Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Darth Nader?

His campaign is destined for a third place finish with little or no support, but somehow his entry to the Presidential campaign is enough to attract some serious interest. He has absolutely no chance of becoming the next President of the United States. He’s running as a candidate not beholden to corporate America, which in these much documented times of corporate malfeasance should account for something. In a country that is celebrating Michael Moore as documentary making genius, you would think they would be holding this candidate as a beacon of all that is good. Yet here is Ralph Nader, portrait of Evil.

In a July 1st, article for Salon on line magazine, Lisa Chamberlain takes aim at the dark side of America’s champion of the little guy. Chamberlain interviews former friends and employees who characterize the Green Party’s nominee as paranoid, arrogant and mean spirited. He’s portrayed as a man who commands no loyalty amongst his past associates and treats many of them in an underhanded fashion, launching vitriolic attacks at the drop of a hat. Including a sabotaging of a former close friend’s chance at a federal job, by trashing the candidate to the FBI, all that is missing is a secret meeting with Joe McCarthy in the 1950's!

For many of his legion of followers this will read as the stuff of fiction, a hatchet job of the worst possible kind at the worst possible time. The article makes for a comprehensive besmirching the reputation of Consumer activism’s patron saint of good.

So why has this collection of Nader misdeeds been compiled and published? Vote’s baby, it’s all about votes. With each poll result showing that Nader is taking votes away from the main candidates the Democrats get a little bit more nervous. While much has been made of hanging chads and Florida chicanery in the last Presidential vote, it should not be lost in the shuffle that Nader’s candidacy took a fair amount of votes away from Al Gore in 2000. If we take as a given that a Bush voter wouldn’t be caught dead wandering into Nader territory, it’s a safe assumption to believe that those Democrats not inclined in the ways of Albert, parked their votes with the Nader camp. His vote totals according to some pundits sent New Hampshire and Florida into the Bush camp, the rest as they say is history.

Chamberlain continues on in the piece to show how former “Nader raiders” have taken to actively trying to keep his old followers from taking up the torch one more time. Fearful that Nader will once again hand the White House over to George W. Bush, they are in full attack. Old friends, former activists and long time supporters alike, many are turning their backs on the American icon. If as the article states he carries a grudge, keeps an enemies list and freezes people out for the smallest slight, then Nader is going to be a basket case after this article.

The man who fought General Motors and took on some of the largest corporate organizations in America had better have a tough skin. With the election campaign about to heat up, the marginalization of Nader is going to be pursued with full speed. This will be purely a Democratic Party operation; they have the most to loose with Nader getting press, attracting votes. If Bush weren't so busy with other matters, one could see him helping to keep the Nader bid alive and kicking.

Ms. Chamberlain’s article may be the opening salvo in this summer's battle for the White House. The coalition of those against the President will be using her thesis as the main platform in their bid to make George a one termer. In an election where every vote is going to count, many Democrats would like it if Nader’s votes weren’t available for counting at all!

Martin steps back from the abyss

Paul Martin staved off a crushing rebuke on Monday night, thanks to the kindness of the Atlantic Provinces and some sober second thinking from the Ontario block of voters.

The Martin forces picked up three seats in the Atlantic Provinces, did not get slaughtered in Quebec as badly as expected and managed to hold Ontario’s anger in check.
They lost some seats in Ontario as was expected, but certainly not to the extent that many pundits had called for. It was Toronto that proved to be the saving grace for the embattled Prime Minister, the Libs did not just dominate the Metro voting block, they over ran it. Only sporadic incursions by NDPers (hello Jackie boy), stemmed the tide of Red in Canada’s largest city. The NDP did however play giant killer in Hamilton where former Liberal cabinet minister Stan Keyes felt the wrath of the voter, his compatriot Tony Valeri holding off the NDP and their legions of Sheila’s by only two percent. Oh how sweet that bit of vengeance might have been for Ms. Copps, holding down the fort at CTV, but it was not to be.

But by far the big story of the night was a singular lack of tangible success for the Conservatives in Ontario that told the tale of this minority election. Stephen Harper must have been disappointed to see the vote totals start to roll in Ontario, a statement of concern over the worrisome aspects of the Conservative agenda. Torontonians obviously thought twice and voted once, just like the Liberal ads suggested.

The Liberals held their own on the prairie ridings, losing ground in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the loser of the week is former Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray, who gave up his mayoralty to run as a Liberal only to lose the riding, as they say Glen, close but no cigar and now no job. Winner in Manitoba is obviously the guy that held the riding before and now sits as Lt. Governor of Manitoba, hoo ha, the ravages of fate eh.

The Liberals kept their wee flicker of hope alive in Alberta, holding the two seats in Alberta they started with. Once again however, it was a squeaker of a victory for Deputy Prime Minister Anne McClellan, who gained victory by less than 2%. David Kilgour was returned to Ottawa with less than 1% difference, those two lonely seats all that kept the Conservatives from sweeping Alberta, subject to recount of course.

That left British Columbia and the Liberals performed well there, the Conservatives lost 8 seats and a huge amount of the popular vote in the province. One part backlash against the agenda of Gordon Campbell (perceived as more of a conservative than a Liberal) and one part rebuke for the mutterings of the likes of Randy White (could you have been any dumber!), the BC vote much like Toronto’s became an urban/rural split.

