Friday, June 30, 2006

Gone Shopping

I don't know about you, but I'm hitting the stores today to save my 1%!!!

With Stampede around the corner, I need a new outfit and the prospect of saving 1.64$ on it is too much to pass up!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Deux Nations

Lost last week in the Stephen Harper's "is Quebec a nation" dance, was Liberal leadership front runner Michael Ignatieff's take on the question:

"Quebec is a nation, not just a nation, but a civic nation." - Michael Ignatieff

To me, this is farther than any prominent federal Liberal has gone in the past. In Ignatieff's defense, there is a slim chance he's referring to the love of the Honda Civic the quebecois all share. However I have doubts that this is the case.

On the entire nation debate, if you want to call the Quebecois people a nation, that doesn't seem any different than calling the First Nations or Acadians a nation. However, when you call the province of Quebec a nation, that's going a step further than I'm comfortable with. Calling them a civic nation seems to be taking it beyond even that. That implies citizenship. To me, we're into sovereignty association there, or an EU type set-up.

Not that this should be surprising, given Ignatieff's Quebec stance on other key issues. In his pre-launch vision speech, he talked about addressing the fiscal imbalance (which even Harper is backing down from) and served up this gem:

The federal government does not possess a monopoly in foreign affairs but it is appropriate for it to coordinate Canada's external presence to work together with provinces to ensure that Canada speaks with one voice, even if the voice that speaks for Canada comes from a province.

Browsing through Ignatieff's speeches, you can also find countless references to decentralization and of staying out of provincial jurisdictions.

We already know that Ignatieff's foreign affairs vision is nearly identical to Harper's (for better or worse) and, from my perspective, it seems to me that his vision of Canadian federalism is nearly identical to Harper's (and that may be unfair to Harper since I'm sure he wouldn't call Quebec a civic nation). Maybe this will win votes in Quebec, maybe it will appeal to some Liberals, and maybe it will steal votes from the Tories - I don't know. But, for me, I find Ignatieff's vision of Quebec and Canada very upsetting.

UPDATE: Andrew Coyne is all over this and seems to have found an article with a lot more context (including musings about constitutional recognition of Quebec's nationhood which Ignatieff admits would be "somewhat problematic". You think?). As usual, he makes his point a lot better than me too. Go read him.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Tories may have taken $2M in illicit donations
Updated Wed. Jun. 28 2006
6:13 PM ET
Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- The Conservative party may have illegally accepted millions in unreported donations last year because it didn't understand political financing laws.

That's the startling conclusion drawn from testimony given to a Senate committee by the Harper administration's point man on cleaning up government.

Treasury Board President John Baird has told the committee that his party did not consider fees paid to attend its March 2005 policy convention to be political contributions.

But the Elections Act stipulates that convention fees do constitute a donation.

The Tories' 2005 convention was attended by about 2,900 party members, who paid a regular fee of $600 each, although discounts were available for some.

That means the party stood to rake in as much as $1.7 million, all or some of which should have been reported to Elections Canada as donations.

I'm willing to bet this would have gotten more than minor story status had it been the Liberals involved in it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


In wake of the PQ being implicated in their own little Adscam, some shocking poll numbers have come out of Quebec:

Lib 37
PQ 33
ADQ 17

Looks like Andre Boisclair has his work cut out for him.

UPDATE: Well, that was fun while it lasted. Via CROP:

PQ: 35
Lib: 32

The Race for Stornoway: Hedy Fry

-Various Arrested Development characters

Age: 64

Background: Hedy was born in Trinidad & Tobago. However, I have been unable to confirm anywhere whether or not she is a Trinidadian or a Tobagan. Like Carolyn Bennett, she has a medical background.

Political History: As she is so fond of reminding everyone, Hedy defeated Prime Minister Kim Campbell in 1993, in Vancouver Centre. Of course, given the campaign Kim Campbell ran that year, this was really more a case of her finding the corpse than actually slaying the giant. In 1996, Hedy was named Secretary of State for multiculturalism and the status of women. Last election, she prevented Svend Rovbinson from stealing her seat. And, yeah, there was the cross burning incident.

Not at all interesting or relevant fact which I include only because I can’t think of anything else to write about Hedy Fry: Hedy shares a birthday with Geri Halliwell.

Rejected Campaign Slogan: “Catch Fire With Hedy Fry!”

Rejected Campaign Launch Location: Prince George

Pros: Female, visible minority, from the West. Over a decade of elected experience as a Liberal.

Cons: She certainly isn't a french Fry, to put it mildly. Is rarely taken seriously. Oldest candidate in the field.

My Take: I do think the cross burning incident got blown a bit out of proportion, but Hedy does have a reputation for making controversial and ill-advised comments. It’s a shame too, since having a strong visible minority female from Western Canada in this race would be a big plus for the Liberal Party.

Chances: Stranger things have happened. None come to mind right now, but I'm sure in the history of mankind, there may be an instance of a bigger upset win than this one.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday News Round-Up

1) Trouble on the Rock

2) Meanwhile, the money is flowing in Alberta. It will be interesting to see the PC leadership candidates all come out with detailed plans about what they intend to do with the embarrassingly large surplus. Ha ha ha!

3) That said, under Dalton McGuinty's latest plan, more money would be transferred to Alberta, and all the provinces, as part of a GST transfer. Uh-huh. Here's an idea: raise the provincial sales tax to make up for the GST cut (as pointed out by Paul Wells and...everybody else in Canada).

4) I'm glad Gilles Duceppe and Andre Boisclair are raising the important issues which effect each and every Quebecer... Harper may have sold out on the fiscal imbalance thing, but at least he's refusing to get sucked into the whole "is Quebec a nation" debate.

5) The book Ralph Klein threw at a page is up on e-bay. Place your bids!

6) The Hill Times has an article on the difficulty in signing up members for the Liberal leadership race. From personal experience, I'm fairly sure the numbers will be quite bellow what they were in 2003.

7) Politics did a series of interviews with the Liberal leadership candidates last week (although I don't think Dion made an appearance):

Monday: Dryden, Fry
Tuesday: Volpe, Findlay, Bennett
Wednesday: Kennedy, Ignatieff, Bob (interesting question on missile defense was asked...more on that later...)
Thursday: Brison, Bevilacqua

Also, Mike Duffy's interview with Stephen Harper is online.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Draft Orchard

I don't want people to think that I'm obsessed with David Orchard or anything but:
a) there's a lot of talk about the guy in Alberta
b) his continued presence in the Liberal Party kind of bugs me

Anyways, I was at the "Three Amigos" BBQ, listening to the music stylings of Misters Chase, Swann and Taylor on Saturday and this lady who is apparently friends with David Orchard was giving the hard sales pitch to everyone there to join the federal Liberals and support David. I feigned interest ("stupid Yanks", "bloody Peter MacKay"...) and chatted with her a bit while she gave me the anti-American, anti-NAFTA sales pitch. She also gave me the paper above with a phone number to call, so it appears Mr. Orchard is still gauging support. When I called the number, I got a voice message about the "Orchard for Canada" campaign.

I still suspect Orchard will support another candidate in this race (probably Dion or Rae), but it appears he's still considering a leadership bid at this point in time.

