Saturday, April 30, 2011


I firmly believe, if we had an election period ban on polls (not a statement on merits one way or other), our current perceptions would be far different. It's sort of any interesting consideration, imagine a world wherein every day's tone wasn't determined by the polling? I don't think anyone would dispute the overwhelming influence of polls, the almost self fulfilling nature of the subsequent digestion. Personally, I've been dejected more than a few mornings, knowing a poor result will mean another rash of negativity for my party. Even my NDP friends, now benefiting from poll momentum can remember way, way back three weeks ago, when the "squeeze" was on, in key regions talk of collapse. It's a funny animal, polls are central to everything, all the cues, all the analysis, so we tend to really have a very superficial campaign.

In the imaginary world of no polls, I am convinced people would have a very different view of the Liberal campaign. Even now, critics acknowledge a fairly seamless campaign. Liberals have seen great creativity from our team, overall very competent, quick to react, isolate yourself to just conduct, no relationship to apocalyptic scenarios we now entertain. On that score, this from today's Susan Delacourt column:
About $4-million has flowed into federal Liberal coffers during the past month – more than the party raised in the past three elections combined, and double the party’s fundraising targets for this campaign, according to party officials.

A lot of that money has been sent in through small cheques, accompanied by hand-written notes of encouragement to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.

“It’s a lot of direct mail. People have been writing out a cheque, putting in the mail. And that’s a very interesting sign, about why I’m saying to you the base will show up,” Ignatieff said when he visited the Star’s offices this week.

Remarkable isn't it? I mean, here we sit with all these dreadful polls, prognostications, dancing on the graves and YET a defying infux of CASH, probably the most concrete example of resonance. I remember vividly, it was when Obama started to raise serious money, challenge Clinton, that is where the momentum really began, again a concrete sign that something may be afoot. That Ignatieff has doubled our projections is a very positive sign indeed, but apparently it operates in isolation, perplexing to say the least.

We've had the crowds, I would venture multiple times more this campaign than in 2008. Prior to the collapse, plenty of praise of Ignatieff on the stump, I know I was quite pleased, particularly how he had evolved, how he related to the questions, not perfect, but formidable. Okay, so turnout big CHECK, leader CHECK, fundraising big CHECK, our war room CHECK, social media integration CHECK. Without the polls that never showed us getting traction, even prior to the debates, I would have given us the edge, based on pure perception. I'd also add, of all the platforms, ours seemed to offer the newer planks. You'll recall Layton came out with old ideas about bank interest rates, while Harper had absolutely nothing but fear. A quick aside, this isn't sour grapes, more an internal attempt to understand the disconnect.

It means ABSOLUTELY nothing, so don't attach any real meaning to this declaration, but if we lived in a world where campaign polls weren't part of equation, I bet today, instead of post-mortems, people would be saying their mental math predicted a good showing for we Liberals. I don't know what will happen, but this is without a doubt- both sides of the border- the most peculiar, throw out the intangibles, campaign I think I've ever seen...

The Late Break

Nothing is etched in stone here, I sense softness and my chief worry is that if the Liberals don't appear viable, a "stop Jack" sentiment runs to the Conservatives as the only credible option. This proposition is clearly a possible scenario, and I'd describe yesterday as a bad day for the NDP, at a bad time. The trick here, separating our plugged in perceptions with that of the average voter, are they noticing what is somewhat of a "goofy" NDP at this stage?

I am not seeing a formidable counter from the NDP on the economic front. The question now is do voters ride the wave, particularly in Ontario, or do they give sober assessment? In addition, do those that have hesitations bypass the Liberals because the Conservatives offer the only "stop" option? Nanos shows a slight Liberal uptick in Ontario, if there is any NDP erosion, it must go to the Liberals or Harper will get, at least, a very strong minority and outcomes entirely unclear. Angus Reid now pegs Conservative support over 40% in Ontario, a relative uptick that could suggest my potential scenario.

It looks to me like Liberals are determined on the ground, no giving up, I think people actually appreciate we are fighting for our lives. Government out of the question, it's now a matter of saving seats, maybe grabbing a couple here and there to offset, everyone knows the reality, it's focused the fight. In terms of future relevance, these are critical days, hang on to a respectable total and it can be rebuilt, collapse, well... This spirit may help draw any potential NDP erosion to the Liberal fold, otherwise the Conservatives could benefit, then vote splits really kick in.

I expect the NDP to hold in Quebec, I expect the NDP to hold in British Columbia, I have no idea in Ontario. I don't like what I've seen the past few days, the NDP have struck me as optical amateur hour on the economy. That's a dangerous development, given all Harper has left is this sense of economic prowess. Is it "change" in Ontario, or will there be "what the hell are we doing here" emerge with late breakers? Who knows really, but when it comes to Ontario, where I've forever stressed volatily, "locking in" seems premature, even this late in the game.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Petty Nash

A lot of things get distorted in a campaign, and I've really just ignored some of the bullshit, because well, it's BULLSHIT. Chiefly, the NDP and their "positive" campaign, which seems to divide election 2011 into two distinct segments, the first half a mirage apparently. See, to truly believe this rubbish, one must forget that prior to the Quebec surge, all Layton did was bash Liberals, his stump speech said more about Ignatieff than Harper. In addition, the NDP ran attack ads against the Liberals. I read articles, commentaries, all independent observers detailing the NDP "obsession" with attacking the Liberals. It's a fact, a truth that exists beyond the lame spin from NDP supporters and sympathizer friends, that is the inescapable TRUTH. You know what it's fine, because in politics that's the name of the game, but please, please STOP with the revionism. Of course now it's all love and sunshine from the NDP, which is smart strategy, given the wave of change, that's the easy call. I commend the NDP war room for positive messaging in the home stretch. I have also put aside my partisan considerations and adopted a "greater good" mentality when viewing possible election outcomes.

Apparently Peggy Nash didn't get the new memo, because she is running a LOWBALL campaign of DISTORTIONS against one of the most progressive voices in the country, a real world example of how the flowery projections we must nauseatingly endure don't quite match the GUTTER politics that so often is the real story behind the smiling mustache. So, I'm challenging the moral high ground Dippers and their sympathizers to decry this crap from the Petty Nash campaign- come on show some consistency- or is just partisan convenience, because going after an honorable man like Kennedy in this BULLSHIT way is just "broken Ottawa" in every conceivable way, is it not?:

Here's another newsflash, it's stuff like this that will make many Liberals less inclined to support the NDP after this all shakes out, and count me NOW as one of them (with any geniune enthusiasm that's for sure). What a low rent attack. As an aside, way to kick ass Gerard Kennedy, you're clearly the better man or woman in this fight.

Conservative Majority "Just Not There"

I watched Harper yesterday, he seemed pretty glum, the words particularly hollow, even by his standards he just looked off. Today we have a Nanos poll and a particularly revealing story that help explain Harper's body language, the potential that this is the end of the line for him personally, VERY real:
Stephen Harper's Conservatives must win 23 more seats in Ontario to achieve their coveted majority, a task that senior party insiders now admit is almost impossible, the Star has learned.

High-ranking sources confide that even with the collapse of Michael Ignatieff's Liberals — and NDP Leader Jack Layton's surge, which helps split the vote in many Ontario ridings — it will be very difficult to make such immense gains in Canada's most populous province.

At the dissolution of Parliament, the minority Tories held 51 of Ontario's 106 federal seats.

Party sources say the possible loss of several British Columbia ridings to the New Democrats — and others in Quebec, where Layton is surfing an orange wave — has forced them to revise their projections.

As of Thursday, they said they needed to win at least 74 seats in Ontario to achieve a majority.

“It all comes down to Ontario and we're just not there,” a source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the party's internal polling is closely guarded.

The article references the Harris Decima poll I mentioned yesterday, the regional template required for toppling Harper. Well today Nanos comes out with his poll and it shows similar trends. Given the sentiment in the linked story, it would appear the Conservative internals are also in agreement. Nanos now has the national gap down to just five points, Conservatives 36%, NDP 31%, Liberals 22%.

But, it's the regionals that paint a "fall short" picture for the Conservatives. Atlantic Canada shapes up as repeat of 2008, the Bloc continues to fade in Quebec, the NDP with their best tally in B.C. all election and a sharp dropoff for the Conservatives in Ontario, lowest total of this campaign. As well, NDP support continuing to rise in Ontario, while Liberal support might just be firming up. Throw it all together and it's the required opposition recipe. There is absolutely no sense that the NDP are retreating, if anything the Quebec "wave" is further spilling to the rest of the country, albeit in much more modest fashion. If you want Harper gone, this is the type of polling you need to see. Based on disposition, it would appear Harper sees the same numbers as well...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's A Mess

The latest batch of polls are so fluid, almost every scenario is possible. One thing is becoming clear though, whether you're a NDP or Liberal supporter, if you want Harper gone, then it is imperative the Liberals hold in Ontario. The latest Harris Decima poll offers an almost optimal scenario for Harper to be replaced:
The Conservatives are at 35 per cent support nationally, with the NDP at 30 per cent and the Liberals at 22 per cent.

The results indicate the New Democrats have doubled their support since the campaign began late last month — thanks mainly to huge gains among Quebecers and women voters.

The poll has the NDP with a 20-point lead over the Bloc Quebecois — 42 per cent to 22 per cent — and leading the Conservatives by one point among female respondents.

It also suggests significant gains in B.C., where the NDP is two points behind the Tories and 21 points ahead of the Liberals.

The key battleground of Ontario remains a rare bright spot for the Liberals. Michael Ignatieff's party led there, supported by 34 per cent of respondents compared with 33 per cent for the Tories and 25 for the NDP.

