Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Next time, I'll host an easier contest

Kevin Brennan has asked me about the gaffe scoring for the row between Dennis Mills and Olivia Chow, not even candidates in the same riding.

Was there a gaffe here? I don't think so, but it's definitely odd. I think I'm just going to stand a safe distance back, shake my head at the absurdity of it all, and move on from this moment.

It's all kinda proportional-representationy, since they aren't running against one another. Chow is the NDP candidate in TO-Spadina - what's she doing picking a fight with Mills, the Liberal candidate in TO-Danforth? (Or vice versa - I wasn't around to see Who Started It, which I understand is important if both Mills and Chow are in elementary school.)

No gaffe points for this, although a firm talking-to and possibly no television for a week are in order for them both.
Decision time

Well, I made two decisions over the weekend. First of all, gaffe points - Layton's Clarity Act declaration earns him three (SIG=1, PROM=3), in my opinion. Fact is, no matter how serious I think it is, it hasn't captured the attention of voters the way the homelessness declaration did, so I can't score it more seriously. Maybe it was the timing (Friday night is not a bad time to say something that might be unpopular, if you want it ignored by a wider audience), maybe it was the topic (who's thinking about Quebec separatism these days? Even the Quebec government is federalist. What's the big deal?), but there doesn't seem to be much reaction in the English press one way or the other.

But I still feel like this is going to come back to haunt him, and it is being trotted out on occasion already, generally not as a story of its own, but in context like this:

Layton started the week accusing Paul Martin of killing people and ended it by suggesting he'd be willing to let people kill Canada. What a nutbar.

On that basis alone, I'd say Dennis [Mills] is going to kick Jack's ass. [No permalink to the post - seek out May 31]
I think there was a point when Kinsella was even thinking about supporting the NDP this election. I think it's fair to say that opportunity has passed.

And hey, for me too. That was the harder decision this weekend - I walked away from the campaign I was working on. I didn't want to do it, because I still think John Chan is an excellent candidate, and I'm still wishing the campaign all the best. But I can't in good conscience keep working for a party so cavalier about Canada's future.

So, I guess I've just joined the most important portion of the electorate - the undecided. I will prepare myself to be wooed.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

The worst part is, it probably wasn't a gaffe.

A Jack Layton government would repeal the Clarity Act. Great.

I don't know if this was before or after Stephane Dion accused the NDP of playing footsie with seperatists, but I suspect it was after, or Dion would have had much more to say on the subject. Either way, I don't think Layton could have illustrated Dion's point more eloquently. I can't abide that.

I'm not sure I can keep working for the NDP's election this campaign. I'm not sure I can cast a ballot for them. I'll admit, I'm not focused on trying to determine if this was a gaffe or not, and for how many points. I'll let my readers duke that out in the comments while I talk to some people in the party and try to determine what I'm doing now.

Friday, May 28, 2004


Scott Reid has resigned as Conservative critic for official languages.

Does this reduce the Conservative score? No. The gaffe was still made, and the seriousness of it that I reflected in the score has in turn been taken seriously by Harper. They moved quickly to contain the damage, which might end up having the opposite effect that I suggested last night - that the Conservatives will be seen as very different from their Reform predecessors.

Then again, they could always move Larry Spencer in as the replacement.

I kid, but not without point. Harper might be a different man, and the party name may have changed, and there may be a whole bunch of moderates in the party that would never have run for the Alliance. But every social Conservative on that slate (and there are still plenty) is a time bomb for this party, even with quick resignations to follow. It won't take many of these sorts of errors for Paul Martin's message - the Conservatives are scary and right-wing and closet Americophiles - to stick.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Spinning the gaffe dials

We've got gaffes coming out of our whatzits (whatzi?). Let's review the scoring.

First up, Layton's homelessness comments. There's been some excellent and interesting comments posted here and elsewhere on the issue. Some wonder if it was a mistake at all, but I have to come down on the side of "gaffe". I've decided this because the NDP was obviously not looking for this to become the issue of the day. All their messaging over the day was on the "price tag". The NDP have told us their platform, now here's what it costs, and here's how they'll finance it. Easy! Good, simple, moderate message. Nail down the left-Liberals you've been courting for four days.

