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The pepto-bismol of polls

Every time we get polls released each month, we always have at least  one poll where the Conservatives are up on the Liberals from the prior month, who also throw in leadership polls that show Dion doing poorly, and predictably, we get some Liberal bloggers getting heartburn and demanding either the leader resign or else be upended in a palace coup or else claim this shows Canadians won’t listen to Dion’s message in an election – specifically on a carbon tax. The next day, Nanos polling comes out with much more close numbers, and that usually calms the “nervous nellies”.

So once again, we have another poll from Nanos released.

A new Nanos Research-Sun Media poll shows the Opposition Liberals at 34% and the ruling Conservatives at 33%, compared to 36% and 36% respectively in April. The results indicated a statistical tie that could see either party win a minority…The poll, which asked committed voters which party they would vote for, showed the Green Party slowly inching up in the polls from 4% at the 2004 election, to 8% now. The Bloc is at 11%, compared to 10% at the 2006 election, while the NDP dropped three percentage points from 18% in 2006 to 15% now.

If you look at the provincial breakdown, you see a continued large lead in the Maritimes for the Liberals, a continued substantial lead in Ontario. a virtual tie with the Cons in Quebec for 2nd place, and while still trailing in the “West”, the Liberals actually have cut into the Cons. lead and have it in single digits. That type of breakdown to me indicates a far better chance of having a Liberal minority then a Cons. one right now if these numbers held to election day.

While I’m not going to call on people to quit whining, I do think some need to take the aforementioned pepto-bismol.  As I said over here in comments,  people elect political parties in Canada – they don’t elect presidents.  Furthermore, since some are worried about whether we can sell a carbon tax or not – if the majority of the Canadian public are starting from the position that they approve of a carbon tax, as recent polls indicate,  thats an automatic built-in advantage for the Liberals. We don’t need to “sell” it as hard if the public isn’t skeptical of it from the get-go.  Note also that a fair # of the pundits are starting to say this might be a better issue then some are giving Dion and the Liberals credit for. That’s a good thing too if the media are presenting that narrative to the public.

In short, I wouldn’t sweat leadership #’s too much, and I wouldn’t get our noses out of join over an individual poll here and there The election will not be won and the leadership #’s will not move before a general election gets called – these polling #’s seem to indicate that.

Blogging makes for strange bedfellows.

Small Dead Animals and Kate publicly support Jason Cherniak in his online squabble that he initiated with Warren on the carbon tax issue.  Not exactly a supporter I’d be happy to be supporting me on an issue, if I’m a Liberal.

I’ve been shaking my head all day at this whole blowup.  Some days discretion is the better part of valour, and some things are better left unsaid (or said in a more tactful manner).

Random blogging topics today.

1) We did “get it”,  Greg, but as I’ve said on here prior, some of us were being openly encouraged to apply even though we aren’t sympathetic to the “vision” that the Conservative Party wants bloggers -ones that are sympathetic to that vision presumably – to spread to Canadians, and I was urging bloggers of the progressive stripe to apply so we can compare how tolerant the Tories are going to be compared to the Liberals and their 2006 Convention when opposing POV bloggers apply to cover this.  I fully expect they won’t be, save for a token dissenting blogger perhaps.

2) Another Harrisite joins the Harper fold. I see Guy Giorno, former Mike Harris chief of staff, is pegged to replace the departing Ian Brodie as Harper’s top aide.   One good thing about that will be we will no longer have to read in the Toronto Star Guy’s guest columns, which were better suited for the Toronto Sun or the National Post.

Who knew?

…that Senate reform would be one of the most commented on topics at the Macleans Blog Central site? (Paul Wells can take credit, tho I suppose Kady O’Malley needs to be given props for directing blog traffic to it.)

It beats out the most previous high of comments which I believe was when Andrew Potter started asking readers what they’d rename Andrew Coyne’s blog (which he still has refused to do).

