About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rock the Vote

We're used to seeing American celebrities stump during an election year, but not so much in Canada. Things have changed this year though, as a number of Canadian artists have stepped up to speak out against the Harper governments cuts to the arts. And now it looks like the Federal Party leaders aren't the only ones doing campaign-style tours through southern Ontario.

Here's a Press Release I got yesterday from Six Shooter Records:


Like many Canadians, Hawksley Workman is concerned about the outcome of the upcoming national election. In an effort to motivate young people to get out and vote, he’ll be making stops at campus radio stations across Ontario to talk issues with students and campus groups. There will be interviews and round table discussions, including a live broadcast from The University of Guelph on October 2.

October 2
CHRW – University of Western Ontario
CKMS – University of Waterloo
CFRU – University of Guelph

October 3
CIUT – University of Toronto
CFRE – University of Toronto (Mississauga)
CFMU – McMaster University

October 7-8
CFRC – Queen’s University
CHUO – University of Ottawa

Catch Hawksley Workman at a campus radio station near you as he travels up and down the 401 encourage students to get up and out to polling stations across the country.

Workman will be taking part in a Town Hall discussion about election issues in the University Centre Courtyard on Thursday October 2 from 4-6 p.m. Joining him on the panel will be students and members of the Guelph community including local musician and community activist James Gordon. For more information visit CFRU's website.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Forum Interrupted

Cam Guthrie's bold experiment in political debating came to an abrupt end this week when his Civic Forum scheduled for... well, a lot of reasons actually. But most of those reasons have to do with the fact that people were ascribing ulterior motives to Guthrie's attempts to organize a debate of his own, being that he's a well-known Conservative supporter and presumptive nominee to replace Gloria Kovach should her seat open up on city council.

"Some people know my political past and thought there was some kind of angle, and that is completely false," he said in an interview with the Guelph Tribune on Thursday.

Now to be fair to Guthrie, he did do his best to diminsh critics' concerns about having any "angle" in putting on the debate, including replacing himself as moderator with U of G poli-sci Prof Tim Mau. But Frank Valeriote had already decided to pass, as noted in my Echo column this week, and it seems that Tom King was also saying, "Thanks but no thanks..." With only Kovach and Mike Nagy as confiirmed guests it was call the whole thing off time.

"I don't get it. It wasn't about me. I just thought, what a novel idea - instead of questions about policy, have questions about character. That's one of the things voters want to know about before they mark that X on voting day," Guthrie added in his Trib interview. Hm, I guess not.

Read my original posting about the Guthrie deabte here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Answer Sheet

For the last four weeks in Echo, I've ran one issue-based question per week and the responses from the four major candidates. Now a month is a long time to think back to, and considering that I had to edit a few of the answers for length in fairness, I decided to dedicate today's blog to the full questionnaire.

1. What’s the best strategy for dealing with climate change?

Tom King - The NDP has a better way for Canada and a better plan for the environment. Our strategy will lower pollution by law. In fact, Jack Layton’s Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-377) is the only science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent, by placing an annual cap on the amount of carbon the big polluters can emit. Such a plan, advocated by the United Nations, the European Union, Senator Obama, Governor Schwarzenegger, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia, will help ensure Canada reaches its pollution reduction targets in the short and long-term.

Gloria Kovach - It’s important to set clear targets for reductions on greenhouse gas emissions and not look at a tax grab and think that it’s going to reduce our carbon footprint. The Conservatives have implemented the first ever Canadian plan which forces big polluters to cut their emissions, focuses on carbon capture and targets to cut air pollution by half in the next 7 years. We have increased investment in public transit. Technology plays a key part in our plan. Developing green technologies will allow us to cut our emissions while turning Canada into a leader in this rapidly growing area.

Mike Nagy - As we have been saying for years now, the best strategy for dealing with climate change is ours. It is investing in energy efficiency and conservation first; taxing big polluters; honouring our Kyoto commitment; putting moratorium on new Tar Sands development; developing and invest in new low carbon energy sources' investing heavily in public transit including the rebuilding of Via Rail and Light Rail; giving financial incentives for new Green Collar industries and greening our auto sector. The strongest strategy is an innovative strategy. The strongest strategy is our strategy.

Frank Valeriote - The best strategy for dealing with climate change is the Green Shift. Only the Liberal plan keeps both cap-and-trade system a possibility and immediately implements a carbon tax regime that will place more money in the pockets of Canadians. Both plans are good but carbon trading takes 5-10 years to implement and usually requires national (provincial participation), time we do not have to loose.

Unlike the plan of other parties, the Green Shift will work immediately to bring greenhouse emissions down. Economists and environmentalists alike have praised the Green Shift as a bold and decisive strategy for tackling climate change.

It is the only plan that gives all the money it brings in back to the people and spur economic growth. The Auditor General will be asked to ensure that the government does not profit from it, so accountability will be ensured.

2. How do we combat the loss of manufacturing jobs in Ontario?

Tom King - The NDP has a package of “Smart Incentives" that will help areas in the province hit hard by the manufacturing crisis. Changes to corporate taxation must be made to increase investment and strategies to encourage new environmental technologies. Our “Greener Communities Strategy” can create 313,000 new jobs by focusing on retrofitting existing infrastructure and saving businesses. The NDP’s “Green-Collar Jobs Plan” aids laid-off workers and their communities by retraining them for green-collar jobs – matching trends with future needs. We believe in a fair trade policy that places workers as the priority – not profits.

Gloria Kovach - We must ensure a strong economy and proactively work to build Canadian competitiveness both internationally and within our borders. In the short-term, we must retrain those who have lost their jobs so they can work elsewhere. In Ontario, a new federal-provincial program called the Community Development Trust supports “job training to create opportunities for workers in sectors facing labour shortages, community transition plans that foster economic development and create new jobs, and infrastructure development that stimulates economic diversification.”

Longer term, we must develop new technologies that will create new manufacturing opportunities. The Harper Government’s $1.3 billion Science & Technology Strategy is for this purpose. It includes a $250 million Automotive Innovation Fund to help make Canada a leader in "green" automotive technologies and greenhouse gas reduction.

Mike Nagy - We need integrated solutions. We have to increase and develop our base of skilled workers through education and immigration policies; promote local businesses in local markets; and go green because it is the biggest economic opportunity of this century. Education shouldn't be debt sentence, but a skill-developing, life experience that prepares Canadians for the world. The immense pool of skills that immigrants contribute to should be fostered, not systematically rejected. Local economies offer local solutions and secure and fair markets. We know green manufacturing of products for a green future not the grey past means opportunity, sustainability and quality.

Frank Valeriote - The short answer is to do the opposite of what the Conservative government has done. We cannot have a government telling investors not to invest in Ontario and then not offering immediate relief. Ontario has lost over 100,000 jobs. The conservatives provided Tax cuts; unfortunately, they are only part of the solution and not the solution.

