Back Soon ...

As is so often the case, work has reared its not-at-all-ugly head, which is why things have been so darned quiet 'round here. I find, unfortunately for this blog, that sometimes it's easier for me to post the odd comment here & there at other blogs I read.

Anyways, I'll be back as soon as I can.

More later.


A Clue, Perhaps, To Lib Reluctance?

So I'm checking out the CBC website (Andre B. wins on the first ballot? How 'bout that) and I read this story. It's the usual chock-full-of-election-speculation story, until the very end, where this appears:

The Conservatives also have nominated 274 candidates out of 308 ridings; the New Democrats have nominated 187; and the Liberals 93. {emphasis added}

It doesn't exactly look like the Grits are quite ready to hit the campaign trail, does it?

Now, to be fair, the Libs could perhaps whip up about 200 nomination meetings at the drop of a hat. For all I know, most of the "non-nominated" ridings could be filled with Lib incumbents who can't wait to run again ... it just hasn't been made official. That said, unless the Libs have changed their internal rules, even incumbents have to go through the nomination process, as the Sheila Copps circus in Hamilton demonstrated all too clearly.

So maybe ... just maybe ... all this huffing and puffing on the part of the Liberal family about how we can't have an election till next spring, etc., has something to do with the fact that of all the mainline federalist parties, they've nominated the fewest number of candidates. Maybe ... just maybe ... the Libs aren't as ready to rumble as they'd like us all to think. We'll see.

More later.


See The Idiot Walk ...

I don't know if I like it or not, but here's my result from that "What Monty Python Character Are You" quiz that's making the rounds:

You are the Minister of Silly Walks...Dare to be different!
You are the Minister of Silly Walks

What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by here.

More later.

GTA Poll Results Right Here: Interesting/Good News (But Don't Get Too Excited ...)

I continue to believe that opinion polls can be useful tools, and they are fun to look at and to track, but (a) they should not be taken as Gospel, and (b) they must not - in my humble opinion -form the basis of any party's strategy.

So please, keep that caveat in mind when you look at this poll from Environics.

Short version: the news isn't great, in that the CPC isn't leading, but things are looking a whole lot better than some doom-and-gloom types would have you believe for my team:

The survey of 943 residents conducted immediately after the release of the first report of the Gomery Commission shows that across the Greater Toronto Area, 42 percent of eligible and decided voters would support the Liberal Party if an election were held today. This represents a 9-point drop from the 51 percent of the vote that the Liberals won in the GTA in the June 2004 election, when they virtually swept the region. Both opposition parties have gained ground. The Conservative Party now has the support of 33 percent of GTA voters (up five points since the election); while the New Democratic Party now has the support of 21 percent (up six points since the election). One in ten (11%) GTA voters are undecided about which party might deserve their support.

(The MOE was +/- 3.3%, 95 times out of 100.)

The survey was actually conducted between 1 November - 8 November, so it's not exactly a quickie survey done the day after Gomery came out. Also noteworthy is the following:

There was no evidence of Liberal rebound over the course of the survey dates.

To compare this poll with the actual results from election '04:

  • The LPC has gone from 51% to 42% in the GTA ;
  • The CPC has gone from 28% to 33% ;
  • The NDP has gone from 15% to 21% ; and
  • "Other" (presumably GPC, though the poll doesn't say so) has gone from 6% to 4%.

Counting the ridings in the "GTA" as defined by Environics, the Libs won 37 of 44 seats, the CPC won 6, and the NDP won 1 (Jack Layton's).

Now, the not-so-hot news: in the "416", the CPC's in 3rd place (43% LPC, 28% NDP, 25% CPC, 3% GPC/Other). The ray of sunshine is that the CPC and the Grits are effectively tied in the "905" (44% LPC, 42% CPC), but damn, I wish we could make some headway "downtown". Speaking as a "downtowner" myself, all I can suggest to any 416-Tories in the room is, keep plugging away at the neighbourhood level ... try to win individual polls, and the ridings will follow.

So, all in all: generally good news. Now, in accordance with my stated policy re: opinion polls, I'll proceed to ignore it!

More later.

A Bit of the Lighter Side ...

After getting myself all worked up over Ralph Goodale's little shell game in my last post, I could't resist enjoying myself a bit by pointing out that the PQ may be setting itself up for all types of trouble in it's "come one, come all" leadership vote, as this story indicates.

