Archived entries for Canadian Election 2006

It will be OK!

harper_martin_0125We can have another election in six months!

I have received a few emails from people wondering why I haven’t mentioned much about Monday’s Canadian election. I had to take 36 hours to recover from the news that Stephen Harper will be the next prime minister (well, admittedly, I was having a busy day and just couldn’t get to it).

A few basic facts about the election for the confused masses: the Conservative Party won the largest number of seats in the House of Commons (124 vs. 103 for the Liberals), but they did not win a majority of the seats. Because they will be a minority government, any legislation they would like to pass would require an alliance with another party. But there are no natural alliances among the opposition parties: the Liberals, the New Democrats, and the Bloc Quebecois.

My prediction is that the Conservative-led government elected on Monday will collapse in six months, the earliest date that another election can be called.

Earlier this week, Paul Martin said of Stephen Harper and his Conservatives: “Never have we seen a major political party with such a conservative agenda as this one, an agenda really drawn from the extreme right in the United States.” A letter-writer in the Toronto Star seemed to agree:”I now can fully empathize with Americans who did not vote for Bush. I am truly mortified that Stephen Harper will be our prime minister.”

Certainly one of the most interesting angles on this election is the ascent of Western Canada politically. There have been few prime ministers from outside Quebec or Ontario (Paul Martin represents Montreal, and Stephen Harper represents Calgary, although both men were raised in Ontario), and the West has long felt alienated from more populous Quebec and Ontario. It’s not hard to see that the isolation of the West, both geographically and psychologically, has been politically punishing.

In what is sure to become a famous declaration, Stephen Harper said Monday night, “The West has wanted in, the West is in now.”

Mr. Harper Goes to Ottawa

I just love this photo, which was on Page One of the Globe and Mail today. And there happens to be a good story from the New York Times to go along with it, as well.

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McKenna quits

mckenna_quits_0125From the moment Prime Minister Paul Martin announced his plans yesterday to resign as Liberal Party leader, the wires were filled with speculation about who would replace him. Rumours swirled about all the usual suspects, but the day came and went without a peep from Frank McKenna, the Ambassador to the U.S., who has long been seen as the most likely replacement.

McKenna really had us believing that he was going to stay put in Washington if only Stephen Harper would keep him there into the new administration. But we were fooled! Today the good ambassador resigned without citing any specific reason, further fueling speculation that he is going to run for leadership of the Liberal Party.

The implication of his resignation: George Bush needn’t worry about having his government called ‘dysfunctional‘ anymore. Well, at least not until Frank McKenna tries to become prime minster in six months.

Kim Campbell

kim_campbellOr, Why we shouldn’t really care if the Conservatives win

In America, when George W. Bush began his second term, many friends joked, “Well, at least we know there’s only four more years left, and he can’t get reelected.”

In Canada, leaders can be changed like underwear. Let’s just remind ourselves how quickly leaders can come and go:

• Kim Campbell, prime minister from June 25 to November 4, 1993, was the last Conservative to hold national leadership. And look how long that idea lasted!

• Joe Clark led the country for a staggering 9 months, from June 4, 1979, to March 3, 1980. Nine months is all it takes.

• Is Stephen Harper next?

Monday’s Election Day mantra: ‘Don’t let Calgary decide’

FEDELXN-BLOCThe caution offered by opponents of the Conservative party is shown here in a full-page newspaper ad in one newspaper: “Don’t let Calgary decide for Quebec.”

But Calgary — and all it symbolizes in Canada for its wealth and capitalistic spirit, its ties to Texas and its long-felt alienation from the East — may well be deciding the fate of the country, starting Monday.

Never in a thousand years could I have imagined ‘Scary Stephen’ Harper would become Canada’s prime minister, but that is just what opinion polls say will happen today. It is predicted that for the first time in 13 years, the Conservatives will return to power, with the candidate from Calgary taking over the helm of the nation. The shift in power away from the Liberals will mean closer ties to the U.S., and renewed debate over the environment, abortion and same-sex marriage.

harper_0123But the fate of a Conservatives victory hinges on how the day goes in Vancouver and Toronto. If the Conservatives can win any seats in the vote-rich Liberal stronghold of Toronto, they stand a good chance of winning the election. Paul Martin, on the other hand, believes the race will hinge on Vancouver, where there are numerous three-way races that will ultimately steal votes away from the Liberals and toward the left-leaning New Democratic Party.

Paul Martin is clearly not happy to have standing in his way in British Columbia a third party that will steal votes away from those Liberals-minded people who lean just a little more to the left and boost support for the NDP. The Globe and Mail says Martin “told West Coast residents that by lending NDP Leader Jack Layton votes, they will only hand Stephen Harper the country.” The PM himself said,”Voting for Jack Layton might make a point, but it won’t make a difference.”

