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The 2008 Canadian Election- Merged Thread

New daily polls, again.

Ekos say:

“The EKOS tracking poll shows the national parties holding steady for the moment, though daily shifts suggest there may be a softening of Conservative support and a perceptible growth for the Greens this week.”

BQ: 8
Cons: 38
Greens: 12
Libs: 24
NDP: 18

But, Ekos adds:

“Conservatives were [earlier this week] doing a much better job of retaining their supporters, and that the Liberals were experiencing unhealthy levels of defection. This finding can be expanded to reinforce our growing conviction that we may be witnessing some more profound shifts in the structure of party affiliation in Canada ... this analysis places both the Liberal and the Bloc Québécois prospects in a rather gloomy, longer-term context. Both parties have been failing to recruit replacements from first time voters, and this (coupled with other recent campaign difficulties) should do little to raise the spirits of either BQ or, more pointedly, Liberal supporters. It may be that we are shifting from a more centrist, politics of consensus, to a more ideologically polarized electorate – a movement that may not auger well for future Liberal prospects ... While none of these trends are definitive, the overall emerging picture is of a very different Canadian political landscape which no longer anoints the LPC as the natural governing party.”

Harris-Decima says:

Conservative Support Inches Downward, NDP Gaining Among Some Key Demographics

• In Ontario, the race is tight, with Conservatives at 37%, Liberals 34%, the NDP 15% and the Greens 12%. In Quebec, the BQ leads with 33%, the Conservatives follow with 24%, the Liberals with 20%, the NDP at 14% and the Greens at 8%.

• In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead with 36%, followed by the Conservatives with 28%, the NDP 21% and the Green Party with 11%. In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead with 35%, followed by the Liberals with 25%, the NDP with 23% and the Greens with 14%.

• Among urban women, the NDP has gained ground in recent days to 18%. Among women 18-34, the NDP stands at 25%, an 8-point jump since the writ was dropped. Among single women, the NDP are now leading. The Green Party has also been showing increasing strength with younger and single women.

• Positive feelings towards Stephen Harper have slide somewhat. From a peak of 53% favourable in the September 8-11 period, his positives are now averaging 47%. His negatives have risen from a low of 40% to a current 45%.

• The BQ appear to have stabilized, and one of the reasons for this is likely increased impact of their advertising.

Finally, Nanos says:

Tories lead by nine points

BQ: 7
Cons: 39
Greens: 6
Libs: 30
NDP: 18

Still more polling, but this is interesting.

Leger Marketing, in a poll of 1005 people, has the BQ in second place in QC for the first time in years and years and years.

The Conservatives are one point ahead of the BQ (with or without undecided voters), the Libs are 10+ points behind them; the Greens and NDP are in single digits. The 'lead' is, in fact, a statistical tie given the margin of error (unstated, but, typically, 2.5% to 3.5% 19 times out of 20 with a poll of that size).
Rodahn said:
There could be more of a backlash than anticipated, as one of the persons who died was in Ritz's own riding, and the son is livid. Granted they are still investigating how the contamination affected the woman.

Link here:


Another related article.


Medical journal slams Tories over listeriosis cases
Updated Wed. Sep. 17 2008 9:21 AM ET
The Canadian Press
…an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal slammed the federal government for undermining public health safeguards.

The editorial, signed by several doctors and journal editors, states that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has reversed much of the progress previous governments made in relation to public health.

The editorial takes aim at the Conservative government's decision to transfer inspection duties for ready-to-eat meats to the meat industry itself, while allowing listeria standards to remain lower than they are in most countries and stripping the Public Health Agency of Canada of much of its political clout.

The editorial also makes the case for a full-scale, arms-length public inquiry similar to those for the tainted blood scandal, Walkerton and the SARS epidemic, rather than the investigation called for by the Harper government.

Links to the CMAJ articles:



Rodahn said:
There could be more of a backlash than anticipated, as one of the persons who died was in Ritz's own riding, and the son is livid. Granted they are still investigating how the contamination affected the woman.

Link here:


The Ritz story certainly has “legs,” as the journalists say.

Assuming Gerry Ritz is fairly safe in his seat (he got 14,666 votes out of 27,332 in the last election and his nearest competitor, an NDipper, was 10,000+ votes behind) and will be re-elected, gaffe or not, minister or not, the question becomes: should Harper –

1. Fire Ritz, now, allowing Public Works Minister Christian Paradis (who is still Secretary of State (Agriculture)) to carry on? or

2. Accept the resignation of Mr. Ritz? Or

3. Tough it out?

Option 1 has two advantages:

I. It appears to be what a lot of Canadians want, right now. Many Canadians are not buying the “stress” defence and the media will not let this go away soon – it’s selling soap; and

II. It makes Harper appear decisive and “caring.”

Option 2 has no particular advantages for Harper and the Party but it might save Mr. Ritz’s skin for a future cabinet appointment.

