Where the elite meet to greet


UPDATE: Commenter Austin So found video of the shout chorus at the end of Dion’s speech.

Stéphane Dion spoke at the Economic Empire Gridiron Niblick Participle Club today, or whatever it’s called, at the Royal York. The crowd, assorted Toronto swells with a substantial concentration of card-carrying Liberals (Ottawa being inhospitable, many have fetched up on Bay Street) was about one-third the size of the crowd for Stephen Harper yesterday. I know this because I received three emails while Dion was talking, all from the Conservative war room, all on the theme that the crowd was about one-third the size of the crowd for Harper.

Those three were only a small fraction of the total number of emails I received from the Conservative war room while I was trying to listen to Dion’s speech. You know how sometimes you go three minutes without getting an email? The Conservatives are working hard to make sure we don’t feel that horrible lonely feeling.

But I digress. Dion’s speech comes at an odd moment, a day after Harper spoke to an audience approximately three times as big as this one — three times! — to release the Conservative platform and to tell an audience approximately three times as big as Dion’s audience that Noah was an excellent financial planner. Now Dion had to persuade an audience merely one-third the size of Harper’s that he, Dion, can manage an economy, or talk about managing one. Basically Dion had to look prime ministerial.

I won’t go into great detail, but I should note that the tiny, plucky crowd seemed quite taken with Dion’s speech. That the crowd rose twice to give enthusiastic standing ovations, one of them in response to the line: “I may not speak English as well as Stephen Harper, but I speak the language of truth better than him, in English or in French.”

There was a long off-script I-Love-Canada bit at the end that was quite simple and powerful, and just about everybody leaving the room was talking about that part of the speech. But what struck me even more was the populist and province-friendly notes Dion struck. We are through the looking glass when the Liberal leader is able to elbow Harper aside on “cares about people like you” and “can work with the provinces.” And yet here he was at least attempting to do just that.

Harper is “completely out of touch” with the impact of the recent unpleasantness “on the lives of everyday Canadians,” Dion said. “There is no time to waste, we need shovels in the ground.” Shovels in the ground? Shades of Chrétien ’93. The crowd, which I feel compelled to tell you was only about one-third the size of the crowd for Harper, ate it up.

Then there was this: “We Liberals understand that we need to work with the Premiers, not against them. Unlike Stephen Harper I will meet with first ministers… He has chosen not to hold a formal First Ministers meeting. Jim Flaherty, his Finance Minister, attacked this province…”

The emerging and interesting theme of this campaign is that Stephen Harper, who some bloggers were calling Everyman as recently as Saturday, and who had all the gleaming apparatus of modern electioneering — legions of brain-in-a-jar strategic geniuses, a fundraising armada, gleaming suburban election suites, purpose-built teevee studios, the Legendary Guy Giorno Himself! as chief of staff (fun question: could anyone find Guy Giorno with teams of bloodhounds this week?) — and who had no stronger claim to legitimacy than his preoccupation for the concerns of ordinary folks and his willingness to play nice with the provinces — has managed to let himself get pushed off those dimes by Snooty French-Educated Clarity-Bill Guy. Peter Van Loan was standing at the back of the room, looking a mite less cocky than when he was lecturing me on The Real Concerns of Ordinary Folk in Quebec City in August. Now I know I’m a Perrier-sipping rich-gala-attending MSM leftard, but here’s the thing, Peter: I grew up in Sarnia and I went to public school with all my neighbours, and the ordinary folk I grew up with don’t like jerks.

The Liberals I spoke to are keenly aware that this week’s change in mood is coming perilously late for them. They know the Conservatives have stronger organization in many parts of the country. They’re not entirely sure how Canadians will react when they realize Harper could actually lose. My own feeling is that a Conservative government after Oct. 14 is still likelier than a Liberal government.

But let it be noted that as this campaign entered its home stretch, the accidental leader peddling a tax increase is getting crowds to their feet in North Bay and Bay Street, while the crack team assembled by the guy who’s spent the last three years playing three-dimensional Vulcan chess was reduced to crowd counts.


