Autonomous Source

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January 26, 2006

It's still moving! Hit it again!

I'm starting to get over my disappointment that the Liberals were let off so easily by the doltish voters around Toronto. This is a party that truly deserves a spell in the political wilderness. But no, they made a fairly decent showing and will be well positioned to bribe their way back into power a year and a half from now.

But there's one thing the Tories could do to deliver a good whack to the Liberals that would hopefully make it more difficult for them to get up again: they could remove the $1.75/vote rebate the political parties get from public funds.

The Liberals are deep in debt, and need this money to get back on their feet. Without a leader, they'll find it difficult to raise funds, and without funds it'll be hard for them to hold a leadership race. I have no doubt they'll be able to eventually pull themselves back together, but this will make it harder. Good.

The Liberals have siphoned enough public money to their party already. It's obscene that taxpayers should have to finance them again. It's obscene they have to finance any political party. If a party has such low support that it can't get donations from individuals, it shouldn't be running. I'm betting the Bloc and NDP would be willing to join the Conservatives on this, since they both have a core of supporters that donate and will both benefit from a weaker Liberal party. Go for it guys, kick 'em when they'e down.

January 24, 2006

Aftermath

Last night my cold, which I thought I had made peace with, decided to teach me a lesson. DO NOT stay out late and drink. DO NOT! NO! NO! NO! You must respect me! And so I was up late last night coughing my lungs out, filling tissues with green goop, and getting very little sleep.

So, while I would love to spend this child-free day speculating on things and reading all the fascinating analyses that litter the blogs, I'm just going to stay in bed and try to catch up on my sleep. But I'm going to say just one, possibly unfair, thing before I turn in.

No, wait. No, I shouldn't. I was going to say that the reason the polls predicted higher numbers for the Tories than what they got was that some people were lying to the pollsters. I was going to say that these people knew the Liberals were rotten and had to go, but were frightened and had decided to vote for them anyway. But they were ashamed of their cowardice, and kept this secret to themselves. That's what I was going to say, but it's not really fair. It's probably just my lack of sleep that makes me think of things like that.

January 23, 2006

Live-blogging the night

11:40 Okay. I gotta go home. The cold I've been fighting for the past couple of days is saying I need to get to bed. Or maybe it's the overdose of Tobin CTV is showing.

Hey! Clement won in a squeaker. He'll make a cute MP.

11:34 Tobin again. He's just glowing with ambition. He's ecstatic. I'm getting ill looking at him.

11:30 Okay. It's all over except the interviews. I'm probably heading home.

11:09 Landslide Annie. Buried! Woohoo!

10:59 Belinda won! Woohoo!

10:57 People are standing around the front door talking on cellphones. All the cameras are pointing at the door. This means something...

10:53 It looks like Casey is going to play the bagpipes to introduce Cannon. This should be interesting.

10:43 Brian Tobin just glows with phoniness. Just looking at him is oppressive.

10:36 Ghod. What if the Wire Brush and Jack! make some twisted deal to cling to power. So far Libs + NDP > Cons. Bad.

10:33 No, I'm not wearing one of those blue T-shirts.

10:28 CTV just announced Pontiac for Cannon. And we're elected or leading in ten ridings in Quebec! Woohoo!

10:26 It's really filling up here now. Still no bloody news, except that a contact in Calgary of all places says we've won in the Pontiac. I'd really like to see some numbers, though...

10:18 All the websites are unable to give us info. The TV stations are not giving us what we want. Elections Canada is down. And Elections Canada prevented any of our scrutineers from being in the returning office. We do not know anything about our riding.

I need random access information, not this news dribble at the bottom of the page.

10:09 CBC.ca is down. CTV.ca is down. But you still have Autonomous Source. Too bad I don't know anything.

10:02 CTV is projecting a Conservative minority. That's nice. The numbers are looking better -- 9 seats leading in Quebec!

We still haven't got any results for our riding. Our information strategy has obviously failed. No one will be seeing my cool spreadsheet because we have no data.

Elections Canada site. Dead. CQ is easier to reach.

9:42 Elections Canada boasted they were going to have the results on their website. Too bad it's unable to hndle the load.

9:31 Doesn't look good so far. I may need another drink soon.

9:27 I'm gonna have to sign off for a bit. Things are about to get crazy.

9:18 I have been handed a button and told to prepare to be act excited behind Ravi as he goes on in a few minutes. CTV, coming up. My wife is in the red.

9:11 Rusty nail number two. CQ is a pig to load. Guys, please just stop trying to load the page so I can load it, okay?

It's starting to fill up around here. I no longer give a damn if people are reading over my shoulder.

Ghod, Rex Murphy looks like a freak. Really.

I've abandoned my wife at the bar. Better go rescue her.

8:53 CQ's numbers aren't that good so far. I think it's time for another drink.

8:13 My wife has joined me. $5.75 for a generous rusty nail, not bad.

This is fascinating, isn't it?

7:57 Ravi, the reporter for CTV, just came by for a chat. I filled him in on some of the local info of the riding, but he seemed like he had done his homework already.

I think I'll start with a rusty nail.

7:50 Captain's Quarters is planning to live-blog the election and bust the blackouts. But he still doesn't have any info! C'mon, the Atlantic polls are closed -- what's the holdup? Plus his site seems inordinately slow -- can't he do something about that?

7:45 What should I drink tonight? Rusty nails? White Russians? Beer? I'll have to decide soon...

7:38 It's difficult to blog with people standing over your shoulder. I feel very uncomfortable. I keep expecting someone to start asking me inconvenient questions.

CTV is has us on as I write. The tall guy with the horizontal stripes is not me, I have vertical stripes. And I'm not tall. And I've modestly decided not to wander into the picture. Okay, It's done. Next up: Pierre Pettigrew's HQ. I'm not sure it'll be quite as cheery a place tonoght.

7:00 Things are quiet. I'm sitting in front of a computer with nothing to do. Might as well blog. I'll slap up anything interesting as the night progresses, time permitting.

Colby Cosh captures the shaky state I'm in right now as I await the information flood.

Inside the media circus

Hey! I've got a wireless connection here at the site of the Lawrence Cannon victory party! This place is going to be a focal point for the media coverage tonight judging from the amount of cameras and electronic gear being set up. I hope to be able to report on some of the happenings here -- and maybe even be able to post a few pictures -- but I have a feeling I'll be pretty busy. If you're watching the coverage, look for the guy with the Don Jonson stubble, tight tan pants, and the stylish dark striped shirt. That'll be me.

UPDATE: BTW, we're up at Camp Fortune. Anyone in the area of the Gatineau hills is welcome to come up and enjoy the show.

