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Let the games begin

Paul Wells on how a snoozer budget became the pretext for an election frenzy


 
Let the games begin

Chris Wattie/Reuters

“Canada needs a principled, stable government,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the House of Commons. “Now is not the time for instability.”

Instability would “drive investment away.” It would “jeopardize the gains we have made.” The choice facing Parliament was “between stability and uncertainty.” Between “principle and opportunism.”

Jack Layton took one look at it all and chose opportunistic instability to jeopardize gains and drive investment away. That’s not quite how he phrased it. The first surprise of Campaign 2011 was that the guy making the bold move wasn’t Stephen Harper. In fact, as budget day turned into the apparent kickoff of an election campaign, the Prime Minister was the one in the corner trying to make himself small.

Harper, of course, is notorious for his bold moves. He leads a party he sewed together from the corpses of the damned. His promises—elected Senate, fixed elections, a Quebec unadorned by designations of special status—lie in tatters at his feet. But unlike some partisans of the grand gesture, Harper has often opted for another kind of gambit: the gesture so small it amounts to a critique of everyone else’s grand gestures.

“No poison pills,” one of the PM’s spinners told reporters locked into the Ottawa Conference Centre to study copies of the budget before Flaherty’s speech. The Conservatives were certain they had left the opposition nothing they could call a provocation worth defeating the government over. The government would “appoint a financial literacy leader,” “prevent the spread of plum pox” and avoid strikes with “a variety of services and workshops.” It would provide all of $75 a year in tax breaks for parents whose kids do art. If there was a poison pill in this budget, it was a horse tranquilizer.

This was how Harper fought the 2008 election, smiling and waving while Stéphane Dion knocked himself out. Harper has long seen big ideas as targets. He was adamant in 2006 and 2008 that he would not breathe a word about his plans before the writ drop, for fear the Liberals would steal his ideas. He made Stéphane Dion’s carbon-tax plan into the Liberals’ biggest burden in 2006. He has worked all year to do the same with Michael Ignatieff’s plan to delay corporate income-tax cuts.

Harper was counting on this insipid budget to keep him in power. He was sure Layton, with the smallest caucus in the Commons and an uncertain bill of health, had no heart for a campaign.

All of which left Layton—not Ignatieff or the Bloc’s Gilles Duceppe—in a position to decide the government’s defeat and to set the articles of indictment against Harper.

In January, Layton set four conditions for his support: a tax cut on home heating fuel; hundreds of new doctors; an increase in seniors’ pensions; and restoration of a residential environmental retrofit program. The budget delivered the fourth, part of the third, and nothing at all on the first two demands. “Mr. Harper just doesn’t get it,” Layton told startled reporters. And the race was on.

Ever since he became NDP leader in 2003, Layton has sought to put himself at the centre of the nation’s politics. The results were mixed at best. Each election brought a smaller increase in the NDP’s share of the popular vote. Layton’s attempts to claim, in 2008, that he was applying for Harper’s job as PM were met with derision. The undreamed-of chance to form a coalition government with the Liberals collapsed under Dion’s shaky leadership and Harper’s withering attack.

Now, at last and for at least the space of a wild afternoon on Parliament Hill, Canada was paying attention. “Stephen Harper had an opportunity to address the needs of the hard-working middle-class families,” Layton told a clot of reporters in the foyer of the Commons. “Sadly he chose to provoke an election instead.”

Oh no, he didn’t. He tried his damnedest to avoid one. But as Conservatives realized they would be fighting for their own seats instead of selling voters a snoozy financial plan, they reminded themselves they begin the campaign in a comfortable lead. For a month, most public polls have shown the Conservatives more than 10 points ahead of the Liberals, roughly the distance that separated Harper’s party from Dion in 2008, the year of a historic Liberal rout. The trend in most recent elections has been for the Conservatives to gain support during a campaign, whether in opposition or in government. And an Ipsos Reid poll last week suggested 28 per cent of respondents trusted the Conservatives to provide “open, honest and trustworthy government” compared to 22 per cent for the NDP and only 15 per cent for the Liberals.

Still, it’s not all blue skies for Harper’s party. A Commons committee found the government in contempt of Parliament for failing to produce requested documents. Former Harper staffer Bruce Carson was caught up in charges of influence-peddling in relation to a scheme to sell water purification to First Nations communities and cut his lady friend, a former escort, in on the profits.

Even on some of the more ordinary business of government, Harper finds himself in an unaccustomed position—the wrong side of public opinion. A Nanos poll found substantial opposition to his plan to buy top-of-the-line jet fighters, even among respondents who otherwise support the Conservatives.

If Harper has a big idea that will fundamentally change the equation of this election, he kept it well hidden on budget day. Instead he has given every indication that he wants to rerun his most successful campaign of 2008. No, not that year’s election campaign. Harper’s real triumph came several weeks later, when the opposition parties teamed up to form a rival coalition government. The experience marked Harper deeply, and he has not forgotten how that sharply polarized confrontation left him with far higher voter support than he was able to command in an ordinary election campaign.

Repeatedly since the coalition crisis, he has said voters will face a choice between a stable Conservative majority and a Liberal-NDP-Bloc Québécois cabal. Strenuous denials from the supposed coalition plotters have not deterred him. This is certain to be a major theme of his 2011 campaign.

Somewhere in the middle of all this will be Michael Ignatieff. He entered politics bearing the promise of rarefied intellect and globe-trotting cachet. Instead his opponents have depicted him as a grasping parvenu. His policy ideas, which change often, have become less flashy with each rethink, more focused on the preoccupations of middle-class working families, the same cohort the NDP claims as its birthright and among whom Harper’s Conservatives have made their strongest gains in every election he has fought.

Probably it won’t take Ignatieff long to reclaim some of the spotlight that shone on Layton on the first night. But as a snoozer budget became the pretext for an epic election battle, the Liberal leader seemed marginalized. The futures markets of political Ottawa had long since discounted his opposition to the Flaherty budget. As Ignatieff himself had repeatedly protested, it wasn’t up to him whether the government lived or died.

Ignatieff is the only major party leader fighting his first campaign. First campaigns are brutal. Ask Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, who rode a lost bus and wore a goofy hairnet during his 1997 debut. The Liberals hope a year’s rehearsals on the road will improve Ignatieff’s performance, and that his policies—bolder than Harper’s, more modest than Layton’s—will hit the voters’ sweet spot.

Gaffes and accusations will compete for headline space and the attention spans of voters. A chart in Flaherty’s forgotten budget suggests the stakes are much higher.

The chart shows major transfers to individuals—Employment Insurance and benefits to children and the elderly—holding steady as a fraction of GDP for the next four years. Cash transfers to the provinces will hold steady too. But direct program expenses—services and programs Ottawa delivers itself, in its own areas of jurisdiction—are slated to decline from seven per cent of GDP in 2011-2012 to 5.9 per cent in 2015-2016.

That’s a plan for marked and steady decentralization, for an Ottawa that accounts for a steadily smaller share of all government activity in Canada. The budget projections continue a decentralizing trend that has been a hallmark of Harper’s years in government. Much of this campaign’s drama will be a proxy for a simple question: should that trend continue or reverse? The Prime Minister has preferred to avoid the question, or frame it to his advantage. For the first time in awhile, he is learning he can’t win ’em all.


 

Let the games begin

  1. Here's to hoping that when the dusts settles, there is a working government in place. AS opposed to the levels of bicker, delay and refute that has gone on as of late.

  2. Here's to hoping that when the dusts settles, there is a working government in place. AS opposed to the levels of bicker, delay and refute that has gone on as of late.

    • When pigs fly.

  3. I quite enjoy Well's ongoing analysis of Harper as a super-formidable-political-operator (there must be a single german word that captures all that). I haven't quite squared that view with the Harper who periodically is unable to stop himself from committing apparently irrational and counterproductive bad behaviour. The Jekyll-Hyde aspects to this guy makes him the most interesting personality to be PM since Trudeau… there is a lot going on under that plated hair.

  4. I quite enjoy Well's ongoing analysis of Harper as a super-formidable-political-operator (there must be a single german word that captures all that). I haven't quite squared that view with the Harper who periodically is unable to stop himself from committing apparently irrational and counterproductive bad behaviour. The Jekyll-Hyde aspects to this guy makes him the most interesting personality to be PM since Trudeau… there is a lot going on under that plated hair.

    • Super-gewaltige politische Betreiber

      • wirklichguterpolitikermann

        • gesundheit!