Friday, June 23, 2006

At Issue

The National's At Issue panel did their "end of school" recap last night, looking back at the highs and lows of the last parliamentary session. Mansbridge asked the pundits a series of questions and, since bloggers see themselves as pundits, I figure I'll play along. Besides, it's either this or another post on Senate reform which I'm fairly sure no one really wants to read.

Best Political Play
It's gotta be the Accountability Act. Harper won an election on Liberal corruption and this was the first of his five priorities. By getting it passed, he's shown he's a doer (no, not the Premier) and shown he's for clean government. Plus, the problems it may cause the Liberals make this a very smart political play, especially since the media or public are unlikely to be very sympathetic to the Grits.

Worst Political Play
For Harper, it's obviously the Emerson/Fortier debacle. I haven't seen any pay-off from either of these moves yet and they're easily the most memorable events of the last session. The entire Youth for Volpe fiasco deserves mention here, as does Scott Brison's over-active Blackberry.

Defining Moment
Probably the Afghanistan vote. This issue may yet take over the Liberal leadership race and it has certainly defined Harper on foreign affairs. It's hard to get overly emotional about a 1% GST cut but an issue like this brings out passion on both sides which means it will be in the news and on people's minds for a while.

Underrated Politician
Stephen Harper is the obvious choice here and it's hard to argue with that selection. I also tend to think that since the media is so down on the entire Liberal leadership field, whichever one of the 11 emerges on top is going to surprise people in a good way.

Overrated Politician
Andrew Coyne's pick of Gilles Duceppe is a good one, as was Rob Russo's pick of Peter MacKay. Personally, I've made my opinion on this topic fairly obvious over the past few months. The Jim Dinning bubble is going to burst and it's going to be beautiful when it does.

Who would win the Liberal Leadership Race if it were held today?
The last ballot would come down to Ignatieff against one of Kennedy, Dion, or Rae. I have no freaking clue which of the four would win.

Future Newsmaker
Chantal Hebert's pick for Andre Boisclair seems about right to me. There's going to be an election in Quebec within the next 16 months and the implications are going to be massive. Boisclair is looking more and more like a dud with every passing day but may still become Premier par forfait.

When is the next election and how does Stephen Harper orchestrate it?
It won't be in this fall. The common consensus is that it will be next spring, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say this government lasts longer than people think it will. Fall 2007 at the earliest and maybe even Spring 2008.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rona Lives

A lot of people are saying the Liberals lacked guts with their abstention on the NDP motion calling for Rona Ambrose to resign.

Personally, I find a motion asking for a Cabinet Minister to resign because of five months of inaction and dithering pretty asinine. If any Cabinet Minister who was perceived as being incompetent was forced to resign, we'd have so many Cabinet shuffles that even Myron Thompson would find his way into the Privy Council before long. And if any Environment Minister who didn't force Canada to live up to its Kyoto commitments resigned, the Liberals would have lost quite a few of them as well.

The entire concept of passing a motion like this is, quite frankly, a waste of parliamentarians' time and I think John Godfrey and the Liberals made the right call by abstaining.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Merry Chrismas!



Over a third of the Ontario Liberal caucus has come out to publicly support Gerard Kennedy in the federal leadership race, something which will no doubt bode well for his Ontario campaign numbers given the organizational strength of the Ontario Liberal Party. Twenty four MPPs have put their names forward and I believe there may still be one or two more yet to be announced. If nothing else, it'll pad his wikipedia endorsement page a bit. Another name which was missed last week my many is long time Liberal MP Charles Caccia who spoke in favour of Gerard's environmental platform last week.

In other endorsement news, David Orchard has been signing up his kool aid drinkers to Liberal memberships across rural Alberta. A few of those he's signed up say they suspect he'll be endorsing Stephane Dion shortly. If true, this would certainly land Dion a few extra delegates, although for a lot of Liberals the David Orchard endorsement is kind of like the Ralph Klein endorsement: it's more hassle than it's worth. Given this track record, it's pretty obvious Orchard will come with a list of demands for whichever candidate lands him.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lack of Accountability

I've spoken quite highly of the accountability act in the past, both during the election and since then. I think there are a lot of good policies in it, even if a lot of the Act needs tinkering (200 amendments and counting...) and the lobbyist aspects of it will create some major problems. Plus, from a political perspective, it's absolutely brilliant since voting against something called the "Accountability Act" is like voting against the "I love Canada Act".

However, one aspect of the Act is really starting to irk me. The Tories (and NDP) are insistent on bringing the Act into law as soon as possible and on including convention delegate fees in the limit. Coincidently enough, the regular delegate fees for the Liberal leadership convention are 995$ which is going to create several huge problems. Since these fees don't include hotel or meals, my understanding of the law is that the entire fee minus however much the Liberal handbag (which I always carry around downtown Calgary) costs would count as a donation. It's also my understanding that the Liberal Party won't be making any money off this convention which tells me that someone on the organizing committee got ripped off royally. But that's besides the point.

The real point is that this law is going to play havoc with the Liberal Leadership race and some doom and gloom scenarios would prevent delegates from even attending the convention if people who are already maxed out for the year aren't allowed to spend the delegate fees. These donations were made and these rules were set under the old system and it just boggles my mind that the rules could be changed mid-course.

I hate to accuse politicians of playing politics because, well, that's what they're supposed to do. But this is a crass partisan maneuver (and, as a Liberal, I know a crass partisan maneuver when I see one). When Chretien's fundraising laws came into effect January 1st, 2004, the Conservative leadership race was exempt because it had been called in December of 2003, even though the convention wasn't held until March. With that in mind, I don't think it would be at all unreasonable to exempt the current Liberal race or even to wait until January 1st to bring the Accountability Act into law.

There obviously isn't a lot of sympathy for the Liberals these days but Harper and Layton's tag team effort on this is just wrong. Maybe even more so from Layton who often likes to paint himself as a deity who is always above "playing politics".

Monday, June 19, 2006

Official Game 7 Thread

Last Stanley Cup played under a Conservative government: 1993
Last Canadian team to win Stanley Cup: 1993 Montreal Canadiens

Liberals in power: October 1993 to January 2006
Canadian teams to win Stanley Cup during this time period: 0

With this in mind, let's hear predictions for tonight's game...

Too Slow

I've got to give Warren full marks for beating me to the punch on this one.

There are some promises politicians make and certain things politicians say that you know they just won't be able to live by. And Bob Rae's promise that he would never speak an ill word against his opponents was one of those things. The second he said that, I thought to myself "I am so posting on this as soon as starts slinging mud". I'm just disappointed in myself that I was asleep at the switch.

So, taking a cue from Bob, I'm hereby announcing that I will not say a negative thing about Bob Rae for the duration of the leadership campaign. I should, however, quantify that by saying that there will be a few special days this year where I may break this promise (now if I can just find a catchy word for these days...hmm..."Bob days"

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Round 2

Cross-Posted to Gerard's OC

There were quite a few times I cringed watching today's debate...mainly because the performance by the organizing committee was downright embarrassing. By the end of the debate, every single person in the room was fanning themselves. There were constant microphone glitches in the opening statements. The lights kept fading in and out during Ken's opening speech (it's hard enough to stay away during Dryden's speeches, even in a fully lit room, so they were really just tempting people...). At one point a lady went to the microphone to lambast the candidates for not speaking enough French (it was really weird).

