Harper has a campaign song

and it’s going to go viral… (listen here)

First, Stephen Harper gets surprised by Geri Hall from 22 minutes as the “single female voter” and now this.

I just received an email from Mashline.com promoting a song they put together called “I’ve got a crush on Harper” by “Mashline Girl”.

It’s in the same vein as Obama Girl’s “I’ve got a crush on Obama“.

Only the audio is available now, but they’ve promised a video.

Click here to listen to “I’ve got a crush on Harper”.

Sorta creepy if you ask me… but some people will enjoy this I’m sure.

Oh Danny Boy!

“A majority government for Stephen Harper would be one of the most negative political events in Canadian history” — Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

These were Danny Williams words last week as reported by CTV.ca.

Stephane Dion is in BC today trying to sell that province on the benefits of yet another carbon tax. The folks in BC aren’t buying as their own provincial carbon tax has been very unpopular. Dion’s tour lands its carbon belching jet in BC while gas prices are higher than they’ve been in recent memory. While gas prices have risen due in part to Hurricane Ike ravaging the Texan coastline, British Columbians aren’t likely to give Dion a hero’s welcome.

So why is Danny Williams running an ABC (anyone but conservative campaign)? For Newfoundland and Labrador this would only amount to electing more Liberals.

Oil producing economies such as Saskatchewan and Alberta have already slammed Dion’s plan. Why would Danny Williams want to hurt his own province’s economic future? Despite the obvious masochism in Danny’s begging for taxation that will affect jobs in his resource sector, Stephane Dion’s carbon tax will have real-world effects for everyday Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The “Caribou” ferry uses 41,000 litres of fuel (partially diesel, partially bunker) to travel one way between NS and NL. By working to help the Liberals form government, Danny would be advocating a 7 cent per litre tax be applied directly to Marine Atlantic crossings. How would he reconcile that? This ferry service is a vital link for residents of that province to access the rest of Canada. Stephen Harper’s recent announcement cutting the excise tax on diesel goes directly against Dion’s plan for increased taxation. Since Newfoundlanders and Labradorians import most of their food, Dion’s carbon tax will be felt quickly as most food arrives by diesel-fueled trucks and ferry.

The fishery is also an integral part of the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador. Fishers use diesel fuel and will also face a 7 cent per litre tax increase under Stephane Dion’s plan. How can Danny Williams say he is standing up for fishers when he supports Stephane Dion’s carbon tax?

Danny has received a lot of political mileage when it comes to facing off against the federal government. He did so under previous Liberal administrations. However, while Newfoundlanders and Labradorians may appreciate Danny’s right-or-wrong hard-headed defense of their province, on support for Dion and, by extension, his carbon tax-centred political platform, Danny is wrong.

Green Party wilts, tape was not doctored

Concerning this story,

John Bennett, the director of communications for the Green Party as reported by thetyee.ca:

Fiction: “TVO is considering legal action as well”

Fiction: “It’s an attempt by the Conservatives through a front website to attack the credibility of Elizabeth May”

Fiction: “They took what she said, cut it up, then put it back together.”

From TVO.org:

Fact: “TVO confirms that the audio of the clip in question is intact”

Fact: “TVO is not and will not be pursuing legal action of any kind on this matter”

and finally (from me),

Fact: stephentaylor.ca nor Buckdog Politics are fronts for the Conservative Party. I am a conservative and want to see the Conservative Party elected.

Perhaps the first lesson of doing damage control against a viral message is to stop fuelling it. By threatening legal action and making a video even more interesting by trying to make it forbidden will only drive people’s interest. Of course, the interest will lead people to watch the video of Elizabeth May in her own words.

I’ve met Elizabeth May, I think she’s a nice person and I believe she is quite committed to her ideas, and this is in itself admirable. However, as my motive was questioned in an interview today, “why would you do this to May if you think she’s a nice person”, I responded by saying that May has gone prime-time and she’ll hit the national stage in the leaders debate and though she is not running for Prime Minister (she has already endorsed Dion), she is running to elect Members of Parliament to the legislature. May deserves scrutiny. My motive is that I support the Conservatives and wanted to put up May’s words, undoctored, for Canadians to understand. I think that May is wrong on the issues and wrong on her support for a carbon tax. Does Elizabeth May say Canadians are stupid? From the video, that was and is my honest interpretation of her words. What did it for me was her statement of agreement with the assessment that comes right after the words “[I/they] think Canadians are stupid.”