    • There is a lot of conflict going on in the Harper head and I think he`s at his best and worst when he lets that ( plated ) hair down and leads with his passion instead of the usual reason. And you`re right about the Trudeau mention, though Harper and the Trudeau nostalgics would never admit it, there is a similarity between them in their attempt to always have the reason part in control but sometimes the passion part takes over and soon there are finger salutes, chairs flying, and nasty language. I don`t see anything wrong with having a proper mix of both parts.

    • super-formidable-political-operator? Forget German, it sounds like the name of a Japanese cartoon. Maybe there's a word in their language for it?

    • Sure, it's interesting but hardly uncommon. Remember that astronaut lady that went crazy and drove across three state lines in an adult diaper so she could murder her sexual rival? Astronauts are supermen. They have multiple science degrees, are at genius levels of intelligence, are remarkably fit. But they're capable of going lovesick crazy too.

      Still, if I had to put my finger on it, it's this: Harper fails sometimes because he gets overwhelmed. His style means he simply has too few competent persons to delegate his decisions to. He is his own Minister of Everything, and even a genius like Harper can't understand and decide it all. This is what will be interesting about this election. His most competent minister (Prentice) has left him, and Finley's in some bigtime trouble so he can't help either.

  5. I'm really going to try really hard this time to care. I'm really going to try really hard to pay attention during this election. I'm really going to try to set aside my abject hatred of all of them. I'm really…ugh I just can't do it. I really just don't care. The only thing worse that listening to these oafs, is listening to or reading the so-called analysis. No wait, listening to partisans bicker is even worse. No wait, nails on blackboard while chewing tin foil and being sodomized by an elephant lying face down in a steaming pile of bat guano. Wake me when it is over. It just doesn't matter.

  6. I'm really going to try really hard this time to care. I'm really going to try really hard to pay attention during this election. I'm really going to try to set aside my abject hatred of all of them. I'm really…ugh I just can't do it. I really just don't care. The only thing worse that listening to these oafs, is listening to or reading the so-called analysis. No wait, listening to partisans bicker is even worse. No wait, nails on blackboard while chewing tin foil and being sodomized by an elephant lying face down in a steaming pile of bat guano. Wake me when it is over. It just doesn't matter.

    • So you woke up at 6 am, to read a magazine known for its political content, click on a political pundit's column because you hate reading about political analysis. (I guess no horny elephants were available.)

        • I'm told that many people have an amazing ability to ignore the elephant in the room. But I'm betting that it is impossible to ignore an elephant in the shower. :-)

          • especially a horny one

          • You only make that mistake once.

    • I agree 100%. I can't foresee when I'll ever see a point in voting again. It certainly won't be this time around.

      • Then you have nor right to complain, how irresponsible, it is your civil duty to vote!

        • i'll complain all i want, lady. i do not need you to tell me what my rights are. as if they have been doled out by the 'government'. my civic duty is to think for myself not to make some 'choice' between the stale breakfast cereals on offer.

        • Voting is not a duty it is a right. Rights only exist in so far as they can be exercised or not. I have just as much right to not vote as you do to vote.

          And frankly, voting is the least useful of our democratic rights. The rights to free expression and assembly are much more important. Voting is the punctuation of the democratic clause – technically necessary, but not needed to get one’s point across.

          I have voted in every election for which I have been eligible, however, if we were ever to make voting mandatory, as occassionally gets proposed, I would go to jail before the government forced me to vote.

          • Again, a rare opportunity to agree with someone on the other side of the political fence. A banner week!

          • It is one's duty to exercise one's rights if for no other reason than to keep from losing them.

            Mandatory voting may well be worth considering. People might pay more attention if they knew they HAD to vote. The "punishment" could be losing all tax exemptions for the election year or – for those who don't qualify for any to begin with – a nominal fine.

      • i used to think it was the lack of character in the people, but i am now believing it is the structure itself that cause these people to turn into the scum they are.

    • Well BFL, you better go hide in the closet for the next 6 weeks or brace yourself for that elephant because this is going to be a real $hitkicker. This will be the Last Hurrah for 3 and maybe all 4 of the party leaders and they will be determined to give it all.
      A little advice—don`t listen to the ads—they`re not meant for thinking people.
      Just listen to the first speech from each leader–the rest will all be the same.
      Try to catch a little interpersonal communications between the leaders and their constitutents, handlers, families—you will get a better read on what makes them tick.

      • oooo, really. these stiffs may leave? oh well, then that makes it interesting. as for the ads – i really do not understand why they need to be so bad. i mean bad as in quality. they're as pathetic as those cash for gold type TV ads. interpersonal communications? i really have no desire to want to know what makes them tick. and that is the problem it is all about THEM!

  7. This cry for an election by the opposition is a total sham. 3 to 4 hundred million is about to be spent for little change. The charge that the Conservatives is in contempt of parliament ?…..another sham devised by a kangaroo court of opposition members. There is no rules of evidence in this sham court, no right to face your accusers in front of a jury of your peers, only a court of political games by the less than honorable opposition members of a toxic, dysfunctional parliament. It probably will not matter if Harper gains a couple of extra seats after the election, as the opposition will surely attempt another coup, with the Bloc Party demanding ever more money from Canadians to hold this unholy alliance together. Jack and Gill only care about political power, not the good of the Nation. If the Conservatives ever get a majority they need to pass legislation that only political parties that are represented in a minimum of 80% of the all ridings be allowed legitimate party status, otherwise instability will become the norm.

  8. This cry for an election by the opposition is a total sham. 3 to 4 hundred million is about to be spent for little change. The charge that the Conservatives is in contempt of parliament ?…..another sham devised by a kangaroo court of opposition members. There is no rules of evidence in this sham court, no right to face your accusers in front of a jury of your peers, only a court of political games by the less than honorable opposition members of a toxic, dysfunctional parliament. It probably will not matter if Harper gains a couple of extra seats after the election, as the opposition will surely attempt another coup, with the Bloc Party demanding ever more money from Canadians to hold this unholy alliance together. Jack and Gill only care about political power, not the good of the Nation. If the Conservatives ever get a majority they need to pass legislation that only political parties that are represented in a minimum of 80% of the all ridings be allowed legitimate party status, otherwise instability will become the norm.

    • 3 to 4 hundred million is about to be spent for little change.

      Little change? This election will result in either a Harper majority or a coalition forming the next government. I'd hardly call that little change.

      • As well it is likely that the election results will catalyze leadership changes.

      • Good point, Robert and I hope the voters know if they will be voting for either an individual Party or a Coalition during the Election campaign.

  9. So you woke up at 6 am, to read a magazine known for its political content, click on a political pundit's column because you hate reading about political analysis. (I guess no horny elephants were available.)

  10. 3 to 4 hundred million is about to be spent for little change.

    Little change? This election will result in either a Harper majority or a coalition forming the next government. I'd hardly call that little change.

  11. You rely far too much on unrealiable Ipsos polls to form your opinions, Mr. Wells, despite the fact that Ipsos is the pollster that actually put the phrase "unholy deal with the Bloc" in their questions.

  12. You rely far too much on unrealiable Ipsos polls to form your opinions, Mr. Wells, despite the fact that Ipsos is the pollster that actually put the phrase "unholy deal with the Bloc" in their questions.

    • really? the actually put that in? incredible.

      • Well, back in 2008.

  13. I don't accept that Harper didn't want this election. If he really wanted to avoid it, or just wanted to put Layton in a bad spot, he could have given more to the NDP. Instead he tried to make it look like he was giving them something while offering so little that it was really insulting. If Harper thought he was going to avoid an election that way, he's a fool. If he's half the strategist he's painted as, then he purposely caused the election.

  14. I don't accept that Harper didn't want this election. If he really wanted to avoid it, or just wanted to put Layton in a bad spot, he could have given more to the NDP. Instead he tried to make it look like he was giving them something while offering so little that it was really insulting. If Harper thought he was going to avoid an election that way, he's a fool. If he's half the strategist he's painted as, then he purposely caused the election.

    • Agree wholeheartedly.

    • Is it just possible that he, like me, thought that it was too rich? If you have lived as long as I have you will recognize that the Libs (and the NDP in the provinces) are "tax and spend" or "bribe them with their own money". He took their ideas but at a level he thought affordable.

      Problem is, the left (and I include much of the Liberal party) know how to tax and spend. The NDP have little idea how wealth is created. The Liberals are a bit smarter but not much. After all, it was the Opposition that in the 2008 recession wanted Harper to spend, spend, spend . Only when the international financial community agreed that a Keynsian approach was required did he reluctantly agree. Why? because he knew that stimulus spending, while it sometimes works, leaves a hangover that has to be medicated by serious restraint for a few years to recover.