The debate itself, was once again rather dry. You don't need fireworks for a fascinating debate but the questions really didn't open the door for much disagreement, or specific policies. The best question of the day dealt with federal/provincial relations but it was wasted on a Bevilacqua/Fry solo debate. Here are some random thoughts:

1. I thought Dion's "you haven't proposed any changes" to Kennedy in their one-on-one was a little unfair, especially since Gerard wasn't given any time to respond to it. Kennedy came out with an extremely detailed environmental platform yesterday. He's also released a detailed immigration platform which has been praised by experts. I haven't seen any of the other candidates, Dion included, come out with more policy than this.

2. I will give Dion props for actually putting the crazy heckler in her place. He told her that the rules were to answer English questions in English and French questions in French, so that's what he'd do.

3. It's hard to say anything good about Volpe, except that he makes the debate interesting.

4. While Volpe was the most critical of Iggy on Afghanistan during the debate, Rae was the most critical of him afterwards, making repeated references to Ignatieff's Iraq position:

I think you've got to take his statements over time. He supported the war in Iraq. He described the war in Iraq as an extension of the duty to protect and he said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So neither of those I think pass muster.

And I think that's the context in which we have to face a lot of the debate and arguments since that time.

5. While Brison was on the receiving end of a great line by Martha Hall Findlay last week, he showed himself to be quick on his feet this week, getting a good jab in at Bob Rae on the Afghanistan issue. After Rae told a story about young girls in Sri Lanka, Brison reference the million girls now going to school in Afghanistan.

6. Still on Afghanistan, the Globe & Mail front page carried the "Ignatieff Lambasts Opponents" headline. In the article, Ignatieff tried to compare Afghanistan to the Rwanda genocides which is a really bad analogy and something an expert of foreign affairs should know better than to do. Rwanda was a genocide. Afghanistan isn't and never was. The proper analogy would be to compare Rwanda to the Darfur (where our troops can't go, because they're tied up in Afghanistan).

7. The editors really didn't do Dion any favours. When he was answering his first question, they cut to the crowd and showed a man who was asleep. Ouch.

8. I'm a little upset Ken Dryden didn't mention the Summit Series for the international moment which affected him the most.

9. Ignatieff appears to have backed down on the carbon tax issue, dodging the question when it came up. Nearly every candidate except Ignatieff and Dryden did however categorically say they opposed a carbon tax. Putting aside whether or not it's good policy, I'll just say this: If a Liberal leader runs on the carbon tax during the next election, I'd advise everyone to invest heavily in Kevlar. Because Liberal campaigns in Alberta are going to have buy a ton of bullet proof vests for their door knockers.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

One on One with Maurizio Bevilacqua

I got a chance to see the Bevilacqua event after the ALP convention on Sunday. The crowd wasn’t huge and was composed of mostly long time provincial Liberals.

This was the first time I’d actually heard Bevilacqua speak for any lengthy sort of time in public and I must say I was really impressed. Maurizio has a very down to earth speaking style – he’s not trying to sell you a used car and he’s not lecturing a grad class on political theory. He also got quite a few funny one liners off and responded to a question on his French with “je parle un français impeccable avec un accent parisien”.

Maurizio talked a lot about rebuilding the party from the grass roots, and provided several specifics for how to do it. He focused on communication with the grass roots, something the Tories do a lot better than the Liberals and something Maurizio has been doing for a long time (with his “how I wiped out the debt” updates). He also put forward the idea of “Renaissance Weekends” where Liberals across the country could propose and debate policy. Needless to say, I loved it.

Also of interest were the darts directed towards Michael Ignatieff by Bevilacqua. He said that to lead Canada you need to have lived through the referendum, the constitutional battles, and the fight against the deficit – you need to have lived in this country to lead it. He also talked about the need for a leader with experience, with roots in the Liberal Party, and someone who is in it for the long run, win or lose. I think it’s a safe bet where Maurizio won’t be going on the final ballot should be fail to make it that far.

You’re a career politician who was first elected as an MP at a very young age. Did you have a political role model, or someone who you tried to model yourself after as an MP?

My inspiration is drawn from ordinary people who do extraordinary things for the country. So many Canadians get up in the morning, put in an honest day’s work, raise their family, and try to live the best they can. These people are the people in hockey arenas and soccer pitches, you find them all over.

Political life is a vocation for me, not a job or a career, so I’m drawn to individual Canadians who give themselves and achieve special things for their communities. If you pause for a second and think of what Canada would be like without these individuals, you come to the realization that it would be a lesser country.

Many of the candidates in this race have limited political experience and limited time in the Liberal Party. But can you really say that your experience as a Liberal MP would make you a better leader or Prime Minister?

First of all, we’re electing a leader of the Liberal Party and I’m a product of the Liberal Party. I started out as the kid stuffing envelopes, putting up signs, (ed note: donating 5,400$ to my local candidate), then eventually managing campaigns, and then ran myself and served 18 years in Parliament and in Cabinet. These are valuable skills which are useful to have for an individual who hopes to lead a party, particularly in a phase where you’re rebuilding the party.

Above and beyond that, there’s expertise I’ve developed in social policy and economic policy during my years as Chair of the Finance committee where Paul Martin accepted the vast majority of my recommendations for his budget. This gives you a sense of the breath of experience an individual brings to the job.

Being leader of a party, you have to understand the party. You have to appreciate what people at the grass roots of the party are doing. You have to appreciate what’s required to rebuild the party. The more of those aspects of the party the leader has experience with, in my case, as an opposition member and a government member, the better the party will be in the long run.

All the candidates have talked about coming together after the leadership race as a unified party. But you yourself have been front and centre in the Chretien-Martin feuds so is it possible for the party to truly rally behind you?

I think people will rally behind a person who has made party unity a hallmark of his career. I’ve always fought for party unity. As a matter of fact, during the Chretien-Martin years, I tried to do that exactly and build bridges between what had developed.

This should illustrate to Liberals that even at a personal cost, I’ve always put the party ahead.

Obviously it’s more fun to run a leadership race in government than in opposition. What do you think the Liberal Party could have done differently over the past few years to have prevented the January 23rd loss?

There’s no question that the lack of vision in the party was the major reason for our defeat. And, having said that, we still got over 100 seats.

I plan to bring this party from opposition to competition with Stephen Harper very quickly. I’m not prepared to fall into his traps. For example, the vote on Afghanistan was a trap that Stephen Harper made out for us. Experience I had in opposition and government made me take the decision I did.

Do you think it would have been better for the Liberal Party as whole to oppose the motion or was a free vote the proper course of action?.

In retrospect, the only thing I know for sure is that Stephen Harper tried to divide our party.

As an immigrant to Canada yourself, what changes would you propose to Canada’s immigration system?

First of all, I don’t need to read a book on the immigrant experience, I’ve lived it. I grew up in the basement of a home and went through the struggles most immigrants go through. One of the concerns I have is that it’s taking immigrants much longer to achieve the same standard of living as other Canadians than it did in the past. That’s of concern to me. It shows that the integration of immigrants into Canadian society needs the attention of our leaders. The fact that I am an immigrant puts me in a better position to understand that reality.

