Bloggers keeping it straight 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

It's just impossible to keep up with all the problems that the Liberals are facing but thankfully we have some great bloggers to keep us up to date on the daily developments in the various Liberal scandals, lies, and general mismanagement.


Coyne is continuing to bring you the latest on Adscam - he publicized the name, he brings you their shame. He states today that Adscam is the official scandal of the Sun newspaper chain - I think it's only fitting that we recognize andrewcoyne.com as the 'Official Blog of Adscam'. Coyne also reminds us that the brewing 'Monster Scandal' in BC might rise up again.


Inkless Wells has shown that Paul Martin's claims of nominations being 'local' matters and that he want to reserve winnable ridings for women is basically a lie. He's proving out the statement he made several months ago: “I'm gonna love covering this government.”


We have the E-Group highlighting the major problems in the military as a result of underfunding.

There is Trudeaupia continuing to hammer away at the government with some numbers from the National Post on regional development budgets - and suggesting there is going to be more to hear about them. Did you see the hilarious Google ad when Altantic Canada opportunites is entered into the engine - thanks Le blog de Polyscopique!

Gun registry up to 2 billion and counting - a great take by Kevin at tilting at windmills on the rural/urban divide.

I must have missed some things.

And, just when you think you've had enough - Duffy says: May 10th will be the election date.

More on Adscam 
Andrew Coyne talks about other developments.

My comments were:

Warren Kinsella said on Feb 11:

"But nowhere - nowhere - have I seen a scintilla of proof that anyone within government, officials or otherwise, enriched themselves. Zero, zippo, zilch. The enriching all took place in the private sector - for which the guilty parties will pay, and deservedly so."

Time - looks like all it will take is some time.

Duffy explains the depth of the scandal 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

Mike Duffy today on CTV:

The newspapers - it seems to be fading from the front pages - our friends at the Globe and Mail move the story inside today.


The allegations that have been made, and are being made, to the police and another authorities, are really far beyond and much more corrupt than I think most Canadians here (thought) before, even though they knew it was a mess - we now begin to understand the reason for Paul Martin's rage.

The allegation is that senior political figures used the ad agencies to launder money and so, for example, the wife of a senior politician goes shopping in downtown Montreal, buying very expensive clothes, and a person from the ad agency goes along with a visa card and goes 'click' 'click' and it gets charged back to the advertising agency and gets charged back to the Government of Canada.


As more and more of this comes out it's not just about some esoteric plan to buy sponsorships in Quebec.

Its about senior people using these ad agencies as what they say is a 'dry cleaning' operation so that, for example, if a senior official, very close to the top of the previous administration, wanted to have a condo in Montreal so he could go down and meet his 'lady friends' the ad agencies would provide that - bill it back to the government as if its advertising.

This is the most corrupt thing I've every heard of in all my years on parliament hill and it's getting worse by the day.


People here have to be punished, it also give us a new indication of why the Chretien people were so determined to have anybody but Martin because they knew when Martin came in and got the scent of this thing he wouldn't back off.


I think all of the top people in the previous administration who were involved in the Quebec operation - we are talking about 8 or 10 people here - I'm not talking about public servants here - there were a few who probably knew what was going on but someone at the top had to give them the blessing.


It is so serious and so sickening, and goes so high and involves so much money that it makes anything that was ever said about Brian Mulroney and his administration pale by comparison. This is very serious stuff. The Royal commission will bring out the here-say because that's a lower standard of proof than you need for criminal charges but the police are on this in a very big way.

Trust me, store clerks who saw the little person with the visa card buying it for the wife of famous people and those who went on trips simply to pick up gifts on behalf of senior politicians and put them on the ad agency card and get back on the plane to bring them back home where they were given as a gift to these senior politicians - this will all come out. It may take a while but it will all come out and it's going to blow this town wide open.


March 20th the Tories elect a new leader of the opposition, March 23rd we get the budget, two weeks later they call the election for May 10th or May 17th - baring some disaster we are on our way for a May election that (can't make out two words) Paul Martin's cleanup act in the Government of Canada.

Maclean's Seat Prediction 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

In this week's issue of Maclean's there is an article entitled “Gut-Check Time” which contains a seat prediction:

“According to an analysis done for Maclean's by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy, at Wilfrid Laurier University, polls conducted just after the sponsorship affair exploded translate into only 149 seats for the Liberals.”

The seat prediction in the magazine is detailed as follows:

Party Seats Won in 2000 What pre-scandal polls show they'd win What post-scandal polls showed
Liberals 172 213 149
Conservatives 78* 47 85
NDP 13 15 21
Bloc 38 33 53

The Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy's website can be seen here and contains more details on the above prediction and has links to a history of polling data in all the regions of the country.

Presenting the Polls 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

The poll that came out on the weekend came with the headline “Overall Vote Stabilizes: Liberals at 36%”. While this is true, it is not the overal vote that counts - it's the regional numbers.

The poll breakdown looks like this - comparing the last few polls:

Date: 13-Feb 16-Feb 20-Feb
Firm: Ipsos-Reid Ipsos-Reid Ipsos-Reid
Lib. 40 31 30
Con. 5 10 10
N.D.P. 8 8 9
B.Q. 39 39 44
Lib. 47 41 46
Con. 25 26 29
N.D.P. 22 22 18
Lib. 25 25 27
Con. 32 39 37
N.D.P. 19 20 24
Lib. 42 47 39
Con. 33 32 36
N.D.P. 19 12 18

Putting the latest poll into the prediction tool shows the Liberal drops in Atlantic Canada and Quebec have caused them to lose 11 seats over the last poll.

Quebec Ontario West Atlantic Total
Lib. 15 92 20 16 143
Con. 0 10 58 12 80
N.D.P. 0 1 13 4 18
B.Q. 60 00060

It would seem unlikely that the Bloc would be able to hold the 14 point lead over the Liberals for any period of time but with the Conservatives getting some traction in Ontario and the Liberals still doing fairly well in the West does Martin still call an early election?

Debate Thoughts 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

In addition to Jim Elve's thoughts and the comments that follow it, here is some more reaction from the blogosphere:


In case you're wondering how Canada's public broadcaster covered a debate between the three candidiates for Leader of the Opposition, Newsworld was showing Antiques Roadshow. Your tax dollars at work, folks.


It's funny - not too long ago I was mocking Clement for his lame webpage (now improved, mercifully), but right now I think he's my preferred candidiate for the leadership. Who says campaigns can't make a difference?


Clement has an attractive persona--eager, caffeinated, and admirably quick with a joke. When Peter van Dusen asked him how he could lose the Ontario PC leadership and his Assembly seat and still consider himself "electable", he cracked "By the way, Peter, are you still on my Christmas-card list?" Harper is still a bit Quaalude-y, but training has made his manner a little less autistic and a little more intimate. Clement has been after Stronach like a mongoose tussling with a cobra (pouring on the polite abuse doubly when speaking in French); when Clement tried to go the other way and turn van Dusen's question against Harper, complaining about the poor Canadian Alliance showing in Ontario polls, Harper promptly scored the deepest stiletto jab of the first hour, saying "Well, Tony, I believe the record shows I'm the only person on this stage who's won an election of any kind in the last two years." Zing! He's learning how to play to the crowd, all right.


All three candidates performed well, but no one was head-and-shoulders better than the rest. They all made good points; one was clearly aggressive and passionate (Clement), another more tentative (Stronach) and one constantly on the defensive but cool (Harper). But because Harper held his own and, by virtue of his front-running status had the most to lose, if anyone did win, it was him. He was calm, composed and looked leader-like.


