Friday, September 29, 2006

In Support of Gerard Kennedy

First of all, let me say that this has been an exciting, clean race that I’ve enjoyed a hundred times more than the last leadership “race”. Despite some high profile no-shows, there's a varied and talented pool of candidates running and I’ll have no problem supporting the last one standing come December 2nd. There’s a lot of good to be said about all the candidates in this race. As Liberals - men and women, young and old, dead and living - head off to the polls this weekend I think I’ll take this moment to say a lot of good about one candidate in particular. (guess who?)

Gerard Kennedy caught my eye early on in this race. What can I say – it was love at first wikipedia search. But looking good on paper is one thing – a leader needs to have the presence, confidence, experience, and ideas necessary to lead. After meeting Gerard a few times, I was convinced he possessed these qualities and I outlined some of my reasons for supporting him back in April. But April seems like a long time ago and I’d like to re-emphasize why I’ll be proudly voting for Gerard Kennedy this weekend.

For me, it comes down to what's required for the Liberal Party right now, in 2006. And this party needs three things (four if you count a new logo). Firstly, this party needs to come together and rebuild itself. Anyone who tells you that things are all hunky dory in Liberal land is seriously disconnected from reality (and not just because they’re saying things like “hunky dory”). Secondly, the party needs a clear purpose and vision. When asked “what does the Liberal Party stand for?” members need to be able to say something other than “to win elections”. Thirdly, we need to win elections. All three of these ideas are tied together and it’s going to take some effort from all Liberals to get there. The leader can only do so much but the leader is still the vehicle which will be used to reach this destination and this party needs a leader who can deliver on all three counts.

The Chretien/Martin wars tore this party apart and a house divided on itself cannot stand. In less poetic terms: GET OVER IT! Seriously. The last thing this party needs is Eddie Goldenberg opening up old wounds. Luckily, there aren’t any Capulets or Montagues running in this race. Candidates like Allan Rock did the right thing by declining to run and the Board did the right thing by staying on the sidelines. Liberals desire a fresh start and Kennedy would be a new face at the helm who represents a new beginning for the party. Gerard has run a positive campaign and would be an easy leader for all Liberals to rally around, should he come out on top. I’ve heard a lot of Liberals say “I can’t stand X”, “I won’t support Y”, “I won’t vote Liberal if Z wins”, but I haven’t heard anyone say that about Kennedy (to my face at least…).

As for the actual renewal of the Liberal Party, no one has talked about it more and no one is better suited to bring it into being. Kennedy is committed to engaging the grass roots and of curbing the powers of the PMO (or…I guess for the time being, the OLO). This party will not fix itself overnight and the job of party leader is a decade long commitment. Gerard Kennedy is a lifelong Liberal who understands this party and he will give the next decade of his life to the Liberal Party, win or lose.

Part of the renewal of the party is about finding out what Liberals believe in. We need a leader who believes in more than winning elections and who presents a vision Liberals can be proud of. On Afghanistan, Gerard has spoken out about a practical and principled solution to a complex problem. He’s put forward a critically acclaimed immigration platform. He’s the only candidate talking about education – probably the best investment any government can make. He’s laid out firm numbers, pledging to spend 0.7% of our GDP on early learning and child development. Rather than pledging tokenism, he’s suggested ways to improve the economic situation of women in this country. And, yes, like every single candidate in this race, Gerard has made it clear he likes the environment. While he hasn’t gotten as much media attention as others, Kennedy has been quietly running an ideas based campaign. He’s put forward the framework of a platform with substance which all Liberals can rally behind.

Obviously, having a strong Liberal Party with a clear vision will help us win elections. But the sad reality of politics is that ideas alone will never rule the day. Especially when you’re opposing a calculating and competent government. This party needs a leader who can win elections. Kennedy comes free of baggage. He’s not at all connected to Adscam and it’s very hard to run attack adds against “the food bank guy” ("Food...for the our Canada...We're not making this up"). If I were a Tory strategist, I could think of great lines of attack to use against most of the candidates in this field but I’d have a hard time finding something to stick on Gerard (and, in fairness, going after Dryden or Findlay would be just as difficult). Some will say that not having scars means you haven’t fought the battles but even if he’s a rookie on the federal scene, he’s far from an amateur. This is a political veteran with over a decade of experience in elected politics. He’s performed well as education minister and has enjoyed fantastic electoral success in a riding which isn’t traditionally a Liberal stronghold. Whether politics is a vocation or a skill, it’s hard to deny that experience matters. Kennedy chooses his words well, communicates effectively, and knows how to handle the pressure of an election campaign.

Finally, as a Western Liberal, I must add that Kennedy's deep roots in the West appeal strongly to me. The Liberal Party has never had a Western born leader and it's been a long time since the party made a serious effort to reach out to the West. Say what you will about winning back Quebec, but there are a lot more seats to be won out West than in La Belle Province where the Liberals have average a mere 20 seats over the last 7 elections and 20 years. With a united right, it is impossible for this party to win a majority government without a Western breakthrough. Having lived over half his life in Western Canada, Gerard understands this and his opposition to a carbon tax and support of the enterprise principle shows he's commited to making a Western breakthrough a top priority.

Gerard Kennedy is man who has helped those less fortunate his entire life. He’s in politics for the right reasons and, just as I knew it in April, I know today that he’s the right man to lead this party at this crucial time in its history.

Super Weekend

It's finally here. And I'm not ashamed to admit I'm really looking forward to seeing the results as they roll in. For anyone looking for last minute leadership reading, I've updated my Race for Stornoway page - it's got my profiles, Globe profiles, news stories, links, and anything else I thought was worthy of stealing from Cerberus' page.

And since all my work on first ballot projections will be moot in 72 hours time, I figured I'd include one last update for my projections. I've added an ever so small weighting of existing member support based on the form 6 count at Democratic Space (didn't want to weight it too heavily since there's not an even representation from all provinces and different campaigns had different strategies on the number to fill out). My spreadsheet is online here. I'll skip the rest of the methodology spiel and give the predictions my formula produces:

Ignatieff 26.7%
Rae 17.9%
Kennedy 17.7%
Dion 14.6%
Volpe 7.8%
Dryden 7.2%
Brison 6.3%
Findlay 1.9%

I'd personally put Volpe a little lower and Martha a little higher but, apart from that, I'm reasonably confident that the picture which emerges after this weekend will look something like the above.

And, just for fun, here's my best guess on Alberta:

Kennedy 26%
Ignatieff 24%
Dion 16%
Rae 12%
Volpe 8%
Brison 7%
Findlay 3%
Dryden 2%
Uncommitted 2%

Around the Globe

The Globe & Mail had online chats today with the three candidates likely to come out of this weekend with the most delegates. For those who missed it, here are the links:

Michael Ignatieff
Bob Rae
Gerard Kennedy

I'll let people browse the transcripts themselves, although I will say that Bob Rae is going to have to do better than "I suspect many people prefer "Rae Days" to Harris years" when it comes to defending his record. (I mean, one could argue that Rae Days are the reason Ontario got those Harris years...)

(You can also find past transcripts of conversations with Brison, Volpe, Dryden, Dion, and Findlay)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Leaked Memo Shows Liberals Fear Day

Document rates Tory hopefuls
Sep. 28, 2006.

British Columbia MP Stockwell Day is the Conservative MP Liberals would least like to face in a general election.