Voting day

I don't have too much time to write and probably won't be able to post all day. I'm running out the door to be a scrutineer, and after that I'll be at the Lawrence Cannon victory party 'til late at night. It's too bad; I was hoping to defy the government's unenforceable information throttling diktat. Next time maybe.

I'm hoping Canada gets some good news today. The Liberals have clung to power using methods that are reprehensible. They've lied, bribed, and run a campaign based on fear, hatred and division. These guys have to go, even if it's just for the chance of someone else looking through the files and finding out what's really been going on for the past dozen years. Mark Steyn called this election an act of politcal hygiene for Canada, and it is. Canada should realize its time to take off that pair of underwear and throw it in the wash -- even if it is its favourite pair.

January 21, 2006

Revised Election Predictions

Now that the last of the polls are out, Andrew Coyne has put out a call for election predictions. I made my first one in mid-December, and I still think it's pretty close to what's going to happen, but I'm going to alter it slightly based on the way things are going.

First, the Conservatives are doing better than I thought they would. I had given 130 seats to them, now I think it'll be 140. Too bad it's not a majority, but it'll be enough to take the Liberals' greasy hands off the levers of power. The Liberals are doing much worse than I expected, they go from 103 to 82, benefiting the NDP, who get bumped from 21 to 31. The Bloc go from 54 to 55.

So. My final prediction:

Conservatives: 140
Liberals: 82
NDP: 31
Bloc: 55
I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised on Monday, but am not counting on it. I don't think there's really any Liberal supporters left, just anti-Conservatives. Perhaps the absence of something to vote for will keep a large portion of these people away. Gotta have something to hope for.

Coyne also asked three questions. My answers:

  1. The Conservatives win more seats in Ontario.
  2. The Liberals win more seats in Qué.
  3. The Liberals (and Martin) win in LaSalle-Emard. *sigh*

UPDATE: For some reason, I had the number of seats wrong. There's 308, not 315. I knew that but I was thinking of the number needed for a majority. I've altered them by lowering the Blocs totals. The others are solid.

This could be big

Kate at Small Dead Animals has the text of a complaint to Elections Canada by the Conservative Candidate in Edmonton Centre. It alleges many, many irregularities in the voters list for that riding:

  • Almost 100 apparently nonexistent addresses in Edmonton's downtown core - in some cases, the addresses listed fictional residences in between two genuine buildings.
  • Hundreds of people registered to vote out of their law offices, medical offices, accounting offices, and Government of Canada offices - in some cases these may be genuine errors, but in other cases, entire families are registered to vote out of high rise office space.
  • Dozens of people registered to vote out of office towers, but who did not list a suite number, causing the address to read similarly to ordinary residences - in many cases, these people are also registered to vote in other ridings using their home addresses, and in other cases, voters living in other ridings are only registered in Edmonton Centre.
  • Dozens of people registered to vote out of small mail box locations and from self-storage yards - there is no legitimate way for a person to appear on the list of Electors from a self-storage yard.
  • Eighteen people registered to vote out of a truck stop.
  • People registered to vote out of karaoke bars, lingerie stores, dance lounges, galleries, etc...
Edmonton Centre is of course the riding of Landslide Annie, who earned her nickname by squeaking into office with multiple consecutive slim majorities of votes. Are the allegations true? How long has it been going on? Is it the result of fraud, or is it just some sort of screw up? I'm hoping some enterprising reporters will start investigating.

January 20, 2006

Ten Candidates to root for

Sporting events are pretty dull unless you have someone to cheer for. Similarly election campaigns -- having a bias makes it interesting. Watching the results roll in as a disinterested observer would be boring. But even choosing a favourite party is pretty dull. The overall results are usually called pretty early, and then all that's left to follow is the precise totals of seats.

But there is the drama of the individual candidates' races. Real people with personalities and histories, battling it out to be 'first past the post'. In order to inject some excitement into Monday evenings coverage, I suggest picking a few races to watch, doing a bit of research, and picking who you want to win. If you're too lazy to do that, you can use my list. From East to West:

Mary DeWolfe - Kings-Hants - Conservative

I have no idea who Bob Mullan, but I'm sure he's a good person. I do know who Scott Brison is, and he is not a good person. He's DeWolfe's Liberal opponent, known for being a turncoat from his former party, telling a former campaign worker to "kiss my ass", and for being the point man in Paul Martin's campaign of misdirection and obfuscation to bury the Gomery report. He's claimed Kings-Hants as his 'turf', and has boasted that he will be the MP there for "a long, long time." He's probably the slimiest MP in Parliament.

Chances: Three more days is all that's left in that "long, long time." Brison looks like he's going down. But it could be close.

May Chiu - LaSalle-Émard - Bloc Québécois

I don't know much about May Chiu either, but she is nine months pregnant and her due date is on election day. She's running against Paul Martin in his safe Montreal seat. While it might be fun to have Martin in Parliament as the head of a much reduced Liberal party, there's no doubt he'd be pushed out of the leadership pretty quickly, and he would resign his seat. Plus, he deserves the humiliation. Besides, Chui's victory speech would be fun to watch.

Chances: Not great. Martin still looks pretty safe. But (warning: cliché coming) 'the only poll that counts is on election day'.

Lawrence Cannon - Pontiac - Conservative

Obviously I'll be watching this race pretty closely. Especially since I'll be flying the poll results spreadsheet at Cannon's election night headquarters. I've put in a fair amount of effort for this campaign and will be ecstatic (crushed) if we win (lose).

Chances: Very good. A local poll was released recently that shows Cannon just a point behind the Bloc, with the Liberals far behind. Voters who want to block the Bloc now have a clear choice.

John Baird - Ottawa West-Nepean - Conservative

This riding is interesting because of a independent candidate that aims to be the spoiler for the Conservatives. This seat would probably be a safe Conservative win. It was a very close Liberal victory last time, but this time has former Ontario cabinet minister John Baird running for the Tories. But Baird is on record as a supporter of gay marriage (as are many other Conservatives), which has inspired John Pacheco to run as an independent 'pro-family' candidate. For an independent, he's been pretty active and has been well funded. He can't win, but he hopes to drain enough support from Baird to teach him a lesson.

Chances: I think Baird will still win. In fact, Pacheco could even wind up helping him. Pacheco's shown himself to be a bit of a loon in his media appearences, and by targeting Baird he makes him look good.

Belinda Stronach - Newmarket-Aurora - Liberal

What? How could I want Belinda to win? Well, let me explain. She's rich and well connected. If she loses, she can go back to her world of privilege and never look back. But if she's elected as part of a dwindled cohort of Liberals, she'll have to stick around Ottawa (hopefully for four years) and collect her measly MP's salary. She won't be able to resign without taking a lot of heat. And as a bonus, she might get ambitious again and join in with Ignatieff, McKenna, Tobin and Manley as they squabble over the corpse of the Liberal party.