I sense there is the possibility that some in Ontario will flock to the Conservatives, if the NDP looks poised to take government. Call it hunch, a worry, but if the Liberal vote collapses further in Ontario, I suspect more go right than left. It is beyond crucial that the Liberal vote holds in Ontario and HD offers some reason for optimism. We will never figure out the vote splitting math, frankly these individual seat predictors, I'm putting ZERO stock in.

What needs to happen is close to the HD poll. The NDP surge in QC, which I believe is now cemented, plus a challenge in British Columbia more and more probable, as well as the aforementioned Liberal "hold" in Ontario. If we can't check off all three boxes, then it may just be advantage Harper. There will be no orange wave sweeping across Ontario, at worst it will cause some backlash or weird splits, a few NDP gains not enough to offset the negatives.

I am expecting to be surprised when the polls close. Forget the individual seat predictors, it's pure voodoo with such a turbulent electorate. What is known, the paths to victory, and I believe what I've laid out is the only realistic scenario, so let's hope it shakes out as such.

Shame On The Globe And Mail

First off, newspaper endorsements rarely move votes, if anyone doubts you can look to the American primaries for reference. In the old days a newspaper endorsement did carry substantial weight, but with the fractured and diminished influence today, it really is of minor importance in the grand scheme. So, with that practical assertion in my mind, my disappointment in the The Globe And Mail is more about journalistic integrity and supposed "high standard", rather than any real world consequence.

In 2008, this paper gave Harper an endorsement, fulled with a bunch of caveats, almost a way of covering themselves, while simultaneously giving approval. A mere month or two later, Harper's actions proved their "growing into the job" thesis was laughable, but I suppose when on is bent one endorsing, you find rays of light regardless. I took pleasure in the fact, that once again, the supposed left wing media, was an illusion created by ideologues, with no basis in fact.

Here we are in 2011, and as EXPECTED, The Globe and Mail, formerly Canada's great paper has endorsed Harper again. It's a strong word "endorse" because it gives sanction to action, it gives the stamp of approval to a campaign, what has transpired. Let's forget about the Liberals, NDP for a moment, and just assume their presentations don't deserve endorsement. This fact then, doesn't automatically mean endorsement is guaranteed based on a relativism. No, you are ENDORSING someone, you don't weasel out using the opponent plan to find admirable qualities, you are saying we ENDORSE this man, his party, their behaviour. If you have problems with said party, you can simply endorse no one, and that in and itself is really a testament to a certain integrity, a standard. However, this paper, in another example of falling stature, has ENDORSED Stephen Harper. Let's review then what they have ENDORSED:

- a party that changes its budget 17 days later, completely undercutting any fiscal credibility, refusing to explain the changes, rationale, costing.

- a party that purposely misleads Canadians on the BIGGEST military expenditure in history.

- a party which has promised Canadians a package of goodies, based on unforeseen events, using dicey math, all in a brazen attempt to change the rules on what constitutes a "promise"

- a party which has purposely distorted the nature of Parliamentary democracy, the very core principles upon which this nation exists

- a party which limits accountability, a Prime Minister who manipulates the press with unilateral rules and constraints. In a democracy, the attempt to avoid scrutiny is alarming, particularly when it involves flipping the bird to YOUR OWN MEDIUM.

- a party which does background checks on audience participants and attempts to sanitize their presentation in such a way that is snake oil salesman-like visually.

I could go on and on, but how any paper which prides itself on its high journalistic standards, an entity which supposedly stands for integrity, could ENDORSE this behaviour escapes me. Again, fine, don't endorse the Liberals or NDP, but that decision doesn't DEMAND you ENDORSE this most shameful of campaigns, the likes of which simply has no PEER. The Globe and Mail has endorsed the politics of fear, the notion of unaccountable democracy, the idea that a budget is fiction, the precedent that one can lie about military expenditures with no recourse, THIS IS WHAT an ENDORSEMENT means. The paper doesn't get to separate the totality and cling to certain arguments, an ENDORSEMENT is just that, you've sanctioned this behaviour, you've told Canadians it's fine to run this type of campaign, these tactics, you've given it your blessing. I will never look at The Globe and Mail the same, it has only reaffirmed that it's part of the problem, not any solution for those of us who aspire to a true HIGHER standard. Shame on The Globe and Mail, shame indeed, you have failed, again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I admit, I haven't watched one second of SunTV, nor do I plan to. I had threatened to cancel my package if subjected to the channel, but I wrote my letters, so I just choose to avoid. I note that on my Cogeco Cable SunTV receives a premier channel placement, as WELL as available in HD, a designation neither CTV News, nor CNN is provided. I mention this as evidence that the channel is being given every opportunity, at least here, so don't let the excuses mask the TERRIBLE numbers:
Despite launching in the middle of a federal election, the new Sun News Network has so far had little impact on the Canadian news scene.

The Quebecor venture launched April 18 after months of "Fox News North" buzz and had an estimated 37,000 viewers across Canada tune in for its initial half-hour, when it hit the airwaves with a splashy promise of "hard news and straight talk."

Showcased commentator Ezra Levant's "The Source" rated highest with an estimated 31,000 viewers on opening night, according to BBM Canada overnight estimates provided by sources.

That total had fallen to 12,000 by Wednesday, with less than 1,000 viewers in the coveted 25-to-54-year-old demo. By this Monday, a week after launch, Levant's show was up to 19,000 viewers.

My only curiousity is David Akin, who to my mind is a first rate "straight shooting" journalist in every sense of the word, an honorable man in the midst of a collection of half wits and angry ideologues. That's my opinion. I hope the network crumbles, but if it does the only one I hope lands on their feet is Mr. Akin, with a proven track record that deserves respect.

This exception I aside, I take GREAT delight in these abysmal numbers, despite the increased interest an election provides, ratings are ridiculously bad. Four thousand people watching Lilley's show works out to be about 13 people per riding, and that's in prime time! Levant is a intellectual bore, Adler in love with his own two dimensional musings, I hear talk of sexual overtones with the news, all congealing into a complete DUD.

I will say this to my fellow progressives, STOP WATCHING. Look at these ratings, if the left, center, end their obsession with these people, I suspect the network will really just die. Look at it this way, the numbers so bad, there is NO WORRY of influencing the debate in this country, so why fret about what is said by ignored sources? Nobody is watching, so don't give the nonsense oxygen, just turn it off and let their advertisers walk as it shrivels further. That's the smart plan, as you can see, it's much ado about nothing, so let it talk to itself :)

Last Stand

Reviewing the latest batch of polls, one sober reality comes into focus, the Liberals will make their last stand in Ontario, the next five days could well decided the party's historic fate. I'm not overstating, and as David Herle was advising last night, it's imperative that Liberals understand the circumstance at hand and react with an honest assessment. No time for pretending, no time for looking around the room for a comforting voice, it really is as BAD as it looks and we are now in survival mode.

Nanos and Angus Reid both confirm the trend, the NDP still surging to dizzying heights in Quebec, but also a Liberal cratering in Ontario, to desperate levels. A bit of a disconnect in Conservative support, AR has them at their campaign lowest in Ontario, while Nanos has them at a very concerning 47%. Despite the NDP uptick in Ontario, these type of numbers, one has to wonder about the vote splitting factor. In other words, the Liberal argument is now a simple Ontario "stop Harper" cry. Forget flashing the red book around, being serene and feeling good, raise the stakes and circle the wagons, mix up your metaphors, whatever but equate the Liberal survival with the death of moderate politics. A far right PM, a hard left NDP, Ontario the moderate entity, we need you know. This argument necessitates a FRANK reading of the country, one that on the face appears counter-productive, but SPIN is your enemy now, address reality and try to train the gaze of what is at stake here.

Anyone who really wants to get rid of Harper must understand that a Liberal freefall in Ontario most likely helps the Conservatives. Just as we Liberals are see the relative benefit of an NDP surge in Quebec, by dipper friends should also realize that a viable Liberal Party in Ontario is part of any future arrangement equation. With this backdrop in mind, the Liberals have to appeal to Ontarians sense of balance, it's been done before, but it requires an almost soul bearing honesty. As Herle notes, people in a campaign tend to be the last ones that fully appreciate the gravity, if this is the case in 2011, then the Liberal Party may well become a historic artifact. Yes, it is that serious and don't anyone delude themselves into thinking otherwise. How's that for your morning cheer :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Higher Than Expected Turnout"

It would appear all the anecedotal evidence was spot on, Canadians went to the advance polls in droves:

•According to the preliminary figures, 2,056,001 electors voted at the advance polls in this federal general election. This is a 34.5% increase from the 1,528,780 electors who voted in advance in the 40th general election in 2008.

•Over 676,000 Canadians voted on Friday and over 823,000 on Monday, representing the two (2) busiest days of advance voting ever.

"There was a higher than expected turnout this past weekend at the advance polls," said Marc Mayrand. "We thank voters for their patience and field staff for their responsiveness."

Here is a rundown, province by province:

Hard to say what this turnout means. Premature to say overall turnout will be up considerably, but a very GOOD sign indeed. I note all the experts tell us lower turnout is Harper's friend, so infer from that what you will. I'm just happy that people are voting, no matter your persuasion, it's a net positive for our democracy.

Is It Too Much To Ask?

