Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Canada Not Impressed With China Adopting Canada's Approach to Climate Change

Mind boggling, the Conservatives have the nerve to criticize China for offering an "intensity based" approach as a way to reduce GHG's:
Environment Minister Jim Prentice is playing down the climate-change pledges made Tuesday by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the United Nations, saying Beijing has yet to commit to clear targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The contradictions are everywhere. Canada doesn't have any plan at the moment, apart from it's intensity based mumbo jumbo, soundly rejected by every single environmental expert. We now wait for Obama to tell us what to do, as a default position to justify INACTION. We have consistently resisted doing exactly what we now ask of China, using China as an excuse to do nothing. Prentice is now biting his own tail, stuck in some ridiculous hypocrisy REVERB.

Canada is essentially asking others to do what we're not prepared to do, and only when they do what we won't do, will we consider doing something. Bzzzz, bzzzz. Countries that propose the exact same arguments that Canada has presented with it's past "leading the world" plan are now offering nothing, even though by arguing that you are NOW saying to the world that we were NEVER offering anything, validating the MOUNDS of criticism directed at you over the years.

Is this shit for real? I mean, seriously, how can this clown go to a mic and not get drowned out by hysterical laughter?

Ignatieff Offers "Coherence"

A pretty favorable review of Ignatieff's economic speech, from the paper that supported Harper in the last election (liberal media, liberal media!). Coherence:
The Liberals have staked their ground as enthusiastic interventionists; the Conservatives, who have governed as occasionally reluctant interventionists for the last year, will have to explain their post-recession vision before Canadians cast their votes...

For his part, Mr. Ignatieff has chosen a classically large L-Liberal approach, with few new ideas, leaving some to wonder if he has done much to advance the debate on Canadian economic policy. A shorter list of areas where the government can really make a difference would be preferable.

In the end, there is a coherence to Mr. Ignatieff's vision, and Canadians need to hear Prime Minister Stephen Harper enunciate his own.

There is obviously more to come, in the way of details, so any "gaps" are of no immediate concern. What is important, Ignatieff is providing a contrast to the Harper approach. The vision is a center-left, that sees the government as active, if not overbearing. There is a demonstration of different tenticles operating in a co-ordinated fashion, to advance the economy. The Conservatives aren't capable of this type of vision, because they essentially rely on creating "the climate" without direction. Harper has bent, but only because events dictated and he is already assuring the faithful that intervention is temporary.

I see the distinction Ignatieff is setting up as key election issue. With all parties voluntarily shying away from a substantive debate on the deficit, the economic argument will center around who has the best platform for future prosperity. Within a world where the free market has revealed itself, naked capitalism hardly attractive, the Liberals are even better placed to make the argument for government as driver, only it capable of a comprehensive vision to address Canada's shortcomings.

It does appear, based on this reaction and other discussions, that the Liberals are finally starting to articulate a vision beyond just platitudes. Still general but focused, this "coherence" is something you can sell to Canadians.

In The Dead Of Night

It's almost similar to Conrad Black removing documents from his office when the HEAT was turned on. I've marvelled at the overt Harper love fest that is the government Action Plan website, people might recall a screen shot or two, Harper PLASTERED everywhere, to the point of obscene (not to mention unattractive and creepy). In reality, this sudden visual CHANGE is an admission of guilt, because if the site content was never an issue, why the need? People were starting to FINALLY pay attention, and the Conservatives scurry to remove the irritant:
The Government of Canada website set up to promote the Conservative economic action plan had a leaner look yesterday: more than 30 photos of Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been removed.

Critics have complained that the website, actionplan.gc.ca, looks like a partisan promotion – complete with a Tory-blue colour scheme, glowing third-party testimonials, more than 40 photos of Harper and repeated references to "the Harper government" rather than the Government of Canada.

References to the "Harper government" remained on the website yesterday. But photos of the Prime Minister were reduced to about seven, from the original 40-plus

Funny what happens when you shine a light on the egomaniac. POOF he's gone. Oh, and I heard more radio ads on swine flu preparation this morning than I have previously. Just a coincidence I'm sure.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nice Line

Waterloo "Dungeons and Dragons Club" Excursion

Someone sent this to me, from the massive protest at Ignatieff's Waterloo stop this past weekend:

I like our chances.

Get It Right In Outremont

Outremont isn't a slam dunk return to the Liberal column by any means, which means any counter-productive "development" denotes PURE FOLLY. I couldn't give a rats ass what Coderre wants, nor is Cauchon's personal ambitions of any concern. The Liberal members of Outremont should decide who represents them, so glaringly obvious it hurts.

It's actually a positive, that two impressive figures want to carry the Liberal banner. Let those two individuals appeal to the grassroots, and may the best person "win". The LAST thing you want is a process that leaves bitter feelings, that effectively turns off people that will be crucial in an election. Why would you want to shutout Cauchon, and alienate what I assume is a large following of Outremont Liberals?? That type of process essentially volunteers unnecessary weakness and benefits Mulclair. I see this debate as a question of arrogance- only a fool doesn't put their best foot forward, maximize every intangible to present your strongest hand. Hard feelings, excluding Cauchon and his pedigree, is frankly NUTS in the grand scheme.

If Liberals are "determined to win back Outremont", then put aside silly turf wars and have a spirited contest. Get it right in Outremont.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Telling Contrast

This issue of excessive Conservative government spending, promoting THEMSELVES never seems to get much traction, even though obscene by any measure. The Economic Action Plan ads are so partisan it's embarrassing, and yet the Conservatives seem to suffer no backlash. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with the direct comparison in this article, but if it highlights the misuse of taxpayer money, then it's a useful contrast:
The Conservative government is spending more than five times as many taxpayer dollars on promoting its economic plan as it is on raising public awareness about the flu pandemic.

The TV spots are just the latest $4-million salvo in a $34-million media blitz trumpeting the Conservative's recession-fighting budget.

Meanwhile, with public health officials fretting over an onrushing fall flu season, the spread of the H1N1 virus and widespread public apathy about the need for vaccination, no television ads are in the works to combat swine flu.

Health Canada's home web page, however, does include a prominent link to the Conservative economic action plan website (www.actionplan.gc.ca).

What you have is public health on the one hand, personal ambitions on the other. The argument that it's important to instill confidence, as justification for these economic ads, has long since passed, they've become nothing more than transparent campaign ads. Despite the obvious intent, not to mention gross misuse of money when the government is in deficit, it seems the Conservatives don't suffer. I hate to say it, but the prospects of people dying, a government with misplaced priorities, might just sharpen the focus on what has been happening.

New Liberal Ad

Friday, September 18, 2009

NDP Caucus Split?

There have been rumors floating around Parliament this week, of an emerging split in the NDP ranks and a "raucous" caucus meeting. I was offered this quote from a well placed "little birdie":
"the NDP caucus is in the middle of a fierce battle over whether or not to support the government through the winter. The Mulcair people are pushing back hard against Laytons team, and other NDP MPs are opposing the current tactics on principle and fear of losing credibility in their constituencies."

In all seriousness, the above isn't exactly hard to believe, given the circumstances. Cue the denials....

Let The Record Show

Note the tense disposition of the Liberals:

Labour Takes Lipstick Off Pig

Interesting contradiction (what else is new) from the NDP. While supporters busily try to validate the EI sellout as substantive, the NDP's labour friends are criticizing the miniscule for what it is, pushing the party to try and get something in return for their voluntary capitulation:
One day after claiming victory for extracting employment insurance reforms from the Conservatives, New Democrats now say they've read the fine print and the government's latest bill is not the prize they had hoped.

But NDP MP Joe Comartin, whose Windsor, Ont., area riding includes many unemployed auto workers, said the government's bill – and the NDP's support – will be short lived unless the government agrees to NDP amendments.

“Unfortunately for communities like mine, the auto sector generally as well as forestry are going to be pretty extensively, if not completely excluded from being able to access the extended benefits under this bill,” he said.

Mr. Comartin said the bill applies only to people who first applied for EI in 2009, leaving out those who lost their jobs at the start of the recession.

Peggy Nash, the president of the NDP who also works for the Canadian Auto Workers, agreed the bill must be changed.

“Is it enough? Absolutely not,” she said in an interview.

When the NDP say they just read the "fine print", it means that for the past few days labour leaders and fellow supporters have been expressing concern about these EI reforms. Everybody knew what this reform was on Monday, the CAW and Canadian Labour Congress were criticizing immediately, so PLEASE with the "fine print". This is a reaction to blowback from the NDP base, as they now scramble to find something they can tolerate, a resignation that NO you can't put enough lipstick on this pig to make it attractive. It's actually a confirmation of what's been said from the beginning, this EI "reform" was never a concession, it was never the life raft that hapless supporters have tried to make meaningful.

