Monday, January 29, 2007


Would everyone take about five minutes and calm down. These Conservative ads do not warrant a full scale war. The Tories would love the Liberal Party to spend what little money it has fighting a pre-election air war. Don't give them the satisfaction. By the looks of these ads, they spent about five dollars on production. They're going to splash them on the Super Bowl against ads that have good production values. Why make such stupid and anemic ads? In hopes that the Liberals will retaliate. Let's keep our powder dry. We can laugh off these pathetic attacks. We're better than this. If Harper wants to act like he's the leader of the official opposition, let's act like a government. Let's laugh it off and get on with trying to conduct the people's business. If Harper thinks he can win an election in 2007 on broken promises from 1993, he's in for a big surprise. Let's have some faith in Canadians and in our own campaign. Let's go positive. Let's win the right way.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Toronto: White with Culture

Fresh from the overwhelming success of the Toronto Unlimited campaign. The folks down at Nathan Phillips' Square (or the folks they hired) have come out with a new ad campaign. This one is aimed at advertising Toronto's culture. They call it Toronto: Live with Culture. So how do you advertise one of the world's most multi-cultural cities? With a bunch of whiter than white bread people. Four ads, 10 models, all white. Give me a break! Okay, yes we are trying to appeal to the United States so maybe we don't put a woman in a headscarf in the ad. Americans can be a little Islamophobic. But give me a break! There's a half a dozen major cultural events hosted by various Chinese groups. Caribana, or whatever they're calling it, anyone? You want to stay white? You could at least get out of the WASP domain for a minute and promote Taste of the Danforth and Corsa Italia. How do you sell Toronto? How about Toronto: The World Lives Here. This is not hard! Stop trying to sell Toronto with comparisons. We aren't just a world class city, we're the best city in the world. Don't take this the wrong way, but am I the only one who is getting sentimental about Mel Lastman's mayorship?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Citizens Assembly

The deadline for submitting a suggestion to Ontario's Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform is January 31st. I was reluctant to submit anything because I really think the entire idea of a citizens' assembly is a cop-out by the Ontario legislature. We pay MPP's to make hard decisions. This should have been done by a legislative committee with the same kind of public consultation that is now going on. However, since this is the way this process is working, I decided to submit my argument for a majoritarian run-off system. This system is not even on the radar but I view it as the best way to improve proportionality while maintaining local accountability and representation. Really, I did this so that I can justify complaining when they choose a system that will ruin our democracy. Anyway the link to my submission is here if anyone cares.

Quick Note: I updated my "Race for the Exits 2008" posts. The candidates names are now linked to official websites, draft websites, or Wikipedia entries depending on availability.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I've done it. I've figured out how to fix Kyoto. Okay, maybe not fix it but make it a hell of a lot better. I might not be alone here but I'm not hearing it in mainstream discussion. Here's the deal. As I've said before, Kyoto does penalize growth. If you, as a country, had economic success since 1990 Kyoto becomes very difficult to implement. Kyoto as it is encourages resource based and manufacturing industry out of the Kyoto bound countries and into the global south and gives carbon surpluses to weak economies. This is one of the reasons the United States will never ratify Kyoto. Therefore, this is what you do: you tie emissions to GDP growth relative to other developed countries. Instead of taking CO2 emissions straight you create the following formula.

Target= 1990 CO2 emissions x (Reduction Factor/(2012 Percentage of Kyoto bound GDP/1990 Percentage of Kyoto Bound GDP)

Here are the changes in the G8 as of 2003 (the last year I can find emission stats for):

Old Target New Target 2003 Level
(all in Millions of tons of Carbon)

Canada 106,678.72 108,094.60 154,392
Russia 541,492.00 230,980.70 407,593
United States 1,222,776.09 1,306,077.58 1,580,175
Germany 223,752.28 200,558.74 219,776
France 91,005.48 86,568.62 102,065
Italy 97,831.88 86,098.80 121,608
United Kingdom 142,945.00 153,170.64 152,460
Japan 274,679.28 237,830.32 336,142

