Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Unity etc.

Holidays have kept me away from the blogosphere. Congrats to Dion on getting everyone under the big tent as quickly as possible. What will a Rae designed platform look like? Who knows. I'm very curious. Will they bring back the 50/50 post secondary education plan? I'll post more when there's something to post about. I'd post about the wheat board but really I know nothing. It looks like it might help us get some votes out west.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Danforth and Bob

The consensus in the blogosphere is that Bob Rae should make a run at Jack "in-the-box" Layton in my home riding of Toronto-Danforth in the next election. There is an expectation that he could win or at least force Jack to spend more time at home. I have some doubts about Rae's electability that have nothing to do with his tenure as premier. Let's review the results that have come in from Toronto-Danforth in the last year:

Federal (2006 General Election):

Jack Layton (NDP) 48.4%
Deborah Coyne (Lib) 34.2

Provincial (March by-election):

Peter Tabuns (NDP) 47.8%
Ben Chin (Liberal star candidate) 38.9%

Municipal Election:

Ward 29 (Northern, more right wing half):

Case Ootes (centre right former mayor of East York and long time incumbent) 46.3% (5790)
Diane Alexopoulos (NDP) 46.1% (5770)

Ward 30 (Southern, more NDP half)

Paula Fletcher (NDP) 60.2%
Suzanne McCormick 26.3%

Here's the thing, the NDP came within 20 votes of controlling every major electoral position in the riding. In case your wondering, Liberal Gordon Crann lost the election for school trustee, I just don't know whether or not the successful candidate is NDP. Layton's victory alone wouldn't have me skeptical about Rae's odds. The provincial and municipal results have me very skeptical. Unlike a lot of city councilors, Case Ootes didn't deserve to lose his job. He's done a good job. Now a close race might be explained by a very popular NDP mayor (Miller polled at about 60% in the ward) at the top of the ticket, but twenty votes? That's unheard of for a sitting councilor in Toronto who isn't mired in corruption. If anyone watched the results on City, you'd have seen that they called the race for Ootes with like one poll in. They didn't expect it to be close. However, for much of the night, their little check (meaning elected) was beside a name in second place. He pulled it out, but the NDP organization gave him a big scare.

The provincial results tell an even more ominous tale for Rae. Dalton McGuinty found a man he likes and the general populous likes. Ben Chin was a dream candidate. It was a by-election so by default there wasn't an incumbent. Chin ran hard. He lost. He lost pretty badly to the guy who used to ride Jack Layton's coattails into city council. Tabuns had things going for him. He used to be the councilor. It was a by-election which are usually bad news for the government. However, that doesn't explain the kind of margin he got on election day. I exepected Chin to be within 5 points, he wasn't.

With a strong enough Liberal tide Rae could win Toronto-Danforth, but I wouldn't bet on it. I'll work hard for him if he's the candidate on the Danforth but if we want to ensure that he's in parliament, he should run elsewhere. Plus, I think Deborah Coyne earned a run in better circumstances after having to bear the cross of the sponsorship scandal like so many Liberals last time around. I'd love to tell to Jack to hit the road, but I don't know if its in the cards for Bob Rae. I've been saying for a while that I'd like to see Kennedy move out west and run there. That would allow Rae to run in Parkdale-High Park and send Peggy Nash packing. Finally, Jack Layton has proved that no matter how close the race he isn't about to spend time going door to door. He was barely there in 2004 when he won by about 2000 votes and he was there even less in 2006. To be frank, he spends very little time in the riding, period. After all, he lives in Trinity-Spadina. The only NDP leader who has a residence on the Danforth is Howard Hampton.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What's the Matter with Scarborough?

Pop Quiz: Which parliamentary delegation is more socially conservative: Calgary or Scarborough?