  15. I agree 100%. I can't foresee when I'll ever see a point in voting again. It certainly won't be this time around.

  16. "I don't accept that Harper didn't want this election. If he really wanted to avoid it, or just wanted to put Layton in a bad spot, he could have given more to the NDP"

    Who's money is he giving to NDP demands……….yours and mine…..so please think with the proper body part before commenting.

  17. "I don't accept that Harper didn't want this election. If he really wanted to avoid it, or just wanted to put Layton in a bad spot, he could have given more to the NDP"

    Who's money is he giving to NDP demands……….yours and mine…..so please think with the proper body part before commenting.

    • With a little planning, he could easily have trimmed from other areas and provided these items with no further increase in the deficit than what he was already planning for. That's what the whole concept of "budgeting" is about.

      • Nonsense. "Easily trimmed? A huge portion of that budert is immovable – transfers, health care, etc etc. No9t a hell of a lot of slack to buy votes in Parliament, i.e to pay blackmail.

  18. Liberal shellacking?

    Says…..Warren Kinsella?

    Gulp.

    He asks why the Libs would go, in such a position of weakness. To an outsider the reason is obvious.

    The liberal media/academic/political complex is currently a self soothing cocoon. An echo chamber.

    This week we saw Iggy cast himself in the poor immigrant light, when all the world knows his family is from royalty, his father brought millions with him (in today's dollars), Iggy went to the best private schools around. Indeed when his pedigree was convenient for his purposes (Ivy League, or in his book) he cuckolded proudly about it.

    Rather than skewering him (read hold him accountable) for attempting to recreate history….HIS HISTORY to create a convenient political narrative for himself, the media carried his water, and blasted the CPC for daring to question Iggy's clearly dishonest facts.

  19. Liberal shellacking?

    Says…..Warren Kinsella?

    Gulp.

    He asks why the Libs would go, in such a position of weakness. To an outsider the reason is obvious.

    The liberal media/academic/political complex is currently a self soothing cocoon. An echo chamber.

    This week we saw Iggy cast himself in the poor immigrant light, when all the world knows his family is from royalty, his father brought millions with him (in today's dollars), Iggy went to the best private schools around. Indeed when his pedigree was convenient for his purposes (Ivy League, or in his book) he cuckolded proudly about it.

    Rather than skewering him (read hold him accountable) for attempting to recreate history….HIS HISTORY to create a convenient political narrative for himself, the media carried his water, and blasted the CPC for daring to question Iggy's clearly dishonest facts.

    • "he cuckolded proudly about it. "

      Maybe you meant to say clucked? A cuckold is a man whose wife is unfaithful.

      • Freudian slip, no doubt.

    • Right on, Chet.

  20. Mr. Ignatieff's obvious goal is to at least get the same results as last time around and then form a coalition with the other losers. (Also..as far as there being "two doors..a red door and a blue door"…there is also a third door….an EXIT door he will be shown after Harper DOES win a slim majority.)

  21. Mr. Ignatieff's obvious goal is to at least get the same results as last time around and then form a coalition with the other losers. (Also..as far as there being "two doors..a red door and a blue door"…there is also a third door….an EXIT door he will be shown after Harper DOES win a slim majority.)

  22. (cont'd)
    We are told by Wherry, that while Harper entered the press gallery to a hostile press "mob", Iggy pranced delightedly before the same group.

    And why not. But the grin on Iggy's face, real or not, was the result of the inside Ottawa theater, where all the actors (most notably the Ottawa press) have been telling Iggy for months that he is right, on every count, on every point, that there was no debate, no question to the importance of each an every Liberal charge – each one was of monumental importance.

    It seems Iggy may have believed his fawning followers in that tiny little Ottawa bubble.

    He will now leave that comfy place and get on a bus to convince real people, with REAL problems, and real concerns: about their jobs, their families, their general well being.

    THAT is why the Liberals face a "shellacking" of historic proportions.

  23. (cont'd)
    We are told by Wherry, that while Harper entered the press gallery to a hostile press "mob", Iggy pranced delightedly before the same group.

    And why not. But the grin on Iggy's face, real or not, was the result of the inside Ottawa theater, where all the actors (most notably the Ottawa press) have been telling Iggy for months that he is right, on every count, on every point, that there was no debate, no question to the importance of each an every Liberal charge – each one was of monumental importance.

    It seems Iggy may have believed his fawning followers in that tiny little Ottawa bubble.

    He will now leave that comfy place and get on a bus to convince real people, with REAL problems, and real concerns: about their jobs, their families, their general well being.

    THAT is why the Liberals face a "shellacking" of historic proportions.

  24. Signed,

    member of the "tolerant progressive left".

  25. Signed,

    member of the "tolerant progressive left".

    • Pot, kettle.

  26. Super-gewaltige politische Betreiber

  27. I am no fan of Stephen Harper, but name calling like this is infantile, unproductive and foolish.

    Dislike his policies. Dislike the way he does business.
    But save taunts like this for the schoolyard

    Make this campaign about the real issues, not bullsh!t name calling distractions

  28. I am no fan of Stephen Harper, but name calling like this is infantile, unproductive and foolish.

    Dislike his policies. Dislike the way he does business.
    But save taunts like this for the schoolyard

    Make this campaign about the real issues, not bullsh!t name calling distractions

  29. When pigs fly.

  30. wirklichguterpolitikermann

  31. There is a lot of conflict going on in the Harper head and I think he`s at his best and worst when he lets that ( plated ) hair down and leads with his passion instead of the usual reason. And you`re right about the Trudeau mention, though Harper and the Trudeau nostalgics would never admit it, there is a similarity between them in their attempt to always have the reason part in control but sometimes the passion part takes over and soon there are finger salutes, chairs flying, and nasty language. I don`t see anything wrong with having a proper mix of both parts.

  32. Well BFL, you better go hide in the closet for the next 6 weeks or brace yourself for that elephant because this is going to be a real $hitkicker. This will be the Last Hurrah for 3 and maybe all 4 of the party leaders and they will be determined to give it all.
    A little advice—don`t listen to the ads—they`re not meant for thinking people.
    Just listen to the first speech from each leader–the rest will all be the same.
    Try to catch a little interpersonal communications between the leaders and their constitutents, handlers, families—you will get a better read on what makes them tick.

  33. "Parvenu"…OK…I admit…I had to go look it up.

    "A person who has suddenly risen to a higher social and economic class and has not yet gained social acceptance by others in that class."

    Sort of like "white trash" who's come into money…"Kid Rock" comes to mind…or maybe Jim Ballsille sitting at an NHL Board of Governor's meeting.

    Surely this is not how Conservatives are trying to frame Michael Ignatieff. Far from being the HOC's Al Czervik…they'd rather you believe Iggy to have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Russian royalty, an ivory tower icon. A well-established member of the "upper class"…out of touch with us regular snow-bound peons. In short…the exact opposite of a "parvenu."

    I'm sure if you called Rex Murphy he could provide you with another, more appropriate word…that I'd have to look up.

  34. "Parvenu"…OK…I admit…I had to go look it up.

    "A person who has suddenly risen to a higher social and economic class and has not yet gained social acceptance by others in that class."

    Sort of like "white trash" who's come into money…"Kid Rock" comes to mind…or maybe Jim Ballsille sitting at an NHL Board of Governor's meeting.

    Surely this is not how Conservatives are trying to frame Michael Ignatieff. Far from being the HOC's Al Czervik…they'd rather you believe Iggy to have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Russian royalty, an ivory tower icon. A well-established member of the "upper class"…out of touch with us regular snow-bound peons. In short…the exact opposite of a "parvenu."

    I'm sure if you called Rex Murphy he could provide you with another, more appropriate word…that I'd have to look up.

    • How about "Upper Crust" gone stale?

  35. Then you have nor right to complain, how irresponsible, it is your civil duty to vote!

  36. I think Harper is hating getting into an election without control, but he will recover fast, the man knows how to focus like a laser beam!

  37. I think Harper is hating getting into an election without control, but he will recover fast, the man knows how to focus like a laser beam!

    • Unfortunately…sometimes that laser focus when aimed at the Liberal's jugular is his own worst enemy.

      Anybody else notice though the transformation of Stephen Harper's political persona from the "mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" Reformer to the low-key "Bill Davis-esque", "bland works", calm and calculated PM?

      In (what most people still believe are) tough economic times, I think this plays very well. It's reassuring, fatherly, calming.

      One of the real risks I think Iggy takes in this campaign is coming off like he's angrily marching down Younge Street wearing a sandwich board sign that says "DEMOCRACY WILL END, MAY 2, 2011" while he preaches his message to the passers by.

      The whole "Stephen Harper is a threat to our democracy" tact they're taking is too "over the top" to connect with most people. They need to be very careful not to have it turn into the next "soldiers with guns in our streets" type of campaign.

