Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Just Visiting

This actually really surprised me. Of the ten candidates remaining, there was only one who I thought might not run in the next election for the Liberals should he lose, and it wasn't Michael. Maybe this is just another case of Ignatieff choosing his words poorly but I certainly do hope that all ten candidates are firmly committed to running in the next election for the party, win or lose. There are a lot of people who have proven themselves to be very impressive politicians during this race and the Liberal Party is better off with all of them in parliament.

And, just so no one can complain about context, here's the series of questions:

Q: If you lose the Liberal leadership race, will you run for the party in the next election?

Ignatieff: Depends who's leader.

Q: Have you indicated there are some that you would not run for?

Ignatieff: No. It really is that I have to look what I am looking at.

Q: Your track record, your history is that you move on to other projects again and again and again.

Ignatieff: In a rival publication.

Q: Yes it's been suggested that this is just another fling ...

Ignatieff: It's a hell of a fling if it is. I mean, the fling stuff won't fly. It has been brutal.
Etobicoke-Lakeshore is very very, tough.

Q: But you won't commit to running in Etobicoke- Lakeshore again?

Ignatieff: I like to serve my constituents well. But you're asking me an anticipatory, hypothetical about the situation that prevails on the 3rd or 4th of December I am quite confident I will win.

Q: But do you have a commitment to the Liberal party long term?

Ignatieff: I've had a commitment to the Liberal party since I was 17. And my commitment to the Liberal party continues. But there are all kinds of ways you can stay committed and involved and active in the Liberal Party of Canada without being an MP.
Q: Without being an MP?

Ignatieff: Being an MP, without being an MP. I have been a Liberal all my life. When I go into rooms, people are glad I am in the room because people have read stuff I
have written which has contributed to their sensibilities to be a Liberal and what Liberal philosophy is. There are all kinds of ways I can serve the party.
Don't doubt my devotion to the Liberal Party of Canada. You wouldn't do this occasionally difficult job if you weren't seriously committed to it. [...]

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Third Way

So far this leadership campaign, I've been linking to Gerard Kennedy's policy announcements and maybe adding one or two insightful words ("Gerard likes the environment. So do I!"). However, his Afghanistan announcement yesterday is definitely worthy of a post of it's own, for a few reasons:

1. It's a major stand on a hot button topic which differentiates Kennedy from the other candidates.

2. I managed to catch a quick flight back from Budapest for the day so I was lucky enough to be at Ryerson for his speech he gave on it. (and, yes, I did get to meet the one and only Jason Cherniak)

3. I really like what GK is saying. And, no, I'm not just saying that.

Since the beginning, I've had mixed feelings on the Afghanistan question. This has been because of the black and white either or argument which it had degenerated to. The question has always been phrased in such a way where the choice is either to stay in Afghanistan crossing our fingers that a hopeless situation will somehow get better, or to pull out and leave. Because of this, anyone who opposed the extension has been accused of "cutting and running" or of "not supporting the troops". Some have tried to dance around the question by arguing semantics on the snap vote but, at the end of the day, it's always come down to an "in or out" question.

So when Liberals I know kept telling me we should get the hell out of Afghanistan, I was left a little uneasy. If NATO pulled out now, we'd be leaving the country in terrible shape and it would probably descend into civil war before long. We made the choice to go into Afghanistan so we owe it to the Afghanis to stay until the situation improves.

But, on the other hand, the situation hasn't been improving. In fact, from a casualty perspective, things are getting worse. We've spent four billion dollars on the mission and have tied our hands so that we can't help in other parts of the world where we might be needed. It's become abundantly obvious that little has been done to improve the living conditions of the Afghanis and that peace isn't coming to that part of the world anytime soon.

What Kennedy is proposing makes sense. As a leader of this mission in NATO, we have some real influence in the direction it takes (so, no, we would not be renegotiating the mission mandate with the Taliban as a certain columnist suggests - it's obviously NATO which sets the mandate). And, as Gerard has said, the mission should be about rebuilding Afghanistan, something which isn't happening. The reason the Taliban still has support is because of the illegal opium trade and because of the abysmal standard of living conditions in the country. We'll never succeed unless the abject poverty that exists in Afghanistan is eased.

After World War 2, Europe was rebuilt by investments in infrastructure and aid. Time and time again, history has shown that the best way to return stability to a region is by improving the standard of living, infrastructure and economy. We can fight the Taliban in the hills, spending billions and losing dozens of lives for ever and ever but if we actually want to leave Afghanistan in respectable shape, I think it's time the parameters of the mission were overhauled. Anyone who argues otherwise needs to offer up some sort of argument for how we can possibly hope to reach the end game in Afghanistan under the current plan.

(for balance, Paul Wells offers up the opposing viewpoint here. But he does make the point that the other seven probably need to get off the fence on this one and use more than the "parliamentary tactics" defense)

Notes From The Road

I'd really intended to take a longer break from the blog while on vacation but seeing as how I find Liblogs more addictive than crack, that was probably unrealistic. Luckily, the Hungarian media here has a great fascination with Canadian politics so I've been able to stay somewhat up to date on what's been going on.

-Manning wins in a landslide! Or, should I say, a SDAndslide. Kudos to Preston on his win and thanks to everyone who voted! I'll get a proper post up at some point to recap the contest and to try and find something mildly interesting to say about his win other than "internet polls...what do you expect?".

-Saturday's Globe had a long profile on Ignatieff (and we're talking War and Peace long). So if you've got a few hours to kill and are curious how Michael Ignatieff lost his virginity, then you should definitely check out Valpy's piece. It wasn't a hatchet job and it certainly wasn't a fluff piece - and it was nice to learn about about the personal life of the Iggster. Ignatieff is also featured in MacLeans prominently this week, with several articles on his candidacy. And yeah...he's in GQ. And no, I haven't picked up that article yet.

-Speaking of profiles, the Star has one of Joe Volpe today. "All we are saying, is give Joe a chance..."