Industry needs immediate relief along with a long term tax reduction to make Canada competitive. We will combat these job losses with the creation of a $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Prosperity Fund that will partner with industry. Further, the Green Shifts pledge to cut corporate and small business taxes by one per cent while creating an environment for next generation jobs in the green industry not only protects the current jobs but spurs creation of more in an ever growing field.

3. How will you work to create a better, more co-operative Parliament?

Tom King - New Democrats come to Ottawa to make Parliament work, to put Canada on a progressive path that will meet this century’s biggest challenges. We want to balance the books and pay down debt, but we also recognize our obligation to the future. In Parliament, New Democrats realize that we are not here to scandal-monger over the latest headline. We are here because this country is crying out for progressive solutions to the challenges of the century ahead. The NDP will not let Canadians be taken for granted. They deserve better than what Liberal and Conservative governments delivered.

Gloria Kovach - Like every Canadian, I see media reports and wonder what is happening in Ottawa. However, despite what we see in Question Period, the fact is that the Harper government has made great strides in 2 ½ years with a minority government for Canadians – such as improving our economy, passing improved crime legislation to ensure safer communities, healthcare advances and making us a more respected and responsible player on the international stage. Every elected official should ensure they represent their communities’ needs, be a strong voice and take the responsibility seriously and show up to vote.

Mike Nagy - Have you been to the House of Commons? It behaves deplorably. I've seen more constructive, sensitive and honourable behaviour at day cares. Canadians don't deserve this. The Green Party is the only party that can create a better, more co-operative Parliament. Why? Because we are the only ones without partisan baggage; because Canadians of all political stripes and colours like us whether or not they have voted for us before; because I want to set an example in Ottawa by fostering respect and co-operation, building consensus, and celebrating common ground.

Frank Valeriote - I will lead by example by being a courteous and respectful MP to both my colleagues on both sides of the floor and to Parliament itself. The amount of rancour going on during Question Period is embarrassing for all Canadians, but it can change if each and every MP pauses and remembers to behave in a civilized fashion before they speak. Glen Pearson and Bill Casey are excellent parliamentarians and their example is what all politicians should follow. I think if MPs make an individual, conscious decision to be more respectful to each other, then Parliament will become more co-operative.

4. Candidates choice: What issue, aside from the three above, do you consider a matter of importance for the city, the region and the country?

Tom King - I am extremely concerned about the growing number of people living in poverty. In a country such as ours, where there is an abundance of resources and riches, how can Canadians be poor? When the House of Commons voted to support Ed Broadbent’s motion calling for urgent action to end child poverty by 2000, many Canadians had a renewed sense of optimism. The Conservatives and Liberals made a commitment to the poor and vulnerable in our country but when it came time to take a principled stand, they chose Bay Street over Main Street.

Gloria Kovach - Building Canadian competitiveness and keeping the economy strong.
In just two and a half years our Conservative government has reduced the federal debt by $37 billion dollars, we have made many changes to personal taxes to aid in improving the fiscal health of Canadians including:
•Increasing the basic personal exemption, allowing you to earn more without paying taxes
•Tax credits for public transit, sports, textbooks, tools and apprentices
•Income tax eliminated on student scholarships and bursaries
•Introduced the most important savings vehicle since the RRSP, a savings account for up to $5,000 per year with a tax free exemption on interest or capitol gains.

Mike Nagy - Poverty. Martin Luther King wrote that "the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income." We are such a rich country with a beautiful history of democracy, justice and social responsibility. The fact that 15% of Canadians live in poverty, including children, is a national tragedy and utterly unacceptable. We have solutions to eradicate poverty, provide every Canadian with housing, introduce the guaranteed liveable income, ensure that education that isn't a debt sentence by forgiving 50 per cent of student loans upon graduation, and remove taxes from the people who earn the least.

Frank Valeriote - In my mind, the most important issue for Guelph and Canada as a whole is health care. The Liberal Party is committed that our health care system remains public and accessible to everyone, especially the least privileged. Our first priority in terms of health care is to reduce wait times. The Harper government has not moved forward on this issue, and the Canada Health Council and the Canadian Medical Association have both criticized this government for not meeting former Liberal targets on reducing wait times. This is unacceptable and the Liberal Party will change this in government.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ain't No Party Like a Green Party.... Party?

It's been a long drought here in Guelph. We got so used to special guests and party leaders dropping in during the by-election, that the general election's seemed boring by comparison.

Well that ends tomorrow night when Elizabeth May brings her whistle-stop tour to Guelph. She's coming in on the 7 'o' clock train from Toronto where she'll be met by local Green candidate Mike Nagy, who'll escort her to MacDonald Hall at the University of Guelph for a meet and greet with the students. There was originally supposed to be a May event on campus back during the week after Labour Day, but it was canceled, like so many other things, in the wake of a pending general election.

On the national front, Nagy got props earlier this month in the Globe and Mail as one of eight "candidates you should care about."

In other news, I've been trying to interview, what I call, "The Fifth Party" candidates for my last two Echo columns before the election. Look for Karen Levenson, Philip Bender and Drew Garvie in next week's edition.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The List

Today is the last day you can throw your hat in the ring as a candidate in the general election. Nominations close today, and while the full list won't be available until Thursday, officially, the Guelph Mercury has this list which includes all the names from the by-election plus two more.

Libertarian Party - Philip Bender
Marxist-Leninist - Manuel Couto
Communist Party - Drew Garvie
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party - Karen Levenson
NDP - Tom King
Marijuana Party - Kornelis Klevering
Conservative Party - Gloria Kovach
Green Party - Mike Nagy
Liberal Party - Frank Valeriote

Apparently, independent John Turmel says he's also running in Guelph, but I guess that's still to be determined.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Up In Smoke

As talked about in yesterday's blog, it was a bit of a rough week for Stephen Harper. Well, it wasn't any much better for Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton either.

Dion had to talk around the fact that he backing away from the Green Shift... but not really, because it was never the centrepiece of the Liberal platform... but it is. Alas, it's too bad that the Liberals seemed to be doubting their own policy, for their own sake, because it gave Harper the fuel he needed to try and overcome his own issues in regards to Gerry Ritz.

What about Layton? He never misses an opportunity to hop on pop so long as "pop" is a less-than-affectionate nickname for either Harper or Dion. Well, it begins with one Dana Larsen, candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, and ends with Kirk Tousaw, running for the NDP in Vancouver Quadra. Before politics Larsen was the former editor of Cannabis Culture magazine and was a co-founder of both the B.C. Marijuana Party and the Marijuana Party of Canada and Tousaw was a lawyer and campaign director for the B.C. Marijuana Party in 2005 and has done drug-policy work for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

Larsen had to resign Wednesday after some pretty incriminating video was leaked showing Larsen lighting a mouthful of joints before driving while stoned and taking, wait for it, LSD and DMT, both powerful hallucinogenics. Video killed the political star in the case of Tousaw too, as film of him judging various varieties of pot for a competition in 2005 made it's way to Google. Tousaw stepped down Friday. And Americans think that the McCain Campaign had problems with its limited vetting of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

But in all fairness, where is all this surprise coming from? Larsen was "co-founder of both the B.C. Marijuana Party and the Marijuana Party of Canada" for crying out load, is it at least conceivable that there might be a little Pineapple Express-like footage from his past. We know many Canadians are kind of laissez-faire about pot-use, and those people usually count the NDP amongst the allies in marijuana-friendly politics. Which is why these "resignations" have hit Layton so thoroughly; the NDP supports decriminalization. So why let these men be tossed aside for matters an NDP government would barely write you a ticket for?

