The Book!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Amazons in Charge

Feminists argue that men are responsible for all war; and they claim that, if women were in charge, such violence would be a thing of the past. Men are naturally violent; women are peaceful.

The obvious problem with this claim is that, without examples of women in power, it is purely speculative.

So let’s see: Margaret Thatcher. Oops; Falklands War. Indira Gandhi. Oops. War with Pakistan, twice. Golda Meir. Oops. Yom Kippur War. Elizabeth I? Spanish Armada. Catherine the Great? Best not go there. Even Eugenia Charles of little Martinique managed, with help, to wage war against neighbouring Grenada.

I submit to you that, from the historical record, women are in fact far more likely than men to go to war. All else is chauvinistic humbug. This could be a good reason why they are traditionally excluded from the highest civil leadership. Remember the Greek legend of the Amazons: a tribe constantly at war. And note Aristotle’s claim that warlike polises are invariably dominated by their women.

This, I further submit, is because women are more partisan by nature than men. Hitler’s mom, one imagines, probably loved and supported him to the end. I feel less confident this would be true of Hitler’s dad.

In Sri Lanka, where I recently vacationed, Sirimavo Bandaranaike holds the distinction of being the first female prime minister anywhere in the world—although she succeeded her husband in the post.

And, significantly, it is from her time in office that the current civil strife between Sinhalese and Tamils began.

To be fair, the seeds were planted by her husband. He made Sinhalese the official language, replacing English, but ignoring Tamil, spoken by 18% of the population. From the Sinhala perspective, the Tamil were, no less than the English, foreign colonizers. But Mr. Bandaranaike also moved fairly quickly to negotiate a federation, which would have allowed Tamils considerable freedom on linguistic and cultural affairs in their own territories.

This initiative, his widow quashed. She then passed a law setting a quota on the number of Tamils permitted in universities, and another making Buddhism the state religion. (The Tamils are Hindu.) She imposed a state of emergency on the Tamil areas. Highly partisan in supporting the interests of her own ethnic group.

Her successors in power in Colombo have tried to make amends; Tamil is now an official language, and the quota system is gone. But Tamil confidence in the central government has never recovered.

Should be interesting for everyone if Mrs. Clinton makes it to the White House.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Future of the Liberals

First the breaking news: Manley is out of the running. McKenna is in. Groundswell for Dion in the blogosphere.

Now the longer view: There is always a real risk for the Liberals, as a party of the centre. They could be squeezed from both sides, from socialist left and free market right, by the NDP and the Tories, and reduced to irrelevancy. It happened a couple of generations ago to the Liberals in Britain; and for that matter throughout Europe. In Australia and BC, they have fused into permanent coalition with the right. In a sense, the Canadian Liberals are an ideological dinosaur. Broad but shallow, with no real ideology but winning, a long period of adversity is a bigger risk for them than for either NDP or Tories.

Both NDP and Conservatives have been moving to the centre recently. This makes it all the more dangerous for the Liberals. The new campaign financing rules, cutting off their accustomed corporate funding, impoverish them, in both relative and absolute terms.

It would be absurd at this point to write the Liberal obituary. But, by the same token, don’t be too quick to count them back in.

Hold That Tiger

Dear Abbot:

Why should Canada ban the LTTE [aka “Tamil Tigers”]? LTTE is fighting for the rights of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. The Tamil people started the armed struggle around 1983 after failing to win their basic rights by non-violent means from 1948-1983. Banning a group fighting for the rights of an oppressed group means sending a go ahead signal for the state-terrorist.

Anonymous


Dear An:

Thanks for asking. The distinction is between goals and methods. As I wrote, opposing the Tamil Tigers does not mean opposing Tamil aspirations. But regardless of your cause, blowing up women and children, or shooting politicians opposed to your views, is not permissible or morally justifiable. And most especially not justifiable in a democracy, as Sri Lanka has been, albeit with flaws, since independence.

I say this as a Canadian of primarily Irish extraction, who would love to see Ireland reunited, but who nevertheless condemns the modern IRA as a terrorist organization.

Abbot

Liberal Leadership Stakes

Given that Liberals always go for the front-runner, I guess it’s going to be Frank McKenna.

I expect Michael Ignatieff will jump in to position himself for a possible next time; and Belinda Stronach will jump in because she can afford to, and it is good for the party to have a woman candidate. John Manley may jump in, because he was apparently everyone's second choice last time, and that usually makes you first choice next time, in the Liberal party. I don't think he'll get it, but he deserves another shot, surely.

The Liberals, of course, have a tradition of alternating Francophone and Anglophone leaders. By that, it is a Francophone’s turn. But since the Martin and Turner leaderships were short, I don’t think true balance would be served by sticking with that this time.