Layton took two days of NDP momentum and distracted from it... now the issue is not about policy, but about Jack himself. Stupid, stupid. He didn't make the issue of homelessness high-profile, like some are congratulating him for. The only issue he made high-profile is Jack Layton - is he responsible enough to lead? I'm certain that at some point along the line, the NDP was readying a day's worth of messaging on homelessness. Probably would have been good, too - pie charts and stuff. On a day like that, after the media's exclusive campaign bus PowerPoint presentation, Jack could have said much the same thing he said yesterday - "Paul Martin cut this program, so he has to take responsibility for these deaths" - and no one would have batted an eye. PROM=3, SIG=2. Total GP: six for my team. Hate to do it to you, jack, but you brought it on yourself.

(I'd like to point out that while I'm trying to entertain, others are taking on the issue of homelessness directly. For more on the issue, an excellent start would be Vicki Smith's thoughtful overview of the roots of the problem, via the election blog.)

Close on Jack's heels are the Conservative Party. Today, their language policy critic, Scott Reid, said that a Harper government would remove availability to bilingual services in some parts of the country. Harper tried to distance himself from the comment: "They're his views. But, as I said, they are not party policy." And yet, Scott Reid, author of Canada Remapped: How the Partition of Quebec Will Reshape the Nation is still language policy critic. Kinda like how the strange little homophobe Larry Spencer was Family Issues critic.

Scott is evidently done with talk of partition, at least during this particular gaffe moment, but his position as the critic responsible adds to the significance of this error. All of a sudden, when Harper should have had a lovely opportunity to smack Layton around for the homelessness stuff, he instead has to run damage control. Otherwise, the Conservative Party will be cast as the old Reform Party, regressive on Quebec and French, among other things. I'm starting to think Harper can win this election if he can avoid that sort of casting. But it won't take too many Spencers or Reids to make that task impossible. PROM=2, SIG=2, so four for Parti Bande d'Mobius.

I'll update the counter in the morning, or when I can finally figure out why my jpegs are saving so dark... whichever comes first. But to review: NDP 6, Conservative 4, Liberal 1, and the Bloc (unless something is popping up in the French press that I haven't seen) remains lemony-fresh after four full days of campaigning.
Gaffe time

I'm aware of Layton's comments regarding homeless deaths in Toronto.

"Deaths due to homelessness in this city took a rapid rise immediately after Paul Martin cancelled the affordable housing program, and their names stand in testimony to the neglect that has been rained on our city," Layton said.
I'm concerned that the NDP's big advantage over the last few days - mostly above the sniping fray - has been given away. But for all of that, I don't think this is a gaffe... as yet. If the spin goes seriously south for the party, I'm willing to revise it; I think this one has the potential to be costly, if the media is looking for an excuse to pull Layton down. I think the statement, if we were to parse it carefully, is not quite so cut-and-dried as "Layton blames homeless deaths on Martin" as the headline claims, but if the NDP starts parsing it, they're acknowledging a gaffe. That will be the day I'll have to start putting up points.

As for the issue itself, I'm not sure what the "affordable housing program" did, so I don't think I'm well-suited to judge the cause-and-effect. Layton was on Toronto City Council, so he's likely able to better judge. And I don't think he'd wade quite this far out into the deep water if he wasn't pretty sure he could draw the logical line from one to the other. This is no crazy budget math we're talking about here... this is the issue, ahead of all others, where Layton lives. I'd be surprised if Layton or the NDP budge an inch from this - but I'll be watching.

Update: I'm already reconsidering. The quote in the Star is much more inflamitory: "I believe that when Paul cancelled affordable housing across this country it produced a dramatic rise in homelessness and death due to homelessness. I've always said I hold him responsible for that." Thanks to Kevin Brennan for the tip. I'm going to let this issue stew in the media for the rest of the day, but I'm now almost certain he's not going to get away with no points.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Mumbly Joe strikes again

(Cross-posted to the Blogscanada election blog)

Ever watched Paul Martin speak for any length of time? On prepared notes, he's rock-solid, if not the most engaging. But when he speaks extemporaneously, he talks too fast, and has what I can only describe as a "tic" - he's saying one thing, thinking another, and he's constantly correcting his word choices. The first time I noticed it was two days after Martin became Prime Minister, when Saddam Hussien was captured. He stuttered and mumbled his way through a hastily-convenied press conference - he referred more than once to the "Iraqians". Because that's what he does.

