Other sports blogs in Ottawa 
Came across ottawasportsblog today after seeing Mike's comments in a post below. I liked his comments on Spezza's omission from the Young Stars game which included a link to Blogging in Black, Red, and Gold - Commentary about the National Hockey League from the perspective of an Ottawa Senators fan. He has a take on the Leaf sweaters you see at Sens games - when they aren't even playing Toronto.

You bloggers should register on BlogsCanada - I was looking for some other Ottawa sports blogs before and couldn't find any.

Update - another sports blog - Tasca's Take - good NHL stuff and lots of Senators content

Leafs learn slowwww 
Pat Quinn said in on a conference call yesterday about the Senators:

"Now we need to really wake up and recognise -- and I think we have recognised -- that they're a very good hockey team."


President's Cup winner last year and, yup, now Eastern Conference leaders.

Do you remember? 
The radio, papers, and elsewhere were caulk full of calls for Lalime's head after the Dallas loss but after watching tonight's 4-1 Senators win over the Coyotes, with Prusek in net for Ottawa, it is obvious what the solution is for the Senators and their netminders.

Play more Phoenix and less Dallas.

Prusek made fewer key saves for the Senators tonight than Lalime did in the first and second periods of Wednesday's game - both Lalime and Prusek game up goals early in the third on powerplays. The Stars stepped up their intensity after that goal and scored quickly off a Lalime rebound - there were about 3 players right on top of Patrick but Maguire was quite certain that the goal was a result of poor 'rebound control'. In tonight's game, after Phoenix scored their goal to come within 1 of the Sens, they couldn't increase their play and it was the Senators who controlled the play.

Going into the previous night's game against Ottawa, the Stars had the fourth best record in the NHL. They scored 4 goals on Lalime in the third period to overtake a 3-1 Sens lead.

Pierre Maguire and the Sens fans and radio personalities, because of those 4 goals and a couple of lapses in a Pittsburgh game last week, have now decided that Lalime is not capable of leading this team to the cup final.

How quickly people forget. Molson Cup winner for 2002-03. Career playoff goals against average of 1.73. Stood tall in the Conference final last year - was a huge reason why the series went 7 games (2 goals on 53 shots in games 5 and 6).

Let's judge Lalime on his playoff performance this year.

$25 million reasons the Leafs should win on Saturday 
After the Senators demolished the Leafs last time they played, some people brought out the worn out excuse of injuries. I tried to show that the lineups of the two teams, at that time, had a payroll difference of only just over $5 million.

Well, this time, there will be no excuses for Leaf Nation as they've added about $25 million to their lineup since that shellacking in the form of Sundin, Belfour, Kaberle, Reichel, and if, as expected Nolan returns.

But, take heart Leaf fans, you'll can still say, after you lose, that with Tucker and Mogilny you would have won. (Combined salary of $7.1 million)

Oh, and I can't wait to see the big tough Leafs wreak havoc on Alfredsson for his insensitive stick throwing jesture. Mike Augello from TMLfans.ca wrote:

"Something tells me that players like Roberts, Tucker, Domi, and Marchment will all be anxious to greet “Little Miss Danielle” the next time Ottawa visits the ACC."

Whatever. I'm sure Big Mats will take the matter into his own hands - right?

Come here looking for Belinda? 
If you've come here from a search engine, click here for Belinda Stronach's website. This is a blog - to see Belinda's blog, click here.

Update: So, a blog is not the only "Dean" inspired development in this race - I just found a Stronach "Meetup" Group. It's not an officially sanctioned group - yet.

Newmarket - Aurora 
The riding that Stronach is trying to run in is a new riding created by the redistribution last year. Elections Canada has transposed the votes from various polls in the old ridings to create what the results would have been in 2000 for the new ridings.

Here is what the Newmarket - Aurora riding would have looked like:


Her performance in the race, should she not win the leadership, will have a big impact on her chances in this riding come the election.

How long do you have to make a first impression? 
Stronach's first stop was in Winnipeg. Roy MacGregor wrote this about it:

"For 20 minutes, on a day so cold even the streetlights froze, the young mother who would be prime minister appeared on Winnipeg radio station CJOB's popular "Adler On Line" and performed in such a manner that the kindest thing station workers could say of her when it was over was that they felt "sad" for her.

