BUMPED AND UPDATED: A gentle suggestion to our nation’s fine political bloggers


UPDATE: This is the posting where I invited Inkless readers and bloggers across the country to post their accounts of local all-candidates meetings. Several have — both in the comments section below, and on their own blogs. I wanted to bump this post up, first to thank and acknowledge everyone who’s shared their impressions of local debates, and second to encourage anybody who hasn’t done so to post their own accounts in the comments. Or if you just want to complain that we’re profiteering off your free labour, feel free to do that too. — pw

Kady’s liveblog of last night’s Ottawa Centre all-candidates’ meeting (with kibbitzing from citizen voter Wells in the comment section) is the most-read item on Blog Central today. It helps that at least two candidates, the Conservative and the guy from the Pot Party, were picturesque in different ways. But I think there’s simply a lot of interest — in this riding, but also outside it — in what actually happens on the ground during a campaign.

Perhaps other bloggers would like to take this hint.

Two weeks to go in this campaign. It’d be interesting if bloggers all over the country went out to all-candidates’ campaigns and reported to their readers — and through links in the comments below, to ours — what they see. I’m sure many of you already have done something like this; feel free to post links before. (Our comment-moderating software is skittish about links, so your comment might get sent to moderation when you post it. I’ll take care to ride herd on the moderation queue and approve your post if that happens.)

Obviously a lot of Canada’s political blogs have a partisan slant, and their authors will feel free to indulge those preferences when they describe what they see. It would be great, however, if some of what gets written isn’t just cheerleading for your preferred candidate.

Nor do you need to have your own blog if you want to play. Simply post a synopsis of your local all-candidates’ meeting in the comment board below. Please keep it shorter than, say, 300 words, but give us a sense of how it went.

I have a hunch that political blogs would be more useful if fewer of them consisted exclusively of Here’s What I Think About This Morning’s Headlines and if more consisted, sometimes, of Here’s What I Saw When Politics Happened Near Me. Here’s a chance to test that theory.


BUMPED AND UPDATED: A gentle suggestion to our nation’s fine political bloggers

  1. It’d be interesting if bloggers all over the country went out to all-candidates’ campaigns and reported to their readers — and through links in the comments below, to ours — what they see.

    Are you offering us all jobs? How much does it pay?

    While I’m sure it would be more interesting than the pablum served up on most blogs these days, only hyper-partisan dweebs are naive enough to work for free and their commentary always ends up being worthless.

  2. I’m hoping to get to the debate with L’il MacKay, Mizz May, and NDP candidate Louise Lorefice next week. Should be fun if it’s not too restricted. Being sponsored by a Chamber of Commerce, which can make things a bit anal at times. I hope to score one of the campaign buttons floating around – “Liberals for Lorefice”.

  3. What? A change in focus from posting and analysing meaningless daily tracking polls?

  4. Thank you, Sisyphus.

  5. Man, it turns out my own local one happened, like, two weeks ago. Too bad!

    The main Toronto Centre debate is October 6 at 7pm in the Isabel Bader Theatre at Victoria College, though I also found a reference online to one in St. Jamestown happening in about 45 minutes!

    You think RIM might sponsor us with blackberries?

  6. The ‘hotly contested’ riding of New Westminster-Coquitlam is on my radar. All 3 major parties have strong (in perception and/or reality) women candidates, with the NdP and Cons in a tussle for what has been considered a swing riding. I still haven’t seen when it’s going to happen but will look into it and if possible will do my darndest to attend (and rein in my most partisan prattling)…

  7. Reporting from the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo (still Liberal Andrew Telegdi’s to lose, in all likelihood…)

    A grade 6 class at my kids’ school held an all-candidates meeting last Thursday – and all the candidates showed, which was pretty cool of them.

    The kids had treats decorated with the colours of each party, and had prepared questions for each candidate (some serious, a few along the lines of their favourite cereal, which I guess matters more to the kids than playing piano…).

    Since it was really for the kids, I’ll pass on that my nine-year old was most impressed with Cathy MacLellan, the green candidate, but thought they all did a good job.

    If nothing else, a good reminder that most people enter these races for all the right reasons…

  8. I plan on going to the Cambridge, ON all candidates debate. I’ll post a review and send a heads-up.

  9. Speaking of which, it would be nice if the print and broadcast journalists that get paid for a living would start covering policy a little bit too. Not all the time, mind you. Maybe two days a week.

  10. Thank you, Paul!

    I went to a “Mixing Art and Politics” night at Waterloo Park last week. It featured Cathy MacLellan from the Green Party. I agree with your son, Sean, she was very impressive. She spoke to us without notes and without a mike, knew her stuff, and was passionate, eloquent, and even funny.