Jean Chretien had unbelievably mangled syntax. He wouldn't have lasted a week up against a mad dog press corps. But by and large, the Hill reporters just accepted it, and would often conspire to untangle his comments into the same cohesive sentences, so that it didn't appear that every reporter was attending a different press conference.

I'm reminded of this because Don at All Things Canadian points out another Rueters report of Martin doing his "Mumbly Joe" act. No one else, it seems, is reporting this misspeak. I think it's because the other political reporters have accepted this, and don't think Martin should be constantly punished for it.

Perhaps the Canadian voters should be getting the full picture of the PM, but I'm with the implied view of the larger group of reporters. This sort of reporting is a distraction, not a story. The Rueters reporter is attempting to build a narrative that says the Prime Minister is a muddy-minded stumbler. It's not yet sticking. Back to the contest of ideas, please.

In the meantime, no Gaffe points for Mumbly Joeisms reported by this particular Rueters reporter, until and unless this becomes a more widely-accepted narrative.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Gaffe scoring opens

Via the sharp-eyed Andrew, Paul Wells has noted from the campaign trail:

(a) the Martin Team's Quebec slogan, "droit devant," or "straight ahead," is identical to a Canada Steamship Lines slogan.

(b) Steve MacKinnon, a senior Team Martin strategist, took it upon himself to telephone a memeber of Le Devoir's senior management and ask that this story not run. "It risks harming our campaign," he said.

Le Devoir, no fools, promptly put MacKinnon's call and his quote right into the story he was trying to kill.
Of course, this isn't a huge error - it's the sort of thing that would only be noticed by CPAC-watching wonks such as ourselves. SIG=1. The decision to use the phrase was probably reasonably senior among the Quebec communications staff, but that's still not a big-time player. PROM=1. Total, One gaffe point to "Team Martin".

Andrew suggests MacKinnon's kill request is a seperate, additional-scoring gaffe. I strongly suspect that the MacKinnon part of the story here is overstated - no "Senior Team Martin Strategist" is going to think any newspaper is going to show his guy a break. I'm going to reserve judgement on this part, and keep an eye on this MacKinnon fellow.

The scoresheet above will be updated at the end of each day, so look for the change then.

Monday, May 24, 2004

The big winner of the first full day

I'm likely opening myself up to criticism that I'm being a partisan here, but for the first time since he was elected leader, I liked Jack Layton today. I can't remember the last time I heard a New Democrat campaign include balanced budgets as a central plank. Don't get me wrong - Tommy Douglas was a firm believer in balancing the books, and NDP provincial governments have proven no worse (though sometimes not better) at staunching the flow of red ink than Tories, Liberals, SoCreds, PQ, ... am I missing any? ... who have formed governments before them and since. But they generally haven't sold the point over the last few elections, and I think that's why there's distance between the NDP and the large part of the electorate now. It's nice to see the party catch up to the voters on this.

It was platform-unveiling day for the NDP, and besides balanced budgets, they've outlined a platform full of interesting ideas. I'm not sure I love all the ideas, and I'll want to spend a little more time hearing the party flesh out "green economy" and "creative tax relief" before I can become unequivocal.

But I can be certain of one thing - these are ideas. They aren't appeals to fear or greed or hatred, they aren't the demonization of one opposing leader or another. These ideas can travel around the country, be introduced by Layton, and leave Canadians to judge yea or nay on the merits.

Give me a month of that. Give me all the leaders doing that, and what you'd have there is some old-timey 18th century democracy. Except without the fear-mongering. I'd be down with that.

Do I seem to be belabouring this point? I figure it's important.
The debates begin!

I'm not talking about the debates between Harper, Martin, Layton, and Duceppe - no, I'm talking about the disputes over what is and is not a gaffe.

Don at All Things Canadian... has noted Martin's election announcement was somewhat sub-flawless:

when Martin stood up to the microphone, his mind was clearly elsewhere.

