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

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Reckoning: Vancouver and Environs

Ted White's loss in North Vancouver was the night's big shocker. North Vancouver is widely seen as good, solid, conservative territory: the riding's been Progressive Conservative, then Reform, then Alliance since 1979. Liberals have run high-profile candidates -- Gordon Gibson Jr., Iona Campagnolo, Mobina Jaffer and Warren Kinsella -- at the riding only to lose to PC loony Chuck Cook, then White, the supposed uberpopulist who let his pollster make his decisions rather than show leadership on any issue. White had been inexplicably popular in North Vancouver, taking 50% on the vote in 2000, despite not having much of a record in Parliament. After a decade in the House, White was still on the fifth bench, had no important committee assignments or critic role aside from that on "direct democracy."

Chalk White's loss up to his own actions throughout the campaign and the fact that his opponent had an advantage that previous Liberal candidates lacked. Victorious Liberal Don Bell had run an solid campaign and, as District Mayor, he had a political base in the parts of the riding that were traditionally unfriendly to the Liberals. During the campaign, White had managed to alienate Iranian-Canadians, calling immigrants to the riding "scumbags," and then decried film-industry tax credits as "corporate welfare," alienating one of North Vancouver's largest employers. He also attempted to bully both the North Shore News (a well-lawyered community rag) and the Election Prediction Project with lawsuits in his attempts to ensure that his past statements would not come back to haunt him. Eventually, his quixotic efforts backfired. One sweet result it was.

Even if you're a Cnservative, White's loss is not all bad; if the people of North Vancouver want to go back to blue, at least they might be able to vote for a respectable candidate instead of a kooky Doug Christie associate.

Over in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, Liberal Blair Wilson gave a victory speech too soon; the final few polls reporting heavily favoured Conservative campaign co-chair John Reynolds. The conventional wisdom was that Reynolds was unbeatable in West Vancouver and that he could spend most of the campaign in other ridings helping out his copartisans and doing damage control every time a Randy White or Cheryl Gallant opened their mouth. Liberal Blair Wilson, a classic North Shore "business liberal," was able to spend the whole campaign focussed on his riding, attending every forum and political gathering that Reynolds missed; it nearly paid off. Still, one stunner in the North Shore isn't bad.

Vancouver proper was true-to-form: the Conservatives were shut out badly, and voters broke back towards the Liberals in the end, scothching the NDP's hopes of pulling three of the city's five seats. On the West Side, Liberal Stephen Owen nearly doubled Conservative Stephen Rogers. Owen's win wasn't unexpected, but the margin was: Rogers is from the Rogers Sugar family, spent 16 years as a Social Credit MLA and minister, and is a Red Tory whose moderate social views mirrored his riding's. Owen took nearly every poll in the riding.

Hedy Fry's win in Vancouver Centre can be chalked up to gay voters, fearful of what would happen to their Charter rights under a Conservative government, breaking back towards Fry and away from NDP challenger Kennedy Stewart. They might not like her in Prince George, where crosses never were burning as she spoke in the House, but Hedy's still the queen of Downtown. Libby Davies dominated Vancouver East as expected, but the Dippers were disappointed to lose Vancouver Kingsway; former MP Ian Waddell couldn't overcome strategic voting that handed the riding to former Canfor CEO David Emerson, one of the Liberals' "star candidates."

In Vancouver South, it was former NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh in a 20-point walk. Conservative Victor Soo Chan ran an invisible campaign and finished second. Soo Chan was just ahead of far-left-even-for-a-dipper Bev Meslo. South had the lowest turnout of any Vancouver riding -- just 56%

Conservatives were salivating after Svend Robinson announced that he was stepping down as Burnaby-Douglas's man of the House. Candidate George Drazenovic thought that he had a clear shot, what with no popular incumbent and a Liberal rival who was appointed by Paul Martin over the wishes of his riding executive, which promptly resigned. That the combined Conservative/Alliance vote in 2000 exceeded Robinson's total further fuelled the Conservatives' dreams of winning in Burnaby. Drazenovic and his fans forgot, though, that Burnaby is a town that has a long record of NDP voting. City Hall has been under the NDP-aligned Burnaby Citizens party since the 1980s and the provincial riding of Burnaby North had been Labour, then CCF, and then NDP from 1929 until the 2001 electoral rout that reduced the NDP to its East Vancouver heartland. Bill Siksay ran a half-decent campaign, took advantage of the increase in NDP popular support, and reminded Burnaby voters that he was the guy who ran Svend's constituency office that had provided them with such good service. As for Liberal Bill Cunningham, who had delivered the Liberal Party of Canada in BC to Paul Martin's leadership campaign? He lost by less than a thousand votes -- a margin that could have been wiped out had he not alienated local Liberals by acting as if the seat was his by divine right.

New Westminster-Coquitlam is going to a recount after Paul Forseth, the luckiest British Columbian in politics, won by just 45 votes over Dipper apparatchik Steve McClurg. These close shaves should be common for Forseth -- aside from the 2000 election, Forseth has won because of vote-splitting on his left. In his first win in 1993, Forseth took less than 30% of the popular vote! In a related matter, I was initially on the voters' list in New West-Coquitlam thanks to the mailing address I use with Revenue Canada. Had I not done the honest thing and registered in Vancouver East, I'd have been voting in a riding that was decided by less than one vote in a thousand.

Do local candidates matter? You betcha: Chuck Cadman thumped all comers in Surrey North, causing Conservatives who said that the riding went Reform, then Alliance, because of the party to eat their words. Jasbir Cheema, who out-organized Cadman for Conservative nomination, thinking it a safe seat, finished fourth. Ouch! Conservatives went from decisive victories to close ones in two other Surrey ridings. Conservative carpetbagger Russ Hiebert, who knew that he couldn't win in Vancouver, signed up members in local evangelical churches to take the South Surrey nomination from socially moderate incumbent Val Meredith. On the other side of the Fraser in Dewdney-Alouette, Conservative Rady Kamp, who won nomination in the same way that Hiebert won his, beat out the NDP's Mike Bocking. The former Vancouver Sun reporter and current CEP local 2000 president's modest campaign showed that the NDP still has strength in Vancouver's distant 'burbs.

Out in the Valley, it was the same ol' same ol' conservatives all around. Most of the Valley's voters are genetically pre-programmed to vote for the furthest right mainstram politician out there. Randy White, who may have given the Liberals the election with his Neanderthal impersonation, was the biggest winner in BC, getting over 61% of the vote in his riding. His election, along with those of Conservative loudmouths Rob Anders. Myron Thompson, and Cheryl Gallant, has pleased as many Liberals as it has Conservatives.

Monday, June 28, 2004


No Live-blogging here

Busy as I am with reporting commitments, you probably won't see much updating here tonight. For live-as-it happens reax, check the blogroll to your left or turn on your TV. CTV, the Star, the CBC, and all have realtime results; analyse them for yourself.

See you later today, or sometime tomorrow.

Sunday, June 27, 2004


Required Reading

If you really want to know what drives Conservative leader Stephen Harper, forget the minibiographies, features on his chilhood and family, and all that other crap. Globe and Mail political columnist John Ibbitson's feature on the so-called Calgary Mafia -- an agglomeration of neoconservative academics from the University of Calgary -- reveals the men (and they're all men) whose teachings were instrumental in moulding Stephen Harper. The Calgary Mafia's members are often in the news -- most often as pundits -- but there are few articles about how this group of political thinkers and polemicists came together as the intellectual engine of ALbertan-style neoconservatism. If you're not a right-winger of a distinctly Albertan outlook, you will find this all Very Scary(tm).

Coyne's Crew Calls It

Following his call for predictions over at the Echo Chamber, Andrew Coyne has tallied up his commenters' guesses on which party will win how many seats in tomorrow's election.
UPPERDATE - June 27, 5:25 pm: With 270-plus entries, Collective Wisdom still stands at: Crooks 106, Fascists 122, Commies 23, Traitors 57, Freaks 1.

My own forecast has been revised somewhat, making use of more evidence and less guesswork. I now put it at Crooks 102, Fascists 124, Commies 26, Traitors 55, and Freaks 1...

UPPESTDATE June 28, 12 am: The flood of predictions has now slowed to a trickle, so I think we can say the Collective Wisdom Decision Desk has declared a Conservative minority. Indeed, of 279 entrants, nearly three in four (198) were in that camp, versus 72 calling a Liberal minority and 9 ties. 10 brave souls predicted a Conservative majority, while two are way out on a limb called "Liberal majority."
After running through the predictions, I can say that a significant number of the predictions seemed to be Conservative partisans predicting what they hope will happen rather than what they think will happen. We'll see.

EPP Weighs In

The Election Prediction Project website has made its final predictions for the federal election. Unlike other prediction games, the EPP doesn't forecast seat totals; rather, it predicts the outcome of each riding and the adds up the results.

Liberal: 121
Conservative: 104
Bloc: 52
NDP: 29
Independent: 1

EPP was accurate in over 92% of the ridings in the 2000 federal election; they've had similar success in provincial elections in BC and Ontario, as well as the most recent UK general election. Their attempts at predicting the races in New Brunswick and Quebec haven't been as successful, most likely due to a limited number of project participants. Both NDP and Conservative partisans have accused the website of favouring the Liberals as the project's overseer is Milton Chan, a longtime Liberal activist. In fact, the project under-predicted the Liberals' seat totals in the 2000 federal election and last year's provincial contests in Ontario and Quebec.

