Friday, April 30, 2010

United We Stand,.......

There is only one scenario where the opposition doesn't get what it wants on the detainee file. While the opposition negotiates with the government, I would hope they are also negotiating with themselves. Harper's best hope to divulge as little as possible, is to siphon off one opposition party and cut a side deal. It's imperative that the Liberals, NDP and Bloc maintain a united front, because it is this posture that will extract the most desirable outcome.

I'm not against Iacobucci being retained in some capacity, if he answers to Parliament and not the PMO. There is a certain rationale to having third party investigation, because nobody disputes that national security is an issue, weaved within the "culture of deceit". Reasonable Parliamentarians accept some tension, so if Iacobucci were truly independent and his direction clear, that might be acceptable in a certain sense. Of course, this approval assumes that Parliament is in the "loop" so to speak, that's a critical distinction. HOWEVER, any endorsement of this compromise must be acceptable to ALL three opposition parties, any deal that leaves certain parties out is a semi-victory for Harper and the extraction will be lessened with division.

The opposition should huddle after each meeting with the government and ensure they are on the same page through this process. I have been thoroughly impressed with the united front to date, and truth be told we wouldn't be in this place today, if not for a common working spirit. Now that we've reached the 11th hour, don't let political posturing usurp fundamental considerations, and this includes all sides. I would proceed with the premise that any "solution" must be acceptable to all opposition parties, if it isn't, then NO deal. That posture will provide the best outcome.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Liberals Should Address Quebec

If you want to pinpoint the recent Liberal lag in the polls, Quebec is the region that draws my attention. The latest EKOS poll comes on the heels of this week's Harris Decima offering, confirming a new bottom for the Liberal in Quebec. I don't sense much urgency, but the fact of the matter, numbers have been eroding for months and have now reached a critical state.

First the national numbers:
Conservatives: 31.9 (+0.2)
Liberals: 26.6 (-0.5)
NDP: 17.6 (+1.3)
Green: 10.9 (-1.7)
Bloc Quebecois: 9.7 (+0.2) (38.5 in Quebec (+0.1))
Other: 3.3 (+0.6)

Interesting, the Libs are back to 2008 election levels, but the Cons are a full 6% below their tally. And, although the NDP are showing signs of rebound, they are just shy of 2008 levels. I'd hardly fear the big blue machine, garnering 32% and 29% in polling this week, and one has to wonder why they aren't capitalizing on Lib weakness(of course the reverse is true as well). There is nothing here to justify Con bravado, we're at Dion levels and they are down considerably.

The Quebec numbers:
Quebec (MoE 4.40)
Bloc Quebecois 38.5 (+0.1)
Liberals: 19.3 (-3.4)
Conservatives: 16.0 (+2.2)
NDP: 12.6 (+2.8)
Green: 10.4 (-1.6)
Other: 3.1 (-0.3)

As Kady points out, the first time the Libs have fallen below 20% support in AGES. More concerning, this poll isn't a one off, we've seen consistent erosion from others and the trending is clear. I'm not reacting to this result, I put my Quebec concerns to a few people at the Thinkers Conference and wasn't overly moved by the lack of urgency. To be fair, I believe Quebec will largely be a campaign consideration, but at the same time I can't say I denote a coherent strategy. People will note, that the Bloc score is stagnant here, other federalist parties benefit, which suggests a ceiling does exist.

On the leadership front, although Ignatieff's numbers are dreadful, Harper's are concerning, with a much more rigid feel. Layton does well, part merit I suppose, but equally a by-product of after thought considerations.

I've been pretty impressed by the policy thrust we've seen recently. Although the announcements haven't garnered considerable attention, they will serve the rebrand well moving forward. That said, we clearly need an aggressive strategy in Quebec, Ignatieff needs to do another round of television/media interactions, a more visible presence, because part of this drip, drip, drip is a lack of catalysts.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CBC Circumventing Own Rules To Hire Kory Teneycke?

I'd direct people to this post by IMPOLITICAL.

Crazy Talk

I'm not sure I agree with some of the assumptions being floated, as we deal with the document release issue. Conventional wisdom assumes that the Liberals will do everything in their power to avoid a "showdown", because an election is the last thing they would want. Obviously, the polling isn't kind at the moment, and the Liberal body language suggests a long term strategy. However, game plans are fine and dandy, but parties must be nimble and ready for all possibilities. Given what amounts to a seismic rebuke of the government, the Liberals now have an important ruling on their side, which gives them the moral high ground in these "negotiations". This reality changes the dynamic, any threat of an election now clearly rests with Conservatives, it can and would only be triggered by their continued refusals to comply with our democratically elected body.

Much macho bravado coming from the likes of Kory Teneycke. Truth be told, it's a bit amusing to hear the testosterone banter, because in reality I'd put 3 to 1 odds on the paper bag. Let's keep it real, the tough guys are facing the most likely scenario of a reduced mandate, worst case an outright loss. Not ignoring the Liberal challenges in the polls, we're hardly facing a Conservative juggernaut, that should strike fear in the opposition. I'd add, part of success is exuding CONFIDENCE, and it's about time the Liberals get some moxy. The polls aren't likely to change much in the next year, so the motivation should be more based on principle, rather than strategic timing. If I could scour all the issues and narratives at our disposal, my first choice by a mile would be the idea of a secretive, non-transparent, non-democratic, anti-accountability, "culture of deceit". That's our winning issue, it's not going to be the economy, or reaching out to rural voters, it will be a sense amongst the populous that the Conservatives represent an unattractive option, and we contrast that with a more open presentation. If you agree on the best case narrative, then you have to be pragmatic, and see the Speaker's ruling as an opportunity- should we fall off the ledge- to guarantee that our desired talking points would be center stage in a campaign.

