Because we all know just how corrupting and cynical American political advice is. In case you forget, here's Jack Layton's view.
Jack Layton: "I think if Mr. Harper was listening to Canadians instead of American right-wing pollsters, he would be taking very different positions on issues," said New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton. He added that Canadians should be concerned about Harper meeting with Republican pollster Frank Luntz last Friday.
"I think most Canadians will be concerned to know that the Republican pollsters who have helped generate the agenda for the Bush administration in the U.S. would be offering advice here."
I guess Jack and the provincial cousins haven't been talking too much lately.
Four senior provincial New Democrat operatives are heading south of the border for political advice.
The leader's press secretary Scott Perchall, party provincial secretary Laura Nichols, organization director Nikki Hill and communications officer David Bieber will be attending a training seminar in Washington, D.C. hosted by Campaigns & Elections - the magazine for American political consultants. The annual event - which is being held at the Washington Marriott and costs $475 to register, includes sessions with titles such as "Just Don't Do It: Actions to avoid in a campaign," "Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Enemies Closer: How to talk to reporters" and "Diggin' for Dirt! How to find and use opposition research."
In an interview, caucus communications director Jim Rutowski said Perchall was "paying his own way" to the event, receiving no funding from caucus. Bieber, Hills and Nichols will be attending the conference on the party's dime.
Confirmed speakers at the conference feature some of Jack Layton's worst nightmares:
• John Zogby, Zogby International - an American pollster
• Joe Trippi, Trippi & Associates - Democratic Party operative, former Dean campaign manager
If you've watched him in the House during Question Period or watched some of his press conferences, you'll see for yourself that PM Stephen Harper actually has a pretty sharp wit and is good with a quick little quip.
The Prime Minister noted the diverse crowd that came out to honour Reynolds at the gala dinner at the downtown Vancouver hotel, including Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and cabinet ministers from provinces and territories. “Who could bring together such a disparate group of people like this. The answer is the NDP,” Harper quipped.
While things seem to be nearing resolution in Caledonia, there are many other issues that need to be dealt with.
A reader emailed me the following link and asked why there wasn't more reporting on it. A perfectly valid question in my mind.
When damages are reaching millions and tens of millions of dollars the issues are moving beyond simple protest actions.
What actions are justified in a protest of this nature? Where do we draw the line?
Destruction of bridges, hydro towers and transformers are not legitimate avenues of protest. This is sabotage, plain and simple and should be addressed as such, not swept under the table for the sake of 'resolution.'
Failure to carry out a full and complete investigation of acts such as these will only legitimize this sort of destruction in future protests. In a province already facing power woes, can we afford to have a major power corridor attacked?
Monte Sonnenberg - SIMCOE REFORMER Thursday May 25, 2006
The Simcoe Reformer — The fire set at a key transformer station south of Caledonia this week may have caused millions of dollars in damage.
Yesterday, Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer said repairs could cost as much as $15 million.
“These are multi-millions of dollars,” she said. “They haven’t got it evaluated but that is in the ballpark.”
The mayor noted that a new transformer station was recently built near Stelco Lake Erie in the Nanticoke Industrial Park. It cost $24 million.
The Hydro One station in south Caledonia contains two transformer units. It is designed so that if one malfunctions the other continues relaying power. The station is rated for 230,000 volts.
As of yesterday, Hydro One technicians had put one unit back in service. The second will be out of commission until further notice.
The station was sabotaged Monday afternoon following fist fights at the Argyle Street barricade in south Caledonia. The barricade was erected April 20 by natives from the Six Nations reserve.
Natives and Caledonia residents clashed when residents surrounded a vehicle carrying natives and started rocking it. Damage to the transformer station cut electricity to large sections of Haldimand and Norfolk for nearly two days. Haldimand OPP are investigating. Police say they are on the lookout for vandals. However, reports have emerged that those responsible were taking part in the native blockade.
“As far as we know, the First Nations group drove a car through the fence and set it on fire,” Bill Dodds, Norfolk Power’s manager of energy services and telecom, said yesterday.
Dodds would not speculate on how much repairs will cost. But he said, “certainly, it’s multiple millions of dollars.”