In BC, they're predicting 23 Conservatives, 7 NDPers, 5 Liberals, and Independent Chuck Cadman in Surrey North. Liberals are forecast to win in Victoria, Esquimalt, two Vancouver ridings, and Burnaby-New Westminster; the NDP are the choice in the two mid-Island ridings, three Vancouver seats, Svend Robinson's old turf in Burnaby-Douglas, and New Westminster-Coquitlam. EPP forecasts the Conservatives sweeping the rest of the province, although almost completely shut out of the Burrard Peninsula of Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and the Tri-Cities.

The EPP's methodology is "prediction by submission." Participants ty to guess the winner in individual ridings, backed by whatever information they have at hand. The project's judges weigh each submission, giving more weight to those with a raft of facts to back their assertion and less to ill-informed postings or predictors who show a consistent bias. (If someone's predicting Grits all over the place, even in rural Alberta, chances are they don't get much weight; the same goes for someone calling ridings like York Centre for the Conservatives!) Somehow or other, they come to a conclusion for each riding based on those submissions; safe ridings are predicted early on; the last 80 or so ridings aren't called until a couple of days before the election itself.

You can browse through the website and look at the predictions and submissions for every riding, and judge the both the project and posters for yourself. (Confession: I did make predictions in a handful of local ridings, though I didn't participate during the writ period due to time constraints.)

Conspicuous by his absence

At Saturday's Conservative love-in in Surrey, all but two of the party's 21 Lower Mainland candidates were in attendence. One was Delta-Richmond East candidate John Cummins; the other was Randy White, recently in the news for musing about using the Charter's notwithstanding clause to ban same-sex marriage.


Saturday, June 26, 2004


White on the Warpath

... Not Randy, either. This time, it's incumbent North Vancouver MP Ted White.

White alleges that the North Shore News's coverage during the election is biased against him to the extent that it violates the Canada Elections Act for printing untruthful information about a candidate. In an email to senior editor Anna-Marie D'Angelo, White cited the News's failure to publish his rebuttal to a letter to the editor critical of White, claiming that he had the right to reply to critical letters at any time, but especially during an election.

White was also not pleased that the News refused to publish his original response to the News's candidates' survey asking candidates to list their accomplishments.

White's submitted answer, directing readers to a future campaign leaflet, was rejected. The News's position was that the survey was a way for readers to find out about the candidates, not a service to refer voters to the candidates' propaganda; they put White's answer down as "did not respond." After the results of the News's candidates' survey went to press, White took action against the News. A concerned citizen has forwarded the correspondence between White's office and the North Shore News to the Vancouver Scrum.

The Scrum tracked White down at Saturday evening's Conservative campaign rally in Surrey. When asked about his complaints against the North Shore News, White went cold.

"I will not discuss the issue here; I have a complaint with the North Shore News and will handle it through other means than with you."

White refused to answer any further questions and promptly ignored this scribe, refusing even to acknowledge a friendly "Thanks for your time."

Before White began playing dumb, he did respond to a recently leaked Liberal internal poll that shows him in a statistical tie with Liberal challenger Don Bell.

White called the poll "an absolute load of rubbish" and called into question the survey's factuality and methodology; he "could not understand" how public opinion research firm Synovate found him ahead of Bell by only 1.7% of the popular vote.

"Perhaps they've extracted regional numbers form a larger survey. That's a very dangerous way of conducting a poll."

He went on to claim that his own polling showed him well ahead of Bell, and pointed to his riding's history. "North Vancouver has not gone Liberal since 1974 [when BCTV newsman Marke Raines took the seat] and that was because Burnaby was part of the riding... I predict that I will do as well as I did in 2000, with 51% of the vote."

Now, on to the main show! All typographical errors have been preserved for posterity.

White sent this message out to his supporters about his tiff with the News.

Message from Ted White re North Shore News Editorial Policy
June 20, 2004

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Attached to this message you will find a copy of a letter I have sent today to the North Shore News. It is in pdf format, which I hope everyone can open, but if you have difficulty just get back to us and we will try to send it to you in word format.

Generally speaking I have learned to put up with criticism from the Liberal oriented media, but I have really felt that the North Shore News has been going out of its way to be extremely biassed against us as a group, and against me as your MP, during the election campaign.

In the letter you will see that I have drawn the Editor's attention to what I consider to be three serious lapses in professionalism, to say the least, and I am hoping that things will improve a little as a result of the letter.

I just wanted to keep you in the loop.

Best Regards
Ted White

This is the text of Ted White's letter of complaint to the North Shore News, dated June 20, 2004. It was sent on MP letterhead.

Dear Anna Marie,

It is abundantly clear that you have been taking an anti-Ted White stand in the North Shore News for some time now, but I believe that you have taken your newspaper well outside the normal bounds of decency during the election campaign. The latest example, your decision to state on page 3 of the June 20th edition that I had not provided an answer to one of your candidate profile questions, is the straw which breaks the camel's back. Our exchange of email messages on June 9,2004 is absolute proof that I DID provide you with an answer to Question 9b. The fact that you did not like the answer does not give you the right to publicly state that I did not provide an answer, and in making such a statement you could well be in violation of Section 91 of the Canada Elections Act, which states:

"No person shall, with the intention of affecting the results of an election, knowingly make or publish any false statement of fact in relation to the personal character or conduct of a candidate of prospective candidate".

The June 20th example is just one of what I consider to be three serious breaches of protocol and/or decency during the term of this campaign. Here are the other two examples:

l . On June 4, 2004 you published a letter from retired Judge Paradis in which he criticized both me as the Member of Parliament, and a brochure which I had dropped to all homes in the Riding. On that very same day I sent you a letter of rebuttal with the reasonable expectation that it would be published because (a) It is normal newspaper protocol, even outside of an election campaign, to permit a public figure to rebut charges made against him or her in a letter to the Editor, and (b) During an election campaign any reasonable person would expect a newspaper to strive to show fairness in presenting both sides of a particular issue. In this case you made the decision to prevent me from setting the record straight, even though you must have known that making that decision was biased and would perpetuate amongst your readers a one sided perspective on an important election issue.

2. On June 16, 2004 you published an article by Jane Seyd which incorrectly reported the circumstances surrounding a question posed at the all-candidates meeting sponsored by the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce on June 14, 2004.It is my opinion that an attempt was made by Jane to distort the information so that the impression was left with readers that I had made a "racist" statement in the House of Commons when, in fact, this was completely untrue. The questioner quoted from material extracted from the Hansard records of Parliament which had been posted on a website based in Toronto. However, that material was incomplete in that the operator of the site had allowed the removal of a critical sentence in order to misrepresent the message. It is a matter of record that the site operator has since publicly apologized for the posting and has posted the correct version of the speech on the site. The real story then, which should have been reported by your newspaper, was that political opponents had tried to label me as a racist by posting false information on a website but I was actually representing views provided to me by immigrants of Iranian extraction in my Riding. The correct quote included the sentence "I cannot say how many times that comment has been made to me by the decent Iranian immigrants in my riding who came in using the proper system.

I believe that any reasonable person looking at the above evidence would come to the conclusion that your newspaper, for which you must take responsibility, has acted in an irresponsible, biassed, and unprofessional manner with respect to its treatment of the incumbent Member of Parliament during this election campaign. As a public figure I am accustomed to being questioned about my positions on important issues, and I am also accustomed to receiving criticism for time to time, but I have never come across such a deliberate campaign of exclusion by a newspaper which is clearly determined not to allow me to set and keep the record straight.

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, the publication of a false statement about my response to your candidate profile questionnaire was the last straw. I am therefore requesting that you publish a repeat of my profile published on June 20, 2004, in a position of at least equal prominence, and at least equivalent in size, which clearly shows my response to your question 9(b). In case you do not have a record of our correspondence on the matter, copies of the emails follow below:

Email Message 0910612004 llz43z04 AM Pacific Daylight Time
June 9/04
Good Morning Anna Marie
Here are my responses to your questions. A recent photograph is attached.
Ted White, MP
Name: Ted White
Age: 55
Occupation: Member of Parliament
Family Status: Married
Budget: All candidates have the same maximum budget set by provisions in the Elections Act. The most recent figure supplied to us is $79,513.35 and while we have enough funds to spend this amount we do not feel we will need to spend more than $72,000 to conduct the campaign. Health Care: The new Conservative Party will implement the 2003 Health Accord signed by the provinces and all but ignored by the Liberals. The Accord ensures federal funding increases of $36.8 billion over 5 years from existing budget surpluses, plus catastrophic drug coverage, but requires accountability from the provinces for timely access' Party Leader Strengths: Stephen Harper is a well educated, very smart young economist, absolutely committed to providing us with ethical and accountable government.

Party Leader Weaknesses: He has been unable until now to implement our programs because the Liberals have been in power.

