Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My book: Loyal to the Core

You may have noticed that I have not been too active on this blog lately.

But there is a good reason for that.

I am actually working hard to finish my first-ever book; it's called Loyal to the Core: Stephen Harper, me and the NCC.

It's one part memoirs, one part history of the National Citizens Coalition and one part cautionary tale for Canada's conservative movement.

You can read more about it here.

The book is scheduled to be released in late February, but you can pre-order a copy here at a special discounted rate.

So act fast!

Trust me, if you like politics, if you are interested in conservative activism, if you like behind-the-scenes stuff, you will love my book.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Balance of Power

Let's see, the Liberals appoint somebody from the CBC to the Governor's General's office, so the Conservatives appoint two people from the CTV to the Senate.

I guess this is the Canadian version of checks and balances.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Making the Cut

Hey I'm number 11!

Number 11 that is on Michael Taube's "Best of the Blogoshpere" list.

All I can say, is it's a good thing it wasn't a top ten list.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Spend, Spend, Spend

Thank goodness that NDP/Liberal/Bloc Coalition didn't take control of our national finances.

I mean those left wingers were going to blow the hinges off the budget with a massive spending spree.

That would have meant monstrous deficits.

Luckily, the more fiscally responsible Conservative government is still in power, meaning it will blow the hinges off the budget with a massive spending spree.

And we all know that monstrous Conservative deficits are better than monstrous Left Wing deficits.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Outlook for So-Cons

My friend Paul Tuns has an interesting analysis of the recent political showdown in Ottawa and what it means for social conservatives.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bail Outs: Good or Bad

While attending a Liberty Fund seminar last year I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Don Boudreaux, who teaches economics at George Mason University.

An outspoken libertarian -- he's one of the authors of my favorite blog, Cafe Hayek -- Boudreaux is dead set against offering any kind of government bail out to the auto industry.

You can see him here on CNBC debating this issue.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Explaining to America

My friend Rondi Adamson has a great piece in the Christian Science Monitor explaining the recent wacky Ottawa power struggle to Americans.

Next, she should explain it to Canadians.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Democracy Liberal Style

Say what you will about the Liberals, but they sure know how to streamline the democratic process.

First, they tried to change our government without all the fuss and muss of those tiresome and costly elections.

And now, they have shown how easy it is to pick a new leader: No conventions, no delegates, no votes. Just acclaim.

It makes me wonder what other time-saving measures they have in mind.

Stifling Free Speech

Canada isn't the only place with gag laws. Seems they have a gag law in Colorado that's similar to the one I fought for years.

H/T Janet

Bye, Bye Bob ... One more Time

Monday, December 08, 2008

New Alignments?

Here's what I would like to see unfold.

First, Bob Rae and his left-wing Liberal supporters, angry at getting cut out of their party's leadership sweepstakes, join forces with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois to form a new "Progressive Coalition Party".

Then, the Michael Ignatieff-led Liberals, fearful of becoming a splinter party, decide to join the Conservative Party.

We would then have a two party system, which would certainly make setting up debate formats during elections a lot easier.

The Big Union Boss Coalition

Here are some of the "progressive" groups supporting the NDP-Liberal-Bloc Coalition:

Canadian Labour Congress

Federation des travailleurs et travailleuses du Quebec

Service Employees International Union Canada

United Steelworkers Canada

Canadian Union of Public Employees

Canadian Auto Workers

Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

Canadian Union of Postal Workers

National Union of Public and General Employees

Confederation des syndicates nationaux

Central des syndicates du Quebec

Public Service Alliance of Canada

International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers

What this means is that had the Coalition succeeded in grabbing power, big union bosses, as well as separatists, would have a say in how this country is run.

Now that's a scary thought.

Also I wonder if any union bosses actually consulted their rank and file before they decided to support the Coalition?

I doubt it.

And if national public opinion polls are anything to go by, I bet the majority of unionized employees oppose the Coalition just as the majority of Canadians do.

So much for democracy.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dion vs Harper

If this recent political fiasco has reminded us of anything, it's how much of a hapless, flop of a leader is Stephane Dion.

But we should also remember something else: Stephen Harper, with his "I'm not really a conservative" routine, could not bury this hapless flop of a leader in the last election and win a majority government.

That should tell you something.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Are the Tories Worth Defending?

Now that the political crisis in Ottawa has abated, at least temporarily, my friend Pierre Lemieux asks an excellent question: Should we even care if the Coalition takes over?

Writes Lemieux:

"Either there is some realistic hope that the Conservatives can progress towards restoring our liberties, or there is not. If there is, then the coalition government is not a bad idea.

The reason is simple. There is no way the Conservatives could be re-elected in a few years after the country has been wrecked by the economic crisis. A majority Liberal government would be brought to power and undo anything good the Conservatives might have done as well as make sure to keep everything else bad.

If, on the other hand, there is no hope with the Conservatives, then why should we care if the coalition takes over?"

Read the rest of Lemieux's comments here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Turn Out the Lights

This is most likely the final nail in the Coalition's coffin.

Rae is Finished

The Globe and Mail is reporting Liberal MP Bob Rae is taking over as the chief spokesman for the doomed Coalition.

If that's true, then the Liberal leadership race is all but over; Michael Ignatieff has won.

I mean by taking this action and basically pushing Stephane Dion aside (a coup within a coup) Rae is showing incredibly poor political judgement.

Can't he read the polls? Doesn't he understand the vast majority of Canadians don't want the Conservative government toppled by the Bloc-NDP-Liberal Junta?

What the Liberals should do now is basically acclaim Ignatieff as leader as quickly as possible, before the Dion and Rae tandem do any more damage to the party brand.

Why Not Canada PM?

Did an interview on Canada AM this morning alongside the "Prince of Darkness" aka Warren Kinsella.

We talked about the political fallout resulting from the Governor-General's decision to shut down Parliament.

And I came away from that discussion with one firm conclusion: It's hard to do interviews at 7:10 AM.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Liberals Should Have Listened to Me

The Liberal Party of Canada should send the Governor-General a bouquet of roses.

Her decision today to prorogue Parliament , after all, saved the Liberals from making the biggest mistake in their history.

As I noted a few days ago, it would have been a political disaster for the Liberals to join forces with the separatists and socialists so they could topple the Tories.

Constitutional or not, I said Canadians would not warm up to the idea of a unelected government.

And now the polls are showing I was right. Ipsos Reid reports that 62% of Canadians are angry with the Coalition for trying to take power from the Conservatives.

Luckily the Liberals now have the chance to pull back from the abyss, which they will.