Vancouver proper became the bastion of the NDP and the Liberals, with a few incursions into the hinterlands. The downside of the Liberal wins is the rewarding of the “star” candidates such as Ujjal Dosanjh and David Anderson, giving proof that sometimes the party machine has its way. Another head scratcher in BC is the beyond belief return of Hedy Fry to Ottawa, Hedy who sees rednecks everywhere somehow won again despite herself, one wonders why the fine people of Vancouver-Centre don’t deserve a better fate. Conservatives won many of the ridings they normally win, but lost a few they once counted as theirs. Like Scott Brison on the east coast, Dr. Keith Martin was rewarded for changing parties on Vancouver Island and Raymond Chan got his job back in Richmond. Skeena-Bulkley Valley was returned to the hands of the NDP, as the Liberal/ Conservative vote split upon itself, those Liberals afraid of the Conservatives giving Nathan Cullen their vote, taking the seat away from incumbent Andy Burton.

By far though, the best feel good story of an election that contained none to few was the re-election of Surrey North MP Chuck Cadman. Cadman who was unceremoniously tossed from his riding by an insta-tory managed riding meeting, turned the tables on all parties. Or more to the point the people of Surrey turned the tables on the party machine manipulators. Cadman overwhelmingly won the riding as an independent, his Conservative competitor who usurped him from the nomination, falling to fourth on the depth chart.

Good on you Surrey, perhaps yours is the only riding that gets this democratic deficit chestnut, lets hope the mainstream parties learn from your fine example, the riding grassroots is always right! Ignore their wishes at your peril. As for Mr. Cadman, enjoy your moment in the Sun, your about to receive the wooing of a lifetime, you may never buy another meal again.

For the rest of us, who apparently can't see things as cut and dried as the folks in Surrey North, may we receive a brief respite from the stomach churning decisions of the last 36 days. Perhaps our newly minted MP's can all just get along long enough for us to forget about them for awhile. Though one suspects we’ll be doing this all over again much sooner, rather than later.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The election campaign link by link

Well the signs are all down, the post mortems finished. The great Canadian election of 2004 is now part of the history books. Through the campaign we kept track of six items per day that caught our interest, keeping the pulse of the daily grind that our candidates followed. Here for the sake of posterity (and to clean up my blog a little)is the entire list from day one to the counting of the votes

36 Days to Decide
Battle for the Regions
Health care takes the stage
Layton asks four more years of this?
An intensely personal campaign
Election is Martin's to lose
Tempting fate with the M word
The BC battleground
Taking the pledge with Jack
Your money, how they plan to send it back
Taking health care to your home
Conservatives take a look at that record
Hee Hawing with Harper
Pensions for Patios: Jack Layton Reno man
Doomed to founder
Did anybody get their invites
You can have your health, and your wallet too!
When everyone old is new again
Harper offers Atlantic Provinces a royalty break
Preaching to the converted with Gilles Duceppe
Ignoring Joe and pulling it together
Layton lays blame on homeless deaths at Martin's feet
Debate dates set, leaders tangle June 14 and 15
Smilin' Jack's taxation dedication
A bounce from Bush
Open mouth, insert foot, resign position
Greens see Red
Sharing the Black Gold
Really, now this comes as a surprise
Murder from the Hill
The minority decision is a popular position
On the Seventh day, they did rest
Blakie wants a little clarity
Tobin tells tale of Liberal woe
An ever decreasing margin
Jack, Olivia and Dennis howl it out
Something for everyone with Smilin' Jack
Federal BC Liberals find hostile reaction
Harper for our Defense
The Operators in from the cold
Crosbie takes a pass
Liberal numbers crashing
Less paperwork, more law and order
Sending a message from Quebec
Smilin' Jack cuts down more Premiers
Bloc plans on milking the Conservative cow
Dropping in the polls, Martin vows to fight for every vote
Swarming Harper on the trail
The spotlight shines on the Harper campaign
Lashing Layton
Paulie Daycare
Tilting at windmills with Jack Layton
Stephen Harper's McGuinty moment
Unhappy Insiders
Hey Paul, give us back our platform
12,000 doors to knock on, but will they knock
We just don't believe them anymore
Storm clouds on the Harper horizon
Martin regains his footingRecapturing the lost 100 days
Beware the Monkey Mr. MartinA Perfect Political storm
Margin of error, may be margin of victory
Layton turns his attack on to Harper's turf
Martin Joins the chorus on offshore oil
The fallen are now mighty
One of these guys is just like the other
The 58 billion dollar plan
It's your fault, you're not paying attention
Dodging bullets and casting ballots
Damage control moves fast as Conservative MP stumbles
Liberal free fall continues
Animosity and Angst on the campaign trail
Will BC play the kingmaker?
Quebec Liberals paint Conservatives as destructive
No really! We know what we are doing
Conservative MP causes Harper more stress
Duceppe fingers Martin as responsible for child poverty
NDP turn their attention to the Conservatives
The voters just want to hurt someone
What if they came knocking
Sponsorship fights its way on to the agenda
Canada's hope for change
American woman just stay away-ay.Liberals in Quebec ready the attack on Harper
Confession is good for the soul, but would it help at the polls
And Martin thinks he's worried
Out of sight, out of trouble
Examining the stink bombs
Rockin' us out of our apathy
Harper says No-Go KyotoA loose cannon for Jack Layton
Are you sure she's on the same team?
Too Close to call
Trolling in traditional Liberal waters
Get a head start on the tidal wave!
Election blackout rules lifted for June 28th vote
Desperate Libs go ultra negative
Harperman to the Rescue!
Will a smaller and less generous country beckon on June 29th
Chantal Hebert explores the slippery slope of disaster
The cost of buying Gilles
Reading between the Harper lines
The voters face a profound choice
It's going to be a messIn Quebec you might need more than a ride to the polls
Using the flag as a weapon
The transient voter takes charge
The Little guy drops by
Moving in from the fringe
It's all in the cards
The Americans take a peek over the fence
Worthington takes Martin to the woodshed
Tax the Big Mac, a Green party staple
Uh, well the C is silent we guess
Musings on the Manitoba trail
Debating advice from Chick!
Trudeau's Canada at risk
Can't dent Duceppe
An impressive wolf in sheeps clothing
Heritage for sale?
The guy that may hold the deck
Who do you trust
Fighting to preserve
Listening to the debate, words over visuals
No votes swayed after two nights of gabbing
I've got you under my skin
Of aircraft carriers and space beams
Two for talking, Two for gawking
Martin recounts his history
What Jack wants
No regrets
Is Harper counting his chickens
Martin's Quebec star in trouble
Adrienne on call
June 28th, a baby step to sovereignty
Naming some names
Jack's Greener than the Greens
Anti-Western alienatiion redux?
Live from Strartford, the great health care tragedy
Harper a headbanger?
A Wild Rose country wipe out
Senators protect their own from Harper's ideals
Rhino wants his beer
Jack says hell no he won't go
Michael Mooores two cents
Into the gutter with the Conservatives
Count the Toronto Star as doubtful Conservatives
At the third turn its neck and neck
Voting bloc, is vote for sovereignty
No apology coming from Harper
Air Canada becomes an issue
Battling against Belinda
BC's Liberal dream team still happy to be there
Back to the 1918 benefit calendar
Jack loses some from the pack
Thanks Ralph
Flying into a headwind
To the polls they go, but their nubmers will be low
The campaign Paul Martin should have run
Jack says keep your stinkin' million
The Bill Davis template
A minority government must heed the Bloc's wishes
Jack spreads the gospel on Bay street
Wrath of the soccer moms
Anxious to vote?
Ralph to provide some clarity on health plans
Seven days of spin
Four more months for Paul
Sovereigntists will be stronger than ever
One more pitch from Harper
Rockin' the Vote
A Martin Victory is in the stars
Green behind the ears, looking forward to better years
Landry's Loose Lips
The Markets await a winner
Dryden's road game
A cheque in every mailbox
Dead Heat
Father Cod fishes for votes
We have seen the enemy, and he is us
Are politicians dangerous to our health?
Copps suporters flocking to NDP
A million stronger
The weaker we are, the stronger we become?
BC to tell the final tale
Paul Martin cashes in his airmiles
It may not be over on election day
Put cynicism aside
Winners and Losers: what the numbers tell
Layton says lay off the fear mongering
A nail biter to the end
Above the fray, but could be in play
The Lonely Quebec conservative
Success is not measured in Seats!!
The reprehensible right wing movement
The Minority factor
Now its up to YOU
Green was the colour, funding is the game
The state of the dream teams
A feel good story
About the pollsters
Find your riding
We must do better