Accomplishments: An extensive list of my accomplishments over the past ten years appears in my election brochure number three which is available from my Campaign Office at 1247 Ross Rd, or by calling 604-980{300. It will also be delivered to every home in the Riding beginning on June 21st.
Ted White, MP

Email Message 0910612004 11:56:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time
thank you Ted

Regarding the response you have given to the last question, we have provided you space for the answer, and the purpose of the candidate grid questions are to provide information for our readers, not to have them look for the information elsewhere
Anna Marie D'Angelo
Senior Editor

Email Message 0910612004 l2:llz41 PM Pacific Daylight Time
Jun 9/04

Good Afternoon Anna Marie
Unfortunately my list of accomplishments over the past decade on behalf of my constituents is WAY too long to fit in 50 words, which is why my team has produced a special brochure dealing with the subject. That brochure will be delivered to EVERY HOME in the Riding beginning on June 21st so nobody will have to look for the information elsewhere. However, my answer to the question in your survey will make it easy for constituents to access additional copies of the information if they so wish.
Ted White, MP

I await your prompt and incurnbent response to the above expressed concems and my request for correction of the record. I consider your newspaper's above-mentioned failure to allow me to defend my reputation and integnty, and its biased reporting, to be a serious matter, but I am hopeful that we can resolve our differences without the need to involve any outside organization.

Yours truly,

One longtime Conservative wasn't much impressed by White's complaint; he's siding with the News. This missive comes from one Wayne Hunter of North Vancouver, himself a former Progressive Conservative legislative and minsterial assistant. Hunter lays it on the line: in his wiew, White is whingeing for additional, favourable coverage on his own terms. In other words, yet another politician telling the press how to do their job. (Shurely not the first time we've heard that, wot?)
Dear Anna Marie

As discussed, I'm forwarding to you a copy of an email message which I received from Mr. Ted White yesterday afternoon. The email contains an attachment which outlines threatened legal action against the NS News based on what I consider to be a convoluted interpretation of the Elections Act and a bullying demand for additional coverage.

Firstly, I wish to acknowledge that I've been a member of the Conservative Party for many years. My family ancestors who arrived in Canada over 180 years ago, were also Conservatives. And for a brief time in the late 70's I actually worked in the House of Commons for a Conservative Member of Parliament and later a Minister.

The attached letter only served to remind me of my growing disaffection for our incumbent Member of Parliament. For some time now, it's been my strong belief that Mr. White's election was never so much a measure of his distinction, or his yet unproven ability to represent this riding, as it was a reflection on us, as a constituency which elected him. How did this happen? For example, when did we advocate for a 'Star Chamber' process where all Federal initiatives within our riding would be scrutinized by unelected and personally appointed representatives of Mr. White? Who are these people that would deny this riding's federally mandated share of community investments including Film Industry Tax Credits, youth job training and other life skills investment, for example?

When is the last time Mr. White ever visited a local Community Centre? I've been involved in many aspects of our community over the last several years, and have constantly had to deal with the 'White Manifesto' of denying any support for public investment in our community....of having to live with the "Scarlet Letter" branding of representing a dreaded 'Special Interest Group'. That our community has achieved so much in the last 10 years is a testament to the will and ingenuity of the hundreds of other community volunteers who continue to prevail despite the lack of any meaningful support from Mr. White.

As a neo Conservative Mr. White denies the historical Canadian legacy of community engagement, irregardless of the constitutional responsibility In the preparation of your usual election 'Profile Grid' you were absolutely correct in your notation that the incumbent did not respond to the question about achievements. His claim that he directed your attention to an existing or upcoming pamphlet was wrong and a lame attempt to either (a) overcome a dumb decision caused by laziness, or (b) an irrational and arrogant response from an incumbent MP with the most pedestrian, lackluster and insignificant achievements to show for a 10 year member of Parliament representing this constituency.

Just as he now defiantly declares that you have presented him with the 'straw that broke the camel's back', I too have come to a turning point. As a long time Conservative I no longer respect his constant denial of involvement in our local affairs, because of jurisdictional 'boundaries'. Using Mr. White's logic, the Provinces would be the sole players in the delivery of health care in Canada. I no longer respect Mr. White's obsession with his own variant of 'direct democracy', supported by tele-votes and unaccountable and unscrutinized polls, where majority rules dominate and Charter minority rights and freedoms become indefensible. Is this really how we want our fellow citizens across the country to know us? How can anyone forget his use of the 'Liberal biased North Shore News' when it came to his paranoia of losing his own nomination to members of the Iranian community, who he claimed had 'hijacked' the nomination process.

No, Mr. White has lost more than my respect. He's lost my vote. He claims that elections are simple sales campaigns......a competition of marketing ideas selling political 'products'. If this is the case consider me 'unsold', and I consider his banal analogies of our electoral process insulting. Being a Member of Parliament should be about leadership and humility. it should be about what you stand FOR.....not what you're constantly against. Trying to bully the North Shore News to do his bidding in the late stages of a campaign is nonsense. And on election day, this Tory will be voting for Mr. Don Bell.


Wayne Hunter

PM Does Hip Flip

Of all the national party leaders, only one of them was willing to do the Hip Flip with Nardwuar the Human Serviette. It wasn't Smilin' Jack Layton, either; instead, Paul Martin contorted himself for those kids watching Much.

Friday, June 25, 2004


Your answer

So prominent Conservative MP Randy White has said that he'd see that a Conservative government would invoke the constitutional override clause in order to ban abortion and same-sex marriage.

Paul Wells asks:
It is nothing but hypocrisy for Paul Martin to cite Randy White as proof of Conservative extremism unless he promises, right now, today, to evict Roger Gallaway from the Liberal caucus. Because there is not a thin dime to separate White's views on the courts from Gallaway's.

Why is White proof of Conservative extremism, while Gallaway deserved a promotion to the Privy Council?
ANSWER: Roger Gallaway is a career backbencher whose views on both abortion and same-sex marriage are repeatedly repudiated by his own party and government.

Randy White is among the most senior Conserative MPs, frequently touted as a potential justice minister, and who was his party's spokesman on justice for several years. Only now, with an election at stake, have the Conservatives seen fit to distance themselves from him. He's held thiose views for a very long time; the Conservatives never had a problem with his stance until now.

ELSEWHERE: Mike Sugimoto is not pleased in the slightest about White, and it's trying his commitment to vote Conservative.

FYI: Have a look at the full Randy White interview.

Reynolds spinning away...

Conservative party co-chair, former Howe Street hustler, and party animal John Reynolds, while explaining how MP Randy White's talk of using the notwithstanding clause to ban abortion and gay marriage are strictly his own and not those of the Conservative party, invokes the Conservatives' token gay candidate, Gary Mitchell:

"We have an openly gay man running in Vancouver Centre, we think it's a 3-way race, and we think we've got a chance of winning it."

Okay, John. I'm next door to Vancouver Centre, and the only concentration of Gary Mitchell signs is in his campaign office. The NDP's internal polling shows Mitchell third, and his campaign team do not have the air of near-winners about them. The only way Mitchell wins this one is if every Liberal and NDP voter in downtown Vancouver contracts the Norwalk virus over the weekend.

Of course, Reynolds also is confident that the Conservatives will take 30 of B.C.'s 36 seats. Give him credit, though, for no longer claiming that he'll sweep the province.

Fun with Polls

SES Research has released its final tracking poll of Indecision Canada; once again, they're showing 34% Liberal, 30% Conservative, 20% NDP, 12% Bloc, 3% Green -- the trend has been towards these numbers for the past week. SES hasn't hazarded a seat projection based on those numbers. That much is up to you, but Andrew Coyne would like you to place your bets, inspired as he was by the most recent Ipsos poll and projection, showing the Tories and Conservatives in a statistical tie, but with the Conservatives getting the advantage on seats.

Looking at the comments on Coyne's Conservative Echo Chamber (term scalped from Jim Elve), most are based on Conservative partisanship and hope, but one tidbit from a Quebec poster caught my eye.
The anglo pollsters have put some unrealistic figures for the Bloc here (the most ludicrous being the 64-68 figure I've read in the most recent Ipsos-Reid). Nobody here seriously believes this crap coming from Toronto. Let me explain why:

Since there is a correlation between the linguistic origin of voters and their voting patterns in Quebec. Historically, the Bloc never wins a riding if the proportion of non-francophones is greater than 25% (17 of Quebec's 75 are in this situation).

The Bloc got their best performance in 1993 when they've elected 54 MPs with 49.7% of the vote. Most polls put the Bloc at 50%. Therefore, the Bloc won't elect more than 58 MPs, and they will lose some predominantly francophone ones (Beauce and Brome-Missisquoi are prime candidates, unless the Libs and Tories really split the vote).
Most posters are convinced that the Conservatives have a more efficient Ontario vote distribution than do the Liberals, based on the fact that the Liberals win Toronto ridings by massive margins, while the old Reform/Alliance party was close-but-no-cigar in the towns and rural areas. Of course, the Conservatives have their own inefficiencies, especially in places like Alberta -- the Conservatives can go from 50% to 70% of the popular vote in Alberta without winning more than an extra seat (and they can only win two more in Alberta anyway.) They also point to fondly-held beliefs in order to boost their Conservative projections, such as that people won't tell pollsters that they'd actually vote for the "evil" Conservatives, that Conservative supporters are too busy and successful to bother with telephone surveyors, that Conservative supporters are angrier, more motivated, and more likely to vote (but wouldn't that have been true for the Alliance in 2000?), and that the Conservatives' greater appeal to older voters will help Conservative support (shurely the pollsters also account for that when making projections?), and so on.

