Thursday, September 25, 2008

Liberals just hoping to hold ground

This has been coming for a while. Senior Liberals are now saying that just holding onto what they have (95 seats) will be a challenge. Dion's leadership is under serious fire, and hope is partly resting on the leaders debates. What should he do? Three strategists gave their answers to the Globe. This sums up my feelings on the topic: "Not everyone can be a good leader."

Let's say the Liberals lose seats, maybe only 10 (seems likely). How long does Stephane Dion last as leader? I would think they would need a review before parliament sits in February. Can they hold one in November? What about January?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Top Ten moments in Canadian politics (in my political lifetime)

Everyone has their top ten lists. Here's one of mine: Top ten moments in Canadian politics. This list isn't necessarily the most pivotal or controversial, and it only begins when I started to really pay attention to Canadian politics. So, here they are*, in chronological order:

1. Federal election, 1993: The Liberals sweep to power, reducing the once-dominant Conservatives to a mere two seats on the back of Brian Mulroney's personal approval ratings (low, I've heard) and a poor campaign by Kim Campbell.

2. The Delgamuukw decision, 1995: Forever changes Canada's relationship with our aboriginal population.

3. No to separation, 1995: The No side squeaks out a narrow victory in the 1995 Quebec separation referendum. I watched the results and actually wished I was in Montreal.

4. Jean Chretien grapples with protestor in Quebec, 1996: Can't help but like the guy for that.

5. Reform Party reinvents itself, 2000: as CCRAP, the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance party. How do you spell shortsighted? They quickly changed the order of the words in their name to avoid the CRAP moniker.

6. Pierre Trudeau dies, 2000: Love him or hate him, he shaped federal politics more than anyone in the past 40 years. And Fidel Castro was a pallbearer.

7. Jean Chretien keeps Canada out of the second Iraq war, 2003: We narrowly avoid the worst and most useless military engagement since Viet Nam.

8. Martinites oust Jean Chretien, 2003: Eventually leading to the mess they're in now.

9. Jean Chretien shows his balls to the Gomery commission, 2005: His collection of golf balls, that is.

10. 2008 federal election: In the space of a few years, the once fragmented right returns to power while the once natural governing party is is reduced to one of three parties on the fragmented left.

*This is a work in progress, as new events pop into my head.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Votes first

"McCain failed miserably in his first executive decision, that of putting America in safe hands should anything happen to his decrepit ass. He has put the country in the hands of a dreadfully ill prepared and weak politician for the sake of a vote... basically, his own line about "country first" is total bullshit.... it's votes first nothing else; what a patriot!"

I just read this on a football site I belong to. I hadn't thought of that angle at all. An interesting point, one that many McCain supporters will find easy to dismiss by pointing to all her executive experience.

I'll remind everyone that a short while ago Sarah Palin wondered what is it exactly that the V-P does every day. And that her executive experience was as mayor of a town of 7,000.* (Thanks, Bill Maher.)

*and as Governor of Alaska, I know.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tax and spend Democrats?

I was just clicking through some Wikipedia pages about US federal spending* and found this little gem:

Party of President---Fed. Spending----Fed. Debt-----GDP

Now, I know that there are mitigating factors, and in absolute terms both Reagan and Bush Sr. did decrease spending in one of their years in charge (two years out of twelve), but the numbers are pretty strong, especially the Debt Increase percentages. In Reagan's first term the federal debt increased a whopping 49%, in his second 40%. Spending has increased 18.9% under the current Bush regime.

*searching for some facts to back up my claim that Republicans haven't reduced spending in the past 50 years, a reply to someone who simplistically claimed that Democrats tax and spend and Republicans decrease taxes, spending and government.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Federal polling IV

Every day we hear new numbers, shifts that fall within the margin of error. How much sense does it make to report that the NDP has increased their support to 16% from 15% if the margin of error is 2%?

This is the best thing I've read so far on polling for the federal election: Rob Annandale at the Tyee posted a story about two different approaches to election predictions: a results stock market and a gossip poll. Between them and the pollsters, can you guess who was more accurate? You're right, it wasn't the pollsters, it was the million monkeys typing on a million typewriters. Or something.