Nevertheless, someone like Stephane Dion or Martin Cauchon might reasonably run on that premise.

Others spring to mind, good candidates, but I think realistically they would be also-rans.


Warren Kinsella seems to have signed off his blog permanently. Time for family life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Prime Minister Harper

Harper has a bit of a problem. Unfortunately, the NDP does not command enough seats to make a majority when combined with the Tories. CPC plus NDP would still be a couple of votes short. There goes Harper’s best bet for a stable minority government. The NDP will be pretty well irrelevant. This is bad news for both the NDP and the Tories.

But the fact that Martin has resigned means he can probably depend on the Liberals, at least for a while. They cannot afford an election until their leadership is settled. And they literally cannot afford an election soon in the literal, financial sense. In fact, if Harper is cunning, the thing to do is to introduce any tough legislation the Liberals are going to have a hard time supporting while their leadership race is on. They'll have a Hobson's choice.

The Liberals were down on the Tories (and on their last outing) by six points. Tories up six. It looks as if SES-CPAC was spot on. Best poll for the second election in a row.

Granted, given how bad the Liberal campaign was, there was reason to hope for a landslide. I hoped for a landslide. On the other hand, it's pretty unusual for an incumbent party to be voted out in such good economic times.

It is good news for Canada, I think, that almost all the frontbenchers for both parties are back. That will also make the Liberal leadership interesting. Landslide Annie is gone, though, and so is Pierre Pettigrew.

It irritates me how everyone in the MSM is referring to “prime minister designate” Stephen Harper. Nobody has designated him prime minister. It is up to the GG to do that in due time. One might refer to him as “prime minister presumptive,” I suppose.

Andrew Coyne:

“Ontario, outside Toronto at any rate, is joining the West. The democratic values and hardy optimism that are hallmarks of the West’s political culture have worked their way into the Ontario psyche. More and more, the West’s interests and values are also Ontario’s.”

I think that’s right, at least of Leeds-Grenville and, broadly, the Ottawa Valley area, where I laregly grew up. Folks there have a lot more in common, in their political and social views, with Alberta than with downtown Toronto.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Martin Struggles

In early returns, Paul Martin is trailing in Lasalle-Emard.

Night's First Surprise

Dogfight reported betwen BQ and Tories in Iles-de-la-Madeleine (BQ4400-CPC4200). Tories were supposed to be nowhere in that riding.

Seat Totals for Atlantic Canada

Libs - 19, CPC - 11, NDP - 3

Brison's Back

Scott Brison, Loyola Hearn, hold their seats.

Liberals lead by a coupls of points in the popular vote in Atlantic Canada.

MacKay is Back

Peter MacKay has won his seat.

Nova Scotia:

4 Libs
2 Cons
2 NDP
3 Unknown

Unknowns include Scott Brison's riding, still too close to call.

Early Election Results from Atlantic Canada

NEWFOUNDLAND

Lib 4
Con 3

NEW BRUNSWICK

Lib 5
Con 4
NDP 1

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Lib 4


popular vote:

Libs 39%
Cons 33%
NDP 25%

This puts Conservative support lower, and Liberal support higher, than the polls had suggested.

Just an Intuition

Just an intuition really: but I have a feeling, despite the fact that the poll numbers do not support it, that we will have a Tory majority. I haev a feeling their popular vote will also excel what the polls are showing. I have a feeling undecideds will break heavily away from the Liberals, to Tories and NDP, in the polling booths.

Final Final Polls

Three late polls just in:

Ipsos Reid: – 11 point spread CPC 38 L 27 NDP 19 BQ 12
SC: - 10 point spread CPC 37 L 27 NDP 19 BQ 11
SES: – 6 point spread CPC 36.4 L 30.1 NDP 17.4 BQ 10.6

Aggregate: - 9 point spread; CPC 37 L 28 NDP 18.5 BQ 11.2

Note, though, that Ipsos Reid has a much larger sample than the others. I really ought to weigh them by sample size in aggregating, but I'm too excited to bother tonight. I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. While Canadians are voting over the next hours, because of the time difference, I'll be asleep. I will wake up to the results tomorrow morning.

Since I am not in Canada, I guess I could spill the beans on early results from Eastern Canada. But unless someone else spills the beans first, I won't know what's happening there either.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Final Polls

A composite of all final polls gives us:

CPC: 37.3
Liberal:27.9
NDP: 18
BQ: 11

Let’s see how close this is to the actual result.


The Montreal Gazette and the Vancouver Province have both endorsed the Conservatives, following the Globe & Mail, National Post, La Presse, and The Economist.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

'Od's Composite Poll of Polls

A review of the polls from 2004 shows the final polls were off the actual voting by 4 to 7 points: that is, the Liberal vote was higher than predicted by that much.