Option 3 retains a competent minister and ‘feeds’ the Western (Reform) Conservative base. Option 3 works IF the “legs” fall off this story because someone else screws up – please gods, not another Tory! And that is something that can and likely will happen in the next three weeks.

Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail, is more grist for the mill from Jeffrey Simpson:

In search of the Liberal brand


From Friday's Globe and Mail
September 18, 2008 at 10:13 PM EDT

Martin Goldfarb, the Liberal Party's pollster in the Trudeau era, believes the way for the party to beat Stephen Harper is to campaign on the Liberal brand.

Mr. Goldfarb, an old sparring partner, is a smart cookie whose views are always worth considering. He knows a lot about marketing, branding, selling, packaging and politics.

But what is the Liberal “brand” these days?

When Mr. Goldfarb whispered in Pierre Trudeau's ear (often through intermediaries), the Liberals were the dominant party in Quebec. In the five elections Mr. Trudeau fought as leader, the Liberals won between 56 and 74 of Quebec's 74 or 75 seats. Each of those elections, except 1968, produced more Liberal MPs from Quebec than from Ontario, despite Ontario's having more MPs in Parliament.

Since 1984, however, the Liberals have never won the largest number of seats in Quebec, let alone Trudeau-era landslides. Almost a quarter of a century has passed since the Liberal brand in Quebec helped make Liberals the country's natural party of government.

In the last election, the Liberals hung on to 13 Quebec seats, mostly in and around Montreal. The majority of the seats had large concentrations of non-francophones. If an election were held tomorrow, half of the party's 13 seats would be in jeopardy.

The Liberals lost a by-election to the NDP in Westmount, which was like the Conservatives losing Calgary Southwest. Their candidates today in formerly safe Liberal ridings such as LaSalle-Émard (Paul Martin's old seat) and Outremont might be fine people, but hardly the “star candidates” the Liberals were once able to recruit.

Given Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's negative reputation in Quebec, maybe Mr. Goldfarb's advice is all the party has: to run on the brand in Quebec. But not only is the brand a shadow of what it was when he polled for the Liberals, it hasn't been very strong for a long time. It is very, very weak now everywhere outside a dozen ridings in and around Montreal and across the river from Ottawa.

West of Ontario, the Liberal brand has been a tarnished one for decades. The Liberals haven't captured the largest number of seats in Manitoba since 1953, in Saskatchewan since 1949. In 20 elections since 1945, the party has won just 29 seats in Alberta. The Liberals have taken the largest number of seats in British Columbia twice since the Second World War, in 1953 and 1968.

So, politically speaking, the Liberal brand west of Ontario has been lousy for decades. It's no better now. Yes, there have been urban pockets of Liberal support in the four western provinces, but that's been it.

Viewed from Greater Toronto, the Liberal brand remains infused with a proud history, values and people. But even in some other places in Ontario where the party used to be strong, the brand has faded.

Last weekend, The Hamilton Spectator asked: “Where have all the Liberals gone?” The article was accompanied by pictures of former Liberal stalwarts John Munro and Sheila Copps and reminded readers that, not many elections ago, the party won all the Hamilton-area seats. Today, the Liberals hold none and are not expected to win any.

The same situation applies in and around Windsor, the fiefdom years ago of Paul Martin Sr., then Herb Gray and Eugene Whelan. Last time, the Liberals lost both Windsor seats to the NDP and Essex to the Conservatives.

In and around Ottawa, the Liberals used to be the dominant party, especially when John Manley and, before him, George McIlraith were party heavyweights. Now, the Liberals hold only two city seats and have lost their recent dominance throughout the Ottawa Valley.

Elections come and elections go, as do leaders and policies. But what's been going on for the Liberal brand reflects forces much deeper than who's leader today or what promises the party is making.

That Liberal brand still resonates with a lot of people, but they are mostly now in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Even in those regions, the brand isn't as strong as it was.

When your brand won't sell west of Ontario and throughout most of Quebec, you're not going to win very often, if ever.

I have often cited historian Michael Bliss’ ‘Old Canada/New Canada’ article (a copy of which I cannot find, now, except in an allusion) from about 10-15 years ago. The Liberals are very much “old Canada” – patronage, handouts, ‘programmes’ and ‘programmes’ and even more ‘programmes.” The old Reform Party (‘Refooooooorm!’) might have been ‘new Canada’ but it was sidetracked by social conservatives who represent neither the old nor the new.