Can Harper run out the clock on this election, before having to finally come clean on the single biggest military expenditure in Canadian history? Is it too much to ask that the Conservatives acknowledge that costs have increased for the F-35, or is this all really a testament to superhuman ability to lie for an entire campaign with no recourse? First Harper has this mystical letter that sheltered Canada, pressed further no instead we had this outdated Memorandum Of Understanding, available online even, that clearly showed Canada was "exempt". The MOU answered nothing, apart from delivering another day of avoidance, which seems Harper's only goal. Harper's tactic did WORK, the attention challenged environment his best friend, the F35 BOONDOGGLE almost forgetten. But wait, one more unforseen development, at the end of the campaign:
Tories shrug off multiple warnings on fighter-jet price tag

The Department of National Defence said this week it’s been warned to expect the per-unit price of the F-35 jets might be higher than the $75-million it’s been advertising to Canadians.

The Conservatives say they’ve built extra room for cost overruns into the $9-billion purchase price they released to Canadians last summer.

Mr. Harper, campaigning in Quebec’s Eastern Townships Tuesday, said it’s incorrect to match up U.S. reports with Canadian estimates. His party has long insisted Canada is immune from rising research and development costs.

“Many of these reports you are citing are comparing apples to oranges,” Mr. Harper said. “Our experts have put out their detailed figures and everything we’ve seen is within those figures and their contingencies, the contingencies that have been allowed.”

OUR Department of National Defence has been warned about OUR planes costing US more, but in Harper's world this is an apples and oranges revelation, that has no bearing on OUR purchase. Think about the absurdity, then understand the truth is WHATEVER to Harper at this point, let's just get to May 2, THEN afterwards the Conservatives can deal with deceiving the Canadian people. That description accurately describes where we are at here, no longer is this a "difference of opinion", it is an avalanche of evidence vs stonewalling, not an argument but an attempt to cover up the truth from voters.

We are not taking about a minor purchase here, we are in the midst of a decision that could handicap Canada for three decades, both the intial cost and maintenance of such a nature, that other military expenditures, needed equipment, could well be threatened. It seems to me, that Canadians should be basing their support on REAL NUMBERS, not the "fantasy" numbers Harper simply clings to day after day. Harper's response today to questions are astonishing, "his figures" don't exist and if they are allowed to further pollute the public domain, it does an injust to the entire election process. Just hang in there, dodge and weave, only a few more days to go and you're home free Mr. Harper. Not sure where the failure here lies, but it is fundamental in nature, and sees a terrible precedent moving forward.

Monday, April 25, 2011


It's sort of a weird sensation, as my own party entertains historically worrying scenarios, yet I'm fascinated by what is easily the most shocking polling I've seen since I started this blog. Earlier in the day Environics showed the NDP vaulting into second, more interesting from my perspective a stunning 41% in Quebec. Then later, not to be out done, EKOS delivers a result which has turned the world upside down. At this stage, digesting apparent partisan demise, I'm now fully focused on any scenario which denies Harper a majority, even better if we can cobble together a union that can run the country, even if it is Prime Minister Layton! (sweet lord, I said it without my sides erupting). It could all change, and I still suspect a thing or two, but the old Canadian order is surely challenged.

Environics gives CPC 39%, NDP 25%, Libs 22%. I call this a secondary poll, because with the sheer volume, for my purposes the more established track records get top billing. That said, the Quebec number for the NDP is also replicated by EKOS, furthering the evidence that YES, all bets are off in that province, we could well be witnessing the Bloc's retreat, by the most unlikely of sources. If only the Liberals had listened to persistent pleas... oh sorry- see I am conflicted- but I'll save that for post mortems. Anyways, EKOS gives the NDP 38.7% in Quebec, the Bloc 25%, similar to Environics, as the orange wave sweeps the province. The potential seat change math is electric.

¤ 33.7% CPC
¤ 23.7% LPC
¤ 28.0% NDP
¤ 7.2% Green
¤ 6.2% BQ
¤ 1.2% other

Chew on that for a moment, to we Liberals it's like leather, but perhaps just as tough for the Cons. If EKOS is remotely accurate, then we could have 162 NDP/Liberal seats, with the NDP holding a mind numbing 100. I give the numbers just to help digest the reality, although I'd be VERY cautious here, particularly with the NDP rising now in Ontario, hard to ascertain true seat breakdowns. EKOS has the NDP leading in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and narrowing in on British Columbia (when I saw Harper playing defence on Vancouver Island, I suspected their internals revealed weakness).

I would classify the situation as extremely fluid, so I'm not prepared to seriously get on side with any scenario. The fact of the matter, no one has entertained these dynamics, so to think you can predict the ultimate shakeout is a bit silly. However, the NDP surge is VERY real, particularly in Quebec I think voters have moved and will stay, just a question of extent now. It's the rest of the country that's unclear, I'm expecting to be surprised election night. The Liberals are in a desperate way, worst case was last week, this is just a nightmare to be honest. But, there is time to rebound slightly, hold in Ontario, that is possible. It's also possible Harper is on the cusp of majority, or he's on the cusp of a career at the Fraser Institute. I'll never stop hoping for the latter, so Jack be good, whatever, just hope for any scenario that doesn't give ultimate power. As a student of Canadian politics this election is proving to be historic, which is quite the feat, given the assumptions heading in. It's just a complete and utter stunner, that latent angst sparked, now running rampant, flipping the bird at the status quo. I will never stop appreciating that fact, it's what gives a democracy oxygen.

Two For One

New Liberal ad- which I think is a more effective attack ad than the last- takes on both the Conservatives and NDP:

I like that this ad ends with a slightly positive, white backdrop, as opposed to those earlier "end of days" ads attacking the Conservatives. Good vibe for an attack ad, hits some solid points, well done....

Oh, You Can Ask...

Rarely does an article encapsulate naked hypocrisy is such a tidy, succinct way, but this one achieves that rare feat. Added commentary unnecessary, just the succession of quotes will tell the tale:
“We always say in all these elections in a democratic ethos, voters are never supposed to give absolute trust to anybody. They’re supposed to constantly question and that is part of the process,” Harper said.

And then:
Harper also tried to defuse fears that Conservative plans to find $4 billion in annual savings by 2015 will mean a huge impact on government operations. So far in the campaign, he has refused to single out areas that could be on the chopping block. Harper didn’t add any details Sunday, saying only that the “review of operational expenses” is to target costs that have “grown very rapidly.”

So, people are supposed to question, and I'm supposed to avoid them and when one gets through not answer it. Says it all.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

None Of The Above

Some of my NDP friends are patting themselves on the back, noting that Canadians are abandoning the party of nothing for the real deal manifestation. With the influx of beyond lame, boring Conservative trolls- that I'm amusingly turfing to the spam folder- apparently Harper is on the rise as well, as voters embrace his infectious message and superior guidance. And I suspect if the roles reversed, my side would be of similar mindset. BUT, an interesting new poll confirms what I've argued previously, namely NOBODY is inspiring ANYBODY:
if mistrust, cynicism and lack of faith in politics were candidates in the May 2 election, they would be almost guaranteed victory over anything else that the public has seen on offer in the campaign.

The results correspond to a previous Angus Reid-Star poll after the televised leaders’ debates a couple of weeks ago, which showed Canadians were overwhelmingly “annoyed” by what they saw of the political sparring.

A full 78 per cent of respondents to this newest survey believe politicians are less honest today and 62 per cent said they believed Canadian democracy was in crisis. More than half of the respondents — 52 per cent — said none of the political parties had satisfactory positions on issues important to the voters.

Mukerji says this 52 per cent figure is disturbing.

“You can imagine that in a two-party system, like in the United States, that might make sense. But, in Canada, there are four national parties, and there’s an extra one in Quebec. It’s not like there’s a lack of choice,” he said.

I am not trying to belittle the NDP "surge" in Quebec, but rather than these grandiose proclamations about people responding to message, it's more a case of "all these other guys have failed, okay let's go with this new shiny thing that hasn't let us down yet". I note the almost imperceivable traction in more well known jurisdictions as further proof that it's more "new kid" than compelling narrative nobody can resist. My party is tired and old, Harper is a dud and Duceppe is the same, in fact the reaction is just change for the sake, borne out of cynicism and disappointment. In English Canada, we don't really have a "fresh" option that has any credible potential, so that explains why events we perceive as "movable" barely cause any blip.

We keep telling ourselves that voters aren't cynical, but every measure suggests the opposition- they are, and nobody has really changed that perception, unless having no wear on your tires classifies as profound inspiration. People kicking themselves trying to figure out why Harper isn't floundering in the polls, chiefly it's because there is such a firm wall of pure cynicism surrounding the whole process, all the actors, all the brands, that the impetus for substantive change never manifests. Just not being the other guys in Quebec, just not having any other guys in the rest of Canada, welcome to election 2011! The numbers are staggeringly obvious.


As an aside, I'm not trying to be purposely negative, what I'm trying to ascertain is the real climate out there, not the imagined one we partisans, other commentators, media, tend to assume. Once you understand your audience, then you can be more effective in speaking to it.


The latest episode in Harper versus the media is being digested, with the usual, completely justified outrage. What does it say when Harper's Borg can drown out a reporter in this manner? What does it say that Harper purposely holds these press conferences in front of supporters, a form of purposeful intimidation no doubt? I share all the disgust, but it is also important to remember, it really doesn't matter, sad but true.

Remember the 2008 campaign? Do people remember how Harper refused to go on the CBC if he had to answer a voter video question? Would it surprise you to learn that in that campaign, the Borg told reporters "go back to Russia"? Do you remember that in the last days of the 2008 campaign Harper stopped taking any questions? In other words, this nonsense has been going on for years, all the while Conservatives shrug it off because they've "gamed" the system, they've figured out the attention span, there is little real consequence, THIS is why they act in such a manner.