Before the call, there were the signs

The election campaign of 2004 was a much anticipated affair and had many hints provided prior to the writ. We tracked as many as we could before the Prime Minister mad his memorable visit to the Governor General, sending us to the polls. Here to get a feel of why Paul Martin sent us to work when he did, is the list of links prior to the call.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys whatcha gonna do
Exact fare when boarding the bus please
Naming the Names
Green is the colour, winning is the game
All Paul, all the time
Harper, Martin toe to toe in the Commons
Waiting on Chuckie!
There's a riding in Washington?
The missing message in Quebec
Paulie's down with the youth
Booking the bodyguards
Stephen and Elsie go shopping for votes
No more Mr. Nice Guy
Smilin' Jack's words to live by
Fragile coat tails
The closing window of opportunity
He won't go til Quebec says OuiWhat's your hurry?
Harper rides a wave
Blind to the PM's vision
Smilin' Jack is nicely positioned
Martin dodges a date
Sharing the Gas Tax
Testing the waters of Quebec
Ornery Ontarions
A prescription for a successful election
Harper to be the Liberal pinata?
Campaign college photo day
Harper flattered at portrayal
Dinner and a chat and maybe an electon dance
Some say yes, some say no, everyone wonders when Paul will go!
Everything old is new again
Damn the polls, we smell a majority!
Stalling numbers put Liberals in minority danger
Set to go June 14?
Devil in a suit
PM the PM's ever decreasing poll numbers
Pit bull Joe bites again
A new day, a new poll, PM is on a roll
Decisions, Decisions, time for Paul to make a decision
Pierre's health plan, a key to election
Accounting for the Hockey factor
No lift in this campaign
Pass the ammunition
An electoral juggernaut
Liberal's could gain a majority
Strike while the iron is hot
Liberals to stress Martinmania
The Devil courst Quebec
Harper holds kind thought of Quebec breakthrough
Liberal support soft
Getting everyone to sing from the same hymnsheet
Smilin Jack's GST relief plans
Manley observes and snipes from the sidelines
Martin's handlers fumbling the Quebec agenda
Harper looks to ADQ to help out too!
Martin courts the sick and the lame
PM the PM hints that we can vote before we fix health care
Don't vote on an empty stomach
An election for those with a strong constitution
Feeding the media beast, Liberal attack ads are ready
RED(faced) Ed, finds that support is not an endorsement
Painting Mr. Harper's portrait
Do they call it the Blue Book
Tories contemplate the transition team
Preparing to talk the talk
Circle June 28th on the calendar
Everyone old is new again
Double Dipping on the way to Ottawa
Donald S. Cherry stays on the bench
Spending our way to the polls
Paul Martin's historic election
Things improving for a Liberal majority
Grant Devine rides again
A seat opens up in the fine Canadian tradition
Democratic deficit revisited: The west's chosen ones
Some Liberals concerned about anticipated media campaign
Life on the fringe as we sit on the cusp
Shameless Demagogy
Layton does some math
Shell Game! Liberals into recycling
Fisher calls for a cliff hanger
Shoring up the East coast vote
Harper's career at risk with upcoming vote
Chantal opines: do or die for the NDP
Power couple in waiting
Health care poker
An issueless campaign
Tools down and signs up after Adscam shutdown
Old Habits, tried and true
Heading for the war rooms
Going Negative or going home
Hedy Fry's nominating troubles
Edging closer to voting day
Second thoughts about attacking Stephen
Cherry's kind of guy
Why are they being so rude
Dryden to make one more save
Harper targets the aging baby boomer
Tories won't be boyscouts if provoked
Abandoned at the nomination door
Cutting fat and eliminating taxes with Harper
Libs to be crushed in Quebec
Supreme Court to rule on how big a wallet can be used
Libs suggest that Bloc support on verge of collapse
Chretien braintrust to sit out this election
Defining the democratic deficit BC style
BC dream team not winning many kudos
Winnipeg wins largesse, Libs hope for votes
Martin to Quebec "I need you"
Star candidates have Liberals seeing red
Dryden jumps onside
Libs play catch up on gas ideas
The candidate from hockey's groundwork
Silence of the Lambs?
Free speech? Or Free spending
Cyberspace electoral warfare
The constituency friendliness of Stephen Harper
All revved up and waiting to go
Libs see the bogeyman and his name is Stephen
Slip Slidin' away
Martin keeps his head above the waterfront
Reg delivers to his prairie cousins
Joe Clark shills for Libs
Left Hand, meet the Right Hand, just what are you doing?
Greens court the disenchanted
Rising gas prices, recipe for electoral disaster
Dalton costs Paul votes
Scheduling problems causing Liberal stress
Your vote counts, multiplies and subsidizes
Will it be a minority opinion?
Fumbling the health care agenda
To the polls we go