Chances: Not good. Oh Belinda, we hardly knew ye.

Peter Kent - St. Paul's - Conservative

It would be a major victory if the Tories could get one seat in Toronto. Peter Kent offers the best chance for that.

Chances: Slim. What is it with the people in Toronto?

John Capobianco - Etobicoke Lakeshore - Conservative

No clue who he is, but he's not Michael Ignatieff, and that's good enough for me. Ignatieff is probably a good guy, and our Parliament would be enriched by his erudite presence, but I have this cruel streak and I need to feed it. Ignatieff has been carefully chosen and groomed for this new role, was introduced to all the right people, and had all the doors opened for him. For me, it's a pleasure to watch all that preparation come to naught.

Brad Farquhar - Wascana - Conservative

Another riding where I'm not looking for someone to win, but hoping to see someone lose. Ralph Goodale, our sloppy Finance Minister, is Farquhar's opponent. Goodale's gyrations over the income trust issue have cost a lot of people a lot of money, and he has failed to even acknowledge that something went wrong.

Chances: Goodale's in Saskatchewan, deep behind enemy lines. Farquhar should win it easily.

Svend Robinson - Vancouver Centre - NDP

First Belinda, now Svend? I have obviously lost my mind. But no, there's a good reason for wanting to see Svend back in Parliament: he's just so gosh-darned entertaining.

Svend can be counted on to catch full-blown HDS (Harper Derangement Syndrome) in the event of a Conservative win. He'll rant and rave, posture and bluster, and indulge in his passion for ridiculous stunts. It'll be a great show. He'll discredit Harper's foes and regularly embarrass Layton. The US has Teddy Kennedy, Britain has George Galloway, and Canada must have Svend.

Chances: Poor. Hedy Fry looks like she's going to win it. She's nuts too, but not as much fun.

Troy DeSouza - Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca - Conservative

This is the riding of another Conservative defector, Keith Martin. Though not as odious as Scott Brison, Martin has been an effective defender of the Prime Minister's twisted priorities. It'll be nice to see him lose.

Chances: Very good. The riding has a history of voting Reform/Alliance, and with the Liberals swirling down the drain it's a fair bet they'll go Conservative.

UPDATE: Oops! Commenter Andrew Carson pointed out I had the name wrong for the candidate in Kings-Hants. I've corrected it.

January 18, 2006

Contradictions

Now Paul Martin's wearing a Buzz Hargrove union jacket while he complains about Jack Layton's "political expediency" while he campaigns for Liberal candidate Gary Carr, a former Mike Harris Scary Ontario Conservative.
-- Paul Wells
Commenters savour the irony -- the president of the CAW campaigns for the heiress to union-free Magna, while the woman who left the Conservatives because they were "in bed with the Bloc" campaigns with a man who says he'd vote for them.
-- Andrew Coyne

In a way, I'm gonna miss those Liberals...

Voter's guide: the kooks, crackpots, and true believers

For the last two months we've heard plenty from the major parties, but very little from the fringes. And for good reason: these people are nuts. But if you're going to consider yourself an informed voter, you owe it to yourself to give them a fair hearing.

Well, not really. It's actually a complete waste of time. I spent the past day going through their respective websites in order to find this out. But at least I got a post out of it.

Canadian Action Party

Website slickness: Small business professional

In their own words: "All political parties promise "jobs, jobs, jobs" without being able to deliver on the promise. What makes CAP different from all other parties is that we would use the Bank of Canada to finance full employment."

Nationalism and anti-globalism mixed with anti-government paranoia. Want the government to liberate the Bank of Canada to miraculously solve all our problems. Have a LaRouchie smell about them.

The Action Party was created by Paul Hellyer, who made headlines earlier this year warning that George Bush was plotting intergalactic war. He resigned after a failed attempt to merge with the NDP, and the party has been going downhill since then. But you never know, this election they could surprise you.

Western Block Party

Website slickness: One hour's work with Front Page

In their own words: "The primary objective of the Western Block Party is to create Western Canada as a free and independent nation."

The above is pretty much the only full sentence on the site. C'mon guys, you have to work a little harder than this!

Christian Heritage Party

Website slickness: High school club

In their own words: "The Christian Heritage Party believes as did our fathers of confederation in the supremacy of God, and the need for civil law to take its cue from Moral law.

It is time for upright citizens to take back control of our beloved country, Canada."

Hey! Who are these guys? Aren't all the so-cons in the Conservative party already? The scariest thing about these guys is that if you translate their French name back to English, you get the Chrétien Heritage Party.

Freedom Party

Website slickness: Special interest group, not updated in months

In their own words: "Perhaps it should not be too surprising that we are meeting with such progress and success. People are looking for change. In particular, they are looking for some fresh faces on the political scene, and some ideas that aren't simply re-heated left-overs from the Trudeau and Mulroney years. Fading quickly is the feeling that government should be involved in every aspect of our lives. Growing is the understanding that, for many things, government is not equipped to make the right decisions for us."

Neo-Libertarians. Their policies are aimed at limiting the power of the federal government -- how crazy is that! Their website doesn't have any reference to the election on now, and they have no candidates running. But they say they will run candidates in the 2008 (??) federal general election.

Marijuana Party

Website slickness: Small business professional

In their own words: "TV ad for the Marijuana Party - 2006 Elections. Right now this is not in a good format, and may take a long time to load and play. We will try to fix that later."

You know these guys. Like, legalize it dude. One day over a year ago, they brainstormed for an hour on party policy and came up with a bunch of points. Then they went out for pizza and fries. One day they're going to put them all together into something coherent.

Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

Website slickness: Geocities home page

In their own words: "In the sphere of international relations, the renewal of Canada requires a foreign policy which bases itself on:
• Support for all peoples fighting for their rights;
• Relations of equality and mutual benefit amongst sovereign nations based on peaceful coexistence;
• Non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations."

Hey! Don't two of those completely contradict each other?

These guys are just what you'd expect: lots of revolutionary jargon and nonsense. Luckily they're not putting too much effort into this election. The last news item on their site: save Tookie.

Libertarian Party of Canada

Website slickness: Special interest group, infrequently updated

In their own words: "The Libertarian Party of Canada isn't just another party; it's a whole new concept in the relationship between people and government. Believe it or not, government actually causes more problems than it solves by forcing regulations on some groups, but not on others, and this leads to injustice for some at the benefit of others. We want the smallest and most effective government possible because that's exactly what Canadians deserve."