A few things jump out from these numbers:
  1. Russia's environmental record is exposed: The Russian economy collapsed between 1990 and 2003. It's percentage of the world economy has been nearly halved. It should not be producing the same kind of emissions.
  2. Countries with strong economies (CAN, UK, US) get a bit of a break. It doesn't mean they get off the hook as both Canada and the US are still above their targets.
  3. The Europeans are shown to be not as green as they may like. Now it is possible that if these were the existing targets Germany would be closer to meeting their requirements but it seems doubtful.
There is still one major problem with this formula. It relates to the Tory argument that the Bush administration has done a better job on the environment than the Liberals. This sort of statistic ignores where the GDP growth occurs. Obviously, the strong US service and tech sectors are not as polluting as the oil and other resource industries in Canada. So yes, by getting out of manufacturing cars and into telemarketing the US has become a greener country.

It is important to note that this formula would actually reduce emissions further than the one currently in place by about 12%. It makes more sense for industry and for the environment.

I appreciate any input on this proposal. If anyone could find a more recent link for CO2 emissions I'd also be grateful.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Race for the Exits 2008: The Republicans

There was a reason for my blog's hiatus. This is rare. Normally, I just don't feel like blogging. However, this time I was in Berlin for a few days and away from Ted Stevens' fantastic series of tubes we ordinary folk call the internet. Anyway, I am back in Sweden and have been greeted by the first real snow of the year. So back from the birthplace of Bismarck and hard power here are in some particular order the possible and actual candidates for the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 2008:

John McCain
: The senior senator from Arizona and the surprise winner of the 2000 New Hampshire primary, John McCain wants this job. Many Republicans see him as the ultimate Anti-Hillary. The former Vietnam POW has more military cred than even democratic four star General Wesley Clark. Sitting in a war room in Washington or Brussels is one thing, sitting in a Viet Cong POW camp is something else. His first problem is that he will be 72 by election day 2008, that's damn old. In 2000, he had the Straight-Talk Express. It was this approach that endeared him to many moderates and independents like the people of New Hampshire. Well, learning from his crushing defeat at the hands of the Rove spin wheel, McCain has turned the straight-talk express into the spin-mobile. He gives speeches at Jerry Falwell's university. He talks about gay marriage as if it's a real threat to society. No one knows how McCain will shape his bid, but Iraq, an obvious way to go, seems unlikely as he has done little to differentiate himself on the file. McCain has all the intangibles he lacked in 2000 and has lost the intangibles he had. He might win this thing, but really can a man so clearly divided against himself stand in the party of Lincoln?

Rudolph Giuliani
: Giuliani has credibility in this race because of his actions on and after September 11th. He became "America's Mayor." Giuliani clearly thinks that America's mayor is really the President and would like to get the title more formally. As Mayor of New York City, Giuliani had an impressive record. Not only winning twice in a city that leans so far democratic that it falls over, but cutting the crime rate and cleaning up the Big Apple. A successful administrator with credibility on terror seems to be a shoe-in. The question is whether or not the Republican base is ready for a thrice-divorced pro-choice Catholic from NYC. Yes, Catholic still matters especially if he's thrice divorced and pro-choice. Giuliani would have been better served if Gore had won in 2000 and Rudy could have run in 2004. The emotion he would have generated then is somewhat lost now more than five years after the fact. Giuliani is a real threat to win and also a real threat to be like John McCain eight years ago and flop in the South.

Chuck Hagel: I'll admit it. I like Chuck Hagel. I don't know how many other Republicans I can say that about. Hagel, I just like. One of the party's only strong critics of the Bush Administration on everything from the Iraq War to fiscal management, the senior senator from
Nebraska wants to bring the Republicans back to their roots: pragmatic conservatism. He would be seen as an Eastern egg-head except that he's from the heart of the heartland. He's also a decorated Vietnam war vet. Aside from the Kennedy Curse on Senators who run for office Hagel has all the tools to win. What he doesn't have is credibility among the party's religious and far right base. The people who love Bush don't like Hagel. There aren't a lot of them left but they have a big say in the Republican nomination process. This is the guy that should scare the Democrats the most. He might scare too many Republicans to ever get the chance.

