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

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Wednesday, June 30, 2004


I initailly wrote this as an update to the second-last post, but I think it's worth a post of its own.

Libby, I'm sorry. I'm listening to soon-to-be-former Saskatchewan NDP member Dick Proctor suggest what Libby Davies did yesterday, that "strategic" voting by stupid people cost him his seat. In fact, he mentioned that he spent the last couple of days on the doors of Liberal marks, trying to convince them that since it was a two-way race between himself and the Conservative, they should decide between the two... essentially the argument I've made. In the meantime, his own supporters were thinking that a vote for the Liberals would help beat the Conservatives. Because they were. Dumb. Asses.

This will be my final word on strategic voting, certainly until the next election. I wrote my original treatise on it because I was afraid people might be confused by the concept, and do exactly what so many of them did - organize their vote around one of the two leading national parties, no matter what was going on in their riding. To call that a "strategic" vote is to unfairly denegrate the concept... there's nothing strategic about that at all.

The NDP bad-mouths strategic voting, and I guess they must know their voters, because whereas actual strategic voting would help them in lots of places - would have put Dick Proctor over the top, I'll bet - just voting Liberal or Conservative without any idea of the top two in the riding would certainly not. I'll add that I'm more than a little concerned that the party of my heart is supported by so many voters who don't get this simple concept.

Look. If you're confused by what I'm talking about, stop trying to vote strategically. You're just making things worse.

(I stand by my concerns about Layton and the Prairies, but that's a post for another day.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


(This entry posted by occasional RevMod guest-host, Bear)

It's never good form to attack the electorate over election results, but after watching Jack Layton's urban agenda go up in smoke, I can't help myself. Libby Davies isn't spinning or blowing smoke about Paul Martin's fear-mongering, in B.C. it was a fact: the NDP lost Vancouver Centre, Kingsway, New West -Coquitlam, North Delta, and Victoria (although the Greens had a hand in the latter) as a result of the vote-splitting, actually costing the Liberals a stable coalition as the Conservative came up the middle in suburban Lower Mainland ridings.

Ditto in Toronto, where Liberal scare tactics plus the deployment of their immigrant electoral shock troops worked to lock down the NDP surge to Jack Layton's seat in Danforth. If you live outside Toronto or Vancouver, anything you hear about urban voters being more intelligent or sophisticated is, well, pretty much what Jack Layton said about a coalition with the Conservatives. Outside of Vancouver East where Libby Davies bludgeoned grit malcontent Shirley Chan, "Urban Canada" is a swath of self-centered poseur progressive cowards who place identity politics over class consciousness or the good of their community.

The best illustration would be Vancouver Centre, where Kennedy Stewart held a sizeable lead in the polls over Liberal Hedy Fry. Conservative (and openly gay) candidate Gary Mitchell, regarding by the Gay & Lesbian community as a queer Uncle Tom, was by no means a factor. In fact, no one was talking about the Conservative candidate until Martin swept into the riding on the last weekend of the campaign and squealed that the Barbarians were at the gate. The upshot is Fry, probably the biggest fear-monger in the Liberal caucus, now gets a return trip to Ottawa instead of a one-way bus ticket to Prince George with a cross and a pack of matches...

Funny how all the "progressives except on election day" (with a shout out to Vancouver's biggest gutless wonder, Mayor Larry Campbell) think that proportional representation will deal with this kind of mess, but went out of their way to stab its biggest proponents in the back yesterday.

As Kent Brockman put it "I've said it before and I'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work."
Stop spinning, please

Libby Davies, Bear's current and new MP, was on the radio this morning. She was asked what happened to the NDP in Saskatchewan. She blah-blahed something about "Martin scare-tactics, strategic voting."

What? Saskatchewan went more Conservative than Alberta. If anything, it might be "punish Martin, strategic voting."

But if there's one day for a political party to take a sharp look in the mirror, the day after the election should be that day. The NDP spent this election talking about urban issues. The NDP didn't talk about BSE and didn't have very much to say about GMOs from the producer side. (Even though the lost NDP seats in Saskatchewan were urban, cities like Regina know which side their bread is buttered on.) Declarations about tearing up the Clarity Act hurt far more in Saskatchewan than in places like Toronto, where stuff like that might actually play.

Saskatchewan should be a coalmine canary for the New Democrats. Jack Layton proved over the course of this campaign that he understands a lot about big cities, and the party did reasonably well in Toronto and Vancouver. He needs to spend a lot of time and energy over the next couple of years figuring out something about all that empty-looking space in-between.
Waking up to a surprise

People who have gone to bed thinking a Liberal - NDP coalition was sustainable will be finding out otherwise when they wake up. In New-Westminister - Coquitlam, the Conservative candidate has pulled ahead of the New Democrat. Total seats for the two parties, 154 out of 308.

I think the life expectancy of the next parliament has just dropped by a year or two. There's going to be some serious horse trading going on over the next week or so.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Get out the long knives

Ian Welsh of Tilting at Windmills anticipates a purge of the so-cons from the Conservative Party. I think he's right, and I think good for them for doing it, presuming they do.

But it begs a question: once that's done, how will the CPC differ from the pre-Reform PC party? Can the new party hold together from the centre?

This is not the seat the NDP should have lost tonight. I'd happily trade this one for any other two, maybe except Broadbent.

Parliament will miss you, Lorne.

Liberals = 135.

NDP = 23.

Total, should they choose to total.... 158.

Number needed for a undefeatable coalition: 155.

Number of those seats still in the air: sixteen.

Don't go to bed quite yet. It ain't over.
I'm loving the individual results

My man, my favourite NDP leadership candidate: Lorne Nystrom, leading.

Tony Valeri, who vanquished Sheila Copps in a seriously nasty nomination fight: getting his ass kicked.

Anne McLellan: hanging on.

Belinda Stonach: going to be close, but if she has to go back and run daddy's business, I wouldn't shed any tears.
Minority? What minority?

This might not hold, but it looks like I'm winning some books from Jim Elve and James Bow... am I the only contestant who said "let it ride" to my Liberal majority prediction? This election is not going to be as close as the polls suggested.

The best news, if this holds up, is that election polls have just been declared irrelavant. Hooray!

Mansbridge just interviewed Brison and McKay, side-by-side. Basic theme, here's two guys from the PC caucus, they went different ways, they've both won. What fun.

They were wearing nearly identical clothing! Same blue shirt (McKays was more "checked", Brison's was more "striped"), same dark jacket. I giggled. I'm shallow.
What have we learned so far?

In the Atlantic, at least, the new Conservative Party couldn't even count on the votes of the old PC party. Because it's not the same party. Have I said that often enough yet? The new Conservative Party is lead by someone who has spoken about a "culture of defeat" in the Atlantic.

This isn't going to be typical of what happens in the rest of the country. But it should be taken as a warning to Stephen Harper, win or lose, that he needs to keep marking out the centre if he wants to gain anything in this part of the country.

On to the middle of the country.
Central Nova

Here's a riding to watch, and a riding that strategic voting would have been useful in. You might love the new Conservative Party, you might love the merger, but who wouldn't enjoy watching Peter McKay get spanked tonight? He signs an agreement to not merge, he merges, and then he stands up in the House of Commons and lectures the Liberals on ethics. It would be too darn bad if he wqas rewarded with an exciting new life in private industry.

Update: So much for that. It was fun while it lasted. Guess McKay gets rewarded for his ethically shaky behavior. Given Harper's election theme around ethics, he's thrilled, I'm sure, to see this millstone re-elected.
Early indications

Want to know what Randy White's interview has cost his party? Watch the shift in any riding between the first result, usually drawn from advance polls, and the next... the advance polls came before that particular bombshell. If you consistantly see ridings that show dead heats in the first few returns, and Conservatives dropping later, expect the Liberals to have a much bigger night than projected.