"A general election will be held on Monday the 21st, the 28th of Jan-, the 28th of June," he told reporters in French, quickly correcting himself with a laugh.
Here's what I wrote back to Don:

I can't fit enough digits across my page, if I have to award points to the Liberals every time Mumbly Joe opens his yap.
Comments? Should I be giving away points for every sign of an unclear mind? Or shall I save them up for vote-impacting errors?

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Fabulous Prizes!

In less than an hour, the gaffe entry deadline will pass, and those of you who have no entry in will be left watching from the sidelines. Which might be entertaining too.

Tomorrow, I'll post the entries (don't worry, no names unless you're already a famous blogger, or would like to be) and the prize. I think. If I can dig something up. I mean, I have to go up against the trilogy of books in James Bow's contest, so I have to offer up something, right?

Speaking of which, if you've missed my deadline, go enter James' more traditional "guess the seats" contest. Because, again, trilogy of books! Plus, it requires actual knowledge, unlike the Gaffe-o-meter crapshoot. And in that one, there's no French judge to give Layton's budget gaffe a pass.

Elections are great, once you get past all that boring "issues" and "voting" and "responsible citizenship" malarky.

Update: and that's it - entries are closed. Stop your guessing, and start cheering for your favourite screw-ups!
Get going already!

C'mon, Paul. How long does it take to get to Rideau Hall? Mapquest (who I hope is planning to forgive my copyright infringement in exchange for the link) suggests the following route:

It's a little overcast, and you'll have a breeze to your back. You might want to put on a jacket.

Let's go, mister!

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Did someone order an election devoid of ideas?

I listened to three highly-placed campaign workers discuss the upcoming election on The House this morning, and what a waste of time. I get the feeling the entire election will be sounding about the same:

Liberal: The Alliance Conservatives are scary. Stephen Harper has said some crazy things!

Conservative: Martin and other Liberals have said all of the same things. So vote for us, because we're not negative, like the Liberals, who are very negative. We don't compare ourselves to other parties, the way the Liberals do.

NDP: Those two are the same. We're different, because we have ideas. We're not going to tell you what those ideas are, though - rather, we're pretty much going to talk about the similarities between Martin and Harper.
I propose a debate format for the rest of the Saturdays throughout the campaign period, Anthony. Mentioning another party or leader gets your mic turned off. Three little kill switches - red, orange, and blue. Once they all get shut down, you call the Bloc campaign guy, and talk to him for the rest of the broadcast. Or have a back-up group of minor party candidates, who would be more than happy to talk about their own platforms instead of putting words in the mouths of the others.

Here's one prediction I've made before, but deserves a second iteration: all of this negative campaigning, alongside a late June election and no discussion of the positive platform differences among the parties, will serve to create the lowest turnout for a general election in Canada's history.

Friday, May 21, 2004

We do requests - the sequel

First up - Don at All Things Canadian asks:

Can you put up a couple of examples - say if these things were done during

the election campaign:

- Martin's Norway/Normandy switch

- Jack's math error on budget day

- how many points would Stock Day's Niagara direction gaffe have garnered
Let's have a go, shall I? Martin's (leader, therefore PROM=3) "Norway" thing, because it was repeated and more than a slip of the tongue, showed a pretty serious knowledge gap about Canada's and the world's history. Most Canadians knew he was incorrect without checking any maps or interwebs. On that basis, I'd have to measure the gaffe moderate (SIG=2). 3PROM * 2SIG = Six gaffe points (GP) for the Prime Minister.

Jack's "error" was a result of the sort of shaky math that I've seen both the left and the right rely on. You can see lots of the same sort of over-the-top assumptions to produce crazy numbers supporting claims unburdened by facts on the Fraser Institute's website, too. In that sense, I don't think this is a gaffe at all. I think the producer of the $222B debt repayment number knew exactly what the assumptions of the calculation were, and knew it was wrong but defensible. The NDP was speaking to its base with this number, something they've done a lot of lately. In short, I think the release was a bad calculation, bad economics, and bad politics - but I don't think it was a "gaffe", per se.

