Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Boxing Day

Well folks I'll not be around much - maybe not at all - over the holidays so I hope you'll be back in 2007.

A Merry Christmas to all of you celebrating in either a religious or secular way and surely I can wish you all a Happy Boxing Day.

For those of you who don't know the true meaning of boxing day, it is really a cool thing. It dates back to the era of the industrial revolution when all of the British elites would box up their leftover Christmas meals and give them to the poor the day after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Liberal accomplishments

I know that my friend Scott, has been hard on the new government here in New Brunswick and suggests that they haven't done much, but I wanted to summarize the points made by the Premier in his year end op-ed. Obviously the Premier is going to put the most positive possible spin on the work of his government, but let's take a look at the list:

Day One committments

This gimmick, similar to, but more aggressive than, Bernard Lord's 200 days of change in 1999, saw the following items implemented or, where not possible, started - and all since fully implemented - with in 24 hours of the swearing-in.

  • gas tax axed to 1999 levels (-3.8¢/L)

  • $2000 per first-year university student shaved off of tuition

  • potential, but often non-existant, parental and spousal contributions no longer considered for student loans

  • seniors' assets no longer raided when moving into nursing homes

  • formal MOU with Saint John to ensure money will flow for harbour clean up
Other accomplishments

  • more care provided for seniors in nursing homes

  • reduction in nursing home rates

  • more hours available for home care

  • appointment of the first child and youth advocate - something required by law since April 1, 2004 - this post remained vacant for 2.5 years because the Tory government refused to obey the law, which they unanimously supported, without being allowed to amend it and restrict the advocate's powers

  • launched reform of child protection system

  • winter no-disconnect policy for econimcally challegned NB Power customers

  • increase of minimum wage to $7.25 by July 1

  • impressive insurance reforms which will eliminate discrimination against males, reduce territorial differentials and reduce rates by 13.5% by March 1

  • improved relationships and open dialogue with First Nations communities

  • created a Task Force to reach out to the not-for-profit sector, headed by an individual - Claudette Bradshaw - who cares about the issue and won't let the premier ignore its report

  • engaged New Brunswickers on how to best approach the fiscal imbalance debate

  • established a positive working relationship with an opposing party government in Ottawa

  • began McKenna-style recruitment of business to New Brunswick - with the assistance of McKenna
This is a government that has been in office for 11 weeks and 1 day - 2 and a half months + a day - not very long. It is a government headed by a premier that has never served in a cabinet and supported by 14 ministers who haven't either and only 3 who have. They face a steep learning curve and should not be moving too too quickly without first making sure that they know all of the facts and the results of their actions. Despite this, they have done a lot in a short time. I don't want to short change the impressive list above, that I think stands on its own in any circumstances, but if you want to argue that there is a lot left to be accomplished, they have accomplished as great deal already and there is a lot of time left.

I was particularly interested in the Premier's announcement in this piece that early next year he "will be launching a task force on self-sufficiency similar to the Byrne Commission in the 1960s". This is exactly what our province needs. After the Byrne Commission and through the early Hatfield years New Brunswick leaped ahead. Things stalled in the early 80s, but Frank McKenna's "can-do" optomism, aggressive economic development and sound fiscal management pushed New Brunswick ahead again in the 1990s. Unfortunately, under Bernard Lord, New Brunswick stalled once more. Shawn Graham has positioned himself in such a way that things will start moving again, but, if he is serious about pushing the envelope as radically as was done with Equal Opportunity, then New Brunswick could well be self-sufficient by 2025. I am looking forward to it.

UPDATE: As I predicted, and as previous evidence suggested would be the case, the province's books are not in good shape. As a result, it appears the HST heating rebate is dead, but the province is going to replace it with a mini-program to assist those most in need.

Kennedy's gig is big

Gerard Kenendy was named as Special Advisor to the Leader for Election Readiness and Renewal.

Here is how Liberal leader Stéphane Dion described the role:
He will be involved in every aspect of the readiness of the electoral campaign. He will be my eyes, my ears. He will help me to work with the co-chairs of the platform and the co-chairs of the election.
Not too shabby!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wrong again

My prediction was wrong, the Tories have selected Jeannot Volpé as their interim leader.

This is a horrible choice for the Tories and the second best possible choice for the Liberals. The best would have been anyone but Volpé with Volpé being elected the permanent leader.

Volpé has essentially been acting as interim leader since the election. Lord has made few public appearences and Volpé, under the guise of being finance critic and finance being responsible for everything, had been making most of the public comments for the Tory caucus.

Quite frankly, in my view, it was as much thanks to Volpé's vicious and ultra-negative statements on a virtual daily basis in the weeks following the swearing-in of the Graham government as it was to the sound performance by the Liberals that we just saw a poll putting the Liberals at 65%. A few months, or if Liberals are really lucky, a year with Volpé as leader could see Shawn Graham's Liberals sharing similar numbers to those that Newfoundland and Labrador's Danny Williams and his Tories enjoy.

NB Tories need fresh blood


I hear from sources that, contrary to my earlier speculation, after the Tory caucus "nominates" an interim leader, the party executive will ratify and officially choose the leader later tonight. I'll look forward to seeing who they pick. However, we won't have an announcement until after 9 p.m. tonight, which means I'll have to watch ATV Evening News or wait for the papers tomorrow.

However, in the more important question of the permanent job, the feeling seems to be unanimous among those I've spoken too that the Tory caucus is weak and that if they are to have any chance of winning the 2010 election, they need to find a leader from outside.

Scott, The Sorry Centrist, mentions a number of out-of-caucus possibilities, and it is a pretty definitive list:

Norm Betts

Betts, a professor at the University of New Brunswick, was the runner up in the 1997 leadership and served as finance minister from 1999 to 2001. Many jokes floated around that Betts was really running the government and in part to get away from this, Lord shuffled him to business in 2001. After that Betts heart never seemed to be in it and he actually applied for a vice president position at UNB which he did not get while serving in the cabinet. He was defeated in 2003 by Rick Brewer in Southwest Miramichi, though I don't think Norm minded too much. He's 52.

Bios: government - UNB

Paul d'Astous

D'Astous is chair of the New Brunswick Insurance Board and to be honest I had never heard of him before Scott mentioned him. Perhaps Scott can give some background?

UPDATE: I am told that he is an important backroom Tory from the Moncton area who was an early and key backer of the Lord leadership campaign in 1997. He went on to head up PC Party fundraising. It seems unlikely he has ever had any interest in the front room of electoral politics and has apparently had some health problems in recent years.

Bio: quasi bio from his appointment

Jean Dubé

Dubé is a master of the one-term. He was elected in 1997 to the House of Commons for Madawaska-Restigouche as a PC MP before being defeated in 2000. He was then elected to the New Brunswick Legislature from Campbellton in a 2001 by-election before being defeated in 2003. He was considered cabinet potential but he didn't make it in in the fall 2001 shuffle and his defeat in 2003 prevented him from joining. I am not sure what he is doing now. He is the son of Fernand Dubé who was a prominent member of the Hatfield government. He's 44.

