Just found out about the death of Christopher Reeves. I wouldn't usually post about an entertainer's death, but for some reason it feels like something good has gone.

Crap.
un piece de merde

Well, I just downloaded the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever used. Because I’m a Sympatico ultra high speed user, they keep offering me free stuff, and today I said I’d try the Musicmatch thing. It’s advertised as a paid music search program (700,000 songs), and –oh boy- they wanted me to use it for free. I was all excited, until I used it.

First of all, you can’t download the music. It’s like a radio station you control, and you play the songs over the internet, without downloading them. But there’s a catch. You can play genres, you can play artists, but you can’t search for individual songs and play them. When you select to play an artist, there isn’t even a way to tell which songs will be played. You can skip through the songs by the artist while they are playing, and hope that there is one there that you like, but even then, you can’t pause or go back to a previous song.

The only useful thing about the program is that you can select an online radio station by genre. But I could do that with Windows Media Player, and I didn’t have to wrestle with it to get it to find the genre I want.

Crap crap crap.
I have been sort of keeping an eye on the PC Leadership convention throughout the day, and currently the candidates and their families are starting to file back into the convention hall, which means that the second and final ballot results are going to be announced soon.

On another note, regarding a subject I brought up in my last post, an attendee at the convention tells me that the signs and literature around the convention seem to refer to the party as the PC Party. So it appears that the name of the party may actually be the PC Party, not the Progressive Conservative Party. Perhaps I'll have more on that later.

The party youth hooligans are starting to make a lot of noise, singing songs and chanting their leaders' names, and it seems like there are a lot youth with of Klees signs among the Flaherty group, which may indicate that Mr. Klees threw his support behind Flaherty after the first ballot.

***
The results are in now. John Tory is leader of the party. Interestingly, CPAC refers to him as the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conse.rvative Party, which is possibly just an error on their part.
However, both Jim Flaherty and John Tory referred to the "Progressive Conservative" party, so now I'm really confused.
I haven't said anything about the provincial Tory race, mainly because I've never been overly interested in provincial politics. The only people who are, it would seem, are the journalists sent out to cover the story. And in their case it may only be feigned interest, the way a journalist sent to a Toronto City Council meeting pretends to care about the outcome of those boring proceedings.

Go John Tory Go

There, happy? I really hope, want, John Tory to win. That would be soooo neat. Because then we'd have a Tory leader named Tory. The Tory Tories. Well no, I'm joking, but someone had to be the first to say it.
Actually I do want Tory to win, and that fact means that I must have had a brain hemorrhage that made me forget his role in the 1993 federal election. Among other things I'd like to see under a Tory leadership is the use of the name "Progressive Conservative" Party. During the leadership campaign and this week's convention, Tory constantly referred to the party as the progressive Conservative, while Jim Flaherty refers to it as the "Conservative" party.
Oddly, the party website uses neither term. It refers only to the PC Party and I have a feeling that the party's name may have surreptitiously been changed to the Ontario PC Party. How fucking silly. I must check that.
Currently I'm watching the replay of John Tory's uninspiring convention speech. God I hate those thundery stick thingys. They shouldn't allow them in the convention hall.
What impresses me about Tory however, has nothing to do with the crappy speech, or his part in the 93 election. I like John Tory as a Bill Davis era Tory, a moderate who will take us away from the days when teachers, nurses, and other unionized professionals had an antagonistic relationship with the party.
In 1995, when Mike Harris led the Common Sense Revolution campaign, we had been out of power for 10 years, we had just seen 5 years of NDP rule in the province, and there was a lull in the infighting in the party (because one faction had near-complete control temporarily). In our minds, a Progressive Conservative government was about pragmatism. We had ruled the province since the days of my great grandfather's best friend, Leslie Frost, by doing what was best for the province and setting ideology aside.
After we lost power in 1985 though, a sharp division formed within the party, a division between those who thought we should follow ideology more strictly, and those who wanted to continue the course of pragmatism. The ideological faction, known as the "blues", referred to the "reds" as wishy washy, and many other unflattering names. I remember a letter that went out to certain party members in the early 90s that referred to the reds as "the enemy".
One thing that is next-to-impossible to do is to explain to an ideologue the value of pragmatism. All sinister references aside, it's like asking a member of the KKK to understand the value of living in harmony with minorities.

Anyway, after the 1995 win, all provincial Tories were happy to be back in power. The pragmatic reds (of which i was one) believed perhaps naively that Mike Harris would rule like Bill Davis. The first sign that something was wrong was when welfare payments in the province were reduced sharply. That was the beginning of the storm. Then came the teachers' strike, and the Opseu strike, and it was becoming obvious that it was not business as usual in this province.
Anyway, fast forward to 1994, and the division in the party is still evident, in the pragmatic, "Progressive Conservative" approach of John Tory, and in the ideological, "Conservative party" approach of Jim Flaherty.

It comes down to this weekend. In the words of the narrator of the Japanese-style tv show Banzai, "voting end now!"

Here's a development I wasn't expecting in the Hockey standoff.

According to an Ipsos-Reid poll commiossioned by the Globe, CTV, and TSN, 52 per cent of Canadians who were surveyed said they blame the players for the strike, while only 21 per cent laid the blame with the owners.

Half of those surveyed think that the NHL season will not go ahead. Well, duh...

And approximately 2/3 believe that there will be no permanent damage to the league if a strike or lockout delays the start of the season.

Without getting out my tea-leaves, which are packed away someplace, I'm not going to be able to make any predictions. I will say that it is silly to run a poll on who is to blame, when both sides are obviously to blame, for different reasons. And I can understand the positions that both sides are taking, however without going into detail right now I will say that I find myself agreeing with the League's analysis of the situation. Playing in the NHL is not a nasty occupation, and does not require remuneration in the millions of dollars. Not when the result helps lead to the loss of teams in smaller cities like Winnipeg and Quebec City.

As Forrest Gump would say: "and that's all I have to say about that."
Call it a lockout, a strike, a failure at the negotiating table, it sucks.
warning: this post contains references that may leave non-Canadians scratching their heads

I am referring to the NHL situation, and the announcement today by Gary Bettman (300k, 56k, audio, text)that the owners will not go ahead with this season without a bargaining agreement with the players.
This is a situation in which both sides are right and both are wrong. And both sides are trying to win the sympathy of the fans. From what I remember of the last NHL strike, the players' association was pretty successful at winning the hearts of the fans, as NHLPA hats and jerseys were selling like crazy.

So last night's game will be the last one for a while (BTW, yay Canada!!!). As Mario Lemieux and his teammates sat at the press conference after the game, I'm sure some of them had to be thinking about today. About how in less than 24 hours, Team Canada captain Mario Lemieux would be on the opposite side of the picket line, in his other role as owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's likely that the Penguins players and their player rep will be more mute during this strike than those of other teams, due to their friendship with their owner and team-mate.

But elsewhere, it already looks like this could be a nasty one. Bettman came out swinging today, with remarks like
"When you look at the history, it is clear that this is a Union Leadership that negotiates only through confrontation, never looking forward to see what is needed or good for the game"
"This Union doesn't seem to care about the problems, the game or our fans."

NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow replies:
"The Players remain prepared to negotiate a fair agreement with the Owners. But we need a negotiating partner who understands that agreements are the products of compromise. We do not have such a negotiating partner now.”

NHLPA President Trevor Linden says:
"The owners are only interested in negotiating a salary cap and will shutdown hockey if they don’t get their way. Five years ago they created a $300 million lockout fund. Now they have begun to lay off staff with more layoffs to come. The league is also engaged in a PR campaign to justify their lockout to fans."

So the situation looks bleak.. It's standard negotiating practice to start out tough, and there are likely to be more tough words in the coming days, as both sides try to justify their positions to fans who don't really care that much about the details, but are unhappy about the lack of hockey.
Maybe the CBC could have a weekly Saturday night program with Don Cherry and Ron Maclean in which they discuss the strike. It's easy to see how that would play out. Maclean, with his dislike for Gary Bettman, would come out meekly advocating the players' position, and Cherry, with his dislike of any players who whine that they don't make enough money, would come out on the side of the league, in his usual blustery style.

Or maybe the CBC could just air some old games from the 20s and 30s if they can find footage. That would be cool.

When is Andrew Coyne going to blog again?

I'm hardly a fan of his, although he seems fairly intelligent when he does Sunday Edition on CTV. The man is a fan of Stephen Harper and the Reform err.. Canadian Alliance, and -oh wait- I mean the new Conservative Party. His comment section is one of the busiest on the internet, populated with Canada-bashers, George Bush supporters, and the usual Reform Party riff-raff. His posts usually include negative comments about this country, and even when they don't he usually expresses some embarrassment about saying something nice about Canada.

He's the typical National Post columnist in other words.