      • Sort of like the warnings for a nuclear attack: "backing in, put your head under a desk and kiss your ass goodbye."

        That word may be acceptable in your days but it is still considered crude in my world. But, what the hell. . ..! Is he going to zorch me for that?

    • not in control? i had a call from my local CON candidate three weeks ago asking for my support in the upcoming election. (probably the call was made in error, a misfire testing the phone system.) they are all greased up and ready fro the swim.

  38. i used to think it was the lack of character in the people, but i am now believing it is the structure itself that cause these people to turn into the scum they are.

  39. Pot, kettle.

  40. i'll complain all i want, lady. i do not need you to tell me what my rights are. as if they have been doled out by the 'government'. my civic duty is to think for myself not to make some 'choice' between the stale breakfast cereals on offer.

  41. I'm told that many people have an amazing ability to ignore the elephant in the room. But I'm betting that it is impossible to ignore an elephant in the shower. :-)

  42. So once again I look at the choice of "What would be better for me or what would be better for the country?"

    I have to admit, voting for the federal party that would put pressure on the provinces to give the disabled close to a livable allotment would be nice. ($906/mo is not a lot in today's market) But, on the flipside, that money comes from the pockets of hard working friends and countrymen who have their own problems and debts. Don't they deserve to spend their own money? Which brings me back to voting for them other guys.

    I suspect I'll make the same choice I always make.. Who do I think lies the least, is the most consistent and probably won't screw up our country too badly.

  43. So once again I look at the choice of "What would be better for me or what would be better for the country?"

    I have to admit, voting for the federal party that would put pressure on the provinces to give the disabled close to a livable allotment would be nice. ($906/mo is not a lot in today's market) But, on the flipside, that money comes from the pockets of hard working friends and countrymen who have their own problems and debts. Don't they deserve to spend their own money? Which brings me back to voting for them other guys.

    I suspect I'll make the same choice I always make.. Who do I think lies the least, is the most consistent and probably won't screw up our country too badly.

    • why don't you actually vote for who might win? Like the Conservatives! We will never have a working government till we stop voting with our "hearts' and actually look at who has been doing a good job with the economy etc. even with a minority – duh – the Conservatives!

      • O_o;

        Anyone has a chance to win. If I said "Vote Bloc!" and the whole country listened, we'd be speaking French shortly. (Overlooking the obvious flaws in the hyperbole of a lack of Bloc representatives in ridings outside of Quebec)

        Just because YOU say they might/probably win, doesn't mean they will. That said, I probably will stick with Harper.. under the clause I said above.. "Who do I think lies the least, is the most consistent and probably won't screw up our country too badly."

      • So you suggest we should all simply follow the polls? That there should be no variance of opinion? What a good little soldier you are!

        Harper has succeeded despite himself. He & Flaherty had plans to degregulate our banking system and had even taken steps to make our mortgage market more like the US (steps which they have begun to roll back) before everything collapsed. They did a 180 when the US fell apart and suddenly started touting our banking system as one of the best in the world (conveniently neglecting to mention who put those regs in place and who had planned to dismantle them).

        The recession itself completely took them by surprise. Long after economists the world over were saying we were in for a bad recession, they were denying its existence. The stimulus package that they eventually created when they woke up went against their own stated principles and largely followed the model proposed by the opposition.

        Canada has done relatively well during these rough economic times – but only because Harper & Co ignored their own beliefs and followed the opposition's lead. So why not put the real planners in power?

        • Here, here. The credit for our banking system and quick recovery is improperly credited in whole to Harper. It is sad that our media has let that be the case. It is also sad to see that the media has also mainly covered things as a horserace already – I dream of being able to vote for who is part of the media.

          • If tghe truth were known, much of the good in our systems is because once we had very intelligent mandarins in the Public Servicve (mostly left of centre) whom we must thank for Old Age pensions, Unemployment Insurance Baby Bonus (remember them?) replaced by child credits, interprovincial cost sharing (transfers). In those days the Mandarins were the real government. MacKenzie King, Uncle Louis and Lester Pearson (he was actually one of the mandarins before he was encouraged to leadership. I was a Liberal then but Pierre changed my mind. . just went shopping in their market and picked the ones he wanted and thought would make good election material

  44. oooo, really. these stiffs may leave? oh well, then that makes it interesting. as for the ads – i really do not understand why they need to be so bad. i mean bad as in quality. they're as pathetic as those cash for gold type TV ads. interpersonal communications? i really have no desire to want to know what makes them tick. and that is the problem it is all about THEM!

  45. As well it is likely that the election results will catalyze leadership changes.

  46. especially a horny one

  47. really? the actually put that in? incredible.

  48. Unfortunately…sometimes that laser focus when aimed at the Liberal's jugular is his own worst enemy.

    Anybody else notice though the transformation of Stephen Harper's political persona from the "mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" Reformer to the low-key "Bill Davis-esque", "bland works", calm and calculated PM?

    In (what most people still believe are) tough economic times, I think this plays very well. It's reassuring, fatherly, calming.

    One of the real risks I think Iggy takes in this campaign is coming off like he's angrily marching down Younge Street wearing a sandwich board sign that says "DEMOCRACY WILL END, MAY 2, 2011" while he preaches his message to the passers by.

    The whole "Stephen Harper is a threat to our democracy" tact they're taking is too "over the top" to connect with most people. They need to be very careful not to have it turn into the next "soldiers with guns in our streets" type of campaign.

  49. You only make that mistake once.

  50. not in control? i had a call from my local CON candidate three weeks ago asking for my support in the upcoming election. (probably the call was made in error, a misfire testing the phone system.) they are all greased up and ready fro the swim.

  51. Voting is not a duty it is a right. Rights only exist in so far as they can be exercised or not. I have just as much right to not vote as you do to vote.

    And frankly, voting is the least useful of our democratic rights. The rights to free expression and assembly are much more important. Voting is the punctuation of the democratic clause – technically necessary, but not needed to get one’s point across.

    I have voted in every election for which I have been eligible, however, if we were ever to make voting mandatory, as occassionally gets proposed, I would go to jail before the government forced me to vote.

  52. Why is Jack sweating in the photo? Why is Stephen trying to get a peek at his upper lip (which he is hiding)? ?

  53. Why is Jack sweating in the photo? Why is Stephen trying to get a peek at his upper lip (which he is hiding)? ?

  54. Canadians are not enthralled with any of the choices offered by Canada's political parties; the leaders and their platforms are simply uninspiring and Canadians are rapidly coming to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter who they vote for, nothing will change.

    Here's a look at Tommy Douglas' famous "Mouseland" speech where he defines a new political alternative, one that is "for the people and by the people";
    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/03/mous

  55. Canadians are not enthralled with any of the choices offered by Canada's political parties; the leaders and their platforms are simply uninspiring and Canadians are rapidly coming to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter who they vote for, nothing will change.

    Here's a look at Tommy Douglas' famous "Mouseland" speech where he defines a new political alternative, one that is "for the people and by the people";
    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/03/mous

    • Canadians would be less enthralled by Tommy Douglas and the left if they knew of Tommy's Master's thesis. Somehow the NDP has forgotten (or forgotten to mention) that the man who started their party was a proponent of euthanizing disabled people, "immorals, and those of "lower intelligence" – see his masters thesis – The Problems of the Subnormal Family- which endorsed eugenics.

      Douglas' preferred that those deemed to be "subnormal" because of low intelligence, moral laxity or venereal disease would be sent to state farms or camps while those judged to be mentally defective or incurably diseased would be sterilized.

      McMaster University keeps a copy of it.

  56. Profuse sweating is a typical side effect of the chemo treatment for prostate cancer.

  57. why don't you actually vote for who might win? Like the Conservatives! We will never have a working government till we stop voting with our "hearts' and actually look at who has been doing a good job with the economy etc. even with a minority – duh – the Conservatives!

  58. The left bias shows itself time after time in these posts yet your 'heroes' are gonna lose this election. The reason is simple–those who vote for the Conservatives are at work, too busy paying taxes for you parasites while trying to afford to raise their families. Other than a few retired ones, they simply don't have the time to sit at their computers all day and pontificate. They will be voting tho'–they are sick and tired of carring the dishonest and lazy.

  59. The left bias shows itself time after time in these posts yet your 'heroes' are gonna lose this election. The reason is simple–those who vote for the Conservatives are at work, too busy paying taxes for you parasites while trying to afford to raise their families. Other than a few retired ones, they simply don't have the time to sit at their computers all day and pontificate. They will be voting tho'–they are sick and tired of carring the dishonest and lazy.

    • "they simply don't have the time to sit at their computers all day and pontificate."