Another layer was added today when a Marijuana Party activist said that he raised money and recruited people to the NDP because Layton and the New Democrats promised to support legalization. Today. in Edmonton, Layton says that he made no such deal, nor did he force the resignation of Larsen and Tousaw. Marge Groenendyk, a pro-pot activist that uses the drug for medicinal purposes, says that's not what she's heard in talking to the two former candidates.

Marijuana party activist Marc Emery, who was the one that accused Layton of breaking the alleged deal, said he expected at least a dozen more candidates would resign because of marijuana use before the Oct. 14 vote. "Every party has members of Parliament, cabinet ministers and former prime ministers who've smoked marijuana," Emery said. "Why someone who has used marijuana in the past, or is not repentant about it, is bumped as a candidate from the NDP, I still can't understand."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Put Upon the Ritz

“This is like a death by a thousand cuts. Or should I say cold cuts.” The innocent words of a drunken (by power) Agricultural Minister. Gerry Ritz said this to staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office and Health Minister Tony Clement’s office during a discussion of the listeria outbreak traced to Maple Leaf Foods in August.

Now that would have been bad enough, he then added this little quip when told about a death in Prince Edward Island: “Please tell me it's (Liberal MP and Agriculture critic) Wayne Easter.”

Under the best of circumstances, people would have said that this "joke" was in bad taste. But if Ritz's "I hope it's Flanders" moment was bad enough in its own right, it's nothing compared to the gathering storm about the quip that PM Harper now has to deal with. Let's do the checklist of who's lining-up to take a swipe at Ritz:

Stéphane Dion - He said in Manitoba today, “Every day that Stephen Harper fails to fire Mr. Ritz, it's another day that he proves to Canadians that Stephen Harper doesn't have what it takes to stay prime minister of Canada.” The Liberal Party is also unveiling an ad that amongst other things says that Ritz was “joking as Canadians died” and asks if Canadians “really want more of this?”

Government scientists and food experts - “Minister Ritz has repeatedly disappointed the professional scientists and inspectors who work for him during the listeria crisis,” said Michele Demers, President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. “The comments he apologized for yesterday are the last straw. Crisis requires real leadership and Mr. Ritz is clearly not fit to lead.”

Family members of those that died of listeria - "I think Mr. Ritz showed very poor judgment and a lack of respect for the Canadians he's representing," Mary Hicks, mother of 36-year-old victim Kristen Hicks, told CBC News. "It's something a person should not be saying at this time at all. It's not a joke," Dennis Schroh, son of 82-year-old victim Elizabeth Schroh, said in an interview with the Canadian Press from his home in Swift Current, Sask., on Thursday. "I mean, I wouldn't say that about anybody.

Former Member of Parliament and Conservative pundit Val Meredith - She said on CBC Newsworld today, "What should have happened is Gerry Ritz should have taken responsibility for what he did and resign on the spot, and that would have cleared the air. It would have taken it out of the media attention, out of the election issue bag, and allowed this election to be run on the issues that seem to be looming, and, you know, Canadians are concerned about the economy. And they need to be able to talk and to hear what the leaders have to say about that."

Danny Williams - Come on! You knew he wasn't going to keep silent on this. "More and more since 2006, this undercurrent of intolerance has been bubbling to the surface and manifesting itself in federal policies that, to put it frankly, are absolutely unprogressive and absolutely un-Canadian," he said yesterday.

The New York Times - Well, they really didn't have anything bad to say about, they simply reported about the matter in today's online edition.

Canada.com tried to put a "gallows humour" spin on the matter, but for the most part, people are pissed. Just don't tell Stephen Harper that. "These are terribly unfortunate cases (and) it's obviously why we're making sure, going forward, not just that we're investing more in the Canadian food inspection system, but we're going to do a thorough review of all the issues here, to make sure these kinds of things don't happen in the future," said Harper. "Minister Ritz clearly did not intend to make any such comments publicly and has thoroughly apologized."

So, just to translate, it's okay because the comments were never intended to be heard by the public, especially the people directly affected, like those with family members killed or suffering because of the outbreak. Now given the fact that who might hold the Agricultural Minister's portfolio in about three and a half weeks could change, I'm more than willing to let the matter rest. But I've been wondering the last couple of days, what if the shoe had been on the other foot? Would Harper be this forgiving if a Liberal minister had made a joke at the expense of 19 dead Canadians?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Got Mail

I saw on the news today that local politicians were chastising their federal candidates for not focusing more on local issues in their campaigns. Well, I can't say I disagree, and I take a share of guilt on that as much as anyone. Anyway, I got this today in the old e-mail and I thought I'd post it.

“Helping our seniors live in dignity”

(Guelph) – The New Democrat candidate in Guelph, Tom King, announced that as a Member of Parliament, he will work with Jack Layton to build a program to assist older Canadians to live in dignity in their homes.

King blasted the Prime Minister, saying “Stephen Harper has let down our older generation, the women and men of Guelph who built this nation. Mr. Harper voted in favour of the New Democrat’s Senior’s Charter in 2006, but instead of implementing it he made $50 billion in corporate tax cuts his priority.”

The New Democrat also pointed to the difficulties experienced by family care-givers, saying “a generation of Canadians is burning out, caring for their parents as well as their kids.”

“As a basic first step, working in close collaboration with the provinces,” said King, “we’ll create a national home care program, providing 100,000 more Canadian families with access to home care.”

“Canada’s senior citizens built this country, and we are all in their debt. It’s time for a Prime Minister who will repay that debt.”

It's a big issue that's only going to get bigger as the Baby Boomers grow older, I'm glad someone's mentioned. However, on the other hand, it does seem to be further evidence that this election seems to be about everything , and nothing, at the same time.


In regards to yesterday's entry about the supposed "mounting evidence" that Frank Valeriote "staged a canvas" broadcast on the CPAC program Campaign Politics and Christian Conservative's warning to "fess up" and "come clean" because "the media has been sniffing around."

Well, goof that I am, I went straight to the source. I called CPAC today and talked to Jenn Thomlinson in their media office. She says that they've received no complaint or question about the validity of the segment and thus there is currently no investigation into it. Now I know CC's "preparing his letter," so I guess time will tell.

