Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Denouncing Ignatieff

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I had hope in the Liberal leadership candidates there for a moment. Really, I did. Turns out front-runner Ignatieff is just a pandering buffoon like so many others. What's sad is that it so often works!

Incidentally, here's what the mainstream media didn't want you to hear about Qana:

As to Harper saying they're all anti-Israel, Scott Brison is explicitly pro-Israel (but then he's a progressive conservative at heart). Findlay and Dryden are certainly no friends of Israel, while the rest avoid making their position too explicit, which allows both sides to delude themselves into believing they've got a friendly attitude.

That makes two political scenes I'm fed up with. The Liberal leadership scene and the Quebec political scene, where none of the leaders are worth.

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Here are some related articles:

I thought Iggy had potential...
Co-blogger Clear grit analyzes the minor players
Ex-terrorists advocate for Israel

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Political Questions: Bullying, Suicide, Smoking, Liberal Leadership

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Politics is never far from my mind, and the last little while has given me ample opportunity to reflect and it's got me asking some questions.

Question 1) When will our politicians give bullying in schools the tough treatment it deserves? Shootings in schools and the countless suicides that aren't reported in the media (to avoid copycats) are often authored by victims of bullying. Teachers and school staff currently don't have the means or the will to deal with this fact of daily life in school which plagues so many people's lives. I know I had my own very dark period in grade school due to severe bullying... Any of you readers been there too?

If I can say anything to people who're experiencing bullying or their own serious difficulties, it's that there's always a tomorrow, and that a better day will come. I know that sounds cheesy, but having learnt that, I've found I can persevere through tough times knowing things will be better eventually.

If it's urgent, I encourage you to go to

Question 2) Why don't we just ban smoking outright? Smoking is unhealthy, hurts children, burdens our health care system, stresses relationships, and provides absolutely no benefit that couldn't be replaced by more worthwhile alternatives. I don't mean just getting rid of cigarretes in our province, but all sorts of tobacco.
On a related note, the town of Pueblo in Colorado, USA has seen a 25% reduction in the number of heart attacks since banning smoking outright. The study was covered in La Presse.

Question 3) Who's better for the Liberal leadership? Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae or Stephane Dion?

I was talking with friends from university (one of whom was an organizer for Ignatieff up until school began). The consensus seemed to be that while Rae might be the front-runner, Ignatieff might be more likely to beat Harper in an election. Then, Dion is most likely to be able to revive the party in Quebec where it sorely needs it, and Rae would likely cause further losses to the CPC in Ontario.

Of course, Ignatieff's stance in favour of fighting terror in Afghanistan isn't so popular with the Liberal rank-and-file, where a vociferous element seems to prefer cutting and running, leaving the broken country behind. Rae is most likely to promise to leave Afghanistan just like NDP leader Jack Layton would. Dion might offer a free vote but he'd more than likely be swayed by his party's general opposition to the war.

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Liberal leadership: Why the bit players will be important

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(Cross-posted: Clear Grit)

In 2003, the Progressive Conservatives held their final leadership convention, electing Peter MacKay as leader. The first ballot results saw MacKay with a commanding lead (41%), David Orchard in second place (25%), Jim Prentice in third (18%) and Scott Brison in fourth (16%).

The second ballot was a bit of a surprise; every candidate except for Brison lost support. Yet Brison, the only candidate to actually increase his support, still fell off the ballot. The spread between himself and Jim Prentice was 466 to 463, just three delegates. Prentice remained on the ballot, and Brison was dropped. The rest is history - Prentice scored Brison's endorsement, moved to second, Orchard was dropped and endorsed MacKay in return for MacKay agreeing to never merge with the Canadian Alliance. (AHEM.)

But the results could have been quite different, were it not for a pompous blowhard by the name of Craig Chandler. Chandler distinguished himself at the convention by using his speech to launch into a homophobic tirade that actually got him booed by the Tories in attendance. He then withdrew his name from the ballot and endorsed Jim Prentice (with Prentice looking none too eager to accept that endorsement - imagine Volpe, only creepy.) No one thought that Chandler's endorsement would mean anything, but he did have about a dozen delegates there loyal to him, and they followed him to Prentice's camp. In other words, it was Chandler's endorsement that kept Prentice on the ballot instead of Brison.

A quick look at the results thus far; as of Monday afternoon, with 409 of 469 meetings reporting, they look like this:

Michael Ignatieff - 29.8%
Bob Rae - 19.2%
Gerard Kennedy - 16.8%
Stephane Dion - 16.6%
Ken Dryden - 4.6%
Joe Volpe - 4.6%
Scott Brison - 3.9%
Martha Hall Findlay - 1.0%
Undeclared - 2.8%

While this does mean that Dryden, Volpe, Brison and Hall Findlay don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning, it doesn't mean that they won't be players at the convention.

Now, I'm aware that the ex officio support is unpredictable, but let's just assume that, when it's all said and done, the ex officio delegates don't cause those numbers to change too much. Let's also assume, for simplicity's sake, that the convention speeches don't have a huge impact on the numbers, either.

What this means is that the endorsements of lower-tier candidates are absolutely crucial to Rae, Kennedy and Dion, especially the latter two. It won't be as important for Ignatieff, but if he somehow managed to win endorsements from all four of them, he would be very close to the 50% mark. This seems unlikely, however; one assumes, based on nothing but conventional wisdom, that the only lower-tier candidate who is likely to endorse him is Brison.

For Rae, winning the endorsements of the bit players will be important for two reasons. First, it will keep him on the ballot, preventing him from slipping to third place behind either Kennedy or Dion. And second, it will help to level the playing field between himself and Ignatieff, making it a much closer race between the two.

Kennedy and Dion find themselves in almost identical positions to each other. They are locked in a fight for third place, much like Brison and Prentice were in 2003, and whoever wins will get to remain on the ballot and take on Ignatieff and Rae. Likely, their best hope for victory is to try to take and hold third place, and then be endorsed by whichever of the two is dropped. Another way to victory would be to inflate their numbers enough with lower-tier support that they are able to move into second place ahead of Rae, making the contest between one of them and Ignatieff.

The bit players may not have a lot of support, but they will be players, nonetheless. And the Rae, Kennedy and Dion campaigns are going to need them to win. Not to win a quick victory, but to stay on the ballot.