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

Monday, May 31, 2004


Poll Vault: Day 9

Good news(?) for the Grits -- SES Research/CPAC: Liberal 36, Conservative 26, NDP 20, Bloc 13, Green 5. (May 28-30, n=600, +/-4.1%, 19/20)

Bad news for the Grits -- Ipsos/CTV/Globe and Mail: Liberal 34, Conservative 30, NDP , Bloc 11 (44 in Quebec), Green 6, Other 2. (May 28-30, n=1000, +/-3.1%, 19/20) Notable: Grits and Conservatives statistically tied in Ontario, NDP falls sharply in BC (though the BC sample is only about 130 people), 66% of Canadians are saying time for a change -- but what kind of change? Ipsos' seat projections don't show any party getting a majority, and the only coalition that would exceed 156 seats would be a possibly unthinkable Bloc-Conservative coalition. Wouldn't you love seeing those two try to hash out foreign, social, or energy policy? Well, maybe if you're into soap operas...

OBVIOUS QUESTIONS: With the Conservatives being very close indeed to at least a share of power, will the national media begin to harsly scrutinize on the Conservatives' agenda once the platform is further revealed this week? Will anyone be able to figure out just what sort of government Stephen Harper is actually talking about, or will it be whatever government you want him to provide?

Sign Wars, Day 9

With a week gone in the campaign, the lawn signs are now more than a curiosity. The Liberals were quick on the draw, setting up signs for their star (read: handpicked) candidates Ujjal Dosanjh and David Emerson as soon as the election call came. The others have now started to catch up. In Dosanjh's Vancouver South riding, NDP candidate Bev Meslo has made a pretty good showing considering the NDP's recent poor showings in South, with roughly one sign for every three of Dosanjh's. This is not altogether bad news for Conservative candidate Victor Soo Chan, who trails both the current and former NDPer; more support for Meslo means less for Dosanjh, giving Soo Chan a decent shot at the riding.

North of 41st Avenue in Vancouver-Kingsway, the Ian Waddell campaign has finally responded to Liberal candidate David Emerson's early flurry of 4' × 4' lawn signs with a major blitz of his own, especially in Kingsway's eastern reaches. Conservative Jesse Johl also has a few signs up. Vancouver East has a glut of Libby Davies signs after a weekend of blitzing by some of Davies's thousand-plus volunteers; you've got to work hard to find a sign for any of her rivals. Conservative Stephen Rogers and Liberal incumbent Stephen Owen are both making strong showings in Quadra in a battle of Vancouver bluebloods; NDPer David Askew trails.

Downtown Vancouver is not a place where you'll find many signs, for the simple reason that ther aren't many lawns. Unfortunately, vandals hit the offices of two very different Liberals: Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt and Vancouver-Centre MP Hedy Fry both had their office windows smashed in over the weekend.

Oh, and outgoing Vancouver South MP Herb Dhaliwal has called for Liberal campaign Svengali David Herle's head. Any bets on how many other Grits share Herb's views on the Martin juggernaut-that-ain't?

No tequila, no Sheila

No John Crosbie, either. Rats. Crosbie versis John Efford would have made for one fun race in Avalon.

Week 1: Slow Start

The first week of the federal election campaign is over. Andrew Coyne's calling it "Canada Held Hostage." I'm leaning more toward "Canada Held Hostile." Some thoughts and reflections, all off-the-cuff:

LIBERALS: Apparently, they want you to "choose your Canada." We're still trying to figure out exactly what kind of Canada the Grits are talking about. Seems like the Canada as it exists, with a bit more money sent to the local level for health care and transportation projects.

Their attacks on the Conservatives' plans for an "American-style" tax and social service regime have been vague at best and puerile at worst, which partly explains why the Liberals were getting far more negative than positive coverage in the McGill election news survey. Liberal bright spots: they announced that Ottawa would transfer $2-billion of fuel taxes to local governments to fund transportation improvements, and while their health-care "fix" might have been derided as too modest, it wasn't tagged as being a budget-buster, and made the front page of every major newspaper. All told, not a great week.

