Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Talking Points

I may post more on the Grewal tapes once I have time to read through all the transcripts (which appear to have been translated by Babelfish at first glance). For now I'll simply state that the official Liberal line that "no offer was made" likely needs changing. Consider this bit from one of the transcripts, courtesy of Ujjal Dosanj:

As I said earlier, no Prime Minister would ever want to compromise himself with
that kind of appropriate because he want to be able to say "I did not make a
deak in it, there was no deal"

True enough. But consider this later line:

I'm sure rewards are there at some point, right. No one can forget such gestures
but they require certain degree of deniability. [A big laugh] Right, you
understand thing.

So, my point is, saying that "no offer was made" is likely not the best line to use when the Minister of Health is on tape saying there needs to be "deniability" and then laughing. It's abundantly clear after reading the transcripts that an unspoken offer was made.

Now, I'm still a little perplexed as to why this is any different than the deal struck with Belinda but everyone appears intent on making a big story out of it so it's likely best if the Liberals come up with a better defense than the meek lines they've been using (Wells comments on their other "Grewal wouldn't take no for an answer" line at his site).

Trench Warfare

The big news over the past week is that several high profile Christian advocates are winning Conservative nominations across the country. The Globe & Mail had a rational analysis of the situation in an editorial today, commenting that:

It is difficult to understand the fuss about Christian activists helping to
secure the nominations of at least eight federal Conservative candidates in the
next election.

Yes, it is difficult to understand why some newspapers would splash a headline on the topic across their front page, thereby starting the entire insanity in the first place. Obviously the Globe & Mail editorial board needs to have a little chat with…uhh…the Globe & Mail.

But, there are enough fanatics in the CPC caucus that I’m personally not too concerned about another few who might be running in kamikaze ridings, so I won’t comment on that specifically. This does bring up the interesting topic of how candidates are selected. And it also provides another example of why the current process is extremely flawed and should be scrapped for a Primary system, similar to that in the United States.

First off, let’s look at the problem with the current system. By signing up a group of people to pack a nomination meeting, the chances of nominating a candidate who the party and constituents do not want is dramatically increased. I could, for example, line up outside a movie theater and buy the Star Wars geeks a Yoda pez dispenser if they agree to come out and vote for me so that I can impose my Jedi beliefs on the population. I’ll, of course, pay for memberships and a kegger afterwards so whatever party we decide to take over will be powerless when they see the strength of the force.

With the current system it’s very easy to trade votes for money, booze, or favours, and it becomes about stacking meetings rather than being the “best” candidate. At the ALP convention this weekend, there was a lot of talk from some Edmonton ridings about Conservatives signing up for Liberal memberships en mass to nominate weak Liberal candidates.

On the flip side, during the Liberal leadership race, we saw blatant restrictions of membership forms. If you didn’t support a certain candidate (let's call him "Raul Lartin"), it was impossible to get a membership form from the party, and when you were granted one, it would often take months to get it, or it would be mailed to the wrong address. Since it’s all about being on the membership list and it’s pretty easy to keep people off the membership list, abuse is practically encouraged.

So why not switch to the primary system? Every Canadian could register with a party or as a non-partisan on their income tax by checking a box. Elections Canada could keep the lists and when it comes time to nominate candidates, select delegates for conventions, or vote on leadership, the meetings would be open to everyone registered to that party. Sure, you could still truck in your church members to vote so long as they’re registered to the party in question but with many more eligible voters, it would become a lot harder to take over a riding or win a nomination. With a wider range of people voting, it would presumably allow for candidates the general population prefers to be nominated. It would also become impossible to restrict membership forms, leaving leadership races more wide open and democratic.

There are a lot of reasons this change won’t happen, but considering the bad press all parties get through nasty nomination battles and leadership races, it would be a solution everyone would benefit from.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been...

Forget the Chretien news, the most interesting Adscam tidbit today comes courtesy of Bourque:

Trudeau bride's dress made by Nancy Wasjmann, wife of Adscamster Beryl ...

And some people think the Gomery Inquiry has turned this scandal into a farce...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Hardly a Funeral

So the Alberta Liberal Party (that’s the provincial Liberals) held their convention in Calgary this weekend and I thought I’d attend. The fact that the “77th Annual Alberta Funeral Home Owners Conference” was being held at the same hotel made for some incredibly obvious one-liners over the course of the two days. But, to be fair, the mood is a lot more morbid with the federal Liberals than the provincial Liberals in Alberta right now so I’ll avoid cracking any funeral jokes during the remainder of this recap.

The Friday night was “celebrating 100 years of the ALP” which I can only compare to John Turner’s farewell tribute in 1990 (“celebrating mediocrity…and that’s the positive spin”). Let me just say to any Alexander Rutherford or Charles Stewart fans out there, you missed one heck of a recap of their lives. I know there have been few successes since 1920, but still… The “Daryl who wins” was the Master of Ceremonies and Kevin Taft gave a brief address before people made their way to what was, truth be told, one of the best hospitality suites I’ve ever been to at a Liberal convention.

Saturday featured a series of workshops on the “Organize to Win” theme. The most interesting was a discussion led by Keith Browsey with the open question of “what the heck does it take to beat the Tories?”. That led to a wide range of theories and suggestions which was really quite fascinating. The reason behind Tory domination in Alberta is a huge question worthy of a book in itself but it was interesting to see the many theories Liberals held.

At the banquet lunch, party leader Kevin Taft gave what was probably the best speech I’ve ever heard from him. The man is definitely improving. It was short on specifics and I’m not sure how many people actually believe the optimistic “we’re going to win” attitude, but the speech hit on the right notes and was damn entertaining. Taft’s recap of a Tory government circa 10,000 BC was really, really funny (“they’d just discovered fire two years ago and already they were talking about firewalls”).

So, all in all, I give the ALP credit on a very well organized and well run convention – their first in a long time. While the provincial Liberals are definitely less glamorous than the feds, they’re very down to earth and they don’t attract the power hungry crowd (for obvious reasons). I got to hear Rick Miller cracking jokes in the hospitality suite, Harry Chase singing his Ralph Klein song, and I had conversations with 4 or 5 MLAs, including Kevin Taft. The Liberal MLAs really seem like normal people and, unlike a lot of MPs, haven’t let their egos consume them yet.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Buckets ‘O Links

I’m heading off to the Alberta Liberal Party convention (slogan: “Normal convention price, half the convention content!”) tonight and, since I’ve really been neglecting provincial politics of late, will be sure to post a recap tonight or tomorrow. Until then, here’s a whole wack of links to help pass the Friday:

-If you’re sick of Belinda Stronach, Judge Gomery, and Stephen Harper, here’s an issue that actually matters. The Blank Out Times have a series of very good posts on the state of the First Nations People in Canada. You can read them here, here, here, here and here.

This is all in response to what is happening to the Poundmakers. I must admit I don’t know a lot on the issue, but if you can see what’s going on here and here.

-Woah, woah, woah. Don’t tell me the Liberals started to clean up the Sponsorship file before “this Prime Minister” took office. That goes against everything I’ve been led to believe by the Merry Martin Mob.


-I’m hesitant to put a lot of stock in this since the methodology on questions like this is a bit questionable and, more importantly, it contradicts everything I’ve been saying about the CPC roaring to victory if they replaced Harper with Lord or McKay. It’s still very interesting and very bad news for the Conservative Party.

-Speaking of bad news for the CPC, I really don’t think this deserved front page attention, but it certainly won’t help the “hidden agenda” talk. And here I thought Belinda would have swiped a copy of the Hidden Agenda from Tory headquarters before she defection – I guess the secret will remain.

-The funniest named blog out there has just been launched.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Tape

Paul Wells asked the question, so I’ll do my best to answer it.

There are two articles out today on the Grewal tape. I’ll add Jason Cherniak’s post on it since he can always be counted on to tote the official Liberal talking points.

First of all, since I:
a) don’t have the full tapes
b) need to work on my Punjabi
I, like everyone else, am only going on the parts of the tapes that have been released. So, first, here are the three competing opinions on the tape:

Jeffrey rightfully finds it odd that Grewal walks around taping conversations but, since Tim Murphy stays vague, feels there’s nothing odd that four hours of conversations took place. He also feels that it’s a little odd the Tories only made 8 minutes of a four hour tape public (personally, I’m grateful. I can’t imagine how dull a four hour conversation with Ujjal Dosanj must be).