The latest NDP stance is about trying to regain some credibility, a balancing act between fear of an election and party dignity. Lots of rumors of a "raucous" NDP caucus meeting this week, there is clearly some internal conflict. The NDP now sending signals they need more on EI tells us that there is some blowback, this crumb to make an issue disappear isn't acceptable. Let the tortured dance continue...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Squeeze Play

Remember back in the day, when the NDP would introduce this and that in Parliament, all in the name of embarrassing the Liberals, running up their now ridiculous confidence vote tally? Amazing what a little bit of latitude allows, as the Liberals play "what goes around comes around" with the No Dough Party:
The four parties in the House of Commons are nearing a deal to fast track the government's new employment-insurance legislation and put it to its first vote as early as Friday.

Government House Leader Jay Hill invited his Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois counterparts to a closed door meeting just after noon to discuss the government bill, which was officially introduced in the House of Commons Wednesday afternoon.

The Liberals announced Thursday morning that they are offering to pass the bill quickly, in the hope of taking away the NDP's stated reason for keeping the Conservatives in office for the short term.

“We don't want to give Mr. Layton any alibis,” Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said.

Politics is a bloodsport, so people should be cautious with their reaction, given PAST history. Besides, this is shrewd politically, a bit of a master stroke if you will. Not only do we further expose the NDP, but the Liberals take away this EI issue, should we go to an election. It's a classic squeeze play, and the final end product will be an even more embarrassing statement, should the NDP vote confidence AGAIN on the next occasion. Rather than using this paltry EI nonsense as validation, people are left scrambling with new rationalizations. Meanwhile, the Liberals project strength and resolve, no sense whatsoever that we fear an election- an interesting posture, given the recent trends.

Make em squirm, and don't let up. "Do unto others as they have repeatedly done unto you".

More Of The Same

The weekly EKOS poll confirms the basic trend, Conservatives opening up a outside of MOE lead, renewed strength in Ontario:
shows the Tories with 35.1 per cent support, followed by the Liberals with 29.9 per cent. The New Democratic Party followed with 16.5 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois with 9.6 per cent and the Green Party with 9 per cent.

The Conservative lead increased slightly from last week’s poll, which saw the Tories with 34.2 per cent of support and the Liberals with 30.8 per cent. The NDP rose from 14.8 per cent, the Bloc slipped from 10 per cent, and the Green Party slipped from 10.1 per cent.

A slight uptick for the NDP, maybe capitulation is a winning strategy? I suspect it's just statistical noise, but latch on if need be :)
In Ontario, EKOS gives the Conservatives an edge:
Cons 40.1%
Libs 35.5%
NDP 16.5%
Greens 9%

Another poll pegging Con support above 40%, and further evidence that the Liberal vote is slipping. It's fair to say, the Liberals lost the PR battle in Ontario. It's also a testament to how soft support moves easily in Ontario. In the past months, we've seen a GENERALLY consistent picture of Libs 40%, Cons low to mid 30's. Prior to that, Ontario was up and down like a yoyo. The question now, is this a temporary Con uptick, or a real trend that holds. I still think the former, but we'll see.

No real movement anywhere else. In Quebec:
Bloc 38.9%
Libs 27.1%
Cons 16%
NDP 10.5%
Greens 7.6%

Liberals with a healthy lead in Atlantic Canada, but they've fallen into the mid 20's in B.C. EKOS had shown some previous strength in B.C., but now the Liberals run a close third.

On the question of what type of government Canadians prefer, another poll gives the Liberals the edge, although it isn't massive. 39.4% would prefer some type of Liberal government, while 35.9% want a Conservative government. A full 24.7% want neither, which is significant.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Your own MP calls it "paltry". Your union base calls the reforms "scraps" and "discriminatory". Even worse, the meager wasn't even extracted as concession, it's a unilateral move by the government to make an issue disappear. A quick review of NDP EI demands, quotes, over the past few months, you'll see no mention of this reform as a priority- this was never about concessions for the government, it was about leaving a peanut for a squirrel faced with a long winter.

All this hollow partisan blather about the Liberals getting nothing in return for supporting the government (even though every fair minded observer in the country recognized the decidedly LIBERAL flavor of the budget), and now the NDP is reduced to making a molehill look like a mountain to save face. There is no other word for it than capitulation. This isn't a "deal", it's pure panic and after the fact spin.

Tomorrow, in Parliament, NDP members will rise and place CONFIDENCE in this government, erasing their ivory tower disposition. They will do by endorsing measures they rejected in the budget. They will do so, as a prelude to effectively abandoning their own EI bill that they've pointed to for months as the FIRM template for any agreement. They will enable Harper to take EI off the table for the near future, for longer than his TEMPORARY measures last. They've sold out in the name of political expediency, they've put their own self interest above their principles, they've become what they've vilified, they've betrayed their own sanctimony, they've become the LIBERALS. The horror!

BLACK FRIDAY. Welcome to the practical world, where adults must roam.

Angus Reid

Angus Reid weighs in(no pdf yet), and we see a significant change, particularly in Ontario. The national numbers (last poll two weeks ago in brackets):
Cons 36% (33%)
Libs 29% (32%)
NDP 17% (19%)
Bloc 10% (9%)
Greens 7% (7%)

A noticeable difference, further indication that the Conservatives are winning the election speculation debate.

Most of this gap seems to be a function of a large change in Ontario. The last AR poll had the Libs 40%, Con 37%, NDP 14%. While we don't have the full numbers yet, quite a shift:
The Conservatives held a commanding 12 point lead over Michael Ignatieff's Liberals in Ontario.

A 15% shift in two weeks is massive, by any measure. Ontario has fluctuated quite a bit this year, quite volatile. I can't recall this sort of lead for the Cons in Ontario from this pollster. Part of this may be explained by this finding:
The poll also showed almost six in 10 – 58 per cent – were against any move by the opposition to topple the Harper government.

The question now becomes, is this a temporary wave for the Conservatives, borne out of immediate election anger, or does this momentum "stick"?


Here are the internals. A couple of raised eyebrows. Not a dispute of changing fortunes in Ontario, but that Liberal number looks odd:
Cons 41%
Libs 29%
NDP 18%
Greens 10%

I expected another Con at mid 40's to justify the gap, but AR has the Liberals below 30%, which I'll put in the "one off" category for now. What's interesting, despite these seemly horrible numbers, AR finds that Ontarians pick the Liberals as their first choice to look after their interests, above the Conservatives. That suggests support beyond election reaction, a underlying number that bodes well in a campaign. Anyways, I'll take the trend, but the spread is questionable, given the Liberal score.

It's a good thing AR has the Liberals relatively high in Quebec, or the national number would look worse. Not sure I buy this number necessarily:
Bloc 40%
Libs 36%
Cons 13%
NDP 10%
Greens 2%

I haven't seen a Liberal number that high in quite some time, so another "one off" perhaps. Anti-election sentiment is weakest in Quebec, so it's believable that there is no backlash for the Liberals.

AR also asks people which type of government they would prefer. The Liberals come out on top, as the preferred future government. 54% prefer a Liberal minority or majority, 46% some form of Conservative government.

Only 1/3 support the opposition taking out the government. Interestingly, there is quite a bit of opposition from Liberal and NDP supporters.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Follow The Money

If I can offer a few words of advice. Kennedy should be at sea level:

It's All Good

All things being equal, and with added evidence emerging, I'd say today's development represents the best possible scenario for the Liberals moving forward. Of note, the initial reaction in the media seems to view the Liberals as the "big winners", just to take it out of the partisan realm.

The reason, well it's pretty obvious. Putting aside the 11 people in denial online, the overwhelming condemnation of the NDP is striking. There's just no credible way to rationalize the contradictions, this was the core NDP rallying cry and it has been obliterated. The moves reeks of weakness, that fact alone works for me from the Liberal perspective. Watching the NDP cling to the most paltry of EI reforms, as though central to their cause, well, reasonable people see it for what it is, enough said. Beyond that, the NDP now have to deal with Harper, and it's hard for me to see that relationship bearing much fruit, when you take the "strain" into the totality. At best it's a net neutral, more probable it starts to do damage.

If you're going to let the government survive this week, seems a reach to see another 180 degree turn in a couple weeks when the Liberals vote non-confidence. The NDP will work to avoid an election in the coming weeks, and not much is required to assure their support.

Assuming we have some breathing room, it's really hard to see the Liberal downside. I said this before the Sudbury caucus, that I preferred to see us build "up a lather" in Parliament, get the government on the defensive for a few weeks, before we entertained an election. If we would have went now, so be it, I still have some optimism, but the "chess" play was a slow buildup, rather than an instanteous pull the plug. If all these new "relationships" mean no fall election, then it is a question of competiting realities. Yes, the economy probably improves, although nothing seismic is on the horizon for quite some time. Yes, Harper gets the Olympic glow and his personal election "scenario" want (which is concerning), but he doesn't operate in isolation. If the Liberals are truly free of this "prop up" albatross which is dragging down another leader, then I see plenty of latitude to present a strong, confident front. I'm quite comfortable listening to others defend their support, if that's the case, while we simply oppose with impunity.

