Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It rains in Orlando! Lobbyists, evacuations and endorsements

It’s my last day in Orlando, I fly back to the T-Dot tomorrow morning after the closing party tonight at Disney-MGM Studios. These parties are one of the highlights of coming to Orlando (which doesn’t have much to recommend it as a conference destination otherwise IMO), where a corporation rents out the park for the evening just for the conference goers. It means lots of complimentary food and drink and, best of all, no line-ups for the rides. Much fun.

Just came from an interesting session by Lowblaw (the corporate parent of
Loblaw’s) on forecasting. Did you know there are three peak seasons for icing sugar? Indeed. Seriously thouugh, it was interesting. Anyway, I'm staying at a Disney hotel, and I must say it’s not as tacky as I’ve feared. I’d pictured Mickey Mouse everywhere and speakers blaring “It’s a small world after all” 24/7. The architecture is still a little wacky though, and the fountains make for interesting photo subjects.

And back in Canada, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Cons continue to value practicality over principle, and the Liberal leadership maneuvering continues to get more frantic.

The oil patch loves Conservative staffers
: The Vancouver Sun reprints a Montreal Gazette story from earlier in the week that illustrates further how Steve Harper’s anti-lobbying promises were all bluster. It seems the oil patch is scooping-up recently departed Conservative staffers to lobby their former bosses on the evils of Kyoto, the non-existence of climate change and so on. It seems 30 former Conservative staffers turned lobbyists have secured 327 contracts to lobby the government since they took power. They managed to escape the iron trench coat of Harper’s anti-lobbying laws by jumping to lobbying just before he was sworn in. So it’s all good, right guys?

And YOU paid for it!
: News today that the cost of evacuating appx. 15,000 CANADIAN CITIZENS from Lebanon during the conflict with Israel cost the government $85 million. And of course, at the comments section for the Globe story (and I’m sure at Blogging Whories too, haven’t checked) the Rabid Right is up in arms. I’m not sure where I’d end up in the new citizenship system these people would like to see. I was born in Canada but my father emigrated to Canada as a child, so would I qualify as a first class Canadian, or some lower grade? Would the fact he came from an Anglo-Saxon country (Ireland) impact my ranking? A Canadian is a Canadian, try to change that and they’ll get a fight. While the crazies will rant, I really doubt Steve-o is dumb enough to go there.

The limits of endorsements
: Two candidates have dropped out of the race so far, and both have supported Bob Rae. Undeniably a win for Bob, who needs to establish his Liberal bonifides.

For all the attention we pay to these moves though, it’s clear grains of salt are needed. Maurizio Bevilacqua’s supporters have scattered among many candidates, including Michael Ignatieff, Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion. Jason Cherniak reported yesterday that William Spotton, Maurizio’s former Ontario director, has joined the Dion team. Dido for Carolyn Bennett. Sean Holman also reported yesterday that Caprice Barbour, formerly Carolyn’s B.C. campaign coordinator, has joined the Dryden camp.

I think the lesson to take here is that supporters base their decisions on whom to support, when their chosen candidate drops out, for different reasons than the candidate does. Also, candidate coattails are very limited, if there’s not a philosophical fit. While a candidate may drop-out to endorse another based on promises of cabinet spots, for example, followers look more philosophically.

So, while Maurizio might have seen better personal political fortune with Bob, a supporter attracted to Maurizio for his fiscal proposals might not follow him if he doesn’t see that in Bob, or sees it represented better in another of the candidates. It depends on what attracted the supporter to the candidate in the first place.

My point is this: the race is wide open and fluid, and while candidate endorsements are important the factors that will determine where their delegate support goes are far more policy/philosophy based then cult of personality based.

n interesting exercise, if I had the time, would be to rank the candidates on different policy and philosophy areas (ie. fiscal policy, social policy, foreign policy) and group the candidates on like mindedness, and then factor in their expected delegate support. That would seem to be a more likely indicator of where delegate are likely to go when their candidates drop-out, regardless of whom their candidates endorse.

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