Stock Day (leader at the time, and therefore PROM=3) didn't know offhand which way the Niagara river flowed. If he were a Jeopardy contestant at the time, that might have mattered. However, the press used it as a stick to beat him up with, because the story they were running that entire campaign was "Stock Day is a mental lightweight." I don't think it was an entirely fair story - I hated his politics, but he wasn't stupid, and still isn't. This one is the toughest example you've asked me about, Don, but I'm going to have to go with SIG=1, no matter what storytelling the media was trying to do. But perhaps if we were back in that moment, it would look as huge as the media wanted it to look, and I'd be scoring it two. There's going to be some judgement calls here, and since no one has volunteered to be verifier, I guess you're all just going to have to take my word for it - or argue the heck out of each event in the comments. At any rate, Day's trip down the falls: 3PROM * 1SIG = three GP for the Canadian Alliance. Oh, how I miss them.

I want to give one spare example, because it's the Gaffe triple play: Jaques Parizeau blames money and the ethnic vote for losing the referendum in 1995. Leader (PROM=3), Stupid beyond belief and pretty racist, too (am I the only one who reads that sentence with the word "money" standing in for what I think he really meant: "Jews"?) (SIG=3), and throw in the Parizeau multiplier (within the twenty-four hours after the last vote was cast, so PRZ=2). 3PROM * 3SIG * 2PRZ = eighteen gaffe points for the little british-sounding fellow.

I could go on. In all of our examples, we're dealing with leader gaffes, because those are the most memorable. Campbell's "the election is no time to discuss issues" (or words to that effect) was probably a nine - 3*3. In the same way that Layton's numbers were factually questionable but not a "gaffe", Pettigrew's comments about private health providers being part of the system were factually correct but a SIG of two (perhaps three, but that doesn't really save any room for the huge ones, does it?). Give Pettigrew a PROM of 2, and the score added to the Liberal Party is four. I hope this clears it up for you, Don.

Request number two - my chess friend Walter is, I think, asking for a plug for chesstalk. Now if only I could find that URL again.....

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I wonder when the parties will go negative during the campaign?

Hey, how about "before the writ is dropped"?

The Middleman (first, but many since) pointed me to this pair of sites. The first is the collection of negative ads produced by the Liberals that I discussed back here. The second is the Conservative responses, pretty much as predicted ("You know, the Martinites aren't so hot on these issues, either").

A late June election will keep some people away from the polls. The cynicism that stems from the parties going negative also keeps people away from the polls. I don't know who will win this election, but I'm more confident every day that no party will capture as many votes as the number of ballots that will simply not be cast.

On the bright side (from an NDP perspective), having the Liberals and Conservatives noting that the other party is not in line with the thinking of many Canadians on issues like health care and Iraq might convince some voters to look elsewhere. Of course, in James Bow's case, that means talking Green Party, but I'm sure the NDP will pick up a few votes as well, here and there.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Friday Funnies

Calgary MLA Jon Lord wrote a snarky e-mail about a constituent to a member of his staff, but sent the e-mail to the constituent instead. (Link to the story will come as soon as I can find one.)

On the bright side, Lord wrote the e-mail himself.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Who needs "Friends" with headlines like these?

Sitcoms are irrelevant - just turn on the evening news for your laughs.

A little background for the out-of-province - earlier this week, a Liberal discussion of public auto insurance brought the Premier to wax rhapsodic on his concern that too much democratic socialism caused revolution in Chile, and brought Pinochet to power:

"Pinochet came in, Mr. Speaker, and I'm not saying that Pinochet was any better, but because of the only elected communist in Chile, Allende, and the socialist reforms he put in, Pinochet was forced, I would say, to mount a coup."
Wow! Public auto insurance causes fascism, so look out, Winnipeg! I wonder if there's some sort of academic paper that could extend this argument?

It turns out that there is, and it was written by none other than our Premier!

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has been accused of plagiarism while writing a paper for his university degree in communications, the Edmonton Journal reported.

About five pages of the 13-page paper on Chilean politics and media were lifted directly from various Internet sites without benefit of quotation marks or appropriate attribution, the Journal reported.


Klein, 62, released his essay to the public last week to rebut criticism that he made sympathetic comments about former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in the legislature.
Whoops! That sorta backfired. But it sure took the heat off the Pinochet thing, eh?