The money quote:

A party source told The Globe and Mail that a long-haired Chihuahua and a houseplant were able to register as PQ members and received all the necessary credentials needed to cast a telephone vote.

The dog even received a birthday card recently from interim party leader Louise Harel.

This reminds me of when This Hour Has 22 Minutes did that on-line petition to change Stockwell Day's first name to "Doris" back during Election '00. They got about a million people to sign up, but it wasn't exactly scientific, and they weren't exactly checking ID's; my in-laws very kindly took the time to sign up their pet Doberman, and I'm sure she wasn't the only pet on the list.

Too bad the dog doesn't live in Quebec ... not only would she get a vote for PQ leader, but she'd get a Christmas card t'boot.

More later.


Christmas in November!

Well, it looks like Ralph Goodale took another look under the sofa, and found a few pennies to give out ... just in time for Christmas!

Look, I'm not one to complain about tax cuts, if they are balanced by sensible spending reductions. In this case, I'm not getting the spending reductions, but then, I didn't expect them. Instead, we got what I, and I'm sure most of you, expected: the Grits are shovelling cash out the door as fast as they can.

Hey, I miss my Newfoundland home as much as any expatriate living in Ontario does. That doesn't mean I want my federal finance minister to start channelling the spirit of Joey Smallwood. I have expect to see Goodale and Martin out paving roads and fixing sidewalks before the end of the week.

As far as what the taxpayer dollars are being spent on, some of it - such as the money for university research - may be quite defensible. What rots me is the fact that this was cobbled together as a vote-buying scam by a government that's about to be defeated in the House. I won't mind if the CPC promises to spend some of the same money, on things like, again, a post-secondary innovation fund, as long as it's not turned into a PR stunt (fat chance, I know). But I really hope the Tories don't just adopt a "me too" attitude to all of this.

Of course, it's not as if Goodale has been transformed into a supply-sider when it comes to taxes. As usual when it comes to Grit tax cuts, the sizzle is better than the steak. This is from the Globe story that I linked to above:

The Liberals are proposing cutting the lowest income tax bracket to 15 per cent from 16 per cent, retroactive to January 2005. They are also proposing chopping the two higher tax brackets by 1 percentage point by 2010.

The cuts mean a family of four with two working parents earning $75,000 will pay $798 less in taxes by 2010.

So, if my back-of-the-envelope math is right (not likely, but still ...), that family of four will get to keep an "extra" amount equal to just over 1% of their current gross income ... 5 years from now. The motto of the story: Don't spend it all in one place, and for God's sake, don't spend any of it till 2010.

And finally, what really galls me, at first blush, is how the Grits have once again shown that their previous forecasts as to the size of the surplus were as phoney as three-dollar bills. Here's a brief example of what I mean, from the CBC story I linked to above:

One year ago, for example, Goodale's last economic and fiscal update
projected that the surplus for 2005-06 would be $500 million, followed by $900 million in 2006-07. Monday's document revised those figures to $8.2 billion and $9.2 billion, respectively.

I would make a joke about how Goodale only missed the mark by $7.7 billion for '05-'06, and $8.3 billion for '06-'07, but honestly, I'm well and truly p*ssed about this. Canadians shouldn't expect too much from their governments, but this is a complete and utter slap in the face to anyone who, at the very least, expects the government to take the business of projecting budget surpluses and deficits seriously. I honestly wouldn't be squawking about this if Goodale and Co. had "only" been off by a "mere" billion dollars or so, but this ... this is just G*ddamned ridiculous.

I hope that the so-called mainstream media (God, what an overused term, but I can't think of another one right now) spends at least a little bit of time pointing out that based on prior performance, Goodale's latest estimate of the size of the surplus is nothing more than a flat-out farce ... but I doubt it.

More later.


Lest We Forget ...

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

To the men and women who are owed more than we can ever repay ... Thank you.

More later.


After 12 Long Years ...

... this is part of the record that should be tied around the neck of the Liberal Party, whenever the next election happens.

I seem to remember that in the days of Red Book I, it was said that the Libs were going to dispell the cynical attitude that had developped amongst Canadians in relation to their government during the Mulroney years.

