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An encouraging poll result in Guelph, but the race is far from over.

Byelections normally don’t get polled, so there’s been some question as to how the races in these 3 byelections have been developing. I noted a column today from Thomas Walkom in the Star where he said Guelph was one of those ridings that theoretically, the Conservatives should be able to win because of its demographics and economic situation. So, this first poll I’ve seen on the Guelph byelection if accurate will be a bit of a downer for the Cons. in this riding. On the other hand, its very encouraging news for the Liberals and Frank Valeriote’s campaign in Guelph:

Frank Valeriote looks to become the next Member of Parliament […]

Dion talks to bloggers.

I’ve just finished participating in an interesting exercise. Yesterday I got an invite to participate in an “on the record” conference call that Stephane Dion was wanting to hold with various bloggers today.  Those who could join the call would be able to hear some remarks he would make, and then he would answer some questions to him if any of us had any for him.

I won’t steal the thunder of all the rest of the bloggers who were on this call and who asked questions  – I’m sure many of them will be posting their own thoughts, and I’m a tad rushed here – but for the specific benefit of Saskboy, whose phone cut out before the end of the conference call, I’ll say to him that Dion did definitely agree that the “10 percenter” fliers that the Conservatives have engaged in are definitely against the spirit of that law, and a definite indictment of this particular government on how it operates, and that some of his MP’s were going to see if they can make the case these violate the law (Saskboy has had 7 of these fliers show up in his mailbox from seven different Cons. MP’s – my sympathies).

I will say that I laud Mr Dion for going ahead and doing this and showing his willingness to interact with us. He made a good point about how younger people today seem to read blogs a lot more then they read or listen or watch traditional media, and that this will be an important medium now and in the future for getting people connected with politics and more involved.

[email protected]:48 pm: I should also mention that it sounds like from the folks who organized this that  Dion would be willing to perhaps hold more of these calls, and I think increased blogger participation (ie. inviting more bloggers) or interaction in such a hypothetical future conference call is not out of the cards.

UPDATE [email protected]:20pm: Saskboy’s account and James Bowie’s acount of the chitchat are here and here (note that James plagiarized my title 😉 )

UPDATE [email protected]:30pm: There was one part of the Q & A that Dion said that was very interesting to me that I will bring up. Dion said he has no intention of using attack ads such as the Conservatives have done to him since he became leader and the Liberals in general over things such as the Green Shift. He said the Canadian voters will have a choice whether to support a positive campaign as he intends to run, or a negative campaign as he anticipates the Conservatives will do during an election campaign, and only a campaign will tell which one prevails.

I presume of course that doesn’t mean he and the Liberals aren’t going to point out the shortcomings or be critical of what they perceive to be wrong policies that the Conservatives have implemented – but the methods will probably be more subtle then the sharp attacks the Cons. are doing. At any rate, it’s an admirable stance he takes – we’ll see whether it helps win him and the Liberals an election.

Update [email protected] Aug 20, 1:30AM: Liberal Bag with his account of the call.

Update [email protected] Aug 20, 11:15 am: Jason with his account here.

UPDATE [email protected] 5:16pm: Jamie with his account here.

Bridge watching

So if you’ve been reading around the news and the blogs, you know that the Conservative government and Lawrence Cannon conveniently announced that they’d be soon building a new bridge in the St Lambert riding, which by the way has a byelection in a couple of weeks.

St. Lambert is a BQ held riding from 2004, but was held by the Liberals for seven years prior. Perhaps they’re hoping that this will somehow allow them to peel votes off of both potential Liberal and BQ voters. There is of course also the danger that they’ll be seen as naked opportunists in promising this for political gain.

It would also be […]

“Team Kovach”

Just as a followup to my last blogpost, look what Jeff Davidson of the blog “Where’d That Bug Go” found at Guelph Conservative candidate Gloria Kovach’s website. Take a look at the picture titled “Team Kovach”, and look who happens to be in that picture and part of Gloria’s team:

Why, it’s “average Guelph citizen” Barry Osmond! Do you still consider his website to be evidence of “grassroots opposition growing” to the Green Shift, Mr. Nicholls?

I think we can put that bit of spin to rest.

Memo to Gerry Nicholls: A Cons. partisan isn’t = to “grassroots opposition”

Gerry Nicholls, former VP of the National Citizens Coalition, and now columnist with the Sun chain of papers, has also got a blog up.  His attention was caught yesterday by an anti-Green Shift blogsite run by a fellow by the name of Barry Osmond in Guelph, which Gerry hails at his blogsite in this manner: “Grassroots opposition to the Liberal Carbon Tax is growing as evidenced by this cool new site”

Apparently, Gerry doesn’t read blogs much, because if he had, he’d know the progressive blogosphere has shown that Gerry Osmond is anything but a “average Guelph citizen”; he’s a Conservative partisan, as the blog Skinny Dipper showed a few weeks ago.  Maybe it’s just me, but having your name listed as one of the contacts to buy tickets for a Conservative Party fundraiser is rather darn good evidence of that, wouldn’t you say, Gerry? As Red Tory says at his site, this is nothing more then “Conservative Party partisans masquerading as average citizens”, and it appears Gerry either fell for this charade, without doing any investigation or reading up on Mr. Osmond,  or he decided to spin this as “grassroots” opposition.

