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June 30, 2004

The Common Good

A reader provokes an interesting conversation, in the comments to this post.

Posted by David Mader at 04:40 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Bloc Albertoise

In the wake of the election, many western Conservatives are coming awfully close to advocating Albertan secession - see, for instance, Wilburs's comments on this post, which are (I think) representative of a not-insignificant number of Canadians. I think Adam Daifallah would agree [to clarify - I think he'd agree with my assessment, not with Western alienation], given his statement on election night that "We are headed for major national unity problems. The West is going to be FURIOUS about this."

Well, here's the Clarity Act. Come back when you have a question. In the meantime, proponents of a separate Alberta might want to listen to what Paul Wells has to say:

There's a province where the Liberal vote went up and where Liberal MPs held their own.

And there's a province where the Liberal vote went down and where a large number of Liberal MPs were beaten by Conservatives.

The place where Liberals held their own, of course, is Alberta. The place where Liberals posted losses, of course, is Ontario.

Look, I'm all about Alberta, and - short of an elected and independent Governor General, a Triple-E Senate and a confirmation process for justices and senior civil servants - there's nothing I'd like to see more than the induction in Washington of Senator Ralph Klein, R-Alberta. Two or three years ago, I'd have been much more supportive of a sovereigntist effort. But Canadian conservatives, inspired by westernism, are closer to power now than they've been for a decade. During that decade they were rendered useless by endless infighting and regional demands. Canada is headed westward, and if Alberta only sticks around, she'll be calling the shots sooner than most people think.

Posted by David Mader at 12:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main


This morning's National Post has lots of interesting after-the-fact analysis and punditry from the right side of the spectrum, including very good pieces by Lorne Gunter (two of them, actually), Andrew Coyne and David Frum. Actually, the pundits are not all in agreement. Frum and Coyne both fault the Tories for dropping the campaign ball, with Frum citing the necessity of a stronger negative front against the Grits and Coyne lamenting the Tories' failure to control the campaign agenda and rebuff Liberal attacks.

But Gunter, whose two pieces a) warn of a spike in Western alienation but b) call for calm among Conservatives - and for Harper to stick around, criticizes the critics on the unlinkable 'Across the Board.' He writes:

Even up until the time polls closed Monday, most of those who are now so critical of the Conservative campaign were still predicting a Conservative triumph, which I take to mean those people also tacitly thought the Conservatives had run a pretty decent campaign, even in the face of the Libs' negative ads. Only now that the seat tallies are known are the critics claiming that the campaign was sub-par...

Based on the best guesses all of us were making during the final days of the campaign, the Conservatives appeared to be doing the right things. We can assume now they were not and encourage them to learn from their shortcomings. But we ought not to blame them for losing since none of us saw the defeat coming either.

In fairness, some of us were calling for a more strident campaing against the Grits in the last week. Moreover, if the analysis is right, and the Tories did fail to hammer their message home in the last week because they - like most pundits - saw themselves ahead, then it's important that pundits and partisans both are able to recognize and publicize the error. That doesn't mean there must be a putsch and a housecleaning. But the critics are not wrong to criticize now, even if they didn't criticize then.

Posted by David Mader at 12:16 PM | (0) | Back to Main

June 29, 2004

Down the Middle

Over at the National Post's unlinkable editorial blog, Jonathan Kay points out that as it stands, a Liberal-NDP bloc commands exactly the same number of votes as a Conservative-BQ bloc: 154 each. If Martin does hope to govern with the NDP, he'll fall short of majority numbers and will still have to depend on the good graces of the Bloq Quebecois - and the discipline of his own party - to govern.

It seems to me, as Kay suggests, that this is the real story of the morning after, and down-in-the-dumps Tories would do well to keep it in mind. They might also remember that if, as expected (but not guaranteed), Chuck Cadman rejoins the Tory caucus, the Conservatives will hold 100 seats in the House of Commons - an important psychological marker and nothing to be ashamed of.

Posted by David Mader at 06:18 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The Heart of Social Democracy

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." -- Hillary Clinton, June 28, 2004.

I have visions of a campaign ad, circa 2008.

Posted by David Mader at 05:54 PM | (8) | Back to Main

Acts of War

Dave K. brings to my attention the news that two guards at the Iranian mission at the UN have been expelled for repeatedly taking pictures of New York landmarks.

Iran's been pushing the envelope recently, and I think it's time to push back. Unfortunately, the US is in little position - diplomatically or militarily - to wage a full-fledged war of liberation in Persia. But America and her allies still have options. In the face of provocations such as the kidnapping of British sailors who strated into Iranian waters, allied powers must respond with resolve. The sailors have returned safely, so obviously the real diplomats know what they're doing and my opinion is worth squat; still here's what I would have done. The day the sailors were taken, I - as Prime Minister or Foreign Minister of the offended party - would have called the Iranian Ambassador to my office. I'd have told him that it was my desire he return to his home country, and that the gentlemen outside the door would presently escort him to the airport. I'd have told him that he would be welcome back to the country in five days time only in the company of the seized men. I'd have told him that if he was not in my office in five days time in the company of my men, it would be considered an act of war, and bombing of strategic targets would commence.

But then that's why I'm not a high government official. Maybe I should write a novel.

Posted by David Mader at 05:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Read Wells.

Frum's Two Cents (10:28 EDT): ... can be found here.

Posted by David Mader at 09:12 AM | (6) | Back to Main

June 28, 2004

No Regrets

A quick note before bed. There will be a lot of bitter conservatives in the morning. Many will blame Ontario. Some will blame Harper. Some will cast a pox on the whole country, disappointed and disgusted.

I can't say I'm not disappointed, but I'm doing my darndest - and succeeding quite well - at keeping myself from getting disgusted or frustrated. This isn't an instance of 'the people have spoken, the bastards.' This is an instance of 'the people have spoken.' Period. Throughout the campaign, despite close polls, a large chunk of the electorate remained undecided. Today those undecided Canadians got to the polls, took a hard look at the ballot and voted Liberal.

A Conservative government would not have been scary, and this Liberal minority is not, and will not be, a disaster. Unless, of course, Conservatives make it so - either by giving up on Ontario and publicly lambasting those Canadians who voted Liberal, or by tearing their party apart once more in search of yet another Babe Ruth leader, someone to hit a homerun at the next at-bat.

Canadians don't want to vote Conservative - that has become, I think, a fundamental truth of the Canadian political system. Many Canadian Conservatives will be tempted simply to opt out; others will be tempted to abandon ideological conservatism (even in its present watered-down variety) in order to be more appealing. Both would be a mistake (although as one who has chose the former, I'm not in the best position to say so). Instead, Canadian Conservatives should stand firm. The principles upon which they stand - individual liberty and responsible government - are timeless. Canada - and Canadians - do not need a Conservative government right now. Eventually, they will. Be patient, be committed, be confident - the Conservatives' time will come.

Posted by David Mader at 11:50 PM | (8) | Back to Main


Colby Cosh collected a series of seat predictions. The most accurate appears to be the lowest - Robert McClelland's call of C97 L145 B45 N21. The next highest was the aggregator ElectionPrediction.Org at C104 L122 B52 N29.

Posted by David Mader at 10:57 PM | (0) | Back to Main

International Copy

Here's the AP:

Canada's Liberals Gain Ground in Elections

Canada's Liberal Party held its ground Monday as early returns came in from a national election that threatened to end its 11-year monopoly on power.
The Liberals, the party of Prime Minister Paul Martin, prevented the rival Conservative Party from scoring any gains in the four Atlantic provinces. Early returns from the most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, indicated the Liberals were likely to win the most seats in the House of Commons and had at least a slim chance of squeaking through to another outright majority.

And so on.

Posted by David Mader at 10:53 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Olivia Chow defeated in Trinity-Spedina.

Posted by David Mader at 10:49 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Ottawa Updates

Ed Broadbent takes Ottawa-Center; Marlene Catterall holds on to Ottawa-West-Nepean.

Posted by David Mader at 10:41 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Tony Clement defeated, Belinda Stronach trailing.

Posted by David Mader at 10:40 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Poilievre Wins

CBC calling Nepean-Carleton for the Tories, 45-37.

Posted by David Mader at 10:30 PM | (3) | Back to Main

McGuinty in Ottawa-South

CTV calls with Liberal McGuinty 46-31.

Posted by David Mader at 10:26 PM | (0) | Back to Main

CTV Calls Liberal Minority

22:25 EDT.

Posted by David Mader at 10:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Robinson Loses

CBC projects Ottawa-Orleans going to Liberal Marc Goudbout, now leading 48%-36%. Big disappointment for the Conservatives.

Posted by David Mader at 10:24 PM | (0) | Back to Main

CTV Projects Win

CTV is projecting a Liberal win tonight, and has shifted its speculation to whether the Grits will form a majority government.

Posted by David Mader at 10:10 PM | (0) | Back to Main

They're Talking Majority

The Liberals, that is. Ujjal Dosanjh (sp) was on CBC a little while ago speculating, and Scott Brison has just said more or less the same thing on the CBC. There's a precedent for the Maritimes voting against the national grain - but there's also a precedent for the Maritimes being a trend-setter. Which is it tonight? We don't know yet.