Coyne’s been on a bit of a Liberal jihad of late, so it’s not too surprising that he finds the Liberal excuse of “Grewal started it” a little lame. He feels that Tim Murphy should have hung up the phone if Grewal was digging for something. He also thinks it’s odd that Murphy hasn’t defended himself (presumably he’s too busy dancing with Belinda on night club speakers).

Jason concludes that Grewel is definitely in the wrong since he tried to obtain office and entrapment generally isn’t exactly a nice thing to do. Tim Murphy, however, by talking in more platitudes and vagaries than his boss, appears to have avoided any criminal wrongdoings on the parts of the tape made public.

Now, here’s the law:

119. (1) Every one who(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a
member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, corruptly

(i) accepts or obtains,

(ii) agrees to accept, or

(iii) attempts to obtain,

any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment for himself or
another person in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted
by him in his official capacity, or

(b) gives or offers, corruptly, to a person mentioned in paragraph (a) any
money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of
anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by him in his official
capacity for himself or another person,

is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding fourteen years.

As for my view…I find this whole affair odd. I mean, when Belinda crossed the floor, presumably both her and Paul Martin were office holders and presumably she accepted office. I mean, every time two politicians cut a deal, something is being offered and accepted in return for political favours. The only time it becomes criminal is when that little adverb “corruptly” is thrown in. And it seems to me the law is a little vague as to what constitutes “corruptly”.

For Grewal, if he did approach the Liberals and tried to obtain office with the purpose of framing them, then you could certainly make a case that he was corrupt. If the Liberals did in fact approach him, you can make the case that he did what he did in order to expose this and to me that’s fair enough. Since it’s hard to judge who approached whom, let’s just say that Grewal has likely watched a bit too much Alias and took advantage of an opening to make the Liberals look bad.

For Murphy, I do tend to agree with Coyne’s premise that he should have hung up the phone and not spend 4 hours talking to the guy. That said, I also agree with Cherniak that Murphy likely isn’t criminally responsible for any wrongdoing since he avoided making explicit offers of anything. And if Gurmant Grewal’s whole point was to prove that Tim Murphy and the Martin boys play dirty then I can’t wait for his under cover investigation to prove that Belinda Stronach doesn’t have a PHD and that Reg Alcock occasionally puts his foot in his mouth. Everybody knew that this PMO is made up of some of the dirtiest political operatives of their generation, they didn’t need Grewal to prove it.

Bottom line, I find it extremely difficult to believe either of these boys will be charged. Given Murphy’s position, I tend to think he’s more in the wrong, but it’s clear both of them were being naughty. It just seems to me that this stuff goes on all the time and I have yet to receive a very good explanation for how this is fundamentally different than offering Belinda a Cabinet position for crossing the floor…unless there’s more to the Volpe immigration angle than meets the eye. If that comes into play, then all bets are off. If Tim Murphy implied that an RCMP investigation would be ended in return for Grewal’s support, he should be fired on the spot. If Joe Volpe was willing to try and end an RCMP investigation, he should be fired on the spot. If Grewel tried to get the RCMP called off in return for his support, then they’ll soon enough have a second reason to investigate the guy.

Not Really News...

No surprise at all with the results out of Labrador. One of the safest Liberal seats in Canada is defended, albeit with the reduced totals you'd expect in a bi-election after a tough year by the party in power. The Conservatives field a high profile candidate and pour a lot of resources into the riding so they, quite predictably, increase their total substantially.

There's a lot of talk about how this was such a crucial seat given how close Parliament is right now. But, truth be told, it doesn't change a heck of a lot. The Liberals won the last vote on a tie-break and this just means we'll avoid a tie-break in the future. Now, should something happen with the health of a few MPs, it could become a crucial seat to have but, for all intents and purposes, Chuck Cadman still has the whole world in his hands.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Final Word on Belinda

Although it's tempting to post about Belinda Stronach to ad nauseum, thus ensuring a continual stream of google hits to this blog, there's only so much that can be said about the girl (sorry Anne..."person"). Now, if Belinda actually does something newsworthy in her new portfolio (ed: HAHAHA!), I'll gladly comment on it, but as for the defection itself, this will likely be the last time I dwell on it for a while. So here are some random thoughts about the Material Girl's defection:

On Belinda's Lack of Notice...
I know a lot of people disagree with me on this point, but Belinda should have given Harper and MacKay more notice. If we believe the official story then, yes, things happened fairly quickly but this has to have been in the back of her mind for a long time. I'm sorry, but I can't believe she wasn't at least considering defecting before she got talked into the whole thing by David Peterson.

Belinda ran for the leadership of the party over a year ago, was in the shadow Cabinet, and was a very prominent Conservative. I don't doubt that Harper had been treating her badly but she still should have showed loyalty to the party. This was the most important week in the history of the new Conservative Party which she helped create. Giving the party's leader a few hours notice was unfair in my opinion. When David Kilgour (who I really do not like) left the Liberals, he let it be known well in advance. Pat O'Brien did the same thing when he considered leaving. Why? Because it gives the party leader a chance to talk to you and listen to your concerns. That's not to say she should have pulled a Martin and publicly said she was considering leaving but at the very least Harper should have been given a chance to talk her out of it and plead his case privately.

It also blows my mind that she wouldn't so much as tell Peter MacKay that she was considering this...clearly she was never fully committed to that relationship either. If Belinda wanted to leave, that's fair enough. But you don't just arrive at these decisions overnight and given the amount of time and capital she's put into the CPC, I think it was low of her not to give Harper and MacKay a chance to talk her out of this or, failing that, a chance to adjust their strategy accordingly.

On Sexism...
Yes, a few MPPs and MLAs crossed the line. But I don't think Belinda got criticized as harshly as she did because she's female. When Jack Horner left the Tories for the Grits, Diefenbaker mused that "the IQ of both parties increased". When Lucien Bouchard left the Conservatives to co-found the ad hoc temporary rainbow coalition with the current Minister of Transport, he received a lot of criticism as well. The fact is, loyalty is a valuable thing in politics and traitors will always be treated poorly, regardless of their gender.

On Belinda's Cabinet Spot...
It was likely a mistake for Martin to give Belinda a Cabinet spot and for her to accept it, since it makes her appear opportunistic. Scott Brison played the game much smarter by taking a PS spot right away and then going into Cabinet after last year's election. As for whether or not she deserves a Cabinet position, that's harder to judge. The fact that she's in the Conservative shadow Cabinet makes it difficult for Conservatives to scream that she's not qualified for a Cabinet position. She was ranked the second most powerful woman in business a few years ago so despite her obvious political shortcomings, I don't think it's unreasonable to put her on the Liberal front benches. It just may not have been the smartest political move.

On Belinda's Former Boss...
This is going to hurt Harper a lot. Everyone keeps saying the Conservatives are united behind him but there have to be a lot of nagging concerns about Harper's leadership after this. Part of being a leader is keeping your caucus happy and united and Harper failed at that.

On Belinda's Former Boyfriend...
Peter MacKay is handling this absolutely perfectly. He's gathering sympathy and has come across a lot less vindictive or mean spirited than Harper. And, despite that, he's managed to get a few good one liners in ("dogs are loyal", "she dumped 200,000 people besides me"). I'm more convinced than I was before that Peter MacKay will be the next leader of the CPC. Bernard Lord is the only person I could see beating him at this point.

On Belinda's Future...
As a Minister of the Crown, Belinda will be under a lot more scrutiny. She'll have to answer questions in QP and she'll be judged on what she accomplishes in Human Resources. It will be very interesting to see how she performs. As for the part of her future everyone cares about...

