Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Politics of Parsing: Clinton Flips and Flops

Watch Hillary Clinton flip and flop on Iraq, social security and immigration.

Hampton Says He's Not Going Anywhere-- But Don't Buy It

Don't be fooled by this story in the Toronto Star. Although Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton told the party faithful this weekend that he has no intention of stepping down as leader, campaigns to replace him are being organized as we speak. Ian Urquhart likely has it right when he he writes this:

Some New Democrats believe Hampton has already decided to step down from the leadership in mid-term, or in 2009. That would get the provincial party past the federal election (assuming it is in 2008, which is a big assumption). It would also mean the party could turn its biennial meeting, planned for 2009, into a leadership convention, thereby avoiding the cost of two big gatherings.

If Hampton has, indeed, decided to go in two years, why wouldn't he just announce that now? Because it would make him a lame-duck leader.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Picketing With the Stars

Hollywoods' who's who shows up to support the striking members of the WGA.

Monday, November 19, 2007

WSIB Safety Ads Cause Controversy

Some folks are complaining that the Ontario Government's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board TV spots are a little too graphic for young children. I happen to like the entire series of ads which you can preview at:

Quebec Solidaire: Not Dead Yet

The upstart left-wing sovereignist party that contested its first election in 2007 will be back if an election is called in 2008. The party's co-leaders, Francoise David and Amir Khadir will run again in Gouin and Mercier respectively. The party has set some modest goals for itself: Increase its vote total from 3.7% to 5% and elect both David and Khadir. (Khadir was just 4%short of winning in Mercier in 2007).

Unofficial 2007 Blogging Dipper Awards


The 2007 Unofficial Blogging Dipper Awards is an opportunity to nominate and to recognize our favourite NDP blogs. There are no fancy buttons or badges, but I would encourage members of the Blogging Dipper community to link to this post in an effort to generate interest. We are looking for the best Dipper blogs in the following categories:

Best Overall Dipper Blog
Best Feminist Dipper Blog
Best Labour Dipper Blog
Best Partisan Dipper Blog
Best Radical Dipper Blog


I have been a member of the Blogging Dipper community for about a year now. Although the community is full of interesting blogs, it continues to operate at the margins in the Canadian political blogosphere. In an effort to bring greater attention to the Blogging Dipper community, I thought it would be interesting to launch an unofficial contest to recognize some of the best and brightest bloggers on the left.


Only bloggers who are members of the Blogging Dippers community are eligible for nomination, but all bloggers are free to vote. You can see the full list of potential nominees by scrolling down on the right-side of this page.


Nominations will close on Friday November 30 at noon. Winners will be announced in December 2007.


To nominate a blog in any or all of the categories listed above send an e-mail to or simply leave a comment in response to this post. The three blogs that receive the greatest number of nominations by November 30 will become the three finalists for each category and a new round of voting will begin in December. I will constantly update the community on the status of the awards.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Green Party Lead Over NDP Melts Away

Just a few short days ago, the Greens had surpassed the NDP in terms of popular support in a national Strategic Council poll. That lead has melted away. In a new poll released today by the Strategic Council, support for the NDP is pegged at 16%, while support for the Greens has dropped to 8%.

However, the fact that the Greens have maintained support levels between 8 and 13% since January 2007 should be enough to prove to the Canadian Broadcasting consortium that Elizabeth May belongs in the national leaders debate. After all, the NDP won less than 7% of the vote in the 1993 election... You can see all the details of the latest poll for yourself here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Hey hey, pencils down. Hollywood is a Union Town!"

Many Hollywood stars are honouring Writers Guild of America picket lines in Hollywood. Among them, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Tina Fey, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Sarah Silverman and T.R. Knight. After honouring the picket line for a single day, popular daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has decided to go back to work and it is creating a stir within the union movement.

The New York wing of the Writers Guild of America, actually a separate union called the WGA East, issued a statement saying DeGeneres was "not welcome" in New York and threatening to picket her show if she went ahead with plans to tape there on November 19 and 20.But DeGeneres, a member of both the Writers Guild and its sister union for TV performers, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, drew immediate support from AFTRA and producers of her show. Both denied WGA East claims the popular TV star was breaking strike rules.

The flap came weeks after DeGeneres sparked a national uproar with a tearful on-air account of how an animal rescue group had taken back a puppy she had adopted but then given to a friend's family without the animal agency's permission.

"We find it sad that Ellen spent an entire week crying and fighting for a dog that she gave away, yet she couldn't even stand by writers for more than one day," the WGA East said.