• Canadian TV network jazzes up campaign coverage with an 8-year-old commentator

Canada’s having an election and no one cares!

Today’s election has passed under the radar of all major news outlets in the U.S., but an opinion piece by a Syracuse University academic suggests Americans pay attention to what’s happening.

• An exception from today’s Times: “Unless every national poll here is amiss, what has been perhaps the world’s winningest political party is heading toward a humiliating defeat on Monday.”

• The AP offers brief bios of each of the four top candidates for prime minister as well as a primer on the election and its significance. Easy reading for Americans!

Umm, you said what?

ignatieff_0123My award for Most Jaw-Dropping Quote of the Day (so far) goes to Michael Ignatieff, the Harvard celebrity-academic parachuted into a Toronto electoral district by the Liberal Party but who is now at risk of a stunning defeat:

“I’m a strong liberal internationalist,” Ignatieff said. “That means when people are being chopped into small pieces I want to stand up for them.”

Things aren’t looking so hot for Ignatieff; look for him to be back on the streets of Cambridge as soon as the first flight from Toronto lands in Boston tomorrow morning.

Even Ron Chyczij, the Liberal Party’s local leader in Ignatieff’s Toronto district, has pulled his support, endorsing the Conservative candidate instead! “After the nomination fiasco,” he said, “I’ve purposely waited on the sidelines to see if Michael Ignatieff can in some way redeem himself as a credible Liberal candidate in this riding. I regret to conclude this has not happened.”

Oy! Say hello to the next prime minister

newpm-harperIt’s almost official: Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party leader from Calgary, will be Canada’s next prime minister after his party won the most seats in the election for House of Parliament on Monday. I say ‘almost official’ because like in the U.S., the popular vote can ultimately mean nothing: the Governor General of Canada picks the next prime minister andshe can choose any candidate she likes.

A few highlights of the election: Michael Ignatieff was elected in Toronto, winning 44% of the vote; gay MP Scott Brison was re-elected in Nova Scotia; and in the most staggering blow, Anne McLellan, the deputy prime minister (the closest equivalent to the U.S. vice president), lost her seat in Edmonton and will have to return to private life. She was the only Liberal member of parliament from Alberta.

I’m headed to bed tonight feeling like I just had three Lunestas and a vodka chaser. I am so dizzy from all of tonight’s election commotion. There were lots of surprises, and many crushing defeats. Full report on Tuesday.

Democracy may be sexy, but ads can’t be

Ads produced by the young voter group Democracy is Sexy have been pulled from bars and colleges in Edmonton after being criticized for being too racy.

democracy_is_sexy_0119

Gays line up to marry

The Calgary Sun reports today that with the looming prospect of Stephen Harper being elected Canada’s new prime minister on Monday, gay men and lesbians are lining up to get hitched before his government comes to power and potentially tries to halt same-sex unions. (Harper has repeatedly said it’s not one of his top five priorities, and even if he found some way to curb such unions, he said those already performed would be grandfathered in.)

“People I never thought would marry in a million years are calling and saying they want to get married,” said Rita Leonard, co-owner of Pride Bride. “We’re getting a lot of people asking about it. People are scared and concerned and are looking for advice.”

Five days and counting

With only five days left until a new Canadian government is elected, one of the politicians some say is at little risk for losing his seat in Ottawa is openly gay Scott Brison. We don’t know who he’s running against, and frankly, we don’t care, because he’s young and fabulous, and like so few gay men, he can don a cowboy hat and still look suave while palming an Inukshuk at the Calgary Stampede, as in this photo.brison_calgary_0118

Brison defected to the Liberal Party a couple years ago, after making a failed bid to become leader of the Conservative Party. The Globe and Mail points out today that neither his being gay nor his party switch have cost him votes in the past but this year a new  challenge could come from the rising support for Conservatives in Nova Scotia, Brison’s home, and in the rest of the Maritime region in general.

Comedy shows told not to use debate footage

mercer_stronach_0116Canadians are famous for their political satire. But with the federal election just one week away, the country’s popular television news parodies (think “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) have beenordered not to use footage from political debates in their broadcasts following an agreement made between the major political parties and the major networks.

The outlandish Rick Mercer, Canada’s most famous political satirist (pictured here getting a ride from Liberal Party bigwig Belinda Stronach), was angered by the move to disallow use of debate clips in his show, “The Rick Mercer Report,” but as he told the New York Times, he did not use any debate clips in his show, not because of the ban, but because “It’s so pathetic I won’t use it,” he said. “The whole idea of calling it a debate is contemptible. They may as well have just run the parties’ infomercials.”