I wonder if the NDP and Bloc will still remain bosom buddies?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Reviewing Dion's Talk

Note to Liberals: 70 percent of Canadians don't like your leader.

So what's with the extreme close up?

Reviewing Harper's Talk

Prime Minister Harper's televised speech was not really much of a plea.

It was more like a game: How many times can you say "separatist" in less than five minutes.

Sad Time for Canada

The saddest part about the political battle raging in Ottawa is that it's a fight over nothing but power.

It's not about principle or ideology or competing values.

What are watching, in other words, is just a turf war between competing gangs determined to wipe each other out.

Like I said, it's sad.

The Disneyland Coup

My friend Theo Caldwell has an excellent column putting the silly nonsense going on in Ottawa these days into some perspectve.

Writes Caldwell: "And now, weeks after spending $300 million on a pointless election, our sheltered and shallow Parliamentarians are creating a trumped-up 'crisis' and have the gall to insist it’s 'historic.' There’s making history, and there’s making noise."

And he adds: "The real question is, with the nation at war and a global economic crisis ongoing, should we be focused on the constitutionality of a hackneyed power-grab? As this country and the world face extraordinary challenges, the events of this week remind us that some political cultures are too slow to move beyond the Mickey Mouse, navel-gazing mentality of fatter days. This is a bloodless coup at Disneyland."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Shape of Things to Come ...

Well it looks like nothing will stop the Liberal-NDP-Bloc Junta from seizing control of our government.

So we might as well accept our fate.

But what will it mean for our country?

Well here's what we can expect in the next few months:

* To make life easier for Gilles Duceppe the capital of Canada will be transferred from Ottawa to Quebec City.

* Toronto will be renamed Hugo Chavezville.

* Somebody from the Taliban will be appointed to the Senate and made Minister in Charge of the Human Rights Commissions. (Which will likely make it more tolerant.)

* The five dollar bill will feature a picture of Buzz Hargrove.

* Alberta will be converted into one big national park.

But don't worry, this can all be changed whenever the Junta decides to restore democracy.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Get Ready for the Three Stooges ...

.... otherwise known as Gilles, Jack and Stephane.

Actually that's not fair.

The real stooges -- Larry, Moe and Curly -- would probably do a better job at handling our economy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Political Math

I was doing some research on the last federal election and found an interesting stat.

It seems the New Liberal Bloc Coalition won zero seats and zero percent of the popular vote in the last election.

But I guess in politics, zero seats plus zero votes equals a viable, legitimate government.

Who knew?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Liberals Should Think This Through

The more I think about it, the more I think the Liberals would be making a dreadful error if they carried out their constitutional "coup."

I mean think about it.

* Do they really want Stephane Dion to be the guy leading the government at this time of fiscal crisis?

* Do they really want to be part of a government where the NDP will be calling the shots on fiscal policy?

* Do they think Canadians will really warm to the idea of an unelected government usurping control of the country?

* Do they really want to make some sort of deal with the separatists?

Maybe that's why Prime Minister Harper delayed the non-confidence vote for a week. He wants to give the Liberals time to think this through.

Two and a Half Cheers for Harper

I have an op ed in today's National Post, looking at the Harper government's plan to cut political subsidies.

I say it's good start, but more needs to be done.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Welfare for Politicians

Media reports indicate the Harper government plans to axe the subsidy political parties currently enjoy.

If true, this would be great news.

Let's face it, this subsidy plan -- which cost taxpayers about $30 million -- is nothing but a welfare plan for politicians.

It's just plain wrong and undemocratic to force taxpayers to finance a political party. Let politicians raise their own money through voluntary contributions.

However, if the subsidy is scrapped and if politicians are forced to raise funds voluntarily, then the government must also do away with current finance contribution laws which severely limit what individuals can contribute to political parties.

These limits are nothing but a limit on free political speech and hamper the ability of political parties to raise funds.

It's time to make the process fair for everybody, politicians and taxpayers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Principled Canadians

There's a new grassroots group out there called The Association of Principled Canadians.

It's goal is to promote "government that is representative, accountable, fiscally and socially responsible, and truly democratic."

If ever we needed that kind of government, it's now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rise and Fall of the Green Empire

Here's my latest column from the Women's Post.

I explain why "green" ideology isn't as hot as it used to be.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tyranny Not So Nice

Been meaning to plug The Tyranny of Nice by Kathy Shaidle and Peter Vere for a while.

This is an excellent book that provides a comprehensive catalogue of how the state is crushing our freedoms in the name of political correctness.

As an added bonus it even comes with an introduction by Mark Steyn.

You can order it here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Media Alert

I will be a guest on the Michael Coren Show tonight at 8:00 PM EST to talk federal politics.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Using Billboards to Get Out the Message

Checked National Newswatch a little while ago and what did I see but this graphic of an anti-Rae billboard.

Boy did that bring back memories.

You see, I created that Rae billboard back in the early 1990s for Ontarians for Responsible Government, a project group of the National Citizens Coalition.

It really captured in a few words the disaster that was Rae.

I think it was one of my more brilliant PR ideas.

Mind you, I also am quite proud of another billboard I crafted to oppose the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly.

Billboards can make for fun advocacy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Best President

As noted in an earlier post, I recently attended a Students for a Free Economy conference in Michigan.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Lawrence Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education, who talked about his favorite American president. And no it wasn't George Bush.

Here's the first part of that talk.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pragmatic Conservatives

At the recent Conservative leadership convention, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared: "We will have to be both tough and pragmatic, not unrealistic or ideological, in dealing with the complex economic challenges that confront us."

Get that, the Tories are no longer ideological, but pragmatic: The Pragmatic Conservative Party.

I guess this means Prime Minister Stephen Harper is now officially dumping the incrementalism idea, whereby he would introduce conservative values in tiny, slow steps.

Now it looks like he won't be introducing conservative ideas at all.

As Publius over at the Gods of the Copybook Headings writes, "The PM's comments at the policy convention in Winnipeg are worrisome, they suggest that his default policy is not one of incrementalism, but of pragmatism. An essentially correct ideology provides a guide for long-term action. Pragmatism is the expediency of the moment. This crisis too shall pass, the new government programs and regulations born of this crisis may not."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Economics and Government

The Institute for Liberal Studies is hosting an Economic and Government Seminar in Kitchener-Waterloo on November 22.

Speakers and topics include:

Peter Holle (Frontier Centre for Public Policy) - Public Choice and Public Policy: Overcoming Self Interest in Government

Yuri Maltsev (Carthage College) - The Fall of Communism and the Rise of 21st Century Socialism

George Bragues (University of Guelph-Humber) - The Panic of 2007-2008: Not the Free Market's Fault.

