For what it’s worth…

My sources are telling me that this Hill Times story about Bruce Carson being Prime Minister Harper’s next Chief of Staff just isn’t true.

Bruce Carson wasn’t even in Ottawa last weekend.

The Hill Times reported today:

Conservative insiders say they expect to see a “softer side” from Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Bruce Carson as his new chief of staff after news broke last week that current chief of staff Guy Giorno is leaving the job.

Mr. Carson, the executive director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment and former senior adviser in the PMO, was in Ottawa last weekend meeting with Mr. Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) and sources told The Hill Times that the Prime Minister will hire him to bring a less adversarial approach to politics when Parliament resumes later this month.

UPDATE: Hill Times publishes online retraction: Carson not expected to replace Giorno as chief of staff

Sexiest MPs? Have we lost our focus?

I note that the Hill Times today published its annual “Sexy, Savvy and Best Dressed Survey”. The global economy is melting down and this hottie headliner is on lips of Hill staff and media this week. Lest this be a curmudgeon grumble piece on the state of news today (back in my day…), but really, there’s got to be more going on. Yet, the piece does come out in the middle of two break weeks on Parliament Hill, and at least Jane Taber’s belyingly-titled Hot and Not article is about politics.

But in the same issue that we find an a republish of an article by James Travers bemoaning the declining relevance of Parliament as a democratic body — “welcome to court government” — we find out that Rona and Helena have the best hair! I’m now flipping through these pages looking for the stock article on the under-representation of women in Parliament…

Perhaps they don’t want to show up given this superficial focus.

But most of this does amount to political theatre and pollsters will show you charts (with trendlines and error bars, no less) showing that focus groups are somewhat accurate in determining that Stephen Harper wearing a sweater holding a kitten softens his image and improves electability, that Michael Ignatieff needs to shed some ivory-tower arrogance by hitting the hamburger circuit this summer and that Preston Manning needed to ditch the glasses in order to get his message out to more Canadians. Issues and policies also rank lower among concerns among Canadians, but woah, what was he/she thinking wearing that to last year’s Hill Gala?!

Speaking to friends over at Macleans.ca, I’m told that last year among the most trafficked articles were those featuring photos of Julie Couillard. In fact, Julie Couillard ranked one of the highest related search terms for Macleans in 2008. In that case, “Julie Couillard”, “Julie Couillard”, “Julie Couillard”.

That said, you won’t find photos of Justin Trudeau or Ruby Dhalla’s leaked Bollywood movie here… but if you came here from Google looking for these things, stick around… I’ll see if I can entice you with a discussion on the finer points of whether provincial- or municipal-linked federal Senate elections better afford Premiers and Prime Ministers the required political cover and feasibility to move forward on reform of our bicameral system.

Hey! Where are you going? Come back!

Oh, all right…

Hot: TMZ and eTalk
Not: New York Times and the Globe and Mail

RallyforCanada.ca by the numbers

It is now just before 11am on Wednesday. Since I launched RallyforCanada.ca at 10am on Monday morning, the rallies have attracted a lot of attention.

After 48 hours, here are some stats:

127,149 hits on the website
20,400 people signed up with their email addresses (and province)
358 followers on twitter

I’ve done a lot of media on the rallies:
CBC: Don Newman’s Politics
CTV Alberta
CHCH
CBC: The National
Citytv

National Post
Le Devoir
La Presse
Metro News (Ottawa)
Canadian Press (CP)
Toronto Star
Hill Times

CHQR (2 hits)
CJAD
CFRB
CBC Winnipeg
CBC Montreal

On my Blackberry, I have 1121 unread emails.

I’ve received calls of support from across the country and a small trickle of hate mail.

Perhaps the most bizarre call I got was from a group calling themselves “les jeunes patriotes du Quebec”. They described themselves as a group of separatists that are against the Bloc joining the coalition and selling out to Stephane Dion. They wanted to know if they could rally with us.

“You want to rally? ‘for Canada’?” I asked.
“Uh, yes” they said.

How disgusting, I thought. This was hardly a group coming on side to support strengthening our country with rallies. I tried to tease as much information out of them as I could by sounding as if I was perhaps considering their ludicrous idea. I invited them to send me an email with their info and request so I could expose it here on the blog. They never did. Too bad.

I think that what bothers Canadians most about this crazy week in politics is the proposed coalition government’s association with the Bloc. If the rogue-faction from the separatists want to rally, they can have their own. As for the rest of the separatists, they can rally with the “Progressive Coalition” which is supporting the proposed NDP-Liberal-Bloc coalition government.

In and Out common to all parties say Conservatives

The Hill Times had a cover story today describing an affidavit that the Conservative Party filed in Federal Court one week ago today.

The affidavit details examples of so-called in and out election financing by other parties. The HT story included a quote from Tory MP Tom Lukiwski,

In the affidavit, we listed more than 100 individual candidates from all three parties that did the exact same thing that we did in terms of how they entered into an agreement with their national parties on a regional ad buy. So in effect, regardless of the motion of Ms. Redman, we will now be able to take a look at the affidavits that have been presented and I would be fully prepared to bring forward witnesses and all of these candidates from the various parties and have them come forward and have them explain how they entered into this agreement and ask the question that if all parties were doing the same thing why is it that only the Conservative Party was being singled out?