The Conservatives are currently leading by 6-10 points. SES – 6.5%; Ipsos-Reid 12%; Ekos 10%; SC 9%; Leger 9%. That’s an average 9.3%.

Let’s discount the claim that the Tories are sliding; that seems to have been an artifact of a rogue SES poll, expressly denied by Ekos and Ipsos Reid. They’re holding steady, and have been for two weeks.

But let’s assume the numbers are as badly wrong this time. That suggests, at worst, that the Conservatives will probably still win.

But suppose they’re wrong in the other direction: that this time the polls are underestimating the Conservative vote? That would put the real Conservative lead at around 13-14 points. A landslide.

If they’re simply right as they stand, there’s a slightly better than 50% chance of a Tory majority. Eight percent, Andrew Coyne reports, is the usual minimum spread that, in Canada, produces a majority of seats.

Most likely explanation for what happened last time is that the undecideds broke heavily for the Liberals at the last minute, and some NDP support rushed to them to stop the Conservatives.

Layton is working hard against the latter this time. If Harper and Layton can get the last-minute focus on the consequences of reelecting the Liberals, it is probably not going to happen this time.



They’ve gotten to Kinsella, poor devil. His site has been blank all day.

Oh, thank God. He’s back. It must have been no more than a kidnapping. But he’s gone strangely quiet.



More on Martin’s Campaign:

Andrew Coyne:

…the campaign that he and his minions have waged over the last eight weeks -- by turns empty, dishonest, hysterical, vicious, crude, demagogic, shrill, incoherent, divisive, xenophobic, hypocritical, not to say staggeringly incompetent -- makes his impending departure from the scene a positive delight. I am literally counting the hours.

There has never been a campaign to match it -- not even the loathsome campaign the same team mounted in 2004.


John Crosbie:

"I was active in politics for 27 years, 10 as a provincial elected member and 17 as a federally elected member, and I've been interested and involved in it all my life. This is certainly the worst behaviour I have seen of any party leader."


Ed Broadbent:

Read his entire indictment here:

Ed lectures the freshman class.


Whatever else happens, Paul Martin is unfit to be Canadian Prime Minister. He is fit to have his name go down in Canadian history as a byword for dirty politics and a lust for power, like “McCarthy,” “Nixon,” or perhaps “Duplessis.”

What Happens if Martin Wins?

Once again, to my mind, Stephen Harper is taking exactly the right tack. I think he has by now revealed himself as, with the possible exception of Mackenzie King, the best political strategist ever to head a national party in Canada.

In response to Martin’s warnings about the supposed dangers of electing the Conservatives, he is pointing out the more substantial dangers of once again electing the Liberals.

Conceivably, Paul Martin might still win this election. Most polls suggest the race is “tightening.” It is important to quickly shift voters’ attention to this.

For Martin’s tactics are sowing a whirlwind. Win or lose, he has poisoned the tone of political discourse in this country. If he loses, he goes. If he wins, Canada would have to carry this, like a tin can tied to its tail, until the next election.

Stephen Harper:

"You have seen their campaign. [If the Liberals] are re-elected we will not have any kind of direction for this country. We will never find the money taken in the sponsorship scandal. The scandals, the cover-ups, the investigations will continue. We cannot have our country go forward like that."

Blogger M.K. Braaten:

“Paul Martin’s attempt at keeping power is despicable. … He should be labeled the worst Prime Minister Canada has ever had. He is embarrassing our Country every time he opens his mouth. He will say and do anything to stay in power. He will stop at nothing to protect his interests. He does not care about Canadians, he only feigns for power for the sake of having it – it’s quite disturbing.”

Ed Broadbent:

The Liberal campaign is "deeply offensive ... to all Canadians…”

Anonymous comment, Andrew Coyne’s blog:

“You wonder looking at him [Martin] if he indeed still has a soul ...”

Another anonymous member:

“I'm with you. I was watching him today and he's just - empty. His mouth opens, words come out that make little or no sense (either that or they are outright lies). Creepy.”

This is not a man who would be able, post-election, to bring us as Canadians back together. There would be hell to pay.

Martin would now, after a month of extravagant America-bashing, have big problems dealing with the US.

He has committed himself to a few nutty policies, like taking the notwithstanding clause out of the constitution.

Alberta will be fit to be tied, being snubbed by Central Canada once again, especially after Martin’s and his top advisors’ openly anti-Alberta comments in the rest of Canada.

So will Quebec. If the rest of Canada sticks by the Liberals, while they have been massively rejected in Quebec, the message will be that federalism itself means corruption.