This is going to be a fascinating conference so if you are in the area, you won't want to miss it.

Register today!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Media Alert

I will be a guest on the Dave Rutherford Show, (CHQR Calgary) today at 12:30 EST to talk about the Conservative Party and the conservative movement.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Purging True Conservatives

Like a lot of conservatives, my friend Joseph Ben-Ami took strong exception to a recent comment by Conservative Party spokesman Ryan Sparrow.

Sparrow essentially relegated the Party's conservative base to the status of "stakeholders."

In a brilliant column, Ben-Ami says Sparrow's remark "accurately reflect the deep disdain certain key members of the Harper team have for conservative policies and their desire to marginalize and even purge conservatives from positions of influence throughout the party."

Read the rest of it here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Talking Freedom in the USA

I was in the People's Republic of Obama (formerly known as the USA) this past weekend speaking at a conference sponsored by Students for a Free Economy.

It was a great event and I had an opportunity to make several new libertarian friends.

My only disappointment was that I didn't bring home a "I party with economic models" T-shirt.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Bad Thing About Bush

John McCain's election loss might be the best thing that's ever happened to the American conservative movement.

Now American conservatives can at long last distance themselves from the cynical policies of the Bush/Rove/McCain crowd.

To understand what I mean, check out Craig Shirley and Tony Fabrizio's brilliant analysis of how George Bush and Karl Rove undermined conservative values in their pursuit of power.

And by the way, much of what they write about Bush, can also be applied to Prime Minister Harper and his Conservative Party.

The Good Thing About Obama

I am not sure what kind of job Barack Obama will do as President.

But no matter what happens, I will always be grateful to him for keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House.

On a more positive note, my friend Rondi Adamson wrote a column a little while ago explaining why an Obama presidency might be a good thing.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why Vote?

Millions and millions of Americans will vote today to pick a new President.

But there's one American who won't be voting -- economist Gordon Tullock.

Go here to find out why.

H/T Cafe Hayek

Monday, November 03, 2008

Health Care and Competition: The Video

My friend Matt Bufton has this excellent video commentary on Canada's health care system.

It's part of a Fraser Institute "Student Video Contest."

So check it out and give it a rating.

And as an added bonus, Matt's video includes some shots of my Alma mater, the University of Windsor.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Defending Free Speech

A few postings ago, I promised to post the video of a debate between Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Philippe Dufresne of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

So here it is:

Cabinet Size Does Matter

I am quoted in this National Post story on Harper's cabinet.

Here's the quote:

"This is a government which is going to be facing some tough economic times ahead, which might necessitate cutting back on some programs or spending initiatives, and I think the message they should be sending is that he's going to cut back as well," said Gerry Nicholls, senior fellow at the Democracy Institute.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Harper's Cabinet

Here's a partial listing of Prime Minister Harper's new cabinet:

Leona Aglukkaq: Minister in Charge of Defending Our Socialist Health Care System.

Jim Prentice: Minister in Charge of Coming up with a Conservative version of a carbon tax, that won't actually be called a carbon tax.

Jason Kenney: Minister in Charge of Wooing Ethnic Votes

Rob Nicholson: Minister in Charge of Justifying the Human Rights Commission.

Peter Kent: Minister in Charge of Being From Toronto

Bad, bad World Series

I am glad this World Series has finally been put out of its misery.

To quote Bill Chuck:

This has been the World Series of bad hitting.

This has also been the World Series of bad fielding.

This has been the World Series of bad umpiring.

This has been the World Series of bad weather.

This has been Bud’s Bad World Series

Media Alert

I was a guest on the Al and Mike Show last night where such topics as incrementalism and liberalism were discussed.

You can listen to the show here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Five Quotes I'd Like to Hear

“The free market system is superior to socialism when it comes to generating wealth and prosperity.”

“We don’t need more government in Canada, we need less.”

“Since free speech is the life blood of democracy; it’s time to scrap election gag laws and it’s time to defang Human Rights Commissions.”

“Why is the government in the broadcast business? We should privatize the CBC.”

“The government’s monopoly on health care services must end; Canadians deserve a choice.”

Since becoming Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has never said any of these things; don't you wish he would?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book Binge

Yesterday I checked out a book sale that's held annually at Trinity College in Toronto.

And let me tell you, if you like books that's the place to be; tons of them of every description and category.

Tons of people too.

Anyway, I ended up buying four books:

Political Numeracy: Mathematical Perspectives on our chaotic constitution, by Michael Myerson. (Sounds a little complicated but what the heck.)

Goldwater, by Barry Goldwater and Jack Casserly. (The guy who turned me on to conservatism in the first place.)

The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World, by Rupert Smith (Seems topical)

Dennis Miller, The Rants, by Dennis Miller (I need a laugh every once in a while.)

Now I just have to find time to read them.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just Don't Vote

A lot of people are fretting about the low voter turn out in the last federal election.

But not Will Wilkinson of the CATO Institute who says voter apathy can be a good thing.

H/T Paul Tuns

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Worthington on Dion

Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington has an interesting comment on Stephane Dion's decision to stick around for a few more months.

And yes, the only reason I am linking to this column is because Worthington says something nice about me.

Obama Vs McCain Dance Contest

OK I'm not sure if this is funny or just weird.

Unbelievable McCain Vs. Obama Dance-Off - Watch more Free Videos

H/T Peter "Jaws" Jaworksi

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three Wise Guys at the Fraser Institute

Was in Ottawa yesterday to speak at a Fraser Institute "Behind the Spin" event.
Here's a photo of me along with the two other speakers; that's cyberwiz Stephen Taylor on the left, Joel-Denis Bellavance of La Presse in the centre and me on the right, once again defending my "Takes Worst Picture in the World" championship.
It was a fun night, with lots of political discussion.
Thanks to the Fraser Institute's Tasha Kheiriddin who hosted the evening and to Dr. Roy for taking the picture.
Actually Dr. Roy has a write up on the evening here.

Tories and Incrementalism

In case anybody missed it, I had a column yesterday in the National Post.

It's my post-election advice to the Conservative government: Drop the incremental stuff and start acting like real conservatives.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dion in Denial

According to Stephane Dion the Liberal election loss was everybody's fault except his.

Especially to blame says Dion was the Conservative Party which had the audacity to actually run an effective attack ad campaign.

Shame on them!

Oh and Dion knows losing the election wasn't his fault because all his friends told him he ran a good campaign.

Man, this guy is living in denial.

If I am Liberal I would want to move up the Liberal leadership convention to next week.

Defining Liberty

I had a great time this weekend at the Canadian Constitution Foundation conference in Toronto.

