Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quebec Compromise in the Works

In fact, several seem to be on tap. Martha Hall Findley has one suggestion:

...a joint statement would clarify how the resolution would be interpreted by the next leader. It would also highlight the large degree of consensus among the candidates over Quebec's identity, smooth over their differences and defuse a potentially ugly debate that could ruin the party's electoral prospects in Quebec and even potentially spark another national unity crisis.

She acknowledged that not all camps are convinced that a joint statement will solve the problem; many continue to believe that the resolution must be amended to clarify its meaning.

Another issue is: would Ignatieff would get on board with this particular compromise. In fact, Iggy's camp is apparently working on an escape plan of their own:

...an amendment, jointly proposed by all leadership camps, that would call for creation of a task force to advise the next leader on the impact that recognition of Quebec as a nation would have on party policy.

Such wording would be closer to that used in a recent report by a party renewal task force, co-chaired by former justice minister and prominent Rae supporter Martin Cauchon.

Although I wonder how this option would play with the Quebec wing. Presumably, the task force would now attempt to determine if Quebec's "Nation" status should be "officialized", not just how.

And I wonder if either compromise proposal deals with possible First Nation resolutions asking for similar consideration (as reported here).

Andrew Coyne gives us a preview of the Tory response in his blog post "Abomination". Of the Martha Hall Findlay proposal, he writes:

This, of course, solves nothing. In fact, it amounts to endorsing the Ignatieff position. Whether you commit to put it in the constitution "now" or "later," you have still endorsed this repugnant idea.

Clearly, no matter how this plays out, LPC credibility is going to take a hit, and instead of writing about the party's bright new day, media talk will concern the size and weight of the albatross that the Ignatieff team has hung around the neck of the new leader (assuming that Iggy is not the new leader, which seems a pretty safe bet right now).

Finally, the CTV story considers the difficulty of killing the resolution outright:

It might also prove impossible to derail the measure, since the workshops are to be held on Nov. 29, before most delegates have arrived in Montreal. Those in attendance will be primarily from Quebec, and thus most likely to support the resolution.

One thing that won't be an issue at the convention: media apathy.

Scott Brison Goes Nekkid

...for the "What Men Are Made Of" calendar, produced by the Women of Wolfville, a Nova Scotia theatre group. This year, they are trying to raise money for the fight against prostate and ovarian cancer.

No pictures on-line. Believe me, I looked. Although, even fully clothed, I have to admit the guy is pretty hot. Perhaps even sexxxier than Gerard Kennedy:

Well, maybe not. Gerard has better hair.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tory Green Plan Could Lead to New Treaties....Someday

Almost beyond my ability to ooze sarcasm. Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said today that the Tory green plan could lay the groundwork for a new "clean air" treaty with the U.S.:

"I think it's something that has merit, and is worth discussions in the future," he said. "You cannot discount the fact that the air on both sides of the border has no boundary. Pollution knows no boundary."


"I do believe that's something you could see in the years ahead, once we get this (clean air legislation and regulations) done, because it's important that we do it," he said.

Actually, boundaries or not, as far as I know, the prevailing wind systems tend to blow crappy air up from Detroit, not down from TO.

But in any case, this is one of the lamest, most pathetic public statements I've ever heard. Its like the Tories barely have the energy to go through the motions on the environmental file. Sure the Libs also did nothing on the issue, but at least they pretended to give a shit.

Glenn Pearson Lib Candidate in London

Food bank director and fire-fighter Glenn Pearson has won the Lib nomination the bye-election in London-North-Centre.

Spring Election? Or not?

A few interesting tid-bits from this morning's papers:

1) Reuters reports that, while Harper is royally cheesed at opposition stalling on crime and accountability legislation, he won't be the one to call an election over it:

"Some opposition parties are saying this showed we should have an election -- well they can force an election any time," Harper told a gathering of business leaders in Oakville, west of Toronto.

But why not? On the standard political calculus, "tough on crime packages" are a Tory strong point, and earlier in the year Harper was willing to force an election anytime the opposition so much as coughed funny.

2) At least three papers of The Sun Chain, official downmarket blow-horn of the Canadian Conservative movement, are running identical editorials today trashing the idea of a Spring 2007 election, and blaming the opposition in advance if one should occur:

A spring election would be the third federal trip to the polls for Canadians in four years. So where are the calls from the pundits demanding that the opposition politicians make Parliament work? Where are the dire warnings that the Liberals will be punished for toppling Harper's minority and forcing Canada into another "unnecessary" election?

So what is happening here? Have the Tories looked at the latest polls and decided that they better shut up and keep their heads down and see if they can't baby this whole mess along through and beyond the next budget? Perhaps, but Duceppe apparently fears a Lib recovery in Quebec, and seems determined to bring down the Tories come Spring. Or have the Tories just decided to duck and cover and hope that when they inevitable no-confidence motion comes, they come out looking innocent?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Feeling a Bit Limp, Young Feller?

From Yahoo:

Over the past two decades, levels of the sex hormone in U.S. men have been falling steadily, a new study finds.

This mostly affects the 20-something crowd, who've grown up with cell-phones and holding laptops between their knees and so forth. Luckily, as a late stage Boomer, I'm still good to go.

If you kids like, I'd be happy to forward all the junk emails I get trying to sell me Viagra.

Baby on Iggy

Sheila Copps sounds the now familiar Lib lament: "Ignatieff seems to have decided that splitting the party apart is key to his own ambitions."

Question for Ignatieff supporters: on the second ballot, to which candidate shall you flee like the homeless victims of an apartment fire?

Right now, I find myself recommending the Dion-Kennedy alliance. Rumor has it that modern medical technology will be employed to fuse these two at the waist, thus creating one perfectly bi-lingual candidate, who shall be referred to henceforth as "Dionnedy".

Also, some of Kennedy's vastly abundant hair will be transferred to Dion's scalp, so that he appears less rat-like.

On a more serious note, I hope these two are also having talks with the Rae people so as to come up with some kind of three way arrangement. In my nightmares, I see Rae tossing support to his old college room-mate for a prominent position in the Ignatieff cabinet, thus creating "Rignatieff", or perhaps "Riggy".

This would surely portend the coming of the Apocalypse.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Quebec Cracks Down on Evangelical Schools: Fear Creation of French Stockwell Days!

Private Evangelical "church basement" schools in Quebec don't wanna teach Darwin, and the provincial government is pissed. They're threatening to close facilities that don't come into line with Provincial standards. Their worry? These schools use the unauthorized U.S.-based Accelerated Christian Education curriculum. In 1985, an Alberta government report on the ACE curriculum found it contained "a degree of insensitivity towards blacks, Jews and natives", and that it also taught Creationism.

It was, incidentally, the system Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day used from 1979 to 1985 when he ran the Bentley Christian Training Centre, an independent school of 100 students near Red Deer, Alta.

You can see why the Quebec is shitting itself. They don't want to see bible-waving, French speaking cretins running around in downtown Montreal wearing wet-suits.

Janet Epp Buckingham, lawyer for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, says that the Ministry of Education rule on Darwin "squeezes religious freedom". My comment: squeeze baby, squeeze.

Friday, October 27, 2006

No Amnesty for Gainfully Employed Illegals

From The Globe (but behind a fire-wall):

Ottawa has ruled out amnesty for the estimated 200,000 undocumented workers toiling in Canada's underground economy, saying it would not be fair to those who have applied legally and are waiting in line, according to a letter obtained by The Globe and Mail.

I am not entirely unsympathetic to the government's concerns here. After all, if illegal immigrants are allowed to stay, then more people will arrive on our shores illegally. But there are a couple of mitigating factors in this case:

1) About 20,000 of the people in question work in Toronto, many in the construction sector. Another 20,000 work as house cleaners and cooks around the GTA. So these people have jobs that the locals do not, for the most part, want, and any crackdown on them, morality aside, could potentially remove 40,000 hands from the local labor force.

Of course that won't happen. While a few might be deported for show, most of these people will just be forced further underground, with their undocumented status hanging over their heads, and be subjected to various forms of degradation and abuse on that account.

2) The typical undocumented worker is Toronto is a male Portuguese between 20 and 45, likely to be unmarried with some secondary education. Because of this lack of a post-secondary schooling, they do not fit Canada's current profile of an "ideal immigrant". However, they tend to assimilate fairly quickly, gaining employment in line with their existing skill sets (often in the construction or home-building industry). This is something which is not as often the case with "high quality immigrants. Think of all the East Indian physicians driving cabs around TO.

