a "national treasure," the Vancouver Sun wonders how it would work for others. (More here.)
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a "national treasure," the Vancouver Sun wonders how it would work for others. (More here.)
Via Maclean's Aaron Wherry, CP's Joan Bryden dug up this 2004 smoking-gun interview snippet on Harper's justification then for trying to form a government despite placing second in seats - the spectre he now warns of:
A reporter asked whether Canadians might not "get the impression that you're trying to run the government here even though you've lost the election."
Harper responded: "It is the Parliament that's supposed to run the country, not just the largest party and the single leader of that party. I guess that's a criticism that I've had and that we've had and that most Canadians have had for a long, long time." [Emphasis added.]
...after these commercial messages.
Grits have released about half a dozen hastily made ads with the catchy theme, "Is this your Canada or Harper's?" I expect these anti-Harper ads, devoid of Grit promises, are preaching to the converted. But not a bad base on which to build the case for a Liberal alternative.
Layton's sincere but looks tired. Biggest change from previous campaigns: the giant Canadian flag - no orange in sight.
"Is it [the Libya mission] a war, intervention or a squirmish?" -Sarah Palin, Fox News commentator. I think I speak without fear of refudiation that it's all three.
Will the coalition have to arm the Libyan rebels? (Andrew Sullivan, Atlantic) * Who exactly are the Libyan rebels we're backing? (Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker) * Grim reality sets in that Libya will be a long struggle. (Justin Elliott, Salon)
Syria dictator leaves decades-long "state of emergency" in place, confounding world foreign-policy establishment. (CNN) * Also blames uprisings on "international conspiracy." (Al Jazeera) But not yet al-Qaeda and last week's extreme supermoon, Gadhafi's prime suspects.
Among the toughest U.S. commutes: Bayshore Freeway (U.S. 101 southbound)
GPS data identify America's 10 worst commutes. (Michael Zak, AOL News)
Paul Farrell: Tax the super-rich now, before there's a revolution. (MarketWire)
Andrew Leonard: GOP war is moving from labor to academia. (Salon)
Brian Palmer: Does it matter Belgium has gone without a government for a year? (Slate)
Annals of Commerce
For Air Canada, new 787 Dreamliner will be a game-changer. (Brent Jang, Globe and Mail)
Rags mogul Peter Nygard to sue CBC over unflattering documentary. (Kevin Engstrom, Winnipeg Sun)
Obama to unveil new energy strategy today, including incentives to spur domestic oil and gas production. (Kate Andersen Brower and Roger Runningen, Bloomberg News) * And curb U.S. oil imports by one-third. (Steven Mufson, WaPo)
Frances Russell: Deception, thy name is Harper. (Winnipeg Free Press)
Jim Stanford: Tories' economic stewardship doesn't exactly merit a gold medal. (Globe and Mail)
Tim Harper: Iggy must battle apathy and a ticking clock. (Toronto Star)
Barbara Yaffe: PM's "mean gene" still a little too prominent. (Vancouver Sun)
Jeffrey Simpson: Campaign will duck looming Quebec separatist resurgence. (Globe and Mail)
Bruce Campion-Smith: Coalition issue still monkey on Harper's back. (Toronto Star)
Heather Mallick: The Harper anthem: "USA! USA!" (Toronto Star)
John Ivison: The merits of Ignatieff's Learning Passport. (National Post)
John Ibbitson: It's jobs vs. quality of life for Canadian voters. (Globe and Mail)
John Doyle: Tories massage the medium, kneading and feeding it. (Globe and Mail)
Twittersphere dominated by 0.05% of users. (Ericaa Ho, Techland/Time) * Twitter founder Jack Dempsey, understandably, wants to make Twitter more mainstream. (Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, WSJ)
Lost love is leading source of regret among Americans. (James Brady Ryan, Nerve.com) Among Canucks, backing certain NHL trades would qualify.
The Globe's Bruce Anderson, like me, thinks all the coalition talk has worked against Harper in Week 1. Kinsella disagrees, sort of.