Update, the wee hours of Sunday morning: since the searchers through Google have been finding me through so many variants of "Ralph Klein" "essay" and "plagerize", I thought you should make up your own minds if it was truly plagerism, or simply shoddy attribution. I think it's the latter, which should still give some pause, but that's certainly a lesser sin. Nonetheless, the CBC has helpfully posted the entire thing in PDF format here.
I've heard this one before, but I'm a big enough sucker to report it

Ken Dryden will be running as a Toronto candidate for the Liberals. He's had this opportunity before, so I'm not sure why he's waited until the Liberal ship is sinking to hop on board. Perhaps he really believes in Paul Martin.

Bwah hah hah!

No, but seriously.....
Rummy gets legal advice

Donald Rumsfeld would dearly love to show us the rest of the Iraq prisoner photos. But, you know, the lawyers told him he shouldn't. Those darned lawyers!

Did those lawyers have any sort of opinion about the detainees in Guantanamo? Or about the pictures of dead or captured Iraq soldiers at the beginning of the war? Or about the pictures of Saddam Hussien having his gums examined? Perhaps they have some opinion about torturing prisoners in the first place? Or, perhaps about the unilateral invasion of a sovereign nation? Did the lawyers have anything to say about any of that, Rummy, you unbelievable ass? I'm sure you realize your resignation would make common Iraqis hate America just a little less, as if you were showing some contrition about the torture, but that would involve sacrifice, wouldn't it? Sacrifice is something you make your soldiers do, not something you'd ever consider.

I don't write much about the Iraq occupation any more, because, honestly, who can keep up with the disingenuity and bullheadedness and pure blindness of the Shrub administration?

Monday, May 10, 2004

Feel safer?

Monsanto will not be marketing Roundup-Ready Wheat - for now.

Let's have a quick overview, for you city-dwellers out there.

Roundup is a herbicide - a non-selective one. Other herbicides tend to be selective about what they kill, only knocking out the broad-leafed plants in a grain field, for instance. But Roundup kills whatever it hits. You know that spray bottle you bought at the garden supply place - the one you use to spray your dandelions? That's Roundup.

Roundup-Ready grains are grains that don't die from Roundup - which means that a field of this grain can be sprayed generously, with the expectation that all the other plants will die. Monsanto likes selling genetically-modified grainseed, but they like selling Roundup at least as much. This is "synergy" in the GMO world.

Now, if you're the type to fear GMOs, don't feel too pleased about this... Roundup-Ready Canola has been growing in Canadian fields for years. And canola is the soy of Canadian processed foods - check almost any box or can in a Canadian grocery store, and if there's "vegatable oil", what you have there is Canola - probably Roundup-Ready canola, at least in part. (If you're reading in the USA, feeling all smug about your soy, don't. It's almost certainly GMO as well)

I'm not that type. I'll happily eat all the three-headed pigs you can serve me, so long as they're in bacon form. But what I'm not entirely comfortable with is fields and fields of Roundup, breeding resistance into the weed world. Like antibiotic overuse, too much Roundup over time undermines the effectiveness of the product. For that reason, I'm concerned, not with the GMOs themselves, but with what companies like Monsanto have decided GMOs are for - not feeding the world, just moving a slow product. Monsanto's retreat on R-R wheat in the face of consumer and government resistance was a step in the right direction, but only the first.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

We do requests

A regular reader has expressed concern that I haven't mentioned the unforseen successes of the local hockey organization. Fine. Here goes.

Congratulations to the Medicine Hat Tigers, who swept the Everett Silvertips in four straight games to win the WHL championship, and advance to the Memorial Cup!

I'm sorry? Miikka who? Does he curl?

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Two outta three ain't great

(cross-posted to the BlogsCanada election blog)

Kinsella notes that the Alliance Conservatives have already rebutted the three attack-ad accusations I mention here. Two of them are exactly as I predicted - mention Pettigrew in relation to health, and mention the caucus to establish the new party's multicultural bona fides.

But the Iraq reaction is weaker:

Stephen Harper believes Canada should have morally supported our allies and to our troops who the Liberals sent to the Iraq region. He wishes our allies success in helping to stabilize, democratize, and rebuild Iraq.

