Thursday, October 30, 2008

Well THAT Was Quick!

Since I posted about Lisa Raitt's new cabinet position four hours ago, I have had six.. no wait... seven visits from the Ministry of Natural Resources, and one each from:

Legislative Information Systems
Communications Research Centre Of Canada
Foreign Affairs
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization
and the Public Service Commission Of Canada.

My favourite was the person from DNR who Googled "lisa raitt problems" and found me :)

And the Winner of the Lisa Raitt Cabinet Pool Is...

Nobody! Whoa! Didn't see that one coming.

Lisa Raitt will be the Minister of Natural Resources.

Well. Interesting. I have no idea what the thinking was behind that one, but I guess I can pester her about AECL now. Buh-bye, Gary.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Draft Lloyd!

Ok, I kid. He's a little old to be Prime Minister, although not nearly as old as John McCain. But really, the Liberals could do worse than follow the advise and adopt the priorities of Lloyd Axworthy.

Here's Lloyd in today's Ottawa Citizen making the case for cooperation between the opposition parties:

We are entering into a perilous period where all the conventional wisdoms about the market, the state and globalization are being ruptured. Yet we have a government that still closely adheres to the old 1980s Thatcher-Reagan view of the world -- deregulate, cut taxes and trust entirely in the private sector. The Conservatives have shown a marked disinclination for working in a multilateral, international context and eschew innovative efforts in trade and foreign policy. So they will need help in adapting to a world that will require major reforms, both domestically and globally, that begin to rebuild the notion of a public domain in both spheres.

I am not suggesting that a combined opposition can quickly give birth to a new progressive agenda. This is going to take time and the involvement of a lot more Canadians than just the political parties. But, if one looks at the platforms of the opposition parties from the last election, there was significant convergence on many issues that reflect a different outlook from the Harper government. They should use Parliament to gain a much better, broader and more intelligent discourse than was apparent in the campaign and push for an agenda that stimulates the economy, protects people, jobs, the environment and our human rights, and restores a sense of public stewardship to the federal level.

And oh, look. He agrees with me on the direction the Liberals should go with their policies and their leadership choice:

One major question mark in all this will be the Liberal leadership contest, already under way in sub rosa fashion. Will a leader emerge who is willing to take a chance and be ready to embrace, indeed take a lead in forming, a different kind of political constellation? Or will there be a push by that faction of the party that believes a return to right-of-centre politics will offset the present Conservative advantage.

To this death wish, I am reminded of the comment of Keith Davey, renowned Liberal party organizer, who said that Canadians given a choice will always vote for a real Tory, not a pseudo-Tory in Liberal clothing.

Hear, hear. Any suggestions, Lloyd?

Tuesday Morning Bagpipe Blogging

Just finished watching 'Yo-Yo Ma and Friends' on Colbert and HOLY SHIT who was that chick on the bagpipes?!?

Her name is Cristina Palo, she's Spanish of all things, and she totally rawks.


What Could These People Possibly Be Thinking?

Am I missing something?

I keep watching these Republican rallies - you know, the ones where McCain and/or Palin get those Joe the Plumbers and Cathy the Chiropractors all worked into a lather over the idea that Barack Obama wants to "spread the wealth"?

And I'm thinking... just who is it they think that wealth is going to be spread to, if not them? University professors? Community organizers?

I can only conclude that these people are all somehow convinced that, while they might be low or middle class NOW, someday they will all win the lottery or some reality TV show, and oh boy will they ever appreciate those capital gains tax deferments then!

You betcha.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Number Crunching 2: Where Did All the Liberal Voters Go?

The inter-party dynamics took on a rather different tenor during the recent election. Instead of the usual 'blue vs. red and let the weirdos take the dregs' approach, the NDP and even the Green Party were finally recognized as a force to be reckoned with. At least by the Liberals - the Conservatives, of course, paid them no mind as they recognized that all of their new votes were going to be coming from the Liberals, thus regarding the other parties (except the Bloc) as beneath their notice.

The Liberals, on the other hand, had the rare good sense to recognize the NDP and the Greens as a significant potential drain on their votes. But instead of simply agreeing with them on principle while arguing that Liberals are better and more experienced at the application, they chose to go on the attack, making party level pleas for strategic voting and practically calling Jack Layton a dirty commie.

They actually seemed surprised by the results.

I mentioned earlier that the Liberal Party is hemorrhaging to the left. Most election post-mortems have noted this, but have been focusing on the seat counts and the percentage shifts, which don't really tell the whole picture because they are skewed by the vagaries of our FPTP system and the size of the smaller parties. I've found the raw numbers of voters to be far more telling. Here's the evidence:

- Compared with 2006, the only party which showed a net increase in votes was... the Green Party. To the tune of about a quarter million votes. Independents and miscellaneous fringe parties also showed an increase.

- If you adjust for the drastic decrease in voter turnout this year, you would get the following net losses and increases:

Conservative: +198,011
Liberal: -597,097
NDP: +95,191
Green: +342,907
Bloc: -76,648
Other: +21,612

In other words, only about a third of the Liberals' lost votes went to the Conservatives. The other two thirds went to the Greens and the NDP. This is in stark contrast to the previous election, where almost all of the Liberal losses benefited the Conservatives.

- In Quebec, the big losers were the Bloc and the Conservatives, who each lost the adjusted equivalent of over 100,000 votes. Many of those were picked up by the Liberals - many more by the NDP.

These numbers tend to verify the impression I got listening and talking to people during this election. Right-leaning Liberals were drifting to the Conservatives, or just choosing not to vote, because they felt that Dion was a weak leader. However, there don't appear to have been a lot of them this time, and I believe the Conservatives are approaching their ceiling in terms of numbers of voters.

But left-leaning Liberals, as well as NDP and Green supporters who might have otherwise voted strategically, told me that they could not bring themselves to vote Liberal because they did not consider the Liberals to be a truly progressive party. In fact, they didn't see much difference between the Liberals and Conservatives at all - an impression left by Chretien and Martin's centrist, corporate-friendly fiscal policies, as well as the embarrassing record of abstentions during the last Parliament.

The decision the Liberal Party needs to make right now is if they're ok with that.

If they are - if they want to continue presenting themselves as a kinder, friendlier version of the Conservatives who know how to balance the books and keep the Bay Street boys happy - then by all means, they should go with someone like McKenna, or Manley, or even Ignatieff. They might even win a few of those Red Tories back with a more palatable leader making their case.

However, leaving aside for the moment my philosophical revulsion for that sort of approach, I honestly don't think that anything can be gained by it. Fiscal prudence might appeal to pensioners and corporate donors, but it's hardly the way to generate voter enthusiasm or grassroots donations, and that's what the Liberals desperately need right now.