Perhaps May was expressing frustration in her belief that Canadians cannot understand the complexity of a complete reconfiguration of the Canadian government’s system of taxation. Poorly considered quips, asides and gaffes can happen to us all. Do I believe that May believe in her heart of hearts that Canadians are stupid? No.

And through this exercise, my credibility has been questioned and prior to their backing down I was called a liar by the Green Party of Canada. This isn’t the first time I’ve been on the receiving end of this sort of kneejerk smear but this usually occurs when leftwing partisan bloggers don’t want to believe what clearly sits in front of them on their computer monitors. As for the Green Party, Kady O’Malley quotes another GPC spokesperson Camille Labchuk who says that this “was a misunderstanding on John Bennett’s part about the way that YouTube works”.

Lying about TVO’s legal intentions, accusing me of doctoring audio and threatening bloggers with legal action from the Green Party? And it’s my motive that is questioned?

I’m still waiting for my apology John.

Leave Leftdog alone!

he may be a dog online, but he’s… a human.

There’s a lot of brouhaha in the blogosphere and in the Green politicosphere about this video:

A left-wing blogger named Leftdog re-posted it on his blog called Buckdog and got a legal threat from John Bennett, the director of communications to Elizabeth May.

I’d like to say leave Leftdog alone because I produced that video. You can check it out on my YouTube account here.

According to thetyee.ca, John Bennett told them “It’s an attempt by the Conservatives through a front website to attack the credibility of Elizabeth May… They took what she said, cut it up, then put it back together.”

Unfortunately for Bennett, truth is a defense and the May quote unedited and unspliced. I even provided further context to what she said in my original blog posting.

You can listen to the original show (which was TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin) here:
The Debate: The Long Goodbye to GDP

The quote is at 38:32 – 39:01.

You can read some original leftwing disgust to May’s comments at this rabble thread. The comments were posted just after the taping.

Elizabeth May on Canadians and their distate for a carbon tax

May went on to say “but most politicians believe that if they say they are going to put on a carbon tax and reduce your income tax…they don’t think they can sell it. It is all about votes.”

Today we heard the news that Elizabeth May has been given the go-ahead to participate in the national leaders debate. Since this election will be a referendum on Stephane Dion’s leadership and his carbon tax, perhaps Mr. Dion can explain why he made a deal with May to have the Liberals stand-down in Central Nova and why May feels the way she does about Canadians who distrust politicians that want to raise their taxes.

h/t: audio quote from a compilation of quotes posted by Lore Weaver

To the McGuintys is Dion a four letter word in Ottawa South?

Ottawa South is the federal riding of David McGuinty and the provincial riding of his brother, the Premier of Ontario.

On Monday, the Liberal Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty refused to endorse the federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion and even passed on endorsing the man’s key policy plank. From the Toronto Star,

McGuinty vowed to remain neutral other than campaigning with his brother, Liberal incumbent David McGuinty (Ottawa South).

While McGuinty said his aides would be allowed to help federal Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion “on their own time,” he took a veiled shot at the federal party’s Green Shift carbon-emission reduction program, which would tax fossil fuel consumption in exchange for income and corporate tax cuts. “I’ve got my own particular approach when it comes to dealing with carbon emissions. We believe in a cap-and-trade system.”

David McGuinty is Stephane Dion’s shadow minister of the environment. However, at the time of this writing, on his campaign website you will david-mcguinty of Dion’s showcase policy, the Green Shift. The younger brother of the Premier also supported Michael Ignatieff during the leadership race and praised him for wanting to put a price on carbon, essentially what Dion is proposing by using the taxation powers of the federal government. So why no mention of the Green Shift by Dion’s Green Lieutenant in Parliament?

Though David has eyed running for leadership of the federal party in the past, it is his brother Dalton who may be positioning himself for a run for the top Liberal job in the country (until recently that used to also almost always include the job of PM itself — it comes with a bonus and a drafty house). Dalton McGuinty is the first Liberal in Ontario to win back-to-back majority governments in 70 years and before the economy slips and as Ontario flirts dangerously with have-not status, Dalton may be looking to upgrade. As a Liberal with governing experience he would provide solid competition but clearer red-orange contrast to the presumed Liberal front-runner post-Dion, the former NDP Premier of Ontario Bob Rae. After years of government at Queen’s Park, McGuinty would also bring a solid camp of support to a future leadership race against the numbers that are grouping behind Rae.

So are the McGuintys looking to run their own campaign to Dump Dion? Though still winnable by Conservatives if they get out the vote with their candidate Elie Salibi (a Lebanese Canadian with solid community support), Ottawa South is considered safe by Liberal strategists. The McGuintys may be looking to give their 1% effort for Stephane Dion while setting up brother Dalton for a shot at the PMO.