Seems very similar to the Freedom party, except that they actually have some candidates. Again this stuff about limiting government -- don't they understand what politics is about?


Progressive Canadian Party of Canada

Website slickness: Government department -- very slick, but last update December 9th.

In their own words: "Health care, its delivery and administration, has consistently been an election hot-button issue since its inception. We have one of the best systems in the world. It discriminates against no citizen. The Canada Health Act is part of what distinguishes us as Canadians.

Over the past several years the system has become increasingly unmanageable with spiraling costs and government clawbacks initiated by Paul Martin as Finance Minister and of necessity passed down by the provinces to local communities.

The PC Party has always and continues to believe in a completely publicly funded system of health care for Canadians.

We believe that a combination of government funding restoration to 1993-94 levels, guaranteeing federal funding levels so provinces and territories can plan and budget, and more prudent cost management in the field, would assist in stabilizing the system and restoring the confidence of Canadians that reliable health care will be available to them when needed."

You still awake?

You want squishy, bland Canadianisms? To create their policies, they took the last dozen Liberal 'red books' and pureéd them and watered them down until they had this thin, weak gruel. No one could really vote for this stuff. They seem only to exist to confuse voters that might want to vote Conservative and used to know them as the 'PCs'.

Communist Party of Canada

Website slickness: Small business professional, last updated in November

In their own words: "Capitalist globalization – led by US imperialism with the full support of the imperialist ruling class of Canada – is threatening the remaining threads of Canadian sovereignty and independence. Multilateral investment and trade pacts are undermining the democratic right of the Canadian people to establish policies and determine our own course of development.

Capitalism in Canada and the world today is a crisis-ridden and decaying system. But, it is pregnant with its opposite – socialism."

These guys are even more strident than the Marxist-Leninists, and more thorough too. Their platform just goes on and on and on and on. As you might expect, they list the solutions for every problem in the world, real or imagined.

Animal Alliance Party of Canada

Website slickness: Three hours' work with Front Page

In their own words: "The political reality is that the Canadian government's environmental and animal protection policies will never improve until environmentalists reward politicians who protect the environment and animals and punish those who don't. We can only do that in elections. We can only do that as a registered political party."

If the Greens are just too grey for you, try the AA. They're the only ones willing to stand up for Canada's under-represented animal citizens.

First Peoples National Party of Canada

Website slickness: Typical blog

In their own words: "The First Peoples National Party wants food to be safe and nutritious. People should know what they are eating. FPNP wants all genetically engineered food crops banned and all imported products containing Genetically Modified Organisms to be clearly labeled."

Also know as the 'Have our cake and eat it too' party, they advocate the increase of all social programs, and the removal of any kind of personal responsibility over their lives. The government can and must provide all. Their policy platform is almost as complete as the Communists, but rather than sounding like a list of demands, it's more of a long list of whiney complaints.

UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me many times that I forgot the Sex Party. For completeness, here they are:

The Sex Party

Website slickness: Small business professional

In their own words: "The news media has specialists covering every major aspect of human existence, including food, health, education, travel, the environment, business, the media itself, fashion, cars, and wine. Yet not a single journalist in a mainstream media organization focuses on sexuality. The subject deserves at least the same attention as fashion, cars and wine.

The Sex Party would create a Sex-Positive Press Council that would expose the overt and subtle censorship practiced by BC media.

The provincial Victoria Day holiday in May commemorates a monarch legendary for her negative attitudes towards female sexuality. The Sex Party would change Victoria Day to Eros Day to celebrate and encourage sex-positive expression."

The Sex Party doesn't have a logo that I could find, so I was forced to invent my own. I'm sure they would find it very heteronormative, but I'm on a time budget here.

These guys have a sex hangup. They have no policies on education other than drastically revamped sex ed programs, no interest in health care other than suggesting that nursing homes must provide 'sexual care nurses' for residents. It's just sex, sex, sex. I know, I know -- what should I expect? They're a one issue party.

But I must say, for a party that prides themselves on being 'open-minded' I caught a whiff of authoritarianism in their policies. I get the feeling that with them in power, we would not just be allowed to have sex on the street corner, but would be required to. Luckily they have no candidates in this election so have no chance of forcing us into becoming a nation of swingers.

January 16, 2006

In the crowd

So yesterday I found myself at the Harper Rally in Buckingham, Quebec, surrounded by a few hundred Conservatives chanting, "Harper! Harper!" (though at first I thought it was "Badger! Badger!" -- yes, really!) I was a little uncomfortable there. Though I want the Conservatives to win and am working to that end, I'm not enthusiastic enough about their policies to abandon myself to the crowd and yell myself hoarse. But it was fun to see the workings of a national campaign up close and not through the narrow eye of the media.

The stage from which Harper would be speaking had been moved forward from the wall to make the room about 1/3 smaller. It's very important to make it look like there's a big crowd for the cameras. They needn't have bothered though; the place was packed and a bit more room would have been useful. In front of the stage and about halfway to the back was the media stage where the cameramen set up to capture their short clip for the evening news.

Who are these young people in the blue shirts? Where do they come from? Is there a bus full of them that go to all of these events, or do they find new ones at each stop? They made the rounds handing out stickers and signs for people to wave around. No sign for me, thanks.

I spotted various national media types wandering about. Mike Duffy was talking with CFRA's Michael Harris against the wall. On the other side was Terry Milewski chatting with a cameraman. And Rick Mercer wormed his way through the crowd talking to a camera.

Lawrence Cannon, whose campaign I'm working on, opened up the show with quite a rousing speech. I've been exposed to a lot of political rhetoric in the past few weeks and have come to the conclusion that speaking in public is much harder than it looks. But Cannon really has the stuff. I'm genuinely impressed by him.

And then Harper arrived. He made his way to the stage through a path that was taped off before he arrived. I took a few pictures, but mostly just got the back of people's heads. I tried to get a handshake from him, but he snubbed me for the more telegenic old folks on the other side of the path. On the spot, I decided to vote NDP.

He gave a pretty good speech. My wife says his voice sounds just like Stuart McLean from CBC's Vinyl Café, and she's right. He aimed a few zingers at Martin, commented on the car bomb in Afghanistan, and listed off the five main goals of a Conservative government. It all sounded pretty good, but he wasn't getting my vote.

And then he was finished. The cameramen had already started packing up while he was still speaking, and now were moving towards the door. The blue kids were leading the chanting again, and Harper tried to make his escape. As he approached me, he offered his hand to me, probably recognizing how badly he had treated me, and hoping to make amends. I'm not one to bear a grudge, so I shook it and decided to maybe give him one last chance. It's a big hand and kind of soft, but he gives a pretty firm handshake for someone that's giving handshakes all day. And after having won back my vote, he left.

