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Michael Ignatieff


…is what I call these words:

Conservatives are reacting with fury to a Liberal attack ad that accuses them of harbouring a secret agenda to cut health care funding if they obtain a majority government.

“The Liberal ad uses some of the dirtiest tricks in the book — including twisting words out of context and deliberately altering dates to make old words appear recent,” Tory campaign manager Jenni Byrne wrote to party supporters in reaction to the new attack ad.

I hate attack ads no matter who the source and who the target, but I had a bit of a belly laugh when I read the bolded text above. The Cons perfected the art. And isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery?

Remember this ad that was pulled from the Con website after they were spanked by everyone for so blatantly taking words out of context?

Cons – if you’re gonna give crap like that, ya gotta be prepared to take it too.


Iggy needs to step up

I wonder why it is taking Iggy so long to pass comment on the latest Cons misstep….

This whole cross country tour thing should really adopt some kind of “purpose”, don’t you think? I mean, I think it is a good decision to spend the summer this way- he hasn’t a choice, really. But should he be using the same tact that has been so successful for the ReformCons… That is, have an announcement, a pronouncement or a huff of righteous indignation each and every day.

Instead, he says this:

“If you pull up in a Tim Hortons in Napanee, there better be somebody there. It’s simple. You can’t win without troops,” Ignatieff said in an interview with the Star as he was ending his first week on the road. “So all of this is what’s changing. Not has to change — it is changing. And it’s my job to catalyze it, inspire it, you know, push it.”

Huh? Read the news, Iggy, say something about it and carry on. You need to make a jolt on the electoral landscape and speaking in tongues ain’t gonna cut it! My disdain for the Cons runs deep BUT the “sound bite a day” strategy works for them!

And please, the Tim Horton’s crowd isn’t your base in the first place! Do as I suggested a while back and shore up the support you can count on and concede what is lost…. else you might run into a 1993 PC scenario… just sayin’.

One other question: where’s Jack Layton these days? Or Elizabeth May? Have they taken the summer off?

Oh, and did everyone see this yesterday? Good data, eh?

Now guess who doesn't like to see numbers like these?


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,




Summer hijinks – political and non-political

Ah, summer. Hot temps. Thunderstorms. Days at the beach. No need for coats, boots or tuques.


Summer brings with it a feeling of satisfaction with oneself, one’s community and one’s country. All’s good, man.

I love the heat.. I didn’t when I was a kid… we had a small hobby farm whose composition varied between horses, pigs, chickens, ducks and geese. I hated the geese. They used to grab my bell bottom jeans and beat me with their wings.

Evil critters, geese.

But worst of all was in the summertime and the hay and straw used for food and bedding. I am deadly allergic to pollen and animals (the allergist has told me my biggest bugaboo is the meek little rabbit). Of course, my parents didn’t believe me when I complained of being unable to breathe, stinging eyes and a constantly running nose. They thought I was trying to get outta work. And said work which often consisted of being in a hay loft full of reaction-inducing chaff and hauling bale after bale down to the equally reaction-inducing animals.

This is a big reason why I’m not crazy about animals to this very day. We have a cat. Clarence. But we will NEVER have a dog, rabbit, or any other beast other than some goldfish and maybe a gecko or tarantula.

As a child, winter was a welcome respite from my allergies.

But, as I said in the first paragraph, summer also brings feelings of contentment with one’s lot in life. Canadians are pretty happy at this time of the year. Fresh off Canada Day, we are starting vacations (13 more work days till mine!), BBQing, swimming in pools and at beaches, and not really paying any attention to what is going on around us politically.

Which is why I think Harpy is preparing to call an election.

Yup. Think about it. late August and early September would be ideal for him to go to the polls. The Grits are going nowhere fast with their so-called Leader languishing behind Harpo, Jacko and Groucho in the leadership polls. But the Libs are gaining some of their support back in Ontario and elsewhere, which would not bode well for a ReformCon chance at a majority.

And Ontario and BC voters are pissed off about the HST thing (though I personally think it’s a good idea) and the difference between provincial and federal political parties is not really clear to the average voter. Thus, they may take out some of their anger by voting for the ReformCons. So Stevo must be thinking that the iron is ripe for strikin’! Majority – here we come!!!!

