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January 27, 2006

This Guy's Good

The media doesn't seem to be picking up on what an astude political move Harper made Thursday by committing to the defense of the North-West Passage:

Without having been questioned on the issue, Harper turned his sights on comments made Wednesday by the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins.

The ambassador was critical of Harper's plan to bolster military presence in the north and assert Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic. Wilkins also pointed out that the U.S. doesn't recognize Canada's claim to the Northwest Passage.

Harper had little time for Wilkins' position.

During the campaign, Harper's critics warned he would waste no time bringing Canada closer to the U.S. if he were elected, but his comments instead seem to demonstrate a staunch nationalist position.

"I've been very clear in the campaign that we have significant plans for national defence and for defence of our sovereignty, including Arctic sovereignty," Harper said. "It is the Canadian people we get our mandate from, not the U.S. ambassador."

It might be overkill to call this a political masterstroke, but it's certainly a no-risk political move. For years the Americans have been griping about Canada's free-riding in the military arena. Harper's pronouncement amounts to his telling Washington: "You want us to get serious about defense? Ok - we'll start by patrolling the arctic." Believe me, this isn't going to create any sour faces in D.C.; on the contrary, having a Canadian government serious about national defense is much more important than having to reach a formal/procedural agreement regarding free passage through Canadian waters.

At the same time, by talking tough Harper gets the Canadian media to run stories suggesting that maybe he's not such a Bush toadie after all. Again, believe me: Harper is just as enthusiastic about improving Canada-US relations as he's always been; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a discrete message had passed from Harper's people to Ambassador Wilkins prior to Thursday's announcement: "here's what I'm going to do, it's no hard feelings either way, it's just politics, it serves both our interests."

To summarize, then: by acting tough on arctic sovereignty, Harper a) mollifies American concerns regarding robust national defense and b) conveys an image of Canadian sovereignty and independence from the United States that cannot but play well in the Canadian press.

Not bad, for a guy who isn't even prime minister yet.

Posted by David Mader at 12:34 AM | (1) | Back to Main

January 26, 2006

How To Make a Good First Impression

If any press is good press, this press must be fantastic. Wow.

Posted by David Mader at 08:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

January 24, 2006

Trivia Question

By how many votes did the Conservative candidate win in Beauce, Quebec?

Yes, that's right, 26,000.

Yup. Twenty six THOUSAND.

I shit you not.

Posted by Dan Mader at 02:31 AM | (2) | Back to Main


Okay, this is almost too much to believe. Here are, in order, the election numbers as currently (00:57 CST 1/24/06) reported by the CBC, followed by the final SES-CPAC daily tracking poll numbers for January 22:

Con 36.3 Lib 30.2 NDP 17.5 BQ 10.5 Oth 5.6
Con 36.4 Lib 30.1 NDP 17.4 BQ 10.6 Oth 5.6

In fact, that's more than remarkable. That's clairvoyant.

Posted by David Mader at 12:57 AM | (0) | Back to Main

That Was Quick

Harper entered the room - with full RCMP bodyguard. He's not, technically, the Prime Minister yet. Unusual, no?

Posted by David Mader at 12:15 AM | (2) | Back to Main

January 23, 2006

Twenty-Thousand Votes

Once again, congratulations to Pierre Poilievre, who has won his Nepean-Carleton riding by a margin of almost twenty-thousand votes.

Posted by David Mader at 11:50 PM | (0) | Back to Main


The Dippers at the Layton rally boo Harper's name.

In Fairness: I sort of expect the Tories will boo Martin.

Posted by David Mader at 11:48 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Ten Tories in Quebec

That'll be the focus in Tory circles - beyond, you know, forming the government. That's a tremendous breakthrough, and it means that the Tories will have a real presence and a real ground-game next time around. It also means that the Quebec caucus will have a more prominent role than the Ontario caucus would otherwise have had in the new government. We could be looking at the reconstruction of the Quebec/West coalition. Throw better gains in rural Ontario into the mix, and a half-handful of pickups in the Maritimes, and you have a majority.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Posted by David Mader at 11:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

We Should Do This Again Sometime

Say, spring/summer 2007? Work for you?

Posted by David Mader at 11:31 PM | (1) | Back to Main

SES Nailed It

Again. You see why I look to them, and why I don't trust anybody else's numbers.

SES Final: Con 36 Lib 30 BQ 17 NDP 11 Gr 6.

Results: Con 36 Lib 30 BQ 17 NDP 11 XX 5.

I think Kinsella owes Nanos some flowers.

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

And So Ends the Martin Era

Wow. Who'da thunk, two years ago. I mean, aside from Paul Wells.

Posted by David Mader at 11:19 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Martin Resigns Leadership

Smart, smart move on his part. He doesn't have to be pushed. This is the best possible scenario for the Liberal Party of Canada, I think.

Posted by David Mader at 11:15 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Not in so many words, but that's what Martin's saying.

Posted by David Mader at 11:09 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Will He/Won't He

John Duffy on Global is all smiles, apparently, essentially suggesting Martin won't concede; Anne McLellan, interviewed on CTV, basically says Martin would be crazy not to concede. Anne's been wrong about Martin before, this campaign.

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

Here's Kinsella:

"What does it mean? It means that, for Harper, running a perfect campaign isn't enough. Having his opponent run a terrible, terrible campaign isn't enough.

It means Harper has to run a perfect government. No mistakes. He has to ensure there are no backbench bimbo eruptions whatsoever. No fumbles, no flubs.

He has to show his party is indeed moderate and centrist.

That's all he can do. Hell, he's done everything else."

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

Martin Has Spoken to Harper

... and is going to speak first. That seems to suggest a concession. Tobin won't confirm that it's a concession.

Posted by David Mader at 10:35 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Am I The Only One...

... who thinks that Belinda will run for the Liberal leadership?

Posted by David Mader at 10:28 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Martin Not to Concede?

Brian Tobin, on CTV, went off-set and then came back to say that Martin had earned the right to take his time to decide what he was going to do. I'm not sure, though, whether he was talking about the government or the leadership of the Liberal Party.

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

Dewar Elected in Ottawa-Centre

Good on him; Mahoney loses, again. Lots of polls to come in, but the Tory has made a respectable showing.

Posted by David Mader at 10:20 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Hold On To Your Seats

Mike Duffy suggests Paul Martin may not concede tonight; the inference is that Martin might try to get the GG to recognize a union of the Liberal and NDP as the new government (since, together, they would have more seats than the Tories). Other reporters say Liberal insiders are denying any such intention.

I think it would be political suicide: a lot of folks, I think, wouldn't have cast NDP ballots if they'd thought they were voting for a Liberal government, and the optics of the Tories being declared a minority and then denied the opportunity to form a government would be fatal.