And incidentally, and anecdotally, as I was explaining this story to my mom and my sister today, they told me that when Gloria Kovach canvased our house a few weeks ago, she knew our names thanks to a list. And where would she get such a list? My sister's a Liberal Party supporter and both my mother and me are independents. Hm. Who would have a list of potential voters and where they live? It's almost like some group, let's call them.... Elections Canada, would keep that kind of information so that they can compile some kind of series of names who are people that voted in the last election... let's call it a voter's list.

Anyway, this concludes my interest in this issue. Unless, of course, it turns out that Frank Valeriote turns out to be the kind of ineffectual super-villain, like Egg Head or King Tut from the old Batman show, that CC seems to think he is.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Blog About Another Blog

Today, the campaign was still rather quiet locally, so I thought I'd poke around and see what other local blogs had to say about the election.

I went over to Christian Conservative where he's uncovered the conspiracy of the century: Frank Valeriote might have staged a political event! Gasp! Shock! I know. But seriously, I read his article and I found the evidence rather weak. Take this for example:

"But how about when Frank asks her if she wants a lawn sign? Did you hear what he said? "I see Ronnie's got one on his lawn..." Catch that? Yea... he knows this lady's neighbours BY NAME. How would he know that UNLESS HE KNEW THIS NEIGHBOURHOOD WELL"

I don't suppose Valeriote knew the neighbour's name because HE IS A VALERIOTE SUPPORTER as evidenced by the fact that he HAS A VALERIOTE SIGN. Is it conceivable that Valeriote knew his name so he could thank him for the support if he ran into "Ronnie?"

I wasn' t going to watch the video myself, but as I read CC's dissection, I thought I had to. He first mentions Valeriote's running from door-to-door and, yeah, that was for the camera, I concede that point. They were running to show their energy and enthusiasm. So what? CC also mentioned the apparent "history" between one woman and Valeriote, but forgets the camaraderie in Guelph between people of Italian decent (she mentions the Italian thing CC, listen) and Valeriote's own laundry list of community involvement.

Could the thing have been staged? Yeah, maybe. I suppose it could have. But CC himself points out Valeriote's struggle in explaining to one constituent about the virtues of the Green Shift plan. Wouldn't something truly staged been done to cast Valeriote in an overly positive way. Sure, the Liberals research might have shown that this neighbourhood was "safe territory," but why not go to houses you know will leave you smelling like a daisy when you're through.

Anyway, it's a little pot and kettle because the Conservatives are masters of the choreographed political event. Like Stephen Harper's announcement in Kitchener yesterday in a developing sub-division to announce his proposed tax credit for first-time home buyers. NDP too, take Jack Layton's job incentive announcement in front of a closing John Deere plant in Ontario today.

I know I'm sort of harping on you, Christian Conservative (if you're reading this), and if you feel abused, I apologize. I just don't believe in creating controversy where there is none. Unlike, say, when the Agricultural Minister makes jokes about a danger to public health that has killed 19 people cross-country.

Oh, and as for that "Gotta watch out for those pesky young Tories" picture of University of Guelph Young Conservatives member Michael Sona with Ken Dryden...

Well, two can play at that game...

Yup, that's Erin Sue, News Editor of the Ontarion during my tenure as Editor-in-Chief, with the Prime Minister when he was in Guelph this past March. So, it's kind of like anyone can walk up to a politician and get their picture taken regardless of political affiliation or career... Weird.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Home for a Rest

I was observing the other day that things seemed rather quiet on the campaign trail here in town as the Federal leaders deal with the shifting ground, being cornered by protesters and being on either the good side or bad side of Danny Williams. This chill atmosphere is completely intentional as I learned reading the Guelph Mercury yesterday.

All the major campaigns were interviewed, and representatives from the Liberal, NDP and Green camps said that they were reducing hours and giving volunteers and staffers some time off to recoup. There was some excitement in the Nagy office however, as the faithful gathered their wagons around Elizabeth May in her struggle to be included in the leader's debate. Kovach campaign manager John White, meanwhile, noted that things were picking up now that the full-on national campaign was afoot.

The article went on to talk about how Guelph can expect fewer visits from high-profile guests, which, admittedly, we've all gotten used to. With a general election all those cabinet ministers and high-profile party members have their own fights to fight. The closet we've come to a special guest appearance is Stephen Harper's tax credit announcement for first time home owners in Kitchener today, which will be followed up by a Stéphane Dion stopover tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail wrote an interesting piece about that dragged out feeling in Guelph, the fact that we went right into a general election on the last day of campaigning for the by-election. One volunteer said it was like a bad horror movie with all the faded or vandalized signs. But the best quote, as usual, goes to Tom King who said, and I quote, "I'm a bit grumpy."

Understatement of the year, or symbolic of this whole darn mess? You be the judge.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Debate: the Next Generation

It was announced this week the date for the next, big debate. It'll be five days before the election on October 9th at Guelph Place, much like the canceled one that was originally to take place on Sept. 3rd, until the prospect of the full-blown election forced organizers to pull the plug.

But this promises to be different, according to debate organizer, and my fellow Mercury Community Editorial Board member, Cam Guthrie. He says he's sick with the old debate format and wants to shake it up with a little somethin', somethin'. So when Tom King, Gloria Kovach, Mike Nagy and Frank Valeriote take the stage a Guelph Place, here's what they'll be facing.

• Questions will be around leadership, vision and accountability. Not policies. You want policies - go to their websites.
• Asking identical questions to each candidate will allow Guelph to hear revealing answers to the same questions.
• No notes will be allowed on-stage.

There will only be one candidate on stage at a time. The other candidates will be in a secluded area where they cannot hear the questions or the answers. Each candidate has 30 minutes.

"Secluded area where they cannot hear the questions?" No notes on stage? This sounds a little game show-y to me, a little like Quiz Show or something, but I'm interested to see where it goes.

Guthrie is also asking the public to send in their questions to him, so that they might be posed to the candidates during the debate. E-mail him at cam@camguthrie.ca, but he requests that you "make sure your questions are about vision, accountability and leadership."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

L2: Leftists United

The Guelph Mercury had an article Thursday about Frank Valeriote's recently articulated desire to unite the left, a la the Conservatives and uniting the right, at least in intention if not literally. He first made remarks about a union at the University of Guelph debate on Sept. 4th. "The right did it," he said. "I'm not sure why we can't do it. If we don't, we face a long time of a right government."

"If we don't somehow reach out to one another, we may indeed find ourselves on the outside looking in," Valeriote told the Mercury Wednesday. "I don't think any of us want to live with another three or four years of right, right-wing government. I'm not proposing a merger, but, if I'm blessed with getting elected, you can be darn sure I'll be reaching out to everyone in Parliament to find out what we have in common."

Amongst the other left-wing candidates, there was some disagreement on that point.

Tom King:
"I don't know what Frank is talking about, I consider (the Liberals) to be in the same bed as Stephen Harper. It's his way of opening the conversation to there are only two parties, the Liberals and the Tories, and everyone has to be hunkered down with the Liberals to keep the Tories out. [...] I'd be more than happy to take Frank's ideas to Ottawa," King said. "But I don't see the Liberals having the backbone for heavy lifting."

