Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I remember Scott Brison floated this idea when he was in public works. It didn't make much sense to me then and it still doesn't today:

TORONTO AND OTTAWA — Ottawa is preparing to sell $1.5-billion worth of office properties across the country as part of the first phase of a plan that will see dozens of federal buildings go to the private sector with the government as a long-term tenant, sources say.


The government is expected to use a process known as a “sale-leaseback,” by which it sells the buildings to the private sector and then rents them. The government is expected to use 25-year leases, sources said.

Show of hands by everyone out there who is considering selling their house and then renting it back? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Presumably the businesses who purchasing these buildings will only buy them if they can make money off the government by doing it. So...uhh...the government must be, by definition, losing money in the process.

Stay tuned for Michael Fortier's next announcement where he reveals that he will pay for this plan by buying lottery tickets!

Fun Stuff

-22 Minutes had a few good spoofs of the Tory attack ads, which you can see here. While you're at it, check out their videos from the Liberal leadership convention if you haven't already.

-Also, I came across this blog today counting down the "101 people who are screwing up Canada". I don't agree with all the names on the list, but it'll sure be fun to watch the countdown since there are certainly many worthy candidates.

-Good to see the government of Canada is on top of this whole climate change thing

-And, finally, because nothing is more fun than watching the PQ implode, be sure to read all about Bernard Landry's musings that he could take over the party's leadership before the next election.

Everything you ever wanted to know about climate change...

...but were too afraid to ask.

Via Jason Bo Green comes an absolutely amazing article on climate change by Kerry Emanuel. It details the science, controversy and politics from an objective perspective, giving all sides their say and throwing plenty of blame at the extremists on both the left and right.

It'll take you a long time to read through it, but Emanuel explains complex science in a very easy to understand way and after reading this you'll have a much greater understanding of climate change. I know I did.

Bitching about Liberal or Tory policy will take a lot less time but trust me on this - it's well worth the read.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Liberals Strike Back

The Liberals have released an old fundraising letter of Stephen Harper's from 2002 which asks for an "army of Canadians" to help fight in the "battle of Kyoto" (that man will find any excuse to go to war, eh?).

While many of my liblog friends will try and use this to tar him, I think Harper should hold this up and be proud of it. It's proof that, contrary to popular belief, Harper has viewed the environment and the Kyoto accord as a top priority of his for a long time.

Monday, January 29, 2007

They Didn't Get It Done

Remember this, from a little over a year ago?

The first half of the spot features a grim-faced, black and white close up of Paul Martin that is slowly zoomed in on to the accompaniment of ominous background music, as the lugubrious narrator intones, "When you've been in power for 12 long years, when your party has been named by a judicial investigation into corruption, when scandals continue to engulf your government. What message can you possible take to the people of Canada?" As Martin fades to black, a chyron from the Globe & Mail (from before the election) appears - "PM Plans Negative Campaign." This too is zoomed in on as the music swells.

The take home message - it's not a good sign, when you're in power and the only message you can bring is a negative one. I don't necessarily agree with that view, but I thought it was fun to bring it back up...

As for the new ads,

I like attack ads. I thought the 2004 "gun point" Liberal ads were effective, and I thought the 2006 Tory "entitlements" ads were brilliant. Using old quotes from the Liberal leadership debates is certainly fair game - Dion knew there was a cost to mixing it up with the other candidates when he played the pitbull.

I'll go against the majority and say that running attack ads against Dion is sound strategy. I'm a firm believer that it's very important to define new leaders during their first few months in charge, so now is the time the Tories (and Liberals) should be trying to define Dion (especially when you have the cash to do it). And by going after the Liberal environmental record, Harper is definitely playing scorched earth in the hope that voters take the "none of these guys will do anything on the environment" approach and it becomes a non-issue. Once again, probably a good move given the Liberal environmental record.

But the ads themselves? It looks like Harper let Ben and Rachel try their Youtubing skills out. They're crap. I know a lot of people believe that the "amateur" look works for attack ads, but there's just no oomph behind them. Michael Ignatieff saying "we didn't get it done" during a leadership debate? Is that really going to change anyone's opinion? More ranting about the billion dollar boondoggle? Yawn. The only one of the three which might work is the environment ad since it has some cold numbers spliced in to the Iggy clips but it's debatable if it's worth taking the "they'll go neg" hit and paying the Super Bowl rates to air it.

As an add on to the ad talk, the BC Young Libs have a nice You Tube video out which I can't resist since I'm a sucker for anything which trashes Harper to the tune of U2.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The $64,000 Question

The media has been hyping the environment as a major political issue over the past few months and today's Globe featured a complete front page spread, pages upon pages of articles, and even green trim on the title. Inside, they publish the results from the latest Gregg poll:

How likely is it that you would vote for your local Green Party candidate if an election were held within the next year?

Very likely 4% [clearly the 8-11% numbers we keep hearing are soft then]
Somewhat likely 16%
Somewhat unlikely 21%
Very unlikely 47%

What is the most important issue facing Canada today?

Environment 26% [up from 4% a year ago]
Health care 18%

Best Plan?

Keep trying Kyoto 63%
We'll never reach Kyoto goals - go with made in Canada plan 30%

Could global warming harm future generations?

Yes 83%
No 14%

Which Party has the best plan for the environment?