With Saturday's effort by Michael Ignatieff to clear up any ambiguity in his position on this issue, combined with the disclosures by Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe that Mr. Harper’s allergy to coalitions is not something he was born with, the Conservative Leader is now faced with a difficult choice.
To continue hammering away at this theme is to risk a voter backlash. Either because people tire of the allegation he is making, which he can’t really can’t prove, and thus is nothing more than saying Mr. Ignatieff is a liar. Or because talking about it more means people hear more about the 2004 discussion he had with Messrs. Layton and Duceppe and come to believe the PM is a hypocrite.
Please, God, make it stop: The endless, never-ceasing, interminable [fill in your own synonym - ed.] preoccupation with the coalition stuff – here and here and here and here - is going to send an entire despairing nation to the medicine cabinet. It’s worse than boring – it’s completely irrelevant. On the list of issues with which Canadian are preoccupied, is “coalition” even in the Top Five? No, it is not. This subject has become a classic case of North of the Queensway – you know, Ottawa politicians talking all about the things that matter to them, and not at all about the things that matter to the Canadians they allegedly serve. The politician(s) who shift the discourse to jobs and whatnot will benefit. But who will?
And now, let me completely contradict myself: My friend Tom Flanagan shows, once again, why (a) he’s honest and (b) he ain’t a monkey to Harper’s organ grinder (Tim Hudak and Lisa MacLeod are that). Said Flanagan, on Stephen Harper’s hypocrisy/dishonesty on forming a Conservative/NDP/Bloc coalition government: “I can’t see what other point there would have been in writing the letter [to the G.G.] except to remind everybody that it was possible to change the government in that set of circumstances without an election.” Ipso facto, Harper is lying his face off; so says his campaign manager. Take the coalition club away from him, as Gilles Duceppe is doing, and beat the Hell out of him with it. It’ll work.
Like me, National Post's Tasha Kheiriddin thinks of the coalition meme as "the gift that keeps on giving" - though not always to the Tories' disadvantage:
Just when you thought the C-word was fading amidst a slew of policy announcements, it gets a second wind, thanks to… the NDP. Turns out the NDP candidate in Elgin-Middlesex-London has bailed and thrown his support to the Liberals, in an effort to prevent a Harper majority.
Ryan Dolby suddenly announced through an email Wednesday morning he’s leaving the race to throw his support behind Liberal Graham Warwick.
“I am worried if Stephen Harper gets a majority. I made a strategic decision,” Dolby said.
So I guess now we'll have a round of punditry on the pros and cons of strategic voting, of which coalition considerations are integral.
The Globe goes big with Nanos' latest voter pulse-taking, playing up the Tories' 10-point lead.
1. We got all sweaty last week that Harris-Decima had Tories at 43%. Forty-three per cent is a majority. Thirty-eight point four per cent is not.
2. I flicked at this earlier, but a little more detail this time.
In the early summer of 2004, before the Swift-Boaters began their unanswered attacks (not unlike the Tories' unanswered attack ads on Iggy since December), Kerry was leading Bush by as much as 10 points. Kerry's the one pol I so desperatedly wanted to win (well, I wanted Bush to lose) that I got myself off to church to pray for him election night. It doesn't work that way, as even I knew at the time.
But one of the big 2004 lessons for me, courtesy the late William Safire, was that it's not the poll numbers that count. It's the direction. Late into the summer Kerry held his lead over Bush, but by ever narrower margins.
What I see in the Nanos numbers above is the Tories slipping ever so slightly, and the Grits gaining, ever so slightly. But the direction's clear enough. In an early post-writ poll, it's Tories heading down, Grits trending up.
And that's before the Grit and NDP ads that launched today, before the platforms of the three opposition parties are released, before the TV debates.
It'll be a while, if ever, that I change my mind about this being Harper's election to lose. But this race is bound to tighten up, as elections generally do.
Stephen Harper in a duet with YouTube sensation Maria Aragon, who sing "Imagine" during a Winnipeg campaign stop. (Winnipeg Sun)
The one we don't know is married to a dreamy motorcyclist, adores his kids, has the talent of a concert pianist (he once put in a marvelous performance with the National Arts Centre orchestra, and gave an impromptu tutorial at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music while in town on other business), and is toiling on a definitive history of the NHL. There are stories of his comforting journalists who've lost beloved colleagues in combat coverage. He has co-starred with Rick Mercer, to mirthful effect.
