Monday, August 30, 2010

"Michael Ignatieff's political summer school"

"After six weeks connecting with Canadians, the Liberal Leader displays a new confidence. But he’s still not talking about an election."
Ladies and gentlemen, Jane Taber sets the agenda at the Globe and Mail. This kind of subjective punditry is not what I would call "fair and balanced". When Donolo wants to run a story or headline in the national media, I would wager a large sum of money that Jane Taber is his first phone call.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

This Week In Politics

It has been one week since I decided to give up blogging while getting my personal affairs in order, and it has been very difficult to refrain from sharing my opinion. I have some thoughts to share after this week which I may as well vent all at once instead of in many smaller pieces. Once my personal life is in order, I will be returning to the blogosphere. On that note...

1) Jobs: To my fellow Canadians looking for work, I have to say that there are quite a lot of jobs on the market right now. Some industries are doing better than others, but if you are open to new possibilities there are numerous employment opportunities. Negative economic indicators out of the United States have dragged down international stock markets during the past two weeks, but the situation for the unemployed in Canada is a hec of a lot better than it could be.

2) Liberal Attacks: I saw this past week that the Liberal Party blasted the Prime Minister for not making a speaking stop in Quebec during the two weeks since he returned from vacation. The charge, as published by Jane Taber who sets the agenda at the Globe and Mail, is that the Prime Minister is "shunning" La Belle Province. He doesn't care, he is avoiding Quebec; after spending his vacation f**king Quebec, that's where! The attack doesn't make any sense unless the Liberals are concerned about their own dismal performance in the Province and were grasping for straws.

3) Tamil Migrants: I found myself scratching my head after reading a Don Martin rant that this Tamil boat gave the Tories exactly what they needed. Pardon me? A large majority of Canadians supported turning the boat around at sea, but after inspection showed women and children on board, the government had little choice but to pull the boat into shore. They were forced into doing something that upset their base and went against bipartisan public opinion. How is this great for the Tories? How is this exactly what they needed, being forced to do something Canadians generally oppose? Also when I was in school I worked with a Tamil immigrant, who was very friendly and one of the hardest working people that I have ever worked with. He admitted that his wages were being garnished by a Tamil "organization" and that there were threats of harm if he did not pay. So these impoverished refugees supposedly paid $50,000 per head to get on this boat? That makes me wonder who bankrolled these boat tickets, and what will be expected in exchange if these people are allowed to stay. This very well could be sanctioned extortion.

4) CBC Propaganda: How many time has the George Strombolopolis WWII documentary aired on the CBC in the past 6 months? 500? For a station that is supposed to be 24 news, they sure devote a lot of airtime to the 1940s. The world doesn't have enough WWII documentaries, what we really needed was "Strombo" to share his opinion on "extreme right wing ideology". By the way, if you play the Love, Hate, and Propaganda drinking game where you take a shot each time George says "right wing ideology", you are unlikely to be conscious by the end of the show. I know how anxious Stombo and friends are to compare our Prime Minister to Adolf Hitler, but I remind you that monster was as much left as right. National Socialism is still socialism but by a different name. What Strombo likely does not know is that North American Liberals praised both Hitler and Mussolini for their policies prior to WWII. It wasn’t until after the Holocaust that academics tried to paint Fascism as right wing.

5) Obama 9/11 Mosque: This past week I witnessed what was arguably one of the dumbest political moves I have seen in my entire life, when Obama endorsed the building of a large Mosque near the rubble of the World Trade Centers. Having a debate about property rights and freedom of religion is all fine and dandy in a University lecture hall, but when at least 70% of Americans are emotionally against this initiative, it is incredibly stupid to take the other side publicly as President months before mid-term elections. Guaranteed a number of Democratic candidates are pissed off at the Democratic President's stupidity.

6) Poll Dancing: And finally, it is nice to see the Tories rebounding in the polls. Even Liberal donor Frank Graves has acknowledged as much; though he has tried to spin it as the Liberals opening up a larger lead with smart people and the Tories gaining ground with stupid people. Thanks for that analysis Frank; that's what the CBC pays you for. Frank also tried to point out regional differences without mentioning that when doing regional analysis of a national poll, the error rate increases substantially. I find it amusing that despite all the controversies manufactured by the Liberals and their friends in the media, they can't make anything stick in the polls. There is a song that I think does a magnificent job of describing Stephen Harper's ability to rebound from Liberal contrived controversy...

Until next time, whenever that might be...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Bid You Farewell

I am sad to announce that I must retire indefinitely from the Blogosphere. It is not something that I want to do; it is something that I have to do. Two weeks ago I lost my job in the service industry due to a catastrophic drop in business after the HST was unleashed and I can no longer afford the time commitment required to do what I have been doing. I have very much enjoyed the blogging experience and all your feedback, but it is time to go.

I have written 815 posts in 2010 with 220,000 page views from which I generated $120 in revenue. Considering the 1400 hours of time I have invested this year, it is not pragmatic to continue this venture in the face of a personal financial crisis. I'm about 3 weeks away from living in the trunk of my car, where I will not have an internet connection.

So I bid you all a fond farewell,
may Gordon Campbell burn in Hell...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday The 13th

Yet another Friday the 13th is upon us, following a very tumultuous Thursday the 12th. That begs the question; do you associate any superstition with this supposedly spooky day? Last November I went golfing on Friday the 13th and was very nearly crushed by a golf cart on the very first hole. Then after the 18th hole, I saw Conservative MP Andrew Saxton in the parking lot of the Northlands Golf and Country Club. We later nicknamed that day "The Nightmare at Northlands."

According to the DaVinci Code, the mythical aura of Friday the 13th as a superstitious day was born when the Catholic Church supposedly rounded up and killed many of the Knights Templar, who were allegedly guarding some secret unearthed in the Holy Land. Others associate the day solely through the Jason horror movies.

