The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Saturday, May 29, 2004


Day 7: Harper's in-and-out

Quick observations from Stephen Harper's visit, brief though it was, to Vancouver -- well, actually, Richmond.

  • Spin machine par excellence John Reynolds was on form, introducing most of the 21 Conservative candidates in the Lower Mainland, and swearing that they'd all win -- including Harvey Grigg in Vancouver East(!). Absent from the rally: Ted White, Chuck Strahl, Paul Forseth, Randy Kamp, and Mark Warawa.

  • Bunch of stale jokes from Harper (so stale that I've heard the one about the Liberal with his hands in his own pockets 3 times, and I'm not travelling with the campaign!), but a new one about the NDP's inheritance tax proposal (which Harper called a "tax on family values"): "The Liberals will to tax you to death; then the NDP will tax your corpse." That one's a keeper.

  • Harper deftly dodged questions from local reporters about whether his tax and spending promises could add up -- like cutting $18-billion annually in taxes while increasing provincial transfer payments for health, setting up a national pharmacare program, higher defence spending, et cetera. One hack pointed out that BC'ers heard this talk a couple of years back from Gordon Campbell, and the reality didn't match Gordo's rhetoric. Harper dismissed the questions, saying that the budget situations at the provincial level is very different from the federal one.

  • On transportation issues: Harper would not commit to matching Paul Martin's offer on sharing gas taxes with municipalities, but said that he would announce his plan in full next week. As for whether he would keep the $450-million that Ottawa has promised for rapid transit expansion in Vancouver on the table, he hedged: "We will honour any firm commitments... but we generally would prefer to transfer money to local communities rather than get involved in specific projects." I don't hear an answer there.

  • Same sex marriage: Harper thinks that his personal position (opposed) is the one favoured by the "vast majority" of Canadians. He wouldn't bite on a question of how it would play with Lower Mainland voters.

  • Why isn't Harper mainstreeting, preferring stump speeches in front of the same blue blackdrop and same safe partisan environments? "It's the leader's job to meet a lot of people through the media."

  • The travelling press corps are all Blackberried, which means that they can now receive partisan spam in real-time! Woo-hoo. Tom Popyk, himself no technophobe, says Blackberry, Schmackberry. I agree. Besides, it costs me money to get wireless spam on my phone, and I really can wait until getting to an Internet-connected computer to read most of it.

  • On the other hand, if you had to listen to the same stump speech several times a day, partisan spam might be a welcome change.

  • Finally, Jean Chretien was often criticized for coming to BC only for quick partisan fuctions, and then blowing out of town just like that. Guess what Harper just did?

Now, off to another political function, this one in East Vancouver. Ain't elections fun?

UPDATE: Toronto Star reporter Tonda MacCharles reports on Harper's brief visit to Richmond.
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