Going by the numbers and not just the seats, the message is clear: the Conservatives have stalled, and the moderate left is on the ascendancy. The only question is, will the Liberals stop pandering to the corporations and money men whose influence and vote-buying powers are no longer what they once were? Or will they wake up and start paying more than lip service to what the majority of Canadians clearly want - sound fiscal and social policies that actually put people and the planet first?

The answer will determine their survival as a political force in this country.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here's a Thought...

Ujjal Dosanjh.

I'm not especially tuned in to BC politics, but the second I saw his name mentioned in the comments over at James Curran's place, and then read that he might actually be interested in going for a leadership shot, I instantly liked the idea.

High profile provincially and nationally, tons of experience, associated with a signature Liberal portfolio, left but not exceedingly so, NOT from Ontario, visible minority but not likely to scare the straights... ok, so he doesn't speak French. Meh. We can work on that.

So, you Western Canadians - whaddya think? Would this be a good idea, or would he have Bob Rae's toxicity in his home province?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nights in Rodanthe

I have only ever read one Harlequin Romance novel, and it was so long ago that I don't remember anything about it. But watching 'Nights in Rodanthe', I am quite sure that this is exactly what a Harlequin Romance is like.

It's a pleasant movie, and not quite as saccharine as I was expecting. Richard Gere is still smokin' hot, which is a big plus. The setting in North Carolina's outer banks was spectacular, and I had to look up the house later before I believed it was real and not just planted on the beach for the movie. And I want a copy of the soundtrack.

On the down side, there were a couple of ham-handed flashback sequences that sucked me right out of the movie. And the chemistry between Lane and Gere seemed a little flat somehow. It was terribly romantic, but the passion wasn't quite there.

Still, not bad for a chick flick. I'll give it three stars out of five, but honestly Murray - 'Passchendaele' was better.

(And of course, Murray loved it.)

Voters, Schmoters: How the Real Decisions Are Made

It's been a week and a bit now since a little more than half of us marched into our polling stations to do our duty and cast our ritual vote for our candidate or party of choice.

Yay us.

As sick as some of us might feel about the results, we all somehow manage to convince ourselves that "the people have spoken". That as much as we might disagree with the choices they made, however pathetic the turnout was, however dishonest and manipulative the political advertising campaigns were, however shoddy and superficial the media coverage, the plurality of Canadians who bothered showing up had somehow ferreted out enough information about their candidates and party leaders to make something resembling an informed decision.

Meanwhile, the real decisions about our economy had already been made by Stephen Harper's true constituents:

Politics factored into bank aid deal
Dialogue between Ottawa, Bay St. behind the scenes

… Several of the people involved in the process said that even while pillars of Wall Street were crumbling and world leaders were invoking the spectre of financial armageddon, a central consideration for the Prime Minister’s Office seemed to be Jack Layton and the New Democratic Party.

The Conservatives and key allies on Bay Street feared both the immediate and lasting consequences of giving political adversaries an opening to turn the banking industry and its ties with Ottawa into a matter of public scorn. This concern reached a peak immediately before the election with the meltdown in markets, co-ordinated global interventions and the approach of polling day.

Amid late-night phone calls to the homes of senior officials in Ottawa, a loose strategy emerged to split the federal government’s response into two stages, with a decision to delay until after the election the explicit commitment to insure interbank lending that was finally unveiled yesterday.

But bank executives insisted on a long-sought move to shift mortgages off their books and supply them with cash before the election, because they feared the uncertainty of polling day and the possibility Mr. Flaherty might not return as finance minister, according to participants in the process and observers. This first stage was held back until the last possible moment, the eve of the Thanksgiving weekend, the last day of market trading before polling day, when a $25-billion scheme to aid banks was announced by Mr. Flaherty. “The strategy [was] trying to low-key it, [unveiling it] when people were running away to the cottage to pull the dock out of the water and making their pumpkin pies,” said one person involved in the discussions.

This is what happens when a government is confident that nobody is paying attention. Get ready for more of the same.


In addition to the movie Murray made me see this weekend (review to be published tomorrow), I saw two other films that I actually wanted to see: Repo! The Genetic Opera, and Passchendaele.


I had heard that Passchendaele had gotten mixed reviews when it opened the Toronto International Film Festival, so I was a little reticent about going to see it. What if I didn't like it, but then started to wonder if I was being overly critical because it was a Canadian film? What if I did like it, but then started to wonder if I just liked it because it was a major Canadian film with a lot riding on its success and I wanted to like it?

Does anyone in any other country on the planet go through this kind of angst over their own movies?

In the end, I decided to rely on my gut, and on the reality check question I always ask myself the day after seeing a movie: do I want to go see it again?

The answer in this case is most definitely: yes.

Passchendaele is a romance sandwiched in the middle of a war movie. The romance is intensely passionate, especially given the historical setting, but Gross doesn't take his lovers in any of the expected directions. Instead, he builds their relationship slowly, adding layers of complexity as they learn more about one another. Confronting each others demons only draws them closer.

The war begins and ends the film, and from the first sequence you feel that yes, this is what it must have been like. Brutal. Filthy. Surreal. In an interview, I heard Paul Gross say that his grandfather (on whose experience the movie was based) had told him that he could rarely see or even be aware of what was happening more than fifty feet away from him, so that's the way Gross chose to shoot it. The result is an almost claustrophobic intensity, with only the occasional boom shot to give us an overview of the carnage.

Paul Gross learned well from his grandfather. There is one remarkable scene where Gross' character goes to considerable lengths to explain to a superior officer the importance of dry matches to a soldier in the field. In another, reference is made to the widespread but probably mythical story of a Canadian soldier crucified on a barn door by German soldiers - a story which takes on some significance later.

Details like that add a richness and authenticity that I appreciate both as a history buff and a movie goer.

Passchendaele is not without its flaws. Sometimes the details get a little too detailed, to the point where it seems like Gross is trying to cram everything he knows about his subject into the film. The transition from the intense opening battle sequence is a bit abrupt and it takes a while to adjust to the more languid pace of the Calgary scenes. And there are moments - not many - where Gross indulges in a bit of Mel Gibson-like self-directed vanity. Then again, he is Paul Gross. Who can blame him for letting the camera linger on that face a little longer than necessary?

Of course, all of these points only occurred to me long after I walked sobbing out of the theatre, as I sat trying to think of some way to sound like a dispassionate film critic and not a total sap.

In amidst the drama and romance of Passchendaele, there was one particular moment that made me laugh out loud. Gross' love interest in the film has a neighbour across the street from her house in Calgary, and at one point he reveals himself to be a bigoted brute of a man who inevitably gets his comeuppance in the form of a forehead to the nose.

The character's name is 'Mr. Harper'.

I'll bet Paul enjoyed that scene immensely.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kingston II, Anyone?

Ok, my week of mourning is over. Time to move on.