If it all unravels in October, that gets us over this hump and its temporary quality more assured. If it's a prolonged awkward dance with the socialists and the separatists, then we build and build without the constant defensive posture, which has blunted us for years now. One important factor, the Conservatives have put all their cards on this coalition argument, the effectiveness of that line is quickly evaporating, a few weeks, it will enter the realm of the ridiculous and that potential hammer will be gone. No matter the timeframe, there will come a TIME where others say "enough is enough" with these guys, or the Conservatives short curcuit themselves- whatever, the Liberals are a secondary consideration in terms of blame now.

It's all good. Maybe by accident, clearly this wasn't the primary plan in Sudbury, but I'll take it.

Harris Decima

Another poll from Harris Decima, as everybody ramps up the frequency, trying to gauge the situation. Interestingly, HD shows no movement from last week's poll, a close race:
A new poll suggests the election frenzy gripping the country's political class isn't stirring movement among voters.

The latest Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey finds the Conservatives maintaining a slight lead in popular support, with 34 per cent to the Liberals' 30 per cent. The NDP are at 15 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois at nine and the Greens at 10.

The findings are virtually unchanged from a survey a week ago, even though politicians have been jockeying non-stop for electoral advantage. An election could theoretically be triggered as early as Friday but the NDP are now signalling their intention to prop up Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government.

The telephone survey of just over 2,000 Canadians was conducted Sept. 3-13 and is considered accurate within a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

Big sample, HD uses last week's findings and this week's, dropping the last with each successive week. The fact that we see little movement is interesting, given the clear signals that the Liberals are "wearing" the election speculation.


Internals released:

In Ontario, the survey found the Liberals and Tories in a statistical dead heat, with 38 per cent and 35 per cent support respectively. The NDP was a distant third with 15 per cent while the Greens had 10 per cent.

In Quebec, the Bloc extended its lead slightly. The separatist party stood at 39 per cent, with the Liberals at 30 per cent, the Tories at 16, the NDP at seven and the Greens at six.

British Columbia:
The Conservatives maintained the advantage in B.C., with 36 per cent. The Liberals and NDP were tied at 23 per cent while the Greens had 17 per cent.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Taking A Hit

Nanos provides some pretty sobering numbers for Ignatieff. A moment in time, I get the "reaction" effect, but those gaps are something I wouldn't gloss over:
The most trustworthy leader

National (n=1,002)

Stephen Harper: 31%
Michael Ignatieff: 14%
Jack Layton: 14%
Gilles Duceppe: 8%
Elizabeth May: 8%
None of them/Undecided: 25%
The most competent leader

National (n=1,002)

Stephen Harper: 36%
Michael Ignatieff: 20%
Jack Layton: 11%
Gilles Duceppe: 7%
Elizabeth May: 2%
None of them/Undecided: 24%
The leader with the best vision for Canada’s future

National (n=1,002)

Stephen Harper: 32%
Michael Ignatieff: 20%
Jack Layton: 15%
Gilles Duceppe: 4%
Elizabeth May: 4%
None of them/Undecided: 25%
Leadership Index Score

Stephen Harper: 99
Michael Ignatieff: 54
Jack Layton: 40
Gilles Duceppe: 19
Elizabeth May: 14

In an election campaign, leadership numbers are key. I subscribe to the notion that the opposition leader must be within striking distance or on par with a sitting PM for his party to win an election. Without that dynamic, the task is almost herculian. This is clearly a snapshot, I would expect some narrowing when everybody calms down, but that doesn't diminish that these are BAD gaps, those are "lose election by a good margin" gaps.

Harper is doubling Ignatieff on some measure, which is something we haven't seen prior. The Liberals are taking the full brunt of this election backlash, Canadians clearly aren't pleased with Ignatieff's stance. Whether that is fleeting remains to be seen, but it is serious, and people should take heed.

What does this say about the dueling ads? I'm not sure if you can sift through the election anger to get a read, but at the same time there's no evidence of "warmth" developing, the opposite in fact.

I take findings like this to heart, in the sense that you should treat them seriously, understand why Ignatieff is tanking, Harper looking formidable. In that way, rather than reacting comfortably, you address in a forceful way. These numbers blow. Discuss.


In the pdf, he last asked the same questions in April, so it's a large gap in between. The numbers are slightly less informative when you use those as a backdrop, a few points difference, but that's hardly the point in the grand scheme.

Fresh Droppings

The latest Ipsos "poll" is out, so let's be brief:
The Conservatives have the support of 39 per cent of decided voters, according to the Ipsos Reid survey, commissioned by Canwest News Service and Global National. The Tory support level is unchanged from the last Ipsos national poll on Aug. 21.

The Liberals have 30 per cent support, up two percentage points from Aug. 21. The NDP dropped two points to 12 per cent, while the Green party fell two points to eight per cent. The NDP received 18 per cent support in the last federal election in October 2008, but have fallen to 12 per cent in four separate Ipsos polls since then.

The Bloc Quebecois received nine per cent on a national basis. Seven per cent of respondents were undecided.

With the threat of an election looming, the Conservatives remain on the cusp of majority, with massive numbers in Ontario, while the party that must decide what to do gets it's lowest number on record. Fascinating result for Canwest.

The Tories have 46 per cent support in Ontario, compared with 36 per cent for the Liberals.

With only 18% remaining for the Greens and NDP, a decent national result for the former, that NDP number must be ugly. The last Ipsos "poll" had it 43-31% for the Conservatives. Now, the Conservatives go even higher, at staggering levels not seen since the coalition. I don't dispute that Ontario has tightened to a "pick em" province, the Liberal lead eroding, but...

This type of number from Ipsos should really scare the NDP, as they weigh their options. Oh wait...

That Was So Yesterday

Cheap Date

Extending EI benefits, gee where have we heard this before? Oh yes, that 2009 budget the NDP couldn't support, that concession the opposition "extracted" from the government to curry favor. Now, all of a sudden, this TEMPORARY "reform" is being lauded as encouraging and I've listened to simply amazing "in key" soundbites coming from both the NDP and Conservatives. The Conservatives, well it's typical, but to listen to the NDP ELEVATE this proposal is amusing at best. Don't get me wrong, I actually support this measure, but really it's hardly a big move to curry favor ("This is something we committed to some time ago" Diane Finley), this was coming the day the Liberals pulled out of the EI panel and the Conservatives wanted to nullify the file. In other words, this is the most miniscule of negotiated compromise imaginable to get the NDP on board.

A quick referral to C-280, the bill that Layton and company have referred to everytime anybody mentions EI, it's their cornerstone, right there for Parliament to vote on. See if you can spot any of the key wants in what is being floated:
This enactment
(a) by lowering the threshold for becoming a major attachment claimant to 360 hours, makes special benefits available to those with that level of insurable employment;

(b) sets the weekly benefit payable to 55% of the average weekly insurable earnings during the highest-paid 12 weeks in the 12-month period preceding the interuption of earnings; and

(c) reduces the qualifying period before receiving benefits and removes the distinctions made in the qualifying period on the basis of the regional unemployment rate.

The Conservatives have also signalled they will introduce further EI reforms in a couple of weeks. This reform will center around the self employed qualifying, as outlined in their 2008 platform:
Self-employed Canadians can opt in to EI premiums and, in return, will be able to receive the same type of maternity and parental benefits available to regular EI participants.

Harper said he wanted this reform last June, so again there is no compromise in anything the Conservatives are offering, unless delivering on the Conservative platform is considered victory for the NDP. AND, why aren't the Conservatives bringing this all forward as a comprehensive reform package, rather than this piecemeal approach? BECAUSE, they are trying to string the NDP along for as long as possible, dangling this reform to move the target. Come on, this is 101 stuff, isn't it?

The Conservatives already telegraphed extending benefits a few weeks, long before the NDP came into the picture. To now spin this as "making parliament work", well, come on now. The real KICKER, these measures by the Conservatives, if allowed to pass, means that all the other demands of the NDP evaporate, we will not revisit EI anytime in the near future. The NDP agenda will be sold out in the name of political expediency, as they effectively accept what the Conservatives feel is reform. The issue will be dead, "progress" very similar to the budget, with a couple more shades for effect.

This is about allowing the government to put the EI feather in their cap. If we go to an election in the near future, the Conservatives would have reforms, supported by the NDP, what was an achilles heel, is now a point to show they listen, they get things done, the "feel" for the unemployed.

I don't know how this all shakes out in the end, but given these tactical soundbites coming from the NDP, it's clear that the will put aside the thrust of their reform package to avoid an election they don't want, and in the end become their former targets. No amount of bluster will change the factual context.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blank Canvas

The so called list of the NDP "demands" have leaked. If this is truly the NDP starting point to support the government, the vagueness and paltry list provides a real chance to make the purple coalition work, and I mean this in all seriousness. The wants are so purposelessly narrow that there is plenty of latitude for Harper, should he chose to explore.