Meanwhile, Ipsos-Reid has put out another BC-wide poll, showing the Conservatives leading the NDP 38%-26%, with the Liberals getting the support of 25%; the Green vote has contracted down to 7% after being as high as 13% earlier in the campaign. (n=800, +/- 3.5%, 19/20) Based on those numbers, Ipsos predicts 24-28 Conservative seats in BC, with 4-8 Liberals and 2-6 New Democrats. I've previously disputed Ipsos' projections -- the Conservatives have a large surplus of support in some areas such as the Fraser Valley and much of the Interior. That extra support pads the popular vote, wins no more seats, and means that Conservative support is actually lower in other areas than the top-line numbers indicate. By contrast, the NDP's support never reaches the 70-plus percent pull of the Conservatives in Chilliwack; most of their wins, regardless of the year, are of the "just enough" variety. Now, the Reform Party took 24 of 32 seats in 1993 while pulling only 36.4% of the popular vote, although it won many of those seats by only a couple of percentage points, and that was in a year that the NDP ran a disastrously bad campaign. A resurgent NDP may pull areas it lost to Reform in 1993 when the left-of-right vote was split.

But wait, there's more!

Two parties have inflicted internal polls on an unsuspecting British Columbia public this week. First it was the NDP. Trying to counteract the Liberals' "a vote for the NDP is a vote for Stephen Harper" message, the Dippers put out some numbers from house pollster Strategic Communications showing the NDP in the lead in Vancouver Centre, Vancouver-Kingsway, Burnaby-Douglas, and in contention in Nanaimo-Cowichan -- with the Liberals (including star candidates David Emerson and Bill Cunningham) trailing the NDP badly in all 4 ridings.

The Liberals have done the same in a couple of tight races. From Public Eye:
The poll, which was conducted by Synovate (the market research arm of the Aegis Group plc) between June 23 and 24, showed the Liberals at 23.7 percent in Saanich-Gulf Isalnds, the Conservatives at 21.3, the New Democrats at 20.7 and the Greens at 12.3. Meanwhile, in North Vancouver, the Conservatives are at 29.7 percent, the Liberals at 28, the New Democrats at 15 and the Greens at 11.7
Being as these are internal party polls, selectively released to the public, the usual caveats apply.

Thursday, June 24, 2004


Culture Wars

Two items on how the federal election outcome will affect arts and culture in Canada: Former arts-mag publisher Raymond Tomlin, of VanRamblings, warns about the dire consequences of a Conservative government and its ideology on the $26-billion culture industry. That the Conservative platform offers no answers on cultural policy, apart from the usual bleatings about banning "child pornography," gives their critics plenty of room to draw up worst-case scenarios. I typed up something somewhat similar for this week's Terminal City, called "The Culture War: Election 2004's unreported issue."

They're ba-a-a-a-ck!

A pleaseant surperise this morning: after a two-year hiatus, those lovable culture jammers at Guerrilla Media (as opposed to the humourless ones at, say, Adbusters) have a brand-new Vancouver Sun spoof, which has littered coffee shops, coin boxes, and newsstands around the city.

Apparently the election is off, there's a new time limit on how much health care you can get in BC, CEOs are underpaid, and 100% of Vancouverites choose CanWest Global news for their daily fix. Who'd a thunk it?

The last time Guerrilla spoofed the Sun, publisher Dennis Skulsky went apeshit, threatening to sue anyone who had anypart in the parody. Guerrilla hadn't done anything since, possibly out of fear, or perhaps they were saving their best material for four days before the election. Either way, I'd love to have seen Skulsky fuming away today.

Terminal City Weighs In

That fine newsweekly with which I'm affiliated has made its choice of candidates in the five Vancouver ridings. And the winners are:

On Monday, June 28, Terminal City Weekly endorses the following candidates for the five Vancouver ridings:

Libby Davies (NDP)

Ujjal Dosanjh (LIB)

Kennedy Stewart (NDP)

Stephen Owen (LIB)

Ian Waddell (NDP)

I'll have more to say on the Vancouver candidates tomorrow morning. For those expecting TCW to endorse an all-NDP slate, or perhaps give more weight to fringe candidates 'cause that's what alt-weeklies should do, well, we aren't your run-of-the-mill rag. Hell, one of the Conservative candidates impressed the hell out of us.

For our election issue, we tried our level best to get each of the four national parties' Vancouver candidates to sit down for a half-hour interview; you can see the results thereof online. No, I was not pushed out the third-storey window, although I seriously comtemplated jumping out of the thing a few times during our chat with Bev Meslo...

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


What's really important

I'm not sure if Colby Cosh is right that the flight of SpaceShip One will be this 2004 event that people will remember in 2104, but I'll give it better odds than I will this election.

Oh, Sheila

Occasionally, I can bring myself to watch CTV NewsNet's Countdown, the nightly Mike Duffy-hosted gabfest. Once again, the Puffster had, from the right, the bufoniform David Frum (hey! What's an American citizen doing yammering on about our election? The rightwing warblogger whackies did protest when Michael Moore piped in the other week!), and the worst press secretary in Canadian history, Ezra Levant. One the centre and left were owlish former Liberal Party prez Stephen LeDrew and outgoing Hamilton East MP Sheila Copps.

The chatter got down to healthcare, with Copps and Ezra trading barbs. Ezra was rattling on about Paul Martin getting healthcare from a private clinic (well, his doctor operates one of those clinics -- so does my ophthalmologist), and saying that other Canadians, especially "western Canadians" demand the same freedom to pay what they like for healthcare, but instead Paul Martin goes and bashes arch-Albertan Ralph Klein.

(Copps had a great barb about how Ralph might not appreciate being dethroned as Canada's King Conservative by that Harper fellow.)

Now, apart from Levant's allegations against Martin, I will give him credit for being more honest about his stance on Medicare than that of the party he relentlessly shills for.

Well, Ezra was on form, screaming about the old Coutts 'n Davey "Screw the west, we'll take the rest" approach to the 1980 approach -- apparently, the Liberal or NDP stance on health care and private clinics is anti-western. Of course, Ezra purports that the view of conservative pundits in Alberta is in fact the de facto view of the West. As anyone outside Alberta will tell you, that's not always the case.

Tequila Sheila: "Ezra, I was just in British Columbia; that's not what they're thinking in BC."

Ezra: "There won't be more than six Liberals between BC and Alberta." (Okay, whatever Ezra; the Grits could pull more than that many seats in BC -- 2 on the Island, 3 or 4 in Vancouver, 2 or 3 in the 'burbs, and Skeena -- and there are 2 incumbent Liberal MPs in Alberta, including one whose defeat has been incorrectly forecast the last three elections in a row. Spin away, buddy.) He then went on to spin about what "the West", or at least his little social circle within the West, wanted with regard to health care.

Madame Tequila burned the young pepperpot Levant quite nicely.

"Medicare was invented in the west... in Saskatchewan"

Ezra was speechless for over one second. Must be a new record.

Ooohwee! And we've got a new Liberal attack ad, once again turning the screws on Conservative leader Stephen Harper, questioning his judgment (see under: child porn smear) and asking what we still don't know about his real agenda. As Count Floyd would say, "Very Scary!"

Monday, June 21, 2004


Odds and ends

Outgoing Burnaby-Douglas MP Svend Robinson was formally charged today with the theft of an expensive diamond ring back in April. Since Robinson's admission and the subsequent referral of his case to a special prosecutor, some of his old enemies have been grousing loudly that Robinson has been getting special treatment -- particularly Link Byfield, he of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy. In Byfield's world, Robinson has been getting special consideration due to the fact that he is a high-profile leftist (not to mention gay) politician, and therefore a member of a preferred minority. Never mind, of course, that the Crown names special prosecutors anytime a sitting politician is under investigation, or that charging someone in BC is not an instant affair in any case. It was a good opportunity to grandstand despite the fact the Byfield has no hard evidence (as opposed to anecdotage from a "former prosecutor") to back up his claims.

Now that Robinson has been charged, will Link Byfield and his pals quit whining about Robinson getting "special treatment" from the RCMP and Crown? Not on your life, bucko. Byfield's crusade for Robinson to be pilloried had bugger-all to do with any concern with justice being served and everything to do with getting one last shot in at a political rival whose stands and success over the last 25 years has incensed various Byfields and their supporters.

The Globe and Mail's editorialists slap down Stephen Harper, not once, but twice. The first, as expected, was for Harper's attempts to slander both Paul Martin and 11 NDP MPs as supporters of child pornography for having the temerity do disagree with Alliance/Conservative ideas on how to combat it. The Globians call Harper's judgment into question (fair enough; do you want a PM who cannot even acknowledge a simple fuck-up?) and then debunk Harper's claims that Martin is somehow soft on child porn:
What nonsense. Canada has a tough child-porn law, brought in by the Liberals, that among other things provides for sentences of up to 10 years in jail for putting child porn on the Internet. An even tougher bill was in the works but did not make it through Parliament before the election, a common fate for legislation.