The same holds true in the Quebec ridings, associated to the Rebello gaffe.
Here we go

This will be like the Super Bowl for news junkies! Except, this will be close.

I'll be blogging throughout. Apparently, this blog has already appeared on the CBC election-night broadcast, so I might even have new readers to entertain inform.

(I say "apparently", because - being the news-surfer I'll be tonight - I was watching CTV at that moment. I listened to Craig Oliver promise "laughter and tears" tonight. Because, hey, oversell much?)
Farenheit 9/11 - If you can't stand the heat...

(This entry posted by occasional RevMod guest-host, Bear)

I saw "Farenheit 9/11" yesterday with a few friends at Granville 7 Cinemas. You can tell Moore has moved into the mainstream consciousness when the friends willing to go with you aren't connected with your NDP constituency association or your labour council, and they're handing out toothpaste samples instead of manifestos on the way out.

F9/11 is easily Moore's darkest, most cynical work, and possibly his best. However, it's been picked apart by critics for one, it being a commentary rather than a documentary, and two, a lack of narrative flow. These criticisms amount to what I consider critical revisionism. Somehow, over the course of the past week, the definition of a 'documentary' has gone from a film that tells a compelling dramatic story based on real people events, to filmmaking under Oxford debating rules. As for the lack of narrative flow, was there any narrative flow in the Bush Administration's shift from Al-Qaida in Afghanistan to Saddam in Iraq? If the events don't follow in real life, how are they supposed to follow in a movie based on real life?

F9/11 is not the PowerPoint presentation that was 'The Corporation', a film which spelled out the arguments against corporatization and globalization, but did little to motivate people to act on those issues. This movie picks you up, knocks the popcorn out of your hand and grabs you by the neck to get a reaction. Except for the pair of frat boys who muttered "bullsh*t" and walked out in the middle, the audience I was with came out of the theatre either visibly angry or in tears.

Which brings me to this point - the film is emotionally manipulative, but geez, isn't it time that somebody on the left started to be emotionally manipulative? The right's been doing it since Reagan and, damit, look at the results! Progressives have always claimed to have a corner on the truth, and yes, the truth is relative. However, until we go that extra step to seriously push people's buttons with our version rather than smugly sit in the corner refusing to get our hands dirty, we're not going anywhere soon.
Election Day

I'm going to treat this site like it's an actual media source, and keep away from anything that smells like partisan politics until the polls close. I trust my regular commenters can restrain themselves for a few hours as well.

This election is the second that we've had comnpressed closing times - relative to Alberta, the polls close in Newfoundland at 5:00, the Maritimes at 5:30, the entire mainland from Quebec through to Alberta at 7:30, and B.C and the Yukon at 8:00.

When I was growing up, polls closed, and results broadcasts began, at eight pm, local time, in every time zone. The strongest early memory of western alienation I have is of my parents, my uncles and aunts, and the authors of countless letters to the editor, complaining that "the election was over before it even started here" - the psychological effect of having Lloyd Robertson, election after election, telling us at the very beginning of the local broadcast exactly who would be forming a government.

How ironic is it, then, that in an election that's widely expected to be very nearly a dead heat, Alberta will not be, and BC will barely be, the part of the country that everyone to the east of us has to wait on? It could have been Alberta's moment, our karmic reward for all those elections. But we bitched and complained, until we got exactly what we wanted. Now we can bitch and complain about that, too, because we live in Alberta, and that's kinda our thing when it comes to the federal government.

(I mock the psychological impact, but it was along the same lines of the response to Bush not mentioning Canada among the laundry list of countries listed in his speech to Congress in October 2001. We know in our minds it doesn't matter, but our inner eight-year-old is screaming "that's not fair!" Compressing the absolute closing times has been a very positive change.)

Go vote. I'm outta here until I have some results to talk about, and "Parizeau-rule" gaffes to record.

Update: I wasn't entirely correct in my Quebec-to-Alberta poll closing time. In Saskatchewan, which is split between Mountain and Central time, and which has no Daylight Savings Time, polls close at 7:30 in CST, and 7:00 in MST. So, that closes the Central Time polls at the same absolute time as the rest of the "middle", and closes Mountain Time polls at the same absolute time as BC. I think. Or maybe there's something about the international date line in there, and the polls actually close Wednesday morning. It's all very confusing.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Finally on the board

Gilles Duceppe is the only leader of the four who had previous experience leading his party through a federal election. It should be no surprise that he's managed to lead the cleanest race gaffe-wise... he knows the ropes. He knows about the traps of a campaign, which, as illustrated above, sometimes come in the form of a net.

The Bloc's been running on the theme that electing BQ candidates was the best way to represent Quebec interests in Ottawa. This isn't a referendum on sovereignty, Duceppe repeated, as often as he could.

Last week, the leader of the provincial Parti Quebecois, Bernard Landry, said that maybe it is a referendum, or that at least a strong showing for the BQ would lead to one. If I could have given gaffe points for that, I would have, but like Klein's health care ponderings in Alberta, I can hardly make federal parties pay for their provincial counterparts, however dim-witted.

That's why the Gaffe-O-Meter thanks BQ candidate Francois Rebello. Thanks, Francois. You're a nobody, so PROM=1, but you really could not have found a worse moment to decide the party song sheet was for someone else, and declare this federal election a sovereignty vote precursor. SIG=2, though I was tempted to wait and charge you three if the Bloc falls below fifty-five seats. Total, two gaffe points.

(For those who are wondering why I'm not gaffing up Conservative MP Randy White's comments about sec. 33, it was good news for Randy - the comments were committed to film three days before the writ was dropped. We're only hearing about them now.)

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Strategic voting

Some people are still considering how they should vote, and the question for many goes deeper than "Who do I want as my MP?" As well it should, for the sophisticated voter (and you are one, else why are you here reading this instead of, say, not?)

Every party seems to be simultaniously making arguments in favour and against strategic voting. That is, they're offering arguments in favour of casting a strategic vote for, alongside arguments opposed to casting a strategic vote elsewhere. Let me try to offer a guide, from my position sitting in a riding where calculating a strategic vote is akin to calculating the precise number of car flags you need to fly to help your team win a chanpionship.

1) Know your riding. If you're in a riding like mine, with your next MP being a foregone conclusion, vote for your favourite party without worry. You aren't going to influence the result.

(Vote anyway! I can't stress this enough. The result in toto may be the same, but if you don't register your voice in what is essentially a referendum on the leading candidate, that candidate won't have any sense that s/he should act boldly/be careful in pursuit of his/her agenda. And the party you vote for, the winning or losing party in the riding, will have no idea what sort of resources to invest in that riding the next time around. Presumably, you want your party to spend its money efficiently, don't you?)

If you're in a contested riding, you need to figure out who it's contested between. This isn't a question of who is leading nationally or provincially. #1, #2. A vote for any other candidate cannot be described as a "strategic" vote.

2) Which of the two leading candidates, or parties those two represent, do you prefer?

That's it! Strategic voting made simple! Don't be fooled by the parties. If you are afraid of a so-con "hidden agenda", but your two leading candidates are a NDPer and a Liberal (yes, I know the Liberals have some so-con candidates. Another post, another time), stop worrying about beating the Tory, and make your choice for. On the other hand, if you have the same concern, but the local race is CPC v Party X, you need to decide if you can live with a vote for Party X or the local candidate thereof. The same calculation goes if you fear the NDP holding the balance of power, or you really want to see the Liberals punished and humiliated. And you don't even have to be voting "against" something to strategic vote... you can still narrow your riding to two candidates, and then choose your favourite.

First past the post, one MP per riding, is described as a problem by those who want to see Proportional Representation. But this is what we've got. Understand the system and use it.