Stephen Harper ran (2006) and governed as a stereotypical ‘old Canada’ Liberal.

There are 107 seats in ‘old Canada’ and only 95 in ‘new Canada,’ West of Ontario. Ontario, with the other 106 seats, is ‘new Canada,’ but neither (‘new Canada’ nor Ontario) is monolithic. New Canada (West of Ontario) still sends several NDippers and some Liberals to Ottawa. Now that there is a credible capitalist alternative (not present 1993 through 2000) the Liberal stranglehold on Ontario has loosened. But, as Simpson says, the Liberals’ hold on Canada, old and new, is done – for now.

New Canada (West of Ontario) still sends several NDippers and some Liberals to Ottawa. Now that there is a credible capitalist alternative (not present 1993 through 2000) the Liberal stranglehold on Ontario has loosened. But, as Simpson says, the Liberals’ hold on Canada, old and new, is done – for now.

The question then becomes, but what about the old diehards who harken back to a better day dreaming of lotus blossoms, and such....Between listening to propaganda from all sides, remembering the heady days when it seemed the government could do no wrong and it was a land of plenty (or none of the above...your choice)....the liberal base is still searching for Mr/Mrs Right...
The sons do NOT always mirror the father...... ::)
I still contend that a key dynamic in Canadian politics, in addition to the Old/New dichotomy and the Urban/Rural split, is the desire on the part of a large sector of the community for "The Man on the White Horse".

The Old Canada has the most heavily entrenched Urban population, having the oldest cities.  New Canada's cities are recent creations with most of them within one lifetime of their pioneers.

New Canada is largely populated by people that have moved to seek opportunity or that are children of people that moved to seek opportunity.  This self-selecting group of individuals, by and large, are, pretty much by definition, disinclined to look for support and likewise disinclined to tolerate the fetters of restrictive laws.  The leavening in Western politics is supplied by the "communitarian" colonists of the 1900s that were imported and settled as functioning entities offered the opportunity (that word again) to try out various social experiments (Hutterites, Doukhobrs, various Scots, German, Ukrainian, Hungarian and French ..... amongst others).

Old Canada seeks the comfort of company, and dogma and rote and is quite willing to exchange the restrictive embrace of the law, comfortable in the knowledge that it will never apply to them because they are "Good People" who  not only follow, but make, the laws.  All they have to know is what is "Right".  Canada being as big as it is Old Canada still provides space for those inclined to live outside the tight confines of the law and town.

The problem for Old Canada is knowing what "Right" is when "Right" is hard to define.  The Church used to provide the answers via men in robes. Now that the Church has been largely discredited by other men in robes that portion of the population that has been convinced that it is "Right" that the Church is a spent force still seeks someone to tell them what is "Right".  

These people want to imbue the Prime Minister, The Supreme Court, and even Parliament with the same authority as the Pope but because the Conclaves of the Cardinals are held in open forum they can see the tarnished process and know that these people are not up to the task because they are not any different than them or their neighbours.

For another part of the population that is actually a strength of the system.  Our parliamentary system is not designed to secure justice and right.  It is designed to secure a pragmatic peace.  

The role of Prime Minister descends as much from the position of "Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland" as it does from ancient ties to Belted Earls and English Lords.  That portion of the population, that includes Cromwellian presbyterians, French Huguenots and Reformed Dutch Calvinists (all individually sure that they know the will of God at least as well as any Pope and thus free from the need of further advice) only seeks a dispute settling mechanism and a competent manager.   They are the bases for your "Classical liberals" Edward, while "Old Canada" - including the socialists - is as "conservative" as any Han Chinese, and as hierarchically inclined.

Hmm, interesting take on the concept of Mandarins now that I think about it. :)

By the way, there is the tale of the Rangers supporter that found himself alone in a crowd of Celtic fans.  As a matter of survival he covered up his Blue and White scarf that identified his as a Presbyterian amongst all these Green clad Catholics and aimed to keep a low profile.  He managed to maintain his composure throughout most of the game but the "gers" had a rough first half.  They managed to fight back in the second.   All the while he is more and more worked up.  Finally the Rangers score the go ahead goal  and he could contain himself no longer.  He yells out, with particular vehemence "Up, the Pope" in a not at all complimentary sense. This attracts the attention of the by now sullen and silent Celtic fans staring at his by now exposed blue and white scarf.  Realizing his predicament and knowing that he has offered a grave insult to the Pope as well as being one of "They Prods"  all he can think of to offer in way of explanation is "Well, its easier than saying Up the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland".  It didn't save him from his beating.
Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Ottawa Citizen, is the real “shame,” from a partisan Conservative perspective:

COLUMN: Spendthrift Liberals get free kick at 'sorry' Conservatives

Don Martin, Canwest News Service

Published: Thursday, September 18, 2008

OTTAWA - It was Prime Minister Stephen Harper's clearest and cleanest shot yet at discrediting his main opponent, but his party's "sorry" campaign threw him off script. Again.