Where the elite meet to greet

  1. Thank you, Paul! My election depression is beginning to lift somewhat.

  2. Your report was a bit vague and impressionistic. Could you relay some of the basic facts, such as the crowd size for Dion, as compared to Harper?

  3. It is easy to work with the provinces, just ask Martin, Mulroney, Clark, Trudeau, Pearson, Diefenbaker, etc, etc.

  4. A Conservative government led by Stephen Harper would have crowds three times the size of crowds for our opponents.

  5. If the Libs are resurgent, does this mean that vote-splitting on the left is no longer an issue?

    I don’t know the answers to this question and I would be curious to hear from pundits on the state of the left versus right demographics.

    Are the Libs and NDP still in a horse race or have the NDP dropped back…or are we into a series of regional race blocks (blocs?) where the third place party (whomever they may be, riding-by-riding) seriously spoils the chances of one of the two front-runners? Will we have NDP-Tory races with resurgent Liberal votes in one block (say, BC) and Liberal-Tory races with a strong spoiler NDP in another (Ont)? Has anyone figured this out or are the numbers now too fluid?

  6. Could it be that Dion is winning the “I love my country” portion of the pageant?

    Maybe Dion is getting closer to reawakening…drumrolls…our national pride? And maybe it is something we’re starting to realize that we’ve forgotten or lost our sense of (dangling I know…so sue me).

    Now *that* would be a game changer.


    P.S. That “witness” talk portion of his speech was fantastic, particularly his closing about coming home after the end of the day on the 14th, and being able to say to yourself “I voted for me, and then to your kids/grandkids “but I also voted for you”.

  7. That was three times funnier than I expected.

  8. Geiseric Wins!

  9. Wow… that last bit should definitely be highlighted on Liberal campaign ads.

    It is the best bit of speaking I’ve ever seen him come out with.

  10. “Geiseric Wins!”



  11. In other words, yesterday, the rest of us were three times less likely to have our brakelines cut.

  12. I was at the North Bay thing- and I was impressed. Which is always good. HAve they changed his meds or soemthing?
    He’s been almost inspiring.
    What the heck?

  13. Using the new Mind Reader upgrade to my Conbot 2.0 operating system, I was able to derive the voting intentions of the Macleans.ca team:

    Kady O’Malley: Liberal. Couldn’t be more in the tank for the liberals. So Liberal that she would support amendments to the Income Tax Act that would allow her mindlessly tick Liberal off on her tax return so as to avoid elections altogether.

    Paul Wells: Liberal. As with most of his columns, Paul never takes a firm stand for or against anything, which puts him on a parallel with liberal ideology. Known to have a man-crush on Stephane Dion (as evidenced by this column). Describes himself as closer to Obama on the issues, which means he might be the only person in Canada to split his own vote between Jack Layton and Stephane Dion.

    Andrew Coyne None of the above. Boldly predicted that Stephen Harper’s long-game strategy was to replace the Liberals by moving to the middle and away from ideology. Is outraged that his predictions have come true. Will spoil his ballot to protest the idiocy of the first-past-the-post system.

    Aaron Wherry: Liberal. Even more in the tank than Kady but more strategic about it: he hates Jack Layton because he knows Layton and the NDP are the only thing standing in the way of 100 year liberal rule.

    Chris Selley: Undecided. Was likely going to vote Liberal until Stephane Dion started using small European countries like Sweden and Scandanavia to defend his carbon tax. Nothing burns Selley more than non-valid comparisons to countries that are so different demographically, socially, economically and geographically.

  14. What, Brian? You couldn’t even be bothered to update that text from last week?

  15. questions for the lib-bots:

    1. If the premise is that we should raise taxes on things we don’t, why don’t we set the taxes on crime, car accidents and cancer at 100%?

