Duffy vs. Stoffer

Regardless of the team you pick, if you follow either Duffy or Stoffer this year, it’ll cost you over $100,000.

Here are other PEI teams you could follow (Team Duffy also plays in the island league)

Senator Callbeck = $36,186
Senator Downe = $74,260
Senator Hubley = $90,166
MP Easter = $143,262

Why was Duffy singled out by the Team CP and by Team Stoffer? Stoffer’s team bus is just as plush, but Team CP shouldn’t just swing at lob balls served up by Team Stoffer, that’s just bush league.

Telegraph Journal apologizes to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Today, we learn from the Telegraph Journal:

On Wednesday, July 8, 2009, the Telegraph-Journal published a story about the funeral mass celebrating the life of former Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc that was inaccurate and should not have been published. We pride ourselves in maintaining high standards of journalism and ethical reporting, and regret this was not followed in this case.

The story stated that a senior Roman Catholic priest in New Brunswick had demanded that the Prime Minister’s Office explain what happened to the communion wafer which was handed to Prime Minister Harper during the celebration of communion at the funeral mass. The story also said that during the communion celebration, the Prime Minister “slipped the thin wafer that Catholics call ‘the host’ into his jacket pocket”.

There was no credible support for these statements of fact at the time this article was published, nor is the Telegraph-Journal aware of any credible support for these statements now. Our reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras, who wrote the story reporting on the funeral, did not include these statements in the version of the story that they wrote. In the editing process, these statements were added without the knowledge of the reporters and without any credible support for them.

The Telegraph-Journal sincerely apologizes to the Prime Minister for the harm that this inaccurate story has caused. We also apologize to reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras and to our readers for our failure to meet our own standards of responsible journalism and accuracy in reporting.

Here is the original story (portions highlighted in red concern content that has “no credible support” and portions highlighted in orange are therefore not newsworthy and are unsubstantiated gossip and speculation):

A senior New Brunswick Roman Catholic priest is demanding the Prime Minister’s Office explain what happened to the sacramental communion wafer Stephen Harper was given at Roméo LeBlanc’s funeral mass.

During communion at the solemn and dignified service held last Friday in Memramcook for the former governor general, the prime minister slipped the thin wafer that Catholics call “the host” into his jacket pocket.

In Catholic understanding, the host – once consecrated by a priest for the Eucharist – becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is crucial that the small wafer be consumed when it is received.

Monsignor Brian Henneberry, vicar general and chancellor in the Diocese of Saint John, wants to know whether the prime minister consumed the host and, if not, what happened to it.

If Harper accepted the host but did not consume it, “it’s worse than a faux pas, it’s a scandal from the Catholic point of view,” he said.

Henneberry said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office is in order.

“If I were the prime minister, I would at least offer an explanation to say no offence was meant, and then (clarifying) what happened to the consecrated host is in order,” he said. “I would hope the Prime Minister’s Office would have enough respect for the Catholic Church and for faith in general to make clear whatever happened.”

On Friday, during the mass, Harper reached out with his right hand and accepted the wafer from a priest.

A television camera lingered long enough to show New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Herménégilde Chiasson, the next person to receive the host, raise his to his mouth.

But the tape shows that Harper does not consume the wafer before the camera cuts away several seconds later.

If Harper was unclear about what was appropriate during the funeral mass, said Henneberry, it “would say to me it’s time to get new protocol people.”

Harper and his senior spokespersons were en route to Italy on Tuesday for the G8 leaders’ summit.

Harper will spend five days in Italy and on Saturday he has an audience with Pope Benedict.

Requests for comment left with Harper’s media office were not immediately returned on Tuesday.

What Harper did or didn’t do at the ceremony quietly raised questions at the ceremony in Memramcook Friday.

When Harper took the host, “everybody just paused and said, ‘What did he do with it?'”‚” said one official who watched the pool feed with reporters who were not inside St. Thomas Church in Memramcook.

“You could see he was, ‘Uh oh, I don’t know what to do with this.'”‚”

The curiosity among Catholics has not gone unnoticed among Liberal insiders in Ottawa, either.

Henneberry said he has received a call on Harper’s actions from a concerned Catholic, and he doubts that she is the only one puzzled and perturbed.

“She said she was very upset,” he said, adding he had not seen the footage.

“She said, ‘All weekend long it has been bothering me and I know I can’t do something about it, but someone should.’

