Saturday, December 22, 2007

There goes the neighborhood

His much ballyhooed “Youthquake” registered about a 0.3.

His self-admitted “Stock-aholism” turned out to be a fairly serious disability.

His ill-fated $150,000 quest for a Commons seat got nixed by Stephen Harper.

His magazine proved unpopular with a crowd who prefers their opinions screamed at them on AM radio.

Heck, even Muhammad couldn’t save him.

So here’s the news we were all waiting for . . . he’s turning his Midas touch on the blogosphere.

Hate to break it to him, but if this doesn't work out, stuffing photocopied manifestos under windshield wipers is what's next.

Friday, December 21, 2007

REJOICE! The "strategic voting" moon-bats are back to save us all

Alice Klein is in a tight race with Stéphane Dion over who can become the Liberal Party’s worst advocate.

Not because the editor of Toronto’s alt-weekly NOW doesn’t believe in the “strategic voting” hokum she spewed all over the pages of her magazine.

No, the problem is with how clumsily she did it.

Klein’s impassioned entreaty to the hog-wash that is “strategic voting” makes absolutely no sense. Because if she was actually serious about defeating Harper:

a) why does she endorse the Liberals, who since October have sat on their hands to keep Harper in office?
b) why does she not call for the Liberals to stand down in ridings the NDP holds? Shouldn't Gerard Kennedy be running against a GTA Conservative like Jim Flaherty instead of trying to unseat Peggy Nash in Parkdale?
c) is she also saying progressives should vote for the separatist Bloc in Quebec where the Liberals are in tatters?
d) why does she besmirch the NDP but boost the Green Party, which has no seats and, by their own admission, have no realistic prospect of winning a seat?
e) what does she say to the people of Saskatchewan who "voted strategically" and ended up with 12 Conservative MPs for their trouble?

It's because dear reader, as Klein makes transparently clear, defeating Harper is the façade for the tired ploy of trying to convince people to vote for the same listing Liberal Party they abandoned in 2004, 2006 and are continuing to today.

The real strategy to defeat Harper is Jack Layton and the NDP -- a party that has been the effective opposition to Harper, and has shown the most growth, as the Outremont by-election demonstrated so clearly.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Liberals live Second Life through latest poll.

Liberal bloggers (here, here and here) are declaring this poll the greatest moment in Liberaldom since Paul Martin's Juggernaut, bloodied with the carcasses of Jean Chretien and Sheila Copps, began careening through its election opponents -- before slamming prematurely into the reality that people didn’t want to vote Liberal anymore.

Among the nuggets of reality that the bloggers are glossing over at this moment:
a) Liberal support is virtually frozen from this time last year;
b) the poll only puts them within the margin of error of Harper;
c) at 32 percent, Liberals are only 2 points higher than the wholloping Canadians gave them in January 2006, and at the same level that the Joe Clark Tories were defeated with in 1980;
d) the poll didn't ask about your party's leader who is still about as popular as Chinese-made Polly Pocket dolls this season.

The other reality: Liberals are slapping each other on the back over this video game victory, while in reality, Harper remains in power.

Where was all this unseemly Liberal bloodlust and jubulation when New Democrats were begging Liberals to help defeat Harper this fall? Liberals had FOUR chances to defeat Harper, but just like with Kyoto, they just didn't get it done.

Shooting the messenger

Only twelve months in and Dion is already on his third director of communications.

Is Leslie Swartman more talented than either André Lamarre or Nicolas Rustkowski? Maybe.

Is it asking too much of one mortal to direct the messaging of a caucus with no focus or leadership, riddled by internal sniping as well as put a fighting face on a leader who blew four chances to defeat Harper since October? Yeah. It is.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Liberal family Christmas

Whenever the dysfunctional family gets together around the holidays you can always count on fireworks. Grievances rekindled. Simmering revulsion boiling over. Passive aggression finally giving way to the real deal.

Despite all the counseling and frequent pronunciations of domestic tranquility, the Liberal family remains the worst on the block. A get-together yesterday to celebrate past glories turned ugly as former patriarchs unearthed the hatchets to blame each other for this.

At least for once Liberals are blaming themselves for screwing things up.

Holiday advice from your favourite equine themed politics blog: Keep the kids away from the windows and the noise by-law number near the phone.

Monday, December 10, 2007

NDP to learn from the Aussies' winning ways

The NDP is looking to last month's Australian election for a strategy to topple Harper in the next election expected in the spring.

The NDP has already announced they will run the biggest campaign in its history, matching the Conservatives dollar for dollar.

And today, the electronic pages of The Hill Times quote Layton's communications head saying that they are headed down-under to talk to Australian PM Kevin Rudd's election team:

" . . . we know that there's a tremendous amount of willingness on the part of the Australian Labour Party to work with the NDP to show us, to teach us from what they learned from their most recent elections," said Brad Lavigne, director of communications and research to NDP caucus in an interview with The Hill Times last week."

This makes sense, of course, as Harper turned to the former Howard government for tid-bits on their 2006 election win.

Look for an eerie symmetry in the election results.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Ralph Goodale: King of the sniping pejorative

With each passing day, Ralph Goodale appears more and more the last angry man, hurling churlish vindictive as though to deliberately undermine his statesman status.

Maybe it’s the grinding pace opposition, or perhaps the weight of his leader’s sub-stratospheric standing in the opinions of Canadians.

But when Irene Mathyssen apologized to James Moore, Goodale’s first instinct was to grab for the mud and start a-chuckin’.

"This kind of abusive approach corresponds more with Mr. Layton's leadership style.... This is the kind of junkyard dog approach that Mr. Layton is famous for,"

Amazing. Goodale strikes a blow for the high-road while factlessly tunneling beneath the sewers to land on a journalist’s notepad.

And it’s not just the NDP that brings out the man’s passion for the pejorative.

Of course he would never stoop to malign the characters of anyone, let alone those of Misters Mulroney or Schreiber.

Why is Stephen Harper ignoring the police?

So a couple of years ago, Canada signed a UN treaty to control the trafficking in firearms. One of the provisions of the treaty was that countries agree that small arms be marked with the country they were made in or imported to.

Canada’s police associations support this initiative so they can identify smuggled guns that are used in crimes.

So surprise then when the NDP’s public safety critic Penny Priddy yesterday asked the government why they ignored the police and stalled implementing the treaty for another two years!

Anyone expecting a sensible response from Day didn’t get one:

“ . . . there are significant concerns that go with that, which have, in our view, questionable effects on reducing gun crime. We want to consult, not just with groups and organizations in Canada, but with the European community, which is being very slow to implement this because it has concerns. Liberal MPs have raised it with us. That is why the previous Liberal government deferred this. We will continue to look at it.”

So what’s going on? The NDP and the police have it figured out: the Harperites have caved to the gun lobby. Groups like this one.

But of course, the Liberals have nothing at all to say on this. They signed the treaty in 2002, wrote the regulations in 2005 and when they were to come into effect in April 2006, they irresponsibly delayed it for another two years so it would fall into Harper’s lap.

When so many of the guns that are used in crimes in Canada are illegally smuggled across the border, why is Stephen Harper ignoring the police?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Saturday, December 1, 2007

"Dion's New Year's resolution: stop propping up Harper in 2008"

"Dion's New Year's resolution: stop propping up Harper in 2008"

That's today's actual headline . . . in the Globe and Mail. No, seriously. It really is.

But it gets better . . .

"He suggested that in the new year the Liberal caucus will stop propping up Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government by abstaining on votes and will instead consider each vote on its on merit . . ."

What a concept! Just another sign of success for the Artificial Opposition.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A year later: Liberal leaders old and new struggle to stand for what they say

The eve of the first anniversary of their leadership contest finds Liberal leaders old and new in the news.

