Ottawa West-Nepean fight gets heated

A couple of days ago, I attended the all-candidates debate at the Nepean Sportsplex where incumbent John Baird faced former Liberal minister David Pratt, Marlene Rivier from the NDP and Green party candidate Frances Coates. Despite their politics, I was quite impressed by the debating ability of Rivier and Coates. Pratt came off as a bit of a curmudgeon as he took almost opportunity to attack Stephen Harper and John Baird. It’s understandable from his perspective as he hopes to be the giant killer, but in a campaign many have labeled as negative, Pratt just fueled people’s perceptions of the same.

I’m not convinced that too many undecided voters attend all-candidates meetings. In fact, I’m certain that there were only a handful there. The theatrical display in that hall a few nights ago was put on in front of political partisans who tried to out-cheer or out-boo the other side’s cheerers and booers. A long train of people rushed to the microphone when it was time for questions from the audience; there was no chance that everyone would be heard as this section was alloted approximately one hour and each question would take the panel about four minutes to answer. Predictably, the moderator kept to time and a shorter but still extensive line of people behind the lucky last person to ask a question seemed disappointed and returned to their seats. After the panel had answered the last question, a woman grabbed the microphone and realizing she wouldn’t be recognized by the moderator, started yelling in the mic at John Baird which was followed by a shower of boos from the audience towards the woman that disrespected Baird but more importantly the room which patiently respected the process. She kept yelling and was largely inaudible with the surrounding boos and cameramen present rushed to capture a story in progress. The timekeeper, sitting next to the microphone grabbed the mic and pulled the micstand down. Then the woman tried wrestling the microphone away from the timekeeper bending down to shout into the mic now clasped in his hands. Flustered, she turned around and turned around and quickly paced to the door leaving the room.

Outside, a reporter wanted to get her story. Apparently, she was upset about the Conservative government’s record on science, technology and innovation. The reporter asked for her name to which she replied “Christine”. “And your last name?”, the reporter asked. After hesitation she responded “Pratt”. “Is that a coincidence,” asked the reporter.

“No, I’m his sister”


Pratt’s sister yells at John Baird


She tried to wrestle the microphone from the man who holds the stopwatch and the yellow and red cards to indicate time to the candidates.

Here’s the perspective of another blogger that was there,

I attended my riding all candidates debate last night. Stupid politics. It made the news this morning to. I am now more mixed up than ever. David Pratt did not handle himself at all well. He did nothing but attack Baird and the conservatives (ok….to an extent, rightly so, but there is a time and place, and a way to balance it), and spent very little time on talking about what he would do, even when asked directly “What would you do for X, Y, or Z”. He also frequently ran over his time, and powered through to the end of his statement with the moderator trying to talk over him saying his time was up. John Baird is actually a pretty clever man despite my abhorrence of his policies. He came off looking like he had a clear moral high ground, stayed polite, stayed in time, played some very clever political theatre for the crowd, and kept attacks on Stephane Dion to a minimum. Baird’s supporters on the other hand were a disgrace. Yelling, heckling, drowning out Pratt and making him use up his time, shouting down people asking questions critical of Baird, they were quite frankly an embarassment. Pratt had his own embarassment however, after the moderator declared we were out of time except closing statements, a woman muscled her way to the microphone and start yelling at Baird (only to be outright verbally abused by Baird’s supporters for her efforts). I learned this morning, she was David Pratt’s sister, and it was a very stupid move to do when the moderator had already closed down questions from the audience, and David made no attempt to dissuade her.

I am seriously questioning my volunteer contribution to Pratt’s campaign office. I still want to see Baird out of a job, and Pratt has the only real chance to pull that off, but right now, I’d have trouble being sincere doing door to door canvassing. “Please sir or madam, I’d like to ask if David can count on your vote, even though his performance at the debate probably didn’t earn it”

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)

Democratic deficit grows for Liberals in Ottawa

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 forego 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.