It was indeed a sad performance. She had the air of someone who has been so overhandled that she has no idea who she herself is or what she thinks. The result was that she came across as, sorry to have to say this, not very bright.

He added..

"Of the very, very few who defended her, they spoke out in favour of freshness and even said that those who ridicule her today for her "you knows" and "uhs" and "rights" are going to "feel pretty stupid themselves" in eight weeks when she proves them all wrong."

Eight weeks? Eight weeks until the vote but possible supporters, potential party members, and delegates are going to be making up their mind in the next two to three weeks.

Update: Came across Larry Zolf's article on Stronach - his first impression was a little more positive.

Looking for Belinda's website? 
Belinda Stronach's site is www.belinda.ca for all you people coming here from search engines. Feel free to read a bit and check out some of the blogs on the left (not refering to the political spectrum!).

Update: For a couple of people's thoughts on her website and blog, go read Bree at Breebop, Jim at BlogsCanada, Alec at .LOG and Darren Barefoot. Jonathon, who was at her launch, appears to be involved with her website. The Globe and Mail has an article on her website as well.

More to say... 
I thought her speech, or more accurately, her speaking, wasn't that great. Her inflections seemed somewhat forced and in general she seemed kind of flat. The substance of her speech was pretty good actually.

Her speech laid out her stance on some of the major issues.

Tax: "To create jobs, let’s scrap the tax on capital and reduce the burden of big government red tape. Let’s give Canada the most competitive tax structure in the world. To give hardworking Canadians a break, let’s make mortgage interest partially tax deductible."

Security / US Relationship: "To secure our competitiveness and to protect our interests, I would place Canada inside, not outside, an integrated North American security perimeter."

Military: "To defend ourselves and meet our international obligations, I would rebuild our military, giving our troops the equipment, the funding and the recognition they deserve. My government would honour the commitment they make to our country. As Prime Minister, I would never place our sons and daughters in harm’s way without adequate equipment. "

Education: "As Prime Minister I would promote the creation of industry-based technology centres, across the country, that allow young people to learn the technological skills that industry so desperately needs to compete internationally. We should support higher education by allowing both parents and students to deduct post-secondary tuition from their income tax."

Health Care: "Canadians must have universal access to health care but Canadians deserve better than equal access to an inadequate system. The federal government must fund health care adequately, but more money alone is not the answer. The system is not sustainable. As a first step, we must also encourage innovation by listening to the doctors, nurses and health care professionals on the front lines. To encourage openness and transparency, government should send patients regular statements, so they see the true cost of the services they have received from medicare."

Justice: "I oppose the decriminalization of marijuana. This is a question of public safety and public health. As a mother, I am scared by gun violence. I would stiffen the penalties for crimes involving guns. What I would not do is to penalize law-abiding farmers and hunters who use firearms as a tool. While strengthening gun control, I would scrap the gun registry. I would use the money to fight against illegal guns and drugs."

Democratic Reform: "I would restore Canadians’ faith in democracy by reaching out to consult with people, by allowing more free votes by MPs, and by creating an independent Ethics Commissioner who reports directly to Parliament."

Same-Sex Marriage: “I believe that all Canadians should be treated equally under the law, so I believe in same-sex marriage."

In her speech and on her website, she presented some of her qualifications:

1. "My experiences have given me a unique window on the world - a window on Canada's job creation, on Canada's competitiveness and what a country must do to remain prosperous. When I travel the world I worry about Canada's future prosperity and Canada’s place in the world. I see where investment is flowing, where manufacturing jobs are being created, and I see the entrepreneurial spirit that exists elsewhere in the world."

2. "Under her leadership, Magna International, employing 72,000 people in 22 countries, had record sales of almost $20 billion. In three years its share value nearly doubled." Personally, I think this experience is valuable as the 150,000+ public service is a big machine and understanding how to manage an organization that big from the top is important.

3. "Her keen interest in helping Canada compete globally is reflected in her work as a member of the Ontario Task Force on Productivity, Competitiveness and Economic Progress, as a founding member of the Canadian Automotive Partnerships Council, and as the Director of the Yves Landry Technological Endowment Fund. In February 2003, Stronach joined the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce."

4. "I am not a professional politician."

These are somewhat different than the insightful analysis given by Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail today. Margaret said that Belinda's qualifications were:

"1) She's a dishy blonde.