1) Remember when Paul Martin said he was dedicating the rest of his life to aboriginal issues? Looks like he got side-tracked. Either that, or he figures the solution to the wrenching poverty worsened by 13 years of budget cuts followed by “the biggest tax cuts in Canadian history” is to give First Nations a cut rate on green fees.

2) Then there’s Dion. Despite being the least symbolic of change among the front pack, this time last year he was a shiny new hero declaring “The most exciting race in the history of our party is over. Let's get ready for the election!”

And how’s that coming along? Today, Liberals are so spectacularly unready for the election that they have become Stephen Harper’s most dependable ally, rendering hollow all of their criticisms of the government.

As a result, Liberals are damning their leader for his desperate strategy of propping up Harper by abstaining – on a throne speech that killed Kyoto in Canada, a budget and even for support for manufacturing jobs!

Replete with resignations, missteps, defeats, backroom deals, internecine warfare, defections, flip-flops, abstentions, and repudiations, it’s been a rough first year for Dion. If Liberals have their way, it may be his last.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Harper’s mentor takes a beating from Australia’s Jack Layton

It’s no secret that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are admirers of John Howard’s right-wing Government in Australia. Harper and Howard even invited one another to address their respective parliaments in the last two years.

But there’s been more going on than just protocol and pleasantries. Conservative strategists have been enthusiastic students of Howard’s style and strategies. In his book about the Conservative victory in 2006, Paul Wells describes how one of Harper’s leading strategists poured over the Australian campaign:

“[Patrick] Muttart’s last election precedent was the one least known to Canadian voters and, perhaps, most useful as a model for the Conservatives: the 1996 victory of Australia’s conservative leaning coalition under John Howard, over Paul Keating’s Labour Party.”

Given that, New Democrats can be forgiven for delighting in the walloping that the Howard government has taken from the NDP’s sister Labor Party in today’s election down under.

In substance, Jack Layton and Labor’s Kevin Rudd have more than the Harper-Howard axis in common. Both are principled pragmatists, who “get” the market but not uncritically. Witness Rudd’s attack on WorkChoices and Layton’s push for a $10 standard minimum wage. Both have also been relentless and credible campaigners on climate change and the environment.

The mind reels to consider the lessons a sullen Harper and the gang must be jotting in their notebooks watching Howard’s debacle unfold and their mentor losing his own seat.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Layton is Best-Rated Opposition Leader in Canada

Jack Layton is the best-rated opposition leader in Canada, according to pollster Angus Reid today.

Over a third of Canadians think that Layton has what it takes to be prime minister -- 11 percent more than Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

(Clearly in a charitable mood, Reid asked about the seat-less Liberal spokesperson who runs the Green Party and found that only 14 percent wouldn't be apoplectic at the thought of her inside 24 Sussex).

Also interesting is the inverse figure. Angus Reid found that when Canadians were asked who they wouldn’t want to see running the country, Layton had the lowest disapproval, while a whopping 61 percent disagreed with the statement that Dion would make a good prime minister.

So when Liberals run the next campaign parroting their tired line that “Only one of two party leaders can be Prime Minister” they may be surprised when Canadians agree and choose Jack Layton over Stephen Harper.

Monday, November 19, 2007

NDP building momentum to fight Harper, while Liberal MPs look after their own jobs

A tale of two opposition parties:

The Effective Opposition: In Saskatchewan, where Harper took almost every seat in 2006, the NDP is aggressively building an organization to take him on, which could include former cabinet ministers Lon Borgerson, and Graham Addley.

One of Layton’s top advisors also dropped the tempting hint that Jack is "likely to reach out to" former NDP premier Lorne Calvert as well.

The Artificial Opposition: The Dion Liberals are so scared of what voters might do to them that they are continuing to roll over to keep Harper in office -- this time choosing to betray workers and communities in the beleaguered forestry and manufacturing sectors.

How much longer will Canadians tolerate Liberal MPs implementing Harper’s agenda for him?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Liberals tainted by Schreiber cash

A stunning revelation came in question period today showing that when it comes to the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, the Liberals are as dirty, if not dirtier than the Conservatives.

First off, Liberal MP Sue Barnes suggested that political contributions may be influcing the investigation:

Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve to have all the facts with regard to the Schreiber affair. If anyone involved in the Schreiber file has made contributions to the Prime Minister's 2002 leadership campaign, Canadians deserve to know, but the Prime Minister never revealed all his donors.

Will the Prime Minister guarantee that the public inquiry will examine all donations made by Mr. Schreiber to the Conservative Party, its predecessor parties, and all of the numerous leadership campaigns of those parties?

A fair question – albeit, it turns out, a hypocritical one. Because moments later the NDP’s ethics critic Pat Martin revealed the latest Liberal hypocrisy: the Liberal Party has taken thousands of dollars in contributions from Schreiber:

Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, if it is likely that Karlheinz Schreiber was greasing the wheels of commerce by lining the pockets of Tories, is it not just as likely he was greasing some Liberal wheels as well?

Why else would Marc Lalonde join Elmer MacKay in putting up a million dollars in bail for Karlheinz Schreiber? Why did Schreiber's Bear Head Industries donate $10,000 to the Liberals in 1993?

Sure enough, the Liberals took a sizable contribution from Bear Head Industries - of which Schreiber was the lone director - before starting their investigation of Mulroney.

It is entirely valid to ask whether Schreiber’s possible contributions to the Conservatives bias their investigation into the matter. But it is now crucial to know whether Schreiber’s actual contributions to the Liberal Party influenced their botched 1995 investigation which led to the increasingly suspect $2 million payout to Mulroney.

Seems Liberals will have to answer that question at the inquiry as well.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dion supporters "running out of excuses"

If you are Stephen Harper, you must wake every morning grateful for two things: Peter MacKay’s keen sense of opportunism and Stephane Dion.

Consider just the latest: When Harper signaled he would be ending Canadian involvement in Kyoto and giving $14 billion in tax cuts to banks and oil companies, Dion not only ordered his MPs to roll over, he threatened to punish any MP who wanted to oppose Harper.

In his latest column, Montreal radio host Tommy Schnurmacher describes the mood of Liberals in Dion’s hometown:

“Even Dion’s fans within the party — and they are few and far between — are at a loss for what to do or what to say. They are running out of excuses. Whenever they talk about their leader, they avert their eyes or shift from one foot to another. They know they made a whopping mistake . . . One Liberal hack, still recovering from Thomas Mulcair’s victory in Outremont, says that he is concerned that the NDP might become the Official Opposition.”

Hate to break it to Schnurmacher’s Liberal source, but by every measure except Stornaway, the NDP is already the official opposition in Ottawa.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

NDP scores victory: Senate abolition takes a leap forward

Liberal MPs should take note, this is what effective opposition looks like.

Despite what Stephane Dion might tell Liberal MPs, opposition parties are supposed get their ideas on the agenda, not roll over and have the government get its way like Liberals have of late

The unelected, unaccountable Senate is at best a money wasting anachronism, and at worst a national and international embarrassment for Canada.

Its abolition is a longstanding policy of the NDP, going back to the origins of the party in the CCF. Frustrated by the slow pace of his reforms, Harper appears to have wisely decided that it's an idea whose day has come.

Lately to distract from their absent opposition to Harper, Liberal MPs have derided the NDP as being “holier than thou,” the implication being that NDP principles are just as optional as Liberal ones.

But the NDP position on the Senate is an example of how the NDP has stood steadfast on its principles, despite the sometimes personal cost of doing so.