Send in your application to blog live at the Conservatives Convention

I just would like to echo what James blogged about yesterday, and what Warren lauded a couple of days ago and encourage bloggers of the progressive stripe to go to this Conservative Party page and send in an application to apply for blogger credentials at their 2008 national convention.  The Liberals did this in 2006 (and had other bloggers who were there that weren’t Liberals, including yours truly at the time), so it will be interesting to see if the Cons. credential non-Blogging Tory bloggers.

I should also mention that I had a message from Stephen Taylor, Blogging Tories headmaster, on whether I was going to apply or not and encouraging me to do so. I don’t think I will, but that indicates to me that the Conservatives will be giving credentials to  some bloggers not exactly receptive to their point of view.

For those wondering where and when this is, I’m told by Stephen it’s going to be held in Winnipeg sometime after Thanksgiving. Personally, I think it would be amusing to blog there from a progressive point of view if we have gone to an election before that  and the Conservatives get removed from power by then. It would be priceless seeing Stephen Harper pout on stage. Of course, he’d be insufferable if they actually managed to hold on to power, but either way, it would give folks good material to blog about.

I encourage folks to apply.

The anger in tobacco country is palpable towards the Conservatives

I’ve been seeing that anger in a lot of the local newspapers around here in the past month or 2, but it’s drawn enough attention to make it into today’s Toronto Star in an article entitled “Despair and anger in tobacco country”. This isn’t just about the tobacco farmers either being angry at the Cons. and Diane Finley – many in Caledonia, the site of the native protests – blame her and the Cons. for failing to resolve the issue:

For tobacco growers in southwestern Ontario, hope has turned to despair. Banks are foreclosing, marriages are dissolving and some growers have even taken their lives..What the tobacco farmers and the Caledonia residents have in common is anger, much of it directed toward their Haldimand-Norfolk MP – Conservative Diane Finley, immigration minister in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet. Caledonia residents feel Finley has abandoned them, while tobacco growers accuse her of failing to live up to her many promises to bring in an aid package that would allow them to turn to other crops or another way of life.

That anger is potentially deadly to Finley’s chances for re-election here:

“When she runs again, I am going to have a sign on my lawn that says `Never ever vote for this woman again.’ She’s useless. She’s done. She will never get back in here,” said Reid, 65, who blames having to take medication for elevated blood pressure on the two-year-old dispute.. His wife, Marg, 47, guessed that Finley’s chances of being re-elected are “nil.” About 150 farmers made a very public statement in March when they gathered outside Finley’s Simcoe office to express outrage over the absence of a buyout program. After ripping up their Conservative membership cards and a Finley lawn sign, they marched to the office of Dr. Eric Hoskins, the Liberal candidate, to fill out memberships for the federal Liberal party.”I have voted Conservative my whole (adult) life … but I feel very much that I have been led down the garden path,” Brian Baswick, 53, a tobacco farmer from the Delhi area… Dave Brown and his wife Dana live on the west side of the (Caledonia) development…”There are so many times when I sat here waiting for (Finley) to call me and the calls just never came. She does not deserve the position she’s in. She will absolutely not win the (next election). I will make sure of that,” said Brown..

And what has Finley offered in her defense? Nothing but excuses and threats:

The Toronto Star requested an interview with Finley but a spokesperson on her behalf said issues involving agriculture and native affairs were not her responsibility. “The minister is only the local MP and not the lead on either file,” wrote spokesperson Timothy Veil…Fearing for her own safety, she refused to attend a meeting in Delhi late last month with more than 1,000 tobacco farmers. But she did send a letter warning the farmers that if they launched a lawsuit against the federal government that “everything we are working on stops. Plain and simple.” She also chastised the farmers for their “negative messaging,” which she said was only jeopardizing a final exit plan, one which could entail Ottawa buying their tobacco quota

She chickened out of talking to her own constituents, not because she feared for her life, but because she knew she’d get booed off the stage if she showed up, and she didn’t want any more bad publicity.  To top it off, she then tried to intimidate the farmers into silence.  These are farmers that have seen their farms foreclosed, themselves forced into bankruptcy, and they’re supposed to take this lying down?

Between this and Caledonia, I think this line in the paper is the most apt to describe Finley’s plight:

When Finley first entered politics – she defeated former agriculture minister Bob Speller in the June 2004 election that returned Paul Martin’s Liberals with a minority – she often accused the government of over-promising and under-delivering. Those words are coming back to haunt her.

