Saturday, April 30, 2011

Harper smears Liberals for years, then asks us to save him?

I don't think this latest argument from Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to resonate with the intended audience. As all Liberals know, Harper has led a vicious smear campaign against the Liberal Party since he became leader of the Canadian Alliance. That smear campaign attacking the integrity of all Liberals continued after he became leader of the reformed Conservatives.

Harper argued that Liberals were basically criminal. It's been his sick dream for years to destroy the Liberal Party and replace it as the so-called natural governing party of Canada.

Harper is unlikeable, extreme and dangerous to the country. I'm sure that opinion is widespread among the 22-23% of voters who remain in the Liberal camp at this late stage of the federal campaign. These Liberal folks are the base of the party and they are not going to switch to Harper now. Of those 23%, I'm sure the vast majority would prefer to see Layton over Harper, if they had to choose. If the Liberal vote continues to collapse, this will likely benefit the NDP almost exclusively.

Personally, as I stated two days ago, I'm still torn as to who to vote for in Davenport, a riding where the Tories traditionally run even with the Green Party around 10% (i.e. not in contention.) I have the luxury of possibly voting NDP in this election, knowing there's no chance switching from the Liberals will possibly elect a Conservative.

But without a doubt, if I still lived in my hometown of Guelph or Kingston or Brampton or Ajax or Mississauga, or any other riding where the Liberal incumbent has traditionally faced off primarily against Conservatives, I'd be voting Liberal.

The Liberal base will hold. Voters are smart. They know which riding they live in and they know the history of those ridings. They know a Liberal incumbent they know well is better positioned to stop the Tories in their riding than some unknown New Democrat who spent part of the election on vacation.

The Liberal vote will hold in Ontario, the NDP will take a huge bite out of the Conservative vote and Monday's night's results are going to surprise everybody.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Accused drunk driver/wife beater endorses Stephen Harper...Sun Media smears Jack Layton...

Remember when it came out last summer that Rob Ford had been arrested in Florida for drug possession and drunk driving in 1999 (see mug shot to the right)? The revelations followed other incidents which included Ford being thrown out of the Air Canada Centre in 2006 intoxicated after berating a couple of strangers and in 2008 being accused of beating his wife (the charges were eventually dropped). None of these real scandals seemed to hurt Rob Ford, who went on to win the Toronto mayoralty.

Now the alleged wife beater and drunk driver is endorsing Stephen Harper in this election.

Meanwhile, Sun Media is quoting an unnamed Toronto police officer as having seen Jack Layton naked inside an alleged bawdy house in Toronto's Chinatown in 1996, apparently after having received a shiatsu.

The Sun quoted the mysterious cop: "To have arrested him and charged him would have served our egos a lot more. Layton was a thorn in the side of the police, siding with the anti-poverty movement in '96 or '97 ... Jack was anti-police," the ex-cop said.

Olivia Chow, Layton's wife, denied her husband had done anything wrong in an e-mail statement late Friday night.

"Sixteen years ago, my husband went for a massage at a massage clinic that is registered with the City of Toronto," Chow wrote. "He exercises regularly; he was and remains in great shape; and he needed a massage.

"I knew about this appointment, as I always do."

In a letter from his lawyer, Layton recalls "being advised by police at the time that he did nothing wrong."

I'm sure Layton did nothing improper in this incident. Certainly nothing as bad as Rob Ford.

This story of course follows Sun Media's exclusive story this election about how Michael Ignatieff started the Iraq War in 2003.

It seems to me that Sun Media and all its affiliates are just yellow journalists and fiction writers pushing a partisan agenda. I think this lousy smear will actually be seen by the public for what it is - and it will backfire dearly against Sun Media's political wing, the Conservative Party.

Harris-Decima poll: NDP humbling Tories across the country, Liberals on top in Ontario...

Nanos's daily polls this campaign have been always interesting and entertaining, but they seem to have caught on to the NDP wave in Quebec a bit late. Their regional swings defy gravity. Although I will say their leadership measurement has been fascinating and has correctly caught Jack Layton's meteoric rise.

I trust Harris-Decima polls the most. Their numbers have always stacked up and rang true for me. I'm glad to see them confirming the trends picked up by other pollsters.