Posted by David Mader at 09:46 PM | (0) | Back to Main


There's nothing quite like a computer swept clean. It purrrrrs.

Not much to say about the election yet - had the Tories returned any stronger in the East, they'd be looking at a majority. Now they're looking at a minority. As Paul Wells reminds us, that would be nothing to sneeze at.

Posted by David Mader at 09:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main

June 25, 2004

Prediction Central

Andrew Coyne is aggregating seat predictions over at his site.

I don't know nearly enough to hazard a nationwide vote tally, but I will - purely for the entertainment value - make predictions for the Ottawa area seats.

Nepean-Carleton: Defense Minister David Pratt, the Liberal incumbent, is a well-respected local politician done good. Pierre Polievre, the Conservative challenger, is a 25-year-old carpet-bagger with few ties to the riding. If Canadians voted on the candidate, Pratt's age and persona (in that order) would swing the vote. But Canadians vote for a party, and the voters of Nepean-Carleton don't want to vote Liberal. My prediction: Polievre / Conservative.

Ottawa-West-Nepean: Liberal incumbent Marlene Catterall is a well-liked multi-term MP who has managed to become a household name without ever accomplishing much from her perennial back-bench seat. Conservative challenger Sean Casey isn't well known. A seat projection last week had Casey taking the riding by a substantial margin, which left everyone - except Casey's campaign team - skeptical. I'd like to believe that Casey is about to pull off a huge upset, but to be honest I'll believe it when I see it. My prediction: Catterall / Liberal.

Ottawa-Orleans: Conservative challenger Walter Robinson is a former head of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation, moderator of the Conservative Party leadership debates, a well-known and well-respected member of the Canadian policy community and a dynamic and friendly personality. He's also a local boy who refused to run in a safe seat. The Liberal incumbent - well, I couldn't tell you his name without looking it up, and I imagine few Orleans residents could either. The clincher for me: two public high-school teachers, one English, one French, both now living and teaching in Orleans, said Robinson had it in a lock. My prediction: Robinson / Conservative.

Ottawa-South: A riding expected to be Liberal in a cakewalk all of a sudden got interesting when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty broke an election promise and upped provincial health premiums. Liberal candidate David McGuinty became a target for voter anger and frustration. At the same time, celebrity NDP candidate Monia Mazigh, wife of suspected terrorist Maher Arar, became a very serious competitor for the seat. That combination of anger at McGuinty and vote-splitting by Mazigh gave Conservative candidate Alan Riddell the opportunity and momentum to grab a completely unexpected victory. But Riddell squandered the chance when he was caught driving with a suspended license, and then fudging his apology for the incident [NOTE (4/29/05): I have been informed by the kind folks at Soloway, Wright LLP that the foregoing statement is false. Their letter to me is available in .pdf format here. In their words: "Mr. Riddell's license was not under suspension when he drove on June 17 as he had legal authority to be driving. His fine had been paid, and his suspension already lifted, prior to his getting behind the wheel to drive, a fact which has now been officially confirmed in writing by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation." I certainly regret passing on information that has turned out to be false.] Voters found themselves confronting exactly the political arrogance and presumption of infallibility which they'd come to resent in the Martin Liberals. My prediction: McGuinty / Liberal.

Ottawa-Centre: And finally, my home riding. Former (and I mean former) NDP leader Ed Broadbent, lately of the faculty of McGill University, won his party's nomination to challenge for the seat vacated by Senator Mac Harb. As a former party leader and a household name (of sorts), Broadbent quickly became the presumptive favorite, and his lawnsigns quickly sprang up on hundreds of lawns. In the past week, however, Liberal candidate and Martinite Richard Mahoney seems to have capitalized on voter fear of a Conservative government to win some support back from Ed. Also this week the Ottawa Citizen endorsed the local Green Party candidate, , over Broadbent and Mahoney. With potential NDP voters turning strategically back to Mahoney and at least some undecideds going Green (we'll see how much sway the Citizen has, but at the least some undecideds will say 'hey, why not'), the possiblity of Conservative Mike Murphy coming up the middle has become real, if not definite. My prediction: On a whim - Mike Murphy / Conservative.

OOPS (16:36 EDT) - I forgot one:

Ottawa-Vanier: This riding has voted Liberal not only since Confederation, but since before Confederation. Conservative Kevin Friday, an Anglophone, is up against multi-term Francophone Liberal MP Mauril Belanger in a riding that combines rich English Rockcliffe Park with more working-class/lower-middle-class French Vanier. When pollsters predicted, during the Conservative high-water-mark two weeks back, that the Liberals would lose five of six Ottawa ridings, this was the one they were expected to keep. My prediction: Belanger / Liberal.

Posted by David Mader at 04:31 PM | (4) | Back to Main

The Coming Darkness

Another good read - not a must, but interesting and thought-provoking - is this piece by Niall Ferguson in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. Ferguson, a British historian who's made empire his thing, suggests that the alternative to American hegemony is not global multipolar cooperation, but rather an anarchy reminiscent of the European dark ages. Mark Steyn suggested as much back in April; last November I wrote that confronting the coming darkness would be my generation's task and challenge.

Posted by David Mader at 12:48 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Hitch On Moore

The term 'must-read' is overused in the blogosphere, and I'm certainly a culprit. If any article deserves the monicker, however, it's this piece by Christopher Hitchens on Michael Moore's 'Farenheit 9-11' which appeared in Slate Magazine on Tuesday. It's must-read not only because of its content but because it's been widely distributed in the days since it was written, so that - in certain circles at least - it's becoming a necessary addendum to the movie itself, Hitchens being cited whenever Moore is discussed. I've received a number of forward e-mail recommending the piece, including two from different departments of the Canadian civil service. I think - though I have no real evidence - that Moore has finally crossed a line, and that people who would otherwise be receptive, if not sympathetic, to his message have begun to take a hard second look.

UPDATE (13:53 EDT): Kelvin of Blue Revolution helpfully provides this link to a Toronto Star column by Peter Howell, who sounds very much like a leftist disillusioned by Moore's slide from 'champion of the working class' to 'elitist propagandist.'

Posted by David Mader at 12:38 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Last SES Post. Honest.

Here are the final SES numbers: Liberals 34%, Tories 30%, NDP 20%. They also have regional numbers, and what I find most interesting is that the parties now stand in Ontario precisely where they stood on May 30: Liberals 39%, Tories 32%, NDP 25%. I'm not quite sure what the means, except that the Tories failed to maintain their strong mid-campaign momentum. But appetite for change remains high (57%), and that may make all the difference in an election that will ultimately be decided by the heretofore undecided.

Posted by David Mader at 12:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main

June 24, 2004

Ohhhh, That's the Stuff

For all you SES addicts.

I know, I know, it's enough with the SES jokes. But come on. It's pretty funny.

UPDATE (9:50 EDT 25/06/04): Okay, on second thought, it's not funny. Sheesh.

Posted by David Mader at 01:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Advance Polls

What to make of the news that more than a million Canadians cast ballots in advance polls last weekend? "1,244,739 electors voted during the three days advance polls were open," CTV reports. "That's an increase from the 775,157 electors who made an early trip to the ballot box in 2000."

Dan suggests that this is almost entirely the result of goundwork and party organization, telling me that the Tories have made it a specific program to get as many identified voters as possible to the early polls - he calls it 'money in the bank.'

It has also been suggested to me that the high turnout indicates that, one way or another, Canadians are impassioned about this election. At the very least, I think the fact that 2000 was a snoozer with a more-or-less pre-determined outcome, while this election remains up for grabs with five days to go, can account for a good part of the difference.

But if the higher numbers reflect increased motivation, which party will reap the benefits? Are Canadians motivated out of anger to kick the Liberals out - or out of a desire to keep the Tories from getting in? Remember that the advance polls corresponded with the Conservative Party's worst weekend of the campaign.

We won't know until Monday - and in a sense we won't know at all. In any case, few have been trying to read much into the numbers, and I think that, on balance, that's prudent.

Posted by David Mader at 11:55 AM | (3) | Back to Main

The Anatomy of a Flip-Flop

First comes the flip.

Then comes the flop.



If Paul Martin doesn't mean what he says, why should we believe him at all?

Posted by David Mader at 09:18 AM | (0) | Back to Main

June 23, 2004


I’ve been told a number of times since the start of this election campaign, by personal and family friends, some well informed voters and some more casual in their approach to the election, that the prospect of a Conservative government in Canada is ‘scary.’ They were honestly ‘scared’ by the possibility that Stephen Harper could become prime minister, they told me.

Much could be written about the political philosophy that necessarily underlies such a sentiment – a philosophy uncomfortable with, if not outright opposed to, a change in government as a result of the free choice of the electorate. Perhaps some day I’ll write some of it.

What most interests me, though, is the language used. A Conservative government, the Conservative Party, Conservative leader Stephen Harper – all and each have been separately described to me as ‘scary.’

