Friday, August 29, 2008


Scott and David have the details. The news out of Guelph today is that some asshole or assholes (pardon my french but I call a spade, a spade) have vandalized property and gone so far as to cut break lines at cars parked in front of homes with Frank Valeriote signs. Kudos to all four candidates in Guelph for decrying this kind of criminal behaviour (Scott's got the press release). This is a direct assault on our democracy and I hope these criminals are caught and punished to the full extent of the law. This kind of shit makes me sick.

McCain-Palin... Odd Couple 08

To the shock of the chattering classes, John McCain has chosen Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) to be his running mate. Quick run down of the positives and negatives:

Positives: She is in lock step with his base on almost every issue. That's something McCain desperately needed. She's a woman. This fits with McCain's overt attempt to lure Hillary supporters. Note that the two democrats she mentioned in her remarks were Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton not Barack Obama and Joe Biden. She's not from Washington. She has some maverick credentials. She probably takes Alaska off the map. She might help in Montana, the Dakotas and Colorado with her NRA membership. Working class roots.

Negatives: She has less than two years experience in even state-wide elected office. Yes, she has more executive experience than Obama-Biden, but she also has more than McCain. For a 72 year old candidate with a medical history longer than my arm to be choosing someone this green is a little worrisome. What exactly are her foreign policy credentials aside from having a son shipping off to war? She's under investigation for firing a bureaucrat for failing to fire her brother-in-law who was divorcing her sister. It may have been a staffer acting without her knowledge but it smells to high heaven. In a year where the Alaska Republican party is disentegrating before our eyes (Sen. Stevens (R-AK), Rep. Young (R-AK)), do you really want to be reminding people about bridges to nowhere? Based on today's introduction she's not going to wow anyone with her speaking skills which makes both halves of the Republican ticket.

I get what McCain was thinking with this pick. However, I would have gone with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) if the criteria were conservative and female. What really would concern me if I were John McCain is it makes this election at least partially about the Republican ticket. McCain has made some progress in the polls making this election about the Democratic ticket. I don't think the Republicans necessarily want the spotlight.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Can Use History Too!

"We bless your simplicity but do not envy your folly"
- Thucydides

Tom Flanagan has decided that Stephen Harper is channeling Scipio Africanus in his fight against Stephane Dion. While Mr. Flanagan's comparison seems apt, let me use another historical battle to show how easy it is to get history on your side. My story takes place in Greece and it is a war between a rich and expanding power and an old out-dated army. My historical narrative is the Peloponnesian War. Athens, having rallied much of Greece to its banner through the Delian league, was rich and had the most powerful navy in the world (read the Conservative Party of Canada). They were led by highly regarded leaders who were thought to be far smarter than their opponents like Pericles (read Stephen Harper). Sparta was an isolated city-state that relied on its powerful army for its defense (read the Liberal Party of Canada). The Athenians, in their arrogance, decided to attack the Peloponnesus (read Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal) in the hopes of defeating Sparta once and for all. Starting to sound like someone you know? The Athenians thought that they would rout the Spartans and indeed early naval battles went distinctly their way (by-elections anyone?). However, that's when the Athenians got greedy. They decided that waging war with Sparta wasn't enough, they decided to attack their long time adversaries in Syracuse as well (read the Bloc Quebecois). With their navy (or advertising dollars) tied up in Syracuse (Quebec) the Athenians began losing battle after battle in Greece (Ontario and the rest of Canada). Eventually, the Spartans were able to rout the Athenians in spite of all the advantages that Athens seemed to have at the beginning of the war. So you see boys and girls, history tells us that the arrogant Tories are destined to fail miserably in this election. Isn't classical history fun?

