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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Working backwards

I've been asked to pass judgement on a few more gaffes, some dating back to the opening weekend. Let's get to them:

Stephen Harper has some trouble putting on a pair of gloves. A Google News search for "Stephen Harper work gloves" produces the story I linked, and only that. This, plus a single tweet from one reporter, even repeated by Kinsella, does not a gaffe make. No score.

John McCallum discussed the Liberal plan to roll back the most recent corporate tax cut, acknowledging under direct question that "minor job loss" may occur. He went on to argue that there would be a net job gain as that tax money was redistributed toward the middle class who would create jobs by spending it. One blogging Conservative have tried to make some hay of this through a tightly edited youtube audio post (we can't hear McCallum's follow-up answer? And this is supposed to prove something?), but I refuse to punish candidates for spelling out policy. It was close call, but no points.

Finally, when campaigning in Montreal, Michael Ignatieff messed around with some guy's lute (? I'm going with "lute"), and as he returned it, the lutist (loutist? I'm in pretty deep water here) acknowledged that he'd be voting for Thomas Mulcair, the NDP candidate. That's what you get in a democracy - voters can tell candidates to their faces that they're voting for the other guy. So what? Better that than the sort of super-tight controls a campaign would need to make sure this never happens. No gaffe.

Did I get them all? The score remains unchanged: 3-0-0-0.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You people (Cons 3, all others zero)

Mrs. Revmod and I were watching the news on Sunday night when we first heard the "you people" from Harper, speaking in front of an audience of South Asians. And when I say "in front of", what I mean is that every brown face in the room seemed to be sitting behind him, playing the role of wallpaper to his speech. When the broadcast took a wider shot of the room, the crowd facing the other way seemed to be entirely white.

Now, the Tories can make legitimate claims at diversity. I'm sure they're falling short in several ways that opponents could itemize, but they're diverse enough to deflect most criticism. Still, they're making specific efforts, some of them questionable, to appeal to recent immigrants. That's why the "you people" was so tone-deaf.

I wanted to find an escape route for Harper. I wanted to find him using "you people" commonly in non-racial contexts. I wanted to prove to myself that I'm just being lefty-sensitive. I failed. I'm tentatively awarding prom3 x sig1 depending on the legs this story has (so far, to my surprise, none). The scoreboard has to wait until the end of my work day.
The early gaffes

I'll save the obvious one for the next post. Let me start with the reader tips.

Shelly Glover, a Winnipeg Conservative incumbent described a neighbouring 68-year-old Liberal incumbent as "past her expiry date." Cue the (false?) outrage from seniors. But here's the thing - it's clear to me from the context of the comment that she wasn't saying Anita Neville was too old for the job, she was saying Ms Nevelle has been doing it for too long.

Speaking of doing it for too long, I have a precedent for scoring this one. In 2006, Peter McKay told Alexa McDonough to "stick to your knitting." There was much (false) hue and cry about sexism. And McKay issued an apology. I scored it then only because of the apology. That precedent stands. Right now, Glover's campaign has issued a clarification, but not an apology. If she sticks to her guns, no score.

The next reader suggestion notes that the Prime Minister stumbled over the word "election" and mentioned "unnecessary erections" instead. Sorry. No score for Mumbly Joeisms.

Finally, Liberals have produced audio of a Tory candidate claiming his office staff has been helping him "process immigration files or anything else." I'm withholding judgement on this one. Until the candidate or the staff clarify what they've actually been doing, I don't think we can judge if the candidate was overselling what they actually do (giving out phone numbers of the appropriate channels, perhaps), or conversely if the campaign office was overstepping its authority with the active participation of the Minister of Immigration (which is what the Liberals seem to be implying).

So, so far, no score, though two of these might turn into a score yet. But I'm skipping the big one for the next post. You people will just have to wait.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I already have a couple of suggestions for early scores to go up on the big board. Because entries don't close for a couple of hours yet, I'll be deferring any scoring until then. Once entries close, the gaffeometer AT gmail address will serve as an excellent contact point to keep me up-to-date about the latest jackassery. The comments sections serve almost as well, but slower.