On the day when the Liberals practically begged Harper to attack them for putting on the ritz in a wild spending spree platform topped by a massive $70-billion price tag boost on Thursday, a different Ritz stole Harper's thunder and pushed the gaffe-plagued Conservatives back on the defensive.

Okay, bad pun, but of course we're talking about Gerry Ritz, the mild-mannered agriculture minister with a warped sense of humour who forgot conference calls can be taped and sick jokes preserved until leaked for maximum political damage.

To describe a lethal listeriosis outbreak at a Maple Leaf meat processing plant as a "death by a thousand cuts - cold cuts" is the sound of Ritz talking himself out of the next cabinet lineup.

He's a decent guy and isn't afraid of a little dirt under his fingernails - which is a good thing for an agriculture minister, not a bad thing like the "dirt under their fingernails that transmit diseases" which fellow Saskatchewan MP Tom Lukiwski linked to "homosexual faggots" in a video.

Sorry, I digress. With so many Tory foot-in-mouth outbreaks, it's hard to keep track, but the mini-epidemic of misspeaks certainly explains Harper's sock-stuffing gag on his party.

Unfortunately for Harper, his agriculture minister's twisted comment dominated the campaign coverage on the same day as Liberals went completely over the top with a $70 billion pledge for road, water treatment and environmental initiatives.

Instead of an easy whack at Liberal spending, the Liberals got a free kick at the Conservatives.
Just imagine how Harper, who had described the $9 billion worth of promises before the 10-year infrastructure announcement as "mind-boggling," would've reacted to Liberal leader Stephane Dion's grandest giveaway of the campaign. Think of a grapefruit exploding.

But the race is still young and there are still three weeks' worth of partisan openings for derision and ridicule.
Besides, the mood is souring against vote-buying tactics in trying times.

When Harper grandly announced a priority to prohibit bubble gum-flavoured cigarillos this week, I howled at the thought of that as any sort of justification for a $300-million election to seek a fresh mandate. As one of my anonymous election operatives wrote from her vantage point in Vancouver: "Cigarillo packaging restrictions? I shaved my legs for this?"

But it might've been a better fit with the times than any billion-dollar handout. The queasy stock market roller-coaster and institutional failures on Wall Street are transforming the mood of this electorate in a big way that can only be bad news for those who promise new taxes and big spending.

Voters no longer want a government to brighten their lives with new cradle-to-grave government program protection. They'll settle for a solid seatbelt that'll hold their lifestyles at status quo if that economic light at the end of the tunnel is actually an oncoming train.

So while Harper moves on multiple fronts with modest, affordable pockets of cash to help women entrepreneurs, first-time homebuyers and truck drivers, Dion seems out of sync by promising the classic grab-bag of Liberal handouts for daycare, immigration, tuition, health care and big city relief. The only targeted group with cause to complain so far would be the pine beetle, the victim of their $250-million extermination pledge.

To be fair, the Liberals are almost finished their rollout. They have some modest agriculture, justice and cultural program announcements coming out in the next few days. And they vow to wrap it all up with a full accounting inside a balanced budget when the full platform is released next week.

But the trick now becomes selling their Green Shift environmental policy as an economic blueprint, shifting attention away from it being an onerous tax on employers to selling it a relief package for consumers and homeowners battening down the hatches against an American financial storm surge.

The Liberals, being the only party which can be taken seriously as a government-in-waiting, should promise restraint, not ritz, as we enter unnervingly difficult times.

The ‘good news,’ for Tories, is in Martin’s words:

• “The race is still young and there are still three weeks' worth of partisan openings for derision and ridicule;” and

• “The mood is souring against vote-buying tactics in trying times.”

But, Gerry Ritz cost Stephen Harper at least one important day’s worth of big time campaigning.

More daily polls.

Ekos says:

Are the Greens Set to Break Through?

[OTTAWA – September 19, 2008] In our latest EKOS tracking poll, the Green Party has achieved its highest level of support ever, at 13% — very close to triple the level of support it garnered in the last election.

Even more important to the Greens, it seems they are on the threshold of transforming the contest in British Columbia into a four-way race. They are now just one percentage point behind the Liberals in B.C. according to our poll, and they are the strongest of all the parties in terms of “second-choice” options.