“She can’t be the only one in this country that is thinking that.”

Harper’s religious affiliation raises a separate but related question about his accepting the host: As a Protestant, should he have politely declined it?

The fact it was a national event that was televised live likely complicated the situation for everyone – the priests and Harper, Henneberry said.

“If the prime minister is not a Catholic, he should not have been receiving communion and if he comes up it places the priest in an awkward position, especially at a national funeral because everyone is watching,” he said.

But Rev. Arthur Bourgeois, who delivered the homily, did not have a problem with the prime minister accepting the host.

“Usually, to partake in holy communion in the Catholic Church, you have to be a member of it, but if you’re not, exceptionally sometimes at major occasions (it is different),” Bourgeois said.

“If you are up there and giving holy communion you are not going to stop and asked everyone if they are Catholic or if they are not Catholic.

“You say the Lord provides.”

Monsignor André Richard, who is Bishop of the Diocese of Moncton, gave Harper communion but said he didn’t see what Harper did with the host.

“I didn’t see anything wrong there “¦ because I was busy doing something else.”

Bourgeois said it is acceptable to decline the host by simply folding one’s hands, which signals the priest to bless the person.

Rev. James Weisgerber, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of Winnipeg, said if Harper was not given good advice before the ceremony about what to do, it is a regrettable oversight.

“I would feel very sorry for the prime minister if he wasn’t informed about what the procedure is,” Weisgerber said. “I would find it terrible if we put him in an embarrassing situation.

“My concern is at a funeral of that level everyone knows what the protocol is.”

Harper could have simply consumed the host shortly after he was off-camera; or he could have hesitated because he expected a priest would soon invite everyone to consume the host once everyone present had received it, as occurs in some Protestant churches.

His own faith tradition certainly does things differently, says an evangelical Christian journalist who specializes in religion and politics.

Lloyd Mackey’s 2005 book The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper traces Harper’s political and faith journey.

Given his church background, Harper might not have known exactly what was expected of him as a Protestant at a Roman Catholic mass, Mackey suggested.

“I don’t think by himself as a Protestant adherent he’d be aware of the nuances,” said Mackey, who added there would be people in his inner circle who should have advised him.

For a number of years, in Calgary and in Ottawa, Harper has worshipped at churches within the Christian and Missionary Alliance, said Mackey.

Communion in Alliance churches is typically held once a month.

It would involve the seated congregation passing along wafers and, in small individual glasses, unfermented grape juice.

Harper grew up in a background with United Church of Canada and Presbyterian influences, but he was something of a skeptic until he was a young adult.

Mackey’s book says Harper’s journey to a committed personal faith was influenced by fellow politician Preston Manning, among others, and came after reading much-admired Christian apologists C.S. Lewis and Malcolm Muggeridge.

LeBlanc, 81, died in late June. He had been the country’s first Acadian and Maritime governor general, and before that, a senator, MP and press secretary to two prime ministers.

That’s quite an edit!

I’ve learned from a source close to one of the journalists that at least one of them may have gone so far as to seek advice and consider a lawsuit against the newspaper if the paper did not retract the story and absolve (no pun intended) the journalists of fabricating a significant portion the article.

Printing such a false hit piece can get a journalist frozen out of any future access to the PMO under the current administration. It’s a rare sight to see journalists defend their integrity against their senior management in the newsroom, however, in this case it may have been a matter of professional self-preservation.

What motivation was there behind torquing over three quarters of the story? Did somebody in Ottawa (or Toronto) pick up the phone and push a more interesting story to the editors instead?

Some observers will remember that “Wafergate” led CBC’s flagship newscast The National rather than the story about the Prime Minister’s participation in the G8 conference. UPDATE: Errr… this observer didn’t seem to remember correctly. My friends from CBC (yes, I shockingly still do have a couple of them — and they’ve been better to me than I have to them lately, but I digress) inform me that I am mistaken by the order of their reports (they did G8 and did “Wafergate” later in the broadcast). I also mistakenly made this reference on the Charles Adler show. I ironically acknowledge this and regret these errors.

Press Gallery off message

Sun Media’s Elizabeth Thompson:

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper described last Fall’s stock market dive as “a great buying opportunity,” it was seen by many as a bit insensitive, given the number of Canadians who had just seen a good chunk of their retirement savings melt away.