So the fact that they are here illegally is a product of kinks in the Canadian immigration system more than any lack of effort on their own parts.

Iggy to Lose Another Supporter? (and Other News on the Quebec Resolution)

From this morning's Globe:

James Curran, the Liberal riding president in Niagara Falls, Ont., said he will probably withdraw his support for Mr. Ignatieff because of the resolution. "This is the last thing we needed to do: fight each other over whether we need to reopen the Quebec issue," he said.

And it's important to see exactly what this "fight" will be about. As Peter from Paper Dynamite has determined, the wording of the Quebec resolution went from more to less aggressive in the week before it was finally passed. While the original document commanded the Liberal Party "to subsequently take the necessary steps to formalize this recognition [of Quebec as a Nation within Canada]", the new wording merely calls for an "expert panel" to examine the issue.

Now, in some ways, the resolution as currently worded constitutes a less insane path forward. You have a panel do research and write a report, then years later down the road when they're done, you ignore it. As Peter points out, the new wording raises Quebec expectations over a chimera. Ignatieff is relying on them having short memories, or in general being kind of slow.

But on the other hand, bloody, divisive fights can still take place over mere semantics. For one thing, there's no reason why other groups with gripes, over "Nationhood" and other issues, should not decide that some panel of experts ought to be studying their problems with a view to reopening the constitution and having these fixed as well (h/t to Coyne for this):

"There is no question Quebec's nationhood status in Canada should be debated," said Goulais, an Anishinaabe and chief of staff for the Union of Ontario Indians. "We all know First Nations have long sought recognition as nations within Canada."

Goulais says he will he will table a resolution with the Aboriginal Peoples' Commission of the Liberal Party of Canada at the party convention, which begins later this month.

"I will propose a resolution mandating that First Nations issues become a top priority of the Liberal Party of Canada including the recognition of First Nations as nations within a nation, and the recognition of First Nations governments as a legitimate third order of Government within Canada," he said in the release.

Chaos beckons!

Meanwhile, if any of this gets through the convention, what will happen? Well, The West has its own set of complaints, and its out there...waiting. From the Edmonton Sun:

Frankly, Ignatieff is deluding himself if he thinks the rest of Canada, especially the West, will be willing to address Quebec's constitutional sensitivities without their own issues on the table.

So the West will "want in" on the Libs expert panel, and hopefully Quebecers won't realize that all they've really got out of the whole painful exercise is some document produced sometime down the road which will (hopefully) end up lining bird-cages

On the other hand, if (the most likely event) the resolution dies due to opposition from the ROC, what will happen? Well, the Quebec delegation is already hinting at Armageddon for the party and the nation. The black arm-bands are being taken from storage; humiliated expressions are practiced before mirrors.

Goodness! Remember when the worst problem with Iggy was his position on Israeli war crimes? Remember how he acted like a clown there, and the whole Liberal Party wound up taking a pie to the face? That was nothing. The story over in Tory land is that Liberals are going to re-open the Constitution to appease Quebec, with Iggy leading the charge. Any hope of making his making inroads with the Tory vote in a general election has now officially gone up the chimney (if it hadn't already). Writers like Coyne, who were making approving noises over the Ignaetieff candidacy, have stopped, and all because of this issue. And instead of calculating how many Quebec seats might be picked up through all this political maneuvering, it would be more appropriate to calculate how many seats the Libs might lose in other, English speaking parts of the country.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Paul Wells on the Threats of the Iggynistas

From Inkless Wells:

What fun. Here is the logic of one of Michael Ignatieff's most prominent supporters:

• If something — anything — is "a given" in Quebec, it is "unthinkable" not to give it. Failure to pony up with whatever figment of whimsy pops into the heads of the good folks at the National Assembly is not "responsible."

• Failure to "recognize" the Quebec nation "would be disastrous."

Liberal delegates need to understand that if they endorse the motion on nationhood they will be endorsing Frulla's glib brinksmanship. Ignatieff supporters need to understand that support for their candidate now amounts to support for Frulla's reflex toward extortion.

Iggy's People Making Threats Over Quebec Resolution

From today's Globe:

Former Liberal minister Liza Frulla, a supporter of Michael Ignatieff who has embraced the divisive concept, warned it would be disastrous for Canada and the Liberal Party in Quebec if leadership candidates attack the resolution.


"It's unthinkable for us to reject that because it's a given politically in Quebec. If other candidates are responsible. . . . I think they will not play this as an advantage for them or whatever because I think that would be disastrous not only for the Liberal Party, that would be disastrous for the whole unity of Canada."

It's the seperatists old "knife to the throat" policy, except this time wielded by a Lib Leadership candidate. And, to paraphrase Andrew Coyne's column of yesterday, if Iggy's people manage to thug out a victory on the convention floor, this same deal will then be offered to the nation as a whole.

Times Have Sure Changed

...when a private Member's bill (no less!) to ban the use of replacement workers during strikes at federally regulated workplaces succeeds on second reading. Bill C-257 passed 167-101, with the NDP and the Bloc solid, the Libs split, and the Tories mostly but not entirely opposed.

The Bill could stall in committee and, apparently, if the Tories forced their Members to vote against, would die on final reading. Still, this one has moved forward almost entirely under the radar. When Bob Rae tried something similar in Ontario, the business community announced the coming Apocalypse (and indeed Mike Harris killed the legislation immediately upon getting into office). This time, all we have is:

"It's a very bad legislative proposal," said Mike Murphy (not me!) , a policy vice-president at the [Canadian chamber of Commerce].

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Sleeper Awakes!

Andrew Coyne is back and posting again, but who knows for how long? For those who've never been, his Blog is like Kate's, but for the 'phisticated Tory (they don't drool so much).

Dion on Quebec

Today Cherniak has an extremely concise and well-written (but unsourced) statement by Dion on the "Quebec Nation" issue.

As I wrote earlier, I am no longer particularly exercised by Ignatieff's position on this issue, because I think in itself its alot of ambiguous mush. However, the resolution to be considered at the Libs' December convention, which would make the recognition of Quebec as a "Nation" party policy--even if this recognition is to be merely symbolic--is far more dangerous, for reasons Andrew Coyne explains in his Post column here:

Of the nastiness that is about to ensue we have already had a foretaste. Watching Mr. Ignatieff's supporters shouting down Stephane Dion at the weekend leaders' debate in Montreal, it was impossible not to be taken back to another such occasion, in the same city, nearly a generation ago.

Then, it was Paul Martin's supporters, chanting "vendu" at Jean Chretien for his unwillingness to endorse the Meech Lake Accord. Now it is Mr. Ignatieff's, Mr. Dion having shown the same reluctance to constitutionalize "national" status for the province.

If it were only a matter of the Liberal party devouring itself -- again -- that would be one thing. But, as in the past, the worst damage is likely to be to the country. Already there are warnings from editorialists and senior Liberals in Quebec that the resolution must pass at the convention, or risk "affronting" Quebec. And, should the federal Liberals be bullied into submission, we may expect the same ultimatum to be delivered to the country.

It looks like the Libs are setting themselves up for Meech II in order to buy a few Quebec votes in 2007. But pander now, pay later! It would be endlessly ironic if it were Liberals who crashed the nation in a doomed attempt to settle its constitutional issues.

Is Iggy Becoming a Canadian?

He is certainly becoming a politician because, as this article indicates, the meaning of his Quebec proposals lie almost entirely in the eye of the beholder. However, talk now is of "eventually" re-opening the constitutional debate to recognize Quebec's special status, so the plan has clearly, under relentless criticism, fallen from the top tier of any Iggy administration priorities.

And it seems that in the past several weeks Iggy's mind has undergone extensive ideological readjustment. I still think, for example, that his opposition to Canada's joining the missile defense system is a reversal of an earlier stated position, but whatever. The important thing is that, if he ever becomes PM, he is now on record, and in no uncertain terms, as opposing Canadian participation. Furthermore, in a development that was not widely reported (other than here), Iggy has markedly cooled on ourAfghanistan mission. He has now fairly clearly stated that he does not want this mission extended past its current 2009 expiry date, whereas before he seemed open to the possibility (sorry, I can't find a supporting quote here).