2) She's really rich.

3) She's interested in public service.

4) She has a spectacular ability to attract the support of once-powerful, superannuated pols, who are often old enough to be her father.

This type of useless crap is frustrating. Similarly, I said a little bit about Craig Oliver's commentary on CTV Newsnet below and I'll expand on that a little bit here.

Craig had the following things to say:

"Frankly she's way out of her league.

It was very much like watching a movie scene about a young woman who could afford to buy herself a crack at the prime ministership.

One really doubted whether she really had the understanding of the kind of words she was reading.

I wish she'd back out. I think she's going to be embarrassed and humiliated by the time this is over.

She's a woman who has a lot of people working for her - she pays them well. Those aren't the kind of people that get no's. Those are the type of people that are surrounded with people that say yes without worrying how wrong it can be.

Someone should have told her that politics -- especially at the national level -- is not a game for amateurs.

Maybe four decades in the political arena has made Craig forget that it isn't the only place that people can learn the skills needed for leadership of a party or for the country. Listen to him - the more I did the more condescending he sounded - I may be over-reacting but this is her first speech and, unless he's known her for a lot longer than I expect, he's really reaching in making those type of comments.

Update: Read Trudeaupia's take on the media coverage, Glenda's thought's on Craig and the Middleman's take on it.

Kickoff Speech 
You can read it here.

I listened to it on CTV Newsnet and while I can't say it had me on the edge of my seat (enough with the applause - let her string a few sentences together). I thought Craig Oliver's assessment was harsh when, after her 20 minute speech, said that she will embarrass herself, that she'll fail miserably and blame the media for her failure.

The media is attacking now.

Carnival Conservative 
Thanks to James Bow for the nod in his Politics and Politicos section of Carnival of the Canucks VI - The Undiscovered Country.

I'm also excited to be involved in Jim Elve's upcoming election blog. It is going to be an interesting year in Canadian politics.

Important indeed.... 
At www.belinda.ca:

"Please join Belinda Stronach as she makes an important announcement about her
intentions concerning the new Conservative Party of Canada.

Aurora Legion Hall
105 Industrial Parkway North
Aurora, Ontario
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For directions - 905-727-5642


Now, if only they had put a date....

No change on the www.belindastronach.com/ca sites - what is the law in Canada regarding cybersquatting?

Update: Looks like they made a deal with Sébastien this evening - belindastronach.ca and .com are both directing traffic to belinda.ca. I wonder if the Ferengi would be proud of his deal?

$8 million to beat Copps, Manley and Rock 
The Globe and Mail article that focused on the $3.8 million that is going into the Liberal party accounts contained the following:

"Mr. Martin took in more than $12-million in the record-setting fundraising drive that carried him to the leadership last November."

This number was probably released a while ago but I had never seen it and it really is amazing. Firstly, while expenditures in the campaign were capped at $4 million it didn't include expenses that occured before the race officially started in February of 2003, it means that Martin spent $4 million prior to the official race! Secondly, it is amazing that it actually took more than $8 million to beat Copps, Manley and Rock.

On the same page, in the print edition, there is an article talking about the Conservative Party leadership campaign rules including an expenditure cap of $2.5 million. Martin will have used more than three times that in his 'campaign'.

What is the problem with all of this? A lack of ideas from alternative candidates for one. Rock and Manley couldn't ante up and now Mackay, Strahl, and Prentice in the CPC aren't going to join the race for basically the same reasons. It can only get worse unless tighter rules are put in place or if alternative methods of campaigning, like Dean's blog sites orginally did, can even the playing field.

How Harper would lose.... 
There has been much discussion of whether or not Harper can lose, how the vote split, especially in Ontario, would affect a Clement or Stronach bid. The rules for the vote have been discussed - here at POGGe - so I thought I'd dust off Excel and figure out how Harper could lose.

Each riding is given 100 points.
The number of 'points' needed to win: 15400 (I'm assuming they are using the 308 ridings)

RegionPercentage of First Pick Selections
First Ballot Points1399084058405

Last place contestant is taken off the ballot - their second choices are then considered. The following table uses the second choice selection to determine the number of points on the second ballot.

% of Clement Supporters 2nd Choice% of Stronach Supporters 2nd Choice
Second Ballot Points15346154541534615454

The alternative candidate wins. While I think the first table represents a reasonable prediction, the second table would represent a very large "anyone but Harper" movement within the delegates.

