Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tyee blog: Language police invade convention

My latest contribution over at The Tyee's Election Superblog:

Language police invade convention

At the Liberal convention in Montreal there are definitely two official languages, and you'd better not forget it...
(read more)

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Live blogging from the floor: night two's all about Paul

*Refresh this post regularly for frequent updates throughout the evening convention program.

7:36 PM: Signing on from the back of the convention hall for the tribute to the Right Honourable Paul Martin. Sorry I'm a bit late signing-on, I leveraged my all access media pass to get up front with the TV types as the dignataties came in, got some great pics of Paul and some others, they'll get posted online when I get back to the hotel tonight. Saw John Turner with a good seat up front.

7:40 PM: O Canada is sung and we're underway, with Lucienne Robillard and Ralph Goodale as our masters of ceremony. Walking around the hall earlier it's clear that, while this is a tribute to Paul Martin tonight, the real goal is party unity. In addition to Martin signs left amongst the seats for the delegates there are also many Chretien signs, and I think I even saw a few Pearson signs too. The hall is packed, there's barely an empty seat and people are still tricking in. Those that were concerned about turnout have been proven wrong, it's standing room only and the crowd is pumped to give Paul a fond farewell, and to demonstrate we are a united party. It's a night to put the past behind us.

7:47 PM: OK, my bad, Lucienne and Ralph weren't the masters of ceremony. That's to be Mark Tewksbury. He was, what, a swimmer, right? Wikipedia......yes, he was indeed. And to a standing-o Mark comes out and declares...."I am a Liberal!" Mark is very enthusiastic to the delight of the young folks and the perhaps the befuddlement of some of the older folks in the room, but I say we need some enthusiasm and fun here. And I think he's winning them over. He's bringing the French too, bit of an accent but sounds good.

7:52 PM: He's working pretty close to his notes as he talks about Paul and his legacy. But first he introduces the singer, who I think before going into French, brings a little Italian. So now we're trilingual. Her name is Natalie Choquette. Mark's intro was in French but I think I caught the word "diva". Here's her site.

Oh boy, it's opera! What was that Kinsella likes to say about Starbucks vs. Tim Horton's? I need to keep my head up, was she trying to give Paul Martin a lap dance? Interesting. Anyway, what's the name of this musical piece. It's darned familiar, it's like one of those pieces that everyone has heard even if this ain't her thing.

And there's the highnote, yowzza. Kind of fun I guess, she gets a standing-o, she's quite the show-woman. More Italian than English from her so far though.

7:59 PM: It's not just music, she's doing a skit or something. Ordering dinner an an Italian restaurant or something. I recognize this piece too, very familiar. I like it actually, it's a nice piece. But now she's gargling the opera or something? And she ends by stuffing a bunch of spaghetti in her mouth, mmmkay.

I want Paul!! I want Paul!! Paul Anka that is.

8:04 PM: It's a testimonial video, with Robert Rubin paying tribute to Paul, a "good guy to have in a foxhole." Robert Rubin? Wikipedia....OK, he was Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary. Taming the deficit is clearly the theme here, at least for a bit, as Tweksbury talks-up just how bad things were and how important it was to get the fiscal house in order before he brings up three "distinguished businesspeople." I caught the name Wallace McCain (it may be healthier but baked french fries just don't taste the same), didn't catch the two others.

8:12 PM: This is Wallace McCain now paying tribute to Martin. He seems to be very happy with our pension system and the personal and corporate tax cuts, which got lukewarm applause from the crowd. Pension reform, yeahhhh! Improving the child tax benefit though, that got a little better response. As did Paul's continuing work to support entrepreneurship and job training for First Nations people.

Did he just say "Paul is firmly grounded by his baggage?" Holy freudian slip Batman!

I know, I'm sorry. :)

Wallace, by the way, is a billionaire and #335 on the Forbes World's Richest People list.

8:17 PM: Now the third businessperson is talking about Paul's drive to create the G-20, and he's talking about interest rates and inflation, and you could hear a needle drop everyone is so enthralled. Here's a line you'll never hear at an NDP convention:

"The anti-globalization militants..."

8:19 PM: Mark Tewksbury is a beaver, and he does the beaver call.

8:20 PM: OK, now we're talking. It's This Hour has 22 Minutes clips with Pail Martin. Funny anecdote: while covering the budget for the Charlatan in the late 1990s I stepped on Greg Toomey's foot in a scrum. Pretty hard too, he winced. Anyway, more This Hour clips now, funny stuff, and the crowd is waking-up.

Marge Delehanty: "If the Prime Minister's not doing it to his wife, he's probably doing it to the country..."

You want to take that one Sheila?

8:28 PM: Unidentified singer now, doing a fair bit of screaming. Ok, it's Linda something, she's a First Nations winger from the NorthWest Territories, and she's encouraging audience participation for her second song.

I hear the organizers wanted to get Celine to sing tonight, but Michael Ignatieff felt it would be an unfair conflict to have Stephane's sister centre stage. Also, I hear he also tried to get Montreal theaters to stop showing the movie Bobby during the convention, but Gerard and Rae intervened...darn you Iggy!!!

8:35 PM: Tina Keeper was proud to run as a Liberal under Paul Martin, and she speaks passionately for the Kelowna Accord. Marc Garneau, another of Paul's star candidate recruits, pays tribute to Paul's commitment to Canadian unity. Paul "couldn't imagine a Canada without Quebec."

8:40 PM: It seems Mark Tewksbury's parents live in Stephen Harper's riding in Calgary, and awhile back Mark says he asked his Mom if she'd be voting for Harper in the next election, and, after Mark remarked to the audience on how "redneck" Calgary is, he said she replied: "I would never vote for that redneck."

Ouch! Que Blogging Tory outrage in 5...4...3...2...1...

8:43 PM: Mark introduces a "true Canadian hero" to strong applause, Senator Romeo Dallaire. He talks about the crisis in the Sudan and the Darfur, and how Paul Martin, without much support from the usual suspects, said that Canada has to do something, to support the African Union, that Canada has a "responsibility to protect." A good speech by Romeo, and the crowd likes it too. Definitely more than the business stuff.

8:46 PM: Anwar Ibrahim in a testimonial, likes Paul and his concern for the poor countries. Paul is a friend, he says. A Prime Minister from a distant land that showed so much concern and sympathy...he wrote Anwar a letter that he really liked. his is.

OK, Kofi Anan I know. Well, not personally, but yeah. Kofi is paying tribute to Paul's commitment to global and African development. At work the other day my colleagues and I were talking about favourite UN secretary-general names. Kofi was second, but how can you not go with Butros Butros-Gali?

8:52 PM: More singing now. He wants to rock my gypsy soul. Next song is fun though, we got the sax going and now we're rockin!

9:10 PM:
OK, that was Colin James. That was fun, I liked the second song.