The Grits are talking tough about the upcoming Parliament, but I can't help but think it must be largely bluster. The party has neither the funds nor the political capital to force an election within the calendar year. Even if they get their act together leadersip-wise in a year's time, I think forcing a summer 2007 election would be a political mistake. On the other hand, a year and a half in a Parliament like this one is a very, very long time.

Posted by David Mader at 10:13 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Or Just 122

That's including BC projections, apparently. The Liberals will say that breaking 100 is a big coup, which tells you how much the standards have been defined down, but they're not wrong.

Posted by David Mader at 09:48 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Congrats to Pierre

Polievre declared in Nepean-Carleton.

Posted by David Mader at 09:43 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Dewar Leading in Ottawa-Center

And it's a real three-way race, although the Tory is trailing the other two by a few thou.

Posted by David Mader at 09:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

121 Without BC

We're looking at the 135-range right now, I'd say.

Posted by David Mader at 09:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Garneau Loses

Call it Paul Martin's Midas touch.

Posted by David Mader at 09:32 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Tory Canon Elected in Pontiac

First Tory MP from Quebec this election, first in how long?

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

Your Best Web-Results

Are from Global.

Posted by David Mader at 09:15 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Conservative Government

Global calls it based on an exit poll of 32,000 voters.

Posted by David Mader at 09:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Two Minutes

After trailing in the Maritimes, Tory numbers have taken a jump as Quebec and Ontario numbers have started to come in, and they now lead on the total leading tallies. But that's early, and I don't know which riding. The veil will be lifted in one minute.

Posted by David Mader at 08:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Here We Go

It's not clear to me whether linking to websites that are clearly in violation of the Elections Act is, itself, a violation of the Elections Act; I figure it's a pretty good test-case, but I'm not sure I want to get involved. Neale might want to be involved, though. I'm just saying.

Oh, what the hell: there's one Canadian blogger who, as he lives outside of Canada, has decided to post early results notwithstanding the Elections Act. I'm not so brave, but I'm willing to test the chain of causation by posting to his site. It's faster than Captain's Quarters.

Posted by David Mader at 07:50 PM | (1) | Back to Main

They're Ba-ack

Actually, the moral of this story is that, fifteen years later, the Russians haven't changed. But they're being ever more up-front about it all. For my part, I certainly hope the Brits are spying. And I hope they're not alone.

Posted by David Mader at 05:10 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Your Vote Counts

[Note: this is a work in progress; I'd love comments, as I plan to tinker with it and haul it out at every possible opportunity.]

Perhaps the most common excuses given by those who don't vote is that one vote makes no difference in our elections. I've been thinking about this putative justification recently, and I think that it doesn't add up.

The excuse can apply in three possible scenarios: the voter can live in a district that will almost inevitably vote against his intentions; the voter can live in a district that will almost inevitably vote in support of his intentions; or the voter can live in a district where the outcome is uncertain, but where the margins of victory tend to be greater than, say, one. (I would guess that this excuse is given less commonly in close ridings, and that, in fact, turn-out tends to be greater in ridings where the result is expected to be closer - but I don't know. It would be interesting to see an attempt at empirical evaluation of the suggestion.)

In any of these scenarios - it seems to me - the notion that one's vote doesn't count really amounts to a complaint that one's vote is not the dispositive vote in the election: in the fist scenario, the disfavored candidate will win despite one's vote; in the second scenario the favored candidate will win regardless of one's vote; and in the third scenario, given a margin of victory greater than one, one or another of the candidates will win regarldess of one's vote.

The most common rejoinder to this sort of thinking is that if the assumption were to be replicated across all voters, turnout would decline in such a proportion as to actually affect the result of the election. In other words, if everyone stayed hoome because their votes didn't count, the result will differ from what would have otherwise have occurred, and all those votes would come to be important indeed collectively dispositive, after the fact.

The problem with this counter-argument is that it assumes aggregation of indifference; in fact, most people do not take this indifferent approach, meaning that those who do can rely on the fact that there will be at least a core number of voters who will turn out regardless. (The problem with this counter-counter-argument is that it takes current turnout levels as the baseline, rather than a turn-out level of 100%; theoretically the results of a 60% turnout may be substantially different from those that would result from a 100% turnout).

Anyway, I think these kinds of aggregation arguments aren't very helpful in addressing the basic motivation behind the 'my vote doesn't count' argument, which is a sense of anonymity in numbers. If folks don't vote because they feel like they don't have control over the election, telling them about how crowds of people can affect the election probably won't help.

I think the key is that this sort of self-interested excuse - I don't get to determine how the vote comes out - fails to appreciate the very character of the franchise. Voting is at once an intensely individualistic and an intensely communalistic enterprise. We mostly focus on the first aspect: voting is the most fundamental aspect of democratic government, the notion that people are only legitimately governed with their own consent, and that such consent is expressed regularly through the ballot box. In casting a ballot, the individual is at once expressing support for the notion of responsible (and responsive) government and expressing either support or opposition (or indifference) to a particular candidate or party. As every media outlet will most likely remind us tomorrow, a majority of Canadians who vote will today cast ballots for parties other than the one which will form the government. That's not just something you measure by seats in the House of Commons or national numbers; it's something you can measure riding by riding, precinct by precinct, ballot box by ballot box. Critics of the first-past-the-post system most often complain that only the votes of the plurality are given any importance, but that's not true: all other votes, individually, represent the voices of opposition or indifference to the theoretical victor, making his task of representation or government correspondingly more or less difficult.

And that points towards the second, communitarian aspect of voting. There's a reason no one person gets to cast the one ballot that decides the election. No one person gets to decide the government of Canada; rather, we all, together, as Canadians, determine the makeup and character of our government. When one casts a ballot in a riding where one's favored candidate is overwhelmingly expected to win, one participates in a communal expression of support that allows the victor to represent a prevailing sentiment with assurance of general individual support. When one casts a ballot in a riding where one's preferred candidate is widely expected to lose, one is expressing an important voice of dissent, of disagreement, of caution regarding the prevailing community sentiment.

The objection is that such voices of dissent are disregarded. To some degree that may well be true. But to respond to such disregard by recusing one's self from participating in the ballot altogether is to disregard and disdain the very notion of popular representative government, to say that if I cannot have it my way that I will have it no way at all.

The proper response, when one's favored candidate is disfavored by prevailing community sentiment, is to vote for that candidate - and then to work to change the prevailing community sentiment. One's favored candidate will not win simply because one favor's that candidate; rather, the candidate will win when one has succeeded in convincing one's community that the candidate should win. That starts with the vote, and it ends with the vote. What happens in between - the organizing, the convincing - is the flip-side of the coin, and is as much a part of the democratic process as the ballot itself.