I don't care what the Conservatives say, nor do I buy this idea that this is the excuse Harper is looking for to go to the polls. Harper has one more crack, anything but a majority and the united Conservative veneer will evaporate. The Conservatives want to choose the timing, and they desperately want a managed campaign, wherein they set the election parameters. If would submit, the idea of kicking of a campaign, faced with thwarting the will of Parliament, supported by our constitutional "referee" is the least desirable scenario imaginable. There is some thought that Harper would relish a debate about protecting national security, our soldiers safety, but last time I checked the sentiment out there doesn't support this narrow justification, it doesn't smell like a rallying point. On the other hand, the idea of democratic will does stir many, it has shown itself to motivate, there is a passion attached. Do the Conservatives really want to go on an issue that motivates the apathetic?

This is a fundamental issue, and Liberals should be prepared to take this as far as Harper chooses. We should offer compromise, as a matter of fact we already have for months. However, if we face more stonewalling, then I'd suggest we realize that in a certain sense, this "event" plays to our advantage. I don't think an election will come, but I'd proceed as though anything is possible and/or preferrable. Attitude is everything.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Huge Loss" For Conservatives

Speaker Milliken delivered a complete rebuke to the government, Parliament is supreme, and Harper is left with few attractive options. This is a big loss for the Conservatives, they boxed themselves in a corner and now they've managed to reinforce the decidedly negative narrative, that yes, they are secretive and anti-democratic. I believe those two characterizations are the worst possible for a government borne of grassroots expression and supposed white knights of accountability and transparency. This decision will not just reaffirm our democratic tenets, it will HAUNT the Conservatives moving forward.

The Speaker was quite clear, the government has two weeks to work with the opposition to find a tenable solution. Should no agreement come, then that failure will bring consequence for the government. So long as the opposition proceeds in good faith, there is nothing to be gained for the Conservatives, should we require another ruling in two weeks. The spectre of a snap election, predicated on the idea of a government defying the now ESTABLISHED will of Parliament couldn't possibly be more dangerous for the incumbents. Anything is possible with this crew, but from the Liberal perspective, I salivate at the prospects of Harper actually pushing us over the brink and fighting an election defending the rationale. Good luck with that one, it's the stuff of opposition dreams.

The prorogue option is a complete and utter non-starter, Harper has no more political capital on this score, that decision would result in mini revolt, making last winter look tame in comparison. I suppose there is the Supreme Court option, but even this scenario paints a clear picture of a government defying Parliament's will, defying CLEAR guidance from the Speaker. Factor in little advocate support, the government would be left alone and the negative impressions clear.

The opposition has begun to press this "culture of deceit", "culture of secrecy" repetitive imprinting, designed to hammer the point to Canadians that the nature of this government is offensive. This decision by the Speaker, no matter what happens in the next two weeks, will be referenced for future use, another powerful example that tarnishes the government.

I will enjoy watching the government wiggle it's way out of this decision, because which every way they turn, it represents a net negative. Parliament is supreme, deal with it.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think we've ever seen a poll that pegs Liberal and Conservative support BELOW 30% at the same time. Harris Decima:
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey indicates support for the Tories has slipped to 29 per cent - the first time in a year that the governing party has dipped below the 30 per cent threshold.

And the beneficiary appears to be the NDP, not the Liberals.

While the Grits remain stalled at 27 per cent, New Democrat support has reached 20 per cent - a level of support it hasn't enjoyed since shortly after the last election in October 2008.

The survey was conducted April 15-25, as the government was reeling from allegations of unethical - and possibly illegal - conduct by former cabinet minister Helena Guergis and her husband, former Tory MP Rahim Jaffer.

The telephone poll of 2,014 Canadians is considered accurate within a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

Conservatives down 3% poll to poll, but the Liberals are down 2%. Great poll for the NDP, up 3% to 20% (I'd wait for others before declaring a orange wave, because previously polling shows the NDP below their 2008 total, on a fairly consistent basis).

A pretty pathetic showing for the two main parties, both below 30% and further indication that the public has no affection for either at the moment.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Into The Wild

I think this is a bigger deal for me than than my son, but tomorrow we venture to the Canadian Shield for his first full on camping experience. In another life, I used to fancy myself a bit of an outdoorsman, so the idea of watching wide eyes be exposed has me entirely enthralled. Some brook trout if we're lucky, exploring the bush, campfires, maybe a bear story(except the one that would warp his dreams for years), all that good shit. Only once do a father and son get to go on their first adventure together, and tomorrow is that day for me. See you in a few :)


The new EKOS shows some minor change, but really the key storyline- how can the Liberals get some traction? Part of the Liberal dip this week is due to a bizarre 18% tally on the first day of polling. If you remove this 20 out of 20 anomaly, then the numbers really haven't changed week to week. However, that quirk isn't relevant to the wider problem the Liberals face, namely this wall of support hovering around 30%.