Pratt would make only the second Liberal to make his intentions officially known.  Ottawa University professor Nour El-Khadri also has made it known that he seeks to contest a nomination, however, Chiarelli is trying to enter in through the backdoor, according to sources.

Pratt and El-Khadri aren’t late comers to the work required to win the nomination either.  El-Khadri is believed to have sold about 500 memberships in the riding as far back as April 2007.  A source on Pratt’s team said “selling memberships and fighting a fair contest will not be a problem for…people like David”

Sources on the OWN Liberal executive say that an emergency meeting has been called for September 2nd.  Each of the three men will have to make a case before a special nominating committee as to why they believe they are the best candidate to take on Baird.  The recommendation will then be made to Stephane Dion who has the power to appoint the candidate directly.  This “beauty contest” approach (as one board member put it) is in direct contravention of the OWN Liberal Party constitution and will cause a great deal of grief with supporters of El-Kadri and Pratt.  As the same board member put it, “the fix is in” for Chiarelli.

John Baird fought his own nomination for the Conservative Party candidacy and one may speculate that expediency is being pushed for given an accelerated timetable for an election call that many expect this week.  However, it is unknown why a former Ottawa mayor without experience in the federal government would be favoured over a former Defence Minister.  Pratt fought under Martin’s banner of “fighting the democratic deficit”.  We’ll see if he’s still up for the job against Stephane Dion and Bob Chiarelli.

John Tory takes questions from Blogging Tories

and here was mine…

Stephen Taylor: In the context of manufacturing jobs in Ontario – Ontario being the economic engine of Canada – federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has recently proposed this carbon tax that he wants to take across the country to sell to Canadians this summer. We’ve seen measures in BC and in Quebec to start their own sort of carbon taxation. Do you believe that this is the right direction for Ontario in creating new jobs in a new economy or do you think it’s the wrong-headed approach for this province’s direction?

John Tory: Well, I think that a tax is a tax is a tax and when people describe a tax as revenue-neutral that sort of tries to somehow skirt the idea that somebody is still paying it even if you’re giving money back to somebody else but the bottom line is that somebody is still paying the tax. I think Dalton McGuinty had it right the first time when he said – and I almost quoted him – ‘Even the NDP knows that the last thing you do when the economy is struggling is impose new taxes’ and then for whatever reason – and I think you can all speculate and probably already have – what happened within the internal machinations of the Liberal Party he suddenly came forward a couple of weeks ago and said he thought this carbon tax was a good thing and that it was fine. And so, I think it’s the wrong approach. I’ve said that to the extend you need to have a price put on carbon in a cap-and-trade type of arrangement is better because it allows the marketplace to work on doing that sort of thing but I just think that the tax is the wrong approach and I just don’t understand why Mr. McGuinty isn’t far from endorsing it, he should be opposing it as he did before and it’s the wrong thing to hit the Ontario economy with at this point in time.

Stephen Taylor: So would you call upon the Federal Conservative environment minister to implement a cap-and-trade program?

John Tory: One thing I would call upon the Federal environment minister to do and on all of the other governments is they’ve got to do the same thing. The last thing industry needs – and this is the kind of example they tell me about when I’m sitting in these often small boardrooms of small manufacturing companies – they say ‘Look, we don’t know where to start with all the different governments having all of their different programs whether it’s on climate change or a host of other areas’ and I think what they should be doing is making a bigger effort than they have to actually agree on an approach, that is going to be an approach that is consistently adopted across the country. What if you are a manufacturing company that’s doing business in Canada, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta? You’re then confronted by all kinds of different rules – federal, provincial or otherwise – on the subject of carbon and climate change. Alberta, you can go get a grant to deal with carbon sequestration, Ontario it looks like they’ll go along with the taxing thing but also be in a cap-and-trade system, federally it looks like they’re going down the cap-and-trade road, and Quebec might have a tax. I think that’s part of the problem these days, that everyone’s doing their own thing and they think can all do that with impunity and not having to take account. So I would say to John Baird, I know it’s hard for him because these other governments go off and do their own thing, but I think the thing he might be trying to do – and he has been – trying to get some agreement on something we can do as a country – provinces and federal government – and at least have a uniform set of rules people would know about if they’re in business.