Although the Conservatives are not currently in a leadership race, Liberal strategists are fearful that a quick switch of leadership could lead to a CPC majority government. The conclusions are contained in a super top secret exclusive confidential memo obtained by Calgary Grit, and written by prominent Liberal strategist David Herle.

Herle, a key Liberal war-room strategist in the last federal election, says Day "worries me most." "People look at Stockwell Day and they see a young, vibrant leader who looks great in a wetsuit." the report continues. "Stopping the Day momentum in a campaign would be akin to reversing the flow of Niagara Falls."

In contrast, Harper is seen as a "Liberal wet dream" due to his cold personality and considerable baggage. The report concludes that his record as Prime Minister would become an issue in an election campaign.

While some have questioned the timing and conclusions of this leaked top secret report, most agree this is the work of the infamous "Liberal mole".

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mid-Week Musings

1. As funny as it is, can anyone see any sort of strategic advantage to signing up dead people in this race. Unless you plan to do the Weekend at Bernie’s thing and truck them down to vote, you’re just wasting your $10 their $10. This isn’t one of those mail in/phone in votes where this kind of fraud benefits you so recruiting the old Tom Long team in Quebec doesn’t really help Volpe out in this instance.

2. I’ve made my feelings on Paul Martin and his gang known in the past but books like these don’t do anything to help the party. No one wants to revisit old feuds and, with one or two exceptions, I think one of the great things about this leadership race is that it’s brought the old leadership camps together. I guess Eddie is free to write whatever he wants but I think most Liberals just want to move on.

3. Does anyone know of a site with the full list of programs cut and an explanation behind why each one was axed. Reading through the recaps, it seems to me like a lot of valuable programs were cut (as well as some that probably deserved the axe) but I'd like to see the official reasoning before rushing to judgment.

4. Our mystery pollster appears to be an American firm - Solus One. It's obvious that this is a canvas by one of the four candidates listed to find supporters. For fun, if anyone else gets the call, I encourage you to pick a candidate other than the one you're supporting and see if you get a call from their campaign this weekend encouraging you to vote.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Endorsements Roll In

I've tried to avoid simply reposting every press release which comes out of the Kennedy campaign on this blog since I'd rather not just be a propaganda dispenser. But, after reading a dozen stories which call this a "3 man race" when, in my humble opinion, it's anything but, I figured it couldn't hurt to toss up a few good news stories from the Kennedy campaign. So...

1) As someone with a deep respect for the Liberal MLAs in the Alberta Liberal Party, I was very glad to learn earlier this week that three of them have decided to publicly support Gerard. Mo Elsalhy, Bill Bonko, and Bruce Miller have all endorsed Gerard and two of them will even be running as delegates. Given how hesitant provincial Liberals are to be associated with the federal party, I think it says a lot that they're willing to stick their necks out on this one. One of the three who I talked to said he'd met with Gerard and another candidate (I won't name names) on the same day and he asked them both the same question on national unity - according to him, Gerard said twice as much in half the time and this won him over.

2) Vince MacLean, the former leader of the Nova Scotia Liberals has endorsed Kennedy.

3) By all indications, Gerard will do very well in British Columbia this weekend. And even though Western Canada gets ignored in certain polls, there are a lot of delegates who will be going to this convention from the West.

Oh Great...More Bad Polls...

Jason Cherniak tells about his adventures with a new Liberal poll tonight. Well, I just got a call from "Solis 1" myself tonight and it was the same script:

"Liberal delegate meetings are this weekend. Which candidate will you vote for?
Bob Rae, press 1
Scott Brison, press 2
Michael Ignatieff, press 3
Stephane Dion, press 4
Other or undecided, press 5"

Jason said he pressed 4 and got no response. Someone I signed up got it last night and pressed 5 and got no response. For fun, I decided to press 1 for Bob Rae when they called me tonight and I got a reply "thank you for your vote".

So this is an open call for two things:

1. Has anyone ever heard of the "Solis 1" polling company. A few quick google searches on variations of this yielded nothing.

2. Who else has gotten calls? And, if you have, did you get a response after you pressed for your candidate? Inquiring minds want to know.

(Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting Bob Rae is behind this poll since it makes no sense to me why you wouldn't just give everyone the "thank you" message regardless of who they vote for. Brison seems to be the only candidate who would benefit from that grouping of candidates and, even then, my hunch is this is just a shitty polling company rather than a campaign poll.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Projections Update

As always, you can see my projection spreadsheet online.

In an effort to remove some of the subjectivity to the projections, I've replaced my "gut feeling" level of grass roots support for each candidate with the regional polling data from the Ekos and Strategic Counsel polls which came out this week. For the record, I see major problems with the accuracy of both these polls (some of which are discussed by Penny here) but it's still worth including them, I think.

So, to recap, here's the Coles Notes version of how I arrived at these predictions (for the long version, click here):

- 15% of the delegates are ex-officio. So 15% of the vote has been assigned based on the average of identified ex-officio on wikipedia and delegate count.

-For the elected delegates, I broke each province down into new memberships sold and existing memberships. Based on news reports, leaked numbers, and the word on the street, I assigned the new sales to their respective leadership camps.

-The existing member support has been estimated using a variety of information available. I've given 1/3 of the existing member support to the regional breakdown on the two polls released this week. The other 2/3 has been assigned based on media mentions, blog endorsements, other projections, MP endorsements, fundraising dollars, and number of donors.

From there, excel gives me a number. And today, after updating all of this, excel is predicting a first ballot which looks like:

Michael Ignatieff 26.6%
Bob Rae 17.6%
Gerard Kennedy 17.6%
Stephane Dion 14.1%
Joe Volpe 8.6%
Ken Dryden 7.3%
Scott Brison 6.4%
Martha Hall Findlay 1.8%

I'll post a final update on Friday with my own predictions. For now, it appears that Ignatieff is still heading for a strong first ballot lead but, as always, the question is how much growth potential he has. Kennedy and Rae are in a dead heat for second, with Stephane Dion nipping at his heels. No one else really appears to have much of a chance of winning, barring some surprises.

Call Me Hedy

For those wondering what benefit Hedy Fry's endorsement will give to the Bob Rae campaign, consider this:

Not a single respondent chose Fry [in the poll].

"There were over 3,000 opportunities for people to pick her (as first,
second or third choice)," said Graves.

"She literally got zero. I have never seen that in over 20 years of

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Dead Have Risen And Are Voting Volpe

It's hard to even feign surprise at news like this.

In Other News...
1. It appears that Dion, Dryden and Brison are in hot water over leaking Liberal lists to the Globe & Mail for their quasi-scientific survey conducted last week. Brison says his campaign never gave the Globe their lists and given his impeccable track record of keeping confidential information to himself, I'm inclined to believe him.

As for Dion and Dryden, expect a slap on the wrist and a fine from the party (which could be a problem given their financial situations).

It also wouldn't surprise me to see certain individuals in the Quebec wing of the party chastised for this after the Quebec membership list was leaked to the Star to investigate Volpe's membership sales.

2. This is actually really encouraging. Who would have thought the Tories would put stricter emissions standards in place than the Liberals?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Super Exciting Fiscal Imbalance Talk!