    The band we heard was Nightwood out of Montreal. They were also great.

    Trepid Records had a series of these evenings with the ‘lesser’ candidates. Sadly, I was only able to attend the one.

  11. Political Staples–Goodyear’s riding? Oh, that will be fun! I look forward to hearing your report.

    Actually, I look forward to reading all these liveblogging reports. I can’t believe we’ve got such great ridings for this little experiment, already!

  12. At Kitchener Waterloo’s first of a few, Telegdi cribbed a dangerous line from Lizzie May, that we need to “eject” Stephen Harper. Somewhat inevitably he said “elect” instead.

  13. It could have been worse – he could have subsituted an “r” instead…

  14. Speaking of which, it would be nice if the print and broadcast journalists that get paid for a living would start covering policy a little bit too.

    Amen to that. Enough leeching off user-generated content.

  15. At Kitchener Waterloo’s first of a few, Telegdi cribbed a dangerous line from Lizzie May, that we need to “eject” Stephen Harper. Somewhat inevitably he said “elect” instead.

    See. This is the type of commentary you’ll get from hyper-partisan rejects. All it will do is make the party’s retreat even further into their scripted campaigns.

  16. I would absolutely urge anyone who sees this little project as a case of “leeching off user-generated content” to avoid that outcome by declining to participate.

  17. Robert, what are you talking about? I plan on voting for Telegdi, he is a principled man who has always kept his word and his region in mind, and has gone against his own party when necessary. He does good work in Parliament and I’m proud to have him represent me.

    But that said, he DID say “we need to elect Stephen Harper.” I heard it, everyone else heard it (its on YouTube) and has publicly admitted saying it, along with what he meant to say (also on YouTube).

    What was hyper-partisan about Mikael’s comment?

  18. Call me a cynic, but I won’t go to an all-candidates meeting because it doesn’t matter. The local candidates don’t matter. My vote doesn’t count for anything.

  19. “I would absolutely urge anyone who sees this little project as a case of “leeching off user-generated content” to avoid that outcome by declining to participate.”

    That’s a tall order for Ti-guy being a charter member of the humbug chorus.

  20. I would absolutely urge anyone who sees this little project as a case of “leeching off user-generated content” to avoid that outcome by declining to participate.

    My complaint is really with the CBC Election site. Ormiston Online is nothing but an pastiche of user-generated content courtesy of web-crawling bots and adorned with online commentary and links to Twitter, FaceBook, YoutTube, Digg, Fritter, Blither, CyberPoop, etc. So many bells, whistles, gee-gaws, doo-dads and flashing lights that I get a petit mal seizure every time I go over there.

  21. That’s a tall order for Ti-guy being a charter member of the humbug chorus.

    I’ve had an email account since 1987. Call me jaded, but the Information Age is really not thrilling me anymore.

  22. My riding is Simcoe Grey. The conservative, Helena Guergis, doesn’t participate in all candidates meetings. At a high school meeting the Green party candidate was the most impressive.

    I think Mr. Wells has a great idea here.

  23. The problem is that they won’t let you into those all-candidate meetings if you’re wearing pajamas.

  24. no more user-generated content till macleans stops charging us for the chance to read these blogs
    end teh exploitation NOW
    commenters of the world UNITE

  25. “So many bells, whistles, gee-gaws, doo-dads and flashing lights that I get a petit mal seizure every time I go over there”

    Ti Guy

    Here’s a joke for you:

    Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this!
    Doctor: Well than, stop doing that.

    Thank you, thank you. I am here all week!

  26. “…no more user-generated content till macleans stops charging us for the chance to read these blogs
    end teh exploitation NOW
    commenters of the world UNITE..”

    and dyslexics of the world UNTIE.

    Now, what “charging” are you talking about?

  27. Joke.

  28. Umm, Brammer? I think that was sarcasm. At least I hope it was!

  29. Here’s a wall on which I would like to be a fly:

    Wednesday October 1st at 7:00pm
    at La Ronge Hotel and Suites

    La Ronge and Area Political Candidates Forum

    Confirmed candidates:

    Liberal Party of Canada David Orchard
    Green Party of Canada George Morin
    New Democratic Party of Canada Brian Morin
    First Peoples National Party of Canada Rob Ballantyne

  30. Well, then, Paul, why don’t you fly to the wall? you’ve still got almost 48 hrs…

  31. Agreed, that’s a heck of a riding! But the incumbent (as of March), Rob Clarke, is not only a native but a native native – AND a former RCMP sergeant. Pretty stiff competition for Mr. Orchard. The by-election margin was 16%, but the last general election margin was 0.27% (67 votes). Plus Northern Saskatchewan is a very important region for the future (First Nations policy, natural resource development, etc.).