Judge for yourself - based on this poll; based on the declining percentage of Canadians choosing to use their right to vote; based on the assortment of scandals, big and small, since the Chretien / Martin team took over - whether they accomplished that mission.

More later.


Does Anyone Know Jack About Parliamentary Procedure?

I will give Jack Layton this: his proposal for a vote today (well, in about 2 weeks) for a dissolution tomorrow (well, in early January) is very clever. I suspect - without a shred of evidence, of course - that Broadbent and/or Blakie were the ones to come up with this.

My main concern is, will the Libs either ignore it, much as they ignored the fact that Parliament voted last spring to send a bill back to committee because the House had lost confidence in the government, or they'll say fine, you just said you have no confidence in us ... we're calling an election now, for Boxing Day.

When I can, I like to look at what non-conservative bloggers think of all this. You'll find 2 interesting and contradictory observations via Calgary Grit and Cherniak on Politics. (I know there's interesting debate going on amongst Blogging Tories and other centre-right folk, but since many visitors to this site already appear to come here via the BT website, I figured I'd give us all a link to what the other side's thinking.)

Personally, while I fear that Jason Cherniak is right, I suspect (and hope) that Calgary Grit will be proven right, and that Martin won't be able to ignore and/or screw around with the vote on the NDP's motion.

Actually, to be more precise, my main preference is that somebody says "enough's enough" and moves a straightforward confidence motion, while making sure everyone knows that even if the vote is held next week, there's no reason the election can't be held in January. But if that's not in the offing, something along the lines of what the NDP has suggested may do the trick.

More later.


Normally, The Whoppers Come *After* The Writ's Dropped ...

But here's an exception.

I don't even want to get into pulling this one apart, because I'll go on for about 20 pages.

In other news, the Globe's got a brand-new, whiplash-inducing poll out. In response to same, here's some free advice, which will probably be ignored by all and sundry: stop obsessing over the damn polls.

Look, if you must give polls, good or bad, any thought, consider this:

The past few elections have shown that the Libs usually drop at least a few points over the course of an election campaign. Last time, the Tories went up, down and sideways over the course of 10 days. The point is, campaigns matter - whenever the writ's dropped, the important thing is to put out solid policies, and keep talking about them (along with a goodly dose of Grit-bashing). Pre-election polls make for good press, but that's about it.

Yes, poll-watching can be all sorts of fun. I'll admit to looking forward to the daily SES tracking poll, once the writ's dropped. And yes, if the polls show that you're going completely into the tank, you should probably adjust your message somewhat.

But the polls should be treated as one tool out of many. They should not be seen as the guiding light, nor are they always effective as crystal balls, especially at this stage.

As for Paul ... well, I'm not quite convinced that his dealings are done.

More later.


In Other News ...

Not that the ongoing Gomery fallout isn't fascinating to watch (and I'm not being entirely sarcastic, either), but perhaps some attention should be given to what's happening vis a vis Iran.

Here is an excellent piece (free registration may be required) from the New Republic in the 'States - hardly a right-wing mag, not that I have anything against right-wing mags at all! - which summarizes what has happened as a result of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments that Isreal should be "wiped off the map".

As its author, James Forsyth points out, Ahmadinejad's reasoned discourse is particularly troubling in light of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons capability. Indeed, his comments were so disturbing that even the EU and the UN seem prepared to act vigorously, at least for the moment.

If some sort of definitive steps are not taken by the "international community" (define that term as you will) to deal with this issue, and if those steps do not produce results, Isreal is not going to simply stand by silently and wait for a nuclear strike on Tel Aviv - and nor should it.

So if you're talking to your MP and/or one of the candidates in your riding in the next little while, why not ask them what definitive steps he or she thinks Canada should take, or at the least, support.

More later.


More Insightful Analysis ...

... from the good folks at the Toronto Star.

Here's a story where just about everyone manages to look worse off. First, we start with the subject of the article's headline, Jack Layton:

1. See Jack get mad: The federal NDP warns it could help defeat the minority Liberals unless it sees progress in talks on medicare by tomorrow.

2. See Jack get madder: "If we don't see significant, serious action by (Thursday) that would mean this Parliament will not produce positive results for Canadians," the NDP leader said.