The answer according to yesterday's vote in the house of commons? Scarborough. Here's the break down. In cow-town, 6/8 members of parliament voted in favour of reopening the same-sex marriage debate. In Toronto's largest borough, 6/6 members voted in favour. Here's the kicker. The comparison between Calgary and Scarborough is fairly appropriate. Calgary saw some of the largest Conservative pluralities and Scarberia saw some of the largest Liberal pluralities. Indeed, of the Scarborough six only Tom Wappel (Scarborough-Southwest) didn't garner 50% of the vote in the last election. There are a couple ways to rationalize this:
  1. The Parizeau explanation: Yep. It's the ethnic vote. Two things are true of many new Canadians (Can I get away with generalizing for one second?). They are more socially conservative and they vote Liberal. The latter is less true than it used to be. However, they still form a large part of the riding associations out in Scarborough. Thus, it shouldn't be a big surprise that they'd nominate a social conservative.
  2. The Pragmatic Explanation: The party is trying to crowd out the Conservatives on the right by taking away ammunition.
Now, I don't know if either of these hold water. It could just be six independent decisions by local riding associations. I just thought it was curious and tried to figure out how that happened. Anyone else got a theory?

Monday, December 04, 2006


The Globe has a poll out this morning showing the Liberals up six points on the Tories. This poll means absolutely nothing. Still, it is better to be six points ahead then six points behind. As expected Dion has raised strong emotions in Quebec. The good news is most of them are positive. Only 29% of Quebeckers are firmly against his rise to leadership. That could be seen as the Bloc core that is never going to vote Liberal anyway. The Liberal surge appears to be due to weakness not in the Conservatives but in the NDP and the Greens. The six point Liberal gain came at the expense of the NDP (3%) and the Greens (2%). I view this as pro-environment Liberals coming back to the flock or maybe Liberals worried about an Ignatieff victory showing their relief. Either way its nice to see the support back in the Liberal camp.

This poll does show a big problem for Elizabeth May. The Conservatives may be thrilled with Dion's victory, the Greens must be devastated. Last week, they were riding high. Over 20% of the electorate in London North Centre voted Green. Now, they are faced with a greened Liberal party. This is a disaster for the Greens. It is great news for Liberals. This is how Dion can hope to break into the Conservative base out west. The Greens received a higher percentage in Alberta than in any other province in the country. These are people who were a) fed up with government corruption and looking for a fresh face or b) environmentalists. If Dion can prove to people that the Liberal Party is renewed he can capture both of these constituencies and possibly do some damage out West. He could do even more damage if Kennedy decides to move back out there and run. I don't believe in parachute candidates but if Kennedy wants to move out to Edmonton, I would strongly urge him to find a riding there to run in during the next election. Kennedy and Bob Rae happen to want the same riding: Parkdale-High Park. I believe either of them would defeat Peggy Nash. Unless Bob wants to try to take out Layton in Toronto-Danforth (the riding he represented last time he was in Ottawa) I'd advise Kennedy to let Rae have Parkdale, move out West and run from there. All of this is of course contingent on Sam Bulte (the MP for Parkdale who lost in the last election) not wanting another kick at the can.

Finally, isn't it nice to be able to oppose Stephen Harper with all our energy?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Report Card and Crystal Ball

Congratulations are in order. Stephane Dion is the new Leader of her Majesty's Official Opposition, or will be when he's sworn in. Are leaders of the official opposition sworn in? They get to be honourable, right? I don't know. I don't really care. Anyway, Dion ran a great campaign, he won the hearts and minds of Liberals across the country. I look forward to helping him kick Stephen Harper's butt all the way back to Calgary. Having said that, after a seeminglessly endless leadership race we have a winner and a whole bunch of losers. Time to give out some grades and make some predictions. There was a blogger looking for what Gerard Kennedy was going to get for giving Dion the crown. I'll try to answer the question. The predictions about a Dion government are not out of arrogance but confidence. That and the fact that the last Liberal leader who wasn't Prime Minister ran against John A. Macdonald. Stephen Harper ain't Johnny Mac. Let's work from first out to the eventual winner.

Joseph Volpe:

The Volpe campaign got off to a very bad start. Well, actually about as bad as someone trying to lead a scandal plagued party could have gotten off to. The scandals seemed to keep building, and pretty soon the Volpe campaign became a running. He had a very open falling out with his campaign chair which may have cost him delegates on the floor. A disaster from start to finish. Amazingly, he came out of super weekend with delegates. Close to fifth place and looking like an influence maker. Well that didn't translate to Montreal. His delegates just didn't show up. He ended up just a little bit ahead of Martha Hall Findlay. The only positive thing he did was drop out Friday night. However, he backed Bob Rae, another set back. By the time of the last ballot nobody knew or cared where Volpe had parked his ship. All in all a miserable run for the former cabinet minister. He fails in my books but gets some credit for dropping out early.