Judging by the various postures I saw today I would judge the dynamic as such- the NDP are basically waiting to hear any indication from the Conservatives, nothing has happened as of yet, a virtual rebuke, but the NDP remain ready to respond to any overture. Of note, Conservative whip Jay Hill chastised the NDP for finally wanting to make "parliament work at the 11th hour", reviewing their abysmal record to date (79 ain't what it used to be, post epiphany). I found that combative tone telling, in contrast to the olive branch routine from the NDP. The government clearly hasn't moved in response to the NDP, maybe because they want an election, maybe because appearing aloof will mean less concessions required, when push comes to shove (Liberals know the game well, Harper tries to maximize at the first hint of weakness).

Back to the extensive TWO bullet point demands:


-That means job creation through directly funded new infrastructure in municipalities.

-It means security for seniors in retirement, substantive credit card reform and fixing EI.

The first reference is complete and utter fluff for material, when one considers the billions being poured into infrastructure as we speak. Methinks we might be able to manage this herculean request.

As for the rest, myself I would have spread out the three into separate points, to add the appearance of depth. People will notice the environment is nowhere to be found, which is telling, considering the crucial climate change talks are on the horizon, and this has always been a key NDP talking point. I guess they figured any request here, they'd have to go to the polls, so why agitate. What does fixing EI mean, why not offer up some firm reforms, as in the past? Given the government is preparing to "reform" EI, a "meet me half way" compromise seems entirely doable. Security for seniors, well that's the Conservative best demographic, that's who shows up at the polls, again I suspect something over the weeks ahead is possible. Credit card reform, might be a bit tricky, but if you knock out the rest, does anybody really believe Layton would go on this issue? If EI wasn't enough for the Liberals, credit card reform, while attractive, is nowhere near a rationale. In other words, it's a paltry list, intentionally vague and general. Partisan NDP will see it differently, nobody else does or will.

It really is up to Harper now, and I suspect some huddling on their side because this isn't much to get them to the next budget after the Olympics, which was the master plan all along. To date, no sign of wanting to deal with the NDP, today reaffirmed the hesitancy, but this is going to be a long week. The NDP are ready to prop up for the moment, so long as they can portray some sense of credibility in support.

New Liberal Ads

In terms of creating "buzz", the way the Liberals have released their ads, a level of anticipation, has worked well. Two more ads, one in English and one in French, both with similar backdrops and tones.

The English ad speaks to the economy and jobs in a very general way. The whole mood is positive and calm. Basically the same ad as before, just with a different theme. That wasn't by accident. Same for the French ad, again stark and serious, but more positive than the first batch.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reborn Parliamentarians

Word is the NDP will preach "working together" when Parliament reconvenes. Layton was interviewed today, and offered this argument:
Layton called on the party leaders to "put some of these partisan considerations -- the focus on how many seats you've got, how large your caucus is, and so on -- aside and instead get results for people that are in need."

I know what my reaction was, but in order to get a fresh perspective, out of the partisan realm, I decided to email this position to an acquaintance for a "non-invested" take. He was kind enough to send me a video response:

It's not just me.

Premature Fabrication?

I think the Conservatives might have gone to early on the fear mongering front. Nevermind the historical fact that parties that go entirely negative are usually LOSING, the better strategy for the Conservatives would have been to unleash this debate mid to late election campaign. The fact we are having the coalition discussion now, scribes busily chiming in as we speak, means that the issue is unlikely to sustain itself in a campaign. I don't know much, but I know about attention spans, unless something fresh or shocking is added, people will get bored and move on. In addition, Tom Flanagan would tend to agree, saying it was "a bit early" to get into this coalition discussion.

None of this says the Conservatives won't continue to highlight this "issue", I just wonder about the mileage. Even yesterday, I sensed some pushback from the media, as the Conservatives kept re-issuing updated Ignatieff attacks, in response to his clear coalition statements. I also heard a few "the issue is dead", a sentiment which apparently angered the PMO. Why? Without much of a positive vision to offer, Conservatives concluded that creating fear would recapture the one moment when a majority looked in reach. The Conservatives have clearly concluded that a protracted coalition debate works to their advantage- I'm not sure, because even if they stir up English Canada, it's negated in Quebec, no majority is mathematically possible. Even if that argument is true, timing is everything and you best maximize the impact if you drop the attacks in the midst of the momentum of a campaign. I've got no problem with "Ignatieff on his heels" pieces Friday before the writ is dropped, let's air it all out now, that works for the Liberals. Moreover, when you consider that this week hasn't been stellar for the Conservatives, one wonders if this talk has any impact at all.

The leaking of this tape has short circuited the Conservative plan. I saw a building up of a lather before they went into full attack mode. The quickly put together and quite disjointed messenging in the latest attack ad shows a kneejerk reaction to events of the day. It's almost like the coalition portion was put in at the last minute, the ad lacks coherence. We all know that ad was cobbled together in short order, because the old "just visiting" ads never make it to the air if anything was in the "can". The old ads were intended to blunt the Liberal ads in the immediate, while they regrouped and got something new out. I firmly believe we've caught them flat footed. Further proof is found the website, where the usually sharp Conservatives aren't pumping their own ads, not even a link. Looks more like reactionary mode than methodical plan at the moment.

I predict the coalition discussion will linger, but it will be just a one sided facet of the larger discussion about what kind of government we want. Liberals relish the opportunity to present themselves as the party that can make Parliament work, "co-operation" will never be a dirty word in Canada. We will contrast that with an argument that you don't reward the failure, all this dysfunction was on Harper's watch, time to change the pecking order.

Conservatives will argue this until they're blue in the face, but I'm willing to bet when they laid out their election strategy, the emphasis on the coalition didn't happen prior to the writ drop.

"He Really Scares Me"

Friday, September 11, 2009

Read My Lips

If you're a big coalition supporter, Ignatieff's unequivocal words today have you in a tizzy. I think the move was shrewd politically, as well as sound philosophically. I also think nothing Michael said today precludes a good relationship with other parties, a co-operative spirit, a compromise flavor, mutual respect, etc. A simple fact, pet arrangements aside, you don't need a coalition to make a minority government work. It's a dubious choice that people have presented, either the Liberals support a coalition, or any sense of parliamentary representation is lost. Bullocks.

From a political perspective, there is nothing to be gained for the Liberals, if Ignatieff engages in hypotheticals, if he's "fuzzy" on a potential coalition. That's exactly what the Conservatives would love to see. Want proof? CTV reports the PMO is up in arms at the media today, because they're saying Ignatieff was unequivocal on a coalition, "case closed". That is the Conservative nightmare, they want blurred lines, they want Ignatieff to entertain, they want the media to speculate, they want FUEL for their hysteria. The Conservatives started ads today speaking about the coalition threat, and Ignatieff cut it off at the knees before it festered. In taking such an early position, by the time we reach the actual campaign, this issue will wane as the repetitive "what don't you understand about NO" bores us all to tears. The debate will move to who can get Parliament to work, who can bring people together. Ignatieff has set his parameters, let's debate within that, rather than speculate on things that aren't on the table. FIRM was required, there is no upside for the Liberals to get drawn in to protracted coalition discussion. How other parties view that position is entirely irrelevant, as well as self serving. I really don't want to hear Layton and Duceppe telling Canadians they need a stronger voice in a coalition so send more MP's to Ottawa. Pardon me if that doesn't work for the Liberals, and if the roles were reversed, the tune would change.

On the substance of what Ignatieff said, I think this issue of co-operation and respect will be a central theme in this election. People are sick of the status quo, Harper wants more power, we counter with HIM as the core problem. Give the Liberals a chance to make it work, Harper had his chance and failed. We will work with others, in the spirit of Pearson and Trudeau, without the need for formal arrangements. The other parties will have a voice, the Liberals will bend, but we won't be beholden beyond a particular issue at hand. That's reasonable, that sets a different tone, that speaks to the current dysfunction. Ignatieff as bridge builder, placed perfectly on the political spectrum to have some appeal. Harper as divisive, unable to play with others, Ignatieff offering a different approach that pledges to find consensus and provide good government. Sounds good to me.

Risk Vs Reward

Ambiguity is the preferred option, based on past political experience. Last election, none of the parties accepted a deficit as inevitable, common sense the casualty, for the most obvious of reasons. This election, the stage is set for another denial fest, in the name of not rocking the boat, "laying low" so to speak. I get it, and you can understand the vagueness, given the media climate, given strategic consideration. However, I would submit that Flaherty's lastest fiscal update provides the Liberals with an opportunity to seize this ground, to update their own rhetoric.

I'm not sure if people have noticed, but whenever the government receives criticism for their horrible predictive record on the deficit, or the sheer mass, any discussion is accompanied with an equally dismissive characterization of the Liberal position. In other words, the Liberals don't really gain much when Flaherty doesn't offer a detailed plan for tackling debt, because we are offering equally "murky" rhetoric. This explains, and it's about time we realized it, why the Conservatives still enjoy a healthy lead on managing the economy, dealing with the deficit. Given the circumstances of late, we really shouldn't see any Conservative preference, it speaks to our own failure to emerge from the shadows.