Liberals 16%
CPC 12%
NDP 9%
Green 27%
BQ 2%


76 per cent are willing to pay to have their houses retro-fitted to become more energy efficient
73 per cent would reduce the amount they fly to times when it is only absolutely necessary
72 per cent would pay more for a fuel-efficient car
62 per cent are willing to have the economy grow at a significantly slower rate
61 per cent would reduce the amount they drive in half.


Only 34% support higher gas and fuel prices


It's abundantly clear that the environment has exploded onto the scene over the past few months as THE issue in Canada. Because it's rise as a major issue has been so fast, this leaves us with many questions, none of which I'll attempt to answer right now [that's for a future post]
. But I'd be curious to read what other people think about this, in the comments section:

1. Why did the environment suddenly become such a major issue? Something pushed it over the
tipping point, but what?

2. Do Canadians really care, or are they only telling pollsters it's a big issue because they feel they should?

3. Would Canadians actually vote for the Green Party? If so, who does that hurt the most?

4. Is this a ballot question? Or is it the new healthcare?

5. How much are Canadians actually willing to pay? [I don't for the life of me believe that 61% of Canadians would cut their driving in half]

6. If this becomes a ballot question, which party does it help the most?

Spor Repor

Oshawa Generals 4
Saginaw Spirit 5

Get ready for Stephen Colbert day in Oshawa.

Mandatory Political Link: Adam Radwanski has some good quotes on the Arar saga.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Results for People

Hey Jack,

Love your plan to end ATM fees. Those are such a pain in the ass to pay. While you're at it, I've noticed the U of A library charges a dollar a day per book for late fees which is really a drag to pay. I mean, how am I supposed to keep track of when my books are due? If you ask me, that's a rate of payment which is very, very high — and unfair. If you could order them to end this gouging and cut their late fees to ten cents a day, I think a lot of people would really appreciate it (and it could win you Edmonton Strathcona!!!).

Also, those new video iPods are pretty pricey too. Any chance you could force stores to all take $20 off the sticker price for them? That's be a big help.

Thanks Jack - keep up the good work!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mid-Week Musings

1. Hey - look who agrees that Quebec shouldn't be getting a special deal on the Boeing contracts? [well, look who "agreed" a year ago anyways]

We don't talk much in BC about the aerospace industry. Everybody thinks it's a Quebec industry. Well, I got to tell you - we have an aerospace industry here, and it is benefiting because the Liberal government of Canada is allowing the procurement process to be merit-driven. So we have Kelowna Flightcraft getting a major billion-dollar-plus contract. We have Cascade Aerospace, up the Valley, getting a billion-dollar-plus contract, because this government would not interfere for political reasons with the merit process of bidding and public procurement - not like the Conservatives did with the CF-18!

You want to know what a Conservative procurement process looks like, ask the people of Winnipeg how they liked it when they lost the CF-18 to a company in eastern Canada for political reasons.

2. BBG has a post up on a good cause.

3. Via Wells comes Rudy Gulliani's entire 140 page campaign plan (is this the work of the Liberal mole?). While it's certainly not a great way to launch a campaign, it could make for interesting reading for any aspiring politicos out there wanting to see how a US leadership campaign is run.

4. Day versus Wilkins

5. The Oscar nominations are out - not really a political link, other than the fact that Al Gore's doc picked up a pair of nominations

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Mulroney Than Manning

It was one year ago today that Stephen Harper was elected. Two floor crossings, three intergovernmental affairs ministers, and four priorities later, Canada’s new government has turned one and is poised for…well…nobody really knows. I tend to think this government will see its second birthday before we get an election but I’ve learned never to be surprised in politics. So, as people are prone to do on anniversaries like this, I thought it might be time to reflect a little on the first 365 days of the Harper government. And given the domination Harper has over this government, "Harper government" is a much more apt description than "Conservative government".

While those on the right will try to glorify Harper’s achievements and those on the left will try and slag him, I think the take home message from the first year is that Harper really isn’t any different than Chretien or Mulroney. He’s made it abundantly clear that, despite his five priorities, this government has one priority and that’s re-election; re-election by any means necessary. Need to lure an MP onside with a Cabinet appointment? Sure, why not! Need to cut a deal with the NDP to stay in power? Let’s talk! Need to steal some Liberal policies to cut them off? Hell yeah! Harper has methodically been taking issues off the table he wants nothing to do with (ie. Same sex marriage) while offering a few tax cuts here and there as proof that the new boss is at least slightly different than the old boss.

So while there may be a few token musings about Senate Reform to appease the base, any doubts that the CPC was really the old Reform Party died when Harper stood up in the House and whipped his caucus into declaring that Quebec was a nation. With rumours abounding of Boeing contracts being shifted to Quebec and of equalization and environmental decisions which will hurt the West, it’s clear that Canada’s right wing has completely abandoned its raison d’etre. After helping tear apart the old Mulroney coalition, Harper appears to have re-assembled most of it and has governed in much the same way Mulroney did.

As for an honest evaluation of the first year. Well, he checked off 80% of his priorities, but several major flip-flops will no doubt make the “promises made, promises kept” mantra a lot harder to campaign on next election. Unpopular decisions in foreign policy and the shocking rise of the environment as a major issue will also make Harper’s re-election harder than most imagined it would be twelve months ago. That said, by hugging the centre, silencing the extremists, and playing “get elected” politics, Harper has certain proven he’s not the scary kitten eater he’s been portrayed as in the past. So, with an election no one can predict the outcome of hanging over out heads, the year ahead promises to be quite eventful indeed.