Bio: government

Brad Green

Green was MLA for Fredericton South from 1998 to his defeat in the recent election. He was a senior cabinet minister and one of the most compotent in the Lord government. However, he lacks charisma and bilingualism. These factors with his lack of a seat would make a leadership run difficult in my view. He is currently employed in the Opposition Office, as he was before being elected in 1998, serving as a senior advisor reporting to chief of staff Rodney Weston. He has also always reminded me of the dopy guy Paul on Spin City. He's 41.

Bio: government

Lisa Keenan

Keenan was a candidate in the 1995 election in the left-leaning riding of Saint John Champlain and finished third with 26% of the vote behind Liberal Roly MacIntyre (38%) and a New Democrat (32%). She went on to become party president and was a common spokesperson for the party and also a frequent commentator. She has continued in this role since she left the presidency. She was a candidate for the nomination in the last federal election in Saint John but was defeated by John Wallace. She seems uninterested in running as she has been promoting the candidacy of Margaret-Ann Blaney and Trevor Holder, moreover, I understand she is more interested in trying to run federally again.

Bio: (none found)

Louis-Phillip McGraw

This is a young star who by rights should have made it into the cabinet in Bernard Lord's 2001 cabinet shuffle but in typical Lord fashion, the premier didn't want to rock the boat and only brought in one new person.

McGraw was narrowly defeated in 2003 and tried again in 2006 but failed. Interestingly, he was once a prominent Young Liberal and was youth chair of Bernard Richard's 1998 leadership campaign, defecting to and successfully running for the Tories in 1999 due to dissatisfaction with Camille Théraiult's leadership.

He spent early 2006 in Ottawa aiding Greg Thompson with his responsibilities as political minister for New Brunswick. Quite frankly, if he had won his seat back in 2006, I would think he would be a shoo-in for leader. He's 35.

Bio: government

Lisa Merrithew

Merrithew is the daughter of former Saint John Tory star Gerald Merrithew and was a long-time love interest of current Foreign Minister Peter Mackay. They seem to have split up shortly after the 2003 federal PC leadership.

She had not been too prominent in political circles in her own right until early 2006, when she was named deputy chief of staff to then Premier Lord to get the message out. Evidentally she was not that successful as the Tories lost the 2006 election.

She was recently named to the up-and-coming Liberal PR firm of Derek Rielde and Doug Tyler (communications director and campaign manager respectively for the 2003 and 2006 Liberal campaigns) starting in January, presumably to paint it as multi-partisan. Seems to be poor timing for someone seeking the leadership, so I presume she is not in. She's 34.

UPDATE: I am told that Merrithew is fluently bilingual. If she were to run, I think the Liberals might not have a lock on 2010 any longer..

Bio: Wikipedia

Adam Richardson

Richardson was the Alliance candidate in Tobique-Mactaquac in 2000 and finished a close third with 30% of the vote. Winner Liberal Andy Savoy got 33% and incumbent Tory Gilles Bernier got 32%.

He served as chief Atlantic organizer for the Alliance but quit the party shortly after Harper became leader in 2002 and had announced his plans to seek the PC nomination in Tobique-Mactaquac as a unity candidate - arguing the Alliance should not nominate a candidate and endorse him - before the parties announced their own plans to merge. After the merger, the new Conservative party disallowed his candidacy. He is brother to former Fredericton city councillor and unsucessful 2004 mayoral candidate Joel Richardson.

Bio: (none found)

Brent Taylor

Taylor was a founding member of CoR and an MLA from 1991 to 1995. He wrote CoR's 1991 election platform and won the leadership in 1992 before being pushed out by supporters of Danny Cameron. He was expelled from the CoR caucus in 1994 and did not seek re-election in 1995.

He became a columnist and was not active in politics until his 2003 appointment to the Commission on Legislative Democracy. He cited this experience as a reason for his return to policits in 2006 as Tory candidate in his old riding of Southwest Miramichi.

He is a blogger and commented over at Scott's that his candidacy was "one too many" for the list. That said, I think he would enjoy Scott's support and I believe would be a very interesting candidate if he could be drafted. He's 47.

Bio: 2006 campaign site

Raj Venugopal

Venugopal was the PC candidate in Fredericton in 2000, losing by a narrow margin to Andy Scott. He tried to face Scott again in 2006, but lost the nomination by 3 votes to Pat Lynch. He seems to be becoming the favourite of bloggers based on the Scott's comments section and Spinks' endorsement. He has not shown any interest in provincial politics to date as far as I know.

Bio: (none found) - however, there is a good interview of him from his 2000 campaign

Names Scott missed which I think should be added to the list:

Rodney Weston

Weston was nicknamed "Hot Rod" by the press in 2001 and 2002 after he became the only backbencher promoted to cabinet in Bernard Lord's first term and added additional responsibilities to what appeared to be the beginning of a promising ministerial career. This ended when Weston was defeated, as a great surprise, by former MLA and now government house leader Stuart Jamieson, in 2003.

Weston went on to serve as Lord's chief of staff for the whole of his second term - the longest occupent of that post - and is currently the chief of staff in the opposition office. He's 42.

Bio: government

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dion shadow cabinet: revisited

I did a rather hashed together job because I was bored on my last attempt, and there were some obvious omissions. So here I am again, starting from stratch.

I maintain that a smart shadow cabinet will have 27 members just as the government cabinet does, thus this will be my prediction.

As of today, we know that the top two jobs go to Mr. Dion and Michael Ignatieff. For the other 25, I will begin by assembling a list of people and then assign portfolios.

First, the former leadership candidates who are members of the Commons:

  • Ken Dryden (ON)

  • Scott Brison (NS)

  • Joe Volpe (ON)

  • Maurizio Bevilacqua (ON)

  • Carolyn Bennett (ON)

  • Hedy Fry (BC)

Then the supporters of Mr. Dion's campaign:

  • Sue Barnes (ON)

  • Coleen Beaumier (ON)

  • Bonnie Brown (ON)

  • Charlie Hubbard (NB)

  • Marlene Jennings (QC)

  • Nancy Karetak-Lindell (NU)

  • Glen Pearson (ON)

  • Francis Scarpaleggia (QC)

  • Paul Steckle (ON)

  • Bryon Wilfert (ON)

(Unfortunately Charlie misses because of Dominic LeBlanc's rising status as the star of New Brunswick; Pearson though a hero and the one who introduced Dion at the convention is new and from Ontario; Sources tell me Scarpaleggia is not ready for prime time; I reluctantly cut Beaumier and Wilfert as they were the only ones I thought I could cut, while Steckle was cut as rumour has it he is not running again)

Then the supporters of Gerard Kennedy's campaign who followed him to Dion:

  • Omar Algharbra (ON)

  • Navdeep Bains (ON)

  • Brenda Chamberlain (ON)

  • Raymond Chan (BC)

  • Mark Holland (ON)

  • Brent St. Denis (ON)

  • Borys Wrzesnewskyj (ON)

(Ms. Chamberlain has announced she is not running again; Ontario getting heavy and Borys made some earlier controversial remarks so he misses the cut)

Then appropriate supporters of runner up Michael Ignatieff's campaign:

* As there are too many, will choose these based on talent, regional fits

  • Ruby Dhalla

  • Wayne Easter

  • Massimo Pacetti

Then supporters of other leadership candidates who endorsed Dion on later ballots:

  • Sen. Joan Cook

  • Mark Eyking

  • Anita Neville

  • Tina Keeper

  • Mike Savage

(Mr. Eyking doesn't make it because of too many other Nova Scotians in line)

Then supporters of Bob Rae's campaign who endorsed Dion on the final ballot:

  • Ujjal Doshanjh (BC)

  • John Godfrey (ON)

  • Ralph Goodale (SK)

  • Susan Kadis (ON)

  • Jimmy Karygiannis (ON)

(Jimmy K brings too much baggage to find him a spot in a small shadow cabinet)

The neutral players who deserve key roles:

  • Ray Bonin (ON)

  • Dominic LeBlanc (NB)

  • Karen Redman (ON)

  • Lucienne Robillard (QC)

The Shadow Cabinet

The Hon. Stéphane Dion
Leader of the Official Opposition

Michael Ignatieff
Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Omar Algharbra
Public Works & Government Services

The Hon. Navdeep Bains
International Cooperation

The Hon. Sue Barnes

The Hon. Carolyn Bennett
Human Resources & Social Development

The Hon. Maurizio Bevilacqua

Bonnie Brown

The Hon. Raymond Chan
International Trade / Multiculturalism / Pacific Gateway

The Hon. Joan Cook, Senator
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Ruby Dhalla
National Revenue

The Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh
Intergovernmental Affairs

The Hon. Ken Dryden
National Defence

The Hon. Wayne Easter
Agriculture & Agri-Food

The Hon. Hedy Fry
Citizenship & Immigration / 2010 Olympics & Sport

The Hon. John Godfrey

The Hon. Ralph Goodale
Foreign Affairs / Wheat Board

Mark Holland
Treasury Board / Accountability & Ethics

The Hon. Marlene Jennings
Public Safety

The Hon. Susan Kadis
Transport, Infrastructure & Communities

Nancy Karetak-Lindell
Northern Development

Tina Keeper
Canadian Heritage / Western Economic Diversification

The Hon. Dominic LeBlanc
House Leader

The Hon. Anita Neville
Aboriginal Affairs / Status of Women

Massimo Pacetti

The Hon. Lucienne Robillard
Labour / Economic Development Agency for Quebec / La Francophonie & Official Languages

Mike Savage
Fisheries & Oceans / Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Brent St. Denis
Veterans Affairs / Federal Economic Initiative for Northern Ontario

The Hon. Joe Volpe
Natural Resources

+ an additional 3 ex-officio members:

Ray Bonin
National Caucus Chair

The Hon. Scott Brison
Question Period Coordinator

The Hon. Karen Redman
Chief Opposition Whip

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Paul Robichaud, leader of the opposition?

Just because I like to predict things, I am going to predict that the Tories will pick Paul Robichaud as their interim leader on Tuesday.

Why Robichaud? He is charismatic, attractive and young and his English, though still a struggle, is far better than that of Jeannot Volpé. Moreover, Volpé seems to be looking to run for leader, which I think would be a disaster for the Tories so I encourage it, while Robichaud was cited in the Telegraph-Journal as the only PC caucus member definitively ruling out a leadership bid.

Looking forward to 2007

My friends, get ready for a hell of a ride!

Political watchers here in NB had a pretty fun ride in 2006 - a federal election, a new federal government, drama at the legislature, a provincial election, a new provincial government, an exciting mid-term election in the U.S., a federal Liberal leadership race, an unexpected come-from-behind victory for Stéphane Dion, the resignation of Bernard Lord, etc... we still are yet to see who the interim PC leader will be which apparently is coming on Tuesday.

Well it doesn't look like 2007 will disappoint here are the highlights:


  • Federal Liberals appoint key staff and a shadow cabinet

  • A federal cabinet shuffle?

  • 2008 U.S. presidential candidates start to formally emerge


  • The New Brunswick legislature meets

  • A federal budget

  • NB NDP sets date and rules for their leadership race

  • A by-election in Moncton East?


  • A federal election?

  • Shawn Graham / Victor Boudreau's first budget



  • Republican candidates meet for their first debate for the 2008 U.S. election


  • New Brunswick Tories to choose a new leader?


  • New Brunswick New Democrats to choose a new leader?

  • New Brunswick Green Party to be founded?


  • NB Legislature returns for a fall session

  • Ontario election (fixed date)

Other expected provincial elections

  • Newfoundland election?

  • PEI election?

  • Quebec election?

  • Manitoba election?

  • Saskatchewan election?

  • Alberta election?

Let me know if I am missing anything, I've already made some guesses for dates of somethings that might not be totally predictable, but it is clear that it will be a fun year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

All is crazy at the U.S. Capitol

Many of your may have read that the Democratic take over of the U.S. Senate is now at risk.

To sum up what is happening:
  • The Democrats won a bare margin, taking 51 of 100 seats

  • Democratic Senator Tim Johnson (last elected in 2002, up for election in 2008) has suffered a condition involving bleeding in the brain and is currently incapacitated

  • If Sen. Johnson leaves his seat, by death or resignation, the Governor of South Dakota appoints his replacement. The Governor is a Republican and standard practice is for him to appoint a member of his own party and the South Dakota Secretary of State has already indicated that this would be the course of action taken.

  • A 50-50 tie in the Senate would make a Senate Republican majority because US Vice President Dick Cheney is the President of Senate and votes to break ties

This all looks pretty grim for Democratic control of the US legislative branch but fear not. I hate to be morbid but, unless Sen. Johnson dies, all is well. Senators cannot be removed from office for being ill and Johnson would remain in his seat until 2008 unless he conciously resigned. Though he could not show up to vote if he was incapacitated, it would still leave Democrats with a 50-49 majority.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lord resigns

It's official! Bernard Lord has resigned as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick.

No word yet on who will be the interim leader, but presumably Lord will not continue to lead the party until a successor is chosen as he has also announced he'll resign from the legislature on January 31.

This almost guarantees that the Liberals will improve their standing to 30-25 in the legisature very shortly. When one considers that the Liberals currently have a 38 point lead in the polls, Moncton East is traditionally the safest Liberal seat in southeastern New Brunswick and that Moncton will be keen to get more members into the government caucus, the Tories may as well not even field a candidate.

I will update this post as I learn more...

UPDATE: According to the CBC the Tories have not yet appointed an interim leader; presumably one will be chosen shortly. In 2001, after Thériault resigned as Liberal leader, the caucus elected a new leader the following morning. I am not sure what the procedures are for chosing an interim leader for the PC Party and whether it is an executive or caucus decision. Unforutnately their website is still down so I can't look at their constitution.

UPDATE 2: Thanks to The Way Back Machine, I have found a cached copy of the PC constitution. Apparently the Provincial Council has 30 days to meet and elect an interim leader. The Provincial Council is a large body which includes all riding presidents. Earlier media reports indicated that the council was meeting today, so one would presume they will elect an interim leader later today rather than wait to reconvene with Christmas holidays in the middle of their 30 days.