Grassroots Conservative opposition, yes, but hardly an uprising from the average Guelph citizen.

You know, at Gerry’s homepage, it makes the claim that Gerry is one of Canada’s “Top 5 political minds in the country”.  It appears whoever made that claim is trying to be slightly facetious, but nevertheless, I’d say to qualify for that and make that claim true, Gerry needs to show he’s capable of more then being a partisan hack.  Perhaps “Top 5 political hacks” in the country would be a more fitting description.  At any rate, he certainly will fit in well as a “pundit” with the Sun chain.

Dianne Haskett redux in Guelph: Gloria going 0 for 2 on candidates meeting?

We’ll see on  Tuesday/Wednesday if this is indeed confirmed what happened, but it appears Conservative candidate Gloria Kovach is already saying she won’t be at this Tuesday’s all-candidates meeting/debate.  Apparently, she feels her time is better spent at attending a “We Love Stephen Harper” rally in Kitchener, which last I looked isn’t in the Guelph riding.

However, what’s more amusing is that she’s trying to cover all bases in saying why she has to skip out on this meeting.  As Accidental Deliberations points out from the front-page article in the Guelph Mercury, Gloria isn’t sure what the exact excuse… er..  reason it is she won’t be able to attend this one:

Kovach said she will be campaigning in Guelph before attending the Kitchener rally with Harper that day, but was unaware of which plans would conflict with the candidates’ meeting.

The Jurist acidly comments at his blog: “Presumably Kovach’s staff is hard at work brainstorming and polling what kind of conflict will play best to explain her once again hiding from voters and the media.”  As a followup to that, I wanted to note something else: Gloria is saying in this newest newspaper article that she was at a previously scheduled appearance with seniors which is why she couldn’t make the first debate.  Her office initially released a press release last week saying the reason was because she was out campaigning/canvassing with Conservative MP Gary Lunn. So I’m wondering exactly which excuse reason she’s using now for that: Lunn’s appearance, or this meeting with seniors, or if the 2 are one and the same. The message at the very least is confusing coming from her campaign on that.

The Jurist also said at his blog that this appears to be a continuing pattern of Conservatives hiding away their own candidates to expose them to as little public exposure to themselves and other political party candidates as possible. Again, I can’t help but thinking how this resembles the strategy employed in the Dianne Haskett Conservative candidacy in London-Centre a couple of years ago.

The folks in the local press are noting these absences of Kovach as well.  In a blogpiece title (which I wish I’d have thought up first) called ‘Any time, any place . . . except Thursday, and Tuesday’, Guelph Mercury columnist Brad Needham posts a blog critical of Gloria and comes up with this classic line:

I think Gloria Kovach would be a great debater. I hope we get to see it at some point.

Again, I wish I’d have thought of that line first.  Some more from that blog entry of his:

If you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk. Kovach has been quoted saying she’s willing to debate Frank Valeriote on issues at “any time and place.”..But don’t throw down the gauntlet of any time and any place, unless you qualify it with “that fits into my schedule.”

As I said near the top of this article, this story made Page 1 coverage of the Mercury. That’s not particularly good coverage for a candidate who already has had 1 round of less-then-flattering headlines in the Mercury over her absence from the first debate last week.

If she indeed misses Tuesday’s meeting/debate, expect a lot of the news and blog coverage to rightfully focus on her absence, and don’t be surprised if the other candidates bring that up to voters at the meeting and to the media  to emphasize that this appears to be the DIanne Haskett “peek-a-boo” strategy that Gloria and the national Conservative Party is currently employing.

When she does decide to show up at a debate (which the Merc article says will be the one held on Aug 20, in a setting where  I imagine she’s presuming she’ll have good voter support),  I expect there may be some in the audience and up on the podium  who question her on these absences, and whether we will expect more Dianne Haskett-like behaviour from her and the Conservatives.

Testifying through a blog

I guess if Sam Goldstein – he being the Conservative candidate for Trinity-Spadina who stormed in to the Ethics Committee demanding to be heard on Thursday rather then his scheduled day, and then stormed right out – won’t testify to the Ethics Committee,  they can at least take a look at his blog comments left over at Kady O’ Malley’s blog, as he’s felt compelled to leave some defence of his actions over there. There have been some other commenters asking him pointed questions about his behaviour and his antics and if anyone in the Conservative party put him up to it, which he’s yet to answer. It will be interesting to see what (if anything) his reply is to those.

Conservative candidate Kovach snubs Guelph all-candidates debate.

The Guelph Mercury’s title and byline in today’s paper says it all: “Almost all candidates debate” and “Kovach misses Guelph’s first byelection debate”

Gloria Kovach was quoted in the Guelph Mercury challenging Liberal candidate Frank Valeriote to a debate on the environment – and by extension the Liberals proposed Green Shift plan – “any time, any place”. Yet, when she had the opportunity, she passed on the chance to do just that at the first all-candidates meeting last night, as she didn’t bother to show up:

Conservative candidate Gloria Kovach was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, but sent her regrets.., Kovach’s campaign sent out a news release last night saying Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn went canvassing door to door with her yesterday afternoon.