I believe that Norfolk is one rural riding you will see switch back to the Liberals when the election is finally called. I don’t think even if by some chance a buyout is finally agreed to, that the farmers will forgive Finley for her perceived inaction and lack of empathy for the farming community. Caledonia and area residents certainly won’t over her perceived inaction on the native standoff.  I think this is one riding where local issues will far overshadow national ones.

That could also be the case in Oxford, if it were brought up more. I also think that this is a wedge issue that the Liberal Candidate in Oxford, Martha Dennis, could and should  be using more against Conservative MP Dave Mackenzie, as there are a fair number of tobacco farmers in this riding as well. She may very well be doing so in her campaigning, but I’ve seen nothing in the local papers around here from her attacking Mackenzie’s failure to help get a buyout package for the tobacco farmers in his riding. I believe she needs to get more press exposure for herself on this issue and pressure Mr Mackenzie on this issue.

You should understand that Oxford County is a very blue riding and only seems to vote Liberal when the Liberals do Chretien-style landslides in the province.  I’m not sure this issue would tip this riding to the Liberals, but it sure would make Mackenzie feel a tad uncomfortable having to defend to farmers why he’s been no better then Finley at securing a buyout compensation package for tobacco farmers to help them turn to alternate crops and preserve their way of life and income.

Victoria Day testing on the site – Subscribe to Comments works again (I think) and site glitches

Hi folks – first off, Happy Victoria Day to you all. I hope you’re enjoying it, regardless of how the weather is (it’s been absolutely raw and wet and cold and miserable in Southern Ontario this weekend – I’m glad I’m not a camper).

Secondly, thanks to some help from Debra over at April Reign, I think we might have our Subscribe to Comments option working again,  which allows users to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to a blog entry. If anyone would like to test that, feel free (you’ll see the option to subscribe below the input box where users can type in comments to my blogposts). (EDIT: I’ve also added the Register and Log In option directly at the top of my screen, so its easier to see/find and you dont have to waste time scrolling to the bottom to locate them)

It’s time for the ethics committee to investigate the Cadman affair.

You’ve seen many Conservatives and a couple of others claiming online that since the RCMP could find no evidence of any wrongdoing with what they did in trying to persuade Cadman to vote for them Conservatives, that should be the end of the matter, or that it will put the affair on the back burner.

I’m in the camp of those who say it’s far from over (and also in the camp of those who fully expected the RCMP to come out and say what they did, but that’s another story).

As Danielle points out, the RCMP also didn’t find any evidence to charge former PM Brian Mulroney with any wrongdoing over his dealings with Mr. Shreiber , but that hasn’t stopped all parties from agreeing there needs to be a public inquiry into the Mulroney/Shreiber affair to look into the unanswered questions of that mess.  If there are some unanswered questions with regards to that, there are even more involving what was offered to Chuck Cadman and what then-opposition leader Stephen Harper was referring to when he said an offer had been made to replace “any financial considerations he might lose due to an election.”

As the Toronto Star asks in its editorial today: What financial issues? What insecurity? What exactly was Cadman offered and on what terms?

There is no real difference between this situation and the Mulroney/Shreiber situation, except the most important: it directly involves the Prime Minister and top Conservative officials, rather then a former retired PM.  If Harper and the Conservative officials are innocent of any wrongdoing, as they insist, then they should have no problem with the House of Commons Ethics (edit: or Justice, see footnote at end of article) Committee taking a look into the matter. If they are innocent as they say with nothing to hide, the Conservatives need to tell Ethics Justice chairman Art Hangar to stop running from the room every time this issue is brought up. (Running away from people, be it committees or reporters,  sure seems to be a common trait with these Cons, doesn’t it?)