I've often thought - if only our worldviews were aligned - I'd enjoy working with Harper on his image (dreadfully cynical term). Which counsel would consist simply of letting us see just a bit more of Harper after quitting time.
Otherwise, too much of what we know of Harper is high-handedness, autocratic tendencies, a mean streak a kilometre wide, and gratuitous, even child-like surliness.
He's a better man than that. It's a shame we see signs of another Harper so infrequently. As much as Canadians respect the privacy of public figures, Harper needn't have taken that to extremes, and it has long hurt him.
The NDP and Grits are faulting Lawrence Cannon, the foreign affairs minister, for dispatching an underling to the Tuesday summit of 40 foreign ministers in London on how to best manage the Libyan mission.
"He should have gone," said Paul Dewar, the NDP's foreign affairs critic.
Bob Rae, Dewar's Grit counterpart, chimes in to say he'd given Cannon the all-clear to cross the pond and there'd be no partisan criticism.
Actually, this is one of Harper's talking points, about an unnecessary election at a time of economic and geopolitical disarray. Cannon's focus on the campaign trail is by long-standing tradition. And his no-show in London is indeed a casualty of an election call pretty much as Harper warned.
So I'd have missed this particular opportunity to slag the Tories.
Actually, the party leaders have run pretty much a strictly domestic-issues campaign - their silence on Libya has been deafening. That's a contrast with U.S. presidential and Congressional races, where even hopefuls for Indiana 7 can expect to field tough questions on the world beyond the oceans.
Here's my one big question: To demonstrate their conviction on this point, why didn't one or more of the opposition parties think to dispatch their foreign affairs critics to London? Or is it possible that Dewar, Rae and Claude Bachand have seats to defend as Cannon does? Heck, they could have gotten a group rate from Transat and made a real show of taking the high road.
Failing that, they or their parties could have told Canadians what they would have said in London.
No time for that either?
Okay, then we'll put it down as a cheap shot.
At least he was born here.
But why is it that when Iggy says, as he did last night at a Richmond, B.C. rally, that “I swear to you, I’m in this battle for Canadians," I'm immediately reminded the Grit leader spent most of his adult life abroad?
Ignatieff is of an older generation that "graduated" from Canada.
I've always had a pebble in my shoe about folks who give up on this country. Conrad Black and my grandmother on my Dad's side are my touchstones on this. Wouldn't you know it, when grandma had outlived two husbands and was all alone in her California gated retirement village, it then struck her that she needed to end her 20-year self-exile to benefit from the care and companionship of her son in Toronto. A Canadian by convenience.
Then there are the Norman Jewisons and Shania Twains, who return home so often they've never really left. On Canada Day, Jewison has one of Southern California's biggest backyard fetes, for fellow ex-pats among the half-million Canadians working in Hollywood. My heart's with them, obviously. Ditto Celine Dion, Michael Fox ("Of course I wish I could still live in Vancouver, who wouldn't?" he told Letterman) and Justin Bieber. Maybe only a 17-year-old hearthrob can get away with telling Americans, on U.S. soil, that "you're evil," a reference to the U.S. lack of universal heathcare.
Iggy also tutored supporters on the calling to which he's so new: "In politics, hope always wins out over fear."
Oy. Tell that to Bob Stanfield, Adlai Stevenson, John Turner, fans of the long-form census and advocates of a properly run long-gun registry.
I know this kind of ear candy is a stump staple. But a supposed intellect and student of history, who lived among the Kurds for heaven's sake, would know the hollowness of that expression. And would at least find a novel way of recasting that sophistry. (He's an author, no?)
Iggy also had some caustic words last night about the PM's "arrogance," for seeking a majority. How odd that a minority PM would seek a majority, as Pearson repeated tried and failed to do.
I'm just old enough, a Trudeau-era kid, to still have a knee-jerk association of "arrogance" with Grits. And if it isn't arrogant to pop by and seek the leadership of a country you've long ago abandoned, it's chutzpah or delusionalism or something not agreeable.