    2. If a ban on guns is what we need to control gun related crime, why don’t we just ban on criminals?

  16. Err…thanks for the shout out, PW…but I…uhm…can’t really take credit for finding the CTV clip. Saw it on Impolitical’s blog.

    I know…I pulled a Harper…but it was my…kid’s fault. And he’s not gonna have dinner for that.

    Ain’t irony priceless? :)


  17. “Canada will never have a greener Prime Minister than me.”

    Who writes this stuff? :)

  18. Brian,

    Just to help you see things more clearly:

    1. Pull head
    2. From ass



  19. Ian: I will update it when it shows different results. Now, I await your answers to my questions.

  20. Yay liberals.
    Richard, Green/Dippers cut brake lines, liberals drive through pools of brake fluid.
    Conservatives show up, paint over the graffitti, fix the cars and drag their sore knuckles home to their knuckledragging families.

  21. Austin: its always amazing watching people like you and Paul get excited about a party that set up a racket, stole $40 million from us and laundered it back to themselves. The party that wouldn’t list Hamas or the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organization for decades because it might cost them some votes. A brokerage party that stands for nothing but power and uses unelected hacks to uphold the will of people.

  22. Brian, like many CPC supporters have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) – can’t change their talking points until instructed by President Harper.

    By the way – no Harper bobble-head dolls at his event?

  23. Brian:

    3. try harder



  24. Sandi: its hard to take you or your talking points accusations seriously when you ironically keep comparing “President” Harper to Bush, which is the heart and soul of the Liberal campaign.

    If anyone is using talking points, its you. Maybe its time you took off the harper-bush decoder ring and looked in a mirror.

  25. Austin: the “I know you are, but what am I?” playground routine, while a reflection of your limited intellect, is hardly a sound debating strategy.

    Maybe you should stick to the Harper-is-Bush script like Sandi.

  26. I don’t think the Gomery thing is any longer part of the political discussion in Canada.

  27. What I know is that if we have a PM Dion, the carbon tax is going to come as one helluva shock to alot of soon to be unemployed Canadians. In Nova Scotia, job losses will hit 50,000, all of them the best paying.

  28. I resent the highjacking of ADD to insult ConBots.
    At any rate, Brian, perhaps if you offered something other than vitriol and ignorance, you would end up in a substantiative debate.
    As it is, you simply seem foolish.

  29. If by “the Gomery thing”, you mean the racketeering, stealing and laundering of $40 million of our money by the Liberal party who, by any other standard operated like an organized crime syndicate or band of pirates, I disagree. I will consider it not to be part of the political discussion in Canada when they pay us back.

  30. Peter, did you read Coyne’s latest article about the Conservative plan >

  31. Sophie: I don’t mean to rain on your little clever clever land parade.

    Given your penchant for substantive policy debates without personal attacks, which was prefaced by calling me an ignorant and foolish conbot, would you care to explain what highjacking means?

    I’m assuming it has something to do with NDP candidates smoking pot and getting “high” with “Jack-ing” Layton. I’m sure you can appreciate that my conbot server was unable to find the meaning of this curious word.

  32. Thank you for posting this. I admit to being a small-l liberal, so maybe I’m biased, but I was so happy to see that Dion in the video. He’s still defending and promoting his Green Shift.

    And, quite frankly, I like the idea of having a prime minister who seems to sincerely love his country, instead of regarding it as a second-tier socialist backwater.

  33. “Who writes this stuff?”


    Joe Raposo?

  34. Gilmore: “prime minister who seems to sincerely love his country”

    Gilmore, What kind of love is a carbon tax? Canada is the ciuntry which is least able to alter it’s energy consumption or sources of any of the G8. All sucessful Canadian industries are massively energy intensive, thereby reducing their competitiveness on a global scale. Most high paid manufacturing in Canada will be devastated by a carbon tax.

  35. Peter’s right, which is why it’s really urgent to clean out the economics departments of our universities. I think I can find a list of 230 economists who don’t even understand the massive threat a carbon tax poses.