Right Wing Misses Symbolism

Well, it shouldn't be surprising that people who hate arts and culture wouldn't understand the idea of symbolism. The right wing blogosphere is up in arms because they think Barack Obama is giving his speech in front of a mock-up of a Greek temple. That isn't quite the imagery he's going for. If you were, you know, thinking and not just angrily reacting you would realize that Barack Obama is delivering his speech on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. Logically, they aren't a constructing a temple to their new god, they are reconstructing a temple to a REPUBLICAN president, namely Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Memorial, of course, being the site of Dr. King's famous speech. It doesn't matter whether or not the pillars are in a straight line or not. They're on an angle because its a stage, not an actual building. Greek temples had their pillars in a straight line too. The image they are going for is at left. It is wholly appropriate for the first African-American nominee of a major political party to honour Dr. King on the anniversary of his famous speech. It is also wholly appropriate to honour the president who ended slavery in the United States. Apparently, the right wing can't see this. Yes folks, the Republicans now see fit to attack the Lincoln Memorial.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Nuclear Power In Crisis And Nobody Cares

It never ceases to amaze me what is deemed newsworthy and what isn't. Pakistan has been in full crisis mode ever since its Gen. Pervez Musharraf resigned. Is it getting any press in North America? I understand not covering the delightful dismemberment of Belgium. After all, who cares about Belgium? Pakistan is not so easily ignored. Lest we forget, Pakistan is a full fledged member of then nuclear club. It is also a critical ally in the war on terror. The direction which the country takes following its presidential elections are crucial not only in southern and central Asia but around the world. But who cares about that when we can spend hours dissecting Hillary's speech for any hint of bitterness. God help us all.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

On Your Mark...

I am back from Guelph where I spent the weekend working on the Frank Valeriote by-election campaign. Or what we all believed to be a by-election campaign. It is becoming increasingly clear that a fall election is in the cards and the writ could very well be dropped in the next couple of weeks. I can only guess that Harper is not hearing good things from his by-election campaigns. I would have thought that Harper would have wanted to use any positive by-election result, even a close second, as momentum going into a general election. If, as is generally being discussed by the chattering classes, Harper is prepared to go before the three by-election results on September 8th, it means that Harper sees no benefit (I don't think he's looking to save some money here) to having those votes go ahead as planned.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quick Thoughts

Having to get up before God to prepare for the first visit of a Liberal leader to Toronto-Danforth in God knows how long, I'm just going to ramble a bit tonight.
  • First and foremost, by the time this is actually posted, Stephane Dion will be speaking at Cinespace Studios in Toronto. It's great to have the leader in the riding and I'm sure it will be a resounding success.
  • I was at the Rob Oliphant event today in Don Valley West. I didn't actually hear the speeches (I was at the back in order to go out with Rob and M. Dion on Bayview afterwards), so I won't comment on that. It was a good crowd. Good energy. With the number of experience hands stearing the Oliphant ship, I am cautiously optimistic.
  • Are we ready to start placing bets as to the start of the general election yet?
  • Great to see Eric Lamaze win the gold today.
  • Whenever we go to the polls, it's going to be economic policy front and centre.
  • Hebron is finally all set to start up. More money us mainlanders will never see a penny of.
  • I was visiting relatives in Don Valley West and picked up a piece put out by the Tory by-election campaign. Traditionally, first pieces tend to introduce your candidate. This piece barely mentioned the candidate. If it wasn't for the small print indicating who paid for the thing, John Carmichael's name would not have appeared once on the piece. The piece did talk about all the nice things Harper's done for Toronto. Included in the list was talk about spending on the arts... in the week Harper cut the arts budget by $44.5 million. The rest of the list was pennies here and there. Mostly stuff that previous governments had committed to.
Blogging will in all likelihood be slow this weekend as I head off to Guelph again to campaign for Frank Valeriotte.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


With apologies to Keith Olbermann a quick update into the government's fifty running scandals... Con-ned!

Number 3: What do Doctors Know About Medicine-Gate

Tony "landslide" Clement has been one of Harper's better cabinet ministers. Yes, the pool is that weak folks. Well, that was until he started arguing medical facts... with doctors! Mr. Clement you're not a doctor, you don't even play one on TV!

Number 2: And By Fixed He Means Completely Unfixed-Gate

Stephen Harper as I've already noted called a by-election in Don Valley West for September 22nd. This of course forces Elections Canada to run at tax-payers expense a returning office for the period of the by-election writ. Well, with Harper openly speculating about pulling the plug on the government before the by-election, Elections Canada may be running a returning office, printing ballots and accepting votes for NOTHING. It it were to happen, no amount of electoral reform would get the wasted votes back.