The deficit numbers are a serious issue, that requires a mature and sober response from the Liberals, if they hope to "own" this turf in any meaningful way. The latest figures provide an opportunity for us, because there is a growing hunger to see someone recognize reality, rather than dodging and weaving on specifics. It isn't a "plan" for Flaherty to defer decisions for another day, that's a copout. That copout sticks if we echo that wishy washy stance, we give the Conservatives a pass by being equally evasive on specifics.

Again, there is risk, you can hear the Conservative rebuttals, in a sense you put a target on your back. But, the alternative is to voluntarily take a chief criticism of this government off the table by appearing similar. You can hammer the government for their numbers, the depth of the deficit, but it rings hollow at a certain point, if you cling to simple political considerations, rather than admitting the elephant in the room. Whatever traction the Liberals get from the latest Flaherty boner is fleeting, it lacks stamina because it's followed by a critique of our own inability to DEAL.

We can amend what we've said to date, without appearing as though we've changed our tune. These new figures and prolonged deficit have given us a free shot at a internal revision. I'd take it, because I believe the political landscape is finally ready for a little sober reflection.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Liberal Double Agent Outed?

I honestly can't believe how many people today surmised that this Harper tape was really a planned leak. At the most basic level, this tape isn't exactly attractive- there's a reason the opposition LOVES it, and can't stop mentioning it. Everything is a conspiracy, even when basic common sense is in question. Anyways, let me be the first to posit this intruiging development. Are the Conservatives so strategic and cunning, that they've co-opted a Liberal party member to act as their muse? Or, is this "Liberal" really a Conservative mole, working both sides? (sounds like Janke blather doesn't it?). You be the judge, something's fishy:
The bootleg video of Prime Minister Stephen Harper that's been drawing nationwide attention was taken by local Liberal Party member Justin Tetreault, SooToday.com News has learned.

"I taped the event on my digital camera, in plain view, and after rewatching the tape and hearing Harper's comments again, I shared it with friends, some of whom are also Liberals," Tetreault told us tonight.

Five moves ahead, at all times. Never forget it peons.

The Perfect Retort

The Conservatives are determined to make the coalition debate a focus in the next election. The Conservatives will attempt to distort past history and capitalize at the Liberals expense. Readers might recall that on several occasions, I've offered a simple, soundbite response that offers effective counter, without getting drawn onto the Conservatives chosen ground. The Liberals can't ignore entirely, as evidenced in today's Ignatieff presser, but they can swat the accusations away in convincing fashion. My suggestion, simply remind Canadians that if Michael Ignatieff really wanted a coalition, he'd already be Prime Minister. We already have a practical example at our disposal that cuts through the manufactured hysteria. With my want in mind, needless to say I'm pleased as punch to hear Ignatieff today, and this should become his standard answer:
Michael Ignatieff says the proof that he's not scheming to head a coalition government is that he rejected the prime minister's chair in January,

But as proof that is not his goal, Mr. Ignatieff points to the face that after he became Liberal Leader he declined to defeat the Tories eight weeks later on their January budget, killing off the coalition.

“I could have been standing here as prime minister of Canada, but I turned it down,” he said.

This renders the future, theoretical coalition plotting argument meaningless, because it's countered with what Ignatieff did in the practical sense. The fact of the matter, if Ignatieff wanted a coalition he would already be PM, Harper would be gone. There is no way around that fact, it supercedes signatures, speculation, scenarios, it's brick and mortar, you can touch it. It also speaks to naked ambition. Nothing more be said, move on.


The weekly EKOS poll shows the Conservatives opening up a slight gap over the Liberals, similar to the latest batch from other organizations:
The EKOS poll, commissioned for the CBC and released Thursday, shows the Tories with 34.2 per cent support, followed by the Liberals with 30.8 per cent, a bigger gap between the two parties than any seen all summer.

The New Democratic Party follows with 14.8 per cent support, while the Green Party has 10.1 per cent and the Bloc Québécois with 10 per cent.

A 3.4% margin now, what was a tie in last week's poll. Of note, while the Liberal number is down week to week, it's current position is identical with what EKOS had shown for the entire month of August. In other words, hardly indicative of too much from the Liberal perspective. However, as we've seen in other polls, EKOS detects a Conservative uptick. One caveat, in this poll the Conservative gain does come at the expense of the Liberals.

A tight race in Ontario:
Cons 38.4% (33.1%)
Libs 36.5% (40.4%)
NDP 13.7% (15.6%)
Greens 11.4% (10.9%)

A solid rise for the Conservatives, again we've seen this from other pollsters. Another poor result for the NDP in crucial Ontario.

In Quebec, EKOS shows improved numbers for the Bloc:
Bloc 39.8% (32.8%)
Libs 27.8% (30.9%)
Cons 15.5% (19.4%)
NDP 9.8%(9.8%)
Greens 7% (7.6%)

That is a large gap for the Bloc, maybe a touch high, but probably indicative of some movement. The Bloc seems to be drawing votes from both principle federalist parties.

EKOS also shows a statistical tie in British Columbia between the Conservatives and Liberals, NDP well back. These results are quite similar to other pollsters, which starts to make this high MOE regional more believable.

EKOS gives the Conservatives a huge advantage in Sask/Man, approaching 50%. A tie in Atlantic Canada, with the NDP right there.

All in all, not a great poll for the Liberals, obviously. It's hard to say anything conclusive based on one poll, but with the slew of releases in the past few days, there does seem to be some general trends evident. I was expecting some "blowback" from the Liberal election talk, and this finally seems to be manifesting itself, mostly in the form of Conservative uptick. The NDP's perceived weakness does seem to be hurting them slightly. The Liberals are stagnant to marginally off, with no momentum.

From the Liberal perspective, we aren't taking a big hit for threatening an election. Also, we are talking about a miniscule gap at the moment, so it's hardly a cause for really worry. The name of the game at the moment, get over the initial election outrage in a relatively positive position. The polls are vacilliating, so you look for top end/low end numbers, when speaking about electoral potential. The Liberals have hit 37-38% in the recent past, bottom seems to be around 30%. Almost the exact situation for the Conservatives, so it all comes down to this small pool of voters that flip, and only a campaign will determine where they go. While the poll trends aren't positive at the moment, I'm more focused on what's available during the election, we can erase and reverse this slight gap with little movement. Bottomline.

Harper Lets His Hair Down

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

And People Ask "Why"?

There are always a few isolated examples that illustrate perfectly, in the simplest terms, the thrust of any "debating" point. As we watch various people from all quarters ponder the rationale for an election, I would argue this symbolizes the Liberal justification in SPADES:
Parliament's budget watchdog has put a price tag of under $1.2 billion on the Liberal's employment insurance proposal, showing the Conservative government "wildly overestimated" the cost at $4 billion for partisan purposes, Montreal Liberal MP Marlene Jennings said Wednesday.

Jennings told Canwest News Service a report prepared for the Liberals by parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page contains an estimated cost of less than $1.2 billion for the Grit proposal for a national eligibility standard for employment insurance benefits. That is less than the $1.5 billion the Liberals estimated themselves.

The finding shows the Conservative government distorted the price during bipartisan talks that broke down over the summer.

The Liberals came with a proposal, using INDEPENDENT analysis from the TD Bank to cost out their proposal. They didn't try to snow anyone with low ball, partisan orientated figures. That's where the 1.5 billion price tag came for the temporary reforms, it was always OBJECTIVE, if anyone bothered to look. In the face of Conservative hyper partisan distortions, the Liberals asked for clarification and low and behold, a surprise to no one, their numbers were correct, even a touch HIGH. What's left, is a disturbing picture of manipulation, exaggeration and purposely SABOTAGING what was supposed to a bi-partisan attempt to get a compromised solution. Remember all the pundits praising Harper in June for his magnanimous tone, where are you now?

By all accounts, call him naive, Ignatieff genuinely thought the two parties would get something done. The Conservatives reacted by placing a pit bull on the committee, failing to offer up anything, while simultaneously putting all energy into scoring points and making the Liberals look "reckless". These are facts, not opinion, any dissenter is left with the ludicrous to justify. With that in mind, how then does any REASONABLE observer truly think the Liberals can continue to "prop up" this government? Does this EI panel not highlight all that is wrong with this government, how they operate, how they have lost the moral authority to govern?

The Liberals made a tactical decision to move away from the singular focus on EI, which is wise on several levels. That said, don't let that decision disallow some serious outrage over this release from Page. This is how we highlight the need for an election, this is the "last straw" so to speak and we challenge rational people to deduce otherwise.

Parliament is DYSFUNCTIONAL, parliament doesn't work, parliament is a JOKE (as you tell us daily). Who is in government? Do they deserve to continue on when they have shown no capacity to make it work, rather they do all in their power to render it meaningless? We reward that behavior in Canada? The Liberals are expected to put aside all that is evident in the name of some obscure responsibility to avoid an election? Give me a break, this EI debacle should be in every opinion piece, on every front page, as we all try to digest just why it is that Ignatieff says no more.

