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The Harperites stumble along…

As the summer trudges along, the Iggy bus is making it’s stops in Ontario with reports of several dozens of well-wishers along the way.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff delivered a feisty election-style speech during a mainstreeting stop in Stratford Sunday.

He took aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over plans to change affirmative action programs in the public service sector and ridiculed the Conservative plan to do away with the long-form.

“I never thought in my political life in this country I’d have to defend knowledge, I’d have to defend information against a government that seems to want less of it, that prefers ignorance to knowledge,” Ignatieff said.

Righteously indignant sounds he. But the line “defend information against a government that seems to want less of it, that prefers ignorance to knowledge” does resonate with me. Unfortunately for M.I., I doubt if the Timmies crowd really gives a rat’s ass about knowledge. They prefer the Robot, who, in the words of someone I overheard on the bus last week “is at least doing something…”

Grrr… I hate that.

Meanwhile, back at the factory, the Chief Robot is nowhere to be seen – leaving his minions to to the dirty work for him. A bit cowardly, of course, but what does one expect from this guy anyway?

Any bets on how many times Clement says the words “jail-time”? I say 11. Any takers on the over/under?

The hearing today might be interesting as we may, just may get some of the truth out in the open. Especially the part about the experts not wanting anything to do with the ideologically-driven decision to shorten the form…

And here’s hoping the Grits pounce on this. But I’m not holding my breath.


Friday miscellany

Montreal Simon has a good take on why the ReformCons are taking a quick veer to the libertarian right… abandoning, at least momentarily, their courting of the centre soccer moms in order to win that elusive majority.

In short, to pander to the centre as well as the Christian right, the Harperites have had to put aside some if the principles espoused by their Libertarian supporters. And not just put aside, but downright demean them, most blatantly in a speech given by Harper in March of 200:

… Over the next twenty minutes or so, we would be treated to one of the most bewildering speeches I’ve ever heard Stephen Harper give.  After launching into a sweeping defence of conservatism he would direct his attention towards classical liberals and libertarians who he acknowledged, some of whom were in the very room he was speaking.

The speech also contained a definition of what conservatism is.  In his words it is made up of the “three Fs: freedom, family and faith”–a definition which might leave some libertarians feeling even more uncomfortable with it’s social conservative undertones.

Harper took the gloves us last night.  He made it clear who’s in his tent.  The message was clear: libertarians need to get on board or get out of the way.

Now, with the decision on the length of the form thingy, and on the questioning of affirmative action in the hiring of public servants, he is paying the piper in an effort to get the Libertarians back under the tent.

Of course, they chose to blow these horns in the summer with the expectation that Canadians wouldn’t hear them over the din of loons and motor boats.


In other news…

I dunno if Iggy’s super cross Canada tour will truly have any impact on his popular support (he has yet to take my advice on what to do next), but Justin Trudeau is sure doing his darnedest to get in on every photo-op possible!

A BCer in Toronto has more!

Been a crazy last week before my Holidays… and I am left with one question:

  • Why are they called “pairs” of pants or “pairs” of underwear?

There are two legs or leg holes, but that is all of the “pairishness” I can find. Anyone?

What is $700 million? The size of the OCDSB budget.

What weighs over 5 pounds? The information package just sent to me by Board Services… and I’m thankful, but they coulda sent me a CD instead to save paper and postage.

Conrad Black is out on bail! And he might come back to Canada! Woo-hoo!

I am not being completely tongue-in-cheek here.  Despite the fact that I really have never felt warm and fuzzy for the guy, I think he was railroaded somewhat by the American “justice” system… and he, like anyone else, is entitled to due process. And this due process says that he can go free on bail… so no bitchin’ about it…

Obscurantism. (French: obscurantisme, from the Latin obscurans, “darkening”) is the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or the full details of some matter from becoming known. I just love this word.

Glenn Beck – why not his voice?

Sarah Palin– why??

Helena Guergis – The PM should say sorry and buy her some nice flowers… um, sure….

Tony Clement– here’s hoping that folks in my old stomping ground have the sense to turf this moron at the earliest opportunity. But I’m not holding my breath.


    Iggy can’t catch a break

    As the Grit leader heads off on his summer tour, one main question comes to the mind of this middle aged bald fellow:

    Will this be a tour of triumph, like the U2 tours of the 1990’s… complete with spectacular polytechnics, revolving stages and great solos?