And now Mark is ready to introduce the headline singer...she's a Cape Bretoner, which elicits a cheer...and it's...Natalie McMaster. She begins with a slow, traditional sounding violin piece that's very nice. Second piece is a bit faster and we've got the hand clapping happening now. Wooh now she's kicked it up a notch. Some fancy footwork now too, fun stuff.

I have to say though, two nights of music with a ton of Maritimes content and no Barret's Privateers? Come on convention organizers, let's get it together!

9:13 PM: Speaking of things and people you wouldn't see or hear at an NDP convention...James Wolfensohn. He talks about marrying fiscal responsibility with ideas, values and beliefs, and how Paul Martin was committed to seeing a world with equity and social justice.

9:17 PM: "Dignified. Graceful. Composed." That's how the voiceover lady described Paul's election night concession speech from January. She's exactly right, there were a lot of ups and downs but he did us proud that night.

Now we're focusing on the Kelowna Accord, and Paul's commitment got a thumbs-up from Phil Fontaine, and a strong applause from the audience. So did the Liberal child care plan that Paul and Ken Dryden championed and the Conservatives killed.

Paul on same sex marriage:

"We are a nation of minorities and you can't cherrypick rights. A right is a right."

Dammed right Paul!

9:23 PM: Voiceover lady: "Paul Martin came into office as juggernaut and quickly became...a jugger-not-so-much." Somebody owes Susan Delacourt a dollar, I think. When is she writing the sequel?

Back to balancing the budget now and elimnating the deficit. Paul on setting on the road to balancing the budget:

"And we will get there come hell or high water!"

Now that's the Paul Martin I knew and loved!

9:30 PM: The crowd erupts in prolonged thunderous applause and a standing ovation as Paul makes his way to the podium. Clapping and PAUL PAUL PAUL PAUL!! "We love you Mr. Martin!" One girl yells. Paul warns her to be careful, or she's going to get him into trouble. He looks good.

9:37 PM: "In 1993 Canada wanted change, and Jean Chretien delivered change. And I am proud to have served in his cabinet." I think it's time to bury old hatchets, and we should all be incredibly proud of the record of the Chretien government, and the pivotal role that Paul Martin played. They were a great team.

9:42 PM: Paul made his name as the budget balancer, but talk to those that have known him for years and you'll learn he's really a social Liberal. For him, balancing the budget and getting the fiscal house in order was the means to securing our social safety network, to building the foundation for being able to help the poorest among us. That's the difference between Conservatives and Liberals. What's more, we'll both agree on that, and we'll both think we're right and the other is wrong. That's what makes politics great.

9:45 PM: Talking about the Kelowna Accord now: "We set out to address the shame of Aboriginal poverty, and We're Not Finished!"

9:48 PM: Talking about minority rights, and how standing up for minority rights is standing up for all of us. And he mentions the Conservatives killing the Charter court challenge program:

"We are the party of the charter, and under a Liberal government your rights will never depend on the state of your pocketbook!"

He doesn't step that applause line, the crowd comes to their feet with more passion we've heard tonight. He's really going after the Conservatives now, getting off a good line on child care. It's time, Paul says, to send a message to the Conservatives:

"Progress and fairness may be delayed, but they will not be denied!"

9:53 PM: A touching, and funny, windup as Paul send out the thanks and talks about what he'll remember from his time in public life. He pays special tribute to our military members who have fought, and given their lives for Canada, and particularly to their families, whom he's had the honour of meeting across Canada.

9:58 PM: Paul says: "Some people say we tried to do too much. I would rather have tried to do to much then be guilty of caring too little." Strategy aside, it's hard to argue with that sentiment.

10:03 PM: It's some 33 minutes into his speech and Paul finally mentions his father for the first time. If I'd bet on the over/under at Vegas I'd have gotten killed!

10:06 PM: Before Paul's family joins him on stage he ends: "Now is the time to lead, not to withdraw. Now is the time...for Canada!" Yes!!

10:12 PM: In a fun moment, Paul's banner is raised to the rafters to join the banners of the past Liberal leaders, and the night comes to an end. Blogger is starting to act up so I'll leave the big picture thoughts and impressions until tomorrow, but it was a packed, standing room only crowd of united, enthusiastic Liberals here to say thank-you to Paul Martin. Ups and downs aside, it felt good.

Now it's back to the hotel to change and off to the parties. I hope to make stops at the Young Liberals party and Martha Hall Findlay's before ending up at Stephane's hospitality suite.

Tomorrow, the voting begins!

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Thoughts on a busy afternoon

*The Liblogs press conference seemed to be a great success this afternoon, with a good turnout of print and TV journalists. Cherniak did a number of interviews and so did many of the other bloggers here. I had a good chat (I think) with a reporter from the Toronto Star, so we’ll see how that turns out in print tomorrow. Ken Rockburn from CPAC has also been up a few times; he’s going to pop by tomorrow night to join us as we blog the first ballot results. I think there’s a lot of education going on about what blogging is all about; it will be interesting to see how the coverage plays tomorrow.

*This afternoon was the constitutional plenary. The reform package passed but one member, one vote went down. It’s very disappointing. As I blogged earlier, I really think we need to go to OMOV. And I hope we come back to this soon. This isn’t over yet. I think a lot of people felt things were rushed, and they wanted more information. I recognize this is the process, but it seems a bit wrong to me that it’s delegates to a convention that are deciding whether or not to do away with delegated conventions. If you’re in the group of people that can afford to come, then you’re more likely to say keep it. We’re talking about a fundamental change to the ways the LPC works. After more debate and education, I think it would be good for ALL delegates to vote in a referendum on the issue.

*Ted and others today have been posting about the large group of Ignatieff supporters that greeted Iggy when he arrived at the convention centre this morning, and, more specifically, the CBC’s Susan Bonner calling it “the moment of the convention.” I have to disagree with Susan. All the camps have pre-arranged groups of supporters on hand as their candidates enter the hall. All are loud and boisterous. It makes for great b-roll for Susan and the other broadcast journalists, but it’s just theatre. The air war is over, the delegates are all here now and they’re a little too busy to watch TV. Howard Dean’s speech has been the moment so far, IMO.

*Gauntlet is right: Next leadership convention, camps should buy TWO-SIDED placards. Look at so many of the photos and TV coverage of white signs. You can get more bang for your buck.

*Another hour and it’s down to the hall for the evenings festivities, and the tribute to Paul Martin. Hope to be live-blogging the festivities again, but in the spirit of party unity I shall do my best to keep my snark in check. :)

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Me too! Me tooooooo!

A number of bloggers, and I’m guessing the media probably too, got an e-mail this morning from the NDP’s press secretary, Gaby Senay.:

It’s day two of the Liberal convention.

And let’s face it, under-attended plenary sessions and never-ending fourth ballot speculation don’t create that much good blog content.

That’s why the NDP’s got alternative Liberal Convention coverage underway!... We are serving up freshness daily!