On Belinda's Leadership Aspirations...
She can't speak French. She can't give a speech. She can't answer questions off the cuff. She has no real political experience to talk about. This may have all been forgivable in a party that needed to look like they were in touch with young, urban, moderate Canadians. But in the Liberal Party, this simply won't wash. In some sense, it might be good for Belinda to run because of the 9 or 10 rumoured Liberal leadership candidates not a single one is female. And if history is any indication, money and a "cut throat kill your enemies" attitude are two keys to any successful leadership run. But until Belinda develops even passable political fundamentals, there is no way you can discuss her as a legitimate contender.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

We are Family

In case the plethora of blogging groups out there wasn't already enough, I've joined up with two new groups:

Liblogs: For the minority of bloggers who represent the majority of Canadians.

Alberta Blogs: Sure, it's the richest province, but there's always something to complain about in Alberta...Regardless of your political stripes.

Stay tuned for the "Capricorn Lactose-intolerant Bloggers" and "Red Haired Rona Ambrose Fans" blogs, coming soon.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Where do we go from here?

The past ten days have been quite the wild ride, eh? Betrayal, dashed romances, secret audio tapes, backroom deals, health scares, Parliamentary shut down, and a tie vote. Heck, we even made the “political play of the week” on CNN. Since yesterday was seen as the climax, the real question becomes: what now?

The general mood is that we’ve passed the storm and have embarked on a 10 month election campaign. I’m inclined to agree that we won’t see any real threats to confidence between now and June despite the certainty that there will be several attempts by the media to create artificial drama. Mind you, if something really damaging comes out of the Gomery Inquiry, all bets are off and we might very well get a summer election. Come next fall, if the Conservatives are even remotely close in the polls, expect the drama to begin all over again.

In the meantime, each party has a few key things they need to focus on.

There’s a lot of talk that Carolyn Parrish will be let back into caucus and that Judy Sgro will be brought back into Cabinet. I think both of those actions would be reasonable in light of recent events.

The last month has also shown that when it comes to winner take all dirty politics, Team Martin is still the best of the best. They showed it during the leadership race and they showed it by somehow outmaneuvering the Conservatives and staying alive. But can they govern? That’s the real question.

The Conservatives have one more silver bullet left with the name “Gomery” on it and their loss yesterday just means they won’t have to waste it this spring on an election they might lose. The party’s inability to pull ahead in the polls is really troubling and Stephen Harper will certainly do some soul searching as to whether or not he can, should, or wants to lead this party into the next election. With Belinda gone, being perceived as a moderate alternative to the Liberals just got a lot harder.

I know the Dippers were ecstatic over becoming relevant for the first time in years but the future of their budget is very much in doubt. The Conservatives/Bloc alliance holds a 6-5 voting edge on the finance committee so it’s difficult to see how the NDP budget will ever get Royal Ascent. And remember, if the NDP don’t think they can get their budget passed, all deals are off. At the very least, Jack Layton has looked extremely statesmanlike and Prime Ministerial in comparison to Harper and Martin over the past month. If the NDP keep doing what they’re doing, I think 40 seats is a very real possibility for them in the next election.

Gilles Ducceppe will continue to hammer the Liberals on Gomery while he keeps one eye turned towards Bernard Landry’s embattled leadership of the Parti Quebecois. They’ll continue to try and cause an election at every turn.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


That was definitely something else. It had the feel of a Super Bowl show from start to finish:

Pre-Game Show
There was lots of pre-game hype. They had updates on rosters, injury reports for both teams (Parrish is day-to-day with an abdominal injury), reporters in the field, and Chuck Cadman entering with a mob of reporters and cameras following him. They had people scalping tickets and the "7 minutes to vote"updates at the bottom of the screen.

The Game
For the main event, the CBC went all out with the "real time vote counter" and Peter Mansbridge's play-by-play ("boy, there are a lot of Martins in the House...uhh...2 in government...1 in the NDP....no, maybe 2 in the NDP..."). The game even went into overtime with a dramatic one goal win.

As for the vote, I'm sure a lot of people on both sides are breathing sighs of relief.

Post-Game Show
The post-game comments were interesting: Martin and Harper had the full cheering caucus behind them which was likely good for optics. Here's a quick run-down:

Obviously, it's a big day for him. The NDP is actually relevant and have been looking extremely good of late while the Liberals and Tories tear themselves to parts. I'm actually surprised they haven't seemed to crack 20% in the polls.

We'll have to start calling him "Monsieur fache" because the guy looked really pissed today.

The pundits liked his speech but...I dunno. He was obviously playing to the base and trying to rally the troops behind him. It's pretty obvious his leadership will come under a lot of scrutiny this summer so he needs to get behind them. He came across a little sanctimonious I thought, but he was better today than he's been over the past few weeks.

He went on a little long but, boy, did he ever looked relieved. I thought thanking the strategists so profusely was a little odd since they've been under fire for dirty tactics but I guess they do deserve credit. Hitting on the "get to work and move on" theme was definitely a good idea.

Bizarro Parliament

Heart attack scares, appendicitis scares, incriminating tapes...just when you thought you'd seen it all, this saga keeps getting weirder and weirder. All this leading up to a vote that the Tories can't possibly want to win.

I'm not sure anything would surprise me at this point. The last month and in particular the last ten days have been among the most bizarre times I have ever seen in Canadian politics.

Here are a few random thoughts leading up to vote - I'll update as the wild and wacky adventures in Parliament Hill continue (although, at this point, it's hard to imagine what can possibly be said as Canadian Politics begins to look like a cross between Survivor and the X-Files):

-On the Belinda defection, I still don't think very highly of her, but I'll give Martin credit for this catch. This is without a doubt the crowning achievement of his 18 months as Prime Minister. I'm not sure whether that's an insult or a compliment but it's quite the coup regardless.

-I'm not sure what to make of this Grewal tape. The Volpe connection is very interesting in light of recent events. I suspect that if the government survives today, we'll see a lot more about this is the coming days.

-Harper, Martin, MacKay and Stronach should all be in Question Period today. I suspect that will make for a nice warm up act to the main event later today.

-Belinda took some questions today and it looks like "it's a complex file" will be added to "growing the economy" and "baking a bigger economic pie" on the Belinda talking doll. (Note to Anne McLellan: Just so that I won't be called a misogynist, the doll reference has nothing to do Belinda being female. Rather to the fact that she seems to have a difficult time coming up with complex and varied answers to questions.)

-Given that it is numerically impossible to defeat the government without Bloc support, could someone explain to me if the Conservatives would ever be "allowed" to bring down the government without being accused of being in "alliance with the separatists".

-Since I was asked to elaborate on my "first impressions" of the Grewal tape in the comments section, I'll throw a little more out there. I'd rather listen to the full tape before rushing to judgment. But, yeah, at first glance it sounds very incriminating. Tim Murphy is smart not to explicitly offer anything so I doubt we'll see the kind of criminal prosecution a lot of the Coyne clones are asking for. But regardless of who initiated the conversation, it certainly didn't sound like the "Grewal wouldn't take no for an answer" line the PM is using today. I mean, that sounded like a pretty obvious "you scratch our back, we'll scratch yours" offer. As I hinted above, I think the Volpe reference is by far the most interesting part of the tape. The media doesn't seem to be making a big deal of it now, but it could turn into a big news story next week if there's no election.

-Finally, given an election is unlikely to change anything and would be very costly, I do think it would be best for everyone involved if the budget does go through today. It's certainly the right of the Tories to try and bring down a government they consider to be corrupt but there's a lot in this budget and some important legislation (ie. SSM) that I'd like to see passed. And I think a lot of Conservatives realize now may not be the best time for them to go to the polls too. They really only get one more chance to run on Gomery and wasting it at a time when they're nose diving in Ontario might not be so wise.


-It's official: Kilgour will vote with the Tories. It all comes down to Chuck Cadman.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

24 Hours to go

A few random comments leading up to what will be a very big day tomorrow:

1. A lot was made of how quickly Belinda's website changed yesterday and the Conservative site was just as quick to remove all mention of Belinda. One assumes Peter MacKay was also busy cutting up his old pictures yesterday.

I only mention this because of what has become a running gag among Liberals in Alberta: the Liberal Party of Canada in Alberta's (LPCA) website. Go to the main page and you'll find the top news story is "David Kilgour website launched". You'll also see "Prime Minister encourages young Canadians to get out and vote"... for the June 2004 election. Unfortunately, you'll also find "Bush pledges US to lift beef ban soon". Some news stories never grow old.