Candidate performance marks:
Harper: B+
Clement: B-
Stronach: C-

Taylor: (seeking CPC nomination in Kingston)

The Stronach supporters and Harper supporters were out in full force, filling much of the hall. Clement's supporters had a modest showing equaling roughly one third of either the Belinda boosters or the Harperites. There were many Conservative senators in attendance and Peter MacKay was also present. Harper's supporters in the hall were of all ages, while about 90% of Stronach's supporters, in the hall, were under 25.


There was no clear winner. Every candidate seemed to perform as they needed to perform. However, I would give a special nod to Ms. Stronach. Many of her detractors believed that she would have crumbled under the parliamentary debating experience of Stephen Harper and Tony Clement. However, she continues to impress and has clearly shown today that she not only deserves to be in the race, but also deserves serious consideration for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Brennan at Titling at Windmills:

My final assessment is that I'm more comfortable with Harper than I was and less likely to support Stronach. Clement put himself on the record for improved health care funding which I like, and I also think ideas like the PBO are good ones. At the moment I think I'm leaning towards him, but I'm a long way from making a decision.

Senator Free Agents 
A good reason why Muckler said they would be picking up Bondra's option - consider the Senator free agents at the end of this season (from here):

Daniel Alfredsson, (III)
Peter Bondra, (III)*
Jody Hull, (III)
Curtis Leschyshin, (III)
Todd Simpson, (III)
Shaun Van Allen, (III)

Andrew Allen, (VI)
Dean Melanson, (VI)
Serge Payer, (VI)
Petr Smrek, (VI)
Brad Tapper, (VI) (9)

Radek Bonk, (II)
Zdeno Chara, (II)
Denis Hamel, (II)
Martin Havlat, (II)
Shane Hnidy, (II)
Patrick Lalime, (II)
Brian Pothier, (II)
Chris Phillips, (II)
Martin Prusek, (II)
Karel Rachunek, (II)
Peter Schaeffer, (II)
Vaclav Varada, (II)

How much of a raise will Havlat, Chara, Phillips, and Schaeffer be looking for? Does adding more depth, at a reasonable $4.5 million for Bondra, hurt the bargaining positions of these players?

Not that anyone wants to talk about contracts at this time of the year but the interesting players from this list, in my opinion, are Bonk and Lalime - and of course Alfredsson. Bonk and Lalime have arbitration rights.

Time to move on.... 
Today Paul Martin was on the radio in Saskatoon - here's some exerpts from the CP story: (link from Bourque.org)

A caller named Brian from Regina voiced his concerns over the gun registry directly to Martin.

"I'm one of those typical alienated western rednecks. I own guns, I hunt and I trap. Could you please tell western Canada why Canada is safer now that your $2 billion government program knows about my guns," he said.


Agriculture concerns, and the impact the BSE crisis is having on the Canadian beef industry were a top of mind issue with many callers.

"We have a catastrophe happening in rural Saskatchewan. Unfortunately life in our rural areas has become 3-D," said a caller named Judy.

"Despair, discouragement and depression. Many of use are wondering if we will be able to even afford to put a crop in this spring," she said.


"Alienation in this country exists because your Liberal party, by favouring Quebec, has demonstrated exactly who is more important to you and sure is not the west," said a caller named Helen from Saskatoon.

"My husband and I are retired and it galls me to have to send you Liberals an additional $1,300 at income tax time."

"It's just going to go into the big Liberal back hole," she said.

Why are these people upset? Don't they know that we have a new government in place? Why are they complaining to the new Prime Minister - he didn't have anything to do with these problems and the inaction that followed them!

Conservative Leadership Debate 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog

CPAC LIVE, Sunday, February 22 at 2pm ET / 11am PT
Conservative Party of Canada Leadership Debate

Here's my take on what each candidate will face during the debate.


During the Newsworld debate, Clement was very direct when he challenged Harper on his often repeated comments about 'defeatist attitudes' in Atlantic Canada. Harper was put on the defensive in that debate and must turn such criticisms into a strength by highlighting the federal government's failures to address regional disparity and talk about what ideas he has for the 'have-nots'. He has tried this tactic before - by comparing Albertan oil revenues of the past to the current clawback that Newfoundland faces - but he needs to be more forceful and show more confidence in his abilities to bring Easterners to a Harper led Conservative Party.

He must also direct attacks on his Alliance/Reform baggage (candidates will state the new party needs a new face, etc) into talk of his federal experience that Canadians will trust. Showing, again, confidence and enthusiasm for the background work he did for 'Clarity' legislation, his knowledge of the entire country from his family background and working with MPs from across the country would remind party members that he alone has the federal experience and 'timber' that Canadians, right across the country, want.


It would appear that Clement has the least to lose in this debate but I would say not the most to gain. He can attack both candidates on their weaknesses but, I think unfortunately for him, will probably not face very many questions from Harper or Stronach. He must work on getting more 'first place votes' on the ballot or else being everyone's second choice will mean nothing.

He must present his ideas, not only the other candidates weaknesses, and show how they will be supported on a national scale. His experiences in Ontario will need to be leveraged into how he can lead a national party and a federal government.

I think it will be tough for him to get the viewers attention as most will be wanting to see Harper and Stronach - a great performance by Clement is crucial to take 1st place votes from the other two candidates and, should Stronach crash during the race, ensure he gets enough of her supporters to prevent a Harper first ballot victory.


Most watchers will have their ears perked when Stronach speaks which gives her the best opportunity to greatly impress and improve her support and also the risk, should she disappoint, of falling out of this race soon.

She will be attacked mainly on her inexperience and the other candidates will question her knowledge of the pertinent issues. She will have to prove that she can bring the debate to a more detailed level than the soundbites have shown - the other candidates don't have to do this but she must.

When the candidates do attack her political inexperience she should expand on her strengths of foreign trade, international competition and what Canada needs to do to foster innovation and job creation - then lead into how our social programs can only be supported by a strong economy.

It will not take many stumbles or moments of repetition or hesitation for party members to make up their minds that she isn't ready for the job. Fortunately for her, I think members want to believe that she has the depth of knowledge required and if she can prove it, they will support her.

Blogger Reaction to Bondra Trade 
Again, this is not proof that the sponsorship scandal is blowing over!

Blogging in Black, Red & Gold:

As for Bondra, since he was playing the Sens last night I noticed how he's still damn fast. He caught up to Alfredsson on a breakaway during last night's game. He'll just add more speed to possibly the fastest group of wingers in the league. He'll also help playing the point on the powerplay. The Sens can now send out Redden with Alfredsson and Chara with Bondra on the points for their two powerplay lineups to go along with Hossa, Havlat, Bonk, Spezza, Smolinski, etc up front.

Another question is, when everyone's healthy, who does Bondra push out of the Sens lineup? Probably Josh Langfeld who has looked really good since he got recalled from Binghamton with 13 points in his last 16 games. But then again, when does a team have everyone healthy in the NHL these days?

Ottawa Sports Blog:

"The deal certainly fully backs Eugene Melnyk's assertion in the Citizen last week that he'd do "whatever it takes" to win the Cup. It seems like only yesterday that Senators' deadline acquisitions were guys like Ylonen, Sillinger, and Brunet. Decent players but... in the end it's still only Benoit Brunet. The Senators have made a few above average acquisitions too. Bryan Smolinski and Tom Barrasso come to mind. In the end, Bondra has the potential to trump them all. He's certainly the most talented player they've ever traded for."

