Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Is Stephen Harper stoned?"

That is the question my wife just asked me.

I was flipping through the channels and came upon CPAC, which is currently showing an interview with him. She took one look at him and asked the above question.

I think the question was funny although the answer is no. However, I see her point as he seems to have a glassy look in his eye tonight. I bet he is probably very happy the Fall session of Parliament is over.

Update: Just so you know my wife, unlike myself, hates politics and rarely pays attention to it. So her question is by no means a partisan shot, it was asked in all seriousness.

The answer, of course is no, but I still had a good chuckle at the question?

So much to talk about, so little time

Stephen Harper's Senate proposal: The usual suspects have come out for and against this proposal so there is not much else to say in that sense. Although I am somewhat surprised that many Harper fans in the media have panned his ideas.

What I find more interesting about all of this is how far the expectations of the Reformers have fallen in the last 15 years. There was a time when Mr. Harper's proposal would have been met with hoots of derision from the Reform crowd because it is not a Triple-E proposal. Hell, it is not even a single E proposal. I guess it just goes to show that even the highly principled Reformers can sell out for power, just like they have been accusing Liberals of doing for over a decade.

Same Sex Marriage Debate and Vote: What a fucking joke that was. I wonder if Mr. Harper can now count on the social conservatives to bother voting in the next election. If not, it probably will not hurt him in the West but it will cost him some seats in rural Ontario.

Upcoming cabinet shuffle: If the rumours are true it sounds like it is going to be a major one. I wonder if the Canadian punditocrasy will pick up on the fact that the government had to do major renovations to its cabinet less than a year after it was sworn in? That my not be unprecedented but it is very uncommon and it is a good indicator of the incompetence of the Conservatives government ministers.

Gilles Duceppe's threat to topple government over Afghanistan: Contrary to conventional wisdom this move is not directed at the Liberals, not even indirectly. The Liberals hit there nadir in the last election in Quebec. The seats they won are all Liberal strongholds that they did not lose even though they were killed by the sponsorship scandal. Gilles Duceppe knows he will not get those seats this time now that the anger over adscam has dissipated. No, his real target are the seats held by the Conservatives. The Conservatives and the Bloc are going after the same voters, soft nationalists, and Mr. Duceppe realizes that the Afghan war is very unpopular with that segment of Quebec society. So by highlighting the war now, and pointing out the Royal 22nd Regiment will soon by deployed to the war zone, he further separates them from the Conservatives. Rather clever really.

Iran holds a Holocaust denial conference: This was met with universal condemnation in the West but the President of Iran does not care because that was not the audience he was targeting. He was talking to the disenchanted Muslims in the Middle East and they ate up his message. With the destruction of Iraq, the marginalization of Syria and the indifference of Egypt, Iran has an opportunity to substantially increase its influence in the Middle East and this little conference was part of the strategy to exploit that opportunity. It probably worked.

Huge anti-government demonstrations in Beirut: Hezbollah managed to get over a hundred thousand demonstrators out against the Lebanese government and keep them out for a better part of a week. Many of those demonstrators were not members of Hezbollah and until about 5 months ago they did not trust them. I don't know how this will play out but if the Lebanese government has to give into Hezbollah's demands I hope its leadership will have the decency to acknowledge the service the Israeli PM and the IDF did it last summer.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Now for the hard part

And the Liberals could have made it much harder on themselves today.

I like Stephane Dion and I respect him. He would make a great PM. However, I do question his ability to defeat Stephen Harper. I question is ability to translate his win amongst Liberals into a win amongst the broader Canadian electorate.

I was watching both CBC and CTV today and they both made be cringe when near the end of their broadcasts they began to mention Mr. Dion and Dalton McGuinty's in the same sentence. My greatest fear is he will suffer the same fate and just like Mr. McGuinty's defeat allowed Mike Harris to ravage Ontario a Stephane Dion defeat will allow Stephen Harper to ravage Canada.

He does have many positives but he also has many negatives and unfortunately negativity wins in modern election campaigns. However, most of his negatives have to do with him personally, such as his English skills and his lack of charisma. I am a Liberal folks and I did not find either of his speeches this weekend to be very good let alone inspiring. So I am wondering how non-political Canadians will take him.

So, Liberals are going to have to look very honestly at his negatives and find ways to counter them. As well, Mr. Dion is going to have to begin defining the ballot question for the next election beginning yesterday. Fortunately, all of his ideas would resonate with many Canadians so he has to begin talking to Canadians about them now. He has to take the iniative. Mr. Harper is going to try to make the next election about tax cuts and the fiscal imbalance so Mr. Dion has to pre-empt him and hammer on his three pillar themes. He can keep it general at first and become more specific as specific policies are developed. That is probably the best way he can translate his victory today into a bigger victory over Stephen Harper.

The Liberals have given themselves a very difficult challenge and it is going to take alot of hard work by their leader, in a very short amount of time, to overcome that challenge.