Have you had any "freaky" occurrences happen to you on a Friday the 13th?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cherry and Harper Help Raise $200,000 For Cancer Center

I wish that I could have been there to see Don Cherry and Prime Minister Stephen Harper coach a charity hockey team in front of 5,000 adoring fans in Barrie tonight. The event raised $200,000 for a cancer research center, and the Blue Team won 11-8. The Prime Minister received a "healthy round of applause", which was later dwarfed by the standard thundering ovation for Don Cherry. A popular Prime Minister and a Canadian icon, I would have been very interested to hear what the two chatted about.

This fantastic event ended what was a really freaky day in Canada, as though Friday the 13th came one day early. Between traffic accidents and mysterious migrant ships, it was an odd day. My condolences go out to the Liberal Party for the loss of their communications director. I feel that it is appropriate to refrain from my standard partisan attacks during their mourning period.

Tamil Drama In Canadian Waters

There is drama on the high seas today as a ship carrying an estimated 490 Tamil migrants has now entered Canadian territorial waters and has been boarded by our navy. Now the decision must be made as to whether we turn them away at sea, or allow them to land and process each refugee claim on a case by case basis. Our border services are preparing for this scenario as a tent city is being erected in the event that these people land on Canadian soil. There are reports that some of the passengers are sick and that a significant proportion of them may not survive a trip back to Sri Lanka. It should also be noted that the civil war in that country has ended, so these people are not fleeing an active war zone. There are also reports that among the 490 people are several members of the Tamil Tiger paramilitary group, which is designated as a terrorist organization in Canada.

What do I think we should do? My first instinct would be to not allow the boat to reach Canadian soil, but I don't want to see it return to Sri Lanka with 490 corpses in the cargo hold. I would like to see them fed, cleaned up, treat the sick, and then send them home. We can't be too generous in this situation or we will only create incentive for more human smugglers to fill up cargo ships in unsafe conditions and sail for Canadian waters in the future.

Aside from that, I trust Jason Kenney to handle this in the best possible manner. Interesting that 83% of Evan Soloman's left leaning audience thinks the boat should be turned away before reaching Canadian soil. This coming after Ignatieff said the boat should be allowed to land and each refugee processed individually.

Canada's New Natural Governing Party?

Does Canada have a new natural governing party? I know this is a term that Liberals delight in applying to themselves, but one has to wonder if they have are losing their grip on the moniker. They made the disastrous mistake of voting Stephanie Dion leader, followed by Ignatieff who was appointed without a leadership contest. The next guy in line is a former NDP Premier who is arguably one of the worst performing Premiers that our country has ever seen, a guy who prorogued the legislature 3 out 4 years during an economic crisis and then protested in the streets when our current government prorogued for the Olympics.

In the last 30 years, how many majority governments have the Liberals won against a united right? One single majority by Trudeau handed to him on a silver platter by Joe Clark. Jean Chretien only ever faced a divided Conservative Party.  To call the Liberals the natural governing party is not statistically accurate, unless you hop in a time machine and travel back 50 years.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Lonely Tony Clement

Do you feel sympathy for Tony Clement? The Industry Minister has spent this summer under siege for Censusgate while most of his caucus colleagues have been enjoying a quiet summer. The man jumped into a raging river to save a drowning woman, but that story lasted only a day before vanishing from the media commentary. Tony has even admitted that he feels lonely, despite all the attention he has received from Rosemary Barton and Kady O'Malley. Don Newman even called him an overly ambitious blind partisan. John Baird and Stockwell Day made brief appearances defending the census changes, but other than that Tony has been pretty much alone on an island. The Prime Minister is back and able to carry the football again while Tony takes a well deserved vacation. Though his vacations consist of calling in to the Soloman Show to defend the census changes. There is no rest for the weak and weary.

Harper's Secret Plan?

"Stephen Harper has said repeatedly over the past few days that Canadians do not want an election, which means he must have a plan in the works." Another daily affirmation with Jane Taber, who sets the agenda at the Globe and Mail. You gotta love the partisan dedication of the Globe's agenda setter, where the Prime Minister assures Canadians that the Conservative party will not be pursuing an election in the fall, which to Taber means that he must be plotting some secret plan. Was John Baird made Government House Leader in order to force through a hidden agenda? Be afraid Canada, be very afraid...

In the last week we have had 3 national polls, two of them had the Conservatives at 34% while EKOS (led by Liberal donor Frank Graves) had them at 29.7%. Much ado was made in the media about this "historic" sub 30% showing (Taber wrote two different editorials on the same poll in the same day), but the other polling results prove that was an aberration. It would appear that EKOS produces a disproportionate number of the "outliers".  The poll in April 2009 that had the Liberals at 37% (their peak under Iggy) came from...wait for it...EKOS. The best polling results for the Green Party came from...wait for it...EKOS.

The outliers should be randomly distributed among the polling firms, not concentrated with Liberal donor Frank Graves.

Pakistan Partisanship

This is insane. A Liberal MP has accused the Conservative government of ignoring the flood disaster in Pakistan because there aren't enough Pakistani votes in Canada to make it worth their while. The government's rapid response to the earthquake in Haiti however allegedly only happened because Stephen Harper wanted to pander to the Haitian votes in Montreal. Really? Haiti is an impoverished nation in our own backyard that can't take care of itself, while Pakistan is a nuclear power with a very large military on the other side of the planet. Are we going to send a military response team to a country that won't allow NATO boots to touch their soil?

There are an estimated 90,000 Haitians living in Montreal, a city where in 2008 the Tories only received 16% of the popular vote (easily their lowest total in any major Canadian city). If every single Haitian living in Montreal voted Conservative, they could bump their vote share to 19% and still win zero seats. Their best riding in the city is Mount Royal (27%), but the Tory candidate still finished 10,000 votes behind Irwin Cotler. Are there 10,000 Haitians living in that neighborhood? Saying that the government only responded quickly in Haiti to pander to a tiny fraction of voters in a city where they have almost no chance of winning even a single seat is insane!

