You'll like this one:
LAYTON: I was dating Olivia and trying to impress her mother, who'd cooked a typically delicious meal for us and some of her friends. After dinner, I attempted to say thank you for the great food in my admittedly rusty Cantonese, but evidently thanked Mrs. Chow for good sex instead. I was on the receiving end of many jokes from the entire table for the rest of the evening, naturally.Hat-tip to Nealenews.
The last two years I've sent a letter to Santa.
I didn't get any of the things I asked for in 2003.
I didn't get any of the things I asked for in 2004.
Third times the charm I hope....
Don't you love me? Don't you read blogs? Do I have to ask Layton - he promises to get results!
Anyway, I've tried to be extra nice this year and I hope you've noticed.
This year I would like Martin Havlat to be back in time for the playoffs and for Hasek not to get injured.
I would like Stephen Harper to be the Prime Minister after the election.
Finally, I would like a new coat - something I've asked for every year and which seems to me to be a fairly reasonable request and well within the capabilities of your elves.
UPDATE: Because I know you're wondering how the coat thing turned out on Christmas morning....
Nope - the damn elves screwed me over again - HOWEVER - a sweet boxing day elf brought a nice one home for me today!
Hebert is one of the best columnists in Canada and her column today is again excellent:
Start with the Conservatives. Their campaign should put to rest the notion that the merger of the right was little more than an Alliance takeover of the former Progressive Conservative party.
By co-authoring a federal budget, the NDP not only gave itself a record to showcase in the campaign but, for the first time in its federal history, the party has also had to defend its choices rather than just criticize those of others.
That has forced it to start speaking the language of trade-offs, as Jack Layton did when he admitted that privately delivered health-care services and the Clarity Act were both here to stay.
If New Democrats are to continue to hold sway in the Commons, they will have to become even more familiar with the practice of the art of the possible.
It is because they have failed to keep up with the times that the federal Liberals are no longer holding their own in Quebec. In this campaign, they are fighting the last war and shooting themselves in the foot almost daily in the process.
Two decades after patriation of the Constitution, the federal Liberal party is a spent force in Quebec. The days when it competed fiercely with the sovereignist movement for the best and brightest of Quebecers are behind it.
And that means that, in the not-so-distant future, Canadians will have to tap other sources than the dried-out Quebec reservoir for national leadership.
Taber's talk with Harper has some good parts:
But he said that Canadians would not tolerate a "Liberal opposition" that would not co-operate with a Tory minority government.
"I think . . . the people of Canada are kind of annoyed that the Liberals acted as if they had a majority," Mr. Harper said. "I think they will expect the Liberals, if they are defeated, to eat some humble pie and work co-operatively in Parliament."
Here's the CTV article that has links on the righthand side to videos of Mike Duffy's interviews with the three main party leaders.
Also, on the CTV site, there is a nice blog entry by David Akin on Stephen Taylor:
Taylor is one of the founders of the Blogging Tories blogroll - go check it out if you are looking for some interesting commentary.
Stephen Taylor (left) is having a very good campaign.
He's not running for election; he's blogging about it.
And, so far, he's had at least three good 'gets', as we say in the mainstream media business, on his blog.
Finally, I'm pretty confident Norman Spector will continue over the holidays to highlight the key news stories in the country including putting up the front pages of our nations newspapers so we can see what is getting the people's attention in the various regions.
Have a good holiday, have some rum and egg nog (had my first one last night), play in the snow, and enjoy your friends and family.
As pollster Nik Nanos says:
Although the margin between the Liberals and the Conservatives has remained relatively stable, the one important public opinion trend post debate relates to the views of Canadians on the daily performances of Paul Martin and Stephen Harper. For most of the campaign, Paul Martin has had a 15 to 20 point margin over Stephen Harper on the daily performance index score.Canadians will have time over the holidays to consider their options. I hope there aren't too many people like the one Nestruck spoke to recently:
The last four days of tracking has the Martin and Harper performance indexes very close. On the best PM measure, Martin leads Harper by only four points. In seat rich Ontario, Martin and Harper are statistically tied when it comes to who Ontarians think would make the best Prime Minister. Perceptions of the party leaders should be closely monitored since they can be an 'early warning' of shifts in voting preference.
Me: This is one of the few elections where you can vote NDP and have them really wield power, either in a Liberal or Conservative minority government.
AT: A Conservative minority is scary!
Me: I'm kind of rooting for a Conservative minority with the NDP holding the balance of power, actually.
