Liveblogging the PM’s address

6:59pm: PM’s address on Global delivered via Youtube!

7:00pm: Canadians selected the Conservatives on October 14th to bring Canada through the economic crisis

7:00pm: First points past intro are details of the Conservative economic measures.

7:01pm: January 27th will be a budget.  Additional measures there.

7:01pm: “We are consulting with the opposition [on the economy]”

7:02pm: “Instead of a new budget, they propose a coalition that includes a party that wants to break up the country.”

7:03pm: “This is a pivotal moment in our history”

7:04pm: “will use all legal means at our disposal to protect our democracy”

7:06pm: Media coverage: Bob Fife of CTV speculates that if the GG turns down the PM’s request to prorogue, the PM may resign creating urgency for the GG to appoint a new PM.

7:07pm: Craig Oliver upset there was no contrition in the PM’s speech.

7:15pm: Fife suggests Conservatives are actively trying to poach Liberal MPs or have them miss the confidence vote on Monday.

7:16pm: Peter Donolo slamming the PM on CTV.  CTV presents Donolo as a pollster instead of Jean Chretien’s former Director of Communications.

7:17pm: Fife complains that Dion’s hasn’t presented a tape to CTV yet.  Lloyd complains that network time is expensive.  They presumed that they’d be back to prime time television by now.  Fife reveals that Layton wanted equal time as part of the coalition.

7:25pm: CBC says that Dion’s tape delay shows poor communications by the Liberals.  Maybe Dion didn’t understand his own speech.

7:26pm: Liberal tape has a poor start.

7:27pm: Jeffrey Simpson’s global warming book on Dion’s bookshelf.

7:28pm: Dion mentions the Bloc and the Green party will support the Liberals (on issues of confidence – what?)

7:28pm: Dion: Consensus is a great Canadian value

7:29pm: “Rivals are working together elsewhere in the world.  Why not here?”

7:29pm: Dion messaging against possible prorogation.

7:30pm: Dion outlining a potential economic platform.

7:31pm: Dion moves past allotted network time.

7:32pm: Dion describes his letter to the GG.  Outlined his suggestion to her not to prorogue.  “If [Harper] is to suspend parliament, he must face a vote of confidence.”

7:32pm: Dion says he’ll work day and night on the economic crisis.

Here’s Prime Minister Harper’s speech

The role of the Bloc in the coalition government

Consider the following talking points from the Liberal Party website:

and consider this set also from the Liberal Party website:

The “Issue” from the first reads:

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, New Democrat Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe have agreed to form a cooperative government to address the impactof the global economic crisis on Canadians. The NDP will support this agreement until June 30, 2011.

and from the second, the issue reads:

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, New Democrat Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe today announced that an agreement has been reached among the
three opposition parties to support a cooperative government to address the impact of the global economic crisis on Canadians.

A subtle difference but it does concede that the Bloc Quebecois is part of this proposed coalition government.

The Liberals must be scrambling around this calming members of their own party. Yesterday, their website featured a picture of Dion, Layton and Duceppe at the signing ceremony to compliment their featured story on their homepage. The picture was quickly dropped for the image of the Canadian flag that is now displayed instead.

Fact, fiction and speculation

Fact: “The Liberal Opposition plans to introduce a non-confidence motion in the House of Commons on Monday” (source)

But: Notice of motions are introduced regularly by the opposition. Motions are always introduced in advance. Generally five motions are introduced. The Liberals having a confidence motion on the table are simply having the confidence motion on the table as an option. Potential motions must prested in advance and today (Friday) is the earliest opportunity for the opposition to have that option on the table for Monday. They may not actually move on voting on the motion.

Speculation: Anybody wonder why Stephane Dion didn’t immediately step down after the election? His people have been quiet on his prospects as leader of a coalition government. In the Liberal constitution, if I remember correctly, the only way Dion can be replaced in a pinch is if he either dies or resigns. If Dion doesn’t resign, the Liberals may govern under Dion if a coalition is formed.

Fiction: A new Bloc-Liberal-NDP coalition government would be viable beyond their agreement on the $1.95-per-vote subsidy.