Mike Nagy:
"I'll work with every party once I'm in the House, but I need to be in the House. Greens draw from the whole spectrum."

It would be an interesting idea to see the left work as some kind of coalition should we come face-to-face with another minority government situation, but as the article points out, there's a lot of partisan rivalry between the Liberals and the NDP, and the NDP and the Greens. Even before Layton (initially) refused participation in the debates should Elizabeth May be there, the Green Party leader had a certain amount of bitterness towards Layton.

Back in the spring, May told me about Layton that "The strategy is ‘the enemy of my enemy,’” she said, "that when the Liberal Party is crushed and eliminated, than the NDP can replace them as the natural alternative to the Conservatives. It’s politically inspired and it doesn’t make sense ideologically"

Then again, there was a lot of bad blood between the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives... still is actually. Still, in the face of a potential Harper majority, is it an offer that the left can refuse?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yesterday's Headlines... Today.

The first week of the 2008 election is drawing to a close and what a week it was. I spent mush of it at the Toronto International Film Festival, so I haven't been able to be as on top of things as I'd like. But now that time's on my side again, I can reflect on the week that was.

Tuesday dawned with a new Flash gag on the Conservative's Not a Leader website, which introduces readers to "Professor Dion," and makes fun of the Liberal leader's past vocation as a university professor and further belittles Dion by calling him an "inaction figure" and inviting you to check out the "Policy Slot Machine." Oh, and what was that other thing...

...right, the bird pooping on his shoulder thing. If Stéphane Dion "isn't a leader" than what kind of person Federal politician approves of Police Academy-level humour to belittle his rival. Not only does this stink of the golden era of "reptilian kitten eater" attacks on Dalton McGuinty in the 2003 campaign, it's just plain nasty.

Now, it's worth remembering that Harper later apologized saying that the ad was “tasteless and inappropriate.” It was then changed; the bird just flies by without "making a deposit" as it were. A Harper spokesman said the ad was the work of an “eager web designer,” but really, no one in the Conservative war room had to look at this before it went live? Either way, I think Dion's answer was correct: that the affair said more about the PM then it does about him.

Then there was Harper's declaration on Tuesday that he'd choose to be a fruit. Wow, for a guy that was against gay marriage... But seriously, he made the comment in front of a pile of vegetables at a truck depot announcing that he'd cut two cents per litre from the excise tax on diesel fuel if re-elected. He was asked by a reporter, if he were a vegetable, what kind of vegetable would he be. Harper looked at the options behind him and answered, "I would choose to be a fruit — because they're sweet and colourful, like me." Well, that's a lot of bizarre revelations for one day so let's move on.

On Wednesday, the word came in that Elizabeth May would get to debate after all, following Monday's announcement that she was being dealed out because Harper and NDP leader Jack Layton refused to debate in her presence. But do to an overwhelming public outcry, she was dealt back in. Layton folded first after being hounded two days by Green protesters and impudent media questions. He said that the matter had become a "distraction" as he was constantly "debating about the debate." Harper lifted his objection later the same day, and May was in. The debates will take place in Ottawa on Oct 1 and 2.

Wednesday also saw another salvo in the war of words between NFLD Premier Danny Williams and the Prime Minister. He told a business audience that a Harper majority government would mark the darkest era in Canadian history, and that he's stoop to anything and promise much in order to implement his hidden "right-wing, Conservative-Reform party" agenda.

Is that all?

"'This is a federal government willing not only to break their own promises, but they go so far as to break their own laws and call an election even though they mandated fixed election dates,' Williams said in a speech televised nationally."

Anything else?

"'There is nothing Harper will not do in order to win a majority government. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a party who purportedly offered a terminally ill MP a life insurance policy to get his vote,' he continued, referring to the so-called Chuck Cadman affair."

It seems like there's one more thing...

"'On behalf of all Newfoundland and Labrador puffins, I ask Stephen Harper to leave our provincial bird out of his nasty, disgusting, personal attack ads,' Williams said as the crowd applauded. 'The people of our province don't appreciate being used by you for our votes the last time. And our birds don't particularly like being used by you either.'"

Ah, yes. That bird last seen pooping on Dion was a puffin, a native bird of Newfoundland. It really makes you think: is there anything that Stephen Harper won't do... to piss off Danny Williams?

Monday, September 8, 2008

No Debate For May

Well, it was announced tonight that despite the fact the Green Party launched a nationwide campaign, got one Member in Parliament, and had the endorsement of the Liberal leader, it looks like Elizabeth May will not be participating in the nationally televised debates in Ottawa on October 1st and 2nd.

According to the Canadian Press, Stephen Harper and Jack Layton both refused to participate if May was going to be a part of the debate. Apparently they felt that having May there was akin to having two Liberal representatives on stage because of Stephane Dion's deal to not run a Liberal in May's Nova Scotia riding. May has also gone on record to say, including to this reporter, that she thinks Dion would make the best Prime Minister.

"I believe the consortium has been overly influenced by hints, and threats without actually having public statements on the record from any national party political leader that they would actually refuse to participate in the debates if I was included," May said.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Good News Everyone...

I always loved that line from Futurama. Professor Farnsworth would always utter those words right before sending the Planet Express ship crew on some borderline suicidal delivery mission.

Here, I use "Good News Everyone" because Stephen Harper woke up this morning, left for Rideau Hall, saw his shadow and now we have six more weeks of an election.

This is what Harper had to say for himself following his visit to the Governor-General: "Between now and Oct. 14, Canadians will choose a government to look out for their interests at a time of global economic trouble. They will choose between direction or uncertainty; between common sense or risky experiments; between steadiness or recklessness."

Here's what Stéphane Dion had to say this morning: "Stephen Harper formed the most conservative government in our history [...] The words 'fight against poverty' have yet to cross the lips of Mr. Harper. With this conservative ideology, Canadians are left to fend for themselves."

He also told CTV News that "I love being the underdog. I love being underestimated, but don't say so, because then I will stop being underestimated."

As for Jack Layton, the Montreal Gazette noted that Layton is of the opinion that the NDP can form the next government. "Yes, it's possible. We are in the process of proposing to Canadians . . . that it's the time to have a prime minister that listens to them and knows the issues and challenges in their daily lives and who will focus on their concerns every day."

So now, we no longer have to play the waiting game. Nothing's on hold. I do feel sorry for all the campaign volunteers here in Guelph though. They've put so much into their campaigns and maxed out their free time and energy, only to have the rug pulled out from under them the day before. The Guelph Mercury had a great article about the costs of the canceled by-elections last week.