  32. Seriously, what about getting, oh, 100 Blackberries for us all to go liveblog all-candidate meetings with?

    “Citizen Thumbs: The Maclean’s-RIM ‘Blogging for Democracy’ Campaign” or whatever.

    RIM gets a nice feather in its cap for not much $$, Maclean’s confirms its powerblogging title, and the humble get Blackberries!

    We probably also get to learn how difficult it is to liveblog anything, but that’s another story.

  33. Jack, it can’t be that hard. I’m “all thumbs” on a standard keyboard as it is. A Blackberry would be perfect for me…

  34. I’ll try to get to Toronto-Danforth which I understand is on 7 October. (If I’m wrong, the Green candidate won’t be there either!)

    Jack will probably send an empty suit because he’s all National Leader-y and Important but what the hell.

  35. As a blogger who “sometimes” does the work of a journalist (for free), I feel free to shoot back that the paid media might be a bit more interesting if they covered more issues and more parties, and fewer commercials (puffin poop) and things they see from the windows of their seats on campaign vehicles they are embedded in.

  36. Dramatically increasing local coverage would be great if there were enough bloggers: 1. Not tied down by jobs, kids, etc. that force them to provide quick commentary after big news or analysis shortly before midnight; 2. Sane; 3. willing and able to provide a fair, balanced, tactful, well-argued perspective. In any case, don’t devalue the “Here’s What I Think About This Morning’s Headlines” blogs. They provide a side to the conversation that wasn’t there before.

  37. There seem to be a lot of snarky comments, even inluding the excessive use of quotation marks, about journalists and how they are paid to do stuff, and they aren’t and how they miss stuff and how they are biased one way – no it’s the other – and MSM this and hacks that.

    The media are paid by subscription and advertising. They do their jobs in a certain environment for a paying customer base. Take a good look at youself, your family, your friends and your neighbours: are you/they buying “quality” news, taking a quick glimpse, or are they even paying any attention?

    Stop treating these boards and the people who sustain them like serfs. Take some responsibility and encourage those you know to pay attentiona and make “better” journalism pay.

  38. CTV Toronto is doing town halls where they visit a riding in Toronto to have a town hall discussion with the candidates of that riding.

    Last week was Parkdale-High Park which is where Gerard Kennedy is facing off against Peggy Nash.


    The Conservative candidate did not show up, which seems par for the course from all the comments here. I wonder if Conservatives no showing the all candidates debates will have a negative effect on their campaigns across Canada – although, I suppose it would have to be much more widely publicized to have any real effect. (Obviously a Liberal or an NDP candidate have missed an all candidates meeting before but this election there definitely seems to be a co-ordinated effort for Conservatives to miss meetings/debates at a local level).

  39. Gee, does anyone believe that the PMO/CPO will allow con candidates to show up at an all candidate’s debate, unless they know they’ll lose the riding. Stevie won’t even show up on CBC’s Your Turn. Too afraid that Canadians might pose some ‘hard’ questions. Stevie will only allow a reporter to ask one question – no rebuttal.

    Personally, I’m disgusted by our MSM that pander to Stevie’s war room tactics. But, I guess that’s what happens when we have a conservative media concentration in Canada. Democracy – not.

  40. comment by Paul Wells on Monday, September 29, 2008 at 8:50 pm:

    Here’s a wall on which I would like to be a fly:

    Wednesday October 1st at 7:00pm
    at La Ronge Hotel and Suites

    La Ronge and Area Political Candidates Forum

    Confirmed candidates:

    Liberal Party of Canada David Orchard
    Green Party of Canada George Morin
    New Democratic Party of Canada Brian Morin
    First Peoples National Party of Canada Rob Ballantyne

    Gee – Again I say – where’s the con candidate? Stevie is so afraid to allow his candidates to appear in case they show their incompetence. Sort of like McCain hiding his VP after her nomination. She’s got loads of foreign affairs’ experience cause U know, Alaska shares a border with Russia and Canada. No wonder Stevie refuses to allow most of his candidates to appear in all candidates debates.

  41. I’d love to participate but that’s not terribly likely – I’m in Calgary West where we’re playing “Where’s Rob Anders” with our Conservative incumbent. It’s one of those ridings where we’d elect a broomstick under Harper’s banner, but it would still be nice to hear them speak to know if they’re capable of stringing a sentence together. Call me a snarky conservative on that one (with a small c).

  42. I attended the debate for Elgin Middlesex London tonight. I gotta say I envy you guys in Ottawa, with standing room only. I counted about 20 people in attendance (though it was being broadcast live, so how many people just skipped the drive and watched on TV…?