Monday, January 22, 2007


The LPC announced the full slate of election readiness co-chairs today. A big congrats to Kevin Feehan and Pat Raymaker, who I'm sure will do excellent work in Alberta.

National Election Readiness Committee Members

Co-Chairs, National
Mark Marissen
Nancy Girard

Senator Marie Poulin

Co-Chairs, British Columbia
Pam McDonald
Bruce Young

Co-Chairs, Alberta
Kevin Feehan
Pat Raymaker

Co-Chairs, Saskatchewan
Sheila Hart
Nikki Hipkin

Co-Chairs, Manitoba
Debbie Morrison
Jane Nikkel

Co-Chairs, Ontario
Nithy Ananth
Jan Innes
Jack Siegel

Co-Chairs, Québec
Michel Joncas
Lucie Santoro

Co-Chairs, New Brunswick
Nadine Hebert
Hon. Kelly Lamrock

Chair, Prince Edward Island
Mary Nicholson

Co-Chairs, Nova Scotia
Pernille Boulter
Tom Hayes

Co-Chairs, Newfoundland and Labrador
Donna Pardy
Norm Whalen

Chair, Yukon
Shayne Fairman

Chair, Nunavut
Chris Lalande

Chair, Northwest Territories
Dave Monroe

Caucus representatives
Hon. Navdeep Bains
Senator Maria Chaput
Senator James Cowan
Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh
Hon. Francis Scarpaleggia

Ali Jonzon
Melissa Pierre

Marie-Reine Paradis

Jeffrey Copenace

Nicole Foster-Woollatt

Senior Advisor
Hon. Don Boudria

Special Advisor – Outreach
Andrew Kania [so much for those Mississauga-Streetsville rumours]

Special Advisor – Communications
Jatinder Rai

Royal Pain in the Ass

Vive Le Quebec Libre redux

PARIS — Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest have taken French presidential candidate Segolene Royal to task for saying she sympathizes with the idea of Quebec sovereignty.

The Socialist hopeful was asked about her thoughts on Quebec's national question after a short meeting with Parti Québécois Leader André Boisclair in Paris on Monday.

Ms. Royal, who has never visited Quebec, said the province and France have common values, including “sovereignty and Quebec's freedom.”

Talking to Americans

There's a lot of talk about those chasing the Democratic nomination in 2008. After seeing fictional black, female, and latino Presidents on TV in recent years, there's a very good chance that the Dems may be going down one of those roads. Here's a quick look at the field to date:

The Frontrunner

Hillary Clinton: She's in! Under the US alternance policy, it's time for a Clinton to be President so this certainly works in Hillary's favour. She's been working hard to dull her reputation as a left wing New England liberal in recent years by going right on some social issues. With the best campaigner of this generation helping her out, she stands a very good chance to win the nomination.

The Challengers

Barack Obama: The potential for obamania is certainly there with this young and charismatic candidate. He's got youth, he's got a great personal story he's got charisma; what he doesn't have is a ton of political experience. Obama is young enough that he doesn't have to win to position himself for a future nomination but he certainly could ride a groundswell of support to a win.

John Edwards: I always felt Edwards would have been the most electable choice for the Democrats in 2004 and, out of the gate, I'm of mostly the same opinion for 2008.

Dark Horses

Bill Richardson: This half-Mexican governor of New Mexico has a long political resume behind his name, although he lacks the flair of the three front-runners.

Joe Biden: He's seen as more centrist than the field, especially on foreign policy. Lost the '88 nomination to the Michael Dukakis juggernaut.

Tom Vilsack: Let the Vilsackian revolution begin!

Unlikely to Run

Al Gore: If I were living in the states and if Gore ran, I'd probably be supporting him. Although he likely won't get an endorsement from his former boss, Gore's experience as VP will serve him well with voters. And, unlike the rest of the field, he's also got experience of actually winning a Presidential election. Unfortunately, the inconvenient truth of it all is that Gore is unlike to run.

Fringe Candidates

Dennis Kucinich: Can Frodo pull off a miracle? Not very likely.

Christopher Dodd: Dodd has hired a former John Kerry campaign manager to run his bid. I guess David Herle was busy.

Mike Gravel: This 75 year old candidate could be the choice if Democrats decide their best bet is to make John McCain seem too young and inexperienced for the presidency.

Oh God No!!!

John Kerry

UPDATE: APL has a very thorough and very good run-down of the Republican field.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Stephane Dion

There was a Valpy-esque profile of Stephane Dion in Saturday's Globe for any who missed it.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Alberta Grits are demanding an overhaul of the province's election finances disclosure law after Elections Alberta revealed the Tories haven't filed required financial reports for nearly two decades.

"There needs to be a complete review and overhaul," said Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald.

"Things have to be more tightly controlled and they have to be more rigidly enforced."

MacDonald was stunned to discover yesterday that the Tory party failed to file mandatory reports to Elections Alberta since 1987 and no one noticed until he asked to see the documents.

Now, before people jump all over the Conservatives for this one, let's consider a few things. First of all, when a government's term is 30 years, missing your deadline for 20 years in Alberta years is only, like, 3 years for other provinces. So this is only the equivalent of the governing party not disclosing their finances for a mere three years which I'm sure most voters would think nothing of.