Speculation: If the Liberals-NDP believe they can form a coalition with tangential Bloc support, the GG may have no other option to call an election as 77+37=114 LPC/NDP vs. CPC’s 143. The GG may see this as the only stable option.

Fact: The Conservatives (in the broader picture) want to move forward on the economy. The opposition wanted to hold the government back on the campaign welfare package.

Fact: The Throne Speech passed in the House yesterday after the economic statement was read. The opposition approved the government’s mandate knowing full well that they’d be bringing it to the brink this weekend.

Fact: On mandates, if the Liberals were to form government, they would do so after receiving the lowest proportion of votes in their party’s history. Further, if Dion does resign and if Ignatieff does become Prime Minister, he would do so without having been presented to Canadians during the democratic process that we call elections. Talk about an affront to democracy!

Fact: The opposition accused the government of not having a plan for the economy during an election and now they accuse the government of the same now. What has changed? The Conservatives now want to end campaign welfare.

Fact: Cooler heads recognize that the American elephant will move on the economy in new year and that any action with respect to our integrated economies would be better done in coordination rather than prematurely.

Speculation: Canadians will not accept a surprise Liberal-NDP coalition backed by a party that wants to destroy the country that would stand to be dismantled under the proposed funding changes of the Conservative government. By opposing campaign welfare reform, the Liberals are sustaining the existence of the Bloc for their own ambition. Canadians will not accept a surprise Prime Minister unvetted by the electorate.

Speculation: What are the terms of a NDP-backed Liberal coalition government? Cancellation of the $50 Billion corporate tax cut? What are the Bloc’s terms?

Liberal leadership race heats up

In my last post, I speculated that New Brunswick Liberal MP (and son of a former Governor General) Dominic LeBlanc would throw his hat into the ring for leadership of the Liberal Party. Today, LeBlanc became the first MP to announce his intentions to seek the leadership running between Ignatieff on the relative right and Rae on the left of the party.

I’ve learned some other details about who might back a LeBlanc bid for leadership. I suggested yesterday that a Martin adviser such as Steve MacKinnon would back LeBlanc. With McKenna expected to remain outside of the race, I mused that MacKinnon may go LeBlanc. However, I’ve learned today that the former national director of the Liberal Party will likely back Ignatieff while communications gurus from Paul Martin’s PMO such as Scott Reid and Tim Murphy will be more likely to back the New Brunswick MP while a Liberal insider I spoke to expects John Duffy to go with Rae.

If Ujjal Dosanjh enters the race (if he survives a putative court challenge for a recount), he is expected to do so for the purpose of gathering BC delegates for Bob Rae.

Conservatives and New Democrats I have spoken with have previously feared a bid by Bob Rae. Conservatives believe that Rae will unite and polarize the left while the NDP fears massive hemorrhaging of their membership for Rae. Recently, however, Conservatives are more bullish on their future against a Rae-led Liberal Party as the Global Economic Crisis has severely diminished Rae’s futures on the leadership market. Conservatives would easily remind Canadians of Bob Rae’s tenure during Ontario’s last economic recession and would make the case that Rae days would soon return.

As for second tier candidates, Ruby Dhalla is considering a bid. Sources of mine in Brampton–Springdale have told me that even during the election (before the knives were in Dion’s back), Dhalla told Punjabi language radio that she would be running for the Liberal leadership. Dhalla is seen to be on the right-flank of the Liberal Party and backed Ignatieff’s bid during the 2006 leadership race so unless her candidacy caches fire, she may be building proxy support for the other Liberal professor.

Woe for my love of a great comedy, Justin Trudeau is not expected to jump into the leadership race. Indeed, the son of the former Liberal Prime Minister has not yet got his feet wet in the House of Commons. Trudeau is expected to back LeBlanc as the current standard-bearer of the next generation of Liberal leaders. Trudeau backed former Ontario-cabinet minister Gerard Kennedy for leadership in 2006. Kennedy is testing the waters for entry into this contest, however, many believe that as Dion’s kingmaker, Kennedy may sit this one out to put some time between this aberration and his ambition.