The theme for the conference was "Individual Freedom and the Common Good: Defining Human Rights in a Free Society".

Topics included protecting the environment through property rights; Aboriginal Rights in the 21st century and Judicial Activism in Canada.

The most interesting part of the conference however was a debate between Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Philippe Dufresne of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The CCF will be posting that debate on Youtube at a later date and I will link to it when it becomes available.

What I thought was interesting about this debate was that the Human Rights Commission even agreed to participate.

They are probably engaging in a little PR damage control which means all that negative press coverage they are getting is hurting them.

Of course, this might be a signal for the Conservative government to clip their wings.

But that probably won't happen.

Also was glad to see my friend Dr. Roy at the conference and to meet Connie and Mark Fournier of Free Dominon fame.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Frum and Me

Recently on his NRO blog, David Frum put a hyper-postive spin on the Conservative Party's electoral victory.

This led me to send him an email offering a "dissenting" opinion.

He asked if he could post my comment on his blog and I said sure, so check it out.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama Out of Touch

Barack Obama recently took John McCain to task for claiming he spoke for guys like the famous "Joe the Plumber."

"How many plumbers do you know who make a quarter of a million dollars a year?" mocked Obama.

Clearly, Obama has never had to pay a plumber to fix a leaky faucet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vote for the Penguin

Why can't we have debates like this:

H/T Reason: Hit and Run

Spinning the Election

Every party was a winner last night:

The Tories strengthened their minority government made gains across the country and even won a few urban seats.

The Liberals, despite having a weak leader, revitalized its brand in Quebec and held onto its core urban support base. It's now well poised to make huge gains in the next election.

The NDP increased its number of seats and made gains in BC, Ontario and in Atlantic Canada.

The Bloc Quebecois held firm and continues to be the most dominant federal party in Quebec.

The Green enjoyed a breakthrough year, gaining wide attention for its platform and increasing its popular vote.

Or ....

Every party was a loser last night.

The Tories failed to win a majority government despite facing the weakest Liberal leader in 100 years and its scheme to achieve an electoral breakthrough in Quebec was a major bust.

The Liberals got crushed; they lost seats and declined in the popular vote. Even worse, they now have Justin Trudeau in their caucus.

The NDP failed to leap ahead of the faltering Liberals and will once again settle for third place.

The Bloc failed to dislodge the Tory beachhead in Quebec.

The Greens despite massive publicity and a fawning media failed to win a single seat and their leader may have tainted the brand name with cynical political games.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jumping the Gun

Who will replace Stephane Dion as Liberal leader?
Justin Trudeau
Bob Rae
Garth Turner
Michael Ignatieff
Margaret Atwood
Danny Williams
Elizabeth May
Stephane Dion's dog Kyoto free polls

My Timid Forecast

Here are my official election seat predictions.

Liberals 88
Tories 130
NDP 34
Bloc 55
Independent 1
Green 0

Please keep in mind my election predictions are wrong 19 out of 20 times.

Anyway, I am going along with the popular consensus of a Tory minority, mainly because that's what all the polls are calling for and I am playing it safe.

But something deep inside my gut says we might end up with an unexpected result. (Of course, that might just be indigestion.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Election Summary

Here is how I would summarize the various political campaigns:

The Conservatives
Never in the field of political endeavours have so few squandered so much.

The Liberals
Why should Stephane Dion be Prime Minister? I don't follow you ... can you repeat the question?

A new kind of strong, but an old kind of socialism.

The Green Party
Official Campaign slogan: For God's sake whatever you do, don't vote for us.

The Bloc
Get used to us, we are not going away

Friday, October 10, 2008

No Winners, just Losers

Based on the campaign performances of all the parties during this election, I would say they all deserve to lose.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Liberal Lite vs Conservative Lite

Check Joseph Ben-Ami's interesting analysis of the Conservative Party's platform.

Satire Alert

And some people call me cynical!

H/T Kalim

Questions about those Polls

One thing to consider about all those opinion polls floating around are what the pollsters are asking.

For instance, Harris-Decima asks "If a federal election were being held tomorrow, who do you think you would be voting for in your area…the Liberal Party candidate, the Conservative Party
candidate, the NDP Party candidate or the Green Party candidate?"

Fair enough.

But I bet you would get a different result if the same pollster asked the question this way: "If a federal election were being held tomorrow, who do you think you would be voting for in your area ... the Stephane Dion Liberals, the Stephen Harper Conservatives, the Jack Layton NDP or the Elizabeth May Green Party?"

The point is most people don't vote for a party anymore, they vote for a leader and if you tied the leader to the party, it might show the Tories doing better than current polls indicate.

Just a theory.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tory Free Fall

The Conservatives need a little shock therapy to stop their staggering free fall in the polls.

What should they do?

They should raise the awful spectre of a Liberal-NDP minority government.

If that doesn't scare Canadian voters, nothing will.

Spinning at the Fraser Institute

On October 21st, exactly one week after Election Day, I will be speaking at a Fraser Institute "Behind the Spin" event in Ottawa.

The topic is "The first 100 days: What direction should the new government take?"

Also speaking that night will be Stephen Taylor of Blogging Tories fame and Joël-Denis Bellavance, Ottawa bureau chief for La Presse.

Should be an interesting discussion, so if you are in the Ottawa area drop on by and say hello.

You can register here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Puzzling Polls

The latest polls seem to indicate the federal election is tightening up a bit.

This might actually be good news for the Conservatives.

Recall that in the last two elections they went into the final week of the campaign riding high in the polls only to come plummeting down on election day.

Maybe the reverse will happen this time.

CCF Conference Defines Human Rights

When the federal election is over, it will be time once again to start talking about issues.

Indeed, on the October 17th weekend in Toronto, the Canadian Constitution Foundation is holding what promises to be a fascinating conference called "Individual Freedom and the Common Good: Defining Human Rights in a Free Society."

Topics to be discussed include, Aboriginal rights, the environment and property rights, judicial activism and free expression.

I had the pleasure of speaking at a CCF conference last year and I can tell you they are wonderful, not to be missed events for anybody who cares about individual liberty.

So if you want to learn a lot about some topical issues register for this conference right now!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Alas for the North Siders

Let's all spare a few seconds to mourn for the poor people who root for the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs were eliminated from the play-offs last night meaning their World Series drought has now reached 100 years.

100 years!!!

You would think that just by the law of averages they would win at least one championship over that period of time.

I mean for the hapless Toronto Maple Leafs to match that record of futility would mean not winning the Stanley Cup for another 59 years.

Maybe the baseball gods meant it to be this way. Maybe the world needs lovable losers to root for.