      (wiping tears of laughter away) Whew. Thanks for that. You'll never know how much enjoyment I get from you WHILE I'M WORKING.

      • It's a lunch and after work habit for me. He's right, though – I don't waste my time at work paying taxes; I spend my time EARNING tax dollars and let the Finance Dept do the salary deductions for me.

        And yes, I'm "sick and tired of carrying the dishonest and lazy" – though I tend to call them Conservative MPs…

  60. super-formidable-political-operator? Forget German, it sounds like the name of a Japanese cartoon. Maybe there's a word in their language for it?

  61. "they simply don't have the time to sit at their computers all day and pontificate."

    (wiping tears of laughter away) Whew. Thanks for that. You'll never know how much enjoyment I get from you WHILE I'M WORKING.

  62. Sure, it's interesting but hardly uncommon. Remember that astronaut lady that went crazy and drove across three state lines in an adult diaper so she could murder her sexual rival? Astronauts are supermen. They have multiple science degrees, are at genius levels of intelligence, are remarkably fit. But they're capable of going lovesick crazy too.

    Still, if I had to put my finger on it, it's this: Harper fails sometimes because he gets overwhelmed. His style means he simply has too few competent persons to delegate his decisions to. He is his own Minister of Everything, and even a genius like Harper can't understand and decide it all. This is what will be interesting about this election. His most competent minister (Prentice) has left him, and Finley's in some bigtime trouble so he can't help either.

  63. "he cuckolded proudly about it. "

    Maybe you meant to say clucked? A cuckold is a man whose wife is unfaithful.

  64. Can anyone explain how Harper gets away with calling the coming election a "reckless instability threatening" call forced by the opposition? In 2008 Harper unilaterally called an election during the worst recession in half a century and then promptly adopted an opposition budget to address the recession. Now that we are out of the recession (according to Harper's propaganda) how can this democratic electoral activity be such a threat to the economy and stability.

    Remember that in Egypt, the citizens accepted an undemocratic government for a long time while being told this was the price to be paid for "stability".

    The conservatives are basically saying that democracy should be for sale in Canada.

  65. Can anyone explain how Harper gets away with calling the coming election a "reckless instability threatening" call forced by the opposition? In 2008 Harper unilaterally called an election during the worst recession in half a century and then promptly adopted an opposition budget to address the recession. Now that we are out of the recession (according to Harper's propaganda) how can this democratic electoral activity be such a threat to the economy and stability.

    Remember that in Egypt, the citizens accepted an undemocratic government for a long time while being told this was the price to be paid for "stability".

    The conservatives are basically saying that democracy should be for sale in Canada.

    • "Harper unilaterally called an election during the worst recession in half a century "

      Check your facts. The election was called a week (Sept 7, 2008) before the first bank fell Lehmans, Sept 15). Since the banks crashing were American, and NO ONE was expecting the US gov't to let them fall (too big to fail, etc), you think perhaps he should have asked a fortune teller for advice?

      The vote was held 5 weeks later. The worst recession in half a century was in foetal stages.

    • One of the consequences of a system in which elections are forced (as opposed to the US, where nobody ever complains about election timing) is that whichever side does not force it is required (I'm pretty sure by law) to kick and scream and complain about how awful it is that we have to vote. Telling voters how much money elections cost is always a popular tactic. See, for example 1997 (how dare Chretien call an election while the Red River floods!), 2000 (not even 4 years into his mandate! A transparent attempt to capitalize before his fresh opponent became a known commodity!), 2004 (the public accounts committee needs time to investigate Adscam!), 2006 (whoa guys, can't we just wait for Gomery's full report? Plus, Christmas is soon. Can't have that), 2008 (hey, he broke that law we didn't support in the first place!) and now.

  66. 'Insipid budget'….no hyperbole there…it's good you are able to contain your rabid Liberal leanings PW. I had no idea Macleans idea of future success was planning on becoming the Toronto Star (Red Rag).

    The conservatives will get their majority this time, if for no other reason than Canadians get physically ill at the thought of Jack Layton and Bob Rae having any say at all in how the country is run. If the coalition is successful, then you can count on the West separating within 10 years.

    Have fun!!

  67. 'Insipid budget'….no hyperbole there…it's good you are able to contain your rabid Liberal leanings PW. I had no idea Macleans idea of future success was planning on becoming the Toronto Star (Red Rag).

    The conservatives will get their majority this time, if for no other reason than Canadians get physically ill at the thought of Jack Layton and Bob Rae having any say at all in how the country is run. If the coalition is successful, then you can count on the West separating within 10 years.

    Have fun!!

    • in·sip·id (n-spd)
      adj.
      1. Lacking flavor or zest; not tasty.
      2. Lacking qualities that excite, stimulate, or interest; dull.

      The Conservatives should feel free to win 600 seats in this election. It was an insipid budget.

      • Well, if you get your wish of a Liberal minority government (propped up by socialists and separatists holding a gun to Iggy's head), I am sure you'll get all the 'zestiness' you can imagine!

        This coalition will be about as stable as a lindsay Lohan/Charlie Sheen love child…

        Have Fun!!

  68. in·sip·id (n-spd)
    adj.
    1. Lacking flavor or zest; not tasty.
    2. Lacking qualities that excite, stimulate, or interest; dull.

    The Conservatives should feel free to win 600 seats in this election. It was an insipid budget.

  69. It is also a typical side effect of having bright, hot lights shone in your face.

  70. It is also a typical side effect of having bright, hot lights shone in your face.

    • I don't like Jack Layton or his politics, but truly wish hot lights in his face was his only problem when it comes to sweating.

  71. I don't understand why the pounding on Ignatieff, why people have such a bad perception of him? Is it because of negative ads, being a Harvard professor, living abroad, not a charmer, and what else? I was living overseas and I am not less Canadian. Give him a break…I trust he will run a different style of the government to Harper and just wait … will surprise everybody.
    Why not a coalition with NDP, it works great in Britain. Jack has some competent people in his party that Liberals would benefit by replacing some old boys from the time of Jean Jean Chrétien. We need not just new prime-minister but also fresh crop of ministers that will make a difference, cutting spending like billion $ on jets, take care of the health care, be selective what immigrants are let into the country, economy, less money wasted on wars that has nothing to do with us, be honest and listen to Canadians.

  72. I don't understand why the pounding on Ignatieff, why people have such a bad perception of him? Is it because of negative ads, being a Harvard professor, living abroad, not a charmer, and what else? I was living overseas and I am not less Canadian. Give him a break…I trust he will run a different style of the government to Harper and just wait … will surprise everybody.
    Why not a coalition with NDP, it works great in Britain. Jack has some competent people in his party that Liberals would benefit by replacing some old boys from the time of Jean Jean Chrétien. We need not just new prime-minister but also fresh crop of ministers that will make a difference, cutting spending like billion $ on jets, take care of the health care, be selective what immigrants are let into the country, economy, less money wasted on wars that has nothing to do with us, be honest and listen to Canadians.

    • Personally…my problem with him (and I used to initially be quite positive about him) is that he is so "wishy-washy" and "flip-flops" all over the place. That goes to the trust issue…and he's not a guy I would trust.

      I also don't think that he has any personnel skills…which is not surprising at all considering his past academic/journalistic life. Not exactly qualities that are conducive to running a country.

      But, forget all that. I think Ignatieff may very well prove out to ultimately be the Liberal party's Bob Stanfield.

      Why not a coalition with the NDP? Probably because between the two of them they couldn't muster enough seats without the Bloc.

    • I don't want the NDP anywhere near a chequebook, thanks. As well, he has 'feel good' ideas but they aren't feasible to impement (and/or would cost more than they deliver).

      Take the demand for either a reduction in heating prices (hello, NEP – Ed Broadbent's idea, by the way, supported and implemented by Trudeau to retain power) OR not taxing them. What does he plan to say to all the cities & municipalities that rely on their ?2%? of the 5% GST raised in their boundaries? Has he lined up support from all the premiers so they will forego their PST (or piece of the HST)? How does he intend to replace those revenues for the cities and provinces?

      How would it be implemented? Seriously? I have natural gas. My niece has electric. My cousin has a combination of woodfire and a furnace. Many people in the east use heating oil. There is no one way of home heating, no one supplier, no common factor OTHER than the result: heat.

      His demand for an increase in GIS for seniors is a noble one, BUT changes to the CPP require agreement from 7/10 provinces. That's not something any PM can arrange overnight (if ever).

  73. That's right, Canada needs a principled stable government. That is why a lawyer who is pretending to know how to manage money, ought to vote for Ignatief -a real, fiscal consevative.
    http://ahabit.com/rule.htm

    Lawyers like Flaherty confuse their delusions for the Rule of Law, and that disqualifies them from the capacity to define the word "principle".