If you're like me, you probably enjoy nothing more than spending your Saturday in hot debate over the fiscal imbalance and equalization payment formulas. So, to help with this, I thought I'd link to a few recent stories:

1) First off, via political mouse, comes this story of a potential equalization plan. The plan calls for three billion a year in transfers with most of it going to (surprise, surprise) Quebec. Here are the nuts and bolts:

As outlined by party sources, the plan, if it gets Cabinet approval, would include two key elements. Firstly, the equalization program that provides federal money to provinces whose ability to generate tax revenue falls below a national average would be enriched by nearly $900-million.

Secondly, those provinces that do not receive equalization money would be included in increased social transfer payments to pay for post-secondary education and training. This funding, likely in the region of $2-billion, would be divided on a per capita basis.

The price for the added largesse from Ottawa would be a new equalization formula, which includes part of a province's resource wealth in the calculation.

2) It sounds like Harper's plan won't please everyone since the Bloc is demanding 12 billion a year in transfer. Yes, that's 12 billion. In other words, Gilles Duceppe feels that it makes sense for Ottawa to go into deficit in order to give money to provinces which are, by and large, in surplus. Uh-huh.

Just to pay for this the Tories would have to, I dunno, add a few points on to the GST or something.

3) Finally, this isn't fiscal imbalance related, but whatever individual used this google search to find my site last week must have some sort of imbalance.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The One To Watch

This may mark the first time this campaign the Globe & Mail has written anything remotely nice about Gerard Kennedy so I figured it was worth a link.


TORONTO – Quick, now: What does the jumbled Liberal Party leadership race have in common with an obscure 19th-century English novel?

The answer: "a dark horse," a phrase thought to have been first used in print in The Young Duke, published in 1831.

The germane sentence reads: "A dark horse, which had never been thought of, rushed past the grand stand in sweeping triumph." Bonus points if you identified its author, a 27-year-old lawyer who, something of a dark horse himself, would become prime minister of England — Benjamin Disraeli.

The dark horse in the Liberals' current grand national steeplechase is easy to spot. More than halfway toward the finish line — the leadership convention in Montreal — Gerard Kennedy is raring to go, tucked in behind Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Stéphane Dion.

But while much of the news media have been focused on the front-runners, Mr. Kennedy has been galloping in their slipstream, signing up thousands of new party members and raising just north of $400,000.

Four weeks ago, a very senior Liberal senator, officially unaffiliated, hosted a salon for Mr. Kennedy in his Montreal home. A private affair, no reporters, just a few well-placed friends to meet the candidate, take his pulse and hear him talk about renewal, what the Liberal Party needs to do to regain the confidence of Canadian voters; the sort of event one might imagine being arranged for a young Pierre Elliott Trudeau, circa 1967.

Clearly, he has some distance to go. A survey conducted by the Strategic Counsel last week for The Globe and Mail and CTV shows Mr. Kennedy tied for fourth place with Ken Dryden, each with the support of 9 per cent of Liberal Party members. Several blogger surveys predict Mr. Kennedy will do better.

Much will depend on the convention's mood. Less sullied and more youthful than his better-known rivals, Mr. Kennedy — neither a Martinite nor a Chrétienite — bears no scars from the party's internecine wars and might thus be regarded as a leader who can heal the rifts.

More importantly, although 81 per cent of Liberals told the Strategic Counsel they believe the party can form the next government, delegates will, in fact, be electing a new opposition leader, for potentially five years. By that time, Messrs. Ignatieff and Rae, with all their liabilities, would be into their mid-60s — not an age, perhaps, to galvanize the emerging generation. Mr. Kennedy would be just 51, seasoned federally and, leaning slightly left, a nightmare for Jack Layton's NDP.

"Kennedy's what I call the sleeper," pollster Allan Gregg said. "He doesn't carry the same baggage as some of the others, although he does carry some — notably, almost no support in Quebec. But it's early days yet. And oftentimes, to find the winner, you have to look not at the front-runner or even the guy in second, but the third choice."

Political consultant John Duffy, a principal at Toronto's Strategy Corp. and officially neutral, agrees. "Kennedy is well positioned to exploit the negatives of the other name candidates. He's definitely one to watch, with a lot of late-ballot potential. The question is: Will he be able to withstand the scrutiny of being the one to watch?"

Appelez-Moi Robert

No one doubts Ignatieff will be leading after the first ballot, but given the last month or two, it's really hard to call the guy the frontrunner anymore in this race. And while I'm hesitant to put too much stock in polls like this, I think it's looking more and more like Bob Rae is the one to beat in this race. It's still a four man race, but Rae certainly has the big Mo right now.

Of course, with great expectations comes great scrutiny. The mainstream media has picked up on Rae's NDP donations and bloggers have been beating Bob up over the past few days.

While the NDP donations will upset some, I'm more concerned about Rae's constitutional flip flop. Here's what Bob said in August:

In an all-candidates debate only five of the 11 contenders attended, Bob Rae, Stephane Dion and Scott Brison said there is a need to recognize Quebec as a nation within Canada.

"I always supported the notion that a nation, it is a distinct society, which we need to recognize in our Constitution and I have fought for that," Mr. Rae said.

"The genius behind federalism is that we can be both a Quebecker and a Canadian."

Given my views on Quebec as a nation, it was disappointing to see this. Still, if you want to spin it as a positive, it just shows what a professional politician the guy is. He quickly bobbed positions when he saw an opening vis-a-vis Ignatieff and no one except a few punk bloggers has called him on it. The guy knows how to run a campaign.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The King is Dead, Long Live the King (or Alana DeLong)

Ralph makes what I believe is his sixth resignation announcement.

And the race begins! CTV profiles the nine candidates in the race.

Call Me Confused

The Northern Liberal (and everyone else) has a post up which could cause quite a few headaches for the Bob Rae campaign. Despite his claims that he has long since broken ranks with the NDP, it appears that Bob Rae made several donations to NDP candidates in the 2004 and 2006 general elections.

Here's a list of donations to election candidates made by Bob Rae, from the Elections Canada website:

2006 Election
Jan 20, 2006: Irene Mathyssen (NDP) - 300$
Jan 16, 2006: John Godfrey (Lib) - 300$
Dec 22, 2005: Rochelle Carnegie (NDP) - 250$

2004 Election
June 28, 2004: Tony Martin (NDP) - 250$
June 25, 2004: David Christopherson (NDP) - 250$

The postal codes for five of these donations are listed as M6S 2A7, the same postal code as listed under the donation of Robert Keith K. Rae of $10,000 to Bob Rae's leadership campaign. The Mathyssen donation lists the postal code as M6S 2M7, but I assume this is a typo. Add it all up and it's pretty undeniable that it's the Bob Rae who made these donations. I sent an e-mail to the Rae campaign to give them a chance to respond but didn't hear back from them.

As for what this means, I'm not quite prepared to crucify Bob on this one. If I had a close personal friend or family member running for the NDP or Tories, I'd definitely write them a cheque. And Bob Rae certainly has a lot of friends in the NDP. However, it's certainly going to leave a lot of Liberals uneasy that Bob was cutting cheques to NDP candidates in close races with Liberals just a few short months ago.

UPDATE: Interesting...

Both Rae and Boyd were thrilled with the NDP's showing in the election, winning 29 seats across Canada -- 11 more than in the last Parliament.