2. How's this for a Conservative election slogan? "Conservatives: Shooting ourselves in the foot for over 100 years".

3. The more I think of Belinda's defection, the less I think of her. Andrew Coyne draws attention to the candidate Belinda bumped - that sounds like someone who should be in Cabinet. The fact of the matter is, even if Belinda was uncomfortable, she owed it to her party to give Harper more than a few hours notice. At least then he could have tried to dissuade her or, at the very least, adjusted his strategy accordingly. It also boggles my mind that she didn't talk this over with Peter MacKay beforehand. MacKay is handling this a lot better than Harper did yesterday, saying all the right things. If Harper does decide to resign over the summer, MacKay would definitely be a worthy successor.

Oh, and one more thing on Belinda's defection. Here's what she said about Scott Brison back when he joined the Liberals:

"It's unfortunate that Scott Brison did not stay, did not roll up his sleeves if
he didn't like something...Don't run from it. Help shape the direction of the
new party."

4. Stephen Harper's pledge to support (or abstain?) on the budget makes sense. If nothing else, Liberal candidates won't be able to say "Stephen Harper and my opponent voted against money for cities and childcare yada yada yada". Instead, they can focus on the NDP add-on and the perceived "buying votes".

5. As for the vote tomorrow, baring any last minute surprises, it appears that it's coming down to Chuck Cadman. It's looking more and more like David Kilgour will side with the Tories, which means Cadman is on the hot seat. I'm sticking to my prediction from last week that Cadman will go with the government and Kilgour will go with the opposition. That means a dramatic 152-152 vote with Milliken breaking the tie, much to the relief of the Conservatives.

6. On Politics today, Jeff Norquay let it slip that several Tory MPs will be speaking later today about job offers they received from the Liberals. Stay tuned!

Place Your Bets

While many blogs will no doubt analyze the effect Belinda’s defection to the Liberals will have on Thursday’s vote, the next election and Stephen Harper’s leadership, I am determined to analyze it based on the issue that most Canadians care about – Parliament Hill gossip. With Peter MacKay tossed aside like a flimsy “no-merger” David Orchard deal, Belinda is no doubt ready to move on. So, the big question is: Which Liberal will Belinda become romantically involved with? Here’s the early line:

Jean Lapierre (4-1): I’m sure he’d love to start a temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition with her, if you know what I mean.

Ken Dryden (9-2): Belinda was married to an Olympic gold medalist, so she definitely likes athletes. And it would be fitting that Parliament Hill’s Barbie winds up with someone named Ken.

Joe Volpe (6-1): There’s only one person in Ottawa with larger delusions than Belinda that they’re a legitimate leadership contender and that person is Joe Volpe. In that respect, they’re a perfect match. But would Joe compromise his morals and date a former Klanswoman?

Paul Martin (13-2): Come on. Surely Paul had to do more to “seal the deal” Monday night than offer her a Cabinet position?

Ralph Goodale (12-1): A good prairie boy. The problem as I see it is that, just like Paul Martin, Belinda would leave Ralph for Jack Layton once the going gets tough.

David Emerson (15-1): This guy can bake a really, really big economic pie, if you catch my drift...

Reg Alcock (20-1): Obviously Reg had Belinda in mind when he said they wanted someone “higher in the gene pool”.

Scott Brison (25-1): Yes, he’s gay. But he might do it just because he hates Peter MacKay so much.

Place your bets!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

No, not that again. This will be serious.

There's a lot to be said about Belinda's shocking defection. Every post I've read has started with "I didn't see this coming". Say what you want about Belinda, but she knows how to grab a headline. After the initial shock, my first reaction was: "damn, why couldn't she have done this a few months ago. It would have made for a nice hospitality suite at the Liberal convention." But that got me thinking about the bizarre timing of this. Let's consider:

Fall 2003: Belinda sits Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper down and helps arrange a merger. Her reasoning? Canada needs a strong, moderate, Conservative Party.

Winter 2004: Belinda Stronach runs for leadership of the Conservative Party. Her reason? Canada needs a strong, moderate, Conservative Party.

June 2004: Belinda Stronach runs for Parliament and is elected as a member of the Conservative Party, under the leadership of Stephen Harper.

March 2005: Belinda throws a huge party at the Conservative convention, leading everyone to assume she's running for leadership.

May 10, 2005: Belinda Stronach votes non-confidence in Paul Martin's government.

May 17, 2005: Belinda Stronach joins Paul Martin's government.

This seriously just does not add up. It just seems odd that she would give up on the united right so quickly. Even though she never had a great chance at CPC leadership, I can't imagine Liberals ever backing her for Liberal leadership so I'm not sure this was about opportunism. I know she got a Cabinet spot, but she would have had one under a Harper government too. Maybe the Ontario polling numbers freaked her out or maybe sitting next to Stockwell Day every day just took its toll. She probably just felt she'd be more at home in the Martin Cabinet (and, as Paul Wells said, she likely will be. Lapierre, Dosanj, Brison, Stronach...we're not exactly attracting the bright lights from other parties).

As for political fallout...boy, we're in uncharted waters here. This is going to hurt Harper in Ontario and I'm sure he's having second thoughts about having an election now. In fact, I bet Steve is secretly hoping everyone's favourite media whore decides to vote with the government on Thursday. Also...I'm likely going to do a separate post on this later but although I disagreed with Jason Cherniak when he said it the other day, I think there's a legitimate chance that Stephen Harper will resign over the summer. Despite everything Harper has done to make the party look moderate, it's obvious that Canadians do not see them that way. This party would absolutely destroy Martin if they had Bernard Lord, Rona Ambrose or James Moore in charge. Even Peter MacKay would give them a moderate face at the helm. Harper has never lusted for power and he might realize that it's in his party's best interests to have a November leadership convention and then take out the Liberals next January.

Resistance is Futile

Wow. Holy Crap. Absolutely stunning. I really did not see that one coming.

I really have no clue what this means. I don't think anyone does. However, I am prepared to offer a preview of today's question period in another round of virtual QP.

The honourable member from Central Nova

Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Human Resources Development Minister. Belinda...I thought we had something...how can you do this to me?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Community of Communities

It seems that there are now three men in competition to see who can be the lead headwaiter for the provinces.
There’s more money for Saskatchewan, but apparently it’s not enough. Because now Quebec and Manitoba want a role in foreign affairs. Yes, you read that right: Manitoba wants a role in Canada’s foreign affairs. Un-freaking-believable. Of course, Harper will not only honour these deals but go further, and Jack Layton is calling Quebec a nation. So, with this in mind, I offer a glimpse of what's to come in the upcoming election:

Campaign 2005 – The race to decentralize

May 22: Jack Layton says that an NDP government would tear up the Clarity Act. "People don't care about Clarity," Layton says. "They care about smog warnings."

May 24: Paul Martin offers “side deals” on equalization to British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and PEI. But adds “Stephen Harper would cave in to Ralph Klein and do a deal with Alberta. I will look Ralph Klein in the eye and say ‘no’.”

May 25: After 28 hour bargaining session, Paul Martin gives Ralph Klein a blank cheque. Says he’s still standing firm by refusing to cave in to Nunavut.

May 26: After David Herle reviews the northern poll numbers, Liberal give Nunavut 3 billion dollars over 254 years.

May 28: Stephen Harper says Martin has “not gone far enough” and offers to give all future surpluses to the provinces. Also promises to take feedback from Premiers on writing future budgets. Says “that still beats having Jack Layton write your budget.”

June 4: Jack Layton announces he supports a European Union style system between Quebec and Canada. However insists both countries must elect their Parliaments by proportional representation.

June 7: Paul Martin, falling in the polls, offers to turn over transport portfolio to the provinces. Cynics say it’s just an excuse to boot Jean Lapierre from Cabinet.

June 9: Stephen Harper promises to turn over all federal powers to the province with the exception of foreign affairs, defense, and some taxation powers. “We felt we needed to keep the ability to offer corporate tax cuts” says Harper.