Number 1: China Totally Won't Be Important-Gate

As Jean Chretien has rightly pointed out, Stephen Harper's decision to avoid the opening ceremonies in Beijing may cause irreparable damage to what has been a strong relationship between Canada and China. Harper really can't say he was too busy. Heck, Putin made it and he was busy starting a war! China's coming out party and our Prime Minister stays home. I have no problem sending Emerson. He might even be the right man for the job. Still, the optics dictate that the PM make an appearance. I hope the economy can be supported as well on the moral high ground as it could by having a robust trading relationship with one of the world's largest economies.

Monday, August 18, 2008

And On the Seventh Day...

The Prime Minister called a by-election? Anyone know if this has been done before? I've heard of burying a bad news story on a Friday afternoon but Sunday? Apparently, this couldn't wait until Monday Morning. Anyone know the schedule for the vote on the throne speech/opposition days when the house returns? Maybe the PM wanted to make sure the election day was before the house fell? I'm just flummoxed by this one. With a fall election imminent and with the ink barely dry on Mr. Godfrey's resignation was it really necessary to spend taxpayers' money on a by-election? Loyal readers will know that I am big on local representation but Mr. Harper waited the maximum to call elections in Toronto-Centre and Willowdale, what makes DVW so different? Is he trying to take resources away from the Liberals and the NDP in Guelph? At any rate, I look forward to helping elect Rob Oliphant as the next member for Don Valley West. Just a reminder, we still have three by-elections going on in Guelph, Westmount-Ville-Marie and Saint-Lambert. Election day for the first three is September 8th. Election day in Don Valley West is September 22nd.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Harper's New Gambit

Stephen Harper has once again indicated a willingness to break a key policy plank. It's another plank that was supposedly based in his Reform Party roots. Yes, Harper has decided that if he can't goad Stephane Dion into a fall election, he'll call one himself. So why the flip-flop? The most obvious reason is that Harper is trying to learn from his predecessor at 24 Sussex and call the election before a massive scandal (namely, "In and Out" - contrary to what the media and the CPC may have you believe money laundering is frowned upon in this country) discredits his party to all Canadians. By dissolving parliament he breaks up that annoying ethics committee and prays that the wheels of justice move slowly so that his lawsuit against Elections Canada lasts through the writ period. In otherwords, namely his own, Mr. Harper is calling a "snap election for short-term political advantage." Exactly what he said he was putting a stop to when he passed the fixed election date legislation. Well, I guess not all of us are good at keeping promises. Seriously though, what is left of the old Reform agenda? Senate reform? Meet Michael Fortier. No more pandering to Quebec? Nation resolution, UNESCO, the list goes on. Fixed election dates? If he feels like it. Balanced Budgets? Not once they run out of assets to sell. Come on Alberta, how much longer is it going to take before you realize that this guy is more Brian Mulroney than Preston Manning?

So with all signs pointing to a fall election, what is the Tory strategy? Well, radio ads put out by the Tory candidate in the probably never going to be called by-election in Don Valley West may provide a hint. The ads, which are supposedly targeting the people of Don Valley West, talk almost exclusively about M. Dion, his leadership and The Green Shift. The line is clearly that it doesn't matter if you like your local Liberal candidate, this is about who you want in the Prime Minister's chair. Mr. Harper et al. are clearly reading the same polls as everyone else and are trying to make this vote about M. Dion's leadership (where he is weaker) instead of about the Liberal brand and the Liberal team (where we are stronger). Will it work? Who knows, but one can certainly see the wisdom in that line of attack.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Layton Promises What Liberals Have Already Delivered

Jack Layton is trying to prove that his party's victory in Outremount wasn't the combination of random forces unlikely to repeat themselves. To this end, he is promising Montrealers cash for their transit system. One problem Jack. Liberal leaders have already done what you are promising to do. A Liberal Prime Minister already gave one cent of the gas tax to cities for transit. A committment that would have been made permanent had Mr. Layton not brought down the Martin government in the fall of 2005. The rest of Jack's money is going to come from a cap and trade system set up by a pair of Liberal premiers. Tomorrow look for Jack Layton will promise to start the Canada Pension Plan, repatriate the Constitution and eliminate the deficit of the early 1990's.