But, as I say, it starts and ends with the ballot. Your vote may not decide the election in your riding, and even if it does it may not sway the national balance of power. But your vote will indicate your consent in the democratic system of government that is, or ought to be, our greatest pride, and it involves you in this great Canadian community, giving you the full measure of your and your communities' preferences, and of the work that you have to do - or the work that has already been done - to ensure that, however this election comes out, the next election will be more to your liking.

Posted by David Mader at 12:44 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Have You Voted Yet?

Go vote!

Posted by David Mader at 10:05 AM | (1) | Back to Main

January 22, 2006

An Endorsement

I guess I should endorse someone, too. Well, it'll be no surprise to regular readers that I, personally, support the Conservative Party. They're not nearly conservative enough for my tastes, of course, but electoral politics is about compromise, not ideology, and the Conservative Party represents the best compromise position towards the policies and issues that I believe most important. I also think that Stephen Harper is a smart and capable guy who's demonstrated, in the past year and a half, a healthy ability to learn from mistakes and acknowledge shortcomings, and has turned himself into an unquestionably competent politician and, most likely, prime minister.

But Maderblog is a very laissez-faire kind of place, and I certainly wouldn't suppose to suggest that my readers should vote based on my own preferences. Canada is not yet a conservative country, even when measured against the ideologically-weak standard of the Conservative Party platform. Many Canadians simply do not support, as a theoretical matter, the principles guiding the policies which the Tories have pledged to implement. I could not expect those Canadians to vote for that party.

Rather than endorsing one party, then, I will limit myself to a humble entreaty: whatever your politico-ideological persuasion, please, please do not vote for the Liberal Party.

I say this not because a decreased Liberal vote stands to benefit the Tories; as I hinted above, I have no institutional love for the Conservative Party, and nor do I believe that a Conservative victory will result in a conservative victory. I say this, rather, because I believe that the Liberal Party has come to represent entitlement, self-importance, disregard for the offices of good government, disdain for the Canadian people, recklessness bordering on unlawfulness, and, most damningly, a wanton lust for power for its own sake. I have no regard whatsoever for Paul Martin, who has demonstrated himself a man, whatever his technical abilities, of no set moral compass, no sense of perspective, and no shame. I have said before that I expect a defeated Liberal Party to re-form and return to power in short order, and yet I would prefer to oppose a Liberal government on policy grounds than continue to suffer a Liberal Party that resembles nothing more than a brotherhood of privilege and abuse of state power wholly repugnant to the notion of responsible government.

As noted above, I believe the Conservatives to be the best alternative to a Liberal vote. Canadians who are not, at heart, conservative nonetheless have very appealing options. While I disagree strongly with the policies championed by the New Democratic Party, I respect that party very much for their honest dedication to the principles of social-democracy. For the most part - which is all one can expect of any political party - a vote for a New Democratic candidate would be a vote for good and responsible government.

Electoral campaigns are a poor venue for the discussion of political philosophy; even if individual policies hint at larger ideological positions, the campaign period is too short, and the realities of electoral politics too demanding, to allow for a full discussion and public consideration. If Canada is to have a frank reconsideration of its collective political ideology, that will have to come in time. I believe that Canada should, as a polity, adopt policies that reflect a classically-liberal political philosophy, and I support efforts to bring about that shifting of the ideological goal-posts. But wherever one stands on the politico-ideological spectrum, and however one anticipates participating in a discussion of Canada's collective political philosophy, a more fundamental interest in good government can unite us, I believe, in opposition to the Liberal Party as currently manifest. Whatever the next Parliament brings, the perpetuation of the current Liberal government would, I sincerely believe, be deeply corrosive to the principles of democracy in Canada, not in form but in substance. In order that our Parliamentary traditions continue to be respected; in order that our democratic institutions continue to be respected; in order that the very principle of democratic government continues to be respected - and not mistrusted as the haunt and hobby of those who will do whatever is not techinically outside the rules, and even whatever is outside the rules so long as it is not discoverable - in order, in sum, to reinvigorate our Canadian democracy and reestablish the principle and ideal of good and responsible government, it is important - deeply important - that the Liberal party be defeated as the governing party in tomorrow's election.

With full faith in the wisdom of the Canadian people to choose the government they see fit to choose, and with full acquiescence in that choice, whatever it may be, I'll leave it at that. See you on the morrow.

Posted by David Mader at 07:58 PM | (3) | Back to Main

The Law

So folks are talking about the Elections Act. Read through the thing and tell me if it doesn't sound hopelessly out-dated. This thing wasn't written with the internet in mind, and I'd wager that it wasn't written by folks who really understand how the internet works. Rather than try to stuff bloggers into the round hole of the Act, Parliament should come up with something new. Or, preferably, scrap the restrictive bits and trust the people for once.

Anyway, here's the money 'graph:

No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district.
Some have suggested that this doesn't apply to foreign broadcasters, although as one observer has noted, foreigners have their own statutory obstacle:
No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate unless the person is

(a) a Canadian citizen; or

(b) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

I'm in the interesting position of not residing in Canada but falling into the first exception to Section 331 - I'm a Canadian citizen. That means that, thankfully, I can induce electors to vote, which I intend to do on the morrow. I'm not sure, though, how I'm not in violation of Section 330:
No person shall, with intent to influence persons to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate at an election, use, aid, abet, counsel or procure the use of a broadcasting station outside Canada, during an election period, for the broadcasting of any matter having reference to an election.
I guess it comes down to what a 'broadcasting station is' - which is what I mean about the Act being blind towards the internet. Which is fine with me.

Anyway, the point is that if Section 331 is the only barrier to non-residents posting election results, then I would appear to be in the clear. But it seems to me that I - just like anybody else, inside or outside the country - am subject to Section 329 - at least by its terms.

So here, I suppose, is my question: how does jurisdiction in this case work? For customs purposes the Canadian government considers me a resident of the United States. I have very little property in Canada of the sort that would subject me, I should think, to personal jurisdiction there. I might, of course, be served process or arrested and charged when I returned to the country at the end of my studies here in the States, but that doesn't, I think, go to whether I'm subject to jurisdiction for the purposes of the Elections Act today (or, more to the point, tomorrow). Am I bound? If so, how come? If not, how come?

Posted by David Mader at 07:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Let's Talk About SES: Day The Last

Here are the night-before numbers from SES: Tories 36% Grits 30% NDP 17% Bloc 11% Green 6%

SES has also, for the first time all campaign, released the individual daily numbers for the last three days, and they tell an interesting story. I'm less interested with the precise split on the last day of polling (Con 33 Grit 30 NDP 22 BQ 9) than with the trend: from Friday to Sunday, SES has the Tories falling from 38% to 33%. But the beneficiaries aren't the Grits, who have hovered around 30% on all three days; rather, it's the NDP who are picking up support heading to the polls, jumping from 14% on Friday to 22% on Sunday.