There is a very real possibility that we will see in the coming weeks the formation of a Liberal-NDP coalition government which, with an absolute majority, will govern decidedly to the left the (Canadian) political spectrum. Such a government would institute policies which would not only be, in my opinion, detrimental to the fiscal integrity and international reputation of the country, but which would directly impact, in a restrictive sense, upon my future as a young soon-to-be-professional.

This possibility does not scare me.

The possibility that on election day, Canadian-born and –bred Islamist terrorists might murder dozens – and even hundreds – of Canadians in simultaneous attacks against the US Embassy in Ottawa, synagogues in Montreal and Toronto and polling stations nation-wide: that scares me.¹

If the prospect of governmental policy redirection, according to a modest conservative ideological tilt, is ‘scary,’ how will we describe the very real threats to our liberty and security which are now before us?

This language of affected fear is a vestige of American political rhetoric of the last decade. In the carefree years before September 11, this exaggeration was understandable – if not forgivable. Three years after the World Trade Center attacks, we have no excuse.

[¹ This is a randomly-generated scenario, based only in conjecture; my point is simply to illustrate.]

Posted by David Mader at 10:51 PM | (4) | Back to Main

What He Said

Sorry - another busy day, and my home computer is still busted. Anyway, I caught a part of the CBC townhall with Stephen Harper last night, and I'm with Mr. Coyne - it was fantastic. Especially for Harper, I think, who's not a natural stump speaker. He should have spent his whole campaign in such a situation, I think. And how much better would our political culture be if we toned down the rhetoric and spent a little more time in reasoned discussion of the important issues?

Posted by David Mader at 05:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

June 22, 2004

Well Lookey Here


Although the country’s political leaders are often reluctant to talk about certain kinds of health care reform, Canadians are open to change and private health care does not seem to be the taboo subject that many think it is. These are the results of a new Environics survey of 1,500 Canadians that was in the field from June 16 to 21, 2004. The survey results confirm findings from an earlier Environics survey of Canadians conducted a year ago.

Two-thirds (66%) of Canadians say they strongly (31%) or somewhat (35%) support having health care services provided by the private sector, if patients do not have to pay out of their own pockets for these services and the services are covered by tax dollars exactly the same way they are now. One-third oppose this idea either strongly (18%) or somewhat (13%). [Unfortunately, all 18% appear to work in the news-media -- Ed.]

In response to another question asked in the current survey, one-half (50%) say they agree that individual Canadians should be given the right to buy private health care within Canada if they do not receive timely access to services in the public system...

On May 6, 2004, I wrote at the Western Standard's Shotgun:

There seems to be very little possibility of conducting a reasoned and calm discussion on the merits of mixed or private payment for health-care; it may be as close as we have to a third rail right now.

I don't think that's true for private provision. In fact, I think that the Conservatives - or provincial parties - could be very successful by a) de-linking provision and funding in the public mind, and b) demonstrating how private provision would lead to better and cheaper services. In fact, if universal public funding is maintained, private provision can be quite easily cast as a means of getting better value for the tax-payers' dollar (or, more simply, getting better health-care for less).

Maybe one day we'll have a Conservative party willing to go to the hustings on the issue. Maybe one day we'll have a Liberal party willing to debate the matter on its merits, and a media and political culture with the intelligence and integrity not to descend into absurd and disingenuous characterizations.

And maybe I'll quarterback the Saints to a Superbowl.

[Via Paul Wells]

Posted by David Mader at 05:37 PM | (6) | Back to Main

Closing the Deal

Some smart folks I know are having an interesting discussion about how the Conservative Party should campaign in this final week before the June 28th general election. There's some discussion over whether the Conservatives are sliding (as some Polls - including today's SES - suggest) and whether they should go negative on Martin in order to regain momentum. Here's my take:

I tend to [be pessimistic], but I'm also wary of negative ads. The received wisdom is that Canadians don't like them; I think that's wrong - I think Canadians only don't like them when they come from Conservatives. Either way, it puts the Tories in a bind. I do think, though, that the time is right to start hammering home the basic message of a time for change. Scandal and corruption may have been overplayed at the start, but for the past week they've been out of the news. Team Harper's only chance at something resembling a solid government depends on Canadians remembering, as they enter the polling booth and stare down at that card, why they're so damned angry with the Liberals.

Team Martin has looked to the past to scaremonger with associations to Mulroney and Harris. I think the Tories should counter with a 'walk down memory lane.' News clips and voiceovers of the biggest Liberal whoppers from the HRDC Boondoggle (remember that) to Gagliano to McGuinty. Or something like that. No scary voice-over, no harsh language, just a reminder - fading to white and the tory logo, and the mottos: "On June 28th, Demand Better / C'est Assez".

Adam Daifallah says something similar, although in less partisan terms:

Harper has to refocus. I was not here to witness it, but it was definitely not a good weekend for the Tories. They have to get back in control of the dialogue. They have to start attacking Martin with increased vigor. Martin is brilliant right now: he's been a different man since the English debate. And the new Liberal attack ads, likening Harper to Mike Harris and Brian Mulroney, are going to be effective, I think.

Stephen Harper must come out swinging, and hard. Openly musing about a Conservative majority was a mistake. It turned off the voters who are only voting Tory to punish the Liberals. Harper must get back on his game and remind people why the Liberals deserve the boot. Goodness knows there are plenty of worthy reasons. If he is able to do that, and remind Candians why a change of government is necessary to clean up the swamp in Ottawa, he will succeed.

Yea. The Conservatives have been coasting since the debate, and are, I think, a little lucky to be in a horse-race at this point; on the other hand, had they continued to command the agenda coming out of the debates, last week's talk of a majority would not now seem so outlandish. The fact that they're still functionally neck-and-neck suggests that despite reservations, Canadians are still willing to vote Tory as an expression of their anger at the Liberals. The election is no longer Harper's to lose, but it is certainly his to win. There's a week left; it's time to win it.

Posted by David Mader at 05:22 PM | (1) | Back to Main

June 21, 2004

Welcome to Tomorrow

Space, it seems, is now open for business.

(More here).

In years to come, SpaceShipOne will become as well known an image as the X-1, or, I dare say, the Wright Flyer.

Posted by David Mader at 05:44 PM | (0) | Back to Main

A Parting of the Ways

Andrew Coyne:

The Harper Conservatives have moved left, the Martin Liberals have moved left, and the Layton NDP has moved left. And the big winner in this election: the Left.

Yup. Me? I'm moving south.

Posted by David Mader at 04:01 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Tax Freedom Day

Canadians begin earning for themselves today, June 28th. All income earned since January 1, 2004, will be paid to the various levels of government in taxes this year. The Fraser Institute explains.

Posted by David Mader at 03:44 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Let's Talk About SES

The latest tracking numbers. No time for analysis, I'm afraid. Only this: the Tories have yet to have a good weekend. Why is that?

UPDATE (16:00 EDT): Paul Wells comments. Whee! indeed.

Posted by David Mader at 03:18 PM | (2) | Back to Main

June 20, 2004

Outside Looking In

Here's the international copy on the Canadian election, from Reuters. It's actually pretty solid; in fact, those of us who have been following this interminable election closely, and spilling immeasurable ink and pixels over it, should feel a bit silly that the whole thing can be summarized in fewer than 600 words.

Posted by David Mader at 05:30 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Never Again?

This sounds too outrageous to be true:

Evidence that President Robert Mugabe’s regime is considering a plan to rid Zimbabwe of most of its white population has come as little surprise to an embattled and dwindling community.

But the stark language used in a document apparently drawn up by advisers to the director-general of operations in Mugabe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has intensified concern that after four years of land seizures, Zimbabwe’s whites may soon be facing a new threat.

The paper, which has been leaked to the British embassy in Harare and The Sunday Times, describes a sequence of events that would set the scene for the ethnic cleansing some analysts have long predicted.

It would start with a bomb attack on a strategic economic target in Zimbabwe. British explosives would be used and South African experts called in to verify this. The outrage would then be blamed on “British funded terrorists”, says the document, which is dated June 8, 2004, and headed, “Solution to the White Problem”. . .

I don't have a Times subscription, so I can't verify the source; moreover, the reference to a 'solution to the white problem' sounds almost comedic in its parody of the Nazi's 'final solution to the Jewish problem.' That makes me think it may be a hoax. What's disturbing - beyond the possibility that it may be real - is the fact that it absolutely could be real, given Mugabe's tyranny. I've called for his removal before, and I say it again: all nations truly dedicated to freedom and democracy have an urgent responsibility to remove Mugabe for office - with compelling force, if necessary.

Increasingly, it looks necessary.

Posted by David Mader at 05:21 PM | (0) | Back to Main

June 18, 2004

Tories Slide

Latest CPAC-SES overnight numbers: Lib 34% Cons 29%. SES suggests that the new Liberal ads (the ones comparing Harper to Mulroney and Harris) are sticking. We'll see. At the very least this seems at odds with Harper's confidence that he's within striking distance of a majority. I've been skeptical, and my skepticism is only bolstered by numbers like this.