-I'm going to put up a post on Kennedy's Afghanistan speech last night since it's clearly worthy of it's own post. I will say that between this policy, his economic women's policy (including specifics on early learning spending), and hints of future policy to come, it's become abundantly clear that the "Kennedy has no substance" blanket attack substance.

-Thanks to everyone for the feedback on my projections - I'll update in about a week when I get back to cowtown.

Democratic Space has put out his own projections, based on the numbers of donations the candidates have gotten in various regions. I think this leads to a few problems (ie. the extremely low Volpe numbers and Dryden being ahead of Rae), but I do really hope we get a bunch of different projections out there so that they can be compared.

Ignatieff 25.7%
Kennedy 17.1%
Dion 13.3%
Brison 13.0%
Rae 11.4%
Dryden 11.2%
Hall-Findlay 4.2%
Volpe 1.9%
Bennett 1.4%
Fry 0.8%

-I've been reading Jim Dinning's blog lately to train myself in the art of the platitude if I ever become a speech writer. While doing this, I did come across the following:

Building an Election Campaign Platform through a 2007 policy process--starting at each constituency and ending with a province wide Election Platform Convention late in the year. And recruiting candidates to compete for PC nominations. We want spirited and robust competitions for nominations, especially in the opposition held constituencies.

Given that timeline, it looks like Alberta is heading towards a late 2007 or early 2008 election should Dinning win.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Final Round

I'm going to be incommunicado for the next few days, taking some much needed vacation time (I hear Hungary is beautiful this time of the year...).

Here's the final round matchup for Greatest PM We Never Had. I figure between this and the leadership projections, that should give people enough to talk about in the comments section over that time.

Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had - Final Round
Final Matchup
Robert Stanfield
Preston Manning

(view results)

Leadership Projections

One interesting thing about leadership races is that you never know for sure how strong the respective candidates are doing. The media loves to go on about momentum and anoint frontrunners but the truth is that few journalists are really plugged in to the inner workings of the Liberal Party. What decides these races is not blog endorsements or the number of fluff pieces in national media but the number of Liberals who back each candidate.

While there were a lot of news stories about membership sales in July, there hasn’t been any sort of number crunching to try and gauge the relative support of different candidates. So, partly out of interest, and partly because I think it’s useful to have an idea of where the leadership camps sit, I decided to take a crack at predicting first ballot support for the different candidates. This took a lot of time and effort, so please be gentle.


Right off the bat, I’ll say that there are obviously major flaws with the methodology I used because a lot of factors are very hard to objectively quantify and a lot of the numbers I’m using are best guesses. I’m not saying that what I’m projecting is what will happen at the delegate selection meetings but I would be confident to put these predictions up against any other predictions anyone wants to make (so if anyone wants to make a friendly wager, I’m game).

The goal is to predict the number of delegates each candidate will have vote for them on the first ballot. Right off the bat, we know that roughly 15% of the delegates are ex-officio. So, using the wikipedia endorsement page, I’ve determined the percentage of declared ex-officio delegates each candidate has in their corner and assigned these numbers to that 15%. While wikipedia isn’t perfect, after this CTV news story appeared, it’s obvious that almost all of the campaigns went to the site and added the names of their supporters to boost their numbers. So I’m fairly confident this will give us a good idea of ex-officio support.

The other 85% of the delegates are the tricky ones to determine. These will be selected proportionally, with Liberals on the membership lists as of July 4th eligible to vote. There will be two types of Liberals on these lists – new sign-ups and existing Liberals. New sign-ups are the individuals who were signed up by campaigns in recent months for this leadership race. Existing members are people who were already on the membership list.

Both officially and unofficially, many campaigns and Liberal provincial associations have released their numbers for new sign-ups. There was also significant media coverage about this in July which you can read here, here, and here. Using these numbers, blog buzz, and what I’ve heard, I’m able to predict another percentage of the delegates. For example, in Ontario there were 35000 old members and 45000 new sign ups. Reports are that Michael Ignatieff signed up 10000 new members in Ontario. Therefore, I can predict that this will give Ignatieff 10000/80000, of Ontario’s elected delegates. Once this is done for all the candidates, I will have assigned 45000/80000, or 56% of Ontario’s elected delegates to various campaigns.

So the question now becomes how to assign the other 44% of Ontario’s elected delegates, right?

After making phone calls and asking for feedback, I can get a general sense of where existing support is, but that comes across as fairly subjective on my part. So in my formula for estimating existing support, I’m only basing 1/5th of the total for each candidate on the perceived support the candidates have in that province. The other 4/5th I assigned based on a formula as follows (in each case, this is done as a percentage of the total. Bob Rae has raised 30% of the total money of all camps together, so he gets 30% * 20%, or 6% of this total).

20%: Money raised (since, like it or not, money is important in these things)
20%: Number of donations (this is a sign of grass roots support)
20%: MP endorsements (MPs can have a big influence on their ridings)
10%: Media mentions (I simply did a google news search for each candidate and used the number of stories that came up)
10%: Wikipedia endorsements (under the assumption that these are all somewhat important people with some influence)
10%: Blogger endorsements (since blogs give a good sense of what Liberals who follow the news closely think)
10%: Website (I just used Blue Blogging Soapbox’s most recent website rankings. If nothing else, it might give a sense of how good a communications team each campaign has)

The first three factors I weighed heavier because the numbers a lot less subjective (warning: these are the month old fundraising numbers - I'll update within the next few weeks with the new numbers). Media is important, but just counting news stories doesn’t give you an idea of how positive the news is, so I couldn’t bring myself to weight it for more than 10%.

Using this system, I was able to assign “existing member support”. Obviously this isn’t a perfect system, but I think it does give an idea of who has the momentum, air game, and support on the ground among long time Liberals.