And, before Albertans rise up and blame the Tories for this, let's remember the important thing - the party will be punished:

The law calls for a fine of not more than $1,000 for violating the act.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Long Shadow

Given that a potential Dion Government Cabinet would look vastly different from the shadow Cabinet he announced today, I'm not sure how much we can actually read into it. But it's one of those things you sort of have to comment on so here are a few random thoughts:

-A BCer in Toronto has the demographic breakdowns. At first glance, it looks to me like there are lots of females, and lots of females in prominent positions.

-It will be interesting to see how the committees work and how much power they have. The committee heads don't have shadow Cabinet roles, so how do you divide roles up between Bryan Wilfert who chairs the foreign affairs committee and Ujjal Dosanj who is the foreign affairs critic (and how does Raymond Chan figure into all of this as critic for "foreign affairs (Asia-Pacific)"?).

-With big names Ken Dryden and John Godfrey chairing two of the committees, it was surprising to see Wilfert and John MacKay get the other two.

-I'll be very curious to see how David McGuinty handles the environment file. He's an able performer in the house which is a neccesity for the portfolio, given the media scrutiny around that file these days.

-McCallum in Finance is a sound decision given his background and experience. Given the importance of Flaherty's next budget, this is probably the most important critic portfolio.

-Irwin Cotler has been given "Human Rights". I have no idea what exactly he's responsible for since most human rights would seem to be covered by other critics.

-Brison to industry is the surest sign that there's no vindictiveness left from the leadership race. After going Rae, then Ignatieff, Dion had more reason to punish Brison than anyone else but he's instead rewarded him with a very juicy portfolio. Similarly, Dennis Coderre, who didn't sound very excited about working with Dion on December 2nd, winds up in Defence.

-In a great move, Joe Volpe got transport. After watching his leadership campaign, no one has more experience at dealing with train wrecks than Joe.

In other news, the rumour is that Martha Hall Findlay's bus driver will be getting the Ontario Desk in the PMO. No, this is not a clever satirical jab, it's an actual rumour I heard from a fairly credible source.

Only Nixon Can go to China

Two interesting stories from the past two days:

Oilsands tax incentives questioned

OTTAWA — Environment Minister John Baird hinted Wednesday his government is considering eliminating tax incentives introduced in the 1990s to boost production in Alberta’s oilsands.

As he announced a $230-million investment over four years into research on clean technologies with Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, Baird acknowledged Wednesday that he is puzzled by the federal assistance in the booming sector.

“I cannot explain why the Liberal government of Mr. Dion made these changes,” Baird said, speaking in French.

“I’m not here to defend the policies of Stephane Dion and the Liberal party. It was the (Liberal) cabinet with Stephane Dion that created this program. (Finance Minister Jim) Flaherty is in the middle of listening to the needs of Canadians from coast to coast and he will present the budget not this morning, but in the coming weeks and months.”

Alberta, energy cousins to fight Ottawa
PM's equalization plans a 'betrayal'

Alberta pledged Tuesday an "important alliance" with Saskatchewan and Newfoundland in their equalization battle against Ottawa and the possibility Prime Minister Stephen Harper will retool the federal revenue-sharing formula to include half of non-renewable resource dollars.

The partnership solidified Tuesday when news reports suggested Harper will break his federal election promise and include resource revenues in the equalization calculation -- a move that Saskatchewan's finance minister called a "betrayal" and an attempt "to buy Quebec votes with western oil."

While I think both of these moves are the "right" policies to adopt, it might make life a little easier for Liberal candidates in Alberta next election.

UPDATE: The Times they are a changin'. Here's what Harper said just a short month ago (thanks to DH for the e-mail on it):

Dion said he will review existing breaks for the oil sands if he becomes prime minister, and will only allow them for companies that meet high environmental standards. The proposal earned him a rebuke Thursday from Harper, who suggested that politicians from central Canada tend to single out his home province.

Dion said he would not impose a tax on gasoline but would use fiscal measures to encourage companies to adopt green technology.

Alberta's oil patch receives an estimated $1.4 billion in annual tax breaks through a program designed to encourage new construction projects.

Dion said the Accelerated Capital Cost Program, designed a decade ago to help the then-fledgling industry, is outdated and needs to be revamped.


Harper appeared to shoot down the idea Thursday. He said his government's recent decision to tax income trusts had already impacted the Alberta oil sands - and suggested further hikes would be unfair.

"It would be asking a bit much to target the energy sector for tax hikes in that matter," Harper said.

"It's easy for some of the other parties - for Mr. Dion, or the NDP, or the Bloc - who don't represent Albertans and Westerners to say Albertans should pay all the taxes in the country.

The Invasion of Norway

Oh Jack...

BRANDON, Man. -- It was all acronym soup at a speech by Jack Layton at Manitoba Ag Days yesterday.

The federal NDP leader left agricultural producers looking at each other in wide-eyed wonder after a speech about farm issues in which he repeatedly referred to the "SARS" crisis which affected the Manitoba cattle industry.

"Another important issue is SARS," said Layton.

"I was just talking to a cattle producer today who said the situation is worse now than when we were in the middle of SARS."

Manitoba Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk loudly whispered, "it's BSE, not SARS," from her seat at the front of the audience.

BSE is the acronym for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, while SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, the respiratory illness that paralyzed Toronto for several months in 2003.

Layton didn't hear Wowchuk and kept going, saying SARS several more times.

"Unfortunately, due to all the subsidies to big oil and big ass, there is no money left to fight the SARS outbreak," Layton added.