Condoleeza Rice
: The US Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor has made no indication that she is in the race. I don't think she will. I view this as Republicans thinking "well, if we put a woman against Hillary...." Having said that, this is what her resume looks like. A former professor, Rice is a double minority in the Republican party and in life in general: a black woman. She is one of the two most influential advisors that President Bush has. In spite of the whole black woman thing, Rice is the most stay the course candidate out there. She would be Bush's heir-apparent should she run and his devout followers may just follow her. What she lacks to be Bush II (or III) is the connection to the religious right. She has never run for election and there are questions as to her ability to campaign. However, the largest thing stopping Condi from getting her name on the ballot is the fact that she won't put it there. She would be an interesting choice for VP.

Newt Gingrich
: Yes, Newt Gingrich. I know. He was supposed to be gone forever. Yes, the ethically challenged former speaker of the house is running on... you won't believe this... renewal. He thinks that like Jesus he can be resurrected and with him the Republican landslide of 1994. Yes, this is the Contract with America guy. He has been trying to show himself as a moderate advocating for projects with people like his former arch-nemesis Hillary Clinton. I really don't think the Republicans who just lost both houses to corruption are going to try to send Mr. Corruption himself to the White House. The base will have good memories and everyone will be very polite to him on the campaign trail but I can't believe his campaign will get off the ground. Think a corrupt Ken Dryden. The only reason I think he might win is because I'm so sure that he can't.

George Pataki: Why not. That's the rationale behind the Pataki campaign. He's got a lot of friends telling him how great he is. He's going to try to be president. The former governor of New York looks a lot like Giuliani. A good administrator who came off well in the days and weeks around 9/11. He also has a lot Giuliani's flaws. He's too left wing for the party base being the most crucial. I can't see him creating any momentum with Giuliani in the race. The governor below him on the list is the one to watch.

Mitt Romney:
When I said this list is in some particular order. I didn't mean that it was an exact order. Romney really should be higher. I just can't figure out where to put him. The former governor of Massachusetts is a lot like Pataki. A republican who was overwhelmingly popular in a blue state. Romney's big advantage is also his biggest disadvantage. He's openly religious, unfortunately (in terms of public perception) he's Mormon. The religious right doesn't really like Mormons. They're viewed as almost a cult. A Mormon Republican from Massachusetts may be too much for the base to swallow.

Sam Brownback
: The senior Senator from Kansas is actually more of a viable candidate than his relative anonymity may lead you to believe. The reason: the religious right. This guy is one of their own. A born-again Christian, he equates abortion with the Holocaust. He hates same-sex marriage. With Santorum's defeat in November, Brownback has become Mr. Morality in the senate. Five of the candidates above him are serious concerns for the evangelical movement. If he galvanizes the base, he could win or at least decide the nomination. The question is whether or not this guy has the political je ne sais quoi to run a national campaign. He won't be in Kansas anymore.

Mike Huckabee
: Getting duped by Rick Mercer is apparently a reason to run for President. Tom Vilsack is running for the Democrats and the Republicans have Mike Huckabee. The last Governor from Hope, Arkansas became president so he has a path to follow. Much like Vilsack Huckabee is a bit of tabula rasa in the sphere of public perception. A former minister, he would have entry into the religious right but would probably not have the same connections as Brownback. He could also go after the obesity epidemic as he personally lost about half of himself while governor of Arkansas. Once again, major questions about being ready for prime time.

Tommy Thompson
: The second Bush cabinet name on the list, Thompson has been elected. He was governor Wisconsin. One of the more touted Bush cabinet nominees when he was appointed in 2001, Thompson never really stood out in his years in Health and Human Services. This might mean he was a good administrator, it might mean he was useless but knows how to avoid the spotlight. A former great lake governor would be good for the Republican electoral map but there are questions as to whether he can stand out in this packed field. Like Romney and Pataki he has a history of winning big in a blue state so he can't be ruled out.

Tom Tancredo
: If you watch Lou Dobbs you've probably seen Congressman Tancredo (R-CO). Here ladies and gentlemen is the anti-immigration candidate. Tancredo wants illegal immigrants, their language and their culture out of Colorado and out of America. He's running to get that message out. He won't win but there will be pressure from the base for someone more credible to come towards his way of thinking.

Duncan Hunter
: If Tancredo is the anti-immigrant candidate this is the anti-obscenity candidate. However, the good congressman from California has ethics issues. He'll run, he'll lose and it will not change your or anyone else's life. In other words, Fuck him.