So will Catholics. Martin has portrayed anyone who has the slightest reservation about either abortion or gay marriage to be a dangerous extremist. The Catholic Church is openly opposed to both; and 40% of Canadians are at least nominally Catholic. Of course, any of the rest who are Evangelical Protestants—or, indeed, devout Muslims—will be equally offended and alienated.

If Martin gets back into power now, we would be saying to all politicians, and to our young: it is okay to cheat. It is okay to abuse power. It is okay to break rules. That’s the way to win.

If Martin gets back into power now, frankly, it will be a nightmare for Canada. We will be an uglier, less kind, less gentle, more cynical country. It would be a watershed, a loss of innocence.


Andrew Coyne is my favourite pundit. He always does the math, and he stays away from empty invective. He notes that the lowest popular vote the Liberals have ever gotten is 28%. They are just about at that in the polls now.

An unscientific online poll run by the Metis National Council shows 70% support for the Conservatives. This is despite the fact that the Metis National Council itself has endorsed the Liberals.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Martin Appeals for the Out-of-Touch-with-Reality Vote

Polls seem to be tightening, including, now, Strategic Council. Most likely result is now a Tory minority government.

On the other hand, Ekos does not show the race tightening; it shows the Harper lead still growing. Ekos principal Darrell Bricker claims it is not tightening (Andrew Coyne), and Strategic Council’s result is apparently based on arbitrarily dropping a day from their survey sample (and boosting their margin of error). Odd that they would do that; they may have lost their nerve due to the disparity with other polls.

So it’s still a bit of an open question.



From David Crane in the Star:

“… how would Harper re-order Canada's priorities? Based on the Conservative platform, there is little attention to the issues of innovation and the knowledge-based economy, our biggest economic challenge, despite the fact that Canada faces a major business and jobs restructuring from intensified global competition and rapid technological change.”

This assumes that it is up to government to pick and support economic winners. And why would government be better at that than the free market? Has it ever been in the past?

Wanna buy a used Bricklin?


From Paul Martin (via Torstar):

“Citing Harper's statement that a Conservative government, even if it was a majority, would not have ‘absolute power’ because of Liberal-appointed judges and senators, Martin said the Tory leader's attitude toward power is cause for grave concern. ‘Who talks that way? Who thinks that way?’”

John Locke and Thomas Jefferson come to mind…

Is the doctrine of separation of powers now on the PC speech code forbidden list? It’s this kind of obligatory denial of obvious reality that keeps me living abroad.


Martin is campaigning today in the Toronto area. Again, this is not a good sign for him. Toronto was his safest area.


The Star again:

“Martin also raised questions about whether a Conservative government might countenance new legislation to outlaw abortion. To do so, Martin quoted a remark by Harper, who on Wednesday was asked by a Global television interviewer to confirm that under a Tory government there would never be a free vote in Parliament on abortion. ‘Never is a long time,’ Harper had replied.

Martin said his party would make an open-ended promise not to endanger ‘a woman's right to choose’ on abortion.”


I can’t see why this would be a winning issue for Martin. Most of the Canadian population wants some kind of restriction on abortion.

And of course, it is simply dishonest for a politician to make such a pledge. Never? No matter how public opinion shifts? He has pledged not to do so in the life of this parliament. That is all any reasonable, as opposed to fanatical, voter could want.

Are the majority of Canadians really, as the Liberals believe, fanatics?

I guess in a few days we’ll find out.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Liberals Support Terrorism in a Good Cause

I was shocked to hear that Peter McKay plans to list the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) as a terrorist organization if the Conservatives win the election.

Shocked, because it is scandalous they have not been so listed by the Liberal government. This is a clear case of pandering; the Tamil community having tended to vote Liberal. The Tigers are among the most active terrorist organizations in the world, and one of the chief practitioners of suicide bombing. They were suicide bombing way before 9/11. They took out Rajiv Gandhi.

Not to ban the Tamil Tigers makes a mockery of any Canadian claims to be opposed to terrorism. It makes it look as though we are opposed only to Muslim aspirations.

And, just as opposing Muslim terrorists should not mean we oppose Muslim aspirations, opposing the LTTE does not mean we oppose Tamil aspirations.



Advance polling is up 25% over last election. A big turnout is usually bad news for an incumbent.



Stephen Harper’s actions suggest his polls show the same huge lead as the Strategic Council’s. He’s campaigning now in Toronto and Montreal—the safest Liberal areas in the country. Today’s Strategic Council poll more or less confirms the last one, showing a sixteen point gap between the two big parties.

Rumor has it that an Ekos poll last week showed a twenty-point lead for the Conservatives, but it was assumed to be in error and was never released.



La Presse has followed the Globe & Mail in endorsing the Conservatives. So, unsurprisingly, has the National Post. More surprisingly, so has Lorne Calvert.