Over the years, Liberal and Conservative prime ministers have dangled the temptation of a patronage-for-life Senate gig in front of NDP MPs and provincial politicians. All would have been qualified for the job. And all would have had greater security, income, pensions and perks had they taken it. But every New Democrat remained loyal to their party and principles and turned it down flat.

Courageously sticking to principle has come at great cost: leaving public life for potential obscurity, and even resulting in the NDP having to distance itself from a respected aboriginal activist and educator who today sits as an unrecognized New Democrat in the Senate.

It shows how hollow the Liberals’ mockery really is.

The real question is to the 94 remaining Liberal MPs: will they finally join the rest of us in the 21st Century and support abolishing the Senate, or are they just too wedded to the $80 million patronage pork-house?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

NDP’s effective opposition to fight Harper with biggest campaign ever

Jack Layton’s NDP are showing growing momentum in the fight against Harper.

Layton’s decisive leadership has made his party the most effective opposition to Harper – extracting concessions from the government, just like they did from the Martin minority government, while offering principled opposition to Harper. Reporter Rob Russo provided some evidence of the NDP’s increased stature, from the parliamentary press gallery’s perspective on CBC’s “Politics” on Friday:

“We have a much more vigorous NDP this last week -- the last couple of weeks actually. They did some very smart things the week before this one in terms of bargaining with the government on some speedy passage of legislation the government wanted through. They said ‘sure we'll do that if you give us the $100 million on social spending that was supposed to be spent a couple of budgets ago’ and they won that. And they're showing that they can be effective in opposition and you heard it over and over again this week: ‘These guys rolled over. We're going to be scoring points for you’.”

Secondly, the party reported yet another successful third quarter of fundraising. In line with this, Layton announced this weekend that the NDP plans to fight Harper with its biggest campaign ever – up to the maximum that parties can spend in an election. So, for the first time in history, the NDP will be matching Harper dollar for dollar, leaflet for leaflet, and ad for ad.

This announcement came as the NDP is in Winnipeg meeting with officials from Gary Doer’s very popular third term government.

The message of all this is tough to miss: both inside and outside the Commons, the NDP is out to become Stephen Harper’s greatest threat.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

You blew it, Flaherty

Earlier this week, Harper’s finance minister Jim Flaherty announced over $14.1 billion in tax cuts to big corporations.

Punctuated by seemingly involuntary spasms of giddiness, Flaherty boasted that he was cutting corproate taxes “deeper and much faster than ever contemplated before”. The result would be a “substantial shot of adrenalin for all Canadian businesses.”

“Hallelujah!” cried the usual Bay Street suspects.

Then, along comes Chrysler today to spoil all the fun by announcing thousands of layoffs in Ontario (not to mention jobs now under threat at their Canadian suppliers). What part of “substantial shot of adrenalin” didn’t Chrysler understand?

But that's what Chrysler's announcement shows: Flaherty’s obsession with “deeper and much faster” business tax cuts is all ideology, and zero practicality.

Instead of choosing broad-based tax cuts for corporations, which helps the profitable banks and oil sector, while doing nothing for companies that are actually hurting like our manufacturing sector, Flaherty could have stolen Jack Layton’s green car strategy to help the auto sector retool for greener cars and give consumers an incentive in the form of a GST cut to buy a more efficient car. Good business. Good ecology.

PS: Don’t tell Stephane Dion that though. After all, the corproate tax cuts were his idea.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dion threatens to expel MPs who oppose Harper

The strains are starting to show in Stephane Dion’s virtual coalition government with Stephen Harper.

In a fiery caucus meeting this morning, the party leadership brutally remonstrated against Liberal MPs who dared to suggest they follow the NDP's lead and vote against Harper’s mini-budget. Reportedly, Ottawa MP Mauril Belanger (pictured) was told he would be kicked out of caucus if he represented his constituents by voting “NAY”. Belanger didn’t show up for tonight’s vote at all.

It’s one thing for Stephane Dion to say “I don’t know what I believe in. I don’t know what I’m for or against, so I will roll over and let Stephen Harper’s agenda pass” which is precisely what the Liberals did with the Throne Speech last week.

But it’s a different thing altogether to tell MPs who want to oppose Harper that they will be punished if they do.

It’s not all bad news for Dion though. First off he gets to keep Harper in power, and secondly he ends up showing a lot more strength of will over his caucus than he ever did before the virtual coalition.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dion's Addiction: Liberals will support Harper's fiscal plan

Clearly Stephane Dion didn't read the warning label before he ordered his MPs to help Stephen Harper pass his Throne Speech last week ...

"WARNING: Propping up the Conservatives' Agenda can be Addictive."
Either that, or the patch isn’t working.

Because this seems soon, even for the Dion Liberals whose approach to opposition is the same as the guy without a parachute’s approach to sky-diving.

But it’s not that surprising really. Only a few weeks ago, Dion projected loudly and to the perfunctory and muted acclaim of Bay Street, that if the Liberal Party stood for anything, it stood for deeper tax cuts for profitable corporations.

While some (mostly life-long Liberals wondering what ever happened to their party) were confused, most everyone else saw the announcement for what it was: Dion’s cynical pre-positioning of his battered party to swallow whatever remains of their principles to vote in favour of Harper’s mini-budget.

And so it shall be.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The latest sign that Liberals have learned nothing from the Sponsorship Scandal

To distract from their own recent troubles, the Liberals have taken to attacking the Conservatives on the way they conducted their finances in the 2006 campaign. For a lot of people, the optics of Liberals hectoring anyone on ethics is just too much.

And here's the latest reason why.

Just so we are clear: Liberal MP Blair Wilson is being accused (including by his own father-in-law) of breaching elections financing laws in the last election -- an election in which Liberal candidates were shouting to the heavens that they had learned the lessons of the Sponsorship Scandal and that nothing like this would happen again.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dion Liberals to Canadians: "We are weak and irrelevant"

Just like in medicine, politics has a Hippocratic oath to guide its practitioners: never do anything to worsen your weaknesses. You can be sure your opponent is going to attack you, so don’t hand them the stick with which to beat you.

It’s simple stuff. Yet the Liberal Party’s “Absent Opposition” strategy runs directly counter to it.

Rex Murphy laid bare the price the Dion Liberals can expect to pay for their forced irrelevance in his rant on The National last night:

“The House of Commons only exists for two reasons: for MPs to vote in favour of stuff they like and vote against stuff they don't. They can, incidentally and have been, whipped for both. But when a party has to flog its members to make sure that they don't vote at all: neither fishing nor cutting bait, then why are they in the House of Commons in the first place? 'Elect me to the House of Commons as your member and you can count on me to duck all the major votes.' Doesn't work for me.”

By effectively giving Stephen Harper his majority government by sitting out confidence votes, the Liberal Party is not only being irresponsible, they are also confirming ALL of their major weaknesses – that Liberal MPs are ineffective; that the Liberal Party is doesn’t know what it stands for; and that Dion is a weak leader.

When the time comes for Canadians to replace Harper, they will have a clear choice between a leader like Jack Layton who knows what he stands for and, peculiarly, actually stands up for it, or the discredited Dion Liberals who by their own admission can’t stand up to Harper.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Artificial Opposition: Dion and his absent 94 Liberals give Harper his majority

It would figure that the one thing Stephane Dion wouldn't flip-flop on would be his promise to help Stephen Harper.

In the last two elections, Liberals have begged ordinary Canadians to vote for them using the absurd claim that only they could stop Harper. What is clear from tonight's vote is that when push comes to shove the Dion Liberals neither have the leadership, nor the principles to oppose Harper.

Fortunately, Jack Layton's NDP are a united party that knows exactly what they believe in.

For the rest, over to the NDP's website, which does a fine job documenting this defining moment for the Dion Liberals . . .