Friday, June 25, 2004

My decision is made

You know, considering I live in a rural Alberta riding, a riding that could be called with certainty for the Conservatives six months before the writ was dropped, I certainly did spend some time agonizing over my vote. But come Monday, barring a voting booth conversion ("My God, Stephen Harper is right! This is my chance to finally take a stand against child porn!"), I'll be casting my ballot for Ellen Parker, the local NDP candidate.

Six weeks ago, that would have been a foregone conclusion: I give money to the NDP, I belong to the NDP, I was volunteering for an NDP candidate. But regular readers know I've been having my doubts this election (though I won't go into my concerns with Layton's Clarity Act position again). It's taken me a month to realize that on balance, the NDP still looks like my party.

They did a few things very well, to retain my vote. They began the campaign by making balanced budgets a central tenet of the campaign, something I've wanted to see the party do for a decade. Their revenue projections are more conservative than the, er, Conservatives. Meanwhile, they remain unambiguously on my side of social issues like gay marriage or abortion access. I asked a question of all my local candidates about collaboration, and the only answer I recieved was from Ellen Parker.

I'm not happy with how the NDP ran this campaign. I've never seen an electorate so open to new ideas or to changing their vote, but the NDP isn't walking home with those ballots. I'm going to wonder for a long time what would have happened if Layton's first-week momentum hadn't been tripped up by Martin the Murderer and Clarity. But that has nothing to do with who I trust to govern.

I was one of the voters that was open to something new. The NDP had to earn my vote, and I'm kind of relieved that they could.
BC campaign in review

(This entry posted by occasional RevMod guest-host, Bear)

The last working day of the campaign seems like a good time to rate the campaigns from a west coast perspective, so after trying gold stars and out of 10 ratings, I'm opting to go with report cards:

Conservative: C+

Give or take a Randy White, Stephen Harper managed to get his foot down better with his BC candidates than he did in other parts of the country. The Ontario focus for the Conservatives kept Harper from making any real impact, but not a "Sodom North" or "Asian Invasion" was heard to disrupt their hold on most of the province.

Liberal: D-

Paul Martin rolled the dice with a gaggle of parachuted candidates in the Lower Mainland, and the snake eyes look like Ujjal Dosanjh and incumbent Stephen Owen. The Liberals built a solid organization on the ground over the past decade in BC, and Martin somehow managed to demolish it in less than a year.

New Democrat: B-

Since the leadership campaign, it seems like Jack Layton is in BC every other week. The NDP has certainly been helped by the hostility to the Liberal regime in Victoria, but Layton's attempt to link Gordon Campbell to Paul Martin comes up short for not mentioning the Martinites involved with the 12/28 legislature raids, an issue that had much more play out here than Adscam.

Green Party: C+

The Greens are starting to realize that masquerading as the NDP only gets them a p*ss*ng match with the NDP. They should seriously thinking about checking the clearance bin for that Progressive Conservative outfit, it might look good on them.

Bloc Quebecois: A

Everyone I talked to thought Gilles Duceppe won the leaders debates walking away. Of course the Bloc ran way too few candidates out here...

When the dust settles after 7:00 PM PDT, I think that out of 36 seats, British Columbia will look something like:

Conservative: 26


Liberal: 4

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Television gets stranger

Unlike far too many paid pundits, I've avoided making any comparisons between the democratic election process Canada is now engaged in, and the phone survey held by CTV for their pop Idol competion. I've avoided it, but the show's genial yet grating host, coincidentally the son of a past Prime Minister, could not. In the middle of an extended parliamentary metaphor to introduce the competition judges:

Do you rememebr the GST? This guy invented it .... Zack Warner!
Dude! Seriously? Are you hoping no one at all will vote Conservative ever again? Because, you know, the Liberals already have an ad on during your show reminding viewers of your father's legacy.

I know he's not running for anything, but I want to give this guy gaffe points just on principle.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

All caught up - for now

It took me a few hours to get around to updating the actual meter. It should be correct now. Be sure to notice the new Harper picture. Mad props to the provider, scribblingwoman, UNB-SJ English Department's house blogger, yo!

I think we're set for photos through to the election. Perhaps I'll begin my hunt now for Provincial Election gaffe photos.
Back to business

Got some gaffe catching up to do. Forgive the uberpost.

First up, I heard this one quite some time ago, and brushed it off, but two readers (Tilting at Windmills' Kevin Brennan, and RevMod's own guest blogger Bear) have argued me up to "gaffe".

[Shirley] Chan ... has found herself in an unseemly spat with her NDP opponent Libby Davies in Vancouver East. When Ms. Chan criticized Ms. Davies for wasting taxpayers' money by flying her "girlfriend around" under the spousal-partner visiting program for MPs, Ms. Davies accused her of homophobic remarks.

Ms. Chan ... retorted: "I would say that she [Ms. Davies] is homophobic. She denies being a lesbian, but lives with a woman. And she doesn't call her her spouse; she calls her her partner."

Ms. Davies said she has never denied having a same-sex partner since their relationship began.
Shirley Chan is the same candidate that apologised to all but Tories for her volunteer's inappropriate e-mail slandering Tories. Now she's accusing her gay opponent of being a homophobe. There's a parallel here, I'm sure, but I'm not getting my finger quite on it. Nonetheless, SIG=1, PROM=1, total one point for Team Martin... sorry for the delay.

Another regular reader, Andrew Anderson of Bound by Gravity, helps add to the Liberal score, with this story about Liberal incumbent candidate John O'Reilly who published an ad in the local paper, supporting traditional marriage.

Now, let me take a moment here to try to straighten out something in my own head. "In favour of traditional marriage" is code for "opposed to same-sex marriage". I don't get that at all. The only people I know who can be described, literally, as "opposed to traditional marriage" are radical feminist types. Say, my ex-girlfriend, c. 1994, for instance - and she's since involved herself in a traditional marriage. I'm left wondering who we might be talking about at all. But in particular, gay couples who want to get married have to think pretty favourably toward "traditional marriage", given that they want to tie themselves to the same institution. My point? "In favour of traditional marriage" is nonsense.

Because of this, I've asked Andrew if he might find me a link to, or a scan of, the ad. But I'm relenting - it seems pretty clear that what's discussed all through this article is opposition to gay marriage, no matter if O'Reilly comes out and says it or not. And given that this is a cut point Martin was trying very hard to build between himself and the Conservatives, that's gaffe, baby.

But I'm going to allow myself a little retrospect on this... it was barely noticed by the national media. It should have cost the Liberals something, but it really didn't. Another SIG=1, PROM=1, total: one more point for Big Red.

Finally, the big one of the week, the one that defined the days since: the Conservatives, through various released and withdrawn press releases, suggest that Paul Martin is in favour of child porn.

Child porn? Is this all the Conservatives have? Is this all Harper can be certain his whole caucus will safely agree on? Or was this the Conservative attempt to make Harper's dissembling on s. 33 of the Charter during the debate look like it was actually on-topic? Did those debate comments get a big green "agree" spike from the focus group?

The Toronto Star (and thanks to reader Brent H. for that specific link) has compared the release to the "reptilian kitten-eater" gaffe during the Ontario provincial election, but I think that's unfair. After all, Ernie Eves didn't actually expect voters to believe that Dalton McGuinty dined on cat kabobs... it was a joke. While the Conservatives may have thought better of the release, and withdrew it (then released it again with a slightly less inflammitory headline, then withdrew it again), they weren't kidding when they wrote it. Either they're exceptionally cynical to use an issue like child porn this way, or they're incapable of believing that their political opponents are decent people. I don't know which of those I'd rather believe. Either possibility makes a Conservative minority goverment uncomfortable and unstable.