There always needs to be a balance between the humanitarian side, family reunification and recruiting skilled labour from other countries. I would facilitate the retention of individuals who come to this country. For example, students who come to Canada and study here shouldn’t need to wait for landed immigrant status. Otherwise, you’re losing trained and educated individuals; in a country like ours that’s aging, it’s very wise to facilitate the transition from student to citizen.

According to your wikipedia bio, you have the record for largest margin of victory ever for an MP in Canada. How does being the underdog in this leadership race compare to the easy victories you’ve had in your home riding in the past?

I’m thoroughly enjoying the leadership campaign. I’ve traveled the country extensively throughout my political career so it gives me a chance to meet up with people I’ve kept in contact with over the years.

My riding is a microcosm of the country. You have to use the same strategy to win delegates that you try to use to win elections; it’s just that the apparatus is a lot more elaborate.

I’m going into this campaign with a great deal of confidence. Confidence that Canadians are looking for generational change, looking for a person with experience, and looking for a person with unquestionable loyalty to the Liberal Party of Canada. And when you look at those three things, you can put a check mark beside each one. I’ve also got a track record as an individual who has worked for the party, has stood for party unity, and has produced good work for the Liberal Party. I think what Liberals will find very attractive about me is that nothing was ever given to me, I’ve needed to earn every thing throughout my life.

I haven’t had a chance to watch the debate from yesterday yet, but what are your initial thoughts on the format and how you performed?

When you’re dealing with 11 candidates, it’s not the easiest…it’s a real challenge (laughs). I think people got a sense of everyone’s speaking styles, their ideas, and how quick they are on their feet. I was very happy with my performance.

I hear from some people that you go into a heated exchange with Joe Volpe and Gerard Kennedy.

That was an interesting exchange. I think that the one-on-ones weren’t as good as with three people. You get a lot more multi-layered and people from different perspectives with three people.

OK. Finally, I’ll ask you for a few of your favourites. What’s your favourite movie?

There are many. When you think about movies that have an impact on you in different ways. Remember that movie Erin Brokovich? That was good movie. Pay it forward was a very good movie.

Of course, my favourite one when I was a young kid was Rocky. At the end of the day, there are different movies that deal with different aspects of your being. Roberto Benini in Life is Beautiful speaks to certain values.

Favourite book?

There again, there are different ones that speak to you in different ways. For obvious reasons, I tend to read books which speak to the issues and policy – right now, I’m reading a book called “The Mystery of Capital” by Hernando De Soto. I read a lot of Italian literature as well.

Favourite sport?

Soccer. I played in the National Soccer League. So soccer is definitely a sport I’ve enjoyed since I was a child. Cycling is also one I enjoyed. For my 15th anniversary as an MP we did a cycling race in my riding and raise $100,000 dollars for local Charity. Some friends of mine wanted to do a dinner. I said “you know, everyone does a dinner, let’s do something different.” So I trained and we did 113 kilometers. We did it with Steve Bauer, who was the Canadian who held the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and Lisa Bentley, who is a world triathlete champion, and Rick Vaive who was the former captain of the Toronto Maple Leads.

We gave the proceeds to hospitals and women’s shelters and I thought that was a better way to do a 15th anniversary. It speaks to community; people like the fact that I didn’t do a dinner where people just get up and say “oh, he’s so great”, and there’s no sacrifice.

I invite everyone to check out TDH Strategies for his interview with Bevilacqua as well. Maurizio’s a great guy with a lot of the qualities I think this party could use at a time when we need to rebuild. I’d certainly rank him in my top 3 or 4 on the preferential ballot at this point.

Fuddle Duddle

Cross-Posted to Gerard's OC

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Poilievre,

I regret to inform you that your son has been repeatedly misbehaving this semester. Over the past few weeks, Pierre has developed the habit of using language unbecoming of a student, resorting to curse words and vile arm gestures when he doesn't get his way. While we understand that children will be children, Pierre's actions have gone above and beyond the normal high-jinx that one would expect from an eight year old boy eager for the summer vacation to arrive.

To make matters worse, Pierre has been a bad influence on the other students, encouraging his friend Jacques to join him in making his arm gestures. When attempts are made to punish him, he demonstrates a complete lack of respect for authority, doing a "pixie dance".

We have experience dealing with trouble makers at our school but if these problems persist, we may be force to expel your son. Please emphasize to him that it is important for Pierre to act his age while at our school - he is in second grade now, after all.


Principle Milliken
Dean of Hill Elementary School

Fueling the Debate

I, for one, think it's great to see a bit of policy debate in the Liberal leadership race on something other than Afghanistan. Every candidate out there has stated they're for the environment so, if nothing else, the carbon tax debate should show us some differences in their platforms.

Both Dion and Kennedy say they disagree with Ignatieff's carbon tax musings in today's Globe.

"I've always been against it. I will have other ways to get there."

[Dion] said he does not understand Mr. Ignatieff's comments. After speculating on imposing a carbon tax, Mr. Ignatieff added he would not want to hit any part of the country harder than another.

"The first sentence he said is we need to protect Alberta. And in the second sentence he said carbon tax," Mr. Dion said in an interview.

Another leadership contender, former Ontario education minister Gerard Kennedy, said there are better ways to get the resource sector to reduce pollution, including incentives, possibly some trading of emissions credits as part of a transition to a cleaner industry, and incentives to encourage
consumers to choose newer, greener technologies.

"I think a carbon tax is the clumsiest of the options that we've got so far, and therefore it's not part of my plan," Mr. Kennedy said. And he raised concerns that a carbon tax will divide Canada along regional lines.

"I lived in Alberta when the national energy plan came in, and fairly or not, people associated that with an undermining of the energy sector.

UPDATE: Kennedy is in the Toronto Star as well.

OTTAWA — Canada should impose a tax on gas-guzzling SUVs and cut the GST on hybrid vehicles to help meet its Kyoto commitments, says Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy.

Kennedy said Thursday that those two measures would yield a ``much more practical" reduction in greenhouse gas emissions than the carbon tax floated by leadership frontrunner Michael Ignatieff.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dinning is Served

Jim Dinning has officially launched his campaign today, with a massive show of force, of 27 MLA endorsements. These MLAs have no doubt examined the candidates, their policies, and their vision for Alberta, reaching the only logical conclusion possible: supporting Jim Dinning is the only way they can ever hope to get into Cabinet.

