Liberal Meme Watch

Liberal Meme: Stephen Harper is not the internationalist that Michael Ignatieff is, the latter more worldly, well-traveled and well-lettered. Stephen Harper has tarnished Canada’s reputation on the international stage through a style that eschews Canada’s traditional “nuanced” approach and “honest-broker” status.

Today’s sighting of this Liberal meme: Susan Delacourt’s blog

Susan Delacourt publishes screenshots from the UN webcast and CTV newsnet that show the differences between the audiences that Stephen Harper, Barack Obama and the President of Switzerland received at the UN. As you can see from Delacourt’s blog, PM Harper’s speech wasn’t very well attended while Obama’s speech and that of the Swiss President were packed.

You see, as the tipster (one presumes) that sent Susan the screenshots would argue, Michael Ignatieff would have packed the house and could convince the world to welcome Canada back to the the cocktail parties in midtown Manhattan!

However, the presumed tipster neglected to send other screenshots of the audiences received by other leaders. These pictures would have helped put things in more context:


China – a permanent member of the UN security council and most populous nation


Iraq – certainly the focus of much international attention over the past few years


Malawi – larger audience. Why? Switzerland preceded Obama’s speech and Malawi followed it. (delegates were probably still gathering their briefcases before ditching the Malawi speech)

So the audience sizes are more related to the ability of the US to draw a crowd. Isn’t context important? If Canada was snubbed, was China snubbed, was Iraq snubbed?

Most notable previous use of the media to falsely push this Liberal meme: Stephen Harper snubbed at the White House! (do check out the link)

You can almost sense the Ignatieff envy.

CBC vandalizes Wikipedia too

One of the stories raging in the Canadian blogosphere today is the Toronto Star’s Wikipedia edit of Rob Ford’s Wikipedia page linking readers to a parody site of the candidate for mayor of Toronto. BCF has the run-down.

I decided to check up on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to see what sorts of edits their staff have made.

First, the IP address 159.33.10.92 belongs to the CBC.

Someone at the CBC has edited an article on George Soros to make the following changes to the text:

It seems that the CBC employee doubts the “official” story.

Further, what does a CBCer think of CTV’s Ben Mulroney, son of Fifth Estate star (and former PM) Brian Mulroney?

Ouch.

Responding to Paul Wells…

Today Paul Wells wrote a piece in which he supported the thesis of a post I wrote back on July 22. However, he thought he noted a bit of an inconsistency between my post and later tweets,

I’ve been mystified by Stephen Harper’s willingness to squander so much political capital on an issue as trivial as the long-form census. Only slightly less so by the media’s piling on, treating this as a matter of great national importance, and by the level of emotional investment so many apparently attach to census-gathering.

The opposition? They’re just reveling in the unexpected bounty of low-hanging political fruit, and Tory self-inflicted injury.

I don’t get it. It’s just not that big a deal – either way.

— Charles W. Moore, New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, today

Stephen Harper seeks to diminish or destroy the Liberal Party to replace them with the Conservatives as Canada’s default choice for government. His greatest challenge is to dismantle the modern welfare state. If it can’t be measured, future governments can’t pander.

— Blogger Stephen Taylor, July 22.

That’s the choice, I suppose. Either what the Harper government is doing with the long-form census doesn’t matter, or it does. Obviously Moore has a lot more company than Taylor does. Indeed, lately Moore’s company includes Taylor: since July 22 this whole business has gotten too hot for Stephen’s liking and in his blog and on Twitter he’s joined the nobody-cares crowd, arguing that this whole business is an invention of the “push media,” by which he means news organizations that cover a story he doesn’t like for longer than he likes.

There is obviously a bit of confusion because after I wrote that blog post, I took to twitter and wrote this:

When members of Parl ConCensus Gallery aren’t push reporting stories on Census/Prorogation, they’re auditioning for Iggy’s PressSec on #lpcx — @stephen_taylor

I noted a similarity to that earlier sleepy story of the year called prorogation when the Toronto Star breathlessly plastered its front page describing a “fury” of Canadians against prorogation because 20,000 people had joined a Facebook group! Sure enough, while 20,000 people seeded interest in the story, the media took the ball from there and covered it and covered it for the next three weeks and it wasn’t too surprising that the millions of dollars in free media coverage netted that Facebook group over 150,000 members!

