Most Unique Party Argument

The Conservatives are going around the University of Regina trying to drum up support by saying, "Piss off your hippie parents. Vote Conservative."

They were not helped much by the fact that the Conservative Candidate Michelle Hunter refused (One could argue she was muzzled) to attend the debate set up at the university which is in Ralph Goodale's riding. Ralph has been very present at the U of R shaking hands and meeting students.

Harper lost points

What I thought was interesting today was the reporting which generally said "Harper Wins Debate" What it did not say was that from the expectations of people polled before the debate as compared to the feeling after the debate was that Harper was down nine points. That is my view is significant. Layton and May far exceeded expectations.

Most people I heard talking today missed that all together


The English Debate

This debate was probably the most fun of any in recent history.

Again the opposition did well. Dion, Layton and Duceppe all looked like they would do well as Prime Minister notwithstanding Giles’ admission that he was not going to be the PM.

If anyone really shone it was Elizabeth May. She obviously did her research and just badgered Harper all night. She really gave her party credibility they have been struggling to win. In the end does it matter? Maybe yes, likely no. Some votes will move Green but she will be lucky to get a couple of seats.

What it does show is that we are overdue for election reform. The Greens deserve to be in the House of Commons.

Harper mostly sat back and took the heat. He didn’t respond well but some would argue he doesn’t have to do much more than show up and not put his foot in his mouth. His lead is solid but, I do not believe he will secure a majority.


The Debate in French

I watched the French language leader’s debate this evening really enjoyed it and I was impressed by the new format.

First I have to say that Elizabeth May held her own in French although she was not nearly as comfortable with the language as the other leaders were. It was really fun watching her go after Harper.

It was interesting to see Stephan Dion debating in his own language. He did very well. It is a shame that his English language skills are not quite up to snuff. I am ashamed to say that I know a number of Canadians will hold that against him. Too bad.

Jack Layton did very well and obviously enjoyed himself. I did think he lost points for going after Dion at one point. He challenged Harper well. He is from Hudson Quebec and his skills in French are very good.

Giles Duceppe was very comfortable and did a good job attacking Harper. You just have to like Giles. He knows what he wants and doesn’t really care about what happens in Prince George. His principles are in the right place though when it comes to social issues.

Stephen Harper’s manner, I don’t think, played well in Quebec. That kind of smug demeanour might work in North Battleford but I don’t think it plays well in Lac St Jean. Little Stevie reminded me of so many company negotiators I faced across the bargaining table in 30 years of bargaining collective agreements. Something about him just gets under my skin.

I was pleased to see the opposition parties clearly win the debate but in some ways, that is the root of the problem. The four of them very clearly are on the same page on several issues. The problem of course is that they split the vote every which way.

Can anyone spell coalition.

Where are the local candidates?

At some point in this country local candidates actually mattered but we have got to the point where nothing seems to mean anything but what the Federal Leaders say.

Harper has even muzzled his cabinet ministers. Come to thing about it I guess if I was in his shoes I would too. With a team like Gerry Ritz, Tony Clement, Maxime Bernier, Stockwell Day and Jim Flaherty I would too.

What about actually meeting the voters? No Candidate has come to my door. I actually think some candidates are afraid to go door to door. For example, I think Tom Lekiwski is going to rely on the rural/small town voters and say the hell with what urbanites think. I can't say as I blame him.

If the Leader can't or won't comment they leave it to the political strategists to get the message out.

Michelle Hunter, the Conservative running against Ralph Goodale won't even show up for a debate at the University or Regina.