The "exception" Mr. Harper refers to is the "public good" defence, which would exempt writers, artists, researchers and legal authorities from prosecution in some circumstances. Without it, the police could potentially break down your door for owning a copy of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. Is that the kind of Canada that Mr. Harper wants? To include such a sensible and necessary clause in the bill does not make the Liberals "soft" on porn.

Harper's suspicion of the Canadian judiciary and tendency towards judge-bashing for political gain also gets the Globe's thumbs-down. Between his questionable knowledge of "constitutionality," his unique interpretation of section 15 of the Charter (completely forgetting its open-ended nature and the fact that it applies to all individuals), and his public statements last fall about a 20-year politico-judicial conspiracy to advance gay rights (Damn homosexualists! How dare they be regarded as equals!), . Harper's been a bit two-faced on the courts striking down laws enacted by legislatures himself. After all, he was the one who spearheaded the fight against restrictions on third-party advertising during elections -- a law that was passed by Parliament, which, in Harper's world, the courts should defer to. Well, except when they shouldn't. Quoting the Globians again:
Ironically, Mr. Harper himself brought a Charter challenge to the federal election gag law that imposes spending limits on interest groups during election campaigns. (He lost at the Supreme Court.) It may be that it is not activist judges he objects to, but activism in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

I'd have written that last sentence a bit differently; something like "... but activism that does not suit his political purposes." would fit the bill.

Finally, a Mustel Group poll released today shows the Conservatives with a significant lead in B.C. over the New Democrats and Liberals, 36-28-26; the Greens are at 7% provincewide. Mustel is better known for its bimonthly provincial voter intention surveys, but they've tossed us a bone for the federal election, with another poll on the way. (Thanks to Public Eye.)

I couldn't help but notice in the press release: "A recent Mustel Group poll indicates that in BC, the Progressive Conservative Party has the support of 36% of decided voters, in contrast to 28% supporting NDP and 26% supporting the Liberal Party." The wag in me says: Okay, so the Progressive Conservatives are on top. Not bad for a party that's been dead for six months. How are the no-longer-progressive Conservatives doing?

later tonight: Get Your Vote On, Terminal City, and the Simon Fraser Student Society presents a youth-oriented candidates' forum at the Pic on Pender in Downtown Vancouver. Politics is best washed down with a few pitchers; enough booze may even make an all-candidates' debate tolerable. Imagine that!

Saturday, June 19, 2004


Conservative Child Porn Smear

As you probably know by now, the Conservative Party has decided to go for broke and accuse its opponents of being a bunch of pedophile-coddling kiddie porn advocates. In two brazen press releases yesterday, the Conservatives blasted both Paul Martin and 11 NDP Members of Parliament for supposedly supporting child pornography. The basis for this smear, which may well be worse than accusing someone of murder? They didn't vote for specific Alliance motions that would supposedly combat child pornography -- motions that would have criminalized scholars, researchers and investigators studying the subject, works ranging from Lolita to Anne Geddes photos, or the baby-in-the-tub photographs that almost every parent has (Mom, Dad: Burn 'em now!)

Seventy-two minutes after sending out the initial release, the Conservatives retracted it -- but only the headline reading, "Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography?" As Edmonton Journal city columnist Paula Simons noted on Saturday (sorry, behind the wall), adding a question mark isn't a defence.

Well, Harper still hasn't apologized, despite calls from people more intelligent than I to do so. The fact that Stephen Harper cannot even apologize for his party's brazen smear of a dozen parliamentarians for disagreeing on how to combat child pornography, and that he still perpetuates this lie that Paul Martin and others are indifferent to the exploitation of children says a lot about his character, or lack thereof.

Stephen Harper wants to talk about integrity in this campaign? How can a guy who tries to exploit Holly Jones's rape and murder for political gain by slandering his rivals have any claim of integrity? Paul Wells is right: Harper's going to wear this one.

For your edification, here are the Conservative "Reality Checks" accusing the NDP and Paul Martin of supporting child pornography, as they were sent to me by the Conservative press office on Friday. The first one arrived at 10:25 AM PDT, the second at 12:30 PM PDT. Clip and save if you like.

From: Conservative Party / Parti Conservateur []
Sent: June 18, 2004 10:25 AM
To: Conservative Party / Parti Conservateur



June 18, 2004

The NDP Caucus Supports Child Pornography?

OTTAWA – Jack Layton says he would shut down child porn sites; but has he spoken to his Caucus lately?

Eleven members of the NDP Caucus voted against prohibiting the creation or use of child pornography. (April 23, 2002) NAYS: Blaikie, Comartin, Davies, Desjarlais, Godin, Martin, McDonough, Nystrom, Proctor, Robinson, Wasylycia-Leis.

NDP MP Dick Proctor said (Hansard, March 9, 2004):

· “It is difficult, and it ought to be difficult, to criminalize expression.”

· “The concern that I and other members of our Caucus have is that the government has caved into the politics of fear.”

· “Without reinstating the artistic merit in this bill, I will reluctantly and sadly find myself voting against Bill C-12.”

Child pornography is considered an expression?

Child pornography has artistic merit?

We shouldn’t criminalize it?


For more information, please contact the Conservative Press Office: (613) 364-6040

From: Conservative Party / Parti Conservateur []
Sent: June 18, 2004 12:30 PM
To: Conservative Party / Parti Conservateur
Subject: Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography? / Paul Martin soutient la pornographie juvénile ?



June 18, 2004

Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography?

OTTAWA – Today, Martin says he’s against child pornography. But his voting record proves otherwise:

Paul Martin voted against a motion prohibiting creation or use of child pornography (House of Commons, April 23, 2002)

Paul Martin voted against a motion calling for legislation to protect children from sexual predators (House of Commons, April 23, 2002)

Paul Martin voted against making the age of sexual consent higher than 14 (House of Commons, April 23, 2002)

Paul Martin voted against establishing a national sex offender registry (House of Commons, Feb. 5, 2002)


For more information, please contact the Conservative Press Office: (613) 364-6040

Friday, June 18, 2004


Is this thing on?

Ok, a couple of technical fixes here: I've added a "Feedburner" button on the left-hand sidebar; this serves up an RSS 2.0 feed for those of you whose aggregators don't yet support Atom, which seems to be the Blogger favourite in the site-feed wars. Second, I've switched on the Blogger commenting system due to my dissatisfaction with SquawkBox; the new commenting system should be working with this post.

Third, I had written a nice meaty post yesterday (Thursday), but as I was on a computer away from home, I was running Internet Exploder, and it lived up to its name...

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Commenting problems

I've noticed that the SquawkBox commenting system I'm using right now has lately been unreliable. Some of your comments show up when I read for one browser/machine combo, but if I switch browsers, then a new series of comments appears under the same post. It's all rather annoying, so I'll be switching over to the new Blogger commenting system later this evening; all the old comments will no longer be displayed.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and if I haven't responded to you, it may well be because I didn't see your comments.

Nicely summed up

Seeing as nobody can agree -- and everyone seems to have their own standards for -- who came out best from this week's leadership debates, this assessment from a Globe and Mail letter-writer and rock-paper-scissors fanatic is as appropriate as any.
Even a cursory glance should reveal that Mr. Harper's overly aggressive play of Rock is beaten by Mr. Martin's bureaucratic Paper.

It warms my heart to see that politicians are finally embracing a higher form of dispute-resolution than the archaic "who talks louder" form of debate to which we have become accustomed.
If you want to see the photo in question, you'll have to get your hands on a copy of today's Globe.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


The English-language debate

Didn't know what to make of the format. While I do prefer leaders' debates where the competitors do address each other and mix it up, this debate tended to degenerate into people talking over each other; sometimes it was as many as three at a time with the end result being that nobody got heard until moderator Anna Maria Tremonti stepped in. It was a refreshing contrast to the utterly sterile 2001 BC election debate, where the leaders were not allowed to challenge each other; they could only answer questions posed by a panel of journalists. Rumour has it that BC Liberal leader Gordon Campbell requested that format; if he didn't get it, he wouldn't participate.

The role of Parliament and the Charter of Rights and freedoms came up over and over in the debate. The leaders to Harper's left tried to pin him down on same-sex marriage and Harper's apparent willingness to use the notwithstanding clause in order to keep marriage a heterosexual affair. Harper fired back by quoting Martin, who said last year that he'd use the clause if a court decision forced a church to perform same-sex marriages against its own teachings, a nuclear scenario if there ever was one. Harper retreated to his position of free votes on contentious issues (and it's up to you to figure out how the Conservative candidates most likely to be elected would vote), and never did answer the question, despite the fact that he introduced this motion in the house last year:
That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary, in light of public debate around recent court decisions, to reaffirm that marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and that Parliament take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada.
By my interpretation, the notwithstanding clause is within Parliament's jurisdiction, and the fact that this motion implied its use was cited by several Liberal MPs who voted to defeat the motion.

From there, it got down to both Martin and NDP leader Jack Layton wrapping themselves in the Charter, arguing that the whims of Parliament are ill-suited to upholding minority rights in a democracy. Martin might have found a basis for future attacks on Harper: a Canada that ignores its own constitution and overrides minority rights out of ideology or pandering is not his kind of Canada. Look for a variation of that talking point to reappear in the next two weeks.