Province by Province

If you’d like to see the numbers I used, click here. The following is merely a brief outline of the province by province support for those who think this post has already gone on way too long. I'll start out west, to alleviate alienation:

BC: Kennedy was first in new sales, followed by Rae, Dion, Volpe, and Ignatieff. The existing membership seems to be split between Kennedy, Rae, Dion, and Ignatieff. Public Eye Online has been very good at releasing specific numbers for this region so I’m very confident in the ones I used for the front running candidates.

AB: In a province where the membership list more than tripled, Kennedy was first in new sales. Ignatieff, Volpe, Rae, and Dion all had good sale totals and Scott Brison has a presence in some ridings. My sense is the existing grassroots membership is split between Kennedy, Dion, and Ignatieff, although both Brison and Rae have some very influential supporters.

Sask: Bob Rae led the way in new sales , doing very well in aboriginal communities. Kennedy was second and while Dion had nothing before, it seems about 200 of Orchard’s followers signed up, which will no doubt help him. Ignatieff didn’t sign up many new members but has good support among the existing Liberals. As is the case in Alberta, Martha Hall Findlay actually has a bit of support on the ground, thanks to her rural bus trips.

Manitoba: This is certainly Dryden’s strongest province. I’ve heard mixed reports about who, between him and Rae, sold more memberships but those two were certainly 1-2. Ignatieff was third in new forms sold, but probably has the most existing support (followed by the other two). Kennedy comes in fourth in his native province. Of note, Maurizio Bevilacqua performed well here, and in all the prairie provinces – I’ve moved his forms to the “existing members” list because I think it would be really rash to assume they’ll all follow him to Bob Rae. (especially given this)

Ontario: Ignatieff and Kennedy were tops for new sales, with Volpe in the mix. The next tier was Rae, Dion and Dryden. Another tier bellow them was Brison and Maurizio. It should be noted that the straw poll among Ontario Young Liberals at Spring Fling had Ignatieff and Kennedy neck and neck, with Dion a distant third and no one else on the radar. While this was just a poll among youth, a third of the delegates at the convention will be youth and there are over 200 delegates coming from campus clubs to Montreal.

Quebec: Volpe raised eyebrows with his Quebec recruitments numbers, although the figure of 4,400 new forms sold has been attacked as a dramatic inflation of his support due to their concentration in Montreal and questions about how loyal those Liberals are to Volpe. Ignatieff was a strong second, Dion was third, and Rae was fourth. Those three are all doing well among existing members too.

Atlantic Canada: I’ll be the first to admit that my Atlantic numbers are far from exact and I hope to be able to refine them over the next few weeks. The main problem here is that there were very few new sign-ups in comparison to the existing membership lists. Brison most likely won his home province (although some say Ignatieff did) and has decent support across the region. The top three in PEI are Ignatieff, Kennedy and Rae. New Brunswick is similar. The Toronto Star has Kennedy leading in Newfoundland, but other reports have Volpe, Ignatieff, Rae and Dryden all doing well there.

Territories: Unfortunately, I’ve ignored these three ridings due to a lack of information.

Click here for the detailed results page and for how these numbers were calculated

The Ex-Officio support breaks down as follows:
Ignatieff 69
Rae 50
Kennedy 49
Dion 46
Dryden 34
Brison 29
Bennett 8
Volpe 7
Fry 2

The New Membership Sale Support Breaks Down as Follows (this has been weighted based on the relative delegates for each province and the ratio of new sales to existing members):

Iggy 20.5%
Kennedy 20.5%
Volpe 17.7%
Rae 15.9%
Dion 11.6%
Dryden 6.7%
Brison 4.9%
MHF 1.2%
Bennett 0.8%
Fry 0.2%

Click here to take a look at the data used to calculate relative strength of existing candidates among existing members.

Here’s how it breaks down for existing members once existing strength is considered (again, weighted by relative delegates for province and ratio of new sales to existing members):

Iggy 25.1%
Kennedy 17.1%
Dion 16.6%
Rae 15.4%
Dryden 9.4%
Brison 9.0%
Volpe 2.9%
Bennett 2.1%
MHF 1.9%
Fry 0.5%

Finally, the grand total of estimated first ballot support:

Michael Ignatieff 22.9%
Gerard Kennedy 18.4%
Bob Rae 15.8%
Stephane Dion 14.4%
Joe Volpe 8.8%
Ken Dryden 8.6%
Scott Brison 7.4%
Carolyn Bennett 1.7%
Martha Hall Findlay 1.6%
Hedy Fry 0.4%


Obviously this isn’t a perfect system, but I don’t think it’s skewed to favour or punish a given candidate disproportionately. And, because of my Kennedy bias, I went out of my way to really estimate his numbers on the low end of what I’d heard whenever possible.

I’ll be updating this every couple weeks from now until the end of September, so feel free to e-mail me with feedback on the estimates I’ve made. The percentages will also shift as more endorsements become public and more up to date financial numbers come forward. I should also stress that I’ve been working on this over the past week, so some of my totals from the wikipedia page and google news search might be a few days out of date (as are the fundraising numbers).

As for the results themselves, they confirm what I’d suspected. Ignatieff is still the frontrunner and will be in first place on ballot one, but it won't be an insurmountale lead. If he is only around 25% on the first ballot, that means we’re heading for a long night of voting on December 2nd. Despite a lack of positive media focus lately, Gerard Kennedy should be in second place after ballot 1. I’m personally not too worried about the media’s lack of attention because that means he’ll be perceived to have a lot of momentum after the delegate selection meetings finish. But I do think it’s ridiculous that he’s at times being ignored when the front runners are listed.

As one might expect, the only other candidates over 10% are Rae (in third) and Dion (in fourth). Despite lackluster new sale numbers in Ontario for these two, they both did very well on the formula I created to estimate existing support and I think I was fairly generous with Dion’s numbers, due to his perceived momentum. Rae might also move a bit higher if he can corral some of Bevilacqua’s supporters his way.