In politics the Alberta Liberals serve the same function.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

Debating conservatism

At least somebody liked my mini-debate review.

Update: Somebody else liked it too.

Media Alert

I will be a guest on the radio program Newsline (CFAX Victoria, BC) at 11:15 AM EST to talk about the federal election.

Post Debate Analysis

Here are some morning-after reflections on last night's English debate.

* Calling it an "English" debate is a bit of a misnomer given that Gilles Duceppe and Stephane Dion were not exactly speaking English.

* At one point Dion called Jack Layton a "socialist" which is a bit like Britney Spears calling Paris Hilton a headline chaser.

* The debate organizers really should have invited George Bush to be part of the debate since it was mainly his policies that were under attack.

* What was the deal with the guy building his shed?

* According to Layton, if the tax cuts to "Exxon" were cancelled the government would have enough money to fund the arts, cure our health care system, save the environment and erect Tommy Douglas statues in every city of the land.

* Now I know why Elizabeth May is at these debates; the Liberals are too embarrassed to cheer for Dion.

* The opposition leaders described Harper with words like, "cold-hearted", "cold and callous", "out of touch" "incompetent", "doesn't care", which just goes to show their debate preparation mainly entailed consulting a thesaurus.

* Everybody at the table kept trying to convince Harper he was a conservative; he kept reassuring him that he wasn't.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Debate Daze

I am thinking of filing an official complaint with Amnesty International.

Watching the federal election debate tonight was tantamount to slow torture.

Seriously, it was painful.

First off the debate format has got to change. Right now, the way the Opposition leaders can gang up on the Prime Minister, it's like watching a pack of wolves tearing apart a bear.

And what's worse than listening to Stephane Dion's terrible English? It's listening to Gilles Duceppe's even worse English.

The language may never recover.

Biggest disappointment?

No zingers.

Can't these guys hire writers to come up with some good put down lines?

The closest we got to a good line, came when NDP leader Jack Layton asked Prime Minister Harper if he was hiding the Conservative platform under his sweater.

Of course, it's possible there were better lines uttered later on.

It's hard for me to say, since I eventually lapsed into a boredom induced coma.

CTF Goes Viral

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has a cool online campaign going on called No Carbon Taxes.

As the name suggests, the CTF thinks "carbon taxes" along with "cap and trade" schemes are bad economic ideas that won't help the environment but will make us all poorer.

And so to get the message out its using a "viral marketing" strategy.

I like this campaign a lot, not only because I support the message, but because it's an innovative tactic, the kind of tactics conservatives need to use to win the war of ideas.

So check the site; sign the petition; post it on your blog and pass it along to to your friends.

It's a great way to stand up for lower taxes and less government.

Media Alert

If you are looking for a pre-debate primer, watch the Michael Coren Show tonight at 8:00 PM EST.

I will part of a panel looking at what's going on in this wacky federal election.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Parlez-vous le debate?

I didn't watch the French-language leadership debate tonight.

This is mainly because my French language skills are at a grade school level.

So unless the debate topics included going skiing ( je fais du ski) or Tante Louise's chocolates (ooh la la, la chocolates!) I would be pretty much lost.

However, my wife, who speaks fluent Parisian French watched the debate and gave me the lowdown.

She assures me Stephane Dion has the best accent.

Harper and Snacks

Infamous biker chick Julie Couillard's much-anticipated and imaginatively titled book, My Story, will be hitting the book shelves this Monday.

But the media is already reviewing its contents.

And according to one CBC review, "'Couillard also contends that (Maxime) Bernier, an active runner, was constantly concerned about his own physical appearance and frequently criticized the physical shape of his boss, complaining that Harper had a paunch, ate badly and constantly drank Pepsi."

As someone who once worked with Harper I can tell you that bit about his eating habits definitely rings true to me.

Back in his National Citizens Coalition days, Harper would always sneak out of the office in the afternoon and return loaded down with chocolate bars, chips, candies and huge cups of Pepsi.

Before long, the NCC staff came up with a secret nickname for Harper: "Fatboy" or "FB" for short.

Maybe I should write my own book.

Sweater Flop

A couple of postings ago, I lambasted the Conservative Party's famous "sweater" TV ads, the ones designed to remake Prime Minister Harper's image.

In that posting I wrote, "Like it or not, Stephen Harper is widely perceived as a cold, calculating, bully. It might not be true, but in politics perception is reality. And airing a bunch of ads with Harper in a sweater talking about motherhood issues, isn't going to change that reality. "

Well it looks like I was right.

According to a recent Nanos-Sun Media poll, 83% of Canadians say their opinion of Harper has either become worse or remained unchanged since the beginning of the election campaign.

The lesson here is, you don't use political ads to change people's minds.

You use them to exploit and intensify already existing perceptions and fears and hopes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I want a job speech writing for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Apparently the only qualification you need is access to a Xerox machine.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Me on Duffy

Sometimes I just don't get the Tories.

Let me explain.

This evening I was Mike Duffy Live "Prime Time Edition" debating some lefty-artsy guy about the Conservative government's political strategy of cutting arts funding.

The artsy guy, of course, was all indignant about the cuts.

But I defended the Conservative government, saying cutting arts was good politics because it mobilizes the Tory base and appeals to non-artists Canadians, who would rather see their money spent on something other than giant flying bananas.

OK get that? I was defending the Tories.

So anyway, on the very next segment, Duffy asks Tory spinner Jeff Norquay about my comments.

And how does he respond?

Does Norquay agree with my assessment?

No he attacks me. And then proceeds to explain how the Conservatives are actually spending tons of money on the arts.

In other words, he undid all the good I had done for the Conservatives on national television.


All I can say is, don't blame me if they don't win a majority.

Me and My Dog

Here's my dog Ace.
As you can see from his expression he holds utter contempt for the person taking the picture.
Oh well, at least he tolerates me.

Harper and Conservatism

Me and some other people are quoted in this Canwest News article looking at the Conservative Party's lack of conservative principles.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

NDP as Official Opposition? No I don't think so

Lots of people are saying the NDP might jump over the Liberals and form the Official Opposition in the next Parliament.

I'm not buying it.

First off, even with a dud like Stephane Dion leading them, the Liberals still have a strong brand name and deep roots in many parts of the country, meaning coming hell or high water they will hang onto their core support which is enough to guarantee them second place.

Second off, the NDP has little room to grow vote-wise. Simply put, their policies are designed to appeal to union bosses, tweedy professors and left-wing special interest groups.

And such policies -- higher taxes, class warfare, pro-big union measures--just don't resonate with the Middle Class.