On Feb.10, when the S&P/TSX hit 8,817.89 – one of the lower points since Harper’s comments – an anonymous tech savvy individual registered the web address and created the Harperdex, which set out to track how much the $1,000 invested the day after Harper’s comments would be worth.
But stock markets are like public opinion polls and what goes down eventually goes up again. At noon today, the Harperdex shows that $1,000 is now worth $1,003 – probably not what the creator of the Harperdex had in mind.

Oh, Liz… you presume too much!

We learn from Canwest’s David Akin,

Ottawa Citizen reporter Glen McGregor quickly put up HarperDex.ca (mostly, he says, as a fun exercise in some Web programming techniques). The idea was simple: If you had invested $1,000 in the S&P/TSX Composite Index the day after Harper said “Buy”, the HarperDex will tell you what that $1,000 is worth.

It’s good to see that the Liberals are getting some help creating anti-Harper mini-sites. Now, if only we could find out which journalist is moonlighting as Perez Hudak?

Rally for Canada budget consultation survey results

On Friday, I sent out an email to the tens of thousands on the Rally for Canada email list asking them to participate in a small survey concerning the upcoming federal budget.  I asked people four questions concerning the government spending and their public policy priorities.  Over three thousand people responded on Friday and over the weekend.  I will be passing on the results to the office of the Minister of Finance as promised.

Q: On the question of Canada’s upcoming federal budget to get us through the economic crisis, which balance within the following options do you think is best for the government to implement? (n=3003)

Q: Which issues are most important to you from a government policy point of view? (n=3051)

Here is the same graph sorted in descending order (n=3051):

Q: What should be done with the Senate? (n=3007)

Q: What should be done with funding for the CBC? (n=2998)

Some notes: “n” is the number of respondents to each question.  Data was gathered from 8am Friday through midnight Sunday night.  Sample data is gathered from a population set that registered on the anti-coalition website RallyforCanada.ca between December 4th 2008 and January 9th 2009.  Answers were not randomly cycled.

That said, this data gives us insight into the priorities of Canadians who are against the concept of a Bloc-supported NDP-Liberal coalition government.  The first question was a careful balance on both sides of the spending vs. taxes debate.  On one hand, the answer set does not include an option to decrease spending and on the other, four out of five answers prompt at least some tax relief.  Most analysts believe that the federal budget will include some tax relief and stimulus in the form of government spending.  The largest group believed a balance spending/tax relief approach would be best while the second largest group favours substantial tax relief and no new spending (given the options presented).

The second question had 24 options.  Each option was a yes/no checkbox to pick public policy priorities.  There was little surprise on the distribution of public policy interests as the generally right-of-centre respondents selected jobs, economy, crime, tax cuts, healthcare choice, and military spending as priorities while passing on foreign aid, culture and arts, and native affairs.  Wheat board reform is generally a conservative priority yet this question is likely too regional for a national survey.

On the specific questions, it is of particular interest that 90% of respondents believe that the Senate in it’s current form must change.  Only 10% of respondents thought that the Senate ought to be left as it is.  On the question of spending for a particular budget item, respondents indicated that funding for the CBC should be decreased (61%) while only 6% thought it should be increased.

Conservative Party looks to Karl Rove playbook

In Ottawa this week, Conservatives hoping to sharpen their political skills looked south, to the United States of America to replicate the success of the back-to-back electoral victories of George W. Bush and the Republican machine.

In caucus, Conservative MPs and senators were treated to a strategy session that was based on information written by “Bush’s Brain”, Karl Rove. Rove served in the Bush administration as deputy chief of staff to the President and is largely known as the architect of Republican victories during the past decade. “Bush has taken what we thought we knew about politics and turned it into a different game for a different generation” was heard from Wednesday’s caucus session.

Pollsters agree that Rove’s approach to mobilizing select groups of voters on highly motivating issues is the key to creating a permanent Conservative majority. Conservatives may be facing an election this fall and are increasingly known to be studying Rove’s strategies to achieve more seats when Canadians go to the polls.