Note: If you want to play around with the numbers, e-mail me and I'll send you the spreadsheet.

Leadership Generation Gap 
Expanding on the age difference between Paul Martin and the Conservative leadership candidates I've compiled a table to compare the PM with Ms. Stronach:

AGEPaul MartinBelinda Stronach
0born before WWII startedborn during the Vietnam war
13watches I Love Lucy and Howdy Doodywatches Three's Company and WKRP in Cincinnati
16dreams of driving the Batmobile - 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept Cardreams of driving Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT) - 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
19IBM’s first computer to be shipped with a hard disk driveIntel releases the 386
24Cuban missle crisisBerlin wall falls

Bourque pointed out a couple of days ago the registration of www.belinda.ca by Navigator Limited - a company whose contact list includes former Alliance leadership candidate Tom Long's strategist Stewart Braddick, backroom Tory Jaime Watt, Warren Kinsella, and Greg Lyle, a former chief of staff to British Columbia Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell and former Manitoba Tory premier Gary Filmon.

Be careful though, lest your little finger on your left hand slip down when typing www.belinda.ca - www.belinda.cz is not a place many people will want to travel!

Also, don't make a mistake and go to belinda.com since it appears to lead you down a similar path.

The expected www.belindastronach.com and www.belindastronach.ca are registered by a Sébastien Carrière whose Star Trek links can be seen at http://www.geocities.com/sebcom/. It's possible that Mr. Carrière might be looking for some $$ for the addresses since he does have the Ferengi Rules Of Acquisition on his site including number 8: 'Only a fool passes up a business opportunity' and number 10: 'Greed is eternal'. Not related of course, there appears to be a picture of Mr. Carrière with le petit Ferengi, er, Jean Chretien here. Ouch.

An observation about the current candidates - their ages:
Harper - 44
Clement - 42
Stronach - 37
Strahl - 46
Quite the generation gap from our previous PM (69) and our current one (65). Jack Layton is 52.

Positioning for 2009 
Jay Currie, in writing about negative advertising and how the parties should approach the election:

"Harper has a harder decision. He is not going to win the next election but he may just win a few seats in Ontario and the Maritimes and, if he boxes smart, may be able to hold a few seats in BC. The temptation to take the high road and run for position five years down the road is huge. And, I suspect, the smart thing to do. Going negative is unlikely to help in this election and it might well hurt Harper with the right thinking pinkish high WASP Tories who have been delivered, slightly askance, by Peter McKay. For Harper the trick will be to look like a man who might, when Paul Martin shuffles off the stage, make a good centerist Prime Minister. For the moment he has time."

The only thing I would add to this is that I don't think Martin would have a lock on the next election should the Conservatives actually achieve what Jay suggests is possible.

A lot will depend on the BQ future and the 75 seats in Quebec as substantial growth in that province for the Conservatives will be very difficult in one election cycle. Ontario, on the other hand, would give the Conservatives many more seats in 2009 should a breakthrough (>10 seats) be made this election cycle and Harper performs decently throughout Martin's new mandate. By 2009, the Liberals will have governed Canada for 16 years.

A Conservative outcome, similar to what Mulroney received in 1988, of 50 seats in Ontario would be possible. If 64 seats (2000 election) were captured in the west and 12 seats in the Atlantic province it would give the party 126 seats - add a couple Quebec ridings and a possible minority government position.

I think the moves that Martin makes over the next four months should be viewed in this light - he doesn't need to worry about this election - he needs to position his party to stop Conservative momentum going into the second half of this decade.

Considering a Harper Coronation 
Well, it happened with the Liberal leadership walk, so why not in the Conservative race?

It doesn't seem like there will be competitive race. Chuck "Don't call me Sheila" Strahl will still run (to position himself for next time?) but won't be a factor. Unless Stronach runs and turns out to be something out of this world, it will be a first ballot win for Harper.

A couple of well known pundits thoughts:

Diane Francis said:
"I believe Stephen Harper is the only viable leader for the new, merged party. He has experience, he has made no mistakes and he will fare better than anyone can imagine against the Liberals' current prime ministerial replacement. For starters, the combined entity should ensure success in the 30 ridings where vote-splitting cost Conservatives seats in the last election.