Two anecdotal proofs*:
1) Every year the Globe and Mail's Business section has a stock-picking competition among five or so analysts. They each pick one stock to perform well over the year. They also give one pick to a random child of an employee (changed in recent years to include high-school students). The year I read the results, the five-year-old daughter of one of the editors who picked the results with a doll placed third out of six.
2) During the NHL play-offs the team at TSN has a monkey pick play-off results each round. Maggie the macaque's picks have been eerily prescient on occasion. She has been right more often than not.

*that may or not be factually correct. Change anecdotal to apocryphal and I'm right as rain. Or something.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

BC Liberals cancel Fall session

Well, aren't we lucky... I didn't want to have our government debate anything anyway. I was thinking, why bother with it? Let's reduce government to press releases and staged events. That way nothing unexpected can happen, no one will have to answer questions about tax schemes and pay raises, and we can get on to the real business of governing... not sure what that is, if it's not debating and passing legislation. Managing? We pay bureaucrats for that.

A cynic might say that the Liberals are just gearing up for the election in May. A rosy budget in February directly preceding an election call...hmmmm. Way to go, fixed election dates.

Edit: Paul Willcocks says it much better than I.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Federal polling III

More damning news for the Liberals:

Only 46% of Liberals think Dion would make the best leader for Canada. 14% pick Jack Layton. I like the guy, sure, but a good leader he is not.* I saw Jack Layton speak the other day and he engages the crowd and inspires people. Dion doesn't inspire much other than confidence in his intellect.

Edit: *or so I thought. This post on the Tyee has a Liberal candidate expressing admiration for a totally different sort of political leadership, a more inclusive and collaborative style.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


So I just put it together: Vancouver-Centre will be a race between Lorne Mayencourt for the Conservatives, Hedy Fry for the Liberals and Michael Byers for the NDP. Wild. This will be a cage-match to be watched.

Mayencourt: Bizarre fellow. BC Liberal MLA for the riding-ish? Known for the Safe Streets Act. Outspoken and full of contradictions.
Fry: Sitting MP for the riding. Loved by the gay community for her work as a doctor in the 80s when AIDS was first emerging. On occasion has said ridiculous things.
Byers: UBC professor of International Relations. Outspoken on George W. Bush and Canada's engagement in Afghanistan.

Edit: If that isn't enough, we also get Adriane Carr from the Greens, founder and former leader of the provincial party.

And the most blogged about award goes to....

The Vision/COPE/Green election pact!

Frances Bula, Irwin Loy and Bill Tieleman all posted in the past two hours about the tentative agreement reached by the three parties. It is big news.* A friend at COPE asked me to urge any COPE members I know to get out and vote for this proposal at the meeting on Sunday.

"I understand that COPE board member Tim Louis voted against this." - Frances Bula

I'm shocked, just shocked, that he would vote against some sort of cooperation between progressives in this city...

*though it's not posted on the Vision website.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fantasy Football week 3

I've climbed the table from 10th to 9th with 39pts, on the strength of a few good matches by my defensive corps. I missed out on an outstanding 9pt performance by Shaun Wright-Phillips because the news was he wouldn't play, so I left him off the team, and he scored two goals for his old club Man City. I've also picked the wrong striker twice, leaving me with 3 points instead of 6 or 9.

My biggest worry so far is in goal: Tim Howard of Everton is at -1 after three matches. I don't have a back-up, and I expected better things. Unfortunately, David Moyes didn't bring in any new players this transfer window (anyone of note, anyway) and quite a few players left, leaving him with a short bench.

Good news, though: I'm within 9pts of third, which is the last promotion spot. It's a close race, and I think my point hauls will improve: Fabregas is fit, SWP will start most matches for Man City, my strikers are scoring, and presumably Portsmouth's defence will improve (I've got both Campbell and Distin).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Federal polling II

This just in: Those numbers below are wrong!

Environics just released a poll that has very different numbers than the Nanos polling below. They show the Conservatives holding quite the lead on the Liberals, rather than in a dead heat.


What a difference a week can make? Bad polling? Different questions? Or just the nature of polling?

Last week's poll had the Conservatives at 29% in Ontario; this week's at 43%. Ontario and Quebec look like the provinces in which the Conservatives will make advances. (Outside of the cities, of course.)

It looks like Dion's plan of talking to Canadian's this summer about his environmental plan hasn't really worked. They just don't trust him to lead: three times as many Canadians say Harper will make a better PM (39-13%). What was Gerard Kennedy thinking...