    Questions came from three local journalists. Pretty standard stuff really, from “Why do you want to be a politician?”, to “What would you say to the people who have lost their jobs recently?” Mostly economic questions, I think one on health care (how to get more family doctors), and surprisingly, not too many specific local questions.

    Here’s my general impression of the candidates

    Joe Preston (CPC) re-elect me, community service, action, stability seat at government table, etc….safe answers, probably effective, you can tell that he has experience at these type of events
    Suzanne Van Bommel (Lib.) I used to be the assistant to the local MPP, some attacking Harper, pretty standard stuff, but I didn’t really get a sense of why I should vote for her
    Ryan Dolby (NDP) pretty good speaker, distinguished himself from the other opposition parties with a credible presentation of the NDP’s ideas

    Michael Van Holst (Ind.), Will Arlow (CAP), Carl Hiemstra (CHP), Noel Burgon (Green)

    I’m a sucker for the parties that won’t get voted in, mostly because they seem so real–they can say whatever they want, without having to worry about the higher amount of scrutiny that greater success would bring them. All of these guys obviously represent vastly different perspectives, but they gave generally reasonable answers.

    To be honest it was kind of a boring debate. Not a lot of specifics, lots of toeing the party line. I know everyone is saying this election’s about leadership, but I think here it’s more about credibility, and I think Joe Preston’s kind of got that by default as the incumbent.

    so…Paul, is that the kind of report you had in mind?

  43. T, I’m not Paul, but I like it. The other thing is that Canada’s a big country. Just speaking personally, I’d find it interesting to know a bit about the riding, its’ political history, particular problems, anything of interest about the candidates. Tidbits like that. Just a thought.
    And thanks.

  44. Great summary, Coco! What did Nash say is the NDPs stance on Arctic Sovereignty? And please say something more meaningful than ‘they’re for it’–if you got something more meaningful, I mean.

  45. She mentioned that as prime minister, Jack Layton would be aggressive in defending Arctic sovereignty. The context was U.S. influence on Canada and other governments/parties being soft on American claims to the Arctic.


  46. Thanks for that, Coco.

  47. I’m going to the All Candidates (minus Conservative) forum Wednesday in the Multipurpose Room at the UofR 2:00 local time. I’ve asked the Conservatives why Michelle Hunter is not attending, and identified myself as a local blogger. So far, no reply from them.

    I think the MSM needs to have a talk about the number of Conservative candidates that are being muzzled, or are oddly not showing up to debates and forums. What do they have to hide?

  48. I go to multiple Ottawa Centre debates and write them up. Pay me for it? :-)

    See http://www.nikart.ca or killeverything.blogspot.com

    I’ve written about this election and the past two. Usually the candidates start recognizing me and chatting with me.


  49. Here are my observations from the all candidates meeting in Parkdale High-Park.

    I went into the meeting planning to vote for Peggy Nash but prepared to change my vote to Gerrard Kennedy.

    What was up with the moderator? He was friendly and fair to all the candidates with a very notable exception–he was downright rude to Gerrard Kennedy. Perhaps he took offense to Gerrard making his opening statement in front of the table, but that is no reason to be disrespectful to him all evening. When the PC candidate went overtime, the moderator gently asked her to “wrap it up please” and gave her 15 seconds. The second Gerrard went over time, he barked “Sit down Gerrard!” or “Put down the mic Gerrard!” Also, there were a number of occasions where a question or answer contained an implied attack against the Liberals. Without exception, the moderator gave the mic to the PC candidate when Gerrard was clearly the one who needed to rebut. I’m all for giving all the candidates their fair turn at the mic, but this moderator displayed an unprofessional bias against Gerrard Kennedy.

    That being said, I have to say that I was appalled by Gerrard’s performance. Gerrard’s displayed outrage at the moderator’s rudeness towards him and it was not becoming of a candidate seeking election. He made faces, waved his arms and otherwise dramatically demonstrated his frustration that he wasn’t given the mic when he should have been. The moderator fed this frustration by treating him like a misbehaving child. While this made the moderator look bad, it made Gerrard look even worse. It was as though Gerrard was saying “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM???” “I WAS THE EDUCATION MINISTER FOR GOD’S SAKE!” He came across as a spoiled prince who did not need to earn his throne. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the moderator was an NDP plant who took a can-opener to Gerrard’s Achilles Heel.

    Peggy, on the other hand, was fully composed the whole evening and connected very well with the crowd. Where Gerrard came across as a stump grandstander, she was a voice of calm and sense. Where Gerrard came across as defensive, Peggy was rock solid.

    So I was not persuaded to change my vote, mostly due to the personal character on display.

    Lastly I have to mention the Christian Heritage candidate who stole the show. His self-deprecating wit had the crowd in stitches and was in stark contrast to Gerrard’s panic.