CONSERVATIVES: Bo-ring. Stephen Harper hammered away, as expected, on the issues of corruption and accountability, getting quite sanctimonious in the process. The Conservative campaign is still unwilling either to get their leader out from friendly settings" or to adapt their game plan to the other parties' moves. The Star's Chantal Hebert compared the Harper tour to watching paint dry; Paul Wells criticized him for running a timid and incurious campaign reflecting the unsteady foundations of his new party.

Despite the Liberals' announcement of gas tax transfers or new health spending initiatives, neither Stephen Harper nor his team would respond directly, preferring to release their platform as scheduled. Such a, well, ah... conservative strategy is what you typically see from a front-runner trying to hold their lead, not a party that is still behind.

To Harper's chagrin, party language policy critic Scott Reid brought up bilingualism this week when he said that Conservatives would severely scale back French-language government services in areas with small Francophone populations. Harper immediately gassed Reid. The message was clear: even if Reid was the party point man, he isn't if he's not going to speak the official, new, warm, fuzzy Conservative party line. In English Canada, it was a 2-day wonder; it might hurt Harper in Atlantic ridings with substantial French-speaking populations. If, however, other Conservative notables talk of a government more radical than the official, new, warm, fuzzy message, the Liberal suggestion that the Conservatives are a radical Republican Party North will gain traction.

NDP: Hot and cold. Starting the campaign in Vancouver and addressing urban affairs was a solid move, as was the bilingual stroll through Vancouver's Chinatown. The NDP was also first to release their full platform (PDF, 478 kb), and were unapologetic about promising more social-welfare spending and increasing taxes on high-income Canadians and businesses. Whatever you think about their agenda, you can't call it hidden.

Smartest policy changes: first, raising the basic personal income tax exemption to $15,000, which would save a full-time worker about $1,000 annually regardless of income; second, dropping that NDP's longstanding commitment to drop out of NATO; now, they favour rejuvenating the alliance. Dumbest move: it wasn't the inheritance tax, but rather announcing that an NDP government would repeal the Clarity Act, before later backing down. The Clarity Act is popular in Western Canada, and the odds of this move costing the NDP critical support in the West are much better than those of it winning Pierre Ducasse a seat in Manicouagan.

The NDP's attacks were split between the Liberals and Conservatives which, according to Mount Royal College poli-sci prof Keith Brownsey, diluted the NDP campaign's effectiveness. Brownsey said that Layton's fist week on the trail was "awful." Layton also got into trouble for blaming the deaths of homeless people on Liberal cutbacks, but once again stood by his statements, getting quite emotional in the process. Give Layton credit, though, for putting the lack of affordable housing -- mostly concentrated in cities where people are moving to find work -- onto the national agenda instead of letting it stay buried beneath the Medicare/Adscam behemoth. The week ended fittingly with Jack Layton's wifelife partner, Olivia Chow, and Layton's Liberal rival, Dennis Mills, getting into a shouting match in Toronto.

SPIN MACHINE: Surprise, surprise! The Conservatives and Liberals accused the other parties off gaffe-fests. According to the Conservatives, the Liberals were sending mixed messages on the gun registry, equalization, and fisheries, while attacking a right-wing think tank that happens to have a Liberal on its board of directors. Meantime, the Liberals were tossing barbs in both directions: Jack Layton is a loose cannon, while the Conservatives have a hidden agenda -- that of the old Reform Party. Naturally, both parties claimed victory...

POLL VAULT: Only two nationwide polls were publicly released this week. A La Presse/Toronto Star/EKOS poll (May 25-27, n=1306, +/-2.7%, 19/20) has the Grits leading the Tories among decided voters by a margin of 38% to 30%, with the NDP at 18%. Les Bloquistes were down at 11. SES Research's daily tracking poll for CPAC (n=600, +/- 4.1%) puts the Liberals in a statistical dead heat with the Conservatives as of May 29th.

CONCLUSION: No party came close to a winning week. Paul Martin was simultaneously saying that you can only have one priority while rabbiting on equally on a half-dozen others, the Conservatives were timid and unresponsive, while the NDP's scores were matched by both gaffes and uncertainty. Give this one to the Conservatives by default, but let's be clear what kind of "win" this is: one where a pair of nines beats three hands with nothing.