Ouch! Maybe this strike will convince writers to produce more union-friendly content once the dispute is resolved.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Greens Surpass NDP in National Poll

New Democrats have been dreading this day for a long time. A Strategic Council poll pegs Green Party support at 13 nationally, one point ahead of the NDP at 12%. Is it within the margin of error? yes. Is it one poll out of many released this month? yes. However, one cannot deny the psychological effect this will have on New Democrats who have long wished for the Green Party to just fade away.

This poll is one of many reasons why the Greens should be invited to participate in the national leaders debate. When the Green Party is outperforming the third and fourth place parties in the House, we can't reasonably argue that the Greens have no place in the national debates.

Read more about the Greens and the NDP here, here, and here.

Conservatives Settle Libel Suit

With former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney up to his eyeballs in legal trouble, this story risks flying under the radar.

The federal Conservative party has quietly settled a lawsuit with a former candidate who had accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of libel...Mr. Riddell claimed he was promised $50,000 by the party to cover his expenses if he stepped aside to make room for a new, high-profile Tory candidate in his Ottawa riding; the party claimed Mr. Riddell was disqualified.

Mr. Harper, prior to becoming prime minister, flatly declared there was no deal between the Conservatives and Mr. Riddell — but courts subsequently ruled there was indeed an agreement.

Doesn't sound too Prime Ministerial, does it?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mulroney Fights Back With Call for a Public Inquiry

Gutsy move... Then again, Harper's independent review would have just dragged the affair out longer. By joining the Liberals and the NDP in calling for a public inquiry, Mulroney has clearly indicated that he wants this thing over and done with. I suppose Mulroney was forced to pick his poison. Too bad he published his memoirs before this interesting chapter came to a close.

"I have come to the conclusion that in order to finally put this matter to rest and expose all the facts and the role played by all the people involved, from public servants to elected officials, from lobbyists to police authorities, as well as journalists, the only solution is for the government to launch a full-fledged public commission of inquiry,"

Liberal Membership Numbers Continue to Plummet in Quebec

Click here to read an interesting article on Liberal Party of Canada membership numbers in Quebec and English Canada.

Here's a rough summary for those who do not read French.

Liberal Party of Canada- Quebec section
2004 : 100,000 members
2006: 37,570 members
2007: 15,000 members

Even worse for the Liberals, of those 15,000 members, roughly 5,000 of them live in three Montreal ridings (NDG-Lachine, Westmount Ville-Marie and Bourassa).

Liberal spin:

«C'est un peu normal», explique Robert Fragasso, le président de l'aile québécoise du PLC. Tous les candidats [à la direction], et ils étaient nombreux, tentaient de gagner la bataille du super week-end pour l'élection des délégués. Le nerf de la guerre à l'époque était de recruter le plus grand nombre de membres et de faire élire des délégués favorables aux candidats respectifs.» M. Fragasso explique que ces membres «ont adhéré pour un an et, suite au leadership, n'ont pas renouvelé [leur adhésion]». «Le défi, évidemment, c'est de les conserver, mais ce n'est pas toujours facile», continue-t-il. Le président du PLC-Q insiste pour dire que cette situation se vit «dans tous les partis politiques» et pas seulement au Parti libéral.

Malgré tout, il s'agit d'un creux historique. M. Fragasso reconnaissait lui-même l'année dernière que le nombre traditionnel de membres du PLC-Q oscillait entre 30 000 et 35 000. Il avait même atteint le vertigineux sommet de 100 000 en 2004, à la suite de l'arrivée de Paul Martin.

Poll Confirms: Stephane Dion is Not a Leader

I suppose if you keep repeating the same thing over and over again it eventually becomes true.

Read about the SES leadership poll here.

The startling SES-Sun Media survey shows Harper has steamrolled ahead as the choice for “best PM” of 37% of Canadians, while Dion plunged to third place as the pick of just 13% of Canadians. Layton garnered 17% support across the country.

SES pollster Nik Nanos said the results are big news for Harper, who has cracked opened a 20-point lead from his nearest rival in the leadership popularity contest. The results deliver the worst news for Dion, who has fallen 10 points in the last 90 days.

Nanos said a number of factors are at play, including a recent spate of Tory attack ads and decision to abstain from key votes by Liberals in the House of Commons.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Are the Greens Still a Fringe Party?

The Ontario Greens claim they have gone from fringe party status to serious contender...

We won 350,000 votes or 8% of the popular vote in Ontario, nearly tripling our support from 2003. We also increased our membership threefold. We finished third or better in 18 ridings, ahead of NDP and PC candidates. Twenty-one of our candidates garnered more than 10% of the vote, while our top three earned more than 15%. Our best showing was in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, where Shane Jolley captured 33% for a very strong second-place finish — the best result ever for any provincial or federal Green candidate in Canada. We have raised our status from fringe party to serious contender.