It would seem the Jaffer/Guergis affair isn't having much impact, and while the Conservatives are down a couple percent since this blew up, the Liberals have received no benefit. I'd add, although we don't have the actual release, Angus Reid also went on record earlier in the week, stating their polling showed no change, the Conservatives still enjoy a decent lead. That reaffirmation does tend to demonstrate a inherent problem with the Liberal brand, but that's hardly news. Factor in a basic fact, namely that the Conservatives and Harper are eroding in terms of perception, the inability to capitalize becomes more acute. At the moment, it's a "least worst" proposition, which does provide opportunity, but also shows just how tarnished and entirely unmotivating.

The Liberals are doing a good job releasing bits of policy, and those announcements might bear fruit over time. Beyond that, it seems to me the imperative is actually rocking the boat a bit, grabbing attention, in a way that forces people to take a brief moment to notice. There's a certain blandness that hovers around the Liberals, and conventional tactics don't seem to bear fruit.

This isn't a doom and gloom post, because ultimately the more you criticize the Liberals circumstance, the more it highlights the failings of the Conservatives, that they can't take advantage (this works in reverse as well). On top of that, the NDP rarely achieve their 2008 percentage, further evidence that they aren't exactly resonating or capitalizing on discontent with the principles. Using the wide lens, it's a depressing picture, wherein voters simply find nothing to get behind in any compelling way, their bored silly and Ottawa is a distant irritant.

Coke and dubious characters sells newspapers, but when it comes to vote intention, it would appear it does little to reinvent the political landscape.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blow and Blowhards

Although it looks painful and terse, proof that yes, NDP MP Pat Martin can smile:

He can also decry the circus, then assume the role of "ring leader".

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Background on the "Cult" Leadership

Personal opinion on the registry aside, this has become the most AMAZING of debates. Yesterday, Vic Toews was telling all the world that not "one" police officer supported the gun registry. It seems the Conservatives are reduced to hyperbole when confronted with some basic facts, namely that NOT every brave law enforcement person shares their narrow perspective. That was nothing, compared to this character today, with the most outlandish statements. Nevermind the Ignatieff comments, I'm astounded to hear Conservatives turning on police officers, in typical neocon fashion, endorsing a scorched earth policy if anyone gets their way:
"It's like a cult that is led by organizations of police chiefs who pretend the registry helps them do their jobs. They should be ashamed."

The police chiefs association supports retention of the gun registry. But Breitkreuz was quoted as calling both the chiefs and the Coalition for Gun Control "politically motivated lobby groups that derive financial support from pro-registry sources."

"Their positions are tainted and suspect in my view because their endorsement can be bought."

Here is some background on the cult leadership:

Chief Blair started his 30-plus year policing career as a beat officer in downtown Toronto, and continued with assignments in drug enforcement, organized crime units, and major criminal investigations. Promoted to the senior ranks of the Service, his postings included Divisional Commander, Community Policing Programs, and Detective Operations, responsible for all specialized investigative units including the Homicide Squad, Hold-Up Squad, Sex Crimes Unit, Fraud Squad, Forensic Identifications Services, Intelligence Services, and Organized Crime Enforcement, including the Guns and Gangs Unit, and the Repeat Offender Program.

In recognition of his many contributions to the policing profession Chief Blair was named an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces in 2007. He is also a member of the Most Venerable Order of St. John and has been awarded the Police Exemplary Service Medal with Thirty Year Bar.

How dare this character speak for law enforcement, clearly a communist infiltrator with an agenda.

Another member:
Jean-Guy Gagnon

This rogue cop received the Order of Merit, which apparently included a "blood letting".

Another tree hugger lobbyist, who knows nothing about the rigors of police work:

Deputy Director General Steven Chabot was born in Lachute, Quebec, and began his career in policing in 1977. As a police officer he has worked as a patrolman, investigator, first-level manager in the realm of patrols and investigations, and then as a senior manager in the same fields.

It goes on and on, but the point being these are the people uniquely positioned to speak on matters of usefulness and effectiveness, not some turnip truck MP with an attitude.

Would it possible, just this once, if the Conservatives didn't revert to shouting down their opposition, not to mention WITHHOLDING reports which don't jive with their stated opinion. There is something entirely wrong, and highly suspect, with any position that always reverts to secrecy and throwing anybody and everybody under the bus, that dissents.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Enough Is Enough" Is Right

I don't mean to belabor the point, but when Committee gathers on Wednesday, expect to see brinksmanship from the NDP, expressing their passionate and principled opposition to this examination of the Guergis affair. For that reason alone, I think it important to review the words and rationale uttered by Pat Martin yesterday, because as you do, the magnitude of the seismic flip flop is even more apparent. Today it's "enough is enough", let the RCMP conduct its probe, there are no matters which Parliament need concern itself. Yesterday, on Question Period, wherein MP's don't freelance, they trump the party position:
Taber: "At the Commitee, what are you hoping to find out?"