Clearly, the process of campaigning has ground some of the Individuality off Iggy and, perhaps, one hopes, is making a Canadian Liberal of him. So now, while the thought of Iggy becoming PM still induces projectile vomiting in me, I'm not barfing quite as hard or as often. My concerns are currently more centered on the fact that, after almost nine months of politicking, he still puts his foot in his mouth. On policy matters, however, I now believe that he can be controlled, especially in a minority government situation (which is likely what we're going to get for the next several years).

And there is also still the matter of how Iggy will connect with "Joe Six-pack". Apparently, in his French interview on Tout le monde en parle, about the only Montreal Canadian he could name was Jean Beliveau. He'll have to do better than that. Someone should brief him on the game's history since he fluttered off to Harvard in the 1970s. Maybe make him watch all 24 installments of Rock 'em Sock 'em Hockey.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wrestlers Criticize Canadian Environmental Record

According to the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) Canadians are among the most wasteful people on Earth when it comes to making use of our natural resources:

A new report...says Canadians rank fourth in the world in their consumption of the Earth's resources.

Only the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Finland leave a heavier environmental footprint upon the land.

"Straighten up and fly right, Canuckleheads!" WWF spokesperson Hollywood Hulk Hogan said at a news conference today. "Or I'll come up there and KICK your energy inefficient asses! Try bicycling to work! Try turning the thermostat down and sharing a blanket, like those two gay cowboys from Alberta!"

Hulk snarled and rent his muscle shirt, and then, inexplicably, shed a tear. "If not for yourself, do it for all the little Hulkomaniacs of tomorrow!"

McGuinty Out in Front!

From a new Sun Media-Leger Marketing poll:

The exclusive...poll found that the Liberals have the support of 41% of Ontarians -- well ahead of the John Tory Conservatives at 34% and the Howard Hampton New Democrats at 17%.

Don't have much to say here, other than, despite the long list of promises that McGuinty has broken, his hand at Ontario's tiller has been pretty steady. In the last budget he presents before the election, he will be able to rightly and proudly claim that he has finally beat the Provincial deficit, and will be able to shower a few tax dollars on the electorate to boot. Should be a recipe for victory.

Monday, October 23, 2006

45% of Americans Would Make Smoking Illegal

...according to a Zogby International Poll that is still mostly under wraps at the website:

“The number of Americans who support criminalizing cigarette smokers is shocking,” said Nadelmann, [executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance]. “The question is not if cigarette smoking is dangerous and leads to premature death – as surely, it is and does. The question is how to best address cigarette smoking as a public health problem. Based on history and current policies, we know that prohibition often leads to devastating consequences.”

Pretty surprising at first blush. But, on the other hand, people often don't mind having somebody else's rights taken away.

It would be interesting to see what the Red State/Blue State breakdown is here. During the 1996 U.S. election, I remember Bob Dole commenting during a stop somewhere in the South that cigarettes were no more cancer causing than milk, a remark which was universally ridiculed when it got wider play.

That's Gotta Hurt: Bob Rae Disses NDP in New Book

From the Hamilton Spectator (although the same story has appeared in a number of other places), a summarized passage from Bob Rae's upcoming book:

Liberal leadership hopeful Bob Rae says he left the NDP because his party was incapable of rising beyond a "knee-jerk" antipathy toward Canadian business, an explanation spelled out in a new book coming out just a month before the big vote.

Rae writes that after 20 years, he concluded the NDP was "wedded to a culture of opposition and protest."

The federal NDP's recent opposition to any tax changes for large and even small business is a sure sign that 'private sector is bad, public sector is good' is a flawed mantra it simply can't avoid," he said.

Ouch! That old accusation, now wielded by one of the NDP's stars of yore.

Unfair? Maybe. People forget that, for example, Rae Days were an attempt at deficit reduction which fell entirely upon the Ontario NDP's own political base (public sector unions). Yet, it isn't like the business community of the day gave them any credit for "rising above" party ideology. And if you look at this article in the current The Hill, it seems that the Tory's philosophy of government is too ignore any part of the country that does not share its central beliefs. Every act is aimed at appeasing the Hardcore.

So Rae is blaming the NDP for not doing something that nobody else does either and, when he did it as NDP Premier, brought the party nothing but the enmity of CUPE and OPSEU.

Even more interesting to me was Rae's appearance on CBC's The House this Saturday, where he claimed that his great mistake as Premier was to think he could affect the Ontario economy in 1990-91 through Keynesian "pump-priming". His repudiation of Keynes seems a bit broad, although there is no question that trying to spend your way out of a recession when the deficit was running at a little under $10,000,000,000 was a mistake.

Finally, a fuller statement by Bob Rae of his reasons for leaving the NDP can be found at the Macleans website.

Men Behaving Oddly

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean (picture left) was confronted Sunday by Members of the Canadian chapter of Fathers for Justice. These guys were founded originally by an Englishman named Matt O'Connor, who became angry when a judge barred him from seeing his two young sons outside of a contact centre, following separation from his wife in 2000. They are best known for such stunts as dressing up as super-heros and climbing large structures in protest, which they have done in London, Toronto (though I must have missed that incident), and Vancouver. The English branch of the operation disbanded early this year after news of an alleged plot to kidnap the son of English PM Tony Blair. In this case, however, one of their Canadian leaders, Daniel Laforest, merely presented the AG with a book of statistics, and claimed that violence against male spouses was an overlooked issue:

I have studies here that say violence against men is also serious--different, yet as serious as it is against women but no one is listening.

Actually, "father's rights" is not an entirely vacuous concept, and I have to confess to a certain amount of admiration for anyone who would dress like this and climb a bridge in protest, whatever it was they were protesting. But while the Fathers' new website is pretty much content free (more on the French than English side, however), the old one is a stew of crazy conspiracy theories, including some "New World Order Stuff", "9-11 was done by the government stuff", and "The Freemasons are after us" stuff. In fact it seems to have pretty much all the bases covered, conspiracy-wise.

Not surprisingly, the Father's main concern is the fact that that the nation is run by "Feminazis" who have seized control of our court system and who want to create a society which is "father free".

So, are they nutters? It sure looks like it, but as long as they stay harmless, they seem fairly entertaining ones. It should be noted, however, that some of their English counterparts were apparently kept away from their children for good reason, and some of their less charming modes of protest included sending fake bombs and pushing rotten fish through letter-boxes (an extremely effective means of protest, this last one, especially if you can slip a dead fish into the AC system of the protestee's car. You know those vents on the dash, under the bottom of the windshield? A couple of sardines fit into those just perfect. Try it in mid-July).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Garth Should Go Green

Even though this would probably be his political swan-song, because it is difficult (but not impossible) to see him winning in Halton as a Green Party Candidate. (Note that at the Halton Riding event held on Saturday, and reported here, Garth's going Green was tied for second place among his constituents as an option after "remaining independent").

And even though Green Party leader Elizabeth May would almost certainly come to view Garth as a pain in the ass. (I would love to see some of Garth's blog postings on the internal machinations of the Green Party:"They're raising money by having a salmon bake?".)

But Garth's defection would nevertheless constitute a historical moment in Canadian politics. Polling at about 10%, the Greens still do not have a seat in parliament and, given the de-centralized nature of their support, will be hard pressed to win one in the Federal election expected for next Spring, especially since Elizabeth May will likely not have a place on stage during the leadership debates. However, if Garth switches, his seat comes along with him, and when an election is called Elizabeth gets her crack at addressing a national audience with the other contenders.

If you doubt how much influence a single good debate performance can have, remember the B.C. Liberals of the early 1990s'. Gorden Wilson's performance in the 1991 CBC debate propelled the Libs from zero seats in the legislature to Official Opposition status. Elizabeth May has been quite impressive in her televised appearances, and giving a good account of herself in this forum could be the shot that realigns Canadian politics.

And realigns it in God knows what manner? Many Tories would apparently pick the Green Party as their second choice in an election. Surely the NDP could lose support to the Greens. And I would not be surprised if a good portion of Liberal supporters would be happy to embrace a Left-wing party not so enamored with the Working Class Hero bullshit of the New Democrats.

In short, Garth Turner has a chance to to something of historic significance. I hope he takes it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Belinda Stronach: Feminist or Slut?

Why are Liberals defending this woman?

Frankly, they are making people feel sorry for Peter Mackay, jumping on every opportunity to rub in the fact that he was dumped by someone who appears intent upon becoming Canada's National Bike. They are hardly "defending the cause of women".