  36. Paul: I don’t get it. Is a carbon tax good policy or bad policy? Stephane Dion has told us both, all within the last 18 months.

  37. I know it’s bizarre and difficult to understand. I, of course, have absolutely no idea what I am talking about and can only suggest Websters. Forgive me, but reading page after page of the same points and generic insults from yourself and others (yes, including Libs and New Democrats- shocking)
    gets frustrating, and if I offended you I apologize.
    Now, about that policy debate….

  38. A carbon tax is less effective than a carbon market at reducing emissions … This is simply bad policy, for the following reasons:

    1) A carbon tax is almost always implemented as a direct tax on fossil fuels. Given the current price of these fuels, however, it is difficult to argue that a further price signal will dampen consumption or shift demand.

    2. A carbon tax is a flat tax – it costs each polluter a fixed amount per tonne of emissions. Such a tax will not inflate with a bull market or recede in times of difficulty. In the energy market, in particular, soaring prices make anything but a prohibitively high tax a mere nuisance for large producers.

    3) Finally, and most significantly, valuing reductions in emissions equally across all sectors and industries eliminates the potential benefits to be had by maximizing reductions where the cost is lowest. In a carbon market, those areas that produce the least expensive real reductions will experience the highest level of interest and investment, maximizing the level of reductions per dollar spent.

  39. “Peter was…looking a mite less cocky than when he was lecturing me…Peter: I grew up in Sarnia and I went to public school with all my neighbours, and the ordinary folk I grew up with don’t like jerks.”

    Which is probably the all the insight we need into Paul’s analysis during this election – the Conservatives hurt his feelings and now he’s eager for pay-back.

  40. Like most economists, we also have sociologists that agree disagree on the carbon tax. In this case though, the sociologist disagrees with himself.

  41. Paul – based on the CBC interview, the economists who support a carbon tax noted that it is the best measure for altering the behaviour of small consumers (i.e. drivers). This is precisely the group that Dion has tried to exempt. That weakens the claim that they support his carbon tax. He has also tried to exempt farmers. He does not exempt oil sands producers – who are unable to substitute away from natural gas and unable to pass price increases along to their customers. Which can be credibly described as a tax grab from Alberta that is likely to harm the Canadian economy. He will then use some of the revenue to meddle in provincial jurisdictions – in direct contradiction to his own principles of federalism. So, Dion’s Green Shift – not so much supported by economists, not so much supported by Dion.

  42. Wow, my day would truly not be complete without that. Hint: I humbly suggest that, if you pretend to be someone, you spell their name erihgt. Stéphane Dion

  43. Brian,

    You must be new to reading PW. You obviously missed his ‘were jokingly calling it a man-crush on Harper but wait a minute this is getting weird’ period.

  44. I spent the first part of my evening listening to Allan Rock, who may have warmed up my proud Canadian heart, but I admit to tearing up at the end of Dion’s speech. In fact, I think I finally understand the appeal Obama has to so many Americans. I’m not comparing Obama to Dion, but I am comparing my reaction to my countryman with the reaction of many Americans to their countryman.

    Incredible speech! Thanks Austin for going onto Impoliticals blog and finding the video.

  45. ‘prime minister who seems to sincerely love his country’

    Yup, this election is over. Only the Liberal Party of Canada has the right to love this country.

    Time to move.

  46. ‘Paul: I don’t get it. Is a carbon tax good policy or bad policy? Stephane Dion has told us both, all within the last 18 months.’


    you can’t be serious? You really think the reporting in Canada is gonna look into this?

    Today I heard a banker say on Duffy’s show that the banks in Canada and the overal fundamentals within Canada are structurally sound, in relative terms to many other countries. Next speaks McCullum for the Liberals saying that bankers are notto be believed….(well, he was one so he should know).
    The headlines tomorrow morning: our country is not stable, says ex-banker, now Liberal runner McCullum. The press runs faster on this than any Liberal could ever have hoped for. Don’t take my word for it. Watch how this game is played.