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Dion disapoints. Join the NDP in changing politics in this country": Layton

Don't hire Stephane Dion to finish your basement.

Everybody knows a bad contractor. We’ve seen them on the home-renovation disaster shows. He’s the kindly guy who breezes into your house with promises that go beyond your expectations. You believe this guy. You want him to succeed. Invariably he does a bad job with shoddy materials and lack of know-how. To make matters worse, when caught on it, he begs your forgiveness and promises to fix everything – just given a bit more of your time and money. At the end of it, the contractor takes off and the homeowner is left out of pocket and with a breakfast nook resembling an Iraqi checkpoint.

This week, Stephane Dion got caught on it. Given the choice of sticking to his principles or backing Harper’s agenda, he chose the latter. But now that he’s been caught backing Harper, he’s begging Canadians to believe that he’ll get it right . . . next time.

Jack Layton is having none of this. This weekend, the NDP leader has written a op-ed appealing directly to Canadians who have been let down by Dion’s Liberals.

“Mr. Dion cannot have it both ways. He cannot in good conscience complain about the negative effects of Mr. Harper's agenda one day and then see to it that it passes in Parliament the next. Increasingly, this is what is wrong with politics. More and more Canadians are seeing that this is what is wrong with the Liberal party.”

If the home reno shows have taught us anything, it’s that it's not good enough to take someone at their promises. You need to hire the person who not only knows what he’s doing, but who has principles and believes in what he does.

That job description fits a leader like Jack Layton a lot more than it does a unprincipled vacillator like Stephane Dion.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Jack Layton: Leader of the Effective Opposition

The Toronto Star reports on Jack Layton's first public address since Stephane Dion announced that he would not be opposing Harper's agenda.

Layton is quoted:

"When Stephen Harper's wrongheaded policies come up for a vote, we will be standing and we will be voting against the direction that Stephen Harper is taking this country. When it comes to a vote, we're not going to be thinking about our own posteriors and whether they're going to be glued to the chair . . . We're willing to put our jobs on the line to do it whereas the Liberals ... are thinking about their own seats in Parliament rather than about the issues being faced out there, unfortunately," he said.

If the Dion Liberals aren't prepared to bring Harper down over a Throne Speech that puts the last nails in Kyoto and does nothing about the prosperity gap, then when can they be expected to? For the foreseeable future, the Liberals will be keeping Harper in power.

Liberals say they don't want Harper to get a majority, but they've effectively given him one by their absence.

In light of the Liberal's decision to put their posteriors ahead of their principles, Layton has staked an unassailable claim to the title "Leader of the Effective Opposition."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dion: I have a duty . . . to support Stephen Harper’s agenda

“If the throne speech is detrimental to Canadians, if it's not respecting the honour of our country, we will not be able to stand up and vote for it. There is no way.” – Stéphane Dion, CanWest News, 27 August 2007

So much for that kind of talk.

Stéphane Dion has given the Liberal Party’s endorsement to Stephen Harper’s Throne Speech.

He is going to give Harper a blank cheque to trash-can Kyoto, push forward the Afghanistan mission on his timeline and let the prosperity gap grow.

It’s a sad day for Canada, and a sadder day for the values that Liberals say they hold dear.

The most offensive part is that Dion has ordered his MPs to abandon their sworn duty to Canadians and not vote at all -- allowing the 125 Conservative MPs out number the 80 or so NDP and Bloc MPs to push forward their agenda.

If Dion thinks Canadians will be pleased with his new coalition with Stephen Harper, he's wrong -- yet again.

Elizabeth May sacrifices Kyoto to appease a desperate Dion

Anyone who remains unconvinced that Elizabeth May takes her cues from the Office of the Leader if the Artificial Opposition should pay careful attention to this:

As has been discussed here and elsewhere, Stéphane Dion is ready to give Stephen Harper the mandate he wants in the coming Throne Speech votes. The Liberals are too weak and don't know what their values actually are.

Here’s the wrinkle though: yesterday’s Throne Speech included a very definitive statement that Kyoto is now dead. How can Dion support that? Well, it makes it a lot easier if Kyoto suddenly doesn’t matter anymore.

That’s where Elizabeth May comes in . . . here, and here.

If it is written honestly, history will record Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Stéphane Dion and Stephen Harper as those, who together by indifference or design, killed the Kyoto Protocol in Canada.

For her part, Elizabeth May will be remembered for having given Kyoto a hasty burial on national television.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Goodale has a melt-down explaining why the Liberals aren’t standing-up to Harper

Asked to list the hot-heads in the Liberal caucus, most would put Mark Holland, Joe Volpe, Mario Silva and even Ruby Dhalla close to the top.

But Ralph Goodale? Seems he’s due for consideration.

For a guy who has made a franchise of Ernie Eves’ hairstyle, the former finance minister made famous by his “I’ve learned nothing from Gomery” response to the income trust leak in the last election is considered generally unflappable.

But anyone who saw Goodale’s reddening, sweat-covered brow on CBC’s Sunday program this week would agree: Ralph had a melt down.

His troubles came in trying to explain why Liberals intend to prop up the Conservatives in the coming votes on the throne speech. He just couldn’t make the logic of not standing-up to a government that Liberals have called “Republican” and “extreme rightwing” work. His frustration built up to this foaming twaddle:

“Well, let me answer your question. The NDP are engaged in this short-term maneuvering and how is that standing on principle if, in fact, in the long-term it ends up playing into Stephen Harper’s pro-Republican agenda? That's exactly what happened in the last parliament when the NDP caused an election at that time and they ended up defeating climate change and child care and the Kelowna accord and they strengthened the hand of Steven Harper and they still finished last. How is that moving Canada forward? This is not the kind of game that the NDP want to play, there's serious longer term issues that need to be addressed. We are going to read that throne speech and make a judgment when we read it about what is good for Canada and not what's good for the NDP party.” – Goodale, CBC Sunday, Oct 14, 2007

In summary: Stephen Harper has a “pro-Republican agenda,” but Goodale still needs to read the Speech to know if it’s “good for Canada”. Er, o-k-a-y.

Ralph could have saved himself some embarrassment if he'd just said what we are all thinking: “the Liberal Party isn't standing-up to the Conservatives because we don’t know what we believe.”

PS: Ralph loves the bit about the NDP “defeating” climate change, child care, 25-cent pay phone calls, etc. But correct me, didn’t the Liberals have three majorities to get those things done and didn’t? And didn’t Paul Martin call an election that would have been only FOUR weeks after the one that actually came in 2006? If Liberals can't fake principle, they should at least muster honesty.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Stéphane Dion: Leader of the Artificial Opposition

Stéphane Dion and his Liberal MPs are plotting to let Stephen Harper’s agenda pass.

The incredulous, gob-smacked expressions from progressive people (and even those who just care about integrity in public life) across the land are entirely appropriate.

Dion’s plan is to give Harper’s agenda a pass when the Throne Speech comes for a vote next week by ordering all or some of his MPs to duck out on the vote.

As this CBC story says: “Dion can allow the policy-setting throne speech to pass and expose himself to taunts about having abandoned his principles by propping up a government that ignores Kyoto.”

Today, the NDP issued a challenge to Dion to have all of his MPs sitting in place and voting next week. As Jack Layton says “Throne Speech votes are a time to show leadership, to make a decision. You either stand with or stand against Mr. Harper’s agenda.”

The Liberals appear more and more the Artificial Opposition – pulling out their hair and berating Harper at every turn but then supporting his agenda.

A poll yesterday showed that 70 percent of Canadians don’t think Stephane Dion will ever be prime minister, and that a full 57 percent of Canadians think that the fortunes of the Liberal Party have either stalled or are in decline.