Bali conference partisan and ideological?

The media narrative of the Bali climate conference has been the “obstructionism” and “sabotage” of the talks by Canada’s government (note to Stephane Dion: outside of our borders, the “Harper/Conservative government” becomes your government too. Canadians have given the Conservative Party, not you, a mandate to speak for us on the world stage.)

We’ve heard reports that Environment Minister John Baird has been so audacious to even suggest that future climate treaties include caps on developing nations such as China and India, a truly offensive suggestive shared by the unoffensive new Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd. We’ve heard that Baird “ran away” from a meeting of environmental activists, “Canadian youth” and Svend Robinson!

CTV reports:

Baird was supposed to explain Canada’s position at a meeting with non-governmental activists attending the conference. He showed up for the meeting, but quickly left before speaking.

Canadian activists and others waited for the minister to return. But they were later told Baird had to attend negotiations and would not be back.

“The minister who was supposed to address us was AWOL. He ran away,” said Olivier Lavoie of the Canadian Youth in Action.

Lavoie said the minister probably did not want to confront young activists critical of Canada’s stand.

How can Baird turn a blind eye to good people that are non-partisan, non-ideological and simply concerned about the coming worldwide devastation?

Unreported by CTV and undeclared by Lavoie is this “activist” and leader of the “Canadian Youth in Action” was also president of the Liberal campus club at McGill.

So was Baird simply avoiding a meeting with people who see so much green that they see red when they see blue?

Was he avoiding a partisan ambush by a group of NDP and Liberal activists?

When can we get some honest reporting on the merits of Baird’s plan and what interests some have in blocking it?

At its core, Canada and Australia’s vision for a future climate treaty is rooted in environmental concern.

The intent of Baird’s position is that no matter what country in which you emit CO2, you pay the same cost. All worldwide CO2 would be declared equal if Baird and Rudd had their way. However, the intent of “social” environmental activists is to shift the burden on developed nations. If China and India and other “developing” countries get a better deal on their CO2 emissions, economic development and manufacturing of companies headquartered in Canada or the US, for example, will shift to developing countries because of their lower CO2 costs. The effect of this is redistribution of wealth.

If we are concerned about CO2 emissions, then all CO2 should be costed the same. If it is not, the effect will be the creation of CO2 havens. CO2 production will be shifted rather than reduced. Perhaps what Baird is doing is calling on the warming warriors to show their cards. Is all of this noise really about CO2 or is it about the redistribution of wealth and production?

Cabinet Speculation*

Ottawa is abuzz with cabinet speculation this week as the summer starts to wind down and there’s no election in sight. Between elections, I’m told, the parliamentary press gallery’s second favourite fix is speculating how the front bench of the government will change. Since the days are hot, and while filing stories about the arctic might cool some off it is still viewed as playing into the man’s hands, and since there are only so many grumble pieces that can be written, cabinet speculation will have to do.

I’ve been chatting with a few friends and sources about the topic and here’s what I’ve deciphered with a high level of confidence.

Ottawa staffers can breathe a bit of relief (just a bit though) because while Carol Skelton is retiring from politics, no other cabinet minister will be shuffled out of cabinet. There will be promotions and demotions within the cabinet structure, but no current cabinet minister will find themselves without a chauffeured car next week. Thus, contrary to some reports, Oda will remain in cabinet.

On the flipside, no back-bencher is to be promoted to cabinet this time around.

Therefore, besides Skelton, the cabinet will neither grow nor shrink.