While I don’t hold out much hope for the Cons. to change their stance, I have a bit more hope with the NDP. The Star says in its editorial today that the NDP should now support the aforementioned committee doing an investigation now that the RCMP has ended its looking into its affair. Many NDP bloggers have taken issue with Liberals pointing to the anonymous NDP strategist who was quoted in the papers saying the real reason the NDP didn’t support an investigation into Cadman was that it would benefit the Liberals, and not the NDP.  This, they have argued, was not being representative of the NDP and it wasn’t fair to quote an anonymous spokesperson as representing the party’s views.  Well, as the Star says, there is now no reason for the NDP to oppose this investigation.  We’ll now see if the NDP really is interested in looking at this affair and get to the bottom of what exactly transpired, or if it will play politics and continue to side with the Cons. on this issue. I’m encouraged that some NDP bloggers are now supporting an investigation, so I have hope the NDP will do the right thing and change its stance on this.

And, if it does, and if Pat Martin (the NDP member on the ethics justice committee) supports this,  that would give the opposition more votes on this issue then the Cons, if I’m not mistaken. If that’s the case, the first vote should be to remove Art Hangar as committee chair if he continues to pull his running from the room act and refuses to hold a vote on the opposition motion.  With the NDP onside, I believe there still would be enough votes to start an investigation into this even with an opposition member being chair.

[email protected]: Kady O’Malley of Macleans – the expert in the media on H. of C. Committees – corrects me in my comments section by informing me that Art Hangar is actually the chair of the Justice Committee, where the Cadman affair is currently mired in. However,  she also points out nothing stops it from being investigated by the ethics committee, which is where it should be in the first place, in my view, so my original title stands, as well as my urging the NDP to change course and to also remove Hangar from his  chair position in Justice if he continues to run out on proposed votes for investigating this.

Oh, and another thing to my Conservative commentators – just because James Moore comes out on Friday and issues blanket declarations and somehow looks confident about lawsuits means absolutely nothing as pointed out in comments – if the cases were all about looking confident by acting brash,  we wouldn’t need courts, and we’d believe every word that came out of  Pierre Poilivere’s mouth in the House. In either case, that’s limited to Conservative Kool-Aid drinkers and partisans, but not the rest of the general population, I’d be quite confident in saying.

Saturday bird-blogging

A bit of a different post today – sometimes I cat-blog on the weekend, but today I’m bird-blogging.

This is a picture that got taken by chance when I happenned to look out the window at our niger seed feeder. The bird on the right is a white-crowned sparrow. He travels to the south for the winter and then returns to the Arctic and the Canadian Shield area where the birds normally breed during the summer.  They make stops on the way back, and our area has had them for a good 2 – 3 weeks.  The bird on the left is the reason however, that I took this photo. That is an indigo bunting. It is common to SW Ontario during the spring and summer, but it is a very secretive bird. My parents remember occasionally seeing this bird several years ago, and I’d never seen one “live” until the past couple of days, and this one cooperated long enough for me to get a shot of it.

No guts, no glory. No risk, no reward.

I’ve noted that there’s been some angst in Liberal blogworld over whether or not the Liberals should really be promoting a carbon tax or carbon tax shift these days, and whether its a smart election strategy.

Quite frankly, until we see the full meat and bones of the plan, I think the angst is a tad early, but to be honest, if we’re going to lose, I’d rather Dion and the Liberals and us who support them go down fighting with a bang with a policy that is believed by the leader to be whats best for Canada then to go down with a whimper (ie.  during the period of abstaining that was engaged in).

A majority of Canadians (61%) said they support a carbon tax of some shape and form in the most recent Decima poll on it a week and a bit ago. That number of support increases to the 70’s when asked what they thought of a carbon tax shift which included an incentive/reward program for those who do very well under this plan.

Dion and the Liberals have the opportunity to gave Canadians the chance to back up their green commitment in words with actions. It will not be hard to say  “If you the electors want Canada to continue this path of inaction on the environment and continue the status quo – then vote Conservative.  If you want real substantial plans to help start the process of controlling GHG’s, then vote Liberal”.

I say we go for it, and we’ll see if Canada wants to be a nation of environmental footdraggers and support the idea that whatever corporate Big Oil polluters want, Big Oil will get,  as the Conservatives want, or if we really will support the idea of going green and cutting down on our GHG emissions with substantial action, as Dion and the Liberals propose.

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