Again, the precise final numbers aren't so important - there's a reason SES has been aggregating these numbers the whole campaign. What's important is the trend suggested. The Tories have lost momentum, and the Grits aren't picking up any themselves. It's the NDP who stand to gain most from shifts in intention on this final weekend.

But - and here's a big but - note that more than ten percent of respondents still declare themselves undecided. As I said back on December 5, the undecideds have the power to decide this election. The undecided number has been decreasing since New Years', and the Grits haven't picked up much of that vote at all. That doesn't mean, of course, that they won't pick up the last-minute undecideds (those, at least, who vote). If most of the undecideds who vote cast Liberal ballots, the election could be much, much closer than most of us expect. On the other hand, if most of the undecideds cast NDP ballots, that might stand to benefit the Tories: given the current level of Conservative support, a vote for the NDP will serve, in most ridings, as a vote against the Liberals, and allow the Tory to coast through on the pre-existing margin. And, of course, if the undecideds break for the Tories, in what I call the 'what-the-hell' vote, Harper could be sitting on a very comfortable minority tomorrow night.

I do think it's too late for a majority, but I hope I'm wrong. As Daifallah says, elections are pretty much impossible to predict. Not that that stops us, of course.

UPDATE (23:03 CST): Andrew Coyne doesn't think much of the final SES numbers, comparing them to the final numbers from other pollsters and concluding: "Nanos isn't just peddling crack -- he's on crack."

Posted by David Mader at 07:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More Predictions

And they're vague, too. Here are my seat predictions:

Tory: 125 +/- 5
Grit: 95 +/- 5
Bloc: 55 +/- 5
NDP: 30 +/- 5

And you, dear readers? Post your predictions in the comments below.

Posted by David Mader at 07:30 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Time for Some Predicitions

Last time I was four-for-six; let's see if we can improve on that a little:

Nepean-Carleton: Pierre Polievre upset Liberal incumbent and popular defense minister David Pratt last time around. Since then, Polievre has worked hard to show that he's no flash in the pan. Tomorrow he'll show that defeating Pratt was no fluke. In the time since the last election, and despite being one of the youngest members of the Tory caucus (is he the youngest?), he's developed an impressive degree of public recognition in the riding and the region. Add to Pierre's hard work the fact that his riding is traditionally conservative and the general anti-Liberal sentiment prevalent this campaign cycle and the result is more or less foregone. My Prediction: Polievre / Conservative.

Ottawa-West / Nepean: Multi-term incumbent Marlene Catteral is retiring, leaving open a seat that the Liberals took by fourteen hundred votes last time around. That's not a lot. Take away the name recognition and trust of Catterall, add on the Tory side a widely-known former MPP from the same riding - and a guy widely touted for a position in a Harper cabinet - in John Baird, and add also the general anti-Liberal sentiment this election cycle, and that fourteen-hundred vote gap disappears. My Prediction: Baird / Conservative.

Ottawa-Orleans: This election saw a heart-breaker last time around as Conservative Walter Robinson, Orleans-born and -raised, lost by about twenty-five hundred votes. Robinson had good name recognition and great media coverage, and was a big Tory hope in the Ottawa area. I predicted a Tory win, and I was wrong. Robinson's sitting this election out, and the new Tory candidate, Royal Galipeau, doesn't have the same cachet. If the Tories are to take this riding, it'll be through momentum alone, rather than the combination of factors that will help them win Ottawa-West. With polls in Ontario dead-even on the eve of the vote, and Tory momentum stalled for the last week, I'm not convinced they can pull this off. This'll be a riding to watch tomorrow night. My Prediction: Godbout / Liberal, by fewer than a thousand.

Ottawa-South: Hopefully I can predict this riding without being threatened with a lawsuit. Incumbent Daid McGuinty is the brother of Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, and the MP is said to be no slouch himself. He was assisted in his win in 2004 by circumstances about which you can read here, and by the collapse of the Tory vote in the week before the election. The Conservative candidate - civil servant Allan Cutler - is a much stronger candidate this year (I don't think that's actionable, Mr. Riddell), and the Tory vote, although stalled, has not declined the way it did last time. On the other hand, my sense is that Premier McGuinty will be much less of a liablity to candidate McGuinty this cycle. Still, I think the demographic of this riding will express enough frustration with the Liberal Party to give this one to the Tories. My Prediction: Cutler / Conservative.

Ottawa-Center: Liberal insider Richard Mahoney (pronounced in a way you'd never, ever think to pronounce it) was upset last time around by popular former NDP leader Ed Broadbent. Broadbent has since retired from politics to spend time with his ailing wife, but has been active in trying to transfer support from himself to his NDP heir in the riding, Paul Dewar. Dewar has a number of advantages, including some level of name recognition (his family has been involved with the NDP since it began), general antipathy towards the Grits, and a sense that, while young, he's a well-meaning guy. That'll be enough to make many Broadbent voters stick with the orange. Although I expect some Tory voters who'd voted for Broadbent for reasons of popularity last time around to come home this cycle, I think Dewar will make up those numbers in disaffected Grits. The Tory candidate, meanwhile, has a ten-thousand vote gap to make up. Were it a two-party race, and were Keith Fountain the only alternative to Richard Mahoney, that might be doable; as it is, Fountain is solidly in third and I just don't see the Liberal and NDP votes balancing so as to let the Tory come up the middle. Fountain has run a solid, if somewhat quiet and restrained, campaign, and he'll improve over last cycle's showing, but this riding won't go Tory. My Predictin: Dewar / NDP.

Ottawa-Vanier: Incumbent Mauril Belanger has one of the safest Liberal seats in the country; the riding last went something other than Liberal in 1935. (That may have been the only time, too). Conservative candidate Paul Benoit is one of the strongest francophone Tory candidates outside of Quebec (and probably inside, too), and he'll significantly narrow the gap. Still, the margin is just too high. The best campaign in the world wouldn't flip this riding; it would take a political earthquake. My Prediction: Belanger / Liberal.

So that's that. My plan is to live-blog the results, although how well I can do that from Texas remains to be seen. Check in here when polls close. I think it may be illegal for me to post results, or even hints of results, from the east coast while polls are open in the west, and I'm not sure that I could even get my bloggy hands on such results (since I think it's illegal for folks in the east to report them), but if there's news, you'll find it here.

Oh, and my prediction about my predictions? Four-for-six.

Posted by David Mader at 11:21 AM | (2) | Back to Main

January 20, 2006

Rank Hypocricy...

... thy name is Ed Broadbent:

In his final news conference of the election, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent gave a scathing attack on the Liberals and accused the party of manipulating voters....

"The Liberal campaigning has been deeply offensive," Broadbent continued. "Offensive to women, offensive to workers, and offensive to members of the armed forces, and offensive to all Canadians for suggesting that a vote for anyone but themselves is not progressive. This, my friends, is the height of arrogance....