Their scheming around the Throne Speech demonstrates that the problem is more than just Dion; it’s about a Liberal Party that doesn’t know what it stands for. Dion’s weak leadership merely puts a fine point on it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A place to grow . . . Ontario

The numbers say what a lot of people aren’t: Last night, the NDP were the only party to increase both their popular vote and their seats over 2003. It’s incredible!

It’s testament to the fact that Howard Hampton ran an honest campaign that stuck to the issues. In fact, if real issues that matter to everyday people – like tuition fees, property taxes, and the decline of Ontario’s manufacturing sector - were addressed and reflected in the media coverage at all it is due entirely to Hampton.

And while Dalton McGuinty wasn’t held to a minority as many had hoped, the results were far worse for both the Liberals and Conservatives who saw fewer Ontarians vote for them than four years ago.

The Greens should also be proud of increasing their vote from 2.8 to 8 percent. In large part, this was due to the MMP referenda. An unusual number of Green supporters came out to vote in this election in support of MMP.

But their Ontario result also shows what can happen when Greens campaign against the Liberal Party instead of being a compliant cheerleader as Elizabeth May is doing. Look at the recent Outremont by-election where the Dion Liberals actually used an endorsement from May in their campaign literature -- the Greens lost 2.8% of their vote and came a distant fourth.

Also interesting is that both the NDP and the Greens saw their vote share go up while the Liberals and PC's went down. Quite simply, the cliche that the NDP and Greens are fishing in the same pond is bogus. But don't try to tell that to University of Waterloo political scientist Peter Woolstencroft.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Stéphane Dion: Lost in the Barrens

First it was Jocelyn Coulon. Then Marc Garneau, Jamie Carroll, and Liberal candidates and activists Pierre-Luc Bellerose and Michel Joncas.

Now it’s Stéphane Dion’s ability to leave Ottawa that is the latest victim of the NDP’s stunning win in Outremont.

On Wednesday, Dion cancelled his scheduled three-day trip to the Arctic to cope with the growing crisis in his party.

Dion can’t talk about anything else, can’t build a cohesive team and now he can’t even do the simple things that a leader is supposed to do.

Compare that to Jack Layton who didn’t have any problems going to the Arctic. In August, Layton led an NDP delegation to the North to see first hand the challenges facing ordinary Canadians in the Arctic. The NDP Leader has called on Harper to protect Arctic sovereignty by taking on the social, economic and environmental challenges facing Northern families.

Meanwhile, the Outremont by-election loss has shaken the Liberal Party to its core -- prompting a degree of infighting and self-doubt that has essentially put Dion under house arrest.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ontario Liberals out to bury discredited McGuinty and brand

As of today, the days remaining in the Ontario provincial election are down to the single digits.

So far, the critical acclaim is with Howard Hampton’s NDP. He has run a solid campaign sticking to the issues that will actually help daily life – like raising the minimum wage, and ending McGuinty’s $450 health tax.

But for their part, the Liberals are running the classic “under siege” campaign maneuvering around their dreary record by going hard negative at every chance.

But it seems that burying their record isn’t enough for some Liberals. In their quest for re-election, some McGuinty Liberals want to bury their leader . . .

and their party as well . . .

Even in once-Red Ontario, the Liberal brand is getting stale.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Liberals to duck confidence vote and keep Harper alive

The latest victim of the disastrous drubbing the Liberals took in last week’s federal by-elections in Quebec is their guts to stand up to Harper.

If the counsel of one of Dion’s few remaining supporters in caucus wins the day, the Liberals will abstain on mass from the vote on next month’s throne speech -- in effect, propping-up the Harper government.

Liberal MP Bryon Wilfert telegraphed the Liberals’ duck-and-cover strategy to CanWest News:

“Wilfert proposes an unusual tactic of partial abstention by the Liberals if they have the deciding vote among the opposition parties on a confidence motion over the government’s Oct. 16 speech from the throne. ‘We could register our displeasure without bringing down the government,’ he said.”

The only reason Wilfert gives for denying Canadians the chance to judge the Harper government? The Liberals don’t have “the winning conditions.” News flash for Wilfert: there won’t be any winning conditions while Dion’s leadership is so weak and your party continues to stand for nothing.

The Liberals plan to put themselves before the country. It’s becoming tougher to appear surprised.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mulcair’s victory claims its second victim

The most immediate victim of the NDP’s historic win in Outremont was Stephane Dion’s “think-alike” Jocelyn Coulon who Thomas Mulcair bested by 20% of the vote last week.

But the surprise second victim came today. Former astronaut and erstwhile star Liberal candidate Marc Garneau says he won’t be running for the federal Liberals in Quebec in any future election.

The beleaguered Liberal Party brand takes yet another hit that it couldn’t afford.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Beyond Dion: The old Liberal Party faces the changing politics

A week after the federal by-elections in Quebec which saw the historic election of NDP MP Thomas Mulcair in the long-held Liberal bastion of Outremont, the Liberal Party is showing the strains of a new and uneasy self-awareness.

That unease is evidenced by the fact that Liberals are blaming everyone for their miserable showing last Monday: Michael Ignatieff, Jean Charest, Paul Martin, the Bloc Quebecois, Jack Layton . . . etc. It's just as it was with their loss in the last election: it couldn't be that they had run a series of bad governments and Canadians had tired of them, it had to be someone else's fault.

As this Montreal Gazette article begins to suggest, politics in Canada is growing up but the Liberal Party remains clinging to old dynamics -- old dynamics that ensured that the Liberal Party could win elections by saying what it wasn’t, rather than arguing for and living up to what it actually is.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Drama mounts in Outremont

A NDP win in the Outremont by-election has been a dim prospect from the beginning. Though they share many of the same values overall, Quebecers have always greeted the party's overtures with a polite "non, merci."

Even in the face of this encouraging poll, New Democrats are still unconvinced of stealing only their second Quebec seat in history.

Strangely though, the Liberals seem quite convinced of it.

Liberals near the Outemont campaign are in a panic over the notion that they are on the cusp of losing a stronghold they have held almost without interruption since the second world war.

Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, September 6, 2007

NDP holds Harper to account for "Pod People" plan

For anyone who thought that this had run its course, or that it would just go away now that Harper has unilaterally "locked out" MPs until October . . .

It hasn't.

A thought: If Dick Harris wasn't speaking for the party, why is he still Stephen Harper's BC Caucus Chair? Er, just asking.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Birds of a feather (or Liberals to stop hiding it)

The Liberal Party’s “brand” isn’t what is once was.

After their Sponsorship scandal and their broken promises on everything from education to the environment, the Liberal Party couldn’t be less popular if it was covered in lead-based paint.

But example shows there are ways of turning this around.

If they were a 1980s sitcom, they could add a cute-as-a-button, smart-alecky kid to the roster.

If they were a soft drink, they could change their formula to add a kick of lemon.

Or they could take Michael Ignatieff’s advice and adopt a mascot that embodies all that is Liberal – a mascot like the puffin!

Iggy makes his case thusly: “It's a noble bird . . . They lay one egg (each year). They put their excrement in one place. They hide their excrement.”

They hide their excrement?! THEY HIDE THEIR EXCREMENT?!?! (did he just say that?!)

Far from a slip up, Liberals are signaling a brand new strategy: brutal honesty.

Expect a follow-up announcement next week “Dion to hold special summit with ordinary working people: ‘Meeting them now will free-up time for frequent meetings with the well-connected later’.”

Looks like Oshawa could use a "official liaison to the federal government"

To sell their undemocratic “pod people plan” Conservatives have been boasting a lot lately about the raw, drop-to-your knees and rejoice efficacy of Conservative MPs. To get results for your constituents, the talking points go, you need to have the 24-hour “Mr. Prime Minister, Merv Tweed on line two” access that comes with being a member of the government caucus.