At the beginning of this campaign, Harper refused to take more than 5 questions. There were some protestations, but STRANGELY, many in the media cut their colleagues off at the knees, openly questioning wasting time and susbequent questions on questions, apparently it was counter productive. Never mind the fundamental issue of accountability, not to mention this was an attack on THEIR profession and all the tenets within, NO certain people quickly tired of the "fight" and guess what- HARPER WON AGAIN. My, how they must belly laugh in the PMO, they've been carefully orchestrating and manipulating for years, any rebellions short lived and only REINFORCING the conclusion that in the end, it will go their way, with little CONSEQUENCE. Review the record, remember the instances and then understand it never mattered one lick, it was "inside" kerfuffle, and the Conservatives forever knew it.

Do you really believe the Conservative war room spent more than a minute on yesterday's big controversy? Review the almost non existent coverage this morning, nary a column of outrage, and it's proof positive that the Conservatives are wise to just ignore. Oh sure, Terry will push the matter again today, who knows maybe it will resonate. But, the high probability is this story will just fizzle into oblivion, left for people like me that actually possess a long term memory and enjoy patterns as indicative of overall belief. Not meant to be depressing, but I believe one must recognize the reality, rather than hope for something different, that never seems to come.

These Conservatives and their supporters have been kicking the media for years, they know even have a network solely devoted to taunting them. To think that yesterday's outrage actually matters, is to forget the entire Harper reign, the persistent abuse, flaunted indifference, the uneven response, the notion that they've GAMED the system, the press corp irrelevant. That is shocking to say, and every last one in the profession with resist, but the facts speak for themselves. I mean, Harper has continually thumbed his nose, usurped accountability, with no evidence of recourse, never a hint that the OUTRAGE tethers to real world consequence. Again, rather than be depressed about it, more an epiphany, which is progress in understanding what really does and doesn't matter. A bunch of the Borg shouting down a CBC reporter, doesn't even register, at least in no way that has substantial bearing on future prospects. That's just the bottom line- how many times do we have to see it fizzle before we accept the inherent truisms?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What's Good For The Goose...

I love every second of it:

Was getting a little tired of hunkering down in the bunker yelling "incoming".

Harper's "Fantasy Land"

To be blunt, I'm losing the will to blog on issues, because frankly it doesn't seem to matter, completely inconsequential. You have a government downright lying their asses off about the biggest military expenditure in history, and it's fine apparently, move along. You have a Conservative government that magically reinvents themselves in a mere 17 days, suddenly finding 4 billion a year in deficit savings, BUT seemingly allowed to NEVER tell us how, apart from absurd generalities that simply don't fly. People will remember 2008, wherein we had an election about the environment, but the Conservatives some how managed to delay their plan, telling us we'd see the goods AFTER the election- we never did, but HEY it won them an election, good job con artists! In other words, let's be clear, none of it matters, a critical eye is really just the realm of political junkies, an esoteric world with no relevance to the "street". So with that depressing reality FULLY understood, I will soldier on in my little world, because, well, I care anyways:
A re-elected Conservative government would have to slash social and economic programs and federal government services to meet Stephen Harper’s deficit-reduction targets, analysts say.

But analysts say past experience has shown that the Conservatives’ cost-cutting claims are unrealistic and the savings envisioned by Harper would require significant cuts to programs intended to help the public.

“If it is easy now to find $4 billion in annual savings through ‘efficiencies,’ then why didn’t the government start five years ago?” asked Peter Devries, a former senior finance department official, in a recent article entitled “If Pigs Can Fly.”

He added: “Anyone who has actually been involved in controlling and cutting program expenditures will tell you that it is not possible to find savings of that amount through efficiencies. To find credible savings that would generate $4 billion in ongoing savings would require elimination or cuts to existing programs.”

It's such a maddening election, Harper can simply sidestep reality, NOBODY believes it possible, and two days later that's the end of the discussion. The best part for me, this nonsensical claim that Harper can find LOADS of saving with computer costs. At the time I wondered aloud if any company, anywhere, can attest to how computer costs get lower and lower, particularly when you have outdated equipment- there's laughable, then there's just plain FIBBING:
Harper has mentioned the example of potential savings through a more efficient computer system. But Jackson said it’s widely accepted that upgrading outdated federal government technology can’t be done without hefty initial spending on new equipment — hardly a cost-saving measure.

But I digress, just put on a silly jacket and stand in a cool arena with your "lapping at our shores" pungent bullshit, it's all good Mr. Prime Minister!

Wait a minute, the title is wrong, Harper doesn't live in a "fantasy land", I DO for actually thinking honest account has anything to do with electing people. I need a new interest...

Friday, April 22, 2011

I'm Gonna Break My Rusty Cage And Run

A bit of a break from politics. Pretty excited that tomorrow morning tickets go on sale for Soundgarden, their first tour in 14 years. There were a lot of bands to come out of the early 1990's "scene", but for my money the most innovative, musically influential band was Soundgarden. Kim Thayil developed some insanely unique guitar tuning, Matt Cameron is a ridiculous drummer and Chris Cornell may just have had the best rock voice in a generation. I last saw them in Toronto, opening for Neil Young, along with Pearl Jam. Their sound was dreadful, major disappointment. I suppose the highlight was a drunk Eddie Vedder, wine bottle in tow singing "Keep On Rocking In The Free World" with Neil Young. Anyways, I am really, really looking forward to this one:

As as aside, the first time I saw the video for "Jesus Christ Pose" I remember being slightly afraid, but keenly fascinated- WTF were these guys, the sound resembled nothing anyone had heard, even radio didn't know how to catergorize. What a band.


With the apparent NDP "surge" the kneejerk reaction seemed to be how this was exclusively bad news for the Liberals. Particularly, I noted a certain glee coming from Conservative sources, but as I stated yesterday, the impact isn't entirely clear. There is a very plausible scenario, wherein a strengthened NDP, at the expense of the Bloc, creates a bigger threat to Conservative fortunes. Of note, EKOS yesterday gave the Liberals 82 seats, the NDP 60, translating to bigger slice combined than that of the Conservatives. Coalition talk, the "separatist" angle the greatest irritant, Conservatives should rightfully worry that they'll lose their chief FEAR card, legitimacy an emerging equation. In addition, with support on the rise elsewhere, there is also the prospect of the NDP taking seats away from the Conservatives. Don't agree with the possibilities posited, tell the Conservative war room:

Speaks volumes about what might really be going on here!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Out The Window

Scott Reid is right, throw your plans out the window war rooms, this election is now about who can adapt quick enough to seismic change. Nothing is written in stone at the moment, but "best laid plans" are now old news and only the nimble stand a chance.

Nobody knows if the NDP vote will hold, so many scenarios now in play, it's hard to accurately gauge the landscape. Sometimes surges fizzle out, so you can convince yourself to just stay on message and things will swing your way. However, while there might be some rationale to that approach, I would argue assume the worst and react accordingly. Particularly for the Liberals, the status quo campaign is yesterday's news, not desperation but recalibration and a FIGHT FOR LIVES MENTALITY, because, well, WE ARE.

It's time for Mr. Ignatieff to stop being so polite, he needs to raise the volume, up the ante, put on the pressure, blah, blah, blah, this thing is lost unless the Liberals throw some dynamite around. This means the Sunday 1/2 hour buy better not be nice piano music and stories about Ignatieff's family, but hard hitting, in your face, compelling arguments to rally Canadians under our banner. When Ignatieff appears on Quebec television Sunday, he needs to dispense with the affable fellow and go on the attack as though a jury is about to decide his fate. Today I heard the word "serene" from Ignatieff, on a question about Quebec. With all due respect, screw that flowery crap, get in their and grab it, because it's waving goodbye every second you waste. These are the stakes, you want us to rise up, then rise up yourself and quite being so bloody diplomatic, "serene" made me want to lose my lunch, we need tough not nicieties.

If the Liberal war room is consoling itself with the fact they've run a good campaign (which I think they have btw, strange as it may seem!), which can happen, they are making a mistake. It's all gone to hell people, it's become unglued, it requires URGENCY, right now, not tomorrow. The polls aren't swinging back unless we retool our message, bruise our opponents, don't sit there and take potshot ads from Layton, rip into everyone with zeal.

It's not over, but it sure as shit is if Liberals do the usual "oh it will turn around", it WON'T, it ISN'T, it HASN'T, it CAN'T. There is no time for comforting words, get out there like the enemy has breached the perimeter and your family's livelihood is at stake. Hyperbole, call it what you will, but the next few days could well determine the fate of the Liberal Party of Canada, and I believe that with everyone in my bones. Let's roll!!

Orange Wave

At some point a blip, becomes a trend, becomes a wave, we are now in the latter as it relates to the NDP. I'm approaching this post as a Canadian, not a Liberal, because to be quite honest, any development that signifies a weakened Bloc, no longer holding Canadian politics hostage, is completely positive in my books. I'll leave my political thoughts for what has transpired for a later date, but right now any student of history has to be amazed to see the tectonic shifts now occurring in Quebec. Still a question of voter booth manifestation, hesitations about actually seats, but something is afoot in Quebec, and it is now having national ramifications.

The CROP poll may peg NDP support a tad high, unlike others, I've never taken it as the "gospel" poll for Quebec. That said, CROP really isn't different, in the sense all the polls show an NDP gaining traction. That Duceppe is now consumed with Layton, tells you all you need to know about the polls, the NDP may well have reached that "tipping point", wherein some buzz, leads to more attention, and the cyclical momentum just feeds to a frenzy. Looking at this morning's Nanos, you can see how buzz in Quebec, positive news stories about one region can spill elsewhere. a party on the move in one province, never a bad thing elsewhere, particularly for a party always fighting for ink.