Jim Karygiannis, give your head a shake! There are more people of Pakistani descent in Canada than Haitian. If disaster response were just about votes, it would make sense to cater to the larger population.

Globe And Mail Misleading Civil Service

The head of Statistics Canada admits that he resigned because he read a misleading headline at the Globe and Mail (a paper well known for its misleading headlines where Jane Taber sets the agenda). Then others such as the CBC's Don Newman jumped on the resignation as an example of magnificent civilian integrity that he would resign over such a principled matter. Really? Had the Globe and Mail not misinterpreted Tony Clement in a headline, it is unlikely that the man would have resigned. Sure an idiot could blame the Tories for "forcing" him out, but he left because the Globe drew the wrong conclusions from a minor statement. That is not the fault of the Conservative government, it is the fault of those who set the agenda at the Globe and Mail. Journalistic malpractice led to the resignation of the boss of Statistics Canada. Where is the Globe's apology?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Heather Mallick's New Job

Breaking news from Susan Delacourt's Twitter page, Heather Mallick has a new newspaper gig in Canada. Of all the newspapers in Canada, which do you think is most likely to offer a permanent job to this self proclaimed expert in the sexual inadequacy of the conservative male? You guessed it, the Toronto Star. She will be writing two columns weekly for one of the most politically biased media outlets in the country, so she shouldn't have any problems making friends at the office Christmas party. This is great news for Conservatives, as Mallick has a tendency to write absurd and vile things that makes her side look bad. Since the Toronto Star owns the Globe and Mail and CTV, we can probably expect Mallick to be shared among the family.

The Difference Between Minnesota And Quebec?

According to Liberal leader Mike Ignatieff, what is the only difference between Minnesota and Quebec? French, and that's it. If you changed the signs in Minnesota to French, you would not be able to distinguish between the two, or at least Iggy could not. Evidently all those dozens of years he spent living in England and Boston has left him completely ignorant of French culture. This gem of ignorance comes from Ignatieff's book Blood and Belonging, which provides an insight into how he feels about the distinctiveness of La Belle Province. Today he had another top Quebec aide quit, which piles on top of that revolt last year by Dennis Coderre. In Iggy's eyes the state that elected Jesse "the Body" Ventura as Governor and Stuart Smalley as Senator has everything in common with Quebec except language.

Nothing says Quebec like Jesse "the Body" Ventura...

And the Senator representing the great state of Quebec, err Minnesota, is...

Statistics Lesson For Jane Taber

I don't know if Jane Taber, who sets the agenda at the Globe and Mail, ever took a statistics course in University but I doubt it (if she even attended University). Today a poll was released showing the Conservatives at 34% and the Liberals at 31% with a margin of error of 3.1% to which Jane wrote: "Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and Michael Ignateiff’s Liberals are in a virtual dead heat in a new national opinion poll". I don't think Jane understands probability theory or parameter estimation. When they say 3.1% accuracy 19 times out of 20, they are referring to a 95% confidence interval. That is to say, the Tories are at 34% and Ipsos is 95% certain that the true value (polls estimate the true value) lies between 32.45% and 35.55%. However the parameter estimate is the most probable value in the confidence interval, and the further you get from that 34% towards the outer bands of the interval, the smaller the probability that it is the true value.

Translation: I'm not 95% sure the Tories have a lead, but I am 93% certain that they have a lead. It isn't tied; it is just a rejection of the 95% hypothesis test. Introductory Statistics courses often use the 95% confidence interval, because many tests conducted by science students require a higher level of certainty than opinion polls. In medical research where a microgram can be the difference between life and death in a controlled experiment, you need more scrutiny. Political pollsters don’t require the same level of accuracy as researchers testing a cancer drug.

Also, that 3.1% refers to the entire range of the interval, meaning 1.55% on each side of the parameter estimate; meaning that Ipsos is 95% certain that the lowest possible value of Conservative support is 32.45% and the maximum possible value of Liberal support is 32.55%. That is an overlap of 0.1%. What is the probability that the two parties are tied at 32.5%? The answer, very small, less than 5%.

Liberal Summer Tour Successful?

A new poll released by Ipsos has the Conservatives at 34% (up from last week) and the Liberals at 31%, confirming that there has been an increase in Liberal support during their summer tour. Over the past couple of years we have typically seen Conservative support decrease when Parliament is not in session, and increase when Parliament gets down to business; so the narrowing of the gap between the two main parties should not alarm Tory supporters. The media has been pounding the government for most of the summer, so it should not come as a surprise that the numbers moved. I wasn’t worried in February, and I’m not worried now.

I prefer to see the Conservatives with a lead, but the advantage of bad polling numbers is that it significantly reduces speculation that the party will force an unwanted election in an attempt to take advantage of the situation. Suzie Delacourt says that Liberal MPs are "planning" for a fall election, not because of direction from their leader, but because they expect Stephen Harper to dissolve his own government before its second birthday. Look at the poll numbers Suzie, that isn't going to happen.

The belief that the PM will collapse his government in the fall is wishful thinking for the opposition. As Liberal support increases, the Grits will be tempted to go to the polls to try and take advantage of their momentum. The dilemma is that the current government is less than 2 years old and if any party forces a new election that few Canadians want, there will be Hell to pay. You are not going to see Ignatieff kick off September by saying "Mr. Harper your time is up". If the Libs are going to vote non confidence, I would expect it to be appear spontaneous, almost an accident. Once the government closes in on 3 years old, the idea of an election is more palatable to the general public.