Cindy Ady, Calgary-Shaw
Moe Amery, Calgary-East
Neil Brown, Calgary-Nose Hill
Hon. Mike Cardinal, Athabasca-Redwater
Hon. Harvey Cenaiko, Calgary-Buffalo
Hon. Dave Coutts, Livingstone-Macleod
Hon. Heather Forsyth, Calgary-Fish Creek
Hon. Yvonne Fritz, Calgary-Cross
Hon. Gord Graydon, Grande Prairie-Wapiti
Hon. Denis Herard, Calgary-Egmont
Mary Ann Jablonski, Red Deer-North
Art Johnston, Calgary-Hays
Ron Liepert, Calgary-West
Thomas Lukaszuk, Edmonton-Castle Downs
Richard Magnus, Calgary-North Hil
lHon. Gary Mar, Calgary-Mackay
Richard Marz, Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills
Hon. Barry McFarland, Little Bow
Len Mitzel, Cypress-Medicine Hat
Frank Oberle, Peace River
Ray Prins, Lacombe-Ponoka
Hon. Rob Renner, Medicine Hat
Dave Rodney, Calgary-Lougheed
George Rogers, Leduc-Beaumont-Devon
Shiraz Shariff, Calgary-McCall
Len Webber, Calgary-Foothills
Hon. Gene Zwozdesky, Edmonton-Mill Creek


SES has the provincial Liberals up by 8 points in Ontario:

Lib - 43%
PC - 35%
NDP - 17%

On a similar note, the Toronto Star is talking about the role the nuclear power debate may play in the next election. While it may have cost Arnie Vinnick an election, I tend to think coming out strongly against nuclear power would be a mistake for either McGuinty or Tory. It's cheaper (albeit, with big start up costs), cleaner, and safer than almost every alternative energy source. The only drawback I see is that it'd lead to a drop in Canada's valuable carbon dioxide which I like to call life.

UPDATE: The Toronto Sun has the Tories up 37-35.

An Inconvenient Ad

There are some pretty funny TV spots up at the Competitive Enterprise Institute about the wonders of Carbon Dioxide. The gist of the ads is that since we need CO2 to live, the CO2 witch hunt is unfair to little girls who like the blow dandelions. Like I said, funny stuff.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Thousands and Thousands Served

Rodney MacDonald wins a minority government in Nova Scotia, despite losing seats. Libs drop, but aren't decimated, while Darrel Dexter and the NDP finish with a strong opposition.

PC 23
NDP 20
Lib 9

En français, s'il vous plait

cross-posted to Gerard's OC

It's not a big name, but hopefully this will help dispel some of the "won't play in Quebec" and "has weak French" talk:

13, 2006

TORONTO - It is with great pleasure that I officially announce today my support for the candidacy of Mr. Gerard Kennedy for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Over the past years, we have had the opportunity to work together to improve the French language education system in Ontario, both at the policy and financing levels. We put in place a new Policy on French Language Development to strengthen French-language education in the province, thereby giving young people fuller access to French language and culture, allowing them to realize their full potential at school and in society and helping to enhance the vitality of the Franco-Ontarian community.

The improvement in the results of Francophone students in reading, writing and math is tangible proof of Mr. Kennedy's commitment to Franco-Ontarian youth.

Gerard Kennedy is a great defender of the rights of minorities. He has an extraordinary capacity to rally people around a cause and to focus everyone's energies on the goal of improving service to citizens.

I am certain that Mr. Kennedy will continue his efforts to protect and promote French language and culture in Canada. His visionary qualities and personal courage have guided him in his decisions, for the well-being of all Ontarians. He is an exceptional leader who is strongly committed to improving
people's quality of life. That is why I am backing Mr. Kennedy for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hot Air

Paul Wells is all over Ignatieff's musings on the carbon tax today. Truth be told, I completely missed Ignatieff sending up this flare during the debate so if anyone has a transcript of the exact quote, I wouldn't mind looking it over.

On the issue itself, I kind of like the idea of a carbon tax. Most of the Scandinavian countries have them and pollution taxes are one of the best deterrents to cut back on pollution. That said, I tend to think a tax like this would be extremely unpopular, especially in Alberta. Just a hunch. On the same vein, I wouldn't mind seeing an 18 cent tax of gasoline but, as John Crosbie has shown us, that might not make for a very popular policy.

It will be very interesting to see how this story develops over the next few days, now that the Tories have latched onto it as an issue...

UPDATE: The Herald dives into the issue this morning, with quotes from three of the leadership contenders.


A carbon tax would disproportionately hurt the Alberta and Saskatchewan economies, Brison said. But a more broadly based tax, perhaps applied to hydro and other forms of energy as well, wouldn't increase the overall tax burden on Canadians, he said.

Brison said investment tax credits could foster research into clean energy and its development and commercialization. Tax breaks could also be given for environmentally friendly purchases, such as hybrid vehicles.


Ignatieff told the Herald he'd never propose levies that increase the overall tax burden on any industry or pit one region of Canada against another. Rather, the system might be shifted toward "taxing polluting behaviour and rewarding environmental behaviour," he said.

"Energy policy and environment policy are national unity issues," said the Toronto MP and former Harvard University professor. "You can't be discriminatory against a province. You can't be discriminatory against an industry."

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper seized on Ignatieff's weekend comments, suggesting during question period the leadership hopeful was referring to some form of "new National Energy Program."


Kennedy told the Herald editorial board he wants to see a blended environmental and energy policy, but warned it could cause "some pain" for individual consumers.

The government should reaffirm its targets under Kyoto or any future climate change treaties, said the former Ontario cabinet minister.

"The government's role is to put its foot down," Kennedy said. "The government's role is not to roll over and create confusion the way the Harper government has."

However, Kennedy said he'd rather promote new environmental strategies and technologies than impose a "crude" carbon tax.
"I would worry that anyone would see a carbon tax as just another National Energy (Program)
kind of approach."

Gerard's OC: Marissa Free

The Kennedy website launched a group blog over the weekend. For the duration of the campaign I'll be joined by Vincent, Kyle, Dan, and (shortly) Thomas. There will also be posts by campaign volunteers and workers, MPs, and Gerard himself. So bookmark the page and add your comments.

You can read my first post here and my recap of the Saturday debate here. You'll need to follow the link to get the entire recap, but the Reader's Digest version of it is that Kennedy, Dryden, Dion, and Findlay all came across looking quite good while Ignatieff and Brison were really weak on the Afghanistan question.

Throwing The Book At Him

This is hilarious and might wipe out the entire ALP debt at once:

Edmonton -- An infamous piece of Alberta's political history is being put on the auction block.
The Alberta Liberal Party has announced plans to sell on eBay the copy of their health-policy booklet that Progressive Conservative Premier Ralph Klein hurled at a 17-year-old legislative page earlier this year.

The 63-year-old Premier later apologized for the outburst, which garnered national attention

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Alberta Grits

I had the pleasure of attending the Alberta Liberal Party's (the provincial Liberals) policy convention in Edmonton this weekend. Friday night, all eyes were on Dalton McGuinty who spoke about his experiences bringing the Ontario Liberals from opposition to government. It was good of him to take the time to speak to Alberta Liberals and he was really well received. Friday also featured a hospitality suite hosted by Rick Miller and the MLAs.

Saturday and Sunday, the focus was on policy, as around 50 resolutions were voted on. Most of the resolutions were vague enough to leave the platform committee some leeway (ie. more money for post-sec and infrastructure) and proposals for things like increased Auditor General powers and a Citizen's Assembly are long overdue. At the same time, the perils of grass roots democracy were on display when a resolution calling for all resource revenues to be put in a trust fund passed; the end result would be 7 billion dollars in new taxes or cut services. For a recap of the Saturday, you can also check out Daveberta who I believe was the proud winner of an engraved flask as Young Liberal of the Year.