Every Liberal in the country has spent the past week busily hatching schemes and drawing up blueprints for "How to Save the Liberal Party From Oblivion". Suggestions have included moving right, moving left, electoral reform, re-jigging pre-writ spending laws, finding a 'saviour', recruiting Elizabeth May, and cloning Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

All of these plans are sincerely and carefully contrived to help the Liberals win more seats next time and eventually win back the House, but none of them address a more fundamental question that, believe it or not, Stephen Taylor managed to bring into sharp relief:

What do the Liberals stand for?

The bulk of his thesis is bullshit, of course, although he did manage to choke out some back-handed and belated praise for Dion. But that one point stands out as the sort of profound truth that one occasionally hears from the mouths of four year-olds.

I sometimes despair that I am hopelessly naive to believe that things like policy and vision even matter anymore in our world of sound bites, media manipulation and celebrity politics. But when I take a close look at what is going on south of the border right now, I think that I might just be right after all.

The Obama phenomena has too often been written off to charisma and skilled oratory. But after seeing the crowds that have been turning out to vote in the advance polls and the predictions of over 70% voter turnout in a country that hasn't cracked 60% since... well, the sixties, I am more convinced than ever that there is more than star power driving this.

Americans are excited, and they are excited because they believe that their vote will make a real difference and bring them things like universal health care and an end to job outsourcing and serious action on the environment and an escape from the war in Iraq. They are excited because Obama is telling them that these things are possible and achievable instead of explaining why it can't be done and why they never really wanted that stuff in the first place.

We need to get Canadians excited. Just so.

I frequently hold up the Trudeau years as my idea of the Golden Age of Canadian Liberalism, but I was reminded yesterday that the real transformation of the Liberal Party from a private members club of stodgy, Amero-centric corporate yes-men to the briefly shining light of social democracy in North America happened under the watch of Lester B. Pearson.

Both The Star and The Globe & Mail ran editorials yesterday invoking the Kingston Conference of 1960 as a model for the potential rejuvenation of the Liberals. Peter C. Newman was there:

Especially now, with no election in sight and time to plan, the Liberals ought to pull a Ben Tre manoeuvre - the Vietnamese village that, in 1968 "had be destroyed in order to save it." When the Liberals were in a similar jam in 1960, facing the formidable political hypnotism of John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson organized a four-day meeting at Kingston, Ont., that brought activists and academics together in a rare free-form gathering. Three years later, that radical process - and enlightening contents of its presentations - breach-birthed a victorious Liberal Party, based on new paradigms, new energies and new recruits who would become the party's intellectual and animating agents provocateurs for the next three decades.

...The Pearson-sponsored Study Conference on National Problems, which convened at Queen's University in September of 1960, was billed as a non-partisan assembly of liberal-minded Canadians. Less than half of the 196 attendees were party members, though 48 of them were later named to senior appointments in Liberal administrations. The most influential was Tom Kent, an ex-Economist columnist who became editor-in-chief of the Winnipeg Free Press and later Mr. Pearson's chief policy adviser. His paper Towards a Philosophy of Social Security became the winning blueprint for the Pearson platforms in the three elections that followed. The distinguished Quebec academic Maurice Lamontagne's lecture was summed up in his opening sentence: "The ultimate objective of economic activity is the maximum common welfare."

Watching the proceedings, sensing the electricity in the air and assessing the presence of such newcomers to the political wars as Jean Marchand, Maurice Sauvé and Mitchell Sharp, I soon became aware of what was really happening. A new political generation was being born - the same style of transformation that the Liberal Party desperately requires now - as Jean Chrétien might put it, "the better the sooner."

Voter turnout during that period, in three rapid-fire elections in 1958, '62 and '63, was the highest in Canadian history at close to 80%. No 'election fatigue' there.

We are not likely to see another star like Obama or Trudeau rise from the ranks at the upcoming convention, but nor do we really need one. We just need to re-discover what we stand for, and find a way to enthusiastically communicate that vision with one voice. We should be developing bold new progressive policies that move the party out of its comfort zone and get people excited about the possibility for real, positive change in this country. The Green Shift was a policy like that, but it was presented in isolation by a hobbled leader without the support of his own caucus. Perhaps it can be rehabilitated, but that can only happen if the fat bastards of the party agree to either get lost or get the hell out of the way.

This, to me, is the best argument against Frank McKenna or John Manley taking the helm this spring. Many have argued that such Chretien/Martin era stalwarts will appeal to the Blue Grits and Red Tories and bring them back into the fold, but this approach ignores the glaring truth that we are bleeding far more profusely to the left than to the right.

More on that later.

Getting people excited about the party and the political process in general solves a plethora of problems for the Liberals. It will increase voter turnout, which will not only help financially but will likely favour the Liberals as they were the ones who disproportionately stayed home this time. It will get younger people interested and involved, not only as voters but as people with the means and know-how to upgrade the party's antiquated web presence, fundraising mechanisms, voter databases, etc. It will draw in volunteers and organizers and the kinds of human resources we were sorely lacking this time around.

Most importantly, it will generate the grassroots individual donations which are absolutely essential under the new donation rules. This is the real secret behind Obama's success - not the crowds at his speeches, but the millions of donors who have stuffed his campaign coffers to the point where he can afford to buy a solid half hour of prime time television without blinking.

The Liberal Party has survived and succeeded over the long years because it has always been willing to change and adapt, and even burn itself to the ground once in a while in order to build anew. If they refuse to radically transform themselves again this time and insist instead on cowering behind the policies and personalities of the past, maybe they really are destined to be replaced by the NDP as a dominant force in Canadian politics.

I guess we'll find out this spring.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Halton is Watching

We in Halton have been awfully spoiled. For the past two years we've had an MP who answered our calls, responded to our emails, listened to us and answered our questions in regular town hall meetings, let us make a mess on his blog, and gave us unprecedented insight into the inner workings of our government.

Now that Halton no longer has Garth Turner to kick around, our access to our representative in the House of Commons may have just become seriously curtailed. Call me sceptical, but I somehow doubt that Lisa Raitt will be running an open blog or holding many Town Hall meetings.

To compensate, I have started a new blog. It's called HaltonWatch.

In order for democracy to work, we must know what our elected representatives are doing - how they vote, what initiatives they put forward or support, which ones they oppose, and how they respond when contacted by their constituents. It means publicizing what they are doing on our behalf - the good and the bad - and letting their constituents hold them accountable.

will be a forum for residents of Halton (the region, not just the riding) to find out what all of our representatives are doing. Not just our MP, but our provincial, regional and municipal representatives as well. It will also be a place to discuss issues of democracy and democratic reform in general. And... I don't know. We'll have to see what happens.

If you are Halton-based blogger, please consider joining the team. If you are a constituent, stay tuned. Who knows what might happen?


Wow. Well. That was... unexpected. And given the whole host of lousy options currently available, I think this may have been the best choice he could have made. At least now we will have some continuity, and Dion and his supporters might continue to have a voice in the renewal process.