Speaking of elections, you do hear the left muse that if Stephen Harper could not win a majority against Stephane Dion, he never will. Am I the only one who remembers that there was a stock market meltdown right in the middle of the last election campaign? Rare catastrophic economic collapses during a campaign will always punish the party in power. Mr. Harper still came within a dozen seats of a majority and has now guided us through the recovery. Despite our strong economic performance throughout this recession, we remain vulnerable to what happens south of the border. If Obama takes down the American economy, we are going to feel it in Canada.

Monday, August 9, 2010

We Must Colonize Outer Space

The smartest man in the world has spoken and he has said that it is time to colonize outer space, or else mankind faces extinction. Where do I sign up? Let's start with building a tourist resort on the moon as a means of generating revenue for space projects. If it were possible for civilians to visit the moon, there would be a long waiting list. If you build it, they will come. It is Stephen Hawking, the man in the chair, who says this and I support him. Visiting outer space (preferably the moon) is on my bucket list and statistically I only have 20-50 years left alive. Others might not share my enthusiasm for this initiative, but as a fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars, my opinion is biased.

“It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth but to spread out into space.”

-Stephen Hawking

Tracking Stimulus Spending

Have Conservative ridings received more money from the government stimulus than non Conservative ridings? Some people certainly think so, and if that were to be true would anyone be truly surprised? I am certain that if you analyzed representative democracies across the world and across time, you would find governments rewarding the people who elect them to office. I am not saying that it is right or wrong or that it is happening in this case, just that I'd expect it to happen pretty much everywhere, especially with spending as discretionary as a temporary economic stimulus that many economists argued was unnecessary in the first place (and demanded by the opposition as a condition for not collapsing the government).

The irony being that if the opposition or their friends in the media want to expose this as a travesty of justice, they should be warned that it might backfire. First, they aren't alleging that Tory ridings received all the funding, just a slight disproportion. Are people living in Conservative ridings going to be outraged that the Government spent a little extra on them? Second, you are sending the message to people living in Liberal ridings that they can get a better deal by voting Conservative. Personally I have not analyzed the stimulus data, so I don't even know if there is any significant difference in spending. I just don't think that telling people that they will be better off electing a Tory is a sound strategy for a Liberal.

Besides, if stimulus spending is completely partisan as alleged, the Tories should want to spend money on non Conservative ridings to try and make those voters happy. We are in a minority government, and news flash, the Conservatives would like to win more seats than they currently hold.

CBC Very Concerned About Helena Guergis

This is amusing. Rosemary Barton wrote a blog post about Helena Guergis threatening the Conservatives a week ago that is still up at the CBC Politics page ("I'll be back on the ballot. One way or another", Guergis says). The amusing part is if you scroll down about 5 inches, there is another link to the exact same story, but with a slightly different title (Independent MP vows to be "back on the ballot, one way or another"). The story so nice, they had to link it twice (then leave both up on their politics page for a week). I suppose the CBC doesn't have many contributors making contributions right now, but it is interesting to have the same story prominently linked twice. Jane Taber will write the same story two different ways in the same day, but will not link the same story twice.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

G20 Lawsuit

A group of G20 protestors are engaging in a class action lawsuit against the taxpayers asserting that they suffered emotional damages as a result of the police action in the streets of Toronto. On the first day of protests windows were smashed while rioters armed with Molotov cocktails lit multiple police cars on fire. The police faced widespread criticism for not doing enough to stop the violence, and so right the next morning they started making arrests. Anyone who went out on the streets to protest the next day had to know that there was risk of harm, be it by the rioters or the riot police. After the violence on the first day, it takes a special kind of thrill seeker to go out on the streets the next day and aggressively confront police who had to watch their cars burn the day before.

Nobody was killed or seriously hurt, and while I support the right to peaceful protest; know that if there is violence on the first day, the police will be more proactive on the second day. I personally hope this lawsuit is thrown out of court.

Who Is Your Favourite Stand-Up Comic?

Last night I watched some George Carlin stand-up comedy which led me to thinking who is the best stand-up comic of all time? I think that Eddie Murphy Raw would be considered one of the best individual performances, though it has been a while since Eddie has done any stand-up. It was somewhere around the Nutty Professor that he ceased being funny. Chris Rock and Russell Peters are the two active comics who can draw the biggest crowds. Lots of people like Richard Pryor, but personally I never found him to be all that funny.

Comedy Central ranks the top 20 as:

20. Sam Kinison
19. Bill Hicks
18. Jonathan Winters
17. Don Rickles
16. Ellen Degeneres
15. David Letterman
14. Bob Newhart
13. Robin Williams
12. Jerry Seinfeld
11. Johnny Carson
10. Eddie Murphy
9. Roseanne Barr
8. Bill Cosby
7. Rodney Dangerfield
6. Steve Martin
5. Chris Rock
4. Woody Allen
3. Lenny Bruce
2. George Carlin
1. Richard Pryor

Here a few of my favourite clips.

Tiger Collapsing

For those cheering for the demise of Tiger Woods golf career, this weekend must be delightful. Before this tournament Tiger was asked if he was asked to join the Ryder Cup Team as a captain's pick, would he go. Tiger defiantly said that he was going to play his way on to the team and qualify with a quality performance. Historically he plays very well on this course, but not this weekend. He has gone on to play one of the worst rounds of his career after confidently proclaiming that he was going to play his way on to the Ryder Cup Team. The irony is amusing, however I have found myself quietly cheering for Tiger this season now that he has faced some serious adversity and struggled. He seems more human now than he was before.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

CBC Giving Up On Ratings?

CBC Vice President Richard Stursberg was a controversial figure at the CBC until the announcement of his departure yesterday. He was controversial because he wanted to air content that people would want to watch, like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune (which ironically are two of the best rated shows on the entire network). This shook things up because the conventional wisdom among the CBC brass is to ignore ratings and force their idea of good programming upon those who happen to tune in. If you ever listen to CBC radio (cross country check-up notwithstanding), you know what I'm talking about. The controversy is should ratings be important, or should ratings be ignored. Should you provide programming that people want to watch, or should you tell them what they want?