Scoring this one is trickier. Who's responsible? Can't really say. I'm going to call it "Central Campaign" and mark the PROM as a two. How important was the mistake? Well, because Harper hasn't withdrawn from anything except the initial headline, it's become a big deal - it's been the flashpoint that's defined the shape of the last few days. And yet, I'm not sure I can describe that all as "gaffe" - it may be that the Conservatives really thought they could score political points trying to position themselves as anti-child porn, that is was less "gaffe" and more "plan gone horribly wrong". The release-withdrawal-release-withdrawal (I'm concerned about the Google search hits that might produce) makes it gaffe, though. One SIG for each iteration of the release/withdrawal makes PROM=2, SIG=2, total of four more points for the party that loves its kids more than any other. Sure, they're racking up a score, but on the bright side, they're opposed to the sexual exploitation of children. So, you know, that's good.

Total for this post, two for the Liberals, four for the Conservatives.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Reciprocal Links

I've been going crazy adding reciprocal links to the column on the left the last few weeks. I appreciate your support, and your sending readers my way... I apologise that I haven't kept up with introducing you all individually. If I've missed you completely, let me know - e-mail address remians on the upper left.

I do want to point one out specifically right here. From the newest inbound link to me, pearls that are his eyes, comes the tag line of the year:

Instead of one big shot controlling all the media, now there's a thousand freaks blogging their worthless opinions.
Heh. Kathleen, from one of the thousand, word. But it's still a better arrangement.
Oh, my

The catch-up I've promised is still forthcoming, though I've been delayed by a request for IT services from the NDP. I may not know how I'm voting, but when this is all over, the NDP will still be my party... how could I say no? And yes, the cold is already significantly better - thanks for the good wishes.

But in the meantime, via the thoughtful and sensible Calgary Grit, I've discovered Conservative Canadian. S/He writes a blog that I'm tempted to just ignore, but I can't, because I fear the thinking in it is representative of too much of the rank-and-file of the new Conservative party.

As for health care, it has to be said once and for all that no one, stress NO ONE, is advocating a two-tier system. Two-tier, as the name implies, would mean that the public sector would no longer offer certain services that were shifted to private clinics. We are merely talking about private management and delivery of facilities and services UNDER the umbrella of the public health care system. And if someone has enough money and needs treatment badly enough, he or she should be free to select from a number of different options: wait in the public sector for 18 months or longer to have that life-saving surgery or turn to a private provider.

This is a fundamental right of choice relative to the integrity of one's body and person, but the Liberals want to deny us this fundamental right. This is worse than China or the Soviet Union.
I think I might have a different understanding of two-tier. A two-teir system in my world is one that gives opportunities for queue-jumping to those who "ha[ve]enough money and need[] treatment badly enough".

I'll let the next one speak for itself:

Canada already has too many illiterate and anti-social immigrants that should have never been brought in. They are a burden on our health-care system: even now, immigrants and refugees can bring in next-of-kin, such as parents, who are too old to learn English. They will never pay a single penny in taxes, yet they are the majority of patients lining up at emergency rooms.


I know a coffee shop in Toronto that is overrun by Sri Lankans around the clock. They play cards all day long (consuming next to nothing). Frequently, you will find 20, sometimes 40, of them inside the coffee shop. Paying customers have no way of sitting down and enjoying a quiet cup of coffee.

These people have clearly no jobs to go to; otherwise, they could not sit in a coffee shop 24/7. Sometimes, I would see them shuffle and trade goods from the trunks of their cars right in front of the coffee shop.

Then, one day one of these guys told me that he had bought himself a farm north of Toronto - $160,000 in CASH! With no job and spending all his waking hours at the coffee shop, where does all that money come from?

These are the kinds of criminal and parasitic elements that we, as taxpayers, have to support - thanks to the Liberals. And now the NDP wants to make things even worse for CANADIANS.

Let me get to the point of all this. I'm not trying to set up in this one blogger a straw man that poor Stephen Harper, who I think is as likely to produce an "ay-ya" at this as readily as I do, has to answer for.

My point is that the Conservative Party has yet to set down any grass-roots policy that Canadians can count on. Given the membership of the party, I don't think it's unreasonable to at least be concerned that the first policy convention of the new party will be attended by a convention hall filled with "Conservative Canadian"s ready to copy out the Reform Party policy book c. 1988, and call it Conservative Party policy. If that's the vision of the country represented by a Conservative vote this time around, I don't think they'll find many takers east of Manitoba.

I'm not saying the Conservatives WILL go down this road. I'm saying they MIGHT. I'm saying that we can't know what we might be getting out of a Conservative government. That's not the Conservatives fault, entirely - both parties headed toward a winter merger and Spring election eyes wide open about what it was going to mean - but I'd feel a lot better waiting at least another year for the new party to sort itself out before I'd be ready to see Harper handed the reins of power.

In the meantime, though, one more thing I'd like to draw from "Conservative Canadian"'s blog. It's a parade of ad hominem attacks, because they never get tired. Cue the circus music:

People don't like criminals, crooks, liars, cheaters, which are all synonymous to "Liberal".


Anyone who still considers voting Liberal should have his head examined.


Anyone who still votes Liberal is a moron, as has been pointed out by many writers and journalists.


Paul Martin, as everyone can see now, is a fumbling, crooked and lying idiot. You'd have to be just as fumbling, crooked and idiotic to vote Liberal on June 28.


Have you ever seen a Liberal that isn't a liar? I sure haven't.


...Liberals are liars and con-artists.
Hey, that was fun! Let's take that ride again!

And just in case you think I'm picking on this writer unfairly, read this post, and then this one, and then tell me so.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The homestretch

There's one week to election day, and it's anyone's game. By "anyone", of course, I mean the Liberals or Conservatives.

I have a couple of "small-town gaffes" to catch up on, and I'd like to discuss the Conservative accusation that voting Liberal is to be objectively pro-child porn. I also have to report back on my e-mail solicitations for information. But I'm not sure I can give you the cohesive arguments you deserve, because I'm flying high on cold medication.


Friday, June 18, 2004

Ralph Klein enters federal politics

I was trying to come up with some pun combining Ralph being on the wagon and my reading his tea leaves, but it just didn't work out, so the pithy little joke that normally appears about here, or perhaps in the title, will be taking the morning off. Adapt.

Klein is tossing a grenade into the federal election race with his announcement that he'll release the Alberta government's new health care plan, two days after the election. It's a grenade because Klein has previously made it abundantly clear he's prepared to ignore the boundaries of the Canada Health Act. For those of you who weren't following this in February when this was first floated as a trial balloon, let me review. The Canada Health Act is only enforced with federal dollars and the threat of witholding some or all of those dollars. As the fed has reduced its share of the bill over the last decade, their ability to enforce the Canada Health Act has likewise been reduced.

Meantime, here in Alberta, the provincial debt is paid, yet the government continues to run huge surpluses. They need something to spend money on. Further, any time Albertans can spend money to prove our independence and smack Ottawa around a little, well, many Albertans consider that money well-spent. In short, the provincial government doesn't care if the fed pulls away money for health care. Alberta can easily cover the shortfall. The Federal government cannot defend the Canada Health Act in Alberta with dollars, unless it's ready to come up with a lot more (a LOT more) for the system to (in turn) deny to Alberta.

So, back to the here and now. What is Klein trying to do? He must know this is going to become an issue in the federal election. It has the potential to turn the ballot question (that is, the question undecided voters ask themselves while they stand in the booth) back to health care, which I suspect would thrill Liberals. Is Klein doing this to give the Liberals a boost?

I don't think that's impossible. He seems to genuinely like Martin, and Klein's an old-timey Liberal at heart (albeit one who knows how to weild the social conservatives in his caucus without letting them take over). Perhaps most importantly, there's more political mileage to be had from bashing a Liberal federal government then there would be bashing a Conservative government.