I keep thinking back to a scene in the movie 'Serpico'. Serpico has been branded a traitor by his fellow officers for exposing corruption, but he insists on staying on the job. He is called to make an arrest at a sleezy apartment, and as he knocks on the door he realizes that the cops who are supposed to have his back have suddenly vanished.

Then he gets shot in the face.

The way Stephane Dion has been treated by the Liberal Party establishment from day one is appalling. Whatever Dion's shortcomings, they could have easily been overcome if he had had the unqualified support of his caucus and staff. He did not, and those 'anonymous Liberal insiders' made damned sure that everyone knew that he did not. They never wanted him, and were apparently willing to wreck the party in order to replace him with another corporatist Martin clone.

And now they will reap the rewards for their short sighted power tactics.

Welcome to your Kerry years.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Number Crunching: Sometimes, All Politics Are NOT Local

One of many things I learned working on my first campaign is that whatever your area of responsibility might be - door knocking, sign installation, organizing appearances and debates, calling supporters to get out the vote - you become convinced that what you are doing is what will ultimately win or lose the election for your candidate.

In Halton, a whole number of factors have been blamed for Garth Turner's loss to Lisa Raitt:
The sign people blame whoever it was who stole and trashed hundreds of our signs, as well as the dozens of Jumbotron-sized full colour Raitt billboards installed by hired crews over the final weekend.

The fundraising people blame the buckets of money poured into Raitt's campaign by the federal Conservatives.

Scrutineers blame the Conservatives' use of detailed supporter lists in a carefully orchestrated last minute get-out-the-vote phone blitz, often conducted directly from the polling stations.

The candidate blames, in part, the repeated lies about Liberal tax and child care policies parroted by Raitt during the debates and in her multiple literature mailings.

The campaign manager blames the Conservative bloggers who relentlessly trashed and harassed Garth and herself, as well as the local media who gave Raitt a free pass but could barely contain their glee whenever Garth made some minor stumble.

And one obnoxious prick actually blamed Esther.

While all of these things may have been minor factors (except the last), I have been taking a close look at the totals for other GTA ridings, and I have come to the conclusion that not only was Garth's loss a foregone conclusion given the national and regional trends, but that he actually fared better than Liberal candidates in adjacent ridings despite the personal interest Harper had in ensuring his defeat.

Check this out. This is a comparison between Halton and four other GTA ridings. Two (Oakville and Burlington) are adjacent and actually share a population base and some key demographic characteristics. The other two (Brampton West and Oak Ridges-Markham) have had a similar population explosion and increase in their ethnic and immigrant populations. Three elected a Liberal MP last time, and one managed to barely retain theirs.

And yet the trend was remarkably similar across the board:

It looks a little impenetrable, but to sum up: Between the 2006 and 2008 elections, the Halton Liberal candidate had the smallest loss in percentage vote share and the Conservative had the smallest gain. Similarly, Halton saw the smallest shift in numbers of votes from Liberal to Conservative.

In other words, the Halton campaign did a better job of holding back the blue tide than other similar GTA ridings.

We should all be very proud.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dead Soldiers

(WARNING: I wrote this at three in the morning after a very, very long and emotional day and more than a couple of beers, and I went a little over the top in a few places. I was actually thinking of toning it down a bit in the bleary light of day, but then I figured - screw it. It's my blog, and that's how I was feeling when I wrote it. If you have tender sensibilities, feel free to skip it.)


I've been drinking a bit, so I will be posting in point form this evening.

- People get the government they deserve, and on that note... fuck you, Ontario!!! I hope you all enjoy the next 1-4 years.

- This is our Kerry year. You remember - that year when nobody with more than two brain cells to rub together could even conceive of the possibility that Dubya could ever win another election after demonstrably lying his way into a war and occupation and digging the U.S. into debt hole from which they may never recover? Yeah. That year.

Next year in Jerusalem.

- If you haven't heard already, Garth lost. And the blogosphere just became a little less interesting tonight. I was honestly shocked by how much he lost by, but it appears that he just fell victim to the mouldy blue tide sweeping across Ontario. Speaking for myself and Zorph and possibly others, I am BEGGING Garth to keep up his blog, or start another. Even if you aren't our guy in Ottawa for now, we still value your wit and insight.

Blog on, Garth. Blog on.

- I think it's a given that nobody in Halton will ever attend another Town Hall meeting, or receive a telephone or email response from Lisa Raitt regarding anything they wish to ask of her. We have just elected Stephen Harper as our MP.

- We received several 'crank' phone calls at the campaign office this evening. The least offensive was one I took myself, wishing us all 'bad luck' in this evening's vote. A worse one said something about setting election signs on fire with lighter fluid. Nice people you have onside there, Lisa. Have fun with them.

- North Oakville polls rawk. We need to re-jig the riding boundaries next time to include more of north Oakville, less of north Burlington. And the Milton developments are o-tay too.

- If my sister out on Salt Spring Island voted Green, I will be having serious words with her.

- We cannot go forward in the same way that we did during the last parliament. Something must be done about Stephen Harper declaring every piece of shite he puts before the House of Commons as a do-or-die confidence matter. The three opposition parties MUST put forward a motion to prevent the government from declaring anything but budget bills as confidence motions.

- I am deeply concerned for the future of the Liberal Party, and not just because we've lost seats or that we are about to further bankrupt the party through another leadership convention. Stephane Dion, for all his faults, represents the long-neglected left wing of the Liberal Party. His failure to sell his vision to the majority of Canadians in this election will be regarded by many of the 'old guard' Martin Liberals as a failure of the left wing in general, and will provide an excuse for a shift back to the corporatist policies of the past in the form of people like Michael Ignatieff.

That, plus the influx of orphaned Progressive Conservatives like (sorry to say) Garth Turner into the party may well knock the Liberals off of their traditionally slightly left-of-centre position into something more closely resembling a Red Tory party. Which means that I may well have to start voting NDP again.

- For a terrifying glimpse into the future of Canada, I strongly recommend "The Wrecking Crew" by Thomas Frank. It's sure scaring the shit out of me right now, and I'm only about half way through (I want that back, Esther).

- Speaking of Esther: THIS IS IN NO WAY YOUR FAULT! It was Harper and Dion and buckets of money and weak minded people crawling home to Daddy in fear. And yeah, a bit of it was Garth being Garth. You did nothing but help his chances. You are the best. Never forget it.

- I filked my own version of 'Barrett's Privateers' for the occasion tonight, but didn't feel it was appropriate to serenade Garth with, given the circumstances. I'll post my lyrics on his blog or mine later this week.

- Nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts forever...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And here. We. Go.

One more sleep, and it will be off to the races. I'm excited. I'm terrified. I don't know where the hell I'm going to find another two scrutineers by tomorrow evening.

It's still a total crap shoot here in Halton. The polls and projections all say it'll be within a thousand or so votes either way, but none of them account for The Garth Factor: that pungent melange of infamy, gusto, brash outspokenness, and a lightening rod-like ability to attract controversy.