On Liberal carbon tax hikes and Conservative excise tax cuts

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities put out this release today:

FCM Campaign Reality Check

Conservative Diesel Tax Cut proposal does nothing for transit riders, systems

A two cent cut in the excise tax on diesel fuel is worth $ 9.2 million per year to Canada’s transit systems – less than one quarter of one percent of their $ 4.8 billion in annual operating costs (Source: Canadian Urban Transit Association, 2007).

The proposed cut will cost the federal treasury $600 million per year. Less than two percent of those dollars, or one dollar in 60, will directly benefit transit systems.

A Strategic Counsel survey released last week showed that 8 in 10 Canadians think the federal government should dedicate more of its fuel tax revenues to repairing and building public transit systems. This announcement does not touch on investment needs.

Six in 10 Canadians say they would be more likely to take public transit if service was improved. The excise tax cut will do nothing to get more buses on the road or improve existing commuter rail service.

One in five Canadians are ready to switch to public transit because of the high price of filling up their cars. But most urban transit systems are at or beyond capacity at peak hours. New federal funding – not marginal tax cuts – are needed to help Canadians make the switch from cars to transit.

The priority for transit systems are for new investments, not cuts to the fuel tax.

For more information, contact: Maurice Gingues, FCM – (613) 907-6395

The mayor of Ottawa sent the following email out to all of the major city mayors across Canada:

The excise tax cut announced today by Stephen Harper was targeted towards farmers and truckers. However, as a side benefit, it helps municipalities which use diesel fuel for their buses and other forms of mass transit. The FCM complains that more could be done for transit costs by the federal government, however, today they were handed an unexpected bonus.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation goes after Maria Minna

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has sent the following letter to Elections Canada for sending out what they describe as “election advertising” during a writ period. It appears that the MP and candidate for Beaches–East York sent out a ten-percenter just before the writs were dropped. The CTF argues that Harper long ago telegraphed the election date and that this amounts to election advertising paid for by the Canadian taxpayer.

Read this document on Scribd: ctf-minna 001

UPDATE: Here’s the ten-percenter

Who needs the MSM to debate? New media brings populism to political coverage

Yesterday, Green Party leader Elizabeth May learned the news that she will not be featured in the leader’s debate broadcast on the Canadian television networks. The arrangement by May of former Liberal MP Blair Wilson to form a Green caucus of one was risky given his infraction of section 83 of the Canada Elections Act. The Green Party argued that they met the same standard set by Deborah Grey of the Reform Party which allowed Preston Manning to join the leader’s debate in 1993. Differences that I would underline is that Wilson was elected as a Liberal while Grey was elected as a Reform MP and that the Reform party opposed all other parties while the Green Party supports the Liberals.

I was on TVOntario last night on a tech-politics panel with Dr. Greg Elmer, Warren Kinsella, Kady O’Malley and Andrew Rasiej of TechPresident.com (formerly of the Howard Dean 2004 campaign). My friend Kady and I dusted it up a bit when the topic of the mainstream media came up. I argued that social and new media is creating accessible tools to reject the purpose of a gatekeeping middleman between stakeholders in a democracy and the politicians that speak to them. I have my own experiences with this as the unaccountable and unelected Parliametary Press Gallery – the media guild that reins supreme over Parliament – used the state to enforce its monopoly over news as it relates to politicians on Parliament Hill. I noted at the time that it is disturbing in a democracy when those that fought for press freedoms become the gatekeepers to access. These are the same folks that bellyached when Stephen Harper made them sign up for a list for his own press conference and the same group admit journalists that write questions for MPs with the rare occasion to compel a former Prime Minister to answer partisan questions under oath.

The tools of new media that we discussed on the panel create the possibility of reducing one of the burdens that necessitate the organization of news producers and reporters into a corporation. Digital video cameras are becoming ubiquitous these days as anyone with $150 and a YouTube account can capture news in video format. Sites like Ustream.tv even allow “citizen journalists” like myself to interview the likes of Preston Manning or John Tory live online while visitors submit their questions. However, the wiser minds of the Parliamentary Press Gallery would disagree and as its President Richard Brennan told the Hill Times,

“They will be ejected and if they continue, they’ll be prohibited from coming into the main block, particularly here, I should say, the Foyer of the House. You’re not to use anything collected in the Foyer of the House, be it video or voice that could be used in some kind of a nefarious way. That’s what these guys want to do. They want to collect tape, video, voice, people making mistakes or saying something that’s not exactly correct, they want to use it for some kind of an attack ad. That’s what we’re afraid of. They’re not supposed to be here anyway. They’re not members of the Press Gallery. This area is for the members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery or visiting media only.”