Interesting reason.  One would expect these debates are scheduled in cooperation with the campaigns, and not just designated randomly.  Colour me a tad sceptical that she randomly had a conflicting engagement the day that the debate was held.

Perhaps she hadn’t gotten all her talking points sent into her on time from the PMO for this debate, so she decided to take a pass.  Answering unscripted, unexpected questions from the voters is apparently an uncomfortable thing for these Conservative candidates, as evidenced by her referring questions about the Stephen Truscott compensation matter to the PMO’s office. It reminds me again of the “peekaboo” campaign Dianne Haskett tried in London-Centre; or what the national Conservative Party tried, at least, in keeping Haskett away from making too many public appearances or answering questions from the media. Is this another attempt at being a “stealth candidate” on Kovach’s part, or the national Conservative Party?

Either way, its not a very glorious start for Gloria in showing she can represent the citizens of Guelph in this riding, when she can’t be bothered to show up for a debate she and her campaign knew well in advance about.  Guelph voters should take note.

[email protected]:58pm: I note the Mercury’s GuelphVotes! site had a blog notice of last night’s debate taking place from a post they did on August 11. You can be assured the candidates and their campaigns knew a lot earlier then this. The “I couldn’t make it because I was going out to campaign with Gary Lunn who just happenned to be here on the same day of the debate” excuse doesn’t wash. I also note the debate was held between 6 and 8 pm, and Kovach’s release said she was out in the afternoon canvassing with Lunn. What, she was too tired to make it for the debate?

UPDATE 2 @11:26 pm: Red Tory and KNB have similar thoughts at their blogs about Gloria’s no-show.

Go Green, Vote Red

A new button added to the button sidebar panel, and a new website for you to peruse. Hat tip to some of the Young Liberals of Canada for guest-starring in the introductory video, as well as creating the website and the button logo.

More Conservative stunt attempts at Ethics Committee “In and out” hearing

Apparently,  the Conservatives getting bad publicity over Doug Finley’s stunt on Monday (trying to invite himself to speak to the Ethics Committee and then leaving in a huff having to be removed by security officials and leaving in a huff when they refused to allow him to do so and to not butt in front of everyone else who was scheduled that day) didn’t deter the Conservative strategists geniuses from trying it again today with another of their sympathetic candidates. Problem is, the Committee didn’t bite, and the guy blew up, which I don’t think the Conservatives had in mind – at least not without the opposition members goading him or something. Cue Kady O’Malley:

Goldstein, formerly the Conservative candidate in Trinity Spadina, who was one of the no-show witnesses from Tuesday’s session, turned up this morning in true Doug Finleyian fashion, demanding to be heard, despite the fact that he wasn’t on the schedule. Literally demanding – as in, yelling from his seat in the audience, after unsuccessfully attempting to buttonhole the chair during the opening moments of the meeting. Instead, the committee voted to hear him after the committee had finished with the witnesses who were on the schedule – the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and the Chief Electoral Officer. It quickly became apparent, however, was not what he – or the government – had in mind. They had visions of him being hauled out by security – again, in instant classic Finley style – to a waiting scrum, which would have nicely stomped on any coverage of the hearing itself, and would – in the minds of whoever came up with this stunt, that is – underscore the Conservative claim that the committee is a farce, a debacle and a partisan witchhunt.

So the opposition wouldn’t play along, but voted to hear him after the other witnesses were finished testifying, and even decided to let him stay and watch the proceedings. Pretty reasonable, but the guy was obviously looking for an excuse to cause an uproar, and he found one. Problem is, he might have gone over the top with his antics:

When the committee began debating whether to bring Mayrand back after the lunch break, however, it apparently pushed him over the brink: He began screaming at the chair, accusing him of making allowances for other witnesses – witnesses who were there, it’s worth noting, on the day that they had been invited to appear…He then conducted a running scrum from the hallway, out the front door, and down the front drive, yelling the whole way, with a retinue of reporters in tow. Faced with similarly spirited questioning from reporters, he attempted to storm off, perhaps unaware that journalists – as individuals, or in the collective known as the scrum, do have the power of movement. At one point, he seemed to have escaped, but then realized that he had forgotten his companion along the side of the road, so was forced to go back and rescue her, as Conservative staffers looked on in horror.

It’s rather obvious what the Conservatives are trying to do here (note I said TRYING).  They’re attempting to turn the Ethics Committee hearings into a sideshow to distract from the media reporting all the juicy details of the “In and out” electoral financing scheme and instead focus on the circus, in the hopes that the media will just point to this and say this is another example of partisan bickering.

The problem is that they’re screwing even that part up when their sympathetic witnesses start going off on rants and tangents. All this is doing is making a) the Conservatives look real bad in that its rather obvious they’re trying to short-circuit this, and b) I predict he public is oging to take a look at this and wonder why all the stunts if they have nothing to hide?

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