Still, in the brief free moments I have in the morning while getting ready for work, his is among the blogs I like to skim over. So the question remains, where is he and when is he going to start blogging again?
Anniversary

Anniversary of 9/11 number 3. :-(
Oh crappy, I think my blog is broken. I edited it yesterday, did some major stuff, and it was working fine, just the way I wanted it to look.

Now I can't see my little right-handy linky bar, or more than one post at a time.

crappy crappy crappy

update:

OK it's fine now. That was weird.
Harper buys a United Right

Political discussion, even when angry and bitter, can still be done with a degree of civility. My onetime arch-badguy, Terry Pearson, and I, found civility, after an extended period of non-civility (is that even a proper phrase) a few years ago, and we've been boring each other to death ever since (kidding). I deserve an award for my run-on sentences.

Anyway, I still like to poke fun at him from time to time, though he's not a bad guy. Today Terry (a former Reformer and CAer, ew) made a funny typo on his blog, and I can't help myself.

Referring to Stephen Harper, Terry says:

"Folks, this guy works very hard. He deserves a rest. He bought the right under one roof"

Hahahaha, do I smell a scandal a-brewing? Could this explain why I was not contacted to vote in my PC Party's referendum on whether to merge with the Canadian Alliance party, forming the new coalition of evil, known as the Conservative Party?

Once again, I go waaaay too far. Typos are typos.
Politics, lifestyle, and current events, with an R-Rated twist.

A new Blog, called NYHotties.com, has piqued my curiousity. It's written by a New Yorker named Alexa, and she discusses everything from the RNC convention delegates, to the recent US Open tennis championships, to being a "mindless corporate drone".
This is an extremely well-written blog, insightful and easy to read. It's so well written that her blog has found a permanent place on my links list to the right. But there's a twist. Alexa is a New York "escort'.

I wouldn't direct you to this or any site if it wasn't worth reading. Go. Now.
How to become Campaign Manager for the Kerry or the Bush team?

Step1: Be a Yank (oops, I'm out of the running already...)
Step2: Devote yourself to your party for, say, 20 years or so
Step3: Be smart (this is starting to look really bad for my chances)
Step4: Be a political friend of the candidate for several years prior

Disqualifications:
a) make sure you've never posed for Hustler,
b) never been caught murdering anyone
c) cannot have a conscience (that can't be right, "con science"?)

If you don't meet the rigid qualifications above, but still want the job, you can play this fun online game, in which you get to play campaign manager for the candidate of your choice. It's called Campaign Trail 2004, and you can play it by clicking here.

Yay.
Summer's coming to a close and kids are back at school. When I was in school this used to be a melancholy time for me and probably everyone else who had just finished their 2.5 month summer vacation. 10 more months of school.

Now it's just another work-week for me, but somehow the Labour-day weekend still marks the end of summer for me. Time to get back to the normal routines, no more barbecues by the lake, fishing, etc. We Canadians tend to pack a year's worth of relaxation and happiness into two months each year.

I just can't believe I just used the word "melancholy" in a post. What am I turning retarded or something?
Terrorists kill 200 in Russian school

You're shocked. You're pissed. You're Russian. You want those behind this heinous act to be found.

Once the smoke clears, just remember the one thing that some in the US Administration forgot after 9/11. There will be an urge to seek revenge, but your next moves should be about justice. If you act in vengeance, you will fail. Terrorists are known as Freedom Fighters to those whose cause they support, and when you kill a terrorist, you only create more young terrorists.

So seek out those responsible, put them on trial before a jury of their peers. Don't make anyone suffer who was not responsible. We're with you.

When I say "we" in the above paragraph, I'm not sure exactly to whom I'm referring. I was just ranting and it sounded better than "I".
Continuing Warren Kinsella's theme for today, I got thinking about what I was doing 20 years ago today.

Before continuing reading this post, please get the song "Mad World" by Gary Jules into your head, as the background music to this post. To help jar your memory, it begins "All around me are familiar faces..."

It's strange how important events can magnify our memories of what we were doing when...., for instance many people remember what they were doing when they learned JFK was shot or when the Challenger exploded.

For me, it was a strange period in my life 20 years ago. On August 10, 1984, i was in a bad accident and left paralyzed (only for a few weeks), and spent the rest of the year in hospitals. On September 4, 1984, I was a patient in Toronto at the OCCC (Ontario Crippled Children's Centre), later known as the Hugh MacMillan Medical Centre, and now the Bloorview MacMillan Centre or something similar. I was 16 years old, and sitting in the common room, having taken over control of the television so I could watch the CBC election night coverage. I was a strange 16 year old I guess.

Anyway, all around me were children with diseases like Spina Bifida, MS, missing limbs, and other ailments. So far as I know, I am the only person to have ever been a patient in that hospital and make a complete recovery to live as a normal adult. I know I'm getting off-track here a bit but sometimes it's amazing how easily children can learn to cope with new situations. My first day in that hospital I sat with my mom having lunch, looking around me at other kids drooling all over themselves, and thinking "is this my life now?". Within a month I had made friends, figured out how to break into the research wing of the hospital on weekends (and send the elevator down so all my pals in wheelchairs could come up to that floor too and join me in my explorations of that forbidden zone), and I had also started dating a girl my age who was gorgeous with a great body, except was born missing legs below knees and no hands.

Years later, now I've moved to Toronto and have been living here for 5 years, and it makes me a bit sad that I have no way to contact any of the kids I was friends with way back then. I'd really love to see some of them again, including Mike something, a hilarious comic, standing all of 2 feet 9 inches.

But back to my story. On Aug 12, 1984, Brian Mulroney was scheduled to make a campaign stop near my home, and I had been looking forward to that, but of course 2 days before that date was when I had my accident. So this Tiny Tory was pretty happy on Sept 4, 1984, when CBC's election results over the night were so completely favourable to my party (I think it was 211 seats we won that night). I was so excited I even managed to ignore the teenage boy in front of me with some brain problem, stretched out and drooling on a gurney, wearing a cast that covered the entire lower half of his body, and who had somehow figured out how to get his hand into the cast and who was quite obviously masturbating and making some loud grunting sounds while he did it.

I remember being thrilled when I saw my own name splashed across the screen, as a candidate named Michael Wilson won his Toronto-area seat. I was in the nurses' station later the next day, the same day Warren Kinsella started law school. I was discussing the election results, and I made a comment that now that I (meaning Mike Wilson) had been elected, maybe I would become Finance Minister and give all the nurses a raise. I was half right anyway.
Tomorrow is September 1st, a thought that make me sigh .

Already I can feel a bit of chill in the air, at the end of what was a very rainy summer here in Toronto. For the first time in many years, lawns are still green in August, not the burnt-out brown that usually comes from our normal lack of summertime rainfall and scorching heat.

Soon the parliamentarians will be back on stage, playing out their roles in this never-ending tragicomedy, narrated by Lloyd Robertson and Peter Mansbridge. This installment promises to be more interesting, as more of the elected folks will be having a say in how much we pay for cigarettes, and those who don't will be yelling louder than before their extended began. Because this play, cast in June, will be recast again in a fairly short time, and our political actors want to assure themselves of a spot in the limelight and in the minds of their audience.

This blog will be back in full production soon as well (to the relief of nobody) once the earth tilts a littler further.
"George W. Bush surrounds himself with smart people the way a hole surrounds itself with a donut." —Dennis Miller

"Democrats were quick to point out that President Bush's budget creates a 1 trillion dollar deficit. The White House quickly responded with 'Hey, look over there, it's Saddam Hussein.'" —Craig Kilborn

"Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he is going to ask President Bush for help with the budget. What better way to deal with a $38 billion deficit than get advice from a guy that created a $450 billion deficit." —Jay Leno

"Campaigning in Iowa yesterday President Bush vowed he will not raise taxes in the next four years. He said I believe it is hard, very difficult to raise taxes when you are not president." —Craig Kilborn
Talking 2 Americans
what's it all aboot?

Does anyone else get tired of having Americans say "you said aboot"? It's cute as first but after a while it starts to become reminiscent of some Beavis and Butthead episode.
"Hey Beavis, that guy said aboot..."
"ya, ya hehheh that's pretty funny"
"Canadians talk funny..."

Anyway, those of us who deal with yanks daily have stories that rival Rick Mercer's foray's into the US with his comedy show "talking to Americans". Basically Americans seem fond of Canada, they seem fairly aware that Canadians have pretty much the same culture as they do, but they don't really know much about us other than that. Probably it's because they don't see Canadian television shows or movies (neither do we usually either).
IN THE NEWS Wed, Aug 18, 2004

Absolutely nothing is happening on the Canadian political scene (remind me, who won the election again?).

Canada performing mediocrely at the Olympics (congrats to Émilie Heymans and Blythe Hartley).

Monty Python's Meaning of Life on CityTV Wednesday night.