I don't know how much input Stursberg had on the Soloman Show, but if that was his idea of what Canadians want to watch, clearly his judgment is lacking. I'm kind of torn on what to think of him. I can't say that I agree with his vision of quality programming, but on the other hand he pissed off a lot of the right people for me. He downsized the unionized CBC workforce last year, and ruffled many of the feathers that I like to see ruffled. The CBC has not said whether he quit or was fired, and he does raise the question of whether or not it is ethically permissible for a Vice President to wed someone under his sphere of influence.

We will see what direction his replacement takes the network. If they start by cancelling Jeopardy and other programs that draw ratings, then we should be concerned. I don't watch Wheel of Fortune, but obviously other people do. The higher the rating, the more that advertisers will pay. It allows the network to generate revenue. If they turn back towards shows that nobody watches, then they will generate less money in ad revenue and require more money in parliamentary appropriations to make up the difference.

The Curious Career Of Carole MacNeil

This is interesting. I did not realize that in June 2009 CBC host Carole MacNeil married the boss of CBC English program services. "Mr. Stursberg oversaw all aspects of CBC’s English-language programming services, including CBC Television, CBC News Network". At the time Carole was doing the once per week Sunday night show with Evan Soloman, which ironically was cancelled in June of 2009. Then suddenly in the fall of 2009, Carole gets promoted to the weekday afternoon anchor's chair and Evan gets the big prime time Politics show. Evan replaces Don Newman, they change the show name from "Politics" to "Power and Politics" and give him an extra hour.

It does seem like an interesting confluence of events. Carole marries her boss and shortly afterwards she and her co-host get promoted. Now her husband is abruptly leaving the CBC, and Carole has not been sitting in the afternoon anchor chair this summer but rather has been doing reports from Washington. The CBC is reporting her husband is leaving, but won't announce a reason or whether he quit or was fired. We do know that he was considered a controversial figure. I would be interested in more information about the decision making process that led to MacNeil and Soloman's new roles on the CBC a year ago. Is a romantic relationship between a boss and an underling ethically permissible? I do not have sufficient evidence to prove that Carole MacNeil benefitted career wise because of her marriage, but I do think it is a strange coincidence that she married the boss the same month that she and Evan's Sunday show was scrapped for future promotions.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Helena Trying To Blackmail Her Way Back Into Caucus?

Helena Guergis wants back into the Conservative caucus and to expedite the process she has publicly stated that she is sitting on information which could damage the party. "I could be on the attack, I really could" she said on television, "I really hope I’m not pushed further away from the caucus". Very mature Helena, blackmail is not the best way to go about returning to your former party, threatening to damage the careers of the people you aspire to work with. I had previously been of the opinion that if she is cleared of any wrong doing she should be allowed back into caucus, but now that she is engaging in blackmail, I've had a change of heart. That's a deal breaker for me. I don't think that even Garth Turner ever stooped that low.

That she is engaging in this behavior is proof that the decision to remove her from caucus was sound.

Blackmail: "The act of threatening to reveal information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. This information is usually of an embarrassing, socially damaging, and/or incriminating nature. As the information is substantially true, the act of revealing the information may not be criminal in its own right nor amount to a civil law defamation; it is the making of demands in exchange for withholding the information that is often considered a crime."

John Baird's New Job

John Baird is the new House Leader for the Conservative Government and will now be in charge of coordinating with the opposition parties on legislation. Rosemary Barton mused about the possibility that this was done to "provoke an election" by antagonizing the opposition (she made a nice stabbing motion on TV when talking about it). As Rosie said "if there's anyone who could spark some kind of showdown, it's John Baird." The Prime Minister said today that the last thing Canada needs is a fall election, which prompted coalition partner Jack Layton to say "when Mr. Harper says he doesn't want an election, he's got a funny way of showing it".

Let's not forget that the Liberal House Leader is Ralph Goodale who is most certainly an abrasive partisan. It is hypocritical for Liberals to complain about an aggressive partisan House Leader when they have one themselves. Who in cabinet really wanted the job of having to work with Ralph Goodale and Libby Davies? Seriously. Ralph did say that unless John Baird is co-operative, the Liberals might be forced to vote no confidence. Ergo if the Liberals decide they want an election, they won't hold a major press conference in Sudbury to announce it, they will likely choose instead to have negotiations collapse prior to a confidence vote; make it seem like an accident that they can blame on Baird.

The Poll So Nice, Taber Wrote About It Twice

Yesterday when Liberal donor and pollster Frank Graves released his latest poll showing the Conservatives at historic lows, Jane Taber who sets the agenda at the Globe and Mail was so excited that she wrote two separate editorials in the same day analyzing the same poll. Headline #1 read "Revenge of propeller-heads leaves Tories even with Liberals" and headline #2 on the same politics page read "Snap election would leave Harper with razor-thin minority, pollster says". When a poll by a partisan pollster during the summer vacation period yields results you are looking for, may as well beat it like a dead horse. Jane has really turned it into overdrive since she returned from holidays.

I am not concerned about summer polling. It is a different audience for voluntary polls in the summer months. If this result is reflected in different polls by different polling companies for a few weeks, then perhaps there will be cause for concern. Besides, the good thing about hitting a low is that when you climb back up, you can boast gains and momentum. Had the Liberals not fell to 23% a few weeks ago, polling at 28% would seem much less impressive. The only problem is that when your good news pollster is a donor who wants you to win, be warned that it may not reflect the will of the people. Every session of Parliament that Ignatieff has led the Liberals through as leader, the party has polled lower at the end of the session that at the start. Iggy doesn’t do well in the national spotlight.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Harper’s got us just where he wants us"

I think Paul Wells at MacLeans might be on to something here. According to Paul, the Prime Minister thrives on bad polling numbers; ergo today's poor results from Liberal donor and CBC pollster Frank Graves should be considered good news for Conservatives. In fact, it is even possible that the unscrupulous Mr. Harper has engineered this decline in order to tighten his grip on power. The decision to make the long form census voluntary without the threat of jail time is "wicked"; really the first step on the path towards herding the poor into concentration camps.