(h/t Kinsella)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

This and That

1. Kevin Taft was on the Dave Rutherford show recently and you can listen to the interview here.

2. According to these calculations, Ralph Klein and Shirley McLellan will each be walking away from the Alberta legislature with parting gifts well over half a million dollars.

3. This Decima poll is interesting. More Canadians would prefer a plan which gave a $1,000 tax break to households which take environmental action rather than a plan which would give a $1,000 tax break to every household.

4. If the ugly headlines over Wajid Khan continue, one has to wonder how long it will be before Harper banishes him to a desolate planet.

5. The Hill Times has some speculation on Liberals eying Wajid's old riding. Some of the names they mention:

-Andrew Kania, of 2004 nomination controversy fame, and a key organizer on John Manley's 2003 leadership campaign.
-Khalid Usman, a former city councilor in Markham.
-Charles Soussa, a Royal Bank executive.
-Bonnie Crombie, a Michael Ignatieff organizer

I've also heard a lot of talk about former Allan Rock and Gerard Kennedy staffer, Mandy Maghera, eyeing the seat. Given Dion's commitment to electing more women to parliament, she would certainly be a good fit.

6. Rumour has David McGuinty as the next Liberal environment critic.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

SD in AB

I dropped by the Dion town hall on Thursday, mainly because I figured a public town hall with the Liberal leader in Alberta would be sure to generate excitement (if not protests, riots, and/or lynchings). Unfortunately, there were no irate NEP rants from this large and mostly (but not uniformly) Liberal crowd which received Stephane very well. Here are some of the questions asked and noteworthy portions of Dion's answers; Since half the questions seemed to be on the environment, I may have skipped over some of them. If nothing else, this should provide some clues as to what the Liberal platform and messaging may look like for the next campaign.

-Question Topic: Infrastructure
Answer: Dion said the Liberal promise to send parts of the gas tax to cities will be in the next platform and that it's because of the need to spend on things like infrastructure that he will not be cutting the GST an additional 1%, to 5%.

-Q: Differences between Dion and Harper on the environment
A: Dion feels Harper will do some half measures on the environment now that the polls show it's a major issue but it's never been a priority for him before. Dion also thinks Steve should have appointed Bob Mills as the environment minister.

-Q: Wheat Board
A: Dion asked the audience who supported the wheat board, and over 90% of the hands went up. He feels the board is needed because the farming subsidies the US and Europe give to their farmers.

-Q: Lubicon land claim
A: Dion talked about a desire to have an independent body to solve land claims.

-Q: Would you agree that there is a quiet revolution occurring in Alberta now?
A: Like everyone else, Dion didn't really understand the question and it turned into an environment answer where he announced that he would not bring in a moratorium on oilsands growth.

-Q: Senate reform
A: An elected Senate would hurt Alberta since it would bring more legitimacy to a body where Alberta is under-represented. Dion does think there should be 10-12 year term limits on Senators and consultation with the Premiers before naming new Senators.

-Q: Court challenges program
A: Liberals will re-instate it if they win election

-Q: The need for female candidates versus the unpleasantness of appointing candidates
A: Although Dion didn't say so it in these words, his answers boils down to: appointments if necessary, but not necessarily appointments.

-Q: Health Care
A: Dion congratulated the Alberta Liberal Party for helping to kill Klein's "third way". Stephane would like to see a national healthcare library, a push towards more self-help, an attack on the causes of health problems (ie. toxins), and an attempt to identify which practices the provinces currently use which work best.

-Q: Is "sustainable development" anti-Albertan?
A: Not according to Preston Manning.

-Q: Income Trusts
A: Harper was foolish to make a promise he knew he'd have to break. Liberal still haven't decided if they will propose changes to income trusts in next platform.

-Q: Afghanistan
A: Dion would use diplomacy to bring more countries on board and tell the world "Canada is a good team player, but we need a team". Wants to have a bigger focus on infrastructure and rebuilding.

A True Calgary Liberal

I was really saddened to hear about the passing of Mike Jensen, who was one of the most passionate and intelligent Liberals in Calgary there was. Mike was active in the Liberal Party in Calgary for a long time and I last saw him at the leadership convention where he was a Dion delegate. He will certainly be missed.


Michael Jensen

Michael A. Jensen, beloved son of Dorothy Dawe and Ian Jensen, passed away suddenly at the Rockyview General Hospital on Friday, January 12, 2007 at the age of 29 years.

Michael was born in Red Deer, AB on September 21, 1977. Although Michael became afflicted with cerebral palsy as an infant, he was ever determined to meet life's challenges head on. Always an honour student, in 1995 Michael was named a member of the Calgary Herald's Class Act upon his graduation from Ernest Manning High School. Michael went on to study at the University of Calgary, obtaining his Bachelor of Arts (with distinction) in 2000, and his Master of Arts in 2003. Michael's Masters Thesis, entitled "The Neoconservative Mind; the Legacy of Leo Strauss", was nominated for the Governor General's medal for academic excellence. At the time of his passing, Michael was completing his doctorate in Political Science at the University of Calgary. Michael was a talented writer and contributor to many publications, including the Calgary Herald, the University of Calgary Gauntlet Newspaper, FFWD Magazine, Ehgloo Magazine and the Canadian Journal of Political Science. Passionately interested in politics, Michael worked on numerous election campaigns as a policy advisor and was a member of the executive of the Calgary Nosehill constituency of the Federal Liberal Party of Canada. Michael was an equally passionate sports fan, particularly of hockey, baseball and curling. Michael's eternal optimism is perhaps best reflected by his devotion to his beloved Chicago Cubs, who haven't won the World Series since 1908. Known for his winning smile, his sometimes off-the-wall sense of humour, his generous nature and his gentle soul, Michael will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

Michael is survived by his loving parents, mother Dorothy Dawe (Barry Dommasch), father Ian (Joanne) Jensen; two sisters Natasha and Chelsea; his grandmother Rae Jensen and his aunts, uncles, cousins and many, many friends. He was predeceased by his grandparents Kai Jensen, G.H. (Harold) and Jean Dawe.