What do the NHL playoffs, Canadian federal and provincial elections, other random political events like the Queen's visits and referenda, the olympics, and other international sporting events all have in common?

If you're quick, you can catch your local Stephen Harper supporter watching the CBC. Don't be surprised a week later though, when they go back to bashing the mother network.
BBQ Season


The concept that politicians can get away with pretty much whatever they want during the summer (in Canada at least) crossed my mind on Saturday, while I was at a big old barbecue north of Coboconk (Coby to the residents) on Saturday.

It was the 4th Saturday in a row I've been to one BBQ or another, playing sports and basically having a wonderful summer weekend. During the winter we are all stuck inside, so there isn't always a nice release from thinking of problems of work and the world. There are winter sports and stuff to do during those months, but most of our time is spent in one warm building or another, or travelling between, and as we get older, we see less of the outdoors during the winter months.

So what is Paul Martin up to? I've heard rumours about him going to the territories, but I don't particularly care. Harper and Layton? No clue what they are up to. Don't care.

I've watched the 11 o'clock news maybe 3 or 4 times since the election. Caught the bit last week about Bush accidentally stating that he's looking for ways to harm his country. Not a serious blunder, but funny nevertheless.

It's Monday, noon, and I'm looking forward to the weekend, making plans. Somebody e-mail me if anything happens in the news.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we,"

George Bush slip-up, Aug 5 2004

Bush is hilarious. I'm almost starting to hope he wins again, just for the comedy value of having him in the White House.

***
call me Mr. Gullible. I told everyone at work that Maggie Thatcher had died yesterday, after a friend e-mailed me this story from the Guardian :

Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister, died today aged 79. 'Maggie' has apparently been in failing health for some time now.According to insiders, Thatcher has been waking up at 2 AM, getting dressed and summoning her bodyguards to escort her to her next meeting. Thatcher would also ask where her dead husband is. The onset of her condition coincided with the death of her husband last June. Connie Lingus reports from Whitehall that Experts in geriatric illness were called in to examine Thatcher, but she died peacefully before tests were completed. Ex Miner, Warrick Hunt, 57 from Mansfield Woodhouse was with her as she slipped away. “I was just wishing her well,” he said “I hated her for so many years and I decided it was time to let go of my anger and hatred.” Mr. Hunt is also the son of a greengrocer, just like the late Lady Thatcher. “We’ve got a lot in common, she knew her onions.” He added.
Today marks the one year anniversary of My Grandmother's death. The family got together yesterday in Oshawa, however it was not primarily to mark this particular occasion, rather it was to mark the engagement of my cousin Cherie to her army boyfriend, Mikk.

Maybe we spend too much time marking anniversaries. We start by marking wedding anniversaries, our birthdays, and other important events in our lives. But then we also have a bad habit of marking the dark moments in our lives, thus we have the one, the two, and soon the three year anniversary of 9-11 . Some folks mark the death of Princess Diana on a annual basis.

Some of our dark moments are worth remembering year after year. In June we marked the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and soon we'll be marking the anniversary of V-E Day, and next year the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima and V-J Day. Next year will be the 61st anniversary of D-Day, and there won't be as much hoopla, simply because the number of years since the event is not divisible by the number of toes on our feet. Still it's worth marking, at least as long as some of the participants are still alive.

In 9 days I will be quietly celebrating the 20th anniversary of the boating accident that took my life. True, the emergency workers brought me back to life, but I was paralyzed for a short time and spent 6 months in hospital. It was a life-altering experience for a 16 year old. Is the 20th anniversary of this event an important anniversary, any more important than the 19th anniversary? Probably not.

And for that matter, why is the 365 day anniversary of my grama's death any more important than the 359 day anniversary? Is she any more dead? Not at all.

Still, it kinda hurts.
In Wacky But True News
 
Apparently in some places in the US, eating candy is an offence.  That's fine, garbage is a problem everywhere, but like in a big corporation such as the one I work for, police are human beings and are supposed to make sense of policies (laws).  They are supposed to understand the purpose of those laws, and make exceptions where the spirit of the law is not being transgressed. 
In the situation below, the woman disposed of her garbage properly, and even finished her candy before entering the "no-candy" zone, although was still chewing.  The US can't be blamed for terrorism concerns, which was at the root of the "no-candy" law in the subway station in this story, but needs to resist turning on it's own citizens in Saddam Hussein-like paranioa.

Here's the story:

 

WASHINGTON—A government scientist finishing a candy bar on her way into a subway station where eating is banned was arrested, handcuffed and detained for three hours by transit police.
Stephanie Willett said she was eating a PayDay bar on an escalator descending into a station July 16 when an officer warned her to finish it before entering the station. Both Willett and police agree she put the last bit into her mouth before throwing the wrapper into a garbage can. Willett, 45, said the officer then followed her into the station.
"Don't you have some other crimes you have to take care of?" she said she told the officer.
Washington has been under heightened security because of the threat of terrorism. And last week, police declared a emergency over rising juvenile crime.
The transit officer asked for Willett's identification, but she kept walking. She said she was then frisked and handcuffed.
"If she had stopped eating, it would have been the end of it and if she had just stopped for the issuance of a citation, she never would have been locked up," Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson said yesterday.
Metrorail has been criticized in the past for heavy handed enforcement of the eating ban. In 2000, an officer handcuffed a 12-year-old girl for eating a french fry on a subway platform.
In 2002, an officer ticketed a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy for cursing when he was unable to find a working elevator to leave a station.

Just got back from Company picnic.  High Park in Toronto. 
Holy crap I'm sweaty.  Too much soccer and football.  Having folks from your office trying to tackle you on the playing field is a strange experience.  Jason Bigio kicked me in the face accidentally and I'm going to give him crap on Monday if I have a welt or a bruise.  Sonny, my team's goaltender, had a case of beer on ice by his net, which was why his goaltending got worse throughout the day.  Luckily Brian, the other goaltender, and Sony trainer, sucked in net from the start so it all evened out.

Since we have Muslims working in our company, we had Halal burgers as well as regular burgers (and veggie burgers for the wackos).  Anyway, I decided to try some of the Muslim Halal burgers, and they were way way yummier.  I want more.  I asked some of the muslims what made them different, and apparently the only difference is that they are bled or something.  Anyway, very tasty.

Yay I'm back.. Fishing was just swell, and.....

what the heck?  It looks like somebody changed the blogger edit window while I was gone.  Ohh and now I can post in courier font, big normal tiny.
 
 
 
This is just so silly.  Who wants to read my crap with all these dumb effects?
 
Still, I have to post this to see what it looks like.
My Complaint about Stephen Harper

(intended only in fun)

Auto-Generated by Pakin Complaint Generator

I'll get right to the point. Mr. Stephen Harper's apostles merely present their allegations as though they were true, a technique known as a "conclusory" or "Kierkegaardian" leap. And that's why I feel compelled to say something about gutless, incompetent fogeys. If he continues to exploit the public's short attention span in order to silence critical debate and squelch creative brainstorming, crime will escalate as schools deteriorate, corruption increases, and quality of life plummets. He finds reality too difficult to swallow. Or maybe it just gets lost between the sports and entertainment pages. In either case, we should give you some background information about Mr. Harper. (Goodness knows, our elected officials aren't going to.) Contrast, for example, his plans for the future with those of lawless, tendentious spoiled brats, and observe that there is no contrast. I, by (genuine) contrast, take the view that he dreams of a time when he'll be free to cause pain and injury to those who don't deserve it. That's the way he's planned it, and that's the way it'll happen -- not may happen, but will happen -- if we don't interfere, if we don't turn random, senseless violence into meaningful action.

Is this anything other than haughty solecism? The answer is obvious if you happen to notice that another point worth thinking about is that this has been documented repeatedly. Or, to express that sentiment without all of the emotionally charged lingo, Mr. Harper's eccentricity is surpassed only by his vanity. And his vanity is surpassed only by his empty theorizing. (Remember his theory that he is always being misrepresented and/or persecuted?)

As that last sentence suggests, it would please Mr. Harper greatly to discredit and intimidate the opposition, so to speak. I've already said this a thousand times and with a thousand different phrasings, but he indubitably believes that 75 million years ago, a galactic tyrant named Xenu solved the overpopulation problem of his 76-planet federation by transporting the excess people to Earth, chaining them to volcanoes, and dropping H-bombs on them. What kind of Humpty-Dumpty world is he living in? I could give you the answer now, but it would be more productive for me first to inform you that some heartless, witless exhibitionists actually maintain that the kids on the playground are happy to surrender to the school bully. This is the kind of muddled thinking that he is encouraging with his apologues. Even worse, all those who raise their voice against this brainwashing campaign are denounced as voluble used-car salesmen. What does this mean for our future? For one thing, it means that Mr. Harper wants to create a mass psychology of fear about an imminent terrorist threat. Such intolerance is felt by all people, from every background. What is the milieu in which the worst classes of ostentatious practitioners of cannibalism I've ever seen subject us to the untoward yapping of stingy monomaniacs? It is the underworld of conspiracy theory, a subculture in which feral, unbalanced pamphleteers share fantasies of fighting heroically against a huge conspiracy that will tap into the national resurgence of overt colonialism sometime soon. My goal for this letter was to comment on Mr. Stephen Harper's invectives. Know that I have done my best while trying always to plant markers that define the limits of what is oppressive and what is not. Let an honest history judge.
Braaady in the Mooorniiiiing.....