That's why today's numbers from Harris-Decima confirming the NDP is five points behind the Conservatives and closing, with the Liberals still very much in the game in Ontario, have truly cheered me up. It looks like the Conservatives will only win a minority, thank God. In fact, it could be a squeaker of a win over the surging NDP. I can see the Tories winning by less than 10 seats.

I have to confess I'm supremely tempted to vote for Andrew Cash in Davenport, but my longstanding affection for the Grits will likely win the day for me on May 2nd.

Monday, April 25, 2011

CTV's Jane Taber's horrified eyes at the thought of an 'NDP-led coalition' government...

I'm through with CTV's Question Period, the hour-long political gab fest held each Sunday. The show's bothered me for years with its barely contained conservative biases (symptomatic, of course, of CTV's biases.) There have been moments of fairness and objectivity, but overall the show has always profiled the state of Canadian politics through the narrow prism of the centre-right. Rarely have serious investigations into things like health care delivery, poverty, climate change or social justice found their way onto 'Question Period's line-up. Instead, the show has almost exclusively focused on the bogus games, scandals and inside baseball antics of Ottawa that have turned off so many Canadians from politics in recent years (which plays into Stephen Harper's playbook quite nicely, as we know.)

During yesterday's panel discussion between co-hosts Jane Taber, Craig Oliver and journalists Joel-Denis Bellavance and Mercedes Stephenson, there was a key moment in which Taber's anti-left biases shown through her journalistic facade.

Taber and Oliver have been talking up the possibility of a NDP-Liberal coalition as a possible outcome of this election for weeks, sometimes using tongue-in-cheek tones (and despite Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's ruling out such an arrangement.) But in yesterday's show, Oliver brought up the possibility again, this time musing it could be led by the NDP if they come in second in the vote count. Taber's reaction was priceless and undeniable:

It could be going even to the extent if this momentum continues...we could even be seeing an NDP-led...

Coalition? Ugh!!!

(Her eyes dart open in a look of horror)

Agreement with the Liberals, yeah.

Click here and then fast forward to around the 03:00 minute mark, you'll find it.

Taber also mentioned in yesterday's broadcast that she had voted in the advanced polls this weekend. That sent a shiver down my spine as I could imagine her putting her X next to the Conservative party candidate, then running off to host her weekly political show.

With days to go in the 2008 campaign, CTV showed its biases when they betrayed their word and broadcast the false starts of former Liberal leader Stephane Dion during an interview about what he'd do as Prime Minister yesterday to fix the economy tomorrow, or something like that. Shortly thereafter, CTV host and now Conservative Senator Mike Duffy went on air questioning Dion's basic comprehension and competence.

I've been worried CTV would also go to bat for the Conservative Party in this election. Oliver raising the spectre of an NDP-led coalition could just be the kind of trick the Conservatives are hoping for from their beloved network. If enough Ontario voters get scared by such a prospect (kind of like how Taber reacted to the notion), perhaps CTV figures it'll help swing more voters behind the Conservative Party and hand that party its majority.

All of this makes we wonder how successful Sun TV will really be. Sun TV puts it pro-Conservative bias up front. But why would Conservatives need to watch the amateur coverage on Sun TV when they already have a very powerful and clearly Conservative broadcaster in CTV?

If you're watching CTV this final week of the campaign, be very aware of the pro-Conservative biases you will no doubt be witnessing.

Michael Ignatieff's Town Hall for Canada

For those who haven't seen it, for your convenient consideration...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Harper knocks Kent back into line: "I regret any embarrassment that my remarks may have caused the Prime Minister..."

Yuck. Our Prime Minister Stephen Harper's horrifying side has reared its ugly head again. Man, what will happen to this country if this creep wins a majority and there's no more checks on his judgment?

EXCERPT FROM GLOBE & MAIL: 'Conservative cabinet minister Peter Kent has reversed course and fallen back into line behind Stephen Harper after criticizing his own party for recruiting a candidate with apparent Tamil Tiger sympathies.

“I regret any embarrassment that my remarks may have caused the Prime Minister,” Mr. Kent said in a statement sent to The Globe and Mail after Mr. Harper defended the candidate, Gavan Paranchothy, during a weekend campaign stop in Mississauga, Ont...