Because, I think we have gone beyond that time in history where we point to women who go through men like they're eating from a bunch of grapes as some kind of feminist role models. And, frankly, at least Madonna had the class to nail a two-time winner of the Conn Smythe trophy. Belinda's been giving it up for the resident goon of one of the worst NHL teams of the 20th century.

Bottom Line: Belinda Stronach is no longer a plus for the Liberal Party. I, like everyone else, have been waiting for two years now for something to come out of her mouth that would prove her to be a woman of substance. Instead, I am apparently supposed to be impressed by the number of notches on her bed post.

If Jean Chretien had gone around dicking anything in a dress and bragging that "Hé bébé, j'ai un pénis de dix-huit pouces!", there would have been no question of defending him when somebody called him a hound. Why are Liberals getting all riled when one of Belinda's wounded ex-boyfriends speaks lashes out (assuming Peter MacKay said what he is accused of)? Is Belinda the party's official bimbo? Do Liberals really think they're scoring political points by standing up for female promiscuity?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Iggy up By 10 in Delegate Support

From The Star:

OTTAWA — Official results from Liberal delegate elections confirm that Michael Ignatieff enjoys a comfortable — but not insurmountable — 10-point lead over his nearest rival for the party's leadership.

The rookie MP and acclaimed scholar captured 30.2 per cent of some 4,300 delegates chosen three weeks ago attend the Liberal leadership convention in Montreal in December.

Bob Rae, a former Ontario NDP premier, won 20.3 per cent, followed closely by former Ontario education minister Gerard Kennedy with 17.3 per cent and former federal minister Stephane Dion with 16 per cent.

Comfortable, but not insurmountable. Keep saying these words.

Belinda Demands an Apology!

"I'm not a dog, I'm a slut. And you, Petey boy, aren't a big dumb hockey player with one eyebrow, so you were never really in the game."

Not her exact words, but logically extrapolated from this.

What Canadians Will Pay to Cut Emissions

Strategic Counsel has done another poll for CTV News and The Globe and Mail asking Canadians what kinds of measures would be generally acceptable in order to combat Global Warming. Canadians would support, or somewhat support:

- Heavy fines for energy-using industries that fail to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions: 84 per cent

- An energy tax based on the total amount of energy used consumers and industries: 55 per cent

- Pay tolls on major roads and highways: 37 per cent

- Significantly increasing the price of gasoline: 20 per cent

- Raising income taxes: 18 per cent

Alan Gregg, the pollster behind the poll, suggests that the theme behind these findings is "He who uses most, pays the most." Furthermore:

The relatively small percentage of Canadians who would go for an increase in gas prices or a rise in income tax indicates that a consumption levy is far more palatable, said Gregg, adding that few people appear willing to defend big industry on the issue.

Well, to me the results suggest a slightly different theme. Specifically, "Don't tax me, don't tax thee, tax the man behind the tree." Because if you put the income tax increase aside, then everything on the list is a consumption levy.

And so the consumption levies that Canadians are less supportive of are the ones that will apply to them most directly: an increase in Gas Taxes, for example. Unfortunately, this lends some credence to the Conservative complaint that Canadians are for a clean environment until they are the ones asked to pay for it. Especially since, I would argue, polls done in the abstract like this (where no relevant legislation is imminent) will over-state support for particular initiatives.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tory Plan Will Cut Emissions in Half in Oh About 43 Years

So, according to CBC, by my 86th birthday, or 12 years before Halley's Comet comes around again, or about 25 years before the Leafs win another Stanley Cup.

Sometimes these Tory announcements exceed even my ability to drip sarcasm.

Chretien Will Attend Convention, Will Diss Martin

The Boss'll be there, but he won't be attending the planned tribute to his longtime rival Paul Martin, according to CTV.

I imagine that many Liberals will be using this time on Thursday, November 30th, to clip their toe-nails or bathe their pet hampster or sneak out for a round of mini-golf. Meanwhile, those attending Martin's tribute can fill in the dead spaces by imagining how a fourth, fifth or sixth Liberal majority might have looked if they had stuck with Chretien instead of selling him out to this colorless party functionary who felt entitled to a shot at ruling the nation before he grew too old.

Not that Martin was entirely useless. In fact, his dithering was a useful personality trait under the circumstances. Like hands on a Ouiji Board, public pressure was able to force him towards the correct decision on, for example, participating in the missile defense system.

Imagine if he'd had enough of a majority to follow his political instincts!

Mud Monster Captured on Film!

No, not Warren Kinsella in the middle of a by-election. Rather, a walrus caught eating clams from a muddy sea-floor. The photographer, Goran Ehlme, has won the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for this picture. Go here for some of the runner up shots,including this one:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Not Crazy Enough! Garth Turner Suspended From Tory Caucus!

Garth will be sitting as an independent for the time-being. Interesting! As they collapse in the polls the Tory's turn on one another. Apparently, Garth's blog got him in shit:

Rahim Jaffer, the national caucus chair, said the suspension was due in part to Turner's blog, which he often uses as a soap box to make his opinions known.

Members of the Ontario caucus felt "the theme of confidentiality was not being respected," Jaffer said .

"This is not something that one person has felt. There were attacks that were made on individuals, including the prime minister, on his blog at different times," Jaffer said.

The blog is offline right now, other than a message saying that Garth will hold a news conference at 5:00 PM ET to discuss today's "momentous events".

A stupid move at a bad time for the Tories. These guys seem to have a death wish.

incidentally, can anyone else imagine Garth crossing the floor and becoming "the littlest Liberal"? (I am 5' 7" and I loom over him)

Browned Off in Buffalo

Six days after a surprise snow storm dropped 60 cm on Buffalo, New York, several hundred thousand Buffalonians are still without power and starting to feel more than a little pissed off. The targets of their wrath include FEMA and the Bush administration.

I remember a storm back in Victoria during the winter of 1980-something that knocked out power to most of the city and outlying areas. There was no snow in this case, but lots of rain and wind and downed trees. For my family, the general discomfort was compounded by the fact that a neighbor's tree fell across our lawn and took down the wire feeding electricity into our house. When power was restored a couple of days later, the only result for us was that we had a live wire lying across the driveway.

The first night (which I think was a Friday) passed pleasantly enough. The whole family gathered in our basement, where we had a wood-burning stove/fire-place. Mom made supper down there, including buns baked right on the stove top. We all slept in sleeping bags on the two pullouts, and took turns getting up to feed the fire.

By day three, however, I was ready to tell our frontier ancestors to kiss my ass. There was no tv. It was too dark to read a book. And I really, really wanted a shower. The traffic lights in town were working by this time, and I so drove onto the UVIC campus and snuck into the gymnasium there with a bath towel brought from home.

By day 4 our neighbor ran an extension cord over to our house and lent us a generator, which meant you could have a bath if you were ready to fill the tub one tea-kettle at a time. Neither mom or anyone else was interested in washing dishes manually, so we ate take-out alot.

It was, I think, on day 5 that the City came around, removed the fallen tree, and hooked up our power again.

So my sympathies go out to Buffalo. Its also good (but not surprising) to see that the Canadian response to this same storm was, in comparison, a model of efficiency. According to this, 90% of electricity customers around Fort Erie have had their power restored, although there is still a boil water alert in effect.

Libs Up in Ontario Too

Despite the DiNovo by-election cock-up, despite the Caledonia standoff, Dalton McGuinty's provincial Liberal Party holds a "comfortable lead" over all comers in the approach to next year's provincial election, says a new Ekos Poll in today's Star:

The Toronto Star-EKOS Research Associates survey shows the Liberals at 42.4 per cent to the Conservatives' 36.2 per cent with Howard Hampton's New Democrats surging to 19.6 per cent.

The survey of 584 Ontarians was conducted Oct. 10-12 and is considered accurate to within 4.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Ekos president Frank Graves claims that:

it looks like it's McGuinty's to lose....If the economy stays strong — particularly the labour market — I think they'll be very difficult to dislodge.

One problem for the Tories is that Progressive Conservative leader Tory has yet to register with voters. Graves notes:

He hasn't really managed to grab the podium effectively on an issue that's really going to seize Ontarians.

My advice to McGuinty. Run a clean, front runner's campaign. Keep Kinsella a mile away from it. You saw what happened with DiNovo. Warren the mud monster is bad for the Liberal party.

Leaderless Liberals Tied With Tories! Bob Rae Most Fit to Lead!

...says a new Strategic Counsel Poll done for today's Globe and Mail, which has both parties at 32%. The same poll has the NDP at 17%, and the Greens at 9%.