    The Green candidate impressed. The PC candidate was pathetic.


  50. For anyone interested, here is what went on tonight at the Halifax all candidates debate, held at Dalhousie University. It was 2.5 hours long, thus without my own blog, it’s kind of hard to describe in detail all 14 questions and sets of answers. On pretty much all national issues, the candidates followed the party line and used the standard talking points. I’ll try to give a general feeling of how the evening went.

    The Macinnes Room in the Dal SUB was a standing-room only crowd of I would have to say roughly 800ish people, I have no idea what max cap was for the room, but it was achieved. It was a diverse mix of spirited students, seniors, party members.

    The candidates (in order of opening statements):
    CPC – Ted Larsen
    MLPC – Tony Seed
    LPC – Catherine Meade
    GPC – Darryl Whetter
    NDP – Megan Leslie

    The debate was moderated by CBC’s Constance Halibrasos (sp?). Format – first 3 questions were about post-secondary education issues, the remainder of the evening open to the floor.

    Ted Larsen, given the nod by the CPC after the Rosamond Luke revelation, didn’t really seem all that motivated to be there. His supporters occupied about half of one row of seats. He repeated many party talking points, including the government’s 8% increase in funding to the arts, which provoked much laughter from the audience. He defended the CPC position on the arts however, by stating that a professor at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design asked to put one of his signs on her lawn, and that he was thanked by Symphony Nova Scotia for the 17% increase in funding it has received. His most “controversial” moment came toward the end of the debate when he said if the CPC candidate isn’t elected, “Halifax will be on the outside looking in for years to come.” Scoffing ensued. He was heckled most of the evening.

    Marxist-Leninist Party candidate Tony Seed urged the public to vote against a “War Government,” and decried Canada’s annexation by the US empire-builders. He was a student activist in the 1960s, who denounces his generations’ abdication of their duty to democracy. A few good points were made, including one zinger: “Canada and the US are so integrated, it’s hard to know what side of the border you’re on unless you’re on a no-fly list.”

    Liberal candidate Catherine Meade had a well-prepared opening statement. However, for the rest of the evening she seemed quite nervous, and had a difficult time making more than one point during her allotted time. She tried to criticize the CPC and NDP candidates from time to time, but did was slow to make her thrusts, and thus sounded weak even on the attack. After Megan Leslie (NDP) chided Meade’s party for propping up the Conservative government, Meade attacked by saying that the NDP “had the luxury of voting no all the time because they didn’t have enough seats to make a difference.” It didn’t make her many friends in the Leslie-friendly crowd. She followed this by not knowing whether it was the provincial or federal government that controlled the minimum wage.

    Darryl Whetter of the Green Party debated effectively, and probably won over a number of people in the room. His closest thing to a “knockout punch” was when he denounced the Harper government for censoring the arts with Bill C-10, which garnered a lot of applause. It was odd however, to see him clap for the CPC candidate on one or two answers, but stranger things have happened. The only criticism I might have is that he seemed to have a very agreeable relationship with both the LPC and NDP candidates seated to his right and left, respectively. The three often supported the answers of the other two, and failed to really distance themselves from one another.

    Megan Leslie definitely had a large number of supporters in the crowd, followed closely by Catherine Meade. In opening statements, she stressed her role as a community organizer, but I felt she could have spoke more about the community of Halifax in her responses. She often used Layton-style talking points, thankfully though, she stayed away from the phrase “kitchen table.” She did a good job of maintaining her large base of support, but it was hard to tell if she won over the undecided voters. Her one negative moment came when a questioner asked her if she had told Jack Layton hs initial position on having Elizabeth May in the national leaders debates was wrong. She responded by stating that no, she didn’t, and that her feeling was that Dion and May were in an alliance, and therefore May should not have been in the debate. This was a shocker for most, and the NDP supporters sitting in front of me could be heard saying “I was very disappointed with that response” and “That was a big mistake.”

    In the end, there was no clear winner. I would say the Green Party candidate excited the audience the most, but whether that gains him support beyond the university crowd is debatable. I think the staunch Alexa Mcdonough camp will continue to throw their support behind Megan Leslie, giving her the edge in this riding. That puts the onus on Catherine Meade to see if she can build support, convince people to see past Dion’s weak image and people’s hesitation about Green Shift, and vote Liberal.

  51. Paul, I’m really sorry that my post was nowhere near 300 words. I now have a new-found respect for blog-bloggers and live-bloggers….

