To You and Yours ...

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and the best of the season, from me and mine to you and yours.

I've re-located to St John's for the holidays so posting will be spotty at best. If I get a minute, I have a vague plan of doing a "year in review" kind of thing, but we'll have to wait & see if that pans out.

In the meantime, I hope that you are with those you love, and that you're safe & secure at this "most wonderful time of the year".

More later.


How To Win Friends & Influence People

No, I'm not referring to Stephen Harper's speech from '97. Even if some folks are pulling their hair out over it now, I'm not going to get into a sweat over things he said 8 years ago when he was out of elected politics (for the time being). Besides, some wags would say that his speech did win some friends, although since most of said friends probably live south of the border, they probably won't deliver too many votes *rimshot*.

No, the subject of this post is Michael Ignatieff, or to be more precise, the good people in his "media" office. The source is Paul Wells's blog, and here's the link. Summarizing it wouldn't do it justice, so go ahead and read it.

Far be it from me to presume myself worthy of advising Liberal media spindoctors, but deliberately p*ssing off a media outlet that simply wanted to tag along on a door-to-door jaunt around the riding seems really stupid.

More later.


Change ... For the Better

After their initial ad's were greeted with snorts of derision by pundits and (apparently) voters alike, the Tories have come up with a newer, and in my opinion, superior advert. I haven't seen it on the TV yet, but you can go here and click on "CHANGE".

I like it, though of course, I'm rather biased. It'll be interesting to see if it gets any press.

Hat-tip to Warren Kinsella for the news re: the CPC ad. One hopes that the Party will get it on the air in short order.

(Unfortunately, despite my earlier plea, I'm still waiting for my Marxist-Leninist ad. Maybe soon!)

More later.

The Following Is A Free Political Announcement

One of the things I actually enjoy (Heaven help me) about election campaigns is the free-time political broadcast.

I'm not talking about the paid advertisements, which are another story altogether. I'm talking about the rule that says the networks have to give a certain portion of broadcast time to each and every registered political party. Elections Canada has a brief blurb about it here. The amount of time given to a particular party depends upon things like the number of candidates and percentage of the vote it received the last time 'round.

My wife and I saw the first of these a couple of evenings ago. The local CBC affiliate ran them at around 11:30 p.m. (I wonder when some of the private broadcasters air them ... my guess would be at around 3:30 a.m., in between infomercials).

Unfortunately, they weren't all that entertaining: First, we saw was about 4 repeats of the Liberals' "30 million reasons to vote Liberal" ads, which have been thoroughly fisked here and elsewhere.

Next, we saw a Bloc Quebecois candidate, whose name escapes me, sitting at what looked like a really cheap talk show set (complete with fake cityscape backdrop) and speaking in heavily-accented English. I'd tell you what she had to say for the historical record, but she was drowned out by much laughter and derision from my wife when the candidate started complaining early on about how Quebec was unfairly paying for Alberta's oil & gas (or words to that effect).

What was lacking - and what I'm really looking forward to - are the el cheapo ads from our two (count 'em! two!) national communist parties (and no, I don't mean the Liberals and the NDP *rimshot*).

If you've ever seen the free-time ads from the Communist Party and/or the Marxist-Leninist Party during past elections, you probably have an idea as to why I find them so damn funny. They ususally feature a Beardo-the-Wierdo "activist", sporting a greying ponytail at the back of a balding skull and a circa-1973 tweed jacket, who spends his 30 seconds haranguing the viewing audience about the evils of capitalist imperialism and the joys that could be ours if we adopted Karl Marx as our personal saviour. Now that's entertainment.

(By the by, if anyone can explain why we as a nation are blessed with two communist parties, and what the heck the difference is betwixt them, and why they seem bound & determined to split the communist-Canadian vote pool, please do leave a comment and tell us why.)

More later.


Going To The Wells - But Not Once Too Often

{I'm going to talk about a column I liked by Paul Wells, which you can read on-line, but there is a point that I (hopefully) will get to afterwards - just in case you think this post is only a "MSM (ugh) love-in".}

I've heard people call Paul Wells a closet (or not-so-closet) Liberal ever since he was writing columns for the National Post. I'm sure he's heard it for even longer.

For all I know, he could be as Liberal as Wilfred Laurier - or, on the other hand, he could be as Liberal as Jean Lapierre. But I think he writes well, even when he's schooling Harper, the Conservatives, or anyone else I'm voting for.

But in this case, the victim is Paul Martin, and does PM Jr. ever get his. You should read the whole thing, but here's the money quote, describing Paul M on a radio talk-show in St John's (my old home town!) on a rainy day. The host had gotten on his case regarding the closure of the weather office in Gander, NL and the PM, seemingly out of nowhere, tossed out the idea of a climate-study institute. Paul Wells's response:

It was hard to shake the hunch that Martin had taken off on weather because it was raining. It was hard to shake the hunch that if Martin had been serenaded by a barbershop quartet that morning, he would be calling for an international centre of excellence on four-part harmony.