The producer of “This Hour Has 22 Minutes,” another political satire said, “Part of me thought we should put up a big fight, but we’ve had no problem making them look silly without the debate footage.”

I’m headed to Rick’s show in two weeks, just in time to catch the fallout from the election, and can’t wait. He is the funniest guy ever, and cute too (for an old dork).

Does this look like the snowball throw of a future prime minister?

Here Stephen Harper launches one at reporters in Fredericton yesterday as polls — today’s polls at least — predict a narrow win for his Conservative Party in the January 23 federal election. His opponents are frantically crisscrossing the nation trying to cast him as a pro-American extremist, while Egale Canada, the national gay lobby, has given Harper a failing grade on gay rights.

harper_snowball

Time gets its geography wrong

I have a bit of a fetish about geography, so I was particularly appalled to see this reference to a “province of Calgary” in a Time magazine article about the Canadian election:

province_of_calgary

True, there are multiple definitions of “province,” but in this case I just know they’re wrong!

The most depressing day of the year: election day

Canada’s federal election is scheduled for January 23, which a psychology professor has calculated is, coincidentally, the most depressing day of the year. The U.K. prof based his finding on “the poorest weather, debts owed for holiday spending, the time since Christmas, the period of time before abandoning New Year’s resolutions, the dates when motivation levels are lowest, and when people feel they need a vacation or another escape to fend off the blues.”

“Depression kind of makes you feel like nothing matters and you can’t make a difference. I would guess that if anything would add to the apathy factor, people might say … ‘What effect can I make?’ and not bother [to vote].”

Gay community vows to fight Harper

harper_cowboyGay men and lesbians in Canada, already unfriendly to Conservative Party Stephen Harper, are especially wound up at the politician after he made the repeal of same-sex marriage an election issue from day one of the campaign and at least initially said he would not be opposed to overriding portions of the Constitution in order to do so. He has since said a free vote on the matter is the way to go.

“I see it as our job, the (gay) community’s job, to just keep bringing the issue forward, that this is a constitutional challenge…This isn’t just about marriage, this is about what the Constitution means to you,” the owner of the famous Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium in Vancouver told the Canadian Press.

Liberal leader quits over blog

It’s hard to get away from things you’ve placed on the Internet, especially once Google has found them and cached them. Take this snapshot from Mike Klander’s blog (now deactivated) for instance. Klander is executive vice president of the federal Liberal Party’s Ontario wing, and he posted this and other “Separated at Birth?” comparisons for the enjoyment of his friends.

Here New Democratic Party candidate Olivia Chow, wife of federal NDP leader Jack Layton, is compared to a pretty nasty looking doggie. She’s running for Parliament to represent portions of downtown Toronto.

While Klander did delete his site when he realized bloggers and reporters had stumbled upon it, Google has retained much of the original content in its cache. . He has since resigned.

chowchowchow

Peter MacKay

The Canadian federal election has reached such a level or boredom after a mere three weeks of campaigning, that there is absolutely nothing I find interesting enough to write about. So instead, here are some photos of the dorky-cute Peter MacKay, a member of parliament from Nova Scotia who is the darling of the Conservative Party.

peter_mackay_1222

Don’t dictate to me, Canada’s PM tells US

paul_martin_1216In the escalating war of words between the U.S. and Canada, prime minister Paul Martin has lashed out at U.S. ambassador David Wilkins for his comments saying that Martin and other federal candidates should not bash the U.S. during election campaigning. The PM had earlier criticized George W. Bush and his environmental stance during campaign stops this week.

“When it comes to defending Canadian values, when it comes to standing up for Canadian interests, I’m going to call it like I see it,” Martin said.

Reuters says, “Martin may feel he is on safe ground politically, since polls show most Canadians dislike U.S. President George W. Bush. But Wilkins said the continued attacks could start undermining the close relationship between the two countries.”

Ignatieff forced to defend residency

Michael Ignatieff faced a tribunal this week looking into his residency, which seems to change every few days depending on which newspaper you’re reading. The human rights scholar contends that although he has spent the past 27 years living outside of Canada, he has returned approximately 50 times each year. That’s nearly once a week. According to the Globe, “his reasons for visiting Canada included ‘to see family and friends, to engage in lecture appearances and television productions and to receive honorary degrees.’ He has received six honorary degrees in Canada, leaving approximately 1,344 visits for other purposes.”

Meanwhile, the New Democratic Party has named Liam McHugh-Russell, a 25-year-old University of Toronto student, as Ignatieff’s opponent in the race for the Etobicoke–Lakeshore district. “Some Liberal bigwigs have made it easy for us,” McHugh-Russell told the Star. He is hopeful, saying Ignatieff’s support for the Iraq war will prove fatal in Etobicoke.



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