I couldn't see any national figures for the Bloc, but they are at 44% in Quebec.

In fact, the news is especially bad for the Tories in Quebec, where they are down to 16% of the vote. The Libs are looking relatively good, having bounced back to 28%, up seven points.

And there are also signs of a Tory decline in the West too, where they are down seven points from the election to 42%:

Mr. Gregg suggested the drop may be taking place in British Columbia, where the Tories have traditionally fluctuated in popularity.

The poll was taken during a week in which Mr. Harper announced the government's plans for new environmental legislation, which was significantly criticized.

“We know British Columbians are far and away the most environmentally concerned and sensitive,” Mr. Gregg said.

In a related poll question as to who would make the best Prime Minister, Bob Rae comes out with the best marks of the four leading Lib leadership candidates:

Although Mr. Harper is seen as the best prime minister when put up against any of the four leading contenders for the Liberal mantle, it is Mr. Rae who would make the greatest mark against him, according to the survey by The Strategic Counsel for the Globe and Mail-CTV News.

When Mr. Rae is figured into a race against Mr. Harper, the NDP's Jack Layton and the Bloc Québécois' Gilles Duceppe, 26 per cent say Mr. Rae would be the best prime minister of the four, while 36 per cent picked Mr. Harper. Mr. Layton was picked by 15 per cent and Mr. Duceppe by six per cent.

Of the other two main candidates, Stéphane Dion and Gerard Kennedy, 21 per cent would pick Mr. Dion over the others and 17 per cent would opt for Mr. Kennedy.

Iggy clocks in with 23%. Interestingly enough, it appears that Ontarions have forgiven Mr. Rae:

Perhaps most interestingly, criticisms that Mr. Rae would do worse in Ontario than his counterparts appear to be at least somewhat checked by the poll, which shows that 29 per cent of Ontarians believe Mr. Rae would be the best prime minister, well higher than the 22 per cent who picked Mr. Ignatieff and the 20 and 21 per cent, respectively, who picked Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Dion, respectively.

Go Libs! The only bad news is, as Ibbitson suggests in a related column, Harper will probably be too chicken to call a Spring election now.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Iggy Uninvited!

The Israelis don't want him (or the other Lib Leadership candidates):

OTTAWA — Michael Ignatieff's trip to the Middle East has been called off by the Jewish group that invited him.

The Canada-Israel Committee confirmed today that it decided to uninvite Ignatieff and any other Liberal leadership hopefuls who had planned to take part in an all-party parliamentary delegation to Israel next month.

Sources say the committee does not want the annual trip to become a side show of the Liberal leadership race.

Probably worried he'd set fire to something.

Another Iggy Flip-Flop?

If so I'm glad to see it, for Ignatieff has just spoken out against Canadian participation in the U.S. missile defense system. He was responding to Frank McKenna's suggestion that the Liberal party should reconsider its opposition in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test. Here's Iggy:

''I do not support ballistic missile defense or the weaponization of space,'' Ignatieff, a freshman Toronto MP, said Monday in a statement to CanWest News Service.

''We should not participate in these measures. Canada must continue to work with our international partners and allies to ensure that our sovereignty is respected and that our national interests are represented in any multilateral discussions regarding continental security.''

In response to this statement, S. Dion immediately mentioned Iggy's speech to the 2005 Liberal biennial convention, where:

Ignatieff noted that the Martin government's recently announced decision not to join the U.S. in developing the missile shield had proved popular within the party, but warned that ''We need to balance a principled opposition to the weaponization of space with an equally principled commitment to participate in North American defense now.

''We do not want our decisions to fracture the command system of North American defense. And we do not want a principled decision, that is, the decision to resist the militarization of space, to result, without our intending it, in having less control over our national sovereignty. We can't afford ... we can't walk away from the table. We must be there at the table, defending what only we can defend.''

Now, Alicia Johnston, one of Iggy's spokespeople, has argued that the 2005 speech did not call for joining the ballistic missile defense system. It was merely a reference to ''support for the continuation of Canada's current role in NORAD and alongside our international partners and allies.''

And if there is any criticism to be made here, it is that Ms. Johnston has retconned the content of the earlier statement. For example, the Wiki article on Iggy takes the '05 address to be a straightforward statement of support for the system:

Also controversial for many Liberals is Ignatieff's support for a ground-based North American Missile defense Shield.[12] While admitting that opposition to the proposed shield is a popular position among many Liberals, Ignatieff has proclaimed the need for a principled commitment to coordinated North American defense. "We don't want our decisions to fracture the command system of North American defence," he told the party at a national policy conference.[13]

Why don't politicians just say that they changed their position when new facts became available to them? It used to be quite a common approach, a sign of an open mind, in fact. Nowadays, you have to have always been right about everything.

Kinsella's On His Way Out

Warren muses about the sorry state of the T.O. Star, and even provides an e-mail address if you want to dish dirt on the newspaper's financial troubles (wkinsella@hotmail.com)

The thing is, Warren, I've been speaking with your General Editor at the National Post about what happens after it goes tits-up and restructures. Apparently, they'll be looking for journalists that can work for cheap and do a better job than the current collection of crayon wielding hacks. I told him I could eat a bowl of beans and fart a better column then yours, and he was impressed.

Bottom line: clean out your desk and get the porn off your computer, Kinsella, cuz BigCityLib is moving in.

Mind you, General Ed says there will always be a place for you at the paper. But you'll have to buy your own canvas carrying bag.

(PS. D'you know the only suggestion the Blogger spell check offers for "Kinsella" is "Senseless"?)

Monday, October 16, 2006

White Power Rally Tanks in Caledonia

From CFRB:

Organizers had hoped for a turnout of thousands, but only a couple hundred attended the demonstration.

So of course it was peaceful. You can't have an effective race riot with those kinds of numbers, because Rednecks value their teeth as much as anyone. Getting shit kicked by a big Indian is nobody's idea of a good time.

Cherniak in the Globe

Jason Cherniak has had a letter published in the Globe and Mail re. Ignatieff and his remarks on alleged Israeli war crimes. Congratulations Jason, but the content of the letter is more than a little disturbing:

Toronto -- I am a Jewish delegate to the Liberal convention and I was very disappointed to see Michael Ignatieff accuse Israel of a war crime (Ignatieff: In Deep And Digging -- Oct. 14). My disappointment goes beyond my personal support for Israel, though. Mr. Ignatieff is running to be the leader of a G8 country. We cannot have a leader who would accuse an ally of committing war crimes.

If Mr. Ignatieff wants to remain an academic, then he can continue giving such "frank" opinions. However, if he wants to be prime minister, then he will have to learn how to speak like one.

The natural interpretation of this is that Canada should, through silence, effectively cover up war crimes of its "allies". However, just who the allies are supposed to be in this case is unclear. One suspects that Jason means we should cover up Israeli war crimes (should Israel commit them) but, since Israel is not part of the G8, this cannot be determined for certain.

In any case, I think this is terrible advice for a brave nation like Canada. Our leaders should be willing to call a spade a spade. Becoming prime minister should not mean putting your balls in a jar for four years.

By the way, Jason's comments on this letter at his blog do not clarify any of its obscure points.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Iggy in the Post: Out of Afghanistan by 2009

From a Q&A in Saturday's National Post:

Q How long do you feel Canada should maintain its troops in Afghanistan?

M.I. I supported the extension of the Afghanistan mission originally put forward by the Liberal government to February, 2009. At the time of the vote of in the House of Commons on this issue, I made it clear that my support of the extension was conditional on the Harper government maintaining the original balance of the mission envisioned by the Liberal government of the day: providing humanitarian aid, ensuring human security and facilitating reconstruction. This has to remain a balanced mission. We can and should be contributing more to the reconstruction and humanitarian efforts to get the country back on its feet.

I do not support an open-ended mission. By 2009, Canada will have been in Afghanistan for seven years and I believe we should then hand the torch over to our NATO partners and to the increasingly able Afghan security forces. We must plan for that transition. We can return home with our heads held high, confident we have fulfilled our moral promise to the Afghan people, as well as our commitment to the democratically-elected Afghan government and to our international allies.

This seems to be a policy shift on Iggy's part. Or at least, I recall him talking about extending the mission past its 2009 expiry date on one or two occasions. If so, it is a most welcome change in views.