  74. I don't like Jack Layton or his politics, but truly wish hot lights in his face was his only problem when it comes to sweating.

  75. Well, if you get your wish of a Liberal minority government (propped up by socialists and separatists holding a gun to Iggy's head), I am sure you'll get all the 'zestiness' you can imagine!

    This coalition will be about as stable as a lindsay Lohan/Charlie Sheen love child…

    Have Fun!!

  76. Personally…my problem with him (and I used to initially be quite positive about him) is that he is so "wishy-washy" and "flip-flops" all over the place. That goes to the trust issue…and he's not a guy I would trust.

    I also don't think that he has any personnel skills…which is not surprising at all considering his past academic/journalistic life. Not exactly qualities that are conducive to running a country.

    But, forget all that. I think Ignatieff may very well prove out to ultimately be the Liberal party's Bob Stanfield.

    Why not a coalition with the NDP? Probably because between the two of them they couldn't muster enough seats without the Bloc.

  77. Out of the gate, the Liberals introduce 2 themes. First, Harper, (always with a claimed hidden plan), has a contempt for democratic processes. Second, Ignatieff (his children brought up in Canada?) has discovered and seen the relief 'Canadian families" need. (Layton Lite – well known brand, been on the shelf for years.)

    Problem 1: "Contempt for parliament" (how Pearson era retro is this?)
    in not disclosing a prison building price tag, seems thin beer when the Conservatives can legitimately claim that Ignatieff will not come clean on forming a coalition with the Separatists to take control of parliament if the opportunity arises.

    Problem 2: Harper runs as good a small "L" liberal government as anyone – despite the astute cosmetics of tough on crime. Canadians are pretty realistic – they most likely see their current economic condition as resting on the North American and world economy – not on introduced tinkering federal government intiatives. So if you want tinkering programs, the NDP has the lead on these, and how many voters think either party programs will make an actual real difference?

  78. Out of the gate, the Liberals introduce 2 themes. First, Harper, (always with a claimed hidden plan), has a contempt for democratic processes. Second, Ignatieff (his children brought up in Canada?) has discovered and seen the relief 'Canadian families" need. (Layton Lite – well known brand, been on the shelf for years.)

    Problem 1: "Contempt for parliament" (how Pearson era retro is this?)
    in not disclosing a prison building price tag, seems thin beer when the Conservatives can legitimately claim that Ignatieff will not come clean on forming a coalition with the Separatists to take control of parliament if the opportunity arises.

    Problem 2: Harper runs as good a small "L" liberal government as anyone – despite the astute cosmetics of tough on crime. Canadians are pretty realistic – they most likely see their current economic condition as resting on the North American and world economy – not on introduced tinkering federal government intiatives. So if you want tinkering programs, the NDP has the lead on these, and how many voters think either party programs will make an actual real difference?

    • "Conservatives can legitimately claim that Ignatieff will not come clean …"

      Where's your smoking gun? Your proof that Ignatief is lying about his plans? Because when you say he won't come clean, you are saying he is hiding something.

      We KNOW Harper is – his government keeps refusing to produce documents that we know (ought to) exist, so there's either something damning in the documents or they haven't done their work properly and there ARE no documents.

      • Because the Finance Gurus will; soon tell him the country can't afford his dreams.

        The issue of providing documents only comes up in a minority Parliament, you know, because that is when the Opposition has more seats on the committees than the govt. In a majority the Liberals used to steamroll similar findings. Hell, at one time there wasn't such a committee.

  79. As much as the Harper Government protests that they didn't want an election, the evidence points in the other direction. The budget was written as a political document focusing on constituencies the Harperites were targeting; Strahl and Day announced their departures last week; and, at the beginning of this week before the budget was tabled in the House, Conservative candidates in Kingston had their campaign billboards unveiled. It was interesting to see the "vote for me" billboards when the ostensible reason for the election had not yet seen the light of day.

  80. As much as the Harper Government protests that they didn't want an election, the evidence points in the other direction. The budget was written as a political document focusing on constituencies the Harperites were targeting; Strahl and Day announced their departures last week; and, at the beginning of this week before the budget was tabled in the House, Conservative candidates in Kingston had their campaign billboards unveiled. It was interesting to see the "vote for me" billboards when the ostensible reason for the election had not yet seen the light of day.

    • Wanting something and being prepared for it's likelihood aren't quite the same.
      Best guess is that it's been on all the parties minds since Boxing Day sales ended.

  81. Again, a rare opportunity to agree with someone on the other side of the political fence. A banner week!

  82. Canadians would be less enthralled by Tommy Douglas and the left if they knew of Tommy's Master's thesis. Somehow the NDP has forgotten (or forgotten to mention) that the man who started their party was a proponent of euthanizing disabled people, "immorals, and those of "lower intelligence" – see his masters thesis – The Problems of the Subnormal Family- which endorsed eugenics.

    Douglas' preferred that those deemed to be "subnormal" because of low intelligence, moral laxity or venereal disease would be sent to state farms or camps while those judged to be mentally defective or incurably diseased would be sterilized.

    McMaster University keeps a copy of it.

  83. Freudian slip, no doubt.

  84. ignatieff is neither "real" nor conservative and the only thing "fiscal" about him, or any Liberal for that matter, is how quickly their fiscal policy will move "our" money into "their" coffers.

    Beware Ignatieff and beware the coalition!

  85. ignatieff is neither "real" nor conservative and the only thing "fiscal" about him, or any Liberal for that matter, is how quickly their fiscal policy will move "our" money into "their" coffers.

    Beware Ignatieff and beware the coalition!

    • .Right on again!

  86. Good point, Robert and I hope the voters know if they will be voting for either an individual Party or a Coalition during the Election campaign.

  87. It is one's duty to exercise one's rights if for no other reason than to keep from losing them.

    Mandatory voting may well be worth considering. People might pay more attention if they knew they HAD to vote. The "punishment" could be losing all tax exemptions for the election year or – for those who don't qualify for any to begin with – a nominal fine.

  88. Agree wholeheartedly.

  89. With a little planning, he could easily have trimmed from other areas and provided these items with no further increase in the deficit than what he was already planning for. That's what the whole concept of "budgeting" is about.

  90. O_o;

    Anyone has a chance to win. If I said "Vote Bloc!" and the whole country listened, we'd be speaking French shortly. (Overlooking the obvious flaws in the hyperbole of a lack of Bloc representatives in ridings outside of Quebec)

    Just because YOU say they might/probably win, doesn't mean they will. That said, I probably will stick with Harper.. under the clause I said above.. "Who do I think lies the least, is the most consistent and probably won't screw up our country too badly."

  91. So you suggest we should all simply follow the polls? That there should be no variance of opinion? What a good little soldier you are!

    Harper has succeeded despite himself. He & Flaherty had plans to degregulate our banking system and had even taken steps to make our mortgage market more like the US (steps which they have begun to roll back) before everything collapsed. They did a 180 when the US fell apart and suddenly started touting our banking system as one of the best in the world (conveniently neglecting to mention who put those regs in place and who had planned to dismantle them).

    The recession itself completely took them by surprise. Long after economists the world over were saying we were in for a bad recession, they were denying its existence. The stimulus package that they eventually created when they woke up went against their own stated principles and largely followed the model proposed by the opposition.

    Canada has done relatively well during these rough economic times – but only because Harper & Co ignored their own beliefs and followed the opposition's lead. So why not put the real planners in power?

  92. It's a lunch and after work habit for me. He's right, though – I don't waste my time at work paying taxes; I spend my time EARNING tax dollars and let the Finance Dept do the salary deductions for me.

    And yes, I'm "sick and tired of carrying the dishonest and lazy" – though I tend to call them Conservative MPs…

  93. "Conservatives can legitimately claim that Ignatieff will not come clean …"

    Where's your smoking gun? Your proof that Ignatief is lying about his plans? Because when you say he won't come clean, you are saying he is hiding something.

    We KNOW Harper is – his government keeps refusing to produce documents that we know (ought to) exist, so there's either something damning in the documents or they haven't done their work properly and there ARE no documents.

  94. Here, here. The credit for our banking system and quick recovery is improperly credited in whole to Harper. It is sad that our media has let that be the case. It is also sad to see that the media has also mainly covered things as a horserace already – I dream of being able to vote for who is part of the media.

  95. Wanting something and being prepared for it's likelihood aren't quite the same.
    Best guess is that it's been on all the parties minds since Boxing Day sales ended.

  96. gesundheit!

  97. I see much of the Harper years (among other things) as a simple rejoinder to what was seen as widespread arrogance and solipsism on the part of the Canadian left.