UPDATE 2: The Rae campaign got back to me with the following:

Bob has spoken at length and on many occasions for some years now about his split with the NDP and what is wrong with that party, so his support for any candidate is the result of personal and not political ties. He spoke out in speeches, interviews, his two books in the late 1990s and in op-eds including one in the Nat Post entitled "Parting Ways with the NDP": "If Svend Robinson's foray had been a solitary event, it might have been possible to brush it off as yet another escapade from a histrionic crank. But he is the foreign affairs critic of the New
Democratic Party. The NDP criticizes the Third Way, opposes the World Trade Organization, sits on its hands when Tony Blair praises the advantages of markets, and denounces any military action against terrorism whether by the United States, Canada or Israel. This is not a vision of social democracy worthy of support."

So that is a fuller picture of Bob and the NDP.

He has given to others including Pettigrew, Graham, and Godfrey and his own comments are in the piece below. He also donated a few hundred to the provincial liberal party in Ontario over the years.

2005 - Robert Rae $280 to OLP

2003 donated $200

2001 donated $185

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Projections Update

(for methodology used, click here)

Cerberus and DemocraticSpace have posted projections today so I figured I'd take the time to update my leadership projections and posted them on google spreadsheets for everyone to take a look at (if you'd like the excel file with formulas, e-mail me). I recognize that it may not be the easiest to read so e-mail me if you're confused by the set-up.

I've updated the numbers for endorsements, MP endorsements, blog endorsements, ex-officio support (averaged between delegate count and wikipedia), other projections, and media mentions. I've also bit the bullet and used the bizarre fundraising numbers which were released in August. Hopefully we'll see some figures released soon which bring all the candidates up to August 31st. I've also tinkered with the existing member support in a few ridings, primarily to help Bob Rae who has undeniably had a good month (also gave him a few more membership sales in Ontario under the assumption that some of Bennett's support will drift his way).

When that's all said and done, here are my updated first ballot predictions:

Michael Ignatieff 26.2%
Gerard Kennedy 18.5%
Bob Rae 15.9%
Stephane Dion 13.9%
Joe Volpe 10.2%
Scott Brison 6.5%
Ken Dryden 6.4%
Martha Hall Findlay 2.0%
Hedy Fry 0.5%

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Lord is Dead

CBC has called it for the Liberals in New Brunswick. Shawn Graham's Liberals will win a comfortable majority government.

Is there any doubt that Bernard Lord's decision to not run for CPC leadership in 2004 is one of the dumbest political moves in recent Canadian political history?

Better Than Being There...

This was definitely the best venue so far but, as LeBlanc said when reading the rules, it was really more "discussion" than "debate". It's also unfortunate that they couldn't sneak a "nation" question in there since that's obviously the hot issue in this race right now.

Canada's Peacekeeping Role (Iggy, Dion, Bob)
This was the most heated debate of the night. Dion obviously came to Vancouver planning to wage war since he threw back some of Ignatieff's old quotes at him. Ignatieff protested that "you're putting words in my mouth" which I guess was true, except that it was Ignatieff's own words that were being put in his mouth. Rae went after Iggy hard too, asking if he stood with George Bush and eventually got Ignatieff to concede that "George Bush made every mistake in Iraq and then some".

Without a doubt, this pairing was a gift from God to Dion and Rae since it's hard to not look good in front of Liberals while defending Canada's decision to stay out of the Iraq war.

Pipelines and the Environment (Brison, Kennedy, Volpe)
All three make their openings in French. I don't know much about the issue but I will say that Gerard Kennedy made a bit of history by becoming the first Liberal to ever quote Peter Lougheed in a debate.

Legalized Pot (Findlay, Dryden, Fry)
This was a fun topic. Unfortunately all three candidates seemed a bit confused between "decriminalization" and "legalization". Martha compared the current laws to alcohol prohibition and said we couldn't control marijuana because it's illegal. Hedy kept making reference to the Netherlands and to the marijuana cafes there. All good arguments but those are good arguments for legalization, not for decriminalization which is what all the candidates all said they favoured.

Martha and Dryden agreed that talk of pot decrim makes "a lot of people nervous". Well, if they're nervous...

Kelowna (Dion, Kennedy, Findlay)
To be honest, I was kind of distracted by Martha's giant white sweater she always wears so I didn't pay too close attention to this one. Kennedy used a lot of French again, Dion talked about setting up an independent body to solve land claims in BC, and Martha promised to review the Indian Act.

Salmon Stocks (Ignatieff, Brison, Dryden)
This turned into a roast of Stephen Harper. Dryden said that Harper "doesn't believe in science" which, while it might be an apt description of Stockwell Day, is probably a little disingenuous description of Stephen Harper.

Foreign Ownership Rules (Rae, Volpe, Fry)
Bob Rae decided to quote Tommy Douglas in what I guess was an attempt to remind everyone he used to be with the NDP. He said he supports stricter protection in the field of culture but not necessarily in other domains.

Hedy Fry and Joe Volpe then got into one of the most bizarre debates of the evening where they seemed to be passionately arguing the same point against each other. Further confusing things was the fact that this point seemed to be that they loved Canada and wanted to protect it. In the end, Hedy proclaimed that they'd have to "agree to disagree".

Trade with Asia (Dion, Brison, Fry)
All candidates handled the "Chyndia" question well. Brison, wanting to up Kennedy quoting Lougheed, made reference to Richard Nixon reaching out to China. He also mentioned a few times that Harper was isolating China which is a new attack I hadn't heard before.

Hedy Fry proclaimed that Canada was number one in "space", "robotics", "bionics", and "nano technoly", failling to mention our dominance in hockey and rock reality shows.

When Dion was called upon to add his comments to the debate he answered with "umm...I think we all agree".

CBC and the CRTC (Ignatieff, Findlay, Volpe)
Ignatieff said we're "too holed up in regions" and talked about "one national culture". Personally, I'm not sure if the best way to develop "one national culture" and to fight regionalism is to parcel Canada off into nations.

The candidates all supported a strong CBC, probably all hoping to one day get their own mini-series should they win this race. Martha said we should look at making the CBC commercial free.

Senate Reform (Kennedy, Rae, Brison)
As Kennedy said, this isn't really a burning issue in the Tim Hortons of the country. Gerard went on to talk about bringing forward policies which will appeal to the west and emphasized that a carbon tax probably isn't the best way to do this.

Rae took a few subtle pokes at Iggy's constitutional plan and Bob also gets marks for being the first candidate to use the word "shafted" in one of these debates.

Closing Remarks
The candidates were given 2 minutes for closing remarks which must have seemed like an eternity to them after the 1 minute they'd been given in previous debates.

Dion re-emphasized that we shouldn't open up the constitution. He also mentioned that Jack Layton had seemingly endorsed him, which probably falls into the "rejected endorsement" file.

Ignatieff, as usual, made reference to his support of Trudeau at the 1968 leadership convention which is interesting given his recent constitutional gambit. He also promised hope for every single profession, group, and individual in Canada.

Rae says the race isn't about "who has the best ideas, but who who can beat Harper". Even if he's new to the party, no one can say that Bob Rae doesn't understand what matters most to Liberals.

Kennedy gives a very good closing statement, full of passion and fire. He talks about renewal in the Liberal Party which is something I would have preferred to see his campaign focus on more than it has.

Brison plays to the crowd with a little Emerson bashing. Re-emphasizes the point everyone is making that this is about who is best suited to beat Stephen Harper.