OK, sounds interesting I thought, freshness daily, yum. So I went to check out the site, and the promised daily coverage from their official blogger, NDP MP Nathan Cullen (a great guy BTW from Skeena-Bulkley Valley, in Northern BC). Here’s the NDP’s blogging insights:

Opps! Anyway, what’s with these guys saying stupid stuff asking why none of the Liberal candidates have mentioned sponsorship in their platforms? Gee, I can’t possibly imagine why not. Newsflash NDP: the country has moved on. Next election Jack if you want to get anywhere you’re going to have to run ON something; just running against us ain’t gonna cut it anymore.

But good luck with that guys.

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Waking up in Montreal

A whirlwind first day at the Liberal convention, but after a good six hours of solid sleep I’m back on the go, and trying to collect my thoughts on the convention so far.

I and many others thought last night’s official program went too long (wrapped-up just after 10pm) and particularly that the musical portions were overdone. Turns out there’s an explanation, Paul Wells reports that Howard Dean was running late and the singers were forced to fill. That would explain it.

It’s been a fun time so far, particularly hanging-out with lots of fun bloggers. And I’ve really been surprised at the number of people that have heard of this blog and claimed to be readers. Even if half of them are lying, still, it’s nice to hear, and thanks for reading.

The parties were a lot of fun last night, especially the Liblogs party. The group was a good mix of people from all the different leadership camps. I met many people and bloggers and I’m horrible with names so sorry to those I won’t be able to remember. But it was particularly good to meet Antonio of Fuddle Duddle fame, whom I’ve had some spirited debates with on our respective blogs; he’s a great guy in person.

I find that’s so often the case. The difference between the picture we get of a person from their online persona and how they actually are in person is often so different. And also the impressions we form about a person based on their writings. For example, the unmasked Calgary Grit, whom I also met last night, is much younger than I’d have pictured.

Stephane Dion and his wife Janine Krieber stopped by the Liblogs party, and I had a chance to chat with Janine for a bit. And I also got my photo taken with Stephane, who now joins the very short list of politicians I’ve gotten my picture taken with. The other? Ken Dryden, but I wasn’t really counting him as a politician at the time. :)

After the Liblogs party wound down I headed off with Ted Bets (Cerberus), Antonio and a bunch of other folks to hit the Iggynation party. Also had a good chat with the fellow behind, whose frustration with how the tone of debate on the blogsphere during the campaign has degenerated I share. He hopes to be back with a new concept after the convention, and I look forward to reading it.

Big day today, the Liblogs press conference in an hour, constitutional reform plenary in the afternoon and the Paul Martin tribute in the evening. That should be…interesting. And, I trust, a party or two after that. Only had one drink last night, so I think I can have at least two tonight. :)

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LPC Day One in photos

Myself and Scott Tribe from Progressive Bloggers guard the door. They're hiring security tomorrow.

Hanging-out in the bloggers room with Miranda from A View from the Left and John from The John Lennard Experience.

The convention centre is a very colourful sight after dark.

Jean Lapierre, Anne McLellan and an unknown person chit chat in the CTV booth.

Dion and Ignatieff supporters go face to face in a chant contest. I have two possible jokey comments here and I couldn't choose so I'll post them both:
1) The Dion leader informed the Iggy leader "this is not a cheerocracy!"
2) Right after this, both groups starting staring at each other menacingly, moving in synch, snapping their fingers and singing showtunes.

Don't know what that is hanging from the ceiling, put it looks pretty.

Business owners in Montreal spontaneously showing their support for Dion. Clearly this momentum...blah blah...unstoppable...yada yada....

Bill Graham's keynote from the veeeeery back of the hall.

Howard Dean addresses the delegates.

Myself with Stephane Dion and his wife Janine Krieber at the Liblogs shindig.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Live blogging from the floor--night one

*As long as the laptop battery and WiFi holds I'll be liveblogging the night's convention program, refresh this post throughout the evening for updates.

7:30 PM: Hello from the convention floor at the convention centre in Montreal. The hall is beginning to fill up for the night one festivities. The fun will include a thanks to Bill Graham for his yeoman's services as interim leader and, the event we've all been waiting for, the Howard Dean keynote.

A fun little piece of political theatre a little earlier, before I made my way down to the keynote hall. In the main lobby area, when their candidate came down the escalators, large, vocal, placard-totting groups of Ignatieff and Dion supporters cheered for their arrival. The usual manufactured for TV b-roll type of convention display.

But after their candidates left the scene, the Iggyans (is that right?) and the Dionistas engaged in a little cheering contest with one another for about twenty minutes. I got some good pics, will post them up tonight or in the morning. Was a nice little display, fun stuff.

Anyway, I'm sitting at the back but up front the seats are divided by leadership camp. It seems the Dionistas were overflowing into the largely empty Volpe area and were asked to move. Opps, guess there's just too many Dion supporters here. Sorry Joe! :)

7:45 PM: People are still filing in for the "Red Hot Liberal Convention" as the bilingual DJs called it, but still plenty of good seats here in the back. The Iggy and Rae people just made themselves heard, and hey, there's a Scott Brison sign too.

In fact, lots and lots of empty seats here the back as we open the program with O Canada. And now some young fellow going aaaaaaa a lot. Followed by some kind of rattling briefcase and weird sound effect show. Flip on CPAC, I have no idea guys.

7:50 PM: Now they've added maracas or something. And I think I see Michael Flatley and ZZ Top.

7:52 PM: OK, so they're students at risk or something, so anyway, good for them and nice show. I'm a cultural heathen anyway. But now on with the program.

8:06 PM: Long string of the usual welcome messages and boilerplate from a whole bunch of people, so I'm catching up on my blog reading. Reading Wells at the moment, Paul stopped by the blogger room this afternoon to say wassup. And there's Craig Oliver walking by. He looks a touch lost, I hope he finds his way.

8:09 PM: And now the singing of one Melanie Renault. They need to knock the volume here down just a notch or two, I think.

8:11 PM: Owwww! Esp. on the high notes. Seriously.

8:14 PM: Another song, nooo! I mean, she's a great singer. It's just the volume. OK, do I sound like I'm 68 or something? Anyway, just read Coyne's column. Not sure I agree, I haven't heard a lot of buzz about the nation here except theorizing on how it will move the votes. No one saying it's moving their votes though.

8:18 PM: OK, she's done and hey, who's that guy? Oh, it's Glen Pearson, our new Liberal MP from London-North Centre. He said he just sent Stephen Harper a message. He said the voters said it's time to take Kelowna back, take Kyoto back, take childcare back, to take our country back. Nice little speech from Glen.

Am I sensing a theme for the next election?: Taking the country back. I like it.

8:26 PM: New Brunswick Premier Sean Graham takes the stage. Gives thanks to both Paul Martin and Bill Graham, and elicits a standing-o for each. OK speech, bit I swear he almost lapsed into a Bob Dole-like timbre at one point there: we wiiiilll beee uniited.

8:30 PM: Long speech from Sean, and in both official languages too. I like the message though, he's likening his experience in New Brunswick in the last election now to our challenge today. There's no shortcuts to earning people's trust, he said, and that's exactly right. Trust is won for what we're for, and not what we're against. EXACTLY!