The shuffle within cabinet itself will be substantial enough that it’ll make a few headlines. I previously speculated (but didn’t write) that a shuffle could be quite surgical and we’d see a trading of two or three portfolios without making other waves, but now I’m hearing that there will be more than a few ministers with new titles. The government might say that such a switch affords new experience to already very capable ministers. Most of us might acknowledge this while recognizing that some fine tuning is due.

Specifically, Maxime Bernier may be shuffled out of Industry (not entirely sure about this) but I can say with certainty that he will not be shuffled into defence or finance.

Security minister Stockwell Day will stay in his current portfolio as most Hill people (including press) have found him to be very capable in his current role.

John Baird is also staying in environment.

I can also say with a certain degree of confidence that there will be a throne speech this fall and that the government is not likely to be shocking the country’s system with a brand new set of priorities as there is a lot of the current agenda that still needs attention.

Liberals spooked by fax?

When the Liberals received a misdialed fax from the Environment Minister’s office and the subsequently faxed threatening letter suggesting that the original document contained sensitive market information, one wonders if the Grits would have made more of the incident if the Conservatives hadn’t hit back so hard and successfully on the Holland/Jennings boxes incident which backfired on that party highlighting Liberal arrogance when it comes to sensitive information…

Liberal meltdown

This week was the first week back after a break for Canada’s New Government. Climate change was expected to lead the agenda as it seems to be the sole issue on which the Liberals care to define themselves. Conservatives rose to power promising to clean up government after the most significant corruption scandal in Canadian history. The Liberals think that they’ll rise to power cleaning up… Carbon dioxide and water vapour? Canadians have perceived Harper delivering on the Federal Accountability Act while Canadians believe that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals will deliver on climate change.

In fact, I believe that this underlines a key weakness in Liberal messaging. While polling has shown that the environment is a top priority for Canadians, they’re not about to throw out the government on the issue when they actually go to the polls. If heathcare — an issue which actually has a direct effect on the life and death of Canadians — can be taken off the ballot of the electorate by a couple of weeks of warm weather in Toronto, it would seem that there aren’t any pressing issues that are really on the minds of Canadians. “Environment? Sure that sounds like something I should care about”

Unless a hurricane hits Toronto killing scores of people, the electorate is not about to uproot a government to install the old guard led by a sponsorship-era cabinet minister with no real record on the only issue on which he has chosen to define himself.

That’s why this week’s messaging was so puzzling. At the beginning of this week, a protester braved the freezing temperatures of downtown Ottawa to stretch out to play the part of a sunbathing polar bear. One wonders if the protester only had the suit rented for that day.

Liberals were sporting green ribbons in the House this week,
presumably to show that they care about the environment. Since Dion’s election as Liberal leader, the Liberal website has also incorporated a splash of green. Apparently this is to make it known that our Liberal friends care about the environment so long as the vehicle for their environmentalism is the Kyoto protocol. According to the popular narrative these days, one does not believe in saving the environment if one does not believe in a global, bureaucratic, statist wealth transfer agreement. In fact, one also does not believe in the science of climate change if one does not also believe in such a one world collectivist approach to saving the Earth from certain doom (according to our latest amended models). In fact, while Michael Ignatieff was lecturing the government to meet global Kyoto targets, the green ribbon-clad Ignatieff had his own words thrown back at him when environment minister John Baird quoted Ignatieff questioning Kyoto by saying “nobody knows what Kyoto is or what it commits us to”.

Thursday afternoon, Mark Holland, part of the new Liberal rat pack, had a meltdown (actually he didn’t flinch) when he said on Charles Adlers’ show that a Liberal government would control oil sands development in Alberta. Sacrificing the Canadian economy just because green has become fashionable will have Canadians thinking twice about the Liberal party. (The Liberal Party of Canada is already dead to Albertans).

Earlier on Thursday, Dion had a poor question period performance as he bizarrely stated that Harper was “paralyzing the world” when it came to Kyoto. Somebody ought to proofread Dion’s notes before QP, but I imagine this would be a difficult talk as I hear that Dion is very top-down in his approach and has no time for criticism from his staff.