A week of essentials

A day late, so I must be a dollar short! I Got caught up watching all the election excitement so I've been tardy in processing the Daily essentials of the last week. So for the sake of continuity here we are last weeks pciks of the litter.

June 22 The Man who killed Jimmy Hoffa
June 22 We recommend our chocolate covered spare ribs
June 22 Clilnton loses cool while shilling for book
June 22 Svend summoned to court July 8
June 22 Boldy going where no private money has gone before
June 23 Keeping an eye on the House of Saud
June 23 Soccer is a funny game: Forza Azzurri pack for home
June 23 A new horror in Iraq
June 23 Controversy thy name is Michael
June 23 Lollapalooza a No Show
June 24 Dexter to the rescue
June 24 Sex!, Lies? And Depositions.
June 24 Azzurri don't leave quietly!
June 24 Festival of the Geeks cancelled
June 24 Longevity on the set for 500,000 Alex!
June 25 Dick Cheney, you wash your mouth out!
June 25 People, who need people!
June 25 Beckham takes the blame
June 25 Fighting the wrong war
June 25 Can't kill the Avro after all
June 26 Luna chose the paddlers
June 26 A great big fat Greek upset
June 26 Everything old is new again
June 26 Monica is not amused
June 26 Arnie lives up to his nickname
June 27 Maybe she understands better this time
June 27 In the spirit of a positive message
June 27 Going Up
June 27 BC's heartland on fire
June 27 How Springsteen got his song and flag back
June 28 Showing your colours
June 28 The bouncing cheques of the coalition
June 28 Boffo box office off of Bush
June 28 Babs on Bush
June 28 Really winning hearts and minds

Monday, June 28, 2004

Handing off Iraq

With all the pomp and ceremony of changing shifts at a 7-11, the American led Provisional authority handed over the governance of Iraq to its interim government. Making the transition to nominal Iraqi rule two days early.

In a quick ten minute ceremony new interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi took an oath of office holding a Quran. A few photos and a quick shake of hands and former Iraq administrator Paul Bremer was on a plane heading for home. A new ambassador John Negroponte taking up his duties in Baghdad as part of the changeover.

Allawi is now technically in charge and the new day dawned for Iraqi’s who were apparently unaware that they were “masters of their own destiny”. Of course the masters’ part is not quite there yet, as this is purely a small step to running their own state. With 145,000 troops kicking around the country the American presence will be there for a while yet, attempting to keep an increasing hostile rebellion in check.

The interim government will hold power for seven months while election plans are readied. The UN has passed a resolution stating that elections must be held no later than January 31, 2005. However, what state the country will be in for an election is very much up in the air. The first situation that the new government will face will be the handover of Saddam Hussein and members of his upper staff to the new regime. What they do with him will make for an interesting study as to where the country will go with the concept of jurisprudence.

The reason for the fast track changeover was due mainly to the threat of terrorist attacks as insurgents have been increasing the rate of turmoil as the handover date (originally June 30th) was approaching. That turmoil is not expected to diminish with an Iraqi face on the government and there is some concern that the infrastructure of running a country is nowhere near in place to guarantee order let alone any sense of success.

The American and coalition Armies and Marines are still charged with National Security for the time being. The Iraqi government hoping to have a police force trained over the next few months to begin to retake control of the country’s major cities. Likewise the Army in Iraq has to be rebuilt to reflect the new reality of life in the Middle Eastern country.

For George Bush it was an opportunity to announce that “The Iraqi people have their country back” a nice phrase but perhaps a tad simplistic for the moment, but for Bush it at least denotes a sense of moving forward on a situation that had bogged down into swamp of desperation.