Or as Paul puts it:

"Harper is not frittering away his time, although plenty of writers prefer to believe he is. No: he is chipping away at the foundations of the idea of government the Liberals built over decades. That’s why the census debate was so emotional. Everyone, Harper’s allies as much as his opponents, knows he’ll follow this sudden move with many more.

The assumption behind so much of our political chatter is that Harper’s grip on power hangs by a thread. He likes that assumption. It allows him to keep changing the country while everyone waits for him to fall."

Frank Graves Being Green

Liberal donor and pollster Frank Graves has managed to produce a new set of polling numbers that he insists shows that the Green Party would win two seats if an election were held right now (though not in Saanich). If you take the 2008 election results and shave 8% off the Tory vote, add 3% to the Liberals, 1% to the NDP, and 4% to the Green Party; the seat count changes to 108 Tory, 105 Liberal, 43 NDP, 50 Bloc, 2 Independents, and zero Greens. The two best Ontario ridings (where Graves alleges they will win seats) are Owen Sound and Guelph. Even with the new numbers, the Greens would finish 3,000 votes behind the Tories in the first and over 6,000 votes behind the Liberals in the other.

Elizabeth May has a problem in Saanich. Gary Lunn is vulnerable, but not to her. The Liberal Party runs strong in that riding and with a projected 27,000 votes to Lizzy's projected 9,000 votes. At $2 per vote, the Liberals would be giving up $54,000 if they ceded their candidate to help the Greens. That isn't going to happen.

Summer polling numbers shouldn't mean all that much. Fewer people are home to answer Frank's phone calls.

Will Holland And Easter Tell Helena They Are Sorry?

I have yet to watch the video of the alleged Helena Guergis airport meltdown, but more people have since the days when Wayne Easter mass circulated an anonymous report of a spectacular hissy fit at the PEI airport. Weeks later Liberal MP Mark Holland referenced Helena Guergis "assaulting airport security" on the Soloman Show. Now that we know that the incident in question was not a meltdown of any sort and the video shows no fouls committed, I wonder if Mr. Holland and Mr. Easter will apologize for their mischaracterization of what actually occurred?

I know that pundits like Rosemary Barton enjoy musing about Helena suing the Prime Minister for defamation for removing her from caucus, but how about Wayne Easter for mass circulating a malicious false account of the incident. I don't recall the PM ever saying on national television that Helena Guergis assaulted airport security, but Mark Holland sure did. At the end of the day I think she paid a price for the indiscretions of her husband, whether that is right or wrong, it is what it is. I just remember the blank "I don't know" stare she gave Mansbridge when he asked about the cocaine the cops found on her husband.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crime Rates And Prison Cells

The latest salvo being fired at the Conservative government is that if crime rates are declining, then how can we justify spending money expanding our prison capacity? The crime rates that are declining are measured in average per 100,000 people, not the total number of crimes committed. You can site the crime rate numbers from 1960, but our population has nearly doubled since then. Crime rates can go down while the number of criminals goes up. Over the past 50 years as our population has doubled, we have not adequately expanded prison capacity to keep pace with population growth rate. The problem is too many prisoners and not enough prison cells, such that to make room for new prisoners, we have to release existing prisoners early.

The latest op-ed at the Globe and Mail (which again does not list an author, but Jane Taber "sets the agenda") criticizes the government for spending more money to expand our prison capacity. What the unknown editorialist neglects to mention anywhere in the attack is that Canadian prisons are desperately overcrowded, and have been since long before the crime rate began to decline. If you want to have tougher sentences for serious crimes, then you increase the demand for prison space and you need a place to put the prisoners. We have to build more cells, either by building a new prison or expanding the existing institutions.

A drop in the crime rate is great, but as our population expands the absolute numbers are not as impressive as the weighted average.

Will There Be A Fall Election?

Today's poll question, do you expect a federal election in 2010? When I asked you this question in April, nearly 70% of you said no. According to Susan Delacourt Liberal MPs are preparing for a fall election, and speculation from NDP strategists is that the Tories are preparing to take down their own government. What do you think? I have assembled some pros and cons for each side, and your feedback is encouraged. Why should the Conservatives want or not want an election? Why should the Liberals? The problem for whoever may want election is that if the government is collapsed so soon after the last election, the party responsible will pay a price at the polls. Election fatigue has set in among Canadians, which is why we need a majority.  Only one party is anywhere close enough to deliver a majority.

Conservatives should want an election because:

*Liberal Party will have spent a big chunk of their savings on the summer tour, and they may want to trigger an election before Iggy can refill the bank accounts.

*There is a strong likelihood that there will be another economic downturn, though not as severe as the last. If the TSX tanks again, Tories will be very vulnerable to the opposition.

Conservatives should NOT want an election because:

*Polling suggests they are unlikely to win a majority if an election were held right now.

Liberals should want an election because:

*Flow their summer tour directly into an election campaign to maintain momentum.

*After an election, they can do a leadership review.

*If a coalition treaty has been reached, they will want to trigger it sooner rather than later.

Liberals should NOT want an election because:

*Need to refill bank accounts after summer tour before election campaign.

*Polling suggests they don't have strong enough support to form government. Why spend what little money you have on a national election campaign if there is a low probability of winning?  They need to hope that the LPC and NDP can win 155 seats combined, at which point they can vote against the throne speech and ask the new GG if they can form government.  They have to realize that a coalition with the Bloc will not be palatable with Canadians.