Harper brought up child pornography as a legitimate reason to use the notwithstanding clause. In a move based on playing to anxious parents rather than an exploration of when Parliament does have grounds to override Canadians' constitutional rights, Harper claimed that recent court decisions had made "child pornography" legal based on such nebulous concepts as the public good. Now, most viewers would probably take Harper's cheap fearmongering at his word -- people tend to go apeshit at the mere mention of kiddie porn and it's often impossible to have a rational discussion on how to combat it. One problem with Harper's patter: pornography made with actual children is illegal in this country. The exemptions (artistic merit and private use) only apply to work that is purely of one's imagination, or by minors for their own use. This distinction is lost on many, and the fact that it is lost gives Harper a cheap and convenient cudgel with which to beat civil libertarians and those who seek both to protect children and freedom of expression, even really sick expression. Still, his argument was as phony as a $3 bill. (For a treatment of the subject that basically matches my views, have a look at this paper from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.)

Stephen Harper kept to the topics that have served him well: corruption, mismanagement, waste. Harper's weakest attack on Martin surely came over the Liberals' 1993 cancellation of an order of helicopters to replace the Sea Kings. It reinforced my perception that Harper is indiscriminate in whether he attacks Liberals over kept promises (axing the helicopters), broken ones (GST), program successes (debt reduction; Harper has the gall to attack the Grits of slashing program transfers -- what would he have done?) and failures alike. Quite simply, if it was a Liberal action, it was fair game for Harper, which diluted his accusations. There's enough broken promises and failed programs since '93 to attack the Grits on; why bother with anything else?

There was no massive attack on the frontrunner. Surely Layton, Harper, and Duceppe could have made mincemeat of Harper on both his vociferous support last year for the Iraq war and his attempts to disavow his support for said war in recent weeks. (Never mind Harper's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, appearance on Fox News claiming that he was speaking for the "silent majority" of Canadians who backed the war, his attendance at pro-war rallies last year, or his accusation that the war's opponents were secretly cheering Saddam Hussein. He was just misunderstood.)

It wasn't just Iraq that the others, especially Martin, could have knocked the stuffing out of Harper on. On fiscal matters, the Conservative platform is the most optimistic in how much fiscal maneuvering it anticipates the government will have over five years. Martin alluded to the fact that Harper intends to boost spending massively in some areas while simultaneously cutting taxes. B.C. voters elected a gang that promised the same in 2001 -- it led to record deficits, brutal program cuts, and the promised economic miracle never materialized. In B.C., Gordon Campbell and his clones repeatedly claimed that "tax cuts pay for themselves", which hasn't happened -- provincial income tax revenues won't match their 2001 levels until around 2008. The Conservative platform also seems to assert that tax cuts won't dent government revenues (the Conservatives' revenue projections through 2009 are the same as the Liberals' despite the Conservatives' tax-cutting pledge.) The line from Martin was a "$50-billion black hole", a reference to the difference in the cost of the Conservatives' and Liberals' five-year tax and spending projections. That's another talking point that we might hear again.

Martin could have also made reference to the last time the Conservatives got their hands on the nation's finances -- we were $300-billion deeper in debt after nine years of Conservative government. As a result of the Conservative years and the debt racked up by the Liberals, especially after about 1975, Canadians have become a deficit-phobic folk. If all else fails, it's still the economy, stupid! While the likes of Harper were screaming that Canada's economy wasn't as hot as the American one in the late-'90's tech bubble years, we also didn't have nearly the same post-bubble doldrums: employment continues to grow, so does GDP, money's cheap, and inflation is still in the Bank of Canada's target range? Why mess with a good situation by relying on some right-wing voodoo economics? (Oh, Harper may have trained as an economist -- although it was at the University of Calgary -- but Martin can point to a decade of experience as finance minister and say that he actually knows how fiscal policy works in real life, not just in a Robert Mansell paper.) That the economy, jobs, and finances had such a small place in the debate was disappointing; on the other hand, if the economy's issue number one, it's usually because said economy's in the crapper.

Jack Layton should have backed off of StarWars, which will not win him too many additional votes. Smilin' Jack was preaching to the converted on that issue. Say it one, then hammer Harper on Iraq (you can't lose on that one), clarify your position on NAFTA, explain the infamous Chapter 11 in a quick soundbite, and then get to domestic issues; you know, the kind of issues that most people base their votes on.

Ultimately, Layton spent too much time playing to the base (trying to hold soft voters who may be tempted to swing back to the Grits?) and not sticking to what Vancouver-Kingsway NDP candidate Ian Waddell calls the bread and butter issues. Take the NDP's proposal to raise the basic tax exemption to $15,000: it's a political winner that, unlike a tax cut to the middle-income bracket, benefits any Canadian working close to full-time. How can anyone argue against that? Layton could have reiterated his commitment to transfer fuel tax to municipal governments for infrastructure needs -- there's an issue that hits people right where they live, and it's one where the NDP are out in from compared to the Liberals' go-it-slow approach and the Conservatives' preference to let the provinces handle it. Layton could have played up the NDP's support for higher education; that's one that appeals both to young voters and parents who are about to send the kids off to college.

Style points: Harper was bland and subdued; appropriate, given that he was playing not to lose in this round. Martin was more confident and stammered much less than we've seen him in the past, but was lacking the fire and passion that served Jean Chretien so well. Layton's high energy bled often over into irritating sanctimoniousness; at times, he seemed to be using his campus NDP schtick instead of speaking to a general audience.

From best performance to worst: Martin, Harper and Layton, though not separated by much, followed by Duceppe -- although the latter had the least at stake and was hampered by the fact that he operates mainly in French.

In terms of doing what they needed to do, Harper came out the best. He was helped by his opponents' measured attacks and the fact that he didn't lose his cool (according to former Report staffer Kevin Michael Grace, who knows Harper far better than most webloggers, Harper gets quite nasty when under fire) or resort to bluntness. Martin needed to score some blows against Harper; they were only glancing. While Martin's position will likely not suffer from the debate, he won't gain, and so now needs help in the form of opponents' flubs in order to get back into government territory. Jack Layton probably didn't do anything to broaden his appeal and if he's to make any gains, he'll have to do it by barnstorming.

No live-blogging here

I was out of the house for much of the English-language leaders' debate, thus the lack of posts on the topic. Will catch the repeat broadcast on Newsworld at 8:00 PM PDT, posting some reax shortly thereafter.

One thing I can tell you: they picked the right host in Anna Maria Tremonti, a no-BS journo of the highest order.


To Warren Kinsella, on the death of his father, T. Douglas Kinsella.

Not your father's Tories?

From the middle-of-the-road, middle-of-the-country world that is Manitoba (yes, I realize that it's not quite so geographically), several prominent longtime Progressive Conservatives have taken the tough decision to support the Liberals in this election. According to these ex-Tories, the new Conservative Party is not the Progressive Conservative party that you knew and loved / sneered at / might not have cared for but didn't hate / were totally indifferent to / thought was not half bad. From CTV:
Another group of former Progressive Conservatives -- including a former Tory MP -- have decided to back the federal Liberals.

"We are concerned that people who have supported the tolerant, moderate Progressive Conservative party may be misled by the name of the new Conservative party," the group said in a news release Monday.

"The new party is not the Progressive Conservative party for whom many have worked and voted in the past."

The group of Manitoba Tories includes former MP Rick Borotsik, Violet Motherall, a former party vice-president, and Olive MacPhail, a former co-chair of Joe Clark's 1983 leadership campaign.
In fact, it's actually two former PC MPs. Not only has outgoing Brandon-Souris MP Rick Borotsik jumped to the Liberals, but so has former Winnipeg South MP Dorothy Dobbie, who was out campaigning with former Winnipeg mayor-turned-Liberal star candidate Glen Murray in the CTV report.

Monday, June 14, 2004


The French Leaders' Debate

I'm incredibly bad at listening to debates with on-the-fly translation -- if you're not really keeping your eyes on the screen, it's hard to keep track of which translator is voicing which leader. Maybe I'll try to tape the debate and watch it through tomorrow. Then again, I could just rely on those who actually watched the thing the first time out. Hey, that's a good idea...

Optimus Crime comes to our rescue with a fine post-mortem, complete with reviews of all four leaders' performances. Apparently Gilles Duceppe outdid the rest, and the two Anglos got left behind.

Meanwhile, Sean Holman at Public Eye took notes, then took shots. Apparently Gilles Duceppe can reduce every issue to Liberal flim-flammery, Paul Martin is a closet hip-hop fan, and Stephen Harper has forgotten that you don't stress your love of the U.S.'s missile defence system or vague opposition to same-sex marriages to an aufdeince where the former's deeply unpopular, while the latter has healthy support...

Sunday, June 13, 2004


The BC Booster

Finally, a large-sample poll of British Columbians' voting intentions! Ipsos topped up two nationwide federal election poll earlier this month with a "BC Booster" sample of 800 (the same size as the company's BC omnibus polls) to give a grand total of 1066 British Columbians quizzed on their federal voting intentions.

The Liberals lead the New Democrats 38-32 in the inner Lower Mainland (Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, the North Shore); the Conservatives are in third place with just 21% of decided voters. Conservatives lead the Liberals in the outer Lower Mainland, 42-25, with the NDP just behind at 22%. Consider, though, that four seats of the suburban Lower Mainland's eleven decisively favour right-wing parties regardless of trends in the rest of the world; even if the Conservatives are down in BC, the drop in these seats will be small, maybe to a mere 60% of the vote instead of 70-plus. (To give you an idea, if the Conservatives are at an average of 60% in 4 ridings of 11; they'd at about 28% in the other 7, with the other 2 parties commensurately stronger in those 7 ridings that aren't solidly conservative! Tricky!)