Posted by David Mader at 01:00 PM | (4) | Back to Main

Putin Lied!

Or something.

Russia gave the Bush administration intelligence after the September 11 attacks that suggested Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was preparing attacks in the United States, President Vladimir Putin said Friday...

"After Sept. 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, the Russian special services, the intelligence service, received information that officials from Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States and outside it against the U.S. military and other interests," Putin said.

I'm not sure what the motivation is here; in any case, the press is put in an awkward spot, since Putin opposed the liberation of Iraq. (Turns out free government isn't really his thing). But never underestimate the bull-headed determination of the media:

The Bush administration in part justified the invasion of Iraq by saying Saddam had links to terror groups, including al-Qaida. The U.S. commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said this week there was no evidence of any collaboration between Iraq and Osama bin Laden's terror network.

Putin said Russia didn't have any information that Saddam's regime was actually behind any terrorist acts.

And in case the logic hasn't been tortured quite enough, there's this concession: 'The Sept. 11 commission reported this week that while there were contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq, they did not appear to have produced "a collaborative relationship."' So there was collaboration, but not, you know, collaboration.

But David Adesnik says the press doesn't have a monopoly on tortured logic.

Yeesh. If I didn't know better, I'd say it must be an election year.

Posted by David Mader at 11:52 AM | (1) | Back to Main

The Weblog Effect

During the Democratic Party primaries in the United States, much was made of the use of the internet in general, and weblogs in particular, by Howard Dean's campaign team. Blogs were alternately credited with creating an energized and networked support base and blamed for overamplifying the size of that base. Whatever the actual effect of blogs, there was no shortage of media attention.

Blogs may be playing a role here in Canada during this election cycle, but if they are it may be substantially different. Dean's bloggers caught media attention because they were working for politicians, most particularly to raise huge amounts of funds for their campaigns. The Canadian parties have not been able to create the same sort of online networks of blogging supporters; neither have the successfully mastered the 'blog' format for their own websites.

And yet Canadians seem to be turning to blogs all the same. My evidence for this is entirely unscientific: I simply note that my traffic has doubled - from about 100 unique hits a day (as measured by sitemeter) to about 200. I suspect many other weblogs have experienced a similar bump.

Intruigingly, the majority of my new visitors appear to be clicking through from Andrew Coyne, who's blogroll features Maderblog in an improbably prominant position. My increase in traffic, therefore, appears to be a consequence of Coyne's (presumably much-larger) increase in traffic.

Coyne's site is not a simple bare-bones weblog, of course, which is why I expect his readership is so large and growing. He has succesfully integrated all sorts of syndication services so that it acts at once as an outlet for his blogged commentary and as a source for the latest news on the Canadian campaign. His site is, in short, a clearinghouse for Canadian news and opinion. And Canadians - as well as Americans, if my referrer logs are to be believed - are lapping it up.

If there is a weblog phenomenon at work during this campaign - and many more questions must be asked before we can be sure - it appears to have a different focus than in the States. Whereas the Dean blogs were geared towards campaigning and fundraising, the Canadian blogosphere appears to be focused much more on news aggregation and dissemination. Political parties may find that disappointing, but an interested and engaged electorate should see it as a very good thing.

Posted by David Mader at 11:33 AM | (1) | Back to Main

June 17, 2004

America, America

My blogging time has more or less disappeared this summer, in part because of the demands of my job and in part because of the inconsistency of my home high-speed service. What time I do have I dedicate to the exciting Canadian election (who'd have anticipated that turn of phrase). As a result, I've been paying woefully little attention - in my news-reading as well as my blogging - to the political situation in the United States.

In particular, I haven't had time to ponder and discuss the current controversy over the use of torture by the Pentagon in Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm a little disappointed with the sentiment expressed in this excerpt from a Washington Post editorial - not because I disagree with the Post's position (though I think I do), but because it continues to treat all coercive acts as torture to be similarly condemned. "Much of what the guards did -- from threatening prisoners with dogs, to stripping them naked, to forcing them to wear women's underwear -- had been practiced at U.S. military prisons elsewhere in the world," the Post writes. But what the initial Abu Ghraib pictures captured was a step beyond such acts - from individual to group humiliation; from intimidation with dogs to violence with dogs; from sexually-colored degredation to rape.

Now it's certainly possible that the saction of the former facilitated the realization of the latter - and Andrew Sullivan suggests as much, I think, in his comments here. But I've been arguing since the beginning that it would be a mistake to treat all coercive acts as criminal acts.

I recognize, of course, that many disagree. As I also said back when the scandal broke, this is a debate that needs to occur. It is now taking place. The problem is that it should have taken place at least a year ago; debating the merits of coercive treatment only after that treatment has been applied - and after it has spiralled into out-and-out abuse and torture - is and can only ever be a half-measure. This debate will necessarily be colored by that failure.

And a failure it is - a failure, first and foremost, of leadership. One can understand why the decision was made - by those up to and including the President of the United States - to apply coercive pressure to terrorist prisoners. One can even understand why there would be an impulse towards discretion in discussing the matter publicly. And yet that impulse ought to have been mastered. This President and his administration have declared their dedication to the enlargement of democracy and their commitment to its fundamental ideals. They acted, I believe, in a manner they hoped would be most effective in achieving their stated goals. But that manner was ultimately inconsistent with those ideals. Whether one supports or opposes the application of coercive force to terrorist prisoners, the administration has failed with regard to this matter. They have failed the American people - and they have failed themselves.

Posted by David Mader at 12:11 PM | (3) | Back to Main

June 16, 2004

Harper Won (?)

Further to the previous post, here's a Globe story about an Ipsos poll that - well, I'll let it tell its own story:

The survey found Mr. Martin was the only party leader whose standing with viewers went down -- more said their impression of him worsened than improved -- while the other three all improved in the eyes of viewers. Mr. Harper won on every measure, including his ideas and his debating style, while Mr. Martin was ranked fourth on style, behind Mr. Duceppe...

Thirty-five per cent of respondents said Mr. Harper offered the best ideas and policies, 27 per cent said the same of Mr. Layton and Mr. Martin got only 26 per cent.

For what it's worth.

Posted by David Mader at 12:48 PM | (5) | Back to Main

The Debate

Didn't watch it. I suspect I was far from alone. But while everybody's talking about Martin's "did your handlers" line (what an arrogant [censored], by the way), I thought the best exchange of the night was as follows (paraphrased:

Mr. Harper: ... but I think we can support our allies while still being a sovereign country - I'm interested in sovereignty--

Mr. Duceppe: Me too.

Anyway, people are giving Harper good marks, but I was disappointed by his unwillingness to give Martin the what-for. I only hope Martin's say-anything desperation disgusts other voters as much as it has disgusted me.

Posted by David Mader at 09:10 AM | (5) | Back to Main

June 15, 2004


The Shorcan Index Election Indicator, an election futures market, has the Liberals ahead of the Conservatives for the first time in a week. As of 14:45 EDT, Liberals Bid:33.1 Ask:34.1, Conservatives Bid:32.8 Ask 33.8.

Posted by David Mader at 03:13 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Today's CPAC-SES overnight tracking numbers are more or less unchanged from yesterday, with the Tories 33%, Liberals 32%; Martin 28%, Harper 26%; and 59% wanting change in government.

Posted by David Mader at 01:50 PM | (0) | Back to Main


How come we haven't heard more about this?

The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam's missile and WMD program.

The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. Council members were shown photographs of a ballistic missile site outside Baghdad in May 2003, and then saw a satellite image of the same location in February 2004, in which facilities had disappeared...

The Baghdad missile site contained a range of WMD and dual-use components, UN officials said. They included missile components, reactor vessel and fermenters – the latter required for the production of chemical and biological warheads.

"It raises the question of what happened to the dual-use equipment, where is it now and what is it being used for," Ewen Buchanan, Perricos's spokesman, said. "You can make all kinds of pharmaceutical and medicinal products with a fermenter. You can also use it to breed anthrax."

The story suggests that at least some of the WMD sites were known to the UN - as so: "Perricos also reported that inspectors found Iraqi WMD and missile components shipped abroad that still contained UN inspection tags." You might expect, then, that some would claim such discoveries do not justify the WMD argument, which pertained to undeclared weapons and facilities. Still, this seems to contradict the 'no WMD' line pretty definitively. Why hasn't it received wider coverage? Why hasn't the White House been waving it all around? (More rope-a-dope? If so, Bush has testes of titanium.)

[Via Austin Fusilier]

MORE: Stories from the Philadelphia Enquirer and the Washington Times give a different spin: that scrap metal, exported from Iraq, could be used - outside of Iraq - to construct WMD. No suggestion that the scrap metals formed part of WMD or WMD-facilities within Iraq. Something isn't right with this story.

Posted by David Mader at 11:36 AM | (3) | Back to Main

June 14, 2004

The Debate

I caught a bit of the second hour of the French-language leaders' debate. Some general impressions: Martin looked better than I'd expected - he was energetic, obviously comfortable in French, reasonably articulate and on message. Harper was passable, and perhaps that's all he had to be - his French was at least as good as Layton's. I suppose the question is what Harper had to achieve - and if all he had to do was a) speak decent French and b) not come across as the demon Martin says he is, then Harper passed.