Of course, the only problem is that the Afghan security forces are not becoming "increasingly able". Just as in Iraq, if NATO forces leave Afghanistan these security forces will fold like a cheap suitcase. That won't change by 2009, or 2019. So the "fulfilling moral promises" stuff is nonsense, unless you want Canadian troops in the country forever.

Iggy in the Mid-East (Notable Quotes)

Taken from future imaginary newspapers:

"Yo buddy, what's with the stupid little cap? Do those things screw onto your head? Bah hah hah!"

"Doesn't anyone bathe around here? And what's with the men in dresses?"

"You know the best thing about this place? No damn Ukranians."

"Not a chance!... Ahmed, Ahmad. With the beards, how can anyone tell them apart?"

"You mean the Gaza Strip isn't a shopping mall?

"See this newspaper? It's written in Heebish. I speak Heebish, and 25 other languages, just as good as Heebish."

"Is anyone else hot? Nobody told me it was gonna be this hot."

"Don't point that thing at me, towel-head! I'm gonna be President of Canada!"

"D'you know these guys had a war when I was on holiday? You knew that? Why doesn't anyone tell me this stuff?"

"This whole fucking place is just a bunch of dirt! Why would anyone fight over a bunch of fucking dirt? What? It's holy dirt? So the fuck what? How Pre-Post-modern!"

"Hey! Now the shots are coming from both sides!"

Iggy's trip is cut short when he is disappeared by Israeli security forces, who give him a thorough demonstration of their new electrical nut-cruncher. Apparently, after twenty minutes, Iggy confesses to being the man behind 9/11, and is sent to a secret prison in Kazakistan. See how well torture works?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Harper Fading, Rae Rising, says EKOS Poll

Today's Ekos Poll, as reported in several stories from The Star, has bad news for the Tories, good news for Bob Rae, and mixed news for Michael Ignatieff.

Harper's Tories are stuck nationally at 36% of the vote, with the Libs up a few points to 31.7%. Following these two, the New Democrats are at 16.2 per cent nationally, the Bloc Québécois at 9.9% , and the Green Party at 6.2%.

The regional breakdowns are more discouraging for the CPC, according to The Star:

In Quebec, the bottom is falling out from under Harper. His party has now dropped to third place, well behind the Bloc Québécois (44 per cent) and four points behind the Liberals (21 per cent).

With their support at 17 per cent, the Tories would be hard-pressed to get their 10 Quebec MPs re-elected, let alone win new seats. Their current standing is a full eight points below their score in the last election.

In fact, the writer speculates that the Tories might have given up on Quebec, and are instead looking to fortify their Western base. In any case, the news is no better in Ontario, where the Liberals continue on top with 40.6% support compared with 36%for the Conservatives and 16.7% for the NDP. The Green Party has 6.8%

On the Lib Leadership front, Rae, the former Ontario premier, is the choice of 26% of the public, compared with 21% for Ignatieff. On the other hand, when asked which leadership hopeful would have the best chance of winning the next federal election for the Liberals, 30% picked Ignatieff and only 26% picked Rae.

Probably this last set of results is most discouraging for Dion, for only 9% picked him as the best choice for Liberal Leader (Kennedy even beat him out with 10%). However, the public doesn't vote on these issues, only party members. And among them, I suspect the pendulum is beginning to swing towards Dion as the best "stop Iggy" candidate.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Iggy Visits Israel, Insults Laos!

Iggy has been invited to Israel, to talk Peace with both sides of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

But, consulting my magic mirror, I see this visit coming to grief. While touring Israel, Iggy will try Lox, that wonderful Jewish delicacy consisting of Salmon fillet that has been cured and cold smoked, and then spread over bagels with cream cheese.

He will say, "Fuck, is this ever better than that Oriental seafood crap you buy on Spadina Ave.!", thus insulting the fisher-folk of Northern Laos who, as everyone knows, control the Toronto Fish Markets.

Soon, Laotian Canadians will be marching on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Laotian monks will be there too, doing cool shit like setting themselves on fire in protest, and smashing blocks of ice with their fore-heads.

In response, Iggy will promise to visit Laos, to consult with the Laotians on why they have such a butt-ugly flag. While there, Iggy will tell the Laotian King that Laotians may be tiny like the Irish, but don't get soused as often and work twice as hard.

Soon, Irish Canadians will be marching on Parliament Hill...

No, YouTube is NOT Censoring Conservative Content

...as this WorldNet Daily story would have people believe. What in fact happened was that a number of YouTube subscribers flagged a video, by Scary Movies 4's David Zucker, as "inappropriate for some users". The YouTube flagging system is intended to limit access to adult themed or sexually oriented material. In this case, however, the potentially "offensive" content was satirical; Zucker's video criticized the North Korea policy of President Clinton.

However, since the video was still accessible if the user "verified" that they were over 18, the flag was hardly a major impediment. Furthermore, when it was viewed by YouTube staff, as all flagged material is, the access wall was promptly removed.

Said video, called "The David Zucker Albright Ad", is currently available here, and is not very funny.

This story is most interesting as an example of the evolving "tactics" surrounding the use of YouTube in a political context. Presumably marauding gangs of Liberal (or Conservative) users could go around flagging clever campaign ads from the other side, or video showing their own candidates making gaffes, in an attempt to limit exposure.

Which reminds me, has anyone flagged Bob Rae's ass? An ass like that gets you votes. It could be dangerous.

Think about it.

Harper's Gaffe

The Middle East has the ability to make politicians of all stripes act really, really stupid. Don Martin's column in today's Edmonton Journal explores the consequences of Harper's immensely stupid "all Liberal Leadership candidates are anti-Israel" crack. He argues (and I agree) that:

1) It got Iggy's earlier gaffe off the front pages, violating that age-old law of politics: when your opponent is self-destructing, just stand aside and let it happen.

2) It allowed Bob Rae to flaunt his Jewish creds and wax indignant:

"I can't imagine a comment that does less to unite the country and does more to create animosity and division where there doesn't need to be any," Rae fumed.

3) It has the potential to unite Liberals. If all Liberal leadership candidates are anti-Israel, what does that say about the party rank and file, or folks that traditionally vote Liberal even though they may not be party Members? Are they all anti-Israel, and if so, does this make them by implication (as some on the Right would have people believe) anti-Semitic?

So, Harper has arguably insinuated that a third of the nation is Anti-Semitic. In six months he'll be asking them for their vote. Smooth move, cheesehead.

4) Harper's statement is false. PMO officials could not produce one iota of proof to back up his statement.

So Iggy might want to shake Harper's hand again. Hell, after this, he might want to give him a big fat kiss. Now if only B'nai Brith would get off Iggy's case...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Harper: All Liberal leadership Hopefuls Anti-Israel!

From the CTV website:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper waded further Thursday into the incendiary debate over Liberal leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff's charge that Israel has committed a "war crime" in Lebanon, blasting the entire Grit hopeful lineup for what he called their "anti-Israeli position."

So apparently any criticism of Israel means you're "anti-Israel". One presumes that Harper is pandering to the Canadian Jewish Community. Or that he is attempting yet again to write off Quebec.

I swear, with all the turmoil in the Liberal Leadership race, we can only thank God that the competition is a no-class boob who can't open his mouth without saying something likely to offend the very people he needs to get his Majority government.

Harper is, thank God, the only politician in Canada more gaffe-prone than Iggy.

Iggy is Doomed, Part IV: More Qanagate Fallout

I am still of the opinion that Michael Ignatieff's comments re. the Israeli attacks on Qana being a war crime are substantively correct. However, maybe some true things shouldn't be said in the middle of Leadership campaign. There is no question that, from a strictly political point of view, Iggy should have apologized for his earlier, insensitive remarks ("I didn't lose any sleep [over Qana]") and left things at that.

In fact, this latest gaffe is probably Iggy's worst, the one that could bring him down-- the rhetorical equivalent of setting your tie aflame during a CTV interview, and then hopping around on stage making whooping noises as you attempt to put out the fire. I am beginning to think that the Iggy/George W. Bush comparisons are incorrect. Rather, he is starting to remind me of Mr. Bean, whose ability to wreak havoc with only a word or two has often been compared to a force five hurricane (see photo below).

In any case, Stephen Harper's response to this controversy is particularly interesting and, I think, gives a glimpse of the strategy the Tories are likely to employ should Iggy become Lib Leader. From The Globe:

The Prime Minister, however, was quick to exploit the opening, saying he cannot figure out what Mr. Ignatieff believes.