Buzz Hargrove, apparently, has endorsed the Bloc Quebecois.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Someone Interview Me!

This is exciting. Here's a Liberal lie I can personally vouch for being a lie. The Liberal website accuses "The Blogging Tories" of being a covert Conservative operation in contravention of the rules on election spending:

http://www.liberal.ca/news_e.aspx?id=11418

“They’re trying to make it look like these are individuals rather than a party effort,” Parks, one of the accusers, says.

If The Blogging Tories is a party effort, it's sure news to me, as one of the earlier Blogging Tories. I've never been approached by anyone from the Conservative Party. I am not a member of the Conservative Party. When I joined the web ring, no such questions were asked. And I can guarantee you nobody's ever given me money.

Sure makes me want to become a member of the Conservative Party, though. These Martin Liberals must be stopped.


*****

Love these new poll numbers. I wonder if they stand scrutiny. CTV and Strategic Council posted them, then withdrew them, then posted them again: Jan 14-16 CP 42% Lib 24% NDP 17% BQ 12% Greens 5%.



Warren Kinsella writes that a US reporter asked him about the wisdom of “A sitting Prime Minister personally approving an ad that defames a sitting president, with whom he would presumably need to work, after an election."

Kinsella responds, "That's a Prime Minister who is returning to the private sector. He knew it was all over when he approved those ads. They were designed to protect what few ridings he had left, not expand his base."

Say--do you suppose they're paying Kinsella?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Rumblings of a Landslide

The NDP’s current strategy of appealing to Liberal voters may or may not be working, but it seems pretty smart to me. Attack ads work best in a two-party race; because they slime the accuser as well as the target. All very well if the voters have nowhere else to go; but look what happened to Howard Dean and Richard Gephart in Iowa a couple of years ago. They blew each other away, handing it to Kerry and Edwards, who stayed out of the mud.

By appealing to disaffected Liberals, among other factors, Layton can reap the advantages of the Liberal attack ads without being blamed for them.

Negative advertising, after all, gives no reason to vote for you.


Ipsos' seat projection model suggests that if a vote were held tomorrow, the Tories would take 149-153 seats; the Liberals 64-68; the NDP 29-33; and the Bloc 57-61. Note how close the BQ is to the Liberals. If present trends continue up to voting day, they could supplant the Libs as Official Opposition.

Hill & Knowlton thinks the BQ would surpass the Liberal even now, with 61 seats to 49 (!). They also show the NDP up to 41 seats, more than doubling their caucus, and Tories with a bare majority of 156. Nothing could be better for the Tories: a majority plus a split opposition. The NDP and Liberals might even duke it out for who ends up as the more credible alternative government next time. It could be the mirror image of the Reform-Tory struggle.

But I doubt those projections are right.


Decima shows the Tories now at 28%, the Liberals down to 14%, in Quebes. Fourteen percent. That’s NDP territory.


Andrew Coyne points out this from a recent Ipsos-Reid poll: “Those who have immigrated to Canada most strongly support the Conservatives (38%) over the Liberals (35%) and the NDP (19%).” Coyne suggests a fundamental political realignment is taking place: immigrants are moving to the Conservatives

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Canadian Values

In the end, perhaps Martin’s Liberals are in trouble because, despite their claims to be its defenders, they are out of step with Canadian values.

Canadians believe strongly in honesty and in following the rules: there’s the famous claim that Torontonians will wait for the lights to change before crossing the street even at 3 am. Martin and his Liberals have set a tone of corruption and deceit.

Canadians believe in politeness, fair play, and treating even opponents with respect. There are no cries to “kill the ref” at a hockey game. Martin’s hardball in winning the Liberal leadership, in fearmongering against the Conservatives, and in America-bashing, violates that tradition.

Canadians believe in community and in cooperation. They are respectful of authority to a fault. The country was founded on the concept of loyalty. Martin’s rebellion against his own leader, regardless of what we think of Chretien, does not jibe with that. Martin looks as if he has put personal ambition above loyalty to either leader or to party. That is not what Canadians do. Belinda Stronach, and Martin’s welcoming her into cabinet, has reinforced the image.

In the last few days, Harper has been concentrating on Southern Ontario, where he hopes for new seats. Martin has been concentrating on Montreal, where the Liberals have traditionally been safe. Why?

Could it be that the BQ is right? That Martin is in danger in his own seat? And it has become, or has remained, for Martin, every man for himself?


The latest Strategic Council poll shows the Conservatives now in a statistical tie with the Liberals even in Montreal and Toronto. The last remaining Liberal bastions.



“Paul Martin's campaign is worse than a disaster. It's now actually really, really sad. Let's just vote and get this over with, I say. Martin's self-immolation is getting hard to watch.”

