning to the notion of good government.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Conservatives Should Wear F-35 Debacle

I suspect Ottawa will look even more absurd as usual today, as the Conservatives react to the "scathing" Auditor General report on the F-35. I look for the government to embrace the AG report, even THANK him for his good work in the name of the public interest. The Conservatives will pivot, distance themselves from the military and try to paint themselves as pushing for transparency. In reality, nobody should be surprised, truth is many, many people have sounded the alarm on the F-35 for months, years, news ONLY to the willfully ignorant or patently incompetent.

The F-35 will test the instantaneous environment politics now operates in. The Conservatives will be successful in distancing themselves from the F-35 problems, only if one exhibits no long term memory. Let us not forget that the now famous Statement of Operational Requirements was kept from public view, despite other SOR's released for other procurements. The Conservatives could have put this document in the public domain, they didn't and it is simply to convenient to just playing DND for the transgression. Where is the secret letter Harper floated during the election, the one that made us immune for cost overruns? I encourage everyone to review Laurie Hawn appearances on CBC, listen to his arguments in the face of the very accusations that will see the light today? The AG finding fault with the military doesn't absolve stonewalling, and outright deceit, as this government looked to bury a potential election problem and would say whatever they felt appropriate to silence criticism.

The Conservatives have now capped the plane purchase at 9 billion, which objectively means we will never meet the "minimum" number of planes they themselves have argued (see Peter MacKay). The Conservatives cornered themselves with their nonsensical expenditure figure, using TEN YEAR OLD data provided by the VENDOR. Now, in an effort to wiggle off the hook, they cling to the expenditure and in so doing GUT their own arguments about low end requirements. Leave logic at the door, and perhaps you can square the Conservative talking points.

There will be no more leaked reports of Russian jets buzzing Canadian airspace. You won't hear about our aging fleet of CF-18's and their drop dead date, at least not from Conservatives. The days of the "only plane" capable of meeting our needs are over, NO, now we will embrace the shipbuilding procurement model at this late stage and spin it as transparency. The military may have "misled" the Conservatives, but that doesn't distract form the carefully crafted manipulation presented to the Canadian public, "misled" a kind term.

Today will be an exercise in "distancing" oneself. This strategy will be successful, only if one completely rejects the notion of long term memory, only if one confines themselves to today and beyond, because this F-35 story has been a shameful episode in Canadian politics and these Conservatives VERY much played a key role. Canadians were the one's "misled", and don't forget it.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Vendetta Budget

Of all the Harper government budgets, surely this latest one is the most revealing, as to true nature, intent and inspiration. After all, this was the budget fiscal conservatives had waited for, finally in a majority position, this government could implement their true agenda, free the narrow electoral immediacy that minority math produces. And yet, fiscal conservatives are now left shaking their heads, by almost every account this budget is tame, almost entirely relying on future growth to reign in debt, little in the way of true austerity. What we are left with in this budget are disporportionate cuts, targeted and inconsistent, entirely eye opening, simply a political document with undo focus on perceived enemies. In totality, this may be the most PETTY budget document we have seen, it reads like a vendetta more than a path forward for Canadians.

Review the cuts, and a very compelling theme emerges. The Conservatives actually cut Elections Canada, at the exact moment we are having a discussion about its lack of resources and ability to ensure fair elections. Entirely stunning, if anything recent problems have shown a bare bones operations in desperate need of more tools, not less.

The Conservatives went well out of their way to pick on environmental group "charities", I call it the David Suzuki pay back clause. Perhaps more revealing, a budget supposedly about belt tightening found new money to put charities on the defensive, entirely consistent with the wider assault on the environment. In many respects, these charities are the "little guy" counter to well funded industry groups such CAPP, providing some balance to the discussion. There is simply no doubt this out of nowhere announcement in the budget is an attempt to silence- or at least intimidate- perceived opposition to the Conservative agenda. The legislation is entirely transparent, and again fits in nicely with a very coherent overall thrust.

This government will eliminate the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, it will cut environmental reviews and it will speed up the review process. In several ways, the Conservatives have become a proxy for industry and set out to eliminate and marginalize, in a very systematic way, any opposition. With the backdrop of "enemies of the state" clearly in play, these Conservatives have gone on the offensive. Somehow, in CANADA, we have reached the pathetic reality, wherein anyone who shows concern for our natural beauty, legitimate environmental concerns, is someone who needs to be erased from the equation, they are a threat. Nevermind that much of what the Conservatives are now trying to marginalize evolved because their industry masters have previously FAILED to provide sound environmental stewardship, no, one must dispense of historical memory and buy into the new fantasy land the government apparently believes in.

This government went after the Trudeau era Katimavik program, which was cut once prior, only to be reborn with the Chretien government. This government has slashed the CBC budget by a WHOOPING 12% over three years, we are hard pressed to find this "austerity" anywhere else, already underfunded relative to other nations, our public broadcaster takes a direct hit. Again, Conservatives have used the CBC to fundraise, their "state" broadcaster is obsessed with attacking the CBC, anyone with a functioning forebrain would concede the outlier cuts are politically inspired, rather than a consistent commitment to belt tightening.

When you review where these Conservatives cut, where they focused their energy, a very clear pattern emerges. This is a budget that looks every bit like a vendetta, rather than use their newfound majority to bring in an ambitious conservative agenda, it is littered with pettiness and political inspiration, rather than "good government". The thesis finds further weight in the post-budget talking points. Our esteemed Finance Minister volunteered a broadside attack on the Ontario Liberals, somehow undermining his old foes at Queens Park was top of mind, rather than selling his vision for the country. Budgets have flavours, overarching narratives, this one REEKS of the Conservatives again looking for enemies, eliminating and intimidating perceived foes, political before practical, a nasty edge that will be their unflattering legacy.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Sting Like A Bee

Let's keep it real, you could probably count on one hand those that actually thought Justin Trudeau stood a chance in his charity bout against Senator Brazeau. Just a boxing match, offensive to many, but in the final analysis the outcome is not without consequence.

In one evening, Trudeau has managed to obliterate all the stereotypical notions that surround him. The silver spooned prince, born of privilege and entitlement, forever within the long shadow of his father, there was always an element of the man that people didn't quite take seriously. There are many people who hate Justin Trudeau, and much of the loathing is based on what they perceive he represents, rather than observations about his true character. In a shocking performance, Trudeau defied the odds and will now benefit from a newfound respect that will forever change the way he is viewed, make NO mistake about it.

Sport is always fickle, and it is true Trudeau was one punch away from losing in the first round. However, that acknowledgement is irrelevant, Trudeau persevered, he countered, he excelled, he showed real GRIT, he kicked ass in a primal way and no matter your opinion of the sport, he is a more formidable political force because of it. The kid who grow up in the closest thing Canada has had to its own "royal family", went behind the schoolyard and won the fight, leaving his detractors in shambles, all the preconceptions utterly destroyed. Again, in terms of image moving forward, last night is not without consequence.

Time will tell what a charity boxing match means to Canadian politics, but Brazeau's black eye this morning, at the hands of the critics who called him "Justine", translates to a recalibration, at least on the perception front. Justin Trudeau is a bad ass....