The next tier of candidates includes Volpe, Dryden, and Brison. I’ll admit to be a bit surprised by this since I’d expected Volpe to do better, given his high sale numbers. Perhaps I was a bit harsh in my assessment of his existing support, but if the system I used was weighted against him, that will merely make up for the loss of Jimmy K. Because a lot of the new forms were Karygiannis' and not Volpe’s, it’s going to be tough for Joe to crack the top 4.

Unfortunately, the three female candidates seem to have little support. These numbers might be off by a fair amount because I really have no sale information on the low tier candidates. Carolyn Bennett could have been anywhere from 0 to 2000 forms in Ontario for all I know. I also strongly suspect that MHF is doing better than these rankings indicate. She just seems to have a certain je ne sais quoi which shows up in support, but not in these rankings. Also, I get the sense that a few ex-officios might give her their first ballot vote to make a statement before moving on to their preferred candidate.

In summation, this is far from an exact science, but I'm fairly confident that it provides a very good indication of what we should expect on the first ballot in Montreal. And, judging from the numbers I've projected, there are, without a doubt, four candidates who could realistically win this thing.

Red Ribbon

I'll have some comments to add once I get time to read through it myself, but anyone interested can take a look at the red ribbon renewal report at Public Eye Online.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Quick Hits

1. Gerard Kennedy has released some more platform material, aimed at improving the economic situation of female Canadians. Included in this is a goal to dramatically increase Canadian spending on childcare and early learning so that it reaches 0.7% of Canada's GDP by the year 2012.

2. More importantly, the man can draw.

3. Ahh...the Republican Party. This is a priceless video.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


A few people were asking me why, as a vocal Kennedy supporter, I haven't weighed in on the the whole Thomas Hubert/Borys AlphabetSoup case of Middle East foot in mouth disease. Well, my main reason is that I've been fairly busy over the past few days (and will be for the next few). But, more importantly, I really don't see this as a Kennedy campaign issue.

Take example one. We have a 19 year old kid who said some really stupid things on his blog. No one's denying that. But there are a lot of bloggers who say really stupid things. I couldn't imagine anyone thinking that what Shoshanna Berman writes is representative of the Ken Dryden campaign or Ken Dryden's position. So to even imply that this kid somehow represents Kennedy really seems unjust (after all, it's not like he's the campaign manager or anything). Thomas apologized and resigned over his comments so I don't see any need to keep picking on the kid.

The second example is of Borys who, truth be told, shouldn't have made public comments on this without running them by the party first. But, in all fairness, given that only six countries in the world consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization, I don't think that part of his musings is as extreme as some are painting it to be. As for his other comments which may have offended people, Borys wasn't speaking in his role as a Gerard Kennedy supporter - these were his personal opinions. I didn't see a single blog attack claiming that Michael Ignatieff was anti-Israel after his main Quebec organizer marched in a parade which was described as follows "a virulently anti-Israel rally, and scattered amongst the crowd were a number of Hezbollah flags and placards".

The bottom line is that the Israel question is one of the most controversial in politics and there are people on both sides of the issue who go too far. With respect to the Kennedy campaign, I was very pleased to see their fast response to these incidents. In both instances there was a quick press release reiterating Gerard's position which has been known for a long time (since he was one of the first candidates to comment on the Middle Eastern situation).

Monday, August 21, 2006

LS 2 Quit SB Campaign

I haven't seen this on the news yet, but it appears that Leslie Swartman has quit as Scott Brison's National Director.

While this certainly isn't great news for Scott, it does likely mean that reports he plans to pull the plug on his campaign soon aren't true, as it wouldn't make much sense to resign a week before the entire thing shuts down.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Stanfield versus Cartier

I've already run an alternative history of Preston Manning, and Frank McKenna's alternative history can be summed up in about a line:

"Frank McKenna decided to run for Liberal leadership in 2006. He won."

Far more interesting are the other two members of the final four - George Etienne Cartier and Robert Stanfield. Both men came exceedingly close to holding the top office so their alternative histories were fairly easy to write - in fact, their "what if" histories come across as a lot more plausible than the events which actually happened to keep them out of the Prime Minister's seat.

George Etienne Cartier

The Man: It's almost unfair to put Cartier in this contest sine, once could argue, he was a Prime Minister we did have. Before Confederation, he served briefly on the top end of the Cartier-Macdonald coalition. After confederation, he pinch hit for John A. Macdonald whenever John A. was too sick or too drunk to lead the country. Needless to say, he was in charge a lot. So while Macdonald gets his face on the money, it was Cartier who negotiated the entry of Manitoba and BC into Canada and it was Cartier who was the force behind the CPR. And, while I don't want to unduly influence anyone, of the four men left, he's got my vote.

Why he never became PM: John A Macdonald's popularity and an early grave made job advancement impossible.

The Biography that Never was: George Etienne Cartier is best remembered as Canada's first francophone Prime Minister and this country's third leader. However, even had Cartier never become Prime Minister, he would still have an impressive biography to his name.

As a young man, he was involved in the Papineau rebellions and composed several patriotic songs including: "Avant tout je suis Canadien", and "O Canada, mon pays, mes amours". After a career in law and business, Cartier ran for office in 1848 by-election and would sit in Parliament until his death. As an MP, Cartier argued in favour of railway expansion and against the annexation of Canada to the United States. As his career progressed, Cartier's following in Parliament grew and in 1857, he became the Lower Canada half the Macdonald-Cartier government (sometimes called the Cartier-Macdonald government) as attorney general.

In the pre-confederation years, this partnership led to several key advances such as the selection of Ottawa as Canada's capital, the organization of Canada's school system, and the codification of civil law. From 1864 to 1867, Cartier was a key member of the Grand Coalition and one the biggest advocates of Confederation in lower Canada. His support was key in ensuring Quebec was willing to enter the Canadian federation.