Old CFTR fans might enjoy this, an old Jim Brady show from around 1979. All the songs have been cut out, as have Russ Holden and Darrell Dommer's traffic reports.

It's about 8 minutes long. Someone must have been digging around and found an old tape in a box somewhere....

Click here to listen. (requires Real player. You know how to find it.)

By the way, when I said "old CFTR fans", I meant people who used to listen to CFTR when it was cool. Of course it is true that most of us who remember those days are starting to get old...


Also, here is the CFTR changeover from rock to "680 News". I think that the last song is supposed to be all poignant or something.
Unfortunately nothing as dramatic as Dr. Johnny Fever's changeover "scratchhhhhh, goodbye to the elevator music.."
I am taking a leave of absence from my blog. I am going on vacation to sunny cottage country. I will be returning in the middle of the month so be sure to come back to read about my adventures.

Of course if it gets all rainy or something I may write a bit and post from up north.


I will be in Fenelon Falls, the hometown of such famous people as my friend Avery Haines (of CTV Newsnet fame), and a former miss nude world who sat beside me in grade 9 typing, and whose current porn stage name is "Venus Delight" or something like that.

For Tragically Hip fans, Fenelon Falls is a 10-minute drive from Bobcaygeon("where I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time").
You may have noticed I changed my banner during the election, on an afternoon when I had nothing to do and I was playing with Photoshop.

I still write the same crap as before though.
Wow. This might be the first election in history where everybody won. The Bloc, the NDP and the Conservatives all picked up a substantial number of seats, and the Liberals finished just 20 seats shy of a majority.

Hooray for the winners!
It's over, Liberal minority

Currently it looks like a Liberal-NDP coalition, with approximately 163 seats, but those numbers are likely to change by the time this is over.
Worst thing that could happen to the Liberals would be that they might have to rely on the BQ, which would give the Conservatives a compelling campaign issue 2 years from now.

Analysis: Bedtime.
Election results comparison with 2000
All results as of approx 11:30pm when I had to go to bed.

Atlantic Canada
2000
L 19
C 9
N 4

2004
L 22
C 7
N 3

It looks like the Sponsorship scandal didn't have a huge effect out east...

Quebec
2000
L 36
B 38

2004
L 19
B 56

Ontario
2000
L 100
C 2
N 1

2004
L 77
C 22
N 7

Man
2000
L 5
C 3
N 4

2004
L 3
C 7
N 4


Sask
2000
L 2
C 10
N 2

2004
L 1
C 13
N 0


Alta
2000
L 1
C 24
N 0

2004
L 2
C 26
N 0


BC
2000
L 5
C 27
N 2

2004
L 9
C 17
N 9


Territories
2000
L 3

2004
L 3
Election night

I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen tonight. I've started watching the 2 Towers as a distraction.

Still I can't help but wonder if there will be any point during the night when a winner will be declared/predicted, or even if we'll know before we go to bed. There are so many unknowns, and each region of the country will have to be looked at almost as a separate election.

We'll get results from Eastern Canada first, where the Liberals may do fairly well. If the Conservatives get a large proportion of the seats there then I would predict a Conservative government is likely.

Then we'll be waiting to see the ratio of seats in Quebec, where the Bloc is doing well but some predict that the Liberals will do better than recent polling would indicate. Most estimates give the Liberals 25 seats in Quebec, so anything under 25 seats there will be good news for Harper, and anything over is icing on the cake for Martin.

As we await each region's results, suspense, suspense.

Ontario. So many ridings here have gone Liberal in the past 3 elections due to vote splitting, it's really hard to judge. The Conservatives will definitely pick up seats here. I would say that the unknown factor, the factor that is most likely to affect the seat count, is the number of former Progressive Conservative supporters who decide to follow the lead of Joe Clark, and vote Liberal instead of Conservative.

The further west we start getting results throughout the night, the higher the Conservative seat count in proportion to the Liberals will grow.

I'll comment more on the effect the west will have on the election as the night goes on and we have some results from the other regions.

Meanwhile, back to the 2 Towers
Centuries, Volume II

OK, here's my second-round election guesstimate.

Liberals: 121
Conservative: 112
NDP: 24
Bloc: 50
Independent 1

My first prediction was a little higher for the Liberals and a little lower for the Conservatives. So where does the credit lie for the stronger Conservative showing?
Harper has spent half the campaign on the defensive due to stupid comments by Conservative candidates. It was a much better campaign than the last one in 2000, much more professional, aside from the Conservative candidates' comments I just mentioned.

I'm reminded of Naomi Klein's book entitled "No Logo", in which she says:
"Liberated from the real-world burdens of stores and product manufacturing, these brands are free to soar, less as the disseminators of goods or services than as collective hallucinations"

When we think of the traditional political parties in this country, the Conservatives, the Liberals, the NDP, we think of them like brand names. Like Coke, Pepsi, and Tab, the majority of us have our favourite that we remain loyal to. Is Coke better than Pepsi? The taste difference is so negligible that if you gave a Coke drinker a glass of Pepsi without telling him, he wouldn't know the difference.

Traditionally Tories and Liberals have had more in common than they have had differences. Both parties have always governed by putting the best interests of the country ahead of any personal opinions that the members of either party might have. There has always been a fable that the Conservatives govern from further to the right than the Liberals, and the fable has fed upon itself by having the effect of encouraging conservative-minded people to join the Conservative party.
This in turn has had the effect of creating a party membership that is more conservative than the Liberal party, and has an effect on party policy and campaign policy, but as I said, it doesn't affect the way the party governs. "Liberal Tory, same old story" was one of the Reform Party slogans back in 1993, and it may have been the only insightful thing ever to come out of the Reform "braintrust".

Anyway, I started discussing Coke, Pepsi and Tab. The reason I included Tab cola is because for a long time it was the third option, a cola that always had it's fans but never really had a chance of winning the cola wars. That's where the NDP and the Reform/Alliance enter into the equation. Both of those parties had their supporters, but never enough to give them a chance at governing. They were perennial "third-parties".

This is where you are going to have to use your imagination a bit. Imagine if Tab Cola one day bought out Coca-Cola and repackaged it's own product in the familiar red and white bottles and cans under the Coke name. So long as it was done quietly, Coca Cola sales would likely continue without a glitch.

That's exactly what the Reform/Alliance did, took over the Conservative Party and repackaged itself as the new Conservative party, and this election has shown that Reform is reaping all the benefits of the "Conservative" brand-name recognition in this country.

Next they'll be telling us they are the "Party of MacDonald".
To those Quebec federalists who are condidering voting for the Bloc Quebecois
in order to send Paul Martin a message, why not try this instead: e-mail.

A vote for the Bloc will later be translated by them as a vote for sovereignty. Also it will help elect Stephen Harper.
Still working on the prediction. It's getting late for predictions, but really I have no clue how the election is going to go.

update:
Thanks to Ian at Vancouver Scrum, and to Warren Kinsella (who ran against TED White back in 1997) for pointing out to me that I had confused Randy White with Ted White.

Anyway, today's post is entitled:

Holy Chickens!
(to heck with the courts, eh?)

I'm definitely going to be glad I'm a straight white male if the Conservatives win this election. Here's why.
Randy White, one of the brighter bulbs in the Conservative caucus (remember this is the same caucus that still contains Stockwell Day) made some comments back in May for a tv program which is set to be aired in August. White's says that the Conservative Party will use the notwithstanding clause to veto any court decisions that they don't like. That would include any Supreme Court of Canada decision to allow gay marriage, like the recent decision which allowed gays to marry in Ontario.

White is specically opposed to such Supreme court decisions as the one in the case R. v. Egan in 1995, in which the Supreme Court interpreted sexual orientation into the Charter of Rights.

Anyway, the story is that the Liberals have gotten ahold of the footage and now White's comments have been made public during the election, and now Stephen Harper has been forced onto the defensive during the last weekend of the election.

Without further ado, here are Randy White's strange remarks:

***




"The heck with the courts, eh? You know, one of these days we in this country are going to stand up and say, 'The politicians make the laws and the courts do not.' The courts interpret that law. And if we don't like that interpretation, there's the notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which the Liberal government has never invoked and said they will not use. I believe we'll see that with us in the House of Commons because enough is enough of this stuff…
"I think most people are getting sick and tired of judges writing the law to suit themselves and to suit the current Liberal government, in fact.