  52. I attended the debate in Central Nova tonight. I expect there will be blurbs about it on the news tonight. CTV and CBC had their trucks there. And because there were national figures involved, there were media tripping over each other. Kady, I had a few words with your good buddy Steve Maher. The event took place in the MacKay Room at St. FXU in Antigonish. As an aside, there were roars of laughter when Peter MacKay pronounced the MacKay Room as MaKeh and Liz May pronounced it as MaKeye. Guess you hadda be there.

    Anyway, the MacKay room can accommodate 5-600 people. There were another 100 around the walls. As well, there were another 2-300 in a room next door with large screen monitors. There wasn’t even room for Big MacKay when hr showed up fashionably late.
    There were four participants:- Peter MacKay, incumbent Conservative and occasionally offensive Minister of Defense.
    Elizabeth May, national leader of the Green Party and well known in N.S. for a long and colourful history as an environmentalist.
    Louise Lorifice, NDP, a retired teacher and long time local NDP activist.
    Paul Kemp, Canadian Action Party. An earnest, quiet, and pleasant man from Halifax. He provided most of the jaw-droppers for the evening. But ever so nicely.

    The opening statements were the platform-heavy stuff we’ve all heard before. Mr. Kemp from CAP said they were for “the right of petition’ and for taking back ownership of the Bank of Canada so that it could lend out money at 0% interest for any number of worthwhile projects. I faintly recall listening to Paul Hellyer talk about all this years ago. It was funny back then too.

    The first hour consisted of responses to prepared questions on local and student issues. Mizz May was very good. Very quick, agile, and providing answers that were not the usual stuff.
    And she has a quick cutting wit that comes across as clever but not nasty.
    MacKay enjoyed listing off all the goodies he’s dropped in the riding. As though it were his money and no other MP anywhere does anything like that. He tried a few jabs at May but usually got back better than he gave.
    Lorifice was earnest and spoke well but gave the impression of a good amateur in the ring with pros.
    Kemp was very likable but truly weird. At one point explaining the workings of the solar system apropos of nothing. But I’d like to have him as a next door neighbour.

    The second hour involved questions from the floor. There was only one obvious plant, which is good. And that was a loaded question about the democratic quality of the May/Dion deal not to run candidates. She’s heard it a thousand times before (haven’t we all) and handled it well.
    The rest were good solid questions on tax policy, post secondary education, energy policy (poor Lorefice admitted publicly that she didn’t know what the Mexican Exemption was – not good ),Security and Prosperity Agreement
    (MacKay said it didn’t exist. May said, funny it was on the agenda for three meetings he had with his good friend Condi).
    Also a number of questions on local issues, which may have some influence in the vote.

    I was at the session with a friend from Florida and she was very impressed with quality of the questions and answers and would love to be able to vote in our election rather than her own. She’s a registered Democrat but thinks like a Rockefeller Republican.

    In my opinion, May was the clear winner of the debate. But it’s hard to imagine her winning the election in this riding. There’s another on Wednesday night in Pictou county, which is MacKay’s home and power base. I’m hoping to attend.

  53. I really hope that May wins. Does MacKay really have that much pull there?

  54. Someone should tally up all the Conservative no shows. Just the ones I know about locally:

    Thomas Steen running in Elmwood-Transcona refused to debate.
    Vic Toews was the pinch hitter for Trevor Kennerd in Winnipeg South Centre (perhaps even more embarassing than not showing up)
    Conservatives refused to participate in an all party debate on post-secondary education saying the U of W was a “no fly zone.”

  55. Tobyor…I’m in Regina and so far, the conservative candidate against Ralph Goodale has refused participation at an all-candidates debate on campus, and also Lukiwski refused to turn up at one sponsered by the gay and lesbian crowd (he’s the A-team guy in harper’s caucus). All candidates were in attendance in my riding (Palliser), and they are actually an impressive lot.

    They all deny being told not to attend by the PMO…

  56. Reporting in from the soon-to-be-Emerson-free riding of Vancouver-Kingsway.

    Conservative candidate status: NO SHOW (no surprise)

    Collingwood Neighbourhood House has a fine reputation of organizing a respectful and inclusive meeting. Perhaps a little too inclusive for some tastes, since other than the MIA Conservative six candidates showed up.

    Still, that’s democracy in action, although no doubt more than a few were wondering what differentiated the candidates from the Marxist-Leninist *and* Community parties of Canada who shared the stage. I did speak with the Communist and suggested that he should work out a deal with the MLPC gal to take over the leadership of their parties on a platform loosely labelled “I am not the merger candidate”, and then proceed to merge the two parties almost immediately afterwards. You know, like Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper. As a combined force the CPC (Communists) and the MLPC’s could be a super-pinko force to be reckoned within in this country. Kinda like that other CPC.