But who needs a majority? The Cons are pretty much getting everything they want anyhow… what with their coalition partner’s support! So why not roll the dice and take a chance at the big time? The Maclean’s writer, Paul Wells (with whom I seldom agree) puts it this way:

If an election goes really well for him, he’ll be Prime Minister when it’s over. But he’s Prime Minister already. And he’s really the Prime Minister. Another evergreen Ottawa myth asserts that Harper is somehow unfulfilled without a parliamentary majority. But he has had a majority for four years, thanks to a succession of not-ready-for-prime-time Liberals. Every budget he has ever whipped up has passed with Liberal votes.

And in concert with the Liberals, Stephen Harper is changing this country. He was able to gut environmental oversight of energy projects in the middle of a historic energy-sector environmental disaster. He is stuffing the nation’s prisons like Christmas geese. He spent $1 billion turning the country’s biggest city into a demonstration of the necessity (if not, ahem, the effectiveness) of tough policing against thugs, rabble, bicyclists and other miscreants. Inside the riot zone, with the world watching, he stared down Barack Obama in a debate over continued fiscal stimulus vs. relative budgetary restraint. He gets to name Supreme Court justices. He gets to name a new governor general. He’s in charge of nominations to every board and agency.

So he gets to have his cake – and with Iggy’s cooperation – eat it too! So go for the gusto and call a fall election!  Worst case scenario is that he is back as PM and still being supported by their “unofficial” coalition partner.

What a cute couple*

Meanwhile – only 13 more work days till my vacation… ahhhh… hope the heat wave sticks around.

Just keep the critters away from me, K?

*thanks to Harper Valley for the pic.


Some more thoughts on The Ring…

The Onion Ring besting the PM is still getting attention.

95,544 fans as of the writing of this post.

Hee-hee. I love it.

Of course, someone has started a counter group: Can this Doorknob get more fans than Michael Ignatieff. I might join the one other fan. Just to show I’m truly non-partisan.

In other news: Colts over Saints – 45-42 (OT)


Nik on the Numbers and Harper’s best options

As someone in the information collection industry, I tend to look to look at polling numbers with a bit of a critical eye. Sample sizes and distributions, question wording and order and the presence of absence of any group (e.g., political) affiliation always plays on my mind when I see the “latest numbers”.

That being said, I have the utmost respect and admiration for how Nik Nanos goes about his business. He is informed, employs scientific, robust methodologies and has no apparent vested interest in the results that he produces.

This is why I don’t really give any great cred to most of the other polling firms. Most but not all (Environics and Decima are also respectable) have an agenda biasing their research that is more often than not funded by a political master or someone beholding to a political master. Not so with Nik.

I have the latest Nik on the Numbers emailed to me as soon as they are available and are often the highlight on my data-filled day.

Yes, I am that lame.

From collection ending Nov. 10:

Looking at which of the party leaders Canadians believe would make the best Prime Minister, Stephen Harper now leads by a significant, 17 point, margin over over Michael Ignatieff. This represents the widest gap since Ignatieff was elected leader of the Liberal Party.

Factoring the advantage in the ballot box and on the best PM front, the Conservatives currently have the upper hand. The dilemma they face is that their numbers are strong but it is difficult to take advantage of it politically because of the Harper communications mantra that “this isn’t a good time for an election”.

Likewise, with a defeat in parliament at the hands of the opposition parties not imminent, it is hard for the Tories to plead the instability or unworkability of parliament.

Dead on.

Harper is in an enviable situation. The economy is on the upswing. His MPs haven’t done anything way too moronic lately. He is looking less like a robot and more like a cyborg.

And there is really no serious opposition. The recent by election results have confirmed this.

The Grits are in big trouble as Iggy has yet to define himself in any meaningful way. I’m sorry Warren et al, but he just hasn’t done it for Canadians yet. This lack of an identifiable Opposition leader has given the ReformCons ample opportunities to slip in their agenda relatively unopposed because they know that if the Opposition were to bring the Government down on a confidence motion at the moment, a Harper majority – and possibly a large one – would be the result.  Then the Harperites could go back to pleasing their base of the support (western social conservatives) by passing legislation that will have little appeal outside of the West or rural, backwoods ridings. But it won’t matter at that point since he will have been given a firm mandate for 4 years and damn the bleeding hearts to hell if the abortion, capital punishment, anti-drug issues are back front-and-centre and environmental initiatives and social programs are shelved.

I have warned the Grits before
that if they did not get down to the business of having Iggy grab an issue – any issue – and running with it, then the Cons would continue to frame the debate to their advantage. And they have.  This could have been mitigated if Iggy had:

  • Not been invisible last summer
  • Stood up as the champion of the Canadian health care system while it was being assailed south of the border. Even the Albertans would have applauded this!
  • Clearly enunciated a distinctive environmental policy that would move us toward lessening our GHGs
  • Fill in any other example you can think of

So what is Harpy to do? In my mind, he is correct from a strategic perspective to not force an election right now. Canucks are too preoccupied by the Piggy Flu, the onset of cold weather and how much the Leafs are sucking this season.