-- Warren Kinsella.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Martin Announces His Support of Peace and Democracy

"It is impossible to be prime minister and not feel tremendous pride when travelling across the world and seeing the extent to which Canada is respected and envied by every country in the world," Paul Martin said at Concordia University today. "Whether it's in Haiti, Afghanistan or Darfur, Canada is there to promote peace and democracy."

As a Canadian living outside the country, I have to gag. Canada’s international reputation has been in freefall over the last few years. Canada is no longer a significant presence in the UN’s peacekeeping operations. Starving the military for funding has its effects. Canada is no longer a significant ally of the US, its traditional role as the world’s honest broker with the US taken over by the UK and Australia. Canada no longer counts. Canada is there no longer.

And respect for Canada seems very much in decline: Koreans and Irishmen have asked me why Canadians are so off the beam and bratty any more about the US. Americans, Koreans, and Irishmen have complained to me about Canadians being excessively chauvinistic and nationalistic, just as we accuse Americans of being. And the Liberal government is earning a fine international reputation for corruption, where the Canadian image used to be pure boy scout, pure Dudley Doright. Naïve, perhaps, but honest to the marrow.

As a Canadian living abroad, I can’t say what a relief the thought of a new government is. It will mean being able to be proud once again to admit I’m Canadian. I can’t say how happy I will be to have Stephen Harper as the face of Canada abroad, instead of Jean Chretien or Paul Martin.

He even looks like a Mountie.



The Globe & Mail has just endorsed the Conservatives.

Andrew Coyne theorizes that the Conservatives are winning this election largely because they have won over the media. And they have won over the media by feeding them good copy over the first few weeks of the campaign, with their policy-announcement-a-day approach.


Ipsos Reid shows the Conservatives leading now even in the Maritimes and NL. According to them, Liberals have dropped _16 points_ in less than a week in that region. The NDP is also surging there. I suspect a polling error; we’ll see if this is confirmed by others. Atlantic Canada does not tend to shift ground that fast. IR is the only poll still showing the Liberals leading the Tories in Quebec, as well.

SES now also shows a Conservative lead in Atlantic Canada, though slight.

One cynical thought: Atlantic Canada may want to elect members on the winning side, for the sake of keeping patronage flowing. Patronage, sadly, is big in Atlantic Canada.


Layton and the NDP, following their own strategy, are turning their guns on the Liberals. Their priority, no doubt, is to discourage followers from voting Liberal instead of NDP to block the Conservatives. And the strategy makes good sense. But, aside from helping the NDP, this will help the Conservatives.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Drumbeats of Doom

“... rigor mortis is setting in for the disastrous Ditheral campaign” - Warren Kinsella.

Stephen Harper should, by the way, if he gets a majority government, quickly appoint Kinsella to the Senate, or better yet, to a diplomatic post, perhaps in Burkina Faso. He is a very dangerous guy to have working for the other side.


Andrew Coyne is featuring a photo of the Hindenburg going up in flames.


Bourque is using a picture of the Titanic.


Harper is now more trusted in Quebec than either Martin or Duceppe.


Michael Wilson, founder of the GST, has publicly endorsed Harper’s plan to cut it.


Herb Dhaliwal has said publicly Martin will have to resign as leader if the Conservatives win.


Rumour says advance polls claim a higher then usual turnout. This is usually bad news for an incumbent party.


Mind, Conservative support is not growing over the past day or two as quickly as it had been. SES’s polling suggests this may be due to a move of NDP support to the Liberals. The other possibility is that the Liberal attack ads, even though they flopped with the press, are having some effect on the public.

If the latter, though, I expect a bounce-back once the press reaction sinks in; and this should still be well before voting day.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Liberal Vital Signs Ebb

Stephen Harper did absolutely the right thing in dropping Tory candidate Derek Zeisman, and dropping him fast. In the midst of Liberal corruption, the Conservatives must set an example.


Mario Dumont has now endorsed the Conservatives. This is significant. He and ADQ are their natural ideological partners and they have an organization on the ground in Quebec.


From a Reuters story:
Senior Liberals privately admit the party stands virtually no chance of beating the Conservatives of Stephen Harper….
"We're done," confided a prominent Liberal legislator. "It's all over," said one well-placed official. Some fret they could be out of power for up to a decade.
"…. Defeat on January 23 is pretty much taken for granted," said one person with access to the top ranks of the party.
…"The campaign is in a bizarre state ... There's no policy they won't change overnight if a focus group says it's not popular," said one senior Liberal. "This has been a lousy government and frankly they deserve to lose."

It’s getting to be scandal du jour for the Liberals, now that the press has the scent. Cabinet Minister Tony Valeri flipped a house to a prominent Liberal supporter for more than double the price after three months. That smells pretty funny.