    The attitude is still alive and well, as seen in message boards/Toronto election, etc., but five years of relative success has unfortunately resulted in a similar (if less toxic) attitude manifested in the Canadian right.

    Fortunately, since the truth is neither wholly left nor right, the last 15 years or so have provided the rational and the compassionate on both sides with enough hubris to put their minds together, throw aside yesterday's prejudices, and be productive.
    …..

  98. I see much of the Harper years (among other things) as a simple rejoinder to what was seen as widespread arrogance and solipsism on the part of the Canadian left.

    The attitude is still alive and well, as seen in message boards/Toronto election, etc., but five years of relative success has unfortunately resulted in a similar (if less toxic) attitude manifested in the Canadian right.

    Fortunately, since the truth is neither wholly left nor right, the last 15 years or so have provided the rational and the compassionate on both sides with enough hubris to put their minds together, throw aside yesterday's prejudices, and be productive.
    …..

  99. (cont)…
    No longer king of the hill, many good liberals have used their time on the sidelines to absorb the blow, separate the good of their argument from the bad, and articulate the obnoxious hollering of their peers thoughtfully and intelligently, like the good conservatives were obliged to do in the Liberal years.

    If those on both sides who weren't so married to selective outrage could organize a political party, it would make a nice rainbow at the end of this long storm of nonsense. Since it would appreciate the wisdom and sincerity of both political ends, it could appropriately be called a double rainbow.

  100. (cont)…
    No longer king of the hill, many good liberals have used their time on the sidelines to absorb the blow, separate the good of their argument from the bad, and articulate the obnoxious hollering of their peers thoughtfully and intelligently, like the good conservatives were obliged to do in the Liberal years.

    If those on both sides who weren't so married to selective outrage could organize a political party, it would make a nice rainbow at the end of this long storm of nonsense. Since it would appreciate the wisdom and sincerity of both political ends, it could appropriately be called a double rainbow.

  101. “Sadly he chose to provoke an election instead.”
    Oh no, he didn't.

    Stephen Harper has been campaigning for months now. He began Ignatieff attack ads at least a year ago, then added mailing attack pamphlets and now we've had for a couple months of tv ads displaying his wonderous virtues. What the hell is he campaigning for if not an election?

    Harper wants an election. He wants to see the opposition lose again. We'll see what happens and I hope dearly that Canadians can muster up the tiniest bit of interest in the outcome.

  102. “Sadly he chose to provoke an election instead.”
    Oh no, he didn't.

    Stephen Harper has been campaigning for months now. He began Ignatieff attack ads at least a year ago, then added mailing attack pamphlets and now we've had for a couple months of tv ads displaying his wonderous virtues. What the hell is he campaigning for if not an election?

    Harper wants an election. He wants to see the opposition lose again. We'll see what happens and I hope dearly that Canadians can muster up the tiniest bit of interest in the outcome.

  103. Well, back in 2008.

  104. Is it just possible that he, like me, thought that it was too rich? If you have lived as long as I have you will recognize that the Libs (and the NDP in the provinces) are "tax and spend" or "bribe them with their own money". He took their ideas but at a level he thought affordable.

    Problem is, the left (and I include much of the Liberal party) know how to tax and spend. The NDP have little idea how wealth is created. The Liberals are a bit smarter but not much. After all, it was the Opposition that in the 2008 recession wanted Harper to spend, spend, spend . Only when the international financial community agreed that a Keynsian approach was required did he reluctantly agree. Why? because he knew that stimulus spending, while it sometimes works, leaves a hangover that has to be medicated by serious restraint for a few years to recover.

  105. Nonsense. "Easily trimmed? A huge portion of that budert is immovable – transfers, health care, etc etc. No9t a hell of a lot of slack to buy votes in Parliament, i.e to pay blackmail.

  106. Right on, Chet.

  107. How about "Upper Crust" gone stale?

  108. Sort of like the warnings for a nuclear attack: "backing in, put your head under a desk and kiss your ass goodbye."

    That word may be acceptable in your days but it is still considered crude in my world. But, what the hell. . ..! Is he going to zorch me for that?

  109. If tghe truth were known, much of the good in our systems is because once we had very intelligent mandarins in the Public Servicve (mostly left of centre) whom we must thank for Old Age pensions, Unemployment Insurance Baby Bonus (remember them?) replaced by child credits, interprovincial cost sharing (transfers). In those days the Mandarins were the real government. MacKenzie King, Uncle Louis and Lester Pearson (he was actually one of the mandarins before he was encouraged to leadership. I was a Liberal then but Pierre changed my mind. . just went shopping in their market and picked the ones he wanted and thought would make good election material

  110. .Right on again!

  111. Because the Finance Gurus will; soon tell him the country can't afford his dreams.

    The issue of providing documents only comes up in a minority Parliament, you know, because that is when the Opposition has more seats on the committees than the govt. In a majority the Liberals used to steamroll similar findings. Hell, at one time there wasn't such a committee.

  112. "Harper unilaterally called an election during the worst recession in half a century "

    Check your facts. The election was called a week (Sept 7, 2008) before the first bank fell Lehmans, Sept 15). Since the banks crashing were American, and NO ONE was expecting the US gov't to let them fall (too big to fail, etc), you think perhaps he should have asked a fortune teller for advice?

    The vote was held 5 weeks later. The worst recession in half a century was in foetal stages.

  113. I don't want the NDP anywhere near a chequebook, thanks. As well, he has 'feel good' ideas but they aren't feasible to impement (and/or would cost more than they deliver).

    Take the demand for either a reduction in heating prices (hello, NEP – Ed Broadbent's idea, by the way, supported and implemented by Trudeau to retain power) OR not taxing them. What does he plan to say to all the cities & municipalities that rely on their ?2%? of the 5% GST raised in their boundaries? Has he lined up support from all the premiers so they will forego their PST (or piece of the HST)? How does he intend to replace those revenues for the cities and provinces?

    How would it be implemented? Seriously? I have natural gas. My niece has electric. My cousin has a combination of woodfire and a furnace. Many people in the east use heating oil. There is no one way of home heating, no one supplier, no common factor OTHER than the result: heat.

    His demand for an increase in GIS for seniors is a noble one, BUT changes to the CPP require agreement from 7/10 provinces. That's not something any PM can arrange overnight (if ever).

  114. The trouble with the Liberals is that it's been five years and they still don't seem to understand why they were voted out in the first place. Is Ignatieff not smart enough to understand the irony of acting with a straight face as if his party is the bane of corruption, dishonesty, intimidation, incivility, etc.?

    To his credit, he was smart enough to assert publicly that the Liberal Party should cool it with calling itself the "Natural Governing Party" as a means of garnering support. Unfortunately – and very much so – he wasn't smart enough to protect that ball and run with it.

  115. The trouble with the Liberals is that it's been five years and they still don't seem to understand why they were voted out in the first place. Is Ignatieff not smart enough to understand the irony of acting with a straight face as if his party is the bane of corruption, dishonesty, intimidation, incivility, etc.?

    To his credit, he was smart enough to assert publicly that the Liberal Party should cool it with calling itself the "Natural Governing Party" as a means of garnering support. Unfortunately – and very much so – he wasn't smart enough to protect that ball and run with it.

  116. One of the consequences of a system in which elections are forced (as opposed to the US, where nobody ever complains about election timing) is that whichever side does not force it is required (I'm pretty sure by law) to kick and scream and complain about how awful it is that we have to vote. Telling voters how much money elections cost is always a popular tactic. See, for example 1997 (how dare Chretien call an election while the Red River floods!), 2000 (not even 4 years into his mandate! A transparent attempt to capitalize before his fresh opponent became a known commodity!), 2004 (the public accounts committee needs time to investigate Adscam!), 2006 (whoa guys, can't we just wait for Gomery's full report? Plus, Christmas is soon. Can't have that), 2008 (hey, he broke that law we didn't support in the first place!) and now.

  117. "That's a plan for marked and steady decentralization …the budget projections continue a decentralizing trend that has been a hallmark of Harper's years in government."

    You hit the nail right on the head Paul !

    This 'decentralizing trend' is indeed Harper's primary objective, namely to castrate the federal government (and by the same token empower the provinces), in such a way that Ottawa virtually becomes impotent : no taxes = no treasury = huge debt / deficit = no social programs = no way of "limiting the damage that amoral market forces can inflict". In other words, if the Fed becomes a eunuch, then Big Corpo will be totally unleashed.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/otta

  118. "That's a plan for marked and steady decentralization …the budget projections continue a decentralizing trend that has been a hallmark of Harper's years in government."

    You hit the nail right on the head Paul !

