Tag Archives: federal election


Those of you who had Sept. 23 as the day when “erection” would be used in an election story and not be a typo, pat yourselves on the back:

But that statement was contradicted by a retreat participant, who said the New Democrat had a partial erection in front of the young girls.

So let’s discuss: How much of an erection is it appropriate for an MP to have in front of young girls? What qualifies as a “partial erection”? What if you just have to pee?

Who cares about issues when we can talk about penises?

(Though seriously, stories like this make me wonder: If the choice in a no-hope riding is between some unknown party loyalist and nobody at all, perhaps it’s best to go the latter route?)


Last week, the Bloc Québécois started running a minute-or-so-long podcast in which Frédéric Savard gives a fast-talking roundup of political news and ends each item with a pun or other bad joke about other parties in the election.

As a master of punnery and bad jokes myself, I have to say that some of them are funny (black holes and Denis Coderre) and some are beyond groaner territory (Stéphane Dion being “tragically un-hip”).

Still, it’s pretty entertaining as far as party activities online go. The Liberals and Greens don’t have podcasts that I can find. The Tories’ podcast is nothing but stump speeches by Stephen Harper, and the NDP podcast hasn’t been updated since 2005.

It’s just federal politics in Quebec – who cares about language?

On the heels of a report from La Presse that the Conservative candidate in Papineau (who, let’s face it, is going to lose anyway) doesn’t speak French very well, Angry French Guy calls around to some local campaign offices to see how they respond in Canada’s official languages.

Admittedly, it’s not the candidates but just random people who answer the phones, but you’d think the campaigns would make sure that front-line workers were bilingual.

This is an election, not a policy convention

Let me get this straight: Maclean’s is writing articles about … issues? Policy issues? Analysis?

I’m taken aback here. Where are the opinion poll percentages? The endless back and forth over slips of the tongue? The shallow promises that “we have to do more”? The counting of Facebook friends as a quantitative measure of party popularity?

This isn’t the journalism I spent five minutes teaching myself in order to weasel my way into a career doing.

Shame on you Maclean’s.

Montreal’s battleground ridings

DemocraticSPACE has compiled its list of 68 battleground ridings in this election.

Montreal-area ridings on the list include:

  • Jeanne-Le Ber, the southwest/Verdun riding Liberal heritage minister Liza Frulla lost to an unknown Bloc candidate in 2006. (You’ll also notice the Green’s Claude William Genest, currently running in Westmount, came in last place with 5% of the vote)
  • Brossard-La Prairie, another Bloc steal from the Liberals in 2006, formerly Jacques Saada’s riding.
  • Outremont, the Thomas Mulcair NDP by-election win riding, which also covers some of the Plateau and a lot of Côte des Neiges.
  • Vaudreuil Soulanges, the riding Marc Garneau lost in 2006 and is now being contested by Conservative senator-to-get-a-cabinet-post Michael Fortier. Includes Vaudreuil, St. Lazare, Hudson, Rigaud and everything else between the two rivers.

Absent from the list is Westmount-Ville-Marie, which it expects to go to the Liberals’ Garneau; Papineau, which it expects will be an easy steal for Justin Trudeau; and adjacent Ahuntsic, which Liberal Eleni Bakopanos is expected to take back from Bloquiste Maria Mourani.

Canada steals CNN/YouTube debate format

Remember those CNN/YouTube debates a few months back, in which they crowded the stage with all the guys (and Hillary) running for president and had them answer questions posed by snowmen and Clinton campaign volunteers?

Well it looks like they’re coming to Canada. A media consortium (but not the media consortium) has banded together to form the Forum des chefs (auto-video-play warning), which is soliciting questions posed by Internet users for the French-language leaders’ debate an online debate in French sometime after the official debate*. The media partners, each of which provides a columnist to discuss the answers, includes Cyberpresse (La Presse), Le Devoir, Radio-Canada and L’Actualité magazine.

You’ll notice the ominous absence of TVA (which is part of the consortium running the official debate), Canoe, the Journal de Montréal or any other Quebecor property.

There’s also an inherent danger in simply accepting questions from the public like this. One of the CNN/YouTube debate questions, it turns out, came from a very active member of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It would be very difficult for journalists to properly vet every question to see if the person behind it may have gotten help from a campaign or may have a hidden agenda. Now it’ll be in the best interests of the campaigns to either submit questions themselves or get other people to submit questions for them. Perhaps they can issue talking points to the public so they know how to phrase those questions.

You can see the slippery slope forming here. What are the chances of it being abused?

via Tristan Péloquin

*I’m an idiot (again) and didn’t read properly. It’s not the official debate, which I guess means it doesn’t matter as much. But the potential for abuse is still there.