"The Conservatives are no option for Canadians whatsoever," Broadbent added.

So it's unacceptable to suggest that a vote for anyone but the Liberals is un-progressive, but it's perfectly ok to say that voting for the Tories is un-Canadian. Square that circle, Broadbent. I'm waiting.

I TAKE IT BACK! (20:11 CST, 1/21/06): One of the many advantages of having smart readers of differing points of view is that they'll call you out on your BS. Both Matt and Kelly jumped on me for my suggestion that Broadbent's comment - that the Tories were 'no option' for Canadians - amounted to a statement that supporting the Tories was un-Canadian.

They're right; Broadbent's comments certainly suggest no such thing. What can I say - I must have been in a pretty touchy mood. While I do believe that the 'conservatism-is-un-Canadian' meme has been a real one in Canadian politics, I think it may be at something of a low-tide at present. That's good.

I do think, though, that it's at least rather rich for Broadbent to criticize Martin for suggsting that the Liberals are the only option for progressive Canadians - going so far as to call Martin's statement 'offensive' - while at the same time saying that the Tories are no option for any Canadians. If Broadbent's statement is defensible as routine politics - which it certainly is - why isn't Martin's?

I was wrong on a sub-issue, so I'm quite prepared to find that I'm wrong on this main issue too - but on this, at least, I think I'm right.

Posted by David Mader at 02:55 PM | (6) | Back to Main

January 18, 2006


For all you corporate lawyers out there.

(Via Volokh)

Posted by David Mader at 11:09 PM | (0) | Back to Main

January 17, 2006

Back In Texas (And Ain't It Grand)

Well, the intention was to blog up a storm when I got home to Ottawa, but it turned out I was on vacation. The desire to sit in front of my computer following the daily trends of the election campaign mysteriously disappeared. Now that I'm back, though, and I have reading to do, my interest has suddenly reappeared. Ah, the mysteries of life. Anyway, some thoughts:

  • I exercised my franchise last Friday. (Incidentally, is it just me or is this an untapped source of jokes? Particularly in jurisdictions where they use punch-card ballots: "I exercised my franchise today; I'm pretty sure I pulled something." Ha!) Anyway, I voted at the advance poll at the Westboro Legion on Richmond. It was packed - I waited for 45 minutes, as there was only one ballot box in service. The Elections Canada supervisor was a nice guy, and was on the phone with the higher-ups to get another box going; if anyone voted at that station on Saturday or yesterday, let me know. I wondered whether the business indicated a higher turnout, but the consensus was uncertainty about the weather, and not a particular dedication to vote, was the driving factor. I wonder, though, whether uncertainty about the weather would have motivated folks to vote earlier in another year.

  • I hope the polling line wasn't a representative sample of the Canadian public. Most folks were griping out loud about the wait. Now I'm not sure I can say this without sounding like a wide-eyed idealist, but my basic position is this: how long do you suppose they had to wait in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or those few African countries where folks even can vote? Sure, this is Canada, not the third world; here, you can wait forty-five minutes in a heated Legion, you can sit down (we'll hold your place, we're not jerks); you can run across the street and get some Starbucks. I mean, look, democracy isn't a cheque every month and a government health card. If it's anything, at the very least it's waiting in line forty-five minutes to vote. Suck it up.

  • That being said, there were, of course, lots of great folks in the line. One fellow, an older gent, was cheerfully talking to anyone who would listen. He didn't seem to mind the wait; in fact, he was happy that it finally prompted him to pick up a form to join the Legion, something he'd been meaning to do for years. I also had a nice chat with the folks directly in front of me - he was Francophone, she was Scottish. As we approached the front of the line - just before he was called forward - he turned to me and said, "What's the name of the progressive candidate?" He mentioned a name and I, assuming he was talking about the Progressive Canadian party, said I didn't know. Then something clicked in my head. "Wait - the Tory? You want to vote for the Tory?" I asked. "Yea, yea," he said. I told him. It spooked me. I don't know what the answer is - I think the wacky Progressive Canadians have a right to their party name (although Elections Canada will strike names that could lead to confusion), and I know the party names are right on the ballot, and I know it's up to the voter. Still, I wonder whether Elections Canada might post an enlarged copy of the actual ballot at the polling place, so that folks in the line can figure it out right there.

  • It was lovely to be back in Ottawa, but I hope you'll allow me an observation about the weather. When I came back from Texas the first time last winter, I flew into an Ottawa Airport that looked like the rebel base on Hoth. (Fewer explosions.) I thought to myself: if my Texas friends could see this, it would just confirm all their stereotypes. Then last summer I was in town for a week and hit up the patio at the New Edinburgh pub with some friends. It was so cold I had to wear a sweatshirt. It was mid-August. I thought to myself: if my Texas friends could see this, it would just confirm all their stereotypes. Then, a couple of weeks ago, it dumped snow on Ottawa. I shovelled three times in one day. The next morning, as I was clearing off an easy six-and-a-half inches of snow off the car, I thought to myself: if my Texas friends could see this... And then I stopped, because it occurred to me: my Texas friends are right. That's just how it is.
Alright, that's it for now. More as it occurs.

Posted by David Mader at 02:12 PM | (2) | Back to Main

It Ain't Over, Folks

Has anyone else noticed that, from their peak, the Tories have been declining in a number of regions - including Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes - for almost a week? That's according to SES, at least. And whatever the pinpoint numbers, the value of SES is that it tracks trends. Whatever the individual polls are saying, the Tories are not on their way to a majority, nor even close. In fact, if they want to break 130, they'll need to have a very good week - a week good enough, believe it or not, to reverse current public opinion trends.

Posted by David Mader at 01:48 PM | (0) | Back to Main

January 14, 2006

Ridiculous Headline Watch

PM woos Quebec, Harper hustles Ontario
So when Martin does it, its "wooing," but when Harper does it, its "hustling." Okay... Nice to see such impartial election coverage.

Update: For comparison, check out the headline that Maclean's puts on the same CP story: "Martin tries to shore up crumbling Quebec base, Harper seeks Ontario gains"

Posted by Dan Mader at 09:30 PM | (2) | Back to Main

January 13, 2006


Andrew Coyne has a great wrap-up, but missed one - so here it is:

Boom. The Tories at 28% in Quebec? Quebec? That's 28% to the Bloc's 45%. And note that the Tories are now ahead in the Maritimes, for the first time this cycle.

Meanwhile, though, the Tories are down five points in two days in Ontario, perhaps suggesting that the Liberal ads are working despite the 'soldiers in our cities' controversy. If so, it's a pyrhic victory for the Grits - they've remained even for the past couple days, and it's the NDP who have gained.