But I have to say I was a bit disappointed with Harper's bobbing and weaving. Martin is demonstrating that he will say anything, no matter how outrageous, no matter how untrue, no matter how infuriatingly contradictory and shameless, in order to maintain his desperate grasp on power. (That, by the way, should be a campaign issue). He's got Harper on the defensive, and it shows. Martin had a strong line: will Mr. Harper invoke the notwithstanding clause on a matter of a 'fundamental charter right' (I translate loosely from the French). Look for it in tomorrow night's English debate. This line is the key to Martin's 'issues' attack, suggesting as it does that Harper will use Parliament to run roughshod over Charter rights - specifically, abortion and gay marriage.

This is one Harper should be able to hit out of the park. Instead, he bobs and weaves. I've never suggested that, he says, you have; I would allow all MPs to vote their conscience; bla; bla; bla. Harper has to put this one to rest. 'You assume,' he must tell Martin, 'that the questions of abortion and gay marriage are settled in the collective Canadian mind. I don't believe that's the case. I beleve Canadians are still struggling with these questions, and I believe that the only institution that can properly address these issues is Parliament, the voice of the people.' It will lose the news-rooms and the chattering classes. But it will win those thousands of Canadians who will, suddenly, remember what it is to live in a democracy. Paul Martin's social policy is to be enforced by an unelected institution regardless of the opinions of the people of Canada, based on the supremely arrogant supposition that his opinion is, and must be, the supreme law of the land. That's his idea of democracy. It's time Mr. Harper held it up to the light.

Posted by David Mader at 09:59 PM | (2) | Back to Main


Adam Daifallah suggests - second-hand - that raised expectations may be setting Stephen Harper up for a fall.

Posted by David Mader at 04:52 PM | (2) | Back to Main

A New Jim Crow?

Jonathan Rauch has a must-read column in the Washington Post warning that Virginia is set to enact a law which would appear to severely curtain the freedom of contract.

The act -- really an amendment to an earlier law -- was passed in April, over Gov. Mark R. Warner's objections, and it takes effect July 1. It says, "A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges and obligations of marriage is prohibited." It goes on to add that any such union, contract or arrangement entered into in any other state, "and any contractual rights created thereby," are "void and unenforceable in Virginia."

The case actually illustrates, I think, the absurdity of both the staunch anti-gay-marriage position and of the staunch pro-gay-marriage position. Opponents of gay marriage are revealed as willing to curtail perhaps the most fundamental freedom of our society - the freedom upon which our entire system of social relations is based - in order to sustain a subjective cultural principal. Proponents of gay marriage cannot attack this act without acknowledging, at least tacitly, that marriage in a democratic society is not ultimately a question of spirituality (requiring recognition by the legislature) but rather one of contractual obligations. (See, for instance, tractate kedushin).

But I don't mean to equate the two sides. While I remain sensitive to the arguments of those who would maintain the traditional definition of marriage, I can find no sustainable (classical-)liberal argument in support of such a position; and when proponents of that position begin to undermine freedom of contract in order to achieve their social-policy ends, we all suffer. Rauch calls the Virginia measure a new Jim Crow; he may be right, but the truth is that homosexuals will not be the only ones to lose a fundamental freedom on July 1.

[Via Andrew Sullivan.]

ASIDE (16:51 EDT): I imagine Eugene Volokh or one of the other ConLaw bloggers has (or has had) something to say about the issue. I can't find anything on Volokh - his search function is pretty weak, and I'm too busy (and, I confess, lazy) to look much harder. Has anybody read any accessible ConLaw analysis of this bill? If so, are there handy links?

Posted by David Mader at 04:32 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Dead Heat

Going into tonight's French-language leaders' debate, CPAC-SES sees the Liberal and Conservative parties even in support - Conservatives 34%, Liberals 33%. This matches up with data from other polling firms. Stephen Harper has bounced back in electability, and stands at 27% (up ten points from the start of the campaign) versus Paul Martin's 30% (down one point). Expect Harper's numbers to rise later this week.

A week ago I wrote: "If Harper holds his ground for a week - which is to say, if he stays within the statistical margin of error versus the Liberal Party - he'll go into the debates in a position of strength, and Martin will be out of ammunition." That's where we stand today.

Posted by David Mader at 02:32 PM | (0) | Back to Main

When You Assume

Andrew Coyne links to an intruiging piece in the Toronto Star, which suggests that "Canadians appear to want a Liberal-style government led by Stephen Harper's Conservatives."

The Star bases this suggestion on, among others, the following poll responses:

Over-all, the poll showed that most respondents placed abundantly more faith in the Liberals to strengthen the social agenda. A full 46 per cent said Liberals would strengthen equal rights for same-sex couples, compared to 17 per cent who thought Conservatives would do the same. On women's rights and access to abortion, 43 per cent said Liberals would strengthen them, compared to 21 per cent for Conservatives.

Liberals were also trusted more to keep up the commitment to the Kyoto air-quality protocol, with 41 per cent saying it would be strengthened by Martin's team, compared to 21 per cent who placed their faith in Harper (who said this week that the Kyoto accord was effectively dead).

I know a number of my readers are writing the LSAT today (good luck!), and in honor of them I ask: what's the logical flaw in the Star's report?

Let's look closely at one of those assertions: "Over-all, the poll showed that most respondents placed abundantly more faith in the Liberals to strengthen the social agenda. A full 46 per cent said Liberals would strengthen equal rights for same-sex couples, compared to 17 per cent who thought Conservatives would do the same."

Did you catch it? The Star's logical flaw is in assuming Canadians think that 'strengthen[ing] equal rights for same sex couples' equals 'strengthen[ing] the social agenda.' But the paper never specifically asks Canadians whether that's true - whether, in other words, they support 'strengthen[ing] equal rights &c.' Poll respondents simply indicated which parties they thought more likely to implement certain social policies - not whether they saw such implementation as desirable or undesirable. The paper's conclusion - that Canadians want the policies they believe a Liberal government would implement - is not supported by the data.

Now, the Star goes on to provide some real voter-desire numbers which seem to support the original argument; moreover, I think the Star is likely correct in their analysis. Still, the paper's logic doesn't hold and, in honor of my law-bound peers, I thought I'd point that out.

Posted by David Mader at 11:41 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Kicked Out of Ottawa?

Ottawa Citizen reporter-extraordinaire Zev Singer has a shocker of a story suggesting that, based on riding-by-riding vote projections, the Liberals could lose five of six urban Ottawa ridings.

The projection, which applies data from opinion polls published over the last two weeks to riding-specific polling data from the last election, will see the Conservatives take four of the seats, with the NDP winning the other...

Ottawa Centre, which had been held by Liberal Mac Harb, who was appointed to the Senate last year, is ready to fall to NDP candidate Ed Broadbent, the numbers show.

In Ottawa West-Nepean, where Marlene Catterall is seeking re-election, her Conservative rival, Sean Casey, will win by 14,000 votes if public sentiment stays the same.

In Nepean-Carleton, Conservative candidate Pierre Poilievre is set to win the the riding of Liberal incumbent David Pratt, the defence minister, by 9,000 votes.

Ottawa-Orleans, where Liberal incumbent Eugene Bellemare was ousted for the party's nomination by Marc Godbout, will see the election of Conservative Walter Robinson, by 1,400 votes, according to the projection.

The riding in the tightest race is Ottawa South. The Liberal home of John Manley, who is not running for re-election, is just barely leaning toward Conservative Alan Riddell, who leads Liberal David McGuinty by just 145 votes, the projection says.

The only Liberal holdout is Ottawa-Vanier, which has voted Liberal since before Confederation.

Do I believe these numbers? Well, not so much. But let's put it this way: the fact they're even being bandied about is big news. And let's add this: if these numbers hold true, we won't be looking at a minority government.

Posted by David Mader at 11:30 AM | (5) | Back to Main

June 13, 2004


The Cross of St. George is making a comeback in England. The Telegraph investigates. To the paper's list of significant events in the emergence of this new English national pride, I'd add the death of the Queen Mother. Granted, it was a British rather than English event, but it marked, I think - along with the Queen's jubilee - the redemption of the Crown and the rejection of the 90's-era 'Cool Brittania'.

Posted by David Mader at 04:28 PM | (2) | Back to Main

June 11, 2004

A Life Providential

Margaret Thatcher remembers Ronald Reagan:

Ronald Reagan carried the American people with him in his great endeavours because there was perfect sympathy between them. He and they loved America and what it stands for - freedom and opportunity for ordinary people.

As an actor in Hollywood's golden age, he helped to make the American dream live for millions all over the globe. His own life was a fulfilment of that dream.

He never succumbed to the embarrassment some people feel about an honest expression of love of country.

He was able to say 'God Bless America' with equal fervour in public and in private. And so he was able to call confidently upon his fellow-countrymen to make sacrifices for America - and to make sacrifices for those who looked to America for hope and rescue.