In a Globe and Mail interview last Thursday, Mr. Kent was blunt in decrying as “outrageous” a television program that Mr. Paranchothy played host to last November, which honoured Tamil Tiger “heroes” and “freedom fighters” killed in the militant group’s separatist war in Sri Lanka. The Conservatives listed the Tigers, who relied on a large Canadian support base for funding, as a terrorist group in 2006.

“It was a tribute and it’s unacceptable even if he didn’t write it, even if he didn’t believe it,” Mr. Kent said in the initial Globe interview, adding that his party “obviously dropped the ball” when it cleared Mr. Paranchothy to run in Toronto’s Scarborough-Southwest riding.'

Peter Kent was brave for speaking his mind initially, but he's no doubt paid the price of free judgment and personal expression in Harper nation. What a backdown! How humiliating!

As we battle it out for anti-Conservative votes with the NDP, let's not forget who our real opponent is in this election. Stephen Harper must be removed from office as soon as possible.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shades of Ontario 1990: let's hope this flirtation with Dippers ends this week...

This past week's flirtation with the NDP in Quebec and perhaps elsewhere reminds me of Ontario's flirtation with the NDP in 1990. Quebecers have never experienced life under NDP rule. Ontarians did from 1990 to 1995, and it wasn't overly pretty: an idealistic platform of expensive promises were quickly abandoned after the Ontario NDP came to power and it went downhill from there. I'll spare you the history lesson, but it's safe to say that Ontarians have no illusions about the NDP anymore, unlike our Quebecois neighbours.

Jack Layton is a decent, hard-working man with the polished charisma one would expect from a career politician. I can't criticize him as a person and obviously he's talented at what he does. But he's not offering a serious governing option to Canadians in 2011. Check out this recent Jeffrey Simpson article for more evidence.

I'm afraid a strengthened NDP in this election (coupled with a Liberal result that barely moves up from the 2008 result) will only make the removal of Stephen Harper and his Conservatives further delayed. Worse, it could pave the way to a Harper majority.

It's time for those who oppose Harper to get serious and vote for an actual alternative government. In this election, that's Michael Ignatieff's Liberal Party, who have done the work to present a platform that is balanced, progressive and costed.

It's easy to appeal to voters when you are untried and untested and are offering pie-in-the-sky platitudes that soothe our progressive hearts and fantasies. But this is not the NDP of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and even Nova Scotia provincial politics. This is still the pre-1990 Ontario NDP with a bunch of promises, an appealing leader and a record free of experience.

If the NDP win a breakthrough in Quebec in this election and take down the Bloc a peg or two, that will be momentarily interesting to watch. But it'll also further deepen the schism that runs through Canada's opposition parties and helps ensure repeated Conservative victories. In an ideal world, we'd have one federalist, progressive alternative to the Conservatives called the Liberal Democrats, with credibility and support across the entire country. Our nation's progressive bent would ensure this new party beats the Conservatives more than not.

But of course, it's not clear how that could ever happen. If the NDP wins a breakthrough in this election, why would they want to abandon their party and merge it with the Liberals? I fear the only thing that could bring about such a merger would be repeated Conservative majority wins, and I don't want to see that happen to our country.

The Liberal Party of Canada's success in the 1990s and early 2000s was built largely on a weak NDP with barely 10 per cent support (and of course a divided conservative movement). Since Jack Layton became NDP leader, the Liberals have had a difficult time beating those pesky Conservatives because huge chunks of the progressive left have opted out of choosing a real governing option. It seems the only way for the Liberals to one day beat the Conservatives on their own is with a suppressed NDP vote. That was certainly the goal of the Liberal campaign in this election.

Sadly, Layton's beaming smile has screwed that option (at least this week.)

We'll see how this all works out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What's happening with the NDP???!

I'm as shocked as anyone at the sudden, apparent surge of the New Democrats in Quebec.

It makes sense the NDP would eventually win appeal with Quebecers. Jack Layton is a native son and he's been organizing there for years and it's paying off. We've always known that Quebec is the most socialist/progressive of the 10 provinces. And now, due to the unique circumstances of 2011, the NDP has managed to find a window into the hearts of many Quebecois voters. If the NDP manage to hang on to this lead in the Quebec popular vote, this'll signal a historic breakthrough, one that changes federal politics forever. It's also nice to see a populist wave coming from the left for a change.

