Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sun Rising On Liberal "Darkhorse"

There is something very instructive occurring within the Liberal leadership race that deserves consideration beyond the process itself.   There is simply no question that apart from Justin Trudeau, Joyce Murray has the "momentum" in this race, turning an afterthought campaign into an intriguing potential coalition of like minded partisans and NON.  In fact, we are witnessing a repeat of the NDP leadership process, wherein "darkhorse" Nathan Cullen went from second tier candidate to contender on the back of "co-operation" musings, with the added empirical curiosity that the supporter category brings.  

Let's keep it real, Trudeau will win this leadership race. But, that fact doesn't distract from what amounts to a genuine grassroots movement that is developing behind the Murray campaign, one that gets louder with each passing day.  What remains to be seen is true manifestation, but there is no doubt the "buzz" is real, Murray has momentum.   The Liberal process is wide open- adding a new wrinkle to the Cullen model- perhaps providing further elevation for an idea which enjoys broad support outside of traditional tribal considerations.  That "outside" groups are lining up behind Murray, further evidence that an appetite exists for a united progressive alternative.

As I read the Murray campaign, it isn't just about co-operation, but a true BIG L LIBERAL agenda, that makes "support" all the more appealing.  When you look at some of the endorsements coming Murray's way, it is clear the intrigue begins with co-operation, but is affirmed with a coherent progressive policy agenda.  Observers should note the candidate with perceived traction in the race is the "leftie", not the Conservative-lite artriculations, perhaps a testament that the progressive wing of the Liberal Party is alive and well and recruiting more like minded people as we speak.

When I voted for the "supporter" designation at the Convention, what is transpiring now was my hope, namely someone would emerge and attract new people into the equation, breathing life into the Liberal Party.  Again, lets not forget the impact Trudeau has had, is having, and will in the future, but we can walk and chew gum at the same time here.  Joyce Murray is where the action is, the fact it comes under the co-operation banner, all the more enticing and interesting moving forward.  Let us also not forget that Trudeau has basically mused about the same need for co-operation in the recent past, latest "company man" articulations aside.

I have no idea the ultimate vote totals when the dust settles, but it is fair to draw some conclusions already.  There is an appeal in the land for co-operation, it exists, it is tangible and it seeks to organize itself under a unifying banner.  Big picture we have "star" power lining, anecdotally I can say I know of three in recent days signing up to support the Liberal Party because of Joyce Murray.  Something is clearly afoot and no matter the final result, people are foolish to ignore the potential impact moving forward.  Co-operation, mergers, arrangements, whatever, those that become proponents find fertile ground.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Liberal Leadership Race: Cutlery Edition

Much to my surprise, when Martha Hall Findlay launched her leadership bid she was immediately labelled a "front runner", despite a decided lack of real world evidence to support the designation.  Perhaps it was the almost seven years it took to pay off a past leadership debt, which spoke to the widespread genuine public groundswell for another run, we will never know.   Perhaps it was certain media entities already on record bashing supply management that arbitrarily elevated the "gutsy" entrant.  However, truth be told, Martha Hall Findlay has never had a chance of winning the Liberal leadership, no reasonable political observer would risk one cent predicting her ultimate triumph. 

Despite the fact MANY candidates have delivered a avalanche of hard policy, MHF has designated herself as THE person of substance in this race.  To my mind, MHF seems to be on a crusade to reconstitute the Progressive Conservative party- rather than anything resembling modern liberalism- but that is my own spectral consideration.  Apparently, the left and the right no longer exist in Canada, and yet nobody has any confusion over political direction when one contrasts a MHF and Joyce Murray for example.  But, I digress...

What happened yesterday at the Liberal leadership debate was unnecessary, contradictory, and low rent politics by any definition.  People seem to have short memories, because I've yet to see anyone trace back MHF's attack on silver spoon Trudeau to her campaign launch.  Fact is, Hall Findlay began her leadership run questioning Trudeau's upbringing:
But later, on CBC News Network's Power & Politics, she contrasted her experience with that of Trudeau's.

"I've lived my life in a very different…way than Justin has. I firmly believe that I bring a great deal of substance, intelligence, experience. I have huge business experience," she told host Evan Solomon. "I've worked as a lawyer on international transactions, I've run small businesses effectively and met payroll. I've run big businesses and managed large teams both here and in Canada and in Europe.
I thought this tweet yesterday summed up the "attack" on Trudeau quite succinctly:
MHF raises JT's class background then argues against a class-based way of looking at Canada. Worse than ridiculous.