Lose the short term memory here, remember your chronology, remember the committee's, the manuals, the poison pills, the master strategist forever preoccupied with scoring points, the attacks ads over and over, the dishonest forecasts, all the ridiculous pressers about doctored tapes, all the freaking nonsense- it's unparalleled, unseen in our history, unseemly and unattractive. No, we don't need a change in Ottawa, everything is just peachy with this bunch at the helm. Remember your chronology when the Conservatives rise in Parliament and introduce their EI reforms, in a naked attempt to counter the Liberals and appease Canadians. Yes, remember what went on all summer. Just this once, could you please?

Raining Polls

A new Harris Decima poll, with little data released as of yet:

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests Canadians think Michael Ignatieff is wrong to try to force an election this fall and the Liberal leader’s popularity has nosedived as a result.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey also suggests Liberal fortunes have dipped, with the Conservatives taking a slight lead nationally — 34% to 31%.

The NDP was at 15%, the Greens at 10%, and the Bloc Quebecois at 8%.

According to the poll, respondents with a negative impression of Ignatieff jumped 15 points from March, to 41%.

Thirty-nine per cent had a favourable impression, down six points.

Stephen Harper isn’t doing much better — impressions of the prime minister remained virtually unchanged with 44% having a favourable opinion and 45% having an unfavourable opinion.

Ignatieff has "nosedived" to even with Harper, so let's keep it all in perspective.

As for the national numbers, again this "Liberals dipped" presentation isn't really evident. The last HD poll had it 32% Libs, 31% Cons, NDP 16%, Greens 11%, Bloc 9%. More a Conservative uptick than a Liberal wane, mirroring what Nanos just released.

More later, because the devil is in the details...

Regionals actually look better than I thought. Decima gives us a nice edge in Ontario:
In the crucial battleground of Ontario, the Liberals were at 39 per cent, followed closely by the Tories at 34 per cent, the NDP at 16 and the Greens at 10.

In Quebec, where Liberal strategists are hoping to capture up to 30 seats, the Bloc remains solidly in front with 36 per cent support. The Liberals had 31 per cent, the Conservatives 16 per cent, the NDP nine and the Greens six.

British Columbia:
The Tories opened up a substantial lead in British Columbia, with 37 per cent to the Liberals' 27 per cent, the NDP's 19 and the Greens' 16

I would describe all three of those regionals as encouraging for the Liberals, nothing near the "Liberals fading" narrative that seems to accompany these polls. Not to shabby actually, let the games begin!

Nanos Internals

The regionals are out for the Nanos poll, and they provide a slightly different take than the national numbers suggest. For one thing, the Liberal vote is virtually unchanged, with strong numbers in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. The Conservatives are way in the "Prairies" and Atlantic Canada, slight rebound in Quebec and Ontario. This isn't to say the poll isn't good news for the government, because it is, only that it's strange in one sense- normally when one of the two principles rises by a noticeable margin, it comes at the expense of the other to some degree, this dynamic is absent.

Ontario (last Nanos in brackets):

Libs 39.6% (38.4%)
Cons 38.4% (35%)
NDP 15.6% (17.3)
Greens 9.2% (6.2%)

The Liberal vote is actually up slightly in Ontario, the 40% score consistent with most other recent findings. That said, a very good number for the Cons, anything close to this at election day, the Liberals can forget about forming government. This polls shows a real two horse race, and I think there is an inherent danger in the coming campaign, that the focus narrows to the principles and others are marginalized. We'll see.


Bloc 37.3% (35.8%)
Libs 32.5% (34.1%)
Cons 19.3% (13.1%)
NDP 8.9% (14.3%)
Greens 2% (2.4%)

Nanos gives the Conservatives a noticeably uptick, more in line with recent trends. Somebody told me yesterday that this Nanos poll would confirm the Strategic Counsel dud, but they were on the Con glue it seems. A good result for the Liberals, very manageable gap behind the Bloc- the slightest of movement. Very bad result for the NDP, another single digit poll, noticeable drop from the last offering. Liberals stable in Quebec, Cons coming off the mat.

Nanos has the Liberals and Conservatives tied in British Columbia, 35.6% Cons, Libs 34.3%, NDP 22.8%- almost identical to the last Nanos poll. That's a great number for the Liberals, poor result for the NDP. Again, no Liberal erosion in this region.

The Atlantic Canada numbers provide a huge and frankly suspect bounce for the Conservatives.
Cons 42% (31.5)
Libs 39.3% (39%)
NDP 17.2% (27.7%

A suspicious drop for the NDP, as well as this sudden surge for the Conservatives. The margin of error is huge, and I think Nanos got this one wrong. Again, the Liberal vote remains unchanged poll to poll.

Nanos also gives the Conservatives the Cons a 10% in the "Prairies" up to 58.6%. Liberals remain in the low 20%, NDP down to the low teens.

In the big picture, this poll demonstrates a rather consistent Liberal vote in all regions. The Conservative lead is more a function of their own improvement, rather than Liberal erosion, again a strange dynamic using the past as measure.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Nanos Poll

Just a tidbit from tomorrow's Nanos poll, and the numbers don't look particularly good for the Liberals:
The Nanos poll put the Conservatives at 37.5 percent of committed voters and the Liberals at 33.4 percent. A month earlier it had the Liberals ahead by 2.5 points.

It put the NDP at 14.8 percent, the Bloc at 9.7 percent and the Greens at 4.6 percent. However, it found one in four voters were now undecided, up from one out of six.

Nanos surveyed 1,003 Canadians from August 28 to September 3

It's been awhile since I've seen Nanos give the Conservatives such a high national score. The last Nanos had it 34-31% for the Liberals, NDP at 19%. The Liberal vote is consistent, but that's a noticeable bounce for the Conservatives- one has to assume a good result in Ontario. Whatever, this is the type of change poll to poll that you take notice of, although I'm not particularly fazed on the Liberal election decision.

I'll post more tomorrow or later, if it becomes available.

Just Reruns?

I just saw the old "Just Visiting" Conservative attack ad on television. Is this the Conservative response to the Liberals ads we've heard talk of?

I knew the Conservatives would run negative ads, because they certainly didn't have any positive ones in the "can", especially on short notice. That in and of itself is quite telling, that a party has no positive ads at their disposal. But, if this ad I saw tonight is any indication, it would appear the Liberals have really caught the Conservatives flat footed. Old ads? Nothing says stale like a rerun.

"Just Visiting" is so yesterday guys. You can do better!!

Amateur Hour

By all accounts Elizabeth May probably won't unseat Gary Lunn in the next election. The odds of failure, however, are much more likely because of this asinine scorched earth opposition from fellow Green and generally self righteous nimrod Stuart Hertzog:
May first has to win a nomination contest at a meeting set for Sept. 19.

Stuart Hertzog, an environmental and social justice activist and website publisher from Victoria, B.C., will contest the nomination and has also filed a complaint with Elections Canada accusing the Greens of pouring central money into the local riding association to support the May campaign and take away his fair chance at a fight.

"I don't believe I can compete on a level playing field," Hertzog said in an interview last week.

He originally decided to put his name forward in the Vancouver Island constituency to protest against what he described as an anti-democratic shift in the party from the grassroots to the leader and executive, but May said her willingness to fight him proves him wrong.

Now, in a complaint Hertzog said he filed Thursday, he alleges the party's federal council illegally transferred $62,000 from a special fund it set up to get May elected — after it decided this spring that winning a seat for the leader would be the priority in the next campaign — to the electoral district association, and that it is being used to finance the nomination campaign.

Elections Canada refused comment on the matter.

May said the fact the party hasn't simply appointed her as the riding candidate proves Hertzog is wrong about any anti-democratic shift.

"You obviously can't imagine any other party in Canada where the leader would be even contemplating running in a riding where someone would say — just to make a point — the nomination would be contested," May said last week.

"He's making a very strong case that we are in fact a grassroots party that is not top-down."

The party has disputed the amount of money and its purpose.

May's local campaign manager John Fryer said the money from the fund to get May elected is being held in Ottawa and has not been touched. He said the party lent the riding association $50,000 as seed money to mount its campaign after May wins the nomination.

I don't know the initimate details, but for arguments sake lets say that Hertzog doesn't have a hope in hell of winning the nomination. What good then, to have this crusader blooding May's image in the riding, framing her as an elitist outsider? Hertzog will revel in his principles, sacrificing the big picture for personal gratification. Meanwhile May undermined, slumps into a general election and the Greens fail. See, it is failure to have no MP's, absolutely no influence in our political culture. It's fine and dandy to have all the ideals, but if they have no practical application, it's utterly useless.

Hertzog is an environmentalist, among other things, as is May. Anyone in the Green party with the slightest clue gets behind this idea and fights hard to get May elected, they don't get bogged down in the details of their puritan wants. I see the crusade as selfish, because it fights for the personal vision, and in the process sacrifices something else. Worst yet, this display will just demonstrate to voters that the Green Party isn't ready for primetime, amateur hour reigns.