Volpe tells a story about when he talked to Jean Chretien about running for leadership. WHAAAAA?!?!? Joe Volpe talked to Jean Chretien about running for leadership. I can only imagine how that call went:

Jean: " 'ello"
Volpe: "Hello Jean. This is Joe Volpe. I'm thinking of running for leadership."
Volpe: "Hello? Jean? You there?"

I really do like Martha but her closing statement really missed the mark this time. She started by listing the reasons people shouldn't vote for her. Then she compared herself to Jack Layton (what's with the Layton love-in this debate?) and Brian Mulroney. Yes, she compared herself to Brian Mulroney. She concluded by saying that Stephen Harper is afraid of running against Martha Hall Findlay. With all due respect to Martha, who has really impressed in this race, I don't think Stephen Harper is afraid of running against you.

Dryden says "what do Canadians think?" and "who can win the country" four times each in his closing statement. I'm gonna guess this was a not so subtle reference to the polls which came out this week.

Hedy Fry wins the "most honest remark of the debate" award when she says "you all know I'm not the first choice" (ed note: or the second choice, or the third choice...). She then gives one of the most depressing closing statements ever, talking about "unabated misery" and complaining about the high convention fees, high membership fees, and problems with the party. To me, this sounded like someone ready to drop out of the race.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Fun-with-Numbers Prediction

Linda Diebel has a run-down on the leadership race today offering "informed speculation to Sunday Star readers, having interviewed some two-dozen analysts and campaign advisers about projections and permutations."

While she seems to have a fairly good grasp on the relative strength of the candidates, I did find this projection of hers in Quebec interesting:
A fun-with-numbers prediction has Dion coming out of Super Weekend with 850 Quebec delegates, Rae 800 and Ignatieff 700.

First of all, let's put aside the fact that Ignatieff is obviously going to win the province. My issue here tends to be with the way Diebel is projecting Quebec's 2350+ delegates. Mainly, that Quebec doesn't have 2350+ delegates.

Consider that 14 delegates elected a riding times 75 ridings equals 1050 delegates. With 2 ex-officio a riding plus Senators, aboriginal delegates, privy councilors and commission delegates, and you can probably add 250 to that total. Hell, let's make it a round 300. That still leaves us roughly 1000 delegates short for the province assuming that the other six candidates get zero delegates. There are a few possibilities to consider here:

a) There are 250 University campus clubs in Quebec
b) There are 1000 women's clubs in Quebec
c) Quebec gets 1000 special delegates due to it's "nation" status

Or maybe, just maybe, Diebel's Quebec projections are a bit off base...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Weekend Update

1. For those wondering why I haven't posted on the David Herle poll (besides the fact that it's a David Herle poll), here's what I wrote back in March about leadership race polls:

But I won't post the results from this poll, or any other similar ones, because these are dangerous polls that people should completely ignore. They are based on nothing more than name recognition, and most Canadians know very little about the big names, never mind the hidden jewels of the race


These fictional polls are, in my opinion, one of the worst ways to decide who to support for leadership. Some may point to "the scream" as the reason Howard Dean lost the Democratic primary in 2004 but, in reality, it was because of polls which showed John Kerry would do the best against George Bush in hypothetical elections. Democrats, desperate to beat Bush, decided to put their faith in hypothetical election polls and jumped to Kerry, not realizing what a dreadful candidate he was.

I suppose the Mithrandir poll is good news for Dryden but I'd be more excited about this than this if I were him.

2. Obvious news we already knew.

3. More obvious news we already knew.

4. I'm curious to see the details of Kennedy's national education strategy. Education is one of the most important investments any level of government can make and it's about time we saw the federal government take it seriously.

5. I'd always kind of suspected the NDP would take the Parkdale by-election so I wouldn't read too much into their win. Parkdale has a long NDP history and the Dippers usually perform well in by-elections.

6. In case no one has seen it yet, Lib News has the best link round-up of Liberal leadership news on the net.

7. Gerard and Martha have new websites up.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Call Me Carolyn

In the day she's profiled in the Globe and Mail, Carolyn Bennett has dropped out and tossed her support behind...Bob Rae.

This is probably for the best. Carolyn is an individual who I really like as a person but she certainly wouldn't have made a good leader and was heading for an embarrassing delegate total if she'd stayed in. As for Rae, this isn't as big a "get" as Maurizio, but it's impossible to deny anymore than Bob is a serious contender who could win this thing.

What's more interesting is the position this leaves Bennett's supporters in. Today is the deadline to submit your form if you wish to run as a delegate for the convention. So anyone who has already submitted their form to run for Bennett might find themselves unable to run for another candidate at delegate selection time which would be a real shame. Hopefully the party will make some sort of exception and allow them to switch their declared support.

Pre-Emptive Strike

It's always a great joy for a blogger when your blog finds itself at the top of the google search list for a hot topic. Because of this, many will toss out the hip key words to try and drive traffic to their site. However, it always works best if you can be at the top of the google search before it becomes a hot topic. Because of this, I'm launching my Peter MacKay pre-emptive strike; these keywords are bound to be hotly searched for one day and I intend to make sure Calgary Grit tops the google charts when that day comes.

"Peter MacKay and Helena Guergis"
"Peter MacKay and Ruby Dhalla"
"Peter MacKay and Elizabeth May"
"Peter MacKay and Olivia Chow"
"Peter MacKay and Pamela Anderson"
"Peter MacKay and Nelly Furtado"
"Peter MacKay and Chantal Hebert"
"Peter MacKay and Madeleine Albright"
"Peter MacKay and Britney Spears"
"Peter MacKay and Tom Cruise"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's not easy being green

If I were running for Liberal leadership under an environmental platform, having been the Environment Minister responsible for the Liberal Party's Kyoto plan, I can't think of a worse possible thing to hit the presses the day before delegate selection meetings start.

Admittedly, Sheila Fraser won't be winning too many popularity contests among Liberals anytime soon, but if this report is damning (and when isn't an AG's report damning), it's certainly miserable timing for the Dion campaign.

And really good timing for Harper who will be conveniently releasing his environmental plan around the same time.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Charlie Sheen jokes

One of the The only highlight from the 2006 Liberal election campaign was certainly the entertaining blog of Scott Feschuk. Well, he's back.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ma Nation, Mon Pays

Say what you will about Michael Ignatieff (and I've said a lot), but the man has certainly made the Liberal leadership race a lot more lively than it would have been in his absence. Case in point is his proposal to re-open constitutional discussions which has generated quite a few diverse reactions.

I can't say I'm surprised about Michael's position since he'd said he was open to constitutional talks back in April when I interviewed him. And as a candidate who thinks big and thinks bold, the chance to make constitutional changes must certainly appeal to him. There's nothing wrong with shooting for the stars but as I've said before, I think this would be a huge mistake for both practical and theoretical reasons.

1. First of all, here's what's needed to amend the constitution: "Amendments can only be passed by the Canadian House of Commons, the Senate, and a two-thirds majority of the provincial legislatures representing at least 50% of the national population". Given that one of the reasons cited for opening the constitution is that Quebec didn't sign the original deal (see point 1 below), we would need all ten provinces to ascent to the new deal.