In fact, the more Canadians learn about the NDP's socialist agenda, the more nervous they will get.

So, the Liberals can relax -- they will get destroyed on election day, but at least they will keep the keys to Stornoway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Harper and the Gag Law

The Calgary Herald has an excellent editorial today on an issue no one seems to be discussing much: the election gag law.

Key paragraph from the editorial:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was himself a victim of it during his time as president of the National Citizens Coalition.

In those days, he was highly vocal on the subject, and conservatives had great expectations this heavy-handed restriction to free speech would be among the first pieces of legislative nonsense on his hit list.

We will assume he was waiting for a majority, as none of the opposition parties are anxious to extend citizen participation and therefore support the law. We will also assume that if he gets it, he will scrap the law.

It would be good to hear him say so, though.

Yes it would be good.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Roots of the Economic Crisis

This is the kind of financial analysis I like:

Time to Start Bashing Layton

The S.S. Liberal seems to be taking on water, it's crew on the verge of mutiny, the sharks are circling.

So what should the Harper Tories do about it?

Well maybe it's time to ease off on the Liberal bashing.

As Napoleon once put it, ""Never interfere with the opponent's actions when he is in the process of destroying himself."

A better strategy would be to start ramping up the attacks on Jack Layton and the NDP, specifically targeting the party's "dangerous left-wing agenda."

Such a plan would not only mobilize the Tory party's small "c" conservative base but more importantly it would help gain support for the NDP.

You read that right.

If Harper attacks Layton from the right it will drive up NDP support, because left wingers will rally around their beleaguered champion.

This, of course, will draw support from the Liberals, maybe even hurting them enough for the Tories to win a few extra seats.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stephen Vader?

You got to admit, this is pretty clever.

Harper, Me and the NCC

Ever since the election campaign started the National Citizens Coalition has endured a lot of abuse.

Left-wingers and politicians and journalists have been saying all sorts of nasty things about the NCC as a way of attacking Stephen Harper, who led the group from 1998 to 2001.

And their insults have gone unchallenged -- until now.

Check out my column in today's Toronto Sun, in which I defend my old group and Harper's record as its president.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Report on Carbon Tax

The good folks over at the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies have released a report giving eight reasons why the Liberal carbon tax scheme is a bad idea.

Only eight?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Star goes to bat for Dion, sort of

You know the Liberals and Stephane Dion are in trouble when even the Toronto Star has a hard time coming up with nice things to say about them.

Here from today's Star editorial is how the paper describes Dion's Green Shift plan: "Dion's plan may be complex, but it is credible and modestly energetic. It can't be dismissed out of hand."

"Credible", "modestly energetic", "can't be dismissed out of hand".

High praise indeed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Election Review

OK let's review what's gone on so far during the 2008 federal election:

* The Prime Minister of Canada apologizes for a defecating puffin.

* The Liberal leader who had branded himself a "green" champion doesn't want to talk about his major "green" campaign plank. (Oh wait, it was the media who called it a "major" plank.)

* The Agriculture Minister tries out a little shock jock humour and gets bad reviews.

* The NDP campaign resembles Bill and Ted's Excellent adventure.

* A Conservative candidate resigns, apparently for espousing conservative ideas.

* Bob Rae is using this election to audition for the next Liberal leadership race.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

All a Twitter

I now have a Twitter account.

True, I have no idea as to what this Twitter thing is all about.

But apparently it's the hottest thing in the Internet, so I wanted in!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Star Letter

On Saturday the Toronto Star ran an editorial with the usual stuff about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's hidden agenda.

And in the process the paper took a swipe at my old organization the National Citizens Coalition.

So I took a swipe back in the form of a letter to the editor, which was published today:

Dear Sir/Madam:

You state that Prime Minister Stephen Harper "staked out quite radical positions" while leading the National Citizens Coalition.


What's radical about pushing for lower taxes, wanting a stronger defence, fighting for free political expression and for the democratic rights of unionized employees?

Those are some of the positions Harper "staked out" during his time at the NCC, positions a lot of Canadians would deem mainstream.

Gerry Nicholls, Former National Citizens Coalition Vice President, Oakville

Media Alert

I will be on the Michael Coren Show tonight at 8:00 PM EST to talk about ... what else the federal election.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reviewing the Liberal Ad

OK this Liberal TV ad has got to be one of the weirdest political spots I have ever seen.

The message seems to be: Vote for the Liberals because they can rhythmically clap their hands.

It makes the Liberal caucus look like some sort of bizarre cult.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NCC Not a Business

I am getting some media inquires regarding Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apparent claim yesterday that running the National Citizens Coalition from 1998 to 2001 counted as running a "medium-sized business."

They are asking me if I consider the NCC to be a "business."

My answer is no

The NCC, to my mind at least, is an organization with a mission -- to promote more freedom through less government.

That's not the same as selling widgets.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Liberals Spreading Misinformation about Harper, NCC

I just sent this email out to my media contacts:

In its "Reality Check" website, the Liberal Party is spreading misinformation about the National Citizens Coalition and a 1993 campaign to defeat then MP Jim Hawkes.

Here's an excerpt from the Liberal site:

"Instead, he (Harper) served as both president and vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), an extreme right advocacy organization that employed Mr. Harper between 1997 and 2001, and also assisted with his 1993 election campaign."

That last bit implies the NCC supported Stephen Harper's election campaign in 1993.

We did not.

We did run a $50,000 multi-media ad campaign urging voters in Calgary Southwest to “Defeat Jim Hawkes”, but this campaign had nothing to do with Harper, but was simply part of larger war the NCC was waging against election gag laws.

Unfortunately for Hawkes, he was the government’s point man and chief public defender of an election gag law the Mulroney government had enacted. That made him, in our mind, a marked man.

We were determined to defeat Hawkes, to send a message to politicians everywhere: any politician who endorsed gag laws would pay a steep political price.

That’s why when the writ was dropped in 1993 we hammered Hawkes with everything in our arsenal: newspaper ads, radio spots, TV commercials --- all of them linking Hawkes with the gag law.

Our message was simple: Hawkes wanted to take away the right to free political speech.

For us, it was not about Harper winning, but about Hawkes losing.

And I should know, I am the one who planned the campaign.

Caldwell on The Leader

Theo Caldwell has an excellent column in today's National Post, lamenting the Conservative Party's lack of conservatism.

A couple of key quotes:

"Harper is probably the best leader on offer but, as comedian Dennis Miller might opine, that is like being the smartest kid in summer school."

"If Harper does have a hidden agenda, as his detractors claim, it is hidden even from those who would be his supporters."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Students for Freedom Conference

I am going to be a speaker at the Midwest Students For Freedom Conference at the University of Michigan, on November 8th.