    This 'decentralizing trend' is indeed Harper's primary objective, namely to castrate the federal government (and by the same token empower the provinces), in such a way that Ottawa virtually becomes impotent : no taxes = no treasury = huge debt / deficit = no social programs = no way of "limiting the damage that amoral market forces can inflict". In other words, if the Fed becomes a eunuch, then Big Corpo will be totally unleashed.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/otta

    • By 'decentralization' I guess you and PW mean 'abiding by the constitution'….because Ottawa has been acting beyond it's legal jurisdiction for decades. It's been allowed to get away with it by paying off the provinces to keep quiet…grand concept of federalism there…

  119. By 'decentralization' I guess you and PW mean 'abiding by the constitution'….because Ottawa has been acting beyond it's legal jurisdiction for decades. It's been allowed to get away with it by paying off the provinces to keep quiet…grand concept of federalism there…

  120. Author Paul Wells' comments:

    “Oh no, he didn't. He tried his damnedest to avoid one.”

    in response to Layton comments:

    “Stephen Harper had an opportunity to address the needs of the hard-working middle-class families,” Layton told a clot of reporters in the foyer of the Commons. “Sadly he chose to provoke an election instead.”

    ***
    My reply:

    Incorrect, Mr. Wells!!!

    Dishonest Harper Conservatives with hidden agendas provoked this election!

    Arrogant Conservatives who want to spend literally Billions on pet purchases while refusing to give real costs for the proposed expenditures provoked this election!

    Sneaky Conservatives who surreptitiously change committee recommendations and decisions provoked this election!

    Disgraceful Conservatives who were found in "Contempt of Parliament" by a majority of House of Commons members voting yesterday provoked this election!

  121. Author Paul Wells' comments:

    “Oh no, he didn't. He tried his damnedest to avoid one.”

    in response to Layton comments:

    “Stephen Harper had an opportunity to address the needs of the hard-working middle-class families,” Layton told a clot of reporters in the foyer of the Commons. “Sadly he chose to provoke an election instead.”

    ***
    My reply:

    Incorrect, Mr. Wells!!!

    Dishonest Harper Conservatives with hidden agendas provoked this election!

    Arrogant Conservatives who want to spend literally Billions on pet purchases while refusing to give real costs for the proposed expenditures provoked this election!

    Sneaky Conservatives who surreptitiously change committee recommendations and decisions provoked this election!

    Disgraceful Conservatives who were found in "Contempt of Parliament" by a majority of House of Commons members voting yesterday provoked this election!

  122. If a majority "Harper Govt" gets another chance to buy proposed credit card purchases, they will proceed on recently attempted initiatives without hindrance from minority Opposition parties.

    Connect 10 Red Flags:

    1. Harper's constant, relentless, intentional fracturing of Canada;
    3. Opportunists;
    2. Large corporations (ie – shareholders who mostly live in other countries) that want to extract fabulous Arctic and Pacific oil and gas profits when Canada's 1972 moratorium is lifted by "the Harper Govt", planned for 2014;
    4. $5 Billion worth of weapons of war, purchased in 2006 when Harper canceled a planned withdrawal of the 40 soldiers in Afghanistan and then sent thousands of combat troops over;
    5. Combat troops, trained to obey their leader;
    6. The purchase of 65 stealth fighter jets with first-strike capability would go ahead;
    7. Billions Ottawa usually transfers annually to Quebec;
    9. Pauline Marois, leader of minority separatist provincial Parti Quebecois, has called for a convention in April 2011 to affirm the party's intention to separate by charter…not referendum (more info at montrealgazette.com);
    8. The confusing "Nation within Canada" motion Harper introduced into Parliament in 2006, to which international communities will understandably hesitate to intervene in "internal" Canadian controversy should minority Quebec separatists assert the Nation of Quebec without holding a referendum; and
    10. Built despite steadily decreasing crime rates since 1996 (provincial 31%, federal 13%), there will be room in the not-yet-constructed prison cages for dissenters.

    A majority, once elected, is in complete control and can pretty much carry on doing whatever they please for 5 years.

    [X] NO VOTE for Harper Conservatives! Conservative “Contempt of Parliament” needs to be extinguished, not turned into a majority!

  123. If a majority "Harper Govt" gets another chance to buy proposed credit card purchases, they will proceed on recently attempted initiatives without hindrance from minority Opposition parties.

    Connect 10 Red Flags:

    1. Harper's constant, relentless, intentional fracturing of Canada;
    3. Opportunists;
    2. Large corporations (ie – shareholders who mostly live in other countries) that want to extract fabulous Arctic and Pacific oil and gas profits when Canada's 1972 moratorium is lifted by "the Harper Govt", planned for 2014;
    4. $5 Billion worth of weapons of war, purchased in 2006 when Harper canceled a planned withdrawal of the 40 soldiers in Afghanistan and then sent thousands of combat troops over;
    5. Combat troops, trained to obey their leader;
    6. The purchase of 65 stealth fighter jets with first-strike capability would go ahead;
    7. Billions Ottawa usually transfers annually to Quebec;
    9. Pauline Marois, leader of minority separatist provincial Parti Quebecois, has called for a convention in April 2011 to affirm the party's intention to separate by charter…not referendum (more info at montrealgazette.com);
    8. The confusing "Nation within Canada" motion Harper introduced into Parliament in 2006, to which international communities will understandably hesitate to intervene in "internal" Canadian controversy should minority Quebec separatists assert the Nation of Quebec without holding a referendum; and
    10. Built despite steadily decreasing crime rates since 1996 (provincial 31%, federal 13%), there will be room in the not-yet-constructed prison cages for dissenters.

    A majority, once elected, is in complete control and can pretty much carry on doing whatever they please for 5 years.

    [X] NO VOTE for Harper Conservatives! Conservative “Contempt of Parliament” needs to be extinguished, not turned into a majority!

  124. The "Harper Government" will hammer away at the notion that the opposition is in this to form a coalition … yet his party was elected by not only a minority of Canadians but by a minority of those who actually cared enough to vote … so in no way was his government representative of the country … I will be voting for a local candidate and at the same time hope that they belong to the party that forms the next government and if after all is said and done, two or more parties form a coalition that doesn't include the party of my candidate so be it … I will know that that government is a better reflection of the country then any one party … when will electoral reform be brought in so that all future elections better represent the country!

  125. The "Harper Government" will hammer away at the notion that the opposition is in this to form a coalition … yet his party was elected by not only a minority of Canadians but by a minority of those who actually cared enough to vote … so in no way was his government representative of the country … I will be voting for a local candidate and at the same time hope that they belong to the party that forms the next government and if after all is said and done, two or more parties form a coalition that doesn't include the party of my candidate so be it … I will know that that government is a better reflection of the country then any one party … when will electoral reform be brought in so that all future elections better represent the country!

  126. IGGY'S SPOKEN CONTEMPT FOR CANADA: On the CBC Action Panel, this panel + others commented on people not trusting PM Stephen Harper, but NOT one of these CBC panellists raised the obvious questions or challenged Ignatieff to deny or explain his (Ignatieff) following insulting, ignorant, rude and offensive statements to Canadians & about Canada that he made;
    1. "The only thing he (Ignatieff) likes about Canada is Algonquin Park".
    AND …
    2. "Canada's Peace Keeping reputation is totally bogus".
    ALSO …
    3. “That our flag represents a limp beer label".
    Would anyone in Canada want Ignatieff as Prime Minister when he feels that way about our Canada or trust him??? NO, NO, NO!!!!
    It is unbelievable that the CBC Action Panellists let Ignatieff make such ignorant, rude and offensive statements and let it go unchallenged. Proof that the CBC is bias, but no surprise there!!
    VOTE FOR CONSERVATIVES & A MAJORITY MAY 2!!!

  127. IGGY'S SPOKEN CONTEMPT FOR CANADA: On the CBC Action Panel, this panel + others commented on people not trusting PM Stephen Harper, but NOT one of these CBC panellists raised the obvious questions or challenged Ignatieff to deny or explain his (Ignatieff) following insulting, ignorant, rude and offensive statements to Canadians & about Canada that he made;
    1. "The only thing he (Ignatieff) likes about Canada is Algonquin Park".
    AND …
    2. "Canada's Peace Keeping reputation is totally bogus".
    ALSO …
    3. “That our flag represents a limp beer label".
    Would anyone in Canada want Ignatieff as Prime Minister when he feels that way about our Canada or trust him??? NO, NO, NO!!!!
    It is unbelievable that the CBC Action Panellists let Ignatieff make such ignorant, rude and offensive statements and let it go unchallenged. Proof that the CBC is bias, but no surprise there!!
    VOTE FOR CONSERVATIVES & A MAJORITY MAY 2!!!

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