Or as David Akin put it in his 'Ontario Ridings to Watch' post:

Garth Turner’s riding. Need I say more?

Garth wrote a lovely post this evening about the last street he and Dorothy door-knocked today. Good stuff.

I'm almost resigned to another Harper minority at this point. But if Garth loses, I think I'll cry for a week.

Here's something to keep us all in a good mood tomorrow.

Good luck everyone!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Democratic Space Implodes!

Whoa! Weird. I tried to check Democratic Space's strategic voting guide, and I got this:

I checked it again five minutes later and got a 403 - Forbidden error. And now the front page is up (with a new look), but all the other pages are blank.

I hope it's just a facelift, but it would be interesting if it turned out to be a massive traffic surge.

Why I Support Garth Turner

I am one of those left-wing types who has always swung somewhere between the NDP and the Liberals - with the occasional flirtation with bone fide socialism - for most of my adult life. So, WTF am I doing hanging around with a couple of ex-Progressive Conservatives like Garth Turner and Esther Shaye?

One word: DEMOCRACY.

It was two and a half years ago that I attended my first Garth Turner Town Hall Meeting. I was exceedingly sceptical going in, but after listening to Garth and meeting Esther Shaye, his constituency office manager and current campaign manager, I started to believe.

Since then, I have gotten to know Garth a bit better and Esther quite well, and to a lesser extent I have come to know many of those who stuck with Garth on his voyage from PC to Conservative to Independent to Liberal. And though I may disagree with some of them on specific policy matters, I can tell you this:

They are the REAL DEAL.

They believe in Canada, and they believe in Government as the instrument of the people of Canada. They believe that politicians are there to represent their constituents and not their party. They believe that they are there to serve our interests, not their own. They know Stephen Harper and his associates better than any of us would ever care to, and that experience has inspired all of them to do everything in their power to drive the lot of them out of Canadian politics forever.

Garth Turner is, to a large extent, everything you've heard. Opinionated. Self-aggrandizing. In love with the sound of his own voice. And on a fairly regular basis he lets his mouth (or his blog) get ahead of his brain.

Garth Turner is also the only MP I have ever had who has ever answered a direct question from me, or adjusted his perspective based on what I had to say. He is a fiscal conservative, but after some soul searching he has come to honestly support Dion's Green Shift and to embrace the notion that the rich hold some obligation to the poor. He's all about the tax cuts, but he totally gets why I went to Montebello to protest a year ago. I smack him regularly on issues like Senate reform, but I still hold out hope that some day Betty and I will wear him down.

When I listen to Garth Turner, I know that I am hearing what he thinks and not just what his party tells him to think. More importantly, when I speak to Garth, I know that he is actually listening to me and not just thinking up some way to convince me that I'm wrong.

A year and a half ago I had no interest in involving myself in the minutia of riding-level politics. This long weekend, I will be forgoing Thanksgiving turkey with the 'rents in favour of campaign activities as I somehow find myself responsible for the recruitment and training of 40+ election day scrutineers.

Three weeks ago, I couldn’t even spell scrutineer, let alone tell you what one did.

This is democracy. This is what it should be. This is what you should demand from yourself and from your own MP.

Me? I’m lucky enough to live in Halton.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You Have a Choice: The Video

From AnyoneButHarper and Avaaz.

A Further Thought on Strategic Voting

There was a little piece in the 'Ethics' column of the Toronto Star last weekend that really struck me. A card-carrying member of the NDP asked whether it would be 'ethical' to vote for a party they didn't favour in order to deny a majority to a party they despised. This was the answer:

Do I do the unthinkable to thwart Mr. Harper?

A: Strategic voting is a dangerous game that has a way of biting us back.

Many Liberals will attest to this: It was strategic voting at their leadership convention that got them into the Stéphane Dion mess in the first place.

But you are asking about ethics, not political strategy – and they are rarely the same. In this election you're caught in a situation of conflicting loyalties. You feel loyal to a group of people you have supported, worked with and come to respect.

But you also want to be loyal to your country, and worry that "wasting" your vote on a candidate who can't win helps deliver the nation into the hands of someone you detest – if not personally, then certainly politically.

So the question is: Which loyalty takes precedence? And the answer is clear, to me at least: Loyalty to country trumps loyalty to party. It's a question, ultimately, of who serves whom. Political parties exist to serve Canada, not vice versa.

I will repeat that:


And yes, he also says that the ethical thing to do would be to give up the NDP membership, at least for the duration. But I think a better idea is here.

I thought of that again today when I read about the three IPCC scientists who came out with a plea today for Green supporters to vote strategically to stop Harper.

What are your loyalties?

FYI, Halton is most certainly one of those swing ridings where the Green vote could make a difference. Or the NDP. Or, well, the Saturday night crowd at The Dickens.

Vote for Garth. I'll explain why later.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Halton's Xeroxed Endorsements of Lisa Raitt

Nobody was surprised when the Milton Champion, the Oakville Beaver and the Burlington Post all gave blanket endorsements to the Conservative candidates in their ridings, including Lisa Raitt whose riding straddles all three towns.

What is surprising is that Lisa Raitt seems to think she has just received endorsements from three different newspaper editors.

Perhaps she, like me, had been under the mistaken impression that these three newspapers, although part of the same Metroland chain, were actually independent entities. But although each has its own managing editor, all three are in fact run by the same production staff and the same Editor-in-chief, who is apparently the one writing the endorsements.

From the Champion:

At the local level, we feel Raitt brings invaluable experience as CEO and president of the Toronto Port Authority to a job that will see her focusing on Halton’s woefully underfunded infrastructure needs.

...While Turner is the riding’s most politically-experienced candidate, we believe the outspoken, rebellious, party-be-damned approach he has taken in the last two-and-a-half years will be counter-productive to the team-building environment we think Canadians want from their next government.

The Beaver:

Frankly, it sounds like Turner will say anything to get himself elected. While this may ingratiate him to many of his constituents, and even his followers across Canada, we fear his rebellious, party-be-damned approach will be counter-productive to the team-building environment we think Canadians want and need from their next government.

... Newcomer Lisa Raitt brings invaluable experience as CEO and president of the Toronto Port Authority to a job that will see her focusing on Halton Region’s woefully underfunded infrastructure needs.

And the Post:

At the local level, we feel newcomer Raitt brings invaluable experience as CEO and president of the Toronto Port Authority to a job that will see her focusing on Halton Region’s woefully underfunded infrastructure needs.

While Turner is the riding’s most politically-experienced candidate, we believe the outspoken, rebellious, party-be-damned approach he has taken in the last two-and-a-half years will be counter-productive to the team-building environment we think Canadians want from their next government.

To their credit, the Milton Champion ran the following letter two days after their endorsement which takes issue with their choice. And the guy even wrote it himself.