In terms of the overall party dynamics, the Tories have now settled back into the mid-30s,  while the Liberals have steadied themselves in the mid-20s and have somewhat narrowed the gap with the Conservatives. In fact, the regional analysis shows that the Liberals are now highly competitive East of Sault Ste Marie; they have managed to close the gap, and are now running neck and neck in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

The NDP seem stuck in the high teens in terms of support. So, the Greens are the party with momentum.

The NDP now faces a substantial challenge in its quest to displace the Liberals as the obvious alternative to the Conservative government. Not only is the gap with the Liberals no longer closing as it was in the first week of the campaign, the New Democrats may soon feel the Greens breathing down their necks nationally, and already should be feeling some of that pressure in B.C.

The Ekos numbers are:

BQ: 8 (NC)
Cons: 36 (-2)
Greens: 13 (+1)
Libs: 25 (+1)
NDP: 18 (NC)

Ekos also says, in “a deeper analysis”:

[OTTAWA – September 18, 2008] A deeper analysis of the campaign to date should provide encouragement to Conservative supporters and could be quite disheartening for Liberal supporters.

Increasingly, the question appears to be shifting from the initial, “Who will win?” to whether it will be a majority or a minority for the Conservatives, and who will lead the diminished and fragmented opposition?

Let us examine some the evidence supporting this new line of questioning.

Question 1 - Will it be a majority or a minority?

The campaign is beginning to look more “locked in” – particularly for the Tories. There are several lines of evidence to support this conclusion. First, there is a great deal of stability in the polls and, apart from a slight slump in the first week of the campaign, we are not seeing (as we did in 2006) the electorate recoil from the prospect of a Conservative majority.

Second, the Conservatives are doing particularly well among the “more likely to vote” segments of the population, or perhaps more to the point, they are weaker among those not likely to vote (i.e., the younger, and those of lower socioeconomic standing).

Third, they have the highest loyalty/voter retention from 2006 (for a more in-depth discussion of this issues, see our recent analysis on retention rates at www.ekoselection.com). Indeed, members of the Conservative voter base are least likely to change their minds between now and the federal election and most likely to say that they do not have another party in mind as an alternative or “second choice”. Moreover, the politically promiscuous and available voters are neither large enough nor clearly channelled enough to disrupt a Tory march to power.

It is these and other findings that lead us to conclude that Conservatives have the firmest base and the most committed voters at this stage of the campaign.

Question 2 – Who will lead the opposition?

As mentioned, the “undecided” vote is unlikely to be a key factor in this election. It is low (less than 10% nationally) and stable, and at this point, showing no evidence of clear motivation or direction (i.e., there is no sense that these individuals are leaning towards any of the federal parties).

What this means is that there are not a lot of potential votes that will be up for grabs and those that are divided almost equally between the Liberals, NDP and Green Party. For example, for few CPC voters who are not totally committed, there is only a mild preference for the Liberals as a second choice. In fact, they are almost equally likely to support the NDP. Likewise, Green Party, NDP, and Bloc voters also show near equal tendencies to select any of the other parties as their second choice.

While the chances are still slim, the NDP and the Liberals have the best hopes for picking up additional votes as the parties selected most often as “second choice”. Potential mobility to the Liberals is greatest amongst women and Generation X’ers who are both less committed and who do show a clear lean to the LPC as a second choice.

Harris-Decima says

Liberals fall back

BQ: 8
Cons: 38
Greens: 12
Libs: 25
NDP: 15

• In Ontario, the Conservatives lead with 40%, Liberals 33%, the NDP 13% and the Greens 12%.

• In Quebec, the BQ leads with 32%, the Conservatives follow with 25%, the Liberals have fallen back to 17%, the NDP at 15% and the Greens at 9%.

• In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead with 33%, followed by the Conservatives with 31%, the NDP 23% and the Green Party with 10%.

• In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead with 36%, followed by the Liberals with 22%, the NDP with 22% and the Greens with 18%. Green Party support has been rising markedly in the province.

Finally (in alphabetical order) Nanos says:

Tories 11 points ahead of Liberals

BQ: 7 (NC)
Cons: 39 (NC)
Greens: 7 (+1)
Libs: 28 (-2)
NDP: 18 (NC)


Not much change except that Ekos has the Conservatives down 2 points, nationally, and the Liberals up one point, while Nanos has the Liberals down 2 points and the Conservatives unchanged. All of which, given the margins of error, means “No Change” to anyone. It may be too early for l’affaire Ritz to have had any impact.

Well thus far in the riding that I'm in, it is almost as though there was not election in progress. I've seen less than a dozen signs for various candidates, and there has been no debates as yet.... I'm beginning to wonder if any of the parties are interested in representing this riding, which makes it difficult to decide how to vote.....
While channel surfing this afternoon I hit upon a journalist asking what I think is the key question about l’affaire Ritz: why was Gerry Ritz discussing the (public relations) “message” in a teleconference with scientists who were supposed to help him solve a problem that was (is) killing people?