I suspect we will see a few more shifts in the final days of this campaign, but tearing off my partisan sheath here, I'm honestly excited that someone is actually threatening the Bloc in this way, it's about bloody time. Certain NDP flirtations disturb me, pandering policies just that, but on balance a NDP MP is a tremendous improvement over a Bloc MP, in some many ways. I still haven't fully digested how this rapid NDP rise affects our political order moving forward, but there is no question it is BEYOND fascinating to watch unfold. The blip, become a trend and now we are witnessing a wave, it's what every war room must dream about... Let's see where it goes, but there is no longer any denying it's real and firming up as well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ignatieff Gains

Two polls out today on leadership, both showing similar results, Ignatieff's favourables on the rise, Harper waning. Harris Decima and Abacus both show an upward trend for Ignatieff, indifferent voters are moving to favorable, an indication that we are seeing some traction.

The Harris Decima website links are down, so we have to look at the press coverage data. Last week, Harris Decima showed an Ignatieff uptick on favourability, Ignatieff now tied with Harper, which I would say is potentially quite significant moving forward as voters decide.:
His leadership is now viewed positively by 42 per cent of respondents, up five points from a week earlier, and negatively by 50 per cent. That's virtually identical to Harper's favour ability rating, which has remained relatively unchanged: 43 per cent positive, 52 per cent negative.

Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg said shifts in such "sub-indicators" as leadership favour ability often precede a shift in voting intentions.

"To date, these differences have not manifested themselves in any significant way in voter preference but, if they do, we might expect to see this race become tighter over the next two weeks," he said. "Stay tuned."

Also encouraging, we still have 1/3 of voters saying they don't know Ignatieff well, as opposed to Harper who is a known quantity. Generally a sitting PM enjoys a large gap, that Ignatieff is now tied with Harper demonstrates potential weakness. Fair to say Ignatieff is undoing some of the negative attack ad damage, the Liberals are running a good campaign, the more people see, the more they like.

The Abacus poll pdf is fascinating. Harper now has higher unfavourables, relative to Ignatieff, 56% to 50% respectively. Harper's negatives are up 6% since the campaign began, Ignatieff up 2%. In terms of favourables, Ignatieff is up a substantial 8% to 32%, Harper statistically unchanged at 35%.

The numbers, as always it seems, are more indicative when you look at the regionals. Ignatieff actually scores better than Harper in Ontario, as he sees a full 24% increase in favourables, now up to a very healthy 40%. Harper only scores 36% favorable, while his unfavorables up 10% to 57%, a full eight points higher than his rival. These are not good numbers for Harper, while the Liberals should be quite pleased. I'll mention Layton here to prove a point, in that while his numbers are tops, his party is a distant third, meaning he operates in a different realm, like doesn't equate to votes necessarily, both the joy and the folly of not being a credible PM alternative. Not to say the NDP shouldn't be ecstatic with Layton's numbers- maybe moreso in Quebec- only that comparing him to the others is a different proposition, not a real threat, and the disconnect between love and lever always in play. Anyways, Ontario is key, the fact Ignatieff now bests Harper something to keep a close eye on, because people forever say leadership is a leading indicator.

Abacus shows that the "indifferent" voter is moving to the favorable camp in greater proportions than unfavorable for Ignatieff, a positive sign of winning people over. Ignatieff's favourables up 8% in Quebec, unfavourables unchanged. Ignatieff's favourables up 17% in Atlantic Canada his unfavourables down 1%. In British Columbia, more of a mixed bag, Ignatieff's unfavourables up, but here to, on par with Harper. Reviewing Harper's numbers, we see a skew, his numbers in stronghold provinces tend to overstate the overall weakness.

Nanos shows no such improvement, but Harris Decima has now released two successive polls showing a continuing, large uptick over the course of the campaign. Abacus mirrors these results, so on balance, evidence that Ignatieff is finally getting some traction. On top of that, Harper is looking increasingly vulnerable, particularly in vote rich Ontario, a fact which should cause some concern. The trend is encouraging, just as voters start to get more serious about the choice, as the days start to get shorter...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New And Improved

It's a bit amusing, because I think the new Liberal ad is actually better:

That's tight.

Turn It Around Would You

I am resigning myself to the fact the coalition topic won't go away, despite the inherent inanity of obsessing about hypotheticals. What I find a bit perplexing from our side, not so much the response, but why we seem content to play defence. All this talk about constant elections, all this rationale for a majority, it all evaporates if you place Harper at the center of uncertainty.

Ignatieff speaks about "not playing well with others", it's a decent line, so the conversation is there. However, we need to go for the jugular on this score, Harper doesn't deserve a majority, he deserves a goddam PINK SLIP. All the frustration Canadians feel about the nonsense in Ottawa, who is the common denominator, who yields the most influence to dictate tone? Yes, we do keep having elections, and the constant thread is Harper at odds with everyone.

You don't reward this behaviour with another mandate, you kick it to the curb. How can the person that has resided over this tumult have the temerity to demand another, STRONGER mandate? Speak to Canadians sense of entitlement, earned mandate, has Harper behaved in a manner that deserves more power? The Liberals need to stop engaging in endless hypotheticals, trying to appease, for fear of suspect phrasing, they need to tell Canadians if you want peace in Ottawa, REMOVE THE IRRITANT. It's a referendum on Harper, he's the PRIME Minister, the buck stops there for crying out loud! SEIZE all this negative energy Canadians feel about their elected representatives and make it a verdict about Harper, because really it speaks to common sense.

I forced an election in 2006, I manufactured an election in 2008 during the summer, I've prorogued Parliament, I've failed to engage with other parties to pass my budget, everywhere you turn, Harper is the common thread. It's all about HIM, not hypotheticals, not fear mongering, it's all about a country that needs to turn the page on this divisive period in our history. Coalition no, but make working co-cooperatively a virtue, not a boogeyman. Sick of elections, sick of constant bickering, well SO ARE WE CANADA, SO ARE WE, let's move beyond it and start fresh. Harper isn't the solution, he's the problem.

"They Can Dish It Out, But They Can't Take It"

Truer words have never been spoken. The upside, all the Conservative whining and moaning turned the Liberal health care ad into THE story, the more attention the better.

The Ignatieff quote is a thesis I've subscribed to for years, very much a bully that kicks sand, but if nary a grain gets in his/her own eye, runs to mommy blubbering. It's an amazing group characteristic, generalizing of course, and maybe it's what binds the right in this country. I note a study down last week in the U.S. that found brain distinctions between right and left, those on the right more prone to paranoia, which is an extension of this "everyone is out to get us" mentality that permeates through every issue. The left wing media, out to destroy, civil servants out to usurp, people lurking in crowd ready to ask a question, everywhere you turn, the common thread exists.

The reaction to the Liberal ad, the indignation that the Conservatives have been wronged by a quote they themselves thought dear Leader said, is a hilarious concoction of Conservative sensibilities. I enjoyed the attention, so it was all good from my perspective. But, the sheer GALL on display from Conservatives, as I say, like a skunk complaining about the smell, was remarkable. This is the party running lying ads everywhere, all day, no basis in fact, everyone agrees and yet the moment return fire comes, they CRY foul. At least the Liberal health care ad represents the spirit of Harper's thoughts, and that explains why nobody say fit to have a fit for days, it wasn't really off at all. Contrast that with ads that talk about non existent taxes, and all the more comical the INDIGNATION from this band of epic hypocrites.

Sometimes I think modern conservatism is more a psychology thesis on group think. Again, generalizing, but there is almost a bloody theorem to what should be subjective reaction, so predictable. Ignatieff's quote, "they can dish it out, but they can't take it" is a thread that finds constant concrete example. Look at the election coverage, evidence of a Conservative media lean, but this movement is convinced everyone is out to get them. Watching Conservatives become unglued over the Liberal health care ad is quite typical, immediately the victim. Maybe it's because this sensibility really isn't the mainstream, it's always been on the margins, so wider society as a whole is somehow the enemy because it doesn't share their view of the world. Whatever, but one thing is clear, a whiny Conservative is a study in contradictions.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Latest Polling

A rash of polls this morning, with somewhat different results. Nanos, Angus Reid and Leger. One thing all agree on is that the NDP are doing quite well in Quebec, all show positive movement. Leger I find interesting for their Quebec results, but their online survey isn't something I put much stock outside of the province. Angus Reid's online survey does have a good track record, so I give it more credence. Nanos is one of my favourites, so when sifting through, I don't treat all as equal, as others tend to. For myself, I key in on Nanos, EKOS, Angus Reid and Harris Decima. People will note, historically, Angus Reid one of the kinder pollsters for Conservative support, so there is no partisan consideration here, just an attempt to go with what I perceive as past reliability.

All the polls put the NDP in second in Quebec, Angus Reid 26%, both Nanos and Leger 24%, pretty heady numbers. The Liberals are in serious trouble in Quebec, no question, and it will need attention heading down the stretch. At the beginning of the campaign, there were prospects for Liberal pickups in Quebec, that seems less likely now, unless we capture attention.

Quebec bolsters the NDP national numbers with all the pollsters. Angus Reid sees a national tie, a very new development for this outfit. The terrific result for the NDP comes with one caution, Angus Reid notes extremely soft support, although that isn't really surprising if you have recently picked up voters. The conclusion with this poll, NDP a force, but precarious.

