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Gloria finally graces Guelph voters with her presence, gets grilled.

Gloria Kovach, Conservative candidate in Guelph,  did finally decide to show up to an all-candidates debate last evening.  I’m pleased to see she finally found it worth her time and the voters time to attend. One of the questions that got brought up last night at that debate was why she was the candidate for Guelph, and not Brent Barr, the duly elected candidate by the local Guelph CPC riding members. You might remember he got unceremoniously removed without any particular reason given by the national Conservative Party. The only “reason” I seem to recall given by the national CPC was that he wasn’t working hard enough to win the riding, which is a pretty lame excuse, in my view. I think they owe the local Guelph CPC riding members a better explanation then that for removing the candidate they felt would best represent them in the riding; it seems to me to be more Conservative control freak tactics, which has been typical of Harper and the national CPC since they came to power.

Needless to say, Gloria wasn’t very comfortable answering that, and I don’t blame her, as she was the direct beneficiary of the move, when she had already lost the nomination to Barr in a fair and square fight.  Whether she knew of this manoeuvrer or not, it’s clear she was the favourite of the national CPC and of Harper, and they were making sure she was the candidate for Guelph, the local CPC riding members wishes be darned. Anyhow, I believe “the phantom in the room” (as the Guelph Mercury blog put it) will continue to haunt Gloria in this campaign, as every other candidate grilled her over this as well as the national CPC for failing to provide a reasonable explanation for Barr’s removal.

From eyewitness reports, Gloria also took her lumps from Liberal candidate Frank Valeriote for being the only councillor to vote against a motion to have Guelph endorse a national campaign asking the federal government for more infrastructure help and to meet their commitments to cities.  Perhaps some who were at the debate might leave additional comments on that and other goings on from last night, but it sounds like the crowd really reacted to that revelation.

In other news,  it seems that Jeff Davidson over at his blog has discovered the Guelph riding president of the CPC has been writing his political opinions on a blog under a pseudonym, and has been asking Gloria in a couple of open letters if she supports his rather right-wing views on certain issues. To find out more, check out some of those links to his site.

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.

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.

Um, Gloria.. Guelph’s in Ontario, not Atlantic Canada.

Gloria Kovach, Conservative (installed) candidate for Guelph, seems to think Guelph is in the Atlantic Provinces or something, because she’s been busy issuing story releases at her site attacking the Liberals who are meeting there, as well as her concern for the Green Shift and its effect on Atlantic Canada.

I’m going to help Gloria out a bit:

Follow the arrow, Gloria! Guelph's here!

I hope that clears up for Gloria where Guelph is.  Again, not a good sign she’s going to be very good at local issues as an MP when she’s already worrying about Liberals in Atlantic Canada as a candidate.

“The great parliamentarian”

Peter MacKay, current defence minister, paid a visit to Guelph yesterday to help stump for Gloria Kovach. They both did an interview with the Guelph Mercury afterwards, and the part that amused me was in the where Gloria made this statement:

“Peter is a great parliamentarian,” she said. “He’s done a lot for our country and certainly internationally as well.”

A great parliamentarian? Really? Above and beyond the Belinda Stronach breakup that caused him a minor controversy over remarks he may or may not have said about her, we also have the “stick to knitting” comment we do know he made.  He had to issue an apology to Alexa Mcdonough over that stupid remark.

We also have the Afghanistan file where MacKay, representing the Conservative government’s position, was shown to be less then forthcoming to the House and to the Canadian public about when he and the Canadian government knew about the allegations of torture  some Afghanistan prisoners were making against the Afghanistan authorities after being turned over to them from Canadian custody.

There was also MacKay backtracking on statements he made during the time Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey was expelled from the Conservative caucus over his opposition to the Atlantic Accord not being honoured, saying that the Cons would never expel an MP for voting with his conscience, and then claiming after he never really meant what he said.

MacKay is supposedly a great parliamentarian in Kovach’s mind for stuff like this? She would have been more accurate to have said he was a “great partisan”. However, we must remember that a Conservative can’t differentiate between those 2 terms – they’re one and the same in their minds.

[email protected]:00pm: Red Tory gives another more recent example of Peter MacKay’s partisanship.

Coincidence?

Interesting blogpost at the Guelph Mercury’s Guelph Votes blogsite today:

Defence Minister Peter MacKay will be going door-to-door with Conservative candidate Gloria Kovach. Mercury staff will also be meeting with Jennifer Wright, “the founder and chief environmental activist of Green Shift.”

Very interesting both of these folks appear in Guelph on the same day. I’d be interested to hear who exactly it was that invited Ms. Wright down today to the Guelph riding; was it the CPC? The NDP? The Guelph Mercury?

I’ll also be very interested to see in her talk to the Mercury how much she injects herself into the political campaign in Guelph. I hope for the […]

Taking cues from the Harper PMO. The Guelph media notice as well.

Much has been made about Gloria’s Kovach’s inability to answer even a simple question such as the Stephen Truscott issue on compensation without referring it to the PMO press office – a sign that she is already taking direction from Harper’s PMO on what answers she should give to the media, which some of us in the progressive and Liberal blogosphere and from some voters of Guelph – judging by their reactions in the Guelph Mercury’s letters to the editor – say raises serious doubts about her ability to fight for Guelph issues in Ottawa under such a control-freak Prime Minister as Harper is.

Well, it isn’t just bloggers and […]

Miscellaneous Guelph campaign stuff.

Well, it looks like Liberal bloggers are on the same page as Scott Brison in our various descriptions of what the Conservative caucus acts like:

“I was shocked to read Ms. Kovach’s comments in (the Guelph Mercury Tuesday) on the Truscott case,” Brison said. “Her refusal to comment on an important issue to people in this area and in Canada . . . actually qualifies her very well to be part of the Stephen Harper team, because Stephen Harper likes MPs he can muzzle, he likes MPs he can silence and he likes MPs who are able to subordinate their own opinions and defer to his judgment. “Her fear of […]

I disagree with Red Tory and Steve!

It seems our blogging comrade, Christian Conservative, a Blogging Tory member in Guelph, didn’t like Steve calling Gloria Kovach (and by extension, the rest of the Conservative caucus) trained seals over her lack of independent thought on an issue without first getting guidance from the PMO.

Red Tory responded he preferred the description of “Sock Puppet” (and I certainly agree with his analysis over there that Blogging Tories and Conservatives like to mudsling at others, but when they get return fire, they get all whiny about it. Can dish it out.. but can’t take it apparently).

Personally, I disagree with both of these folks descriptions of the Conservative caucus, and by extension their candidates. I think they’re rather like this:

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