NEXT WEEK: Stephen Harper is going to be working Ontario, and only Ontario, from west to east all week; he won't bother with the Liberal/NDP-leaning north. CP reports that the Conservatives will use the week to take down incumbent Liberal MPs in marginal ridings. He'll also unveil his party's full budgetary platform, so policy wonks will have something to chew on and dissect. Jack Layton bounces from town to town, but will be visiting both Saskatchewan and Vancouver Island; both places where the NDP are hoping to make serious gains, as well as Edmonton. Similarly, Paul Martin swings back into Western Canada, hitting Saskatoon on Monday and returns to Vancouver on Tuesday before jetting off to Winnipeg, arguably the most Liberal city in Western Canada. Will he announce any new policies or (just as good of a vote-getter) goodies while he's here? Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 30, 2004



Thanks to the staff at for declaring this unreliable blog as one of their election sites to watch. Props also to Raymond over at VanRamblings and Tom at Trail Spotter for the links and praise. I'll try not to disappoint.

TODAY: Paul Martin and Stephen Harper take the day off; Jack Layton doesn't (maybe it's true that Ms. Chow's food is his secret weapon); neither does Gilles Duceppe. Brian Tobin, enjoying the freedom that comes from not runnning for office, thinks that his party might be headed for a minority. In a scene reminiscent of what happened to Svend Robinson's constituency office in 1988 shortly after Svend came out of the closet, Winnipeg Mayor-turned Liberal Candidate Glen Murray's campaign office was vandalized and tagged with anti-gay graffiti; some anonymous poltroon on Pierre Bourque's chatboard thinks Murray faked it for publicity. As if.

LATER TODAY: Expect a roundup from week one of the election campaign. Who pushed the right buttons? The wrong ones? Brought up some issues that had been drowned out by the ever-present Medicare and Adscam? Also, I'll update the links to more journo-blogs, election news portals, and sites with good voter resources. See you then.

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.

Friday, May 28, 2004


Media Anal-Lysis

Despite being a part-time media critic type, or because of my unlofty position, I tend to look rather dimly upon research into "the media." That holds especially true when it comes to such things as bias and hidden agendas. Frequenty, the studies seem to say as much about the researchers as the press that they study.

Nonetheless, here's a few links to election-related media crit.


Chasing Paul — not

Paul Martin was in town yesterday; I'd considered trying to meet up with his campaign tour. After all, he was swinging through Vancouver, and there was always the chance to get some answers out of him. Martin was running an hour behind schedule as he flitted from retirement home to reseach lab to bun toss, and not answering any questions along the way. So I decided better; I'm pretty sure that Terminal City readers don't give much of a crap about his soundbites. I guessed well; Martin's stopover was so un-newsworthy that it scarcely made the Globe and Mail, while the Vancouver Sun left it to languish on A4 despite a front-page photo of Martin looking through a microscope.

That makes two federal leaders that have swept though British Columbia since the election call came. Jack Layton kicked off his campaign in Vancouver, and may return to British Columbia as often as once a week. (That's not a huge change; Layton has seemingly been in BC every other week since last fall.) Conservative leader Stephen Harper sweeps into Richmond tomorrow, a riding the Conservatives hope to grab from the Liberals who got it through floor-crossing from an Alliance MP who knocked off the Liberal Ray Chan, who's running again for the Liberals. The only thing missing is Gilles Duceppe, but ther's no Ryan Bloc Quebecois Bigge running in Vancouver this time.

It's obvious why the leaders are devoting quite a bit of time to British Columbia. Most of BC's seats are still up for grabs, aside from about ten that the Conservatives will win come Hell, high water, locusts, drought, plague, or even a Slaughter of Holy Innocents. (That's my Catholic education at work, folks!) Conservatives want to hold onto their dominance, and perhaps knock off a Liberal or two just in case they lose their Nanimo seats to the NDP. Before Adscam and a raid on the BC legislature connected to a couple of Liberal operatives, the Liberals were hoping for big gains in B.C. under Paul Martin; now they need to make small gains to hold onto a parliamentary majority. As for the NDP, they're riding a new wave and a backlash against things conservative and Liberal in BC (and especially against conservative Liberals!) They need to win back traditional NDP areas of BC to become a real force in the House.