"It's time that we started to exert our responsibility as politicians in the country. If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is going to be used as the crutch to carry forward all of the issues that social libertarians want, then there's got to be for us conservatives out there a way to put checks and balances in there."

***
**
*

These attacks on the Supreme Court are nothing new for this party. In 2000, Alan Gold, president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, had this to say about the (then) Reform Party's attacks on the Supreme Court's decisions:

*
**
***
"The Criminal Lawyers Association deplores recent attacks on the Supreme Court of Canada as ill-conceived and misguided applications of Parliamentary Supremacy doctrine and unfair attacks on an institution that cannot as a matter of law defend itself.

We see too many bullies because it is easy to be seduced by the power that comes from attacking someone who cannot defend themselves. It is shameful when such conduct comes from political leaders. Parliamentary Supremacy makes Parliament supreme within its jurisdiction. An exercise of that jurisdiction gave us a Charter of Rights that is a model and a beacon of liberty around the world. The guardian of that Charter is the Supreme Court of Canada. That Court since 1982 has given us world-class judgments involving human rights and fundamental liberties that are read and cited and admired by courts around the world. We are unaware of any jurisdiction that has looked to the Reform Party platform for guidance on any issue.

Politicians are too easily blown onto an ill-conceived course by whatever strong winds happen to fill their sails. They too easily jettison rationality and restraint whenever hailed by misinformed and intemperate lobby groups. On the other hand, there is a worldwide movement towards the recognition of fundamental rights and their indomitable protection in a basic Charter of Rights protected by an independent judiciary."

***

Ask yourself, do you seriously want to vote for a goverment that would give a man like Randy White (and Stockwell Day) cabinet positions?
I guess it's time for me to think about my second election pool prediction. Just to refresh, here was my first entry:

***
I'm obviously the only one who thinks the libs can still pull off a majority. Not wishful thinking, just faith in the Canadian voters to flock back to the "safe choice" the instant Harper makes his first dumb comment.

Liberals: 159
Conservative: 78
NDP: 26
Bloc: 45

***

I guess with the Bloc so far ahead in Quebec, and with the Tories no longer competing in Ontario for votes with the Alliance, it isn't very likely that my first prediction is going to happen.

Off the top of my head, I'd say the Bloc is likely to win at least 10 more seats than I predicted, and I'll give the Conservatives another 10 as well.

So tomorrow I will consider, then post my second prediction.

I really really need some sleep. Good night all.
Conservative criticizes his party's exploitation of the Holly Jones trial.

from a letter published in yesterday's Toronto Star:
"The Tories are wrong to exploit the death of a young girl for political gain and are wrong to make wild accusations about Mr. Martin's view of child pornography,"
Stephen Thiele, first vice-president of the Etobicoke Centre Conservative Association

Actually, this is a letter that deserves to be read in full, so here:

Majority disgusted at Harper remark
June 20.

The Tories have miraculously snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with their mean-spirited accusation that Prime Minister Paul Martin condones child pornography.

The vast majority of Canadians are disgusted with those who seek pleasure out of child pornography and are horrified with the circumstances that led to the death of Holly Jones. However, the Tories are wrong to exploit the death of a young girl for political gain and are wrong to make wild accusations about Martin's view of child pornography.

The decision to launch a cruel personal attack on the Prime Minister amplifies the perception among the public that the Tories, under the leadership of Stephen Harper, are a party that is prone to right-wing extremism. Fortunately, not all members of the Conservative Party of Canada believe the accusation levelled at Martin by our leader and his campaign staff. Unfortunately, none of the party's 308 candidates has courageously stepped forward to denounce the personal insult.

In my view, the shameless press release and the remarks merit an apology. The failure to issue an apology in the circumstances is arrogant and enhances the cynicism that many voters now have . Canadians should "Demand Better" of Harper and the Tories. Until the Tories behave in a more professional manner and until they are accountable to themselves, the party deserve to be relegated to the opposition benches.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stephen Thiele,

1st Vice-President, Etobicoke Centre Conservative Association
More polls show the Liberals beginning to pull ahead of the Conservatives
Ipsos-Reid
Liberals 34%
Conservatives 28%
NDP 16%

SES
Liberals 34%
Conservatives 31%
NDP 21%

With a week left in the campaign, the voters are beginning to make their final decisions on what their voting intentions are. It's possible to define voting intentions almost in a formulaic way. This formula would go something like this:

appetite for change + opinion of the alternative = voting intention indicator

The "appetite for change" variable includes such things as a person's opinion of the governing party, their personal happiness, and the media's treatment of the government.
A low voting intention indicator (I'll call it a VII because I'm lazy) should lead to a vote for the incumbent party. The higher the VII, the greater the chance of voting for one of the opposition parties.

Of course these are really just concepts, not numerical variables that can be measured easily, so I'm not going to try to treat them as numberical values.

Essentially these are the factors that parties are concerned with during an election. The governing party wants people to have a low VII, so they use positive campaign techniques like emphasizing portions of their record in power, as well as negative tactics such as criticizing the opposition.

Opposition parties tend to rely partially on positive tactics, which include strategically timed releases of portions of their campaign platform, but mostly they rely on negative campaign techniques, critizing and attacking the governing party's record and platform.

Other factors:
The more momentum a party has during an election campaign, the more comfortable they feel with the latest polling numbers for instance, the more that party will rely on positive tactics. As that party begins to fall behind, they start to shift towards negative tactics.

Some examples:
June 16
polls
SES Conservative 34, Liberal 32
Ipsos-Reid Conservative 32, Liberal 31
Marzolini Conservative 36, Liberal 31
Harper
”If we continue to work hard in next few weeks. if we remain united, if we stick to our principles, if we continue to reach out to the supporters of other parties including all those disenchanted Liberals, we will be able to give Canadians a majority government we can all trust and be proud of.”
Martin
"I have asked Mr. Harper: that's fine, tell us what's going to give, tell us where you are going to find the $50 billion. And he has not been able to do so,"

June 22
Polls
SES Conservative 31, Liberal 34
Ipsos-Reid Conservative 28, Liberal 36
Harper
"He says health care is his No. 1 priority. The only time in the past decade it was his No. 1 priority is when he had to cut the budget. Then he cut health care first and he cut it deepest,"
Martin
"I feel very good about the way in which the whole race is unfolding. I feel very good about the realization of Canadians of the differences between Stephen Harper and myself on the issues of health care, childcare and the economy. They want a government that reflects their priorities, and reducing waiting times is their priority."


Computer problem, will finish post when I fix
Blah blah blah blah, blah blah Stephen Harper blah blah Air Canada. Blah, blah blah les blah et la blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Air Canada Public Participation Act (yawn).

Blah Harper Blah,
"Language service requirements would be moved to the Official Languages Act and would be consistent across the industry,"
blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah Bullshit blah blah.
Portrait of a frightening man

From an article in Sunday's Ottawa Sun

MAUGERVILLE, N.B. -- It is a dreary Saturday morning in small-town New Brunswick, and Stephen Harper isn't exactly warming hearts among the overflow crowd of Conservative faithful packed into the old two-room schoolhouse. On this day, the Conservative leader is in an ugly mood, the Iceman's habitual cool heading toward the temperature of liquid nitrogen.

Even a reporter's friendly "good morning, Stephen" is returned with silence and a withering glare from those frigid, malamute-blue eyes.

The cause of Harper's big chill was the Tories' big gaffe.


OK, I can understand that Harper couldn't have been pleased with the turn of events after Friday's Conservative campaign boondoggle. But worse political tides have happened to better men, and we don't usually see them stomping around displaying their anger to their followers and any media whose path they happen to cross.

Maybe Stephen Harper doesn't realize, but he's running for Prime Minister. A Prime Minister takes more heat than Harper has yet been exposed to, and if this is how Harper reacts to a little bit of media criticism then it's worrying to say the least, how he would act in the House, during Question Period, during scrums, in Cabinet, in meetings with international heads-of-state.

He isn't acting very Prime Ministerial at all.
Apologize already, and be done with it!

Stephen Harper's insistance that the PM supports child porn is not winning him any points among the undecided voters.

The only folks who don't seem to think Harper is losing his cool are this guy:

a greasy long-haired Thunder Bay Conservative that CTV news last night showed hopping out of his pickup truck and lunging drunkenly at Jack Layton yesterday, waving a bible in one hand, and shouting "Pedophiles!",

and the folks who seem to live permanently in the comment section of Andrew Coyne's website.



According to the Globe and Mail, Harper put the blame "on over-caffeinated youngsters in the party's election war room who have been working long hours for nearly a year".
That's odd, the party is less than 6 months old. Anyway...