The timing of the handover which took many by surprise may have come as news to the President as well. Bush was notified of the handover by a note passed to him by Condoleezza Rice, while one would hope that the President of the United States might have been briefed earlier on the potential change, you’re just never sure with this crew. If Michael Moore has plans for a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11 he’s already got more than enough footage in the can as they say.

With an Iraqi face now on the nation, the US is no doubt hoping that the world community will begin to reintroduce the idea of getting involved in the situation. Many countries had taken a pass on any assistance while Iraq was considered an occupied country, it’s probably hoped that today’s announcement would bring the sidelined nations of the world more into the orbit of reconstruction.

So far there is no great rush to provide any tangible assistance. NATO offered to train the Iraqi police and army, but so far have not offered to become further involved in the situation there. Likewise the UN has yet to move in any great haste to get involved.

By speeding up the process the potential for a huge disruptive assault by insurgents has been avoided. However, the danger certainly is not over by any stretch of the imagination. Mr. Allawi may be the leader on paper, but one suspects his is not a universally received appointment. The days of trouble for Iraq are a long way from being over, but they have to start somewhere. May things continue on with a quick pace to return the country and its people to a safer environment as soon as possible.

Didn't feel a thing!

For the umpteenth since I’ve lived in Podunk we’ve been hit by an earthquake and I’ve not noticed. What’s the use of living on a fault line if you aren’t ever awake to notice the shakin’? The latest jerking of the fault line took place off the coast of Podunk at 2:50 am, we seem to suffer our temblors during the night here for some reason and thus I’m never privy to the shaking and rattling.

There was no damage reported and for the most part our little corner of the planet went on with life in blissful snoring, at 6.7 it would have been a much more life altering event had it hit further eastward and under Podunk proper, but only fishies and whales would have been inconvenienced to any great degree.

Locally (I’m told) dishes rattled, furniture jumped and some pictures re-arranged themselves but no visible or traumatic damage resulted from the midnight rambler. Interestingly enough we had been having occasional power bumps all day Sunday, but I’m sure it’s just a bit of happenstance and not some form of early warning system that I should be more aware of.

Podunkians will now go back to waiting for the next event and as we’re always aware, the “Big One” could come at any time. One wonders if I’ll be awake for that day or if I’ll sleep through that one too, sometimes slumber can serve its purpose. We can’t fear what we don’t know happened!

Pundits Unleashed: Tales of the Campaign 005

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock, the time is almost nigh. The buses and planes will soon be parked and the ballot boxes soon unlocked. Election Day mercifully is about to dawn, we mark our X, sit back and await the victor, the loser, the kingmaker and the brooders.

The talking heads and pencil pushing editorialists will get one final kick at this election as the overwhelming media machine reaches it’s crescendo with wall to wall coverage across the country starting at 4pm PST (7PM in that block of votes known as Central Canada).

Before we trot off to mark our X and then settle in with Kevin, Pete, Lloyd et al one last batch of wisdom from the pundits, the long month of campaigning has given their thesauruses a workout, but surely there must be one lasting point to make before the viewer/reader/voter takes over the show.

To get things of to a rousing start we turn our attention to the gem of the Rock, Rex Murphy. The national moderator held court one final time on Sunday with Cross Country check up, give a listen to constitutional experts, political pundits and the great unwashed electorate as they try and sort out the fact from fiction, the frivolous from the fundamental. The two hours of archived material may not help you make up your mind, but you’ll surely realize that Canadians are if nothing else engaged in the debate, cynicism not withstanding.

Edward Greenspon addresses the fallout to the Globe and Mails rather tepid endorsement of the Paul Martin Liberals earlier this week. An event, which has seemingly attracted more than its fair share of vitriolic backwash. Including apparently a wish for the Globe to receive a mustard enema! Greenspon recounted the history of the Globe, its independence from partisan politics and its dedication to balanced reporting, with or without the aid of mustard.

And possibly to prove a point, the Globe’s Business section provided John Carrick with an opportunity to inform us which party had our best financial wishes at heart. If pure financial self interest is your barometer on voting day, then Carrick suggests you find a Conservative candidate to whom to declare your X towards. So if pure material wealth at any cost is your bag the Globe spells it all out for you.

Roy MacGregor prepares to put away the Globe’s gold card and end his cross Canada quest for the pulse of the voter. With a final stop on the West Coast, MacGregor discovers that British Columbians look forward to their role in this electoral debate with great relish. Perhaps for the first time since 1871 BC will matter to the rest of Canada, and BC is enjoying its possible role as kingmaker/spoiler, holding the Easterners hostage to the wee hours of Tuesday before they know who their new leader will be.

John Ibbitson of the Globe explores those that have shaped the beliefs of Stephen Harper. Heading for Calgary Ibbitson wandered the halls of the University of Calgary, the apparent laboratory for the new Conservative agenda. Find out the deep secrets held within those walls as Canada’s possible political future was formulated. The flashpoint and high priest of the new agenda is Tom Flanagan, who has been the main backroom organizer for the Harper team. Ibbitson traces the development of Harper from student to trailblazer from the Petri dish of Conservative belief.

Over at the Star, Richard Gwyn explains the contrariness of this election, one which will give the separatist Bloc Quebecois its largest seat count ever at the same time that the people of Quebec have expressed no interest in the actual goal of that party. Gwyn explores the impact that two provincial Premiers, McGuinty and Klein had on the election. Highlighting how their actions more than anything else affected the response to the Federal positions. And then there is the Canadian voter, wanting to punish the Liberals desperately, but not sure if they should willingly hand the keys to 24 Sussex to the Harper acolytes.