It means that there'll be plenty of opportunities to confront party leaders in the next month. I can't afford to follow them, so it's good that they've got reason to come here. Even then, the local candidates are often better equipped to answer questions about issues that heavily affect Vancouver: housing, drug addiction, new rapid transit lines, the Olympics, port security, and so on.

When you get down to it, some politician's —even if it is the Prime Minister— canned comments at a Thursday night naan toss aren't really the kind of story my editor or I are looking for. So instead of going through the campaign whistle-stop routine, I turned in early, made some calls, did some research, and got a full night's sleep.

Might be the last one I get for a month.

Not a bad line

From the latest NDP electronic newsletter:

Dear Canadian hockey fan,

The final round has begun -- and Canadians from coast to coast have been captivated by the story of an underdog team that has exceeded early expectations, faced off against tough opponents, and is now poised for a success that few had foreseen.

Oh, and the Calgary Flames are in the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs …

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Foot In Mouth: Conservative

Just when it looked like Stephen Harper's minions would be on message and not exposing the Conservatives to charges of having a hidden agenda beneath their new, moderate, appearance, it happened. Bilingualism was the subject.
Via CBC:

Ottawa-area MP Scott Reid, the party's influential critic on language policy, told the Moncton Times and Transcript that Canada's bilingualism policies need a major overhaul. He said a Conservative government would remove the federal government's obligation to offer bilingual services in some areas of the country.

Harper denied that this was party policy, even though it came from his party's leading thinker on bilingualism.

Perk up, Harper-Harpies: As long as Paul Martin's got Jean Lapierre around, the Conservatives can handle the occasional candidate gaffe. But if this is the first of many times that a Conservative candidate lets slip a suggestion that is considerable different than the official party line... We'll be back to 2000 all over again.

UPDATE: CTV's national newscast led with the Reid bashes bilingualism story, while the supposedly Conservative-hating and NDP-loving CBC gave it much less play than Jack Layon's shots at Paul Martin...

UPPERDATE: Kevin Michael Grace, who agrees much more with Reid's position than Harper's new line, weighs in. Coming from the right, KMG argues that sacking and smacking Reid is part of Harper's attempt to suck up to urban liberal voters -- and possibly compromising his own position:

Reid is unusually intelligent and thoughtful for a Canadian politician. Perhaps that’s his problem. Or perhaps, as I suggested, he simply wasn’t paying sufficient attention to the New Stephen Harper: All Things To All People (Previous Offers Now Void).

But perhaps this incident is more significant. Harper’s election platform, such as it is, can be reduced to this:

The Conservative Party stands foursquare behind these principles: long, warm summer days, cool refreshing drinks, frisky puppies and fluffy kittens…oh, you want some meat, do you? OK, weliketaxcutsandhatecorruption...That oughta hold the bastards. Er, is this mic on?

Reid’s sacking (sorry, "resignation") hints at something else. That there are two Conservative platforms: 1. The sunshine, lollipops and rainbows Harper are peddling to the voters and 2. A somewhat more austere vision, which resides in a secure, undisclosed location inside Harper’s head. Who knows? Harper has professed so many different, contradictory beliefs in his two decades in politics that it’s impossible to say.

And there's the rub: Harper's squeezed. If he keeps playing moderate and stick to platform 1, he risks losing his base's confidence. If he exposes number 2, he risks losing any chance at winning over those aforementioned central Canadian liberal types and the seats that they control. Tough balancing act to keep up for the next month.

Foot In Mouth: NDP

No matter how much the federal government may have contributed to the urban homelessness problam in Canada, in whole or in part, this is totally over the top and guaranteed to backfire. Via Warren Kinsella, via CP:

The federal election campaign turned ugly Thursday following personal attacks on Prime Minister Paul Martin who was accused of causing the deaths of homeless Canadians. The Liberals demanded an apology from NDP Leader Jack Layton, who accused Martin a day earlier of being personally responsible for the deaths of homeless people because he cut federal housing programs as finance minister in the 1990s. "It was just way over the top," Martin spokeswoman Melanie Gruer said Thursday morning in Victoria."