As Dr. Greg Elmer stated on the program last night, capturing these sorts of moments is good for democracy because it increases the accountability of politicians. But the unaccountable PPG has their territory and this group will protect their turf if it means eroding the principles of free press and institutional transparency.

What stands between Elizabeth May and a debate (Stephane Dion has agreed to debate her) is the mainstream media. This elite cadre of corporate (CTV, Canwest) and public (CBC) interests seems to have shut out May and the 4.6% of Canada that voted for her party during the last election. But, this is their right. They are not obligated to broadcast any political debate by law and they can set the ground rules. CBC could invite me to debate Jack Layton and there are no election laws or rules that govern this (of course, this would be a bad decision for CBC).

Why not use the tools that promise to bring populism to the media? We can make the broad scope of media available (blogs, television, radio etc.) “mainstream”. Though they were broadcast on television networks, Youtube and Facebook sponsored debates in the primary cycle of the 2008 Presidential race in the US and MySpace will sponsor one or more presidential debates between Obama and McCain. As Clay Shirky writes in his book, Here Comes Everybody, the advent of user-generated content has the potential of doing to journalism as a professional class that which movable type did to the few elites known as scribes that copied books by hand. Scribes used to have an honoured and privileged position in society, but when the printing press was invented, the cost of printing books plummeted and society’s literacy rates increased. New media has the potential of tearing down the barriers set up by elite gatekeepers in the mainstream media. The tools of web 2.0 restrict May’s ability to debate by only those that would agree to debate her (now the singular limitation but one that she would face on television as well).

Elizabeth May should challenge the federal party leaders to debate via ustream.tv. The live debate (and subsequent video produced) would be easily embedded on blogs, on the Green Party websites, on other party websites and even on Blogging Tories. Democracy is literally the power and strength of the people and by its very definition, does not integrate the concept of an elite class. The internet has bandwidth in abundance and is not a scarce resource like the bands owned by corporate and public media. Further, the internet has the advantage that it is accessible to whomever would access it, whether a voter in Yellowknife or an absentee voter on the Yellow river in China. As stakeholders in democracy, we could choose (or choose not to participate) by extending the discussion online via twitter, blogs and other forms of social media. As site owners, if we opt not to feature May’s debate, there are many others that would.

In an evolving media ecosystem, the MSM may not be entirely replaced but perhaps the word “mainstream” will be redefined. No longer will the coverage and restriction of coverage be decided by elites that were the only ones capable of organizing and controlling vast networks of satellites and cable to distribute information. The network of media distribution and production is available to the people and as a nascent party, Elizabeth May should take advantage.

Liberal SOS in Ottawa West Nepean?

The other week, I wrote about the potential appointment process of a candidate in Ottawa West Nepean as Bob Chiarelli was eyeing the riding to the dismay of former defense minister David Pratt.

Today I received a tip from a couple of sources that describe discord among Liberal EDA board members in Ottawa West Nepean and their leader as the board is complaining that former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli has asked Liberal leader Stephane Dion to forgo the nomination process and appoint him as the candidate in that riding to face-off against Conservative Environment Minister John Baird. This is obviously undemocratic as former Martin Defense Minister David Pratt is known to want the candidacy.

The story received quite a bit of attention and appeared on the popular online news aggregator run by Pierre Bourque and the story made the pages of the Ottawa Sun the next day. Perhaps it gave the riding executive some chance to reflect.

Pratt was ultimately appointed due to a rushed election call and this caused some upset for contestants in Ottawa West Nepean that were hoping for a nomination meeting. One of those would-be nomination contestants Nour El-Kadri is said to have sold some 800 memberships over the past few months and a nomination meeting could have been held for some time. Supporters of El-Kadri and another former-hopeful Adriano Guzzo are said to be devastated.

Perhaps this is why the Pratt campaign is having some difficulty getting off the ground in Ottawa West Nepean. The sign war has heated up with Conservatives, NDP and Greens hammering the stakes of their wooden signs into the ground. Little red has made an appearance at this time. Pratt’s team has finally found a campaign office tucked away in the back of a local mini-mall but this photo indicates that there may be despair in the ranks.


Be sure to click the image to enlarge the photo (thanks for the tip to David in the comments)