As for the fate of this forum, I'll keep going too. I'll still call it the "Guelph By-Election Blog" because it's a brand now and I still want people to find me. But stayed tuned here and in Echo for all the latest election poop from my point of view.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Stéphane, Frank and Me

This has been a while in coming, but considering that this was supposed to be the denouement to the by-election, I though this would be the perfect time to finally throw it up on the blog. Well, it’s still the perfect time, just for a whole other set of reasons. General election tomorrow? More than likely. I got a media release today saying that Tom King was going to make himself available for interviews following the announcement. But back to the Liberals. Here’s the transcript of my joint interview with Stéphane Dion and Frank Valeriote.

ME: (to Frank Valeriote) So there’s a lot of excitement around here with the canvassing and everything, is that a fair assessment? That there are a lot of people around here excited, I mean especially because of the poll results here that announced you were in the lead…

FV: I would say that about the opportunity to serve the city of Guelph. I am not a bit concerned about the polls at all. I’m concerned about the finish line and when you’re heading to the finish line you don’t look to your right or left to see where other people are. You don’t want to give yourself any false sense of security about anything, and I don’t allow that to happen.

ME: (to Stéphane Dion) Mr. Dion, when’s the general election going to be? […] Do you get tired of being asked that?

SD: Non, we are focused on the by-election. We have a great candidate in Guelph and Frank Valeriote has been involved in every aspect of the Guelph community: arts, fighting against poverty. And now he’s ready to offer his talents and skills to Guelph and to Canada.

ME: Speaking of by-elections, you hear all the time in the news, “Dion has to win two out of three to prove… whatever.” Do you listen to that? How do you react to that sort of scorecarding of you on the by-election?

SD: It’s always part of political life, but I have a job to do and leadership to offer Canadians, and with four by-elections to win, we’ll work hard for each poll. We are confident that Canadians will give us the go ahead to the next challenge.

ME: What do you like about campaigning on a by-election level as opposed to fighting a national one?

SD: The additional challenge most people are not aware of is the vote going out and that means all the conversations you have with people, all the efforts you put in are so important because turnout is likely to be lower than in a general election. The other point is that general elections are local, but are a lot national because people are watching and this is affecting their vote. The candidate can do everything and get helped by their leader, but it’s a different dynamic. I like it.

ME: (to FV) And how does having Mr. Dion here help you?

FV: Well it certainly shows his confidence in the candidate. It shows the confidence of the party. It shows the people of Guelph that Mr. Dion cares about this city and talk about the policies that affect all of us; about the economy, about the environment, about our social programs. And that’s what this election is all about; to reverse the erosion that’s been happening in our economy and our environment and our social programs.

ME: I wanted to talk a little about the Green Shift plan since I had you here. Can you tell me a little bit about its creation? How it started as an idea and how it developed into this strategy?

SD: Yes, it’s something we did not invent. It is a policy that’s been adopted in many countries with a lot of success: Norway, Sewden, Japan. What is striking is that many of these countries are looking to do more. In the UK the two party leaders are working together and the Tory leader is saying “I want more Green taxes as long as the revenue is of these taxes is going into the economy.” So when countless number of economists and Nobel Prize winners are asking the world to do that, why have we not done it? It’s because of a lack of leadership in Ottawa. It’s a very simple idea, but a powerful one: we tax you less on your income, or what you want more of like investments, and we’ll shift it to our pollution. We’ll tax our pollution. Tax less on what we earn and more on what we burn. So this will be our path to fight climate change, which is the worst threat to our nation, and we will help our economy to be an economy of the 21st century; creating great jobs here, in Guelph, and in the rest of the country. Otherwise, we’ll have an old fashioned economy and a polluted environment.

ME: Did you know that it would catch on the way it did, because whether the talk is positive or negative, it is all of what anyone can talk about?

SD: Did I know that my competitors would come with low blow attach ads? Yes. I did know that Mr. Harper would be the first to use low blow attack ads and language to fight the policy about climate change instead of discussing it like adults, face to face with facts on the table. Yes, maybe I didn’t know to which extent he would go, but I knew there were big risks in doing it. The next election will not be only a debate about policy, it will also be a debate about style of politics. What works in Canada? Is it to go to the low blow attack ads or is to speak to the great hearts and great minds of Canadians.

ME: Frank, you’ve gotten a lot of attacks ads even just generally in the Guelph community. I mean, when you’re in the line of fire like that, how do you respond?

FV: Well, the attack ads started long before the campaign started. There were 12 ten per centers, as they say, sent in from other ridings by the Conservative Party, all at the tax payer’s expense, first of all. The attacks following were all on the Green Shift and they’re all inappropriate comments – absolute untruths like the $8 head of cabbage, which really, as Mr. Dion suggested, shows you the extent to which they’ll go when they fear something. They’re trying to give a message of fear believing that people will embrace it more quickly than they’ll embrace a message of hope; particularly during summer when people aren’t necessarily focused on the by-election. Ultimately, I think the people of Guelph are very broad minded, very informed, will see just how effective this Green Shift is. And as I’ve said to you before, Mr. Dion hit the target so well, in dealing with the environment, that he’s left no more room on the page for Mr. Harper to even aim at.

ME: I heard $8 head of iceberg lettuce actually, instead of cabbage.

FV: Okay, sorry (laughs).

ME: Can I ask both you to respond to the news lately about the Conservative cuts to art programs. Guelph, especially in the downtown area, is an incredibly art friendly community with a lot of interest in this area.

SD: We need a strong industry of artists now more than ever. First, because it’s fun; we enjoy good emotions and good feelings when we go to see a movie or to the theatre or go to a museum. But also because to have an effective economy, we need to innovative. You don’t have to be an artist to create, so freedom of art and culture is at the core of a sustainable Canadian economy. It’s a bigger industry than mining, forestry and fisheries put together and so for the government to weaken the promotion of arts and culture, weakens artists and culture around the world. We have a government now that is inspired by a moral-right approach, a right-wing US mentality that we don’t like what is different than the standard. They forget that a lot of mainstream arts and culture were considered odd for their time. I like to be creative and I will fight for arts and culture. And Frank Valeriote will fight for the arts and culture community here.

FV: Arts distinguishes us from other societies around the world; it’s an expression of who we are as a people. It’ allows us to be engaged with other people around the world and they engage with us. And to cut the arts like [Harper] has really affects all of us in a negative way as it doesn’t only disengage us from the world, but as Mr. Dion has indicated, it undermines our economy. It’s a $40 billion industry, and a lot of spin-off jobs are being jeopardized because of his ideological opposition to the arts.

ME: Are you hearing a lot of concern about that on the campaign trail?

FV: I was asked that question at the debate the other night in the Arboretum. And it was of concern to a lot of people there.

ME: (to SD) Let me ask you this: what do you know about being leader of the Liberal Party now that you didn’t know when you took the reins in December ’06?

SD: I knew that it would be a lot of work, but a lot fun at the same time. It’s a great family that’s made some mistakes. On my watch we’ve been divided and we paid the price and I’m very impressed by our will to show to Canadians that there is a solution to the problems of the 21st century as there was one for the 20th century. My challenge was to change a two tier party into a three tier party. We were the party of economic growth and support of justice, and now we need to add environment. We need an economy of Green technology and Green solutions and inclusive, because we need the talent and skills of everyone, so put these kids out of poverty, these decisions helped make me the leader, the party’s behind it and now we need to communicate that. It was a challenge to convince the party of this change for the 21st century. This challenge now is the same but now the scale of it has changed.