It is not a new phenomenon.

During the Chrétien years, in a least two government departments (one being DND), political staffers – mostly thirtysomethings with a very partisan agenda, were allowed into meetings where the ‘workers’ (directors and directors general in the civil service, LCols, Cols and BGens in the military) were trying to solve problems, craft sensible plans and policies, etc and the minister’s staffers were allowed to direct the departmental staff on maters like the ‘message.’

I believe that practice predated the Chrétien years, even the Mulroney years, and I’m pretty sure it still goes on today.

I can tell you that it bothered, annoyed even infuriated the staff at the ‘worker’ level – some just grumbled and got on with their work, others complained, formally, and some, I’m guessing tried to find ways to get back at the minister and his (or her) political staffers – mostly by leaking embarrassing information.

For the record, I never leaked any information to anyone, especially not the media, and I do not know of anyone who did leak information but, it happened – too much, and it still happens – too much. And that’s exactly why we have l’affire Ritz someone, one of Ritz’ political staffers or, much more likely, one of those scientists (workers) who was pissed off because they were trying to tell the minister how to solve a problem that was killing people and the minister’s staffers, a bunch of thirtysomethings, were telling them how to “manage the message” and the stressed out minister was making bad jokes to try to cope with the fact that he didn’t (doesn’t) understand the crisis or the solutions being proposed.

Now, I have no objection to the minister’s staff (thirysomethings or not) directing the ‘communications’ strategy; that’s heir job. But, there is a right way and wrong way to do it. The right way is for the minister’s staff to deal directly and only with the departmental ‘communications’ branch – usually headed by a very, very senior official (Assistant Deputy Minister) and with the department’s most senior staff: the Deputy Minister and Assistant Deputy Ministers, and, sometimes, in DND, with the CDS and VCDS. Just like a military staff, the minister’s staff should deal with and, on he minister’s behalf, direct, the minister’s immediate subordinates and their staffs. A company commander would not be happy if a brigade staff officer came into his company HQ and told the CQMS what to do – nor should deputy ministers or the CDS be happy when minister’s staffers direct working level people – colonels and the like.

But: That’s not how the ‘system’ was working and, I suspect that’s not how the system is working, and the price politicians are going to pay is embarrassing leaks. Civil servants (and military people) should not, ever, leak private information, but they do. Sometimes they do it because they feel that the government is making a mistake or breaking the law, sometimes they do it for partisan political reasons, sometimes they do it for money, but sometimes, I’m sure they do it because they are sick and tired of political interference in their proper, ‘administrative’ domains.

If Prime Minister Harper, or another PM, wants to prevent further embarrassments like l’affaire Ritz all he or she need do is to tell his own political people to stop trying to usurp the responsibilities of the civil service (and the military) and leave them alone to do their own work – loyally and professionally, as 99% of them want and try to do. Harper is reaping what he and Martin and Chrétien and Mulroney and Trudeau all sowed.


By the way, my apologies to all the corporals for usurping your status as the real 'workers' but, in NDHQ, it is colonels who do all the had work. And I'll let you in on a secret, corporals; I'll leak some privileged information: the sergeants say that they are the real workers in the army.  >:D

DND restricts interviews during election campaign
Updated Fri. Sep. 19 2008 6:08 PM ET The Canadian Press
  Article Link

The Defence Department has ordered staff to limit media interviews during the federal election campaign in a move critics charge is nothing more than an attempt to contain potentially damaging coverage of the Afghan mission.

An official within the department said this week that a directive had been issued to staff that they cannot grant interviews for the duration of the five-week campaign.

"During an election period it is of utmost importance that National Defence employees and Canadian Forces members do not act in any way that could influence -- or be perceived as influencing -- the outcome of the electoral process," reads the directive, sent to The Canadian Press following a request for an interview on a health matter affecting Canadian Forces personnel.

"The government acts with restraint, confining itself to necessary public business. It is hoped that you may want to continue with your query after Election Day."

However, Marc Raider, a Defence spokesman, called the instruction "a guideline not a directive" and denied there is a total ban on media interviews during the election.

"It's not like we're not granting interviews," he said Friday, adding they are merely being cautious about not influencing the outcome of the election.

One Defence staffer said the instruction was issued just before the election call Sept. 7, and has been sent to personnel as a standard response for media requests.

"It's very frustrating" a Forces member, who wanted to remain anonymous, said while fielding a reporter's query.