Off Wing Opinion:

"Concerned with nothing more than padding his offensive totals early in his career, Bondra eventually developed an all-around game you could admire. That was never more apparent than three seasons ago, when the Caps acquired Jaromir Jagr from the Penguins. The contrast between the two players couldn't have been more striking. Jagr, an incredible natural talent, never, ever looked like he was working very hard. On the other hand, it was clear that Bondra didn't leave anything on the ice, playing a game that took him up and down the length of the playing surface.

He played the point on the power play. He killed penalties. And this season, he was sold on taking on the mission of shutting down the top enemy skaters. And he did it all without complaint

Pundit Reaction to Bondra Trade 
Here are some tidbits from some well known columnists - and no, this is not proof that the sponsorship scandal is blowing over!

From TSN's Bob Mackenzie:

"No one knows for sure if the Ottawa Senators will win the Stanley Cup, but if they don't, it won't be from lack of effort or money. The focus should be on the Senators' players as they strive to get to the Stanley Cup Final, but with the acquisition of Peter Bondra, you can't avoid putting the spotlight - for now anyway - on Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk.

Because without Melnyk, this Bondra deal just doesn't happen. In fact, you can take it a step further...many steps further.

If Rod Bryden were still operating the Sens on a shoestring budget, there is every reason to believe the Senators would have walked away from centre Radek Bonk's arbitration award last summer. If Bryden were still in charge, Wade Redden would not have been re-signed to a new deal. Neither would Bryan Smolinski.


No one is saying Eugene Melnyk is blowing his brains out in Ottawa, because he's not, but the man clearly has a high level of emotional commitment that he is prepared to back up with cash.


So if the fans in Ottawa will pardon us for saying so, the rich just got richer. Wow, what a difference a year makes

From the Ottawa Sun's Chris Stevenson:

"He is also a leader. He is greatly respected by his Slovakian countrymen and played a key leadership role on the 2002 world championship team, the first for the Slovaks. He also scored the goal to help the Slovaks win a bronze in their title defence last spring."

From the Ottawa Sun's Bruce "The Rumour" Garrioch:

"They Senators told (Bondra) if he wanted to take a flight in the morning he could, but he said he was excited and he wanted to get in there (last night)," said Bondra's longtime agent Rich Winter.

"This is a great move for Ottawa and John Muckler. We're talking about a guy who has been one of the NHL's most consistent 30-goal scorers and I believe he's on pace to have another 30-goal season. He's been excellent and he's a good person.

"I know they've got a lot of offence on that team, but this is just adding more firepower to the arsenal. It could be nuclear, I think it's going to be dynamic

The Toronto Sun's Al Strachan:

The latest to move was Bondra, shipped to the Leafs' arch-rivals, the Ottawa Senators, yesterday for Brooks Laich and a second-round draft pick in 2005.

It's safe to say the Leafs could have bettered that price. But they didn't. It's not that the Leafs have a pressing need for forwards. But then again, neither do the Sens.

Still, Ottawa general manager John Muckler knows that even in these defensive days, a timely goal or two can be the difference between winning a playoff round and losing it.

The Senators have one of the league's best power plays. Now, with the addition of Bondra, they have two of them.


Most of the players who have been traded recently could have helped the Leafs' cause, and the excuse that, "when we're healthy we think we're a solid team" simply doesn't wash.

This team will never be healthy. There are too many senior citizens playing a rugged, young man's game.

There's nothing wrong with having a mature team. The longer the playoffs go, the more evident it becomes that you don't win the Stanley Cup with youth.

But there's also a corollary to that statement. When you load up on older players, you have to be aware that they are more susceptible to injuries -- or to the recurrence of long-established ailments. If you're going to stock your roster with as many veterans as the Leafs have, you also have to be deep.

And you don't get that way by watching one useful player after another make his way -- very cheaply -- to the teams that you're liable to be facing in the playoffs

The Toronto Star's Damien Cox:

"If the Sens win, it will be by doing it against the book, or at least against the classic sense of how teams are built. Instead of being strong down the middle, specifically at centre and in net, Ottawa is bulging with talent on the wings and on defence.

To get Bondra, the Sens once again benefited from the smart scouting that provided this team with talent for many years. The centrepiece of the package that went to Washington for Bondra was lanky winger Brooks Laich, a solid first-year pro in Binghamton this season and a member of the 2003 Canadian national junior program.

What's interesting, however, is that Laich was a sixth-round pick in 2001. That means Ottawa was able to convert a sixth-rounder and an upcoming second-rounder into Bondra because the sixth-rounder developed into something.


What acquiring Bondra means is that the fastest team in hockey just got faster and the league's best power play just added a player who can one-time the puck from the faceoff circle or play the point.

The league's highest-scoring team, ladies and gentlemen, just got a little scarier

The other big addition to the Sens! 
From the Binghamton Senators game summary last night:

"The game featured the return of rugged winger Rob Ray to the Senators organization. Signed as a free agent by the Ottawa Senators last Friday, Ray made the first appearance in his conditioning stint with the B-Sens.

Ray matched up with Crunch tough guy Brandon Sugden in a first period bout and later in the contest, showed some offensive touch by setting up several scoring chances.

On the night, Ray finished nine penalty minutes, cracking the 800 minute mark (804) in his 126 game AHL career.

Is there going to be room for Bondra with Ray showing such 'offensive touch'?

Bondra to Senators 
Would you go into the playoffs with this lineup?

Update: Due to comments below I've added Fisher and juggled the forward lines - you're welcome Jacques.


Scratches/Alternates: VanAllen, Vermette, Ray, Langfeld


Scratches/Alternates: Pothier, Volchenkov, Hnidy

Yes. This lineup matches well against any team in the league.

Bondra has a club option for next year:
"Peter Bondra is not a rental,'' Muckler said. ``It's an option-year (contract), which we intend to recognize.''

Spreadsheet Scandal 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

The AG has reported that there are serious flaws with my predictions. After looking at my treatment of undecided voters (brought on by Colby Cosh's post yesterday) I realized I wasn't doing what I had intended.

Basically, I was punishing those parties that had less than their popular vote in the 2000 election (Cons in the West, Liberals in Ontario) and inflating the parties that had improved on their numbers from the election (NDP in Ontario notably).

Here is the revised seat count based on the Feb 16th poll - a slim Liberal majority - helped mainly by an Atlantic Canada rout.


Also, in a post yesterday, I had presented poll numbers that would result in a Conservative minority government - it changes slightly and is shown below:

Date:Feb 16, 2004May 16, 2004
Firm:Ipsos-ReidCons Minority

Lib. 32 52 16 16 116
Con. 0 46 64 12 122
N.D.P. 0 5 11 4 20
B.Q. 43 0 0 0 43

I'll be sending out the corrected spreadsheet.

Liberal MP defecting to Conservatives? 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

Bourque.org is stating “John Bryden, MP, quits Libs, eyes Conservatives: "Libs have lost its idealism ... Martin regressive, yada ..."

Some background on Bryden can be seen on his website. The results of the last election in Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Aldershot were:

Gerry AggusProgressive Conservative Party of Canada9,45119.52
John BrydenLiberal Party of Canada19,92141.15
Gordon GuyattNew Democratic Party3,7567.76
Ray PenningsCanadian Reform Conservative Alliance15,27231.55

(from Elections Canada)

Would the Conservatives allow a Liberal MP to move directly into their caucus?


Bryden said (from CTV):

"I've been holding off these past number of weeks as I've watched things happen here in Ottawa, and I've been very disturbed,'' he said shortly after making his surprise announcement.