Martin: "Well, were looking into the action of a former member of Parliament and a current member of Parliament, so I think it's fitting that a Parliamentary Committee of their peers review these actions. We're actually hoping that we can knock this thing off center stage somewhat by having the truth revealed... I think we're going to here, hopefully, the actors will feel comfortable enough to share their stories. Being at a Parliamentary Committee has its benefits, in that nothing you say there can be used against you subsequently in a court act. So, it is a safe format, a safe setting where people can share what really went on and hopefully as MP's tighten up the lobbyist rules if necessary. And, at least be fully aware of how this could have happened and why."

Taber: "What do you say to Mr. Brown that this should be in front of the RCMP and not before a Parliamentary Commitee?"

Martin "It is before the RCMP, in fact the difference between lobbying and influence peddling is about five years in prison. All the more reason why our Committee should be very very seized to this issue is because influence peddling is such a serious offence, its right up there with high crimes and misdemenours in the criminal code, right next to treason. It undermines the most fundamental tenets of democracy and Parliament (finger hitting table) should be very seized to this issue. If it's happening in our midst, we need to know about it and nip it in the bud. So, Patrick Brown should be aware that one Conservative on the Committeee voted for this motion and bring this before our Committee. It's fitting, it will be up the Chair to make sure it doesn't turn into a circus... We hope Mr. Jaffer and Miss Guergis see fit to share with us what really went on."

I actually had to go back and watch the Question Period video, because quite frankly I can't believe the bullshit I'm hearing today from the NDP. Yesterday, it's all about "fundamental tenets of democracy", how we should be "very, very seized" on this matter, if its "happening in our midst, we need to know" and "nip it in the bud" blah de blah blah blah. I understand that positions change over time, but from the above one day, to this pius "let's move along" nonsense today, oh come on.

If NDP MP Pat Martin Were A Fire Truck

flippity flop

Ignatieff Flexing

I'm not even a fan of the gun registry, don't think these "reforms" the Liberals are proposing will get them ANY mileage with rural voters, and normally I want to see more free votes in Parliament, but Ignatieff is right to crack the whip here:
Michael Ignatieff plans to whip his caucus to vote against a controversial Conservative bill to abolish the long-gun registry. MPs who do not vote with him will be punished.

Usually, MPs are allowed to vote their conscience on private member’s bills but this one is different – it has caused much consternation and embarrassment for the Liberals.

“Let me be perfectly clear: the Liberal Party opposes the Conservatives’ effort to scrap the gun registry altogether and we will vote against the Hoeppner bill a third reading in the House of Commons,” the Liberal Leader told the Canadian Police Association today at their annual general meeting in Ottawa.

It's a sad state, when individual MP's vote with their constituents in mind, and yet that expression reflects poorly on the leader, but that's the reality at the moment. I've argued for more free votes, and defended recent dissent, but there is a cumultative effect taking hold here that risks hurting the Liberals chances, and more succinctly, weakening the leader. You like to look at things on a case by case basis in politics, and in this case, strong resolve from Ignatieff is required to blunt a worrying trendline. One almost every recent vote, whether overtly or the "whispers", Ignatieff seems to have a perceived problem keeping his caucus together. This is being perceived as dissatisfaction or lack of compelling leadership, and because of this perception, he best nip it straight off.

The Liberal policy is to support the gun registry, and Ignatieff has offered some mostly toothless amendments to appease detractors. If these MP's vote against, then the gun registry dies and Ignatieff will face another round of questionings. The last polling I saw, showed solid overall support for abolishing, and support wasn't exactly strong, even with Liberal supporters. However, at this date and time, the arguments are irrelevant, if the braintrust upholds this policy, people have to fall in line, on the "greater good" front.

I hate the whip, but given the obvious backlash that will come, I say giver a good crack this one time Michael.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"The Key Issue Here Is The Prime Minister's Judgment "

I see Guergis as a bit of a minefield for the Liberals, that demands careful navigation. With that caution in mind, I must say the Liberals did a good job overall on the issue with their attention and framing, mostly avoiding the nonsense. Ignatieff today:
Ignatieff said the handling of Helena Guergis's dismissal from her cabinet post raises questions about the prime ministers' judgment and commitment to transparency.

Martha Hall Findlay intentionally telling QP, that any Committee investigation will focus on high signal questions:
"Our issue is -- did he actually exercise influence and has government money been misspent or planned to be spent improperly?"

With the Afghan file flaring again this week, the secretive, non-transparent narrative works well in tandem with keeping mum on Guergis. I note, rare acknowledgement- on this show and elsewhere- that the Liberals had a good tactical week. I was particularly impressed the other day, when the Liberals decided to lead with Afghanistan in QP, rather than the kneejerk Guergis matter. Clearly, there was an attempt to draw similar negative impressions, from different files.

Moving forward, the argument needs to expand further, because I note some hesitancy in examples once people move beyond these two recent examples. When I have the time, maybe I'll do a overview of all the matters and items at our disposal over the past few years, that highlight the idea this gov't is the most non-transparent, stifling, secretive, anti-democratic manifestation federal politics has seen. I'd love to hear Ignatieff rhyme off example after example, and just keep hammering home the point, that no matter where you look, the same unattractive traits are clearly visible.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How Do They Pull It Off?