Friday, August 08, 2008


It isn't just the Olympics that kick off today. Here in Greektown we are gearing up for the fifteenth annual Krinos Taste of the Danforth. I encourage everyone in the GTA to come down and enjoy the food, the music and the party. If you've never made it down, you are in for a real treat. You really can't go wrong with any of the restaurants. The food is cheap and plentiful. It's a great way to find a new favourite restaurant. It may be GreekTown but the fare is as wide ranging as our wonderful city. Want some Brazilian or Japanese? They've got you covered. The music is great as well. There's activities for the kids, so bring them along and if they've never tried loukoumades (sp?), that's honey balls for the unitiated, it's a must. Finally, if you have a chance, say hi to the Lang Gang which is scheduled to have a lemonade stand Saturday on Arundel Ave. (that's one block east of Chester) just North of the Danforth.

However amid the frivolity, I repeat my plea from earlier years. For heaven's sake, take transit. This isn't really a drinking and driving thing (although don't be so stupid as to do that), it's a parking thing. The neighbourhoods which surround the Danforth are filled with homes with no driveways or garages to park a car in. Thus, many of the locals park their cars on the street. 362 days a year that isn't a problem. However, with literally tens of thousands of people descending on such a small amount of space, parking becomes a real problem. The only parking lots in the area are the couple of surface lots that have been built over the subway tracks so visitors tend to try to park in our cozy neighbourhoods. Most people who live in the area either love Taste or take the opportunity to get out of town for the weekend. Still, I hate to see my neighbours trapped in their houses because if they move their car they might not be able to park within a block of their house. You can get off at Broadview, Chester or Pape Station on the TTC and literally be steps from the action. So, please have fun on the Danforth this weekend, just leave your car at home.

Side Note: For the second straight year, the OYL has put Summer Fling the same weekend as Taste. Argh! So, after much deliberation, I'm leaving the party behind to go party with my party in Guelph (confused yet?).... oh, I guess we'll debate some policy too.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

McCain's Convention Problems

John McCain should be enjoying his summer upswing in national and state polls. The road gets rockier heading in. One potential nightmare for the presumptive Republican nominee: his own convention. The GOP (or most of it) will be in Minnesota from September 1-4 trying to turn the only state won by Walter Mondale into a swing state. The problem for McCain is, who does the self-described "Maverick" get to speak at his nominating convention? See, it isn't very maverick-like to have McCain be endorsed by the big wigs of the Republican party. He could use as few pictures with the Bush/Cheney crowd as possible. Further complicating matters is that most of the Republicans who have been elected in the last eight years have cosied up to Bush to get votes. So then, who do you put on stage? I suppose the people that have been floated as VP possibilities but that's a fairly thin field. Gov. Jindal might hold people's attention for a few minutes. Romney isn't exactly cut from the Maverick mold. Gov. Palin is in the middle of a scandal (and really the less said about Alaska Republicans the better). Gov. Crist could work in a pinch. McCain is going to have a hard enough time competing with the show that the Democrats are going to put on in Denver. If people realize from watching the Republican convention that John McCain really is just another Republican, he's toast. If he fills the convention with moderates and conservative Democrats (can you feel the Joe-mentum?) he risks further alienating his skeptical base. Oh this dance is going to be something.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Jack Layton and 9/11 Truth

Just for kicks I decided to throw Jack Layton's name into YouTube. A little opposition watch on a long weekend. Anyway, apparently the 9/11 Truth idiots have taken to asking Mr. Layton questions about their causes. What's Layton's response? Does he condemn this bullshit for what it is? No. The member for Toronto-Danforth says that he is good friends with conspiracy theorist Barry Zwicker and that he has "studied" Mr. Zwicker's ramblings on the subject. He then PRAISES 9/11 Truth for their opposition to the equally non-existent North American Union. I wonder if he shares their views on the evils of vaccines. Here's the video (you have to fast forward through the random story about Layton and Chow not saving a guy's life).

I understand not wanting piss off these wackos, but there's a large gulf between polite and sympathetic. Jack seems to be leaning strongly to the latter.
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