"I can't be in the Liberal caucus under the circumstances because, basically, what I've said is I've lost confidence in the prime minister and I've lost confidence in the Liberal Party."

and interestingly...

He sat on the Commons public accounts committee when it reviewed the federal sponsorship spending fiasco, and has been critical of the affair, which has now grown into a full scandal for Martin's government.

A former journalist who has worked at The Hamilton Spectator, The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, Bryden has also pressed for the overhaul of the Access to Information law.

Bryden has unsuccessfully called on the government to expand the law so it could include more Crown corporations and agencies. The issue has come to the fore this month with revelations that some Crown corporations received millions of dollars in the sponsorship scandal.

As for my question above on whether he would move into the Conservative caucus...

He said he plans to talk to Conservatives in his riding about running for their party, and will sit as an Independent in the meantime.

The Disneyland Dictatorship 
Carnival of the Canucks - a special political edition focussed on the Liberal scandals (some Don Cherry and Triumph the Insult Dog thrown in as well) - is home at David Janes' site this week.

Liberal Minority If Election Held Today? 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog

What does the latest poll mean? Well, using the poll numbers and comparing them to the popular vote from the 2000 election, I've calculated what the poll really means...

N.D.P. 0823031
B.Q. 5300053

First off, let me make a bunch of disclaimers. This doesn't take into account sub-region differences - for example BC in the West, Urban vs Rural in Ontario. This doesn't take into account the effect of 'star' candidates a la Broadbent (Lowell Green). It also uses the 301 ridings and not the new 308 which gives Ontario and Alberta more seats. Email me if you want the spreadsheet.

The Liberals are hurting in all regions except Atlantic Canada where their support is holding. In Quebec, due to such close results in many ridings last election, the Liberals could lose many seats to the Bloc.

The support in the west for the Conservatives is finally rising but is still far from the 50% popular vote that the Alliance received in 2000. The Liberals had been poised for great gains in BC especially but it appears to be fading under the weight of both the BC and National scandals.

Ontario is interesting as the chart above shows the impressive drop of Liberal support and the steady increase of the NDP and now improvement for the Conservatives. The Liberal stranglehold of the province is weakening with 21 seats gone to the other parties. What is more important, when running the simulations, is that number would rise to 40 seats if the Liberals lost only 4 more points in Ontario (assuming split evenly between the Tories and NDP).

For the Conservatives, as Ibbitson pointed out yesterday, the dynamics of the leadership race has changed and mostly in the favour of Stephen Harper. The pressure is back on Stronach and Clement to show they are capable enough - party members can't assume a 4 year honeymoon on the opposition bench for the new leader.

For the NDP - they must present themselves as an alternative to the Liberals and make hay while the Conservatives gather themselves. Not having Layton in the House of Commons right now is not helping them pick up the support leaving the Liberals.

And, just to really stir things up, here's what an election would look like if the West returned to 2000 levels and the Liberals lost 10 more points in Ontario to the NDP and Conservatives evenly (assume other regions stay at the current levels).

N.D.P. 0305045
B.Q. 5300053

Quarter Billion Coverup - Thursday Morning Developments 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

The RCMP, as a result of the AG's report, wants out of the sponsorship probe:

Worried about a potential conflict of interest, the RCMP have asked Quebec's provincial police force, the Surete du Quebec, to take over an ongoing investigation into the federal sponsorship program. (CBC)

The depth of the scandal and the seriousness of it can be heard in the words from former Groupaction VP Alain Richard (all on CTV):

Richard says as soon as he started speaking out about Groupaction's shady accounting and invoicing, he began receiving threats to his safety.

"I'm getting pressure all over the place -- phone calls, anonymous phone calls, letters of anonymous sources -- and nobody is protecting me."

"Who do I talk to? The RCMP? Who do I talk to? Who is protecting me as a taxpayer? Who is protecting the taxpayers across Canada? If we cannot trust our police, cannot trust our government, there's definitely something wrong with the system."

In this morning's questioning of Sheila Fraser in the public accounts committee, the AG said that questions were raised by Public Works auditors but that "rather than addressing the concerns of the auditor, the federal government created a new agency with few or no monitoring systems to handle the $250-million program" (CBC)

These developsoccurringuring as some Liberal MPs have either claimed that Martin knew of the issues 5 years ago (Montreal MP Marlene Jennings) or should have known and acted. (Copps).

Name that Scandal 
Andrew Coyne is holding a contest (“Win fabulous prizes”):

A contest: Name that scandal. Sponsorgate is too lame. Maybe a riff on Don Martin's riff on Dire Straits ("money for nothing, and cheques for free"): the "Money for Nothing" scandal? Alfonsoscam? The Royal Canadian Money-laundering Program? What?

Click here to make your suggestions.

I entered my suggestion:

The problem is to how to keep all the waste (HRDC) separate from the corruption (Sponsorship) separate from the incompetance (Gun registry), etc, etc.

I'll suggest using this pattern, in order of disclosure:

Billion Dollar Boondoggle (HRDC)
Billion Dollar Blowup (Gun Registry - continues to explode)
Quarter Billion Coverup (Sponsorship)

Coyne also gave his thoughts on Warren Kinsella's defence of the fraud:

Judge Warren finds there is "not a scintilla of proof that anyone within government, officials or otherwise, enriched themselves."

Oh, well then. Show's over folks, move along, nothing to see here. Your $100 million didn't actually fill the pockets of anyone in government, it's just out there enriching Liberals in the private sector. But wait a minute: $100 million? One hundred million dollars? If a small group of well-connected Liberal partisans came into that kind of money, wouldn't you think someone would notice? I mean, how is it even physically possible to spend that much money

Special Announcement 
This site's hockey content has been interrupted by the unprecedented waste, unrepentant arrogance, and undeniable corruption of the Liberal government. Regularly scheduled commentary on the Senators and the NHL will resume shortly....

Kinsella defends Sponsorship program 
As I said in my post below - “Jean Chretien - who, along with many other Liberals, will still defend this use of Canadian's taxes“

And for proof, number one Chretien spinner Warren Kinsella writes:

We came within a few thousand votes of losing the greatest country in the world. People in government - officials and political folks alike - resolved that it would never happen again, and that every reasonable effort would be made to get credit for the things that the federal government did in Quebec. Why? Well, under Brian Mulroney's watch, there were no Canadian flags flying at post offices in Quebec, or references to same on mailboxes. No flags in citizenship courts, even. Canada, as a concept, barely existed in the Province of Quebec - a state of affairs that helped the separatists to build a case that Canada was wholly irrelevant to Quebeckers.

For the media to now shriek that sponsorships are inherently evil is unadulterated sophistry, quite frankly. The biggest participant in sponsorship programs in Canada - following tobacco companies and distilleries - are the media themselves, by a long shot. They - the National Post, even! - sponsor events because sponsorships work.

Thanks Warren - is this what you meant when you said on Tuesday that “I have quite a few files which are pretty darn interesting” - proof that $250 million got the post office to put up flags?

Trust us, wait for the report, we'll fix it. 
Ivan Yiu says in his post on Jim Elve's Group Election Blog:

If the scenario is that in which an entire government was complicit with kickbacks to party supporters and hanger-onners, then the government will indeed answer to the ultimate jury, the Canadian electorate. Until such time, those interested in true democracy and transparency should wait for the results of the three parallel investigations into this matter.

No matter what the cause though, opponents and supporters of the government alike would, I'm sure, urge the investigative bodies to bring their inquiries to conclusions about cause as rapidly as possible, and to recommend that appropriate steps will be taken to prevent its recurrence.