Just prior to the 2008 election, then Minister of Environment John Baird said that the Conservatives regulatory regime on greenhouse gases wouldn't be released until after the vote. Jason Kenney said the regulations would be published "later that fall". At the time, it was perplexing that the Conservatives could actually attack other plans, when they refused to release their own. Sadly, the Conservatives were able to avoid real accountability on this score, and their shell game proved effective. That was two years ago, and the most amazing thing of all, the Conservatives have NEVER released jacksquat, despite all those PROMISES. I've yet to hear ONE pointed question on what amounted to a bald faced lie at the time, but that's yesterday's news I suppose.

Fast forward to 2010 and we get the most nonsensical presentation from the Conservatives:
Ottawa stalls on emissions rules

Environment Minister Jim Prentice is signalling further delays in imposing greenhouse gas emission standards on the oil sector and other industries, saying Ottawa does not want to lose jobs and investment by driving activity out of the country.

The Conservative government is waiting for the United States to decide how it will impose climate-change regulations before acting here. And the U.S. Congress could take up to two years to pass legislation that sets caps on greenhouse gas emissions, Mr. Prentice told a Senate committee Thursday.

From what I understand "up to two years" is optimistic, and if the Democrats lose seats in the fall, the Americans may never act on this file. Jim Prentice knows this well, and yet he acts as though something is imminent from Congress. So, two years ago Baird promised standards in a matter of weeks, and now Prentice is saying two more years MAYBE we get something. Can we once and for all cut through the stifling stench wafting from Mount Loose Stool? Just once, a review of the record and the pointed question- come on Mr. Prentice, you're government has promised SOMETHING for years, you NEVER deliver, why not just admit you have NO intention of doing anything, rather than the latest tactic of waiting on a foreign government to set domestic policy? Is it to much to ask for somebody to just laugh in Prentice's face, when he actually posits a commitment where none exists?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Critical Mass

I can't take it anymore. I know there are important matters at the heart of this story, but for the love of GAWD, this shit coming out of respected organizations like the Canadian Press is blowing my MIND:
Guergis had a history in the clubs with hometown playboy: acquaintance

Thank-you TMZ, a big shout out to my peeps at National Enquirer, what nonsense! Sorry for the animated response, but WTF cares if a young Helena Guergis frequented clubs and had a colorful boyfriend. Maybe more of an oddity, if a young person didn't go out to bars and let loose.

This isn't a story, it's character assassination, and it's really disappointing to boot. I can't stand Helena Guergis, a lightweight if there ever was one, but how have you managed to actually make me FEEL SORRY for her? Piling on was so yesterday, now we're reduced to digesting ancient history revolving around nothingness. Newsflash, if you were in any club in the 90's, there was probably somebody doing blow in a can!!! If anyone is shocked by these facts, it's more a statement on a sheltered life, than a revelation.

I look forward to tomorrow's story, detailing the events that lead to Guergis losing her virginity in a Barrie park.

Ahhh, I feel better now.

"Neck And Neck"

The new EKOS shows a significant shift week to week, largely a result of a huge swing in Ontario. Last week, EKOS gave the Conservatives a widening 6% lead, the biggest we'd seen from them since pre-prorogue. This week, EKOS shows a statistical tie, the Conservatives with a slim 2% advantage. Only one poll, so caution is supreme, but it would appear the Guergis mess is hurting the government:

The Tories are the preferred party of 31.4 per cent of decided voters who responded to the survey, with the Liberals close behind at 29 per cent. The New Democratic Party took 16.4 per cent, the Green Party 11.1 per cent and the Bloc Québécois 8.8 per cent.

Tory support was down 2.2 percentage points from last week, when the party drew 33.6 per cent support, while the Liberals were up 1.7 points from 27.3. The NDP’s numbers rose slightly from last week’s 15.9 per cent, while the Greens and Bloc each fell about half a point.

Last week, I mentioned that Ontario can swing with the slightest political breeze. When you look at the regionals, you see that the change this week is largely a result of Ontario(last week in brackets):
Libs 36.6%(31.8%)
Cons 31.1%(39.5%)
NDP 16.5%(16%)
Greens 11.9%(12%)

As polling goes, the 8.4% Conservative drop is seismic. This volatility, while encouraging for the Liberals, also shows just how fickle the Ontario voter, support is very superficial. That said, this number alone will send shutters through the PMO.

EKOS also finds the approval/disapproval numbers trending against the government.

I wasn't entirely convinced that this scandal would really move the numbers, primarily because it has an "isolated" feel, which doesn't necessarily translate to the party as a whole. I'd like to see more results, but it would appear I was wrong, because this is a big move for EKOS, outside of normal week to week fluctuations.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ignatieff Launches "Better Late Than Never" "Pre-Emptive Strike"

Huh?? First time I've heard of a pre-emptive strike also being referred to as late- but then isn't Ottawa a study in contradictions anyways? Ignatieff comes out with a strong statement in support of NO user fees for health care:
And Mr. Ignatieff addressed the issue in speaking to reporters after the morning caucus meeting.

“I am saying no user fees,” he said. “I want to make it very clear that our party and I personally am a passionate defender of the Canada Health Act and we understand that provinces are facing substantial challenges facing the financing of their health care systems.

Mr. Ignatieff said Liberals will oppose any government in any province that introduces user fees. And he went further, asking why Prime Minister Stephen Harper hasn’t made a similar defence.

“I said last week … this is not just about health care. This is the spine of Canadian citizenship that is at stake and our party wants to make position and stance on that very clear.”