June 10: Paul Martin muses that the province of Quebec should take over foreign affairs. “They’ve made every major foreign affairs decision over the last decade anwyays” he reasons.

June 15: Jack Layton says he supports complete Quebec independence including their own passport and currency. Gilles Ducceppe cautions Layton he might be “going too far”.

June 19: Stephen Harper announces a Conservative government would demolish the Parliament Buildings and run the “country” out of the ten provincial capitals.

June 20: Scott Brison says a Liberal government would one-up Harper by destroying all federal government buildings in Canada. “We were just going to sell them and rent them back but then we concluded that that was perhaps the stupidest idea by the federal government in the last fifty years,” says Brison. “So this was the logical solution.”

June 24: Stephen Harper, falling fast in the polls, in a last ditch of desperation promises to abolish the federal government altogether.

June 26: Paul Martin announces that Canada will cease to exist for all purposes except for sending hockey teams to international sporting competitions.

Mark my words. By the end of this election, Gilles Ducceppe is going to look like the strongest federalist of the four leaders. You might think I’m joking but, sadly, I think this is one prediction that won’t stray too far from reality.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

One Candle

If you'll allow this self-indulgent post for a moment, today marks this blog's one year anniversary. Back when it started, the Liberals were dogged by scandal and the country was heading towards a late- June election. Ahh...the memories...

I recently signed up with statcounter and one of the interesting features is that it shows you what keywords people are using to surf onto this site. This has revealed two things to me:

1. Titling two posts "Sex sells" has been good for my hit totals
2. There are a lot of people out there surfing for news on Rona Ambrose

That said, here are the most interesting keywords people have used to find this site:

10. Ralph Klein alcoholic
9. Belinda Stronach Peter MacKay gossip
8. Jack Layton stud
7. Sex Calgary blog
6. The last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup
5. Paul Martin's accomplishments (ed: it's amazing this yielded any websites...)
4. Quote from RB Bennett
3. Used gun stores Calgary
2. People who want sex tonight Calgary
1. Pierre Pettigrew Hair

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Scandal? What Scandal?

Paul Wells has posted a few dozen comments from his readers who are considering switching their votes. It makes for a very interesting read and provides some insight into how people vote. Now, it should be noted that these comments come from people who are obviously somewhat politically aware (many of whom seem to live in Ottawa Centre...) and who are bombarded with daily updates on the tactics and dithering of the Martin Liberals.

That said, it is interesting to look at those who voted Liberal last time but won't this year. Are they leaving because of revelations at the Gomery inquiry? Because of brown envelopes? Because Chuck Guite fingered Paul Martin? Nope. It was amazing how few people cited Adscam as the reason for their disenchantment. I decided to do a quick tally among those who said they'd jump from the Liberals. A lot of people gave multiple reasons and I jotted them all down so it's far from scientific, but here are the most common reasons for jumping ship:

1. Paul Martin himself 7 ("disappointing" was the word of choice)
2. Opposition 6 (there were three who basically said "Layton's terrible, but better than the others" and three who said "Harper's terrible, but not as terrible as he's made to be")
3. Strategic Voting 4
3. Tired/Arrogant Party 4
5. The PM's zealots (Earnscliffe crowd) 3
5. Liberal Policy (or policy waffling) 3
5. Local candidate 3
8. Adscam 1

And the one guy who mentioned Adscam listed other reasons too. Maybe the Sponsorship Scandal will have a bigger impact on those who don't follow politics closely than on the Paul Wells blog readership. And maybe Adscam has contributed to the feeling of "disappointment" with Martin himself or the notion that the government is past its best before date. But when the obits are written, I think it will be important to not blame the Liberals' demise on scandal alone.

Friday, May 13, 2005

And the Voice of Reason is...

...Ralph Klein?!?!?!

Yes, believe it or not, contrary to the Herald's front page story, Ralph Klein is not going to plunge into the billion dollar re-election cash giveaway. Although virtually every single province in Canada has demanded a side deal from Mr. Desperate, Klein is actually refusing to cook the books and create a fictitious "imbalance".

CALGARY (CP) - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein says his province isn't about to go cap in hand to Ottawa and join the lineup of provinces scrambling for deals with a federal government struggling to retain power.
"We're not being shortchanged in any way, shape or form," Klein told reporters Friday.

Klein went on to comment on the current situation:

'There's no perceived shortfall," Klein said. "The only perception is being created by some people who have an interest in creating a perceived shortfall."

In recent months, the federal government has been negotiating side deals with individual provinces, including a deal for $5.75 billion with Ontario struck last weekend. Pacts with Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Nova Scotia, were signed earlier this year.

Klein said Ontario pays for several services that should be covered by the federal government and that's what Ottawa has agreed to cover.

Now, I should point out that there's no way Alberta would ever get any more cash. It would be insulting to ask considering how rich the province is right now. Plus, they'd never get a side deal because there aren't enough swing seats in the province to make it worth anyone's while.

But still, Ralph could have scored some cheap political hits against the federal government and he chose not to. This is the first time I've ever said something nice about Ralph on this blog and, although it pains me to say it, it bears repeating: Ralph Klein has become the voice of reason among Canada's Premiers and their headwaiter.

Welcome to the twilight zone.

Numbers Game

It looks like we're heading for one of the most dramatic votes in Parliament's history in one week's time (I won't say it's a certainty because the Tories might try to stall if they don't think they can win). What this means is that we're going to see every two bit hack try and predict how that vote will go over the next week. Being a two bit hack myself, here's my best guess:

"Yea" Base:
Since Tony Valeri has that Count Chocula look to him, I'm sure he can count votes ("One MP! Two MP! Three MP!"). So I'd expect a full house from the Liberals and the Dippers. That means 150 votes.

I'm also going to assume Carolyn Parrish votes with the Liberals, although I wouldn't put it past her to change her mind at the last minute, as the ultimate FU to Paul Martin. So, worst case scenario, that leaves us with 151 yea votes.

"Nay" Base:
The Bloc Conservatrice seems to have 151 healthy MPs. Dave Chatters has said he plans to be there next week. Obviously, that's not a certainty, but let's assume he's well enough to vote. That leaves us with 152 nay votes.

Darrel Stinson is having chemotherapy treatment the day before so he will be unable to vote. I'd hate to think the Liberals scheduled the vote on Thursday for this reason but, as others point out, it wouldn't be the first time.

David Kilgour voted with the Liberals this week but was extremely critical of the Sudan package Martin unveiled today. There is some talk at Blogs Canada that Kilgour will be out of the country next week, but given the importance of the vote, I can't imagine him staying away. If Kilgour is a no-show, then a Cadman absence or nay vote will defeat the government. If Kilgour votes with the Bloc Conservatrice, the government falls. If Kilgour votes with the LDP, it's 152-152 and it comes down to Cadman.

ElectionsWatch is all over the Cadman story. From the sound of things, he'll be in Ottawa next week. How will he vote? Well, Cadman is keeping the suspense going and has been flip-flopping back and forth over the past few weeks. He seems to enjoy the media attention more than Kilgour so I'm expecting him to keep everyone up to date on his moronic little poll over the next week.

So, to sum things up, it's looking like a 152-151 vote before Cadman and Kilgour stand up. The Government survives in the event of a tie so that means that if either Kilgour or Cadman vote with the opposition, the Government will fall. I'd say both are about 50/50, so we're looking at about a 75% chance of the Goodale/Layton/McGuinty budget going down in defeat. My gut is that Kilgour will vote nay and Cadman will go yea, leading us to a 153-152 vote and a June 27th election. But hey, I've been wrong before.

FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: The NDP has raised the pairing idea, which could take John Efford away from the House on Thursday. It's a fair enough idea, although it doesn't change anything unless Kilgour or Cadman are no-shows. If Chatters can't attend, then Harper would be nutty not to take them up on the offer.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Can't Beat the Real Thing

I wouldn't say it's a "crisis" yet, but with the shut-down of Parliament, it looks like we're into the biggest parliamentary pickle (for lack of a better word) in 78 years.