During the first years of the Macdonald government, Cartier was, for all intents and purposes, the co-Prime Minister. As Minister of Militia, he set in place the military system which would be used in Canada until World War 1. Given John A Macdonald's frequent illnesses and disappearances, Cartier was often forced to act as the head of government for crucial negotiations. As a result, Cartier was in charge of negotiations which brought Manitoba and British Columbia into Canada. It was also Cartier who led the government in Parliament when the vote to create a national railway passed.

While Cartier's health remained strong, Macdonald's did not. Following his party's defeat in 1873, Macdonald was attacked by a bear after stumbling into the countryside in a drunken stupor. He would never fully recover and the Conservative Party turned to the only logical alternative to lead them: George Etienne Cartier.

It was Cartier who led the Conservatives back to power in the 1878 elections and, at the age of 64, Cartier finally assumed the title of Prime Minister he had long held in all but name. On October 17th, 1878, it became official and George Etienne Cartier became Canada's first French Prime Minister. As Prime Minister, Cartier...

Robert Stanfield

The Man: Stanfield unofficially holds the title of "Best Prime Minister Canada Never Had". So this contest is really about him trying to hang on to that title and, so far, the voters haven't given any indication that he won't keep it. And for good reason. Stanfield was intelligent, universally respected, and a good polisuccessfule was a succesfsuccessfulr and a succesful opposition leader. One imagines that had he caught the freaking football, Canadian history might have been dramatically different.

Why he Never Became PM: Had the misfortune of running against Pierre Trudeau three times, and losing by a mere 2 seats in 1972.

The Biography that Never was: Robert Stanfield's rise to the highest office in Canada was a veritable roller coaster ride which culminated in a razor thin win in the 1972 election. Stanfield was born into wealth and graduated from Harvard near the top of his class. While professional success would never be a problem for Stanfield, he had to endure personal tragedy over the years, twice widowed.

While he considered himself a socialist in his college days, it was with the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives that Stanfield first entered politics (he did, after all, have money). He inherited a party without a single seat in 1948 and within a decade, swept to power with a convincing majority government. Stanfield was regarded as a successful Premier and during his time leading Nova Scotia, made connections to fellow red Tory Dalton Camp who would play a key role in orchestrating Stanfield's rise to power at the national level.

At Camp's urging, Stanfield reluctantly tossed his name into an eclectic 11 candidate field and a barn burner of a speech at the convention made him the front runner in the eyes of most delegates. On the fifth ballot, Stanfield beat Duff Roblin. But the Liberals had a new leader too and Trudeaumania made the 1968 general election a no contest.

The 1972 election campaign was rude awakening for Trudeau. The honeymoon had ended and the Liberals ran an inept campaign under the often ridiculed "the land is strong" slogan. The Tories didn't agree, promising concrete tax cuts any policies to fix the economic problems of the day. Stanfield came across as an honest man with integrity while Trudeau at times sounded arrogant throughout the campaign. He also successfully copied the youthful excitement Trudeau generated during the '68 campaign when photos of Stanfield's athletic football catches graced the front pages of dailies across Canada during the campaign.

Election night was a nail biter, and the results could not be officially validated until the recounts had finished. But once they were, Stanfield's Conservatives had a 2 seat win. On November 20th, 1972, Robert Stanfield was sworn in as Canada's 16th Prime Minister. During his time in that office, Prime Minister Stanfield...

Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had - Round 3
Matchup 1
Robert Stanfield
George Etienne Cartier
Matchup 2
Frank McKenna
Preston Manning

(view results)

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I think I've made it pretty clear in the past that I really dislike David Orchard. He's socially conservative. He's against gun control. He advocates that we more than triple our military spending. He's got some very odd foreign policy positions. Most of all, the virulent anti-free trade and anti-Americanism that he and his supporters display grates on me a lot (mainly because I find the Liberal Party far too prone to anti-Americanism in the first place).

I've always felt that one of the strengths of the Liberal Party was that it's a big tent party. I think it's great that over the past few years, people like Keith Martin, Scott Brison, and Bob Rae have decided to join that party. I think it's great that people like Marc Garneau and Michael Ignatieff chose to run for the Liberals. However, I think there is such a thing as subtraction by addition. Quite frankly, Buzz Hargrove's endorsement didn't do the Liberals any favours last election. And I think the party is better off without Pat O'Brien or David Kilgour, than it was with them.

This is my roundabout way of saying that I've never been very happy about David Orchard being a Liberal. And I wasn't happy to see him signing up his kool aid drinkers to Liberal memberships before July 4th.

So this brings us to Orchard's endorsement. As others have pointed out, a candidate's supporters do not necessarily reflect the views of the candidate. And every Liberal (and non-Liberal for that matter) is free to endorse whomever they want. If Carolyn Parrish decided to endorse Michael Ignatieff tomorrow, you can't really hold that against Michael.

But, at the same time, I don't think Michael Ignatieff would "welcome" her endorsement. And I don't think we'd see a quote from Michael like:

"Carolyn will play a very important role in the campaign. We didn't discuss yet which role it will take, but I'm very pleased she's coming to the team,"

Orchard's supporters are loyal and will certainly follow him to Dion. So that will mean a few extra hundred votes in Western rural ridings. But the real question is what the cost will be to Dion? Orchard demanded no less than a signed written agreement the last time he supported another candidate. There were specific policy demands. While there may be no written deal this time, I think it's naive to expect that David Orchard doesn't expect something in return. And I think this will likely leave a lot of people uneasy. As an example, here's an e-mail about Orchard I received from a well respected individual:

"Fuck, Orchard is an appalling pickup for Dion. Has Dion stopped supporting trade, or has Orchard stopped opposing it? Either way, somebody isn't looking like a man of conviction. My mild preference in this race is Dion; after this week I'd be likelier to drop him for Rae."