CHP wants in on debates

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the Christian Heritage Party, which describes itself as the next-most-popular party after the Greens, wants into the leaders’ debates. The party had 45 candidates in the last election, and seems to think 70% of the country supports it. Yeah.

Their platform includes:

  • Spending more money on infrastructure (through enormous interest-free loans which they guess will be repaid in full) and paying off the debt without raising taxes
  • Eliminate income tax and replace it with a sales tax that will make people yearn for the GST
  • Eliminate the Canada Pension Plan and privatize social security
  • Introduce private health care delivery services
  • Outlaw abortion
  • Call a royal commission so they can find a way to get rid of gay marriage without seeming bigoted.
  • Forget about Kyoto, carbon taxes or any other economy-hurting way of dealing with the global warming fraud, but somehow do something “real” for the environment (the platform gives no details on this)
  • Allow doctors and pharmacists to deny care for any reason
  • Educate people about the “health risks” of “sexual promiscuity” and end government funding for a life-saving vaccine because Big Pharma supports it (oh, and it’s for a disease that’s sexually transmitted)
  • Stop human rights commissions from attacking “free speech”

In other words, it’s the platform of the Christian conservative end of the Republican Party.

That might make the debates more entertaining.

UPDATE (Sept. 23): They’re suing.

Daybreak hosts debate in Papineau riding

CBC Daybreak (the radio morning show) is coming literally around the corner from my apartment later this morning, and hosting a live debate between candidates in the Papineau riding, including Liberal Justin Trudeau, starting just after 7am (88.5FM).

Rumour on the street is, after the debate (around 8:15 or so), (UPDATE: Bumped to tomorrow at 7:40 because the candidates couldn’t keep their mouths shut) they’ll be bringing in some know-it-all journalist wannabe to talk about blogs or something.

Worth getting up early for… (again).

UPDATE: Daybreak has the debate up as a podcast (mp3).

DemocraticSPACE launches for 2008 campaign

The riding-by-riding election prediction machine DemocraticSPACE has launched its 2008 campaign website. It currently predicts the following seat makeup:

  • CON: 146 (up from 124 in 2006 and 99 in 2004, but just shy of the 155 needed for a majority government)
  • LIB: 91 (down from 103 in 2006 and 135 in 2004)
  • NDP: 30 (same as at dissolution: 29 in 2006 plus Thomas Mulcair in Outremont)
  • BQ: 39 (down from 51)
  • GRN: 0
  • IND: 2 (André Arthur in Quebec and ex-Tory Bill Casey in Nova Scotia)

In Quebec:

  • BQ: 39 (down from 51)
  • CON: 18 (up from 10)
  • LIB: 16 (up from 13)
  • NDP: 1 (Mulcair)
  • GRN: 0
  • IND: 1 (Arthur)

If these results hold, it would be bad for the Liberals nationally, bad for the Bloc, bad for the Greens (Vancouver Liberal-turned-Green MP Blair Wilson, they predict, will lose to the Tories), status quo for the NDP and, of course, good for the Conservatives, but still short of their goal.

The website will keep updating its predictions, based in part from comments left by constituents in those ridings, before taking a wild guess on too-close-to-call races just before the vote. In the 2006 election, the website was 94% accurate at predicting which party would win any given riding, underestimating the number of Liberal seats and overestimating the number of Conservative and Bloc seats.

What are your favourite political blogs?

With the federal election under way, political blogs are heating up (and springing up) like never before. Every politician has an official blog (to say nothing about Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and other Web 2.0 silliness), and every media outlet has some form of an “on the campaign trail” blog. (The Globe alone has eight election blogs)

Here are some of the ones that have peaked piqued my interest so far:

  • La campagne vue par Marissal et Pratte (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?), a strange blog in which La Presse columnist Vincent Marissal and “éditorialiste-en-chef” André Pratte discuss politics with each other. Each post is actually a dual post from each of them, asking each other questions and giving their thoughts on some issue. But it’s not a strict point-counterpoint.
  • Silver-Powers, from the Globe, however, is. A Liberal hack vs. a Tory hack. Both former assistants to politicians in their parties. But rather than just yell at each other or make fun of gaffes from the other’s leader, they inject some humour into their posts, and stick to debating the policy issues that set them apart.
  • Off the Fence from J. Kelly Nestruck (who went from the McGill Daily to the National Post to the Guardian to the Globe and Mail) has sentimental value for me. We go way back to that protest in 2001 against Canwest, a company we would both later work for.
  • Macleans’s Deux maudits anglais gets a mention here not just because it’s funny (and has provided me plenty of linklove), but because it’s one of the few anglo blogs focusing on Quebec.
  • Claude William Genest’s blog also gets a vote (he’s the Green candidate in Westmount), but only because his massive ego is so shameless it’s funny. (Though kudos on the website, it’s very well designed)
  • Ditto Garth Turner, whose blog essentially led to a party switch. Putting blog above party, that’s worth something. He continues the full, honest disclosure that got him in trouble in the first place, and separates his blog from other candidates’ press-release feeds. (Though every time he mentions Stéphane Dion I ask myself: Really? You’re really excited about this guy as prime minister?)
  • Liblogs.ca is a blog aggregator, which is pretty good at finding interesting blog posts from small blogs from a Liberal perspective.