There is just no way the Liberals are coming back from this one by January 23.

Liberal Death Watch

Looks like the Liberals have already lost their chance at stirring up a fear campaign against the Conservatives. Thtat was heir last chance, by me, barring a miracle. Thanks to that leaked commercial about Harper stationing soldiers in cities, and their already shaky credibility, their mudslinging ads look like they are fast becoming a laughingstock.

That’s the death rattle. When they start laughing at you, you know it’s over.

As noted, the tipping point came when the Conservatives surpassed the Liberals in the Quebec polls. At this point, both Liberal and BQ votes should start flocking to the Tories in Quebec, as most Quebecers oppose both separatism and corruption. This will make Ontarians a whole lot more comfortable with the Tories as well, knowing voting Tory will not alienate Quebec.

This is exactly the dynamic that gave Diefenbaker and Mulroney their landslides.

Downfall. No, Not Martin's. Hitler's.

Saw “Downfall,” the German movie about Hitler’s last days in the bunker at the end of WWII. Controversial because considered by some too sympathetic to Hitler.

Certainly made me think. Told from the perspective of Hitler’s secretary, who was in the bunker, it naturally made you sympathetic to the people in that difficult spot. You had to remind yourself that they deserved everything they got. The film, rather clumsily, did its bit with a postscript interview that spoke of the fate of the Jews.

Hitler also came off as admirable for his personal courage, and for his intellectual consistency. His basic views did not seem to waver in defeat, nor when they seemed to go against his own interests. He believed in survival of the fittest. He and Germany had lost the war. Very well, then he and Germany deserved death, and he was not going to quibble about it now. The point is made that he could have escaped death at least temporarily, by fleeing Berlin for his prepared fortress in the Bavarian Alps. But he refused. As captain, he insisted on going down with the ship. “He must be on stage for the final curtain,” as Speer put it.

One of my Arab students pointed this out as a contrast between Saddam and Hitler, to Saddam’s detriment. His end was, by comparison, without dignity. Having demanded that many die for him, he was not sanguine about facing death himself. He cut and ran. So did Mussolini. Hitler stood his ground and would not retreat, just as he demanded of others.

Other Nazis were also shown as heroic: Eva Braun, the Goebbelses, some SS officers, the general running the defense of Berlin, Albert Speer, and some Hitler youth.

This should not surprise us, and surely was genuine. It is only fair to show it. If it did not represent some apparent good, how could Nazism have earned the allegiance of so many for so long? All evil is only a relative absence of good; only the putting of a lesser good above a greater. Fortitude above compassion, for example. Only moral relativism finds this confusing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Late Thoughts on the English Debate

Reviews of the English-language debate are beginning to come in, and to suggest it too involved a self-inflicted TKO on Paul Martin. The reaction to the idea of amending the constitution to remove the "notwithstanding clause" for the federal government does not look good so far. Sounds reckless, a constitutional "roll of the dice," of the sort that so damaged Brian Mulroney.

I missed this first time around. But I can see how it may not look good to many to reopen the whole constitutional can-o'-worms again.

Martin may have handed Harper the national unity card yet again.

The other thing that seems to be resonating is Harper's closing comment about not being good on passion or spin. People seem to have liked that. May have closed the deal on Harper being prime ministerial.

Conservative Majority in Sight

Chances for Martin and the Liberals are dimming. Their best chance to stop the Conservative momentum came and went with the final English-language debate. They needed a knockout there, and they didn't get it. Their next best chance--and a real one--was the French-language debate. If they could stop Harper's momentum in Quebec, they could stop it in Ontario too. It is hard to judge without seeing it, here in the Middle East, but I gather the knockout, if knockout there was, landed instead on Paul Martin. He seems at one point to confuse Stephen Harper with Jack Layton. That makes him seem old and tired, and boosts the
"time for a change" argument. Both Layton and Harper also accused him, plausibly, of falsifying their platforms. This may hurt him on credibility and honesty, which is the main issue in Quebec.

The last Liberal chance is a full-blown smear campaign in their late TV ads. That has now begun. Harper is criticized, among other odd things, for his supposed links to a so-called "secret, ultra right-wing American think-tank." Shades of the Trilateral Commission. Shades of the old "hidden agenda."

I think there is a real chance that, like their promises of new spending, these attacks will backfire on the Liberals. First, being a rerun of what they did last campaign, it looks old and tired. Second, given their growing record of scandal, people are probably now less disposed to believe them. And third, any exaggeration reminds the voters that the Liberal word is not reliable, reinforcing their problems with perceived lack of integrity. All the Conservatives need is to land one good strong refutation to any one of the charges, in the national press. If the press will cooperate.