On a side note, the reckless MP's who leak these tantalizing statements to gossip mongers need to be reigned in. The Charest budget isn't exactly an ancient document, so the unease with Ignatieff's clarity is both premature and irresponsible. I suppose you could argue that Ignatieff needed to clarify, which he did today, but to run to the press and anonymously question is schoolyard nonsense. I'm curious what kind of an idiot(seriously) thinks they can convey rumblings to someone with daily ink to fill and NOT realize they will be reported? If the intent was pre-meditated, then do us all a favor and resign, because this shit sandbags our chances.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No Traction

Probably not the most popular point of view, but this whole Guergis pursuit, from the Liberal perspective, looks like a complete waste of time. There are valid questions confused within mostly trivial information, but the Liberals receive little benefit leading the charge. I'd also wager that this scandal doesn't put any dent in Conservative support, nor does it give the Liberals any traction with voters. In the final analysis, this kerfuffle will prove to be another week wasted, for a party desperate to resonate.

I agree, Harper should let us know what the "revelations" were that lead to the RCMP request. However, Canadians will hardly react negatively to the idea that Harper has called in the police to look into the matter. We're all pretty used to law enforcement refusing to divulge information, and we also know that things have a way of leaking out over time. Surely, it isn't the job of the Liberal opposition to produce new lines of inquiry in QP, that's what the cops do in this instance. Couple that inherent fact, with an engaged media doing its homework, and the Liberals are simply piling on, rather than scoring effective points.

For weeks now, and I've had some fun myself, it's been demanding resignations, seizing on every new development. At some point, we have to ask ourselves- are these the big issues that Canadians want us to focus on?

When I was sitting in Montreal, entirely impressed with actual substantive, stimulating discussion, I worried (and I wrote this on return) that the moment was fleeting, the culture in Ottawa would dominate again, high minded purpose the casualty. Well, here we are, and I'm sorry to say it, but the moment does look lost, not an INCH of progress on presenting an alternative vision to the country. Time ticks by, and before you know it the summer break comes and the Liberals are left to fight for off season coverage scraps. Head back into the fall, and we are still confronting a perceived rudderless party, and our opposition takes comfort in that liability.

Again, I'm not saying there aren't genuine concerns here, but more a commentary on the singularity with which they are persued, at the expense of matters that will actually matter in the end. Let the RCMP and media do their jobs, we have a supposed vision to sell, often and hard.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tough On Tough

With China now a player in the tar sands, it's important to see if Harper holds a key 2008 platform promise. From the platform, which was directed toward future Chinese investment:

Prohibiting the Export of Raw Bitumen to Higher Polluting Jurisdictions A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will prevent any company from exporting raw bitumen (unprocessed oil from the oil sands) outside of Canada for upgrading in order to take advantage of lower pollution or greenhouse gas emissions standards elsewhere.

To be fair, since we don't even have standards, there's no real danger of anyone actually "taking advantage". In a way, promise kept.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Guergis To The Back Burner

The big assumption, Parliament's return tomorrow will bring a Liberal assault on the Guergis front. This isn't a statement on the seriousness, but really the Liberals might be wise to put Guergis on the back burner and set an issue orientated return.

The Guergis story is guaranteed to be a focus tomorrow, as the media asks further questions and more is digested. This simple fact means the Liberals don't need to draw further attention with a barrage of accusations and demands in Question Period. A question or two, but when it comes to the high profile queries, less gotcha, more "kitchen table". It would appear the other opposition parties are using Guergis to pivot, introducing more substantive considerations. I'm not sure the Liberals want to be the sole opposition party aggressively chasing this story.

This isn't to say Guergis isn't important, it clearly requires "follow up". However, the whole matter has a gossipy aspect, which has provided great "fun", but hardly a vote mover, nor anything that improves the Liberal brand. Two weeks out from Montreal, and already you see the high signal considerations fade, as the Ottawa fog returns, superficial, reactive politics returns. For the Liberals, we need to stick to our supposed game plan, and that means not getting distracted by daily revelations, but concentration on the wider internal challenges. Guergis is clearly relevant, but I don't see any "payoff" for the Liberals, it doesn't address what ails. Couple that fact with the realization that the story has outside traction regardless, focus isn't required.

What might be noteworthy, if Ignatieff rose tomorrow and DIDN'T refer to Guergis.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


If you read the Taber piece, you might assume the Liberals are gunning for a fall election. I don't read the "securing a plane" revelation as anything indicative, other than simple prudence. As noted:
The Conservatives and NDP, meanwhile, have on-going arrangements with Air Canada.

Last election, the rusty tin can Dion was forced to roam around in, parachute in tow, became symbolic of a "not ready for prime time" presentation. If the Liberals are getting their house in order, I say good, because we don't want a repeat of the summer of 2008, wherein Harper caught everyone off guard.

The Liberals should spend this summer as though an election is imminent. That doesn't mean the party is necessarily angling for an election, but more a recognition of our opponent. If I were a betting man, I'd put even odds on Harper preferring to go this fall. Once you reach the 2 year window, potential public backlash will wane, the risk less pronounced. Couple that assumed fact with the heavy lifting on the balance sheet yet to come, and one can see an attractive scenario for the Conservatives.