CORRECTION: I received an E-Mail from Susan Delacourt clarifying, she did not say that they were told prepare.  She was not told that the leader's office instructed MPs to prepare for an election.  Her words were that an election was likely and: "the Liberals that I've talked to on the road, the candidates and MPs, certainly are planning for that."

Susan wrote in an e-mail to me:

"Though I believe I said a lot of Liberal MPs are talking about whether there will be an election; mentioning nothing about any orders. But if I'd been asked what Ignatieff's office was telling them, it would not be as you've cast it. Frankly, I just think they're gossiping, and significantly, they all believe if there's an election, it will be because Harper provokes it, as he did in 2008."

July Polling

Here are the results of my polling for the month of July. Normally the summer months see political news at a minimum, but the media has been trying really hard to sell Censusgate. 93% of you find census questions to be too intrusive. 51% of you think Mel Gibson is insane. 23% of you would accept Prince Charles as your head of state. 44% of you think Omar Kadhr should be transfered into house arrest at Bob Rae's house. Stephen Harper's approval rating for 2010 is at 95% with my audience.


Jane Taber (50%)
Kady O'Malley (33%)
Undecided (17%)


No (56%)
Undecided (23%)
Yes (21%)


Yes (93%)
No (6%)
Undecided (1%)


No (77%)
Undecided (13%)
Yes (10%)


No (58%)
Who is Jann Arden? (29%)
Yes (13%)


No (99%)
Yes (1%)


No (58%)
Yes (32%)
Undecided (10%)


No (93%)
Yes (7%)


Insane (51%)
Undecided (29%)
Misunderstood (16%)
Great Guy (4%)


No (64%)
Yes (23%)
Undecided (13%)


No (93%)
Yes (7%)


Yes (51%)
No (43%)
Undecided (6%)


Yes (96%)
No (3%)
Undecided (1%)


No (86%)
Yes (9%)
Undecided (5%)


No (78%)
Yes (15%)
Undecided (7%)

WHAT IS THE DUMBEST THING IGNATIEFF HAS SAID SINCE JOINING THE LIBERAL PARTY? *note that the option which won the poll was actually a Hugo Chavez quote in disguise*

"Socialism builds and capitalism destroys." (25%)
"You can smell the whiff of sulphur on the guy" (21%)
"If you mess with me, I will mess with you until I'm done" (19%)
"Mr. Harper, your time is up" 38 (18%)
"A coalition if necessary but not necessarily a coalition" (6%)
"It tastes meaty" (3%)
"If elected Prime Minister, I will live in a hotel" (2%)


House Arrest at Bob Rae's Place (44%)
Guantanamo Bay (34%)
American Prison (14%)
Alcatraz (3%)
Canadian Prison (2%)
Free in Canada (1%)


No (98%)
Yes (1%)
Undecided (1%)


Dracula Impersonator (22%)
Academic (20%)
Bob Rae's Butler (19%)
Crash Test Dummy (16%)
Russian Spy (7%)
Rodeo Clown (7%)
Community Organizer (4%)
Kid's Birthday Clown (2%)


No (92%)
Yes (7%)
Undecided (1%)


Yes; enjoyed it (58%)
No; but I'd like to (21%)
Indifferent (9%)
No; and never will (6%)
Yes; disliked it (4%)


Yes (80%)
Undecided (14%)
No (6%)


Rae Daze (33%)
Red Ink Revolution (11%)
The Worst Case Ontario (11%)
Pandora's Toilet (10%)
The Raemageddon Factor (9%)
Raezed And Confused (9%)
Harris Rising (6%)
Rae of Plight (2%)
Leave It To Bobby (2%)
Straenge Brew (2%)


Dalton McGuinty (52%)
Bob Rae (42%)
Undecided (6%)


Approve (95%)
Disapprove (3%)
Undecided (2%)


No (97%)
Yes (2%)
Undecided (1%)


No (88%)
Yes (8%)
Undecided (4%)


Yes (71%)
No (25%)
undecided (4%)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Unreported Crimes

The media who swarmed Stockwell Day today criticizing him for being alarmed about the rates of unreported crimes perhaps maybe should have done a little bit of research before venting their outrage. CBC Comedian Rick Mercer tweeted rickmercer: Stock Day makes my head hurt. The reports of unreported crime alarms him? Skit over. Somehow I don't think that Mr. Mercer realized when he tweeted that according to Statistics Canada, 90% of all sexual assaults in Canada go unreported. The fact that Stockwell Day is alarmed about that gives Rick Mercer a headache.

Stay classy Ricky!

Fall Election Speculation

A former NDP war room boss is speculating today at the Globe and Mail that the wheels are already in motion for a fall election. His hypothesis is that the Tories are "enjoying" their latest poll results of 31% and are eager to take that to the electorate. This NDP strategist thinks that Mr. Harper is at risk of losing to Ignatieff; therefore Mr. Harper should want to go to the polls to take advantage of his own alleged weakness. Then he says that there might be a "double-dip recession, which Conservative fiscal policy would make worse"; curious choice of words considering that Conservative fiscal policy made our performance through the "first dip" one of the best in the industrialized world. His opinion published at the Globe and Mail where Jane Taber sets the agenda, states that Censusgate proves that the Prime Minister and his strategists are ideologues who are trying "to pursue a less incremental revolution in this progressive country they despise so much."

Yes, this op-ed at the Globe claims that the Prime Minister despises Canada. This is what qualifies as quality opinion at the Globe and Mail, the same glorious news organization who brought us "kill Stephen Harper, kill him dead" care of Scott Reid. If there is going to be an election, it is more likely to be triggered by the opposition. The Tories aren't polling high enough to possibly be intending to bring themselves down before this government's second birthday. The leader of the Liberal party has instructed his MPs to prepare for a fall election, according to Susan Delacourt. If this minority government is under the threat of collapse, it is coming from the opposition, not the government.