“In the summer, he said he didn't lose any particular sleep over the event. Yesterday he said it was a war crime, and today his spokesperson is saying that's not quite what he meant, it was slightly more nuanced. Our position has always been that was a terrible tragedy,” Mr. Harper said in Vancouver."

Call this the Iggy as John Kerry Meme: the guy's so "nuanced" he can either mean two things at once or nothing at all. In a debate, I could see a version of it being applied to Iggy on Torture, Iggy on Gulf War II (in light of your remarks on Qana, was the invasion a "war crime" or not?), Iggy on You Name It.

Bob Rae's and his naked ass, Dion the rat-faced man, are both starting to look pretty good in comparison.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kinsella Gets Vaguely Medieval on Iggy's Ass

Re Iggy's comments on Qana and Israeli war crimes, Kinsella writes:

October 11, 2006 – You know, in my limited experience, aspiring to be a New Millennium Kim Campbell is not ever a good idea, politically.


I have no idea how this comparison is supposed to apply. But Warren apparently disapproves (note the sigh).

Seperated at Birth?

Holy Crap! Did Iggy Just Show Some Guts?

A few kudos points at least for Michael ignatieff's apology on Tout le monde en parle this weekend. He finally owned up to his insensitive comments re the Israeli attack on Qana ("I'm not losing sleep [over it]"). From The National Post:

"It was a mistake. I showed a lack of compassion. It was a mistake and when you make a mistake like that, you have to admit it."

A bunch more kudos points for calling a spade a spade, and referring to the attack on Qana as a "war crime":

"I was a professor of human rights, and I am also a professor of the laws of war, and what happened in Qana was a war crime, and I should have said that. That's clear."

Of course, B'nai Brith Canada is already going after him for this, so we will see how long he hangs tough. The latest word is, he will not retract the term "war crime", but Leslie Church, director of communications for the Ignatieff campaign, is starting to wriggle a bit:

"This isn't a deliberation that Michael would make on his feet. There is no way that he would make a pronouncement on international law in this format, and that's not what he's driving at here," Ms. Church said.

"He meant that this was a tragedy of war, that this was a deplorable act in war, that this was a terrible consequence of war."

If Iggy stands fast on this issue, then he still won't be off my shit list, but he will move a couple places towards the bottom of the list. But can he stand fast? Given the Liberal Party Purges this summer over perceived anti-semitism, it is hard to say. Will Warren Kinsella get medieval on Iggy's ass? Will All Heck be raised in the Liberal Blogosphere?

We shalll see.

Rick Mercer Endorses Bob Rae?

Well, not exactly, but their fishing trip to Northern Ontario gave old Bob a good five minutes to make his case for Lib Leader and Prime Minister, with Rick lobbing him the occasional soft-ball question along the way. Mercer also took a neat little shot at Iggy re fishing licenses: "If Michael Ignatieff were here, I would have got the "catch, torture, and release licenses".

Given some of the posts on Rick's blog, is he a secret Bob Rae admirer?

And of course Bob came across as cool as a cucumber. He contrasted his own "pragmatic" model of government, where "we all take care of one another", with the Tories "ideological approach", which involves following "right wing theories" even when these are not appropriate. A nice bit of free advertising.

And later, bums pixellated, the two men got naked and went for a swim. No BrokeBack Mountain references at all

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Iggy Chickens Out!

H/T to Cherniak, who notes that the Canadian Club of Toronto will be holding a debate among the front-running Lib Leadership candidates, and that the front-runner's front runner, Michael Ignatieff, will not be attending. His lame-ass excuse? The second and third tier candidates won't be there to share the stage.

But, logically, if you think you will shine in a debate, you want only a few opponents on stage with you. That way more of the spot-light shines upon you. If you want to conceal some performance deficiencies, having a few more bodies around to hide behind is a good strategy. There's an interesting article in the Victoria Times Colonist that shines a light on some of Iggy's deficiencies:

OK, so there's no discernible charisma and he's not the best eye-contact conversationalist, but interesting thoughts and penetrating insights gush forth so quickly, Ignatieff keeps pausing to remind himself not to talk so much.

So, Iggy won't look you in the eye, but if you let him babble away solipsistically, he makes some interesting remarks. Watch for his handlers to keep him under wraps as much as possible until the convention. This is a pure momentum candidacy: support Iggy because Iggy will win.

Tory Green Plan Will Re-Package Old Number!

From CTV:

[The Tory Plan will] repackage an air quality health index to give it much higher profile. The index already exists but many people are not aware of it, and it could be given prominence similar to that of the UV index which is reported in most cities on a daily basis

Apparently, the new and improved index will rate air-quality on a scale of one to ten, and it will be color coded! When the air is "safe to breathe" (one to four on the scale), the color will be bright pink, the shade of a healthy set of lungs. As it moves towards ten ("stay inside with a wet rag over your nose"), the color will slowly turn a phlegmy green, like the skies over Hamilton when the steel mills are running.

Nice. Instead of doing something, the Tories will provide a new means of measuring the cost of doing nothing. Perhaps the Magic of the Marketplace will take over when the whole population is on its knees and gagging in the streets!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Holy Crap! Early Man Ate Giant Camel!

From the Independent UK:

Swiss and Syrian archaeologists working in Syria's Palmyra desert claim to have uncovered the remains of a giant camel that lived 100,000 years ago and once stood "as big as a giraffe or an elephant".

The specs are three meters tall at the shoulder, and four meters tall to the top of the head. The beast extends the history of the dromedary back about 90,000 years. Not only that, the human remains found nearby indicate that this 13 foot camel was killed by men as it drank at a spring, but it is unclear whether the early men involved were Neanderthal or Homo Sapien.

No pictures available as yet.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Lloyd Says Iggy Axworthy!

From the Vancouver Sun:

OTTAWA -- Former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy is urging Liberals to elect almost anybody but Michael Ignatieff as party leader on grounds the Toronto MP would rob the Liberals of a clear alternative to the Conservative government on the likeliest wedge issue of the next election: Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

So Lloyd is on the Stop Iggy! band-wagon. He really lays into Ignatieff, calling him:

...a creation of "downtown Toronto powerbrokers" who does not understand liberalism, has no common touch and will lead the Liberals to another defeat by robbing them of a policy on Afghanistan that is distinct from the government.

All standard stuff, but I think the "no common touch" charge is especially worthy of note. Reading Iggy, watching him speak, its hard to see him able to connect with anyone possessing an IQ of less than 160 (and indeed I think his "rock-star" appeal among Canada's Intelligentsia is all to do with the fact that, finally, a "smart guy" has a chance to become PM).

But so much brainpower and so little good judgment! As Lloyd says:

"Afghanistan is going to be the wedge issue in the next election," Axworthy said. "Mr. Ignatieff has shown horrible, bad political judgment on that issue. And he wasn't just a supporter of the war in Iraq, he was an outspoken apologist and advocate for it. It would make it impossible for a Liberal party to provide an alternative to the Conservative government if he was leader."

Axworthy is a Rae supporter, but presumably the "conversation" he expects Iggy's leadership rivals to have before the convention might have Rae stepping aside to support Dion, who is probably the most viable anti-Iggy candidate available (and walking proof that intellectuals don't have to be stupid).

Well, I'm off to roam the Kawarthas.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Off for the Holiday

Every year the wife and I drive up to a place called Beachwood Resort, just outside of Buckhorn, Ontario, and spend the holiday weekend eating and hiking. One of the highlights is always Petroglyphs Provincial Park, where Ontario has done a bangup job preserving a historical collection of rock carvings. Our favorites are the various images of Six Nations trickster figure Nanabush (Big-Rabbit), which my wife insists looks like Bugs Bunny.

(Nanabush is the one in the middle. Note the resemblence to Bugs)

Another park highlight is the local population of Gray Jays (Perisoreus canadensis). These rare (for Ontario), robin sized birds are very curious and very easily tamed. During our first few visits, we kept running into the same French couple, who could get the Jays to take seed straight from their hands. Two years ago, our Quebecers did not return, but a Jay approached me to within about two feet, obviously looking for a handout. This year we are bringing a bag full of seed as well as my digital camera. Hopefully we can get a few shots as good as the one below.

Since this is probably the last thing I will write until Monday, everyone be sure to have a good Holiday. Even you Michael Ignatieff.