Obviously, Dion has done a cost-benefit analysis and feels that Orchard's support will do more good than harm. Every campaign which hopes to win is going to have to cut a deal they don't want to between now and the final ballot in Montreal. And, to be perfectly honest, as much as I dislike Orchard, I can't say I really blame Dion for this. Despite the glowing media reviews, he's desperate for first ballot support and Orchard will deliver a few delegates in Saskatchewan. But I think there is a downside to this for Dion and if I were supporting him, I certainly wouldn't sell this as anything other than what it is - a necessary evil.

The Final Four

Somewhat fittingly, three NDPers went down to defeat in the quarter-finals and the final 4 are set:
A 19th Century Conservative who lived in John A's shadow.
A successful Liberal Premier who didn't want the top job.
A grass roots reformer who was booted as party leader for Stockwell Day.
And the underwear salesman who couldn't catch a football.

In one semi-final, it will be number 2 seed Preston Manning against the 11th seeded Frank McKenna. In the other battle, top seed Robert Stanfield, takes on number 4 seed George Etienne Cartier, who is coming off a dominant win over Greatest Canadian champion Tommy Douglas.

Voting closes Tuesday at noon and you can vote once a day until then.

Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had - Round 3
Matchup 1
Robert Stanfield
George Etienne Cartier
Matchup 2
Frank McKenna
Preston Manning

(view results)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This Week in the Liberal Party has a make-over and, I must say, I think the new site is a big improvement.

-After talking to some people who were at a Bob Rae event in Edmonton last night, I'd be willing to put down any amount of money that Anne McLellan will be joining the Rae team once her work on the renewal commission is over.

-Speaking of endorsements, as reported yesterday by Jason Cherniak, David Orchard will be endorsing Stephane Dion this afternoon. I'll have a lot to say about this later tonight but I think it's important to see the press conference first to get an idea of what's involved in this endorsement.

UPDATE: So...umm...what's up with Orchard? I kept hearing that there was a 2 o'clock conference call today but haven't seen anything about it anywhere. Then I get this forwarded to me:

Dear Friend,

Over the past months many have encouraged me to consider entering the race for the leadership of the Liberal party. Others have asked which candidate would be my preferred one. After meeting with several of the candidates and reflecting on the matter, I have decided to support Stéphane Dion.

Stéphane has ten years of experience in government, most of that time as an able minister in cabinet. The environment is a passion for him and that interest showed in his effective work as environment minister and his achievements on the Kyoto file. He has worked hard to keep Canada together as a tolerant, bilingual nation and has shown a great interest in defending Canadian institutions, including the Canadian Wheat Board. Stéphane has a keen interest in agriculture and the problems of Western Canada.

For all of these reasons and more, although there are a number of very able candidates in the race, I have decided to offer my support to Stéphane.

This means we will be working together in the coming months to prepare for the coming leadership convention.

I hope this meets with your approval, and that if you are considering the possibility of attending the convention you will consider going with me as a Stéphane Dion candidate.

Stéphane and I will be holding a press conference in Saskatoon tomorrow at which time I will publicly offer my support -- a press release will follow.

I am sending below the URL for a recent, interesting and in-depth article on Stéphane from the Toronto Star for your information and refer you as well to the Dion web site

I look forward to working with you in the weeks leading up to the convention and afterwards, as we take the concrete steps to change the direction of our country away from the path Mr. Harper has set us on.

Please don't hesitate to call me with any questions, comments or thoughts that you have.


David Orchard

Leadership Prediction Project

I'm working on a post to try and gauge where the leadership candidates are at in terms of support province by province. I've got the news stories, wikipedia endorsements, fundraising numbers, etc, and have chatted around to people I know on different campaigns. But the more information, the better so anyone who wants to send me in sale numbers or a rough sense of where their home province is going, that would be much appreciated (anonymously, or otherwise).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

In The News

1. Vic Toews is proposing to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 10. I'm surprised he hasn't proposed raising it to 55 so that he can get that nasty charge for breaking provincial Election Finance Laws off his record.

As for the proposal itself, I'm willing to bet Joe Volpe sends out a press release decrying the move - it certainly couldn't hurt his fundraising efforts.

2. You may have noticed I don't often delve into astronomy much here but this article really cracked me up:

Astronomers from around the world are gathering in Prague over the next two weeks to come up with the first official definition of the word planet — and puny Pluto might be considered too small to make the grade.

“We have been living with Pluto as a member of the solar system for 76 years, and school children just love Pluto and we can't take it away from them or they will be broken-hearted,” conceded Owen Gingerich, who chaired an International Astronomical Union committee on the matter.

Personally, I think if we're going to refer to Kim Campbell as "a former Prime Minister", I don't have any problem calling Pluto a planet.

3. Andre Boisclair finally has a seat.

4. The above comment is the first time I have ever mentioned Andre Boisclair without making a cocaine joke and this fact alone deserves it's own numbered point.

5. If I was drawn to support a life long right of centre Liberal who represented generational change in the party, I'm not sure how likely I would be to follow him to Bob Rae. The optics of Maurizio's support are great for Rae and it's hard to imagine a better endorsement Rae could pick up. But I really have a hard time believing it will lead to a noticeable shift on the ground.

On the same topic, Any Idiot has a good post up on this, including some great quotes from Maurizio. Among the highlights:

"There's a sense out there that the Liberals are ready for a generational change with experience and also they want somebody who's been a long-standing Liberal member"

"I take no lessons from the NDP on how to govern and how to grow the economy."

That last comment is odd, when you consider what John Ibbitson quotes Maurizio as having said yesterday:

Mr. Bevilacqua replied that, when Mr. Rae left office, "the Ontario economy was the best economy in the G7."

If that's true, maybe we should be taking lessons from the NDP on how to govern the economy.

6. Thanks to a late surge in support for Preston Manning from SDA, the final four are now set in the Greatest PM We Never Had contest:

(1) Stanfield vs. (4) Cartier
(2) Manning vs. (11) McKenna

The next poll will be up on Thursday.