UPDATE 3: The wire is now reporting that the interim leader will be chosen at a caucus meeting on Tuesday. This seems to be inconsistent with the party constitution. Developing...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


So, in a one off comment, I mentioned that the Liberals would be sure to improve their standing in the next election. I know Shawn Graham relatively well and know he is a smart and able man with a strong vision. Unfortunately, he doesn't always come off that way. Thus, I figured, if he could just win an election and get a chance to govern, he'd be sure to win the hearts and minds of New Brunswickers and cruise to re-election.

I never expected this, as revealed by a poll today in the Telegraph-Journal:

The latest poll results from Corporate Research Associates show that after an election in which they won the most seats despite losing the popular vote, the Liberals are now the choice of nearly two-thirds of decided voters.

Premier Shawn Graham also saw a major bump in his personal popularity, receiving two times the support of Conservative leader Bernard Lord when people were asked who they prefer as premier of the province.


Among decided voters, 65 per cent said that if an election were held today they would vote Liberal, as opposed to 27 per cent for the Tories. Another 35 per cent said they were undecided.


On the question of which individual they preferred as premier of the province, 48 per cent chose Graham, compared to 23 per cent for Lord.

Wow! I know that this is just a poll and that it is meaningless because it is so far away from an election. But, nonetheless, starting with a 40 point lead is impressive.

This lead is also, obviously, not sustainable. However, I would normally say it would be very fleeting and disappear almost immediately but it could be sustainable in the short term due to some very benefitial factors coming up for the Liberals.

That is to say, the Liberals have a 40 point lead in the polls going into a legislative session where the Tories will be disorganized and have an uncharismatic interim leader (potentially even Jeannot Volpe, who adds 'weak English' and 'massive arrogance' to the credentials).

It is conceivable that the Liberals could lead by comparable margins in the next two CRA polls. Crazy.

UPDATE: Wire services now reporting Lord will resign tomorrow...

Bernard Lord's 2006 budget IN THE RED according to Auditor General

Just as I predicted, the Tories had fudged the books leading in to the 2006 election, just like they did leading into the 2003 election.

This is now two different Auditors General on two different elections going into which Bernard Lord misled the province about the state of the finances of New Brunswick.

Fredericton Fudge Fest '03

In February 2004, the CBC reported that "Premier Bernard Lord claimed the province had a $1-million surplus last November when it was running a deficit. (Then Auditor General Daryl) Wilson said New Brunswick recorded a shortfall of $109.4 million for 2002-2003."

It went on to quote Wilson directly who said, "it trivializes the value of audited financial statements when a news release can convey a message which is entirely different from what is disclosed in the statements."

Hillariously, Lord tried to claim that "there's no disagreement; this is all about semantics. Is this really a surplus for fiscal policy purposes; should we just call it a deficit? I think both are right."

That is to say the premier of the day figured that it was a surplus in his mind, though the Auditor General said it was a deficit. But that's ok, they can both be right. What!?

It is no wonder with that sort of logic, that the legislature had to pass a ridiculous motion which read in its entirety, "BE IT RESOLVED that this Legislature affirm that a deficit occurs when expenditures in a fiscal year are greater than its revenues."

Fredericton Fudge Fest '06

Now today it is revealed that the new Auditor General, former Comptroller Mike Ferguson, who was appointed AG by Bernard Lord, has found the same problem with this year's election budget.

I quote CBC: "New Brunswick Auditor General Mike Ferguson says the former Conservative government moved money around to avoid forecasting a deficit ... Their spring budget ran a large surplus, allowing the government to table a generous budget with increased spending in virtually every government department, tax cuts and $100 million in energy relief. The Tories wanted support for their budget to preserve the life of their government in the legislature, and knew they would be heading to the polls in the months to come ... Feguson says if the accounting had been done properly, the Tories would have been running a deficit going into the election. Ferguson says that kind of accounting makes it difficult to keep track of the province's finances. 'That's the concern for us: is it masking a trend towards lower and lower surpluses, and possibly deficits, into the future?'"

What a disgrace. I hope that the current audit being undertaken by the Graham Government clears up any other remaining messes and we can move forward with restored fiscal responsibility in Fredericton.

In other completely unrelated news, this piece by the federal NDP is a disgrace. The idea of doing a scorecard for the Harper Government is a good one and could have been handled well. However, they have gone way over the top, talking about "Harper High" and sounding really childish in their analyses. If the NDP wants to be taken seriously, this is not the way to go.

Run Gerard Run

I noticed this interesting piece on The Dan Report talking about the possibility of Gerard Kennedy running in Winnipeg South in the next election.

I don't think that that is or should be the riding, I do however continue to encourage Gerard to run in a riding outside of Toronto and preferably outside of Ontario.

I think that the assumption that most are making is that Gerard would probably have run in the West if he'd won the leadership, but is now more likely to play it safe and run in Toronto. I disagree with this approach.

I think it makes more sense for him to run now than it would have if he'd won the leadership. Why?

It takes a lot of effort to make a run in a riding where you do not have a natural base. A lot of people talk about how John Turner's run in Vancouver Quadra in conjunction with his having won the leadership in 1984 was a distraction and a drain on resources of the whole province and the central campaign and not worth the end result. I am moved by that argument.

But, where Gerard is not the leader, he would be able to focus full time on the riding rather than travel the country. Even if he did some auxilliary tour for Dion and the party, he would still have far more time there than he would have as leader. He would get comparable "star" profile, at least from the local and regional press, but would be able to actually focus on the battle.

So I say, Go West Young Man and Run Gerard Run!

Let's take a look at all the logical ridings for Gerard to run in moving east to west:

Egmont (PEI)

This is the riding of Jeanette Aresenault-Kennedy's family.

Pros: Safe Liberal seat held since 1980, would boost Gerard's credentials as a national candidate in giving equal weight to "East" to his "Ontario" and "West" roots in a future leadership campaign

Cons: Few real roots here and would be viewed as a parachute in a small rural riding likely to be turned off by such a candidacy, incumbent Joe McGuire who served in the Martin cabinet is probably hoping for another kick at the top job

Parkdale-High Park (ON)

This is the riding Gerard represented provincially from 1999-2006.

Pros: Instant election team and strong chance of success, no parachute stigma, likely Liberal pick up of an NDP held seat

Cons: Easy win makes Kennedy look "chicken" after talk of running in the West, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

York South-Weston (ON)

This is the riding in which Gerard lives and which he largely represented provincially from 1996-1999.