As the crowd evaporated, I was introduced to Mike Duffy and Michael Harris by one of the other workers on the Cannon campaign. I got to hear Duffy tell the complete anecdote about how he put John Duffy in his place. He said John actually stood over him, pushed down on his shoulders and put his face within inches of Mike's and commanded Mike to not bring up the 'Soldiers in our streets' ad. If you ask me, John Duffy got off easy in the on-air drubbing Mike gave him.

As I left the building, I saw the three Conservative buses start to pull away for their next gig. They all had Alberta licence plates.

Be careful how you vote

A friend sent this to me by email. I'm sure it's bouncing from cube to cube all over Canada today...

While vacationing on a ranch, Paul Martin gets thrown from his horse, lands on a rattlesnake, gets bitten and dies because the emergency room at the nearest hospital is too understaffed to treat him in time. So his soul arrives in Heaven and he is met by St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

"Welcome to Heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a Liberal around these parts, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in; I'm a believer." says Martin.

"I'd like to just let you in, but I have orders from the Man Himself. He says you have to spend one day in Hell and one day in Heaven. Then you must choose where you'll live for eternity."

"But, I've already made up my mind, I want to be in Heaven," replied Martin.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules." And with that, St. Peter escorts him to an elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a lush golf course; the sun is shining in a cloudless sky, the temperature a perfect 72 degrees. In the distance is a beautiful clubhouse. Standing in front of it is his Dad, and thousands of other Liberals who had helped him out over the years -- Pierre Trudeau, Jean Marchand, Pelletier, St Laurent etc. The whole of the "Left" was there, everyone laughing, happy, and casually but expensively dressed. They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had getting rich at the expense of 'suckers and peasants.' They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar. The Devil himself comes up to Martin with a frosty drink, "Have a Margarita and relax, Paul!"

"Uh, I can't drink anymore, I took a pledge," says Martin, dejectedly.

"This is Hell, son. You can drink and eat all you want and not worry, and it just gets better from there!"

Martin takes the drink and finds himself liking the Devil, who he thinks is a really very friendly guy who tells funny jokes like himself, and pulls hilarious nasty pranks, kind of like they pulled on the GST and Free Trade promises. They are having such a great time that, before he realizes it, it's time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Martin steps on the elevator and heads upward.

When the elevator door reopens, he is in Heaven again and St. Peter is waiting for him. “Now it's time to visit Heaven," the old man says, opening the gate. So for 24 hours Martin is made to hang out with a bunch of honest, good-natured people who enjoy each other's company, talk about things other than money, and treat each other decently. Not a nasty prank or frat boy joke among them; no fancy country clubs and, while the food tastes great, it's not caviar or lobster. And these people are all poor, he doesn't see anybody he knows, and he isn't even treated like someone special!

"Whoa," he says uncomfortably to himself. "Pierre Trudeau never prepared me for this!"

The day done, St. Peter returns and says, "Well, you've spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now choose where you want to live for eternity." With the 'Jeopardy' theme playing softly in the background, Martin reflects for a minute, then answers: "Well, I would never have thought I'd say this -- I mean, Heaven has been delightful and all -- but I really think I belong in Hell with my friends."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell. The doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of a barren scorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial waste, kind of like Sudbury. He is horrified to see all of his friends, dressed in rags and chained together, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags. They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime. The Devil comes over to Martin and puts an arm around his shoulder.

"I don't understand," stammers a shocked Martin, "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a clubhouse and we ate lobster and caviar, drank booze. We lazed around and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and everybody looks miserable!"

The Devil looks at him, smiles slyly, and purrs, "Yesterday we were
campaigning; today you voted for us!"

January 14, 2006

Vote for me and I'll bring peace to the Middle East!

The Wire Brush's latest 'initiative' (pulled from his ass that was curiously omitted from the Red Book) is this whopper:

The Liberal Leader announced four proposals for increasing Canada's presence on the international scene, including establishing a Canada Centre for Peace and Democracy in the Middle East that would assist Palestinians in building a state founded on democracy and the rule of law.
I'm not sure what I find most amusing about this one. Is it that Martin is naïve enough to think this might be useful? Is it that he thinks Canadians are that naïve? Or maybe it's the raw desperation to create the impression that the Liberal party still has ideas that this thing is dripping with? Personally, I think it's how the whole bizarre package comes together.

Max plays the Elephant Man

Sun rises in West! Globe endorses Harper!

Mostly. Sort of. It's a kind of wimpy endorsement. I snorted in derision a couple of times at their faint praise of the Liberals, and rolled my eyes at their 'concerns' about the Tories. But still. The Globe and Mail. Advocating change. In Canada. In Toronto. I am not making this up.

I expected their editorial writer to undergo some painful and amazing contortions in order to come to the conclusion that the Liberals were the 'safe' choice, but that isn't what happened.

Now if the Toronto Star follows suit, we've definitely entered the Twilight Zone...

January 13, 2006

Playing to lose

So Iran is working to build the bomb. This is bad. Their government is a proud sponsor of terror, and their president is completely bonkers. The Western world has a legitimate fear of them being successful in their efforts.

So how to stop them? I don't know. But I'm pretty sure announcing that all military options have been ruled out is not going to make your diplomacy more persuasive:

Jack Straw has ruled out the use of force against Iran over its nuclear programme.

The Foreign Secretary said pressure to persuade the country to abandon moves over atomic research would have to be "by peaceful means".

Mr Straw spoke out this morning after attending a meeting with his French and German counterparts yesterday which decided to ask the International Atomic Agency to consider reporting Iran to the UN Security Council.

But the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, dismissed the threat, saying the research would go on despite the Western "fuss".

And he said that if Iran was reported to the Security Council it would kick out UN inspectors.

The President, who in October had called for Israel to be "wiped off the map", spoke out after he authorised breaking the UN seal on the Natanz nuclear research facility on Tuesday.

But Mr Straw said that while there was no "categorical evidence" of a military use for the technology it remained his "suspicion" that this was the case.

Even if you have privately decided that air strikes are out of the question, it's absurd to tell Iran this. Military strength is useful not only when it's used, but also as a threat. Britain has given up most of the leverage it had, before the negotiations even began. Oh, Iran is really going to be afraid of 'sanctions by the UN'.

It's like a union leader meeting to discuss a new contract, and first announcing that under no circumstances will the union go on strike. Good luck getting that new dental plan now.

UPDATE: The Telegraph has a refresher on just what kind of dangerous nut is running Iran right now. Read it before you condemn the inevitable Israeli air strike that will destroy their reactor.