7. 11 Universities opt out of the Maclean's annual rankings.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Call Me Maurizio

Maurizio Bevilacqua becomes the first candidate to drop out of the Liberal leadership race, no doubt for financial reasons.

I've always been very impressed with Maurizio and he was certainly among the best 3 or 4 candidates in this race, in my opinion. He's certainly a future Finance Minister and, one would imagine, this may not be his last leadership bid. You can read my profile of him here and my interview with him here.

After interviewing him, it was pretty clear to me that he'd never back Ignatieff but it is certainly a bit surprising to see him endorsing Bob Rae. It's undeniably a big coup for Rae; life long, right wing Liberals from Ontario who don't have shares in Power Corp are certainly a valuable commodity to him.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What If Politics: Manning versus Romanow

While no one has cracked 60% in round 2 voting, the closest race appears to be the political spectrum spanning matchup of Preston Manning versus Roy Romanow (a mere 20 vote gap at last check). Here's my profile of the matchup:

Preston Manning (2)

OK. Everyone together now: “Refoooooooooooorm!”

That felt good. While there are a lot of Conservatives in this contest, Manning (and perhaps Lougheed) is one of the few who represents the “true right” (or, “far right”, depending on your perspective). Manning developed a reputation as a respected, principled politician, not afraid to speak his mind, during his time as Reform Party leader. After helping to create the CCRAP Party Canadian Alliance, party members decided that they would be better off under the leadership of one Stockwell Day. How’d that one work out of them?

The Biography that Never Was: Prime Minister Manning grew up around politics, as the son of Alberta’s longest serving Premier, Ernest Manning. In fact, from his first birthday to his University graduation, Preston lived in a province run by his father.

Manning founded the Reform Party in 1987 and, a year later, ran for them in an election where his party was shut out. The Reformers got their first real breakthrough in the 1993 election, winning 51 seats. Under the unofficial “The West Wants In” slogan, Manning’s Reformers played on the feeling that Mulroney had “sold out”, while preaching economic responsibility and promising democratic reform.

Given the strong social conservative views of many in the Reform Party, it is hard to imagine Manning ever becoming Prime Minister if not for the events of 1995. Few in Canada will forget where they were when Jacques Parizeau stood up on October 31st and claimed victory by the slimmest of margins, following the Referendum campaign. Jean Chretien’s Liberals appeared completely caught off guard by the loss and, even more so, by the speed with which Parizeau unilaterally declared independence the next day. In the chaotic weeks that followed, many in what remained of Canada were wholly unimpressed with the Liberals and their chief negotiator, Brian Tobin, who appeared to give Parizeau whatever he desired. In the end, the mish-mash European Union style arrangement which was agreed upon pleased few in English Canada. Many wondered why Quebecers were being allowed to keep their Canadian passports and use the Canadian dollar if they had voted to separate, a feeling Manning’s Reformers were quick to pounce on, with their hard line approach which, at first, refused to recognize the results of the vote and, secondly, demanded an “all or nothing” resolution.

After a snap leadership convention replaced Jean Chretien with rival Paul Martin Jr., Manning’s Reformers roared to massive win in the 1996 election. Between their handling of the Quebec situation and the country’s now dismal economic state, Manning’s tough love approach to both problems seemed like the best solution to most Canadians.

On June 10th, 1996, Preston Manning became Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister. As Prime Minister, Manning...

Roy Romanow (7)

Roy Romanow is unique in the final 8, in that he never came close to becoming Prime Minister (the same could be said of Tommy Douglas, although Tommy did at least lead a federal party). Despite that, he has had a long and impressive career in provincial politics.

Considering his close friendship with Jean Chretien and the fact that all NDP Premiers seem to eventually wind up as federal Liberals, it is surprising that Romanow never made the jump to federal politics. He has, however, made an impact on the national scene, first as Saskatchewan’s Attorney General during the 1981 constitutional talks and secondly as the author of the Romanow Report which was supposed to change health care in Canada (but didn’t really).

The Biography that Never Was: Roy Romanow’s rise to become Canada’s 21st Prime Minister is the story of a life long politician who would never have become our country’s leader if not for one tragic event.

Romanow was first elected to the Saskatchewan legislature in Canada’s centennial year and he served there until 1982, many of them as Deputy Premier. Romanow’s role in the 1981 constitutional talks cannot be overlooked and he deserves much of the credit for a compromise constitution being reached. In 1987, Romanow was elected leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, and he became Premier of that province following the 1991 election. Romanow was generally successful as NDP Premier, adopting the “third way” approach to keep the province’s economic books in order.

Romanow’s biography would likely have ended there if not for the tragic death of Paul Martin Jr. on September 14th, 2002. Martin had been seen as a sure fire successor to Jean Chretien but his death left the Liberal Party’s leadership race wide open, prompting 11 candidates, Romanow included, to try for the title. The tabling of the Romanow Report on Health Care in November of that year was the perfect launching pad for his leadership bid, although he did not officially declare until the following March.

At first, many in the Liberal Party were aghast at the prospect of a former NDP Premier having the nerve to run for their party’s leadership. Still, Romanow’s record as Premier in Saskatchewan had not met the same fate as that of many other NDP Premiers in Canada and his work on the Romanow Report had raised his profile among both Liberals and Canadians. Romanow also made for an appealing consensus candidate as he had been close to Jean Chretien, but at the same time had not ruffled the feathers of Martin supporters the way Rock, Manley, and Copps had. While he was only third on the first ballot, Romanow’s support grew, defeating John Manley on the fourth ballot by a mere 17 votes.

Paul Martin Jr. is today considered almost universally to be the best prime minister Canada never had. As for Romanow, as Prime Minister...

Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had - Round 2
Matchup 1
Robert Stanfield
Peter Lougheed
Matchup 2
George Etienne Cartier
Tommy Douglas
Matchup 3
Preston Manning
Roy Romanow
Matchup 4
Frank McKenna
Ed Broadbent

(view results)

Friday, August 11, 2006

TGIF Reading

For anyone looking to kill some time at work, here are a few posts and stories to check out:

1. In the best named blog since "Buckets of Grewal", a long time reader of this blog has launched "Any Idiot Can Have A Blog". I'm not sure I agree with all points in his mission statement:

We find blogging, as a general rule, to be useless ramblings by uniformed individuals with access to computers. As a general rule, they are simply ill-informed opinions, often by individuals with an inflated sense of self-purpose. In this grand tradition of blogging, is joining the community.

But nevertheless, I laughed a few times in the first post and in the description of the threat to our nation posed by bathtubs.

2. Good to see Bob Rae has continued to honour his solemn pledge to never attack another candidate in this race.

3. September 18th it is in New Brunswick. Early speculation is that Lord should win a majority but, as he learned last time he went to the polls, campaigns in New Brunswick can take on a life of their own.

4. Shameless Partisan Plug Alert: Generation Kennedy has launched a website here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Vote Out Anders...Part 82

This interesting message was sent my way:

The Calgary West Federal nomination date is Saturday September 2, 2006. If you wish to vote in the nomination you must be a resident of Calgary West and have a membership by THIS Friday August 11. Information regarding memberships can be found at or to directly purchase a membership go to

FYI So far to our knowledge UCCCA External Director and U of C Senator
Walter Wakula is running against Calgary West MP Rob Anders for the nomination.

So, at the very least, Anders is going to get a run for his money for the Calgary West nomination (although this won't be the first time he's been opposed). As for the challenger:

Walter Wakula holds a BComm, MBA (U of C);. He is managing director Wakula & Associates Inc. and has held senior financial management positions with Canadian and International petroleum, electrical utility and financial advisory companies.

All candidates have to be vetted by a in riding committee composed of members of anders board. The notice was given yesterday of the meeting being called (as far as everyone I know that knows this sort of thing, ie: cheif organizer of allison redford last time (anders challenger)).

By the rules memberships must be sold by friday. Only challenger so far is Walter Wakula recieved his MBA from the U of C in 1981, so he is substaintially older than Anders.

Quote from current riding association president:

"I want to save the biggest thanks for Walter Wakula, the outgoing president of our constituency association. For the past two years his leadership has steered us through the merger, a local nomination, a leadership campaign and an election. His ability to maintain calm, even during the most energetic debates, was critical to our success. Walter remains an active member of the board, so his knowledge and skills are still available when we really need them."
Andrew Constantinidis.
President, Calgary West EDA

The Elite Eight

Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had - Round 2
Matchup 1
Robert Stanfield
Peter Lougheed
Matchup 2
George Etienne Cartier
Tommy Douglas
Matchup 3
Preston Manning
Roy Romanow
Matchup 4
Frank McKenna
Ed Broadbent

(view results)

The second round is set. You can see the full first round results here.

The third seed, Ed Broadbent fended off a spirited challenge from John Manley by a mere 17 votes - he'll advance to face the only upset winner of the first round, and only Liberal left standing, Frank McKenna.

The top seed, Robert Stanfield, had an easy ride in the first round and will face former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed.

In a left versus right matchup, it will be Preston Manning versus Roy Romanow.

And, in a battle between two individuals who could very well win the entire tournament, it will be Greatest Canadian Tommy Douglas against the only 19th Century candidate left, George Etienne Cartier.

Round two closes on Tuesday - one vote per day until then.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


It looks like it's gonna be a nail biter in Connecticut:

Precincts Reporting: 76.87%

# votes %
Lieberman (101,818) 48.24
Lamont (109,239) 51.76

UPDATE: Lamont wins! But Liberman to run as an independent (where he will, one imagines, win).

With close to 300,000 people voting in this primary, I think this only further illustrates how the Primary system is a kazillion times better than the way Canadian parties pick candidates and leaders. Notice how this race wasn't about which candidate could mobilize certain ethnic communities, or get access to forms, or take over a riding association, or get a favourable nomination date from the party. It was about who those who called themselves Democrats in Connecticut wanted to represent them.

I Guess Sarkis Assadourian Was Unavailable

In a surprising move, Stephen Harper has appointed Wajid Khan as his special advisor on South Asia and the Middle East. That's Liberal MP Wajid Khan.

Khan will continue to sit as a Liberal so this is either:

a) a great gesture of bipartisanship by the Prime Minister
b) an ingenious plot by Harper which makes it a lot harder for the Liberals to criticize his position on the Middle East

Monday, August 07, 2006

Long Weekend Notes

A few thoughts, some of them from old news, on this holiday Monday:

1. The Tories will only let candidates who have lost in the past two elections run for them if they defend themselves to the party. It's a good thing they didn't have this rule back when John Diefenbaker was getting started.

2. The Liberals are within one point of the Tories! Err...within twelve points of the Tories!

3. Riley Hennessey has a good post up about the prospect of a fall election in New Brunswick. I haven't heard much out of New Brunswick lately but I take this to mean that Lord's popularity has been resurrected in recent months.

4. Voting in the first round closes tomorrow at noon in the Greatest PM...We Never Had contest.

The U of O Liberals and (shockingly) Manley for PM, are trying to drum up support for the former Deputy PM; I profile his first round battle with Ed Broadbent here (at last check, Broadbent leads by 2 votes). Daveberta weighs in with his endorsements here.

The ballot is below, and I've included the bracket as well for those who were asking about seeding:

Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had - Round 2
Matchup 1
Robert Stanfield
D'Arcy McGee
Matchup 2
Deb Grey
Preston Manning
Matchup 3
Ed Broadbent
John Manley
Matchup 4
George Etienne Cartier
Bill Davis
Matchup 5
Louise Arbour
Tommy Douglas
Matchup 6
Frank McKenna
Lloyd Axworthy
Matchup 7
Stephen Lewis
Roy Romanow
Matchup 8
John Crosbie
Peter Lougheed

(view results)