Later Harper compounded his shame, saying "Mr. Martin misrepresented — I'm tempted to say he lied — about his position on this"

Maybe Harper thought this would be a juicy little campaign tactic, accusing the prime minister of supporting "kiddie-porn". I'm not sure that there has ever been a more ridiculous campaign trick, even the Chretien-face ads seem to pale in comparison.

It should be noted that Harper's Canadian Alliance voted against bill C-12, which was intended to improve the protection of children and vulnerable persons from pornographic exploitation.

Among other things, the Liberals' Bill C-12 increased the prison terms for people convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor, and gave judges greater decision-making powers in such cases, including looking at the age difference between the adult and the minor.

The only criticism of the bill offered up by Harper's Canadian Alliance, was that they felt the legal age of consent should have been raised. According to Alliace MP Gumant Grewal: "Just imagine a grade 9 student giving consent to have sex with a 60 year old person or a 50 year old person." (hansard)

OK, so I've tried to imagine it. While it is a frightening statement (Harper's Alliance has made a career of trying to scare Canadians with their "what ifs"), it isn't much of a frightening reality. I just can't imagine a teenager wanting to have sex with a 60 year-old.

The truth is that there are no laws which can stop something like that from happening. The laws in place, including the age of consent, are there to provide consequences for an act after it has happened. And in Grewal's case of a 60 year old and a minor, as I have already pointed out, the bill the Alliance rejected included measures to allow a judge to consider the age difference between the adult and the minor in sentencing.

So why is it that the Alliance voted against the bill? Using their own logic does this mean they support child sexual exploitation?

***
If he was a real leader, at what point would Harper look at the statement that was made by his agents about Martin and say, politics aside, this statement was incorrect, and denigrates Martin not as a politician, but as a man.
At which point would Harper have apologized if he was a real leader.

In fact, forget about being a leader, even as a good man Harper should spoken out by now to Martin, and said "I'm sorry".
Regarding the Conservatives and their accusations about child-porn

Yes this was a horrible attempt to cash in on the Holly Jones case, which made headlines 2 days ago, and yes it deserves some sort of an apology.

But it is unclear if it will affect the Conservative Party's polling numbers, which are already showing signs of falling (the SES polls which I despise show them dropping 8 points in the past week).

The media and the rest of us have been expecting another Stockwell Day scenario, with the wheels falling completely off of the Conservative Party's election campaign, but so far it has been a fairly well run campaign. Chances are that it will require a follow-up goof-up before the media begins to compare Harper to Day.

This is a high-profile issue, one that is simple for Canadians to understand, and as such it has the ability to ruin the Conservative campaign by itself. But still, I'd bet that the Conservatives can weather this if they put the right spin on it.
The next mistake, however, will spell certain victory for Martin.

It's obvious that the Harper campaign team contains a mixture of former PCs and CAers. The PCs have been responsible for the flawless campaign so far. Yet everywhere Harper goes during this election, he has been sideswiped by the idiotic statements and actions of former Canadian Alliance members. So it's not hard to conclude that the kiddie-porn press releases were the work of former Alliance members.

If Harper is smart, he'll send the CCrappers to the "back of the shop" and let the real Tories run the campaign from here on.
New Polls

Holy crap, the Conservatives really went a little overboard today with their suggestion that Paul Martin supports child porn. Stephen Harper even took 2 press conferences before he even suggested it might have been a mistake.

And now there have been 2 polls in a row showing the Libs ahead, one showing them ahead by 6 points.

Neat.
Horror Story

Haven't been posting since my computer contracted a virus the other day. Don't know how it got there, and since it started I have only gone online to search for solutions.
Yet somehow my computer is getting more and more viruses.
I've run Norton and Ad-Aware, now both are finding approx 150 objects with each scan, but can't fix the problem. I'll probably have to reinstall Windows, however right now I'm wishing there was a more secure OS that I could use.

I actually took Thursday off work to try to resolve the issue, but could not get fixed. Every time that Norton deletes the viruses they just reappear as soon as Norton is closed.

Help would be appreciated.

Update

Sat Morning 12:17 am: it looks like I may have gotten rid of the viruses. Relentless searching of discussion pages finally led to a solution that looks, tentatively, like it has resolved the issue.

I have to get up super-duper early in the morning, but I want to run a Norton scan.

Update to the Update

Scan shows my computer clean. Now the investigation begins into how this got onto my computer. I may have to put a password on it so that others don't use it while I'm at work.

But I can surf the net again without constantly being redirected to naughty websites, and pop-ups, etc.

Incidentally, rumour has it that Microsoft will be addressing this issue with it's XP service pack 2, expected out this summer.
The Exodus Continues

And you must not oppress a resident foreigner(Exodus 23:9)

The exodus grom the Conservatives continues to pick up pace. Yet another influential Tory has broken ranks to support the Liberals. Bruck Easton, the man who used to sign my PC Party membership cards, and a major figure in bringing together the PC Party and the Alliance, today announced his disillusionment with the leadership of Stephen Harper, and announced his support for the Liberals.

Read

my first digital self portrait
Raymod Tomlin over at VanRamblings discusses last night's debate and discusses what to look for in tonight's English debate.
French Debate

Tried to keep cribnotes, but nothing new was being said, so I started noting behaviour and stuff like that.

During the first hour, there were 2 times, once in a debate with Duceppe, and once with Layton, that Harper nearly blew a gasket.

Duceppe managed to control a lot of the debate through the first hour. During this time Harper looked nervous and was dominated by all 3 of the other leaders. At one point during a debate on taxes with Martin, Harper jumped in and practically shouted "You're talking about numbers. How can you seriously sit there and talk about numbers". He must have realized how dumb that sounded, as he seemed a bit confused as he continued.

Late in the first hour Duceppe to score on Martin by asking repeatedly "How much is left in the EI fund"? Whether you think this was a successful jab at Martin probably depends on whether you're a Duceppe supporter or a Martin supporter.

Second hour, Harper started to calm down a bit. Sometimes too much, as he appeared to be on valium at some points. At the same time Martin seemed as if he was getting frustrated, and he started to rock back and forth a lot as he was speaking.

Layton, meanwhile, was like a peacock the entire time, smiling, animated, like a Canadian Tony Randall. He was effective in his way, kind of like the cheerleader of the debate.

During the last half hour Harper either started to define party policy on the spot, decided to start announcing party policy during the debate, or else he lost one of his marbles.
First, he declared that he would be having a free vote on the issue of gay marriage, then later told Layton that he(Harper) and Layton had opposite opinions on gay marriage. Since Layton is announced as supporting gay marriage, Harper thus said for the first time in the campaign that he is opposed.

And really strange, when Martin asked Harper about the statements that Harper's MPs had made during the campaign about homosexuals and abortion, Harper told Martin that he (Martin) had made the exact same comments 2 days previous. I'm sure, during an election campaign especially, that if the PM came out and declared that gays would not be eligible for public jobs, we'd know about it.

Anyway, this is how I saw the leaders:

Duceppe: confident, very aggressive in a put-offish manner.

Layton: looked calm, no that's not true. He looked like he was on acid or happy pills, all smiley and bouncy. Scored some good points against Harper and Martin

Harper: Trying to control his emotions, sometimes nearly losing his temper. Calmed down later.

Martin: Initially calm and was doing a pretty good job considering he was the brunt of most of the attacks, but later on the attacks seemed to affect his performance.

the end.
What does Stephen Harper have in store for this country?

Dec 8, 2000, Harper had an article published in the National Post, entitled "Separation, Alberta-style: It is time to seek a new relationship with Canada"

A few quotes:

"It is to take the bricks and begin building another home -- a stronger and much more autonomous Alberta"

"Separation will become a real issue the day the federal government decides to make it one"

"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country"


And of course there is his famous line about building firewalls around Alberta, but I was unable to find the article anyplace in cyberspace (is that term passe now? Is it still cool to talk about "surfing the web"?), so I'll let that one be.


But his cries for Albertan independance aside, the following Harper comment should shock all, and is particularly pertinent now that he is asking for votes:

"west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society."

Do these horrible people even deserve to vote? Perhaps they should be rounded up and...ok I doubt even he'd go that far.

***
Anyway, the subject of this entry was what does Harper have in store for us, and I think his own words speak volumes about what he believes. Even if this nasty fellow should ever become PM , there's hope in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, although he has promised to repeal that.



Vote.
More on the Perils of Polling

David Olive writes in the Star's election blog (why does everyone suddenly have to have an election blog this year?) on an issue I wrote about a few days ago, the SES election polls.