I liked the comment left there (I'll quote the sentances I really like):
What's scary is the anti-intellectualism of people like Robert McClelland (Imagine someone saying "Indians are scary.") Just as Liberals encompass a spectrum of beliefs, so do Conservatives. Many Conservatives, which I am not one of, just to save you another knee-jerk response, are socially liberal, but believe life choices are best left in the hands of those living those lives, not in the hands of predominantly white heterosexual males born into privilege (Martin, McKay, Stronach, etc.).
Kelly's notion of a Conservative government with the NDP holding the balance of power could result in a truly laissez-faire political atmosphere, with Conservatives unable to push forth their social agenda (which many Conservatives oppose) but the NDP unable to push forth their punitive socialist economic ideas. Maybe all they could agree on is cleaning up the democratic deficit in this country. The point is, just for a change, it would be interesting to have a government that believes in something.
This also reminds me of the request here by Ian and Yoda to give them more details on the Conservative policies. I would like to do a proper job with my own commentary so you'll have to wait. For now, why don't you check out the details in the various announcements Harper and company have made so far.
They have promised a fully costed program in January for everyone to scrutinize.
Oh, one more thing before I leave for the day - are you ready for Liberal attack ads against Layton and Harper. Yoda - you're a big Harris fan right - you'll love that one.
In this campaign, the Liberal leader has so far not backed his sincere passion for a united Canada with much substance. If he is to be believed, stern patriotic rhetoric of the kind he exhibited in last Friday's English-language debate coupled with punctual acts of generosity on the part of an affluent federal government will keep the federation on an even keel.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper has come to a different conclusion.
In a landmark speech in Quebec City on Tuesday, he vowed to sit down with the premiers to address the issue of the fiscal imbalance early on in the tenure of a Tory
government. His words did not fall on deaf ears in Quebec. Yesterday ADQ leader Mario Dumont said he would vote for Harper next month.
Charest himself broke his self-imposed election silence to commend the Conservative proposals. That is not a routine event.
In contrast with their colleagues from the other provinces, Quebec premiers rarely get involved in federal campaigns. The risks of needlessly dividing the federalist camp are usually too high.
But Charest knows he would be better off campaigning for his own re-election against the backdrop of a government that is open to changes to the federation than against
Martin's systematic rebuttals.
The premier is not about to forget that the federal Liberal leader started off his campaign in Quebec speaking as if the demise of the federalist provincial government was a foregone conclusion.
Like it or not, one of the unavoidable ballot questions on Jan. 23 will be which of the federal parties is best placed to secure the unity of Canada. Since 1993 and the implosion of the Progressive Conservative party, that answer had become devilishly simple.
From a Quebec federalist perspective, there was no serious alternative to the Liberals. But this week Charest signalled that is no longer the case.
It's not a new development that this PM is failing in Quebec.
Even I noticed actions like him putting Brison in charge of answering all the questions wrt to the sponsorship scandal despite the fact that Mr. Brison can't speak french.
Martin's inner circle - the people who since the first of the sponsorship scandal fallout almost two years ago have been pulling all of Martin's strings - doesn't have anyone from the province of Quebec.
His selection of former Bloc founder Jean Lapierre as his Quebec lieutenant has been a disaster.
Time for the devil we don't know.
Dion on Duffy's show:
"I gave my life for Canada"
"Mr. Harper should apologize to all the Liberal candidates and workers in Quebec"
"I will never talk to Stephen Harper again unless he apologizes to me, my wife, all my friends who work with me."
Oh - Stephane - your anger is misplaced. I think you probably are quite pissed at your leadership for playing fast and loose with our federation in order to boost your chances in Ontario.
If your anger is real then you live in a world of your own creation. The things Martin and the Liberal war room has said about Stephen Harper - lies about his beliefs - calling his values 'unCanadian' - claiming for the last two years that he's "in bed with the Bloc" - deserve as much outrage from you as his statements today.
Did Herle send you out like he did to McCallum and Sgro last election to make these comments?
Just now on Mike Duffy - Rona Ambrose and Alexa McDonaugh scoffed at this - they basically said the Liberal party is subsidizing their party workers; that the Liberal party won't have to pay these workers anything for that week as they collect money from the government (us).
Belinda Stronach said that these 'accusations' were untrue - that they are all volunteer workers and they will abide by the guidelines calling for them to refrain from working on campaigns during their time back at the office.
First off - do they expect us to believe that they will be doing any work that week? They may be following guidelines but is it right/ethical?
Second - does Stronach expect us to believe that all the Liberal party staffers have taken two months off without pay to work on the campaign?
Should the Liberals find themselves backed into a corner in the second phase of the campaign, I believe Paul Martin is just stupid enough to introduce the red hot issue of energy policy to inflame the debate, hoping to drive an electoral wedge between resource-hungry, "vote-rich" Ontario and "greedy, fluke of nature" Alberta
It started because of a post by Alan.