Those wishing to pay their respects may do so at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY'S Park Memorial Chapel (5008 Elbow Drive S.W.) on Monday, January 15, 2007 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. If friends so desire, in lieu of flowers, memorial tributes may be made directly to the University of Calgary , 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, AB T2N 1N4 for a future scholarship in memory of Michael.

Funeral Services will be held at Woodcliff United Church (5010 Spruce Drive S.W.) on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. with the Rev. Robert W. Mutlow Presider. Graveside Service to follow at Red Deer Cemetery in Red Deer, AB on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. Forward condolences through

In living memory of Michael Jensen a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Telephone: (403) 243-8200.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Quick Links

-The Politic has a post up asking the question "does Alberta have culture?" Those who doubt it, have obviously never been to the Torrington Gopher Hole Museum.

-Speaking of stuffed gophers, Stephen Taylor has an interview up with Jason Kenney on his site.

-Eddie has looked anything but steady in recent days, grabbing big headlines in the major dailies about his now cancelled $5,000 a head special interest fundraiser. What's most interesting about this story is how the media has pounced on it here - in Kleinberta, something like this wouldn't have raised an eyebrow so it looks like Mr. Ed is going to face more media scrutiny than his predecessor (that is to say, more than "none").

-I was at the Dion town hall last night in Edmonton and will post a recap later today.

-Paul Wells has his Jean Lapierre eulogy up. The best e-mail response I got from my post on Lapierre yesterday was as follows: "Maybe we should all wear black armbands. . . . in celebration".

-Speaking of Lapierre, he isn't quite done with the memorable lines yet:

"He has to get people who have nothing to do with the sponsorship scandal and all that. He has to allow the party to re-establish its virginity," Mr. Lapierre said.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Love LaP

Bloggers everywhere today shed a tear as the man who has done oh so much to inspire us over the years said goodbye to politics. Luckily, Jason Kenney's recent promotion to Cabinet should soon help fill the void.

As a tribute to Lapierre, I have scoured my archives and come up with some of my favourite Jean Lapierre posts from over the years. Ahh...the memories...

1. My third post ever was a lengthy rant about Jean Lapierre after the nomination mess in Quebec and his wish that the RCMP would help the Liberals out by "laying some charges already" in Adscam.

2. This recap of the first time I heard Lapierre speak in person:

As for the speech, it wasn't bad. His English is a lot better than Anne McLellan's French (reason #26 why she'll never be Prime Minister) and he's great at throwing passion into his voice. He had a great line along the lines of: "My wife is confused. She hears on the news that all we talk about in government is sex and then when I come home, I'm too tired out from all the talk about sex to...". He mentioned that Stephen Harper would not be able to break into Quebec (wow! shocker!) [ed note: boy, were we ever both off on that one] and that Gilles Ducceppe will leave to become leader of PQ (I believe Lapierre said "Premier of Quebec" which is not how I'd be wording it if I were a Jean Charest supporter). It sounds to me like the Liberal's Quebec strategy consists of hoping Gilles Ducceppe leaves federal politics and I'm not sure if this is really the best way to win back the province. But, then again, Jean Lapierre is a political genius and I'm not, so maybe it's not such a bad idea.

3. Jean Lapierre moment of biennial convention

During his speech on Friday night he said, and I quote, word for word: “The Bloc won those seats in Quebec by accident”.

4. From April 2005:

"It's a good position to be in, you don't want to peak too soon." Said Jean Lapierre, on the Liberals nose-dive in the polls in Quebec on the National. Lapierre, who took over as Martin's Quebec Lieutenant amid speculation the Bloc was about to go the way of the Socreds, refused to reveal when he hopes the party will "peak" in Quebec. 2008? 2012?

5. On his election strategery:

When asked how he'd defend his Party during the campaign [wrt Adscam], he answered that he'd say he wasn't a Liberal when this happened.

6. In trouble with Elections Canada:

In an article in today's Globe about how Elections Canada deals with those who
accidentally break election rules, they mentioned that Jean Lapierre got in a bit of trouble for
showing his ballot to a TV camera. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess the infraction didn't occur on October 30th, 1995.

7. Then there was the time in the last campaign when he compared the BQ to the Nazis (my how his little temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition has grown up into a genocidal force bent on world domination) .

And, above all else, Jean Lapierre has always been an easy punchline. Even Jean Chretien got his jabs in:

When asked about the party banning people for life, Chretien gets off the line of the day: "Well, I never knew the party had that power. If I'd known I had that power...well...I might have used it on several occasions. For example, when Monsieur Lapierre left the party to found the Bloc Quebecois, I would have banned him for life." ZING!