    Or will be more like a farewell tour? Like one of those aging bands that played at Bluesfest recently, is this one final grasp and grasp at the brass ring?

    Well, unfortunately for MI, his Great Canadian Adventure started out looking more like the Moody Blues than Bono and The Edge.

    Aren’t buses destined for a long summertime journey not checked for mechanical soundness beforehand?

    At least they have a red tow truck..

    The Cons, of course, were all over this:

    “This can’t be a great start to the tour… Hopefully the local mechanic services imports,” Conservative talking points said.

    So, what can he do to rescue his own and his party’s fortunes? Is there anything. Really?

    My thoughts are that this question must be broken down into two separate questions.

    First, can he save his own personal fortunes as the leader of Canada’s Natural Governing Party?

    I doubt it. He has been branded too deeply by the Harperites as an arrogant, distant intellectual… sorta the same as Harpy except for the “intellectual” part. But the Timmies crowd has bought into this hook, line and sinker and I really don’t know what Iggy can do to reverse this. Mitigate it, maybe… but not reverse it completely. The Con machine came together on this one.

    The second question is : But he can shore up his party’s fortunes by cementing the core supporters into place for the next election?

    Maybe. If he listens to advice like the following.

    Mr Ignatieff:

    Don’t go to rural areas where Con support and coffee shops abound! Forget about the Prairies! Stick to places where there has historically and recently been strong support for your party! Stick to the cities and ‘burbs, not farms and small towns. The countryside has been lost – for now-  so leave it up to the next leader to mend those fences and broaden the base.

    Go to Toronto. To Ottawa. Vancouver. Montreal. And other urban centres where, if your core support comes out to vote for you, Canada’s hopes to avoid a Con majority may be realised.

    Cuz we all know what THAT would mean!

    • Mandatory religion “education” in schools.
    • Mandatory jail time for possession of any amount of pot.
    • Obliteration of environmental regs.
    • State-imposed censorship through selective information dissemination.
    • Easing of gun laws.
    • Laws restricting abortion.
    • Reintroduction of the death penalty.
    • More gutting of government services…

    Wait a minute, am I talking about what would happen if Harper got a majority or the tea-partiers nut bars in the States?

    Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

    Yeah, I know that is a lot to speculate about – but give Harper a term or two with a Majority and we’ll see if I’m just being alarmist!

    Sincerely, from a non-Grit and non-partisan,




    The trend toward pro-Harpo comments is worrying this little lefty…

    Lately, I have noticed a troubling trend in the comments on stories that cover political issues on the CBC website.

    Take today’s article, for instance on how the ReformCons have built a nearly 10 point lead over the Grits according to the latest (and evil – according to the Cons) EKOS poll.

    Rightly or wrongly, there has always been a perception that CBC readers were a little or a lot to the left on the political spectrum. Indeed, this is exactly what the DeceptiCons propaganda machine has been churning out in the wake of that whole Frank Graves (non) controversy.

    So, I have gotten used to seeing commentators leaning to the left – condemning Harpy for this or that… and these types of anti-government comments have been given the “thumbs-up” by those who bother to register their agreement or dislike of that particular comment…but this is changing.

    More and more I have been noticing that the pro-Con thumbs up are outnumbering the thumbs-down.

    Take this for instance:

    The widening gap between Conservative and Liberal support shown in this graph is a direct result of Canadians realizing one party actually has a direction and a plan, and the other is a complete mess.

    So whether you agree with the Conservatives or not, I’d rather vote for a right wing Conservative, or a left wing NDP / Green party that actually has a purpose of one sort or another, than a flip-flopping middleman joke party that borrows ideas from the left and right and calls them their own.

    Sitting on the fence and being useless – the Liberal Party of Canada

    Or this:
    I see many disgruntled Liberals on this board who rather than face the fact that they made a mistake will try everything in their power to discredit others who have a realistic vision for Canada.

    The party in power has done a very good job in pulling the country out of the recent slump much to the displeasure of the Liberals who would sooner see the country sink under their leadership than to support a government that has done very well on the world wide economic level.