Of course, the now infamous clap-trap emanating from Conservative MP Dick Harris sets the gold standard:

"To have access to the ministers, realistically, you have to be part of the government. You want to contact the Prime Minister's Office or even the prime minister when you need to, it helps immensely to be part of the government."

But hold on, what’s this?

It looks like somebody forgot to tell Oshawa Conservative MP Colin Carrie about his added benefits and privileges.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Attack of the Conservative Pod People, Part II

Friday’s post about Stephen Harper’s plan to appoint undemocratic “official liaisons to the federal government” as a way to supplant democratically elected NDP MPs has gotten loads of blog attention, but very little in the mainstream press outside of northern BC, where NDP MP Nathan Cullen has been targeted.

That is until now. The whole stinking mess is written up today for the readers of the Vancouver Sun by Barbara Yaffe.

Yaffe hits the nail on the head when she says that Conservative MP Dick Harris’ explanation that NDP MPs are unable to represent their constituents becasue they aren't the government throws “in the waste bin the principles that make representative government in Canada function.”

But an altogether new revelation comes in Harris’ admission that the Conservatives have been willing to help out their pals in the Liberal caucus: “There seems to be a cooperation between the official Opposition and the government when it comes to riding issues, so we were able to get a fair amount done.” Just not for the NDP.

For his part, Cullen calls Harris’ reckless spin-job “ridiculous”, pointing out that his constituents in Skeena—Bulkley Valley are being better served now by his four riding offices, than they had been when the riding was Blue.

But, the greatest offence in the Harper / Harris “Pod People” plan remains the revolting notion that ordinary Canadians’ access to the resources of their federal government is being dolled out to “the friends of the regime” à la a banana republic.

When the Liberals acted this way, Canadians had a word for it: corruption. What makes it any different when the Conservatives do it?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dion Flip-Flop #231 - "Newfound" support for the Atlantic Accord

It’s tough to get too bent out of shape about Stephane Dion’s flip-flops anymore.

The guy has made so many of them: letting Sponsorship scandal figures back into the Liberal Party (or not); being in favour of the Afghanistan mission (or not); opposing the extension of said mission to 2009 (or not); supporting a ban on scab labour (or not); being in favour of intensity targets for greenhouse gases (or not).

Dion’s “toggle politics” actually lend Paul Martin the retrospective comparison of a decisive man of action.

But Dion’s latest – his “new found” support of the Atlantic Accords - isn’t going unnoticed by anyone.

Jack Layton’s widely reported response says it best: "The ferocity of Mr. Dion's opposition to this whole approach to federalism from Day 1 should leave everybody with a significant measure of mistrust when it comes to whatever he says today."

A once-wise politician had it right when he said, the Liberal Party morphs like it’s a beanbag chair, it always "looks like the last person who sat on it.'' A good line from . . . wait for it . . . Dion’s error apparent, Bob Rae.

Yet another Liberal politician who would do well to keep track of the things he says.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Liberal Coulon admits voters unimpressed with Dion

Starved over the summer months, political junkies have been eating up any and all news emanating from the federal by-election in the Montreal riding of Outremont.

In any other time, a by-election in this Liberal stronghold would be a pro-forma affair – but not this time. Firstly, the presence of former Quebec Liberal environment minister Thomas Mulcair as the NDP’s star recruit has turned this into a real race. A NDP win here is by no stretch a given, but Mulcair is attracting support as he explained on CBC Radio’s “The House” this weekend:

“There is a strong social democratic base in Quebec. I come from the side of the Quebec Liberal Party where Claude Ryan was the leader. He was my political mentor. I have always had strong community involvement myself. And that is the type of experience that I am bringing to the job. And a lot of Quebecers identify with that. In the Outremont riding, the reaction we have been getting so far is great.”

Secondly, the race is being seen as a first electoral test for Stephane Dion as leader. A new leader holds the promise of reinvigorating and exciting supporters. But on this count, a sobering account comes from Liberal candidate Joceyln Coulon in The Hill Times as reported by Liberal Senator Jim Munson:

“Asked whether Mr Dion is receiving a war reception among potential voters in Outremont, Mr Coulon says they focus more on himself than the Liberal leader. They recognize him as a public figure and intellectual, and 'it’s very rare if they talk about Dion,' he said."

That’s right: the Leader of the Official Opposition comes to the door steps of Montrealers and their choice is to focus on the director of the university think-tank standing next to him.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Conservatives begin replacing opposition MPs with the Pod People

Nathan Cullen is the NDP MP for the northern BC riding of Skeena—Bulkley Valley. This is fact. The people who live in the riding elected him to that job in 2004 and reelected him in 2006. To remove any doubt, Elections Canada says so right here.

But it seems the Conservatives are unimpressed by the democratically expressed will of the people of Skeena—Bulkley Valley -- and they said so this week.

Three days ago, Dick Harris, the Conservative MP for Cariboo-Prince George announced that the Conservatives have named their local candidate Sharon Smith the “Skeena-Bulkley Valley liason to the federal government.”

That’s right, seems that after only 20 months of trying it, the Conservatives have decided that listening to MPs – particularly those from other parties – is way too onerous and distracting. The solution is obvious really: replace them with compliant and agreeable people who look like MPs, pretend to be MPs, but have absolutely no legitimacy.

Harris’ announcement is a new low for the Conservatives – and is being greeted as such by British Columbians. For any doubters, Harris even lets his partisanship show when he says “I know the constituents of Skeena-Bulkley Valley will derive a huge benefit from having direct contact with government, something that they have not had since 2004” Problem: until 2004 the riding was held by a Conservative – though the government was Liberal. Translation: you need to elect a Conservative – er, and don’t ask why.

Just like the Liberals before them, Conservatives are arrogantly putting their partisanship ahead of democratic principles. We all remember how that ended for the red team.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

If you are opposed to the SPP, Stéphane Dion thinks you are an idiot

Stéphane Dion may not think you are an idiot, but he sure is hoping you are.

Dion and Friends know that wherever people are angry with Harper, they have to be there -- even when the former Liberal government had been doing the exact same thing as Harper.

Which is what explains yesterday’s Liberal Party press release on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). In it, Liberals blithely mimic NDP demands that Harper should open up the SPP process to transparency, and oppose bulk export of water.

But the Liberals are talking into a tin can.

There’s absolutely no difference between the SPP agenda that Harper is pursuing than what was begun by Dion’s then-boss Paul Martin.

On transparency: It was Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin who BEGAN the SPP talks with the US and Mexico back in 2005, which, as the Council of Canadians notes, had no transparency whatsoever:

"In March 2005, Paul Martin, George W. Bush and Vicente Fox met in Waco, Texas to ratify the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), which integrates recommendations from both the CCCE’s Security and Prosperity Initiative and Manley’s Task Force on the Future of North America. Despite a lack of public awareness or input, the three leaders agreed to take steps toward regulatory harmonization, a continental resource pact, and a North American security perimeter. Working groups were formed to put this “partnership” into action, and to date only industry “stakeholders” have been consulted."

On bulk water exports: it was the Manley task force which said “no item including Canadian water . . . is off the table.”

People who are concerned about the anti-democratic aspects of the SPP know that Jack Layton and the NDP have been raising alarm bells about the SPP and “North American Union” for years. It’s yet another file where Stéphane Dion can only offer mimicry of the NDP -- not leadership.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cabinet shuffle too light and too late to buoy Conservatives

Despite the bravado of the Conservatives and their attendant punditocracy, today’s cabinet shuffle is hardly the stuff of earth-moving political change.