His chance will come in the spring when the economy has picked up a bit more steam, the flowers are blooming and Canadians from coast to coast emerge from their annual winter funk. Around the beginning of April, I reckon, Stevo will introduce poison pill legislation that none of the 3 Opposition parties can stomach.

And unless the Cons stumble badly over the winter, we’ll be looking a predominantly blue HoC by June.


As if seeing Harper’s numbers go up in the polls weren’t enough…

and watching Iggy quickly turn himself into a non-issue, THIS is what I saw as next week’s weather forecast for Ottawa:
Chance of flurries or rain showers

  • 8°C High
  • -1°C Low
Yeah, those are snowflakes.
Time to accelerate the search for sun and sand. And maybe going somewhere over festivus ain’t just a bad idea after all.
And while the Grits have allowed the ReformCons to dictate the agenda, I’m ever hopeful that the old saying “give ’em enough rope and they’ll hang themselves eventually” proves true… it’s just a matter of time.


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.


Hitchin’ the Grit wagon to the right tractor

In today’s G&M, Lawrence Martin is exploring a topic that is along the same lines as one that I discussed in a posting a little while ago. Ignatieff and the Grits have been presented with a perfect opportunity to latch on to an issue that can define them from the ReformCons –  the American portrayal of our health care system.

It would be a natural fit for Iggy to defend Obama’s proposed program and universal health care in general. Both men are liberal,  well-spoken members of the educated class.  One would think that Obama’s team would welcome such an ally.

As Mr. Martin says:

These are rocky times on the bilateral front. Trade volumes are declining, border fences have gone up. Financial tumult has walloped America and its paramountcy is challenged, at least to some degree, by Asia’s rise. This country can’t ride its coattails as it used to.

These are big challenges for big thinkers. We expected Mr. Ignatieff to respond by unhesitatingly seeking a close alliance with a liberal President whose popularity in Canada is enormous. Mr. Obama is a busy man but surely, given his contacts, Mr. Ignatieff could have received entry to the Oval Office by now, as opposition leaders before him have done.

It is not too late to hitch his wagon to this train; but Iggy and the Libs should not wait very long into the fall sitting.


The American attacks on Canadian health care – what an opportunity for Iggy – but will he run with it?

Canada’s health care system has been under a barrage of attacks both in the blogosphere and in the MSM lately – not to mention the mass idiocy that is taking place at those so-called “Town Hall Meetings”. What a crock. Here’s an excerpt:

In one particularly heated exchange, Craig Anthony Miller, 59, stood inches from Mr Specter’s face screaming at him and waving a copy of the US Constitution.

“You are trampling our Constitution,” Mr Miller yelled while police officers hovered nervously around him. “One day, God is going to stand before you, and He is going to judge you and the rest of your damn cronies [in the Congress], and then you will get your just deserts,” he ranted to loud applause before storming out of the room.

Seriously. How do these morons summon up the brain capacity to breathe and talk at the same time?

These attacks have been well-coordinated and organized by the usual right-wing nut groups whose alleged motivation is the preservation of good health care and free enterprise but whose real impetus is the protection of their own collective ass.

I haven’t said much about this whole health care thing – and I have been saving a sort of “omnibus” entry about our system for a later date. Yet, what I do see at the moment is a perfect chance for Iggy and Grits to define themselves as the defenders of the faith – if you will.

What a great issue to latch on to and gain exposure from!

What a high profile and attack-ad proof way to define the leader’s persona and purpose than to vigorously defend an institution that most Canadians identify as being a hallmark of our society!

Yes, most of us realize that it has its blemishes and warts and I don’t differ from this view. It is indeed a system that is in need of a new focus and new thinking. But that being said, it is a fair and modern system of which we should be conditionally proud. And from coast to coast, I would guess that this would be the consensus opinion.

But will Ignatieff step up to the plate? The Harperites are, of course, silent on this. They know that by defending a system that their core supporters (the religious right and the ultra right wingnuts) view with suspicion, they are opening themselves up to internal dissent. And we all know that the ReformCons go tut-tut at any type of dissent.

How about it Grits? Here is a tailor-made, made-in-Canada, attack-ad-proof issue for you to grab and run with? Are you going to take it?