Truth Hurts

Monday, September 07, 2009

New Poll

Strategic Counsel is out with a poll that gives the Conservatives an "edge". Curious result in Quebec which partially explains the supposed gap. First, the nationals:
The survey, conducted by Strategic Counsel for CTV and The Globe and Mail, puts Conservative support at 35 per cent of voters. The Liberals are at 30 per cent. The NDP are at 14, the Greens at 9 and the Bloc Québécois at 12.

Not really much upward movement in the Conservative number, it's the Liberal wane that explains the 5% margin.

People that are predisposed will automatically infer their own "want" onto this poll, but anybody with a sense of objectivity should look at this number with suspicion:
Bloc 49%
Lib 23%
Con 16%
Greens 7%
NDP 6%

Strategic Counsel has put out a few "boner" results for Quebec in the past couple years, I'm prepared to put this one in that folder. As the pollster points out, this is the highest score for the Bloc since 2004. This number also bears absolutely NO resemblance to anything, anybody else has put out. On top of that, the Liberal number is much lower than we've seen, compared to other SC polls, this explains the sudden gap in national support. I'd also put the NDP at the low end. In other words, if one is being fair, I wouldn't put much stock into this result and/or use to further a thesis about the election speculation. Let the "outlier" rest quietly, lest your lust fool you.

The Ontario numbers look reasonable, the two principles tied:
In Ontario, the two major parties are more or less tied (Conservatives 41, Liberals 39) with NDP support at a limp 11 per cent, two points ahead of the Greens

A relatively good result for the Conservatives, Liberal percentage similar to recent findings.

I find this quote hard to believe really:
“The NDP support is close to what it was in the last election. It's 14,” Mr. Donolo said. “They need to decrease that number to 10.”

Part of an argument to say the Liberals haven't polarized the vote, this deduction is nonsensical. Their own poll shows the NDP at a "limp" 11% in Ontario, which is pure death if it were true. Last time I checked, the NDP received 18% in the federal election, and haven't been as low as 14% in some time. I wouldn't expect the NDP to go to 10% nationally, under any circumstance. A silly assertion, particularly when the numbers actually speak to the polarization he speaks about. What are you talking about?

I put SC, just above Ipsos on the reliability/accuracy scale. Which is why, as a Liberal I sleep soundly tonight. Remember this Quebec result, from SC, only a few months ago:

Greens 26%
Libs 24%
Bloc 22%
Cons 17%
NDP 12%


Liberal Ad Review

Some of these ad reviews are really quite amusing. Whether it be the "I'm a fifth as clever as I think I am" crowd, the pontifications from some slanted bunker in Ottawa or just the raw partisan jealousness from not having the playground to themselves, it's all mostly whatever in the grand scheme. Introduction ads aren't earth shattering affairs, opening acts aren't climatic or riveting. These ads are exactly what they were intended to be, and it's baffling to read all these opinions that are attaching their wants and benchmarks onto something that isn't claiming, or intended, to be seismic.

Anyways, of all the opinions I've read today, this seems to be the most level headed, intellectually detached reaction:
Its also because the point isn't to close the argument. Most pundits watch waaaay too much political news, and are constantly looking for the parties to clinch the deal.

But for most Canadians, this is their first real glimpse at Michael Ignatieff outside of soundbites on the news and photos in newspaper boxes. The travelling salesman needs to say hello before he can start trying to sell you a vacuum.

If you come across as a screeching ball of political will, you will scare your potential supporters away. Ever have a sweaty, panting politician sprint up your lawn babbling about tax cuts? That's what you can expect if you start with a closing argument.

Ignatieff establishes himself and his core proposition. He believes Canada can do better, and that together we can take on the world. The point isn't to bring down Harper, but to provide a foundation for Ignatieff. This is who he is and this is why he wants the job.

Of anything I've seen, they remind me of the round of prewrit ads Dalton McGuinty ran in 2003, with the future Premier standing in a snowy field in front of a tree and talking about his optimism for a better tomorrow.

Those ads are all about answering the question: who is Dalton McGuinty? They were clearly successful as the Liberal Leader never trailed in a single poll after that until he won the first of his two majority governments.

And what did people say about those ads?

“Who's less wooden, McGuinty or the tree?”

The bland opining about bland...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Perfect Tone

The new Liberal english ad hits the perfect tone:

The two Quebec ads I've seen are more "edgy", going after Harper but not in the gutter, childish way the Conservatives seem to prefer:

These ads are very well produced, and I love the backdrop for both. I really like the positive messenging in the English ad, as well as the clever non-direct focus on Ignatieff's time abroad as asset. This is the standard positive ad feel, so cynics will have something to cleanse themselves on, but it's a smart ad in this sense.

Ignatieff looks quite relaxed and genuine, comfortable in front of a camera. The green backdrop in the English ad is calming and informal, a nice touch. I also like the French ad feel, very focused and no nonsense, but sharp.

You've got 30 seconds, so it's broad strokes by definition, but the messenging here is quite strong. The Liberals are quickly capturing the "future" narrative. For the first time I can remember, we are seeing a sustained "imprinting" campaign, that will help us take ownership of this theme. It's a theme I do think will resonate with Canadians- it also brings with it the subliminal cheese of "change" and "hope", without being that overt. "We can do better" isn't a deep proclamation, but banners aren't by definition, so that criticism isn't even valid really- it's not a treatise, it's a simple phrasing.

All in all, very pleased with these ads. A perfect tone.

Quick Thought

The same columnists that are simply AGHAST at the prospects of another election, are the same people who would be writing that Ignatieff's a wimp and the Liberals are rudderless and weak, Harper bested us again, if he announced he would "prop up" the government to avoid an election this fall.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Rae's Day

Congratulations to Bob Rae:

Quite a tribute to make it to the frontpage of smear.ca. Way to go Bob! For those keeping total, that's 4 Liberals, 3 Conservatives and 1 stunned dude.

Friday, September 04, 2009

NDP MP Pulls A "Baird"

This argument is just embarrassing, coming from an NDP MP:
"Nobody wants to see the stimulus spending end and that's what an election would do," said MP Jean Crowder.

As the two parties search for common ground, to "make Parliament work", at least they have baseless and transparent fear mongering in common. Singing in key, how cute.

Quebec Poll

New Leger poll, taken between August 31 and September 2. The numbers look similar to the other polls released this week, further evidence that there is no immediate election "blowback" in Quebec for the Liberals:
Bloc 35%
Libs 30%
Cons 16%
NDP 16%

Three polls, all showing the Libs at the 30% mark.

The francophone breakdown:
Bloc 42%
Libs 26%
NDP 15%
Cons 14%

Feedback from the pollster:
With such results, the Liberal Party is poised to make gains in Quebec in the upcoming elections, said Christian Bourque, vice-president of Leger Marekting. "Some districts which are generally favorable may become red, especially in the Mauricie and Eastern Townships," he said.

Bourque notes a "real curiosity" with Ignatieff.

The NDP do well in this poll, relative to the findings this week. Layton also enjoys great popularity. Despite this, the pollster cautions that this vote probably doesn't hold during an election, a view I've articulated as well:
"There is not much room left in the center of the political spectrum, between the Bloc and the Liberal Party. It is as if the NDP had two good drivers, but are sitting in the wrong car " he said.

The NDP still suffers from a credibility problem, it is sound to assume when the vote nears people move to the viable options. As an aside, I think if the election is held this fall the NDP, despite the bluster, will not spend the maximum this campaign. They're broke, and that's an objective fact, so to pour money into a risky Quebec flyer isn't in the cards, particularly if other incumbent seats are at risk, which they clearly will be. If that sounds partisan, too bad :)

All and all, another small sign that the Liberal fortunes haven't been damaged in an initial sense, with this election rhetoric.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New Poll

The latest Angus Reid poll, which covers the period after Ignatieff's election stance, shows Canadians hate the idea of an election, but the Liberals fortunes have improved regardless. Another positive sign indeed, on the heels of today's EKOS. A Conservative four point lead last week, is now a statistical tie:
Con. 33% (34%)
Lib. 32% (30%)
NDP 19% (18%)
Greens 7% (9%)

AR is similar to EKOS, in that it gives the Liberals an edge in Ontario, although smaller:
Libs 40%
Cons 37%
NDP 14%
Greens 8%

There's that 40% number again, which confirms a return to previous form for the Liberals. Also noteworthy, the number looks even better when one considers a relatively weak NDP number. The Conservatives benefit from vote splitting in Ontario, and the Liberals can capture NDP seats if they are weakened. Still, a tight race, but encouraging.

In Quebec, again similar numbers to EKOS:
Bloc 35%
Libs 31%
Cons 18%
NDP 10%
Greens 9%

A good result for the Liberals, furthering the view that our bottom looks to be 30%, with potential.

What is particularly fascinating about this poll, Canadians are decidedly against an election:
32% support the opposition parties
toppling the Conservative government;
57% are opposed

One would think, a poll that shows decided resistance to an election would translate to diminishing fortunes for the party that is the impetus. Not in this case, which makes the Liberal numbers all the more fascinating.