The preceding would be on the front page of the Toronto Star or the Globe and Mail if it were true. Since it is not, I’m thankful that I was able to find this analogous yet reality-based account buried on Susan Delacourt’s blog.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour was ‘celebrated’ worldwide on Saturday in order to raise “awareness” of climate change and our wasteful consumption of energy. I was made aware of this event by the huge (approx) 50 ft full colour banner hanging from Ottawa city hall, the countless full colour flyers taped to lamp posts downtown, the wall to wall TV network coverage that has been burning up the microwaves, the buckets of black ink used to print clever ‘lights out’ themes on the front pages of newspapers produced from dead trees. Ironically, one Earth Hour promoter suggested sitting in the dark and burning candles instead of having the lights on. Alas, burning wax is a much less efficient method of producing light, and a process that produces more CO2, than using fluorescent (or even incandescent bulbs) that have been produced as a result of industrial progress, and market-based innovation. Indeed, the net result of industrialization was to create more efficient processes for achieving the same or better end results for less energy cost and less energy waste.

I live in downtown Ottawa. Besides a few lights off at Parliament Hill, there was no noticeable change in the electrical demand of our nation’s capital. I wasn’t up to too much of any consequence between 8 and 9pm last night so I decided to take a bit of an Earth Hour tour of the city from the comfort of a heated and fossil-fuel powered vehicle.

First stop was the Public Service Alliance of Canada building at 233 Gilmour st. This building is the Ottawa/federal hub for left-wing / labour / socialist causes as NDP associations and organizations close to the NDP have frequent use of board rooms and meeting spaces there. Here it is in its Earth Hour illuminated glory:

Not only were the lights on that illuminate the building on the ground floor and span half of the block flooding the grounds up until the sidewalk, a good number of offices were also lit up. These folks keep union hours (nobody’s working at 8pm on Saturday night).

Next stop was the CBC on Queen st. It was a big night for CBC after all. Hockey Night in Canada is a Canadian institution and the CBC wasn’t about to go dark for the occasion even though a lot of airtime was dedicated to raising ‘awareness’ for the event.

CBC Ottawa also did not go dark for Earth Hour. The building itself is within walking distance of where I work and live (it’s also across from Hy’s) so I have noted that CBC has frequently (if not every single night) kept the lights on during the night when nobody’s working. Their empty cubicle farm located at street level is always lit up at any hour of the night when I walk by on the sidewalk. Sadly, Earth Hour was no exception.

I also high-tailed it up to Rockcliffe for a quick drive past Stornoway and 24 Sussex. The Liberal leader’s official residence on Acacia ave was dark save for a small outside light and 24 Sussex had the lights on at the RCMP guard houses near the gate, a room light, and a few other lights on (generally for security one assumes).

How does one measure the success of Earth Hour? Are there any more people today that are ‘aware’ of climate change that weren’t yesterday? These sorts of “global” events have been held in the past. Live Aid and Live8 were meant to raise “awareness” of African poverty. Unfortunately, Africa is still poor and we’re just as aware of this. Live Earth was a global concert to raise awareness of global warming, but the concert itself had a considerable carbon footprint as celebrities and rock stars flew in on their private jets and arrived by chauffeured limo to tell us to install low flow shower heads and use less toilet paper.

These sorts of events are designed to make people feel good and think that they’re part of a global solution to a collective problem. However, it seems that no concrete action is achieved by raising awareness on issues of which people are already well aware.

Globe and Mail too pessimistic (biased!)

First, from CP:

WASHINGTON (CP) – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says American officials are reviewing the status of Maher Arar.

Rice said today she has taken the matter up with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and that he and Justice officials are looking into the matter. But Rice said after meeting in Washington with Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay the U.S. must have its own processes and come to its own conclusions in security matters. …

gmtndec22.jpg
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tstndec22.jpg
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The Globe and Mail headline screams: “U.S. snubs Canada’s Arar Plea”
The Toronto Star prints: “U.S. gives Arar new hope”

Bonus headline from the Ottawa Citizen’s front page: “U. S. Homeland Security to review Arar case”

Has the media love affair with Dion already begun?

First, Kate McMillan and Bob Tarantino rout out a suspicious Dion friendly source used by CP.

Next, Lawrence Martin the Globe and Mail scribe, former Chretien biographer (two books…one was written under duress), and a man paid over $6000 by Liberal governments for two speaking jobs gives new Liberal leader Stephane Dion the highest of praises, and apologizes for one of Dion’s recent flip-flops (my comments in bold):

There is a suspicion out there that Stéphane Dion is a man of honour, a politician of dignity with true character. (there’s only one thing I’m suspicious of at this point Mr. Martin, and it’s not Dion)

True character is the reverse of trying to be all things to all people. It means not seeking others’ approval. (Lawrence never wrote any biographies about Paul Martin, you’ll note) When, as a political leader, you stop doing that, and just be the essential you, people want some of what you’ve got, some of that core. You’re the magnetic field. (oh captain, my captain!)