    But I’m guessing you’ve already understood that much.

  47. Sounds like T’it Jean released the copyright on his “I loooooove Ca-na-da” gig. But then maybe Dion really means it.

  48. And really, Francien, when you use banker and Duffy in the same sentence, well, I get hives.

  49. Brian’s comments become quite witty if you just imagine that his last name is Mulroney.

  50. Incredible how little you have to offer, Jack, when the more subtle,yet overly important aspects of this campaing need to be looked at.

    You seem unable to see the irony:

    A banker’s comment is dismissed by an ex-banker and then this ex-banker’s word will be headlines blanketing this nation. So, are bankers to be believed or not? You don’t see the irony of what’s really being played out.

  51. Wells, are you deliberately obtuse, or just generally thick? “Peter’s right, which is why it’s really urgent to clean out the economics departments of our universities. I think I can find a list of 230 economists who don’t even understand the massive threat a carbon tax poses.”

    I know, I know that isn’t fair. But I am not speaking in the same terms as an ivory tower economist, because they say a carbon tax is good policy in terms of an overriding need to reduce GHG emissions, not about whether or not to stay rich. Do you get that? I am concerned about economic devastation of our industrial base in the next two years, they are concerned about us all dying from a theory in a hundred years. Don’t get me wrong it may well happen, but it is not the same thing. Ask the same 230 economists if it means the end of the pulp and paper industry in Canada, and they will tell you yes, but that is desirable in the fight against climate change. Frame the question this way: Is a carbon tax going to reduce the standard of living of this northern, vast, resource dependent, bitterly cold country over the next 2-10 years? Different answer.

  52. Jack-
    Now why didn’t I think of that?

    probably because I am an elitist communist humourless bleeding heart. (Is it possible to be elitis whilst making minimum wage?)

  53. “Incredible how little you have to offer, Jack, when the more subtle,yet overly important aspects of this campaing need to be looked at. ”

    What can I say? That I have great insight into the financial turmoil? I try to steer clear of issues I know nothing about, like climate change, the economy, etc. Sadly I’m no trend-setter on that score.

    I am however wise enough to see that neither the PM, nor Dion, nor Layton has the first clue what this is all about. And I don’t trust bankers about the future of their own banks, or ex-bankers about the future of their own political parties. I’m naive that way.

    But accusations of media distortion are another matter. With a few exceptions like FOX News and, oh, Keith Olbermann, the media are not biased, they’re just trying to be numero uno about the story of the day, which the Zeitgeist or the Invisible Hand or Santa Claus or whoever delivers to us all. To think anything else is bizarre and paranoid. The salutary response to paranoia is ridicule, which is all my empty cupboard can contribute on issues like this.

    Perhaps you didn’t try my “Brian” experiment, though? It really does work, it’s really quite funny.

  54. Sophie-Marie: “(Is it possible to be elitist whilst making minimum wage?)”

    According to various conbots around here, the less you make the more elitist you are. Tory populism starts at $25/hour!

  55. It all makes so much more sense, now…

  56. Brian:

    1. If the premise is that we should raise taxes on things we don’t, why don’t we set the taxes on crime, car accidents and cancer at 100%?

    I’m pretty sure that we have put a tax on crime. I believe it is referred to as “jail”.

    If, as in the case of a carbon tax, you are using tax as a deterrent, I think you can probably see why they are not required for car accidents or cancer.

  57. Good points Brent. But you missed Brian’s other question: why isn’t there a law against criminals? Any ideas?

  58. Peter,

    about the economists (and each are entitled to an opinion): the economist might have a point, by saying that shifting taxes is a good shift, but they leave the most important part of a four point strategy off the table. That forth part strategy is the presence of international market forces and the introduction of tariffs.

    Buy exculsively Canadian-made goods and the scheme might work. But you cannot introduce part of a plan and then expect it to work properly. Yet, that forth part of the plan is not spoken about by Dion, or any other Liberal partisan for that matter.