To address Wells specifically, he sees a bit of a disconnect between my suggestion that the PM is really using the census issue to dismantle the welfare state and my assertion that “nobody cares” about this story.

However, in my original article I wrote this:

QMI’s David Akin exclaimed surprise that from his cell within the beehive of special interests that is Ottawa, he was shocked to find that a full half — that other half — of Canadians aren’t upset about the changes to the census when it seems that’s the only thing the other bees seem to be buzzing about. The story that “just won’t go away” is a flurry of activity “inside the beehive”, because until you go outside, you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Two things: I still standby my thesis that I believe that chucking mandatory nature of the long-form is a move to dismantle the welfare state (and that this is a move in the right direction). And two, nobody cares outside of the beehive. It’s the media that is pushing the story outside of the beehive walls propelled by the loud buzz of special interests.

If you were to poll typical Canadians and asked them, “what is the biggest issue facing you and your family”, I’d venture a guess that most would not respond that “the changing of the long-form census to a voluntary survey” ranks high on their list.

“Nobody cares” is a simplification; nobody cares outside of the beehive. The swarm of special interests sure does care. Other Canadians? They’re at the cottage, or BBQing on their decks. Does bugspray keep bees away too?

As for my trouble-making behaviour, I make no apologies. Sometimes it’s fun to throw rocks at beehives.

The Canadian media on Stephen Harper and the global bank tax

The Toronto Star (June 4):

Is the shine coming off Stephen Harper’s summit spotlight?

As with the economy, a host of other issues appear to have conspired to take the shine off Harper’s role at the upcoming summits in Huntsville and Toronto.

Despite trying for months to defuse the hot-button issue of a global bank tax, Harper still finds himself at odds with Obama, Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Le Devoir (translated from June 5):

Harper returned empty handed from Europe

After London, Paris refused to waive a tax on banks

Paris – If the objective of the whirlwind trip that Stephen Harper was finished yesterday in Europe to persuade London and Paris to abandon their proposed tax on banks, it now appears as a failure. Like his British counterpart had done the day before, the French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, said yesterday that France had no intention of abandoning its intention to tax the banking business in order to establish a fund for emergencies. …

Back from 48h to London and Paris, Harper is so isolated on this crucial issue because the proposed tax on banks is supported by both the European Union, the United States and the International Monetary Fund. The project is also likely to take shape fairly quickly in Europe.

So about that failure of the PM to fend off a global bank tax?

Canwest and Reuters (June 5th):

Finance ministers scrap plans for global bank tax

In the face of fierce opposition from Canada and several other countries, finance ministers from the Group of 20 have axed plans for a global bank tax
,
giving individual nations more freedom to decide how to make banks pay for any future bailouts.
The ministers ended a two-day meeting in Busan, South Korea, on Saturday that was held to review progress on a string of initiatives aimed at making the financial system safer in the wake of the last year’s global collapse.

A bank tax, a measure pushed for by the United States, Britain and France, would have imposed a levy on all global financial institutions. All three countries spent billions of taxpayer dollars to rescue their largest financial institutions after the fiscal crisis of late 2008.

Canada Day evokes colourful reactions from press gallery reporter

Two years ago, The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt had the Canada Day blues…

They’re painting the town blue for Canada Day in the nation’s capital this year.

Though the red and white of Canada’s flag is usually the dominant colour scheme for the big party in Ottawa on July 1, blue seems to be all the rage this year – a good, solid Conservative blue, to match the government in power.

Workers have been erecting the main stage for festivities this week on Parliament Hill. By yesterday, it was evident the favoured hue seems to have definitely shifted from red – which also happens to be the colour of the Liberal party, the Conservatives’ arch-rivals.