Pros: Instant election team and strong chance of success

Cons: Currently held by Alan Tonks (since 2000) who is unlikely to want to step aside, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

Trinity-Spadina (ON)

This is the riding represented by NDP MP Olivia Chow, wife of leader Jack Layton

Pros:Riding borders Gerard's Parkdale-High Park, would allow Gerard to run in a seat where he could borrow much of his existing organization but also defeat a more "giant" candidate

Cons: Parachute factor, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

Toronto Centre (ON)

This is the riding currently held by former interim leader Bill Graham

Pros: As Graham is unlikely to run again the seat is likely to be open; potential for early entrance to the House, if he expresses an interest Graham may step aside and allow a by-election

Cons: Parachute factor, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

Toronto-Danforth (ON)

This is the riding currently held by NDP leader Jack Layton

Pros: If successful, the riding would give Gerard "super giant killer" status

Cons: High risk and uncertain success, would subject Gerard to high degree of NDP attacks, parachute factor, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

Winnipeg South Centre (MB)

This riding is currently held by Liberal MP Anita Neville and was formerly represented by Lloyd Axworthy

Pros: This is the riding where Gerard Kennedy lived (at St. John's-Ravenscourt School) when he was in Winnipeg, safe Liberal seat

Cons: One of two incumbent Liberal seats in Winnipeg, if Gerard were to run here he should run where he would be picking up a seat; Incumbent Anita Neville may not wish to step aside

Winnipeg South (MB)

This riding is currently held by Conservative Rod Bruinooge, one of the few (only?) Aboriginals in the Conservative House caucus and was formerly the seat of Liberal Reg Alcock

Pros: Relatively easy pickup for the Liberals; family members of Gerard, including his brother Edward live here; seat where many Manitoba Liberals have suggested Gerard should run

Cons: Gerard's roots in the riding are questionable, Reg Alcock may want to run again

Winnipeg North (ON)

This seat is currently held by NDP ethics critic Pat Martin

Pros: MP Pat Martin has been a thorn in the side of the Liberals this past session of parliament working in coordinate with the Tories to attack Liberal ethics; Martin won narrow contests in 1997, 2000 and 2004 though won easily in 2006; popular 2004 candidate David Northcott is a food bank director and supported Gerard in his leadership run

Cons: Gerard's roots in the riding are questionable, more difficult to win than the other two Winnipeg seats discussed

Churchill (MB)

This seat is currently held by Liberal MP Tina Keeper

Pros: Gerard was born and raised in this riding, Gerard's father was candidate here in 1984, Gerard was supported by the riding president and many others in the leadership race

Cons: Running here would mean displacing an incumbent Liberal Aboriginal woman; if Gerard was travelling during the campaign, this riding is a lot harder to access than other urban possibilities

Edmonton Centre (AB)

This seat was held by Anne McLellan from 1993 to 2006.

Pros: Seat that has been "reliably Liberal" (by Alberta standards) in recent history, location of the Edmonton Food Bank Gerard once ran, Laurie Hawn has turned out to be a weak MP

Cons: It is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Edmonton-Strathcona (AB)

This seat is currently held by Conservative caucus chair Rahim Jaffer

Pros: Home of Gerard's alma mater the University of Alberta; Liberals traditionally run strong here, though the Liberals have not won the seat since 1968, they usually finish close - Reform beat the Liberals by only 400 votes in 1993, 3000 in 1997, 5500 in 2000, 5000 in 2004 - in all those cases the NDP vote was greater than the difference between the Liberals and Tories and Gerard has a record of stealing NDP votes

Cons: NDP does run strong here, finishing second in 2006, and could act as a spoiler to an otherwise strong Kennedy campaign; it is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Edmonton East (AB)

Currently held by Conservative backbencher Peter Goldring

Pros: Seat has strong left-wing past, it went NDP in 1988, Liberal in 1993 and only went Reform by 3000 in 1997 and 2000; Goldring may retire; past candidate Nicole Martel was a strong and early supporter of Gerard's candidacy

Cons: It may be to Gerard's advantage to have Martel run here so they could run cooperative candidacies adjacent to each other; it is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Edmonton-St. Albert (AB)

Currently held by long-time Conservative MP John Williams

Pros: Williams is not seeking re-election, seat has some left-wing potential having been lost by the NDP by only 100 votes in a 1986 by-election

Cons: Seat has never gone Liberal, Williams won in 2004 and 2006 by margins of around 20,000 votes, it is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Edmonton-Sherwood Park (AB)

Currenlty held by long-time Conservative MP Ken Epp

Pros: Epp is not seeking re-election

Cons: Seat has never gone Liberal, Epp won by a margin of around 27,000 votes in 2006, it is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Vancouver Kingsway (BC)

Pros: Only unheld, winnable seat in Vancouver; Anger over Emerson affair should strongly motivate Liberal activists

Cons: Gerard has no roots in Vancouver, NDP will be running strong here and some disaffected Liberals (over Emerson) may vote NDP rather than support the Liberals

That is an impressive 16 ridings across Canada in which Gerard could realistically run. That is about as many seats as I suspect the NDP, at best, will win in the next election. Kind of funny.

Here are my top five picks, in order of preference:

1.) Edmonton Centre

As above, I am a strong proponent of Gerard running in the West. It is good for the party, as it stands right now, it looks like the only strong minister in a Dion cabinet would be Ralph Goodale and there is some chatter that he may not even run again. Gerard said in his leadership speech that we should no cede 80 seats west of Kenora to the Tories and I agree, he should honour that by running in the West.

In terms of any future leadership aspirations, running in the West would make him a "real" Western candidate, while running in Toronto and serving in Parliament from there would discredit any chance he would have as being the Western candidate, especially when up-and-comers such as Blair Wilson could run and claim that mettle.

Of the Western seats, Edmonton Centre is the best. There is a strong Liberal organization on the ground which has won four of the last five elections. This is the riding where, I assume, Gerard lived at least during part of his years in Edmonton. This is my pick.

2.) Edmonton-Strathcona

This riding is a close second choice. The past shows a relatively strong Liberal organizatione exists here, though it seemed to melt down in 2006. The University of Alberta is here and Gerard seems to have a strong ability to appeal to youth. Gerard likely lived in this riding during part, most or even all of his time in Edmonton as he was a student at the U of A for 3 of his years here.

3.) Parkdale-High Park

If Gerard is not going to run in either of the above Edmonton ridings, then I think he would be running either too high of a risk of a) losing, b) getting really bad parachute press or c) both. Therefore, if he is not going to run there, he may has well run in the seat he has represented for the past 7 years and take a seat away from the NDP.

4.) Toronto Centre

If the leader has a desire for Gerard to enter Parliament soon and Bill Graham is willing, I would be all for Gerard running in an early by-election here. If he were to do that, then he should probably run here in the general election as well rather than alienate and anger the voters.

5.) Churchill

I would be a strong proponent of Gerard running here if it were not for the bad optics of displacing a well known, Aboriginal, female, Liberal MP. It would be bad. However, if Tina Keeper, who is actually from Winnipeg and not Northern Manitoba, was compelled or interested in running in a Winnipeg seat instead, then I would be quite keen on seeing Gerard running in this riding.

Monday, December 11, 2006

This is scary...

Now, I am not 100% convinced that humans are the cause of global warming which puts me on the fringe of my party, however it is quite obvious to me that the science proves that there is such thing as global warming. The question in my mind is whether or not it is due to a natural warming phase of the Earth, human intervention or some combination of the two. I think it is clearly a combination of the two, but the next question is, how much of it is our fault? I am unconvinced that it is all our fault, and I think it may not even be largely our fault. However, I do agree with the majority of my party that we should act because, even if human contributions to global warming are minor, they are still contributions and we should try to curb them.

So, the moral of the story is, I am somewhat sympathetic to those who are skeptical about the politically correct interpretation of global warming. That is, that it is all our fault and we can stop it by cleaning up our act.

However, it is happening, whether we can stop it or not, and while we should clean up our act on the environmental side of the equation, bad stuff could and probably will happen as a result of the warming globe and it is incumbent upon us to prepare.