Nanos finds no such national surge for the NDP, if anything, outside of Quebec, the post debate bounce is waning. The NDP are below 2008 totals nationally, regionally in Ontario, British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, all far more important to their overall fortunes. If you take Nanos as accurate, rather than a good NDP situation, they look vulnerable. One incredibly important point, while the NDP are doing well in Quebec, they have ZERO ground game by all accounts, relative to competition, a large factor. Couple that with soft Quebec support, and if these numbers don't deliver, it's not the rosy picture first blush suggests. In addition, best case scenario that I can decifer, the NDP might pickup up at 2-5 seats type result. You look at other regionals, and I see a net negative, so important to look at the NDP in balance.

For the Liberals, one region is intriguing. Despite daily ebbs and flows with Nanos, at no time have the Liberals dipped to 2008 levels in British Columbia, always marginal to significantly above. By contrast the NDP have consistently been below their 2008 total, so despite the large MOE with this province, a clear pattern has emerged. The Liberals could pick up a few seats in British Columbia. The Conservatives have shown some weakness, but there are plenty of NDP/Con battles, wherein a weaker NDP could work to their advantage as well. British Columbia is shaping up to be fascinating, heading down the final stretch.

Overall, NDP supporters have polls to crow about and that is important with a receptive media. The fact Nanos shows below 2008 totals is contradictory, and actually concerning for the NDP overall. Let's just say it's "fluid" to reconcile.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The X Factor

I tend to be hesitant, not dismissive, when it comes to signs the youth vote might actually materialize. Truth is, every election, we hear of some effort to "get out the vote", and rarely does it manifest to anything, to be honest. So, as this campaign began, and we heard the usual rumbling, I wasn't prepared to believe something was truly afoot. However, I'm now more optimistic- events unfolding in such a way- that this election might provide a youth "surprise", and it's something worth digesting.

A comprehensive EKOS poll done last year:

Pollsters know that youth don't vote, relative to other subsets. When polls are fashioned, they try to represent turnout, they weight based on likelihood. This dynamic means that if youth do decide to vote above historical norms, they could well be the "X factor", warping the reliability of the assumptions. I know pollsters look for "likely" voters, but I also think they weight beyond that, and this could skew, IF youth actually show up.

Two more examples today, that things seem different this time. Mercer was on Question Period, and was downright GIDDY at the way in which the vote mob phenomenon is sweeping this country. Later, a CBC panel, wherein guests spoke about "unprecedented" youth engagement this campaign. More anecedotal evidence, that tends to feed a fascinating development. In addition, this issue of 700 students showing up to vote, supports increased engagement. The fact the Conservatives tried to disenfranchise, I see as a catalyst to bring more young people to the polls.

Nothing is assured, but the signs are concrete enough to actually posit some optimism. What excites me- and this may explain Conservative reaction- if the youth come out, it works for both the Liberals and NDP. With so many close ridings, rather than a vote split, a stronger youth presence would ENHANCE both parties, relative to the Conservatives. In other words, it could help some Liberals get elected, as WELL as the NDP, all at the expense of the Conservatives. One additional point, although all these intiatives are entirely NON PARTISAN, because of kicking people out, going to Elections Canada, etc, I get the distinct impression it is the NON Conservative youth vote MOST motivated.

I won't be surprised if the youth vote fails to materialize, once again this election. But, I also won't be shocked if we see a few perplexed faces come election night, as a subset challenges accepted norms and translated results. Something to watch for....

Rallying Cry

I've always felt the Liberals need to challenge voters, rather than appeasing, appealing, we need to confront this disengaged apathy that permeates. This election, some signs of engagement- the vote mobs have been brilliant- but really the fight isn't so much Harper, as it is training a gaze for more than a brief moment.

People have been left scratching their heads, in many respects standard assumptions fall to pieces, Harper very much looks like teflon. Some of the "scandals" aren't trivial, they are significant. In the past, issues of this scale have tripped up campaigns, and yet in this election Harper just plows on, with impunity. Nothing seems to have changed, even though an election is supposed to bring greater attention, scrutiny. In some respects, the opposition is to blame for not making the case, but I'm sorry, it goes beyond superficial blame or credit.

In my opinion, Liberals needed to tell voters to "wake up", get in their face and raise the stakes. Some risk in that approach, for obvious reasons, but the status quo has done little to engage. With that in mind, this STIRRING speech by Ignatieff, the natural rising action quite strong, THIS is the hill we should choose to live or die on:

Rise up, wake up, get your heads out of your ass, whatever your choosing, the sentiment is required, desperately. The Liberals will lose this election, unless we create a spark and fast. This message, should be repeated at every stop, it should become our central theme, one we NEVER deviate from until the polls close. The evidence is there, the laundry list of indictments incredible when you consider, and yet Harper seems immune. Only a "cold shower" approach will do at this stage, we need a rally cry and Ignatieff organically created just that. Forget about issues of the day, meandering all over, a simple focus on this theme, everyday, everywhere, maybe it fizzles, but it's our best chance left. Yes, RISE UP indeed!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Head Scratcher

I need some convincing of the strategic upside for the Liberals here. As a matter of fact, the notion of bringing out past PM's to tour with Ignatieff smacks me as an horrendous decision. I recall the same decision in 2008, and man oh man didn't that rally the troops eh?

Look, I'm sure some in the Liberal camp are quite ecstatic about "their" man returning to the spotlight, in terms of nostalgia and camp affections. I have no qualms with former heavyweights "quietly" working ridings, as Mr. Martin has been doing, in that case a net asset. HOWEVER, when you have a leader who already struggles with carving his own identity, I'm not sure how having two more days of headline distraction helps the cause. Throw in a little know fact apparently- Canadians don't SHARE the nostalgia- and I'm more perplexed. The optics are incredible really, there is Mr. Ignatieff traveling with the man who already lost to Mr. Harper, the man Canadians voted for to replace him. No one will every convince me of the strategic upside in having Ignatieff on stage, in high profile fashion, in a way that reminds everyone of 2006.

As for Chretien, the press LOVE him, so the Liberals will get attention. Trouble is, Ignatieff will play supporting role, as reporters search for the Chretien one liner. Maybe a strong appearance bruises Harper, but it also doesn't particularly help Ignatieff's stature either, as he plays second fiddle, while the days of this campaign disappear. I'd add as well, while the press may have fond memories of our colourful leader, Canadians, I'm not so sure. Hey everyone, remember sponsorship! There is little net upside that I can fathom, and believe me, I've spent the last day trying to see the rationale.

Unfortunately, this move strikes me as a bit of desperation move, or more correctly I predict coverage comes with that frame intertwined with the former PM angle. Again, looking to the glorious and distant past for present inspiration, I've said it forever, it's a loser every time, and it's proven so every time. Dion did it, again, who did that motivate, Liberals, Liberals, the only one's with any affection stayed home in droves! Been there, done that, how many times do the Liberals have to make this mistake before they realize it doesn't work, it doesn't move votes, if anything it only distracts from your NEW shiny red book, with the NEW promises, unrelated to the past which nobody longs for. Every time I touch this subject, my fellow Liberals get angry, because THEY have a connection, it is their identity, their proud past, their party lineage. Trouble is, it isn't about US, it's about the electorate, and I will assure you, they feel very differently. Add in Ignatieff needing to make the headlines, the blast from the past, never delivers what is required for him and today's Liberal brand. As always, just my opinion and self censoring is for conservatives anyhow....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Latest Polls

Both EKOS and Nanos out, as we start to get some post debate feedback.

EKOS had shown a sharp narrowing, in the wake of the G8 controversy, the gap down to a mere 5% in their last two day sample out Wednesday. We now see the race widening back to a still manageable 7.5% gap, as Graves sees little debate effect. Of note here, both EKOS and Nanos show the Liberals off marginally, the gap wider than it was going into the debates. However, the change is very slight, so it is fair to say the debates haven't moved votes in any dramatic way. What that means for the Liberals remains to be seen, but our support has clearly stalled, the debates failing to give any momentum.

EKOS finds both Liberal and NDP support up in Quebec, with the NDP in particular reaching new heights for an EKOS poll. EKOS also finds continued Bloc erosion, now below 30%, which is in contrast to Nanos who sees a bit of a post debate bounce. I suppose we will have to weight for other pollsters to weigh in, or subsequent results to ascertain if there is any post-debate move in Quebec. Given the rave reviews for Duceppe, "instant" polls that gave him the debate handily, I'm more inclined to believe some bounce, or at the very least a firming up of Bloc support.

In Ontario, both pollsters show quite similar results, a statistical tie, both main parties howering just below the 40% threshold. Both pollsters do show the Liberals slightly off from pre-debate levels, but nothing of consequence, furthering the view of a fairly bland debate. Interesting too, so little movement, despite a large uptick in viewership, relative to the 2008 debate.

The polls are telling me that the NDP have some momentum. I am cautious though, because in terms of seats, Quebec still seems a reach, distribution wise. That said, the NDP have wind in their sails, maybe more important, they have shaken off the "squeezed out" talk that was hobbling them pre-debate.

In addition, the Liberals have lost momentum coming out of the debates. Ignatieff probably helped his personal standing, which could bear fruit later, but there is no question the debates won't produce the "bounce" we had hoped for. It took some time for the very attractive, vibrant guy on the campaign trail to translate to the debate, as Ignatieff seemed a bit over prepped in my opinion, searching for pre-determined lines, rather than riffing.

With regard to the Conservatives, fairly static and clearly not the spread they need in Ontario to have the slightest hope of a majority. The Liberals are pretty strong, their numbers have maintained a high levels, so the majority talk might be more pundit inspired than empirically based. As I mentioned earlier this chatter might help the Liberals, we shall see, but the Conservatives also don't seem to have any real momentum in this campaign. In fact, I haven't been impressed with their team at all, if not for the pre-writ one sided onslaught, this performance might be getting more scrutiny.

We are starting to head down the home stretch now...

