REMEMBER TO VOTE CANADA!!!

One simple message:

GET OUT AND VOTE TODAY FELLOW CANADIANS!

It is a privilege we enjoy in this fine democracy we complain about and sometimes ignore. There are people literally dying worldwide today to even get a sniff of democracy in their homelands, let alone a chance to vote.

It does not matter what political stripe you are- JUST DO IT!!!!

OFF YOUR DUFFS, GRAB A COFFEE AND VOTE!!!

Ghosts, Rhinoceros and an Orange Wave, Canadian election has it all

From ghost candidates to fringe parties, here are some scribbles from the notepad as the May 2 vote approaches.

GHOST CANDIDATES

The Toronto Star recently brought to light several local instances where federal parties have listed candidates in ridings but they are simply nothing more than names on a piece of a paper- better known as “placeholder” candidates.

Party organizers say it is hard to field a full slate of candidates in 308 ridings nationwide and to do so; a “placeholder” candidate is a necessary evil. They also say, in some ridings, they do not stand of chance of winning, so they just file a name and leave it at that.

This is a disservice to the party and voters in that particular riding. How can a party gain any traction or stature in a riding if it does not have an official candidate getting out there knocking on doors and appearing at all-candidates’ debates?

How about the voters in that riding who lean towards that political stripe? If they see no candidate signs or signs of a pulse for that matter, it comes across as the candidate and party are not willing to work for their vote or potential new ones. Better to have someone run and have their butt-kicked than have a ghost candidate.

ORANGE WAVE

The Orange Wave of NDP support is real it seems. Why so? The Conservatives and Liberals have not dismissed it even as May 2 approaches. In fact, with the Conservatives turning their guns on the NDP, as if they are their main rival now, it has legitimized the Orange Wave. We could be in for an amazing result by the morning of May 3. Michael Ignatieff may rue the day he resoundingly dismissed Jack Layton and the NDP in the leader’s debate saying they would never form a government. Which party is starting to look like a real national party now, eh Iggy?

THE FRINGE PARTIES

Do you feel like the five federal parties are not speaking your language, feeling your mojo or are hard to identify with?

May be one of these smaller fringe parties are for you. Depending where in Canada you are, it is quite the buffet to choose from, they are:

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada

Canadian Action Party

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

Communist Party of Canada

First Peoples National Party of Canada

Libertarian Party of Canada

Marijuana Party

Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

Pirate Party of Canada

Progressive Canadian Party

Rhinoceros Party

United Party of Canada

Western Block Party

Click here to find information on the above mentioned parties.

FAVOURITE ELECTION AD: “Our Country” by the Conservatives

Say what you will about the Conservatives, but this ad hits every patriotic Canadian note there is. If you hate Stephen Harper, just imagine Donald Sutherland or hell…even Don Cherry voicing it. The writing in it is top-notch, I didn’t know if I should stand up, salute and sing O’ Canada, bodycheck someone into the corner or run to Tim’s and buy an extra-large double-double.

NDP are Boy Scouts? Liberals grasp and Conservatives motor along

Here they come down the home stretch and what an interesting finish it will be.

Who would have thought the NDP and its leader Jack Layton could sustain their surge over the last couple of weeks since the English language debate. Where there is smoke there is fire and there seems to be something burning here with NDP support nationwide as the federal parties race to the May 2 election deadline.

courtesy of ThreeHundredEight.com

The great site ThreeHundredEight.com, as of April 26, is projecting the NDP to climb to 42 seats and 20.9 per cent of the popular vote. That is a six-seat gain for the NDP and the Liberals would drop to 75 seats from 77 with their popular vote hovering around 26.4 per cent.

“The NDP’s growth comes in both Ontario and Quebec, where the party is up 3.3 points and 7.3 points, respectively. In Quebec, the NDP has taken the lead forcefully, pushing the Bloc down two points to 25.2%. Note that the Conservatives are down to 14.7% while the Liberals are at a very low 13.1%,” finds ThreeHundredEight.com.

Obviously the smoke is serious enough when you look at the recent ads and focus Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals have directed at the NDP.

Ignatieff was recently quoted in a Campaign Notebook on the Globe and Mail as calling the NDP “bunch of Boy Scouts”. As the centrist power playground of the Liberals appears wonky for them to rely on, Iggy is lashing out…is it a leftover stinging from Layton calling out Ignatieff’s attendance record at the House of Commons? During the English language debate Layton noted that Ignatieff had missed 70 per cent of the votes held, a number Parliament Hill insiders have confirmed.

Look into Jack's eyes....courtesy of The Toronto Star

The Bloc are being chastised in some circles for running a shoddy campaign as the NDP appears gain favour in Quebec. The Liberals are desperately grasping for support from the left, support which is galvanizing behind a leader those supporters believe in- the same cannot be said in the fractured Liberal house. On the right, the Conservatives have remained steady and on point, the united right (which has governed closer to centre than some supporters would like) looks to be insurmountable with Canada’s fractured centre-left landscape to counter it.