Graham Fraser uses the Star’s pages to examine the ugliness of the campaign, the cynicism of the debate and the anguish the electorate must feel as they go to mark their ballot. Yet through it all he can see the glint of hope overcoming that cynical mindset. With a minority government the most likely outcome, he feels that finally Parliament will be made to work. Marking a positive development for an institution, that has been abused horribly over the years.

Miro Cernetig rains on the feel good aura with his dispatch from Quebec, fresh from a Bloc rally where the troops are treating the upcoming rout of the Liberals as the start of the long march to Independence. Gilles Duceppe may be running around claiming its just an election, but the troops in the Bloc and PQ trenches are hailing this as Bastille Day redux. Worse for Martin is the distinct possibility that his trusted lieutenant and former BQ MP Jean Lapierre is going to be humiliated in his own province. Setting the tone for a campaign that went horribly wrong in a place where it was supposed to be so right.

Douglas Fisher at the Sun suggests that we should not all be scared of a Stephen Harper government, giving a prediction of 128 Conservative seats to the Liberals 116, with the Bloc at 43, the NDP at 20 and the Green at 1. For Fisher he feels that Harper has reinvigorated Canadian politics and despite the Liberals best attempts at painting him as an evil force, the anger at the Liberals will win out in many cases. His last line a most telling explanation from the long time observer of the Hill and its press corps. Harper's ascension may test us much like the rise of Pierre Trudea in 1968, the flashpoint of a Harper government should cause Canadians to get more involved in their country. Perhaps not the worst thing that could happen to us.

The Sun's Greg Weston continues on with the disappointing news for the Martin forces in Quebec. Having spent St. Jean Baptiste Day (or Fete Nationale for the ready to leave set) Weston reports on a lacklustre embrace of Martin as he travelled the safest of the safe seats in Quebec. And while Martin has according to Weston finally become a Political animal, it may be too late to do him any good. The campaign in Quebec possibly proving, that the curse of Jean Chretien will be haunting him to his political grave. Weston follows up that with a final exploration of the wind down of the Martin campaign and as he says the desperation of the Prime Ministers’ whirl wind final day. A day of frantic travel, which found Martin courting the Green party vote for salvation. The article takes a look at those confounding poll numbers which fluctuated up and down for each side during the last 36 days. The only poll that counts now the one we embark towards on Monday.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

A picture is worth a thousand words

Not sure if anyone has noticed during this campaign, but for the most part our national candidates aren’t as afraid of the ole camera as in previous elections.

By far the bravest of the brave is the guy with the least to lose, Gilles Duceppe who isn’t going to win a seat outside of Quebec (mainly because he isn’t providing candidates) hasn’t been afraid of the possibility of embarrassment. Duceppe who in the last campaign made the hair net a fashion accessory to avoid with his Harpo Marx like visage in white has tempted fate successfully this time around. In the last week we’ve had a picture of Duceppe devouring a hot dog, taking care of an ice cream cone and shooting hoops in a playground. They were all photo ops that just tempted disaster to strike. Ask Bob Stanfield how banana’s and footballs went together in 68.

Paul Martin most recently appeared on the front page of the National Post blowing soap bubbles into the air. Oh for the chance to be the caption editor that day. “Pop goes the campaign” for the pessimists, “Up, Up and away” for optimists. Through the campaign the camera lens has focused on an earnest Martin sometimes just in his shirt sleeves looking to get down to work one assumes. Then there was his “speakers’ corner” photo op, where he ranted just like an Avril fan into the MuchMusic like machine in Ottawa.

Jack Layton of course has that face that seems to love having a camera on it. He has that perpetual grin, kind of a cross between Jack Nicholson as the Joker or Jack Nicholson as a crazed hotel inn owner (redrum anyone). At any rate, if there’s a camera around you can be sure Jack is sure to follow. One memorable photo from the Globe is of Jack slapping on the bug repellent while visiting Winnipeg (and that was for an indoor event!!), talk about a guy that can relate to the little guy eh!

Stephen Harper up until this week seemed to be willing to take his chances as well. There are a few photos of his he might want back one of him slipping his finger into his collar as in boy it’s getting hot here. But for the most part his photo appearances have been non destructive. His fastball at Skydome photo, while duly recorded went mostly unheralded. Though one wonders that considering the Jays pitching woes of late, they didn’t sign him on the spot. Never mind the election Stevie; can you give us three innings of relief? Perhaps if things don’t work out on Monday the Jays will be calling him up, and the best news is he wouldn’t have to change his uniform colour.

Now that the shouting is all but done, we can check out the family photo albums. The Globe and Mail has a collection of snaps on their election page it’s called sights and sounds. Over at the CBC they have turned their webpage over to the citizenry for their snapshots of the campaign, not as many pics of the big four but lots of human interest stuff around the country.

For those who like their satire, editorial cartoonists have sharpened their pencils, this CBC site checks out some of the work of the campaign. All of the other major news sites, canoe, the Star, CTV etc have photos of some description, you just have to work a bit to find the ones that stand out, but as they say the camera never lies, if you are still looking for some guidance as you prepare to vote, checking out a photo or two may give you the nudge when it comes time to mark your X.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Talk show fodder

The laying of charges by the BC attorney general's office against Todd Bertuzzi Thursday, has taken over as topic number one with the always colourful talk radio wars in Vancouver.

As soon as the decision was announced, callers were quick to make their points known with the three Vancouver area stations that feature talk prominently in their daily broadcast schedule.

CKNW found that whenever they opened the lines to the public it was all about Todd, Steve Moore, the Police and the Attorney General's office.

Coming one day after a commission of inquiry cleared the Vancouver police of any wrongdoing in the Guns and Roses riot of 2002. Many callers expressed cynicism as to how the government could charge a hockey player, but not its own police force. Two VPD officers were under investigation for wrong doing during the event, both were cleared Wednesday. With the Bertuzzi charges announced the next day, this quickly became a flash point for many of the callers to the open lines.