I don't want to overstate these numbers, they translate to no certainty for the Liberals in the least. That said, two polls now that show improved fortunes for the Liberals just as we ramp up our pre-writ presentation. I'm good with the narrative that we have some small momentum, coming off the summer lull. It's ideal in terms of optics, and it dampens all the hysteria.

Ballot Questions

Harper's mini-speech today in the Niagara region was littered with insightful wording that just might be strategic error. Take this sentence as representative:
Our long-term objective is to lay the groundwork for Canada's long-term future prosperity.

Harper's continually referenced the "long term" or the "future", always speaking to current infrastructure projects underway, within this idea of preparing Canada. I took the emphasis on the long view as a direct attempt to blunt the emerging Liberal theme of offering a vision and plan for the future. The repetitive word dropping wasn't an accident and the timing was obvious. However, I'm wondering if this direct counter to try and demonstrate Harper does have a comprehensive plan for the future actually validates the Liberals.

I've read a few columns today that ponder Ignatieff's potential "ballot question". A few intrigues, a few slams, but the Liberal election frame has people talking. It would appear, it also has Harper REACTING. I mentioned the other day, when people worried about the ballot question, that you can create one with a concerted effort and allowing everyone to digest (let's not forget last year Harper manufactured a crisis argument during the dog days of summer, with nothing looming, and within weeks it became an accepted election justification). What I've seen today suggests we are well on our way, generally speaking, to legitimizing this ballot question.

I appreciate why the Conservatives would want to stay ahead of any criticisms they see on the horizon. It's smart on one level, but when your opponent actually wants the discussion, you might be out foxing yourself in the end. Liberals need people to buy into our arguments on the vision and future election angles. Today was a positive day, Harper's buying.

Slight Improvement

The latest EKOS poll offers the Liberals some relative optimism. This poll does capture part of the Liberal caucus retreat drama, as well as the lead up speculation of an election. This poll gives the Liberals the highest level of support they've seen from EKOS, dating back 6 polls. Given what is occuring, that fact is mildly noteworthy:
This week, the Liberals have erased a small but persistent lead enjoyed by the Conservatives in recent weeks by improving their fortunes in the crucial battleground of Ontario.

On the optics front, this one result comes with caution, but it suggests the Liberals aren't suffering from election speculation, a dynamic we've seen before. It also might simply be a function of actual news coverage, something the Liberals haven't enjoyed in weeks.

The Ontario numbers provide good news for the Liberals, as they've erased the recent erosion trend, back up to 40%:
Libs 40.4%
Cons 33.1%
NDP 15.6%
Greens 10.9%

Those numbers represent a return what we were seeing for a couple months, prior to this period of declining fortunes.

We also see a pretty good result in Quebec:
Bloc 32.3%
Libs 30.9%
Cons 19.4%
NDP 9.8%
Greens 7.6%

A low number for the Bloc, a relatively strong one for the Liberals. Maybe some evidence that the slow Liberal slide in Quebec has stopped or stabilizing. There were rumors yesterday, that the Liberals plan a very targeted campaign in Quebec, focusing on 8-12 "winnable" ridings. That seems like a wise strategy, that's realistic and doable. These type of numbers support that strategy.

I was curious to see what EKOS would come out with, as people's attention starts to refocus. This poll does nothing to dampen election speculation, even if the outcome would clearly be in doubt. The fact it comes with some inclusion of the Liberal's new position, is a slightly encouraging sign.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Are We Filing Our Taxes In October Now?

I must admit, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this manufactured concern over the Home Renovation Tax Credit. According to the website, a line will be included in NEXT YEAR'S filing to allow people to claim their rebate. Since we might have an election in October, November, you get the drift, how exactly does that hinder the NEW government from honoring the commitment, doing whatever is required so that Canadians are covered?:
If we form government, there's plenty of time to pass legislation to ensure this happens before tax time," Liberal spokeswoman Jill Fairbrother said.

You mean, the new government can introduce legislation if need be, it has that type of power? Well hang on, what if it's another minority, maybe the Conservative opposition would block quick passage. Can we pin down Harper, or his successor, that the opposition will help the Liberal government ensure the rebate remains for NEXT YEAR'S tax filing?

Anyways, this attack line from the Conservatives is really a side issue in the grand scheme, because the vote won't happen, we'll all be dead anyways. Expect a John Baird presser tomorrow arguing that not only do the Liberals want to kill the economy with an election, they want to kill you too.

Missing Person

Have you seen this man? He was last seen descending the summit of Mount Pure.

Filling The Coffers

If anyone is wondering how the Liberal base has reacted to Ignatieff's firm stance yesterday, it would appear the answer is positive. From a "senior" Liberal:
"Online fundraising was four times higher yesterday than the rate we were tracking at before the speech. The base wants to put gas in the tank!"

I made a donation yesterday. If you're so inclined.


And no, I didn't get this from the big guy.

Compare And Contrast

When the NDP had the luxury of hiding behind the Liberals:

"The NDP would be the least likely of the political parties to support the Conservatives in office" Jack Layton Aug 25

"It's like that cough medicine - you know, it tastes bad, but sometime you've gotta take it." Jack Layton Aug 21 on looming election speculation

When the Liberal security blanket is removed:

"We are ready to manage an arrangement (with the Conservatives). It is possible" NDP MP Joe Comartin Sept 2

“The Prime Minister needs to decide if he wants to call an election or call Mr. Layton,” said Brad Lavigne Sept 1

NDP MP Thomas Mulcair agreed with the prime minister, saying "we'd better have a bloody good reason for forcing a fourth general election in five years." Sept 1

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Well, Well

Mulclair must have got a peek at the NDP books:
But New Democrat MP Thomas Mulcair immediately offered an olive branch.

"What I'm saying is: the last thing Canadians want is a fourth general election in five years and we'd better have a bloody good reason for forcing a fourth general election in five years.

"If, on the other hand, Stephen Harper comes into Parliament with a willingness to work in the public interest, then we're going to take it on a case-by-case basis. Our caucus will decide."

This stance is just laughable on so many levels. What happened to completely opposing the Conservatives at every turn, how they're an evil scourge than should be "turfed" at the first opportunity? Now, it's a "case by case" basis and olive branches. Cue the rationalizations from the usual suspects.

A good reason for forcing an election? What happened to those 79 non confidence motions, that you brag about at every turn, where you effectively ENDORSED an election? Oh, that's when you could hide behind the adults in the room, now that they've taken a different path, it's this AMAZING line.

What a hoot, this day. It's raining humble pie on Mount Pure.

Vision vs Division

I would classify the Ignatieff speech framing as shrewd. While the immediate focus centers around the fact the Liberals have changed their parliamentary strategy, I was struck by the themes Ignatieff developed that look to be the cornerstone of any coming campaign.

The big question, we hear over and over to justify an election- what's the ballot question? Interestingly, there was no ballot question last year, but Stephen Harper's relentless repetitive machine created one and it quickly became acceptable as cause. Ignatieff used a similar tactic today, and it was echoed by all his surrogates. The Liberal justification will be a question of Canada's future.

It is VERY smart for Ignatieff to set a voluntary benchmark, in this case 2017, our 150th anniversary. I've argued before about "5 year plans" and such, this idea fulfills the need to plot a course for the future. In doing so, the Liberals position themselves as the party with a VISION, a characterization that can't be understated, as Canadians wonder about future prosperity. This thrust also allows for a very strong contrast with the Conservatives, who prefer to manage, rather than inspire or set ambitious goals. The Liberals have stepped on the HOPE messaging, without an overt comparison, but it has the potential to appeal in the same way, obvious non-similarities ASIDE. So long as keep repeating ad nauseum, this ballot question will come into focus, it will be our theme.

Ignatieff kept referring to "four years" when he spoke about the Conservatives. I don't think this was by accident, the Liberals are clearly trying to blunt the recent election argument by pulling back and making this a verdict on a much longer tenure in government. Ignatieff used the words often, and they were sprinkled throughout the speech. The intent was obvious, and again it was shrewd.

Ignatieff didn't lay out a platform in this speech, but there is no question he hinted at the policies Liberals will present to the country. Quite passionate on Canadians abroad, aborginal issues, technological advances and innovation in the name of reshaping our economy, etc, etc. Again, not down to the nuts and bolts just yet, but plenty to send signals and give the Liberals some edges.

I had high expectations that this week would turn out to be a good one for the Liberal Party. With the summer lull ended, the boring narratives can fade, if the Liberals use this caucus retreat to change the channel and present strength. What we see, the Liberals have actually been quite busy this summer preparing the ground. A massive ad buy is in the can and ready to go, which speaks to a newfound prowess. We just announced that party membership has exceeded the extremely ambitious 100000 benchmark, announced only a few months ago. A sense that the majority of candidates are almost in place, associations and wings ready. Upbeat MP's, an upbeat leader, coffers full and still filling, it all congeals to give a pretty strong presentation. It's light years ahead of anything I've seen under the Liberal banner since I joined this party.

I think we've set a great tone heading into the fall session. Vision vs division.