2. There is no way you are going to get ten Premiers, the First Nations, and a variety of special interest groups to agree on a constitutional framework. The provinces not listed as nations would only agree to a deal if there was a massive decentralization of powers. On the flip side, every potential "nation" would insist on being included and would be royally peeved if they weren't. And if every potential "nation" from the Acadiens to the Colbert Nation were included, would it really satisfy the nationalists in Quebec that they were one of fourteen nations?

3. A failure to reach this would cause a massive backlash among all groups who expected to get something out of the deal. This would be especially true in Quebec. Right now, the separatists have no real issue to cling to but this would revitalize them and give them ammunition to argue that "Canada does not work".

4. The Liberal Party would be fractured on this issue dramatically. I can't see the Trudeau wing of the party going along with this at all. We all remember what happened with Meech and the "vendu! vendu!" chants and no one wants to see a repeat of that.

1. The argument that Quebec didn't sign the original deal is BS. It was ratified by a Quebec Prime Minister and virtually every Quebec MP. So there is no real need to have Quebec sign just for the sake of having them sign the deal.

2. Can you really recognize all First Nations as one nation? There are over 600 reserves and over 20 language families. It is first nations (with an s) after all, so the question is which of the First Nations will be deserving of "nation" status and which won't be?

3. Will the Acadians be recognized as a nation? How about the Metis? How about the British/loyalists/Ukrainians/trekkies?

4. If Quebec is a nation, would Newfoundland be a nation? They're certainly distinct, right down to the weird time zone and funny accent. Or how about Nunavut? Under the logic that Quebec is a nation because it is of a majority French, wouldn't Nunavut be a nation because it is majority First Nations? What about Alberta? We've certainly got a common history and culture out here too.

5. This point is the crux of my whole argument and why I'm dead set against this idea. The problem is not so much recognizing the French Canadians as a nation; we do that when we talk about "founding nations". The problem is of recognizing Quebec itself as a nation and of equating the French Canadian nation with the Quebec nation. Even if you claim that no special powers come with that title, you're saying Quebec is more than a province (and if Quebec is more than a province then why shouldn't it be it's own country...). You're also saying that Quebec is the only home of French Canadians in Canada. This would be a massive slap in the face to the million French Canadians living outside the province of Quebec. You'd basically be telling them that they're fundamentally different from the francophones in Quebec because of where they live. Somehow they're not part of the nation because they live in New Brunswick or eastern Ontario or Alberta, rather than Quebec. Personally, I grew up as an anglophone in Montreal (with all four of my grandparents having lived in Quebec too) and if I were still living there, I would not consider myself part of any Quebec nation. A Quebecer, yes - but not part of some mythical Quebec nation. I suspect a lot of anglophones, allophones, and even French Canadian federalists in Quebec would take great issue with this too.

Pierre Trudeau's vision of this country recognized both French and English languages and cultures...from coast to coast. I think it would be a grave mistake to equate French Canadians with Quebec and English Canadians with the other nine provinces. In his letter to the editor today, Michael Behiels said it better than I ever could:

"Mr. Ignatieff foolishly equates the substate of Quebec, one province within the federation, with its francophone community, a nationality that is the heart but not the totality of Canada's francophone and Acadian communities. With his call for the formal fusion of the francophone nation, a sociological reality, and the Quebec state, a constitutional entity, he plays into the hands of Quebec neo-nationalists who want to redefine the pan-Canadian duality based on two official languages into a territorial duality based on states. In trumpeting this conception, he also plays into the hands of Quebec secessionists, who will simply build on this highly unstable arrangement."

It's good that Ignatieff has people talking about these issues but what he's promising would be taking this country down a very dangerous road.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This Post Is Liberal Leadership Free

-Sure, it's opportunistic. Really opportunistic. But I guess it beats a PM only addressing the country to plead for his political life.

-The deadly dance begins. I said all along that the fiscal imbalance/equalization promises would be the hardest for Harper to keep. Flaherty's first budget wrote itself but his second one is going to be one giant headache.

-Leaked polls show Canadians cool to child care AND the GST cut. Combined with recent poll numbers, I think this means we can safely rule out a fall election. And maybe even a spring one.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Le Debat

For those who have better things to do than watch CPAC on the Sunday afternoon, you probably missed the third Liberal leadership debate in Quebec City. I did prefer the new format but it seemed like time always ran out just as things started to get interested. Given that most of the debate was in French, it was also tough to get too excited by the translator debating himself. And because I only watched the dubbed version, I will probably be the only Anglophone not offering a finicky review of the French skills of the group of 10.

General Thoughts
Ignatieff and Rae clearly had the most supporters in the audience, with Dion also having a very vocal contingent. As Lobster Thermidor commented, this led to some funny moments when candidates would say things like "we need to claw back agricultural subsidies by 0.2% over the next decade" and their supporters would burst into chants and applause.

I was surprised to see Ken Dryden didn't get more cheers. Even if no one is supporting the guy, you'd think 6 Stanley Cups for the province would be worth polite applause at the very least.

I haven't recapped every mini-debate since many weren't overly memorable. For example, when Hedy Fry, Carolyn Bennett and Ken Dryden were called for a break out debate, I took the chance to catch bits of the Star Trek marathon on SPACE. After all, the need for my sanity outweighs the need to see what Hedy Fry thinks on regional development. With that said, here are some of the highlights, as I saw them:

Opening Statements
Volpe attacks Iggy, Rae says he's sticking around "win or lose", Iggy tells Quebecers that Quebec is their nation and Canada is their country, Dion says "help me help you" ("show me the money!"), Kennedy plays up his Afghanistan position.

Healthcare (Rae, Volpe, Bennett)
Bennett talks about prevention while making choking gestures with her hands. In the exchange, she gets a dig in against Bob, saying she decided to run provincially "after five years of Bob Rae" because the health care system was in bad shape in Ontario. To Bob's credit he took the jab with a smile and defended his record effectively.

Constitution (Rae, Dryden, Dion)
Rae was the most forceful of the three saying that, from his experience, it would be "dangerous to change the constitution". Dryden went into a Dryden-esque "what is history?" explanation, and I think he was against changing the constitution, though I can't be sure ("when I think of constitutional reform, I think of a six year old girl playing ice hockey in a pair of second hand skates in the 1920s; I think of a French Canadian mill worker trudging to his job, knowing that, in his mind, he truly believes he can provide the sustenance for his family to realize their dreams in life..."). It's a shame Ignatieff wasn't in the group for this question, as this could have provided for a great debate on what may turn into a major issue in this campaign.

Tax Balance (Iggy, Brison, Bennett)
This marked the first Ignatieff/Brison encounter since the infamous "Stockwell Day" comments Brison made a few weeks back. After kidding each other over using "tu/toi" (which took me forever to get because of the translation), Brison went into the strongest attack of the debate. He accused Ignatieff of setting high expectations on the fiscal imbalance and said there would be no way for Ignatieff to pay for all the promises he was making in his platform.

Immigration (Kennedy, Dion, Martha)
I was very pleased to see Gerard get the immigration question since he's certainly got the most detailed policy of any of the candidates in this race on that topic. I think he addressed the question well and laid out the specifics he's mentioned in his platform.

International Trade (Iggy, Kennedy, Volpe)
I'd been anticipating Volpe/Ignatieff fireworks for a long time, especially after Volpe led off his opening statements with a dig against Iggy. But instead, we got a kindler, gentler Joe Volpe and there were no real fireworks. Ignatieff said he didn't like the Softwood deal and Gerard talked about needing to show respect in talks with the Americans.