Stephen has done a soldierly job of shepherding his sometimes rancorous caucus; dealing with a mean-spirited press and putting aside himself and party for the greater good by agreeing to unite the two parties on the right. He's also a man of principle. Stephen's caucus had 63 seats, but made a deal with the withering PCs, with only 15 seats, that equally weights all ridings across the country for leadership voting purposes. This is principled and inclusive, but it means ridings with only dozens of members and no track record of electoral success would be as important in determining the outcome as would be Alberta or B.C. ridings with huge, and bedrock, support.

That's the type of integrity the Liberals, who stuff ballot boxes and ridings, have never tolerated.

Charles Alder:

"Here is what the national media wants you to believe about Stephen Harper. He is a social conservative ideologue, willing to pander to the most vile instincts of the old Reform Party base.

He is a headwaiter to a bunch of western separatist, anti-immigrant, sexist, homophobic, anti- French rednecks. OK Globe and Mail. OK Toronto Star. OK CBC. We know that you don't care a damn about Harper and will tell him behind closed doors not to take your propaganda personally. It would be aimed at any leader of the party of "the right" that dares challenge the natural national governing party, the Liberals.

How close is the caricature of Stephen Harper to the real man? About as close horse sense is to horse manure. What the eastern media is spreading is the ugly face of Canadian intolerance.


"When I think of Stephen Harper, I think of intelligence. It is a commodity that is not in great surplus in Canadian politics, a field where mediocrity is perfectly acceptable and, in many ways, even desirable. Would Jean Chretien have emerged the top dog in corporate or labour circles had he not been prime minister? Would he have been the king of radio or TV or newsprint? In national politics, dull has been followed by duller.

Harper has candle power and for those of us who expect leaders to do more than just mouth the platitudes given to them by their spinners, this is a good thing.

There is not a lot of time for a new face to get the electorate's consideration - Bernard Lord had that going for him as did Harris. But, the concern is that just that... Harper doesn't have a lot of time to change anyone's perception of what he stands for and who he represents.

In his speech that lauched his leadership bid, Harper laid out some of the platform for the Conservative party for the next election - and even if he doesn't win the leadership expect most of these points to be there in the spring platform:

"If I were prime minister, my priority would be clear: to secure a future for our children.
To secure our economic future, our federal government must, first and foremost, aim to make this the lowest taxing country, not the highest spending one.
To secure our future, our national government must take on its own responsibilities and perform them well, not fight with other levels of government for more money and power.
We should as a country take more responsibility for our national security and our defence.
We should work with the provinces on our health care and education and deal with the very real challenges they face.
We must respect provincial jurisdiction and limit the federal spending power, not expand the PMO.
We must address the fiscal imbalance and ensure the provinces have the capacity for our most important social needs.
For have-not regions, we must ensure that equalization doesn’t penalize economic growth and that there should have lower taxes for the many, not special subsidies for the few.
We should take the infrastructure responsibilities of municipalities seriously.
But our focus must go beyond the big cities. In a country that increasingly enjoys the benefits of free trade, it is unacceptable that our farmers, our fishermen and our forestry workers take one hit after another and are left to fend for themselves.
Securing the future for our families means banning child pornography, not banning health supplements. It means registering sexual predators, not registering duck hunters.
Securing the future for ordinary Canadian citizens means restoring ethics and accountability to government, and ending the Liberals’ democratic deficit.
The way to do that is not, as Paul Martin has just done, to make appointed political advisors better paid than elected Members of Parliament.
The prime minister must cease to appoint the members of the Senate. He must ensure they are elected by the people.
The prime minister must ensure issues are voted on by the legislators you elect, not by the judges the government appoints.
There should be a system of direct democracy, so that you can have a say on issues between fixed election dates, not dates chosen just for the personal benefit of the prime minister.

Will those Conservatives in the East give him a chance, in a matter of months, to be their voice? Will Ontario give him their ears?

The pessimist would say that the public won't buy this party with Harper - it's a proven Alliance takeover - and I will agree that Harper would face these questions. Harper has 2 months to show himself to be the leader that has lived and understands the various regions of Canada that he says he is before the election - if he can do it then those Alliance takeover questions will have no bite. If, in the course of the leadership campaign, the Atlantic ridings strongly support another candidate then those questions will take a toll at the ballot box.