Only a month ago...

The idea of Conservatives winning any seats in Quebec was absurd. But a new poll at the Globe and Mail suggests the Tories are on their way to win eight seats here. Eight!

And I know, I know -- I shouldn't count on anything. But things are looking good...

UPDATE: And a new poll (warning: pdf) has come out showing 28% Conservative support in Quebec. This could be the big breakthrough!

Dear Canada, I'm sorry...

That's all it would have taken for the Wire Brush to put the stoopid 'Troops in our cities' ad behind him. The Liberals don't think that way, of course. When caught doing something wrong, they bluff and bluster and misdirect. Paul's really pushing the envelope this time, though. He's decided to flat-out lie:

He said the Tory Leader's plan to increase military presence in Canadian cities so soldiers can be on hand to help in emergencies would create a logistical nightmare.

He quoted chief of defence staff, Gen. Rick Hillier, as saying: "I want to have a Canada Command. I want to be able to really have top-flight soldiers in top-flight positions with top-flight equipment."

Martin added: "You can't do that if it's spread out all across the country."

I mean, how dumb does he think Canadians are?

There's many reasons why the Liberals are sinking, but this contempt for Canadians' intelligence has got to be a part of it. Saying Harper is planning to outlaw abortion because he hasn't agreed to get rid of the notwithstanding clause, or suggesting the Conservatives want to introduce child labour because of their support for property rights -- it's insulting.

And even if the public were as dumb as the Liberals think they are, the Liberals still have to deliver their message through the media. And the media have stopped buying this nonsense. They used to be the Liberals' best ally, but they've turned against them now and refuse to pull them to safety. 'Bout time, really.

January 12, 2006

Found on the Canadian blogosphere...

  • Colby Cosh describes what could be Martin's 'Kim Campbell moment'. Well, one of them, anyways...
  • Quote of the day: "Paulie is backpedaling so often and so hard traffic cones should be placed behind him to warn passersby of the danger of being trampled." -- Mike M at Andrew Coyne's joint.
  • Michael at the Bad Red Apple describes the evil villian theory of Canadian political analysis.
  • I know I shouldn't be gloating prematurely about the Wire Brush's misfortunes, but I just can't help it. It's too much fun!
  • Kateland_62 at the Last Amazon demands Stephen Harper get rid of Derek Zeisman, charged with smuggling.
  • And gets results!
  • gnotalex at the Blog Quebecois gets the exclusive on one of the attack ads the Liberals will be running next week.
  • Raskolnikov at Dust My Broom uncovers a pathetic bit of Liberal pandering and condescension.
  • In local news, a reporter from Edmonton gives some glowing coverage for our the Conservative candidate for the Pontiac. An Albertan supporting the Tories! This thing is unstopable...

January 11, 2006

Pile on the Liberals

Looks like Layton's not going to be joining the Liberals' suicide attack on Harper. He's doing the smart thing and sticking the knife in Martin's back while he's otherwise occupied:

Martin warned Wednesday that Harper’s refusal to support the Liberal initiative to revoke the notwithstanding clause was based on Tory intentions to reopen controversial morality issues such as a woman’s right to choose an abortion and same-sex marriages.

NDP Leader Jack Layton dismissed Martin's statements as scare tactics.

Martin "has nothing left to say to Canadians other than to tell them that unless they vote Liberal, the sun will not rise, spring will not come, and volcanoes will destroy the earth," Layton said while campaigning in Hamilton, Ont.

Good one Jack!

I really think Martin is done. Martin will go down in Canadian history as another Joe Clark. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the guy. Almost, but not quite.

They went neg...

So the Liberals trotted out the negative ads that everyone knew were coming. And are they ever negative; one was so over the top that even the Liberals have tried to back away from it (not very successfully).

Will they work? A few days ago I was a little concerned before that the Tories were -- allow me to use a tired phrase -- 'peaking early'. The Liberals still had some credibility and two weeks was a long time. But these desperate ads and the desperate performance of the PM in the debates will be enough to sink them for good. If they had used these ads before, when they still had the aura of inevitablity, they would have had more effect. But now they will be given little consideration from the voters, and will actually hurt them, I think. I'm getting pretty confident about the Tories scoring a majority.

Bob Tarantino has many more thoughts on the Liberals latest blunder.

January 10, 2006

Funny stuff

As I cruised through the post-debate debate by the columnists and the bloggers, I noted the commentary that made me laugh in order to create my own 'post-debate roundup'. Unfortunately, I didn't find much. Everything was pretty much just earnest and thoughtful. C'mon Canada, lighten up, it's just an election! I'll add to this post if anything else manages to raise a smile.

When Mr. Martin delivered his proposal to eliminate the notwithstanding clause I literally fell off the treadmill I had been jogging on while watching the debate and just about broke something in my hip. You can be expecting a letter from my attorney in the morning, Mr. Martin, for your profoundly negligent conduct. Think of all the injuries caused to innocent Canadians across this country as they fell off their couches, choked on their beers, swerved wildly off the road or suffered cardiac arrest following ten or fifteen minutes of helpless laughter following your proposal. How dare you, Sir...

-- Meerschaum at Andrew Coyne's place

Martin waves his hands in circles when he talks. If you turn the sound off, you can imagine him singing 'The Wheels On The Bus.'

-- Warren Kinsella

Jack tells a heart warming story: "I met with a 28 year old farmer and he showed me his balance sheet. I didn't understand it because I'm NDP..."

-- Calgary Grit

If he cared about family values, would Layton be talking about group sex on prime time television?

-- A Chick named Marzi

Duceppe reminds me of a squirrel. Don’t ask why. He just does.

-- Kateland_62 at The Last Amazon

If you tied Paul Martin's hands behind his back, who else thinks he would be mute?

-- Sagacs

January 09, 2006

Monday night fights

I watched most of the debate tonight. It was very well done and quite edifying; much better than the last ones. Steve Paikin ran a tight ship and managed to keep everyone on their toes. And I have to say that all the leaders did very well considering how fast-moving it all was. With all the jumping around, I expected a few more confused pauses before speaking, but everyone had the appearance of being focused and sharp (even if what they actually said was vague and squishy). I'm not going to go into a long analysis of what happened, but here's a few notes I took about each leader.

Layton was looking very good, have to admit. He was talking nonsense of course, but he looked good to those that like that kind of nonsense. But every now and then he switched into a phoney and pandering memorized speech. (And he actually had the nerve to call Harper and Martin 'well-rehearsed'.) His goal was to say the Tories and the Liberals are the same and that he stands alone against -- cue scary music -- "corporate tax cuts", and he met that goal.