Childcare (Martha, Brison, Rae)
In the biggest softball ever, we found out whether the candidates thought child care should be delivered through a "cheque" or through "high quality child care spaces"? Well, duh, I wonder what a debate of Liberals in Quebec are going to say. Not surprisingly, what followed was four minutes of "thanks Ken" and "I agree".

Closing Comments
Martha gave a very eloquent closing statement, but it was all in English. Ignatieff re-emphasized his desire to re-open the constitution, which led to a mix of applause and boos. Brison played to the crowd, calling Quebec both a nation and distinct society.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Pool Results

Way back in March, I asked people to predict who would run for Liberal leadership. Looking back at the guesses made, it's clear that no one really had a good idea of how this race would shape up back then. Everyone knew Belinda would run, and a lot of people were convinced we'd see Goodale and Corderre in the race. On the flip side, few had Kennedy on their list and not a single person predicted the magical Hedy Fry candidacy.

The scoring was simple. 1 point for a correct guess and -1 for a wrong one. I made John Godfrey and Maurizio Bevilacqua zero point guesses since they did technically run but aren't running now.

Adding it all up and the winner is none other than Jason Cherniak, with 7 points. Jason predicted the entire field of 10 minus Hedy, and only had Stronach and Corderre as incorrect guesses. Observer had 6 points, while Mike P, Hussain, and BC Tory all had 5 points. Myself, and a bunch of others came in middle of the pack with 4 points (I had most of those who ran predicted but picked a lot of people who decided not to run too).

Friday, September 08, 2006

He'd Also Like A Ban On Condoms, I'm sure

Pope Benedict has decided to weigh in on Canada's domestic politics:

In the name of tolerance, your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of freedom of choice it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children,” the Pope told a group of bishops from Ontario.

Such laws, he said, are the result of “the exclusion of God from the public sphere.”

He lamented that Catholic politicians had yielded to “ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls.”

Man, I'm with Johnny Ratz 100% on this one. I've always said there is way too much tolerance in Canada. If only we made laws based on a religion most Canadians don't belong to rather than what Canadians themselves want, this country would be a much better place.

I won't say much else right now, because I'm really interested to see what the Pope has to say about the Softwood Lumber dispute before I comment further.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Projection Mini-Update

Consider this a minor update to my first round ballot projections...or, more appropriately, a correction. It seems, I had the wrong formula in my excel spreadsheet for calculating existing support, which caused a few numbers to be skewed.

I've corrected this and also gone through and used the most recent blogger endorsement (and for those whining about Cerberus' totals, get over it - he's been counting them in a consistent and fair manner so I'll keep using his numbers), MP endorsement, wikipedia endorsement, and media numbers. I've also tinkered with a few of the membership sale numbers due to feedback I received after my first post. Finally, I replaced the "website rankings" with the Democratic Space projections, as part of my formula to find existing support. Just because Hedy Fry's website ranks 5 and Ignatieff's ranks 9, doesn't mean she has over half of the support he does. If more bloggers come up with credible projections, I'll be sure to average them in as well.

What I haven't updated are the fundraising numbers, because I cannot find any site listing the number and total value of donations for all candidates to the end of July, in a format a normal human being could be expected to understand. Once I find some consistent up to date fundraising numbers, I'll post a complete update. I also plan to put my spreadsheet on google spreadsheets this weekend, in order to allow people to scrutinize it. If anyone would like be to send them a copy of the numbers I'm using, just drop me an e-mail and I'll send the sheet to you.

With all that said, here is where the first ballot projections sit:

Ignatieff 26.76%
Kennedy 17.67%
Rae 15.03%
Dion 12.41%
Volpe 10.17%
Dryden 6.90%
Brison 6.58%
Findlay 2.05%
Bennett 1.75%
Fry 0.67%

Truth be told, these numbers seem a bit more intuitively correct to me than the ones I'd previously posted with the glitch. Ignatieff is clearly in front, although he will still need to be a lot of Liberals' second choice if he hopes to win it all. Volpe moves up a bit higher than before but, remember, this is under the assumption that he still controls the Jimmy K forms. Once I manage to get my hands on some credible fundraising numbers, I imagine we'll see a bit of movement in the projections.

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Rick Bell has a great article raking the provincial PCs over the coals in today's Calgary Sun. Yes, that would be the same Calgary Sun which feels Ted Morton is too much of a pinko commie to run this province.

Among the highlights:

From the party who brought us the problem, they tell us they will now bring us the solution.

Oh yes, indeed. There will be a plan to build schools and expand health care and give cash to cities.

There was no plan for growth, but having no plan was a good plan until about five days ago and voters figured it was a good plan because as long as it is Conservatives who have no plan, having no plan is a plan.

On the other hand, if Conservatives decide having a plan is the plan, and it is now, then Albertans will figure having a plan is the greatest idea since ... well, since not having one.

As long as the Conservatives say it is the right and only thing to do, it is the right and only thing to do. Happened back in '93 when the Tories ran on the Liberal platform of balancing the books and paying off the mess created by the Conservatives. The Tories won, cleaning up their own dirt and taking credit.

Alas, the doublethink of a one-party province is a tough nut to crack. Just remember. Ideas don't matter. Allegiance does.

Funny thing. Here are the platforms.

Opposition: Alberta needs a plan for government spending.
Tories: Alberta NOW needs a plan for government spending.

Yes, the Tories will be the ones to fix what the Tories didn't do. Remarkably, nobody blushes.

Imagine. A party in power 35 years running on its record. Never. Rumoured Tory election slogan under any new leader: "Don't worry, be happy." Sure to win even more seats.

SPEAKING OF WHICH: Here's a good article on Ralph Klein's legacy and of one party rule in Alberta.

Thursday Notes

I'll be posting revised leadership projections later tonight after I found a small glitch in my original formula. Until then, here's a look at the news:

1. He's baaaaaack! I must say, I can't wait for Monday Report the Rick Mercer Report to start airing again next month. Until then, Rick is back and blogging. Among the musings in his return post, is a look at the term "anticipatory hypothetical" which, I am proud to say, this blog finishes first for on a google search, ahead of the Indian sex and crazy robots he talks about.

2. Prairie Fire has a run down on some Saskatchewan endorsement news. Still no word on Ralph, who remains one of the biggest catches still out there (after Jean Lapierre, of course).

3. The Globe continues their leadership series with a look at Scott Brison. My opinion of Scott has risen quite a lot during this race and I'd probably slot him into my top 3 at this point.

4. Bob is proposing a form of pharmacare which would be a great initiative.

5. Michael Ignatieff launched his platform yesterday, amid much fanfare. I was very relieved to see that Michael is against a devolution of powers to the provinces since, listening to his various musings, this was a road I was almost positive he would be heading down.

He is still determined to re-open the constitution and to recognize Quebec (and first nations people) as nations in the constitution. I really can't see a scenario where re-opening the constitution wouldn't cause more harm than good but I suppose it's possible that we'll have a nice round of amicable constitutional talks, leading to a common consensus which leaves every single province, territory, potential nation, and special interest group happy.