Grade F+

Crystal Ball: I don't see much in Joe Volpe's future. He will continue to represent Eglinton-Lawrence and collect a pay check in Ottawa. A cabinet post? It doesn't seem likely. A parliamentary-secretary role to the Minister of Immigration? Maybe he sneaks into a minor cabinet portfolio. He retires to little ado.

Martha Hall-Findlay:

Dion was being called the little campaign that could. Really that honour belongs to Martha. To many Liberals she represented the best that the Liberal party could offer. Unfortunately, she was completely unqualified for leadership. She had great ideas on renewal but not much else. In a moment of candor, Martha might admit that this was at least partially about positioning for her future and that looks quite bright. More on that in a second. She came out of super weekend with a few delegates, which was a few more than people expected her to get. Her convention, by all reports, was a complete success. She made a speech to standing ovations. She then got a big boost from ex-officio who wanted her to get ahead of Joe Volpe or Scott Brison on the first ballot. Finally, she chose the right horse to back, being the first leadership hopeful to endorse Stephane Dion. Really she couldn't have hoped for much more.

Grade B+

Crystal Ball: The future is bright! I see a retiring Bill Graham and MPP George Smitherman raising her arms in victory on election night in Toronto-Centre. Cabinet? Depends on when the Liberals get back in power. If it's the next election I'd guess Parliamentary-Secretary to someone big. I'm seeing Treasury Board or Ministry of Finance. If the Liberals lose the next election and win the one after that, I'm thinking Minister of Industry. When Stephane Dion decides to call it quits (2016? 2020?) I see a big red bus with a lot of Liberals on it. Candidates are going to be going to her camp after the first ballot.

Scott Brison:

The member from Kings-Hants was the picture of class throughout this campaign. Four decisions made this a bad day for Brison. Number 1: He began his career in the Progressive Conservative party. This dogged Rae as well. Brison was seen with trepidation especially by the left wing of the party. He was also viewed with trepidation because of decision number 2: that stupid e-mail. He wasn't thinking and in retrospect it wasn't that big a deal but it certainly did not help Liberal fortunes last winter. Liberals remembered that. As a result, he came out of super weekend with a whole lot of Nova Scotia delegates and few others. At the convention, he made two more bad decisions. He first backed Bob Rae and then when he fell off backed Michael Ignatieff. I don't think Stephane Dion will hold it against him but it's not going to help him either.

Grade: C

Crystal Ball: There is great potential here. Brison proved himself in the last parliament handling the brunt of the sponsorship questions with intelligence and class. Next time around, I see Treasury Board. I don't know why. It just seems to fit. If not, maybe Dion remembers his convention speech and gives him the environment. Then again I wouldn't be surprised if Dion took that one himself. Mr. Brison may finally have the gravitas to be considered for federal leadership when the next convention rolls around. I really don't think he wins though. Just a gut feeling. I really don't know why. And no, this has nothing to do with him being gay.

Ken Dryden:

With a little money and a little charisma and... eh forget it. I've figured it out. Ken Dryden is like the guy in high school that all the girls are friends with but none of them will sleep with (I doubt Ken Dryden was that guy when he was in high school, by the way). Do Liberals like Ken Dryden? Absolutely. Did he ever have a chance to be leader? Absolutely not. His performance on super weekend (a distant fifth) was disappointing. His performance at the convention verged on embarrassing. First, he runs out of time for his speech. Not as badly as Dion but still he ran out of time. Then he starts ranting at reporters in the post-speech scrum about how he didn't have any money but gosh darn it he's still second in popularity polls. Then as everyone else is clearing the deck so that we can move on to the big four candidates, Dryden stays around with less than 5% of the vote. Finally, he endorses Bob Rae. Okay, a lot of people backed the wrong horse, and yes Ken got it right eventually. He still backed Rae which helped Rae, well not at all because Kennedy came in after him and backed Dion. A ballot after endorsing Rae, Dryden was on the move again. All in all a shame. And it's such a shame because he's such a good guy...

Grade D+

Crystal Ball: Dryden may have plateaued. I see ministry in a Dion government. Minister of Justice? He was a lawyer. Maybe make him the front man for the feds on the 2010 games? I don't know. In the next race, candidates will be seeking his endorsement, but well before the convention.