The latest Toronto Star/Ekos poll, out yesterday, shows the Tories moving into majority territory, and ahead of the Liberals in Quebec.

I think we now have the possibility of a landslide.

With the Tories clearly ahead of the Liberals in Quebec, they become the federalist alternative. That will drain a lot of votes from the Liberals there. And a lot of votes from the BQ--people who were against corruption, not for separatism.

Ontario, where the Tories are now leading, should swing further in that direction, confident now that electing the Conservatives will not alienate Quebec. Ontario usually votes for a different party federally and provincially: it appeals to the province's innate caution.

I now expect a Conservative majority government.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Scott Reid and Trudeau's Totalitarianism

Having been in Sri Lanka at the time, I missed my chance to comment on Scott Reid’s famous observation that rebates direct to parents to pay for daycare would just be “25 bucks a week to blow on beer and popcorn.”

Martin’s Director of Communications has apologized and withdrawn the remark. So perhaps it is unfair to harp on it. But I do think it pulls back a curtain on left-wing thinking generally.

Those on the left are essentially undemocratic in their sentiments. They do not believe in human equality. They believe they are themselves superior sorts, and should be controlling the rest of us as much as possible. For our own good, of course—and I believe most of them are perfectly sincere in thinking it would be for our own good. Making sure we wear seatbelts, teach our children all the correct thoughts, and spend our money wisely.

This is, in a word, conservatism; the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have been more or less reversed in modern Canadian usage. It is fundamentally the belief in class, and in the right and duty of the upper classes to manage the affairs of the lower.

Pierre Trudeau used to claim his political model was not Marx or Smith, but Plato’s Republic.

He was being sincere. Unfortunately, few have actually read Plato’s Republic. It does not advocate democracy. It calls for rule by a specialty groomed elite. It also calls for serious restrictions on free speech--welcome to the Hate Laws--and for the right of the government to lie to the people. It also calls for the abolition of the family.

Plato was a great admirer of Sparta. As Karl Popper pointed out, his “just society”—Trudeau’s tag for his political vision was direct from Plato’s Republic--was and is totalitarian, and a closed society.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Robinson Trails Fry

Reports are that Svend Robinson is trailing in his riding. This is good news for honesty in government. Leaving aside anything I think about Robinson’s politics, it is not a good idea to elect a known thief to parliament.

The downside: Svend Robinson’s loss is Hedy Fry’s gain. She’s the former minister who claimed that there were burning crosses on the lawns of Prince George.

Oh well. Elect the liar. It’s important.


***

In other news, the latest CTV/Strategic Council poll shows the Conservative lead continuing to grow: Conservatives 37%, Liberals 29%, NDP 15%.

Interesting to note, beyond the continuing Conservative momentum, is the decline in the NDP vote. As predicted: with the Tories looking like winners, the NDP vote starts to shrink. Most interesting, it is going not to the Liberals, but to the Conservatives. Also not so surprising: the Conservatives have now emerged as a realistic alternative government, and so votes are presumably moving Toryward from both BQ and NDP in order to turf out the Liberals.

Hairspray

The Economist reports the growing scientific likelihood that the globe is indeed warming (“Changing science,” The Economist, December 10, 2005). “That the climate is warming now seems certain,” the magazine concludes. This may even be due to human activity, not just to the increase in the sun’s heat output in recent years (caused by unusual sunspot activity).

But if so, environmentalists may be partly to blame. It turns out that aerosols, of the sort that were systematically banned a couple of decades ago, promote cloud formation, and could have counteracted the effects of “greenhouse gases.”

And even now, it would be one heck of a lot cheaper than Kyoto simply to lift the ban on aerosols, and let them do their thing.

Friday, January 06, 2006

It's Happening

The polls now suggest we are close to a tipping point that could lead not only to a Tory government, but a Tory majority.

Liberals and Conservatives are now running about even--Tories with a slight lead--in the country as a whole. But the big news is in Quebec. Stephen Harper's strategy of concentrating on Quebec, as I had hoped, seems to be paying dividends. Some polls now show the Conservatives tied with the Liberals in Quebec. SES shows their support growing in that province by 3 percentage points a day.

This is the tipping point. If the Tories clearly take over from the Liberals as the federalist alternative in Quebec, the Liberal vote in Quebec collapses. If the Liberal vote in Quebec collapses, the Liberal vote in Ontario collapses. There will be some movement from the NDP to the Liberals in the face of a probable Tory win, but this should be a smaller factor. Some NDP voters would actually, I believe, feel more comfortable with the Conservatives than the Liberals, and may migrate to the Tories as well.

I think it would take something like a disaster in the Tory campaign to lose the election now. Fifty percent chance of a Tory majority, by me.