I’m subscribed to quite a few more, and I’m sure I’ll discover more gems as the election goes along.

What are your favourite federal political blogs? Bonus points if they’re francophone and/or Quebec-based. Extra bonus points if they go beyond ultra-partisanship, actually discuss new ideas instead of linking to newspaper articles and popular posts on other blogs, and won’t put me into a coma.

(This is all for a super-duper-secret project that I’ll let you in on next week)

Txt the vote!

A lack of interest by youth in politics is a problem in many developed countries. I’m not sure exactly why the youth is so disinterested. Perhaps they don’t understand how important democracy is. Perhaps they’re jaded by our first-past-the-post system which makes their vote pointless. Or perhaps with school, relationships, finding a job and smoking pot they’re just too busy to care.

But if you took a poll of young non-voters, I’m pretty sure that “inability to text-message party leaders” would not rank highly on the list of reasons they’re not participating.

So why do people pretend that this will make a difference?

I’m all for making things more accessible and increasing the avenues of communication. But when old people reduce youth to nothing more than text messaging and Facebook, I find that just a bit insulting.

Puffingate and the partisan bubble

So apparently the biggest political news of the day had to do with a bird pooping on someone’s shoulder on a website. Canadian soldiers are dying in Afghanistan, our climate is becoming unstable, and our housing market is in trouble, but all of that is unimportant compared to analysis of whether a bird should be pooping on someone online.

Stephen Harper, whose Conservative Party website showed the pooping puffin, apologized for it after his handlers calculated that the bad joke went too far and was too personal (actually, it wasn’t personal at all, it was just pointlessly insulting). Stéphane Dion, the poopee, countered that this showed more about the Conservatives than about him, again following the politically appropriate route as instructed by his handlers and political strategists.

And the media, desperate for a scandal/process/horse-race story because they’re too lazy to research platform points and analyze actual policy issues, sucks it all up.

The excuses that the Conservatives give for this gaffe are the usual barely-believable stuff (a cursor was hiding it when it was approved? Give me a break). But there’s a reason why this was done, a reason why the person who came up with the idea crossed the line, and it’s a problem at the very heart of partisan politics.

Remember all those bad jokes during the Democratic and Republican conventions? Remember how the delegates found them much funnier than we did? In the partisan bubble that these politicians and their staff inhabit, the opposition is dehumanized. Instead of respected colleagues who challenge us to develop our positions on important issues, they’re seen as evil enemies bent on world destruction who must be mercilessly defeated.

That mindset leads to cruel, immature jokes and inevitable comparisons to Hitler. Nobody is there to stop them, because everyone in the bubble is part of the same partisan clique. But once those jokes leave the bubble and reach the reasonable, non-partisan outside world, it finally dawns on them that they were inappropriate.

I watched MSNBC during prime-time tonight, mainly because there was nothing better on TV. (It was mostly in the background as I caught up on some online reading.) The lineup consisted of liberal hero Keith Olbermann, followed by Air America talk show host Rachel Maddow, followed by a repeat of the Keith Olbermann show at 10pm. Listening to the two hosts, they sound identical (though one is much prettier than the other). They both use the same sarcastic points to bring down their enemies (in this case, John McCain, George W. Bush and the Republicans).

Even though I agree with them on their positions, I can’t help but cringe sometimes when I watch these shows. There’s that same immaturity, the same mean jokes, the same anoying smiles when they point out some flaw in the other side. And in Olbermann’s case, an ego the size of Alaska as he goes on with his boring feuds with the Fox News Channel and its pundits.

Olbermann and Maddow are, sadly, part of the problem. They have like-minded staff who won’t tell them that they’re becoming too biased toward the left. Those who do criticize are seen as the enemy or ignored.

The worst part is, some of these activists may be fully aware that they’re crossing over the line, but they accept their actions because they believe the ends justify the means.

Partisan hacks and political pundits need to learn what the politicians are already keenly aware of: cruel insults and immature jokes may get a good response from hard-core supporters who are drinking your Kool-Aid, but they turn off the rest of us, making us ashamed of both you and the political process.

Considering how much ink has been spilled over this issue over the past decades (remember when the PCs made fun of Jean Chrétien’s face?), it’s astonishing there are people who still haven’t learned to attack the issues and not the person.