Great - we'll let the Mounties - an organization now implicated in two inquires - investigate this?

The public inquiry will not likely provide information to the electorate in time for the general election - and yet Ivan criticizes the opposition parties - "as much fiction as fact is being thrown across the floor of the house"?

The opposition parties, and journalists, have been bringing this mess to the public's attention for several years and if anything, have underestimated the extent of the waste and corruption.

Yiu also claims “All it takes is one rogue middle manager, civil servant, or minister.“ I'll let other's take that position on:

Paul Wells says:

Now on to Martin. He claims he did not know what was going on. This may actually be true. But consider what that would have to mean. This program began in 1997. Its ethical vices were built into its design. It sprayed tens of millions of dollars around Martin's province at a time when Martin's entire political future rested on his credibility as a steward of the public dollar. Every reporter in Quebec knew something stunk. For years, every major public event in Quebec carried a Canadian flag paid for by the federal government, at a massive premium. Daniel LeBlanc's fantastic reporting on the scandal in the Globe and Mail began in 2000 and spiralled upward in frequency at the beginning of 2001. Martin did not leave Cabinet until 2002.

So one of the questions facing Mr. Justice John Gomery is: What heroic feats of contorsion would have been required to keep a finance minister, vice-president of the treasury board, and senior Quebec minister from knowing what was going on?

Andrew Coyne:

And we are supposed to believe that no one knew anything about it? That the Finance minister, one Paul Martin, knew nothing about it? That Pierre Pettigrew, the political minister for Quebec, knew nothing about it? That Lucienne Robillard knew nothing of it? That Denis Coderre knew nothing of it? It was all just Alfonso Gagliano's doing?

But then, that is no more incredible than the government's pretense that, because the number one man for the past 14 years has been replaced by his number two, it is somehow a "new" government, entirely unconnected with the last one, notwithstanding the presence of 15 ministers in the current cabinet who were also members of Jean Chretien's cabinets.

Colby Cosh:

It is perhaps worth recalling who the members of the Gagliano committee were (though others may have served--the list dating to January 2001 is the oldest I could find): Vanclief, Gray, Anderson, Goodale, Tobin, Copps, Manley, McLellan, Rock, Robillard, Dion, Duhamel, Bradshaw. Strikes me as a rather distinguished bunch to be placed under the leadership of a oleaginous trimmer like Alfonso, but ugly work always finds its way into the hands of ugly men.

Chantal Hebert:

The Quebec federalist network is a tightly knit clan. As in every family, very little happens without everyone eventually getting wind of it — especially when it continues, like the sponsorship program, over so many years and on such a costly scale.

In time, Canadians will have to choose between believing that Martin — who cultivated every Liberal grassroots connection in sight during his multi-year bid to unseat Chrétien — existed in a bubble when it came to his own province, or deciding that looking the other way is appropriate behaviour for a would-be prime minister.

John Ibbitson:

And here's the question that, politically at least, could trump them all. Paul Martin has lived his adult life inside the Quebec wing of the federal Liberal Party. It helped get him elected leader. Does he want us to believe that he knows nothing about the unseemly ties between the Liberal government and certain advertising and communications firms in that province?

Had he no idea at all what was going on? No doubt Mr. Martin is hoping that he will not have to answer these questions right away. The Prime Minister has adopted an aggressive -- and convenient -- strategy of referring what could be called the legacy embarrassments to various arm's-length investigations: The Arar case, the CSL contracts. Now we have an inquiry into the Sponsorship Scandal.

Remember the words of Jean Chretien - who, along with many other Liberals, will still defend this use of Canadian's taxes:

"I will not apologize to any Canadian," Chretien said. "With the circumstances that we were in in November of 1995, I had to make sure that the presence of Canada was to be felt in Quebec."

"Perhaps there was a few million dollars that might have been stolen in the process. It is possible," Chretien said.

"But how many millions and millions of dollars that we have saved to the country because we have re-established the stability of Canada as a united country!"

Funny that Jean didn't campaign in 2000 on this great achievement - how much money did we spend for each vote in the next referendum in Quebec?
Paul Wells gives his opinion of the effect of this:

The fault is Jean Chrétien's. It will not be cheap entertainment for reporters and opposition MPs to try and establish Paul Martin's link to this mess — that question is important too. But nobody should forget that this mess began within months of the 1995 referendum, as part of a national-unity strategy that took precedence over every other function of government. The rot started at the top.

It is not only illegitimate to use "national unity" as an excuse for what happened: it should be deeply offensive to every Canadian. The unity of a good country is not reinforced when its government runs the country like a pig sty. Shame on anyone who tries to argue otherwise.

There is something else that upsets me very much about this. Every redneck francophobe in the country will roll his eyes as news of this mess gets out, and say: "Well, you know, this is what always goes on in Quebec." It was the responsibility of Quebec ministers first of all, and of Jean Chrétien more than any of them, to resist the temptation to hose tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of regime cronies in Quebec. Jean Chrétien strengthened the hand of Canada's bigots with what he did. He can never live that down. I would be hiding in China too today, if I were him.

Thanks Jean - a united country - united in their disgust of the Liberal playground that is our government and crown corporations.

Let's not, as Ivan says “slow down for a second, take a deep breath, and take a more careful look at these matters.” The non-appointed civil servants of this country deserve more from these partisan, appointed leaders of our agencies, corporations, and departments. Let's show the government and politicians that Canadians demand professionalism, honour, and honesty from their elected officials.

Fools on the Hill 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog

Twelve years in power and the Liberals think Parliament Hill is the setting for a movie of the week - power struggles, changing of the guard, and personal vendettas rule while governing is reduced to inquiries and deference to the next mandate.

Mike Duffy on CTV claims the Auditor Generals report and the way it will be handled is being fought by Martin and Chretien supporters. Duffy claims that the Chretien people had a 1/2 hour conversation with John Reynolds (of the Conservative Party) on how Chretien was going to be treated, and how Paul Martin was going to be treated by the opposition.

"This is Jean Chretien trying to influence what happens on the floor of the House of Commons" and "trying to protect the reputation of Jean Chretien".

Duffy claims that Gagliano is refusing to return and will have to be fired to be removed from his post in Denmark with proof - the government is worried about a lawsuit.

He says that the report will show around 60 million dollars is missing in the province of Quebec - that the Quebec wing of the Liberal party has to account for a lot of this money. He posed the question of who ("a lot of big names") would have the power to authorize such movement of monies - and claimed that the gang that sent the RCMP on Mulroney are going to have the Mounties after them.

Also, yesterday Sheila Copps co-sponsored a private members' bill to protect pensions and benefits for workers in the case of bankruptcy with NDP MP Pat Martin. On CPAC's Primetime Politics last night Copps openly challenged Martin to rid himself of conflicts caused by his or his family's ownership of CSL. She also attacked Valeri and the Liberal Ontario minister Joe Volpe for their lack of action on the Stelco situation in Hamilton.

She claimed that the process of approving this legislation would be a test of Martin's democratic reform. Copps is now using legistation to attack Martin and his supporters - playing out a nomination power struggle with the nation's laws.

Questions: Can Martin really convince the Canadian people that he, the guy that was strolling in the park with Chretien in the ads during the last election, was not part of the previous administration? Will the Canadian public allow their federal government to become a Liberal party power play?

My thoughts on Don Cherry - opinion # 1,232,186 
Seriously, does everyone in this country - at least everyone with the access to print, radio, internet, or TV have to have an opinion on Don Cherry's visor rant?