A Question Of Power

As we enter the second half of the campaign, Harper is ramping up his calls for a majority. With polls at least keeping the prospect alive, we can expect to have a national conversation at some point, reviewing what exactly that could mean.

Jeffrey Simpson made the point, it's been awhile since we've had a majority, Canadians may have forgotten that a Prime Minister in this situation yields more power than a President of the United States, almost dictatorial in scope. Harper wants to talk about a majority, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest a focused debate could backfire. Some are even positing, that talk of a Harper majority is now the Liberals best chance to try and rally support behind a "stop Harper" movement. Not the silly fear tactics of the past- hidden agenda stuff that has never worked- but a more rational reading of Harper with unchecked power.

When you drill down past the fawning Harper receives on a daily basis, you find ceilings, you find real hesitations about Harper, the Conservatives. Despite a country headed in the right direction, sentiment doesn't replicate for Harper. Despite certain recognition of competence, steady hand, there is also real apprehension, Canadians forever luke warm about this Prime Minister. A divided opposition vote tends to gloss over Conservative problems, around 2/3rds of us don't particularly care for the PM. Factor in poor past turnout, and it's fair to say there is little enthusiasm around, apart from the marginal faithful. 22% of Canadians voted for the Conservatives in 2008, never forget the latent reservations that exist, and they haven't changed, if the polls are any indication. No matter, our democracy is such that Harper doesn't require widespread appeal, only a mention in terms of how this discussion may go around Easter dinners, across the country.

My point- let's not forgot that the call to majority is a double edged sword, a real conversation not necessarily a net plus for the Conservatives. We have to see how this campaign proceeds, but if a Conservative majority looks a distinct possibility, will those hesitations crystallize, can someone else take advantage and we see a late push elsewhere. I'm not predicting, but if we hear more talk like Simpson, this idea of a person with more power than Obama, it could well take soft, undecided voters aback. The word is TENTATIVE, I submit Canadians are still tentative about Stephen Harper. If the question becomes, does this man deserve unchecked power? Do you want a democratic check to keep an eye on him, given past behaviour is more power a good idea? I'm not sure the answer to these questions is positive for the Conservatives. While I understand the Harper logic in calling for a majority, if the prospect looks real and distinct in the second half of this campaign, fair to wonder how that changes the landscape, as well as motivate latent opposition.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Parliament Is Supremely Had!

CBC just reported that there will be no Afghan detainee document release during this election, despite the latest promise, from a process which has turned into the most embarrassing failure imaginable. Such an incredibly important issue, not just the documents, but the Speaker ruling, the notion that YES, Parliament is supreme, an apparent triumph of democratic will has slowly, and PREDICTABLY turned into a complete farce.

There is some legitimacy to saying these documents can't be released during an election, certain Parliamentary considerations I suppose. That fact doesn't distract from the fact we are rapidly closing in on one YEAR since the Speaker made his "historic" ruling, Harper apparently forced to stop stalling and consider the will of Parliament. I said it at the time, this deal "a dud", Harper had lost the battle, but won the war- his chief goal of stalling given licence. The Liberals approached the process in good faith, but really everyone wanted the issue off the front page, this agreement a recipe for more sanctioned obstacles.

What is particularly disappointing, the much forgotten fact that when this Parliament dissolved, when we had an election, the agreement effectively died, needing a renewal from the next Parliament to continue the work. Unless Harper is replaced, the prospects of the opposition re-engaging and forcing another showdown beyond remote, the Conservatives have run out the clock and won. I note Kady O'Malley mentions the work already down could see light of day, but even here it seems a bit murky. How we can possibly be sitting here, in April 2011, with not a single document seeing the light of day is staggering, but also highlights the government's skillful strategy.

It is an objective disgrace that the government has gamed the Speaker's ruling in such a decided fashion. This entire process has been a slow snub, empty proclamations about the significant progress, and yet here we sit, NADA and now maybe black forever. I remain convinced people should have seen this outcome coming, some of us did actually, it wasn't that really even disguised. The NDP seemed to understand, they now appear vindicated for not participating. Here we are a year and half since this issue came to the fore and redacted documents still remain black and undercover.

I know some of my fellow Liberals will be shaking their heads at my timing here, but this is an important failing, undercutting our democratic expression, our supposed institutions, Harper has gamed the system in dramatic fashion. A mechanism found to drain the life out of this story, barely a wimper now, quietly and convincingly usurped the will of our elected representatives. Turns out Parliament isn't supreme, it was supremely had.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Liberal Negative Ad

A new Liberal ad, with dark undertones, using health care to create some fear of their own:

Probably the most negative, scary type ad, of the campaign from the Liberals. Feels like every other negative ad I've heard the last ten years, but apparently they work...

Debate, Polls, Scandal

I thought I would sleep on the debate before commenting. I read, heard much of the pundit reaction. I've also seen this flash polls, and note the source in one case, client in the other, consider me unimpressed. The polls I find interesting, EKOS giving overnight numbers on CBC, plus this morning's Nanos offering.

It's important to remember the pre-debate context, as well as the Auditor General angle not really being incorporated. The frame was as such, Conservatives with big lead, Ignatieff needed a "knockout punch" to get back in the game. This designation had a short memory, after all the Dion Liberals moved to a statistical tie in 2008 (3% Nanos, 4% Harris Decima) after the debate, and I don't recall any knockout variety exchanges in those debates. Last election aside, the pre-debate designation this time was confronted by a maelstrom story, breaking right before the debates. EKOS' Frank Graves was on CBC just prior to the debate and noted a substantial move in overnight polling, the lead down to 5.5% nationally, 3.7% MOE, a quickly tightening race. We also had Nanos out at 4pm, showing a huge fall for Harper's leadership score, a full 7% on trust. Combined, some compelling evidence that the Auditor General G8 scandal had penetrated beyond the chattering classes. This potential reality changed the debate dynamics, if we are seeing a pre-debate tightening, then the knockout punch simply isn't required, the frame DATED.

Nanos out this morning, and while the nationals are stagnant today, we do see the Liberal now slightly ahead in Ontario and some narrowing in British Columbia, a province Graves also singled out yesterday as changing rapidly, Conservative vote falling. Nanos shows the Liberals falling in Quebec, which offsets, but tonight we have the Quebec debate. I think the most recent polls, leadership, demonstrate that the race maybe closer electorally than previous assumed. With that contention in mind, Ignatieff's performance last night needs to be viewed within a more moderate lens.

The one glaring omission in the analysis I've read, hardly anyone plugged in the abysmal pre-debate Ignatieff impressions. A superficial negative impression, Anderson from Harris Decima added people really didn't know Ignatieff. Everyone knows Harper, Layton and Duceppe. While I think they all did well last night, Layton with the best "zingers", Harper's remained calm, Duceppe his usual self, I didn't see much where voters learned anything. As for Ignatieff, I thought he did fine, some very strong moments, a couple small stumbles, but overall he did well. If one was waiting for that nauseating knockout blow, then clearly disappointed, Harper wins by not losing. However, I don't think we needed that blow, and I don't think low expectations of Ignatieff properly plugged into the logic.

I think Ignatieff exceeded Canadians low impression of him, as Allan Gregg pointed out, simply not drooling and cobbling together a sentence, probably raised the bar. Ignatieff presented himself as an alternative to Harper, we saw clear policy direction distinctions. Ignatieff was a DRAG on Liberal numbers, his low standing capping our growth ability. I would argue less apprehension now than prior, and while not a big voter mover today, at least more openness to reconsider. It may well take a few days for the impact to shakeout, factor in the immediate French debate, within a scandal breaking in the midst, I'm not sure normal "reads" are worth much at this point. This isn't to say Harper didn't do well in the debate, only we are in a uniquely fluid situation at the moment, so assumptions need to incorporate this fast debate turnover, emerging issues that are indicating real resonance. Time will tell...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lame Letter

The Conservatives have released a mea culpa to Sheila Fraser, a decidedly lame letter to try and explain away completely misrepresenting her:
Dear Ms. Fraser,

We are writing to express our sincere and deep regret over an oversight of which we have just been made aware, regarding the 11th Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, tabled in the House on Friday, March 25, 2011, and the supplementary report filed by Conservative members of the committee.

We assure you that it was most definitely not our intention to quote you erroneously or out of context.

The Office of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons is engaged and will examine any and all avenues to officially correct the record. As Parliament is currently dissolved, obviously the record cannot be changed in the House, but please accept our assurances that this will be done as soon as Parliament recovenes for the 41st Parliament.

We, and our Conservative colleagues, have the utmost respect for you, your work, and your office.

We apologize unreservedly. We hope to find a mutually acceptable solution in short order.


Chris Warkentin, Jacques Gourde, Ed Holder, Paul Calandra, Ron Cannan

It was definetly not the Conservatives intention to quote the AG erroneously or out of context, YET they offer NO rationale as to how this could possibly have happened. A quote, from seven years ago, relating to another government, on an issue totally unrelated, based on a Committee appearance that NEVER happened? The Conservatives had to apologize, but their thin words are just that, because the don't explain anything?

The fact the Conservatives present no reasonable answers only raises suspicion as to true intention, weak response adds weight to clear deception. You don't just stumble upon an unrelated, seven year old quote, we need to know how exactly, the chain of events that lead to this insertion? I'm sorry, but this weasely worded letter isn't a response, it's a RED FLAG that there is no explanation that passes any sniff test. This letter isn't the end of the discussion, it demands everyone of these MP's be questioned further, you simply can't act in this manner with impunity. This letter is damage control, the Conservatives clearly hoping an apology someone explains away clear deceit. Rather than putting "intention" to rest, the lack of logical reason, only supports the notion the "intention" was to deceive everyone, misuse a respected person's words, to create a false picture.