The edict is affecting Canadian journalists at the military base in Kandahar, where they have been told that it could take days to set up interviews, if granted at all, and that the flow of information would be slowed during the campaign.
More on link

Not good if your trying to sell the mission to the public
For 3 weeks....STFU

would you want to be the next gaffe?
Finally, someone who calls a spade a spade....

A bit of private black humour has the sanctimonious seeing red
CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD cblatchford@globeandmail.com September 20, 2008
Article Link

In the past week, I flew with one airline where the salted snacks were corn nuts (WestJet) and with another (Air Canada) where they were sesame crunchies - anything but real nuts, which are the new cigarettes, so verboten that the mere sight of them in their sealed foil-wrap bag in someone else's possession is deemed dangerous and offensive.

I spoke at a college campus (North Island College, Courtenay, B.C.) where the sign in the women's loo announced that the campus has gone scent-free and that I was in a "scent-free zone," due to the rising number of people who are uncomfortable with (not allergic to, let alone seriously allergic to) perfume.

And now, or should I say still, this Gerry Ritz business, which for the third consecutive day was yesterday dominating the election news in print and on the airwaves.

(Lest you doubt me, Thursday's broadcast of The National, and this was Day 2 remember, devoted five minutes and 10 seconds, an eternity in television, and no fewer than three reporters to its coverage - chief political correspondent Keith Boag, on the so-called main story, Susan Ormiston reporting on the reports from blogland and Laurie Graham interviewing those whose relatives died in the listeriosis outbreak.)

The whole thing - Mr. Ritz's black humour and the attention it continues to receive - is the epitome of the insufferable, sanctimonious orthodoxy which now reigns in the land, and which makes me rue for my country far more than any looming world financial fiasco.

For the record, a quick summary of the facts: Mr. Ritz, the federal Agriculture Minister, late last month had a conference call with his staff and department officials in which they were discussing the listeriosis situation. At one point, Mr. Ritz noted that the crisis was causing the government a "death of a thousand cuts - or should I say cold cuts." When someone informed him that a death had occurred in Prince Edward Island, Mr. Ritz replied, "Please tell me it's [PEI Liberal MP] Wayne Easter."

Frankly, the lines are funny, and I would have thought given comfort to those who persist in seeing Stephen Harper and everyone in his government as humourless robots. This is precisely the sort of remark (minus my expletives) I make every day of my working life to my colleagues, superiors, peers and juniors.

The fact that Mr. Ritz is "in public life," which his critics now hold up as the critical difference between ordinary folk and cabinet ministers, isn't relevant. He wasn't making a public statement. He wasn't speaking publicly. He was at work, with people he works alongside or who work for him. He was having what he assumed was a private discussion with those who, like him, were dealing with an enormous and difficult problem, except one of them kept careful notes and released the minister's remarks almost a month later, in mid-campaign.

Do people really believe these remarks represent what Mr. Ritz, or his government, think about the outbreak, least of all about the 18 Canadians who have died?

It is what we are meant to think, apparently.
Much More on link
Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail is a piece by the Globe’s resident ‘lefty-humanist’ and occasional NDP candidate Michael Valpy:

The growing ideological no man's land


Globe and Mail Update
September 19, 2008 at 9:53 PM EDT

From Saturday's Globe and Mail — Stephen Harper declared recently that Canadians have become more conservative over the past two decades. He is right, although at least half of his fellow citizens will have no idea what he's talking about.

Over the past two decades, Canadians have been inching toward small-c conservatism, a slow, oozing shift in values and notions of how the country should be run, taking them further and further away from their one-time rah-rah support for the progressive state as the instrument of national collectivity.

But the real seismic adjustment of the electorate is not from one ideological camp to another.

Rather it's a drift from Canada's traditional small-l liberalism – or, perhaps more accurately, its red toryism – to a rejection of all ideology and theoretical ideas of governance and society that dramatically sets Canadians apart from their southern neighbours.

Frank Graves, president of Ekos Research Associates, which does in-depth polling in Canada and the United States, said he does not find the same trends across the border as he does here.

“Americans are much more ideological than Canadians. They tenaciously hold on to their ideological orientations and they are much more conservative, much more moral, with more religiosity and so forth.”

In contrast, Canadian voters over the past quarter-century have indicated to academic investigators that most of them can't define right or left or care about the distinction. They increasingly think of themselves as non-partisan and non-ideological. They have the weakest political-party affinity in the Western world.

In sum, they're reminiscent of U.S. philosopher Thomas Nagel's celebrated essay on what it's like to be a bat, in which Prof. Nagel reasoned that only a bat knows what a bat is. Only a Canadian voter knows what a Canadian voter is.

There is an educated, engaged elite in the country that is very partisan and sees clear and deep distinctions between the political parties. But to a majority of Canadians, the parties pretty much look alike, with Jack Layton and Stephen Harper as an identical pair of suits.