The controversy carried on over to the Team and Mojo, both all sports stations that usually jump on anything Canuckish with all they have.

For a sample of just how hot the Vancouver public is getting about the issue, check out the CKNW audio vault, just pick any hour after the noon hour on Thursday and give it a listen. For a full examination of the situation the Dan Russell show from 9-midnight is a worthwhile check, if only to hear the angst in many a Canuck fan's voice. You will also get a full glimpse of the all encompassing effect this is having by listening in to NW, MOJO and the Team all before 10 am on Friday, expect the Bertuzzi issue to dominate all of the chat shows.

As this process carries on, one thing is certain we'll be talking hockey in BC long into the hot summer.

The above item first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Counting on them to do little harm!

Well it's not the most resounding endorsement ever offered up, but there it is. The heading of this post is the basic point we should take from the Globe and Mail's editorial support for Paul Martin and the Liberals. The Globe has jumped into the federal election with a nudge to the governing Liberal party, apparently not prepared to throw the keys to the car to that young whipper snapper Stephen Harper.

While regular readers of the Globe would have noticed a decidedly Liberal bent in its articles and columns, it still is interesting to see the usually on the right Globe picking a Grit. While it's not quite the party organ that the Toronto Star is, the Globe none the less has painted a more reassuring picture of the Martin forces than its competitors the National Post and the Sun papers.

Those two publications are decidedly on the side of the Harper forces, shuddering at the idea of another term of Liberal rule. The Front page of today's National Post features a banner urging the reader to check out their editorial on A17, with the banner lead of HARPER FOR PM: Unapologetic, principled - obviously the man for the job. They at least are true to their convictions. We provide for you a link to the Post's editorial rhetoric, as they have lifted the Asper wall! While they still insist on making us pay for their on line regurgiatation, they will let us read the editorial of support gratis. For the rest of their coverage, you'll have to spend a buck, or use your imagination! (BTW a smart marketing person would have convinced Asper central to open the doors during the election so as to lure potential new converts to the cause, but nope a buck is a buck in Asperland)

The Globe's editorial rather than explore any positives of the Liberals, tends to give the Prime Minsitership to Martin by default. Suggesting that the Liberal near death experience may help old Paul Martin to govern into the future.

Not exactly the kind of endorsement you'll be seeing on any last minute TV ads. "Pick our guy, he'll do no harm" or "Nearly dead, we now repent". As far as a posititioning statements go they need a bit of work.

As the campaign winds down, one hopes the Liberal paper in Toronto will come up with a more glowing endorsement of their guy. To tide us over until the Editorial board brings the tablets down from Liberal HQ, the Star provided a Carol Goar primer for election day.

As for the Sun papers, one just assumes that Stephen Harper will be the greatest thing since sliced bread, with jam to make him even more appealing. There really isn't much more that they can do for his campaign, columnists time and time again have railed against the Liberals and the hordes of Socialism the NDP. If you're reading the Sun, there's a good chance you already know who Stephen Harper is and what he's about.

Sadly for the newspaper industry this mini circulation war will come to an end on Monday. Once the campaign is over and done the ads will dry up, the stories will grow thinner, as will the readership. Fortunately for the columnists, there will always be a scandal just around the corner, interestingly enough the country has run smoother during the campaign than when they take office. Perhaps there's a lesson in that idea for all of us to study. Keep them busy and they can't get into any trouble!

Pundits Unleashed: tales of the campaign 004

With the clock ticking down on the election campaign and judgement er, voting day coming up fast, the pundits are clear cutting the forests to get their points in print.

Jeffrey Simpson at the Globe, takes pen to the high hopes of the NDP campaign and suggests that the poll results don’t match the constant upbeat feeling of the Layton himself and that of his disciples. Simpson looks how at despite a high energy campaign that has warmed the hearts of socialists across the country, the NDP may find that the other parties shall siphon off his support.

The Toronto Star’s David Olive offers up some bad news for the Conservatives in his “Pulse Diary”, citing Internal Liberal polls and the latest in the public opinion polls, Olive suggests that the Conservative dream of a majority is long gone and even worse they’re slipping out of the possibility of forming a minority government. Olive pegs the turning point at the child porn statements and the Ralph Klein introduction to health care reform as the end of the Harper run of luck.

Across the office at the Star, Chantal Hebert ruminates on whether things are too late for the Liberals. With Martin getting a second wind in the final week of the election and the Conservatives apparently running on empty, Hebert wonders aloud whether the bounce back will be enough to keep the Martin forces holding the reigns of power. Perhaps its just a a case of racing backwards to the finish line now.

Back at the Globe Roy MacGregor, examines a completely unscientific but none the less quite telling poll about this campaign. The damaged lawn sign poll suggests a very angry electorate. Focusing on a riding in rural Ontario, MacGregor discovers that this campaign has brought out the destructive nature of supporters of the two main parties, as over 700 signs in the Conservative camp have been destroyed thus far, and equal number find the same fate with the Liberal supporters.

Greg Weston of the Sun papers puts aside the upswing in advance polling numbers and the promise that may bring. Rather he says it’s the suggestion that many folks don’t plan to be anywhere near their riding on election, with the end of school and the start of vacations, perhaps they just want to get away. At least they have done their civic duty, the last federal election only stirred 63% of the population to participation a continuing downward trend, which if it continues could see the next big category listed as Uninterested as opposed to Undecided. Weston’s column paints a picture of not so much an apathetic nation, but one fed up with politics and politicians. Weston advises it’s a brave candidate that dares to knock on a door these days lest it be slammed in their face. And with the prospect of a low turnout, he states this could come down to the very last vote, this year more than ever it could be the party with the best machine to get the vote out that wins the vote.