    When Bali was attended, the Conservatives were chastised for bringing the wider world picture into view. The Liberals know they must also include the worldly part but simply ignore it, although it is written about within the Green Shift pamphlet. I quess it would be highly ‘unethical’ to go back all the way to Bali to restate a position, so the Liberals will do it through deception and backdoor trading schemes. So much for ‘hidden agendas’.

  59. Jack,

    “What can I say? That I have great insight into the financial turmoil?”

    I believe that you actually cannot see the irony I tried pointing out to you. Understanding the irony has absolutely nothing to do with understanding economics or climate change. I believe you are not able to catch the turn-around which happened, namely that a banker’s word is discredited by an ex-banker who’s word will then be taken as truth. You don’t see what’s happening there? Are we now to believe McCullum (the ex-banker), who just pointed out that bankers CANNOT be trusted? How far do you think McCullum can go with pulling this wool over our eyes?

    Think about it for a while and the rest of this bygone election parade might come into focus. 20/20, now there’s a great view.

  60. Francien, as a chronic irony user (“irony-head” if you want to get all “hep”), I may have overlooked your irony, but only because by now it takes a very potent irony to get me “high.” These days I’ve got a line on some “finger sarcasm” (basically highly concentrated irony) which is basically the best, I can get you some if you want to try it.

    “You don’t see what’s happening there? Are we now to believe McCullum (the ex-banker), who just pointed out that bankers CANNOT be trusted? How far do you think McCullum can go with pulling this wool over our eyes?”

    In logic I think they call this the “Cretan banker” paradox, after the Cretan banker who claimed that all Cretan bankers are liars.

    So you’re saying that McCullum can’t be trusted. But isn’t that exactly what he was saying? I think you should be in total agreement with him.

  61. I figured we would leave that one as self-evident Style.

    Paul, hope you got a chance to try ‘The Snack’ while you were in Iqaluit. I saw Stephane Saturday night here and was impressed.

  62. Someone’s crying, Lord, Kumbaya.

    Let me be clear, I think Stephen Harper and his sycophants who’ve been cruising for a bruising for some while are about to get a righteous smackdown.

    And if the Lord doesn’t see fit to save HarperCo, they should pick up their balls and run on home. Run to a Harper/Bush commune/bunker type deal, and snipe-hunt from there.

    And whatever they do, don’t leave their women and children behind!

  63. Liz,

    believe me, there are days I wish I could think like you.

  64. I just watched that Dion video that Austin found, in the UPDATE at top – Wow, it rocks! I’ve never seen Dion doing that before, owning the moment like that. “Good for your WALLET and good for the PLANET!” A great campaign speech and he looked most primeministerial. If you’re not a violent Tory, check it out!

  65. Francien,

    There was some great reporting on the parties carbon plans in the Ottawa Citizen. It was the kind of reporting that we should be seeing a lot more of.


    On Wednesday in Victoria, where Harper made some similarly minor health announcements, tempers flared repeatedly as Conservative campaign staff loudly snapped at journalists over their reporting. Tory partisans also jeered media questions during a news conference with the prime minister.

    Guy Giorno, the prime minister’s chief of staff, accused a reporter of accosting him merely for placing a hand on his shoulder to keep Giorno from rocking in and out of a camera sightline.

  67. Francien: I didn’t mean to imply that only Liberals love Canada or that all true Canadians are Liberals. I find those sorts of lines offensive and I apologize if it sounded that way.

    All I meant to say is that M. Dion has proven time and again that Canada means something to him (and has received abuse for his patriotism) and I’m still not sure how M. Harper feels about his country. Of course, I stand to be corrected.

  68. Gilmore,

    Said in true Canadian passive aggressive tradition.

    Why would you want to be Prime Minister of a country that you dont care about? Forget the conspiracy theory answers. Honestly, to insinuate that ANY of the leaders, with the exception of Duceppe, arent patriotic is ridiculous.

  69. i was in an ice storm

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