Martin is posturing about staring Klein in the eye, about taking action. Harper is so far strangely silent, though I'm sure that won't last. I've e-mailed all three parties with a variation of this question (this is the Liberal version):

So, other than the manly staring contest the Prime Minister is promising, how are the Liberals planning to enforce the Canada Health Act if the Alberta government is indifferent to the money attached? The last time Alberta decided to flaunt the Act, with extra billing (was that the eighties? Some time ago), the fed was able to enforce by witholding medicare transfers. But Klein made it really clear in February that those transfers are too tiny, and Alberta can live without them.

Please refrain from telling me what the other parties will do - I'll let them tell me themselves, thanks.
(I should mention that I introduced my Conservative request with a bit of a suck-up around my appreciation for Harper's health care candidness. I don't know if that makes it more or less likely I'll get an answer. I should also mention that the last caveat went to all three parties - we'll see if they are able to follow that instruction.)

My experiment with contacting the local candidates was a bust - I recieved one very thoughtful response, which I'll post this weekend, but I got silence from the other three. We'll see if the central campaigns do any better.

Update: I'm listening to Deb Grey on the radio right this minute, and the question was posed: if Alberta violates the CHA, will Conservatives enforce it? "Well, there's a lot of money trouble in the system, and the Liberals are to be blamed for that." Yes, but will the Conservatives enforce the CHA? "You know, Paul Martin went to a private clinic just a few weeks ago." Yes, but will a Conservative government enforce the CHA? "We want to work with the provinces....."

Holy crap. And by that, I mean, holy crap. My e-mail question might have assumed too much of the Conservative Party. For the first time, I'm actually very concerned about the damage a Conservative government could do.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Hurry and tell 2002!

I was watching NBC Detroit last night. I have my reasons. They involve crappy programming - shhhh.

A teaser came up for the late-night newscast. "Was Saddam behind the 9/11 attacks? The 9/11 commission has released some disturbing information, and you'll be shocked to hear what they've found."

Seriously? On June 16, 2004, there was someone who was "shocked" by the news that Saddam Hussien was not responsible for 9/11? "Honey, you'll never believe this! Bin Laden? Who's this bin Laden guy?"

People are messed up.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The "Debate"

Last night's debate format gave the leaders lots of opportunities to clarify their positions, to pose questions, and to respond to accusations. It's too bad that they instead chose to reiterate talking points, without really paying any attention to the words of the others.

Nonetheless, the most telling moments came when they let themselves out of the bubbles their handlers put them in (or at least, appeared to do so).

Harper's best moment, I thought, was when he turned into policy-wonk guy when he went on a bit of a riff about health-care privatization. He was debating with Layton at the time, and here's what I recall as the gist of the conversation:

Harper: My people have told me not to say any of this, but there's already plenty of private involvement in the public health system, and if it doesn't interfere with equality of access, what's the problem?

Layton: The SomeGuy report has examined that question, and it's so much more expensive to deliver that way.
Hey, look. It's a policy discussion! They're talking about ideas!

Layton (continuing): Mr. Harper, your only goal is to assist your corporate friends.
Well, so much for that.

(continuing) Harper: Gray. Gray gray. Gray gray gray, gray gray.

Layton: Black! Black white! White white black black, white black!
If, all evening, all the leaders had been as forthcoming as Harper was in that exchange, voters might have been able to discover some real differences and make some real decisions. Can you imagine, the day after a national leaders' debate, the major media not asking who won and lost, but testing the veracity of various claims and counterclaims? I know - it's a crazy dream.

Martin spent the evening answering questions of his own invention, occasionally getting frustrated that he wasn't being given the room to answer said imaginary questions. Again, I'll paraphrase:

Layton: If you're such a hero on gay marriage rights, why didn't you bring legislation instead of leaving the reference with the courts and hiding behind the Charter?

Martin: Hiding behind the Charter? I stand behind the Charter. It's the greatest piece of legislation in the whole wide world! Rights are rights are rights, and it's too bad Mr. Harper doesn't understand that.

Don: Wha?
And this sort of ignoring of the questions went on all night --- Harper and Martin were both doing it, but Martin was the king. And it combined very poorly with the frustrated face he would make when he wasn't given the chance to jump in to give his non-answer to a question, while the poser would go on posing and posing (which I wrote about more briefly last night). Harper at least had the good sense to stay out of the way when he wasn't being pressed for his non-answers.

Layton? I reviewed him a bit yesterday. He looked too overmanaged, and he seemed incapable of stepping outside of his talking points. He had some excellent questions, but never let his opponents answer for good or ill. And with the exception of the Duceppe Clarity Act exchange, he was rarely forced to work from the defensive. During the exchange on privatization of health, I would have been really happy to hear Harper pose the following:

(In Don's imagination, as my mind drifts from another non-conversation) Harper: If you're so dead-set against any privatization in the health system, will you be closing the network of private abortion clinics across the country? How do you think that might impact a woman's right to choose?
Harper might have been wise not to pose that, actually, because it might have made Layton appear animated for a moment.

Finally, Duceppe. What can I say? He was relaxed, he was frank, he asked some tough questions and then gave Martin (practically always Martin) the space to answer some other, imaginary question. Then he'd ask the real question again. He wouldn't yell it through Martin's answer, he'd just ask it again. Very effective. When he was under attack, he came clean, even though it moved away from the BQ strategy:

Duceppe: Yeah, I'm a seperatist. So are lots of Quebecers. That's not going to change, Mr. Harper. (Don's imagination takes over again.) At least we don't talk in code about "firewalls". Maybe someone needs to apply the Clarity Act rules to that whole bit.
It wasn't a good debate. That's too bad, because I think there are many real differences among the parties. Here I am again, at the same point I find myself after so many of these posts: why can't Canada have an honest and open discussion of ideas and policy, and let voters choose after hearing that discussion? Why do the parties seem so afraid of that conversation?
Today again, we begin with serious matters

Let me extend my deepest condolences to the Kinsella family on the loss of their grandfather, father, and husband Dr. T. Douglas Kinsella. If you aren't moved by Warren's essay about his father, you have a heart of stone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

"Did your advisors tell you to talk all the time?"

I fully expect someone to ask me to gaffe that question up, and if the media play it over and over as the "Paul Martin is arrogant" clip, I might have to. But he was on the money. Now that it's too late, here's a word of advice for Layton, and to a lesser extent, to Martin and Harper as well (though Duceppe did not make this mistake at all):

When you ask an incisive, dangerous, time-bomb of a question, the only way it scores any points with the electorate is if you give the responder some rope to hang himself with. If you ask a question and then talk right over the answer, you look insincere, while the voter is left with the impression that your opponent might have answered the question, if only you'd afforded him the opportunity.
Does anyone know what time it is?

(This entry posted by occasional RevMod guest-host, Bear)

Being in Vancouver, I have a huge issue concerning the debates, particularly the schedule. In Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Quebec, 8:00 - 9:00 PM is prime time. On the Prairies, the debates either replace or follow the dinner hour newcasts.

Here in British Columbia, the province which according to the polls, may determine who forms a government, and features a tight three-way race, the debates air at 5:00 PM. No one in the Lower Mainland(where over half of B.C.'s population lives)gets home from work at 5:00 PM, especially if they're picking up the kids and/or running a couple of errands.

People in Vancouver might be interested in seeing the debate to help make up their minds, but they're not going to duck out of work early, nor are they going to set their VCRs. What's puzzling is that none of the networks are offering a repeat or tape-delayed broadcast for the west coast. Why not? Sportsnet Pacific does it all the time when the Canucks play on the East Coast, and isn't this a much more important game to be watching?

Monday, June 14, 2004

French-language debate tonight

Let's talk about what the four leaders need to accomplish tonight:

Stephen Harper: Speak French. Don't say anything stupid on socail issues. You're mostly talking to a French-speaking audience outside of Quebec tonight... stress issues of concern in Manitoba or New Brunswick. Say "adscam" a lot, hoping to get Quebecers to cast ballots against the Liberals. It would be too much to hope they'll vote for you this time around.