    Moving right along, the moderator set the mood off appropriately, noting that our riding has had something of a tumultuous few years, what with David “I wanna be Stephen Harper’s worst nightmare” Emerson deciding to negotiate a party switch with the Conservatives before the folks sweeping the polling places were done. For most riding residents that was the last time they saw Emerson.

    Judging by the catcalls issued Emerson’s way, and the cheers the crowd gave themselves in recognition, no one at the meeting seems concerned that we’ll likely not have a cabinet minister representing the riding any time soon. Then again we may have inadvertently elected a cabinet minister in Harper’s government but we certainly did not get representation. Not too many bridge and highway tycoons live in Vancouver-Kingsway.

    Objectively I’d have to say NDP candidate Don Davies received the most applause of the evening, on balance for most of his articulate comments but in particular in response to one question on floor crossing where he reminded the crowd that his was the only party that fought for floor-crossing legislation in the last parliament.

    Ironic flashback: Helena Guergis, in her first posting as a Parliamentary Secretary to newly minted in blue David Emerson, forever won title to the irony award for in the parliament prior she had signed on to a private members bill seeking to restrict… floor crossing.

    So lets see, Davies won the applause-o-meter; in the finally-running-a-candidate who lives in the riding, Don won that one too. We’ve not had such a beast since, well, decades. Despite being a long time resident, Mr. Davies now has to share it with fairly recent riding resident, Green Party candidate Doug Warkentin.

    Doug wins the “first time the Green Party has run someone comfortable in a suit” award for this riding, and he did a fine job. Sadly for him its not a very environmentally concious riding at all, but he’s in politics to shift opinion for the long haul we are told, so I don’t feel sorry for him. Applause is earnest. Mr. Davies still winning that one.

    Liberal candidate Wendy Yuan has her own bone to pick with David Emerson. I don’t recall seeing her pounding the pavement for months and months with over 1,000 other De-Elect David Emerson marchers and volunteers, but I accept that she wasn’t happy with the turn of events or how it may affect her at the doorstop today. The applause meter reads polite-but-perfunctory.

    I have to issue a special award to the Libertarian party candidate, Matt Kadioglu, for taking the least amount of time to respond to questions. Such dedication to the public good was warmly, and sincerely, appreciated by the crowd including your reporter. I did not however that for a Libertarian Matt seemed to be off message as there was in some cases a decidedly interventionist twang to come of his responses.

    I guess that just goes to show you that when people believe the end of the world as we know it has arrived, politicians of all stripes will tailor their messages.

    The sign war? Depending on where you are its virtually a three way race, although I detect Mr. Davies has an edge overall. While main streets sometimes lean red, blue, or orange, the lawns within the neighbourhoods of this incredibly diverse riding seem predominantly orange.

    The race? One upon a time I’d have said it was the Liberals to lose but in this election the race has probably significantly tightened between Ms. Yuan and Mr. Davies. While the MIA Conservative won’t be a real factor, he’ll probably steal some votes that might otherwise head Yuan’s way and that, in addition to lingering resentment over Emerson, will favour Davies. The Conservative candidate, one Saloman Rayek, doesn’t live in the riding yet is putting in yeomans work… not to win, but to demonstrate that he can be entrusted with a more suitable riding in elections to come.

    Next election I hope to see a far more powerful merged Communist and Marxist-Leninist Party at the dais, if they don’t revolt on either other first. Long live the revolution!

  57. I went to the Toronto Centre debate on Monday – http://rjjago.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/toronto-centre-all-candidates-meeting/ Really surprised to see how agro’ students are to Bob Rae. Also, I liked the rivalry between the Marxist-Leninists and the Communists. The word ‘bamboozled’ popped up. There was a great independent candidate who had strong views about profits and demanded that we maintain a military that can defend us from alien invasion.

  58. All Candidates Debate
    St. Pauls Riding, September 24th

    A Play in One Act


    Carolyn Bennett, Liberal, over 60?
    Justin Urdman, Green, under 30
    Heather Jewell, Conservative, 40ish
    Anita Agrawal, NDP, 30
    Heckler, female, unaccompanied
    2 Rabbis (one middle aged, one old)
    Moderator (from CBC Radio)
    Libertarian Candidate in a grey suit, Tall and thin
    Organizer in a Yarmulka, Tall and Fat
    One young woman meeting someone there
    2 Campaign organizers (Liberal, Conservative)


    Long Table set on a platform with 4 Microphones for the Candidates plus one other table beside for the Moderator. Chairs facing for the Seated audience. Coffee table to the side and an area for the Standing audience.

    The Heckler arrives. Helps herself to a coffee. The Candidates are standing and smiling and chatting nervously with each other and the Organizer and the Moderator. Heckler takes her seat. There is a Jewish family beside her on one side with three kids, and a single guy on the other. In the row behind she notices a young couple and 10 older jewish men.