With the lever of American patriotism, he lifted up the world.

And so today the world - in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev and in Moscow itself - the world mourns the passing of the Great Liberator and echoes his prayer 'God Bless America'.


Posted by David Mader at 02:08 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Making It Stick

For the first time in a week, the CPAC-SES nightly tracking poll sees Conservative support decline. The Tories and the Liberals are now dead even, 34% to 33% respectively. The strong Liberal 'values' attacks seem to be sticking. Does this mark a turning point for the campaign, or will Harper recover over the weekend and maintain his position of strength going into the debates?

Posted by David Mader at 02:03 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Still Not Getting Middle America

Get a load of this snooty piece from the WaPo about the informal attire of those Americans waiting hours to see President Reagan's casket lying in state at the Capitol. Now I happen to think that Regan's class was one of his distinguishing characteristics - he never, for instance, loosened his tie or removed his jacket in the Oval Office - and I think that wardrobe reflects attitude to a certain degree. But if you don't understand why thousands of people would a) wait for hours to see Reagan lying in state, b) wear shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops while doing so, and c) see nothing wrong with that, then you just don't understand America.

Posted by David Mader at 11:21 AM | (0) | Back to Main

June 10, 2004

Steady As She Goes

Here are the latest CPAC-SES nightly tracking numbers (versus yesterday's): Conservatives 37% (even), Liberals 32% (-1), NDP 17% (+2). The 'social issues' attack hasn't stuck. (IPSOS has Liberals 32%, Conservatives 31% - but also predicts a Conservative minority based on those numbers).

Martin seems to be enjoying a bump in electablity thanks to his appearance at the G8 summit in Georgia; his 'best prime minister' numbers are up to 30%, although Harper continues to rise and his on Martin's heels at 26%.

Most interesting are SES' gender gap numbers. At first glance the numbers show that while the Liberals experience no gender difference in support, Conservative support is weighted towards male Canadians (32% vs. 23% female). The real story, however, is that the female vote has seen a four-point swing since May 30: from 29%-22% Lib/Cons to 26%-23% Lib/Cons. The Conservatives are apparently picking up far more male votes; but the Liberals are losing male and female votes at the same time, and do not seem to benefiting from any gender gap the Conservatives may be experiencing.

UPDATE (15:28 EDT): Here's how SES President Nik Nanos interprets the gender numbers:

We've had a chance to crunch the gender numbers and it looks like the focus on social conservatism has negatively impacted the Conservatives ability to attract female voters. This may be an obstacle to Conservative growth. Also, over a one week period, the percentage of undecided female voters has increased. Looks like women may have a significant impact on who wins the election.

Interesting that the social-conservative spin is not having a negative effect on the Conservative vote, but rather is creating a barrier to further growth with the female electorate. I suppose existing female Conservative voters weren't likely to be spooked by Liberal scare-mongering. Also interesting, though, is that potential female Conservative voters don't seem to be returning to the Liberal fold; rather, they're turning either undecided or to the NDP as an 'anybody-but-Martin' alternative (the NDP vote among females has increased 2% over the polling period). Nanos seems to be spot-on: where those undecided women end up may well decide the election.

Posted by David Mader at 02:06 PM | (5) | Back to Main

June 09, 2004


Jaeger at Trudeaupia wonders when women will be truly free to make their own choices.

Posted by David Mader at 04:04 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Two Way Race

Latest CPAC-SES nightly tracking numbers: Con 37%, Lib 33%. Both parties have gained two points versus yesterday's numbers, while the NDP continues to decline. I think my analysis from yesterday holds water: scared dippers are returning to the Liberal fold - but more Liberal voters are turning to the Conservatives. The Liberals have been desperate to reverse their steady decline, and there's some small reason to celebrate; on the other hand, the Conservative increase suggests that the abortion front isn't gaining the traction Martin needs to start gaining ground once more. Remember, these are only the first numbers polled since the 'social-issues' campaign began earlier this week, and tomorrow's numbers may still show a Conservative hiccough. If they don't, though - well, we'll deal with that when it comes.

Posted by David Mader at 02:52 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Africa's Castro

Two days ago I mocked Cuba's response to the death of President Reagan, calling the dictatorship "anachronistic and pathetic." (For more of the same see today's National Post editorial). Today I'd like to focus on another, more sinister tyranny: Zimbabwe.

The thugocracy of Robert Mugabe has nationalized all land, destroying private ownership of real property. Mugabe's government promises to fairly manage the implementation of the new 'lease' system, through which former landowners will rent their property from the government for 99 years. Such a system would be subject to corruption in the most stable country; in Zimbabwe, it is a joke.

Private property, as Hernando de Soto has argued, provides the basis for wealth, economic stability and economic growth. Since Mugabe began expropriating farmland four years ago, Zimbabwe's agricultural economy has disappeared. This latest step will only exacerbate the economic suicide of one of Africa's most productive agricultural powers. For the good of the Zimbabwean people, and for the good of democracy, Mugabe and his tyranny must go.

Posted by David Mader at 12:15 PM | (1) | Back to Main

American-Style Politics

Stephen Harper says that the will of Parliament ought to be the law of the land: "I would generally continue the practice of allowing free votes on all private member's legislation."

Paul Martin says the written and court-interpreted constitution must remain supreme: "I believe, given the importance of the charter in defending individual rights, that you can't pick and choose the rights as a Parliament that you're going to support."

Pop quiz: which of these positions has more in common with the political culture of the United States? Which adheres more closely to Canada's British parliamentary tradition?

Just asking.

Posted by David Mader at 11:42 AM | (0) | Back to Main


I don't know whether it's a bellweather, but the Canadian Press wire page currently has the twenty most recent or top Canadian news headlines and articles, and not one of them (or at least, not one lead) is about the Harper Conservatives' stance on abortion. I find it hard to beleive the story will die after only one news cycle, but perhaps the Martin gambit hasn't paid off after all.

UPDATE (11:41 EDT): Ditto Google Canada.

Posted by David Mader at 11:40 AM | (0) | Back to Main

June 08, 2004

Blogging That Actually Means Something

I don't mean all this stuff I waste my time on. I mean this, a blog kept by a man who lost his son some months ago, and who blogs through his grief. Read it. Read whatever you can.

[Via Aaron Wenner's Obviously You're Not a Golfer]

Posted by David Mader at 06:32 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Conservative High - Or New Standard?

Today's CPAC-SES nightly tracking numbers have the Conservatives at 35% and the Liberals at 31%. The leaders' race is now a real dead heat, with Martin the choice as 'best prime minister' of 27% versus 26% for Harper. That's an improvement of 9% for Harper since the start of the campaign, while Martin has fallen four points. Interestingly, the NDP seems to be losing support to the Green Party, now polling at 6% nationally. In fact - and I preface my comments by saying these numbers are extremely vague - the NDP fall-off in the past day or two has been sharper than the Green uptick, while the Liberals have not increased at all. This suggests that some NDP voters, spooked by the prospect of a Conservative government, are returning to the Liberal fold - only to find that even more Liberal-leaning voters have decided to switch to the Tories. (I'm assuming no NDP-leaners would switch directly to the Conservative Party).

These numbers incorporate polling over the past three days, so the latest numbers were taken before the Conservative-critical media coverage began in earnest. Last night's news cycle will show up in tomorrow's numbers, and I expect the Tories to drop a couple of points. If they don't, it may be a sign that the mud isn't sticking.

UPDATE (15:30 EDT): Dan e-mails to highlight the SES regional numbers, which show a seventeen-point swing in Ontario from May 30 to June 6. For that time period: Liberals from 39% to 33% (-6); Conservatives from 32% to 43% (+11). And yes, SES does put the Conservatives ahead in Ontario 43%-33%.

Posted by David Mader at 02:19 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Reagan, Hamilton and the Greenback

Dave K. forwards this story regarding a movement to replace Alexander Hamilton with Ronald Reagan on the ten dollar bill. Dave, a proud New Yorker, is rightly upset. Here's how David Frum addressed the question yesterday:

Put Reagan on the quarter. Some Reagan admirers have suggested that he be placed on the ten-dollar bill in place of Alexander Hamilton. Reagan of all people in the world would never wish to achieve glory by elbowing aside somebody else. But Lincoln and Washington are doubly commemorated in US money. The penny is probably not long for this world; putting Reagan on the quarter leaves Washington where he should be, on the dollar.

I think that's a better approach, and - as the article quoted above notes - changing coin is easier, legally speaking, than changing paper money. Incidentally, I'm currently reading the biography of Hamilton by Ron Chernow, who's interviewed in the above-linked piece. It's a wonderful book, and it makes clear just what an exceptional character Hamilton was. If anything, he should be represented in more, not less, of our national iconography.

Posted by David Mader at 12:35 PM | (4) | Back to Main

Make or Break

This is The Week for the Conservatives. With polls showing the party in the lead for the first time, the focus of the campaign will shift to Harper and his team. Both Martin and Layton have gone on the attack, accusing Harper - in pretty hyperbolic fashion - of being a threat to the Charter. The national newsmedia, recognizing a good storyline when they see one, are playing along. If Harper can come out of this week - and go into the leaders' debates - at around the same level of support, he'll win the election.

