Tag Archives: federal politics

It’s just the federal government, after all

For the record:

Networks covering the Prime Minister’s address and Liberal leader Stéphane Dion’s response:

  • Radio-Canada/RDI
  • CBC/Newsworld
  • Global
  • City
  • CTV NewsNet
  • CPAC

Networks covering the Prime Minister’s address and bailing on Dion because his party couldn’t get its taped response out in under a half hour:

  • CTV (which showed Hollywood gossip show eTalk instead)

Networks who consider a prime ministerial address and a change in government insufficiently important to suspend crappy regular 7pm programming:

  • TQS
  • Télé-Québec
  • Sun TV

Networks who went the extra mile and covered a news conference by Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe:

  • Radio-Canada/RDI
  • CBC Newsworld
  • CTV Newsnet
  • CPAC

Networks who even let Jack Layton get his two cents in:

  • CBC Newsworld
  • CTV Newsnet
  • CPAC

The Question Period Drinking Game

Question Period has gotten downright entertaining now that there’s an actual power struggle going on. But, like a bad sitcom, our politicians are just repeating the same talking points over and over.

So let’s turn this into something fun: a drinking game!

WARNING: This is extremely dangerous and can quickly lead to alcohol poisoning. Take small sips.

Drink every time you hear one of the following:

  • “Canadian jobs”
  • “Socialist NDP”
  • “Separatist coalition”
  • “Confidence of the House”
  • “Mandate”
  • “Order!”
  • “Let us vote”
  • Jacques Parizeau
  • “Democracy”

Stop the presses: Maxime Bernier might be human

La Presse has the scoop this morning on what Julie Couillard is going to say in her book due out on Monday. Essentially, she says Maxime Bernier is an arrogant, womanizing SOB who badmouths his party leader and his constituents behind their backs and whose primary concern is himself.

I’m trying to contain my shock. I mean, a politician who’s self-obsessed and hides his true feelings from the public? What is this world coming to?

Of course, I’m willing to trust these claims about as much as I am Bernier’s denials. The fact that she’s releasing such a book in the first place (and has moved the publication date back a week to have more of an impact before the election) shows quite a bit about her character.

But if we assume that what she says in the book is true, does that make Bernier a horrible person? Concluding that sovereignty is inevitable and saying your prime minister is too fat are clearly offenses worthy of expulsion, and badmouthing your own constituents is usually political suicide. But I find it hard to imagine any politician not doing these things on a regular basis.

Do we really think that Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae aren’t trash-talking Stéphane Dion in private? Or that Gilles Duceppe thinks he can win 75 seats in this election? Or that Jack Layton doesn’t think Alberta Conservatives are stupid? Or that John McCain and Barack Obama are really as religious as they let on?

There were a couple of scenes in the West Wing’s last two seasons in which presidential candidates said that voters are asking to be lied to when they put their politicians up to such unrealistic standards.

So, in the end, should the most successful politicians simply be those who are better at concealing their private thoughts and keeping their lies going?

I think that’s a scarier thought than a minister leaving confidential papers at the home of a biker chick.

Party leaders, only with more hair

CBC’s Archives, which has good stuff but unfortunately encodes it using Windows Media, which I have to play using my choppy, buggy Quicktime plugin instead of a universal Flash player, has found archival footage of the five party leaders. As you can see, they have wacky hairstyles (Duceppe’s mullet being the most awesome) and big glasses and stuff.

Dion, Harper and Duceppe are all from the same turbulent early 90s era. Dion a political scientist commenting on the Charlottetown Accord pre-referendum. Harper from when he was a Reform Party wonk and before he was elected an MP, and Duceppe after he was elected in a by-election as the first Bloc Québécois MP (and the whole he-swore-an-oath-to-the-Queen controversy).

Layton is from a decade earlier, when he was elected in a surprise upset to Toronto City Council.

But the most interesting clip is of Elizabeth May, 30 years ago in 1978. It’s actually a feature piece for The Fifth Estate, about a debate in Nova Scotia on whether to spray the forest with insecticide to fight the spruce budworm which was devastating forests. Forestry executives were for it, wanting to protect their trees and fearing an epidemic. May was against it, saying the spray had health risks associated with it.

