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.

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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?

G20 Notebook: Friday, June 25

Greetings from the DMZ…well, it is not necessarily like the DMZ but downtown Toronto, now known as Fortress Toronto,is in full effect. Approximately 340 journalists, both international and national, are being housed in the International Media Centre, and the sights and sounds are like a United Nations reunion.

Here are some observations from the shore of the $57,000 fake lake…which is more like an elaborate kiddy pool.

THE “FAKE LAKE” : First wrongly reported to come with a $1.9 million price tag, the fake little piece of Muskoka life in the media centre actually costs $57,000. Changing Muskoka scenes on the big screen, a replica deck with Adirondack chairs and canoes…with piped in lake-like sounds, what a wonderful respite for us hacks…and a great tourism outreach ploy.

“It is quite nice, we appreciate it,” said a German reporter. “We will not get to Muskoka and will be making this cavern home for the week while we work.”

“I like it, it is relaxing and an original idea,” noted a Mexican journalist.

“So this is it? I can’t believe so much fuss was made over this,” said an Australian scribe.

“If you think..for $57,000, this is not too bad,” said a prominent CBC television news personality as they lounged in a deck chair.

Ahh...the famed Fake Lake of Toronto's G20. Photo: Vince Versace

MUSKOKA INITIATIVE on MATERNAL, NEWBORN & CHILD HEALTH: Prime Minister Stephen Harper got his gold star, summit legacy initiative cemented, by delivering his Muskoka Initiative. Harper and his G8 partners delivered a $5 billion commitment over the next five years to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Canada’s portion, $3.9 billion- Harper said since we survived the recession better than our G8 partners we should  commit a higher portion.

MUSKOKA INITIATIVE…it all depends: The African Medical & Research Foundation “cautiously” welcomed the G8 commitment and recommend the funds be directed to basic, frontline health services in sub-Saharan Africa. A community based approach would make the biggest difference in the lives of these mothers and children.

However, Make Poverty History called it “shameful” and that young children and pregnant woman can “draw little comfort” from the “meager offering”. Make Poverty says at least 1,000 women a day die from childbirth related causes and that $30 billion is needed to address the problem worldwide.

SECRET LAW PASSED: News today that the province passed a law a month ago that allows police to arrest and charge anyone near the G20 security zone (within five metres of the security fence), who refuses to identify himself,  surprised quite a few of us scribes. Hard to believe it quietly squeaked through. I’m all for the security detail at this summit, you need to guard against the yahoos but this law and the fact no debate was held on it screams of undemocratic process…very disappointing. However, it does not justify violent protests, so put that brick down junior.

The Biggest Perogie – Stephen Harper

Canada’s prime minister has made a joke of our country’s parliamentary process and I hope some of you are taking the time to notice.

If the drabness of everyday politics bores you think of Parliament Hill as the setting for a new dynamic reality show called The Biggest Perogie. Which Canadian politician demonstrates the incredible combination of contempt for democracy and is capable of shooting themselves in the foot upon command…drum roll please…your winner- Stephen Harper.

In this space when Parliament was last prorogued we supported it. We were not happy with the pathetic ploy of the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois to seize power. We did not think the flux that move would have created would have benefited our country as we headed into a dark recession. Harper requested the pause button be hit and we supported it. However, this time around, Harper is abusing Parliament and democracy. How he convinced Governor General Michelle Jean to sign off on this is beyond me.

There is no need to have to shut down the House of Commons to”recalibrate” government and refocus it. What a crock. Harper is trying to save his hide and protect his government from scrutiny. While Canada was getting hammered on its environmental footprint and plans and as we headed into our holidays, he chose to prorogue the government. There is simply no other way to read the situation. He wants to hide.

We are in a Catch-22 as voters in this country. We do not like Harper and the Conservatives enough to give them a majority government but we did re-elect them regardless. Was it because it was a lack of options? Yes, the thought of Stephane Dion as PM during the recession is stomach turning. Jack Layton and his NDP banter seems to have lost its way and the Green Party..well they are green.

The saddest thought is that the party leader in our last election who was the most stately and capable to run our country was Gilles Duceppe. That is how bad it is for us, the leader of a separatist party has the best leader pedigree.

We do not want another election but our opposition party leaders need to galvanize the populus and build their credibility. They need to so we can have better choices come next election and vote The Biggest Perogie off of Parliament Hill.

Mr. Harper, that is 100 per cent BULL!

bullA screen capture of the Harper government’s chest-thumbing website that claims 80 per cent of their economic action plan to tackle the recession has been implemented. 80 per cent you say? That is 100 per cent bull we say.

Pardon any typos or fragments instead of sentences in this blog post. It is tough to type as you pick yourself up off the floor, partly from shock, partly from laughing hysterically at the Tory government’s recent update on their stimulus efforts.

What in the world does 80 per cent implemented mean in the Stephen Harper world of politics? Considering municipalities and a handful of industries have been wondering about when exactly funding for projects will actually flow, the pretty map with shovels on the Tory’s Canadian Economic Action Plan website is just that…pretty with all those shovels in Tory blue circles.

Does re-announcing and recasting funding already committed in the budget or better yet, the cash which is late in flowing from the $33 billion Building Canada Fund, help constitute “80 per cent implemented”?

Between the ridiculous Ignatieff attack ads and the snazzy website, it is clear, the Tory’s are becoming a lot of flash and little substance.

I never supported the opposition party power move earlier this year to remove them but this latest proclamation of progress is a pipe dream and signal that Harper and his Tory’s need to go. Why? Because they are trying to play the rest of us for fools. Money has not flowed. Infrastructure dollars have not resulted in a wealth of shovels hitting the ground.

They are taking us for granted and the fact we bailed out our auto industry to the tune we did is reason enough to give these guys the boot. Media and the public is partly to blame as well in this. Everyone gets up-in- arms, including the opposition, over a minister calling cancer a sexy issue (which it is to a politician and in the realm of politics and that is the cold hard truth) but throwing good public money to a privately created problem hardly got people up-in-arms with the same outrage.

An election during a recession is a tough sell. Put that election in the summer and it even gets worse but the plug needs to get pulled.

However, here is what I fear, most Canadians and people are superficial when it comes to their news, especially in the multimedia age, so the Tory’s strategy might just save their bacon.

A nifty website, funny and attention-getting tv ads might deflect enough attention away from their bull which is 100 per cent implemented.