This is why I was a little bit scared to read the following mockery of global warming penned by the MP for Okanagan—Coquihalla in a local newspaper:

Hey who knows, maybe Al Gore is right.

Maybe all my constituents living high up on the West Bench, or Lakeview Heights, or the hills of Logan Lake will soon be sitting on lakeside property as one of the many benefits of global warming.

All I know is last weekend when I got home from Ottawa there was more snow in my driveway than we usually get in a year.

And I was begging for Big Al’s Glacial Melt when the mercury hit -24. Do not despair, my fellow dwellers of the Okanagan and Nicola Valleys.

If misery loves company then we had lots of it around our province. Matter of fact, at one point in the week some 22 towns and cities had broken all-time records for paralyzing frigid temperatures.

Rather than feeling badly for yourself, picture this. For every hour it’s that cold, millions of those nasty ravenous pine beetles who are destroying our forests are having their pesky little heads and jaws frozen, literally to death.

But brace yourself. We’d need about two weeks of that brain freeze weather to kill off all those burrowing bugs.

Are you up for it?
Just to remind you, the MP for Okanagan—Coquihalla is the Honourable Stockwell Day, who serves in the cabinet as minister for the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Very, very scary.

A closer look at the recent 'success' of the NDP

Or, why Jack Layton has been a miserable failure

In conversing with my friend Harrap by e-mail, we realized that we were on the same view with respect to Jack Layton's tenure as leader of the NDP. That is to say, it hasn't been as good as the NDP or the media have portrayed it. Harrap is in the process of doing an "electoral assessment" of each of the parties and the NDP is coming up next. He is going to talk about Bill Blaikie and how he should have been leader of the NDP. I would argue that Blaikie, though probably better than Layton, would not be as good of a choice as Lorne Nystrom.

So, why do I think Layton has been such a failure for the NDP when he has had such "strong" showings in the past two elections?

Let us take a look at the history of NDP (and its forerunner the CCF) in general elections:


1935 - 7/245 or 2.9% of the seats
1940 - 8/245 or 3.3%
1945 - 28/245 or 11.4%
1949 - 13/262 or 5.0%
1953 - 23/265 or 8.7%
1957 - 25/265 or 9.4%
1958 - 8/265 or 3.0%


1962 - 19/265 or 7.2%
1963 - 17/265 or 6.4%
1965 - 17/265 or 6.4%
1968 - 22/264 or 8.3%
1972 - 31/264 or 11.7%
1974 - 16/264 or 6.1%
1979 - 26/282 or 9.2%
1980 - 32/282 or 11.3%
1984 - 30/282 or 10.6%
1988 - 43/295 or 14.6%
1993 - 9/295 or 3.1%
1997 - 21/301 or 7.0%
2000 - 13/301 or 4.3%
2004 - 19/308 or 6.2%
2006 - 29/308 or 9.4%

So, in terms of proportion of the House of Commons, Jack Layton's best showing in 2006, we was about the same as Ed Broadbent's first and worst attempt. Now let us look at the broader picture:

Here are the rankings with interesting notes added:

01 - 1988, 14.6% - Tories hold majority
02 - 1972, 11.7% - Liberals slip to minority
03 - 1945, 11.4% - Liberals slip to minority
04 - 1980, 11.3% - Liberals win narrow majority
05 - 1984, 10.6% - Tories win large majority
06 - 1957, 09.4% (9.43396) - Tories win narrow minority
07 - 2006, 09.4% (9.41558) - Tories win narrow minority
08 - 1979, 09.2% - Tories win narrow minority
09 - 1953, 08.7% - Liberals hold government with smaller majority
10 - 1968, 08.3% - Liberals win move from minority to majority
11 - 1962, 07.2% - Tories slip from massive majority to minority
12 - 1997, 07.0% - Liberals slip to narrow majority
13 (tie) - 1963, 06.4% - Liberals regain power with minority
13 (tie) - 1965, 06.4% - Liberals retain minority
14 - 2004, 06.2% - Liberals slip to minority
15 - 1974, 06.1% - Liberal regain majority, David Lewis resigned for poor showing
16 - 1949, 05.0% - Liberals win massive majority
17 - 2000, 04.3% - Liberals win large majority
18 - 1940, 03.3% - Liberals win large majority
19 - 1993, 03.1% - Liberals win large majority
20 - 1958, 03.0% - Tories win largest majority in history
21 - 1935, 02.9% - first election attempt

You'll notice that when the Liberals do well the NDP tends to do poorly and vice versa. In fact the top 9 showings are in cases of Tory wins or Liberals going into a subsequent term while losing seats. Thus, the 2004 and 2006 elections were ideal scenarios for the NDP yet Layton managed only the 7th and 14th best showings (out of 21 elections). This is not good.

A look at the ridings since 1979, shows that the NDP has actually won in a remarkable 74 different ridings! And there has been very limited growth for the NDP, in the past few elections they have merely been winning back seats that they had held in their stronger years of the past. In 2004, Layton picked up only one new seat (Hamilton Centre, although Windsor West, won in a by-election when Alex McDonough was still leader, was won for the first time at a general election). In 2006, he did somewhat better - in picking up 10 seats, 6 had never been won by the NDP before, though most were in areas where past lessons show they would be likely lost if the tides were to turn.

Layton's biggest failure has been his inability to appeal to the NDP base. This has always been the rural prairie. In a remarkable turn of events, Saskatchewan, which with BC returned a majority of its MPs wearing orange in 1988, and elected 5 of 9 NDP MPs in their disasterous result of 1993, has completely shut out the NDP in both of Layton's elections as leader.

History shows the NDP surges in cities when they are on the rise, but then lose all of those seats when the Liberals do well. Layton has eliminated the NDP rural base and, as a result, they may well be completely wiped out the next time the Liberals come to power. Moreover, Layton's "slick" appeal to urban voters is over stated, he has done no better in cities than the NDP has done in other good elections like 1945, 1972, 1984 and 1988.

The NDP would have been wiser to chose someone like Lorne Nystrom, who held a rural Saskatchewan seat from 1968 to 1993 for the NDP and then, after the 1993 disaster, was easily elected in an urban-rural Saskatchewan seat in 1997 and 2000 before Layton's leadership resulted in the aforementioned NDP shutouts in Saskatchewan. At the same time Nystrom had a common man's touch with the intellectual edge that urban voters value. With the ideal scenarios that 2004 and 2006 presented, the NDP, if led properly, should have a minimum of 50 seats today.

What a shame.

Jean Chrétien in Twenty-Ten?

As I was mentioning in my earlier post about my experience at the leadership convention, I mentioned how much I enjoyed Jean Chrétien's remarks and wanted to draft him as leader.

Maclean's online has a humourous story today about potential Dion successors. As a former Kennedy supporter, I have been advised very strongly by Gerard that he will not tolerate any support of anyone but the leader, so backing Kennedy in the hypothetical match up is not an option.