It should also be noted that the author of this op-ed at the Globe is also the author of a book "How we almost gave the Tories the boot" and the author claims to have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after his NDP coalition coup failed in Dec 2008. On the flip side, I likely would have experienced some sort of psychological trauma had the coup been successful, so it all comes out in the wash.

Media Confusing Stockwell Day For Tony Clement

It would appear that somebody forgot to tell our national press gallery that Stockwell Day is not the minister in charge of the census, as a group of reporters ambushed him with census questions when he was attempting to discuss Canada's stellar economic performance. The fact that he was harangued with questions about another minister's portfolio is headline news to Jane Taber, setting the agenda at the Globe and Mail. In her editorial, Jane never mentions that the census is not Day's portfolio; she merely delights in journalists refusing to ask questions about Stock's actual responsibilities.

Is this going to be the new professional standard for our journalists? If Peter MacKay announces a press conference to discuss our military, will the journalists bombard him with census questions?

Monday, August 2, 2010

When Global Warming Attacks

After several years on hiatus while the world cooled, global warming is suddenly back with a vengeance. The world's temperature is cyclical and we are experiencing a warm summer. Ergo all the "experts" who ditched global warming for "climate change" when the world was cooling are now jumping back on the bandwagon. But don't worry, they did an investigation that supposedly proves "the researchers at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit did not tamper with data or interfere with the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming". What we need to do is stop consuming energy and redistribute our incomes to Africa, and the planet will be saved. It is no coincidence that socialism is being heralded as the cure to the destruction of our planet.

Liberal MP Cut Shaving

Breaking news from the Liberal Express, Liberal MP Brian Murphy cut himself shaving. This is making headlines at the Liberal website because the fearless leader made the comment that "Murphy scraps so hard for you he's bleeding, and he bleeds Liberal red!" Evidently this is among the most interesting and relevant things that is happening on Pandora's Bus today. How about policy announcements? How long is Ignatieff going to keep his agenda hidden? As Mr. Murphy put it "I can only hope for bright sunny political days ahead for Canada under Michael Ignatieff. His humanity and humility marry well with his passion and experience, not to mention his excellent square dancing skills!" Humility? Really? And his "humanity" supports the use of coerced interrogations.

And yes, blood is red. Vampires and leeches feed on "Liberal red"...

Nunavut Has A Problem

The territory of Nunavut has a serious problem with crime. To the editorial board at the Globe and Mail, this is evidence that the Conservative Party is not tough on crime (the column does not list an author, but we do know that Jane Taber sets the agenda). The proposed solution to the problem is hiring more judges and prosecutors, which makes sense if there is a shortfall. The question is does Nunavut's small population produce enough people with the knowledge and experience necessary to undertake the responsibility of enforcing Canada's criminal code? If they can't produce enough locals to reduce the strain on their legal system, does that mean that we have to relocate judges and prosecutors from the rest of Canada to the arctic? Are these people going to be willing to accept an assignment to a land where you rarely see the sun in the winter time?

Something needs to be done, so how do we solve the problem? I don't think it is fair to blame the current situation on the Conservatives. This history of violence is not a new phenomenon. The problem has existed for a while now, and is the reason it hasn't been solved yet because the government doesn't care, or because the solution is not as clear as people would think?

I remember the last time Nunavut voted in a territorial election; the CBC Arctic division was broadcasting election results across the country on CBC Newsworld. What blew my mind was how many male candidates running for office had been arrested or convicted of sexual assault, and that some of them were elected. Anywhere else in the country, it would be impossible to win a seat with a rape conviction; but these people were getting a substantial number of votes. That's as alarming as the crime rate, the complacency and acceptance of Nunavut's voting public of the criminal offenses of the candidates for which they are voting.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Which Former Hockey Player Would Make The Best Tory MP?

Now that Georges Laraque is the deputy leader of the Green Party; that begs the question which former hockey player would you most like to see sit as a Conservative in Parliament? Thomas Steen came close to winning a seat in Winnipeg in the last election, and I hope that he decides to run again next time we go to the polls. I can't say with certainty which athletes are aligned with which political ideologies, though I am pretty sure that Wayne Gretzky is right leaning. Don Cherry might be too close to retirement to serve a term in elected office, and his big mouth would be a headache for any Prime Minister. My all-time favourite hockey player is Steve Yzerman, who also assembled our 2010 gold medal team.

The Liberals have Ken Dryden. Who should the Tories have?

Green Deputy To Quash Rebellion?

The new deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada apparently still has not decided if he will even run for Parliament, which you would think would be a prerequisite for taking the #2 spot in a party. Though I suppose when your party has no seats in Parliament, you operate by a different set of rules. According to Elizabeth May, the deputy is not someone who is next in line for leadership and must be groomed accordingly; rather the job is for a campaigner. Forget all those candidates who put in tireless hours trying to get elected and are actually qualified to be leader, #2 should be a buffoon who may or may not run for office.

The question is will the Laraque appointment quell the little insurrection happening in the Green Party this summer? Are all those Greens who doubt May's ability to win a seat in Parliament going to be satisfied with this? Georges actually joined the Greens in February, but was not named deputy until the end of July on a long weekend slow news cycle. This announcement also comes a few weeks after Lizzy's top leadership rival went on the CBC to publicly declare her intention to force a leadership review before the next election. Sylvie Lemieux announces intention to force leadership review on July 19th, and May appoints the hockey goon as deputy on July 31st. This strongly suggests that the Laraque appointment had more to do with internal party posturing than actually doing what's best for the party. It had already been announced that Georges was going to be a Green spokesperson, but deputy???

Elizabeth May is hoping that making Georges the deputy can quash a leadership review from happening before the next election. She loves democratic reform, but only reforms that make it easier for her to get elected and harder to remove from power.