8:40 PM: Didn't catch his name but we've not got another band on stage, they were billed as some sort of maritime group. "Which was does the wind blow?" was their first song. Hopefully, it's blowing our way.

Now it's a second song en Francais, which translated as "Tear down these walls". In case you didn't get the symbolism he explained it for us. He's urging audience participation too. We're all to sing the chorus "wooooh oooooh ohhhhh ohhhhh ohhhh." And now the volume is back up again, ouch. Benefit of sitting on media row: don't need to go:
wooooh oooooh ohhhhh ohhhhh ohhhh.

8:54 PM: OK, after a third song they're done and it's time for the Bill Graham tribute. They're showing a tribute video now...hey, he had dark hair! Don't you wish Bill was just a few years younger? He'd have a real shot at the leadership. A class act all the way.

9:01 PM: Bill's daughter Cathy and his son are up to do the intros and pay a touching tribute to their father. And son takes a little shot at Peter McKay. He also told a funny little story. I guess the son (sorry, I missed his name) is a journalist, and he says Bill used to start his speeches with a little anecdote:

"The only people hated more than politicians are journalists and I know because I have one for a son."

A more partisan speech from the son, not sure if it was quite appropriate but a standing-O because now, here's Bill.

9:05 PM: Bill starts by saying the smartest political speech he could give would be to stop right now. We'll give you one more though Bill.

Nice line from Bill here, as he talks about Stephen Harper and notes the 2.5 sword lengths away he sits from Steveo.

"It's two swords lengths away, and there's days where, if I had the sword..."

Bill moves on to Conservative flip-flops, and there's rich material there. Loud boos great the mention of the names "Emerson" and Fortier".

Referencing the London-North Centre byelection:

"And in that election the Conservatives came third and the NDP, my friends, came fourth. I wonder how Jack feels about that?...Not bad for a party that is leaderless...a fact my wife and kids often remind me of."

9:15 PM: Bill says let's not be afraid of our life in politics, but let's be proud of it. I like that message. Politicians and those in politics often get a bad rap, and while the motives of some may be impure the majority of people in all sides are all about making Canada better for all Canadians, and that's something to be proud of.

9:23 PM: Heartfelt closing words from Bill and a standing-O from the delegates in the hall, and leaves he with a piece of First Nations art. I'm not sure if he's retiring in the next election, but I hope he stays around.

And now more music from a Naomi Streamer before we get to the Deaner. While I appreciate the music to break-up the speeches I think a little less would have been better. It's getting a bit late, and I left the acetaminophens back in my room.

9:30 PM: Just remembered I had foam ear plugs in my bag. Ahhh, sweet relief! I swear, this is louder than the day I went to qualifying for the Montreal F1 Grand Prix.

9:35 PM: And with the video tribute now rolling it's time for the Deaner. He gave a voice to people that lost faith in their leaders, says the voiceover lady. I hear Howard was practicing his speech in the hall this afternoon and was trying, without much success, to bring the French. Will be interesting to see if he goes for the French tonight.

The opening video is still rolling. Very much a "The Howard Dean Story" that kinds of leaves the impression of Howard vs. the world. Holy schmaltz batman. Maybe it's because I'm not a huge Dean fan, and this kind of stuff is common in these kind of videos, but still, pass the rusty fork. On with the speach, please! Howard! Howard!

9:39 PM: Did Howard Dean start coloring his hair? Oh, no, that's Frank McKenna. Hey, does Frank color his hair? Inquiring minds want to know. Anyway, Frank is intro'ing Howard, but first he gives a wassup to:

"My Prime Minsiter forever, whom I was so proud to serve under, Paul Martin."

9:42 PM: Howard takes the stage with a standing-o from the audience. He starts by taking a humble shot at the glowing intro video:

"That's something my father would have enjoyed a lot of and my mother might have believed it."

He says though that the Democratic success in the last election was all about team effort and the cooperation of many, many people working together. And then he breaks out the French and just a few words in he's interrupted by thunderous applause from an appreciative audience, to which he throws back this line:

"Won't Fox news hate this!"

I thought he did pretty good with the French. Howard goes on to talk about the long friendship of the Canadian and the American people, listing examples of cooperation like the ice storm and Hurricane Katrina. Howard says "We're connected by more than shared values. We're connected by shared ideals."

9:50 PM: Getting down to brass tacks, Howard said there are two major lessons of success for progressive parties: the place of power, and how it's practiced. Power, he said grows from the grassroots up, not from the top down. And not just from the areas that have traditionally supported you.

"We should never cede a single state or a single province...never cede a single voter, not a single one!"

"Show up...everywhere. Knock on doors...everywhere. Work hard...everywhere. And do it every day."

9:55 PM: He says there were some in the Democratic Party saying the way back to success was to mimic the Republicans, whose values we don't share, and he said that would be wrong. The path to power is in your values, in articulating them, in standing up for what you believe in, in living them and standing by them.

10:00 PM: Howard wraps it up. I know I said I'm not a big Howard Dean fan, but I have to say I liked this speech. I liked the message. It's a common sense one, and it's a good one. I hope we take its lessons to heart in the months ahead

And now as the hall begins to empty I bid you adieu from Montreal. Off to the parties!

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Day One and someone has already played the Nazi card

Came across this post this afternoon from blogger Devon Francis (Liberal Outsider), who, while he's a Kennedy supporter, I am supremely confident does not at all speak for Kennedy, or anyone else in his campaign:

Today at the convention Leadership candidates arrived to register. The day began with Bob Rae registering, with his supporters chanting "Bob Rae, Bob Rae." His crowd was a fairly good size. They were clad in the red t-shirts and carried the posters that depicted Rae in a rather not so flattering way.

The overall style, and not content, has been remarked as akin to the Nazi party material. Half red and halfblack and white, one cannot help feel the empire-ish sentiment it conveys. Further, the Rae campaign has been passing posters and cards advocating a Rae-volution. I must ask, is this a wise political move?

Tell me Devon, is it wise to compare the Bob Rae campaign to the Nazi Party? I mean, really, is that politically wise, or just plain wise at all?

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Imbalance moves to the plenary

I’m in Montreal and I’m just catching my breath. Dropped my stuff at the Travelodge (smallest hotel room ever, but it’s cheap) and headed over to the convention and got registered.

Was a bit of a hassle finding the bloggers room, it’s a bit out of the way (keep the unwashed bloggers away from the normies!) but it’s very comfy. Good on Tait Simpson and the LPC for setting it up and inviting bloggers to come to town.

And naturally in the blogging room were, well, bloggers, such as Scott Tribe of Progressive Bloggers and Blogging Canada, Wayne Chu of Progressive Bloggers, Jason Cherniak, Miranda of A View from the Left, John Lenard of The John Lennard Experience and Laura of The Tyee.