    The Organizer addresses the audience using the Microphone. “No questions are allowed tonite so if you have a question we have paper here. Write it down and the Moderator will read it out”.

    A few audience members write out questions and hand them in. Heckler trips over the mounted camera beside the moderator’s table handing her question in.

    Organizer: “Don’t break anything!”

    Middle Aged Rabbi (standing), takes the microphone:
    “We in the Jewish community have a long history of doing well in Democracies.” Actor can Ad Lib here :: Respect this place, and so forth :: and now Rabbi _______ (his name escapes me) will sing the Israeli National Anthem.

    Older Rabbi takes the Microphone and leads the audience in the Hatikva. The audience murmurs along. Carolyn Bennett seems to know the words.

    Older Rabbi: “And now I think it is appropriate to sing OH Canada”

    Older Rabbi leads the audience in Oh Canada. Heckler hasn’t belted out a song in awhile but feels like doing it tonite. Her voice is loud, the Conservative smiles. Next Heckler begins finishing the phrases of the Rabbi. But seeing the unsettled look in the old man’s face she stops doing that.

    to be continued…

  59. I have posted my comments on tonights Cambridge all-candidates debate here.

  60. Just returned from the second version of the May vs. MacKay cage fight in Central Nova.
    This one took place in a large gym area at the Community College in Stellarton, which is in Pictou County, the heart of the MacKay family franchise.
    As an aside, Pictou Co. consists of five small towns – New Glasgow, Trenton, Stellarton, Westville, and Pictou town – all of which are virtually contiguous and essentially one town of approximately 50,000 population. And they could be one town if they didn’t hate each other so much.
    The urban area is a fading industrial zone – the first steel made in Canada was made in Trenton – but some of the larger industries are now residents of Mexico and elsewhere.
    The large rural area around the towns are a barely sustaining mix of small fishery and farm operations. A good portion of the skilled worker population now have a FortMac forwarding address.

    The principal combatants were again:-
    Peter MacKay (fondly known as L’il) Conservative incumbent.
    Elizabth May, Green Party national leader.
    Louise Lorefice, NDP.
    Paul Kemp, Canadian Action Party.
    There is also a candidate for the Christian Heritage Party but no one has ever seen him. Maybe Peter’s Invisible Candidate memo got misdirected.

    The room was full. All floor seats full. Two large side bleachers full. A few dozen standees.
    I would estimate 1000 people at the peak.

    I won’t go into a lot of detail about the actual debate. It was essentially the same in terms of subject and substance as the first session (my report on that is wandering around these blogs somewhere). All candidates presented and defended their points well.

    Mizz May was greeted and sustained with support bordering on rapture. Even by the Greeny toddlers wandering around the edges of the crowd. She is a great performer in this kind of setting. L’il Mackay’s feeble attempts at snark were turned on him at warp speed. I fear his tonsils are still vibrating.

    MacKay was on his home turf but had to deal with a surprising amount of boos and jeers.
    Especially when May happily pointed out his tendency toward the truth but only half the truth. She was pleased, on several occasions, to point out that the achievements he was most proud of were products of the Progressive Conservatives. Not the Harper Conservatives.

    Lorefice, although knowledgeable and ever so earnest was lost in the sizzle and snap around her.
    Kemp was, again, pleasant, quietly entertaining, and weird.

    There is one more debate to come. It is a daytime session at a high school. My experience with those is that they are inspiring but dull.
    Mainly because the kids expect the candidates to play “nice”. They are usually organized by the bright girls in the school. And all the rest of the girls go ga-ga over L’il Mackay.
    More than I can take. So I will pass.

    So, my take on the debates in Central Nova is that Mizz May was the clear winner. And that verdict seems unanimous among the people I talked to – none of whom will vote for her.

    MacKay has history and genetic voting patterns on his side.
    The NDP have a solid local base.
    The question is where approximately 10,000 orphaned Liberal votes will go.
    I don’t think Mizz May will get enough of them to place her more than a strong third. I hope otherwise. I’m not a Greeny but I think she should be in the House.

  61. More of a plug for more folks to post on this – I really like reading the reports.

    But, in a tangentally related story, our local NDP candidate in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cindy Jacobsen, purchased a 1/4 page ad in today’s Pennysaver. You know, where folks take out ads to sell their couches, exercise equipment, cars, etc.

    What’s pretty funny about it is that right next to her ad, there’s someone selling an almond-coloured fridge, a couch and loveseat (dark red), lamps (black with green and gold – what the hell does this house look like?), and…

    a Kitchen Table.

    I’m not sure this if this works for or against Layton’s message.

  62. I forgot: the table is described as “wood with an orange ceramic top”.