Left, Right and in between

I’m not sure when it started but somehow this country’s political reference points have seen a huge shift over the last few years, or is it just since Stephen Harper came on the scene? It used to be simple. The Progressive Conservatives were on the right, the Liberals were in the centre and the NDP was on the left. Truth be told we have heard very little from the “socially conscious” side of the Liberals for some time now.
From my perspective the Liberals were always right of centre but, that is another story and, These days when Stephan Harper refers to the parties on the left he means anyone who doesn’t see the world his way. To my disappointment the media seem to have bought into his definition, at least partly. It wasn’t that long ago that the media in Canada thought the three parties were fighting for the middle.
It is no wonder with the constant chipping away of Canadian culture and values by the barrage of American media we face every day. If the Conservatives have their way and relax media ownership rules, it is going to get worse.
My view is that this is all a result of the current Canadian government’s close ties with the Republican Party in the USA. It isn’t exactly a secret. Harper has acted like a toadie to the Bush government for years now and his Party workers have been trained by the Bush Republicans. It is no wonder Harper sees it the way he does but the media should hang their heads.
The terms “left” and “right” are supposed to be defined within our own country using our own political compass, not as compared with the Republicans and Democrats. The last time I looked the Democratic Party, defined as “left” in the USA was still quite a distance to the right of our Canadian definition of the terms.

So lets get it right:
The NDP and the Bloc are slightly left of centre
The Liberals are slightly right of centre
The Progressive Conservative, before they were sold out by Peter McKay were to the right and;
The Conservative Party is to the far right.
Any questions”


The Polls etc

As much as I got pretty annoyed that the first day of the election newspapers reported "Harper heading for Majority" I am a sucker for the polls. I have been tracking a couple day to day.

CTV is tracking swing ridings in Ontario, Quebec and B.C. You can take a look here

The Globe and Mail is tracking the combined results of several different pollers. The results don't show a great deal of movement nationally but the Liberals and the Conservatives have slipped slowly over the past 2 weeks. The NDP are on a slow climb. The block and the Greens are up and down. Try it here

September 14 this is where they stood:

Harper 40%
Dion 26%
Layton 15%
Duceppe 9%
May 8%

As of today

Harper 37%
Dion 24%
Layton 19%
Duceppe 9%
May 9%

It ain't over yet

What happened to Gerry Ritz?

Journalists on the campaign trail tell is that Gerry Ritz has become invisible ever since his "cold cuts" jokes came to light. A Harper staffer even suggested that the Ritz Cracker was campaigning in the far reaches of his riding where there was no cel phone coverage.
Not to get Gerry off the hook at all but new reports suggest that Harper set up Ritz, giving him very little warning about his decision to call an inquiry and throwing him into a media scrum with very little warning.
My guess is that Gerry's days in cabinet are numbered. I'm sure life as the Battleford Backbencher won't be half as much fun.

Update: Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz surfaced Monday speaking publicly for the first time since issuing a public apology nearly two weeks ago after his cold cuts joke. Ritz refused to speak with reporters after participating in a national agriculture debate hosted by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. The opposition parties were very critical of Ritz's quick exit.

“I guess it's typical of this government. When the going gets tough, they slip out the back door," said Tony Martin, an Ontario MP who represented the NDP at the debate.

Monday's Musings

Harper is complaining that he needs a strong majority because the opposition parties have not been cooperating with his agenda. He sees that as somewhat unfair.

Let's think about it. The opposition parties represent about 60% of Canadian voters. Harper's Government represents about 40%. Does it seem unfair that the opposition want a few things to go their way?

The beauty of minority governments is that to work, they depend on diplomacy and cooperation. Political parties have to work together to make it successful. Some of the most progressive legislation in Canada has been enacted during minority governments. Unfortunately cooperation is not Stevie's long suit. The problem with the current government is that Harper wants to rule as if he has a majority.

I personally don't think Canadians are dumb enough to give him one. Please don't prove me wrong.

Fey as Palin again

There is no doubt, the election to our south is more amusing than ours here in Canada but, then again, I don't have to live there. Tina Fey was at it again on SNL lampooning Republican John McCain's running mate. It is a must see.

Come to think of it the bloggers are getting a bit vicious

The softer side of Little Stevie