Start your error-prone candidates!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gaffeometer deadline

Between the weekend writ-drop and the lack of gaffes over this opening weekend, I'm deferring the prediction deadline to Monday midnight. Tell me at gaffeometer AT gmail the scores each party will generate over the campaign for a chance at a donation made to your favourite local candidate. And, no - just because I've excluded the Greens from the gaffeometer doesn't mean you can't make me send money that way. It will taste like acid, but I'll do it. I'm that committed.

I digress. Monday, midnight.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

May 2

Wow - short campaign. It suggests to me that Harper sees some downside potential over the course of the campaign, and not so much upside. I guess when you've spent millions of dollars and a couple of years defining your opponent, you don't want to give very much time for Ignatieff to break out of that box.

The short campaign might explain why everyone seems to have started throwing swings.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An ounce of prevention

It's becoming obvious from the action in the House of Commons today that the Conservatives will say "It's us, or it's an antidemocratic coalition of socialists and separatists" every time they get in range of a microphone for the next six weeks.

Do you know when would have been a good time to talk about the great tradition of coalition governments in Westminster-style Parliaments? Constantly, and for the last two-and-a-half years. Unfortunately, the opportunity is past, and the argument won't work as well during the campaign, because the Liberals won't admit until the last possible moment that they might do anything other than win overwhelmingly. Nice work, Liberals.
Before it all gets going:

It's not a gaffe, per se, but the NDP may have found the dumbest doorstep issue of all time to treat as a marquee issue: a promise to exempt home heating from the GST.

Let me get this straight: Canada's left-wing party is proposing a tax break which will give the greatest benefit to the rich owners of huge houses and those who are the most wasteful with hydrocarbons. The energy-efficient and those who live more simply will see less, and renters who have baseboard heating rolled into the price of their accommodations will probably see none of the money, because their landlords will pocket it. Genius! It's like the opposite of a carbon tax, because we all know how unpopular that was last election.

Seriously, am I going to have to vote Liberal this time around?

Edited to add: Calgary Grit was on this months ago.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Previous final scores:


2006 included six points for the Liberals, earned by Scott Reid. (I believe that prompted the only time I tried to explain the scoring to a media outlet.):

and the remarkably low-gaffe election of 2008:
It's that time again

Unless Canada's punditocracy is wildly off-base (and when has that ever happened?), this week should see the beginning of Gaffe-o-meter 2011, and to a lesser extent, an election campaign. Does everyone remember the rules for scoring?

1) The scoring will begin on the day the writ is dropped for the Federal election - entries will be cut off midnight the next day. Entries will include the predicted total score for each party.

2) Two numbers determine the score - the quality of the gaffe ("sig") and the rank of the gaffemaker ("prom"). Both scales will score on a range from one to three. GaffePoints ("GP") for an individual gaffe will be calculated by multiplying "sig" by "prom". Party scores will accumulate by adding the GPs of each gaffe.

3) Contest entries will be scored by measuring the distance (plus or minus) between the prediction and the score for each party - lowest total difference wins.

4) I am the final and only arbiter of the quality of the gaffe ("sig") and the rank of the gaffemaker ("prom"). Debate, however, is encouraged in the attached comments section - Good or entertaining arguments have made me rethink before.

5) Scoring will close at 0800 MST on the day following election day. SPECIAL PARIZEAU RULE: Scoring will double for gaffes made on election day, including acceptance and concession speeches.

6) For the purpose of the contest, "gaffe" is defined as an unplanned error in fact or judgment. It might be a mistake for the NDP to release a platform paper advocating gender segregation of schools, to the derision of the Canadian electorate, but it's not a "gaffe". On the other hand, if Jack Layton explains the policy by making an aside about high-school boys being distracted by the firm and supple bodies of women in the full bloom of their hot, hot youth, that would be a "gaffe".

The prize: the reader who guesses closest to the actual final result will win a $20 donation to the local candidate of their choice next time around, if only you tell me who that candidate is. I've offers to each of my winners, but I haven't had to issue one donation yet. Third time a charm?

Send your predictions for total gaffe scores, by party, to gaffeometer AT gmail. Meanwhile, I have a graphic to produce.