LaP's most lasting contribution to the Canadian politics was, of course, his coining of the term "Temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition" to describe his founding of the Bloc Quebecois. The same way the Daily Show uses "NAMBLA" as their recurring gag, LaP's phrase has been gold for bloggers and a guaranteed cheap laugh. Maybe it's because it sounds like a gay pickup line or maybe it's because it was the most colourful downplaying in the history of politics, but the term had staying power.

So while LaP may be gone, his legacy will live on. We will all miss you Jean.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Comming up in just 30 minutes!

[stay tuned following this for a very special review post of Little Mosque on the Prairie]

The Rick Mercer Report was on fire last night, taking shots at the Tories left, right and centre [btw, stay tuned for my recap of Little Mosque on the Prairie following this post]. First, there was his chat with Stephane Dion, [as an aside, my recap of Little Mosque on the Prairie will be posted in just 10 minutes], then there were two sketches on global warming, a pot shot at David Emerson going to China [speaking of foreign countries, my Little Mosque on the Prairie recap will feature many heart warming jokes about people thinking Moslems are terrorists], and there was Rick's biting dissection of the Federal Accountability Act.

And if you follow this link and watch them all online, you don't even have to deal with the 49 commercials for Little Mosque on the Prairie which were broadcast during the show. [Hey! That's the same show I'll be posting a recap of in just under 2 minutes!]

Into the Lions Den

Stephane Dion will be touring Alberta on Thursday and Friday and has even set up a few open town halls which could prove to be quite interesting, given some of the locals. Here are the details for anyone interested:

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion to hold Public Town Hall Meetings in Alberta

The Liberal Party of Canada in Alberta (LPCA) welcomes The Hon. Stéphane Dion to Alberta January 11th – January 12th, 2007. Members of the public will have the opportunity to hear and present questions to Stéphane Dion on his and the Federal Liberal Party’s vision for Canada.

There will be two Town Hall Meetings. The first one will be held in Edmonton on Thursday, January 11th, 2007, 7:30 p.m., at the Ital Canadian Seniors Association Centre, 9111 – 110 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta and the other in Calgary on Friday, January 12, 2007, 7:00 p.m. at the EPCOR Centre’s Engineered Air Theatre, 205 – 8th Avenue SE, Calgary, Alberta.

On behalf of the LPCA, Adam Campbell , President, welcomes the opportunity to introduce the new Leader of the Opposition to Albertans. Mr. Dion has made it very clear that he wishes to engage with all Canadians to develop a sustainable future for Canada .

There's also a youth event in Calgary on Friday which should be a blast:

The Next Garth Turner?

The Frog Lady points out some gems on Wajid's website.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Two Quick Links

1. No surprise here - Justin Trudeau has his eyes on Outremont. Glad to see Justin thinking about running. Time will tell how good of an MP he'll make, but he's young, a great campaigner, and a strong federalist - we could use more people like him in the Quebec caucus. Westmount Liberal has the low-down on other nomination gossip out of Quebec.

2. Hill Watch has a very detailed breakdown of the economic benefits and costs of Dion's environmental plan.


The Globe on the disappearing fifth priority and Wells on the disappearing Report of Khan.

Your Add Here

There's a big brouhaha in the blogosphere over accusations that Tories (and BC Liberals) have been buying news stories on Bourque. The way I see it, politicians buy news stories indirectly all the time so I think it's great that they've cut out the middle man. Better to spend a couple thousand tax dollars on the link than a couple billion dollars to get news by announcing a GST cut.

Regardless, many Liberals no longer consider Bourque a credible news source so I will do my best to provide unbiased news links to stories on this site. Here are a few which caught my eye today:

Muslims flock to Harper

Success: Three days in and still no gaffes for Ambrose in new portfolio!

Harper increases female Cabinet representation by 17%

Tories blow past Liberals in latest poll

Great winter weather here to stay with Tory environmental plan!

"What you have seen is [...] a shift toward a nation of tree-huggers," - Dion

Dion to step down within a year

Sunday, January 07, 2007


It seems that the Khan crossing won't turn into a major new story like Emerson's defection or Belinda's new hair colour. And given the low profile of the man involved and the lack of sensationalism in the crossing, that's not too surprising. As for my take:

1. To put it into perspective, a man who thought Joe Volpe was the best individual to lead the Liberal Party now feels that Stephen Harper is the best individual to lead the country. So this is not something Liberals need to lose a lot of sleep over.

2. My guess is that Khan's riding will bounce back to the Liberals next election. In that respect, this isn't terrible news for the Liberals since it opens up another winnable seat for them in Ontario to find a candidate for.

3. As for the numbers game, once again, it's not as big a deal as people make it out to be. The Liberals would be best served to wait before bringing down this government so if this allows the NDP to save the Tories, I don't think the Grits will lose much sleep over it. Stronach's crossing proved to be a blessing in disguise for Harper since it gave him more time to prepare for the 2006 election and Dion could use more time to get the Liberals ready.

4. Dion made the right call by making Khan chose between the party and whatever title Harper dreamed up for him ("special adviser because Peter MacKay doesn't know anything about the Middle East"). As much as we'd all like to see more bipartisanship (tripartisanship? quadpartisanship?) , having Khan as a special adviser to Harper just wasn't practical.

5. The optics of this are certainly better than of Emerson or Stronach who jumped straight to Cabinet and, because of that, it certainly seems less opportunistic than either of those two moves. This is especially true when compared to the Emerson crossing which was undeniably about David getting his Cabinet spot.