On the Island and Sunshine Coast, it's close: Conservatives at 30, NDP at 26, Liberals 22 -- and with a sample of just over 150 people, it's a statistical dead heat. The Greens are strongest here, with 18% of decided respondents picking them, leading to speculation on about a Green win in Saanich-Gulf Islands. How those six seats break out depends on how the votes are concentrated across the Island.

In the Interior and North, the Conservatives lead the New Democrats 37-27 with the Liberals trailing at 23. That looks good for the Conservatives, but keep your eyes on one seat: Skeena-Bulkley Valley. Former BC Treaty Chief Commissioner and Haida higher-up Miles Richardson took the Liberal nomination the old-fashoned way: by winning his nomination meeting over four other Grits. Strong support among First Nations voters (28% of the riding's population) combined with the Liberal bases in the towns and cities could put Richardson past low-profile Conservative incumbent Andy Burton.

Ipsos projects that the Conservatives would take 23-25 seats (down from 27) based on those numbers, the Liberals 6-8 (from 5), and the NDP 4-6 (from 2). Of course, this is all subject to change; the survey ended on June 8th, three weeks before E-day.

My gut sense is that Ipsos may be overestimating the Conservatives' potential take based on those numbers and somewhat underestimating the NDP's. The Conservatives have a large surplus of support in the Fraser Valley and Okanagan, while the NDP's support outside the Interior concentrates into the Burrard Peninsula and most of Vancouver Island. Regardless, that poll seems to indicate that a whole bunch of seats are in knife-edge situation, where a shift of a couple of points can switch a half-dozen seats' results.

Other polls: The latest Toronto Star/Ekos poll has the Conservatives out in front, 34-30. As with other polls, the difference is less a Conservative gain (from 30% last month to 34 now), than the Liberals blleding support all over. Meanwhile, the CPAC/SES tracker has the gap between the Liberals and Conservatives closing to just 1% nationwide as of Friday. More from SES tomorrow; with 2 fresh days of data, we might see if this gap-closing is a just a blip or a full-blown trend. COMPAS polled 12 "hot" ridings last week for CanWest: Backlash? What backlash? Ujjal Dosanjh is doing well in Vancouver South, while Backlash! What a backlash! Chuck Cadman is getting his revenge on Conservative Jasbir Cheema after Cheema out-organized Cadman for the Conservative nomination in North Surrey. Meanwhile, the NDP stars -- Jack Layton and Ed Broadbent -- are cruising to victory in their ridings, while "Landslide Anne" McLellan is in a dead heat; if she wins in Edmonton Centre, it'll be by her usual margin.

Shocker: Asper brat favours buying off politicians!

Canada's favourite hotheaded media executive, David Asper, is at it again. The eldest son of the late Izzy Asper, until now most famous for calling his journalists "riff-raff" and bullying his subordinates, is lashing out at the new political financing rules brought in the the Chretien government last year.
"I find it absolutely offensive," Asper said. "I have a right to support whoever I want to support, or not support. That right has been taken away."

The law, which is in effect for the first time during the current general election campaign, bans corporations and labour unions from donating to political parties and limits their donations to candidates and riding associations to $1,000 for the election period.

The law, introduced by the Liberals under then prime minister Jean Chrétien, limits donations by individuals to a total of $5,000 a year. Before this year, there were no limits on corporate, union or personal donations to political parties.

Blogger Erik Sorenson (not to be confused with CBC Ottawa corro Eric Sorenson, surely not) went further, suggesting that Davey Boy was a tad bothered that he'd not be able to shovel a stack of cash to the Liberal party from the CanWest coffers.
Well, the official perception, especially in conservative circles, is that the Aspers are a bunch of hardcore Liberals, if right-wing ones. That may have been true of the old man, but he's gone, and his sons Leonard (the CEO) and David (the editorial enforcer) now rule the place. In a lengthy CBC News: Inside Media interview last month (reviewed here by the Star's Antonia Zerbisias), the Asper boys made it pretty clear that their support tended more to "classical liberal" ideas, not to political parties -- and I do recall David saying something to the order of him not being terribly tied to the Grits.

Sifting through the Elections Canada database, one finds that CanWest was not shovelling large sums exclusively to the Grits. In 2000, the last election where corporations were able to give freely to political parties (and Izzy Asper was alive and acquiring), CanWest gave $56,136 to the Liberals. The other beneficiary of CanWest's campaign grease? Why, 'twas the Canadian Alliance, who likely wouldn't say no to $30,466. CanWest also made contributions between $1000 and $3000 to individual Liberal and Alliance candidates' campaigns.

The last year for which returns are available is 2002. CanWest Global communications kicked nearly $6000 to the Liberals, and slightly less to the Alliance. CanWest Media shot another $4500 towards the Grits. A million dollars, surely it's not.

As for one David Asper, of a postal code that corresponds to somewhere in Winnipeg's North River Heights? He made only one contribution in 2000 -- $500 to Alliance candidate Betty Granger, who was forced to stand down during the campaign after referring to the large number of immigrants to the West Coast as an "Asian invasion." Not tied to the Liberals, indeed.

Note: The links to the results from the Elections Canada finance database may or may not work; EC doesn't provide any sort of permanent web link feature for these queries. The information can be retrieved by selecting the right year, words in the contributor name (like "Asper" or Canwest") and type of contribution -- to parties or candidates. You can do this stuff for yourself.

Update: Those database links are near-useless; you should query the database youself for best results.

Saturday, June 12, 2004


All candidates, all the time.

Decided to swing by an all-candidates' forum in Vancouver Centre today while bouncing between various bike month events in the city. As it turned out, it wasn't a complete waste of time. All the big hitters showed up to debate each other; so did a fair number of purported Vancouver Centre voters, be they there through partisanship, boredom, or the crappy weather. It was a strictly downtown debate, focussing more on social issues, the environment, and the perpetual health-and-education concerns rather than the tax 'n crime talk that sells out in suburbia. In a tightly spaced, tight-knit urban riding, a local candidates' debate does make a difference -- even if only a few hundred people attend, word gets around.

NDP candidate Kennedy Stewart and Liberal Hedy Fry seemed to have the broadest command of the issues. Fry pointed to her human-rights record (though people in Prince George will quibble about that) fighting racism, discrimination against gays and lesbians, and breaking ranks with her own government over a House resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide. Stewart hammered away on urban issues and democratic reform and accused the Liberals of having moved away from the ideals of Trudeau and Pearson that the Grits still trade on. Conservative Gary Mitchell stuck to a few points for the most part; Adscam, the gun registry, and crime (apparently a Liberal product) were his favourites. Mitchell also generally railed against corruption and waste in Ottawa; Fry shot back with the fiscal messes that Conservative governments in Saskatchewan and Ottawa left their successors in the early '90's. Both Fry and Stewart took their shots at the Conservatives on gay rights, the environment, and Stephen Harper's support of Canadian involvement in the latest Iraq war.

On gay and lesbian issues, all the major party candidates expressed support for same-sex marriage and protection for gays from hate crimes, although the heavily Liberal crowd wasn't buying Gary Mitchell's attempts to sell them on the Conservatives' policy of holding free votes. The thinking seemed to be that in a party with a lot more queer-bashin' fundies like Stockwell Day and Myron Thompson than urban liberals like Mitchell or Vancouver Quadra candidate Stephen Rogers, a free vote was as good/bad as a policy against gay marriage.

Yes, the subject of coalition governments came up. Kennedy Stewart made it clear that a move to proportional representation was the sine qua non of NDP participation in a governing coalition. The others avoided the scenario -- for now!

Fashion police: Oh, Gary; oh, Gary. You're the gay guy in this race; you should have the best damned fashion sense of the lot. So what was with that faux-casual outfit? Jeans with a sports jacket? How early-'90's CEO of you! Don't you recall that Hank Scorpio invented that look? Not a good choice if you're trying to convince people that you have no plans to take over the world and/or rule their lives...

Plants? Almost everyone had 'em, and we're not talking about those multicellular land-dwelling photosynthetic life-forms, either. The crowd at the West End Community Centre was more Liberal than anything else; a contingent of Conservatives stood and clapped on cue in one corner, NDPers spread around the room. The Liberal and NDP plants got more questions in to the candidates than the rest; Conservatives generally tossed loaded questions at Hedy Fry; the lone Communist tossed a softie at his candidate.

Christian Heritage candidate Joe Pal has guts, I gotta say. Running for a party rooted in fundamentalist Christian theology in downtown Vancouver is harder than being a New Democrat in Calgary. Most of the boos and hisses lobbed Pal's way were half-hearted in recognition of the fact that the CHP is no threat to win a single seat. Attendees generally ignored Pal after the debate which was preferable to some sort of shoving match.