Michael Ignatieff is still in this, but this election is now completely up in the air...

Please feel free to share your thoughts to make sense of all this:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thoughts at the half-way point: Harper blowing Ontario, Ignatieff has the most growth potential...

The federal campaign is now at its half-way point. Let me share some thoughts.

The Daily Nanos rolling overnight polls show little change in the last two days and everyone is saying public opinion isn't budging. Remember the good old days when polls came out once a week and therefore did pick up on changes more clearly? Today, if a party goes up 0.4% in the overnight tracking, the pundits say they've got momentum.

The 62 per cent of Canadians not impressed by Stephen Harper before this election remain unimpressed. Once again, Harper's many negatives are turning people away and his support can't seem to rise above the 38% he had last time. The weight of Tory scandals and missteps in government seem to be overpowering whatever strengths Harper is showing on the campaign trail. Harper's improvements are proving to be too subtle or unconvincing to overpower what is already too firmly established a brand. Recent reminders of G8 overspending and the mistreatment of Helena Guergis merely reinforce our collective hesitation to give this guy the ultimate power he so clearly craves.

Harper is tanking a bit in Ontario. Throwing out a student from a rally in London because of her Facebook page probably played worse in that region than anywhere else because it was in their own backyard. The same goes in Guelph where the Tories tried and failed to disallow hundreds of student votes. The recent G8 spending spree scandal has also reminded voters in Ontario and particularly the Greater Toronto Region of Conservative missteps and incompetence. Now the Helena Guergis affair in Simcoe-Grey, right in the heart of Tory country, reminds voters of Stephen Harper's less-than-stellar judgment. It also turns off many women who mostly see a new mother badly beaten up by her former boss.

None of these things help create momentum for the Tories. Quite the contrary, they create an environment in which Tories in close ridings lose seats, particularly around the GTA.

This creates a huge opportunity for the Ignatieff Grits to make gains in Ontario.

At the same time, while Michael Ignatieff has impressed many in the Liberal base during this election, he has yet to seal the deal with many outside the big red tent. Although I do believe he has begun that process having put in a strong effort thus far. The Liberal platform is solid and speaks to the voters he hopes to win over. Liberal attacks on Tory incompetence and arrogance are resonating, particularly in places the Grits know they can win back seats. Ignatieff is a leader on the rise in this campaign. It's just a question of how many voters he can win over in the next two weeks. Many progressive Canadians currently in the NDP camp are very tempted to vote Liberal on May 2nd.

The slight uptick in support for the NDP after the debates shows there's a healthy dose of progressiveness in the Canadian electorate. But I think those progressive votes are still in flux. They could go either Liberal or NDP in this race. The question for Michael Ignatieff: how best to win them over into his camp by voting day?

Nanos and other polls also show a drop in B.C. for the Tories of about 5 to 10 points from 2008. The main beneficiary in B.C. is the Liberal Party, who are up eight to 10 points, while the NDP is largely stagnant. That would translate into Tory losses, both to the Liberals and the NDP, not gains. If Ujjal Dosanjh can win Vancouver South for the Liberals in 2008 when his party only got 19% of the vote, how well will he do with the Grits at 27 per cent? Probably much better. No, in fact, based on what we're seeing today in B.C. polls, ridings like West Vancouver, Surrey North and probably even Saanich-Gulf-Islands are in trouble for the Tories.

The NDP growth in polls this week in Quebec will likely not last until election day for two major reasons: the NDP doesn't have the organization on the ground to identify that vote, nurture it and get it to the polls on election day, and two, many voters realize that voting NDP will likely produce little except a smaller margin of victory for one of the other three major parties in their riding. Peaking two weeks before voting day is something the NDP does best. I'm sure the NDP will increase their vote in Quebec on May 2nd from 2008, but it won't be anywhere near as high as they are polling now.

Ignatieff appears to have won the campaign in the first two weeks, only to come up a bit short in the leaders' debates in which Layton, Duceppe and Harper stole some of his thunder, although I still contend Ignatieff did an excellent job in both debates.