Maybe the optimist in the Conservative Party would say that they don't need a race that pits leaders against each other - that the party needs to heal after such a tough year with the PC race and the merger - I would agree with that type of thinking.

Lets hope that at least two others make a bid - if only for the Canadian political pundits and bloggers to have something to talk about before the election other than stories of pot, pot, and more pot?

Hey, maybe we'll find out that the massive Barrie operation was a Stronach fund raising machine - it's only an hour or so from Magna.

Cold in Ontario 
What's colder? - the steering wheel on my car this morning (-30°C) or Pat Quinn's stare at Trevor Kidd after the thrashing the Sens gave the Leafs last night!

5 goals in the first period with a 7-1 final score - nice.

Do people just roll their eyes at Quinn now when he goes on one of his post-game criticism of the Senators? Last year he went on and on about how Niel had spit on Tucker which turned out not to be true and yesterday he tried to make a big deal out of Alfredsson's "joke" when he broke his stick and then acted as if he was going to Sundin it into the stands.

Much was made of the Leafs missing players - the salaries of the two lineups iced last night were....

Senators: $32,726,500
Leafs: $27,203,140

NDP in Toronto 
In John Ivison's column today in the National Post he states:
"There will be those in the Liberal party, arrogant in their convictions about their own invulnerability, who will merely shrug their shoulders. But if that is the case, they probably do not represent ridings in the Greater Toronto Area. One source said internal Liberal polling shows Dennis Mills, Maria Minna, Tony Ianno and Jean Augustine would all lose their seats to NDP candidates, should an election be held now."

This seems a little strange to me when I look at the numbers from the last election:

Beaches--East York
WatkinsN.D.P. 8936

Of these four ridings, Mills losing to a Layton challenge and the Trinity-Spadina riding falling to the NDP would seem to be possible. The other two ridings however for the NDP?

In the Beaches-East York riding, Minna won by 13000 votes. In Etobicoke--Lakeshore, the NDP only receive 6.7% of the vote!

What is interesting is that Ivison states that this information came from a source who used internal Liberal polling numbers. I also came across a Globe article by John Ibbitson which talks about some of the controvesy for Liberal nominations in some ridings - from this article:

"But of the 20 or so ridings where incumbent MPs are considered at risk from internal challenges, more than half of those challenged are women. Their numbers include (but are not limited to) Jean Augustine (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale-High Park), Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West-Nepean), Sheila Copps (Hamilton East), Raymonde Folco (Laval West), Sophia Leung (Vancouver Kingsway), Maria Minna (Beaches-East York), Carolyn Parrish (Mississauga Centre), Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain) and Paddy Torsney (Burlington)."

So, is this information given to Ivison that these ridings could fall to the NDP real or is it backroom politics to influence Liberal nominations?

BC Racists, Bigots, and Pot for Coke Liberals 
On the drive into work today, I heard Steve Madeley on CFRA talking about the Miracle Newspaper in BC and it's anti-Semitic, hateful articles in a current issue. A National Post article states that the paper is "published in Delta, B.C., with a circulation of about 2,500, says on its editorial page it is dedicated to "Islamic brotherhood" and bringing "harmony amongst all Muslim and other communities."".

The article quotes the paper:
"It isn't Arabs lying about and guilt-tripping us with 'the holocaust' -- it is Jews," the article reads. "It wasn't Arabs who caused the Great Depression -- it was Jews. It wasn't Arabs who started WWI -- it was Jews. It wasn't Arabs who started WWII -- it was Jews."

The Dec. 19 article by Edgar Steele of Idaho goes on to blame Jews for 81 other items, ranging from pedophilia and organized crime to "race-mixing," militant feminism and "forcing us to allow homosexuals to lead Boy Scout troops."

I read this article and then tried to find the Miracle on the web - I only found one thing about them. Minutes of a BC School Board meeting where Mohammad Pirzada, representing Miracle Newspaper requested that the school board decline approval for three books (Belindas Bouquet, Ashass Mums, and One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dads, Blue Dads) as recommended learning resources in the school.

I only find this interesting since, in defence of publishing such articles, Chief editor Nusrat Hussain said, "We try to keep freedom of speech and not necessarily that we agree with the article and that is what Canada is about."

Freedom of speech, eh?

There might be a difference between school learning materials and newspapers however when the newspapers are distributed in mosques that line becomes very blurred.