3. See Jack backtrack: When pressed by reporters, Layton said he won't set a deadline for bringing down the Liberal government.

A spine of steel, I tell you.

Not to be outdone, and in the interests of fairness, Stephen Harper gets the prize for most subtle analysis with this quote:

"We have pretty strong suspicions that the public doesn't want an election during the Christmas period...."

You think?

And finally, from Ujjal Dosanjh, who you may recall was a long-time NDP minister in British Columbia, as well as BC-NDP premier for a while before getting his current gig:

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh met with the NDP health critic Jean Crowder on Monday to discuss health-care issues, including so-called ``double-dipping" by doctors and the role of private health clinics. Dosanjh said the meeting was productive, but prefaced that by saying he didn't like being threatened by the New Democrats (emphasis added)

... to which I say (a) "since when?", if last spring was anything to go by, and (b) as a big wheel in the "lost decade" of the BC NDP government and in particular, as the one who finally pushed Glen Clark out the door of the premier's office by announcing the criminal investigation against Clark back in '99, he should be used to it by now.

Anyway, (laboured) analogies aside, it will be interesting to see if Jack's latest contribution results in either another supposedly sweetheart deal (for which the Libs will get all available credit, and the NDP none, as usual), or an election anytime soon.

More later.

Analysis We Surely Needed ...

Another part of the happy Liberal family has been heard from.

Bet you were just killing yourself wondering what she would have to say, eh?

Of course, Her Ladyship sat 'round the same cabinet table as Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, so I'm not surprised that we would get the same sort of Sergeant Schultz routine ("I know nothing! Nothing!") from her as we did from the other two.

That said - and at the risk of turning this blog into a Chretien-era-hack admiration society - Sheila does provide us with one act of service, namely by passing along the following howler from an unidentified member of the press corps:

Waiting for Chretien to appear at his press conference late yesterday, one journalist muttered about the former prime minister, "Hard to see him as Conrad's bitch in Kingston (penitentiary)."

Indeed it is. Oh, how I wish somebody's microphone had picked that one up.

More later.


Chretien Gets His Kicks In ...

Well, apparently le petit' gars put on quite a show. I wasn't able to watch it live, but I did check out some of the press coverage. However, Calgary Grit brings us what may be the highlight. From CG's day-long coverage:

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!

Now, unlike CG, I'm not exactly a member of the Chretien Fan Club. But damn my eyes if he doesn't know how to stick the knife in.

Calgary Grit also notes that Alfonso is going to run as an independent. If that turns out to be true, the race in that riding will be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

More later.

One Big Happy Family

Paul Martin to Jean Chretien et al: "Let the healing begin!" Update- these links have (hopefully) been fixed. Sorry 'bout that.

(And as for Martin kicking Gagliano out of the Liberal Party ... does anyone still have that link to Paul's video valentine for ol' Alfonso? If so, *please* post the link in the comments section!)

And hold on to your keyboards, because Lucky Jean himself will be holding a press conference of his own this afternoon.

One theory I have heard is that Gomery will not have much of an effect on Paul Martin, since the blame has been placed squarely on the old gang.

Leave aside the various possible rebuttals of that argument (eg. the fact that Paul Martin was, shall we say, a fairly important minister during those years, even if he didn't know what was going on vis a vis sponsorship); one way in which this can hurt the Liberals a great deal is if there is a very public and very bitter catfight between the Martin & Chretien forces. Sure, Martin presumably still has a hammerlock on the LPC, but if there's one thing conservatives have had to learn, to their cost, about Chretien, it's that nobody, but nobody, can fight dirtier than him when it comes to politics.

Frankly, part of me would be surprised to see Chretien do anything that would really hurt the LPC in the next election. Chretien, after all, is completely devoted to the party (which is one reason why we ended up with the sponsorship mess to begin with). That said, he doesn't strike me as someone who'll take this lying down.

Paul Martin, to my mind, wants to do 2 things: highlight the fact that he, personally, appears to have been cleared of any wrongdoing, and put all of the blame squarely on the former regime. If Jean Chretien decides to truly raise hell over this - and that's still an "if" at this stage (he may decide to just go after Gomery, and not even mention Martin's name) - then Paul Martin may be in deeper trouble than anyone thinks.

As with many things in politics, it's not always the story that kills - it's the reaction.

More later.