    193 agree and 121 disagree.
    The same is happening over at the G&M, for instance, take this anti-robot comment:
    Time for Canadians to awaken to the Theo-Con INCOMPETENTS at our door…TIME TO SINK OR SWIM!!…the sooner we can go to the polls to rid ourselves of our present SAY ANYTHING DO NOTHING CON GOVERNMENT the better…ELECTION NOW!!…Canada and Canadians can no longer afford their INCOMPETENCE on every file,every issue…their(CON)attack on rights and agencies built up over the 50 years…


    This is at 358 against and 223 for…
    The Grits better start looking at what is going wrong here. The Harperites have been flopping around from mini-scandal to mini-scandal. Abortion rights are back in the news. There are questions about the Cons’ connections to right-wingnut evangelicals.. and STILL Iggy cannot make any hay?
    Scary news for we on the left… Why won’t the Libs and Dippers face reality and see that we are in for many, many years of right-wing, dogmatic rule if they don’t put their differences aside and unite under one banner???!!!


    Maybe the Dippers aren’t ready?

    Interesting to see all of the bluster that, just a little while back, was being puffed out of NDP mouths everywhere has now faded to mere indifference. The rhetoric has gone from “we’re gonna drive the CPC back into the caves from which they emerged!”



    Jack, a few months ago (June 22): (1)

    ‘Anybody who’s holding their breath and thinking that’s going to change should think twice,’ NDP Leader says

    NDP Leader Jack Layton says his party will not prop up the Conservative government if the Liberals move a motion of no-confidence in the fall.

    “Our party has opposed the direction of Stephen Harper 79 times in confidence motions so anybody who’s holding their breath and thinking that’s going to change should think twice,” Mr. Layton told a press conference on Monday morning.

    And now (September):

    “I think that everybody involved would want to see us co-operate in the House of Commons and get some results for people — especially those that are struggling right now: the unemployed and people being left behind,” Mr. Layton said as he inched away from reporters at an archway opening in Toronto.

    “So that’s going to remain our preoccupation.”

    Personally, I don’t mind if Jack props up Stevie for a while since I am not convinced that this is the best time to defeat the ReformCons (plus it will give many a good belly-laugh). Yes, Iggy had not choice but to throw down the proverbial gauntlet, but realistically the best the Grits can hope for, IMO, is a slim Grit minority. They still need more time to re-build the Grit brans and more specifically, the leader’s brand.

    But hey, I don’t get paid for these opinions, so I can say what I like, eh?

    So why has the NDP cooled their jets? Likely resources – or a lack thereof. The Dippers would dearly like a few more months to build up their war chest and get their issues into the faces of Canadians. The Grits and the Harperites have grabbed the “helping out the downtrodden and unemployed” banner in recent weeks and Layton and his team will have to work hard to get it back.

    And that will take some time.

    1. Original article was in the G&M but is now archived and only accessible on a fee-for-service basis.


    Grits and ReformCons – no statistical difference between the two

    The latest Harris-Decima poll conducted for The Canadian Press shows that neither party is within reach of a majority and both would be risking a defeat at the polls if one of them forces an election this fall.

    Thirty-two per cent support for the Liberals and 31 per cent for the Harperites ain’t gonna buy you a whole lot of love at the ballot box..

    This is in stark contrast to a we threw darts a the dartboard Ipsos-Reid poll that indicated – contrary to any other poll done over the summer – that the Harperites had built up a huge lead.

    Predictably, the Cons are are jumping up and down like a nudist standing on an ant hill about how a forced vote would create political instability, cause dogs and cats to mate and bring about a plague of locusts. This is all in response to Iggy suggesting having a fall election wouldn’t be harmful at all to the economy. I can understand his position because those ReformCons are damned tough to work with and he is not sure how much longer he can hold his nose.

    “There’s not one single person in the world who’d agree with him on that. You can’t just say things that are so outrageously false,” Transport Minister John “So what if my face looks like a pitbull” Baird said.

    Mr. Baird said an election would mean government would “grind to a halt,” and all those really important decisions (like what colour jumpsuit to wear on a helicopter) just wouldn’t get made.

    Hmmmm… the Harperites weren’t too concerned about shutting down the House last Fall  in order to avoid a non-confidence vote… just as the economic shitstorm was picking up steam… funny, that.


    Happy Harperites are Hummin’

    Seems like the combination of anti-Iggy ads and the Grits thumping on the election war drum has given the ReformCons a bit of an edge in the polls. While this does fall a bit within the “who cares” territory – after all, no election till at least the fall – it does point out that the Liberals do have some work ahead of them before the next drop of the writ.