One of the deans of the Ottawa press room, Douglas Fisher will have the Liberals reaching for the Maalox and Tums with his Sunday column entitled “Certain Disaster”, it reads like a primer for how things can go wrong. Tracing back Liberal troubles through the Chrétien era, Fisher recounts HRDC, Adscam the Chrétien wars, all of which he says has contributed to the malaise of the Liberal party and a weariness of the public to see it hang around much longer. Arrogance and a loss of confidence of the public, he says is the downfall of the Martin Liberals. Perhaps a bit pre mature as the polls indicate that this goose is not necessarily cooked yet, but if someone were looking for a thumbnail guide as to what is wrong with the Liberals today, this would be their reading material.

The final stop on the Pundit wheel today goes to Richard Gwyn, who examines the changing face of the electoral landscape in the country. With the Green Party nosing up around the 5% range of the vote and the decline of voter participation in the process, Gwyn looks at the future of the political scene in Canada and how it may soon mirror that of Europe. Are we ready for an election called where nobody bothers to vote? Or will we adopt a syndrome where we the electors, just vote to protect narrow interests and to punish the party in power. In less than a week we make our verdict, but in some ways we’re already more European in thinking, than we may believe.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Blogging your way to punditry!

A watershed moment for the blogger universe is about to take place, as the Democratic Party in the USA is preparing to provide credentials to bloggers to cover this summers convention.

50 fellow bloggers have offered up their blogs as worthwhile participants in this year's Democratic coming out party for John Kerry in Boston.

Democratic organizer and convention spokeswoman Lina Garcia said the Democrats are looking for originality, readership level and professionalism in determining who will get the coveted convention passes.

Some of the more well known political blogs in the US are looking to get inside the Fleet Centre for thefestivitiess. Of course blogs by their nature are opinionated, thus some folks won't have anything to do with the Democrats. Michele Catalano wants to be in Madison Square Garden with the Republicans for her Comand Post blog. Over at the Daily Kos, it's the Democrats that offer the most interest, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is looking forward to heading to Boston if selected, and it's probably a good thing he's applied for the Democrats. He's apparently about as welcome as hemorrhoids on a trail ride to the Republicans, according to the Bush Country blog, which seems to wish him a speedy exit from the planet.

Being a rather new medium and only recently attracting attention of the mainstream the bloggers are logging into uncharted political territory. However, for the successful blogger there is a cost to cover the Kerry love in, bloggers are expected to cover the same costs as their more traditional compatriots.

So should a blogger get the pass to the convention, he or she will have to pony up the cash. Rental space for phone lines, desks and even snackies will all have to be provided in advance.

The Republican's apparently more suspicious than the Democrats are still studying the idea and expect to announce their plans very shortly. One suspects that should the Republicans wander by a Michael Moore blog, it will be game over for the Blogging universe and the Party of Bush.

Personally, I think the blogger should just pick their favourite TV anchor's hairpiece, sit close to the TV and listen in to the "experts" and stay by the homestead. The phone line is already paid up, the snacks are in the cupboard and the beer is in the fridge.

One can pillorize or praise their favourite moment from the comfort of the computer desk, save the entry fee for a better use. Grab some more disk space, pick up a digital camera and more squeeze some more beer into the fridge. The thoughts will come regardless and since this convention should provide the surprise of a North Korean election, why make the trek.

While the attention to the blogging phenomenon is nice to see, we approach a formal alliance with our politicians with trepidation. What's that old Groucho Marx line about "not wanting to be in a club that would have me"; in this case for bloggers it could be the best path to follow.

A week of essentials

Politic, Politics, Politics, it seems to take up a lot of blogging time of late. But there were a few other items out there that caught our eye in the last seven days, and here for your perusal, are the ones that made up the weekly essentials.

June 15 All quiet on the Korean front
June 15 Can Lit loses a champion
June 15 A picture is worth a thousand words
June 15 The wheels on the cars go round and round
June 15 Throwing the rascals out Euro style
June 16 Cuomo to try and take heat off of Farenheit 911
June 16 Are they or aren't they, only the Mullah knows for sure!
June 16 The making of a Democratic Mrs.Kerry
June 16 Homer forever
June 16 Isn't it Ironic, dontcha think?
June 17 Bill Clinton's badge of honour
June 17 Triumph the Insult dog to return to Quebec
June 17 French Fries classified as a fresh vegetable
June 17 President Bush 0-2 on Iraq
June 17 UN tries to stop bulldozer sales to Israel
June 18 Big Oil says Big Trouble!
June 18 Bush's problem, the hidden unemployed
June 18 Kirk to Enterprise, beam me up Scotty
June 18 9-11 chaos and confusion
June 18 The roaming playboy's days are numbered
June 19 To the couch Bill
June 19 Dr. Phil gives group hug to 800 civil servants
June 19 "Heaven has a maestro now"
June 19 Yellowknife Golf course has a hell of a hazard
June 19 Evil
June 20 Two thumbs up from Hezzbollah
June 20 First a Missile, now the pilot
June 20 Load of Marshmallows, a load of trouble
June 20 Staying the course in Saudi Arabia
June 20 Clinton's tome bashed in New York Times review
June 21 Clinton weighs in on Iraq!
June 21 Forgotten Guantanamo, draws some attention
June 21 Playing into Bin Laden's hands?
June 21 The start of BC's long, hot, burning summer
June 21 You can call her Esther