Olive addresses the polling question that SES uses, and points out that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are not even mentioned in the question. OK, not much point in my giving a summary, since I've copy and pasted the whole thing right here, so take it away David Olive:

Pollster SES, whose daily polls in collaboration with CPAC have played such a prominent role in driving the media consensus that the Grits are doomed, reported last night that the Tory surge has gone into reverse. The Tories, according to SES, have slipped to 34 per cent, from 37 per cent the day before. That drops the Tories back to neck-and-neck status with the Grits, who clocked in yesterday at 33 per cent. And makes everything you've heard in the past few days about the "ineffectual" Liberal attack ads rather suspect.

We get a kick out of the question SES asks "200 potential voters" each night (which are blended results from 400 more voters interviewed the previous two nights to produce a "three day rolling sample" - don't ask):

"Some people think that the Liberals have done a good job running the country and that Paul Martin would be [a] strong prime minister. Others think that the Liberals have been in power too long and that it's time for a change. Which of these two opinions best reflects your views?"

No mention of Stephen Harper. Whenever Pierre Trudeau was asked about his dismal poll standings, he'd reply, "Consider the alternative." The alternative in 1972 and 1974 kept Trudeau in power, and in 1980 revived his briefly interrupted residency at 24 Sussex.

As the more candid pollsters will tell you, they can get you any results you want depending on what question they ask.

So how about:

"Some people think the Liberals have done a good job managing the economy over the past decade and that Paul Martin as PM would continue to build on his successful record as finance minister. Others think that the Liberals have been in power too long, becoming arrogant and corrupt, and that it's time to replace Martin with Stephen Harper or one of the other leaders. Which of these two opinions best reflects your views?"

Or:

"Some people think Stephen Harper is a strong leader who would end the Liberal era of arrogance and corruption. Others worry that he has no experience in running a government and would be more likely than Paul Martin or the other leaders to impose an agenda of 'social conservatism' on Canadians. Which of these two opinions best reflects your views?"

The correct answer to all three questions, of course, is "Why are you bothering me, I'm only a 'potential' voter. Don't you want to speak to some real ones?"


note: here is a link to the SES poll that is referred to by David Olive.
What's up with Bourque? The guy created the best site in the country (possibly one of the best in the world) for quick access to the most important news from all different sources. Mr Bourque is respected, and has always presented the headlines and links to the stories as is, until this election.
Now it seems he is colouring the headlines with his own opinions.

Ane xample is the CBC article entitled "Harper unfazed by Liberal attack ads", which on the Bourque site becomes "Harper Unfazed By Desperate Liberal Attack Ads".

Is Bourque Newswatch a news gateway or an opinion website? If he is going to colour his presentation of the news with his own opinion he should present his site as what it is.
Why is it that when a movie comes on tv that I already own on DVD, meaning I could watch it without commercial interruption in 5.1 dolby surround with SRS and a bunch of other crap which I don't use because I don't know what the hell it is, that I always end up sitting and watching the "edited for tv" version.
You know, the version with the little TBS symbol in the bottom right, Mel Gibson swearing "Forget you!", and punctuated by ads for Ford and Minute Maid. Somehow they manage to cut out the best scenes (ever watch Desperado on TV?), and when you've seen the DVD version, you can't help but notice other little snip jobs they've done to save time.

So the next time "A Knight's Tale" comes on tv, you'd think I'd just get out my DVD version and watch it instead, but no, for some reason I'm sure I'll end up sitting through the whole thing on City-TV.
I had to post something to move that horrible Stephen Harper head further down the page.

I'm trying to understand the polls that have been coming out recently over the past few days. First we have the SES rolling polls which for the past week have been giving the Conservatives a growing lead over the Liberals, then yesterday and today a Leger poll and an Ipsos Reid poll showed the Liberals still in the lead.
All three polls show the Liberals at 32 and 33 percent among decided voters, but while Leger and Ipsos Reid show the Conservatives at 30 and 31 percent, the SES rolling poll has them at 37%. That's quite a difference, and as the Sun has been more than pleased to point out it makes it appear as if the Conservatives have the makings of a good lead.

The Leger Poll was taken over a period of 4 days, with a total of 1500 respondents.
The Ipsos-Reid Poll was also taken over a 4-day period with a total of 2000 respondents.
The SES poll is a little more complicated. Simply put, it is a poll of 600 people (a very small sample) taken over 3 days. SES polls 200 people per day, and each day adds the new data to the poll and drops the old data from 3 days ago. Get it? Got it? Good.


Anyway, I can't believe how little of this stuff I remember from university. I'm supposed to have a degree in political science, and I can remember taking an entire year of this polling crap in second year, but do you think I can remember it now? Suffice to say that a poll of 1000 people is necessary for a poll to have an acceptable margin of error. The SES polls fall far short of that mark.
These SES polls are so out of whack with Ipsos-Reid, which sets the standard for polling in this country, that the folks at SES are going to have to spend some time reworking their model before the next election. Somebody said, and I've just done a bit of unsuccessful googling to try to get their name, that election polls can be weapons of mass destruction. With so many newspapers picking up these SES polls and concluding that the Conservatives are leading, it's entirely possible that this could have an affect on how some people vote. Conservatives, feeling secure that their party has a good lead, may find it less urgent to get out and vote. Some NDPers may choose to vote Liberal. Whatever.

Conclusion. There is something wrong with the polling model that SES is using in this election. It's nice, it's gratifying, to have day by day polling results, but it might be smarter to ignore SES poll results this election and wait a few days for more thorough poll results.
Ed's Back!

The NDP have a nice little website, simple yet it convey's their message. That is if orange on green doesn't make you ill.

Just watched a fun little video from their site called "Ed's Back", which looks like something a bunch of 80 year old ad execs might produce if they were trying to target the "MTV Generation". It runs a little long, but it's interesting.

Windows Media. For other formats visit their site.
Loathsome. That's the first word that I think of when I see the following picture of Stephen Harper, which I stole from the Bourque website.


Click on the picture to visit Bourque Newswatch.


National Post story

Harper's press secretary slaps Canadian Press photographer, tells him to 'shut up'

Anger boiled over on the Stephen Harper campaign this week when press secretary Carolyn Stewart-Olsen told a Canadian Press photographer to "shut up" and gave him two gentle slaps on the face, saying she was not happy with the pictures he has been taking.

***

Harper's defenders are driven wild by the fact that the media appears to be waiting for him to slip up, for his campign to derail. Why, for instance, are questions about social issues being thrown at Harper by the media?
The reasons are thus: Anyone who has followed Harper's career is aware that he is a firebrand, a man whose mouth usually operates much more quickly than his brain (recall his comments in the House of Commons about where to find photos of Svend Robinson). The media is fully aware of the sudden change that has come over Harper since the election started, and they want to pop the bubble of artificiality that Harper's handlers have created around him. The rest of us are watching out of interest, waiting to see in which direction he will fly when that bubble is popped.
I'm working on a post, go away.

No, wait, if you're looking for something to read, try this from the Washington Monthly. It's an article called Blog Navel Gazing, and is related to the issue of the post I'm working on.
New girl from work has a blog. Not a political blog, a wacky blog.

A wacky, wacky blog. This girl has enough steel pierced thru her tongue to build a car.

link

and something fun I found on her blog: bukakke
I'm putting my foot down (some would say I'm stamping my feet). Nobody is allowed to phone me between 10:45 and 11:30 while the election campaign is on. Fortunately the hockey game is in OT which means I can still catch The National.

While writing this, Calgary scored the winning goal. I haven't watched a lot of Flames hockey, but I have to say that I am very impressed by their defence, based on tonight's game. No matter how intense the play in the opposing zone, Calgary seems to always have a man outside the zone, ready to pick up the puck if it is dumped towards their end. Toronto, like most NHL teams now, likes to move all their players into the opposing zone during a rush, emulating the tactics that made the Red Army teams so successful. However after 15 or so years of this being standard in the NHL, teams have worked out defense strategies to counter these tactics, so you don't have the team on offense standing in position in the 4 corners of the zone for instance, seemingly unchecked, and passing the puck back and forth waiting for scoring chances like the Red Army team was always able to do.

I'm an expert on everything.
Things you don't need to happen during your election campaign

Stephen Harper's election campaign seems determined to go off the rails. I've avoided criticizing Harper for insignificant flaws in his campaign, but it's pretty hard to ignore what happened today, especially since the occurrence was caught on camera.
The picture below is of Bob Smyth, an elderly protester being punched in the face by a Conservative today at a Harper campaign function:


Click on the picture for the full article.

I've campaigned with a few PC Party leaders, and I've seen campaign stops get ugly, but taking it to this level is a bit out of the ordinary. Usually in situations with protesters our party supporters were advised to link arms and form a chain to try to keep the protesters away from where the leader was speaking. If the protesters became vocal, so did our folks, singing "O Canada", or something. There was never any violence, even when we were beset by organized busloads of youth party members from other parties.