This wouldn’t be the first time, however, that this symbol-conscious government has eschewed red for blue.

The government’s official website, www.gc.ca, has increasingly leaned toward blue tints ever since the Conservatives came to power almost a year and a half ago.

For this year’s Canada Day, Delacourt was seeing red,

Early into his first term as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper mused aloud about how he wished Canadian reporters would stand when he entered the room. I believe the collective reply to this musing had something to do with weather forecasts and the temperature in hell.

But yesterday, on Canada Day, Global TV news showed us how Harper managed to get the military to give him a salute that’s normally reserved for the Governor-General. As Heritage Minister James Moore explains in the video, this was something that the Prime Minister apparently wanted.

So if you do run across our Tim Horton’s, hockey-dad, regular-guy PM this summer on the barbecue circuit, give him a little salute. Or stand up, or something. He really seems to appreciate deference.

He said “tar baby”? Who else did?

Today in the house, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said,

“On that side of the House, they have the man who fathered the carbon tax, put it up for adoption to his predecessor and now wants a paternity test to prove the tar baby was never his in the first place”

This caused a stir on the opposition benches and caused Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale to ask Poilievre to withdraw and deemed the term “racist”.

Here are some recent uses of the term by journalists including Chantal Hebert.

“The nasty legal squabble over who owns the cash-strapped Phoenix Coyotes and whether they can relocate to Hamilton is hardly the first such tar baby the NHL has dealt with, and it won’t be the last.” (John Mackinnon, Edmonton Journal, May 18, 2009).

“It’s a Tory/Liberal tar baby and I’ve lost faith that they can do anything but keep changing the minister and pretend everything’s under control.” (Ralph Surette, Halifax Chronicle Herald, February 14, 2009).

“At this stage, the McTeague bill looks more like a Liberal tar baby than a party brainchild.” (Chantal Hebert, The Toronto Star, March 12, 2008).

“Along the way, Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois has got herself in trouble with the usual suspects as she fumbles with the language tar baby and prepares for one of those gawdawful national council meetings the PQ caribous use to exasperate and humiliate the unfortunate chief of the moment.” (Norman Webster, Montreal Gazette, February 17, 2008).

“Marois’s effort to shake off the referendum tar baby is good news…” (Editorial, Cynical PQ bid to rebrand party, The Toronto Star, Friday, March 7, 2008).

“Same-sex marriage has generally been treated like a political tar baby over the past few years, with most parties reluctant to whip up highly sensitive arguments touching on religion and deeply rooted social values.” (Susan Delacourt, Martin could exploit gay-marriage gift, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday, December 10, 2004).

“Nobody is saying you toss over your U.S. relations. Of course you don’t. But it doesn’t mean to say you have to become slavishly connected like some kind of tar baby with them.” (Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s new leader to improve U.S. ties, Detroit Free Press, Thursday, December 11, 2003).

h/t: David Akin

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.

Media endorsements

Globe and Mail
“On balance, Mr. Harper remains the best man for the job in the tough times now upon us. He deserves if not four more years, at least two more years.”

National Post
“Faced with these high stakes, we believe, Canada would be best served if Stephen Harper’s Conservative government were to receive a second mandate, this time in majority form.”

The Economist
And yet, in a sinking world, Canada is something of a cork. Its well-regulated banks are solid. Growth has slowed but not stopped. The big worry is the fear that an American recession will drag Canada down with it. Mr Harper says, rightly enough, that his government has taken prudent measures to help Canada weather a storm it cannot duck: he has offered tax cuts and selective aid to help vulnerable manufacturing towns. But it is his seeming non-reaction to what is so far a non-crisis that looks likely to deny him the majority he was seeking, and could even let in the opposition. In what is the first credit-crunch election in a big Western country, Mr Harper’s ejection would set a dispiriting precedent that panic plays better politically than prudence.

Toronto Sun
While we respect all the national party leaders, realistically, Canadians Tuesday must choose between Stephen Harper and Stephane Dion to lead us through tough economic times. To us, the choice for prime minister is clear. It’s Harper.