Heh. It goes on from there.

My point, beyond what seems to be an annoying kiss-up to a columnist (hey, you don't like it? tough - I happened to enjoy the column) is that Wells is focusing on something the Tories and others should be pointing out: Martin will fix upon any cause, on any project, on seemingly on any promise, to satisfy the audience he plans to be speaking to at that moment. As his problems with Danny Williams and John Hamm after the last election showed, that isn't always good for stable, long-term public policy.

The Paul Martin of the mid-90's, who vowed to stay the course and slay the deficit come hell or high water, and who resisted (for good or for ill) the calls for spending in any number of areas because he wanted to solve the big problem first - seems to have gone fishing. I don't know if he's coming back.

Harper and Layton should contrast this approach with their measured approach (ok, relatively measured approach - it is an election campaign, after all, and even if we want sainthood, I don't expect we'll get it) of a policy plank per day. What they should not do is simply say "me too" and chase Paul Martin around the country with a cheque book. Even if the polls aren't shifting right now, I think it's important that Harper - and Layton - stick with the programme and not start pitching themselves as the immediate, all-at-once answer to every single problem. Beacuse eventually, that will catch up with PM the PM, and with Harper and Layton if they play along.

More later.


Oh. Hell. YEAH.

Liberal gaffes aside, this story just made my day. Brad Gushue and his Newfoundland-born team (along with Russ Howard, who I'm pretty sure has been made an honourary Newfoundlander by now, and who'll probably never have to pay for a drink in St John's again for the rest of his life) have won the right to represent Canada at the '06 Olympics.

I can't wait till I get the chance to watch Brad and his team at the Olympics ... with a bottle of beer in one hand, and a bowl of popcorn in the other ...

More later.


Does It Have Legs?

My question: does this story have legs?

As Warren K. (who deserves a big hat-tip for this) has said, sometimes (often?) the coverup is worse than the original story. What is truly baffling is ever-changing story from the good people at the Department of Finance.

A (very brief) recap:

  1. This all came about because of Ralph Goodale's early Christmas present, in the form of increasing the tax credit on corporate dividends and not messing about with income trusts.
  2. According to this story, from last Wednesday, the associate executive director of "Canada's Association For the Fifty-Plus" (confusingly known as "CARP"), one William Gleberzon, said that he was called by "a senior policy advisor" in Goodale's office on the day of the announcement and told that something big was on the way.
  3. Exactly what was coming was apparently left unsaid, but the implication was that it would be good news for CARP members.
  4. Problem: Announcements such as this are made after the markets have closed for the day, and everyone is to be told at once. Otherwise, people who are in the know could make a tidy bit of money, while others would be left behind.
  5. Yesterday (Thursday), CARP and Gleberzon issued a press release, which said that CARP knew nothing in advance, and that this was all mischief-making on the part of that charming scamp, Warren Kinsella.
  6. So, the CTV goes back to Gleberzon, and gets the story that I originally linked to at the top of this post. It's a doozy.
  7. In the course of his interview, he changes his tune from "nobody called me" to "well, except for the finance ministry's communications director, John Embury." {not exact quotes}. Apparently, Embury had already admitted that he called Gleberzon.
  8. The story now goes that Embury gave Gleberzon a "heads up" that CTV and perhaps others would be sniffing around.
  9. Embury, for reasons that baffle me, then proceeded to tell CTV's Robert Fife that Gleberzon was "old and confused."
  10. Gleberzon - who, let's remember, is involved with a seniors' organization - did not exactly appreciate being compared with this guy. Apparently, Embury has since apologised.

Now, we still may not have a "smoking gun" - proof that anyone from the Dept of Finance briefed investors and others in advance. But some Bay Street characters have said that they were tipped off, and invested accordingly.

The details can be a little hard to follow, especially to those of us who are pretty dimwitted when it comes to investments, etc.

But giving preferential treatment to your friends, and doing a sloppy job of covering it up? That is something pretty much anyone can get.

I don't know what, if anything, will come of this. It could get burried alive in the back pages. On the other hand, if CTV keeps on digging up juicy stories like the one above, its competitors could get into the act, too.

And if the Ontario Securities Commission, which is supposed to investigate unusual stock-trading activity and the like, gets in on the act, there could be even bigger trouble for the Libs.