It is imperative that the Liberals are ready to go aggressively, the minute an election is called. We can't have the Conservatives dominating the airwaves in the pre-writ, our war room needs to be on a hair trigger. In the last election, the slumbering start, allowed the Conservatives to open up a sizeable lead before the campaign even started.

Come August, I would expect to see a red book fully written, even some ideas floated. Ads in the can, a NEW slick plane (just because EVERYBODY will notice), ridings organized, etc. Assume we are having a fall election, no long gaps of nothingness using the "nobody is paying attention" summer assumptions.

I won't be surprised if Harper calls a fall election, and I'd be surprised if anyone in the Liberal ranks is surprised by that very real possibility.

Friday, April 09, 2010

"Even If You're Not On The List"

A trivial point on one level, given all the other issues swirling, but the above line from Harper was quite telling. The Conservatives still cling to this nonsensical narrative that they are accountable and transparent, even though every fact at hand suggests the exact opposite. The Conservatives are a complete FRAUD on this score, and Harper's quote speaks to the broader reality.

What a splendid day for accountability, the Prime Minister actually took a question from a reporter that wasn't sanctioned by the PMO. In the Harper world, the media doesn't do scrums or pressers, they're part of some carefully orchestrated presentation. There is an underlying threat with the "list" requirement, be particularly harsh on the government, don't expect to get a coveted question. Not that Harper ever answers questions, but you get the gist.

I suppose we should all be happy that Harper takes reporters questions at all. Don't forget, this champion of accountability actually refused to appear on CBC during the last election, if he had to answer ONE question from an actual voter.

A wildly spontaneous moment, Stephen Harper deviated from the list.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


The new EKOS poll shows the Conservatives with a decent lead over the Liberals, as Ontario swings back in their favor:
Conservatives: 33.6 (+1.4)
Liberals: 27.3 (+0.3)
NDP: 15.9 (-0.1)
Green: 11.7 (-1.0)
Bloc Quebecois: 9.6 (+0.6) - 39.4 (+3.5) in Quebec
Other: 1.8 (-1.3)

Over a 6% lead for the Conservatives, the biggest we've seen from EKOS since prorogation. One item of note, despite the Liberals 2008 election like result, the Conservatives are still nowhere near there vote tally, neither the NDP for that matter. That does speak to a certain frustration with all the main parties, and it also tells me that unless something changes the next election will produce even lower turnout.

In volatile Ontario, the Conservatives have regained a sizeable lead:
Ontario (MoE 6.64)
Conservatives: 39.5 (+4.2)
Liberals: 31.8 (-1.0)
NDP: 16.0 (+0.6)
Green: 12.0 (-1.8)
Other: 0.8 (-1.9)

That's a bad number for the Liberals, which we haven't seen for months. Ontario can move with the slightest breeze, but it's hard to take much solace.

Coyne's column earlier this week highlighted a word I've been using for months, BOLD. What these polls tell me, the Liberal have no inherent traction, any momentum a by-product of others behavior. The only way to truly review an ailing bland(that was a typo, but actually it works) is to really "make a splash", otherwise the odds are long and a two election strategy is realistic. With an economic recovery taking hold, there will be no external help, the Liberals must take some risks, step on a few toes and provoke some emotion from the sleepy electorate. Not reckless, but somewhat provocative is clearly required. Go bold, or they will stay at home, the numbers couldn't be clearer IMHO.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What Happened To All The Noise?

Below, the federal NDP rally against Nova Scotia's HST hike:

Back in the day:

Truth hurts.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

"Don't Know" On Cusp Of Majority

The latest Harris Decima poll shows little change from their last release, the Conservatives now lead by 3%, as opposed to the previous 4%. What is intriguing, this poll is so representative of the political malaise in this country, Canadians really don't care, or feel inspired, by anyone:
Canadians have little confidence in either the Conservatives or Liberals to manage the economy, balance the books or reflect their values, a new poll suggests.

Indeed, more Canadians picked “None of the above” and “Don't know” than chose any federal party on those key issues, according to a Harris-Decima survey conducted for The Canadian Press.

Pollster Allan Gregg said the findings are “an indictment” of Canada's political parties and help explain why support remains tepid for both the Conservatives and the Liberals.

Key findings, which show Don't Know/Don't Care is riding a wave. Wonder if she/he will force an election? Maybe some clarity next week during scrums?:
Asked which party is best able to balance the budget in five years, half of respondents answered either “Don't know” or “None.”

Asked which party can be trusted to manage the economy, 36 per cent said “Don't know” or “None"

As to which party holds values closest to their own, 27 per cent said “Don't know” or “None”

In response, Dmitri Soudas indicated the Conservatives would run attack ads detailing "Don't know's" inability to take a firm stand and "None's" alleged former anarchist ties. The Liberals are listening, the NDP says "None" shouldn't be allowed in any debate.

On the plus side, if any party could actually manage to resonate, there is an audience just waiting. Honestly, I think we have reached a new low point in federal politics.

The Conservatives "Rising Star"

Yesterday, I heard Charles Adler on CTV joining the Shelly Glover chorus, arguing that she's one to watch in Harper's caucus. It would seem Glover is being annointed by both partisans and media alike as the new "rising star" in the Conservative fold. Okay, I admit I'm perplexed, because I've watched Glover several times now, and about all I get is the impression of somebody fighting above their weight class. I suppose with such a weak back bench, impressing people is relatively easy, but from the Liberal perspective, I see more Glover as a net positive.