Some of the more off-beat opinions come from the non-sporting side of the media.

Mark Steyn:

Thus, Dyane Adam, the Official Languages Commissar, has taken it upon herself to launch a Federal investigation of Mr Cherry. It would not, at first glance, seem to fall within her remit. Don Cherry was not speaking French. Nor was "Coach's Corner" in breach of any Federal bilingualism regulations. And the fellows he was allegedly insulting included speakers of Swedes, Czechs, Norwegians, etc, none of which is an Official Language of Canada. But hey, why let that stop you? Dr Adam has about as much authority to investigate "Hockey Night In Canada" as she has to investigate the latest gazillion-dollar patronage boondoggle in Quebec. But, if she has to choose, we know which one is less unhelpful to the Liberal Party and more in tune with the general philosophical bent of the one-party state.

And, of course, the dozy media are happy to support her sense of priorities. If 'hurtfulness' is the issue, what about, say, the Americans? Rick Mercer has his own CBC show dedicated to the mockery of Americans. Hath not an American unvisored eyes? If you prick him, does he not bleed? Apparently not. A year ago, the robust pro-US rant that got Don Cherry into his last round of trouble was provoked by a Montreal crowd booing The Star-Spangled Banner before the start of the game. Many Americans were 'hurt' by that, but they don't count. Nor would it be 'hurtful' if one were to make generalizations about the English. Yanks and Brits are expected to grin and bear it. It's the more sensitive identity groups than are in need of the metaphorical protective visors of government regulation and media disapproval. Which sort of proves Cherry's point, if not for hockey then for the wider world.

(read it all)

Andrew Coyne:

OF COURSE, just because it's true doesn't mean it needs to be said: not every truth has to be blurted out loud, let alone on national television. And mere fact, robbed of context, can still be misleading or inflammatory. It was "true" that a disproportionate number of ethnic minorities in the 1995 Quebec referendum voted "No." And so, in a sense Jacques Parizeau was right to complain in his infamous referendum-night speech that the separatists lost "because" of the ethnic vote.

(...... )

Because he cannot see Quebec society except as one divided on linguistic and, yes, racial lines. Whether it was a calculated attempt to inflame those divisions, or merely the bubbling up of his subconscious in the bitterness of defeat, it was hugely revealing. Such a simple-minded analysis, on such a charged topic, at such a time, would have been scandalous coming from an academic or journalist. From the premier of the province, it was an outrage.

Back to Cherry. He has a right to his point of view on visors, and it's a legitimate subject of debate whether they reduce or increase injuries. It is even, I suppose, legitimate to debate whether those who wear visors are cowardly. But why not leave it at that? What purpose is served by injecting ethnicity into it?

(read it all)

So the CBC is going to put Cherry on a 7 second delay - what happens when they want to use it - and if he goes on for a minute? - I guess they'll flip to Dyane Adams - or maybe the Canadian Tire couple?

Oh yeah, my opinion. It is that Ron Maclean should have stood up and played his part of the Abbott and Costello show a little more and stated that Mr. So-and-so actually was coaching Mr. This-and-that when he first decided to wear a visor and therefore what you said is stereotypical and shallow. Isn't that what makes Coach's Corner entertaining - Maclean playing CBC/Status-quo and Don Cherry the guy in the bar or your 'this is the way it is' Uncle.

Let's get a little perspective - as Steyn wrote:

On the January 24th show, the question arose of whether the NHL should make protective visors mandatory, and Cherry remarked:

"Most of the guys that wear them are Europeans and French guys."

That's it. That's all that happened. Ron didn't end the session by ripping off Don's bespoke tailoring and exposing his right breast. No Cherry nipple was glimpsed on the CBC.

We Canadians like to make fun of the Americans for their obsession over Janet's nipple but up here we need 2 months of therapy when Cherry says "French guys".

Speaking of obsessions - did you read Warren Kinsella's latest rant about Americans? He says, in an article talking about a man crying at the Super Bowl:

Up on the full-resolution, high-definition video displays, country star Toby Keith, who had been part of the pre-game show, with Willie Nelson, was growling his hit song, "American Soldier."

In the video, a U.S. serviceman drives past a cemetery full of dead soldiers, while Keith sings:

I will always do my duty, no matter what the price,
I've counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice,
Oh, and I don't want to die for you,
But if dyin's asked of me,
I'll bear that cross with an honour,
'Cause freedom don't come free.
You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door,
Hey, I'm solid, hey I'm steady, hey I'm true down to the core,
And I'm an American soldier, an American.

A group of Canadians present for the game, and located just behind the weeping man, stand in stunned silence. They look around. The man (a Pats fan, go figure) isn't the only one with tears rolling down his cheeks. A lot of other people are crying, too, swaying back and forth.

I turn to a friend from Quebec and whisper: "Welcome to George Bush's America. Please check your senses at the door as you enter."

Maybe the group of Canadians were stunned by the presence of senses.

On his website, Kinsella said: "I was feeling a tad nationalist when I wrote it, as you shall see."
Coyne responded to Kinsella's shallow drivel:

By "nationalist," I take it you mean "smug, condescending, and splenetically anti-American." For God's sake, they're at war! The weeping wussie on whom you poured your silent contempt may just possibly have a brother serving in Iraq. They've got tens of thousands of kids fighting and dying overseas, and hundreds of thousands more who remember what that's like, and millions more who know somebody in that situation, or know their families, and worry for their sake. They had 3000 people incinerated in the middle of their biggest city on a workday morning, and are in a desperate and probably losing race against time to prevent the same or worse from happening again. If anything like that ever happened to us, I suspect we'd produce our own Toby Keiths.

Or maybe not. In a country that considers it impolite to object to its own dismemberment -- a subject on which you and I are agreed -- perhaps we would just lie down and take it.

Final thought. For disgusting displays of nationalist bombast, which ranks higher on the gag-me-with-a-spoon-o-meter -- Toby Keith, with his purple odes to freedom and duty, or the Joe Canada rant, a chippy, defensive whine about the horrors of being misunderstood by your neighbours

Thoughts on last night's game 
A couple of things:

1. Brian Pothier

This guy, who was sick before the game, plays 16 mins/game typically. He played 29 minutes last night against the Leafs top lines and, despite ending up a minus 3 on the night, showed some very good play - he definitely needs to keep improving since the team will need to make a descision when all of their 9 NHL defencemen get healthy. Remember - Pothier has only played 50 NHL games.

2. Josh Langfeld

Is Josh developing into the power forward the team has been needing? He gets in front of the net when required and has been rewarded with 6 goals in his 16 games. Langfeld will benefit from Shatslivy leaving and will have a chance to show Muckler and Martin that they don't need to replace him on the left side.

3. Patrick Lalime

I'll stick with my previous thoughts on his play - he's the man this year.

Some quotes....

From TSN:
"I've never seen anything like it," said Senators defenceman Curtis Leschyshyn. "I saw three guys getting intravenous. "They brought in soup and rice just to try and get food into the guys. I saw players lying on couches with blankets wrapped around them before an NHL game. It's beyond comprehension."

"It was one of those nights again," said Lalime, who allowed five goals on 27 shots. "I hope there's no more."

Said teammate Bryan Smolinski: "We had a four-goal lead and we play well defensively so we should be able to hold them off. We made some mistakes, and they worked hard."

From Slam! Sports:
Todd Simpson landed in the middle of the Maple Leafs-Ottawa Senators rivalry yesterday and quickly was asked by a reporter: Do you hate the Leafs?