When my son asked Lisa Raitt about being a drop-in candidate, she told him, “There was no choice; the election came up suddenly.”

That was, of course, blatantly false, as anyone involved knows that the local Conservatives have been begging to be allowed to nominate a candidate for more than two years.

If she’s elected, she won’t be the MP for Halton; she will be Stephen Harper’s MP, beholden to him. Many card-carrying Conservatives are upset about this.

This isn’t about affirmative action either; it’s not about more women candidates. It’s about Harper’s distrust of the local riding and its ability to select a candidate malleable enough to keep quiet and do her master’s bidding.

If Raitt is elected she will carry no weight for Halton in the House of Commons. She will simply be Harper’s messenger, bringing nothing but empty rhetoric to the riding.

When the Progressive Conservatives merged with the Alliance Party, there were many Progressive Conservatives who felt that this might be a new beginning to a right of centre progressive party. Sadly, Progressive has been dropped and the new party is far more draconian, ideological and downright mean.

Turner and other PCs were shocked at the direction the party took — the fact that there was no room for debate, or that expediency trumped accountability and ethics made it difficult for a real PC to last in the new party. Frankly, you will find that a lot of Progressive Conservatives have had to find a new home in the Liberal Party.

Turner is loud, but he’s certainly accessible. Constituents know where to find him. He has had many town hall meetings where people could express their opinions in an open forum and expect them to be taken to Ottawa. He has been a presence in Ottawa and a valuable Member of Parliament. I believe that the House of Commons needs more people like Turner, willing to speak truth to power. We certainly don’t need more ciphers whose only role is to raise a hand when Harper wants them to vote.

It saddens me that you would support someone like Raitt, who really brings little to the table. As far as her being the CEO of the Toronto Port Authority, did you do any research on how effective that organization is, and what the people of Toronto think of it? I don’t expect you did.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Kevin Page: Man of Steel

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page released his accounting of the true costs of the Afghanistan War today, which to nobody's surprise turned out to be somewhat higher than Stephen Harper's guestimate.

I love this guy. I really do. He's a devoted civil servant who clearly loves his work, despite the fact that his work is, well, accounting. Honestly, I've never seen anyone so excited about Australia's accrual method of estimating transitional costs before. He looks like a typical accountant, but watching him today, I think I got a glimpse of what sort of moxy one needs to survive as a bureaucrat in Stephen Harper's Ottawa these days.

Page was appointed to his newly created position back in March amid some controversy, partly because the Prime Minister had once again appointed a senior bureaucrat without having put him through the Public Appointments Commission that he had promised but never quite got around to creating. But from the get go it was understood that the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer was there just to make a show of adhering to the Federal Accountability Act. With a meagre budget of $2.5 million, a staff of two (now eight, including 2 interns), and a rented office in some insurance building off the Hill, it was pretty clear that nobody was taking the position seriously.

Except, apparently, Mr. Page.

For me, one of the more telling moments in Page's presentation came about 17 minutes into the Q&A portion. He had mentioned, and several reporters had asked about, the difficulties he had in getting information from various government departments. Finally, one reporter pressed him on it, leading to this humorous exchange:

Margot McDiarmid, CBC Television: You've been very diplomatic when we're asking about your frustration...

Page: I'm hoping for a future job.

McDiarmid: (laughs) But you know, in the briefing before this press conference, some of your officials reflected this frustration...

Page: I'll work on 'em. Do you have names?

(laughs) I'm not giving them.

Page: I think I know who it is, actually.

He went on to talk about how important it is, six months into the job, for him to be diplomatic and to build relationships with DND and the other departments. Leading to this not so humorous exchange:

McDiarmid: Just a follow up, are you afraid of some sort of reprisal from them?

Page: No, no. Do I look afraid? I'm not afraid, I promise you I'm not afraid.

From the resolute look on his face, I believed him. I also believed that this wasn't the first time such a notion had crossed his mind.

Still, if observing the neo-conservative revolution in the U.S. for the past few decades has taught us anything, it's that competent, productive, enthusiastic civil servants like Mr. Page are a liability when the object is to prove that government is by nature incompetent and inefficient, thus justifying the transfer of its duties to private enterprise.

I give him a year. Tops.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vote Culture, eh?

Despite the intermittent rain and being sick as a dog, I had a helluva time at the Vote for Culture Rally today in Toronto. The star-spotting alone was worth the trip, but it was really about supporting Canadian arts and culture, and telling Stephen Harper exactly what 'ordinary Canadians' think of both his policies and his attitude.

Here are some star shots, and video of three kick-ass speeches by former Kid in the Hall Mark McKinney, Corner Gas star Eric Peterson, and our very own Denis "Hey Writer Boy" McGrath.

Deepa Mehta

Adam Vaughan

Mark McKinney

Eric Peterson

Denis McGrath

Just in case we started rioting

Here's part one of the video, featuring huge crowds, Canadian stars, some guy in a sweater vest, and Mark McKinney's speech.

And here's part two, with speeches by Eric Peterson and Denis McGrath.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rally in Support of Culture: Toronto, Wednesday

If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people who work in the arts & culture industry, or if you just want to show Harper and the other party leaders and candidates just how much real, ordinary Canadians care about culture, please come down to the CBC building at Front & John at 11:30 tomorrow and show your support.

See you there! Rain or shine!

Harper's Job Creation Strategy: Call an Election

The Conservatives are all about putting a happy face on the rotting corpse of the economy this week, and new jobs numbers for September seem to bolster their stubborn insistence that everything's going so well.

The average estimate by economists is for the addition of about 12,500 new jobs in the Canadian economy in September, that's down slightly from the 15,200 jobs created in August. For the first eight months of the year the Canadian economy has created 87,000 jobs compared with 221,000 in the first eight months of 2007.

That's great, right? Except... wait... does that number include the nearly 200,000 temporary workers typically hired by Elections Canada during an election? John Ivison seems to think so, and... oh, look.

Yes. Yes it does.

[TD economics strategist Millan] Mulraine forecast the Canadian economy will grow by about 15,000 jobs in September, mostly due to hiring related to the Oct. 14 federal election.

"That's the only reason why we see a big bump for September
," he said.

I see. Never mind.

Here's Garth and Lisa on jobs and the economy.

Halton Candidates Debate, Round 3

Practise makes perfect.

The three rookie candidates showed significant improvement in their debating skills for the third Halton candidates debate last night. Collard is getting a little better about getting her nose out of the page, Wagner managed to keep his tongue largely untangled and even worked up some genuine emotion (although he still talks too fast), and Raitt only mentioned her kids maybe half a dozen times.

I didn't get the tape rolling until a fair ways in (I was trying to be subtle), so I missed recording the opening statements which were... interesting. Garth started right off the bat saying that he would use his closing statements to say why we should vote for him, but would use his opening statement to explain why we shouldn't vote for Lisa Raitt. And then he went on the attack, hauling out everything from her parachute ride into Halton to her tainted record with the Toronto Port Authority.