Another interesting note is the mention in the NatPost article that the Miracle "includes a column penned by Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer and an advertisement by the local Liberal MP, Joe Peschisolido." I guess we should expect some statements to come from their offices shortly.

The Liberals certainly don't want any more controversy in BC after some of Martin's fund raisers / supporters have been rounded up in the Pot for Coke scandal - I understood that our hash using PM was serious about opening the US border and supporting regional development but who would have suspected such a hands-on approach.

Jack Layton calls Martin a "practicing coal baron" - perhaps the fund raisers got a little confused - a residue of coal is coke - the dots are slowly being connected!

A look at the Senators record..... 
On the local radio station, The Team 1200, the pessimists amongst the pundits and fans have been saying that the current improvement in the Senators record has been due to a recent spat of games against the lesser teams of the NHL. That the recent victories included those against Washington, Chicago, and Florida and therefore, they say, the team has still not demonstrated the consistent high level of play need to propel the team further than they achieved last year.

I took a look at the records of the teams that the Senators have played against during their first two months when they were one game over 0.500 at 9-8-2-3 (at Nov 30) and since then when they have gone 11-2-3-0 (0.846).

During the months of October and November the Senators played 22 games. These teams now have a collective record of 368-348-123-47 for a winning percentage of 0.514. The last 16 games have been against teams with a combined record of 243-245-109-38 for a winning percentage of 0.498. This difference is not significant enough to explain the better results that the Senators have been achieved.

What could the turnaround be attributed to then if the schedule is not the reason?

Many factors could contribute to the slow start:
- a hangover from the spring playoff run that the town was still celebrating when the season started
- building chemistry and new linemates with Spezza, Vermette, and Schastlivy in the lineup and Fisher, Havlat, and Arvedsson out
- questions over Martin's future with his contract for next season up in the air
- 8 defencemen on one-way contracts
- 6 centers on the team
- a little too much attention to the press clippings talking about offensive potential

I personally liked the chemistry reason the most - the removal of three more experienced players including two very defensively responsible forwards in Fisher and Arvedsson must have affected the team play. 22 games to adjust might be excessive but early struggles can reduce confidence and also might have also brought up questions regarding Martin's security and could have exaggerated locker room cliques.

As usual, time will tell whether or not the Senators have 'turned the corner' in this season - the upcoming games against Tampa Bay tonight and Toronto on Thursday will be interesting to watch.

Where are the NDP seats going to come from? 
It's been a common refrain that with Jack Layton the NDP will improve their standing in the House of Commons after the next election. James Bow has actually predicted that the NDP will be the Official Opposition with a house that will look like this:
Liberal 226
NDP 29
Conservative 28
BQ 25

Now, while he doesn't say that this prediction is a result of too much food and drink during the holidays....
but to get 29 seats in the House the NDP will need to make some major inroads in a number of regions.

To begin with, there is no hope in Quebec to get a sniff at a seat.

In the West, the latest poll that came from Ipsos-Reid would have to hold through to an election as it is the only way for the Conservative party would to drop to a seat count less than 30. The poll showed only 31% support for the Conservative Party compared to 35 for the Liberals and 22 for the NDP. This is 10% improvement for the latter two parties since the election. This would give the NDP 14 seats from the West - huge jump to be sure.
Could the Conservative Party support really fall to 60% of their 2000 election numbers? I doubt it. The new party's support in BC seems to be the issue - they polled very poorly in that province and it will be a key battleground in the next six months.

In Atlantic Canada, the NDP have slipped in the polls to 11% - a drop that would see them win no seats. They will have to greatly improve in that region to get back to their 16% support they saw during the election. To improve on their 4 seats they will need to take a big chuck of the former PC's and woo over Liberal voters. Can they do it with the urban focus they appear to be leaning towards - the mainly rural ridings of the East might not be that receptive to the Ontarian Layton.

Which leads to Ontario where the NDP are hoping for a rebound from their miserable 1 seat performance in 2000. To get more than 10 seats in Ontario, the NDP would need to get all the PC votes, 15% of the Liberal voters and the same from those that voted Alliance - only poaching from the Liberals would improve the Conservative outcome (a left side vote spit). This seems overly optimistic from my perspective.

There has been a renewal in the NDP but not the sort that will see them becoming a force in the House after this year's election.

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