My topic will be how to market and communicate the ideals of liberty.

And the conference will feature lots of other interesting topics and speakers, including Larry Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Should be a fun event.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Coyne on The Leader

Andrew Coyne has an excellent analysis of what's going on with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party.

Key quote: He (Harper) has made the Conservatives into legitimate contenders for power, in short, at the expense of conservatism. In its place he offers . . . himself."

Debating the Debate

My friend Kirk argued on his blog recently that Green Party leader Elizabeth May has no business being included in the leadership debate.

But like it or not, she will be there with all the other guys to make sure an already unwieldy format is even more unwieldy.

But since the ice is broken, why shouldn't other important political figures have a chance to join the debate?

Here's a list of who I think should definitely be invited:

* Stephane Dion’s dog

* A Puffin

* Sarah Palin’s pregnant daughter

* That talking oil stain from the recent Tory attack ads.

* A sweater vest

* Kim Jong Il

* Bob Rae (so he can get some practice being Liberal leader)

* A lipstick wearing pig

Good Luck John

Today is John Williamson's last day as federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Starting in a few weeks John will be taking graduate courses at the London School of Economics, which is pretty darn impressive.

And while I certainly wish John luck with his studies across the pond, his departure also makes me a little sad because the Canadian conservative movement will miss him.

For the six years he led the CTF, John was a consistent and principled champion of freedom who held politicians to account, regardless of their partisan stripes.

We need more of that in this country, not less.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fearless Election Forecasts

In my latest Sun column I offer some "hard hitting" election predictions, some of which might even come true.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Hidden Agenda Wish List

So far there is only one big issue in this election: puffins.

And while puffins are certainly important, I also believe we need to discuss other matters during the most crucial period of any democracy.

So with that in mind, I wrote a column, which appears in today's National Post, on the Conservative Party's so-called "Hidden Agenda."

Actually, the column discuess what the Conservative Party's "Open Agenda" should be.

It doesn't include puffins.

Media Alert

I will be on Charles Adler On line at approximately 2:00 PM EST to discuss my column in today's National Post.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Puffin Power

Once upon a time I worked for major political advocacy group.

And part of my job was to create issue ads. And lots of the ads I created were pretty crazy.

I had ads with oinking pigs, ads with donkeys, even ads with flatulent cows!

But it never occurred to me to create an ad with defecating puffins.
I guess I have lots to learn from the political geniuses in the Tory "war room".

Dion's Political Career RIP

I get the feeling Stephane Dion's career as Liberal leader is already dead and that the rest of this election campaign will just be a long, drawn out political obituary.

Green with Envy

I wish Green Party leader Elizabeth May would stop whining about being excluded from the leader's debate.

Why should she be invited?

After all, the Greens are just a fringe party, albeit a fringe party that generates lots of publicity.

And the only reason it gets any publicity is that the Greens are capitalizing on the trendiness of the environment issue right now.

That, however, won't translate into them winning any seats come Election Day.

Besides the only "green" May is focusing on during this election is the kind that fills your wallet.

Thanks to the "Welfare for Political Parties" scheme we have in this country, her party will rake in $1.75 per vote.

Not a bad way to make a living.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Reviewing the Tory Ad Part 2

OK just as I was hoping the Conservative Party has unleashed some anti-Dion attack ads.

I hope this means no more sugary stuff.

Anyway, of the new ads, I like this one the best.

It's funny, it hits all the right buttons, has interesting visuals and as an added bonus subtly takes a poke at one of Dion's biggest weaknesses: His poor English.

Only fault is the ad tries to say too much -- but then again the Dion-led Liberals offer so many juicy targets.

Also interesting is how the Tories are using the same "don't take a risk" strategy as the Liberals used against them in the last election.

The Problem with the Green Shift Plan

In the recent past, the Ottawa Citizen's Susan Riley was almost ridiculously pro-Stephane Dion and pro-Carbon tax.

And now she's disappointed with other key Liberals for their failure to back up the Liberal leader on the Green Shift scheme, a point she made in a teary column a few days ago.

So I responded with a letter to the editor pointing out the obvious:

Monday, September 08, 2008

Re: Liberals shift down, Sept. 5.

Dear Sir/Madam:
Columnist Susan Riley's impassioned defence of Liberal leader Stéphane Dion and his Green Shift plan completely misses the point.

Mr. Dion's scheme might be good economics, as Ms. Riley believes, but it's terrible politics.

Here's the problem: any political idea you need to explain to voters before they will accept it is by definition a bad idea. In politics you want people to react, not think.

Winning political ideas are the ones which you don't need to explain because they resonate with a voter's emotions: fear, anger, pride, patriotism.

And it's hard to get emotional about a complicated Green Shift plan that's more about tax codes and subsidies than saving the environment.

This is a lesson the Liberals might have to learn the hard way.

Gerry Nicholls, Oakville

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Reviewing the NDP Ad

The latest NDP political TV ad is what happens when you ask somebody who doesn't know how to write a "negative ad" write a "negative ad."

The biggest problem with NDP commercial is that it actually looks like a pro-Harper spot.

I mean it actually reinforces a prime Tory message by calling Stephen Harper a "strong leader" not once, not twice, but three times.

Another problem is that the spot crams way too much information in a 30 second ad. A good ad focuses on just one idea. This one has propaganda overload.

And, the bit about the doctors disappearing has a visual of a nice family visiting a doctor, so the image contradicts the message.

Finally, it's a mistake to have Jack Layton pop in at the end looking all happy.

It destroys the mood.

You cannot mix a negative and positive message in one ad -- it's got to be one or the other.

The Writ

Well the Governor-General today officially "dropped the writ."

Unfortunately, the writ broke when it hit the ground, sparking a major constitutional crisis.

Until it's resolved we will be a writless nation.

Historic Day

Well the day many of us have eagerly awaited is finally here.

This is the day when the campaigns finally kick off; the day when we find out who are the true leaders and who are just pretenders.

Of course, I am talking about opening day for the NFL.

Oh yeah, today's also the day an election is going to get called.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Mary Poppins Ads Must Go

Here's the problem with the latest Tory cutesy-wutesy TV ads: they don't make any political sense.

That's not to say positive ads never make sense.

A guy like Ronald Reagan could use them effectively because they reflected his image as a optimistic and likable leader.

But Harper is no Reagan.

Like it or not, Stephen Harper is widely perceived as a cold, calculating, bully.

It might not be true, but in politics perception is reality.

And airing a bunch of ads with Harper in a sweater talking about motherhood issues, isn't going to change that reality.