Jack Layton: Speak French. Say "Pierre Ducasse" a lot. Find a way to reiterate your anti-Clarity Act beliefs without saying you'll tear it up. For a guide on how to do that, listen to Harper on gay marriage.

Gilles Duceppe: Speak French. Say "adscam" a lot.

Paul Martin: Speak French. Talk a lot about the Conservative social "hidden agenda". Then note that the Liberals are the only alternative government, and that the BQ, even opposing the social conservative agenda, will enable it by letting the Conservatives at the levers of power.

It sounds nonsensical, I know, but if Harper (whoops) or Martin (score!) say anything that makes the calculation "Conservative = social conservative" stick in the heads of francophone voters, it will be the BQ who gets to pay the price. Otherwise, everyone sleepwalks through this baby with no expectation of moving many voters, wanting to save their best "gotcha" moments for the battle in the much more volatile English-speaking seats.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Catching up on the e-mail

I don't know how I missed this one. Once again, I'm in the debt of blogger extrodinare James Bow, and once again, it links back to the Globe and Mail:

The latest party controversy hit Wednesday when Frank Luellau, a Conservative candidate in Kitchener-Conestoga, told The Globe and Mail that he supports "the biblical teaching that (homosexuality) is not a natural kind of relationship."

Mr. Luellau also defended the policy of his former organization, the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, to fire, or not hire, any employee or volunteer found to be in a homosexual relationship.
No explanation necessary, at this point. Conservative nobody says something pretty offensive and stupid to slow down the momentum of big blue. PROM:1 * SIG:2 = another two points for Harper's Heroes.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

They never listen

I gave Stephen Harper some very good options, I thought, to manage the Iraq issue. I missed some equally good ones, I think. But Harper has taken one I never would have selected: dissemble some more.

"I continue to believe if the allies had acted in a concerted manner to put on [Mr. Hussein] that kind of pressure, we would have been able to avoid a war, but we didn't do that . . .," the Conservative Leader told a small group of supporters at a rally in Barrie, Ont.
The Globe is going too far with their portrayal of this statement -

The war in Iraq could have been avoided had Canadian soldiers been sent in earlier to scare Saddam Hussein, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says. [Overstate much, Globe writer? - Don]


This is a departure from his statement in April of 2003, when he said: "We should have been there, shoulder to shoulder with our allies." [A "departure"? Because the statement now, and what he said then, don't seem to be mutually exclusive, really. - Don]
- and yet, whom among us is convinced that Stephen Harper really believes this? War could have been prevented if only most western nations had lined up behind the Americans. Saddam would have immediately complied with the UN resolution to the White House's satisfaction. He would have turned over his weapons of mass destruction. Oh, wait - he didn't have any! Is there any chance that answer would have satisfied Shrub and his PNAC advisors? No, there wasn't. No Canadian or worldwide troops could have prevented the war, because the American government had no intention of letting it be prevented. And Stephen Harper the policy wonk is no fool - he knows all this as well or better than I do.

Stephen, it's time to say you wanted to commit troops, but you were wrong, or working from the same incorrect assumptions everyone else was. Or it's time to say you wanted to commit troops, and you stand by that because it was the right thing to do for the sake of the people of Iraq. You need to pick a strong spot to defend, and then hold your position. Keep picking undefendable spots, and you'll be forever in retreat.

(Thanks to James Bow for the link to the Globe story)

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Another local race

Tonight, I wrote my local candidates from the four main parties, asking them a question I hope will help me along my voting decision. I'll spare you some of the note's preamble, but include the part that explains the reasoning behind my question. I think it's a good one that should be put to candidates in closer races than Crowfoot's.

I think that the best work done by Parliament tends to be done at committee level, where MPs with divergent philosophies and perspectives are only effective when they step beyond party doctrine and seek out solutions to pressing problems as colleagues.

It's also increasingly possible that there may be a minority government, which would make effective governing impossible without an ability to look beyond a Member's own caucus.

With those two things in mind, my question is this: what idea have you seen in an opposing party's platform, or have you heard expressed by a political opponent during this campaign, which made you think "Aha - what a neat idea," or "I wish my party had thought of that," or "There's an idea to crib when we form a government"?
Once I have some answers, I'll pass them along.
Gaffe roundup

It's been a couple of eventful days since I seriously tried to catch up on the Gaffe-o-Meter. Honestly, had I written an entry, I'm sure I would have predicted much lower scores... I was worried there wouldn't be enough gaffe activity to make the race interesting. What was I thinking? To paraphrase HL Mencken, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the Canadian candidate.

The Conservatives are more than well-represented in that by Cheryl Gallant. I alluded a few posts ago to her recently quoted comparison between Canadian abortions and the beheading of Nick Berg. Not so smart, but no points - nor for Jason Kenney who compares abortion to child abuse and slavery. The quotes came, as pointed out by the extremely sharp-eyed Andrew, before the writ period. Still, you really can't blame the Liberals for folding the comments into their larger strategy: convincing Canadians that the Conservatives are extremists. As I've illustrated the last several posts, it's certainly working on me.

(Andrew has an excellent post on why social issues shouldn't matter this election. I'm pretty sure I don't agree, but I'll work on that thought more over the weekend and keep you posted.)

Undermining Martin's strategy, we have Tom Wappel and Roger Gallaway noting that not all Liberals are pro-choice, and that perhaps there isn't really much of a gulf between Liberals and Conservatives on social issues. It's always good to contradict your leader on wedge issues, Tom, and Roger. Why do candidates this election have so much trouble with the concept of keeping their yaps shut? Luckily, it's barely a story, but they're still getting PROM=1*SIG=2 = 2 gaffe points. Each, because you're both idiots. Four more for the Liberals. Also for the Liberals, Carolyn Parrish says her party is running a crappy campaign. Because, duh. Since she's stating the universally-known obvious, I can't gaffe this up, even if she did change her mind later. Stories about "how's the campaign going?" are kind of like stories about polls. Who cares? Canadians have important things to decide, and the rest is sideshow. This site is all sideshow, by the way.

Column three, the BQ. The BQ continues to quietly run a solid campaign watching the Liberals hang themselves. No gaffe points for the man in the funny hat. Yet. At all. I think he learned his lesson from the funny hat.

Finally, the NDP. Malcolm Azania's internet comments have been oft-discussed of late, but coming as they did over a decade before the writ period, I can't score them. I'm also not forgiving the remarks, but at the same time, I've had those weird left-wing conversations about all white people being racist until we reject the social structures like money that blah blah blah jeepers was I ever that dumb? Sure I was, because I was twenty-three and surrounded by left-wingers at college and we were all chewing up and playing with Big Ideas. I wouldn't want much of what I thought back then held against me, either.

(Is anyone else listening to Al Rae's three-day-a-week comedy election roundup at 11:45 on CBC AM? "The NDP's leader is calling people 'brother', his candidates are discussing the relationship between blacks and Jews, and Ed Broadbent is doing rap. How long before Jack Layton is surrounded by a posse of Nation of Islam bodyguards?" Hee!)
Dr. T. Douglas Kinsella

First today, the serious - regular readers of Warren Kinsella (and if you aren't, why not?) know he's been facing a medical crisis in his family. Let me add my public positive wishes for his father, and pass on Warren's request for prayer.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Gaffe-o-meter requires update

Technical problems originate with your too-busy host. Please stand by.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Perhaps the line I drew wasn't completely clear

Why do I draw a line between criticism of C-250, particularly when the criticism includes words like "pedophilia", and homophobia? Perhaps it's the months of debate that led up to the passing of C-250, when groups that reasonalble people don't want to be associated with were making those same arguments.