ME: (to FV) And what have you learned since the start of the campaign that you didn’t know before?

FV: The campaign has allowed me the opportunity to coalesce all the different ideas in Guelph and really appreciate the tremendous diversity in our community. But also at the same time, the wonderful opportunities we’ve to come to come together and share our ideas and find the common goals that are among us despite the differences we might have.

Friday, September 5, 2008

NDP All-Star Cabaret

Friday's event in Royal City Park, a combination rally/fundraiser, would have been the perfect cap to a hard fought and successful campaign for the local NDP, but instead it might as well have been a kick-off to the Guelph election sequel currently scheduled to premiere Sunday.

But back in Guelph though, it was a rainy, sort of dreary kind of day. Nothing better to liven the spirits than some music, some dancing, some drumming, and some political rallying. The event was billing as "Four Great Canadians in Three Great Events," unfortunately though only three could come: Tom King, Jack Layton and Naomi Klein. The forth, Stephen Lewis, had a family emergency. As the others made there way to Royal City Park from the Bookshelf, the crowd was entertained by the Celtic-folk-stylings of Loretta Reed.

After four songs, a Native drum was set up in front of the stage. The five man drumming team included King, Layton, and emcee James Gordon. They began with a traditional song for travelers in honour of Lewis' ailing family member and the man that drowned in the Speed River a few nights earlier. King said that they'd play this more solemn song and then get into some more "kick ass songs."

The emcee for the evening's gathering was James Gordon, a local singer/songwriter, co-founder of the Wellington Water Watchers and noted King supporter. Gordon said that the rally was really more of an "inactive audio event" rather than a bunch of political speeches, but without too much fanfare, he turned the mic over to the guest speakers.

King was received very warmly by the crowd, elevating him to rock star status almost. He said that it's tough spending weeks campaigning in a by-election only to have to turn around for a general, but he said he's ready to go. He talked about getting rid of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America so that Canada won't be used by the US as "a resource mall." He called himself a realist and then talked about what some people say is impossible: "Nothing is stopping us from going to Ottawa as [the next] government. [...] We can control our destiny, right here in town." As he wrapped up King said, "vote early, vote often and evidently in this election, that's true."

Next up was Naomi Klein, who said that this was her first political rally that she appeared in as a speaker and she was drawn to the opportunity to support King as an "obsessive" fan of the Dead Dog Cafe. Klein called it a "national issue" for Guelph to send King to Ottawa, adding that "so much of what we're proud of is under siege." In particular, Klein talked about the Harper government's cut to the arts and how a lot of people in the arts are afraid to speak out lest they find their own funding taken. Klein also talked about the coming of a "Back to Basics" movement in that we, the citizens, are going to have to dig in to fight for the things we care about, like the recently formed Department of Culture based in Toronto.

Finally, that brings us to Layton, and I'm almost afraid to say that this may be the last be see of the NDP's moustached leader in our abode given that his attention will be drawn to the other 304 ridings in Canada if we're having that aforementioned general election. Layton seems to think so anyway, he said that "Mr. Harper intends to quit his job on Sunday morning, and for a moment we can be celebratory. [...] I'm going to be putting in my application shortly after he quits." Layton also said that he feels that a lot of people are being left behind, and that Canada runs the risk of electing a government beholden to the oil companies before everyone else. He added that if Harper is elected again then, "By golly, those champagne corks will be popping," in the board rooms of big oil. He wrapped up by saying that he wants to take the concerns of people around the kitchen table and see them take precedent to the issues being discussed around the board room table.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Showdown at PCH: This time - it's for the student vote!

It was a hot time in the old Peter Clark Hall on the University of Guelph campus last night as all eight of Guelph's by-election (and future general election) candidates appealed to the student voter.

In this corner: Philip "I've heard every Futurama joke ever" Bender of the Libertarian Party of Canada

In this corner: U of G's favourite professor and master of the metaphor, Tom King of the New Democratic Party

In this corner: Kornelis "You can call me Brother Kase" Klevering of the Marijuana Party

In this corner: playing for the home team; nurse, city councillor and all around good egg Gloria Kovach of the Conservative Party of Canada

In this corner: fighting for the little guy covered in fur and without a vote of their own, Karen Levenson of the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada

In this corner: the Green Machine, the man that doesn't know the meaning of the word quit, Mike Nagy of the Green Party of Canada

In this corner: wearing a hard hat and with a brief case full of visual aids, John Turmel

And finally, in this corner: the man that just can't get enough community service, Frank Valeriote of the Liberal Party of Canada

So let's play. The rules are simple: every candidate gets an opening statement. The first question comes from the Central Student Association and the rest came from the floor. Each candidate gets a minute and a half to respond, and if another candidate is personally mentioned in another's response then they get a minute to rebut. The moderator, my old Public Policy prof Tim Mau, promised to be ruthless with the time and it was thus.

Bender was very upfront saying "This is not going to go over very well with this audience," before responding to a question about government assistance in funding post-secondary education (although one guy in the back whooped every time Bender talked). He stuck to his Libertarian guns on a great many issues including the environment, child care and poverty saying that the answers lie not in more government interference but less. He also added that he wants to keep Parliament dysfunctional so that government will "do less harm" and he has no problem with accountability since his sole campaign promise is less government.

King was clearly a favourite and offered a couple of good analogies, like considering the environmental crisis like a speeding convertible or comparing the Conservatives and the Liberals to empty Pepsi and Coke cans, respectively. He attacked the government's $1,200 per year stipend for childcare, saying that "If anyone can find childcare for $100 per month, let me know." He tauted the NDP's record on the environment, poverty and accountability adding that the Liberals used to be the loyal Opposition and is now just loyal. In his closing statement, King said we all talk about change, but it's change we fear the most as we keep putting band aids on mortal wounds.

Which brings us to Brother Kase, who in his navy suit and wife beater was unsurprisingly chill throughout the length of the debate. His big thing was obviously to end the "Prohibition" against marijuana. This is bigger than you think because once we get over that, we can start looking at hemp as an alternative energy source and is a versatile solution to other material-based problems. On the government dysfunction question, Brother Kase said that they're mostly about big scandals, lies and hypocrisy anyway, and that by voting for candidates from the major parties, you're enabling the continuation of that bad behaviour. On other issues, Brother Kase says he's for a fully-funded daycare and post-secondary education system and wants a system of recall for the government.

Kovach came under fire a lot, mostly from Levenson, oddly enough. Kovach's debate performance started with the unusual measure of having a member of the campus' young Conservatives deliver her opening statement. When she was on, Kovach touted the Conservative governments record of tax cuts and credits and that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has kept his promises on offering choice in child care and cutting the GST. She did get soundly booed however when she rebutted to a comment by Levenson that a vote for Kovach is a vote for Harper. Kovach responded by saying that, "It's easy to make grandiose comments when you have no chance of forming a government."