    Specifically, they need to better define the Iggy brand. It is not enough for the leader of the party to make election threats and fire cannonballs across the bow of the blue ship, Canadians need to better understand who he is all “about”.

    Hitting the summer BBQ circuit will help rebuild the grassroots support that will be absolutely crucial to future electoral success, but it will do little to better define the brand.

    My humble suggestion is that Grit staffers spend their summer canvassing all ridings – but especially those that are “winnable” – to clearly understand what is on the minds of Canadians and the role they see for the Liberal Party. From this, put together a brand spankin’ new set of policy statements that are clearly different from the CPC as well as the Dippers and the Bloqistes.

    In fact, if they are smart, they would have started this months ago and are right now putting together said statements.

    The party needs to distinguish itself from the trash that surrounds it. Both the party as the brand and the leader as the brand must stand out as the only viable alternative.

    All that being said, I believe that the Harperites’ rise in the polls is temporary and largely reflects the desire of the nation to avoid an election at this time.


    Retail and Political Haggling – why not?

    On the political stage

    Just noticed that Iggy has laid down some conditions that the Harperites will have to meet in order to avoid a no-confidence motion and a summer election.

    According to Ignatieff, the government must meet the following four conditions:

    • Provide more details about improving the employment insurance system before the House of Commons votes on budget estimates at the end of the week. The government has said it will introduce unspecified new EI proposals in the fall.
    • Give more information about the rate of stimulus spending than included in last Thursday’s progress report.
    • Show more details on the government’s plan to contain the ballooning deficit, instead of offering what Ignatieff called “rosy projections.”
    • Provide clearer answers on the government’s action plan to deal with Canada’s medical isotopes shortage.

    Ignatieff said the government’s answers and performance so far on these issues “just aren’t good enough.”

    This is a type of “haggling”. The Grits are playing from a strong position in that the economy has nose-dived, the have a new and semi-intelligent leader, the polls are pretty good and, of course, Steve is still a robot. And no one likes robots.


    What Iggy is saying is the following:

    I will support you and we can all have a nice, election-free summer if you at least give the appearance of cutting me a deal by meeting me halfway and following through on my demands. Or at least some of them.

    Due to it’s unpredictability, it’s a dangerous game when you engage in political haggling. The seller (in this case Harper) can back away and say “Forget it – I’m calling your bluff.” In which case, the one in the role of the buyer (Iggy) must risk losing the “good” that he is bargaining for (the avoidance of an election) or backing down himself and risk losing credibility.

    As much as this Trashman would love to see Harper and his merry gang of ReformCons heaved out onto a pile of half-cured compost, he is very nervous about this game that the Grits are playing. It may just backfire and we’ll end up at the polls this summer. Canadians may take out their frustration on the new kid on the block instead of the robot. harper

    Yikes. Careful Michael, careful…

    At the store

    The teen-monster is doing some training to ready herself for her 3 week stint as a kid’s camp counsellor and last week was my turn to deliver her to said training centre. For whatever reason – and I didn’t want the details… scaaaaarrrrrrrrrrryyyy – the kid was obviously having a bad day / week and it culminated that day in a ruined shoe. Somehow (again, no details please) she caught a lace in a fence and this tore the footwear asunder.

    I actually heard about this earlier in the day when she texted me “Daddy – I need new shoes!”

    Feeling particularly magnanimous that day, I suggested that on our way home from the training (which was totally “lame”)we stop at the Billings Bridge plaza to see if we couldn’t outfit her in a new pair… was gonna be a rush since closing time was about 15 minutes away. Hurriedly, she tried on a few sizes before settling on a pair and size that she really liked.

    “How much?” I asked the sales-dude.


    “Yikes!”, said I, “how about a discount?”

    “Sure, I’ll give you 15% off.”

    Huh. It was that easy? I just had to ask? I may be middle-aged, but in no way resemble a senior.

    And any commenters claiming the contrary will be immediately flamed and ridiculed.

    Our western culture is anti-haggle, with some exceptions. Haggling over the price of a car or a house or negotiating a price at a garage sale is perfectly OK, but we aren’t like those in many Asian or Middle-Eastern nations where the “back and forth” is the norm.

    I’m thinking that I’ll do this more often!