After checking out my e-mail it was down to the already underway policy workshops. With the nation motion withdrawn I figured the best chance for drama was the fiscal imbalance motion so I hoofed it down to the economic policy workshop.

The room was half full but there were still 75 or so people that cared a bit about policy, not too bad. Dion and Ignatieff supporters were prominent in the room as well; Dion’s people wearing red shirts and Iggy’s peps sporting funky Iggy scarfs.

I missed the debate on the fiscal imbalance, if there was any debate. I was there, however, for the vote on prioritization. Iggy’s people all voted for it, none of Dion’s or, in my biased opinion, most of the others in the room did. It was enough, though, for the motion to be prioritized and it will be debated on the convention floor tomorrow.

This issue seems to be flying under the radar, but I don’t know. In a day everything passed here will be forgotten. The leader sets policy.

The real fun begins tonight with the convention opening, Howard Dean speech and then the parties, including THE party, the LibLogs soiree at Hotel Place D’Armes. Be there or be square.

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Chugging to Montreal

4:15 am This is way to early to get out of bed, espicially when you only went to bed four hours earlier.

5:15 am Get a cab for the trip from Scarborough down to Union Station, I don't fancy taking a cab at this hour.

5:45 am I'm more used to flying where you need to arrive pretty early. For future reference though, one hour is waaay to early to get to the train station. Plus side, I'm first in line, so guaranteed window seat with a view of empty fields and the 401.

6:10 am Finally some other people arrive and I'm not the only one here any longer. Hard to tell who are Liberals (Harper is saving the scarlet L branding law until he has his majority) but I do see one fellow wearing a Bob Rae button, hopefully that's not a bad omen.

6:55 am We pull out of the TDot on time, a better omen. And a few minutes later, the VIA breakfast of champions for only $5. I haven't had Nerds in like nearly 20 years!

7:15 am We arrive at Guildwood. In Scarbough. Where I live. Why didn't I get on the freakin train here?

8:00 am An observation, prolonged periods of Treo typing really cramp up the fingers. Ouch.

9:20 am Pulling out of Kingston and the train has now filled up. I can read Liblogs on the train but can't login to blogger for some reason, the button just won't click. Also, I'm going to have to change my blog template because it is not at all readable on mobile devices.

10:05 am Just outside Brockville the train stops to split in two to expel those going to Ottawa. And good riddance, I say. They were slowing us down!

10:50 am A brief stop in Cornwall, our last before the Quebec border. I have my passport ready for customs and immigration, but no officials come on board. Maybe its like the EU, open borders? Hope they take dollars.

11:55 am Arrive in Montreal pretty much on time and none the worse for the ware. Let the fun begin.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Good Gerard, but what now?

Note: This post was written Monday morning, but for various reasons I’m just getting around to posting it now. I still think the thesis stands though. And after this I promise to try very, very hard to avoid posting on this nation stuff. :)

A few thoughts on the news Gerard Kennedy will be opposing the Harper Quebecois are a nation motion.

*I'm glad he's come to the decision that he has, but I have to wonder what took him so long to a position? I'd expect a leader/Prime Minister to come to a decision a little faster. After all, this issue didn't come out of the blue. But still, better late and right than quick and wrong.

*GK said: "I deplore that anyone would use this as a wedge issue for political
gain." So do I, and I hope that NO ONE on either side of the issue does.

*This will undoubtedly give Gerard a boost in much of the country (not that he'd use it as a wedge issue for political gain, of course) but it raises serious problems for him in Quebec. He's going to find it difficult to get to 50 per cent plus one without some Quebec support, and if he does the prospect of a leader without even minimal support from Quebec is neither attractive nor desirable.

*That's where the What Now? question comes in. I agree this motion is a slippery slope. But a flat-out rejection, without some kind of alternative or at least the brushstrokes of one, is a dangerous idea. Gerard said:

"I respect the sense of identity shared by many Quebecers, reflecting a
common culture, language, history and accomplishment and I will continue to promote that identity, rather than playing divisive political games with it."

That's nice sentiment, but sentiment alone isn't going to cut it. I want to know, both as a Liberal and as a Canadian, how is Gerard going to move us past this debate and what is he going do to address the concerns of those in Quebec then do view themselves as a nation?

*This leadership race isn't a one-issue campaign, and it shouldn't become one. I disagree with Stephane Dion on this motion; I would like to see him stand opposed to it. But I still support him for leader. Because my decision is based on more than one issue, and because I understand where he's coming from though. I was nearly there myself. I was back and forth on this issue before I decided to oppose it.

This motion isn't ideal. I think we both agree that we'd rather not be having the debate right now, and wouldn't were it not for the bold and decisive leadership of one Michael Ignatieff (thanks Iggy!). But now that we're here it can't simply be wished away.

Most agree that Quebecers/Quebecois form a sociological nation. We both think recognizing it will lead to demands for officialization. The counterpoint is that to vote against even informally recognizing what we all agree to be true is a slap in the face to the people of Quebec. Which is why it would be better not to have this on the agenda in the first place.

Stephane chose to vote yes and fight against the inevitable push for officialization with the same firmness and clarity he has fought the separatists with all his career. He's refusing to let the separatists own the term. Yes, he's saying, Quebec is a nation, and so are the First Nations, and the Acadians, and so on. It's a valid decision, consistent with his long record on the file. We just disagree on strategy.
To try to call this a flip flop by Dion is to either be willfully ignorant of the issue, or just plain ignorant.

Because, when you look at it, it's really not that different from the position I'd have rather he took, and that Gerard did. Both agree, I think, that there's some sort of sociological type of nation there. Both are against any kind of officialization of such a recognition. Stephane, since the genie has been uncorked, favours giving at least symbolic recognition of the fact we all agree on as a compromise to Quebecers, while Gerard opposes even that symbolic recognition because it will lead to demands for officialization, something they both oppose.

*Which brings me back to what now? Stephane took his position to offer a compromise for those in Quebec that feel strongly about the issue. Like most compromises it's less than ideal, but that's the nature of compromise, and we have to live in the world as it is.

Gerard has rejected that compromise. That's perfectly valid. I, and millions of Canadians, are very happy that at least someone on the political scene shares our view and that our voices will be represented.

But it iss now incumbent on Gerard to offer an alternative, beyond "I respect the identity…" And he's going to need to come out with something more substantive soon. That will be the true test of his leadership potential. I hope he can come through.

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To Montreal in the morning

It’s laundry and packing tonight and then in the morning I head downtown to catch a very, very early morning Via train out of Union Station to Montreal and the Liberal leadership convention, arriving in town midday.

I’ll be setting up camp at the Travelodge and then heading over to the convention to wade into the policy goodness. If you’re concerned it will be anticlimactic with the Nation time bomb at least partially defused, fret not. I suspect the debate on the largely overlooked fiscal imbalance policy could prove interesting.

I’ve set up a landing page here where I’ll link my coverage from the convention for easy reference. I’ll have my laptop in tow so I can blog away, and I’ve also arranged through my day job to demo the new Palm Treo, so I’ll also be doing a little Treo-blogging when the WiFi is down or the notebook batteries die.