Haley Barbour
: Another governor. This time Mississippi. He's religious right. He's got Katrina sympathy except for the fact that he kind of screwed that up. He's not really ready for the national spotlight i.e. he's bound to say something stupid. Think Stockwell Day.

Jim Gilmore: This is not the Virginia candidate the Republicans wanted or the governor of Virginia the media wanted but after George Allen stepped in macaca and Gov. Warner said no thanks this is what they're left with. The former governor... it may seem like it but they aren't all running... is yet another possible place for the religious right to park its votes.
He worked for Bush on WMD but aside from that has done, well nothing, since leaving office in 2001. Anonymous meet Jim Gilmore... oh wait... you already know him.

Ron Paul: Congressman from Texas. Old fashioned libertarian Republican. He's Hagel without the flair, support, money or credibility.

John H. Cox:
This guy likes losing nominations. He's run unsuccessfully for nominations to the house in senate from his home state of Illinois. Now he'll have the failure trifecta. He's JFK... if he lost instead of won.

Michael Charles Smith
: Don't worry. You shouldn't know who this is. This is some guy who's trying to make a name for himself. Literally some guy. No political experience, he works for HP. He's trying to get himself a delegate spot in the Oregon primary. He is a registered candidate.

Yikes! For someone who hates the Republican party, this is a beautiful list.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Race for the Exits 2008: The Democrats

Yes folks, its time. A mere 22 months before the Presidential election it is time to introduce the Democratic contenders. I have decided to call this "The Race for the Exits" in the hope that whoever wins will be pulling the US out of Iraq. Here in a fairly random order that is more about hype than viability are the Democrats:

Hillary Rodham Clinton
: Clinton is the junior senator for the great state of New York. She won reelection in 2006 easily after the Republicans failed to run anything resembling a serious candidate against her. The lack of a credible opponent didn't stop Clinton from fundraising full out and she now possesses the largest war chest of any candidate in either party. Oh yeah, she's lived in the White House before with some guy named Bill. The party brass love Hillary. The base loves her husband. Two problems. Convincing the base she isn't too far right on issues like Iraq and convincing democrats in general that she's electable.

John Edwards: No, the psychic is not running, that's John Edward. No, this John Kerry's running mate from 2004. The former junior senator from North Carolina, Edwards has a lot of youth for a man who's actually over fifty. He has that sincerity thing in spades. He's passionate about poverty. He's admitted he was wrong to vote for the Iraq war. He has a great organization from the 2004 campaign set up in Iowa and leads in early polls in that crucial state. Edwards should do well among southern blacks, rural whites and youth. His biggest problem: the next guy on the list.

Barack Obama
: The star of the 2004 convention wants to go from keynote speech to inaugural speech in 2008. The junior senator from Illinois oozes charisma and charm. He's smart as a whip. He won election in 2004 in a landslide partially on his own strength and partially from the self-destructing Illinois Republican party. His campaign will no doubt be something fairly familiar to Canadians: Peace (both Iraq and Washington DC), Order (social solutions to crime) and Good Government (record in Illinois state-house working with Republicans to get things done). If Obama can keep up his momentum into the Iowa primary look out. He is capable of running away with this thing. However, he could burn out before the first vote is taken. Like Edwards, he plays to blacks and youth. His biggest problem: slim foreign policy credentials for a nation at war.

Wesley Clark
: The retired supreme NATO allied commander and four star general has military and foreign policy credentials in spades. He's looking to be the Grant to Bush's Johnson. The successful general replaces the incompetent President. His biggest problem: he isn't a politician. This isn't an Ignatieff foot in mouth thing. This is a bad campaigner thing. His campaign in 2004 never gained any steam. I call my blog All Politics is Local after the quote from former Speaker Tip O'Neill. Local is something Clark has not demonstrated he understands. Therefore, I am skeptical of his viability. If he can get in early enough and connect to the average voters though he could be dangerous.