Posted by David Mader at 01:24 PM | (0) | Back to Main

January 12, 2006

Losing the Fourth Estate

Two days after the Grits released their slew of attack ads, CTV is running this story:

Martin defends ads, attacks Harper amid confusion

Political strategists who expected the election race to turn nasty in the new year warned that a negative campaign has the potential to backfire on a party. And that's exactly what may have happened in the case of the Liberals.

Thursday saw the Liberals chasing their own tails in the attempt to control the fallout from an attack ad that mistakenly made it to the party's web site and has raised rancour among Canadians.

The ad claims Harper would put soldiers in Canadian cities and suggested Canada could become a police state under his leadership.

The issue just won't seem to go away, and has dogged Liberal Leader Paul Martin as he attempts to make policy announcements and regain some momentum from the Tories who now lead by about 12 points in the polls.

This may well come to be seen as the decisive gaffe of the 2006 election campaign, but it's important to recognize another factor at play. The immediate Liberal reaction was more or less text-book: they withdrew the ad, really before many people had noticed; they said that it had been sent to media outlets in error; and, initially at least, they said that the Party had already decided it to be unworthy of promulgation.

In other words, the Grits did exactly the damage control they might have been expected to do, and in another year, I'd wager that it would have worked. But this time around, it didn't. I'd like to say it's because the ad had received too much play on the internet, but Canada's blogosphere isn't that powerful, yet. The truth is that Liberal damage control didn't work because the mainstream Canadian media - or at least the private media - didn't buy it.

The quintessential example of media rejection of the Liberal line is, of course, Mike Duffy's dressing-down of Grit spin-meister John Duffy. But this story, if less dramatic, is no less important an example. (Another example is here.) In years past, Grit over-reach might have been conveniently downplayed, if not entirely ignored, by the media. This time the press isn't willing to play along. For the Liberals to lose the press is to lose an extraordinarily important friend. Simple spin isn't good enough - and it turns out that this crowd of Grits isn't good enough to pull off anything but simple spin. Yes, the fact that they can't is an indictment in itself; the simple point is that, but for a shift in media attitudes towards the Liberals, simple spin would have been enough.

UPDATE (22:18 CST): Another example, from the CBC:
Liberal Leader Paul Martin told CBC News he only approved the transcript of a controversial ad suggesting the Tories would post armed soldiers on the streets of Canadian cities.

During a CBC News Town Hall meeting hosted by Peter Mansbridge on Thursday, Martin said the ad was pulled when he saw the finished product and realized it could be misconstrued....

But [CBC personality Peter] Mansbridge questioned Martin further about the ad, saying it makes no mention of policy and instead highlights the fact that would be soldiers in Canadian cities with guns.

Skepticism from the CBC? Almost too hard to believe.

Posted by David Mader at 09:26 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Scott Feschuk:

First of all, Paul Martin is a dren. Pass it on.
Urban dictionary:
Backwards for the word "nerd". Used by a lot of users on the internet as usernames.
From Farscape; same meaning as "shit"
Oops. Incidentally, if memory serves, Feschuk was the National Post's television critic in 2000/01.

Posted by David Mader at 06:46 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Meanwhile, in the Rest of the World

Mark Steyn's latest column, which goes to the heart of contemporary historical trends, is marvellous.

UPDATE (22:26 CST): In the comments, Charles asks my take on the recent Steyn piece in the Wall Street Journal which generated much discussion. I have to admit that I didn't follow the discussion that closely because I'd read the piece in a slightly different form in the New Criterion about a week before. I'll re-read the Journal piece when I have a moment, but in short: I agree. It's grim reading, but Steyn's been proven right about an awful lot, and as it is I already share his assumptions and attitudes towards much of the state of things. All I can say is: have lots of kids, and teach them to stand tall and shoot straight.

And read 'em Shakespeare.

Posted by David Mader at 04:21 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Martin v. Martin

How not to run a campaign - Exhibit A:

The Liberal candidate in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca has apologized for this week's release of a Liberal TV ad targeting the Conservatives' defence policies....

On Wednesday night, Liberal incumbent Keith Martin apologized at an all-candidates debate in the Victoria suburb of Colwood....

"Some idiot went and sent it out with the other 11 ads, and it was never sanctioned by the party, never approved, and we are completely appalled that this went out. We apologized to the men and women in the uniform."

Exhibit B:
Paul Martin defended the series of controversial ads his Liberal Party unleashed this week and continued his attack on Stephen Harper, painting him as a leader who subscribes to a far right-wing ideology.

In an interview Thursday morning on CTV's Canada AM, Martin said he approved every one of the harshly critical ads -- including one that suggested the Tory Leader would use the military to occupy Canadian cities.

Some idiot indeed. Dr. Martin shouldn't be so hard on his Prime Minister - though, truth be told, he deserves it.

IT CONTINUES (14:22 CST): CTV has an e-mail from Deputy PM Anne McLellan's office saying: "The Liberal ad related to military presence in Canadian cities was never approved by the Prime Minister." Oh dear. Do you get the feeling Uncle Paul didn't get the memo telling him what he had and had not approved?

Incidentally, note that CTV got this e-mail via a comment to an earlier blog post. That's the fusion of old and new media at its best, I think.

Posted by David Mader at 11:09 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Tories Drop Controversial Candidate

Good move:

The federal Tories are dumping a B.C. candidate who faces charges of attempting to smuggle a car and booze across the Canada-U.S. border.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said on Thursday that it's too late to replace Derek Zeisman as a candidate, but that he wouldn't be allowed to join the caucus.

This is smart move. The Tories could have stood by their guy, but the spinning would have come across as very, well, Liberal. By dropping Zeisman, the Tories implicitly establish a distinction between themselves and the Grits: when one of us screws up, he pays for it. And the cost of the move won't be lost on the public either, I think - the Tories are writing off a seat, despite the fact that, given current polls, every seat will count towards the possibility of a majority government. The hope is that by acting quickly and decisively, the Party will gain enough public confidence and support elsewhere that it will make up the loss in another riding.

Posted by David Mader at 10:01 AM | (0) | Back to Main


If there is any justice in this world, Scott Feschuk already has a post-election job lined up.

Conditionally, of course.

Posted by David Mader at 09:49 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Okay, This Is A Bit Much

I quote, verbatim and in its entirety, a piece currently running on the Canadian Press wire:

OTTAWA (CP) - It is said there's no bigger fan of James T. Kirk than Stephen Harper, and one pundit thinks the Tory leader should use it to his advantage.

Rondi Adamson, a contributor to Conservative party member Ezra Levant's blog at the Western Standard newspaper, says Harper is a huge Star Trek fan.

"Like, huge. And it has to be the classic series, from the 1960s - none of that Next Generation, Deep Space Nine crap," Adamson says.