Vancouver Sun
So on the ballot box question that’s on everybody’s mind – the slowing economy – we trust Harper to navigate the rough road ahead. A majority government for the Conservatives led by Stephen Harper is our choice.

Montreal Gazette
“On balance, however, we believe that considering the Conservative record and the goals, policies, and personnel of the other parties, it is the Conservatives who deserve to be re-elected on Tuesday. Amid all the unfair and misleading advertising of this campaign, one Conservative message is truer now than when the writ was dropped: Constancy and prudence with the country’s finances are even more important when we’re in the economic doldrums.”

Ottawa Citizen
“We believe that Canadians should return the Conservatives to government on Oct. 14, but not because Stephen Harper is an inspiring figure. He is not. There are no Obama-esque promises to repair the world. But Mr. Harper offers the steadiest hand and clearest judgment to steer Canada through the rough waters that lie ahead.”

Winnipeg Free Press
“Under the shrill cacophony of the opposition’s cries for action, Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have remained calm. Look at the last two years, the prime minister says, correctly claiming that he has offered generally competent government. In the face of this crisis, he promises more of the same. On Thursday, two major international financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Economic Forum, agreed with him, saying that Canada was on the right course to weather the storm. Mr. Harper’s economic policy is clear and practical and worth supporting on Tuesday. To turn the old saying on its head, this time, hard times should be Tory times. As The Economist said Thursday, if Canadians reject the Conservatives, it would ‘set a dispiriting precedent that panic plays better politically than prudence.'”

Edmonton Journal
“And in that real world, both Canada and Alberta in particular will be best served if Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are re-elected with the strength to be more than caretakers until we have to go through all of this again.”

Kitchener-Waterloo Record
Each voter will have to respond to this question as he or she sees fit. The way The Record’s editorial board views the situation, there are only two viable options, one coming from Harper’s Conservatives, the other from Stéphane Dion’s Liberals. And when we weigh things as fairly and carefully as we can, we conclude that Harper and his party deserve another term in government.

Ottawa Sun
In every election campaign there comes a moment when someone declares it to be the most important election in a very long time. This is that moment for us. What Ottawa and Canada need now is a strong Conservative government led by Stephen Harper.

Calgary Sun
But on the big question — who should be our prime minister — there’s no question. It’s Harper.

Edmonton Sun
Still, after assessing all the party promises, the Edmonton Sun believes the one that will inflict the least damage on our economy and way of life is the platform presented by Harper’s Conservatives.

Vancouver Province
Rather than roll the dice, protecting Canadians during these difficult and unstable times calls for proven, rational measures from a federal government that uses workable fundamentals, such as keeping taxes low, paying down debt and maintaining controlled spending. That’s why we are endorsing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives and urge voters to give them a majority on Oct. 14, a majority incidentally that should include stronger representation from B.C.

Winnipeg Sun
Harper has also proven himself on the world stage. He’s unafraid to make tough decisions and, unlike the Liberals, committed to properly funding our military and giving it a clear mandate and mission, before sending our soldiers into harm’s way.

Brantford Expositor
Like many Canadians, we have been fairly satisfied with Harper’s government since it took office in January 2006. The Harper government has cut taxes and the national debt. It has promised to remove our forces from Afghanistan. It has belatedly responded to the crisis on the stock markets.

Calgary Herald
“Thus, the choice is simple. The Calgary Herald endorses Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. They deserve to be re-elected based on their record, competence, and on the prime minister’s steady hand as Canada heads into uncharted, choppy economic waters.”

Windsor Star
“Harper has come under fire in some quarters for not empathizing more with Canadians fearful about their finances but Canadians don’t want their leaders to feign emotion and pretend to “feel their pain.” They want their leaders to alleviate it through sound policies rather than sound bites, actions rather than words. Canadians need sturdy leadership in these uncertain times and Harper offers it.”

Toronto Star
For all these reasons, Harper and the Conservatives do not deserve to be re-elected on Tuesday. We prefer Dion and the Liberals.

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.