Note that I'm focusing on the political fall-out of all of this. I don't practice securities law, and those that do would be in a better position to say what, if anything, has been done wrong from a legal point of view. As far as I can tell, nothing bad has been proven in a court of law. But you would think, after Gomery, that the Libs would have taken great pains to be super-squeaky-clean on things like this in a political sense. If it turns out someone in the Ministry improperly tipped off anyone as to Goodale's announcement, heads should - and hopefully will - roll.

In any event, this is a story that deserves to be told - so if you have a blog, and you haven't referred to this, you may want to. I wouldn't exaggerate and say that the Libs have been found guilty of a criminal or even regulatory offence - but I would point out that a somewhat well-known media outlet called "CTV" has found a few interesting stories to tell.

More later.


I've Said It Before, And I'll Say It Again ...

Calm DOWN, and don't panic.

Needless to say, that sentiment is addressed to my fellow CPC supporters who are in a panic over the current poll results.

Look, I could end up with egg on my face when this is all said & done (won't be the first time, either) but I honestly believe that the CPC is on the right track. Harper et al had to do something to dispell the "hidden agenda" / "he's just angry" nonsense. Putting out the policy platform, one plank at a time, is one way of doing just that.

So fine, the polls either aren't moving, or are moving in the wrong direction. Should the powers that be in the CPC just chuck the whole gameplan and go negative.

Hell no, for a number of reasons, including the following:

  1. If the CPC simply starts blasting away, it'll be seen as panic, pure and simple. Generally, that's not such a hot idea when you're trying to win votes.
  2. Furthermore, a panicky, scatter-gun attack mode is much more likely to result in one (or more) really embarassing gaffes.
  3. An effective fire-and-brimstone campaign can work, I suppose, but it can't work for long. There are still what, 6 weeks left as I write this? No way can a"blast 'em all" campaign be effective or meaningful for that long, says I.
  4. The Parties are going to get nasty with each other at some point, no doubt about it - and if it's going to happen, the CPC needs to have its full platform out there before doing so. Why? Because for right or wrong, the Tories are seen as the "angry" party. "Anger" in the face of corruption and dithering is acceptable, in certain amounts - it is absoultely fair ball to point out the flaws in the Libs. But it needs to be balanced.

So, as frustrating as it may seem, the advice from this small corner is to keep on laying out that platform - and don't get in a panic.

All of this goes for us footsoldiers as much as it does for the leadership, by the way.

More later.

Here We Go Again ...

Remember this post from a while back about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comment that Isreal should be "wiped off the map"?

Well, turns out that he's at it again:

"Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces and they insist on it to the extent that if anyone proves something contrary to that they condemn that person and throw them in jail," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

"Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem?" he said.
[emphasis added]

{major-league tip o' the hat to Damian Penny, whose blog is, as usual, the place to go for a Canadian conservative take on foreign affairs}

His Excellency goes on to note that a Jewish homeland would be fine with him, as long as it was on another continent - Europe, to be precise. I guess that's one way of "wiping Isreal off the map", but quite frankly, I fear that he has more of a nuclear option in mind.

So, to recap: we have a man who (a) denies the Holocaust, (b) wants Isreal destroyed, and (c) is in charge of a country that's trying to obtain nuclear weapons, if it hasn't already.

The government of the day in Ottawa would love to tell you what they're going to do about this situation, but they're too busy proving that Stephen Harper doesn't love Canada. Although to be fair, it looks like foreign policy is getting its usual level of attention from all parties during a federal election, i.e., slim-to-none (unless you count America-bashing by PM Jr.).

I don't ask you to do much (except to come back whenever I add a post, and bring your friends!), but I'm asking you to do this: the next time a candidate - from any party - shows up on your doorstep, remind them of what Ahmadinejad is saying, and what's he's trying to do, and ask them what they and their parties think should be done about it.

More later.

(publisher's note: Yes, I should be commenting on the election, and I will. But there are plenty of other places to go if you need an immediate fix.)


One Can Only Hope ...

Apparently, sitting in the prisoner's dock hasn't done much for Saddam Hussein's humility:

"I am Saddam Hussein!" the former ruler said repeatedly, shaking his fist in the air and trying to assert his old authority. But as the session came to a close, Hussein seemed for a moment to acknowledge another reality.

"Like the path of Mussolini, to resist occupation to the end, that is Saddam Hussein," he said.

A part of me - still the strongest part - says that even Saddam deserves a full, fair and open trial. Despite what he himself thinks, I happen to believe that he's getting one now.

However, there is a part of me that says, "If he really wants to compare himself to Mussolini, perhaps something along those lines could be arranged."

More later.

Viva La Revolucion!

It's nice to see that some NDP'ers out there haven't lost sight of the true faith, isn't it?

(Yeah, I know that my blogging has been sub-par - to say the least - over the last little bit. I'll try to turn that pattern around.)

More Later.