I know a lot of people will be saddened to miss Question Period today so, in it's place, I present "20 second virtual QP":

Adscam, Adscam, let Gomery work, Adscam, moral authority, this Prime Minister, corruption, cancer, Gomery, corruption, racist, Klan, Adscam, Jack Layton asks a question on smog

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Honest Steve

At this point, publishing polls has almost become a waste of space in newspapers. It would likely be more productive to splash Mr. Martin's and Mr. Harper's horoscopes across the front page. Look no further than today's numbers:

Allan Gregg
Con 31
Lib 27
NDP 20
Bloc 14
Green 7

Lib 37
Con 28
NDP 18
Bloc 12

Whaaaaaaaaaaaa? There is the equivalent of a 13 point swing between these polls (Libs up 9 versus Libs down 4). Personally, I tend to put more faith in the Gregg poll because he actually included the Green Party and I can't for the life of me see how Martin gained support as Guite and Corbeil were flinging accusations around left, right and centre. But at this point, the only thing the polls have showed us is that the electorate is more volatile than it's been in decades. I doubt any new polls will tell us much more than that. What this means is that the election campaign is going to be very important. A strong campaign by either Martin or Harper could get them a strong minority.

More interesting are the "bonus questions" in Gregg's poll. For the past year, Martin has been polling well above his party. I've always thought this was because Paul has been making decisions to raise his stock, even if it hurt the Liberal brand. But it was pretty obvious that this was an artificial high and it was only a matter of time before his stock crashed down to the party's level. It appears that crash has finally arrived.

61% say Martin is the leader most likely to tell a lie. 54% said he was the most hypocritical and 63% said he was the most dishonest. Ouch.

And remember, it's not like his opponents are titans of Canadian politics. Most Liberals I talk to will admit the only thing the Liberal Party has going for it right now is Stephen Harper. Will that be enough to win the next election? Nobody knows. The pollsters certainly don't.


If you thought last week's descent into race politics and using veterans for political gains was as low as this Parliament could go, think again.

"Is he hoping that some of us may not be able to make it?" Darrel Stinson
asked in the House of Commons.

Stinson and another Tory MP are battling cancer and had to be flown in
from Western Canada for a vote this week.

So it's come to this. Accusations that the government is delaying a non-confidence vote in the hopes that some MPs, sick with cancer, become too ill to attend a vote. Both Stinson and Chatters made the accusation in Question Period today themselves. The sad part? There's likely a bit of truth to all this. The real question is how long it takes before Canadians do something drastic...like vote for Jack Layton.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Judgment Day

UPDATE: Late night post all the way at the bottom...

It's snowing in Calgary and it figures to be just as odd a day in Ottawa. The monumental/frivolous vote is scheduled for 6 o'clock (4 Mountain!!!!) tonight so I'll be updating this post from now until then as events develop over the course of the day.

Morning Buzz

Today's Globe & Mail likely wasn't bringing as many smiles to Liberals as last week's. It also contained this baffling threat:

The bailiff served Mr.Corbeil a legal letter from Irene Marchettere, Luc Desbiens
and Richard Mimeau, three of eight Liberal officials he identified yesterday as
having received cash for election work. The letter asked him to retract his
allegations within 24 hours.

I know Madame Marchettere's boss has a law degree so perhaps he should offer her some free legal advice. Namely, what is said at a public inquiry, no matter how ridiculous, is protected from libel suits.

QP Buzz

-Harper started off by asking questions on the budget and the fiscal imbalance rather than tonight's vote or the Corbeil allegations. All of this tells me that he realizes there's a very good chance the election will be fought over the Liberal budget. According to Don Newman, that vote is now expecting to come Thursday.

-Jack Layton comments that "Canadians are rightly disgusted by this parliament". Layton is really trying to take the high ground and I think it could really pay off. After the disgusting political gamesmanship between Martin and Harper yesterday in Europe and a week of senseless accusations, a lot of Canadians are likely looking for a leader who looks like a grown-up. And, as strange as it sounds, Jack Layton is looking like the most mature of the three quasi-federalist leaders right now.

-I don't watch a lot of Question Period but I have never before seen an opposition member answer a question before. Yet today, Conservative John Williams answered an NDP question about the Public Accounts Committee. Whaaaaaaaaa?

Buzz from the Broooooadcast

-Apparently, two Liberals are away from Ottawa today for the vote, making it a near certainty it will pass. It seems the Liberals are employing the "I wasn't really trying" strategy I always use when I lose at Monopoly.

-That said, it will still be interesting to watch the vote for one reason: David Kilgour's vote. While the Conservatives don't need it today, they may very well need it for a "real" confidence vote later on. This should finally tilt his hand as to how he's voting.

The Vote

153-150: Kilgour sheepishly votes with the government but two Ministers and Cadman are away from the house.

-I think it would have been wise of the opposition to bring some scrap paper and to throw it in the air after the vote for effect.

-Let the spin war begin!

The Spin War

-Good grief. Blogger shuts down right after the vote. They did the same thing right after the Brault testimony was released. I swear it’s a conspiracy.

-I think Harper played it right by rising after the vote and saying that if the government didn't consider this a matter of confidence they need to immediately get the confidence of the House. The motion brought forward was probably not a confidence motion but it was a huge sign that the government has lost the confidence of the House. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask the Government to test the confidence of the House. People are making comparisons to Stanfield in '68 when a money bill was defeated and in that situation, the Liberals asked for (and received) the House's confidence the very next day.

-Given that, the Liberals need to get the budget voted on as soon as possible. Asking the House to wait three weeks is just not credible at this juncture. Testing the confidence of the House later this week with a Thursday budget vote would likely be a fair response.

-"From dithering to desperate to dangerous" Strong words from Stephen Harper.

-Ducceppe calls a House boycott "bad politics". Safe to say we won't see that, although I'm sure there will be some very loud protests by the Bloc and the Conservatives in the near future.

-It will be very interesting to see what the NDP has to say. There have been several NDP members who have said they regard this as a confidence vote.

-Gilles Ducceppe had a funny line regarding the NDPs support: "I've always said a successful NDPer is a Liberal". heh heh.

-I already mentioned it before but it bears repeating: David Kilgour voted with the Liberals. Do the math…

Monday, May 09, 2005

You sir, are no Jack Kennedy

I'm going to make a not-so-bold prediction that we're in for a week of articles about the King-Byng affair. That means we're in for a week of articles indirectly comparing both Paul Martin and Stephen Harper to Mackenzie King.

And given the political abilities of both men, those are going to be pretty funny comparisons to read.

Desperate House

Let me just say that anyone in Canada who claims to know whether or not tomorrow's vote is valid is either:

a) Full of it
b) An individual who has spent the last decade reading up on parliamentary procedure

Which tells me that we're going into a week of both sides arguing parliamentary procedural rules (fun, fun fun!). It's safe to say there won't be an election over this but it will change the discussion for a while which will have two effects:

1. It will change the channel away from Gomery, at a time when Benoit Corbeil is going to be brutally tearing the Liberal Party to pieces.

2. It will make the Liberals look really, really desperate.

It's also going to be a bit of yoke on the face of Paul Martin. In a leadership campaign that was all about coming out in favour of sunshine, rainbows and lollipops, there was one promise Paul Martin made above all others: The Democratic Deficit.

I guess the one thing Paul forgot to mention was that addressing the democratic deficit would involve canceling opposition days and failing to recognize non-confidence motions. A strong democratic reform package might be the kind of non-scary policy Harper can bring forward during the campaign to show there's some substance behind the candidate.

Election Watch

Here's a site that everyone should bookmark for daily reading up to election day, whenever that may occur.

UPDATE: I should add that the Election Prediction Project is up and running too. They've got Alberta as 26 Conservative and 2 "too close to call". That was the general concensus among the readers of this blog when I said I thought McLellan's seat was the only one in play.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Belinda Mania

UPDATE: If you got to this page on google, looking for the latest on Belinda's defection, go here.