The Liberals, if they any political intelligence at all, (which is debatable) will capitalize on this perception and let loose a stream of super-negative attack ads which will portray Harper as a cross between Genghis Khan, Mike Tyson and Simon Cowell.

Since such attack ads will play to an already existing perception they will resonate with voters.

That's why I suspect once the election is truly underway the Tories will drop the Mary Poppins routine and slip on the brass knuckles.

In fact, Liberal leader Stephane Dion is much more vulnerable than Harper when it comes to negative perceptions.

Canadians view him as a wimp.

Why a wimp?

Because Tory attack ads defined him that way.

In other words, both parties have good solid strategic reasons to go negative.

Should be a fun election.

Spoiling for a Fight

I am quoted in this Winnipeg Free Press story commentating on the Conservative Party election strategy.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Tory Pre-election Spending

Glad to see the Canadian Taxpayers Federation bashing the Conservative government for its Liberal-style pre-election spending spree.

Taking on the Tories like that takes courage as the PMO doesn't take kindly to any sort of criticism.

But that's the kind of courage the conservative movement needs right now.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Political Nausea Alert

Just watched the latest Conservative Party TV ads.

And I just have one thing to say: somebody pass me a barf bag.

I mean a guy can take just so much sappy, corny, hokiness before nausea starts to set in.

Yes they are "positive" but this is the kind of maudlin stuff a party runs when poll-wise it's way out in front.

It also helps if the guy in the ad is a sappy, corny sort of person; that's not Stephen Harper.

I suspect the Tories have better ads in the can that will air once an election is officially called.

At least I hope so for my stomach's sake.

Understanding American Politics

The American political system puzzles me sometimes.

I mean to become a US presidential nominee for a major party a candidate must endure a gruelling 18 year primary process, spend a trillion dollars in places like Iowa and show up a couple times on Jay Leno.

But for the Vice Presidential nominee it's totally different; they are plucked out of nowhere.

Take John McCain's running mate Sarah Palin -- the former mayor of Moose Butt, Alaska. Until a week ago, nobody outside of a few polar bears had ever heard of her.

And now she's the "Queen of Hockey Moms."

Still I must say, I thought her speech last night at the Republican convention was excellent, just the right mix of political jabs and folksy charm.

One thing's for sure, the Republicans now have the polar bear vote wrapped up.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Dion Advancing in a Different Direction

Liberal leader Stephane Dion is at a caucus retreat which I guess is a good place to announce a caucus retreat.

It seems Dion, who is feeling heat from MPs who actually want to have a chance at getting re-elected, is altering his Carbon Tax Plan so that it now offers subsidies to certain people.

So bottom line: a complicated plan, just got more complicated.

Mind you, it's always a Liberal reflex to throw money around when things get tough.

And if this keeps up, by the time Election Day rolls around Dion will be offering motorists special subsidies every time they fill up at the gas station.

What Fixed Election Date?

I have a column in the Sun media today examining why Prime Minister Harper can ignore his own fixed election date legislation and call a snap vote.

Basically it's because he can.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Reviewing the Tory Ad

I have been meaning to comment on this Conservative Party TV ad.

Here's the comment: it stinks.

First of all, does anybody really believe regular Canadian voters go around talking in Tory-approved "talking points."

Second of all, this ad is striving to do the impossible: make Stephen Harper look cuddly.

A better and more honest ad would say something like, "My name is Stephen Harper. I know you don't like me very much, but you would like Stephane Dion even less."

Also check out Rondi Adamson's take on this ad.

Quidditch Anyone?

Here's me standing in front of Trinity College at the University of Toronto. My son is living in residence there and I got a chance to check it out on Labour Day.

It's pretty cool, very British, very traditional -- kind of like Hogwarts.

Actually, I will miss my son when he's away, because he's the only guy around here who knew how to operate a computer.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fighting for Farmers

What with all the talk about the US election and the impending Canadian election, let's not forget that the Canadian Wheat Board will also have a vote this fall to determine its board of directors.

I bring this up because Rolf Penner, a principled, pro-free market farmer is running for the directorship.

His goal is to end the Wheat Board monopoly and restore economic freedom to farmers.

It's a worthy crusade.

To learn more about Rolf or to donate to his campaign go here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Me and the CRTC

I'd like to interupt all this election chatter to talk about something that really matters to Canadians: porn.

Check out my latest Sun media column.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Little Summer Rand

From the movie version of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, here's Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, defending "men of unborrowed vision".

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Blaming Georgia on George

Hey, this just in -- the Russian invasion of Georgia is George Bush's fault.

Isn't everything Bush's fault?

Pursuing Glory and Profits

I am reading The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815, a fascinating social-economic history of Europe's early modern age.

Reading about life in those days and all the problems people faced -- wars, plagues, famine, lack of deodorant -- makes me glad to be living in this industrial age, even if industry does cause global warming.

Anyway, the book's author, historian Tim Blanning, describes how an enterprising Englishman named William Dockwra created a private postal system to serve London in the 1680s.

Writes Blanning, "Recruiting hundreds of taverns, coffee houses and shops as collecting stations, he was able to provide a service more rapid than anything on offer today, as collections and deliveries were made as often as every hour during the daytime."

Of course, the King soon closed it down because it competed too efficiently with the monopoly he had granted to collect the mail.

The more things change...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Watching the Government's Waste

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is cutting back on wasteful cultural spending, so he will have more money to waste on bilingual spending.

This is how conservatism works today.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hooray for Canada; Now Please Pass the Remote

Here's my latest Sun media column, in which I examine the current Olympic Games.

I ask, what do they mean for nationalism, what do they mean for sport, but most of all what do they mean for those of us proud of our Couch Potato heritage?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Just Some Unrelated Stuff

Here's are some unrelated but interesting items for a lazy summer evening.

* Pierre Lemieux has an excellent column looking at cultural subsidies. Key quote: “Cultural subsidies are not much different than if each subsidized artist was given a revolver and told to collect the money himself.”

* Grassroots opposition to the Liberal Carbon Tax is growing as evidenced by this cool new site.

* Read the sad tale of Babe Dahlgren, a Major Leaguer from the 1930s and 40s whose career was ruined due to rumours that the used a non-performance-enhancing drug.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Madonna and me

Hey, famous rock star Madonna turned 50 today.

I turned 50 earlier this year too.

So it seems we have something else in common besides the fact that we are both sex symbols.

Medal Mania

Thanks goodness Canada is starting to win some medals at the Olympic games.

Maybe this will put an end to the cries that we need to impose some sort of Stalinist-style "Sports Culture" on the public.