What to make of it all? You tell me OnDeadline readers. Can the NDP make a serious push to be the official opposition? Can the Liberals in fact fall that far off the Canadian electoral map to end up in third? Will the Conservatives nail down a majority?

One thing seems almost certain, barring a cataclysmic collapse of epic European Black Death proportions; we will have a Conservative minority government again once all the votes are counted. This outcome must leave some of you wondering…was this election ever worth it?

Canadian election fever…what’s that smell…tacos?

The election made me do it.

After an extended hiatus from the blog…once again…here I am with some observations on our current federal election campaign in Canada.

What to think of a $300 million election no one really wants? Will Prime Minister Stephen Harper secure his long sought after majority or will minority rule, under Tory blue, be the main course after the May 2 election?

Can Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff galvanize a Liberal base that appears still divided or uninterested in him, the party or a bit of both? Can Ignatieff and his Liberal red machine make much-needed inroads in the west (anywhere in western Canada really) fight off the Conservatives in some hot Ontario ridings and make even a dent in Quebec?

What to make of gentleman Jack Layton and his NDP party? By far the most likeable of all federal leaders among pundits and insiders, his goal is simple, hold on to the 36 seats the NDP have and see if they can inch closer to 20 in Ontario. Respectfully Mr. Layton, you are more the mayor Toronto needs than the prime minister we require on the Hill.

Jack Layton, a political zen master.

For Gilles Duceppe, the Bloc Quebecois leader, maintaining his party’s stranglehold on federal seats in La Belle Province is top priority and knocking off Justin Trudeau in his Papineau riding would likely be a wonderful feather in his cap.

For Elizabeth May and her Green Party, she needs to win in her riding if the party is to gain any serious respect and grow. Sure, just over one million people voted Green in the last election but I am convinced that is simply a masked protest vote.

How many people do you know that can tell you what the Green Party stands for besides the one easy answer of the “environment”? Win a riding, get into Ottawa and then we can talk. If one million people can vote for the party coast-to-coast, surely a majority in a riding can believe in that party’s leader.

Some random thoughts on what else we have seen so far on the campaign trail:

  • Can opposition leaders continue to make hay of the G8-G20 spending boondoggle reported in an Auditor General draft report leaked to the media?
  • Can Ignatieff continue to grow his leadership profile (he certainly has improved) and make his pleas for democracy on Parliament Hill stick and translate into votes?
  • Can we start hearing some serious discussion and not just sound bites on the issues of: Arctic sovereignty, the soon to expire Canada Health Accord, equal health and education growth rates for the First Nations, long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities and electoral reform?
  • The most likeable leaders, for their honesty and candour from this end of the keyboard, are Layton and Duceppe. Why? Because they have nothing to lose and can be themselves, one just needs to hold on to 36 seats and the other a Quebecois fiefdom.

Lastly, we’re slowly becoming convinced social media does not contribute anything of substance when it comes to a campaign and an election. Sure, news hits get out quick, in pithy little ways, but once the 24 hour cycle chews up all the social media cud, it is on to the next series of tweets, blogs, digs and farts, with little true discussion or dissection of an issue.

Feed the masses and move on, phew…who had tacos for lunch?

Dion Should Go

As Stephane Dion grappled with his decision on whether or not to remain leader of the Liberals, one hopes he looked ahead and not behind.

 

If he stayed on, would he have been able to put the beating he received in this past election behind him? Also, would he be able to make Canadians, those who actually care about their politics, forget that trouncing as well? Probably not. What they will forever remember is Puffin poo on his shoulder, days upon days of explaining Green Shift and his unfortunate weakness with the English language.

 

Look, Dion is a sincere man. An intellect. A nice guy who really showed his prowess in the French language debate. However, the only reason he got any push in the election, near the end of the campaign, was more of Stephen Harper’s and the economy’s doing than anything he did.

 

He was an uninspiring leader not supported completely by his own party and not engaging enough for all left and left-centre voters. His Green Shift should have been proposed as a “green paper” a concept to be explored and worked at, not as a solid platform to run on.

 

Stepping down is the right thing Stephane. You served Canada well during Quebec referendum wars and your passion and work for the environment is admirable and has substance.

 

 If the Liberals want to salvage this wreck they are in, they need a new, young leader, someone who is engaging and has no tint or taint of the old Chretien-Martin wars.

 

 

The return of Harper – will he play nice?

He’s back, and not in black, but in a blue sweater vest.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper managed to not nail down a majority government in the recent Canadian federal election but he gets to trot up Parliament Hill with a minority government. How Harper managed to not secure a majority with a weak a Liberal leader and platform to counter, the Green Party siphoning off some NDP mustard and newly found inroads in Quebec inhand must have him thinking…where did it go wrong?