Last week Glover appeared on a panel, the topic crime. Here's an excerpt:
There’s a problem when you talk about numbers. First and foremost, when you talk about that number you just provided, does that include things that perhaps don’t cost money? For example, in our prison systems, we promote reunification of families. That doesn’t cost a dime. We promote that our inmates visit counsellors when they need to speak to someone. That doesn’t cost a dime. So, again, numbers can be skewed any which way, but I do take issue with the misleading comments made by my colleagues. I worked in this system. I’ll tell you straightforward, Canadians are seeing an increase in crime. I don’t care what Stats Canada has reported because they only count reported crime. They do not count unreported crimes. And as a police officer, I’ll tell you, I worked sex crimes for four and a half years, 92% of sex crime victims do not report their crime.

Follow the hilarity for a moment. Glover doesn't care what Stats Canada reports, their numbers are meaningless, THEN she uses her own STAT as retort. Alright then, stats bad unless they further my argument, then by all means.

Yesterday, Glover appeared on another panel, this time dealing with the Graham James issue. Glover started accusing the Liberals of not supporting certain measures, when in fact they had, confirmed by the NDP member of the panel. I'm sitting there in disbelief, because I've yet to see one appearance by Glover that I would catergorize as effective. About all I see is a complete lack of sophistication and depth, bordering on amateurish.

Shelly Glover may well prove to be an asset, but I would submit it remains to be seen for which party.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Liberals Need Forced Retirement

There's one element to Liberal renewal that is rarely addressed. This subject came up in Montreal, from a non-partisan source and from my perspective it makes perfect sense. Ignatieff should refuse to sign nomination papers for some of these permanent fixture MP's, who's relevance is long since past and are representative of the tired entitlement that the Liberals need to shed.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs, wherein even partisan Liberals cringe when they see a Joe Volpe rise in Parliament. The Volpe's, the Jimmy K's of this world, these useless and ineffective MP's are nothing but a drag on the Liberal Party. They operate within their little fiefdoms, and while successive leaders realize their shortcomings, nobody dare challenge, for fear of backlash. And so, the Liberals are saddled with these fossils, a fact which detracts from the entire presentation. From what I gather, these MP's enjoy little respect in Ottawa and their presence betrays a party trying to change its image.

I'm not sure if Ignatieff can be so provocative that he openly refuses to sign MP nomination papers, but some behind the scenes nudging is clearly required. Most of these MP's in question sit in solid red ridings, so in the interest of "fresh blood" it's almost annoying to watch these characters float through, time after time. If Ignatieff really wants to send a signal that the Liberals represent a new, forward thinking entity, then it might be time to challenge the status quo. On the one hand, there's a certain top heavy feel to dictating a riding preference, but since some of these people seem content to stay on for an eternity, despite their low standing, a push is required.

Ignatieff needs to build the best team possible, and this idea of dead weight roaming the halls, is an affront to "renewal". It's time for Ignatieff to step on a few toes, bring in people that are motivated, fresh, more representative superficially and philosphically. Optically, forced "turnover" would send a powerful signal that the Liberals are relevant and renewing themselves. It's pretty hard to be a credible vehicle for change, when the presentation includes people who offer nothing to the cause and are frankly embarrassing.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

New Afghan Detainee Document Release

The Conservatives have released another flood of documents on the Afghan detainee question. I thought, rather than prejudge, I'll let others draw their own conclusions:

You be the judge.


Apologies, I forgot one which sheds even more light:



The new EKOS shows little change week to week. I find the Green numbers striking, EKOS consistently shows strong support, that doesn't necessarily translate to other pollsters. The Conservatives and Liberals are both down, leaving the gap in tact. Something to watch for next week, the Conservative numbers tumble further in the last three days of the polling. Nationally:
Conservatives: 32.2 (-1.1)
Liberals: 27.0 (-0.7)
NDP: 16.0 (+0.1)
Green: 12.7 (+2.3)
Bloc Quebecois: 9.0 (-0.8) (35.9 (-3.3) in Quebec)
Other: 3.1 (+0.3)

No evidence of any "bounce" per se coming out of the Thinkers Conference. However, with the particularly poor Liberal preamble, one could argue this event allowed the party to change the channel. Whatever, the Liberal numbers are down slightly, the erosion consistent week to week. Most of the decline comes in Ontario, where the Liberal number is as low as we've seen this year:
Ontario (MoE 3.93)
Conservatives: 35.3 (-1.3)
Liberals: 32.8 (-2.2)
NDP: 15.4 (-1.2)
Green: 13.8 (+3.5)
Other: 2.7 (+1.2)

Ontario is volatile for the principal parties, but EKOS shows a consistent high Green vote. This week the Greens surge again, with the MOE of the NDP- not the first time we've seen this result. To be honest, I don't know if these numbers are real, because other pollsters simply don't replicate. Nanos pegs support around 7%, Angus Reid the same, although they've had the Greens up to 10%. No matter, despite all this talk that the environment is a "dead" issue, the Green vote shows no signs of falter, even indications of further inroads. Part of this may go beyond a single issue, morphing into a protest component for those tired of the whole political system. I tend to believe this angst is real and growing, which is why the traditional parties would be wise to pay attention.