But politics is about selling, reaching out, pandering. (first hints of apology) And so here was Stphane Dion in his first week as Liberal leader, already in the grip of the ugly claws of the enterprise(the grip!… the ugly claws, poor Stephane!). He was faced with a middling controversy over whether he should maintain his dual French citizenship. It was a sensitive issue for him, one that cut to his heart and, in responding, he got testy. (I’ll make full disclosure for Lawrence Martin here… the Globe and Mail scribe is a dual citizen too)

His answer was sound enough (of course…), but he couldn’t help thinking of the political equation. Well, if maintaining my French citizenship loses me votes, he said, he might have to reconsider. In other words, let’s cast aside the principle involved here and make a decision on the basis of politics.

That wasn’t the man of honour talking. It was hardly the new politics. It was an example of him looking over his shoulder, seeing the dark shadow of pollsters in pursuit, about to smother the light within. (dark forces made Dion do it. Dion is made of pure light, by the way)

Martin then contrasts “honour” with big bad Stephen Harper:

Stephen Harper has an impressive skill set. He had a chance, himself, to bring more honour to governance. But since the opening bell when he elevated a floor-crosser and an unelected senator to his Cabinet, he has shown himself to be a leader whose abiding imperative is political opportunism (wow…). His Senate reform, announced yesterday, which would allow voters at last some say in Senate appointments, is a step forward that he need not have framed in the context of political partisanship. His brazen approach in this regard has cost him, as voters, turned off by this kind of politics, have responded with declining approval ratings. (brazen, turned off, declining!)

Hence the Dion opening is all the greater. The Leader of the Opposition must find a way to resist the temptation to respond in kind to the cheap attacks and slanders. To succeed, to avoid being dragged down into the brothel, the rules of engagement are many: He must be a champion of principle. He must remain stoic, keeping the level of discourse high and noble, holding to his true character (wow…). He must, while letting other caucus members tackle the seamy questions, be seen as frequently as possible with the other tower of integrity in the Liberal thicket, Ken Dryden.

It’s not difficult to figure out how Lawrence Martin votes.

Finally, when Dion named Ignatieff as the deputy of the opposition Liberal Party, it made the front page of the Globe and Mail. When Stephen Harper named Carol Skelton as deputy leader of the opposition Alliance party in 2003, no such fanfare from the Globe. However, it did make page A10 of the National Post!

UPDATE: You may have read in Macleans that Susan Delacourt and Greg Weston were snubbed from the PM’s media Christmas party. I’m also hearing that Delacourt, after her invite was “lost in the mail”, was trying to lobby her fellow PPG members to boycott the PM’s party. UPDATE: The pro-Delacourt camp assures me that this isn’t true!

CBC Board of Directors Political Contributions by Party

As I prepared this post, a rerun of the CBC’s fifth estate documentary was lamenting the arrival of that “loud”, “raucous” cable news channel that has debuted on Canadian digital cable. I am, of course, talking about Fox News.

Bob McKeown has an obvious thesis. He claims, quite correctly, that Fox News has aided in the division of the United States into Red and Blue. He calls it “a very un-civil war”. Ironically he uses Al Franken and his Air America to confirm his thesis that Fox News is conservative (and thus quite evil). Yet, he ignores that by appealing to Franken he becomes unfaithful to his original thesis of media division of opinion as unfavorable.

I’d venture to guess that Bob took a lot of notes when he saw the Democratic Party funded documentary on Fox News: Outfoxed. All of the points were there. If I produced Outfoxed, I’d look into suing the Fifth Estate for plagiarism.

There is something quite ironic about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation identifying media bias when the American news channel itself will compete directly with CBC for viewers.

So, I decided to look into the political influence behind what may direct the decisions at the CBC, from the stories that they choose to cover to which rerun of the Antiques Roadshow they’ll play on Newsworld whenever the Conservative Party gets together at a convention or leadership debate.

Thus, I present the political contributions by party made by the current CBC board of directors.

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Consider that these powerful positions are appointed by the government and that state media should of course be unbiased.

The CBC documentary on Fox News dreads a division of opinion in the news media concerning the stories that are reported, the facts which are selected, and the tone of the broadcast. I would much prefer a “divide” than such a disparity which is as evident as the chart above describes.