Duceppe was underwhelming. I was expecting a little more. Sure he has little to gain here, but he was quite weak. His twisted defences of separatist ideas defied all rules of logic. Even I could have done a better job. But he scored a nice blow against Martin by trying to coax him into calling Quebec a "nation". It was the perfect 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' conundrum. Martin wiggled out by talking into his hand so that the talking heads are still trying to figure out if he actually did or didn't say it.

Martin went after Harper like a rapid pitbull. You could practically see the spittle flying. He pushed all the old buttons and found a few new ones (that still felt tired). He also tried to talk in vague terms about 'values' and repeatedly stated the goal of the Prime Minister was to set 'great national objectives'. If I was a reporter the first question I'd ask him would be, "Like what?" Martin also tried to score tomorrow's headlines by suddenly declaring that he would abolish the Notwithstanding Clause and daring Harper to do the same. I can't see anyone seeing this as anything other than more political posturing.

And Harper did well. He kept his cool and scored many good points. That's not saying much, of course, because he had such a fat, slow-moving target. One thing I liked was how he defended corporate tax cuts, calling them "tax breaks for large employers to help them be more competitive." But, on the other hand, he also defended government managed agricultural price fixing 'supply management'. Groan. But he didn't mess up. He deftly dodged a few obvious traps, and managed to do all he had to do tonight: look Prime Ministerial. Advantage: Steve.

How will it all be spun? I dunno. But I don't think it will be good for Martin. He seemed frantic and desperate, and I don't think any of his mud-slinging stuck. This was his best chance for pulling victory from the jaws of defeat and instead he lost a few fingers. I, for one, welcome our new Conservative overlords...

Okay, this is funny

From the vaults of time: Paul Martin lavishes praise on Alfonso Gagliano. With a trowel.

(via the resurrected Andrew Coyne)

January 07, 2006

Weirdness is as weirdness does

Mike Campbell has infected me with the 'Five Weird Things' blog virus. It requires me to confess to, well... five weird things about myself. I would have thought this would be easy, but because of the first item on my list, it wasn't.

  1. I am not very weird. My image of myself is that I'm very different from my peers, but I'm unable to exactly pinpoint why. One day I hope to have the resources and freedom from societal pressure to be eccentric in a flamboyant way, but for now it's only a dream.
  2. I am extremely disorganized. This has dogged me all my life and I don't think it's going away. My 'workshop' is a disaster area that I enter only to throw something in that I don't need right now. My desk is cluttered with crap with only a small free area to allow me to move the mouse. My bedside table, my wallet, and my pockets are filled with papers and small objects that may possibly have once had a use somewhere in this world. Any surface I pass frequently winds up playing host to even more junk. And my computers are the worst. Programs I've installed but never use have icons littering my desktop, and my music, photo, and video files are squirreled away in directories with no rhyme or reason. I have no use for bookmarks or address books, and my mail program has one folder with a hundred zillion emails in it. But I'm working on a new system...
  3. I have a hang-up about punctuality. Despite my disorganization I am always on time. And perversely, I expect the same from others.
  4. I have very little interest in Sports. Everyone I know seems to be tied up in sports in some way. Not me. Any enthusiasm I show when watching sports is usually feigned, and I can be extremely creative in inventing excuses to get out of playing them. But I may be able to get into golf....
  5. I am contrarian by nature. Wherever the crowd is, I'm not. I question axioms, challenge conventional wisdom, and sail into the wind. Coupled with an inate stubborness, it has frequently made my life difficult. It wouldn't be so bad if I was right a little more often.
So that's it. I'm required to cough on five others to keep the pyramid going, but because of my contrary nature I'll only inflict this on three: Publius at GOTCH, gnotalex at the Blog Quebecois, and my friend Hugh at Dose Magazine (no relation to CanWest's non-college college paper), to get this rolling on the other side of the Canadian blogosphere.

Hitting the refresh button...

I realize my blogroll is a bit antiquated. Blogs have died, moved, and new and interesting blogs are sprouting all over the place. I am in the process of refreshing my blogroll to more accurately reflect the blogosphere as it is now, rather than what it looked like a year ago.

I am also working on a new process for cold fusion. I can't say which project I'll finish first...

Candy store

I've been a music junky all my life. And I like to possess the music; just listening to it isn't enough. I've moved from buying 45's as a 10-year-old, to amassing a huge LP collection, through a brief period buying tapes, until today when I have a sprawling collection of CDs and MP3s. And throughout all this collecting, I've always been irritated by high costs, poor selection, and lack of information on music I might like.

But those problems never stopped me. I would buy music based on a two-paragraph review in some 'alternative' weekly or even just a cool cover. I would search P2P networks for some obscure band I heard once on an internet radio station. I ordered discs from Amazon based on positive reader reviews. I would pay too much money or spend too much time to get music that often wasn't worth it. But I kept doing it.

iTunes held out the promise of being something better. A service that suggests music you might like, lets you listen to clips of it, and can deliver it to you instantly for less that you'd pay at the store sounded perfect to me. But it isn't iTunes sucks for three reasons:

First, the selection is crap. Over the past few months there've been countless albums I've wanted to buy that I couldn't find on their service. I could find them at my local independent record store, which had to order them, keep physical copies on hand to match an unpredictable demand, and make enough money on the sales to pay rent and salaries. But iTunes, part of a big multinational corporation, couldn't be bother to keep a few files on a database.

Second, the format is crap. Buying from iTunes locks you into their data format for the music. Sure you can burn a CD, but for the most part you have to go through Apple software or hardware to listen to it. I don't like investing a large stack of money in something that will require me to be at the mercy of a company.

Third, it's still too expensive. $9.99 an album sounds good, but when you consider all the middle-men cut from the producer to consumer path, you realize the price should be much lower. I can get a aesthetically preferable CD for only 50% more money.

But my music junky dreams have just been met. Via Samizdata, I've learned of AllofMP3.com, an online service that solves these three problems. The selection is quite impressive; in the past 24 hours I've bought 5 albums, none of which was offered on iTunes. The format is open-source MP3. And the price? The price is ridiculously low.

You pay by the pound. Prices for the music are based on the size of the file you download. An average hour-long CD at high quality will cost you about US$1.50. Yes, US$1.50! For me, this is the service I've waited my whole life for. I've spent quite a bit of time during the past day browsing and buying.

How do they do it? Quasi-legality. AllofMP3 is based in Russia and copyright laws are a little more flexable there. There are some payments made to the legal owners of the music, but I assume it's done on a take it or leave it basis rather than formal contracts.

I am curiously untroubled by guilt. The pushers at the record companies have had me wrapped around their fingers my whole life. Now I feel free of them, and it's such a relief. They're going to really have to examine their business models and find a way to respond to this. It will be fun to watch.