It was a bold move for what should have been a quiet little local debate, and I'm not sure it was the wisest approach as it set a rather hostile tone that the audience didn't seem to appreciate. On the other hand, it got all that on the record and out of the way right from the beginning, it put her on the defensive, and left her looking like the hostile one whenever she tried to get her own back later in the debate. And it seemed to be forgotten as the debate wore on.

Still, I found it a bit much for the circumstances. But what do I know.

Here are the four candidates explaining their personal positions on Afghanistan. I started with this one because a) it shows Raitt falling back on the old "it's all about those poor oppressed women" excuse, which ranks up there with "bringing democracy to Iraq" and the Domino Theory as one of the most cynical and disingenuous post-invasion justifications for war this century, and b) Rob Wagner calls her on it and thereby gives his best answer of the evening - and I promised to say something nice about him.

There you go, Rob.

More video to come...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Trying to do a economic forecast in this kind of turmoil is a bit like trying to put a value on your house while the kitchen is on fire"

- Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter

The Angry, Angry Right

One of the most fascinating things about working on Garth Turner's campaign is that many of the people involved - including Garth himself - worked on the Conservative campaign last time. Some had been Progressive Conservatives for years. A few had witnessed and even participated in the amalgamation of the PCs and the Alliance.

It makes for some harrowing war stories. Maybe some day I'll be able to share some of them with you, or convince them to do so once all this is over.

For now, I wanted to share what one person told me about the difference in mood between the two campaigns. The Conservatives, she said, were always angry. Angry at their opponents, but also angry at each other. Like a couple getting back together for the sake of the kids (or in this case, the seats), they put on a brave face and suppressed their true feelings, but the resentment simmered stewed and occasionally erupted.

It was a mood that pervaded everything, and it emanated from on high.

Liberals, she said with some surprise, aren't angry. They're determined. They're occasionally rude, and sometimes over-zealous. But angry? No. And nobody in this campaign ever called her from party HQ to bully or upbraid her or try to make her do something she didn't feel right about.

She sounded to me like someone who had left an abusive relationship and finally found a place and a family that made her feel safe.

I thought about that conversation yesterday while reading about the latest incidents of vandalism against Liberal supporters in Toronto, nearly identical to earlier incidents in Guelph during their truncated by-election. Because while I am quite sure that such actions were neither sanctioned nor condoned by the Conservative Party or their candidates, or by anyone associated with their campaigns, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to believe that whoever did this was, at least in their own minds, acting on their behalf.

People talk about the climate of fear that exists within the Conservative Party these days, but not much is said about the climate of anger. The fear infects those within the party and the government, but the anger has a wider reach and is far, far more dangerous. It oozes from the memos of political operatives and spews forth from the blogs and the comments on every news website in the country. Spot an angry voter and you've found a Harper Conservative.

And the best part is, nobody within the party need be held responsible for what these angry, angry people might do.

Some would argue that Liberals are angry too, and it's true that we can get pretty worked up, even angry, on the subject of Stephen Harper and what he's doing and wants to do to this country. So I might have been willing to believe that my perception of the more extreme, pervasive anger of Harper's loyal followers was just my own biased view.

But then I spoke to some of those former Conservatives and realized that no, it's not just me. And I have never, ever heard of anyone with a Conservative sign on their lawn having their brake lines cut.


ADDENDUM: Lo and behold, campaign manager Esther Shaye posted the following comment over on Garth's blog last night:

I liken election campaigns to white water rafting. Things appear calm, then bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Then calm again. Basically, you need to be ready for anything. The other day I met a man at an event. His name is Sammy. I liked him instantly. He’s a quiet man, Sammy is. Humble in fact. But with the heart of a lion He works in a convenience store in Hamilton. He told me he was over at the La Rose parking down on Bronte Street in Milton. He saw a van all taped up with Lisa’s signs. So he came to see me and said “They next time I pull into that parking lot, the people will know …… Garth Turner will be on the side of my van.” Sammy and I laughed. “You are a brave man!” I joked. The smile on Sammy’s face turned serious. I come from Pakistan he told me, via Vancouver. I know about life. I know about fear. I know about freedom. So Sammy and I went back into the campaign office and found us a roll of packing tape. We turned his unassuming vehicle into a Garth mobile. Arterials on the sides, lawn sign on the back, literature in the window. “I work in Hamilton” Sammy said. And as his chest puffed out in pride, he told me “Everyone will know from Halton to Hamilton, who I’m voting for!

That was yesterday.

Today I learned from a third party that Sammy’s van has been vandalized. Spray painted over the Garth Turner arterials with obscenities. This third party has also informed me that Sammy will not be moved. His van continues to wear those arterials, obscenities and all, a symbol of Sammy’s defiance.

Sammy will not be moved.

My heart is full.

By Esther Shaye on 10.05.08 11:47 pm

I met Sammy when he came in that day. Lovely man. He said he was "welcomed into Canada" when Trudeau was Prime Minister. I wonder how welcome he feels now.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Quote of the Day

Say what you like about Canadian Cynic, whenever PSA blesses us with a post, all ye take heed.

And the Liberals, they stood by like a pack of wet dogs, shivering and licking their own hinds, trembling from the cold, confusion and fear. Pity poor Stephane Dion, a decent enough guy stuffed into the wrong place at the wrong time and doomed to wear the blame for the wave of failure that is rising before him. He is a smart, decent fellow. In this climate, where we are infected by the same contagious stupidity that is endemic in America, the worst thing for a party leader is to be smart and decent. That equals weakness in the new political math. A brave and powerful political ape will scream and hurl great armloads of feces and recline on a bed of enemy skulls to drink toasts to himself. Dion is a lost man waiting to discover his fate. While Stephen Harper is a scalding douche telling the biggest lie, most often until it begins to find belief in the TV thickened skulls of the electorate. Welcome children of Karl Rove, we are your dupes, victims and patsies.

Another voice, crying out in the wilderness.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Watch closely - this is us in another four to eight years.

There is a devastating and bloody evisceration of Sarah Palin in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone. It was written soon after her debut at the Republican National Convention and so fails to account for the bloom coming off that particular rose in recent days. But the language is delicious and the criticism of both her and the America that loves her - merciless.

I'll skip to the end:

...Sure, Barack Obama might be every bit as much a slick piece of imageering as Sarah Palin. The difference is in what the image represents. The Obama image represents tolerance, intelligence, education, patience with the notion of compromise and negotiation, and a willingness to stare ugly facts right in the face, all qualities we're actually going to need in government if we're going to get out of this huge mess we're in.

Here's what Sarah Palin represents: being a fat fucking pig who pins "Country First" buttons on his man titties and chants "U-S-A! U-S-A!" at the top of his lungs while his kids live off credit cards and Saudis buy up all the mortgages in Kansas.