You can find the original story here.

Jack Layton had done pretty well in this campaign. Lots of energy, no apologies for his taxation platform despite catcalls from more than just the usual Financial Post crowd, and promising some goodies -- like eliminating federal income tax on the first $15,000 of income -- that have real merit and pull among voters. Then he stepped in it by personally blaming Martin for homeless peoples' deaths. Implausible and too nasty to be effective. If he'd said that Martin had overseen cuts that led to a drop in the amount of low-income housing available, and that you could see the results on any city street, he'd have scored a good blow. But that's not going to play well with people who were leaning towards the NDP -- and might be reconsidering.

Yeah, I realize that I'm piling on here. Layton might well have a point but, as CBC's Leslie MacKinnon reported tonight, Paul Martin was one of the fiercest critics of the Mulroney government's initial cuts to federal support for low-income housing. Point here is that if you're going to go the route of accusing someone's policies of killing people, your argument had better be more than just plausible.

UPDATE: Paul Wells asks: what's the big deal? It's hardly as if politicans haven't accused their rivals' policies of leading to other death. (As an aside, the Conservatives have frequently targetted the Liberals every time a Sea King crashes, blaming the Grits for any injury or death, and they weren't steering too far clear of that line today!)

OT: Washroom Warning

Mike Browne beat me to it, but George Michael has pronounced himself in love with Vancouver and wants to move here.

Maybe if someone introduces him to the city's public washrooms at Victory Square or the corner of Main and Hastings (even if you're not from Vancouver, you probably know that corner by now...), he'd reconsider.

Day 3/4/5: Sniping

A couple of random (but sinckerworthy) bits of politicking from around the Lower Mainland. First off, a Bowen Island man is raising questions about West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast MP John Reynolds's rather large travel bills. From CBC:

Bert Paul of Bowen Island says he wrote to the auditor general after learning Reynolds spent nearly three times as much on travel costs as other MPs in the province... Reynolds' travel expenses for 2002 and 2003 were more than $380,000.

Reynolds counters that as the Conservative (formerly Alliance) house leader and high parliamentary mucky-muck, he has higher travel bills than most MPs. Well, that's fine and good, but it amuses me that an MP whose riding is a half-hour drive from a major international airport is often among the top ten in MP travel bills, regardless of his position. I'd expect big bills from MPs from isolated places like Nunavut, Labrador, or Skeena, where air travel is ridiculously pricey — but West Vancouver? Why, I expect outrage from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation over this MP who treats taxpayer dollars as his own! (Not likely; the Taxpayers Fed and the Conservatives are tighter than organized labour and the NDP. If Reynolds were a Grit or Dipper, it'd be a different story.)

If the Liberals really wanted to go after Reynolds, they might want to have a look at how much it cost to run Stornoway when Reynolds was Canadian Alliance interim leader...

Out in New Westminster, two rivals (who aren't) are having a little turf tiff. New Westminster-Coquitlam NDP candidate Steve McClurg has pointed out that Burnaby-New Westminster Liberal contender Mary Pynenburg's campaign office is actually in his riding. Pynenburg set up shop on Columbia Street, downtown New Westminster's main drag -- just on the other side of the Burnaby-New Westminster / New Westminster-Coquitlam boundary.

The real question: does anyone outside the hack 'n flack class care?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


You write the punchline

From Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam (pity the Speaker) Liberal candidate Kwangyul Peck's campaign bio:
Between academic degrees, Kwangyul worked and traveled in Paris, London and New York. He holds a particular fondness for his time in New York as a vegetable delivery truck driver. The constant wear and tear of lifting heavy boxes full of vegetables resulted in the loss of all of his fingerprints.

Fire away.

An Outside View (thankfully)

From the Seattle P-I's Joel Connelly, who knows much about Canada: Dude, where is this prime minister's country?