Consider this: The last time the national poll numbers moved in a lasting way was 20 months ago with then finance minister Ralph Goodale’s refusal to investigate income trust trading that to the rest of the world looked like a leak from inside his department. The Liberals lost both the credibility they had in reserve as well as the election. Since then the polls have sat tight.

Today’s shuffle has all the significance of the day McDonald's hands out new uniforms. It’s still the same lame product being served by the same uninspired people with the same boss – they just happen to look a bit different. It’s unlikely to change the minds of urbanites, francophones and women who Harper can’t win over.

In fact, the shuffle goes some way to solidify the impression that Harper is stubborn and untrustworthy. It would have been smart politics to move disastrous ministers like O’Connor and Oda when their failings became evident – as he did with Ambrose this winter. Moving them now only serves as a reminder that he let incompetence go unchecked for months. Not smart for a party that needs to look different from the scandal-plagued Liberals.

So, what is the next event of “income trust scandal” magnitude that will move the polls in a lasting way? More and more people are looking to the Outremont by-election where a strong showing from former Liberal environment minister Thomas Mulcair for the NDP could signal the beginning of real change in federal politics in Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Ploys of Summer: Liberals plotting le fin de Dion

The “happy place” for disaffected Liberals will always be the poorly disguised chaos of the undeclared leadership race.

They can’t be blamed. For the past 15 years, Liberals have grown old knowing only the reassuring skirmishes of internecine warfare between camps built on the substantive argument that “our guy is better than yours”.

The directionless Summer of Dion is dragging closer to fall. Some are saying that anything less than a convincing Lib win in Outremont will mark le fin de Dion. But at least two would-be sucessors appear to have prejudged the outcome.

In one corner, it’s tough to ignore the signals Ralph “Income-Trust-Me” Goodale is sending by spending his summer months polishing his francais in Chicoutimi (as was noted by John Ivison). Hmmmm. A six-term MP from Saskatchewan, who has already held five cabinet jobs is suddenly showing an renewed interest in the country’s other official language? Curious.

In the other corner is Michael Ignatieff who strangely went out of his way to give this interview on a article that will appear in Time magazine to polish something else: his record as having been the head Harvard cheerleader for Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. So desperate is Iggy’s predicament that his preferred alibi is “I make rash decisions which I later regret.”

Umm, isn’t that precisely the problem with the current guy?

And these guys expect to run the country again.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

O’Contradictions (or feel bad for Rona Ambrose)

"Gordon O'Connor is making a fool of himself . . ."

Last month's truth has become today's monumental understatement.

O’Connor’s O’Contradictions haven’t made life easy for him. There were the briefing books not read. There were the multiple versions of who was looking after our detainees. There were air-conditioned tanks with no air-conditioning.

Now there’s this: the long-coming public spat between O’Connor and General Hillier – the man who as chief of defence staff, is supposed to work for the Government.

Once again, the NDP has called for Harper to show some parental discipline and put an end to the keystone cops routine.

Yet there O’Connor continues to sit, pretending to run the Department of Defence during a controversial war while pocketing an additional $72,200 for the privilege.

It’s tough not to feel bad for Rona Ambrose.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Liberals keep Gomery in the news

More than the promises they never kept; or their flip-flops on issues like anti-scab legislation and Afghanistan; more than their ineffective leader who is today under attack for appointing a male candidate in Outremont; Liberals see one thing holding back their triumphant return to power: Gomery.

Any new arrest, like that of Jean Lafleur this April, or the RCMP sniffing around Jacques Corriveau's home this month sets Liberals to dining on their fingernails. But to be fair, they don't have a lot of control over what the police do in bringing those responsible for the Sponsorship scandal to justice.

So surprise then that Gomery is back on the front pages today because a former Liberal cabinet minister put it there. Alphonso Gagliano has applied to the federal court hoping they will strike down the Inquiry's final report.

A recent poll found that 64% of Canadians don't think the Liberals have done enough to regain public trust, and the same number don't think Liberal MPs are honest or ethical. Having Gagliano challenging the findings of Gomery inquiry in open court isn’t likely to help.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weak Liberal leader and boredom in the Bloc costs us $4 million

Stéphane Dion’s weak leadership and the floundering of the Bloc Quebecois are as distressing for their dwindling supporters as the prospect of a pair of tight orange coveralls must be for Lord Black.

But for the rest of us, who cares, right? What does it matter that two Bloc and five Liberal MPs have already taken to the life-boats and left the parties that helped get them elected only 18 months ago?

Here’s why: it’s about to cost us $4 million!

All the more reason that voters in those ridings won't be eager to reward weak leadership and a party that is past its expiry date.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Harper to Canadians: "Er, I got nothin'."

Today's Globe has this story on an email circulated among Conservative staff from Harper's office begging them for ideas for the next session of Parliament.

The article says:

The request is contained in an e-mail from the Prime Minister's policy office to political staffers for Tory ministers and has also been made verbally. It comes as cabinet ministers and senior advisers believe the government has exhausted its agenda after a controversial spring in the House of Commons.

“We are looking for some ideas from you,” said the e-mail, the contents of which were read to The Globe and Mail. “These ideas will be considered as part of a larger policy recommendation that will go forth later on.”

Anyone who watched CPAC in June would have a hard time concluding anything other than that these guys were out of ideas. Van Loan's theme weeks like "Getting Results for Livestock week" were among the strongest signals.

But there's a reason why no one should trust that this email is for real. Harper and his inner circle are too controlling to ask for ideas or to leak anything. Recall the bogus "secret" memo from Doug Finley that fingered Ignatieff as their biggest fear as Lib leader (Heck, for added effect, this bogus memo was even followed up with another bogus memo on not leaking memos!).

If anyone is taking odds, bet that this memo is about the Harperites trying to soften their Ottawa image as manipulative control freaks.

('Course they could be just trying to get Conservative staff to spend less time on Facebook. )

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Montreal likes Layton best

Politicos are scratching their heads raw trying to remember an occasion when a federal NDP leader was the most popular leader in the minds of Montrealers. But that’s exactly what’s happened according to Environics.

Even on a national scale Layton has the highest approval rating of any leader (8% more than Harper and 18% more than Dion) and is the only leader a majority of Canadians (56%) approve of.

For Harper this is really bad news. It confirms that after 18 months as Prime Minister, fewer Canadians think he’s on the right track.

For Dion, it keeps getting worse. People looking for an alternative to Harper aren’t looking to him, they are looking at Layton – even in Dion’s Sponsorship Scandal-weary Montreal.

And the malaise is electric, running right from Dion’s backyard to his backbench, which saw the astonishing resignation today of a first-term Liberal MP from Saskatchewan at a time when the Conservatives are under siege in the province.

The national “horse-race” numbers aren’t likely to show it for a while, but Canadian politics is shifting dramatically.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Liberal sycophants are discrediting the enviro movement, says insider

Jamey Heath is well known as the author of “Dead Centre” and for his time as a shrewd adviser to Jack Layton.

But before that, he was the communications director for Greenpeace, where he moved in the same circles and Elizabeth May and John Bennett, then-of the Sierra Club, and Louise Comeau now of the Sage Centre and Climate for Change.

In this article, Heath warns that these three are among a small segment of enviros whose close ties to the Liberal Party are risking the credibility of the movement by unfairly flattering the Liberal Party’s record of failure and applying a double-standard to the Conservatives.

Heath says:

"People like ... Louise Comeau need to be intellectually honest in that you can't validate extraordinarily backwards policy from the Liberals, and then the moment a Conservative party comes into office demand that Kyoto targets be met come hell or high water."

Heath is right. The only difference between the Liberals and Conservatives on climate change is that the Liberals promised specific action in 1993 and 1997 and failed, while the Conservatives made no promise to do anything at all.