January 05, 2006

Go Chavez!

Hugo Chavez is pulling into the lead as LGF's Idiotarian of the Year competition for 2005 draws to a close. I'm usually a Kofi man myself, but it's important to vote strategically. Chavez is a far better choice than runners up Cindy Sheenan and the New York Times, and Kofi is out of the running this year.

The voting was supposed to be concluded last night, but evidently the polls have been kept open because of the long lines still waiting to vote. While you still can, go to LGF's main page to help give Chavez the honour he deserves.

UPDATE: Voting has closed, and it seems like Chavez has won it. But there may be a controversy as to whether he won it legitimately. Former IOTY winner Jimmy Carter has been summoned to adjudicate.

UPDATE II: Chavez has been robbed. There's a run-off election underway and Cindy Sheenan has a big lead. I think it was James Taranto at Best of the Web that boosted her vote. Chavez will have to wait until next year.

January 04, 2006

Income Trust Scandal: what's the crime?

Terence Corcoran is someone who can be reliably depended on to defend headline-generating white collar criminals. But even so, I was surprised to see him come to the defence of the Liberals in his column today in the Financial Post. I mean, these are the Liberals; Corcoran has never had kind words for any of them.

But he makes some very good points, and he's got me thinking about what deeper strategy the Liberals might be playing. His most important point is that it is very hard to see what laws the Finance department might have broken:

The income trust trading that has snared Prime Minister Paul Martin and Finance Minister Ralph Goodale has been widely portrayed as an insider trading offence. That would imply that the RCMP is investigating under Section 382 of the Criminal Code. But a close reading of Section 382 makes it pretty clear that the trust trading cannot be insider trading, nor can it involve tipping. Insider trading requires insider trading by someone who is an insider of a corporation based on insider information. If tipping is involved, the tipper would have to be an insider, not a government employee in finance or the PMO. The leak of government policy into the market, or to anyone, cannot be inside corporate information.

If not insider trading, then what? Lawyers who follow such matters, including the estimable Phil Anisman, figure the only other basis for a criminal investigation would be Section 122 of the Code: breach of trust. An officer in government could get five years in jail, says Section 122, for the crime.

The trouble with Section 122 is that it doesn't define breach of trust, nor is it defined anywhere in the hundreds of pages that make up the Criminal Code. As Eddie Greenspan put it: "This is the danger when you don't define something." An annotation in a law book on the Criminal Code (see below) seems to make it clear that the purpose of the section is to nab people who abuse their government job for fraud and personal gain. You cannot just brand somebody a criminal for failing to do his job properly, such as maintaining secrecy while the markets are open.

The RCMP, in its new police state mode, won't define the criminal offence it is investigating. The force's news release, suspiciously, repeats the words of the NDP allegations of a possible "breach of security or illegal transfer of information." But these are not legal words, just jazzy phrases fabricated by NDP activists. Why would the RCMP repeat nonsense?

Yeah, why? Allow me to get a little paranoid...

I speculated a month ago that the RCMP investigation into the handling of the Income Trusts was providing cover for the Liberals to avoid answering any questions on the matter. "We cannot comment on an ongoing RCMP investigation, yadda, yadda, yadda..." The RCMP have shown a willingness to help the Liberals before, so this wasn't too unlikely. But the traction the story started to take with the press had made me doubt that. It would have been far better for the Liberals to just stonewall like the usually do when caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and just deny, deny, deny until the story dies from lack of oxygen.

But perhaps another game is being played here. Misdirection is a trick stage magicians use to distract their audience from something they don't want them to see. By focusing the media's attention on a criminal investigation, they pull attention away from the real dirt of this affair: clear evidence of crude croney capitalism. And when the RCMP announces a few days before the election that there were no crimes broken, all of that is forgotten -- as if it was never there.

The Liberals did this with the Gomery commission. The sleaze was there for all to see, but the Liberals managed to convince people that a judge was investigating and was going to get to the bottom of it. And when Gomery announced that Paul Martin was not involved, the Liberals reacted as if they had been cleared of all charges. They transformed a political scandal into a legal one (at least in the eyes of many of the public) and were found 'not guilty'. It was a clumsy bit of misdirection -- many people caught a glimpse of the elephant's hind end as they walked it off the stage -- but it was pretty brilliant, all things considered.

If they are to be prevented from doing it again, the Tories have to focus on the real issues of this story and not count on seeing anyone behind bars. The Liberals handed out advance notice of a policy change to some of their rich friends, who used the information to make millions of dollars off those traveling in less privileged circles. This is a political scandal, and should be treated as such.

UPDATE: Part of my prediction is coming true at least: Ask the RCMP, PM tells reporters.

January 03, 2006

The Globe and Mail comes to the Pontiac

The Globe's Hugh Winsor dropped into the Pontiac to write a shockingly positive and detailed appraisal of the Conservative candidate here:

FORT COULONGE, QUE. -- Ben's Motel, a mundane watering hole with a neon-lit bar, Formica tables and a couple of slot machines facing the main street of this now-faded historic town, may seem an odd place to search for a potential wellspring of Conservative Party renewal in Quebec.

What is remarkable are the dozen or so people sitting around a group of tables pushed together in the bar, a mixture of anglophones and francophones, a sprinkling of municipal politicians and a recently retired activist from the pulp and paper union. They are all former long-time federal Liberals; until recently, one was still a member of the Pontiac Liberal Riding Association executive.

They are all there to endorse Lawrence Cannon, the Conservative candidate for this riding that stretches more than 200 kilometres along the Quebec side of the Ottawa River and up into rocks-and-logs hinterland. He is potentially the Conservatives' ace up their sleeve in Quebec.

What happens here on Jan. 23 could have implications far beyond this riding, which has previously been taken for granted as a federalist, mostly Liberal, duchy because of its proximity to Ottawa and Ontario. The riding could launch a credible Conservative presence in Quebec where there is only a lacuna now. If Stephen Harper wins a minority government and Mr. Cannon wins his seat, he will be a major player in Quebec and in the country.

Read the whole thing. Can you find even one negative point made?

Is the national media warming to the sexy charisma of Stephen Harper and his big blue machine? I dunno, but it seems the Liberals are having a hard time getting the resonance they need from the usual suspects. Whenever they trot out another item to try to frighten the voters with (Today's: Stephen Harper is MIKE HARRIS!!!), they're met with yawns. This election is starting to look pretty good...

January 02, 2006

Quote of the day

Perry de Havilland at Samizdata:

Russia needs to be treated with respect, but only the sort of respect you give a drunk with a knife as he staggers down the street.