Martha Hall Findlay isn't bringing intelligence and substance to the Liberal race, she's bringing low brow politics, with what amounts to a pathetic attack line.  Rather than challenge Trudeau on policy- as Garneau did- MHF does make it personal, to view it any other way requires leave of common sense.  The fact supposed wonder boy campaign manager Stephen Carter couldn't see this type of attack line would fall FLAT, also illuminating, in terms of his own political instincts.

Again, Martha Hall Findlay has ZERO chance of winning the Liberal leadership, that is a clear and honest reality.  Within that knowledge, it is entirely pointless for MHF to audition for future Conservative attack ads, her approach here is reckless and unfortunate.  Go after Trudeau on his policies, or lack thereof, contrast on the issues, but understand that playing the "silver spoon" card offers no internal benefit, unless simply throwing mud is her only purpose in this race.  MHF says she brings "intelligence" to the race, and yet yesterday represented the stupidest moment this entire campaign will probably see.  Enough talk of silver spoons, put a fork in it instead and dispense with the knife in the back routine..

Monday, February 11, 2013

Conservatives Benefit From Scattergun Opposition

A new poll from Nanos gives more statistical weight to the "co-operation" crowd amongst the opposition parties.  Particularly striking, the results in vote rich Ontario, which show divided opposition to Harper translating into potential electoral barrier.

It's important to not get hung up on every mid term mandate poll- somewhat meaningless with a distracted public- but not entirely without merit.  What we can gleam from almost all the polls, the NDP bloom has waned, and a Trudeau led Liberal Party puts them back in the mix, only denial doesn't compute hard superficial political realities.  This assertion doesn't assume the Liberals can win back power, only a scenario wherein one opposition party fades into complete oblivion- allowing the other to maximize voter discontent with the current regime- likely doesn't transpire.   In fact, polls such as the latest Nanos suggest another Harper mandate is quite possible, a rock solid base that can be quite efficient, more so given the mutual destruction society mentality that inhibits tribal war rooms.

Those who oppose any co-operation are mostly left to "anything can happen" and "you can't simply add up the opposition numbers", which increasingly appears detached from this corner.  From the NDP perspective, I see a better chance of Trudeau led Liberals assuming power than Mulcair, at worst a "blocking" component that will thwart ultimate dreams after the last election breakthrough.  As solace though, the harsh reality has already abandoned traditional NDP ground, the game is really to not only replace the Liberals but become in, rank and file pats on the head aside.  If one questions that landscape, a quite review of every single provincial NDP government the past decade shows a decided centrist leaning, if not outright disdain for anything resembling "socialism".  In other words, practical application demands that for a party to assume power they must appeal to the middle, so call it Liberal, call it NDP, I call it philosophically akin when the dust settles.  This fact makes all the consternation all the more curious.  Liberals can have a former NDP Premier as interim and we support, Dippers can have a former Liberal and they support, but god forbid formal recognition of overlap.

If one wants to put the current spectral contradictions in clear focus, this image sums it up nicely:

There he is, true progressive and leftie Tom Mulcair in his first NDP ad.  Note what looks like a Toronto Bay Street backdrop, as well as the boardroom feel accompanied by the crisp suit.   A new NDP, the imagery is clear and also telling, because it demonstrates that NDP strategists understand clearly that to widen appeal, they don't have to kill the Liberals, they have to BECOME them!  Some day the veneers will wane and partisans will have the epiphany.  Unfortunately, it might take another Harper mandate to truly wake us from our tribal slumber.

Ask yourself one question: if you are a Conservative, does today's poll make you happy or sad?  Exactly.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Stephen Harper's Man

Plenty of side issues now swirling around Patrick Brazeau, which to my mind are distractions from the real issue as articulated in this wheat from the chaff summation.  This controversy isn't about the validity of the Senate itself, it's about judgement and more specifically the horrendous judgement displayed by this Prime Minister for appointing Brazeau in the first place:

When he was appointed that morning, along with 17 others in a mid-prorogation patronage frenzy, the Conservative government already knew then-Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice had received letters from aboriginal leaders in this country questioning the membership and spending of the organization Brazeau headed.
The prime minister’s office knew this former model and martial arts expert was facing a charge of sexual harassment.
Kory Teneycke, Harper’s spokesperson of the day, said the prime minister was aware of the allegations and said Harper was “proud” to appoint Brazeau since there was no finding of misconduct.
Days later, news emerged of a troubling audit of CAP by Health Canada leading then Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff — 12 days after Brazeau’s swearing-in — to question whether he was “Senate material.’’
Then the Star’s Joanna Smith reported that the new senator, who drove a Porsche SUV, was behind in child support payments. The PMO, by then, was hiding behind its “private matter” shield, but Brazeau was already displaying his penchant for blaming everyone but himself.
 In other words, Brazeau was a TAINTED individual when Harper appointed him.  The litany of controversies that have dogged Brazeau since his Senate appointment appear to be nothing more a continuation of bad behaviour.   What kind of vetting process puts the "brash", "controversial" Brazeau in the Senate in the first place, by all accounts someone who garnered little respect within the aboriginal community the appointment apparently spoke to.  The RED FLAGS were everywhere, manifested in various forms, many a human resources manager would have steered clear of this hire.  And yet, Harper plowed ahead with this Senate appointment, in what can be fairly characterized as reckless disregard for troubling facts staring him in the face.

There is no way Harper could have foreseen the latest troubling episode.  That said, the buck stops with the Prime Minister when it comes to his presence on Parliament Hill.  Despite ample evidence that this individual was problematic prior to appointment, Harper decided this was the person best suited to represent the aboriginal community in the Senate.  Further, despite one controversy after another during his tenure in the Senate, Harper declined to sanction Brazeau, which effectively CONDONED his behaviour.  Only when we saw serious criminal charges on the horizon did the PMO launch into damage control and dump Brazeau to avoid any taint.  The decision is more about self preservation than moral imperative, because if that were the true guide many past opportunities to articulate that concern.  In fact, by appointing to the Senate such a "controversial" figure- then ignoring each subsequent transgressions- Harper emboldened Brazeau, he appeared untouchable, free to act in any boorish manner he chose.  

There are plenty of issues swirling around the Brazeau debacle.  What should remain top of mind,  Stephen Harper brought this man to center stage, this is his appointment, warning signs were ignored, later incidents condoned, culminating in this sorry affair.  Brazeau boils down to a question of incredibly poor judgement on the Prime Minister's part and that's the bottom line.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Conservative Party Of Canada: Catch Me If You Can

The latest robocall case is alarming, but not for the obvious reasons.  The fact the Conservatives were push polling over electoral boundaries is unseemly, but hardly surprising given historical tactics.  However, the real "story" to my mind is the sequence of events that led to the ultimate admission by Fred DeLorey, that YES the Conservative Party were behind the calls:
On Tuesday, after the voice analysis, Meier failed to respond to repeated calls and emails to himself, his company and his lawyer, R. Justin Matthews, seeking comment.

Matthews told Postmedia he “has not been retained to respond to your inquiries.”

Saskatchewan Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski told the Regina Leader Post last week that Saskatchewan Tory MPs were not responsible for the calls.

“Certainly polling is not something I’m doing and I’m pretty sure I’d know if any of my colleagues was doing something like that and I haven’t heard a thing. That’s just something I wouldn’t have done anyway.”

Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey also originally denied the party was involved, writing in an email Friday, “We are not polling.”

On Tuesday, however, after Postmedia and The Citizen received the forensic analysis, and sent emails to the party and Meier, DeLorey sent a release to the parliamentary press gallery saying that the party did make the calls.

“There was an internal miscommunication on the matter, and the calls should have been identified as coming from the Conservative Party,” said DeLorey
We get cryptic replies, we get denials of any involvement by Conservatives. Only when the voice is analyzed, a match made do we get the lamest of admissions, akin to being caught with your hand in the cookie jar. To keep it real, this means the Conservative Party of Canada were prepared to deny they were behind the calls, despite knowing full well they are required to identify themselves. Further, it is astonishing that our political system requires journalists hiring voice recognition experts to unravel the mystery, rather than a more formal response from authorities who are supposed to ensure rules are followed. If not for good reporting, Canadians would never know the true nature of these calls.

Clearly, the Conservatives were prepared to hide their involvement, only forthcoming when cornered, concerning is a kind characterization. What is a fair observation, the Conservative Party of Canada seems to have a "catch me if you can" mentality, which does a disservice to our democratic process.