Here are the candidates that Maclean's proposes:

  • Gerard Kennedy

  • Justin Trudeau

  • Martin Cauchon

  • Mark Holland

  • Martha Hall Findlay

  • Belinda Stronach

  • Michael Ignatieff

  • Dalton McGuinty

  • Scott Brison

  • Brian Tobin

  • Jean Chrétien

Israel has had relative success in its practice of reaching back to the past to bring former prime ministers and senior ministers to the forefront of politics after retirement in their 70s and 80s. In 2010, Mr. Chrétien will be only 76. I would have a hard time not backing him, actually I am tempted to buy right now!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dion's shadow cabinet

For fun, I will predict this. I'll assume he doesn't appoint anyone from outside of caucus to the shadow cabinet, though it would make sense on some levels for him to do so for Gerard Kennedy and Martha Hall Findlay, however, if he does that, he would have to do so for Bob Rae as well and then you have perhaps gone a bit too far, especially considering they are all from Ontario and there are a lot of Ontario MPs to choose from.

Outside of the shadow cabinet, I suspect that he will have a big appointment for Gerard Kennedy. Perhaps Deputy Leader of the Party? Certainly something charged with renewal and grassroots empowerment.

Inside, he was supported by only 10 MPs, which means there is certainly room to include them all. I have included most of them, some couldn't fit due to regional accomodations. I will run on the assumption that Dion, as I would, will appoint a lean shadow cabinet that mirrors the government cabinet so as to provide a more focussed opposition and appear election ready.

Here goes the shadow cabinet:

Hon. Stéphane Dion
Leader of the Official Opposition

Hon. Sue Barnes
National Revenue

Colleen Beaumier
Veterans Affairs

Ken Boshcoff
Intergovernmental Affairs, FEDNOR

Hon. Scott Brison

Bonnie Brown
Human Resources and Social Development

Hon. Gerry Byrne
Fisheries & Oceans

Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh

Hon. Ken Dyrden

Hon. Wayne Easter
Treasury Board, ACOA

Hon. Hedy Fry
Citizenship & Immigration

Hon. Ralph Goodale
Finance, Wheat Board

Sen. Dan Hays
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Michael Ignatieff
Foreign Affairs, International Trade

Hon. Marlene Jennings
Public Safety

Hon. Dominic LeBlanc
Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons

Nancy Karetak-Lindell
Natural Resources and Northern Affairs

Tina Keeper
Canadian Heritage

Gary Merasty
Aboriginal Affairs

Hon. Anita Neville
Western Diversification, Status of Women

Glen Pearson

Hon. Lucienne Robilliard
Public Works and Government Services, La Francophonie and Official Languages

Francis Scarpaleggia
Transport, Infrastructure & Communities, EDA-Q

Paul Steckle
Agriculture and Agri-Food

Hon. Bryon Wilfert

Hon. Joe Volpe
National Defence

Blair Wilson
International Cooperation, Sport

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

On prognosticating

So, as I usually do, I am revisitng my predictions to see where I went wrong.

On the first ballot, my mistakes were I think relatively common. I overestimated the strength of the top four and underestimated the strength of the bottom four.

In my prediction, I did state that I expected Martha to do better than I had projected but the others caught me off guard. It also seems I drank too much koolaid as I disproportionately overestimated Kennedy's support.

Here is where my predictions for each on the first ballot differed from reality:

Ignaiteff -1.9%
Rae -0.7%
Dion -0.4%
Kennedy -2.6%
Dryden +1.6%
Brison +1.3%
Volpe +0.4%
Hall Findlay +2.1%

I grossly underestimated the strength of Dryden, Brison and MHF (though I allowed for that) while I overestimated the strength of Ignatieff and Kennedy. Rae, Dion and Volpe were all roughly on the mark.

The rest of my predictions are essentially garbage. It is like when you are doing a complicated math problem, if you screw up the first step, the rest of the math may be correct but you still have a fundamentally wrong answer. This is the case here, if Kennedy had placed third, I suspect my prediction may have been fairly accurate, however he didn't and thus the rest of the thinking is flawed.

However, I was relatively close in my thoughts on how an Ignatieff vs. Dion ballot would break down. In Part II, of my leadership series, I said this is how an Ignatieff vs. Dion ballot would come to pass: (bold denotes notes added now)

Ignatieff vs. Dion - Too close, slight edge to Dion

Under this scenario, Ignatieff will not bleed very much support (correct) while Dion will have placed third in the final four and picked up a substantial amount of Kennedy's support (correct). However, a good number of Kennedy's delegates west of the Ontario/Manitoba border will have been uncomfortable with another Francophone from Quebec as leader and move to Ignatieff and Rae (incorrect). However, enough will move to Dion to allow him to place second in the final three.

On the final ballot, Kennedy's remaining supporters will spilt around 55-45 to Dion over Ignatieff however a strong number of Rae's supporters going to Dion should push him over the edge possibly winning in a very tight contest over Ignatieff by about 52 to 48 (roughly correct - it was 54-46), however it could go either way.

Thus, as usual, I've missed the mark but am not totally out to lunch.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Way to go Graham & co

I am quite impressed with this announcement today. Promise made, promise kept.

I don't have time to search for links right now, but I know I saw a lot of Tories both on blogs and in the media said that the Liberals would never be able to do this, that insurance reforms had worked, that the rates were down and that they'd go down no further because they were as low as they could go.

Well guess what? We were still getting hosed by the insurance companies and Shawn Graham, T.J. Burke and friends are saving New Brunswickers $50 million dollars a year on top of what they've already saved since rates started going down in 2003/04.

Moreover, young men will no longer be discriminated against and will pay the same as young women.

Well done!!!

Also, two other good announcements which I missed on Friday:
UPDATE: In the comments section, I was wondering about potential future rate increases. I hear that there is good protection against this in the plan. I understand the the Insurance Advocate is going to get more teeth AND they will be appointing a public intervenor (i.e. like Peter Hyslop at the PUB). Looks good...


I was hoping for Kennedion, but Dionnedy sounds good too. This editorial cartoon is great, and ran front page on several editions of the National Post today:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stephane Dion, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

(edited for typos, style content unchanged)

I am heading home now and am attempting to bring you this post from my Blackberry, something that hasn't worked well to date.

Yesterday was an amazing day in politics, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to particpate in what may well have been the most exciting and dynamic convention in Canadian history.

I'll give you a bit of a run down on my thoughts as the process unfolded.

First ballot

We were over at a Kennedy party in the Hyatt Regency lounge on Friday, all waiting to hear word of what the results would be. A CBC reporter came by and we spoke to him briefly. He said the party had advised the media that the results would be announced at 12:05. I made my way over to the TV in the bar, several others were already there, and tuned it to Newsworld.

Peter Mansbridge and Keith Boag were on and waiting for the results. They came in at about 12:15. They showed Ignatieff in first at 29%, I figured if he didn't have 35% on the first he was toast but he ended up doing much better than I expected later on. Rae's support came in where expected. Then they put up Dion's name and there was a big gasp, some Dion delegates who'd come to the party were standing next to me, they were understandably excited.

Then, adding to the drama, the CBC cut out and went to static. We sat there in awe for several minutes not knowing how far behind Gerard was. When the signal returned, we were relieved that we were only back by 2 and essentially "tied for third" as the media had labelled us since 'Super Weekend'. Some people were bitter as apparently there had been a last minute appeal by Rae and Dion that had disqualified 17 Kennedy alternates from Alberta (and a good number of Ignatieff ones as well) from being upgraded to delegates.