Speaking of Levenson, her repose for the night was saying that her party didn't have a platform for the issue in question before segueing into discussing the mistreatment of animals. Of course, the environment was a matter of great importance for Levenson, animals live in the environment too, after all. Kovach became a frequent punching bag for Levenson's riff, aside from the aforementioned comment about Harper, she added that Kovach will have to clear all her comments from the PMO and that fear-mongering about the Liberals' proposed carbon tax is "evil." It seems that Levenson is still stewing from a perceived snub by Kovach during a council meeting about trapping.

As for Nagy, it was pretty clear that he was amongst his people this evening. He scored early points by saying that the Green Party intends to forgive 50 per cent of your student loan upon graduation. (Which got a jeer of "Charity" from Turmel.) He also talked about the Greens plans to allow every Canadian to earn a living income, and cut all income taxes for people making less than $20,000 per year. But Nagy spoke most clearly and most passionately about the environment and hit the ground running talking about the need for immediate action with the accelerating rate of melting of the Arctic ice. And seemingly taking the cue from a recently released poll, Nagy said that Guelph's poised to be the first riding in Canada to elect a Green MP.

No matter the subject that came up, Turmel would launch into his answer all: "Local Employment Trading Systems" (LETS), which Wikipedia describes as "interest-free barter arrangements," so that students can use the "Time Standard of Money" to work off their student loans or just about any other type of debt you can think of. Turmel plug how this is his 67th election, which secures his place in the Guinness Book of Records, next to the Queen or the Giant bagel, depending upon the edition. It seemed that Turmel's enthusiasm was catching in the hall until he brought up the war in Afghanistan and 9/11 conspiracy theories, calling Canada a "patsy posse" for the Americans in Afghanistan who started a war with the "white hat" Taliban after staging the 9/11 terrorist attacks and framing al Quada. Even the normally liberal university crowd found this hard to swallow.

Last but not least there was Valeriote. Obviously he talked about everything the previous Liberal government did, and would have done before losing the last election. But more importantly he talked about what the Liberals were going to do and Valeriote started off by offering the notion of interest-free student loans, we do it for corporations, offered Valeriote, why can't we do it for students. Bender praised Valeriote for his volunteerism and the Liberal candidate as en example, but Valeriote said that volunteering isn't enough without government money to back it up. Surprisingly there wasn't a lot of mention of the Green Shift plan, but Valeriote did acknowledge the sponsorship scandal and said that he's committed to seeing that a future Liberal government will be more accountable.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Poll: Guelph is a Green Machine

With 5 days to go until the by-election (or 7 more weeks till a general election), I got a press release from the Green Party saying that they've received poll results that say that say they're in second place Amongst Guelph voters. Like the much disputed Klr Vu poll, Frank Valeriote leads by a wide margin.

The poll breaks down thusly:

Frank Valeriote, Liberals - 38.4 per cent
Mike Nagy Green Party - 24.2 per cent
Gloria Kovach, Conservatives - 12.6 per cent
Tom King, NDP - 8.0 per cent
Undecided - 16.7 per cent

From the press release: "The Oraclepoll survey was conducted on September 1 and 2 with 300 electors who say they are certain to vote. The polls margin of error is +/-5.7%, 19 times out of 20. The Green Party achieved a long-cherished goal of having its first MP in Parliament last Saturday when independent MP Blair Wilson announced his move to the party."

These results are interesting indeed, and anecdotally I can believe it. I've seen Green signs in places I had never thought I'd see them. I will say that Oraclepoll doesn't seems as sketchy as Klr Vu, their website has a long list of clients.

Anyway, I believe wholeheartedly that Green's have got more momentum than ever. The trick will be whether or not they can maintain that momentum in the face of general election developments, but we'll see. Mike Nagy will be among his people tomorrow regardless, the students of the University of Guelph. The U of G is hosting a debate in Peter Clark Hall between 6 and 8 pm.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Harper Ruins Everything!

Kidding. Kind of. The Guelph Mercury/Rogers Television debate that was scheduled for tomorrow night at the Guelph Place Banquet Hall has been cancelled, or rather postponed, until the writ for the general election is dropped. Possibly as early as Friday. All-in-all, not a great day for me and scheduled events as I went down to the University of Guelph campus to cover a rally for Elizabeth May, only to discover that it was canceled.

In other news, the Toronto Star recognized our by/general election dilemma yesterday with a fascinating article. Apparently if a general election is called, all work done on the by-election is cancelled and our local Elections Canada office has to start again from scratch in order to make all things, nationwide, fair. Same goes for Saint-Lambert and Westmount–Ville-Marie.

"'Our job is to run the by-election and until we hear differently, it's business as usual,' Budra told the Toronto Star. 'If we have to start again, we start from scratch.'

"Still many things are up in the air and another Elections Canada staffer in Guelph says they'd be waiting for instructions from Ottawa if the by-elections are cancelled. It could be a scramble for them if Harper waits until Sept. 7 to do it, as rumoured."

Monday, September 1, 2008


So today was the big day. Stéphane Dion went to visit Stephen Harper at 24 Sussex Drive to see if the two could agree on the possibility that of a co-operative Fall Parliament. Twenty-minutes later, Dion emerged and said, "It's official. We will have an election."

Hm. I was kind of looking forward to retiring the old By-Election blog next week. Oh, well.

Here's what the article on the Canadian Press website said went down at today's meeting.

"[Dion] said the prime minister called him over to seek a guarantee that no opposition party could ever make: Could Dion promise to prop up the Conservative minority government for another year?

"Dion apparently offered no guarantees - only a series of scoldings.

"He said he told Harper the country was headed in the wrong direction under him, dismissed the meeting as a charade, and said the prime minister was setting a bad example by ignoring his own election law.

"The prime minister's office later confirmed that Harper asked Dion whether he would allow the Conservatives to continue governing until October of next year.

"Tory officials said Dion was also asked what parts of the Conservative agenda he could agree with - and didn't cite any.

"The Liberal leader's reaction illustrates an unwillingness to co-operate with the government, Harper spokesman Kory Teneycke said.

"'There's very obviously little common ground there,' said the prime minister's spokesman."

The feeling amongst our local candidates is "C'est la vie." Well, almost all the candidates. Mike Nagy had this to say in the Guelph Tribune:

"'We are on the verge of a breakthrough here in Guelph and they are trying to take it from us,' Nagy charged, reacting to growing speculation that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will call a general election next week.

"The Greens believe both Harper and Liberal leader Stéphane Dion 'have seen a green wind coming into Guelph . . . and they are trying to stop it,' he said in an interview Wednesday."

Sources say that Harper will visit Rideau Hall later this week, sometime between Friday and Sunday, to ask the Governor-General to call an election for October 14th.

Day after Thanksgiving. Bummer.