Tom Vilsack
: The former governor of Iowa wants to ride a Hawkeye wave to the White House. Governors have a good history of winning national elections. He's a no-name governor from a small state. Unfortunately, there's already a Clinton in this race. Democrats should also be worried that Jon Stewart may have given Republicans all the ammo they need when he tore apart Vilsack's plan for Iraq in a recent interview. Then again, Vilsack doesn't have a great history of dealing with comedians. Rick Mercer made a fool out of him on Talking to Americans (I'm too lazy to find a link). Stewart thinks his name sounds like something that the Aflac duck would say. I'm sorry to say this because he seems like a decent guy, but this duck is cooked.

Al Gore:
Former vice-President and democratic nominee has repeatedly said he's not running. That's about the only working against Gore. He has shed his robot image since 2000 and would make an excellent candidate on the green ticket. Still, I think he is out of this race as long as Hillary is in it.

John Kerry: The other former nominee pondering a run would be wise to stay out. His 2004 campaign was a disaster. Democrats would be wise not to repeat that disaster in 2008. If he runs he'll get some votes, but he won't win. Edit: Kerry has taken himself out of consideration for the presidency.

Bill Richardson
: The best candidate you might not know about. The Hispanic governor of New Mexico is overwhelmingly popular in his home state and would play well in the emerging battleground states of the West and the battleground demographic that is Hispanic voters. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has gotten Nevada between Iowa and New Hampshire on the primary calendar making the West more important than ever. Richardson was chair of the DNC before Howard Dean so he has the connections to make a serious run. There is no guarantee he's in, but if he is, this is the dark horse.

Christopher Dodd: The other senator from Connecticut. He isn't as controversial or as repulsive to the base as Lieberman but he is just as boring. Nobody's really sure why Chris Dodd is running. Count me among those who don't get his candidacy.

Joe Biden: Biden, senator for Delaware, last ran for President twenty years ago when he got caught plagiarizing his stump speech. Well, he's trying again. Once again, nobody knows why. Could he do the job? Probably. The bad news for Biden: he'll never get the chance. Maybe he can plagiarize his own plagiarized speech. He doesn't even have Joe-mentum.

Mike Gravel
: Who? I don't know. Apparently, he's the former senator for Alaska. He was considered as a candiate for VP in the 70's. He's back and running a fringe campaign on such issues as the establishment of a national sales tax and the abolition of the IRS. I know. They seem to be contradictory. The good news for Canucks: his parents were French-Canadian.

Dennis Kucinich: The congressman from Ohio is clearly running on the overwhelming success of his last place run last time around. In all seriousness, the former mayor of Cleveland is an ardent anti-war activist trying to galvanize the far left of the party. Kucinich likes the fringe which is good because that's where he's going to be.

Rev. Al Sharpton
: Staying on the fringe, we have the always entertaining Al Sharpton. Is he qualified for office? Heck no. Does he have a chance? Hell no. The presence of a credible African-American candidate makes his candidacy less relevant than ever. The good news is you can watch his hair during those torture session they call all-candidate debates.

13 Candidates. Let the Battle Royale begin! This might actually get to the convention floor folks.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Back to the Era of Discontent

A couple stories over on Liblogs that caught my eye.
  1. The Greens are at 11% in Environics' latest poll and their gains seem to be coming at the expense of the NDP
  2. Apparently yet another Western protest party is sprouting in wild rose country
They seem to be expressing the same sentiment: the parties today aren't doing it. Dion needs to get out there and scream climate change at every opportunity until there's snow in Toronto. The second story probably means absolutely nothing. After all, the Western Bloc Party didn't exactly set fires last time out. This is about the worst news the NDP could receive in a non-election poll. The last thing the NDP needs is for their vote to get split by the Greens and apparently that's exactly what is happening. Maybe its time for the Jack-in-the-box to change tactics. Maybe cozying up to the Tories isn't good for the base. What a shock.

Elizabeth May has done her party well. Might I note that she has done it by going back to the party's environmental roots. She seems to be steering clear of the conservatism of Jim Harris and also away from the Green's second main issue: electoral reform. I think people are a little sick of hearing that a party with millions in federal funding can't win one measly seat. Especially, when a shock-jock in Quebec wins by a landslide. And no, a good poll does not mean May should be in the debate. The only poll that matters is on election day. Until the Greens win a seat, they don't belong in the debate.

oh yeah... one more M.P. we don't need is leaving the Liberal caucus... happy trails M. Lapierre!