We have the Saskatchewan blogger defending Alberta against slagging from the transplanted Maritimer living in Ontario. Nice!
I commented at Political Staples that I found the Best PM numbers to be intestering in Ontario. Here is the trend. This goes from the start of the campaign to yesterday. Red is Martin, Blue is Harper.
The data comes from the daily numbers given by SES Research.
UPDATE: Related - from Andrew Spicer after the debate:
Generally, I still feel like I wish I could elect a strange hybrid made of the best parts of Stephen Harper and Jack Layton. They both have policies and positions that I like and ones that I abhor. If only I could pick and choose which days Harper would lead the country and which days Layton would.
It's serious people. The national media has been desensitized to the scale of the issue - when they've been exposed to it week in and week out I'm not surprised that it doesn't keep their interest.
He's going to hurt himself soon.
Captions? I'm too tired to come up with anything right now.
At first I was thinking he was imitating a Leafs fan after tonight's game but he's not exactly a hockey fan from what I know.
Screaming Susan Murray interrupting the CPC spokesman on CBC Politics this morning:
"Are you going to revisit abortion rights and let's say are you going to revisit abortion rights and perhaps capital punishment. Are you going to take away a women's right to choose?"Don Newman let her get away with that crap. It pisses me off to no end. These Liberals are a real piece of work - I lose respect for them and their supporters who love this stuff everytime it happens.
Abortion was clearly dealt with at the convention - can it get any more clear:
Capital punishment? Give me a fucking break.
This year, she gives Harper some props:
The format — more akin to a forum than to a full-fledged debate — was ultimately a better fit for Harper's needs. His campaign has all been about showcasing his prime ministerial skills.
Last night, he got a rare opportunity to play his policy strengths rather than just focus on Martin's political weaknesses in front of one of the rare large francophone audiences he will have in this campaign.
By and large, the Tory leader stuck to his game plan, spending more time expanding on his policies than on tearing apart the Liberal record. He too managed to get his message across with minimal interference from his co-debaters.
If there was one novelty beyond the debate format last night, it may have been that, for the first time in over a decade, the leader of the Conservative party got a chance to define himself rather than have his opponents define him.
Given the widespread Quebec misgivings vis-à-vis the Conservative leader, Harper probably exceeded many viewers' expectations. Still, it will take more than a handful of debates to change the basic mathematics of the Conservative equation in Quebec in this election.
But Harper's moderate performance last night may have made a potential Conservative victory on Jan. 23 more palatable in Quebec.
With the brief exception of the exchanges dealing with same-sex marriage, he skated on solid policy ice in the province for most of the evening.
Again, she seems to be going a little against the grain - hope she's right.
Time to update this chart:
|AGE||Paul Martin||Stephen Harper|
|0||born before WWII started||born before the Vietnam war|
|13||watches I Love Lucy and Howdy Doody||watches Gilligan's Island and MASH|
|16||dreams of driving the Batmobile - 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept Car||dreams of driving a Dodge Charger or Plymouth Duster|
|19||IBM’s first computer to be shipped with a hard disk drive||5.25" floppy disk becomes industry standard|
|24||Cuban missle crisis||Terrorist explosion kills 237 US Marines in Beirut|
|31||Paul's favourite movie is released - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid||Dances with Wolves wins Best Picture|
The Tories went nowhere in the first week, notwithstanding the vaunted GST cut, which all the armchair political strategists thought was genius. They only started to move in the polls after December 7 -- the day they unveiled their daycare plan. Indeed, a number of polls have showed the GST proposal had no impact, or may even have been negative -- apparently, more voters favour cutting income taxes, and by a wide margin. It's not the GST that's moving votes. It's daycare.
Why? Why Brooks answers that one again!
I'm sure Bart isn't trying to be offensive here. I doubt Scott Reid and John Duffy were actively working to piss Canadian parents off with their 'beer and popcorn' comments. The problem isn't the gaffe, it's the underlying belief that bleeds through even the most conciliatory and accomodating spin.
Because the fact of the matter is this: if the Liberals thought stay-at-home parenting was the equal of institutionalized daycare, they wouldn't be funding the latter and not the former.
They just don't get it. And to make matters worse, they don't even get how mad they've made people like me so upset. My wife and I are not second class citizens, and we're damned tired of being treated that way.
Oh, and two of my favourite bloggers - and yours too I'm sure - are on the new CBC roundtable.
Andrew at Bound by Gravity is back blogging.