Day 3 - And the winner is...

(Sorry, not nationally! If you want brave souls predicting that, go over there or maybe there.)

The NDP in Burnaby-Douglas are hoping that it'll be Bill Siksay, constituency assistant to incumbent MP Svend Robinson, who stepped aside last month after a bizarre jewelry theft. Siksay defeated former MLA and current city councillor Pietro Calendino at tonight's rescheduled nomination meeting.

Here's the quick facts on Siksay: 49 years old, has worked for Robinson since 1986. Ran in Vancouver Centre in 1997, came a distant third. Went back to working for Robinson and running what is regarded as one of the best constituency offices in the country. Now, he has to overcome a late start and depend on a strong local NDP political machine (they don't call it the People's Republic of Burnaby for nothin') and a resurgent party to win one for the Svendster.

Burnaby-Douglas was already wild while the Prime Minister and his minions were still debating when to call the election. Robinson's sudden departure and tearful presser was the first shakeup. Then, you had accusations of racism from local Liberals Tony Kuo (famous for teary appearances on national TV) and Tony Lee (rather more restrained, but still mighty pissed at the stalling), both of whom had been organizing to get the nomination for months but were being blocked by the party. (It's worth noting that the "racist" Liberals are still running a dozen visible minority candidates in BC, twice as many as the Conservatives and four times as many as the NDP.) Then, the party deigned provincial party prez Bill Cunningham the Chosen One in Burnaby Douglas.

As you may well know, the local Liberal riding association exec then quit in protest, leaving Cunningham suddely lacking in a local campaign organization and a lot of potential Liberal voters disgusted and reconsidering their options. Finally, Conservative candidate George Drazenovic and his supporters are feeling mighty confident about their ability to capitalize on his opponents' woes, but he's got his own handicap: his party is not polling as strongly in BC as the Canadian Alliance did at this time last election, and North Burnaby is not naturally inclined towards the Conservatives.

Is this one race to watch, or what?

Sign Wars: Painting it Red

Out and about in Vancouver South, and there's no mistaking the big red Ujjal Dosanjh lawn signs as the Liberals try to get an early jump in what will be a fairly close race. You can barely go a block on 41st or 49th Avenues -- two of the riding's main cross streets -- without coming across Dosanjh's smiling mug. So far, there's no Conservative signs, but the occasional NDP lawn sign (for übersocialist Bev Meslo) pops up despite the fact that there's little federal NDP support in South Van.

Saturation? Liberals trying to psych voters to elect their star? Probably.

More later tonight.

Monday, May 24, 2004


From the trail: Day 2

Did someone mention that the NDP is looking to make some major gains in British Columbia? After yesterday's election call, party leader Jack Layton flew out to Vancouver for a reception-come-pep rally on Granville Island, then worked Chinatown with local candidates Libby Davies, Ian Waddell, and Kennedy Stewart. Smilin' Jack was on form, praising Davies as a champion of affordable housing, slamming the Liberals for ignoring the situation, and offering up gobs of money in promises to fund urban infrastructure and services. No details on how it'd be paid for, of course. That'll have to wait for Wednesday, when the NDP machine will be elsewhere to give us the rest of the story (possibly in a part of Canada where they have no chance of winning seats?)

Later on this afternoon in Kitsilano, who would I find but public works minister Stephen Owen, working the new part of his redrawn Vancouver-Quadra constituency. If you follow politics, you'll know that Owen is not the archetypal politician; he's short, slight, and shy. With Owen, there's none of the confident breeziness that you normally associate with national politicians, that mix of friendliness and seemingly honest concern. No surprise, then, that he looks a bit awkard when trying to chat with potential voters. Nonetheless, he was giving it his best, and wasn't facing a hostile crowd. The most frequent question Owen faced had nothing to do with Adscam, or Western alienation, or the Olympics, or even health care. No, they wanted to know either what he was doing campaigning or exactly when this election was going to take place. So I present you with a rough transcript of Owen's chat with one of the shoppers (not me, silly) on West Broadway this past afternoon.