"I thought everyone hated the Leafs," Simpson said without hesitation. "I have never been a big fan growing up, no. You play against guys for a while and definitely some you dislike some more than others but I don't need to name names."

Leafs 5, Sens 4 

Townhall Question Period or Campaign Kick-off 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog

I'll take a short break from the frenzied build-up going on right now for the Sens-Leafs game here in Ottawa to complain about the CBC's “town hall meeting” between the Prime Minister and the Canadian public.

From what I saw, which I think was most of it, it seemed to be a great time for Martin to lay out his plan for his next mandate. The guests, under the pressue of lights and a national audience, could not, when they tried, get PM the PM to account for actions of the last Liberal mandate. Martin deftly directed such questions into how he was, “and let me be clear on this”, going to get all the information so they can make a proper decision going forward.

Whether it was on our foreign aid spending, democratic deficit and electoral reform, or how to deal the problems that “communities” are having - not just cities - don't want to offend too many rural folks that are already pissed about the gun registry and the government's inaction wrt the BSE issue - Martin would lay out the grand plan for the future of the country.

I understand the benefits of having the Prime Minister do such events as these, however, I wonder if it should have something more. Perhaps some journalists to ask some questions like the debates have or bringing the Leader of the Opposition there as well to provide some balance.

Regardless of my problems with the current structure of CBC's townhall meetings it was a joy to actually understand our Prime Minister and be able to listen to some indepth answers on some of the issues. I didn't feel embarrassed as I did when listening to Jean Chretien in those settings.

Here's one of the memorable exchanges during one of Chretien's townhalls:

UNIDENTIFIED: Mr. Prime Minister, I'm Johanne Savoie, from Montreal. Recently, your government awarded itself a very generous grade, "B+", based on your Red Book of campaign promises. Anyone who has taken a test, knows that on any test, some questions are worth more than others. When I voted for you, I voted for you -- I didn't read the Red Book. I voted for you, based on your promise to repeal the GST. And you did not ...

CHRETIEN: Did you read the Red Book on that. It's not what we said in the Red Book. You should have read it. (Audience laughter)

UNIDENTIFIED: You were saying in all your speeches, that you were promising to repeal the GST.

CHRETIEN: We always said that we were to harmonize the tax with the provincial government and we have done it with the Quebec and the Maritime provinces. We never say that it was to be repealed. Read the Red Book. It was written quite clearly.

UNIDENTIFIED: What we heard during the campaign, for those of us who didn't read the Red Book and that's most of us, was that the GST was going to be repealed.

CHRETIEN: No, no -- we said that we were to harmonize the taxes to have a better system, because of the duplication that existed, tried to make it more simpler; but we never said in the Red Book, or directly, that it was to be scrapped.

UNIDENTIFIED: I didn't hear simpler -- I heard scrapped.

CHRETIEN: From whom?

UNIDENTIFIED: From you on television and on the radio.


UNIDENTIFIED: During the campaign. This is what I heard. Maybe they should pull tape. I don't know.

MANSBRIDGE: Stay with us; our combined CBC/Radio Canada Town Hall with the Prime Minister, continues in a moment.

Simpson to Ottawa 
So, Todd Simpson is coming to Ottawa - some details from the TSN site:

"Simpson, 30, had four goals, three assists and 105 penalty minutes in 46 games with Anaheim this season. He previously played for Calgary, Florida and Phoenix. The Coyotes lost Simpson to Anaheim in the waiver draft last October. In 513 career NHL games, the six-foot-three, 218-pound native of North Vancouver, B.C., has 14 goals, 59 assists and 1,180 penalty minutes."

A little nugget from Hockeyfights.com might interest some...

12/30/2001 PHO vs SAN 2pd 17:25
Comments: Simpson gets the early start, as he hits Nolan with 2 or 3 lefts. Nolan goes down, but gets right back up. Simpson tries a few more lefts, maybe 3, none of which land cleanly. Nolan comes back with 5 or 6 rights, but they hit mostly helmet. Simpson then throws two more lefts, the first one missing, the second one landed really good, and Nolan went down to the ice.

They do have policies! 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

I guess I jumped the gun a little in my entry in the Election Blog where I complained that Stephen Harper's lack of enthusiasm for a policy convention could result “that the new leader would be able to pick and choose from the policies of the former Alliance and PC platforms”.

Well, Stephen probably knew that the Conservative Party would release a paper today entitled “Areas of Agreement - Conservative Party of Canada Patial Policy Statement

This paper states:

"Conservative parties were in substantial agreement – as determined by common statements in documents passed by the grassroots members of both parties. As such, this document represents the common heritage of the founding parties of the Conservative Party of Canada.

For more than a decade, grassroots conservatives in Canada have been working toward speaking with a single voice on the federal stage. This statement achieves that goal by reflecting their views and beliefs.

At the Conservative Party’s founding convention, this statement will be a catalyst for further discussion and policy development. We anticipate enthusiastic involvement and contributions from our committed, national supporters as well as our parliamentary caucus in that process.

Given this paper - the need for a policy convention isn't as high a priority as I had stated previously. However, this paper doesn't deal with some very important issues that the parties and leadership candidates disagree on including the methods of tax reduction, same-sex marriage, and health care reform.

Having a policy convention would diffuse the potential problems of having certain regions feeling slighted if a leader is selected and those policies become the party policies for the election.

For example - the same-sex issues seems the most clear cut one - should Harper become the leader, and during the election campaign makes his thoughts on traditional marriage known - would Quebec and Ontario conservatives feel that the party has been forced into this platform because Harper won the leadership?

A delegated policy convention, more or less, ensures broad input and a national platform that would be free from regional interests and criticisms.

Ray to Ottawa? 
A TSN story stated:

"TSN has learned that Senators' general manager John Muckler has in the last 48 hours -- in the wake of his team being physically manhandled and beaten 5-1 by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday -- contacted Ray to inquire about the possibility of the out of work NHL tough guy returning to play in Ottawa for the Senators."

Manhandled might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Carnival Conservative again 
I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was mentioned again in the Carnival of the Canucks - this week hosted by Darren Barefoot.

Darren wrote:

"I'm pretty sure that Don from All Things Canadian--who is a Senators fan--lives in Ottawa. Mind you, he also hates the Leafs, so that could put him anywhere in the country. Regardless, he's always got something savvy to say about politics and his latest post about the grassroots candidate is no exception. It's also cross-posted to ye olde Election Blog. "

The old saying goes - the enemy of my enemy is my friend - and the Leafs of Hogtown are everyone's enemy!

History on Quazy Quinn 
For those that want to educate themselves, I saw on Blogging in Red, Black, and Gold a link to a post on HFBoards detailing Quinn's problems in LA-Vancouver - its a good read - especially this:

"On January 2, 1987 while coaching LA and while in Vancouver to play the Canucks, an envelope containing a cheque for $100,000 was delivered to him by a Canuck trainer to seal the deal while he was conducting a practice in preparation for the upcoming game with the Canucks. At that point in the season LA and Vancouver were locked in a struggle to make the play-offs."

I didn't know this aspect of the controversy.

While I think Quinn is lowering his reputation and making himself a sideshow with his Quazy Quinn Quotes, I don't think it is "an embarrassment" that he is coaching Team Canada.

Quazy Quinn strikes again! 
Another gem to add to the Quazy Quinn Quotes list - talking about old man Nieuwendyk's re-injured back:

"Joe was cross-checked purposely from both sides," Quinn said. "The worst came from the back side by that guy who is closer to Man Mountain Dean than anything else."