The motion of Ms. Redman, the Liberal whip, was tabled at the Procedure and House Affairs committee asked the committee to investigate “In and Out” financing during the last election. The Conservatives believe that their affidavit shows that all parties participated in the financing practice which allowed individual candidates, in some cases, to participate in regional ad buys.

In discussions with some Conservatives I have heard that there is generally held belief among officials in the party that Elections Canada has been biased in its withholding of $1.2 million of rebates from the Tories. The Conservatives ask rhetorically what the key difference is between their “in and out” financing versus that of the NDP and Liberals. Some Conservatives believe that it is because of party stripe.

I have obtained a copy of the “Donald Affidavit” which describes examples of “in and out” ad buying by other parties.

Donald Affidavit (PDF)

Is Garth Turner stretching the truth?

Monday’s Hill Times features an article about Bruce Sutherland, the videographer for Conservative-turned-Independent-turned-Green-teaser-turned-Liberal MP Garth Turner. It’s an interesting piece that describes the work of the man behind the MPtv production that Turner features on his website.

However, the subtitle of the piece caught my attention:

Garth Turner says his webcast is downloaded by about 30,000 to 40,000 viewers every night.

30,000 to 40,000 viewers every night? That would be incredible, if true. Garth would start to rival some of George Stroumboulopoulos’ numbers for The Hour (and George is on the TV dial of every Canadian television).

Let’s take a closer look at Garth’s numbers (accurate at time of this post):
Garth’s latest videos:

Title Number of views
MPtv interviews Catherine Bell NDP MP on Bulk water exports 18 June 2007 6
MPtv interview with Derek Lee on National Security- 18 June 2007 22
MPtv Interviews Gary Merasty on funding Aboriginal Languages 15 June 2007 56
MPtv- interview with Ken Boshcoff discussing gas prices 13 June 2007 79
MPtv- Hon. Garth Turner poses a question during Question Period 12 June 2007 165
MPtv- Interviews Omar Alghabra Critic Citizenship/Immigration 13 June 2007 38
MPtv- Interview with Mark Holland Liberal Critic Natural Resources 11 June 2007 88
MPtv-Interview with Hon. Hedy Fry Critic Sport and Vancouver Olympics 11 June 07 104
MPtv – Stories about Parliament Hill-The Laurier Tower 11 June 2007 34
MPtv-interviews Glen Pearson MP from London North Center 8 June 2007 145
MPtv- Interview Nancy Karetak-Lindell MP for Nunavut 7 June 2007 92
MPtv Stories about Parliament Hill- Lester Pearson statue 4 June 2007 28
MPtv- Interview with Bill Casey Independent M.P. 6 June 2007 453
MPtv- Interview with Hon.Robert Thibault 6 May 2007 73
MPtv-Question Period- Hon. Garth Turner poses a question 5 June 2007 197
MPtv- Questions from the House Hon. 5 June 2007 57
MPtv -Interview with Hon. John McCallum Liberal Finance Critic 4 June 2007 142
MPtv- Interview-Paul Szabo on Bill C-251 Alcohol warning labels 30 May 2007 138
MPtv – Stories about Parliament Hill with Don Nixon 31 May 2007 24
MPtv Stories about Parliament hill- Cat Sanctuary 31 May 2007 182

These are the most current videos (the ones featured “above the fold” on Garth’s MPtv website).

Here are Garth’s top 10 videos by number of views:

Title Number of views
MPtv – Garth Turner’s address to residents in Halton – October 18, 2006 7,264
MPtv – Interview with Green Party of Canada Leader, Elizabeth May – October 17, 2006 3,170
MPtv – Income Trust Press Conference 29 January 2007 2,945
MPtv – Garth Turner joins Liberal caucus – February 6, 2007 2,593
MPtv – Question Period in the House of Commons of Canada – October 25, 2006 2,465
MPtv – Garth Turner reflects on his options after dismissal from the Conservative Party 1,865
MPtv – Freedom Of Speech In Canada – November 12, 2006 1,554
MPtv- Mike Duffy On Parlimentary Preparations 26 January 2007 1,549
MPtv – Garth Turner commentary before press conference – November 14, 2006 1,392
MPtv – Pierre Paquette discussion Quebec as a Nation- December 12, 2006 1,344

The numbers for the top 10 videos aren’t bad, but consider that Garth boasts 30,000-40,000 views of MPtv per night. The numbers above represent the number of views since the date included in the title. It is closer to the truth to say that Garth’s videos have been viewed 30,000 times (in total) rather than per day.

It seems that Garth’s typical video gets about 50-200 hits (total) while his top video received 7,264 views since October 18th, 2006. A far cry from 30,000 to 40,000 video views every night that Garth claims.

NOTE (6/20): Anyone who wishes to verify the numbers that I state above can click on the title links in the table to go to each movie hosted on Google Video. The “All time views” are listed in the right hand column of those pages. The numbers are accurate to the time of this post yesterday. All of Garth’s video are hosted on Google Video and he embeds the player on his site. Every view from the embeddable player on Garth’s website registers as a “view” on Google Video, since the player is hosted on Google’s site and plays the same Google-hosted video. Whether a Garth video is viewed on Google, on Garth’s site or my site via embeddable player, Google registers a “view” on the video’s homepage hosted on Google. I see that Garth has chosen to respond to this post in a way that attacks me as a person, rather than challenge my claims with any valid counter-argument. This is unfortunate.

Of course, I’ve written about Garth’s poor choices before:
I took the Garth Challenge
Garth the Grit