Iggy is Doomed, Part 3

Has the Ignatieff campaign been overestimating its support among ex-officio delegates? True, Iggy has the support of 40 of the 102 Liberal MPs, well ahead of any of his main rivals. However, it is unclear that he is doing as well among the lower echelons of ex-officios like riding presidents. This CTV survey suggests that when you take into account all ex-officios, these delegates are far more evenly spread among the major candidates. CTV gets the following numbers:

Eighty-three ex-officios have endorsed Ignatieff, 81 for Dion, 73 for Kennedy and 54 for Rae. That amounts to roughly 21 per cent for Ignatieff and Dion so far, 19 per cent for Kennedy and 15 per cent for Rae.

Even the bottom tier of candidates, who each scored less than a five per cent share of elected delegates, can claim a more respectable share of ex-officios. Hockey legend Ken Dryden, for instance, has been endorsed by 40 ex-officios (about 10 per cent), lone Atlantic candidate Scott Brison by 35.

So if these numbers hold up across the board, Iggy's total support comes in at significantly less than 30 per cent, not the 35 per cent that has been commonly predicted. Pity the momentum candidate with no momentum!

Meanwhile, can someone with access send me either a lock of Iggy's hair or some fingernail clippings? In a last ditch effort, I am taking this fight into the Spirit Realm. In a few weeks, Iggy will develop a strained left rotator cuff. A...STRAINED...LEFT...ROTATOR...CUFF. You hear me, Iggy? You asked for it, pal. Now you're gonna get it!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

More on Republican Meltdown

As mentioned earlier, Republican Dennis Hastert is Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is also the guy who failed to act when it became apparent (over a year ago) that (now ex) Republican Congressman Mark Foley was sending inappropriate emails/IM messages to underage male Pages.

An update on him. Republican pollsters have leaked the results of an internal poll to FoxNews that basically indicates that, if Hastert does not step down, the GOP could lose between 20 and 50 house seats, enough to flip that chamber to the Democrats. So far, Hastert is standing tough, but the results of this poll "could change the focus" on whether the speaker remains in power.

In other (bad) news for the GOP, Conservative Pollster Scott Rasmussen has new poll results showing that 61% of Americans Believe Republican Leaders Have Been Protecting Foley, including 46 per cent of Republicans.

Finally, the other shoe is ready to drop in the form of The List, a list of gay Republican staffers who allegedly helped Mark Foley get away with his dirty deeds. In other words, the Democrats seem willing to out gay Republicans with connections to Foley in order to drive a wedge between the GOP and its Evangelical base.

Nasty nasty stuff. And weird too. Republicans bungle a couple of wars to the tune of half a trillion $, but are done in (maybe) by a sex scandal.

Is House Speaker Dennis Hastert About to Fall Over Dirty Emails?

According to Fox News, he says "No", but internal Republican Polling Data that has been leaked to Fox

shows that House Republican candidates will suffer massive losses in support if Hastert remains speaker until Election Day. A GOP source briefed on the polling data told FOX News that the data suggests House Republican losses could be catastrophic if Hastert's speakership continues.

The story on the website gives no numbers, but John Mcintyre of RealClearPolitics bandies about a figure of 50 seats. He also speculates that the fact the GOP released this data means the skids are being greased for Hastert's removal.

So, if Hastert resigns, will this get the GOP over the Foley dirty e-mail scandal? Maybe not, as some GOPers are expecting more damaging emails/IM messages to surface implicating other congressmen in affairs with other house Pages.

Goodness! And I thought Canadian politics was exciting!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

BigCityLib Endorses...

I'm tired of the rumors, the media speculation: who will BigCityLib support? which way will he jump? So to get past all that, I am finally announcing my preference for the next Lib Leader. Here's my guy:

Sure he hasn't even announced his candidacy. Sure he has less party support than Hall-Findley. But do think any of that matters to Galactus, the goddamn Devourer of Worlds? In any case, he's way smarter than Iggy, and his life experiences involve alot more than hanging around Harvard teaching pomo basket-weaving courses.

And anyway, if the Big G don't show in Montreal, I can still go through with my "negative endorsement" scheme--that is, shave "I dig Ig!" into my chest and run around naked outside the Palais des congres handing out pamphlets until the police take me away. Because I haven't begun to fight, Iggy! I will SEE YOU IN HELL!

Tory Environmental Plan will Regulate Emissions...Someday

Forget Dalton McGuinty's half- justified whining to the effect that regulating auto-emissions stiffs Ontario and lets Alberta off the hook. The new Tory plan does nothing but offer "consultations" with auto industry CEOs for another four years before imposing some kind of restrictions. From The Globe:

...[the] targets won't be set right away. Instead, the CEOs will be consulted again on the details, and there was no indication last night that Ottawa was planning to bring in the much tougher reduction targets already set by California and other U.S. states.

So a minority government, that might not last another six months, promises to do nothing for another four years but get a bunch of suits in a room every couple of months with the Minister of the Environment and feed them little sandwiches and shrimp puffs.

I am not impressed.

Monday, October 02, 2006

No Horse Race Here. Mayor Miller Way Ahead

Contradicting an earlier Ipsos Reid Poll done for the National Post, CTV has Mayor David Miller a good 30 points in front of his main competitor Councillor Jane Pitfield:

David Miller is way ahead in the race for mayor with 65 per cent support from decided Toronto voters, while main contender Jane Pitfield has only 32 per cent, according to an exclusive poll for CTV Toronto.

The Strategic Counsel survey found the most important issues for residents is crime and gun violence, while infrastructure/public transportation/traffic comes in a close second.

The poll finds the electorate is almost as equally satisfied with Mayor Miller's progress as it was 10 months ago. Sixty-six per cent are content with his work, down only three per cent from November 2005.

The polling was done before former Liberal Party Apparachik Stephen LeWho? jumped into the race, but he's got less hope than Enza the Supermodel or Ben Kerr, even now that Ben Kerr has died.

And people ask me, BigCityLib: why do you bother to write about local Toronto issues? Well, its because Toronto is real in a way that most of Canada is not. I mean, I've been to Vancouver, and I know Montreal is out there somewhere, but the rest of the nation is a kind of communal dream of Torontonians, as far as I can tell, a kind of an Outer Toronto, North of Steeles someplace.

And of course the people out there want to know what's going on here. It's like Rome and The Colonies.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Iggy's Doomed, Redux! Below 30%!

As of 7:15 pm Sunday, October 1st, Iggy has fallen to 29.7% of delegates chosen and seems to be headed lower as the night goes on. He is now performing below official expectations (30%)!

The weird thing is that Kennedy has slipt into third place behind Rae at 17.7%, and leads in Ontario with 27.9% or 318 delegates.

Five hours to go and still surprises ahead, I guess. But Iggy is going down! He's doomed, baby! Doomed!

Repent Now, Iggynistas!

Iggy's Campaign Appears Doomed

Iggy's team has been running a pure Momentum Campaign.

He is the New Trudeau, they say, though his speaking style often seems flat. He is drop-dead gorgeous, they say, although in public he often seems a bit squinty and there are rumors aswirl with respect to the state of his personal hygiene. He is leading the Liberals to a policy Nirvana, they say, although his policies as stated often seem insane (Whoopi! Let's go into Iraq!), disastrous (Whoopi! let's reopen the Constitutional debate!), or tortured (his position on Torture). But most importantly, they say, he is going to WIN, so you (lowly Liberal rank-&-filers) might as well support him. You WILL be assimilated, and the only question is, when you are, will you be sitting next to Iggy on his Throne, or next to the John?

But the problem with a Momentum campaign is, you occasionally need to demonstrate evidence of Momentum. In this case, this demonstration will come in the form of first ballot support at the December Convention, as this is pre-figured by this weekend's "super weekend" delegate selection count. And the bar for Iggy has been set: Party insiders have estimated that Ignatieff will need at least 35 per cent on the first ballot to avoid being overtaken.

However, with the Liberal Party Super Weekend Delegate Election Results Ticker showing over half of the meetings having reported, it is clear that Iggy (with 30.8% of the delegates so far elected) will come up a few points short of the glorious victory he needs to keep his Juggernaut on the rails.

And so here is my prediction for December. After the first ballot is over and Iggy is stuck with his 30%, it will seem as though he has been swarmed by a gang of rabid midgets. His long, slight frame will disappear into a crowd of black suits, and eventually Joe Volpe will appear, brandishing his head on a stick.

Meanwhile, after three, or four, or five rounds of balloting...someone will emerge as our next Liberal Leader.

And the nation shall be saved.