Gerard Kennedy:

Kennedy either ran a brilliant campaign or a horrible one. I lean towards brilliant. Here are the cases:

Case 1: A provincial politician with three years of experience at the provincial cabinet table draws support from all across the country where he was completely unknown. Sticks with his convictions and takes a controversial position on the nation question earning the support of Justin Trudeau among others. He goes to the convention, gives an excellent speech and becomes the king-maker securing a bright political future.

Case 2: Top tier candidate completely wipes out in Quebec during super weekend and his campaign stalls. Last ditch effort to appeal to hard-line federalists fails and he is force off after only the second ballot.

As I say, I favour the first interpretation. Kennedy was doomed by his Quebec result but he ran one hell of a campaign. He talked about issues, the other candidates ignored. He challenged academic wisdom. He grew the party out west. Andrew Coyne, of all people, was even impressed by his convention speech. As I say, too bad about that Quebec result.

Grade: A- (maybe a little high? I'm biased, I still think he's great.)

Crystal Ball: He will go as far as long as his wife takes him. Am I getting oracular? What I mean is Jeanette has a job if she wants her husband to continue moving up the ladder: teach him French. Regardless, he goes into Dion's cabinet. Quite possibly as deputy PM. I'd give him Immigration as well. If Dion takes one thing from GK's platform it should be immigrant success.

Bob Rae:

Bob Rae believed this campaign wasn't about ideas. The last politician to say that in this country was Kim Campbell. In comparison, Bob Rae did brilliantly. Realistically, Bob Rae never got the momentum he needed. Endorsement after endorsement came his way. Six former leadership candidates on his side and his support seemed to barely move. Some people attribute this to the fact that he was a disaster in his term as NDP Premier of Ontario. This is part of it. I think it was a huge strategic mistake to run the entire campaign on "I'm Bob Rae!" He needed something more. Months of campaigning and I still don't know what Rae wanted to achieve as Prime Minister. Maybe he thought it was a bad idea to make promises after what happened during his premiership, but something tangible may have lit the fire of this campaign in the ideas of the average voter. Is Bob Rae a good politician? Yes. That doesn't qualify you to be Prime Minister or leader of the Liberal Party. His convention bid seemed doomed from the beginning. You knew if the Kennedy/Dion alliance played out as expected, Rae was toast. It played out, Rae was toast. Did he do the right thing in staying neutral on the last ballot? Maybe. I think he did it because he couldn't in good conscience endorse Michael Ignatieff but Rae's personal affection for Iggy wouldn't allow Rae to Iggy's leadership bid. All in all an unimpressive run by someone with such a big name and so many big names behind him.

Grade B-

Crystal Ball: Does Bob Rae really want to schlep back and forth to Ottawa every week at this point in his career. I don't think so. Unless there's a ministry that he really wants and knows Dion would give him, I think he finds a way to get away from trying to run in the next election. Rae is perfectly suited for the Senate. He could go out and talk to people and present his findings on the issues of the day. He stays in politics but doesn't have to worry about the burden of constituency work and reelection. If I were Dion, he'd be my first choice for the senate when an Ontario seat opens up. That is assuming we're still appointing senators at that point.

Michael Ignatieff:

Ah the prodigal son. Yes, the father forgives the son and takes him in. It doesn't mean that the son goes on to lead the country, particularly when he keeps making mistakes. Yes, the gaffes did it. I think Liberals would have gotten past the whole not really a politician or a Canadian thing if he acted like a politician and a Canadian. Even the gaffes might have been forgiven if he wasn't so damn arrogant about it. He may be smarter than most of the country, but acting like it is not a way to get elected. He alienated everyone in the race. No one was willing to go to the front-runner. That says a lot. There wasn't just an anyone but Iggy campaign, it was an everyone but Iggy campaign. Ok. Scott Brison picked him second, but give me a break. Sen. Smith and his back room boys tried, but Ignatieff defeated himself. It took him four ballots for him to get past the 35% barrier which is team was trumpeting as a first ballot result. Here I'll put in terms Mr. Ignatieff would understand. He blew up too many bridges and didn't make enough bricks (read Empire Light if you're confused). Sure he was only a couple hundred votes shy of victory but there was never a chance that he was going to get there. Almost only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.