Yesterday, former Chretien finance minister John Manley tested the waters in a most self-deprecating way but found none to dive into as he metaphorically suggested. The author of the Harper-initiated Manley Report was seen by many Liberals as betrayal to a weakened, embarrassed and voiceless party on the opposition benches. Manley may find redemption in his party by organizing for a front-running candidate and this would have the benefit of keeping his name in the minds of Liberal partisans.

Ironically, Dion’s election as Liberal leader may see more longshots enter this race. Ambitious Liberals with at least an ounce of name recognition may see a divided field and plan a run up the middle. LeBlanc’s entry into the race gains credibility because he is first to announce. Others may see that LeBlanc is planning a Dion-like charge up the middle as Dion had done and work to position themselves as a more palatable consensus candidate. Ottawa politicos are guessing that the field of candidates will be necessarily narrow due to a shallow and parched pool of donors. Since leadership contenders can carry previous debts into the next Liberal race, the Liberal base will again be tapped for sparse cash from not only the next crop making the case to be the Liberal Party’s next PM, but from those that are resume building and those paying down old debts during an economic crisis.

UPDATE: Ruby Dhalla’s office contacted me and they would like you to know that Ruby Dhalla did not state that she was running for leader on Punjabi radio. So, for now it’s a matter of she said vs. they said. (UPDATE: I’m now concluding that these Brampton–Springdale sources are likely inaccurate. My sincere apologies to Ruby Dhalla on this point.) Also, Dhalla’s office wants everyone to know that the image above is doctored and that Dr. Dhalla did not pose for the photo. They asked that I remove it. However, I will not comply as the image is obviously satire.

Election swag: The NOPE t-shirt

During the election campaign, I mocked up a Canadian version of the famous Obama poster in Adobe Illustrator:

and my friend Chris and I put them on some t-shirts for a laugh. There have been many spoofs of the Obama poster, here’s the Canadian version.

The shirts were featured in the special election issue of Macleans, the Hill Times and Embassy. A lot of people have been asking us if we have any more of them. We printed up a bunch of them to keep costs low and we have a few left hanging around.

I hear that one of the most popular uses of this internet fad is to sell t-shirts so since we still have a handful left, I thought I’d give it a shot.

The shirts are $20 each (+$3 shipping)

Buy a NOPE t-shirt (small)

Buy a NOPE t-shirt (medium)

Buy a NOPE t-shirt (large)

So, if you want a souvenir of the election, are a Conservative, Dipper or post-election Liberal who wants a shirt, hit a paypal button above (if you don’t have a paypal account, don’t worry. You can click the “Continue” link on the left-hand side of the paypal page to pay by credit card). Oh, and if you’re the special type who wants a bunch of them, send me an email

Sincere advice for the Liberal Party of Canada

To my friends in the Liberal Party, it’s been a rough few years hasn’t it? A bitter family feud between the Martins and the Chretiens made Hatfield vs. McCoy look like the Brady Bunch vs. the Partridge Family and the accidental election of a third-rate leader bent on control and unnameable to caucus advice has lead to your worst popular vote share in your party’s long history. The NDP is resurgent and the Greens have become a temporary home for your base as they recoiled with shame as the party of Trudeau, Pearson and Laurier became the party of the clueless, the ambitious and the corrupt. True, you may have truly found your basement of support this election, but the foundation is cracked and some nice red paint and roses won’t cover the mold.

From the time of Trudeau, your party has had an unhealthy fixation on personality over policy, indeed style over substance. Turner and Dion were short hiccups for your party but Martin’s tragically ironic countless priorities and Chretien’s empty record (not going into Iraq is not the same as real constructive accomplishment) will, unfortunately for your partisans, provide a high enough dose of the addictive drug that is power. In Stephane Dion, the aberration is not solely based on his failure to obtain power, it is also rooted in his attempt to introduce a bold policy and for you this provided terrible symptoms of withdrawal.

And, now you sit at a familiar crossroads that looks like December 2006. Nothing has progressed. Indeed, you are arguably further behind now that Canadians have reaffirmed what was at first a flirtation with a Harper-led Conservative government but one that now has a firm legitimacy in the minds of the electorate. Is your hunger and perceived entitlement to power enough for you to latch onto the peripheral distraction of personality, or is it time to figure out what your party stands for?