I'm expecting a post by Brooks on the Airborne regiment coming back.
I'm looking forward to seeing some movement down in the polls this week for the Liberals since Martin's mug has actually been on the TV and in the papers. You knew they'd have to remind voters sometime that this is the guy that you'd have 'leading' the country again.
For my loyal readers, go to the Blogging Tories site to find out what's what in my absence.
Oh, and go bug Alan too - he's on the verge of verbalizing that his vote in this election just might go to the Conservatives. I can feel it.
Dryden, Tanenbaum - damn those Leafs.
Wait a minute - isn't this acutally another reason for me to hate the Leafs?
I've been writing to this blog now for 2 years - thanks for all the best wishes on my blogiversary. I didn't think you'd remember again!
I'm going to highlight a couple of things I wrote last year during the 2004 campaign.
1. This post on my suggestion for the debates - setting clear rules for who gets to participate:
What would the criteria be for being included in the debate?
Perhaps the following:
- A party receiving at least 5 percent of the valid votes cast in the previous general election.
- Or, a party containing representatives in the House of Commons that received at least 5 percent of the valid votes cast in the previous general election. (would allow the Bloc in 1993, and the new Conservative party in 2004)
That's it - nothing more - nothing less. Sorry Greens - you wouldn't make it this time but next time you'd be in, if you hold up your support according to the polls, even if you didn't get a seat.
Their support didn't hold at 5%.
2. This post on why Eastern Ontario - and the Ottawa area in particular goes more Conservative than the rest of Ontario:
The answer isn't entirely one dimensional but I think the biggest reason is that living in the Ottawa area you are exposed to far more political news every day. You get to know a little more of the Conservative plans and see the misrepesentation by the Liberals in the their ads and speeches. You see more of the contradictions on the Liberal positions over the past year. You get to see, by living on the border, the huge difference in the Liberal tactics in Quebec versus the rest of Canada.
Looks like Eastern Ontario is going more Conservative again this time too:
The poll found Mr. Harper and the Conservatives were most popular in Eastern Ontario, where they were the first choice of 42% of respondents compared with 26% for the NDP and 25% for the Liberals.
I sent mine in. No, I didn't ask who could win in an armwrestle or ask who could eat the most cheeseburgers either.
I asked if you were on an almostly deserted island and needed medical attention but the only place was a private clinic, would you go there?
No, I asked if they love Canada.
I'm ready for the big time media now!
Seriously though, I asked a question about the big deal Martin made at a press conference that he was kicking out 10 Liberals for life from the party. 7 weren't members at the time, the other 3 are still members and one even got a Christmas card and is being asked for donations.
How do you do it? Just take a book out of the Kirby report.
The feds establish the wait times. If a province can't meet the times, an agency (National Wait time registry?) just books the procedure in another jurisdiction. I for one have no problem with driving to Montreal or Halifax for surgery (I would still drive to the States for an MRI).
After that you just submit your receipts, Dingwall style, to the wait time agency (as does the other province). Next month the whole amount is deducted from the health transfers to your province. Simple and very business like. And it provides tremendous incentives to shorten wait times, lest Fredericton have to pick up my hotel bill.
The Kirby report can be read here, and more specifically the Health Care Guarantee here, and I think this is the section that is being mentioned above:
Therefore, the Committee recommends that:There's a lot more there.
For each type of major procedure or treatment, a maximum needs-based waiting time be established and made public.
When this maximum time is reached, the insurer (government) pay for the patient to seek the procedure or treatment immediately in another jurisdiction, including, if necessary, another country (e.g., the United States). This is called the Health Care Guarantee.
The Committee realizes that governments may well take the position that if a patient does not receive timely access for a medically necessary service, and hence becomes entitled to service elsewhere under the health care guarantee, the responsibility (or blame) may rest with the hospital or its physicians for not being sufficiently efficient in the use of existing resources and not managing waiting lists well enough. Under these circumstances, the government may well seek to recover the costs incurred through the care guarantee from the hospital and/or the physician(s) concerned. That is, governments may well place the responsibility for meeting the maximum waiting times on the shoulders of those responsible for actually managing the system. This is reasonable if it can be shown that underfunding is not the sole or even the primary cause of a patient waiting too long for a service.
The Committee believes that it should be possible for the federal and provincial/territorial governments to reach agreement on a national set of maximum waiting times for various procedures. It passionately hopes that it will not be necessary for unilateral action to be taken by the federal government or for a parallel system of private delivery, financed by private insurance, to emerge as a result of judicial decisions. The Committee has pointed to these potential consequences of not implementing the health care guarantee only because it categorically rejects the status quo: Canadians in need of medically necessary services must be given timely access to them.
Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Paul Martin was in Toronto Friday where he received a ringing endorsement from the head of the Canadian Auto Workers.
Union chief Buzz Hargrove said the minority Liberal government should be returned to Ottawa with even more seats.
UPDATE: Thoughts from Babble - the leftwing discussion forum....
"I watched the whole sorry affair on CablePulse this morning. Hargrove was fawning over Martin. It was disgusting. After he introduced Martin, Martin said, "Buzz I could listen to you all day"
Made me want to puke.:
"It seems to me Buzz Hargrove is at a stage in his life where what he craves most is acceptance by the elites that he is one of them. It is, unfortunately, a cultural disease suffered by many labour leaders and right wing social democrats.
Hargrove also responds shockingly well to flattery. Martin obviously sees these things and has exploited them.
Meanwhile, Hargrove's union is on the brink of serious decline. High paying jobs are being lost. Internally, he has gutted the leadership capacity of the union and there is no succession plan in sight."
"Senator Hargrove... paging Senator Hargrove.... "
Dear Blog Boy: I was just wondering how many times you get the Prime Minister to say "fundamentally" in a speech? It sure seems a bit excessive! - J.H.
Thank you for your very, very important question. Make no mistake: fundamentally, the Prime Minister is a man who, essentially, speaks in a very, very distinctive way. Let me be clear: we have pointed this out to him. And fundamentally, what he has said in reply is, essentially, that we should be very, very quiet and go away.
I LOVE CANADA!!
I poked around a bit and couldn't find it - the word "Liberal", "Liberal Party", or "Paul Martin" anywhere.
Here in Ottawa Centre - you have to get really, really close to the Richard Mahoney signs to see "Liberal", "Liberal Party", or "Paul Martin".
Poor guys. Must be nice to run on your "record".
Mr. Dennis Gruending:
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I would refer him to a very fine piece of literature, a document prepared for our national convention last summer which talked about fiscal responsibility. I am sure he might enjoy taking it home, reading it over Christmas and having it at his bedside at all times.
In that document we talked about targeted tax cuts for middle income and poorer Canadians. As I have just mentioned, we talked about starting by reducing the GST.
An hon. member: The Tory tax.
Mr. Dennis Gruending:
Yes, the Tory tax.
We believe that middle class and lower income Canadians need some tax relief. We would not extend that blindly as the previous Conservative and current Liberal governments have done to tax relief for big corporations.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, on the question of the GST, the hon. member will know that the GST collected about $24 billion in the last fiscal period. That means for each percentage point we are talking about just over $3.5 billion.
Given the magnitude of the impact on reduced revenues of the government and utilization of the surplus that would otherwise exist, what exactly would the hon. member suggest we do in terms of either forgoing debt repayment or forgoing increases to health spending to be able to fund that significant tax reduction?
Mr. Dennis Gruending:
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I would respond to it briefly by making two points.
First, I would refer to the surplus of almost $100 billion which the Liberal government is proudly crowing about at the moment. Second, I would remind him that it was his own party prior to 1993 which promised to get rid of the GST.
Mr. Scott Brison:
Mr. Speaker, my second question for the newly minted member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar is a very simple one.
One thing I do respect about the New Democrats is their consistency and sense of values and commitment to those values over a period of time.
That stands in stark contrast to the Liberals. The hon. member was quite right in pointing out that while he is opposed to the GST and would like to reduce the GST, so were the Liberals of similar persuasion before 1993. Let me suggest that a potential replacement for those revenues may be gained from a hypocrisy tax. If we were to have a hypocrisy tax that would be levied on politicians who break red book promises, perhaps that would be one way to help replace revenue from the GST.
I would appreciate his erudite views on my proposal for a hypocrisy tax which would serve two functions. First it would force Liberals to keep their promises for a change. Second, it would raise those revenues to reduce the GST, as the hon. member feels is important.
Consumption taxes make up the largest part of the taxes paid by low-income people, with income taxes and social insurance contributions a distant second and third place. Changes to the income tax system will have limited benefits for low-income families. It is logical to look for changes in the consumption tax regime if the goal is to deliver benefits to low-income Canadians.
However, it would require much larger increases in the GST credit to deliver substantial benefits to low-income Canadians, and to offset the heavy consumption taxes they pay. Also, even though the GST credit was the option that delivered the highest proportion of benefits to low-income people it is important to recognise that a large increase in the credit would raise the income level at which families receive some benefit.
Jack!, support the Tory plan and 'get results for people'.
UPDATE: The NDP have supported GST reduction in the past. (Hat-tip to the Potent Pew)