Owen introduces himself as the Liberal candidate in Vancouver-Quadra, part of Paul Martin's BC team.
Gentleman On Broadway: "Is the election on?"
Owen: "Yes it is. The campaign started yesterday."
GOB: "When's the election again?"
Owen: "June 28th, sir. Can I count on your vote?"
At that point, the Gentleman on Broadway thanks Owen, then tells him that he doesn't live in the riding.

Early days yet, though, my political junkie friends. Some folks out there have a life beyond politicking. Really. The candidates will find the going will get tougher as the non-hack, non-flack class consider their options and start challenging the contenders.

Gawd, it's nice to see people who aren't utterly consumed by politics. (I'm referring to the gentleman on Broadway, not Owen, of course.)

For what it's worth, Owen isn't taking this election for grated despite the fact that his riding has been redrawn and shifted into very Liberal Kitsilano. I've already predicted his re-election over at the Election Prediction site. (Don't tell Owen, though.)

Coming up tomorrow: The Burnaby-Douglas NDP chooses its candidate to replace incumbent MP Svend Robinson, who stepped down after confessing to pocketing a $50,000 ring at a jewelry sale. Two contenders for the nomination: Longtime Robinson constituency aide Bill Siksay and former Burnaby North MLA Pietro Calendino, who's now on Burnaby city council. Yeah, I'll probably be there. Check the site on Tuesday evening (roughly 8:30 PM Pacific Time) for updates.

Blogging the Campaign

TV freelancer Tom Popyk has assembled an essential list of “house blogs” from major Canadian media outlets. Here's some of the notables, shamelessly cribbed from his list

The Globe and Mail is doing a group blog, with quick quips from their travelling correspondents.

Toronto Star business columnist David Olive turns to politics and mans the Star's election blog; it's more a daily news summary than a rapidfire weblog. For now.

For undiluted rightwingery, try the National Post editorial board’'s blog. Yes, they’re as ideologically committed (and blinkered) as you might have suspected. Elsewhere in the CanWestWorld, the Ottawa Citizen has a pair of offerings; and Global National also has a blog from their supposedly pioneering election broadcast tour bus—except it’s not as unique as they claim; every major TV network has one, but Global decided to put their lead anchor on the bus rather than some measly Ottawa bureau chief. Nothing bloglike yet from the Province or Sun.

Oh, and there's the blogscanada E-group, a collection of Canadian allstars. (UPDATE: The counter thingy suggests that a lot of you are coming from said group blog. Welcome. Enjoy the punditry, humour, and periodic obloquy. Trust me, there's another post in the works.)

From individual pundits:

How could I get away without mentioning Wells, Coyne, Cosh, and Kinsella? But there are lesser-known (outside the blog world) folks worth reading: Bow (now running another election pool), Spicer, an actual Calgary Grit, Schreck, and so on. I'll add more as I find ’em.

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Bad Start

One of those basic electioneering ruiles: when the election is called, hit the ground running. NDP leader Jack Layton seemed to be doing so out on the campaign trail, bien sur -- the man is a performer, is he not? The party's website isn't, though. Two poorly formatted columns that more-or-less duplicate one another, with all sorts of broken links to pages and images. That won't impress anyone looking for information on the party -- you can hear it now... How can I expect these guys to run a government if they can't even deliver a bloody website?

Here's another bitch: where's the frigging platform? I can find wordy rhetoric about some "issues" from the link of the same name (or is it this "issues" link?), and even a piece of the platform from one of the working frontpage links, but not the full document.

UPDATE: The Dippers have gotten their site more-or-less in order. Hope you like your campaign websites green. Fluorescent green.

Someone wanna call the webmaster?

New Blogger stuff

Jeez. Neglect your blog for a few weeks and not only do you get bitchy comments, but you also miss out on that snazzy new Blogger Interface. Not only is it slicker, with new editing and template tools, but it actually works with the only Web browser worth using. I'm already liking it, apart from some tag-wrapping bugs.

Must mean that I'll post more.

Oh yeah, it's official. We're having an election. Time to post some thoughts. In a bit.

Hoisted on own Petard

Paul Wells has a timely reminder of why you shouldn't take David Frum seriously...

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