I first heard of C-250 in January, 2003, when I received an e-mail from an online backgammon opponent. All the opponent knew about me was that I was Canadian. Now it may have been shotgun strategy (contact enough people, and some will agree), but in my experience, e-mails like this get distributed when it's assumed there would be general agreement ("We hate high gas prices!" "Hey, me too!"). The original e-mail and my somewhat moderated response is here, and my eventual response is here. Long story short, C-250 added sexual orientation to the protections of s.318 of the Criminal Code, which says that if you promote genocide - not "hate", genocide - against an identifiable group, you can be charged, with the permission of the Attorney General. Who will, quite naturally, rush to the defense of NAMBLA through jailing religious figures for daring to be critical, because that wouldn't be political suicide at all, no ma'am. Go to the second link, where I've quoted the entire CC section, and decide for yourself.

Since the bill passed, many of the groups have taken down their pages (and I saw some interesting ones when I was first researching, a year and a half ago). There are still a few treats out there. The Christian Heritage Party was a big critic of C-250.

Let me assure you, there are some of us who would rather go to jail than stop protecting our children by telling the truth! The purpose of C-250 is to kill free and honest discussion of one of the most important issues of our time. The homosexualization of our society is one of the most important issues of our time because it's really about adults gaining sexual access to children.
You might want to read about poor Larry Spencer, victim of the homosexualist agenda. Not that the CHP really believes the whole Protocols of the Elders of Stonewall stuff that Jack Chick alluded to in my earlier post. It's not so much a conspiracy, they say.

A more accurate description might be "a monolithic conformity of ideas" among politicians, educators, jurists and the media.
I could go on, but you can find your own fun through a google search for "c-250". Don't forget to check the wayback machine for any pages that don't seem to be as inflamitory as you expect... lots have been changed since the legislation passed.

Okay, but perhaps Gallant wasn't trying to draw this same line. And even if she was, she's one MP. Most of the Conservative candidates are likely to be more in line with Harper. Aren't they?.

Although the legislation passed under the current Liberal government, the issue is by no means dead. In fact, a meeting called "Scrap Bill C-250 Campaign" will take place tomorrow in Alberta. Pro-family leaders such as Ted Byfield, Rev. Tristan Emmanuel, and Professor Ted Morton, will address the meeting, as will two Conservative MPs, Rob Anders and Myron Thompson.


The Conservative Party's attempt to bury the issue is perplexing to many supporters given that 60 of the 61 Alliance members at the time of the Sept. 17, 2003 passage of C-250 voted against it. The other party to the recent merger, the Progressive Conservative Party, had 7 members vote against and 7 vote for the bill, with one more absent. The two PC MPs who most strongly agreed with the Liberal/NDP sponsored bill, Joe Clark and Scott Brison, both rejected the merger of the parties, with Brison joining the Liberals and Clark retiring from politics. With their combined votes overwhelmingly against the bill some observers say that it would be expected the CPC would revisit the C-250 change which they strenuously opposed as a danger to free speech and freedom of religion. [Emphasis mine]
Do I need to keep going? How about "ask your boyfriend" Gallant herself? Perhaps I'll save that for another post.

Update: No link yet this morning, but if you ask me, Gallant's abortion statements this morning suggest she's trying to get kicked off the campaign. Or taking instructions from the "lifesite" people I linked above. Or trying to get the Conservative Party's asses kicked. More on that, including gaffe points, later.

Monday, June 07, 2004

It's been a wild ride

If you had told me three months ago the Flames were going to make the playoffs, I would have called you optimistic. If you had told me two months ago that they were going to be in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals, I would have called you delusional.

It's tough to see the team end this ride on a loss, but I don't think Calgary fans have any reason to be disappointed. The Flames have been punching well above their weight for two months now. Congratulations to them.

As heartbreaking as it was to watch, I can smile for Dave Andrechuk winning his first Stanley Cup after twenty-odd years of hard-working hockey, and be happy for Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards, who had a whole province behind him, cheering against "Canada's Team".

I might be a little bitter toward the city of Tampa, though. I can't abide the Stanley Cup living in a city that has never seen naturally-occuring ice.
Is it time to start quoting John Crosbie again, yet?

I'm not a reporter of poll results. In fact I'm rarely even a reader of poll results. When I ran in the provincial election as an NDP candidate in rural southern Alberta, reporters occasionally inquired how I evaluated my chances. "My latest polling data says I'm running even with the Tory," I'd tell them, "but my family might not be a large enough sample."

I still think that's pretty damn funny. I digress.

People who are more fascinated that I am with polling data are starting to see a trend that suggests the strong possibility of the Conservatives getting the most seats. I'm sure the data is correct, but I still think the analysis lacks one vital but hard-to-quantify variable: the surprising thickheadedness of so many Conservate candidates who are not named Stephen Harper.

The latest bright star in the Conservative heaven is Cheryl Gallant, MP and candidate in Renfrew - Nipissing - Pembroke. Ms Gallant scored PROM=1 * SIG=3 (the first three-point SIG of the game) for equating homosexuality and pedophila, in her discussion of Bill C-250.

In an interview with CTV News, Ottawa-area MP Cheryl Gallant said she opposed the new law, that was recently amended to include sexual orientation as one of the protected groups.

"The danger in having sexual orientation just listed, that encompasses, for example, pedophiles," Gallant said.
This gets better and better, too. Gallant says "I believe that the caucus as a whole would like to see it repealed." Now, I don't know if that's true, but it's a pretty clear indication that she's not alone on this. Tough to believe that Scott Brison didn't think he'd feel comfortable in that caucus, eh?

And it just gets better and better - John Reynolds' reaction:

"I'm the House leader and I've seen no line-up of letters in my office asking us to repeal that law," Reynolds told CTV News. "It's a bill that passed the House of Commons."

"She'll have every right to bring that up with a new caucus in Ottawa - which will be greater in numbers. But it's certainly not something that is going to get us off an agenda."
"Oh, and also? We don't even know what she's talking about. Protect pedophiles? From what - people being critical of pedophila? Yeah, the Court's really going to read that shit in to C-250." No, wait. Reynolds didn't say any of that. He said "it's not a priority," not "she's wrong in so many ways." Had he said something like the latter, my undecided vote might have had a chance to become a Conservative vote. Now, virtually none.

I've said before that there are good reasons, some of which I'm sympathetic toward, for opposing hate speech laws. Those reasons tend to revolve around free speech and civil liberty. That's not the argument Ms Gallant formed here. I don't think you have to read too deeply between the lines to see that what she really means is something more along these lines:

[W]ith hardly any opposition, the sodomites and their aggressive gay machine became a force to control politicians, judges, the media and finally our school systems. Their weapon was a single word, tolerance, and all opponents were put to flight.


Satan has the backing of the courts, trying to shut the mouths of God-fearing pastors, who still have the courage to preach about it from the book of Romans, who show what God thinks of homosexuality and what He did to Sodom and Gomorrah. I believe the time will soon come when godless judges will close churches that call being gay a sin.
Here's the question someone needs to ask Ms Gallant: do you agree or disagree with the above passage? What parts do you dispute?

Anyway, I've headed very far down this road, trying to avoid having a "what did she really mean" argument like we had around abortion councilling. This is so much clearer. If you don't think I'm right, feel encouraged to point me to one single moment in Gallant's public life when she showed any indication putting her homophobia in question.

Let's head back to my initial point. What to know why the Conservatives will not be allowed anywhere near the reins of power? The Canadian public wants to punish the Liberals, but they don't want Canada to radically change. Stephen Harper knows it, and has spent the campaign trying to sell his party as Liberal Lite - "Same great taste, now with 75% less corruption!" His candidates don't understand this strategy, because they keep opening their yaps on these issues. I think this gaffe, the Cheryl Gallant gaffe, might be the break point. I think the only choice right now is for Harper to remove her as a candidate before the shitstorm really takes hold. I keep saying Harper can't afford more of these errors. I'm ready now to say that Harper can't afford this one. It's catching on slowly because it happened over the weekend, up against D-Day ceremonies and high-profile hockey games, but it will be noticed. I think if the Liberals are smart they'll use this as a wedge issue to get the angry-at-the-Liberal-party centrists back.