A source close to the Tory leader is quoted on the blog as saying Harper is such a Trekkie, he's seen every episode several times and even quotes from them.

"Where are the ads, doesn't the nerd vote matter?," asks Adamson.

"I can see the ad now: 'Stephen Harper . . . He really is a boring geek! It's not just an act!' And I mean that in a good way."

This is a wire story... about a blog post... about Star Trek.

I'm all for the blogosphere ascendant, but really...

Posted by David Mader at 09:44 AM | (0) | Back to Main

January 11, 2006

My memory card is full. Its time to go home.

In a few hours I head to the airport for my flight home. Its been a wonderful two months of travelling.

Last night I was on my way back to my hostel and I stopped to take a picture of some of Tokyo's ubiquitous vending machines. My camera wouldn't take a picture and gave me a message that my memory card was full. I have a rather old digital camera and a rather large card, so I've been snapping away with reckless abandon for two months. And now, on the last night of my trip, my card is full. Great timing, eh?

I guess it really is time to go home.

Tokyo has been fun. Its a very cool, very exciting city. I basically just wandered around for 3 days, taking a quick look at some of the more interesting neighbourhoods. Its a city that would take much, much longer than three days to see in depth.

And now I go home. Ten hours to San Fran, a couple hours wait, and then 2.5 more to Vancouver. It will be nice to be home, to see everyone and to be back in my apartment.

And it will be nice to be able to take part in the last 10 days of what has become a very interesting campaign. I will likely be working on the Tory campaign in North Vancouver, helping them get ready for election day. Should be fun.

Posted by Dan Mader at 10:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

You Gotta Watch This

Story is here; video is here.

Somebody buy Mike Duffy a beer.

Posted by David Mader at 11:16 AM | (0) | Back to Main

January 10, 2006

May I Ask a Question?

Just how unpopular is Mike Harris in Ontario today?

Anybody know where there are some relatively recent figures?

Posted by David Mader at 11:43 PM | (3) | Back to Main

New Liberal Ads

They're very good, don't get me wrong, and I expect they'll take a piece or two out of the Tory numbers. But do they seem a little, well, over-the-top to anybody else? And that's not even considering the giggle-inducing attempt to demonize on the unity front (election referendaire, you say?), or the flag-waving dismissal of an approach to health-care that has the approval of at least half of the voting public, or the demonization of a man who won back-to-back majorities in Canada's largest province on the basis of his doing just what he said he'd do.

Again, don't get me wrong: I expect they'll work. But I don't expect the response will be as strong as the effort, which will, as a result, come across looking a tad desperate.

UPDATE: Best line of the whole effort comes at the end of the ad 'Hotel': "No, we didn't make that up. We're not allowed to make stuff up." Was this last statement necessary a) because the remarks attributed to Harper seem too outrageous to believe, or b) because most Canadians think the Liberals are, in fact, lying crooks? Methinks the lady doth protest too much, is all I'm saying. "We didn't make that up" would have done the job on its own.

Posted by David Mader at 01:46 PM | (2) | Back to Main

A Quick Question

If releasing the numbers would "risk affecting the course of the campaign," how does not releasing the numbers fail to do precisely the same thing? If the numbers were right - and they seem to be within the margin of a number of contemporaneous polls - wouldn't the withholding of those numbers deprive the campaign of a course that it would otherwise have taken?

The only justification, it seems to me, would be that Ekos believed the numbers to be wrong. Their subsequent course of action - increasing the sample size to reduce the margin of error - suggests that they believed the sample too small to support an accurate result. But Ekos has been using the smaller sample size (correct me if I'm wrong) since the beginning of the campaign. Why was a 43-29 result less believable than a 35-33 result? Or rather, why did only the former, and not, say, the latter, cause Ekos and the Star to sit on their hands?

I'm no pollster, but I would think that you either trust your sample - consistently - or you don't. When you very conspicuously fail to trust your sample when it very conspicuously shows a Tory lead, you might recognize why some would look askance.

Posted by David Mader at 09:47 AM | (0) | Back to Main

January 08, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Thailand

After two months of travelling through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, today is my last day. I've spent most of that time in Thailand and have come to really like the country. It is a beautiful place and the Thais are wonderful people. Everywhere you go you are greeted with a smile and people are eager to help you. They also make the best food in the world.

I've spent the last few days in Bangkok, a city that has really grown on me. I didn't like it when I first arrived two months ago. It is huge (12 million people), extremely crowded and hot. However, after getting used to being in Thailand, I've come to quite like it. Its an interesting mix of new and old. You can ride the glittering new skytrain (an elevated train similar to Vancouver's) between brand new skyscrapers, then walk down to street level into a sea of street vendors selling BBQed fish. Its really been a lot of fun.

Over the last few days I've seen the sights and experienced some of the things you have to do here. Last night I went to see a Thai boxing match, which was entertaining, though I'm not usually that interested in martial arts. Today I took a Thai cooking course, which was great. Hopefully I'll be able to make some of the dishes back home. I've also done a lot of shopping. Bangkok is wonderful for shopping. In a few minutes I'm going to pick up the suit that I've had made - Bangkok is also home to thousands (literally) of tailors, who will make use a custom suit for less than a cheap off-the-rack suit would cost back home.

And so, tommorow morning, I leave. I'm stopping in Tokyo for a few days, but I'll be saying goodbye to Thailand, which will be sad. Its definitely somewhere I'll have to come back to.

Posted by Dan Mader at 01:45 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Things are getting interesting...

Digging down in to the regional breakdowns, there are indications Tory support is solidifying in Quebec at the expense of both the Bloc and the Liberals.

In Quebec, the situation appears to have changed radically in the last week or so, with Tory support doubling and surging to the point where they now lead the Liberals in the Eastern Townships — which holds the party's best hopes for seats.


Posted by Dan Mader at 01:19 AM | (0) | Back to Main

January 06, 2006

National Champions

Posted by David Mader at 01:02 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Trouble With Hitch

Christopher Hitchens is a writer whom one cannot ignore, even if one disagrees strongly with certain of his positions. But though I respect Hitchens, I've never been crazy about him, and a remark in his recent column about Ariel Sharon reminds me why. Discussing Sharon's willingness to revisit his dedication to a 'greater Israel', he writes:

It didn't cost him too much to let Sinai go—for some odd reason, the meeting place of Moses and his maker isn't included in the God-given territories—but any retreat on the West Bank or Gaza would have been a challenge to his core beliefs.
Here's the thing: to anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the Bible, the reason isn't odd at all. (Biblical Israel was promised to Abraham for his descendants; Moses and the Israelites, some hundreds of years later, were wandering the Sinai because of their sins, forbidden to enter the land, and consequently received the Divine Law outside of the area promised by God to Abraham.) And what's frustrating is that Hitchens, I'm sure, has more than a passing familiarity with the Bible. So what's he on about? Of course this is neither here nor there with regard to the larger point of the piece. But that, in turn, is the point: Hitchens exposes an odd disregard for what ought to be common classical knowledge in order to make a cheap snide remark.