Grade: B

Crystal Ball: Can you say Minister of National Defense? I can. Here's why. The Defense Minister is allowed to be a little hawkish, it's his job. It would also send the message to the Americans that the government was serious about security. Failing that, how about ambassador to either the US or the UK?

Stephane Dion:

All hail the conquering hero. Seriously, all hail. We need to unite around Dion and we need to do it now. Stephane won and he won the right way. One of the things that always impressed me about the Dion campaign was his focus on small contributions, his "$100 revolution." This is exactly the kind of thing we need to do as a party. We need to grow our base in order to compete with the Tories. Dion began the campaign as a dismissed long shot and ended up as the consensus of the media and Liberals. He got endorsements from my other two favourite candidates in this race: my candidate, Gerard Kennedy, and Martha Hall Findlay. He used that momentum to overcome both of the establishment candidates. This is a victory for ordinary Liberals. Rejoice!

Grade: A+

Crystal Ball: All I see is an address and a slogan: 24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa ON and "It's the environment, stupid!"


Gerard Kennedy ran a great campaign. I'm sad to see him go. Now let's elect a Liberal Canadian! Dion for PM!

And away we go!

Quick thoughts with the first ballot in:
  • Martha tripled her support. I don't know whether this is her popularity or someone decided to help make her result less embarrassing, I don't know. It was nice to see regardless. It will be interesting to see where Martha goes.
  • Ken Dryden is either delusional or an excellent actor. I'm leaning towards delusional. He seems to think he can still win and is determined to stay on the ballot as long as possible. I don't know if delegates at the convention saw his post-speech interview on CPAC. He was angry; angry with his poor performance on super-weekend, angry at his lack of money, angry at his lack of support. It was an ugly thing to see. I really liked Ken Dryden and he had a great speech, but that interview gave me pause.
  • Dion's ahead of Kennedy. This is bad news for Kennedy. No spin, this is bad news.
  • Having said that... a lot of voting occurred before Kennedy's great speech. We don't know where Martha and Scott are going. It's not over by a long shot.
  • Anyone know what happens if there's a tie?
  • Dion has momentum. Can he keep it up?
  • Iggy is in trouble. He needs to show growth on the next ballot or the rats may start abandoning ship.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Name Dropping 101

I'm listening to Bob Rae's speech. So, we should elect you because you've known a lot of Liberals? What the hell do you stand for Bob? "I see a Canada whose vision is of the world" that's nice... Oh he just realized he should probably include some French.... Iraq. More past. Goddamit. Get to the future... School breakfast? Isn't that the great social problem of ten years ago? Still relevant, probably but not exactly groundbreaking... We'll meet Kyoto? Wow, did you drink the kool-aid too? Sorry. This speech is confirming everything I don't like about Bob Rae. His campaign is three P's: Personality, Past, and Platitudes. One P missing: policy.


I just watched Gerard Kennedy's speech courtesy of CPAC. I know I'm biased, but I was blown away. I first heard Kennedy speak at a rally in Toronto in May when I was still deciding who I was going to support. Back then, he had that great story about delivering food to the poor family and a great framework for what he was going to do, but he rambled and seemed to be all over the place. Tonight, he seemed on target and passionate. He was great. I really hope that whoever wins this leadership takes Gerard's ideas to heart. On renewal, he's dead on. On how to win the next election, he's dead on. He needs to be heeded even if he is not elected.

Some quick (generally lighter) thoughts on the speech:
  • I loved the dig at the MSM in the video.
  • I don't know who told Justin Trudeau to enunciate, but please someone, tell him to stop!
  • I was hoping for a Gerry! Gerry! chant a la Jerry Springer. The GK chant is fine, but when it mixed with the chants of Kennedy! Kennedy! it kind of sounded like JC, JC. A little too bible camp for my taste.
  • Whoever decided to put the Quebec flags waving in front of Kennedy's face knew what they were doing.
All views expressed in this blog are those of the author and the author alone. They do not represent the views of any organization, regardless of the author's involvement in any organizations.

All comments are the views of the individual writer. The administrator reserves the right to remove commentary which is offensive.

The author is not responsible for nor does he support any of the advertisements displayed on the page