So, all in all, this is by no means a seismic event and I suspect that by the end of 2007, we'll have all forgotten about it.

Bad Boys Bad Boys, Watcha Gonna Do

Interesting tid-bit in yesterday's Herard from Intergovernmental Relations Minister Guy Boutilier:

Yet, Boutilier said Alberta and other provinces and territories are owed the same rights associated with the Quebec nation, a distinction recently approved by the House of Commons.
"Each province is a nation within a nation," he said.

What exactly that title means is open for interpretation, Boutilier noted.

However, for Alberta, he said it could be a recognition that it deserves more immigration powers to address the mounting labour crunch, and that the federal government solve a fiscal imbalance that some provinces claim sees Ottawa collecting more tax revenue than necessary.

Hear, hear! I for one would love to see a resolution before the House recognizing Alberta as a nation (within a unified Canada, bien sur).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Carol? Carol? Doesn't Ring a Bell

CfSR has a good catch:

Commenting on the elevation of his Lloydminster colleague to the outermost layer of Prime Minister Cartman's inner most sanctum, Vegreville-Wainwright Conservative MP Leon Benoit said:

Saskatchewan needed a minister and Gerry is the obvious choice

Ouch. The real question is - does anyone in Canada know who Carol Skelton is or what she does? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Voyage Home

It's certainly not as jaw dropping as Belinda or David, but it appears Harper has poached a Liberal MP.

UPDATE: Giant Political Mouse has all the olden goldies from "the best of Wajid Khan".


Since the Liberal leadership race ended, there hasn't been a lot of political news to post on and it is nice to get a break from year end lists and Cabinet shuffle speculation to talk about...the Cabinet shuffle. Here's the scorecard:

* John Baird - Environment
* Rona Ambrose - Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs
* Rob Nicholson - Justice
* Vic Toews - President of the Treasury Board
* Monte Solberg - Minister for Human Resources and Social Development
* Dianne Finley - Minister for Citizenship and Immigration
* Peter Van Loan - House leader
* Jason Kenney - Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity
* Gerry Ritz - Secretary of State for Small Business and Tourism
* Helena Guergis - Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Sport
* Christian Paradis - Secretary of State for Agriculture

The bottom four spots on that list seem to be the usual ballooning of the Cabinet we get before elections and represent four MPs who are likely being groomed for larger portfolios after the next election (should the Tories win). Paradis and Guergis are in vulnerable seats so this probably helps their re-election bids as well. If you take those four spots as young MPs being groomed for future Cabinet positions then, boy, does it ever suck to be James Moore this morning. Diane Ablonczy has also got to be feeling a bit jilted that another Calgary MP got a Cabinet spot before she did.

So that brings us to the shuffle part of this Cabinet shuffle. And it's really a mulligan for Harper. Rona Ambrose's expertise made her a logical choice for Intergovernmental Affairs back in February so that's what she gets now. Not that it really matters since it appears that Harper's Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has fewer responsibilities than his chauffeur. Vic Toews was also a brutal choice for Justice but now that the messy Same Sex vote is beyond him, Harper has moved in a much more competent and moderate man to the portfolio. As for Baird...well, good luck - he'll need it. I'm really not sure what to make of the Solberg/Finley moves and I suspect they'll get overshadowed quite a bit; I'd be curious to hear any theories on those ones.

So, all in all, Harper made the right moves on this shuffle (although Kenney to multiculturalism is certainly odd, to put it mildly). But given the PMO control over his Ministers, I doubt it will really change the focus of this government dramatically.

Better Find a Safe Seat

Is this the next Liberal candidate in Outremont?

Monday, January 01, 2007

2006 Year in Review

Year in Review Quiz
Person of the Year

A look back to some of the highlights of 2006 and a look ahead to what's in store in 2007.

Big Votes of 2006
1. Federal election
2. NB and NS elections, plus the AB Tory leadership race
3. Quebec is a nation motion
4. Afghanistan extension
5. Same sex marriage here to stay

Bizarre Advertising
1. Soldiers in our cities. With guns. In Canada. We are not making this up.
2. Sing a song. A song for Jim. In Alberta. I wish I was making this up.

Celebrity Breakups
1. Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff
2. Dick Cheney and the guy he shot
3. Duffy and Duffy
4. David Emerson and the Liberal Party
5. Joe Volpe and Jimmy K

Celebrity Couples
1. Stephane Dion and David Orchard
2. Stephane Dion and Gerard Kennedy
3. Maurizio Bevilacqua and Bob Rae
4. Peter MacKay and Condi Rice
5. Belinda Stronach and Tie Domi

Stars of 2006
1. The Harris gang - Baird, Flaherty, and Clement are all prominent in Harper's Cabinet.
2. Martha Hall Findlay
3. The Liberal mole
4. Shawn Graham
5. Stephen Colbert. Just because.

Losers of 2006
1. Jim Dinning
2. Joe Volpe
3. Rona Ambrose
4. The Republican Party
5. Paul Martin. Remember him?

To Watch in 2007
1. Quebec and Ontario elections (and maybe Alberta)
2. Harper Cabinet shuffle & a possible environment deal with NDP
3. Federal election speculation and star candidate recruits
4. Democrat and Republican nomination races heat up
5. Will the Harper budget "solve" the fiscal imbalance?