All in all, a bit of a bizarre week for the Liberals on their climate communications. We heard some whispers about an old Harper letter calling Kyoto a “socialist scheme”, but the Liberals didn’t seem to get any mileage on it.

Why would the Liberals spend this frigid week lecturing the Conservatives on the global warming file (one on which they themselves have a dismal record). Is there really nothing else to talk about? Did the Liberals really spend the week telling Canadians “We got nothing”?

BONUS BAD MESSAGING: Bill Graham demanded Conservative action on Guantanamo Bay, a bizarre request given that Graham was foreign affairs minister in the years after 9/11.

Also, Dion called Harper fat?

CBC’s Paul Hunter tries too hard on climate change story

Consider the following clip by the CBC’s Paul Hunter which aired on the National broadcast on January 9th, 2007. (Watch for the “curb” comment and the criticism of the PM and the RCMP for idling the PM’s motorcade).

Mansbridge: “As Paul Hunter discovered today, Baird may have some work to do curbing his own colleagues.”

Hunter: “But is the government listening? Even as the environmentalists were saying that inside, just outside the Prime Minister’s motorcade sat idling. At 10:30 this morning, 11:30, 12:30 and beyond, just meters from his office door.”

Hunter failed to report on a few facts that, when revealed, hardly puts the PM in a negative light.

RCMP security protocol demands that the Prime Ministerial motorcade (ie. security detail) be ready to evacuate the Prime Minister at a moments notice.

The RCMP are not permitted inside the confines of the buildings of Parliament. If not meters (meters!) from the Prime Minister’s door, then where? 10 meters? On Wellington? In Gatineau?

What was the Prime Minister doing that day? Is his office newsworthy, or his cars?

Stephane Dion’s new limo is a Cadillac, not quite so environmentally friendly.

How many greenhouse gases are produced by coast-to-coast-to-coast broadcasting during idle times at the CBC? (ie. during the nightly test pattern and re- (and first-)runs of The Hour).

Does the CBC idle its satellite trucks?

UPDATE: Steve Janke asks some more good questions.

Rumours and fact

Yesterday, I reported at 1:30pm that no cabmin would lose their job and that cabinet would grow. Craig Oliver broke the news in the MSM about 8.5 hours later on CTV nightly newscast.

I’ve been tapping many contacts and will confidently predict that one of my minor predictions yesterday was actually wrong. Yesterday, I predicted that there wouldn’t be any growth from Alberta in cabinet.

Today, I can confidently predict that we will see Alberta get more representation in cabinet.

The Toronto Star is reporting that Wajid Khan is going to be appointed to cabinet this morning. My friends at CTV say that they won’t touch that speculation. Good for CTV, I’ve just heard that Wajid Khan will not be joining Harper’s cabinet this morning.

UPDATE 10:22am: Ontario MP Guergis in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:22am: Quebec MP Paradis in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:23am: Saskatchewan MP Ritz in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:26am: Jaffer arrived with Guergis. Speculation: Is Jaffer the the new Alberta representation?

UDPATE 10:30am: Confirmed by Ambrose. She’s out of the environment portfolio.

UPDATE: New jobs: Ambrose (intergovernmental affairs?), Baird (environment?), Solberg, Kenney (in cabinet), Toews (treasury board?), Finley, Van Loan, Jay Hill (in cabinet).

Official news: Nicholson goes to Justice and Attorney General, Lebreton gets Sec. of State (seniors), Solberg goes to Human Resources and Social Development, Toews goes to Treasury Board, Finley goes to Citizenship and Immigration, Ambrose goes to Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Privy Council, Van Loan goes to House Leader, Baird goes to Environment, Hill gets Sec. of State, Guergis gets Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Sport, Kenney gets Sec of State for Multiculturalism, Paradis gets Sec of State for Agriculture, Ritz gets Sec of State for Small Business and Tourism.