There are some interesting proposals in the rest of the platform too, but the national unity section is the only part I've read in depth so far. Once all the campaigns have released platforms, I'll do a comparison of some key differences between the candidates.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stanfield Fumbles - Preston Wins

Thanks to a little help from his friends, Preston Manning emerged victorious last week in the "Best Prime Minister We Never Had" poll. While the contest did help to illustrate the problems of reading meaningful results from any form of Internet poll, I had a lot of fun running it and I hope it helped to shed a little light on some impressive politicians who were never lucky enough to become Prime Minister.

Preston himself was certainly a very well respected individual and I've said a few times here that it's a shame he didn't toss his name into the race to replace Ralph Klein as Premier of Alberta. He always said what he believed was right and certainly would have implemented a very bold agenda if he had ever moved into 24 Sussex. And, as a Liberal, it's hard to say anything bad about the man who founded the Reform Party, thus ensuring Chretien a decade of power in the 90s.

I did find the rush to stuff the ballot box for Preston quite interesting. This was especially true in the final when there was a concerted effort for Preston to beat Tory Robert Stanfield. Obviously those on the right saw Manning as the one "true blue" politician in this contest, unlike the likes of Stanfield or Bill Davis. And, if you look at it, it's hard to find an example of a "true blue" politician becoming Prime Minister or even coming close to the highest job in the land in our history. Mulroney and Diefenbaker both ran to the left of their Liberal opponents to get elected and even Harper, while far from being a Red Tory, had to moderate himself before Canadians would elect him. So, looking back at our history, I think it's clear that Canada has never been and never will be a "small c" conservative country and that any Conservative who hopes to reach the top must show himself or herself to be a moderate.

Regardless, congrats again to Preston on his win - he's certainly worthier than a lot of the individuals who have been Prime Minister.

How We Got Here

Seeding Round
A field of close to 100 candidates was weeded down to 16. Mike Harris, Mitchell Sharp, CD Howe, and Paul Martin Sr. all missed the cut by a handful of votes.

First Round
Stanfield (66%) over McGee (34%)
Manning (66%) over Grey (34%)
Broadbent (51%) over Manley (49%)
Cartier (65%) over Davis (35%)
Douglas (66%) over Arbour (34%)
McKenna (55%) over Axworthy (45%)
Romanow (55%) over Lewis (45%)
Lougheed (62%) over Crosby (38%)

Stanfield (57%) over Lougheed (43%)
Cartier (65%) over Douglas (35%)
Manning (61%) over Romanow (39%)
McKenna (56%) over Broadbent (44%)

Stanfield (62%) over Cartier (38%)
Manning (79%) over McKenna (21%)

Final Round
Manning (71%) defeats Stanfield (29%)

What if Political Biographies
Manley versus Broadbent What If
Manning versus Romanow What If
Stanfield versus Cartier What If

Seeding Round Profiles
Bubble Candidate Profiles
French Canadians
19th Century candidates
Female Candidates

We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Blogging

After a fun sojourn across Hungary, I have returned to cowtown, so you can expect posting to resume at it's usual pace. It should be a busy September with a crowded fall agenda on the Parliamentary horizon and the Liberal leadership race heating up. In the coming days, I'll get some house cleaning posts out of the way, including a recap of the Greatest PM We Never Had contest, an update of my first ballot projections, results from the month old "who will run" pool, and another special post which I think a few people might find somewhat interesting.

For right now, here are a few interesting news stories from recent days:

1. Another bad weekend in Afghanistan.

2. A great article on the Afghanistan situation which echoes a lot of what Kennedy has said on the way we should be going about rebuilding that country.

3. Speaking of which, there was a good discussion between Scott Brison and Gerard Kennedy on Afghanistan on QP Sunday. It was reassuring to see that the two could find a lot of common ground, despite their different opinions on the mission.

4. The Senate will be stalling on the ethics bill. Good on them. I really like the accountability act, but there are still a lot of problems in it which need to be ironed out.

5. Two weeks to go in the New Brunswick election.

6. This is an interesting poll, but the CTV story completely misses the point. Here's the conclusion:

Concern seems to have reached a tipping point and the Conservatives neglect the issue at their peril, said Angus McAllister, president of the company which does research for government agencies, corporations and non-profit groups.

The federal government has been promising to release a major environmental plan this fall, but it is not clear whether the package will include a plan for climate change, or just a promise of consultations.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, an international pact to cut greenhouse emissions that cause global warming, and federal officials suggest their top priority is air and water quality, not climate.

Now, here are the poll results:

In the poll, the most frequently named environmental issues were air quality (35 per cent), global warming (20 per cent), water quality (12 per cent) and nature conservation (six per cent).

Don't get me wrong - I think climate change is important. But, looking at the poll numbers, it seems to me that a plan which focuses on air and water quality (47% between them) would be more popular than one which focuses on climate change (20%).

7. This is the first real road bump in the Stephane Dion campaign to date. If nothing else, it does finally give us an answer to the age old riddle: "what do Ralph Klein and Stephane Dion have in common?".

This is far from fatal but it will probably mark the end of the Dion media honeymoon. It will probably also overshadow what was a very thorough environmental platform.

8. How big is your Canada? Ken Dryden has released his "Big Canada" platform (click here to read the full platform). It doesn't have a ton of specifics but I do really like the key priorities he identifies for Canada. As I've always said, Ken Dryden understands Canada better than most politicians and it shows in this document.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Weapons of Mass Distraction Found in Iran

(I drafted this a few weeks ago, saving it for a time like now when I wouldn't have time to write anything new and/or interesting)

While Iran's role in the international community is ambiguous, the country has taken a huge step forward in the blogging community. Yes, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a blog. He's no Scott Feschuk, but I did browse through his archives and found some rather interesting posts of his, which I've transcribed below:

July 14, 2006: I spent the day touring a pistachio factory where we are not secretly developing nuclear weapons. I was very pleased to only see delicious pistachio nuts and NOT uranium in this factory.

July 17, 2006: Got in a fight with the wife tonight. I wanted to stay in and rent Lethal Weapon but she was adamant that we watch What Women Want. Eventually we decided on the wacky hijinx of Maverick.

July 25, 2006: I have been offered an interview with Liberal leadership hopeful Stephane Dion! I'm not really sure what country he's from or who he is, but I'm very excited about this as I imagine this is an honour reserved for a select few bloggers. Please e-mail me any questions you think I should ask him.

July 28, 2006: Well that sucks. With "The One" cancelled, how am I going to spend my Tuesday evenings?

August 1, 2006: Just a reminder that everyone has until Tuesday to vote in my "Greatest Satan" contest, with number 2 seed Israel, holding their own against top seeded USA.

August 5, 2006: Still trying to pick out a birthday present for Kim Jong-il. But what do you get for the fellow Axis of Evil member who has everything? Any ideas?

August 6, 2006: I have joined the "Bloggers for Ned Lamont" blogroll.

August 9, 2006: A lot of people have written in saying that my campaign motto from the last election of "Death to Israel" is too vague. As a result, I'll be running under a "results for people" slogan next campaign. Admittedly, this will be results for heterosexual, male, non-Jewish people but that kind of goes without saying.

August 14, 2006: As a blogger, I feel it is my duty to weigh in on the major issues of the day. To say things which might not be popular. So here's my take on the big issue: Yes, I'm not surprised Maurizio dropped out but I just don't understand why he's supporting Bob Rae.