The general mood was certainly one of optimism, with everyone expecting a spring election (presumably Paul Martin Jim Dinning will be the next Tory leader, although a lot of people feel someone like Ed Stelmach might surprise). The financial books seem to be finally in order, most ridings are finding candidates, and the party has it's first competent leader in a long time. And when it comes to communications and organization, the provincial Liberals are still miles ahead of the federal Liberals in Alberta. What the party does need to do is stop trying to find the perfect policies that will make Alberta a better place and go with some populist policies that will get votes. That's how Harper waltzed to 24 Sussex and there's certainly the potential to pick up a few seats if they roll out some clever vote grabbing ideas.

Friday, June 09, 2006

1 on 1 w/ Scott Brison

I got a chance to do a phone interview with Scott Brison last weekend. Given that Scott was driving through rural Nova Scotia helping the provincial Liberals on the campaign trail, there was a lot of noise on his cell and, because of that, I don’t have a complete transcript of the call. Instead, I’ll post a rough recap of the conversation below.

In other news, I’ll be at the Alberta Liberal Party convention up in Edmonton for the entire weekend so expect light posting. But come Monday, I’ll have a full recap of the weekend, buzz from the provincial political scene, and recaps of any stabbings/bonfires I’m involved in during Whyte Avenue Oilers parties.

CG: I’ve been asking all the candidates variations on the “Greatest Canadian” question. So, as the only Maritimer in the race, I was wondering who you felt was the greatest Nova Scotian? In other words, which Nova Scotian has given the most to Canada?

Scott was the quickest of all the candidates to answer this question and jumped in right away with Joseph Howe. (It’s an interesting choice given that Howe wasn’t big on the idea of confederation). Brison was really impressed with Howe's fight for freedom of the press in Canada and quickly segued this into a critique of Harper’s feud with the media. There are very few politicians in any party who can smoothly transition from any seemingly random question to an attack on Harper as well as Scott can (and I mean that as a compliment):

“Scott, what do you think of Finola Hackett nearly winning the spelling bee last week?”
“Great question! I noticed that she stumbled “weltschmerz” which is defined as a feeling of pessimism. Which isn’t too surprising, because Stephen Harper has given a new definition to the word pessimism due to his uninspiring leadership on many files.”

CG: The hot topic on the blogs these days is about children donating to Joe Volpe’s leadership campaign. Does your campaign have a policy on accepting donations from children?

He gave Joe the mandatory defense, saying that Volpe may not have known about the donations and that he acted responsibly by returning them.

He then went on to explain that, obviously enough, a 20$ donation from a teenager isn’t a problem since you want youth involved in politics and many of them are. He felt the real issue with the brou-ha-ha over the Volpe donations wasn’t so much children donating, but rather that it might be perceived as corporate donations from drug companies done in a round a bout way.

CG: As an openly gay MP, you’d certainly be the focus of a lot of international media attention if you were running to be Prime Minister. Would you welcome this scrutiny as a chance to advance gay rights around the world, or would you prefer it not be an issue at all?

Scott jumped into his standard line about winning a very conservative and very rural Nova Scotia riding four times. He feels it’s never been an issue before and that voters respect him for being open and honest about who he is, which is something people want in politicians. He also reminded me that he supported Same Sex Marriage back in 1999 when most Liberals were against it (“at times, I’ve been more liberal than the Liberals”).

He also re-emphasized how much he values the Charter since he feels he wouldn’t be where he is today without it.

CG: Paul Martin was 65 when he was elected Liberal leader. Jean Chretien was 56. John Turner was 55. Even Trudeau was 48. What is it about this time and place that makes you think the Liberal Party is ready for a leader under 40?

(I actually have good tape from this part so here’s the answer) “In Canada and internationally, there’s a desire for a new generation of leadership and ideas. We as a party need to change everything from our operations to the way we conduct policy. (ed note: YES!!!) And especially how we present ourselves to Canadians. Canadians didn’t vote for Stephen Harper, they were sending a message to us and sending us to the penalty box. And when you get sent to the penalty box, you need to skate hard.

In Great Britain, Tony Blair was very young when Labour elected him and he reformed that party, shifting them to the centre. David Cameron, new leader of Conservative Party is 38 and has had success moving them to centre and focusing on environmental policy.”

CG: Are you saying the Liberal Party needs to fundamentally shift it’s policy.

This led into a talk on the two pillars Brison feels the party should focus on: the environment and Canada’s role in the world (Jason Cherniak mentioned this a bit during his Brison interview).

Given Canada’s abundance of natural resources, the environmental is a place where Scott feels we can be a world leader. I won’t go into too much detail recapping his environmental policy since every single candidate has talked about this as being important. I’d love to see a candidate come out and say they’re “anti-environment”, just to get some variety.

The foreign policy stuff I found a bit more interesting, given that Scott is one of the only two candidates to support the Afghanistan extension. He feels we can help shape the world during the 21st century which will be "the century of democracy". As economies become more integrated, he feels there will be a larger demand and thirst for democracy around the world. Given that our constitution talks about Peace, Order, and Good Government, this is an area where we can really make a difference. Not only do we have the opportunity to help, but we have a responsibility to – it’s the right thing to do and Canada’s foreign policy can a tremendous potential source of national unity (ed note: and division…).

This led to a conversation on youth in politics since Scott feels the environment and foreign policy are two issues young people feel strongly about. Young Canadians are thirsting for real leadership and vision and it’s up to the next Liberal leader to excite them about future of our country. And given that Liberal values match the values of a lot of young people, it’s certainly in our best partisan interests to get them to vote.

CG: Yes, but how specifically do you get them to vote?

Scott has three concrete policies he thinks will appeal to young people:

1. The first 25,000$ earned a year during the first twelve years of someone’s working life should be tax free.

2. Scholarship for young people who volunteer. Upon graduation of grade 12, they’d get scholarships based on volunteer efforts in grades 7-12.

3. More opportunities for young Canadians to serve internationally.

At this point, Scott had to jump in to a candidates meeting, but he was very good about calling me back afterwards. We talked briefly about fridge selling, and he predicted an Oilers Stanley Cup win (good political sense doesn’t always make for great hockey sense, I guess).

I still feel that Scott is, hands down, the best retail politician of the eleven and would make a very good opposition leader. As a Prime Minister at this point in his political career, I’m still not sold, but he strikes me as an individual who would do a good job at rebuilding the party from the ground up and I heard more specific policy ideas from him than any of the other four candidates I’ve interviewed which is really, really refreshing.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rebuilding the Big Red Machine - 4

Cerberus asks a very good question on his site about whether Liberals should pick the most electable leader or the one best able to renew the party. Before I jump into this question, I should add that I also think that the pillars of policy and experience are just as crucial. After all, having a Liberal Prime Minister doesn't do any good if he or she doesn't bring in liberal policy. But as for the question at hand...

...I tend to come down on the renewal side of the debate. At almost every single event I go to, I get the sense that Liberals feel Harper is self-destructing and that the Liberal Party will be returned to it's god given place in power next spring. I know people are generally positive at these sorts of events and, truth be told, I don't exactly say what I want to say ("I'll put 100$ on Harper in the next election right now"). But the growing sense that a messiah will rise from the leadership convention and return the Liberals to power is, to me, a very dangerous mind frame to have. It would be a fatal mistake to ignore the shape the party is in which, truth be told, isn't great. Consider:

-The party is in debt and the Tories are still light years ahead of us on the fundraising side of things. This party has still not moved from corporate to grassroots for fundraising. In fairness, the party can't fundraise during a leadership race but I'd like to get a sense that come 2007, there will be a new, fresh approach to fundraising.