But the debates won't decide the outcome of this race. Two weeks is an eternity in politics. We can now expect Ignatieff to up his campaign performance. If he continues to perform as well as he did at this Sudbury rally, we should expect the Liberal vote to rise back up into the 30s and momentum to shift back to him as the best option for Canadians looking to cast a ballot against the Harper Conservatives.

My advice to Ignatieff: let his negative ads continue to bash Harper on his record of incompetence and dishonesty, particularly on health care. But on the campaign trail, Ignatieff should focus squarely on emphasizing that he and the Liberals have the best plan and vision for taking the country forward. To the average progressive Canadian, it's already extremely clear that the Liberals are the best positioned to beat the Tories. We don't need to hear the old maxim that 'Voting NDP is like voting for the Tories' again. That argument grates on ears and actually turns away more voters than it attracts. No one wants to hear they don't have a choice in this election except to vote Liberal. It sounds desperate.

Instead, Ignatieff should focus on his positive vision and his plan for the country, how an Ignatieff government would be better for Canada than another Harper government. Ignatieff has carefully laid the groundwork for this argument with his platform and message. Now it's time to hammer that message home. I think he's more than up to it.

Yes, Ignatieff should go positive on his vision for the country in the next two weeks. If he does that, the big red tent will get bigger and bigger...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ignatieff tells Harper what leadership is all about

This was another great moment last night when we finally got to see Stephen Harper get a little truth about leadership from Michael Ignatieff. Play it often.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Great moment (among many) by Ignatieff in tonight's debate...

While watching the post-debate spin tonight on CBC and CTV, I asked myself: 'Were we watching the same debate?'

Ignore the spin doctors. Watch for yourself one of Ignatieff's many great moments tonight.

Debate draw...Ignatieff exceeds expectations with many voters.

Watching tonight's debate left me invigorated with Michael Ignatieff's performance and leadership. I applauded with joy his many zingers and take-downs of Stephen Harper and his record. He made the case this Harper government has got to go.

He also put forth eloquently the many reasons why the Liberals are the best alternative government. If he has anything more to do now in the next 2.5 weeks, it's to firmly convince Canadians he's got a credible and, indeed, better program for taking the country forward. And he's the best guy to lead it.

All the leaders did well tonight. Harper suffered considerable blows and I don't think convinced anyone not already leaning toward him to support him. Layton reassured traditional New Democrats to continue to back the party, but I still think his vote will go down to 15/16%. Duceppe was again the welcome voice of objectivity and considerably hurt Harper tonight, especially by reminding viewers of Harper's hypocrisy on minority governments in 2004.

Ignatieff looked prime ministerial and deeply thoughtful; he was the most human of the candidates. Harper was Harper. Layton was a salesman.

Now the main issue of the election will become: what would Harper do with a majority government? And do you really want one? I'd guess that more than 60% of Canadians will continue to NOT want one on May 2nd.

Harper G8 deception...

Kudos to where they are due: Joe Warmington in Sun Media today.

“We found that money expended for the G8 infrastructure projects under the Border Infrastructure Fund were approved by Parliament without any indication that $50-million of the appropriations for border congestion reduction would be spent on G8 legacy projects,” she wrote in a leaked document. “In our opinion, Parliament was misinformed.”

What would happen if you misinformed them on your tax form?

Meanwhile, despite these assertions, the government is not being beaten with batons, strip searched, kettled and — against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — locked up with no proper charges in a makeshift gulag for allegations like blowing bubbles?

And the public is skeptical about real repercussions while it pays $1.30 a litre for gas and struggles to feed their families without any help from a $50-million slush fund of their own cash."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Harper answers his critics on chickening out of Ignatieff debate...

With answers like these, this election is over! lol

Chicken shit Harper misses his debate train...

Clearly, Stephen Harper thinks Canadians are idiots who can't even remember what he said last week. Here are the facts: Harper challenged Ignatieff to a one-on-one debate. Ignatieff agreed to it. Then Harper chickened out.

Now Harper's hoping Canadians weren't listening or will forget his chicken-shit cop out.

He now says the television networks are setting his debating priorities this election and he can't do anything about it.

"The train has left the station," the Conservative leader told reporters in Ottawa on Sunday. "The networks made their decision and we have accepted their decision."

The networks also want more than four questions per day to Harper on this campaign trail. Will Harper be accepting their decision on that issue too?

Harper thinks Canadians are fools.