Thursday, January 11, 2007


By my count there are 29 candidates for the American presidency in 2008. And you thought the Liberal leadership race was crowded!
Technorati Profile

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Heathrow: Kafka-esque

The first trip to and from Sweden I went through Frankfurt International to get to Copenhagen. I thought the airport was duplicitous. Well compared to Heathrow it looks like a gem. I had the great displeasure of going through Heathrow airport today. I will say this: eventually the airport is going to suffer for its incompetence. Not by a terrorist attack. I think they're precautions will work as well if not better than anyone else's. They will be hurt in the wallet.

There's a scene at the end of Frank Kafka's The Trial where a priest explains to the hero that he is like a man who waits at the outer of an endless series of doors; endlessly pleading with the doorman to get in. The priest explains how futile the quest is. For not only is the doorman unflinching in his task but even if by some miracle the first door was unbarred their would be a dozen more difficult doors to pass through.

Kafka was making a grand statement about government bureaucracy, God and who knows what else but today I knew exactly what he was talking about. In order to transfer planes at Heathrow, one must go through a security check (this is standard operating procedure almost everywhere). What makes Heathrow unique is that for entire terminal of passengers switching planes, they have exactly ONE metal detector. ONE. Thus the endless line I endured today. Not only that, but my plane took 20 minutes longer than it should have to land at and take off from Heathrow because their runways can't handle the daily traffic. Une belle desastre if there ever was one. If you are planning a trip to Europe, heed my advice: avoid Heathrow at all costs.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Crystal Ball: 2007 Edition

A mere 9 days into 2007 and I am officially prepared to make the All Politics is Local predictions. With thanks to PM King's dog and mother and apologies to Nostradamus, here are my predictions for the new year:

On election timing:

Separatist winds blow with the march lamb
Charest's loss makes harper go damn
waits till after Ontario squabble
national election with the American gobble

On the War in Iraq:

Bush calls for an increase in boots
pisses off republican roots
leave in boots; come back in coffins
4000 dead by champagne poppin'

On the Federal Election:

Warmer weather leaves voters cold
Bloc's campaign looks tired and old
Dion moves forward, Harper back
not sure if either one will pack

On the Ontario Election:

A promise made, a promise broken
that's Tory's campaign slogan
Mr. Nice Guy can't play mean
McGuinty squeaks by; unclean

On the Ontario Referendum:

Assembly chooses complexity: MMP
a bad decision for Ontario says me
voters left confused and split
60 no but 50% hit

On the Super Bowl:

LT leads Schottenheimer's charge
past the Colts' Volunteer sarge
then over the Bears killer D
41 leaves San Diego with glee

On the Stanley Cup:

Sabres! Ducks! the hoardes proclaim!
Miller loses crucial game
Pronger hurt no Ducks in sight
Wings over Devils on the fifth night

On the Middle East:

Hamas and Fatah fight for clout
Hamas wins; Abbas is out
Israelis go their own way
blood runs red many a day

On the 08 Primary Races:

Clinton, Obama in; Gore says no
Giuliani a strange no-show
McCain campaign stalls in first gear
both nominations quite unclear

Yeah, I don't have the balls to call the federal election yet. I think it will be one of the closest in Canadian history. I will make a prediction when the event actually occurs. The Dog says beware sheep dogs in wolf hound's clothing. Whatever that means. I'll try to keep this updated as events unfold as to how well I do.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Khan's Early Retirement

That's what this is. He's done. He will be back selling cars before the year is out. Mississauga gets a real Liberal. This is really good news. It doesn't seem that way, but it is. Now, if only we could get the rest of the Volpe camp to walk the plank. I know, I know. Bite my tongue. We're all one big happy Liberal family. But please Joe, Jimmy K. think about it.