Now that the Liberals are back up in the polls, the speculation has shifted from replacing Paul to replacing Steve. And that’s fair enough. While Martin has lusted for power his entire life, I get the sense that Stephen Harper’s internal monologue on most days would be something like:

“Why on earth do I have to shake hands and smile and talk to people…I hate people. And why am I doing this? I’m a smart guy, I’ve made the party moderate, and I’ve got an incompetent ditherer with the biggest scandal in our lifetimes as an opponent and I still can’t crack 30% in the polls…this is absolutely ridiculous! It’s not worth the time, effort and half an hour it takes me every morning to get my hair looking so spectacular for this…”

So I think it’s safe to say he’ll quietly walk away if he loses the election. Which raises the obvious succession question and hence all the Belinda talk of late. Now, I’m not overly plugged in to the Tory ground war but I figure I’ll give a quick run down of the contenders for leadership as I see them – mainly since I’m starting to get a little tired of writing posts on polls and election speculation. Any Conservatives who know more than myself are invited to weigh in with their thoughts.

Heavy Weights

1. Peter MacKay – I know I’m going against the popular train of thought, but I think Ken has a much better chance to win than Barbie. I just can’t imagine the hard right Conservative members backing her whereas they might be willing to compromise on MacKay. The Orchard deal will hurt him but at least it shows he’s cutthroat enough to win.

2. Bernard Lord – I’m firmly convinced that Bernard Lord would be Prime Minister today and Paul Martin would be milking cows on the Martin farm had Bernie decided to throw his hat in the ring for the Tory leadership last year. Admittedly, you can count the number of premiers who have successfully jumped to federal politics on one amputated hand but he’s the best they have. The only reason I don’t have him at the top of the list is because of the unstable minority government they have in New Brunswick right now.

3. Insane Right Winger To Be Named Later – I’m not sure who it will be, but this party has a reputation for shooting themselves in the foot. I think there are enough grass roots Conservatives who either don’t care about winning or haven’t learned their lesson from the Stockwell Day/Stephen Harper fiascos. I could see a strong groundswell of support for…Stockwell Day. Don’t laugh. Rick Mercer will endorse him, I’m sure. Jason Kenney is another guy I wouldn’t count out. The never married 36 year old’s strong fight for the traditional definition of marriage could play well among a lot of the grass roots members.

4. Belinda Stronach – Yeah, she’s good looking and very moderate which would finally put all this “hidden agenda” nonsense to bed. And seeing the Canadian Prime Minister in the US tabloids would be kind of cool. But I just can’t see Belinda succeeding until she:
a) learns French
b) learns how to give a speech without reading it word for word from a paper
c) shows she’s got some smarts and/or political savvy
And, like I said, I can’t see the old Alliance crowd supporting her.

Great candidates who likely won’t run

James Moore – This guy is a future PM. Very smart, very well spoken, right where he needs to be right and left where he needs to be left. He’s likely too young to win this time but keep an eye on him, he’s going places.

Rona Ambrose – Belinda’s looks and Harper’s smarts. She’s not seen as a fanatical Alliance lunatic but is still conservative enough that the old Reformers might back her. She’s a bit of an unknown but I think she’s got a very bright future.

Monte Solberg – Deserves it, if only because his blog is one million times more interesting than “Paul’s blog” from when Martin ran for leadership.

Weak candidates who just might run

Jim Prentice – His SSM stand makes him seem more moderate but I just can’t see him finishing ahead of the other “moderate” candidates. And I know he’s really despised by a lot of Conservatives in Calgary.

Tony Clement – Seems to enjoy losing so much that he might just give it another try. Plus, I’m sure he’s closing in on the record for political defeats in a three year span.

Rahim Jaffer – If nothing else, he’d have a great attendance record in Question Period as Prime Minister since his assistant could impersonate him on days Rahim is too busy to attend.

Interesting Names…

Mike Harris
Jean Charest
Mario Dumont
Gordon Campbell

Just throwing them out there for discussion. And I’ve opened up the comments section of this blog to everyone so comment away.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Lost in the Shuffle

With all the accusations being thrown around by the charming scamp and the very important twisting of every harmless comment anyone says into a loaded racist remark, a lot of other very interesting developments are being lost in the shuffle. Here's a quick run-down of some other news stories:

-Did I call it, or did I call it! It's David Kilgour's turn to govern. Man, if Carolyn Parrish hadn't tilted her hand and said she'd back the Liberals, Paul Martin would be burning George Bush effigies on Parliament Hill right now.

-The latest Pollara numbers are out. A lot more interesting than the horse race numbers are two other nuggets buried in the story

"A new poll revealed a more Canadians support a spring federal election than oppose it, and a majority don't buy Martin's warning that a Conservative victory would threaten national unity.

The Pollara poll contradicts other recent surveys that have indicated most Canadians don't want a snap vote on the heels of allegations of Liberal corruption at the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal.

Forty-five per cent of the 1,255 Canadians surveyed from April 25 to May 1 said they support a spring election, compared to 41 per cent who are opposed.
Pollara chairman Michael Marzolini said the numbers actually turn in Conservative leader Stephen Harper's favour because he asked if respondents "support" a spring election.

"We're not saying: 'Do people want an election?' "People don't want elections just as they don't want wars or trips to the dentist, but they'll support them if they're necessary, he said.

The poll also raises questions about Mr. Martin's recent declaration that Mr. Harper, if he becomes prime minister after defeating the government with Bloc Quebecois support, threatens national unity.

Of those surveyed, 39 per cent said Mr. Harper's election would have no impact, while another 13 per cent said he's less of a threat than Mr. Martin. Another 24 per cent said Mr. Harper is a greater threat, while the same percentage didn't know or refused to say."

Finally, someone digs through the whole "do you want an election" spin. Of course no one wants an election. You could ask people four years into a mandate if they want an election and a good percentage will say they don't. That's why 40% of Canadians don't vote! In addition, as Parliament becomes more and more disfunctional by the day, I suspect more and more people will support an election.

Also interesting are the numbers showing that the national unity card isn't exactly the one the Liberals should be playing. This is a little disappointing for me because I've been salivating at the prospect of Jean Lapierre saying the Conservatives are in bed with the Bloc for five straight weeks but c'est la vie. Scare tactics are likely the way for Martin to go but given the PM's reputation for not being very solid on unity ("a million lost jobs", waffling on the Clarity bill, all the asymmetrical federalism goodness) and the fact that the surge in separatist feelings was caused by Adscam, I'd say that's about the worst topic they could scare people on.

-I hope everyone has been paying attention to the man who wants to be the Liberal Party's next leader. I think Adam Radwanski put it best:

And here, you thought Joe Volpe was unremarkable. You know, it's not just anyone
who can
pick a fight with Ezra Levant, and make Ezra look calm and rational by

-Paul Wells thinks Lucienne Robillard (who?) should dispute the latest pro-separation propaganda spewed by the PQ. Personally, I think this would be a great opportunity for either Paul Martin or Stephen Harper to look like a Prime Minister.

-Finally, Tony Blair has done it again. Love him or hate him, you have to admit the guy is a leader, if nothing else.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Pandora's Box

When the Auditor-General's report was publicly tabled, I acted immediately by ordering a fully independent commission of inquiry, under Mr. Justice John Gomery.
-Paul Martin

Any regrets Paul?

Given the eagerness of the media to lead with "Guité details intervention by Martin", it's safe to say Paul Martin is having some regrets over the one time he's acted decisively during his time as Prime Minister. Because it's become abundantly clear that the sponsorship inquiry has turned into an out of control plague of locusts devouring everything in their path. Let's look at what Chuck Guite said:

Of particular concern, Guite noted, was a $65.7-million Tourism Canada
contract, the largest of all ad deals issued by the government.

Guite said he asked Gagliano for "assurance that the volume of business
that V and B had from the government would be maintained.''

"He (Gagliano) said, `I will look after that.' So ... if he spoke to
Mr. Manley, I think he was at Tourism then ... And I think Mr. Martin was at the
Bank (of Canada) at that time.''

Guite said Vickers also handled a lucrative Canada Savings Bonds
contract for the Bank of Canada, an agency then under Martin's control as
finance minister.

Manley's industry portfolio encompassed tourism-related matters.

Guite said Tremblay called back a week later and told him "it will be

Inquiry counsel Bernard Roy then asked Guite what would be done.

"The interfe- I don't want to use that word,'' Guite replied. "The
minister (Gagliano) had spoken to both ministers and the volume of business
would be maintained.''