The final seat count was 143 seats for the Consevatives, 76 for the Liberals, 50 for the Bloc Quebecois, 37 for the NDP and 2 indepents. The Tories did manage to increase their total of 127 seats from the last election. However, blood was in the water and the magical 155 seat majority mark was there for the taking and Harper knows it.

Prime Minister Harper gets an earful during the recent English language debate.
Prime Minister Harper gets an earful during the recent English language debate.

The economic crisis and arts cuts comments were what ultimately foiled Monsieur Sweater Vest. His apparent lack of empathy with credit markets and economies imploding really was not the poor play here. The fact he gave stock advice, saying it is a good time “to buy” did hurt him. Also, as Canada’s sitting prime minister, he  did not head back to Ottawa to show he was “on top” of the situation.

Opposition leaders hammered at his inaction and stay-the-course mantra. People could really care less about empathy when it comes to money, they want the top dog in their nation showing he his doing something…anything…make it a photo-op but at least show you are doing something to look after their pocketbooks. It says here, if Harper actually acted it would have knocked any gusto out of an opposition leader’s critique of him.

Harper’s downplaying of $45 million in arts cuts as a “niche issue for some” was a disaster for him in Quebec. The little new found inroads he made in the last election there hit the floor quicker than Puffin poo on Stephane Dion’s shoulder. Quebec artists and residents rallied and either voted Liberal or Bloc, turning their backs on the Tories- the following video says it all.

What now? With a stronger minority in hand, will the Tories rule once again as if they have a majority? If the Prime Minister wishes to be seen as really connecting with all Canadians, a more co-operative effort with the opposing parties is needed.

However, a weakened Liberal party, reduced in its numbers from 98 to 76, could provide a new challenge for Harper. Instead of the Liberals avoiding votes in order to not bring down the government (and be thrust into an election with a weak leader and internal division…hold on a sec…that happened anyway) they may actually show some backbone in Ottawa and act like the official opposition. How will Harper deal with this new wrinkle?

In the current context, with true fear among Canadians in the middle of this financial maelstrom, all party leaders will have to play nice and what an opportunity for Prime Minister Harper to not pack away the fatherly, good-guy, blue sweater vest just yet.

Election Notebook: Sweater-vests and May’s-day

The Canadian federal leader’s debate was more about attacking and speaking up the quickest than it was about substance and exploring issues.

 

Moderator Steve Paikin should receive a special merit badge for trying to control and  manage a debate which was unwieldy at times. Debate organizers tossed aside the traditional podiums for the debate participants and had them sit a tear-drop shaped table.

 

At first, the concept of the table seemed like a good one. It gave the impression you were eavesdropping on a potent after-dinner conversation. However, the informal setting created the following formula: A (Prime Minister Stephen Harper says something) + B (the other four leaders talk all over each other to say something) = C (the moderator arbitrarily sorting out the order of who gets to speak next).

 

The actual mechanics and spirit of a debate never materialized but it did prove to be entertaining thanks to some excellent moments:

 

BEST QUIPS:

 

Layton, during a pointed-attack at Prime Minister Harper over the lack of a defined Conservative platform, takes a swipe at the prime minister’s sweater-vest worn in some campaign ads.

 

“You say you have a plan, where is it? Where’s your platform? Under the sweater?” asked Layton.

 

Duceppe, near the end of the debate, when asked “What would your first act as prime minister be?”, was about as honest as one can be.

 

“I know I won’t be prime minister and three of you won’t be prime minister, neither,” he said, waving his hand at May, Dion and Layton at the table. “Some of you know it, but you won’t say it.”

 

 

WORST QUIPS:

 

“I’ve been between jobs, I understand that,” Harper said to Layton. – (I’m thinking that when you have been between jobs prime minister, it was no where near as hard or tragic as it is for people losing jobs in forestry or in manufacturing)

 

“The economy is not fine,” Layton said to Harper. “Either you don’t care or you are incompetent. Which is it?” – (I’m thinking, if you want to be considered a viable opposition leader, let alone prime ministerial- suggesting people may be “incompetent” is not the way to go).

 

 

WORST TANTRUM:

 

Stephane Dion, though he delivered a solid, yet unspectacular performance. He is sincere and passionate about the environment. However, he almost jumped from the table and stomped his feet, calling Harper a liar as he said to him “why would you say that?” when Harper was talking about Green Shift. The reason he said something you did not like Stephane is because it was a debate and Harper can be a bully in a powder blue sweater-vest.

 

 

THE WINNER:

 

There was not a clear-cut one but I would give the final nod to Elizabeth May, by a nose. She did not sound like a one-trick pony and stood up to Harper the best, reciting facts better than the others. She was seated right near the PM and was not fazed by it.

 

Second place goes to Harper, the man withstood a fury of attacks and achieved the ultimate goal, he kept his composure, smiled his occasional smarmy smirk and delivered concise answers which will likely not come back to bite him in his political backside.