Looking forward to meeting lots of you in Montreal, please feel free to send me a note at jjedras (at) or ring or text me on the Treo at (416) 434 7823. And if you see me around the convention (that's my forced smiling face above) please say hi.

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BCer's Leadership HQ

Bookmark this page for links to all my coverage of the Liberal Leadership convention in Montreal over the course of the week.

Convention Coverage:

A Perfect Storm
LPC Day Four (evening) in pictures
On cloud nine
Me with the next Prime Minister of Canada!
Jean! Jean! Jean!
PMs and leaders
Photos from the floor before ballot four
Forgive my profanity but hell yes!!
It's easy being green
Welcome Gerard!
Second ballot: That's what I'm talking about!
Bloggers on CTV
Big red bus chugs to Stephane!

LPC Day Three in photos
First round results are out...
Waiting on results...and pizza
Liveblogging from the floor: Night three and candidate speeches
Media, spin, noise and numbers
Embedded inside a flash mob
It's winter in Montreal but it's spring in the LPC
"He's an elfin type..."

LPC Day Two in photos
Tyee: The language police have invaded the convention
Live blogging from the floor: Night two's all about Paul
Thoughts on a busy afternoon
Me too! Me toooooo!
Waking up in Montreal

LPC Day One in photos
Live blogging from the floor -- night one
Day one and someone has already played the Nazi card
Imbalance moves to plenary
Chugging to Montreal

To Montreal in the morning

Pre-Convention Coverage:

All about Dion
My choice for leader: Stephane Dion
In conversation with Stephane Dion
An interview on the issues with Stephane Dion
Dion on electoral reform
Dion and La Belle Province
The Dion Letters

General coverage
Why I support (weighted) one member, one vote
Tyee: What happened to heath care?
Tyee: Recognizing imbalance the wrong move
Tyee: Ignore the jelly, vote for policy
Guest blogger: Pierre Trudeau
Iggy's not jiggy with it
I believe the children are our future
Ken Dryden's Yankee Burger-gate
Tie a Red Ribbon around that sagging Liberal tree...
Babies, bathwater and leaders
My coverage of the LPC(O) convention
Almost live blogging from the Liberal love-in at the King Ed
Reinterpreting Laurier for the 21st Century

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Why I support (weighted) one member, one vote

This week as part of the package of renewal motions Liberal delegates will vote on adopting a weighted one member, one vote method of leadership selection. This would see us join every other party in the 21st Century and be a major step toward party renewal. I urge all delegates to support it.

For me, this is really an issue of the grassroots having a true say. I have a number of issues with the current system, but I'll start with ex-officios. It bothers be that this category gets automatic delegate status because they hold one of a mayrid or party offices, are an MP or past candidate, or a member of the Privy Council. I don't think they should be entitled to any special rights over and above any other party member. We should ALL be equal.

Even the leaders of the provincial "Liberal" parties are automatic ex-officio members of the LPC and therefore could claim ex-officio delegate status. Yes, even BC Premier Gordon Campbell. Anyone who follows BC politics know that Gordo is no Liberal, and neither is the BC Liberal Party. Something is wrong with that picture.

Then there are all the machinations that can happen with a delegated system. Rather than voting directly for your choice for leader you vote for a person supporting your choice and that person is pledged to vote for that candidate on the first ballot. But only on the first ballot. After that they're on their own and your views don't matter anymore.

On machinations, Steve at Far and Wide wrote this week about a theory postulated by one David Herele who, say what you will about him (and I have), knows a thing or two about leadership contests:

… Ignatieff or Rae may send some delegates to Kennedy to boost his support on the first ballot and keep Dion well back in fourth. The theory being, a weakened Dion would be less of a threat, as well as the added bonus of those delegates coming back on the second ballot to show artificial growth….

And there's also this section from a news story talking about the four former Dion supporters that crossed over to the Ignatieff camp:

…Coderre said some won't vote for Dion, even though they are committed to do so on the first ballot. "There's some people who won't even vote on the first ballot and just vote on the second."

Is this really respecting the will of these people that elected these people to support a candidate that they'll either skip the first ballot instead of voting for the person they pledged to vote for, or will vote for someone else all together as part of some grand political strategy?

It's nauseating, really, and it's the kind of old style politics that Canadians have come to abhor. This wouldn't happen with OMOV. You rank your choices on a preferential ballot and it's the voice of all the members that gets heard.

Now, the argument most often levied in favour of the delegated system is that conventions are so exciting, it's a good dose of earned media for the party. And that's true, this week is going to be fun. For those that are there. For those that can afford to raise $1000 for a delegate fee, $500 or more for a hotel and another $500+ for airfare.

So, it's an exciting weekend for those that can afford to drop $2000 to spend a week in Montreal in the winter (looking better than Vancouver right now though). That's leaves out a lot of average folks, and after their voices are heard on the first ballot (if they're lucky) they're silenced.

We can do something to make things more exciting but I'd rather have a slightly less exciting event that sees the will of the membership truly represented than a super exciting event only open to the wealthy, and their voices.

An argument presented against OMOV is that it would remove the incentive for candidates to campaign in every riding. With OMOV, the theory goes; it would be more profitable to concentrate on mass signups in major urban centres. With pure OMOV that would be true, but what we're talking about here is weighted OMOV.

Under such a system, each riding is assigned 100 points which are assigned to the candidate's totals based on the vote in that riding. Therefore each riding has an equal voice, and candidates must campaign and organize everywhere, just as they must now.

No system is perfect. But in terms of fairness, transparency and just basic affordability I feel it's time we do away with the delegated convention.

That said, i this is the last one I'm looking forward to partying like its 1968.

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Akaash Maharaj endorses Stephane

In case you missed it the other day Akaash Maharaj, former LPC policy chair, and very nearly the LPC president in 2003, has endorsed Stephane Dion. Follows his letter explaining why:


Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you well, and looking forward to the Liberal Party of Canada’s leadership convention in Montreal this week.

As you know, this is the first federal Liberal leadership election in more than a generation whose outcome is genuinely uncertain. As a result, whether we vote at the convention as direct attendees, guide our ridings’ delegates as grassroots Liberals, or shape the context of the election as informed Canadians, the choices we make this week will have a decisive impact on the future of Canada.

I am writing to let you know why I have chosen to support Stéphane Dion.

Throughout his decades of public service, Stéphane has consistently displayed political courage, loyalty to the national interest, and irreproachable personal integrity.

As author of the Clarity Act and as our party’s most unwavering proponent of the Kyoto Protocol, Stéphane has always displayed the courage of genuinely Liberal convictions. While others shrank from the debate, he lived the creed that government must stand prepared to do what is right not in spite of the difficulty, but precisely because of the difficulty.

During the arduous transition between the Chrétien and Martin leaderships, Stéphane was as steadfast a beacon for party unity as he has been for national unity. He understood that a principled political party must remain bound together through loyalty to a shared set of ideas and ideals, and must be more than just the vehicle for the ambitions of any one person.