All Aboard

A cheeky reference to the gravy train too:

Monday, April 11, 2011


We now have duel Auditor General stories, the latest one leaves me gobsmacked to be honest. Sneaky, dishonest, deliberate misrepresentation, bordering on fraud I'm sure, the Conservatives have brought the Auditor General into the political fray, in a way I didn't think possible:
Canada's auditor general has rebuked the Conservatives for recycling an unrelated quote by her about a previous Liberal government's security spending in a parliamentary report on the costs of the G8/G20 summits in Ontario last summer, CBC News has learned.

The Conservatives' report, presented as a dissenting opinion to the Commons the morning Parliament was dissolved last month, quotes Sheila Fraser giving high marks to the Harper government for prudent spending on the summits...

Instead, she said, the Conservatives inserted an 2010 comment she made during a CBC News interview on security spending by a previous Liberal government after the Sept. 11 attacks a decade ago.

“The comments attributed to me in the [Conservative] report are completely unrelated to G8/G20 spending,” Fraser writes in her letter.

“I would appreciate it if the report could be modified as it is clearly erroneous.”

Fraser hadn't even appeared before this Committee on the matter, which eliminates even the filmiest of excuses. The Conservatives intentionally inserted a 7 year old quote, relating to the PAST government on an entirely DIFFERENT matter. This is disgraceful, and it involves a certain temerity that frankly acts as a signature example of this government's nature. That the Conservatives would misrepresent the Auditor General in this way to justify their own behaviour is amazing, I don't think hyperbole even possible in this case.

On the one hand, how PATHETIC is this government, that they require deceit to cobble together any credible argument, how WEAK is your REAL backing? On the other, we have seen occasions where misquotes have been used, but we've never seen someone of the AG's stature abused in this manner. There is no accident here with the government, no red faced oops, this is deliberate, it's shocking. I honestly can't remember another story that compares, this complete LIE of a presentation has no peer. I didn't think anything this government did now could surprise me...wrong again! WOW.

Back Into Focus

We'll have to watch how this G8 story evolves, if it has any impact on the campaign, but I suspect it will. Reading the updated piece, at the very least Clement skirted protocols, didn't get approval from Foreign Affairs as required, Parliament was misinformed, transparency the casualty. In addition, the laundry list of expenditures is an eye sore. No matter the government tries to spin it, a complete and utter misuse of taxpayer money, can't see how anyone can credibly reconcile.

Again, we will have to see where this story goes, but I'm struck by one thing- really, most of this "evidence" was already in the public domain:
Among the projects deemed questionable were:

» $274,000 on public toilets 20 kilometres from the summit site.

» $100,000 on a gazebo an hour's drive away.

» $1.1-million for sidewalk and tree upgrades 100 kilometres away.

» $194,000 for a park 100 kilometres away.

» $745,000 on downtown improvements for three towns nearly 70 kilometres away.

I blogged about the above repeatedly at that time, same with others, the media did give the crazy expenditures full coverage. However, like most issues, without continued oxygen they lose forward momentum and the story moves to the back burners, ultimately forgotten. What proof? Last week Ignatieff demanded this AG report be release, it barely made a dent, a side issue, sort of yesterday's news. TODAY is important, maybe not so much in what is new, as in we have another layer of condemnation, a more formal verdict, that demands an entire rehash and re-digestion. For anyone that was amazed at some of the expenditures, the blatant misuse, this is a welcome day, because otherwise the government would have ran out the clock, an afterthought release, voter unaware of the abuse.

I could actually care less what this "final" report says, I don't need the AG to confirm the obvious or massage the tint of blue. You'll never convince me in a million years that Clement and company used public money appropriately, simple geography his repeated undoing, defies basic common sense.

The AG findings are serious, but from my perspective it was incredibly serious prior to today's "revelations, the only benefit at least now this G8/G20 disgrace is coming back into focus. The electorate is better for it...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Harper Cornered?

Slowly, but surely, Harper is boxing himself into a corner on the F-35 purchase. I found a fairly basic problem with today's rationalization, namely that one can go read the five year old Memorandum Of Understanding and it shows "we are sheltered from research and development costs". Harper told Canadians it is posted online, now moving from the secret letter to this very visible document that proves we are immune.

I went to look at the MOU, and straight away, on the first page, a GLARING and contradictory HOLE in Harper's argument emerged:

Note the countries that are included in this agreement. Here's the rub:


"Netherlands' coalition government has decided to put off a decision to buy the F-35 until its next cabinet in 2014, according to Dutch defence ministry spokesperson Sascha Louwhoff.

The decision arose from the fact that in December, the US ambassador to the country told Dutch Defence Minister Hans Hillen that his country's order of 85 F-35s would cost 1.4 billion euros more than originally thought."


The Australian defence community reacted strongly when Canada's PBO released its report that suggested Canada's F-35 purchases would be twice the government estimate, because the numbers would be similar for an ally like Australia. Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute told reporters Australia should review its commitment.

While the Australian government is not wavering on its commitment to eventually buy 72 F-35s, it does note that the government expects by 2012 to have "firmer estimates of total project costs."

"We are accepting that there is no definitive known cost or development timeline of this thing as it develops," said Jamie Patten-Richens, a defence adviser at the Australian High Commission.


Norway intends to delay ordering its 48 planned F-35 Lightning II fighter jets until 2012 or later, senior officials said.

"We have not signed a purchase agreement, and Norway is unlikely to do so for several more years until the Joint Strike Fighter program's costs stabilize," said Espen Barth Eide, Norway's state secretary.

There is more, concerns in Britian, Italy, Israel. What the above highlights, these are all countries that are privy to this special deal, this MOU Harper was clinging to today. The question then becomes- why are these governments delaying, musing about cost overruns, uncertainty, when they have the same SWEETHEART deal that Harper referenced today? Why are other countries concerned, as Harper says "there's a memorandum of understanding... sheltered from research and development costs"?

In a last ditch effort Harper talked of a letter to counter cost overrun evidence. When pressed, Harper tried to plead transparency citing the MOU as PROOF that we are immune. A Conservative war room in damage control, making it up on the fly, and they've caught themselves. I didn't even finish the first page of the MOU, when the most obvious of contradictions was found. ALL the other countries with that SAME MOU doesn't seem to share Harper's confidence, in fact their interpretation doesn't even REMOTELY compare. No, all these other countries that are "sheltered from research and development costs" are scrambling, delaying, trying to come to grips with runaway costs. At the very least, Harper should call them and tell them all is well, you are IMMUNE! Tomorrow we will learn that Canada has another MOU, but we can't show you that one because of cabinet confidence or something. Today's answer just raises more questions...

The Right's Never Ending Delusion

Another wave of "left wing media", as the paranoid, delusional right questions coverage of the Conservatives. It seems unless there is blanket condemnation of the Liberals and absolute fawning over everything Conservative, we lack fair, balanced reporting! The facts never support the accusations, IN FACT studies of both the 2004, 2006 elections showed overwhelming positive coverage for the Conservatives, negative for the Liberals, if anyone has a logical backing to "bitch", it's the left not the right in this country. And yet...

McGill is once again doing detailed analysis of political coverage, and GUESS WHAT, shocker of shocker- get your head out of Harper's ass conbots- you side is doing REMARKABLY WELL, again. Sorry to sound shrill, but the inability to incorporate facts into the theory, it all gets tiring. The problem, the right wing expects coverage to mirror their beliefs, failing to realize the center is called that for a reason. From their perspective the center, even slightly right of center looks like the left, an amazing disconnect.

Fair observers would agree, in terms of the "campaign", the Liberals have run a good one. Also true, if one had to pick a side, who has had the most "bumps" on the trail, again fair to say the Conservatives win on this score. Let's look at McGill's analysis so far:
If the Liberals’ plan was to attract attention, it worked. “Not only are they getting more coverage,” says Soroka, citing an increase in Ignatieff’s “first mentions” in news stories—up from 18 to 23 per cent between March 28 to April 2, compared to the previous week; Harper, meanwhile, fell from 68 to 62 per cent—”It’s also better coverage.”

Ignatieff nearly caught up with Harper in the degree of positive coverage in the 794 stories analyzed last week. He scored a “net tone” of 0.94 compared to Harper’s 1.06. That’s a big improvement over the previous week (March 21 to 26) when he was at 0.47, compared to Harper’s 1.04 and Layton’s 1.58. (Layton fell to 1.37 this week; the sample is not big enough to grade Gilles Duceppe.) Net tone is calculated by a computer program that looks at the words found near each leader’s name in a story and, using a dictionary of 6,500 words, determines whether the sentence is negative or positive.

Great news for the Liberals! Ignatieff is now getting over 1/3 as many mentions as Harper. In addition, we are doing SO well, that we've almost matched Harper in positive coverage, ALMOST, we "nearly caught up". Week one, heavy, heavy advantage for Harper, but week two ALMOST the same! Now, take those objective figures and compare them with the HOWLING right and their claims that the media is so pro-Liberal, out to get Harper, it actually hurts. You see NO basis in fact, again if anyone has a right to be suspicious it's our side of the aisle. Everyone agrees Liberals running best campaign, everyone agrees Harper has been on the defensive, off message for a few days at least, and STILL he is able to hold a slight advantage. Amazing, isn't it? What does it tell you, and who looks the fool for complaining? Maybe, just maybe, next week the Liberals can get SAME coverage, or dare I dream BETTER coverage. If so, it would be the first time in the last "four elections in seven years".

Just the facts, once AGAIN...