Second ballot

As we lined up to vote, we were pretty optomistic.

We were frustrated to see Martha go to Dion as we'd been offering her a lot of moral and real support at the convention. A lot of Kennedy delegates, including myself, were wearing MHF buttons and we had finished fourth in part because we'd encouraged some ex-officios to vote for her to help her in her quest to pull ahead of Volpe.

Anyway, in line, I started to realize we faced a greater challenge than I knew. We were in fourth place, not "virtually tied for third" as I'd tried to spin it. It sunk in to me in line that fourth was fourth, regardless of the margin. I spoke to a Brison delegate who was from Alberta. He'd followed Brison to Rae and was sporting a Rae button. I asked him why he'd not gone to Gerard and to my surprise he pulled a GK button out of his pocket and explained that was his plan but he didn't want to go to a fourth place candidate he'd have to leave later anyway. My stomach sank, this was the first time I really realized we were in trouble.

When the results actually came in we were disappointed but optomistic. Though Dion had widened his lead from 2 votes to 90, he had received the endorsment from the widely loved and 130 vote strong Martha Hall Findlay and rode the momentum of his jump to third. I thought we'd be ok. Then came the big shock.

Candidates had 20 minutes to take their names off of the ballot. It took 18 minutes for Dryden, who'd been forced off, to announce his intentions. We thought he may endorse Gerard and knew many of his supporters, including almost all of his Ontario and youth would. Ken stood on a chair in his box, immediately next to Gerard, and announced that he was releasing his delegates, he would go to another candidate but told them to vote for whomever they prefered. He went to Rae. Gerard, whose box I was standing right behind acting as something of a cheerleader for our delegates, huddled with his key supporters and then left the box to head for Dion - I was devastated as were many of us. I had just grabbed a handful of GK scarved to go and try to poach Iggnatief delegates - their candidate, at 31% now, was far behind even where he'd expected to be on the first, I would have argued, come to us now or it will be Rae or Dion. I only got a few steps away when I saw Gerard make his move.

Third ballot

I was shellshocked, people were screaming, no one understood why this had happened. A good number around soon sported green Dion scarves on top of their red Kennedy ones.

I was torn, first I was convinced Gerard was going to win, second I was angry he had left before he had to and still thought he'd had a chance to pull ahead of Dion.

I had always planned to go to Dion and had promised many Dion supporting friends that I would. But I also thought Rae was more electable. A few of my fellow New Brunswick Kennedy delegates were going to Dion and explained why. They had good reasons and moved me closer to that decision.

I wandered the hall aimlessly for while in a daze. I was trying to find some of my other Kennedy people to talk to them about it and my Dion friends. I was approached by lots of Ignatieff and Rae delegates who I knew and didn't know and they tried to lobby me. The Rae people were very respectful but the Ignatieff were angry, agreessive and pushy. One girl yelled at me for 10 minutes in a desperate attempt to convert me.

I was approached by a CBC producer and agreed to do an interview live with Diana Swayne. As I waited, for about 10 minutes before they got me on, the clock for the third ballot was ticking. We had a great chat on air and my blackberry buzzed from friends all over. I explained where my mind was but during the wait I had almost completely prepared myself to vote Dion.

After the interview with about 5 minutes left on the poll, I did so and felt good about it. I couldn't find any Kennedy delegates outside, of Saskatchewan, that weren't going to Dion and thought we'd get him almost to 40% (our combined total was 39.6).

In the campaign office, where I went not knowing what to do after voting, Gerard arrived and spoke to those of us who'd gathered there. His voice was hoarse and he was nearly crying. He explained why he'd done it - they'd crunched the numbers and thought it was 99% sure we'd be dropped on the next ballot, that the campaign was not about him but about Real. Liberal. Change. and that Stephane would make that a reality. He asked us all to follow him, as most of us had, many were crying including myself.

Someone shouted "next time" and he sternly discouraged that kind of talk. He reminded us of his speech which said that we must be united and he would not condone any "Kennedy Liberals" and told us to back the leader.

Fourth ballot

The results showed Rae in third. I was expecting him in second, and I thought that that made it a foregone conclusion that Stephane would win, maybe with 65-70%. I was shocked instead by the number of prominent Rae supporters going to Ignatieff. This was going to be close.

I began telling people it would be 55% or less for one or the other. A bunch of us went back to the Kennedy box, now full of grassroots Kennedy people holding GK signs buit wearing Dion scarves, pins and hats. It was a unifying experience and I was glad we did.

Whenever GK was swown on the monitors we'd cheer and chant and the rest of the time we were showing our love for Dion.

Mr. Chrétien spoke and we all agreed that we missed him and wondered, half jokingly, if it should have been him we were electing.

I got a call saying that CBC was calling it the "Dion-Kennedy campaign" vs the Ignatieff campaign. We were excited. The results were as close as I expected but, thankfully, in our favour.

The End

We all got good and drunk and there was a reception back at the Kennedy hotel. We hung out in a room chatting and playing cards until after 3.

Some of our group left to go to the Dion party, but I wasn't in the mood for a big crowd and figured my two votes were a strong sign of support anyway.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

First Ballot result vs prediction

For those of you who haven't yet seen the results of the first ballot, here they are:

Ignatieff 1412 (29.3%)
Rae 977 (20.3%)
Dion 856 (17.8%)
Kennedy 854 (17.7%)
Dryden 238 (4.9%)
Brison 192 (4.0%)
Volpe 156 (3.2%)
Hall Findlay 130 (2.7%)

A real nail biter, which sees Dion edge out Kennedy by 2 votes. I admit I didn't expect this, but considering that the voting took place largely before Gerard's speech and by delegates given a ballot with only the name of their candidate of choice on it, the fact that Dion has been swamped by positive media attention in recent weeks, the perception that Kennedy had a great speech and Dion had a mediocre one, things are still looking good for my boy Kennedy. After all, Kennedy lost the Ontario leadership in 1996 to a guy who placed fourth, so maybe fourth is better than third?

Prediction check

I predicted all of the ballots number by number a while back, let's take a look:

Ignatieff 1448 (31.2%)
Rae 977 (21.04%)
Kennedy 942 (20.31%)
Dion 843 (18.16%)
Dryden 152 (3.26%)
Volpe 131 (2.81%)
Brison 123 (2.66%)
Hall Findlay 26 (0.55%)

(Disclaimer: I personally think Martha Hall Findlay will do better than this, but couldn't think of a proper way to massage the numbers to make it so.)

Considering my disclaimer, I did pretty good excpet for having Kennedy too high.

Friday, December 01, 2006

GK speech

CPAC has a standalone video of Kennedy's speech, I highly recommend you watch it.

He had all kinds of people crying during a story about his early food bank days and really laid out a strong case for why he has the qualities to be leader.

Jason Cherniak, who is clearly afraid, criticizes GK for having been light on policy. Anyone here has noticed that the Congrès is littered with copies of GK's detailed policy proposals.

Kennedy Convention TV

Here are some fun videos from the past few days. Enjoy...