Just minutes after Mr. Dion conceded defeat on election night, the knives came out. In truth, you’ve never in recent Liberal history had a more honest and sincere politician lead your party. Unfortunately for you, any ruthlessness of his political instinct focused inward on your caucus that he could barely control rather than outwards towards Stephen Harper in not only a policy-based direction, but along a shrewd political path to remove him from that top office that you covet.

But then again, for at least my lifetime, your party has been about power despite policy. Yet the political landscape has changed and as you charge and foolishly dismiss your right-wing opponents as ideologues, they come to the arena ready to do battle, and they fundamentally do so with ideas.

For a party that has reached the depths of intellectual bankruptcy, the tendency is to attack on the unsubstantial, on a raft of policies that do not exist in a hidden agenda, and on fear of the unknown. To be sure, such tactics were employed by the Conservatives as they fought to retain power, yet they did so on a strong foundation of their ideas that you decry as ideology.

In Dion, you finally had a leader who stood for more than fear, you had a leader who stood for an idea. Dion’s Green Shift policy was a real though flawed plan, with the policy benefit of bridging the ideologies — at least on the surface and despite the increased spending — of fiscal conservatism and environmental protectionism. Given the right leader and the proper political circumstances, the plan could have been a winner for a Liberal government in waiting. Blessed with a charming silver-tongued salesman of a leader, your transition team would have been aiding with the formation of a cabinet this week, instead you hit rock bottom on leadership and you’re about to go back to the cold comfort of a slick huckster without a product to sell.

The Liberal Party of Canada needed a Conservative majority more than the Conservative Party did. At first glance, you seem to be keeping the Tories close to but short of real power. In truth, the advantage here is Harper’s. The Prime Minister will keep a penniless Liberal Party on the verge of electoral war, as you prepare most of your efforts on election readiness rather than policy development and an exhaustive thorough leadership search. In the next few months, you will be rushed in selecting a leader and preparing for the next campaign. Saddled with financial debt and a deficit of policy, your Liberal Party is a starved beast; vicious and hungry but unfit for the long game.

Political pundits of all stripes have said that minority governments are now the norm. With four parties in the House of Commons, three of which are on the left, Canadians — depending on their view — are either blessed or condemned by this fortuitous circumstance or frustrating stalemate. On this, where you stand is where you sit and for Harper and his caucus that comfortably crowds the government benches, he has minority advantage and you will bleed without opportunity to heal.

What should you do? How to stop the ouroborosian process of urgency followed by poor results followed by urgency, disaster, debt and self-consumption? Break the cycle yourself and go into self-imposed exile. Typical wisdom suggests that governments defeat themselves and you are certainly not in a position to play the futile role of the ignorant to this rule. The Conservative Party found its genesis after a right-of-centre period of introspection, autolytic destruction, and the reformation of policies, communications and politics. Indeed, the Reform Party helped break down the big-C Conservative institution, return it to the crucible of the movement and temper it with a grassroots approach to policy. Reform didn’t destroy conservatism, it helped it get its soul back. My Liberal friends, you need to leave the political arena, and start a process to rediscover what it is that you stand for. The Conservative Party is rooted in the conservative movement whereas the Liberal movement, if it exists, is rooted in the Liberal Party. If Canadians are to give your party a serious look and return it to power, it must rebuild its foundation first.

Frank McKenna watch

I’ve learned via sources close to Frank McKenna that he’ll be having dinner with supporter, trusted advisers and longtime friends in Fredericton tonight.  Is the former Premier of New Brunswick gathering a team to run for the Liberal leadership?

RELATED: Steve Maher of the Halifax Chronicle Herald reports this morning,

On Nov. 25, [Bill] Clinton will join Mr. McKenna in the Moncton Coliseum for a talk on the world economy. When Mr. McKenna set that up, midway through this election campaign, he would have been able to guess that Mr. Dion was in the middle of losing the election.

Current Liberal leader Stephane Dion called a press conference earlier today for Monday where he is expected to announce that he’ll be stepping down. Apparently, he has been delayed in his announcement as he has been negotiating the transfer of his debt to the Liberal Party as a condition of his cooperative departure from Stornoway.