There are useful things Iggy could say.
He could start with a heart-felt explanation of why he felt a compulsion to return to Canada. He could then turn the liability of being seen as an interloper on its head. He could say, "I've seen enough of the world [insert CV here] to know Canada is the world's most nearly perfect country. And that's why I came back, to seek the privilege to work with you to take Canada to an even better place."
He won't, though.
Granted it's Ignatieff's first campaign as leader. (Remember how Mike Harris fared in 1990?). But Ignatieff is a muddle. I don't think at 63 that's going to change. Which means Iggy will likely join Edward Blake and Stephane Dion as the only leaders of the Liberal Party never to become PM.
May has once again been shut out of the televised leaders' debate.
Green Party sentiment in Canada is impressive, at about 9% in the polls. That's just shy of the Bloc's 9% to 10% national support. It's just over half the support commanded by the NDP. Not bad for a party with no seats in the Commons.
Concentrated as it is in Quebec, Bloc support translates into scores of seats. The Green vote is scattered across 308 ridings, in no place registering in sufficient strength to win the party a seat. Ms May could have won a seat, but chose in 2008 to reject ridings with promising high levels of Green support, was narrowly defeated in the unwinnable Peter MacKay-held Central Nova, and then disappeared from view. (She's taking on yet another Tory cabinet veteran this time, Gary Lunn, but at least his tree-hugger B.C. riding is more promising.)
I don't recall environmental issues disappearing from view since 2008. Neither did the NGOs and even private-sector corporations who've been mightily engaged in the gamut of pressing environment issues including the Athabasca tar sands, bike lanes as a remedy for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to the Kyoto II summit in Stockholm.
Here's Gerry Caplan on the Greens:
The Greens may re-materialize under Elizabeth May, MIA. After running a strong campaign in 2008, vindicating those of us who called for her to appear on the leaders’ debates, Ms. May promptly disappeared. Since climate change remains one of the world’s greatest crises – I will refrain from insulting readers by pointing out the tragic evidence – this campaign needs her very badly.
Warren Kinsella puts it less delicately:
May’s Boring: Look, Liz, we all (me included) wanted you in the debate last time. Price of admission? Your suggestion that you would win seats. Well, you didn’t. You had your shot, you blew it. When you get invited to the big kids’ table, you have to show you belong. You didn’t. You don’t.
National Post's Tasha Kheiriddin weighs in:
Canada does not have any requirements that our Prime Minister be born in the country, which is a good thing for one candidate: Elizabeth May. Ms. May hails from Connecticut, where she was raised until the age of 18, and still holds dual Canadian and American citizenship, a fact she doesn’t deny, but doesn’t exactly advertise either. ...
Dual citizenship is a different issue than birthplace, because it implies dual allegiance, something a national leader should not have. Of course, Ms. May has about as much chance of becoming Prime Minister as my daughter’s stuffed bunny doll, so her pedigree is pretty much a non-issue. But it does make her past attacks on the United States, from Bush-bashing to bemoaning its nasty political culture, ring kind of hollow. If you don’t like what the country stands for, why retain your citizenship? Just a thought.
Caplan may once again go to bat for May to take her place on in a televised debate alongside the leaders who've continued to take national politics seriously all this time that she's been AWOL. But he won't have much company this time.
The Greens have been ill-served by the first two leaders of the Green Party, whose most tangible contribution to the world has been, so far as I know, to have its logo become the inspiration for the current, eco-friendly logo of BP, that avatar of environmental stewardship.
Caplan's right that the campaign needs a real a Green Party leader. Whatever May's been up to these past two-and-a-half years since the last vote, she should step aside and focus on that without the pretense of a part-time gig she hasn't taken seriously.
Layton backs May's participation in TV debates. (Globe and Mail)
Chantal Hebert: Why May shouldn't be in the debates. (Toronto Star)
David Olive is a business and current affairs columnist at the Star, which he joined in 2001 after stints at the Globe and Mail, National Post and Financial Post.
"If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion."
- George Bernard Shaw