Curious, I looked up the Wikipedia article to see what happened with the whole debate. It seems the infestation died out on its own, as May predicted, and an environmentally-friendly insecticide was created to deal with the problem as well.

(via Tea Makers)

Long live a free Quebec!

According to Affiliation Quebec’s Allen Nutik:

Now that National Unity has become an election topic, almost nothing threatens Canadian National Unity more than the blatant and unconscionable abandonment of more than one million Quebecers of non-French origin by federal political party leaders, Harper, Dion, and Layton.

I agree. In fact, I think if the federal government doesn’t step up right away, anglo Quebecers might lead a secession movement and try to make Quebec its own country. The only problem, of course, is that we’d need to convince the francophone majority to go along with us, and that’ll never happen.

Good thing we have Duceppe in our corner though.

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.

GRN: 1

Congratulations Green Party on selling your soul to a corrupt Liberal reject in a desperate bid for legitimacy getting your first MP into the House of Commons. Of course, negotiating for an independent to join your party is entirely different from actually having someone win an election under your party banner, but it’s a first step anyway.

Now, as André Pratte asks, does this mean we have to let the Greens into the party leaders’ debates?

By-election politicians on Facebook

As a follow-up to my overview of the candidates in the Sept. 8 by-election in Westmount Ville-Marie, here’s a quick rundown of the campaigns’ Facebook strategies (sorted by number of supporters):

(UPDATE Aug. 19: Mr. Larivée has joined the club, so I’ve updated the list as of today)

Anne Lagacé-Dowson (NDP)

  • Fan page: YES
  • Supporters: 511
  • Personal page: NO

Marc Garneau (Liberal)

  • Fan page: YES
  • Supporters: 370
  • Personal page: YES
  • Embarrassing personal information on personal page: NO

Claude William Genest (Green)

  • Fan page: YES
  • Supporters: 178
  • Personal page: YES (Though his profile pic is of a chimp hugging a bird)
  • Embarrassing personal information on personal page: Open wall, “flirt” box on his profile page, and photos of him dressed as a pimp. Does that count?

Charles Larivée (Bloc Québécois)

  • Fan page: YES (though it’s actually a group, not a fan page)
  • Supporters: 120
  • Personal page: YES
  • Embarrassing personal information on personal page: Nope, it’s wiped clean

Judith Vienneau (Rhino)

  • Fan page: YES (but no photo)
  • Supporters: 8 (ouch)
  • Personal page: YES
  • Embarrassing personal information on personal page: Plenty of TMI boxes on the profile page. Also, apparently wanted to be leader of the Libertarian Party. Maybe Rhino was her second choice?

Guy Dufort (Conservative)

  • Fan page: NO
  • Personal page: YES (private)

Many politicians have fake “personal” profiles setup, which I think is largely irrelevant since Facebook invented the fan page. So I won’t take any marks away from Lagacé Dowson for that. But Dufort and Larivée not having any Facebook exposure at all? That’s just not right.

The by-election campaign has begun

From Shatnerian

From Shatnerian

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it official Friday, announcing that three federal by-elections would be held on Sept. 8 in Westmount-Ville-Marie, St. Lambert and Guelph, Ontario.

Westmount-Ville-Marie features the big race for us Montrealers, as the Liberals and NDP both have star candidates. Perhaps coincidentally, they are the only ones with campaign posters or websites as of this writing.