Still working on my predictions (King's dog is hard to understand, I don't know how old Willy managed). They might have to wait until after I finish my paper which will put me back in Sweden. So, it might be a while. Hopefully by next weekend. Back to regular blogging when I'm back to school in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 Awards Section

I know. I'm late on this. I figure until the house meets its suitable to do a best of 2006 section. This gives me lots of time. That said, on with the show:

Person of the Year: Calm down Soledad O'Brien, its not You. Unlike Time Magazine I will not duck the issue. The All Politics is Local Person of the Year is: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This is kind of like naming Hitler person of the year. I do it not because he did anything positive but because of how profoundly negative his impact has been over the last year. Ignoring the successful publicity stunt that was the Holocaust Conference, Ahmadinejad has had a remarkable year. The two largest war stories of the year can both be traced back to his country. The Shiite insurgency in Iraq owes much of its funding to Iran. Hezbollah is also well funded by Tehran. In both cases the funding has paid off for Iran. The Israelis left Lebanon with no real positive results and the Americans continue to die pointlessly in Iraq. The "Western dogs" were shown to be weak and unable to get results. Ahmadinejad must be thrilled. In a year of great failure, Ahmadinejad has been almost solely successful, for that, he is my Person of the Year.

Political Play of the Year: This is tough. I could give this to Stephane Dion for his surprise win of the Liberal Leadership. I could give this award to Stephen Harper. He did get the first Conservative electoral victory in 18 years. However, Harper's success was more due to what the Liberals did. He just stood there looking outraged and promising soft nationalists the moon. As for Dion, a senior cabinet minister winning leadership is just not as impressive as what my winner did. No, I'm going outside the country for this one. My Play of the Year goes to Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean. Dean's fifty state strategy was mocked openly by pundits, but lo an behold it worked. Democrats seized control of both houses by running hard in all fifty states. Democrats won senate seats in Virginia, Montana and Missouri. Perhaps most astonishingly they almost won house seats in the reddest of red states: Idaho and Wyoming. The Republicans were forced to spend money defending what they thought at the outset were safe seats. Dean proved that he is pretty darn good at connecting to voters. Too bad about the scream, he'd make a great President.

Political Turkey of the Year: Apologies to CNN for the term. I come back home for this one. The establishment of the Liberal Party of Canada gets the Turkey of the Year award. They started 2006 doing damage control over beer and popcorn. They then failed to get any part of the Liberal platform (which wasn't bad if you read it) across to the voting public and lost the election to Stephen Harper. Defeated at the polls the party's old guard looked to find a new leader. Apparently no Canadian Liberal suited their taste so they looked outside the Liberal box and found Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae. The two played old Liberal games. Rae decided the campaign wasn't about ideas and therefore never espoused any. Ignatieff did his best Paul Martin impression: dithering away support all the way to the convention. The back room boys then lost the convention. Martin, Ignatieff, Rae. Three strikes and you're out! I didn't even mention Joe Volpe.

Surprise Person of the Year: This one is easy: Stephane Dion. Who would have thought that the former public enemy of Quebec would become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Not only that, but he did it on small donations, good ideas and grassroots support. That used to be a prescription for an honourable last place finish (see Martha Hall-Findlay). Instead Dion took the convention and the leadership. A shocker if there ever was one.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year: I don't know how disappointed I should be with her but the award goes to Rona Ambrose. Shooting fish in the barrel, I know. The soon to be ex-Minister of the Environment (if you believe the press) has failed miserably in her job. Apparently knowing something about the portfolio should be a prerequisite for doing the job. What a shock! Her Clean Air initiative was a flop of New Coke proportions. Unfortunately for Stephen Harper he doesn't have Clean Air classic to mollify the angry voters. Of all the Conservative cabinet ministers she seemed the most human. She proved nothing but incompetent.

Most Overreported Story: The two-way race for the Liberal Leadership. Ignatieff and Rae? Give me a break. The media's obsession with this college reunion was sickening. Thank God Liberal delegates shut them up.

Most Underreported Story: I could go with the entire Gerard Kennedy campaign but it would sound like sour grapes. Instead I'm going with Martin's 50/50 plan for post-secondary education. This is probably the best policy initiative the Liberals have had in years. I think it is more important to the success of the country than even public daycare or Kyoto. It would have given opportunity to thousands of students to have access to post-secondary education and therefore more job options. The media ignored it and instead went crazy over the bread and circuses offered up by the Conservatives. If Jeffery Simpson wants to know how to solve the productivity problem he should look no further. M. Dion, please, put this in your first budget.

I'm trying to get in touch with the spirits of Prime Minister King's mother and dog. When I do, I'll post my predictions for 2007.
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