-Riding associations are still weak across the country. Back in January, some Calgary ridings had as few as a dozen paid members. The rural scene in Alberta is even worse and I understand Quebec is in shambles. A party is only as strong as it's foundation and something needs to be done to re-engage the grass roots.

-While I like the vision and policies some candidates are putting forward, the Liberals will need something fresh to win an election. We cannot fight another election on "Stephen Harper is going to eat your babies" because, after a year in power, people are going to realize that while Harper may not like babies, he certainly won't eat them.

-Even though there is a immense desire to come together and sing kum ba ya, the Chretien/Martin feud still lingers in everyone's mind. Old scars don't heal overnight.

Because of this, I think the renewal of the Liberal Party should be a key focus in the leadership race. That's one of the reasons I decided to pick a candidate who is young, energetic, has deeps roots in the party, and can rebuild it from coast to coast. That's not to say that electability should be overlooked. There are at least five candidates in this race (including two of the big names) who I honestly can't see winning a federal election baring extreme circumstances. And I'd have a very hard time voting for any of them at the leadership convention. On top of this, "electability" is a very difficult thing to predict. Kim Campbell was "electable". So was Paul Martin. So was Stockwell Day.

I really do think there needs to be a focus on renewing and rebuilding the Liberal Party because a weak party makes it very difficult for any candidate to be electable. The leader isn't the only person responsible for this which is why the party presidency will take on huge importance in Montreal as well. But Liberals need a leader committed ensuring to the long term health of the Liberal Party.

Update: Paul Wells talks about the state of the Liberal Party here.

He's a Big Canadian Idol Fan

From today's Globe, it appears Brian Mulroney has developed quite the fan club:

Seoul — In times of political hardship, which occur often these days for South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, the embattled politician takes inspiration from the boy from Baie-Comeau. The President consoled officials in his ruling Uri party last week after crushing defeats in local elections by citing the example of Brian Mulroney.

Like the former Canadian prime minister, Mr. Roh is pushing for a new goods and services tax in his own country, despite opposition from most residents and his political rivals.

Mr. Roh praised Mr. Mulroney as the man who saved Canada with the GST. According to JoongAng Daily, Mr. Roh paid tribute to Mr. Mulroney during a meeting with government officials after his party won only one of 16 races for mayoral and governor seats.

The article, featuring a prominent photo of Mr. Mulroney, is followed a few pages later by a scathing editorial with the former Canadian prime minister as a cartoon character.

"Mr. Roh seems to think of Mr. Mulroney whenever he meets a crisis," Lee Chul-ho wrote. "Why does the President choose wicked people as role models?"

Hat Tip: A BCer in Toronto

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Direct Democracy

The Liberal Party is asking grass roots members for questions for this Saturday's debate. Send your questions, with your name, home riding and phone number to

So for all you Joe Volpe supporters out there, this is a great chance to find out where the candidates stand on SpongeBob Squarepants...or any others issues which are important to you.

UPDATE: Same rules apply for the Moncton debates next weekend. And be sure to address your questions to all the candidates. So, in other words, questions on cross burning, food banks, and the Ontario economy circa 1993 are probably out.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Vote Out Anders...Part 81

Rob Anders is (allegedly) in hot water again:

The Liberals say the Mounties should look at a lawsuit filed against Rob Anders by James Istvanffy, who alleges he was fired from his job as manager of the Calgary West constituency office after questioning the way Anders handled his finances.

In a statement of claim filed in Calgary Court of Queen's Bench, Istvanffy alleges Anders borrowed from him thousands of dollars for expenses that the House of Commons would not cover.

Istvanffy alleges Anders then used salary increases, false travel expenses and even bookshelves purchased for his office to pay him back.

Monday, June 05, 2006

One on One with Carolyn Bennett

I had a chance to do a phone interview with Carolyn Bennett a week or so ago. Before jumping into the interview we chatted about internet technology (which she is very familiar with), her blog, and her experience when she guest blogged at this site. She said she'd had a lot of experience with trolls, having done internet town halls in the past. I found a phone interview more difficult to handle than a sit down one, mainly just because of the logistics of taping it. I really should hire Gurmant Grewal to consult on this kind of stuff. So apologies if I didn't get exact wording on some of the answers.

I also had a chance to chat with Scott Brison on Friday and will post that interview very soon, this week probably. Until then, here's Carolyn:

What is the single most important policy Prime Minister Carolyn Bennett would bring forward that wouldn't otherwise see the light of day?

My issue is having citizens feel that they're a part of government and politics. We need to change the face of politics in Canada so that government isn't something doing things to you - it should be a two way accountability. Citizens need to know that if they have a good idea, there's a chance they'll see it put into action.

I've been able to do that in a number of ways, certainly as chair of the disability committee. We need to use technology and feedback groups to make sure citizens feel that they're involved in the direction of the country.

When I interviewed Ken Dryden I asked him who the Greatest Canadian was. As a female politician, I was wondering who you thought was the most influential female Canadian? Politician, or otherwise.

Obviously it's a different answer if you want someone influential to all Canadians or just to me. For me, I'd say Ursula Franklin, the first woman Engineering professor at U of T. As a quaker, a feminist, a pacifist, she's really changed the way I've thought about a lot of things. She's influenced a lot of what I believe in about making government fair, transparent and taking people seriously.

She's one of the people I think of when my batteries need recharging: when I need an infusion of ideas and principles. In my launch speech, I mentioned the story she tells about identifying children at risk. The caretaker at the school she taught at could identify the children at risk, because they were there at seven in the morning. The cook knew the kids who were hungry because they'd come to the cafeteria to help clear the plates and would eat the scraps off the plates. Her point was that we need observations from people like the caretakers and the cooks. It's the same in democracy where we need observations from the people who actually do know what's working, as supposed to just the presumed policy makers.

In terms of a female for everyone, I'd have to say Nellie McClung. "Never retreat, never apologize, get the thing done" is a good approach. I was in Alberta when they were building the famous five sculpture, and Francis Wright took me to the sculpture studio and let me put a bit of clay on Nellie McClung's coat. Now every day when I walk by the statue, I get to look for that little bit of clay on her coat.

On the same topic, female politicians often seem to have to endure a lot of scrutiny from the media; what shoes are you wearing, what dress. So, to turn the tables, who would you say is the best dressed and worst dressed male MPs in Ottawa?

I must admit I do tend to think about their ideas first (laughs). I'd have to say that in terms of tasteful elegance, I'd go with Bill Graham. He always has on exactly the right tasteful choice.

Realistically, are you running to win, to raise issues, or to raise your profile?

I'm definitely running to win. I feel so strongly about the issues and the way government is run. Also, the Liberal Party of Canada requires serious attention to the way we've been operating. We also need to address the issues of electoral reform.

It took me six or eight weeks to figure out if I could move these issues more by supporting someone else or by running myself. I made the decision that the only way to move these issues forward was to run.