I'll answer my title question. Yes, it's time to quote John Crosbie. I've used this before, but with Harper in the driver's seat, it seems more appropriate than ever to this election:

"It's the 90% of Reformers that give the other 10% a bad name."

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I didn't include him in the Gaffe-o-Meter, either... sue me

Green Party leader Jim Harris writes a little something for the election blog today. It's an interesting read, and represents a voice that needs to be heard in this campaign. It's surrounded by much editorializing in the comments and contributor blogs about the "unfairness" of excluding him from the televised leaders' debates.


Anyone rememeber the National Party? They polled pretty well, too, but they disappeared in a big hurry, and it wasn't because Mel Hurtig wasn't at the debate.

I really don't think we should rely on poll data to determine who gets invited and who doesn't. The Reform Party went out there and won a by-election on the ground before they expected to be taken seriously on the national stage. Taking a different approach, the Greens are running their leader up against Jack Layton in TO-Danforth. Why don't they just send out a press release saying they have no intention of winning a single seat?

Nominating three-hundred and eight candidates is an impressive feat. Electing just one would be so much more so.
Welcome aboard

To those of you who managed to find me after I spoke almost a whole sentence about this blog on Global National this evening, happy to have you. I'm the guy in the article blogging the "lighter side" of the election. I'm here all week - try the veal.

If you're looking for the other two blogs mentioned in the article, Darren Barefoot is found here, and blogscanada is here. But chances are, you missed it completely, because, you know... hockey.
Harper's out of the bubble; Liberal campaign worker is out of his mind

I've been very critical of Jack Layton on this page in the past days, but give the man full props - he answers questions, he speaks his mind, and he generally lets voters know what they'll be getting if they vote NDP. In the meantime, Stephen Harper has spent the campaign thus far tightly on-message, waiting for the Liberals to helpfully self-destruct. Corruption, waste, graft, blah, blah, complainycakes. It hasn't given the voters much of a sense of what they might be voting for, only what they're voting against. Until today.

Merrifield's gaffe on Tuesday forced Harper to take questions responding to the growing sense that the new Conservatives have more in common with their Reform and Alliance predessors than they want to let on.

Harper repeated his comments from Wednesday that Parliament would define marriage and that he expected the Supreme Court would not interfere.


"I believe the court will defer to Parliament's judgment," said Harper, who supports the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Harper also reiterated past comments that his government would not introduce abortion legislation but that he would allow a free vote on the issue if an MP introduced a private member's bill.
The former, the position on same-sex marriage, I could have written off as throwing a bone to the social conservatives, without actually governing as one. Regular readers know I'm in favour of same-sex marriage, and wouldn't be happy about this, but it would only mean delay before those marriages are recognized.

But to the latter, that's more disconcerting. I suppose a private-members bill might insist on counselling. It might mean a wait period. It might mean all sorts of means, big or small, designed to interfere with access to abortion. I don't want to be part of the scaremongering chorus, led by Paul Martin, that says Harper is dangerous. But an open-ended statement like this is not doing a lot to dissuade me.

Speaking of the scaremongering chorus, Bear has pointed me to a story from the Lower Mainland:

Vancouver East Liberal candidate Shirley Chan has accepted the resignation of one of her communications officials because of an e-mail she calls "inappropriate, insensitive and indefensible."

Chan says Jon Loewen had sent out an e-mail inviting 50 friends to go to a local bar for a campaign event.

He wrote that he liked going to the bar to get "retarded."

He said everyone was welcome, even Conservatives - who, he wrote, could sit in the corner and hate gays, immigrants, social programs and anything reasonable.

Chan says Loewen offered his resignation and it was accepted.

"I will apologize to persons with disabilities, I will apologize to any immigrant groups who may feel they have been slandered," she says.
Before you ask, I'm not going to score any gaffe points for this - this is a minor official in a local campaign, who was likely working one too many long days. I'm certain he's feeling a little sheepish about this.

Most interesting in this story was Chan's response, which I'm almost considering scoring as a gaffe of ommision. Quick quiz - who was the most slandered by that e-mail? Who did Chan neglect to apologise to, in her moment of contrition? That's right - Tories. Whoops!
Mmmm... Maple!

Some headlines defy elaboration. From the CBC:

Canadian lab testing maple syrup-flavoured cigarettes

Come for the flavour - stay for the addictive carcinogens! Huh... I guess I was able to elaborate after all.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Attack squads

I'm going to direct you to James Bow, for his incisive response to perhaps the most disappointing development of this campaign - Liberals seeking out yelling matches with their political opponents.

Does this serve any purpose? Does this help citizens decide how best to govern themselves? This is a sideshow, and not a helpful one - this tactic lacks any useful purpose. But I'm betting we've seen the last of it.

Am I the only one who finds this election endlessly fascinating, if a little thin on policy?

Update Thursday early am: It doesn't fit my traditional image of gaffe (saying something, true or not, that you really didn't want the public to hear, if only you'd given it five minutes of thought), so it didn't occur to me to score it. But I think Don, in my comments, is right - this was widely criticized as just kinda stupid, and that makes it kind of a gaffe. Her Majesty's Loyal Government scores PROM=2 (cabinet ministers) * SIG=1 (high-profile, but probably not very vote-affecting, because it's a tactic, not an issue) = two gaffe points.

Thanks also to alert reader Joe, who found the new and improved Layton picture for the Gaffe-o-Meter. Not as space-alienesque, but goofier regardless. Now someone find me a decent Harper.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Update your scorecards

The Conservatives managed another gaffe today, and this one feels easy to score. A four-pointer, in fact.

Mr. Merrifield [Health critic, and Conservative candidate for Yellowhead] said that women considering terminating their pregnancies should have third-party, independent counselling prior to undergoing the procedures, saying it would be "valuable" to women who may only be seeing one side of the issue. He did not specify whether counselling should be done by a doctor.
Harper needs to keep a lid on these people. I've said it before - the one thing that will have the Conservative campaign doing a mean impression of the Titanic is any appearance of being the old Reform Party. I'm not convinced Merrifield's comments are as over-the-top as all that, but any smell of legislation on abortion opens the door to criticism that however moderate Harper appears to be, he's surrounded by the same members of the social right that made Reform and Alliance unelectable.

Spencer, Reid, Merrifield - how many more of these can Harper afford?

Merrifield, health critic talking on a health issue: PROM=2. Talking on an issue that the Conservatives can't stay safely far enough away from: SIG=2. Total, four points of bad news for the Mobius Strippers.
The local races

A couple of posts back, some debate is breaking out in the comments about the importance of the local candidate vs. the national party when determining a vote. It's generally believed that a really good, high-profile local candidate can gain a party about five percent in the riding. In my experience, though, a particularly poor one can be much more costly than that. And Rob Anders may be the worst that Calgary has to offer.

I came across this site only because they've linked to me, but now that I have, I'm thrilled to point people their way. Rob Anders, you might recall, was the MP who blocked honourary Canadian citizenship being granted to Nelson Mandela, because, according to Anders, Mandela was a "communist and a terrorist". That was certainly the high point of Anders' infamy, but there are many other examples of Anders taking stands well to the right (or some stranger direction) of the rest of his then Alliance caucus.

Voters of Calgary West, do you want to help the new Conservative party ground itself as reasonable, reliable, moderate, and acceptable to voters in all parts of the country? The greatest favour you can do the new Conservative Party is to vote against this buffoon.