According to Laurie Arron, political co-ordinator of Canadians for Equal Marriage:
Mr. Arron was shouted down by cries of "shut up, shut up."

Tory supporters then hit Mr. (Bob) Smyth with signs and a man punched him in the face before police intervened.


This is 2 days in a row that Stephen Harper's message has been overshadowed by questions about his position on hot topics like abortion and gay marriage. 2 days do not make or break an election campaign, but with the media exposure given to Mr Arron and Mr Smyth today, there's a high likelihood that Harper's troubles are not over yet.
Happy 200th post!!!!

While I respect his decision to support his Conservative candidate's campaign financially, I have to express a bit of disappointment at Warren Kinsella's decision. After all, I keep my links categorized on the right side of my blog, and it's going to be a real hassle, almost 2 whole minutes out of my day, if I have to move the link to his website from the Liberal category to the Conservative one.

Thanks a lot Warren!!!


***
The odd thing is that Kinsella and I are on parallel but opposite tracks when it comes to which party we support right now. I am a Conservative Party member who plans to vote for my Liberal candidate (yes it's official- for now) until Stephen Harper is replaced as party leader, and Kinsella is a Liberal who doesn't support the current leadership of his party during this election.

***
I remember how the tv show Cheers feted it's 200th episode, by having the stars sit in a row and discuss their favouritest moments on the show.
I thought I'd do something similar, but since I'm the only star of this blog, well....

OK the only moment I am going to bring back is the first sentence I ever published:
"This Blog will deal mainly with Canadian politics, and will focus on the Progressive Conservative party of Canada."

Now that the subject of my blog no longer exists, I guess my writing is even pointlesser then ever.
More talk of a Conservative-Bloc alliance. This time from the bloc, which is stating that their goal in such an alliance is the separation of Quebec in a "third referendum". Duh..

Are we clear on this now? Conservative minority government + Bloc Alliance = Quebec separation referendum. Just what else does Harper have planned for us?

Bloc wants big gains from any Tory deal

Longueuil, Que. and Ottawa — The Bloc Québécois said yesterday it would milk a Conservative minority for all it is worth in the hopes of improving the overall situation in Quebec and then bringing the province out of Canada.

After a speech south of Montreal, Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe said there is no contradiction in helping a federalist party govern Canada, and being fully committed to Quebec independence. The goal is to better economic and social conditions in Quebec to pave the way for a victory in a third referendum.

continued
here's a reason why for the first time in this election, I am praying for a majority government, a Liberal majority government:

from today's Globe and Mail

Liberal woes fuel Tory-Bloc theories
Lindsay, Ont., Mirabel, Que., Ottawa — The Conservative Party could take office with the help of the Bloc Quebecois even if the Liberals end up with a razor-thin edge in seats in the coming vote, a key Conservative MP says.
House Leader John Reynolds said yesterday that he can see circumstances in which the Bloc and the Conservatives would vote together to defeat the Liberals should the Grits win a small minority.

"If the Liberals win one more seat than us and the Bloc and us defeat the government, it would be obvious what the next step would be," Mr. Reynolds said in an interview yesterday. "It would be irresponsible to hold another election right away."

read the rest of the story

***
PS, since when is the new party the "Tories"?
The year was 1992. The three main parties at the time, the PCs, the Liberals, and the NDP had all united in an attempt to gain support for the Charlottetown Accord.
Among other things, the accord would have provided for an elected and effective Senate, one of the main planks of Reform Party policy at the time. But while the three main parties were working to reform the country's institutions, two parties were working together against the reforms that Charlottetown would have brought about, two parties collectively known as the "NO" campaign. They were the Reform Party and the Bloc Quebecois.
Today the Reform Party is referred to as the Conservative Party, but it is led by exactly the same group which led it to a shameful victory in 1992. Stephen Harper, the current Conservative Party leader, was deputy Reform party leader and policy chief back then.

Sadly, today the Reform/Conservative party returned to it's old ally, making it official that Stephen Harper will seek to form a coalition of disgrace with the Bloc Quebecois in order to gain power in Ottawa.

Boooo! Shame!
Morrissey Fans will hate this, an audio blog by Tony Pierce from Los Angeles. Pierce sings Morrissey's Ask, apparently on his computer microphone. It gets better and funnier as it goes on.

Listen

p.s. here are the lyrics if you want to follow along.

P.s.p.s. For Morrissey fans
here is a website with mp3s of 4 unreleased songs
Is this beginning to give you nightmares?
Do you feel like you have to keep looking over your shoulder any time you are reading Warren Kinsella's blog? Does it seem like no matter where you are in the room, the eye seems to be staring right at you, plumbing your soul? He knows what you did, and you can feel the accusation in his gaze.
No! Stop! Get out of my mind!!!


The scary version.

Well help is here. Modern technology and all that.


The non-scary version.

Testimonials:
"Thanks to modern technology I can sleep at night. Thank you modern technology."
Lucy M Montgomery, PEI

"Duhh.. Where can I get a pair of those sunglasses?"
Mike Wilson, Etobicoke

"The new look not only looks great, but also helps save his eye from the effects of harmful UV rays."
Mr. Kinsella's optometrist
Nobody gives a damn, but I'll tell you anyway. I'm half newfie. Whatever that means. It's not like people look at me and ask "where are you from, originally?", or treat me as second-class. It's just a sign of the success of our country's multi-cultural policies, how easily the newfie has integrated into Canadian society. You even have occasional marriages between those of the Canadian race and those of the newfie race (read the second sentence again for proof).

Anyway, I don't have a clue why I wrote the above paragraph, except as maybe an introduction to the clever editorial I have posted below from last week's Labradorian (serving the people of central and coastal Labrador). Since so much focus this week was on Stephen Harper's campaign swing through Atlantic Canada, I thought it was appropriate to find some opinion from the region. Note that this editorial was written before the election campaign actually began.


Like a dog on a Bono


When it comes to election campaigning, there are few rigs as well oiled as the big red federal Liberal machine.

Provincial politicians get their licks in here and there when campaigning, but the federal guys, well, they don’t fool around. They don’t need to talk to the public or put forth actual policy or even make promises. They seem to believe tricky campaigning and pork barreling is the route best taken and they have it down to a science.

They just have to throw money at anything that makes a sound, and reach into the bag of tricks every once in a while.

Last week, Paul Martin pulled U2 front man Bono out of the hat, sat him down alongside, and smiled from earlobe to eyebrow as the Irish-born rock legend sang his praises. It was, undoubtedly, the “sweetest thing” to behold.

And all it cost was $70 million. Not bad for a “one” day gig. The money will be poured into the Bono-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Watching it all, we couldn’t help but smile. You’ve got to hand it to these guys — they weren’t behind the door when God was handing out electorate wheel grease. It’s campaigning at it’s absolute slickest — attempt to look “with it” by hanging with the lead singer for the “greatest band in the world”. It’s like George Bush rap-battling with Eminem — grossly transparent.

Nevertheless, it got us thinking. If Bono can squeeze $70 million out of Martin, why couldn’t Labrador give something similar a shot?

We say let’s send Harry Martin to Ottawa! Or The Flummies. Hey, if Bono can wrangle $70 million out of the Prime Minister, we should be good for a couple of million at least.

We know Paul Martin’s “desire” is to get re-elected with a majority government over his closest contender, the “stranger in a strange land” Stephen Harper.

We know he’ll use every tactic available to help him have a downright “beautiful day” when polling ends, including drawing rock stars out of the woodwork. As a slick, seasoned politician, Paul Martin knows how to move in “mysterious ways” and he recognizes a potential winning idea when he sees or hears it.

So how about it Paul? If we can convince Harry or The Flummies to back up the campaign, do you think you could “hold us, thrill us” with a few extra bucks and a solidified, ratified long term plan for the Base? After all, we don’t want to be “stuck in a moment” when the two year reprieve comes to an end in 2006.

Perhaps you could provide a little kick-in for some Lower Churchill development? As far as that project goes, we “still haven’t found what we’re looking for”.

We know the province is dragging its heels on facets of the Trans-Labrador Highway, but you’re spending hundreds of millions widening the highway in Quebec — surely God you can play a larger role in tossing us a bit of pavement to “walk on” here where the “streets have no name”.

Alas, as talented as our musical offerings may be, they represent but one seat, and Paul likely sees the mass appeal of international rockers as a way to deliver votes across the board.

Aside from parading celebrities around, he’ll also lean on the lack of an alternative throughout the campaign, stressing we can’t possibly live “with or without” a Liberal government.

Just imagine the “rattle and hum” of debating the issues and having actual, bonafide alternatives to the four marginal, regional parties that currently vie for the Liberal election table scraps?

A choice? Why, that would be “even better than the real thing”.

Put the rock stars back in the hat Paul. The voters are over here under the “Joshua Tree”.

And we’d like to think we don’t impress that easily.