On the topic of electoral reform, would you want to change the first past the post system?

For example in Alberta, we see that the Liberals got over 15% of the vote and zero seats; that's unacceptable. In Quebec, you can get a separatist majority with under 50% of the vote. It's unacceptable that we only have 20% women in Parliament; these are structural barriers that need to be overcome.

In our country, we'll always need seats because you need MPs who represent their part of the country. But I think we need to move Canada to a blended system. I have several people from the Green Party helping on my campaign and we've talked a lot about this. The BC Citizen's Assembly came up with the unusual STV system but this wouldn't get you one more woman elected. The devil is always in the details so we need to have a conversation with Canadians about whether the current system is fair and then we have to move on and see what system would work best.

The Michael Fortier situation is also in the news a lot in Quebec, especially since he didn't run during the election. I think if he'd been viewed as a good guy who had run, knocked on doors, and listened to people, it would have been viewed as a lot more acceptable to appoint him. One of the ideas that's been talked about is to select the popular vote seats from the list of defeated candidates. This would also encourage better candidates to run in unwinable ridings. The other piece of this is that you'd obviously need party reform to ensure that these people are first nominated in a democratic way. The democratic reform and party reform would have to go hand in hand for a system like this.

You've been a Liberal MP for quite some time and served under both Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. How would you compare the two individuals from a personality perspective? What were the major differences between their habits, personality, or leadership styles?

They each had tremendous strengths. Jean Chretien had a good political nose and a tremendous gut instinct about what regular people would or wouldn't go for. He also had a reputation for letting ministers run their own show and stuck by his Ministers.

Paul Martin, as the son of a parliamentarian, had a tremendous amount of respect for parliament and for citizens. His pre-budget consultations were a great example of moving citizens and experts into the consultation and decision making process. It's too bad that in the two years that we were in government that he ended up being so focused on playing defense.

You implied that not having a child care system would lead to more people in jails in the long run. Do you truly believe that?

On Wednesday night [guest blogging on your blog], I definitely heard a lot about that. I've posted the Perry pre-school study on my MP site. Most of these studies are saying that for every dollar invested in a child's first six years, we save two dollars in the long run. In the Perry pre-school study the kids who have been studied forty years, the government has gained back 17 dollars for every one spent, from things like taxes, improved health, corrections...

It's not necessarily the child care piece, but the early learning piece that's important. For vulnerable children, we can also pick up problems earlier. And then we can put in place what's needed to help. It does take a village to raise a child and there is a whole spectrum of things society can help with from parental leave to pre-natal education to child care spaces. A lot of the things society offers for children with special needs can be used by stay at home parents as well.

And also, to clarify, at no time did I ever mean that people who choose to raise their children are more likely to create criminals. That's ridiculous - we're saying that we have a responsibility to get the best start possible in life for all the children in the community.

You ran against Peter Kent in the last election. Which of the following fake news anchors would you most like to run against in the next election? Ted Baxter, Murphy Brown, Ron Burgundy, Kent Brockman, or Bill O'Reilly.

Interesting... Murphy Brown might be fun to go against. Probably Bill O'Reilly is the one who is closest to Stephen Harper and I'd like to show people that I know what to do with him. So I'll pick him.

Getting Their Man

Since they are usually only noticed when something goes wrong, I think the RCMP deserves some praise for a job well done. They've saved a lot of lives and deserve everyone's thanks for that.

The Really Friendly Columnist

There's a great profile on Gerard Kennedy in Sunday's Edmonton Journal.

For those who say they still don't know enough about Gerard, this is a must read.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Friendly Columnist

I guess the Liberal leadership candidates don't see the need to attack each other, given that Jeffrey Simpson is doing such a good job of it.

Simpson followed up yesterday's attack on Bob Rae with a scathing piece on Michael Ignatieff today. Among his critiques from the past two days:

"There being a list of candidates with serious deficiencies..."

"Mr. Ignatieff has the fewest Canadian scars by virtue of having fought the fewest battles in his own country, a fact that, in other countries would almost automatically disqualify anyone from serious leadership ambition"

"What's obvious is the paucity of endorsements of Mr. Rae by prominent Ontario federal Liberals"

"Although Mr. Ignatieff insists he always considered himself a Canadian, it was hard to discern that while he lived in the United States."

"Mr. Rae is wheel-spinning, maybe dying politically"


These two articles follow some of Simpson's recent writings, which have included:

"Watch those Liberal hobbits scurry about the leadership stage"
"Style, sure, but where's Mr. Kennedy's substance?"
"Ignatieff's unbearable lightness of absence"

Stay tuned for future Simpson profiles including:

"Dion's asinine ramblings"
"Martha Hall Findlay: Menace to Canada?"
"You can't spell Bevilacqua without evil"
"Ken Dryden nearly cost us the Summit Series"

Obviously Jeffrey Simpson is free to write what he pleases and a lot of his criticism has been valid. All I'll say is that it's a good thing Liberal leadership contenders can "take a punch". Lesser men might start whining about a media conspiracy...

The One Vote Harper Prays He Loses

Conservatives plan fall vote to attempt to change the definition of marriage!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Reviews Are In

What has the leadership race been about so far? 11 year olds donating cash, nit picking on French, and tortured Hitler metaphors. In short, it's been pretty devoid of policy.

With that in mind, I thought I'd draw attention to a blog post by David Cohen, reviewing Gerard Kennedy's immigration platform. Mr. Cohen is a prominent immigration lawyer and given that he concludes that Gerard is not in "serious contention", he's certainly not a Kennedy supporter (but since his expertise is immigration and not law, I'll let that slide). Here's what he has to say about Gerard:

The Liberal Party leadership race has been a pretty uninspired affair so far. No candidate has yet to position himself/herself as the favorite, and the leading candidates haven't distinguished themselves anymore than as "that guy who taught at Harvard".

Out of this pack of mostly middle-aged white men comes an original immigration-based platform from Gerard Kennedy. While a middle-aged white man himself, Kennedy is distinguishing his campaign by positioning himself as an advocate for current and future immigrants to Canada. In fact, part of Kennedy's
Immigrant Success Platform calls for the creation of an immigration advocate position within the federal government.

Kennedy seems to have grasped the economic and cultural importance of continued immigration to Canada, and our need to better integrate immigrant populations into society at large. This includes working with the private sector to better recognize foreign credentials and reduce immigration income-gaps, and reworking the points-based immigration system to attract more diverse skilled workers that are currently shut out.

Hat Tip: The Dan Report

Youth for Volpe

This may be the funniest parody site ever.

Update: The site is down but Policy Watch has saved a copy of the site on pdf.

Update: The site lives on here.

Crack Open The Piggy Bank

This story keeps getting more and more ridiculous by the day. It's no longer a case of teenagers donating 5 grand to uncle Joe - it's now eleven year olds doing it.

Having family members donate large sums is an obvious loophole to the current laws everyone has known about for some time. And I suspect it would be very hard to prosecute anyone for breaching the financing law for offenses like this.

That said, how the Volpe campaign can continue to pretend this is no big deal is beyond me. It's obvious that the donations should be returned before his campaign uses up what little ethical credibility it has left.