But it just leaves him looking cheap.

INCIDENTALLY (11:27 EST): The piece is certainly worth a read. Hitchens makes two good points:
  • "Sharon's policy was [not Nixon-goes-to-China peacemaking but] in fact one of what de Gaulle might have termed "reculer pour mieux sauter"—to regroup or retrench in a strategic manner." Absolutely right, and I simply cannot understand why the Israeli right has such a hard time understanding this. I've never been 'orange' - if you travel in Dati circles you'll know what I mean - and it's for precisely this reason.
  • "There are, and always have been, only four alternatives in the Israeli-Palestinian quadrilateral." I'd take issue with some of Hitchens's terminology, but in essence I think he's right: total Israeli control; total equality in one state; ethnic cleansing; and a two-state solution. Hitchens criticizes Sharon for his flirting with the third option; it's a shame he's not - nor is anyone else - willing to note that this third option is not just the practice of the Palestinian authorities, but the logical extension of the Palestinian argument. Or, to put it another way: why did the 'settlers' have to be forcibly removed from Gaza when the army withdrew? Why couldn't Jews continue to live under Palestinian authority? If the notion seems absurd, it's only because we've come to accept the proposition that Palestinain territories must be Judenrein.
The other point of interest in the Hitchens piece is the author's continued application of a very twentieth-century/cold war approach to the conflict. All issues are framed in the language of an imperialist (western) superpower and an oppressed (oriental) underdog. That's very much the historical PLO rhetoric, of course, but it's interesting to see it so unashamedly applied in a post-9/11 world. Even if the Palestinian movement cannot be equated with the Islamist movement - and traditionally it couldn't - there's no question that the Israeli approach to Palestinian terrorism has changed in the past four years; more importantly, western reaction to Israeli action has changed as well. Moreover, with the collapse of the PLO, the Islamist groups are poised to take on active control in the territories. Whichever way you slice it, the old Marxist rhetoric just doesn't fit anymore. Hitchens may be right in his analysis, but it may be for all the wrong reasons.

Posted by David Mader at 10:13 AM | (0) | Back to Main

January 05, 2006

Wait - There's An Election On?

Kinsella put it best:

[A]s my sage pal John Wright opined a while ago, Canadians gathered around family Christmas/Hannukah tables at the end of last month and came to a collective decision: we want change, and if Harper's the only way to achieve that, so be it. Pass the cranberries.
Pass the cranberries, indeed. As Coyne notes, there's no denying Tory momentum in Quebec. And whether or not there's substance to this, the fact is that Canadians are entirely ready to believe the worst about this government. That may not be just; I, for one, and prepared to believe that Paul Martin is too much of a nebbish (as a man I greatly respect recently described him) to have had anything to do with, well, anything during his time in Cabinet. But the stench of arrogance and corruption is so great in the collective Canadian nostril that yet another investigation will only harden the resolve of the public to kick the bums out.

But keep a number of things in mind:
  • It hasn't happened yet. I agree with Kinsella that demonisation won't work this time, but that doesn't mean the Tories are in the clear; the campaign needs to be as disciplined as it's been, and let's be honest: the discipline to date strikes most of us as some sort of lesser miracle.
  • Even if the Tories win, they win a minority. Or, to put it another way, a lot of folks will still vote Grit. The most likely outcome at this stage is a Tory minority, which would mean that the Canadian people in their able wisdom would have kicked the bums out without kicking anybody else in. I'm not being facetious, by the way: although I'd prefer a tax-and-spending cut government, an ineffective government is just fine by classically-liberal me - for a short time, anyway.
  • A minority Tory government may stand to benefit the Grits more than the Tories down the stretch. Folks, the Chretienites don't have their knives drawn: knives are far too messy for the precise job they're going to do on Martin and his gang. It's going to be clinical. Within a year of a Martin loss, the Grits will have a new leader, and will be thinking hard about bringing down the house once more. As I said above, this looks to be a 'kick the bums out' election, and if the Grits can excise the perception that they're the bums, Canadians will be all too happy to kick them back in. This will be especially true if the Tories a) can't get anything done as a minority government, or b) succeed in passing controversial bills as a minority government. Which leads us to:
  • Go and buy Adam and Tasha's book, for goodness' sake. There's no question, I think, that the Tory campaign has been referring to it in developing their strategy; either that, or Adam and Tasha are the most prescient pundits in the land. A Tory minority might help to kick-start the development of the sort of conservative counter-establishmnet Daifallah and Kheiriddin describe, but as Andrew Coyne has noted repeatedly during the campaign, Harper's brand of conservatism seems distincly un-conservative. Ultimately the effort to shift Canadian goalposts will have to come as much from outside government as from inside of it.
Wow - I guess taking two weeks off left me with some buildup. Hopefully that's opened the floodgates.

Posted by David Mader at 10:11 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Okay, Okay, I'll Kfell


But, you know, congratulations on the Heisman, Reggie.

And Leinhart was all class:

I still think we're a better football team. They just...
had a better quarterback? True, true - and gracious of you to say, Matt. Oh, wait:
... made the plays in the end.
Yes, that they did. Unlike some other number-one-ranked football team on the field last night, which shall remain nameless.

I'll be honest: I was scared with Texas down twelve with four and a half to go. All the second half I was saying - and I have references, if you need proof - that all Texas had to do was stop them; keep them from scoring on a drive, and Texas could get back on top. (I know, I know, not exactly ground-breaking analysis.) And when USC was fourth-and-a-bit on the Texas forty-five, I didn't blame them for going for it: sure, Young would have had to have driven eighty-five or so, but do you doubt that he would have done it? On the other hand, get the first down and USC keeps driving; don't turn the ball over on downs, or on a punt, and you win the game. And don't blame them for giving the ball to White instead of Bush; there's no question who the better back was for USC last night, and he didn't have a Heisman in his ego closet.

So the Trojans can keep their dandy hardware, and can pride themselves on a really remarkable streak, and can enjoy the knowledge that they are, or were, the better team. But Texas beat 'em. Young beat 'em, but with help. And the Tower is Orange, and showing the number one, and the national championship is home in Texas once more.

Hook 'em, baby. Texas fight.

Posted by David Mader at 09:53 PM | (0) | Back to Main

January 04, 2006

Your Three-Seat Guide to the Election

If the Tories lose Ottawa-West/Nepean, the Liberals will form the government.

If the Tories win Ottawa-South, they'll form a minority.

If the Tories win Ottawa-Centre, they'll form a majority.

My prediction: Tory minority.

Posted by David Mader at 03:59 PM | (2) | Back to Main