If Mr. Martin disagrees with the Conservative position, he should clearly state his position - because Canadians are caught between his doublespeak.
It's fair enough to suggest that Martin might have cozied up to the US had he been PM last year, and I think this hints in that direction without coming out and saying so. But Martin isn't the only one who is engaging in doublespeak, here... Harper was clear leading up to the war. Canada should participate. I disagreed, as strongly as possible, but it was the clear position of the Alliance under Harper. I think that position will hurt Harper in the election, but I think being caught equivocating will hurt a lot more.

"Mr. Speaker, the issue of war requires moral leadership. We believe the government should stand by our troops, our friends and our allies and do everything necessary to support them right through to victory." House of Commons, April 1, 2003. [Italics mine. There's so much more where this came from, right here.]
Harper has three reasonable choices right now. He can say "I was wrong, and I'm glad we didn't get involved in that quagmire. If I'm elected, I will not send young Canadians into it now." He can say "WMD or not, our allies brought a despotic ruler to his knees, and for that, they should be congratulated. But there's no point in getting Canadian troops involved now, and I will not do so if elected." He can even say "Forget, for a moment, our traditional allies. It's the Iraqi people who deserve whatever help we can bring them. Canada may not have had a part in deposing the dictator, but we should certainly have a part in helping the Iraqi people put their lives and their country back together. But given the situation right now, that requires troops as well as aid workers."

What he can't say is "Canada should have morally supported our allies...", because that's just begging for someone --- a Liberal someone --- to cry "bullshit." And then Canadians get to ask the begged question: if he's lying to us now about words in the public record, what else will he lie about if we let him move into 24 Sussex?
Jumping the gun

Okay, my mistake. I guess you have a few weeks left to get in on the Gaffe-o-meter, because all sources seem to be saying the call Sunday or Monday is out.

Fine. But I can't understand why the Liberals want to take more time - their eleven attack ads are all ready.

"If Stephen Harper becomes PM you'll have two health-care options," says the stark white text on the black screen.

"Be rich or don't get sick."


"In 2003, Stephen Harper urged Canada to join the U.S. invasion of Iraq," the on-screen text reads as the sound of machine-gun fire and fighter jets plays in the background.

"He said, 'There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein operates programs to produce weapons of mass destruction.'


"If Stephen Harper was prime minister last year, Canadians would be in Iraq this year," it reads.

"Choose wisely. Choose Paul Martin and the Liberals."


"Stephen Harper says, quote, west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from Eastern Canada, people who live in ghettos and who are not integrated into Western Canadian society.

"What's Harper saying? New Canadians shouldn't be allowed to vote."
I think the Liberals are going to have to be very careful about which of these they use. Casting Harper as a racist will not fly, when the Alliance Conservatives have the most ethnically diverse caucus in the house. Talking about two-teir health could bite them in the collective ass, considering Pierre Pettigrew's comments last week. But the Iraq ad? That baby's gold, everywhere in this country except among the hard core old-timey Reformers, who kind of secretly wish they were Americans themselves.

I can't wait to see the attack ads against the other parties. "Jack Layton wants you to ride a bicycle, and take a bus. If Jack Layton were Prime Minister today, your Lincoln Navagator would be scrap metal." "Gilles Duceppe wants to break up the country. I mean, completely!"

Can we get on with the election, already? What are we waiting for?

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Busy busy

You have likely noticed that I'm not posting with the impressive regularity you've grown accustomed to. I feel I should apologise.

The fact is, between the campaign and the "part-time business", my time has become more restricted than it ever was when I was working for a living. I've got the time to write, sure, but I don't feel as informed as I should be if I'm going to represent myself as a pundit, online or otherwise. It's difficult to fact-check Levant when I don't have any particular facts at hand, and don't have the time to find them. (Actually, it's not that hard. Everything he says is crazy.)

Did I mention that the Calgary Sun is now publishing Coulter? Between the two, we really get both ends of the political spectrum: the crazy right, and the crazy dangerous right. But the sports section kicks ass! I digress.

Still, once the writ drops May 9th, the gaffe-o-meter will appear at the top of this page, and I will make the time to keep the score current. Presuming that's the date of the call, I'll give you until --- well, because it's a Sunday, let's say noon MDT on May 10 to get your entries in.

So get your entries in, already.