The truly disgusting thing about Sarah Palin isn't that she's totally unqualified, or a religious zealot, or married to a secessionist, or unable to educate her own daughter about sex, or a fake conservative who raised taxes and horked up earmark millions every chance she got. No, the most disgusting thing about her is what she says about us: that you can ram us in the ass for eight solid years, and we'll not only thank you for your trouble, we'll sign you up for eight more years, if only you promise to stroke us in the right spot for a few hours around election time.

Democracy doesn't require a whole lot of work of its citizens, but it requires some: It requires taking a good look outside once in a while, and considering the bad news and what it might mean, and making the occasional tough choice, and soberly taking stock of what your real interests are.

This is a very different thing from shopping, which involves passively letting sitcoms melt your brain all day long and then jumping straight into the TV screen to buy a Southern Style Chicken Sandwich because the slob singing "I'm Lovin' It!" during the commercial break looks just like you. The joy of being a consumer is that it doesn't require thought, responsibility, self-awareness or shame: All you have to do is obey the first urge that gurgles up from your stomach. And then obey the next. And the next. And the next.

And when it comes time to vote, all you have to do is put your Country First — just like that lady on TV who reminds you of your cousin. U-S-A, baby. U-S-A! U-S-A!

I bring this to your attention, not to further mock Sarah Palin (and no, I haven't seen tonight's Vice-Presidential debate yet, although I did tape it), but to encourage you to see the pathetic mockery of the democratic process currently unfolding in the U.S. as the logical extrapolation of our own.

Read that excerpt again, and imagine for a moment that he is talking, not about the obviously superficial, celebrity-driven U.S. election, but about our own. Think about the fact that incidentals like policy and integrity have at long last become totally irrelevant in our current discourse, supplanted by telegenics and charisma and dog whistles, and whichever politician is best at convincing you that they're "just like you".

I'm sorry, but I don't want a Prime Minister who is "just like me". If I did, I'd run myself. I want someone who has a a broader perspective, with a better understanding of how government and economics work, and who is smarter than me (and I've got a pretty kick-ass IQ).

I don't give a rat's ass if you have a hunting license or a brood of kids or if you play piano or wear sweater vests. I want to know that you have great ideas, and a vision for this country that approximates mine, and a solid, practical plan for how to get us there.

I've said it before - if Stephane Dion, for all his intellect and ideals and bold, forward-looking vision turns out to be unelectable in this country simply because he has a heavy accent, it will say more about us than it does about him. Gods help us all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Did I hear that right?!?

Harper on the Volvo plant closure and the loss of 500 jobs:

"I understand some people lost some jobs. It's a terrible thing. I understand - I've been between jobs before."

Between jobs?! Holy crap what an asshole!

How's This For a Campaign Slogan?

"The only thing Garth Turner likes more than the sound of his own voice... is the sound of yours."

Consider it yours, Garth. Good job tonight.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Live Blogging the Halton Candidates Debate

Tune in to Cogeco 14!

8:40 - Ok, I just finished eating dinner. First impressions: Rob Wagner isn't very good at this. And who let the Christian Heritage Party guy in?! I don't think Raitt has answered a single question so far without first mentioning a) that she's been going around talking to people, or b) that she has young children. And Garth needs to stop saying, "Having said that" so much.

8:45 - Garth got to go up after Lisa on poverty, and used the opportunity to address the lie she's been pushing that the Liberals will take away the $100 a month childcare benefit. Score!

8:50 - Mister Christian Heritage has kids too, and apparently he's shocked that so many kids walk to school by themselves. Garth brought up family income splitting (one of his pet projects), and then Amy Collard pointed out that the Greens are the only ones with income splitting actually in their platform. Score one for Amy!

8:55 - Did I mention that Mister Christian Heritage speaks in a nasal, oddly accented monotone while staring straight into the camera? Garth just held up Lisa's expensive glossy colour mailer that claims the Liberals plan to eliminate the childcare benefit, and called on her to explain why she's lying. I wait with bated breath...

... and she leads with "Mr. Turner, you don't get it". I see. Wow, she's really on her high horse now. She's all indignant, bringing up the 2006 Dion interview to prove that a statement from two years ago from someone who wasn't even the party leader then somehow proves that the Liberals are going to do what they have said they will not.

Who knew local debates could be so exciting?

9:00 - When Lisa was 10 her father had a stroke, so she understands all about seniors care. Groan. And she's brought up income splitting for seniors, which as I recall was something Garth had personally championed and got passed while he was a Conservative. Too bad he didn't get a chance to mention that (oop! he just did).

9:15 - The Christian Heritage Party doesn't believe in global warming, apparently. Lisa brings up the usual screed - 13 years of Liberal inaction, crazy schemes, tax on everything, blah blah blah. Happily, Garth got to rebut.

9:25 - Final statements. Amy says other parties copy ideas from the Green Party because they're good ideas.
Garth pushes the direct democracy angle - Garth the maverick, the servant of the electorate, the voice of the people, standing up for the little guy - say AMEN, brother!
Christian Heritage - my gods, he's a bus driver. Ew!
Lisa Raitt doesn't believe in picking fights, apparently. She will be our representative. She has the full support of the riding association - they're watching right now! She finds it rich to be lectured by a man who went to Ottawa as a Conservative and came back a Liberal. Oh, and the Conservatives will control spending. Someday.
Rob Wagner says "Don't let them tell you it can't be done!"

And we're done!

(I'm sorry - was there some other debate you wanted me to live blog?)

Runesmith on Ormiston - and Why I Wish I Wasn't

When I attended the Progressive Bloggers BBQ a few weeks ago, a camera crew from CBC was there to film material for an edition of Ormiston Online. Being a Leo, I immediately volunteered to get interviewed despite the fact that I have a face for radio at the best of times, and that day I hadn't even bothered to put on make-up.

The episode aired tonight on The National. You can watch it here (if you must) about 35 minutes in (UPDATE: The segment is now also available on its own). As it turns out, of the 2 or 3 minutes I spent speaking to the second-unit camera crew, the single sound bite they extracted consisted of me blathering about being one of those bloggers who obsessively checks my stats every morning to see how many people have read my blog.


I am quite sure I said things that were far more eloquent and insightful than that, but apparently that's not what they were going for. In fact, from what I can tell, Susan Ormiston and Steve "the Jankulator" Janke have some sort of thing going.

Janke. The guy whose idea of 'investigative journalism' is stalking political candidates, following them from their home to the mall and taking pictures of their car. Good call there, Susan.

Sure, she made some effort to profile bloggers with other political affiliations, but apparently the best she could come up with was Cherniak and some Blogging Dipper named Devin. But Janke... well, she was all over him and his nice house and his 4.7 children like white on rice.

Next time someone from Ormiston wants to talk to me, they can just piss off.

UPDATE: Ok, I take that back. She linked to me. She misspelled my blog title, but that's ok. I forgive her (mmm... traffic....).