If the issues and results do matter, then both the Liberals and Conservatives deserve to be treated with the same brush. The work being done by a lot of good people in the environmental movement deserves this kind of honesty.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

FACT-DOWN: Layton spoke before the casualties, not after

BADH is “Canada’s number one equine-themed politics blog” for a reason (and it’s not just because Conservative Colt fell victim to inconsistent copy-editing). It’s because BADH fights the right with facts, not name-calling.

Which brings us to this week’s “FACT-DOWN”!
The number one falsehood used by the right (here, here and here) this week to attack Jack’s criticism of the Afghanistan mission is that Layton was as one wag put it “Within hours of the news that Canada had lost six more soldiers in a roadside bomb, he was exploiting their loss”.

A blistering attack – but totally false. Here are the facts:

1) Layton’s press conference was on Wednesday, June 4th at 11:00 am. The media were informed of it on Tuesday.

2) The first news that “NATO says a roadside bomb has hit a military vehicle in southern Afghanistan, killing six soldiers and their Afghan interpreter” moved from Broadcast News using Associated Press copy at 11:27 am – long after Layton’s press conference had ended.

3) Layton made no other public comments on Afghanistan on Wednesday.

To their credit, a few writers noted this, including Chantal Hebert. Even Stéphane Dion made note of it in his press conference later on Wednesday when he said “To the merit of, I would just want to say Mr. Layton, if I understand well, made his comments before the tragedy of today.”

So, for those who think political discourse is helped by sticking to the truth as much as possible: Layton spoke before the casualties, not after.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Air (of superiority) Mail

It’s no secret that the Liberals are hurting for cash. Their most recent fundraising report filed with Elections Canada was the worst ever for the Liberal Party. In the first three months of 2007, the Liberals took in only $530,000 – $4.6 million less than the Conservatives and over $700,000 less than the New Democrats.

Compared to the same period in 2006, donors were 34% fewer and donations were 60% less. This, combined with polls showing Dion roughly as popular as Pepsi Blue, is leaving some to say that if the Liberal Party was a stock, the order would be “SELL, SELL, SELL”!

Which brings us to this latest fundraising letter that has been circulating from Dion . . .

Leaving aside its dubious accuracy given how little Liberal MPs have done in the House of Commons, the slogan “Bringing results to the People” is pretty much dripping with condescension.

“The People”? Take careful note of the capitalization. Try to miss the elitism; the well constructed stratas that put them there and the rest here; the overriding sense that announces with no apology, “we’re the Liberal Party of Canada and you’re, well, not.”
They are also proud that they "brought" the "results" to the people . . . not "delivered" or "got" but “brought” – as though bequeathed from on high.

That’s right Canada (for no rational reason whatsoever) the arrogance is back!

p.s.: send cash

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Yet another Liberal joins the Harper Conservatives

And with this, the third MP to have . . .
a) been elected as a Liberal only 18 months ago;
b) campaigned on a platform to vociferously oppose the right-wing agenda of Stephen Harper; and
c) campaigned with a leader who said the Liberals shared the same values as the NDP . . .

. . . leaves Doomsday Dion to join Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada.

First, Emerson, then Khan, and now Comuzzi. The Liberal Party has become the feeder league of the Conservatives.

The old eye-roller that "you have to vote Liberal to stop the Conservatives" has become as laughable as Paris Hilton's rehabilitation.

Lonely but not powerless are Harper Liberals who remain, like Maurizio Bevilacqua, Albina Guarnieri, Derek Lee, John Maloney, Joe McGuire, John MacKay, Paul Szabo, Paul Steckle and Paul Zed to keep the blue hope alive on the red benches.

Friday, June 22, 2007

One NDP MP is doing the work of 9 Liberals and 18 Blocistes

Yesterday, NDP MPs Nathan Cullen and Judy Wasylycia-Leis held a press conference to sum up the session that was.

But it wasn't a typical partisan press conference with bluster and charges based on one or two instances of incompetence by the other parties – they had actually done their homework. They presented a thorough analysis of the session looking at votes and bills and questions to the government.

Their findings in a nut-shell: each NDP MP is doing the work of 9 Liberal MPs and 18 Bloc MPs.

Check out the graphics:

Other findings:

- The Liberals are 55% of the opposition benches but have submitted less than a third of the private members bills. (So, where are all these great ideas Dion says Liberals have?)

- Gilles Duceppe has voted with Harper nearly half of the time; while Layton has voted against Harper over 65%.

- Liberal MPs have the worst record for attending votes of any party with 16 MPs missing on average. (If an MP does nothing else, shouldn't he or she be expected to vote?)

Bottom-line: The NDP is the workhorse in the House of Commons. And with by-elections coming this summer, working Canadians are right to wonder why they should reward Liberal and Bloc MPs who sit idle in Ottawa.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Jack's Wish" breaks into the Top Ten

Non-Facebookers might be confused by this statement, but: "Jack's Wish" just broke into the Top Ten!

Now for the decoder ring: The CBC (honestly, Santa doesn't make as many lists as these people!) has been working the streets of the Facebook world to encourage Canadians to make and vote for wishes great and small for the country.

With one in five Canadians without adequate drug coverage and 3.5 million without any coverage at all, Jack Layton has made his wish universal drug coverage for every citizen.

As of today, Jack's wish for a Canada where no one must choose between paying rent and their medication broke into the top 10.

On Facebook? Wanna be? Support Jack's wish.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Canadians rank New Democrats most ethical, environmental

The number one hit on the Conservatives is that they can't be trusted on the environment. While the number one hit on the Liberals is that they can't be trusted.

So it's a happy coincidence that the latest poll from Angus Reid Strategies shows that Canadians rank Jack Layton and the NDP tops on honesty and ethics, as well as the party that most cares about the environment.

The surprising finding that 50% of Quebecers (the highest of any province) think Layton would make a good Prime Minister is particularly timely given the three by-elections in Quebec to come this summer.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: AR asked Canadians the same questions about the Liberal Party and found that 64% don't think Liberals are either ethical or environmental. Most astonishing is that a majority of people in every region disagree with the statement "Dion would make a good Prime Minister.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Liberals fuming over Dion’s free-ride for MacKay

Several months after the fact, Liberal stalwarts in Central Nova are still fuming over Dion’s deal to not run a candidate against Peter MacKay.

This, of course, was bound to happen.

Dion’s backroom deal with the Liberal-spokesperson-who-runs-the-Green-Party (LSRGP) was poorly thought-out from the get-go. It puts the Liberals in the position of having to (a) admit that they need to borrow the credibility of another party on environmental issues; (b) explain why they aren’t fighting Harper in every riding; (c) explain why if defeating Harper is so important to them, they don’t concede other ridings that are already held by the NDP and Bloc.

The new wrinkle in all this is that local Liberals know MacKay is weak and are fuming that they don't have a dog in the fight. Because as weak as the Conservative machine is after Harper dumped his promise to respect the Atlantic Accord, the LSRGP is even weaker with the former Green candidate today admitting “I don't think May has a prayer . . .”

Dion’s weakness and Harper’s broken trust have soured them with their local supporters. All this, plus the strong second place showing in 2006 is putting added emphasis on the fact that the NDP and Louise Lorifice will be the force for fairness against Peter MacKay.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Liberals show climate change furor is all about image

In their latest e-newsletter, the Liberals are once again reaching to convince their few remaining paid-up supporters that they are serious about the threat of climate change.

To put as fine a point as possible on their seriousness, their newsletter includes an image of a smog-grey sky, and in the foreground . . . wait for it . . . that's right, a nuclear station's cooling tower!

While there are plenty of raps against nuclear power, contributing to climate change isn't one them.

When it comes to fighting climate change, it's all about image with the Liberal Party.