In the late 1980s, early 1990s, Mr. Graves says, 40 per cent of Canadians self-identified as small-l liberal, 25 per cent identified as small-c conservative and 35 per cent said they were neither. Today, he says, 28 per cent identify as conservative, 24 per cent as liberal and a whopping 48 per cent say they are neither. (A Conservative Party insider last week put the party's core support at 27 per cent.)

The 2000 Canadian National Election Study uses somewhat different numbers but presents a similar – and perhaps even more politically intriguing – picture.

It says 18 per cent of Canadians identify themselves as being on the right, 13 per cent say they're on the left, 39 per cent say they're somewhere in the centre and 29 per cent don't know where they are, putting the non-ideological total at 68 per cent.

University of Toronto political scientist Lawrence LeDuc, one of Canada's leading scholars on voting behaviour, says that pattern has remained relatively stable for several years.

Thus not surprisingly, with nearly four in 10 Canadians placing themselves in the political centre, Prof. LeDuc says the largest chunk of voters – one-third – continues to identify with the Liberal Party.

But that no longer produces the enduring electoral alignment for the Liberals that it once did, what vote-behaviour scholars captivatingly refer to as a “frozen cleavage,” earning the Liberals the sobriquet of Canada's natural governing party.

Because of Canadians' weak identification with political parties – less than 15 per cent of the electorate consider themselves “very strong” partisans – it's becoming more and more difficult for the Liberals to get elected by appealing only to their supporters.

And, of course, it is impossible for the Conservatives to get elected by appealing only to their core supporters, who comprise a bit more than 23 per cent of the electorate according to the 2000 election study, slightly higher according to other surveys. They must reach into the centre and lure disaffected Liberals.

For how long disaffected Liberals will remain disaffected is a moot point. The electoral cleavage in Canada is not frozen.

Mr. Graves attributes the electoral shift – incrementally to the right, hugely to the non-ideological no-man's land – to three factors:

The baby boomers, responsible for most dislocations in Canadian life since the end of the Second World War, are aging. They're moving out of the expansionary period of their lives and toward disengagement from the labour force and retirement.

They've had the psychological experience of seeing their parents die.

They've experienced Sept. 11, 2001.

Those circumstances combined have given them a gloomier and more fearful outlook on life, making them more likely to be plums for the picking by Conservative strategists.

Additional factors have contributed to the striking rise of the non-ideological middle. Multiculturalism, Mr. Graves stresses, is not one of them. Newly arrived Canadians within a short time take on the values of the native-born.

For more than half a century, Canadians have seen, or read about, a succession of left and right governments that have promised cure-alls for society's ailments but failed to deliver. Ideological fatigue has set in: Canadians have become tired of the left-right arguments. They have become pragmatic, eclectic, interested only in what works. An increasing number of young Canadians have grown into adulthood not knowing about or having experienced the nanny state in its heyday.

Mr. Graves has found that the small-l liberal and small-c conservative labels are powerful predictors of social values: small-l liberals place emphasis on equality, collectivism, statism and tolerance; the emphasis for small-c conservatives is on things like self-reliance, individualism, respect for authority.

What researchers are increasingly finding is the large group of non-ideological voters happy to do a mix-and-match of liberal and conservative values: for example, they can be compassionate but have little faith in the state to meet that objective.

I think Valpy is on to something.

I refer to myself as a “classic, 19th century liberal” because I cannot find myself in the ‘sound bite’ type descriptors of liberal (Valpys says they’re really “red Tories” in Canada and describes them as placing emphasis on “equality, collectivism, statism and tolerance,”) and conservative (who Valpy says value “self-reliance, individualism, [and] respect for authority”). I value equality (of opportunity and at law), self-reliance, tolerance and individualism. I detest collectivism and statism and I believe whatever respect ‘authority’ wants it must earn. That's pretty much exactly what liberal meant in the last half of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th.

I am, now, a card carrying, partisan Conservative, but I used to vote Liberal – back in the ‘60s. I stopped voting Liberal when Mike Pearson bought his “three wise men” (Marchand, Pelletier and Trudeau) to Ottawa in 1965. I had and retained some respect for Pelletier and Machand – even though I disagreed with their political views – but  though then, as I continue to think now, that Pierre Trudeau was a second rate human being: a petty, provincial, pseudo-intellectual poltroon. I decided that I would not vote Liberal again until Trudeau and his ideas were flushed from that party – they aren’t so I don’t. But I do not agree with all of the Conservative’s policies, either. I support them, actively – financially, because I think they are the best choice, not a perfect choice – just the best of those available to Canada, now.