Above all else, throughout his public and professional life, Stéphane has been recognised by friend and foe alike as a person of the highest ethical standing. For a party whose adversaries have so traduced us over scandals real and manufactured, we can only hope to re-earn the confidence of Canadians if we choose a leader whose entire record speaks to the nobility of public service.

Irrespective of the outcome of the leadership election, Stéphane will work towards an open and inclusive Liberal Party: one that will value the contributions of all leadership candidates and their teams, one that will draw Liberals together after the convention, and one that will present itself to Canadians as worthy and able to govern Canada.

Stéphane Dion is the Prime Minister Canada deserves and the leader the Liberal Party needs. I hope you will join me in making both a reality.

With best wishes,


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We're not so different, you and I

While some are trying to paint sharp contrasts between Kennedy and Dion over this nation thing, the fact is the divisions are smaller than you may think. Indeed, they, and probably nearly all of the other leadership candidates, are pretty much on the same page here. The only difference is a matter of strategy.

I opposed the HoC motion and Dion supported it, yet I still support Dion. Ontario MP Mark Holland supported the motion and Kennedy opposed it, yet Holland still supports Kennedy; in fact he’s Kennedy’s Ontario campaign chair. And indeed, all four of us are pretty much on the same page.

On Peter VanDusen’s show on CPAC tonight Holland explained why he can support this motion and still support Gerard, and how they aren’t really that far apart on the important points of the issue:

“I don’t think Gerard is wrong. Gerard has stated some concerns that I share. Gerard is concerned that this is going to be beyond something symbolic, that this is going to carry towards officialization and move toward constitutional recognition of Quebec as a nation, which is something that is unacceptable. What I share with Gerard is the belief we need to draw a firm line here at this point. That it is unacceptable to undermine federalism any further. That as a symbolic gesture, recognizing Quebec as a nation is a sociological sense, in a symbolic way, in a motion in the house, that is fine by me but Gerard is afraid of what comes after, as am I. That’s one of the things that we’re going to have to work on, and I think it’s going to be a big issue at this convention.”

All four of us agree, I think, that there's some sort of sociological type of nation there. We’re all against any kind of officialization of such a recognition. Stephane and Mark, since the genie has been uncorked (thanks Iggy!), favour giving at least symbolic recognition of the fact we all agree on as a compromise to Quebecers. Gerard and I oppose even that symbolic recognition because it will lead to demands for officialization, something all four of us oppose and will fight against.

So, besides that point of strategy (small sop and fight or stand firm and fight) everyone is on the same page until it comes to officialization, and even then as far as I know there is only one leadership candidate that favours that…although only at some future point in time, when the “winning conditions” are in place, yada yada.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Feel that whip

So Harper triple-whipped this thing? Interesting. I could go through the archives and pull up a bunch of fun quotes from the Harper gang about how whipping is bad, freedom of blah blah, but who has time? They don’t get to hop on that high horse again though. Take a note.

Watching the vote. Looks like Garth Turner has his Dell out at his desk and is typing away. Live blogging perhaps, does the HoC have WiFi?

Final score, passes 266 to 16.

Don Newman reports six Conservatives hid in a closet rather than having to come down one way or another. Not one Conservative voted no. Given a choice between standing-up for their beliefs and their constituents and following orders from the PMO, they chose to follow orders. Reform Party, RIP. Good on Michael Chong anyway, although why didn’t he show up to vote NO after all that?

Garth Turner voted no, along with 15 Liberals. All the Dippers and BQ presented voted yes.

The Liberals to vote no were Joe Commuzi, Maria Minna, Diane Marleau, Joe Volpe, Raymond Chan, Jimmy K, Hedy Fry, Dan McTeague, Bill Matthews, Scott Sims, Don Bell, Ken Dryden, Paul Steckle, Andrew Telegdi and Navdeep Bains.

Agggh! On the CBC, Newman just threw it back to the anchor who intro’d a piece from The Hour on Gerard Kennedy, whom she just called the “only Liberal leadership candidate opposed to the motion.” Umm, was she watching her own channel like two seconds ago? I counted two other candidates that voted no, Ken Dryden and Joe Volpe. That would be three candidates. Indeed Don, was making just that point seconds before they threw back to her.

P.S. I trust his supporters are happy with the amount of press Gerard is getting now? :)

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Who is in government again?

If you know, send an e-mail over to our friends in the NDP.

I’m on the NDP e-mail list and I regularly get fundraising pitches from their federal secretary, Eric Hebert-Daly, like the one where we were told that if we supported our troops we just had to send Jack Layton a cheque so he could bring them home from Afghanistan. I’m told they’re still there though, I guess Jack didn’t get enough to charter the Airbus.

Anyway, they sent out another e-mail today. This time they have an amusing little gimmick (don’t they always though? I loved the one where they pointed out that people identified as Liberal supporters actually were Liberal supporters, it was Pulizer worthy). They want to raise $13,500 by in a week to buy all the online advertising on next Monday, the day people will be reading about the results of the Liberal leadership convention, so they can talk about how much the Liberals suck and the NDP rules.

Here’s a taste:

December 2nd, the Liberals will be choosing a new leader. They hope that with a fresh coat of paint, they'll be able to sell Canadians a rusty old car.

The Liberals are crossing their fingers - hoping voters don't look under the hood to see just how much damage 13 years of arrogance, inaction and corruption can cause.

When Canadians go online on Monday, they'll surely be hit by the Liberal spin. But thanks to you, they'll also get to check out the balding tires, the shot suspension, and the rusted out muffler.

OK, first of all, if there’s anyone in the House of Commons or in politics in Canada that resembles a used car salesman, it is sooooo Jack Layton. Second, the NDP is all about the smugness and arrogance. I guess they’re uniquely suited to judge Liberal arrogance then. After all, takes one to know one.

Anyway, having warned of the coming Liberal spin, now the NDP proceeds to make me extremely dizzy. Read all about it while I pop a gravol:

Let's not let voters forget who:

  • Gave us 13 years of failed environmental policy, with a worse record than George Bush
  • Arrogantly refused to enshrine childcare into law, allowing Harper's Conservatives to axe it
  • "Renewed" their party by recruiting dead people and accepting thousand dollar donations from the young children of drug executives
  • Didn't stand up to Harper on peace in Afghanistan.

OK crap, that’s a lot of lying BS to pack into four short bullet points, isn’t it? If I send Jack a cheque will he hire some better spinners? Heck, I’ll volunteer my services, because that’s just a tad embarrassing.

I’ll cop to a failed environmental policy, although the GWB line is lame. In our defence I’d say there aren’t easy answers on the environmental front, some progress was made, and Stephane Dion was getting a real plan in place before the NDP helped bring down the government, bringing Harper to power. Still, a mixed to bad record on the environment, yes.