So...the "smoking gun" is based on something Pierre Tremblay told Chuck Guite that Alfonso Gagliano told him. Now, third hand stories are sketchy at the best of times but considering that the central figure is dead and that Mr. Guite's credibility is barely on life support, it's very difficult to put a lot of stock in this claim. Plus, it contradicts Guite's claims that there was no political direction last year and marks the third different story he has told about the scandal. Further straining Guite's credibility is this well reasoned explanation from John Manley:

But Manley said he never spoke to Gagliano about assurances for any
contracts, including the Vickers and Benson one.

"Clearly Mr. Guite is speculating and I want to state categorically
that I did not have this conversation with Mr. Gagliano,'' Manley said in a
statement released to The Canadian Press.

"Moreover, it is important to note that I was in the process of
creating the Canadian Tourism Commission at the time which would have complete
autonomy in decisions relating to advertising.

"In other words, it would have been impossible to make the commitment
Mr. Gagliano is said to have been seeking.''

Basically, Chuck Guite has gone on unsubstantiated hearsay to smear the reputations of two very prominent politicians. Now, to be clear, some of what Chuck Guite said in other fields is likely true and it's quite damning. But this just illustrates what the inquiry has turned into. Namely, a soap box for people under trial to air their grievances and get even. Benoit Corbeil who will no doubt add more explosive testimony, has pretty much come out and said the only reason he's talking is because Jean Brault inappropriately implicated him and no one in the Liberal Party came to his defense. So now, this week or next, he'll get even too and make extravagant, unverifiable claims. This entire thing has turned into one giant snowball.

That's the problem with an inquiry like this where you can say anything you want without fear of retribution. How much of what Jean Brault is saying is true? Who knows. Let's just splash it all across the front page and worry about the fact that he's on trial for fraud later. Ditto with Chuck Guite and his 17 different stories.

Maybe the Liberals do deserve to be voted out of office. Maybe Paul Martin was involved. Who knows? But it's becoming more and more difficult to believe the stuff coming out of this inquiry with each passing day.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Paul Martin: “Let me be perfectly clear: I am going to get to the bottom of why that chicken crossed the road, come hell or high water!”

Stephen Harper: “I am going to consult with Canadians to see why they think the chicken crossed the road. Only after I have listened to Canadians will I be in a position to judge whether or not this chicken crossed the road.”

Jack Layton: “I’m not here to talk about the chicken. I’m here to talk about making Parliament work. A Kyoto plan, clean air, post-secondary education, these are the issues Canadians care about, not some chicken.”

Gilles Ducceppe: “The chicken crossing the road is a sign dat fe-dee-RAW-lism is broken.”

Scott Brison: “Let Judge Gomery report and then we will know for certain why that chicken crossed the road.”

Belinda Stronach: “It’s about growing the economy…sorry, what was the question again?”

David Herle: “Let’s call an overpriced inquiry into why the chicken crossed the road, paying particular attention to any information that could damage the Liberal brand. Then we can truly differ ourselves from our predecessor.”

Better than Ezra

Ezra Levant, Calgary’s own Ann Coulter, is at it again in today’s Calgary Sun. Now, for those of you who live outside of Calgary, the Calgary Sun is sort of the type of paper Pat Buchanon would shake his head at and scoff “right wing lunatics” towards. The Sun prides itself on insightful editorials on topics such as “the problem with gays” and “Ralph Klein is a socialist”.

I’m only saying this to explain that I’m not including Ezra’s column because it’s dramatically worse than your typical Sun column, rather because it’s quite representative of the Sun and, by consequence, the thinking of many Calgarians. So, here are excerpts from Ezra, with my comments added:

Ontario must do its duty
Its voters can save the Liberals -- and they must not

On the other hand, the Liberal party is in a shambles. Chretien's former staff and ministers fire public broadsides at Paul Martin. Liberal MPs are defecting, like Edmonton's David Kilgour did. The next Liberal leadership campaign is under way, with dauphins like Brian Tobin and John Manley organizing to dump Martin. The party has a multimillion-dollar debt.

First of all, David Kilgour’s defection is not exactly something many Liberals are crying over. Losing sleep over that would be equivalent to the Tories lamenting than Randy White won’t run in the next election. And, believe me, John Manley and Brian Tobin are making a lot less noise on the leadership front than Belinda Stronach or Bernard Lord. Certainly far, far less noise than Paul Martin made at any point from 1990 to 2003. Which leader got a higher percentage at leadership review this year?

There is only one reason Ontarians should not -- must not -- vote for the Liberals. And that is because to vote Liberal is to join in the brazen, public, shameless corruption of Canada's public institutions.

If Harper goes around telling people that the only reason not to vote Liberal is corruption, he's going to be in trouble. The problem facing the Conservatives is that they have not really given Ontarians a reason to vote for them rather than, say, the NDP. The Liberals and NDP are far more in touch with Canadians (well, Canadians in Ontario) on the policy and values issues than the Conservative Party. The Conservatives will be in for a rude awakening if they don't give Canadians a single reason to vote for them other than “Liberals are corrupt”. After all, Canadians remember this country’s last Conservative government.

Martin's conduct over the last 10 days is that of a red-faced schoolboy caught doing something naughty -- begging for time, shifting blame, desperately looking for allies. He's found one in Jack Layton who, for the fee of $4.6-billion in spending, will prop up the Liberals. That Martin would sell off his 10-year reputation as a prudent finance minister for just a few more months in 24 Sussex Drive shows how desperate and amoral he is. Nothing counts to him except maintaining his grip on power. If Adscam crimes weren't enough to make him blush why would perfectly legal overspending do so?

I’m with Ezra on the desperation front but, even with this NDP deal, the government will still be in surplus. And let’s not forget that last election the Conservative platform was far, far, more costly than that of the Liberals. Far more than $4.6 billion more.

A more politically attractive Conservative party couldn't be conceived.

Well, obviously not, or else they’d be over 30% in the polls.

Here's hoping that Ontario will throw Martin out -- and hard. If it doesn't, don't be surprised if Alberta and Quebec throw Ontario out -- or more accurately, try to leave themselves.

This is the ultimate juvenile argument (which will likely resonate with many given the Sun is written at a Grade 4 level): If we lose, we’re leaving. Ezra and the Sun have been complaining about Quebec doing this sort of stuff for years. Now he’s saying “if Alberta doesn’t get what it wants, we’re going to throw a hissy fit and stomp out of the country.”

Look, I’ve been as critical of Paul Martin as many of the Conservative blogs but if the polls show Canadians don’t want Stephen Harper, then there’s obviously a reason for it. Instead of whining over it, the right wing would be far better served trying to figure out why, and doing something to address the problem.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Nomination Watch

First of all, here's a blog that the political geeks out there, myself included, are just going to eat up. It's called Nomination Watch and has all the dirt on candidates and potential candidates from across the country.

I wish I had some hot rumours to share with that site but really, it's Calgary so who really cares? However, I can give you what Nomination Watch refuses to do; the list of victorious local candidates in Election 2005:

Calgary Southwest: Stephen Harper
Calgary West: Rob Anders
Calgary Nose Hill: Dianne Ablonczkjkcztrzky
Calgary Northeast: Art Hanger
Calgary East: Deepak Obhrai
Calgary Southeast: Jason Kenney
Calgary Centre: Lee Richardson
Calgary North-Centre: Jim Prentice

Well, there you have it - your 2005 victorious Calgary MPs. As for the Liberals, it sounds like they're making progress in candidate recruitment. Ted Hanney, the anti-gay marriage cattle rancher, is the only incumbent who has confirmed they'll lose again for the Liberals. It appears that potential candidates have been lined up for the other ridings although, to put it mildly, there won't exactly be many hotly contested nominations. Regardless, the party will be doing everything to save costs and there will be at least one, if not two, shared campaign offices. People seem to have resigned themselves to reality so expect a lot of low budget, no frills campaigns from the Grits in Calgary.

But, like I said, it's all sort of irrelevant in a province where only one seat is up for grabs.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Scare Tactics

What's the best way to scare NDP voters back to the Liberal camp?

This. Or this.

Smart play, Jack.