The candidates are (essentially in order of the likelihood of them getting the seat):

  • LIB: Marc Garneau, former astronaut, who failed in a bid for the Vaudreuil riding in the last election. His biggest advantage here is not so much his star quality, but the fact that Westmount used to be a Liberal stronghold.
  • NDP: Anne Lagacé Dowson, CBC radio host. I’m not sure if Jack Layton has a CBC Radio fetish he wants to play out or something, as two of the NDP’s three candidates come from the Mother Corp. (Tom King in Guelph is the other). She has some name recognition, but those who recognize her are people who listen religiously to the CBC and are likely to vote NDP anyway. And a lot of people who do listen to her don’t seem to like her. She has a way of presenting herself that makes her seem a tad pretentious and patronizing. Her political credentials are also pretty weak. (Full disclosure: I worked with Anne for about two weeks at CBC Radio – not long enough to develop an opinion, but long enough for her to have paid me off, theoretically)
  • CON: Guy Dufort, a lawyer with Heenan Blaikie specializing in labour law. No website. Website still hasn’t been indexed by Google, so a search for “Guy Dufort” won’t get you information about the candidate.
  • BQ: Charles Larivée, a former (current?) president of the McGill Political Science Students Association. No website, and no hope. (Top Google hit for the name is my previous post about this race)
  • GRN: Claude Genest, deputy Green Party leader and former cast member on TV’s Sirens.


The NDP has apparently chosen its candidate for its next most likely by-election pickup in Quebec: the downtown riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie. No, it’s not the guy in the above video (though he sounds like he’d be awesome), it’s CBC Radio Noon host Anne Lagacé Dowson:

(Note: May not be exactly as pictured)

I worked with Anne during my very brief stint at CBC Radio. Considering how incompetent I was, she seemed like a pretty nice person. The fact that she’s running for office under the NDP banner is hardly surprising (though I doubt she and Jack Layton agree on every issue)

Now the NDP seems to think that after their stunning win in Outremont, getting a broadcast journalist on board is the magic ticket to a second win in Quebec.

Unfortunately, it’s no guarantee. Just look at Peter Kent, former Global National anchor who lost for the Conservatives in Toronto (he’s trying his luck again in a much more affluent York riding). And he was at least on TV. (Get Mutsumi Takahashi or Nancy Wood to run and we’ll talk)

Even worse, her opponent is another star candidate (albeit another failed one), former astronaut Marc Garneau.

The riding, which mainly covers Westmount and western downtown (plus a bit of eastern NDG) could be hard to predict, with a mix of rich anglo Westmounters and poor hippie Concordia students. But the federal riding covering Westmount has been Liberal since 1962, and that’s a lot of history to overcome for a party that hasn’t done better than third with 15% of the vote.

Due to a conflict of interest, Lagacé Dowson has taken a leave of absence from CBC Radio, and the latter immediately scrubbed all mention of her from its website.

UPDATE (July 7): It’s “confirmed” apparently (as if there was doubt). Lagacé Dowson is, as usual, humble:

“I am not falling on my sword in Westmount,” she told a handful of supporters. “This liberal tradition isn’t serving us very well, and we don’t like what the Conservatives are doing to us. I am not running to make a good showing; I am running to win. If Barack Obama against all odds can capture the leadership of the Democratic party in the United States, who says a woman can’t capture the hearts and minds of Westmount for the NDP?”

I’m not quite sure how this relates to Barack Obama, nor being a woman (especially since the riding’s former MP, Lucienne Robillard, has two X chromosomes last time I checked), but don’t let that interfere with the historicness.

Meanwhile, the other parties have filled out their candidates. Just to show how confident the Bloc Québécois is at winning a seat in Westmount, they’ve nominated Charles Larivée, who according to Google is the president of the McGill Political Science Students Association.

Aborted fetus, mom and Morgentaler

I know this may shock and amaze you, but not everyone agrees that Henry Morgentaler, the father of abortion rights in Canada, should receive the Order of Canada. Many Tories and conservative Liberals are against it.

Of course, they’re not stupid enough to say it’s because they disagree with the guy on abortion rights, something the majority of Canadians support. Instead, they bring up some silliness about how the OOC recipients should be people who “unite” Canadians instead of “dividing” them.

Which would make Pierre Trudeau immediately ineligible.

One of the comments on the Star article suggests that Paul Bernardo should be next in line for the order the way it’s going. I guess he means that Morgentaler is a murderer and that advocating abortion rights is one step from serial killing. The Holocaust can’t be far off.

But then, Bernardo is probably a good bet by the Tories’ definition. After all, we’re all united in our feelings about him.