For those born in the second half of the 20th century, Man Mountain Dean is some wrestler from the 30's - tells you a little about the guy doesn't it?

How does a coach with class respond to Quazy Quinn?

Martin was again asked repeatedly about the Leafs and their much anticipated visit to the Corel Centre, however. One sportswriter wanted him to comment on "ridiculous" and "outlandish" comments by Toronto coach Pat Quinn after Saturday's wild 5-1 loss at the Air Canada Centre, stemming around charges that the Senators are a dirty team.

"I think you just answered your question," said Martin. "I don't think I need to comment."

Later, he added: "We've got a game (tonight) ... I don't think what Pat says motivates us. We have enough motivation, professionalism. We do things the way we want to do them. People know what kind of hockey team we are."
Ottawa Sun

Muckler's Mission 
As I posted a couple of days ago, with Varada and Fisher out indefinitely, there is need to add some more presence on the ice. The following list contains the forwards in the league playing for teams not in the playoffs who have 50 PIM and 3 Majors - a crude measure of the skills required.


I would lean to the Mair, Wiemer, Moreau type of guy. Would Shatslivy and possibly a late draft pick get you one of them?

The Grassroots Candidate 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Election Blog.

Belinda Stronach has released a letter sent to the Interim Joint Council of the Conservative Party calling for a policy convention even if such a convention is held prior to the leadership vote.

"While as a leadership candidate I will continue to outline policy proposals, I believe that one person alone cannot determine policy for the entire Party. Instead, policy development must be validated by authentic grassroots consultation and input," said Stronach. "For this reason, I believe that the Party should act now to convene a national policy conference this Spring."

"There may be some who argue that the decision to call a policy conference should take place after the election of our first leader," said Stronach. "They misunderstand what our Party is all about. Policy does not belong to the leader; policy belongs to all members of the Party."

Stronach suggested that each declared leadership candidate nominate two individuals to work with the Interim Council on this initiative.

Many have criticized Stronach for being pushed into this race from the PC old boys and campaign managers looking for a winter paycheque and for those critics, such a call for a policy convention will be written off as a shallow move by those organizers to falsely protray Stronach as the grassroots candidate.

Stephen Harper has responded to Stronach's call with a release of his own:

I understand the problems involved in holding an early Party convention. If it is possible to hold one this spring, I hope you will do so.

I would not favour involving the Party's leadership candidates in planning that convention.

Our Party's founding convention should be a grassroots event.

If it is not possible to hold the Party's first convention this spring, the Conservative Party caucus and our Party's new leader will be guided by the approved policies of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance. These policies are the product of years of grassroots work by party members and convention delegates.

Whatever the Interim Council decides, you have my full support.

I find Harper's lack of enthusiasm for such a crucial aspect of the new party to be a little worrisome. Firstly, I find it hard to believe that whatever the council decides that it would have Harper's support. More importantly is the suggestion that should no policy convention be held prior to the election that the party and the new leader would be “guided by the approved policies of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance.”


I'm not sure what this really means. Does it mean the founding principles in the Agreement in Principle of the Conservative Party? Obviously not as there are no campaignable polices included. Does it mean that the new leader would be able to pick and choose from the policies of the former Alliance and PC platforms? It appears so.

The agreement doesn't give any guidance into how the policies of the new party would be formed should no convention be held prior to the election.

Having the policy convention prior to the leadership vote could also be a great way for the membership to understand the impacts of each candidates position on various issues and whether or not the candidates have, at a minimum, the policy support of the various regions.

To be sure, the time to prepare a convention would be limited and the costs for the new party high considering the election campaign that will follow shortly, but as Stronach points out, technology can be used to minimize those issues. The party cannot afford to lose the grassroots foundation of the Reform party and pass up the opportunity to develop a national election platform that would be generated by a delegated policy convention representing all 308 ridings in the country.

Election Blog 
I'll be writing most of my political thoughts at Jim Elve's Group Election Blog. On this site, I'll probably put some politics but since the NHL season is getting a little more interesting, you'll see more entries about it.

Update: I'll be copying my political thoughts here - but don't worry Sens and Leaf fans - I'll keep the hockey content up!

Leafs 5, Sens 1 
Five powerplay goals - four by the Leafs. That's the end result.

The bigger story from this game was the fights, the name-calling, and what it means for the two teams. Lets start with Damien Cox in the Toronto Star:

"You name the foul, the Leafs committed it. They charged, cross-checked, elbowed, slashed and hacked their divisional rivals all night long and because the Sens couldn't slip a pea past an extra-caffeinated Belfour, the Leafs didn't pay for it.

That's the same formula Freddie (The Fog) Shero used with the Flyers in the 1970s, and they called him a genius.

Still, it was priceless to hear Leafs coach Pat Quinn — a Shero disciple, no less — try to put the reverse spin on the proceedings, claiming Senators such as Daniel (The Swedish Butcher) Alfredsson were the true criminals, not his Lady Byng bunch.

C'mon. The Leafs played mean, vicious hockey last night, then gooned it up after their thug coach put the muscle out in the final minute, and still walked away with two points because their goalie was Bernie Parent brilliant.

Why pretend that's not what happened?

To expand on Cox - here's some of what Quinn said:

About Hossa...
"That other kid who took Bryan (Berard's) eye out four years ago was wielding his stick around"

About Alfredsson...
"He's the guy that tried to take Mats' knee out with that hit at the end"
"He's the guy that hit (Darcy) Tucker from behind two years ago and should have been suspended for life probably so I don't give it much validity."

Hilarious. If Quinn really thinks that about those two players, what does he think of Marchment, Domi, and Tucker - players with multiple suspensions for dangerous, dirty play that demonstrates a lack of respect for other players in the league.

Shaun Van Allen had this to say:
"Would I go after somebody wearing a cage? No. I respect the other team. We're all in the same union. We're all battling for the Stanley Cup, but it's a respect issue. I would not try and hurt a guy."

Niel added the following:
"You don't like to see stuff like that happen, especially when a game is out of hand like that"
"You'd think there will be some suspensions, especially when you see a guy gouging another guy when he has a jaw protector on."

"There was other stuff, like (Nathan) Perrott sucker punching (Shane) Hnidy when Hnidy went in to help Vanner"
"Whatever happens, happens (Thursday). You've gotta go out and play every game. We want the two points, and we're disappointed we didn't get them (Saturday). "

"We weren't ready for them (Saturday) night. They wanted first place and the two points more than we did."

A couple questions come out of a game like this that Muckler and Martin have to address:
1. Does the team, considering Varada and Fisher's absence, have enought 'sandpaper' to go into the playoffs?
2. Can the team continue to play without having a forward backing up Niel in the fight department - Chara is too valuable to have him dropping the gloves 10 times a season

And for the Leafs, a game like this brings up memories of the recent problems that ended up in locker room issues. Sundin said the following after the game:
"It's an issue we have to address," said captain Mats Sundin. "It's been an issue here before, last season and for a few seasons now. Just when we seem to be out of it, something like this happens. We have to address it and we will."

As for the payroll issue - I guess $25 million does go a long way - including $9 million for Sundin, $6.5 for Nolan and $7 for Belfour - three guys who made a big difference. Excuses you haven't heard the Sens use - they could have used Havlat (and Spezza for periods 2 and 3) on the PP.

Thursday's game is big - but tomorrow the Sens play Jersey - I expect Lalime to play both of the next two games which is a good test for him after his recent up and down play.

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