Although the Greens are far from being a "serious contender", i'm wondering if it's time to remove the fringe party label. Although it's true that their leader has little name recognition, the party won no seats, and the Greens are still very much a paper organization in many corners of the province, there is clearly a distinction between this minor party and the other fringe parties in Ontario.

What do you think? Are the Greens still fringe?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Weirdest NDP Press Release Ever

I'm guessing this is supposed to be funny... This from a party who appointed a non-lawyer as Solicitor General during the Rae years and appointed a Tourism Minister who was excited to see Niagara Falls for the first time... sigh.

Toronto MPP Prue lobbies to be NDP Natural Resources Critic

November 6, 2007
Beaches-East York NDP MPP Michael Prue today announced that he is lobbying NDP Leader Howard Hampton and his colleagues in the NDP caucus to be named the NDP’s new natural resources critic.

“Unlike the new minister of natural resources, I actually have some experience with the North. I mean, I go fishing with Gilles Bisson every year in Northern Ontario. I even put my own worm on the hook. I wouldn’t even need to hire a high-priced handler to do that,” Prue said.

Last week, Premier McGuinty appointed Donna Cansfield Minister of Natural Resources. That’s despite a long-standing tradition of naming a minister from Northern Ontario to that portfolio.

“I’m taking my lead from Dalton McGuinty,” said Prue. “In naming Toronto MPP Donna Cansfield the new Minister of Natural Resources, he signalled that there will be a new downtown Toronto focus to the major ministry that deals with issues that are most important to Northern Ontario’s working families. Given McGuinty’s standards, I should be the critic!”

When asked for comment, Hampton said that the only chance that Prue’s wish would be granted would be if “I wake up tomorrow morning and find that, somehow, Beaches-East York has been moved way North.”

Harper On Mulroney

Love him or hate him, Stephen Harper is a pretty smart guy. Initiating an investigation into the allegations against Mulroney may result in a few disgruntled party members, but if this poll is any indication, the public is solidly behind the Prime Minister.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Vision of Students Today

Interesting Kansas State University Project about students, their lives, and their education.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Peter Tabuns to Run for Ontario NDP Leadership?

Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns is rumoured to be building support for a leadership bid to replace Howard Hampton. Tabuns, voted best MPP by readers of NOW Magazine, is a former Toronto City Councillor and Executive Director of Greenpeace. It's Tabuns' environmental credentials that make him an attractive candidate in some circles. A Tabuns-led NDP could help fend off the upstart Ontario Greens and the fact that he is from Toronto would be a refreshing change for the caucus. However, Tabuns represents the same riding that federal NDP leader Jack Layton represents federally, which likely works against him. Tabuns is also considered to be charismatically-challenged, much like Hampton. In the end, he may run to be king-maker and give the party a green boost as part of a leadership campaign.

More Ontario NDP leadership news here, here, and here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

SaskHATchewan Election Candidate Makes Voters Groan

Corny? Yes. Effective? No.

Senate Abolition Referendum Proposal Gains Steam

Jack Layton's proposal to hold a referendum on abolishing the Senate is gaining steam with quasi-support from Stephen Harper. This is hardly surprising given Hugh Segal's recent ruminations about a Senate abolition referendum which I discussed here.

Like I said before:

Looks like Harper and Segal are really only trying to scare the Liberal majority in the Senate into towing the line or risk losing their jobs... smart power play, it will be interesting to see who blinks first.

One more thing: Before New Democrats get all self-congratulatory about having a principled and longstanding position is support of abolishing the Senate, they should remember that the NDP jettisoned its support for abolition the Senate during the Charlottetown Accord talks, when it settled for an elected Senate.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Barack Obama on Saturday Night Live

The Clintons host a Halloweeen party and Obama arrives dressed as himself.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What Would René Lévesque Say About Reasonable Accommodation?

Former Quebec PQ Premier René Lévesque passed away 20 years ago yesterday. His name has been invoked many times in the reasonable accommodation hearings that are currently taking place in Quebec. Le Devoir ponders what view Lévesque would take on the current debate.

Mais sait-on vraiment ce que René Lévesque penserait des débats actuels? Martine Tremblay, qui a été sa collaboratrice dès les années 70 et qui a occupé le poste névralgique de chef de cabinet, souligne d'abord que plusieurs lui posent cette question sur de nombreux sujets. «C'est un signe que, vingt ans après sa mort, il nous manque toujours», note-t-elle. Le personnage est devenu «un étalon» (au sens d'«étalon de mesure»). «Non, enfin», se reprend-elle, un sourire dans la voix, «pas "étalon", je veux dire une borne, une référence.» Mais selon Mme Tremblay, il est difficile de dire dans quel sens René Lévesque aurait tranché.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Different Kind of Communist Party

It's not quite the Communist Party of Canada or even the Communist Party Marxist-Leninist, but it's a party nonetheless.