I think, in fact, that Martin is taking yet another gamble by playing up 'values' as a wedge issue. First, Harper isn't easy to demonize. He isn't a firebrand sort of fellow; he's a policy wonk, and that is obvious (too obvious, some complain) when he speaks to voters. People just aren't going to believe that he's bent on tearing up the Constitution (such as it is), which leaves opponents vaguely hinting at a 'hidden agenda'. Such is the stuff of the tinfoil-hat brigade, and it doesn't play well with a skeptical electorate.

Second, I think the Martin team is seriously misinterpreting Canadian 'values.' Take abortion. The CBC reports: "When asked about abortion, Martin says he would not allow MPs to remove rights already established in the Charter through private bills." But that's a bit evasive. Canada in fact now has no abortion laws of any kind. The status-quo allows abortion simply because there is no legislation addressing the matter one way or the other. Canadians are generally happy to have a pro-choice tilt on the national approach to abortion, but they are not so absolutist as the status-quo. In fact, many (perhaps even most) Canadians favor some sort of restriction on abortion - either a partial-birth abortion ban, a late-term abortion restriction or an absolute abortion ban. The point is not that one of these options should become the law of the land; the point is that there is a broad uneasiness with the status quo. The Liberals are gambling on the fact that the abortion issue has been settled in the minds of the voting public. I don't think that's the case.

It may work; it may not. In any case, I think it's the last gamble - I don't see what else Martin can have up his sleeve. If Harper holds his ground for a week - which is to say, if he stays within the statistical margin of error versus the Liberal Party - he'll go into the debates in a position of strength, and Martin will be out of ammunition.

Posted by David Mader at 09:54 AM | (5) | Back to Main

June 07, 2004


My ISP is rather underperforming at present - I've switched the user-end hardware (from the phone lines and modem to the computer itself), and I think it's just a combination of outdated neighborhood routers and peak-hour traffic. Anyway, the result - I think - is that the blog is coming up a bit wonky on my home computer: specifically, the right-side column isn't loading at all. Someone let me know if this is, in fact, a local issue, or whether there's a problem with the blog config that's hiding the column for everyone.

Posted by David Mader at 11:09 PM | (5) | Back to Main

Buckle Up

The warning of imminent attacks by al Qaida and affiliated terrorists published on a sympathetic website - with a track-record of credible pronouncements - should be taken seriously. It seems that with every lull in attacks on targets in the West we slip back into the comforting belief that we're immune from further terror. We're not, and in the coming months terrorists will be trying very hard to strike a blow, particularly within the United States.

Posted by David Mader at 04:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main

I'll Have My Rum & Coke With Lime, Thanks

Need a laugh? Here's Cuba's state broadcaster on Reagan's passing:

"As forgetful and irresponsible as he was, he forgot to take his worst works to the grave," the government radio station said.

"He, who never should have been born, has died," the radio said.

Hey, Cuba? Um - whatever, man.

And that's the funny thing - back when Reagan was around, Cuba was a somebody. Cuban military influence extended around the Caribbean and into South America. With the backing of the Soviet Union, a Communist Cuba was a very real threat to the democratic freedoms of the rest of the hemisphere.

Now Cuba's a bankrupt pariah state, alternately whoring itself - often, tragically, literally - to American and other western tourists and selling its strategic location to the enemies of America. It is a threat to no-one but its own people, prisoners of a regime that was failed decades ago, but that is now anachronistic and pathetic as well.

Thinking back to those heady days of the Reagan era, the Cubans cannot help but realize how far they've fallen. For us, it's comic. For them, it must be terribly frustrating.

Posted by David Mader at 04:30 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Latest SES Numbers

The latest CPAC-SES 3-day overnights have the Conservatives at 34%, the Liberals at 32%. That seems to confirm the weekend Ipsos numbers which had the Conservatives trailing by one point.

The race is now neck-and-neck, but the Conservatives have benefited as much from Liberal decline (SES puts it at 9% since the beginning of the capaign) as from Conservative improvement (SES says 6%). In order to overcome both statstical margins of error and party skepticism, the Conservatives will have to open a lead of - oh, I dunno - five percent, while at the same time holding steading with numbers above 35%. The shock of seeing the Conservatives in the 'lead' will probably ease attacks on Martin in the media; whether it will also sway mainstream voters who are still angry with the Liberals remains to be seen.

Posted by David Mader at 01:41 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Reagan Reading

I recommend this piece by Mark Steyn and this leader in the Daily Telegraph.

Posted by David Mader at 10:24 AM | (0) | Back to Main

June 06, 2004


And for the record, I love the pipes.

Posted by David Mader at 07:11 PM | (1) | Back to Main

On Reagan

There's lots of coverage of Reagan's death in the papers today, but not a lot of it is very good.

I studied Reagan, and wrote my honors thesis on part of his presidency, under presidential historian Gil Troy at McGill.¹ I was the youngest student in the seminar, which began with Prof. Troy asking us all what we remembered about the Reagan presidency. My earliest political memory was the 1992 presidential election, but I responded that whenever I thought about Reagan, I heard his voice.

I began that course knowing very little about Ronald Reagan, but over the next eight months, as we read about a dozen books as well as articles and primary source documents, I learned quite a bit. As today's coverage of his death reveals, Reagan's presidency is still too recent to be considered history. By that I mean: so many issues of political controversy in the 1980s remain politically controversial today, rendering any history necessarily and almost hopelessly tied up in contemporary political debate.

Nonetheless, a close study of Reagan's life and presidency reveals certain themes and certain truths that are, I think, irrefutable. The most basic is that Reagan was a good man. Throughout - and since - the eighties, Reagan was and has been damned by critics as a nefarious plotter, at once bent on destroying the world through his warmongering and destroying America through his 'attacks' on the poor. (In fact, Reagan was the first target of an 'Angry Left' that came to prominence at the 1972 Democratic Party convention and now leads the most vituperative criticism of President Bush).

What those critics failed to understand was that Reagan was not, in any sense nor at any time, a pessimistic thinker or leader. His approach to domestic policy, like his approach to world affairs, was guided by a fundamentally-held belief that things could be better, and that people - and not government - would make them better. Reagan's common decency endeared him to America, and because his critics could not see that decency, the country's love for Reagan infuriated them - just as his continued popularity infuriates them still.

The other thing that critics often suggest, but which a cursory study refutes, is that Reagan was an idiot and a neophyte when he became president in 1980. With regard to his intelligence, critics often wanted to have it both ways: Reagan was, they contended, at once a dunce incapable of running a government and a evil mastermind controlling a vast and nefarious plot of world destruction. Reagan stumbled over precise facts and details, a product both of his advanced age - he was almost seventy when he entered office - and of his big-picture approach to politics. After four years of disastrous micro-management under Carter, Americans didn't mind a big-picture president - and this made critics, once again, furious.

But Reagan had not always been so totally big-picture. Though critics were loathe to admit it, Reagan cut his political teeth as president of the Screen Actors' Guild in Hollywood in the 1940s. Today that doesn't sound like such a political position, but at the time the film-industry unions were battling an infiltration of communists. Revisionist history makes it sound almost comic, but in fact it was a very real threat and battle, and Reagan was a leader on the front line, taking courageous stands against communists and fellow-travellers in his and other unions. He was notorious in acting circles for his passionate political views, and his first wife cited his politicking as a hardship when she filed for divorce. By the time he becaem Governor of California in 1966 - unseating a popular incumbent who had defeated Nixon in '62 - Reagan was a well-known and experienced political force. His two terms in Sacramento only augmented his experience and capacity to govern. By the time he reached the White House in January, 1981, Reagan was an experienced and successful politician. Critics have successfully sold the public - including many supporters - on the idea that Reagan was an unlikely leader. On the contrary: he was a natural, and his whole life tells the story of his preparation for the presidency.

¹"The Self-Imposed Assingment: Neoconservatism and Ronald Reagan's Foreign Policy" At the time - September, 2001 to April, 2002 - 'neoconservative' was still an obscure and precise political term. How times have changed.

Posted by David Mader at 02:40 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Order of the Day

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Posted by David Mader at 01:38 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Remarks by the President

THE PRESIDENT: This is a sad hour in the life of America. A great American life has come to an end. I have just spoken to Nancy Reagan. On behalf of our whole nation, Laura and I offered her and the Reagan family our prayers and our condolences.

Ronald Reagan won America's respect with his greatness, and won its love with his goodness. He had the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength that comes with character, the grace that comes with humility, and the humor that comes with wisdom. He leaves behind a nation he restored and a world he helped save.

During the years of President Reagan, America laid to rest an era of division and self-doubt. And because of his leadership, the world laid to rest an era of fear and tyranny. Now, in laying our leader to rest, we say thank you.

He always told us that for America, the best was yet to come. We comfort ourselves in the knowledge that this is true for him, too. His work is done, and now a shining city awaits him. May God bless Ronald Reagan.