As expected, billions of rhetorical dollars were tossed around in a way that would make an accountant gag. Good thing that I'm not an accountant -- I was merely free to scratch my skull and ask, "Are you tryin' to pull a fast one on me?" Kennedy Stewart spoke of a $50-billion EI surplus as if it were sitting there just waiting to be tapped. That's going to be mighty tricky (impossible?) as that figure comes from the difference between EI premiums collected and benefits paid over the last decade. Meanwhile, Gary Mitchell tried to portray the gun registry as costing $2-billion (its projected cost over the first decade), rather than the $133-million annually that it's actually costing, and that scrapping it would magically free up money to pay for Conservative spending promises. Then you had the Canadian Action guy's talk about monetary policy, which should cause me to dig out my old macroeconomics notes on money, banking, and the fallacy of "financing the debt." Oh, did I mention that there was a Communist running in Vancouver Centre?

The debate's true hero? The moderator, hands down. She knew what morass all-candidates meetings often degenerate into and was damned and determined to make sure it doesn't happened. She cut off questioners trying to give a speech followed by a question. Rambling answers didn't get too far. Partisan plants were allowed to speak, but invariably bitch-slapped for trying to ask loaded questions or toss softballs at their candidates.

Finally, nobody was told, "we've cleaned out your cage."

General assessment of the candidates:
Kimball Cariou, Communist: Revolting as always (or at least plotting one), the indefatigable People's Voice editor is a bit like a living museum exhibit, but an articulate defender of a discredited belief system. Had to take off early, which diminished the shindig's entertainment value.
Alexander Frei, Canadian Action: Severely out of place; had trouble answering even simple questions of sovereignty. Zoned out completely on a couple of questions. Regularly heckled by the crowd to "shut up and pass the mic."
Hedy Fry, Liberal: She might not be able to travel east of the Pitt River or south of the Fraser without armed guards, but she knows her riding and how to charm her constituents. Strident and unapologetic for how she's performed her job.
Robbie Mattu, Green: A bit out of his depth. Able to answer questions on social and environmental issues, but fuzzy on economic and foreign affairs. Merely saying that "the green economy will create jobs" doesn't make it so.
Gary Mitchell, Conservative: Testy and feisty; seemed to suffer from a case of Short Man Syndrome. Oozed antipathy towards the rest of the candidates and unfriendly audience members; a lot of his supporters seemed to have the same hard-edged attitude. Ducked everything but the parts of the Conservative platform that sell in the heart of Vancouver.
Joe Pal, Christian Heritage: Stuck to his notes and slogged through the sneers. Above-average effort if nothing else.
Kennedy Stewart, NDP: Forget the stereotype of the tweedy socialist academic. Stewart was almost folksy on stage, peppering his responses with real-life anecdotes about real government support for job retraining rather than just relying on tax cuts, or about the real impact of federal action or inaction at the street level in Vancouver. Simultaneously knowledgeable and plain-spoken -- a pleasant surprise.

In infinitely more frisky matters, the Vancouver Nude Bike Ride was somewhat hampered by inclement weather. Several dozen cyclists participated, far short of the hoped-for 250, and many participants decided to emphasize the clothing in "clothing optional."

Friday, June 11, 2004


Notoriously Liberal CBC Watch

The "At Issue" political panel on last night's National was anything but a bunch of Liberal sucks:
  • Vancouver Sun editorial page editor and former Fraser Institute polemicist Fazil Milhar

  • Andrew Coyne. Wasn't a Liberal fan last time I checked.

  • TorStar columnist Chantal Hebert. Liberal-friendly compared to the previous two, bot not wed to any party.

Oh, but Sheila Copps hosted The Current today. Very. Stilted. Delivery. Very. Much. Like. Belinda. Stronach. Had. To. Tune. Out.

Copps isn't the first (ex-)politician to get tapped to sub for regular Current host Anna Maria Tremonti; Brian Tobin and Kim Campbell have also done so, but they'd both had some broadcasting experience.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


Foot In Mouth: Conservative

Just reported on CTV British Columbia; I'm now kicking myself for skipping this event.

Vancouver East Conservative candidate Harvey Grigg, responding to a pro-Palestinian heckler at Vancouver's first all-candidates' meeting:

"Sir, you can go now. We've cleaned out your cage."

Any bets on how long this one takes to go national?

update: Here's the brief report from CTV.

Dumb shit you do in college

Thanks to Google, that dumb shit that you wrote, spouted, or believed when you were 20 can now be preserved for all time. Just ask Malcolm Azania. Previously known only as "the dude who flaked out on Political Animal", Azania penned a rant about whether Jews were "friends or enemies" ten years ago while at the University of Alberta, then posted it on USENET. Colby Cosh dug up Azania's un-a-musings; from there it hit the fan.

I'm really not sure what to make of all this. Part of me says that politicians should get a free pass from college buffoonery; hell, that's when you're expected to experiment with weird sex, drugs, and ideology. The issue, to me, seems not to be so much about whether or not you had some whacko beliefs when you were muddling through Political Science 333: Half-Diabolical Diatribes, but whether you still hold them. If Azania was still musing about Jews being the enemy, then he ought to be questioned even more severely than what he's been getting. On the other hand, if he came to realize that he wrote a load of rubbish, then let it slide, I say.

The same would go for Tri-Cities Conservative MP James Moore; NDP rival Charley King's campaign decided to go after Moore for op-eds that he wrote while in university:
In "Over The Edge", a University of Northern BC student newspaper, James Moore wrote an article on Nov.1 1999 entitled ?The Flip Side of Abortion Extremism?. In the article, James Moore vehemently opposed any legislation allowing for abortions in the case of the mother's well-being at stake. Incredibly, he states that "her well-being could be self-defined as perhaps not wanting to gain weight, or not wanting to lose the use of a wardrobe."
What Azania's case does illustrate is that this is a weird new world, where your every incoherent online rambling may be cached and archived, just waiting for someone to dredge it up. Older politicians had it easy -- they left fewer tracks back then.

update: NDP leader Jack Layton has distanced himself from Azania's comments.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


The Rhinos Return!

Yes, it's true. For the first time since 1990, a Rhino will officially be on the ballot in a federal election, thanks to the Supreme Court striking down the "50-candidate" rule for political parties and the efforts of one Brian Salmi, longtime Rhino activist and Terminal City typist.

Too bad I'm not in the Yukon.

What you're looking for

Let's play Spot the Server Log Strangeness! I kid you not: the following search engine queries have been used to find this site at least three times in the last 10 days.

ted white racist north vancouver: Oh, you mean this? "My riding has the largest Iranian population in the country. At least 40% of all the Iranians living there are refugee claimants. Most of them are bogus. I just mentioned the lawyer who sent me an e-mail last Wednesday or Thursday. He actually put in his email that people in the Iranian community had told him the guy was a criminal in Iran and he is a criminal in Canada and they wanted to know why we had let him in.

I cannot say how many times that comment has been made to me by the decent Iranian immigrants in my riding who came in using the proper system. They see all these, and I am sorry to use the word, scumbags who come in using our refugee laws and claiming refugee status just so they can be criminals here."

Just remember, though: North Van voters have been voting in Ted White for ten years despite -- or because of? -- his (and neighbouring MP John Reynolds's) love of dumping on refugee claimants, the fact that he once ran for Neo-Nazi defender Doug Christie's Western Canada Concept, and his close association with master anti-Semite Doug Collins.

stephen harper richview: You must be looking for an examination about the future life of an Etobicoke prep school grad. Here you go.

harvey grigg conservative: Met the guy not too long ago. To say he's a longshot is an understatement. You may be looking for his campaign website.

kwangyul peck: Has no fingerprints. Perfect politician.

evan solomon ass: Whatever turns you on, dude.

bloc-conservative coalition: Just wait 'till they try to hammer out a foreign-affairs policy...

joe volpe pornography: Oh. Please. God. No.

Gordon Campbell Larry Campbell brothers: Not brothers in any sense of the word, I can assure you.

stephen harper abortion: No comment. That's his story and he's stickin' to it.

Canadians Flashing Tits: Try it on Booble; let me know how you make out.

vancouver scrum: Gawd, that blog does suck.

Website wars has a new report on the parties' websites and their strengths and weaknesses.

Day 16: How not to...

... run an all-candidates meeting: If you're going to sponsor one of those local debates, don't go out endorsing one of the candidates you're hosting beforehand. It really doesn't play very well, as the chamber of commerce in Vancouver's northeastern suburbs found out. From CKNW:
The forum, organized by the Chamber of Commerce, has been cancelled now that two of the candidates announced they wouldn't show up.

NDP candidate Charley King decided to boycott the event after the Green Party candidate did not receive an invitation to speak. Then today, Liberal candidate Kwang-Yule Peck refused to attend.

Peck's campaign office says it's not pleased with the Chamber's decision to allow only mainstream candidates to be part of the meeting. Then it says the Chamber lost its impartiality when its president endorsed the conservative candidate.

Sure, the local Chamber of Commerce prez might have thought he was acting as an individual when he gave the thumbs-up to Conservative James Moore, but he should also remember his other role, and that people will happily confuse the two.

Reports, opinions, columns, and anything else on this site, are © 2002-2003 Ian King unless otherwise noted. Permission granted to use material on this site for non-commercial purposes provided that the work is attributed to the original author. All other uses require specific permission of the original author. Contact weblog owner with any inquiries.

Feel free to link to this web log. The management likes getting lots of traffic.