Arrogantly refused to enshrine childcare into law? I can get how someone can refuse to enshrine something, but how does one do so arrogantly? Is it something like this?

: No thanks, I’d rather not enshrine it at this time. But thank-you for asking, and have a nice day.

: Nooo, I won’t enshrine it you smelly peasant. Let them eat cake! And bring me my smoking jacket and slippers!

Maybe it had something to do with the fact there were still a few provinces left to sign deals with at the time the NDP teamed up with the separatists and the Conservatives to call the election that brought to power the guys that axed it. Opps!

OK, taking a shot against Volpe is just lame. It’s like picking on a two-year old. Moreover, he was forced to return the donations, and the other part is a lie. No dead people were signed-up. People passed away and were still on the list; when a loved one dies e-mailing the Liberal Party membership office usually isn’t high on the list of priorities for the grieving relatives. Also, I could tell a few stories about the NDP and dirty politicking. Kettles and pots, guys.

Finally, Afghanistan. Here, an actual area of policy difference. Except, Jack didn’t stand-up for peace. Is it peace to abandon the country to the warlords and let the Taliban return? There’s room for nuance here in revisiting an Afghanistan strategy that clearly isn’t working. But an immediate pullout like Jack demands? There is no black and white in foreign policy, or in governing, a lesson Jack didn’t learn on Toronto City Council.

We'll show voters what Jack Layton has accomplished as the Leader of the Effective Opposition - your NDP.

Actually, maybe I will send a cheque. Because off the top of my head, I can’t think of one thing and I’d love to know.

BTW Jack, the Liberal Party of Canada is coming out united and swinging next Monday. Remember all those people that lent you their votes? They’d like them back.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Your Sunday reading assignment

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, and what better way to rest then reading though lots of news stories about the Liberal leadership race?

And on a side note, went to see Bobby yesterday. It was pretty good. Not spectacular, but pretty good. I wonder if wannabe Democratic presidential candidates feel the need to compare themselves to Jack and Bobby?

Anyway, on to the news:

*Gerard Kennedy: For my Gerard Kennedy supporting friends that bemoan his supposed lack of media coverage, here’s an article that’s just on him. OK, it’s just a brief profile from Sun Media, but hey, it’s something. I link it though to highlight this passage:

Kennedy has met and spoken with all three of the other top-tier candidates in the race recently, but concedes that any meeting of the minds, so to speak, is most likely with Dion.

“I suppose you could say that if there were any understandings, it might happen there,” he said.

*Dion positions himself as potential kingmaker: I’d quibble with the headline but I know reporters don’t write headlines so I won’t hold it against the author of this interesting, and balanced, profile of Dion in the Montreal Gazette. Here’s an interesting passage:

But Dion's national campaign chairman, Don Boudria, said unlike Ignatieff, Dion arrives at the convention largely unblemished. Dion himself says it's good to be perennially underestimated.

"Exactly how many candidates look better today than three months ago?" Boudria asked. "There are not many in that group."

He said the people who are saying today he can't win Quebec are the same ones who were saying a few months ago that Dion would not get any delegates.

"We have gone from rags to riches, not in money but politically," Boudria said. "The guy has grown and grown by saying, in his Cartesian way, what he thinks about everything."

*Dion sees ‘English’ issue as asset: An interesting spin to put on it, to be sure. But I can see some sense to it. Because with all this spin from the other camps about how bad his English is, when people actually hear him they soon learn it’s not nearly as bad as they’ve been led to believe. Apparently he’s also working with a tutor to improve even further. Funny line here about the tutor:

"In debates, my professor told me, 'When you are agitating yourself too much, you speak too fast, and too high.' To the contrary, she told me, `Speak slow and low' not as much as (candidate) Ken Dryden, but try."

*Who to pick in Liberal race: The Star’s Haroon Siddiqui sizes-up the Liberal field and sees Dion as the best choice, followed by Rae. He likes Kennedy too, but seems to feel he might need a little more seasoning. And Iggy? After summing up why he doesn’t like him, making a few slightly unfair points I think (Haroon is a staunch leftie) he stingingly concludes: “One cannot think of a worse candidate for the Liberal leadership.” Ouch.

Dion is Captain Canada. As the author of the Clarity Act, he showed conviction and courage amid much abuse in his home province. Canadians owe him a deep gratitude for tethering the separatists to the rule of law, Canadian law. It is said that he is not popular in Quebec. Nor was Pierre Elliott Trudeau, at times.

It is said that Dion lacks charisma. So does Harper. And his English is better than the Prime Minister's French.

Once they get past their first-vote commitment to particular candidates, delegates to the Liberal convention should vote for Dion, and if he falls off the ballot, to switch to Rae, one of the most articulate politicians of our age, in either language.

*Sun endorses Dion: Yes, I know, they of the 250 reasons not to vote Liberal, the newspaper chain that makes a mockery of all the right wing whining about a supposedly Liberal media. But as Jason points out, when you’ve got the left (see Siddiqui above), the centre (the Globe yesterday) and now the right gives you the thumbs-up, you must be doing something right. Besides, the Sun sure are pithy writers.

On Iggy

Ignatieff is one of those academics who's "brilliant," but not smart. Plus, he only says what he thinks the audience wants to hear.

On Rae

Rae is the left's Joe Clark. When he has to make a big decision, he makes the wrong one. And usually, it's expensive.

On Kennedy

Gerard Kennedy was a good education minister for Dalton McGuinty in Ontario, if you believe in throwing money at problems to fix them. But with no federal experience and no seat in Parliament, we don't think he's ready. Maybe next time.

On Dion

Which brings us to Stephane Dion, our choice for leader because he was willing to fight for Canadian unity when it counted, despite the fact most of his academic peers in Quebec were separatists, who made his life hell. That took courage. While we think he's out to lunch in his support of the pie-in-the-sky Kyoto accord, we also think he's smart enough and tough enough to be a leader.

*Brison delegates weigh options: Interesting piece from the Halifax Chronicle Herald looking at where Brison and Dryden candidates from Atlantic Canada are likely to go when their candidates drop off. The short version: probably Rae and Dion, but very, very, very few to Ignatieff.

Kirk Cox, Ken Dryden’s Nova Scotia organizer, says it doesn’t look good for Mr. Ignatieff.

"I think the majority will go with Rae or Dion," he says. "I don’t hear a lot of them going to Ignatieff."

Mr. Rae has called Mr. Cox four times looking for his support. He regularly talks to Dryden delegates across the country, and they don’t want Mr. Ignatieff to win.

"I’ve yet to talk to one who will take their vote to him," he said


Off the record, several Liberals said Mr. Ignatieff may even have trouble holding all his Nova Scotia delegates after the first or second ballots.

"I’m hearing that a lot of people who signed up for Ignatieff are now second-guessing whether they should have signed up for him or not," said one Liberal who is considering Mr. Rae and Mr. Ignatieff. "He’s very intelligent but he doesn’t seem to be very politically savvy, and that worries people. That’s not what I’m saying. That’s what I’m hearing."

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