Posted by David Mader at 12:25 AM | (2) | Back to Main

God Rest His Soul

For a decade, Ronald Wilson Reagan hasn't known just how complete his triumph over communism was; how total his redefinition of American economic policy has been; how institutional his understanding of American patriotism and the civic religion has become. Now he knows.

"In all of that time I won a nickname, "The Great Communicator." But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: It was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation--from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense."

His was a great life; his presidency was a great presidency; and his memory will be honored in the annals of our history forever.

Posted by David Mader at 12:16 AM | (0) | Back to Main

June 05, 2004


"The Liberals are falling through the floor. In effect, we have a new frontrunner," said Craig Oliver, CTV News's Ottawa bureau chief.

"Liberals have not done this badly in Ontario, where elections are won or lost, since 1984 when Brian Mulroney swept aside John Turner's Liberals."

32 - 31 nationally, according to Ipsos.

And you think that's shocking? Then try this:

Ontario ? Conservatives 35, Liberals 32.

Wow. Not much else to say right now. I'm flying to Toronto in the morning, where I'll be attending my convocation at U of T on Monday. I'm hoping to get out on Sunday and visit a couple friends of mine who are running - hopefully John Capobianco in Eglinton-Lawrence and Patrick Brown in Barrie. If the numbers hold, they could both be MPs in a few weeks.

Posted by David Mader at 01:59 AM | (1) | Back to Main

June 03, 2004


"I will miss him," President Bush said today while announcing the resignation of George Tenet as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Interestingly, Bush may well me more or less alone. Left-wing critics fault Tenet for his role in constructing the WMD justification for the Iraq war, while right-wing critics fault him for the CIA's internal failures leading up to September 11 (and, if truth be told, for his Clinton-era pedigree).

That renders interesting the political ramifications of the announcement. Democrats may try to frame Tenet as a failed representative of a failed approach to the war on terrorism; they'll have to struggle with the fact of Tenet's Clinton-era appointment, though. Also, if Republicans aren't willing to join the fight, the story might not have legs.

Posted by David Mader at 06:24 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Conservatives Close Gap

The latest SES-CPAC nightly numbers have the Liberals at 35% and the Conservatives at 32%. That's a significant rebound for the Tories since the weekend slide. It will be interesting to see how Harper's comments on abortion and Martin's leftward tilt affect the numbers.

Also interesting to note in the SES numbers is Harper's rise in electability as indicated by the question, "Based on what you know about the federal party leaders and their performance during the election campaign up until today, who do you think would make the best prime minister?" Since the beginning of the campaign, Harper's numbers have increased five points, while Martin's have fallen one. Also, at 22%, Harper's electability numbers have for the first time surpassed the 'unsure' numbers, now at 20% and down 4 points from the start of the campaign. Martin stands at 30%.

Posted by David Mader at 04:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main

June 02, 2004

Tilting Left

Adam Daifallah notes a CP story containing leaked details of tomorrow's Liberal announcements on a handful of policy proposals. The proposals all involve increased spending of one sort or another, and have a price tag in the neighborhood of $27 billion.

Straight price tags don't mean all that much; Conservative promises on tax cuts and military budget increases involve big numbers - although, as the party points out, simply stopping the year-over-year rate of discretionary spending increase would save millions upon millions of dollars; similarly, the Green Party has proposed increasing the price of oil, but offsetting the rise in living costs by cutting income taxes. The point is that the opposition parties have to date suggested initiatives that would ultimately involve shifting spending and tax priorities. This Liberal initiative, however, seems designed only to win votes by promising everything and the kitchen sink.

Either the Martin Liberals have decided that they can only portray Harper's Conservatives as 'dangerous right-wingers' by tilting hard to the left, or they're simply trying to undermine NDP support. Too bad about those 'time for change' poll numbers.

Posted by David Mader at 10:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Hail, Alma Mater

So I'm a graduate, having received my degree today at a surprisingly efficient and enjoyable ceremony on McGill's lower campus. Honorary degrees were awarded to Denys Arcand and Clark Blaise, who gave a generally excellent commencement address (despite an unfortunate and unnecessary crack at the Republican Party, dressed up as historical trivia).

Congratulations to all my fellow graduates at McGill, and to those graduating elsewhere this springtime. Best of luck to all in all your future endeavours, and to those still toiling away at the academy: keep on trucking.

And to McGill: farewell, and thank you.

Posted by David Mader at 10:07 PM | (3) | Back to Main

June 01, 2004

History Boys

I'm off to Montreal to graduate from McGill. While I'm away, I recommend this timely piece by John Keegan in today's Telegraph. The paper's Defence Editor argues that pundits and reporters bemoaning the situation in Iraq should remember their history and apply a little perspective:

History boys can explain easily - and convincingly - why some wars, as that against Germany in 1945, end in unopposed occupation of enemy territory and why others, as in Iraq in 1920 and 2004, do not. In the first case, the defeated nation has exhausted itself in the struggle and is dependent on the victor both for necessities and for protection against further disaster - social revolution or aggression by another enemy. In the second case, the war has not done much harm but has broken the power of the state and encouraged the dispossessed and the irresponsible to grab what they can before order is fully restored...

[T]he serried ranks of self-appointed strategic commentators who currently dominate the written and visual media's treatment of the Iraq story, have a duty to stop indulging their emotions and start remembering a bit of post-war history. Iraq 2004 is not Greece 1945, not Indochina 1946-54, not Algeria 1953-62 and certainly not "Vietnam".

It is a regrettable but not wholly to be unexpected outcome of a campaign to overthrow a dangerous Third World dictator.

Quite so. History is an invaluable education, but far too often we attempt simply and lazily to apply historical narratives, rather than historical lessons, to our present situation. Often, too, we believe these narratives to be lessons; remember the admonition in September, 2001, that the 'lesson' of history was that Afghanistan was impossible to conquer, since it had not been successfully conquered by earlier empires.

The truth is that history's lessons are much more subtle. In fact, I believe history truly imparts one single lesson: that history goes on; that human experience is constant; that much as we try to reach a state of perfection - and much as that pursuit is a constant of human experience, and a necessary constant - we should not be surprised or upset when that pursuit is frustrated.

For that frustration, too, is a constant of the human experience.

Posted by David Mader at 06:08 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Foreign Coverage

If you think that Paul Martin is getting tough coverage in the Canadian media, you should see the foreign wire reporting.

The headline on this Reuters story says it all: "Martin's Election Decision Looking Like a Dud." Ouch.

And they're even comparing him to Kim Campbell. Never something you want to hear.

Posted by David Mader at 02:55 AM | (3) | Back to Main

Fun and Games

Let's play Fill in the Blanks. Its easy: I give you a quote with a couple of words left out and you fill in the missing words. Ready?

"To break with the past, he divided the party. But the break wasn't complete enough for the public to think this election is something other than the ---- going for that ---- straight win..." - Drew Fagan, Globe and Mail

Did you choose "Liberals" and "Fourth"? If so, you'd be right (or you cheated).

But here's a thought. How about "Ontario PCs" and "third?"

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Paul Martin bears an eerie resemblance to Ernie Eves.

They were both popular finance ministers. They both succeeded leaders who were seen as past their prime. They both came into office with expectations built up and then failed to deliver. They both differened with their predescesors in policy. They both worked very hard to say that they were a new (or new, new, new, new, new as Paul Wells would say) government.

And they were both seen as just a continuation of the old.

Eves went down hard. Will Martin?

Posted by David Mader at 02:51 AM | (2) | Back to Main

More Martin Comparisons

The long list of losers that Paul Martin is being compared to just keeps on getting longer.

Now its Al Gore:

Mr. Gore ran his failed 2000 campaign for U.S. president almost as much against his own eight years as vice-president in the Clinton administration as against George W. Bush. Bill Clinton was barely allowed to campaign for his understudy. And Mr. Gore, having cut off his past, lost a squeaker of an election. Like Mr. Gore's advisers in 2000, the Martinites misread the national mood about the outgoing leader. Flawed, certainly, but hardly abhorred.


Posted by David Mader at 02:45 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Time for A Change

There are those who think that there is only one poll question that really matters.

No, its not "which party will you vote for?"

Its not "who would be the best Prime Minister?"

Its "Is it time for a change?"

When voters decide they want change, they get it.

According to the Ipsos-Reid poll mentioned below, 2/3 of Canadians now think that its time for a change.

This election is now Stephen Harper's to lose.

Posted by David Mader at 02:40 AM | (0) | Back to Main

34 - 30

And tied 36-36 in Ontario.

The Conservative Party has drawn even with the Liberals in the crucial battleground of Ontario as Paul Martin's campaign nosedives, suggesting that either party could emerge from the June 28 election leading a minority government.

This poll confirms what Ekos reported last week - this election is truly up for grabs.

Still, there are some important questions to ask - will Harper peak early? Will the press turn on him? Will NDP support collapse and come to Martin out of fear of a Harper government?

If not, June 28 will be a very bad day for a lot of Liberals.

Posted by David Mader at 02:36 AM | (0) | Back to Main