Hydro One spokesperson Daffyd Roderick confirmed yesterday that fire caused extensive damage. Roderick said a vehicle was forced into the compound and set alight beneath critical switching equipment. Another transformer unit inside a brick building was also vandalized and badly damaged.
Hydro One has offered an initial damage estimate of $1.5 million. However, Roderick added, “there’s significant damage to the station. That may change.” Trainer said the native protesters manning the Argyle Street South barricade had been eyeing the transformer station for a long time.
“I do know this was bragged about before it happened,” Trainer said. Following destruction of the transformer, natives removed their barricade on Argyle Street South. The barricade on the Highway 6 bypass west of Caledonia remains in place. As well, natives continue to occupy the disputed 100-acre Douglas Creek Estates subdivision in southwest Caledonia.
A week ago, native protesters and provincial negotiators agreed to a moratorium on development in the disputed area until a settlement was reached. Trainer reported yesterday that, contrary to the moratorium, squatters from Six Nations have extended a road from the reserve into the subdivision, effectively folding the disputed land into their territory.
Haldimand OPP reported yesterday that Argyle Street South into Caledonia remained free of barricades. Hydro One crews continue working at the station while police watch from a distance.
The article notes that the Haldimand OPP are investigating. This is one investigaton that should not be allowed to fall off the radar.
One 'Stroke Special' to go please One of the more popular items on the menu at Mulligan's bar in suburban Decatur, Ga., is the "hamdog," a half-pound of hamburger meat wrapped around a hot dog, which is deep-fried and served on a hoagie topped with chili, bacon and a fried egg. The bar also offers the "Luther," a half-pound burger served with bacon and cheese on a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and, for dessert, fried Twinkies, two deep-fried Cap'n Crunch-coated Twinkies topped with chocolate and cherry sauce.
Terrorists have needs too "When we went on-line we would deliberately go onto chat rooms and pornography sites. There were probably times I enjoyed it," the admitted terrorist testified, speaking of a technique he and friends used to divert scrutiny.
"I've never said I was a perfect Muslim," said Mohammad Junaid Babar, a 31-year-old New Yorker
Email me your links for inclusion in the 'Weird, Wacky and Wonderful' weekly reveiw, posted every Friday.
An interesting and unique political website launch from a New South Wales politician, Penny Sharpe.
A Blog called "Red Leather", discussion forums, RSS feeds, monthly e-brief and quarterly newsletter.
The use of animations was very prevelant in the last U.S. election cycle and is expanding even more in the current cycle. This is certainly a medium to keep an eye on. In terms of messaging, this can work very well in reaching people who don't normally tune in to politics.
She notes on her blog that there are 135 politicians in New South Wales but only 27 of them have websites.
Update: the site owner and subject of the blog - Penny Sharpe was kind enough to stop in. Check out the comments.
Paul Wells with an insightful piece revived from 2003.
Read the article very closely.
For fun, re-read it and substitute 'politician' for every mention of media or pundits. Journalists may have been the subject of his speech, but they're certainly not alone in analytical mix.
Buried in a sea of special interest groups, political correctness and partisan sniping, the dialouge has left the building. The 'elevator brief' has replaced careful thought and study. The thirty second soundbite rules our strategies and 'vision' has replaced solid policy and planning.
In the early days of this blog, back at the end of 2003, I posted this piece, the text of a speech I delivered to public servants about the shortcomings of the press gallery. This was at a time when the next prime minister of Canada was energetically blowing sunshine up my colleagues' butts, and I was far from sure we, as a group, deserved it. Now a new guy has picked a fight with us, and judging from my email, there's an immense market for the idea that we're everything he accuses us of being and worse. I think it's worthwhile investigating where that sentiment comes from. So I'm re-running this piece. Its points may still be worth considering.
I must admit I have come before you tonight under false pretenses.
I was invited to discuss the media's perception of the public service. I thought about the assignment for a good long time, then began polling some of my colleagues. As late as last night, at a book launch for Lawrence Martin's new Chretien biography, I buttonholed a valued colleague and asked her: "Hey, what's our perception of the public service?"
She considered the question for perhaps two seconds before replying, "Non-existent, for the most part."
As that was pretty much a consensus view, I figure I should explain what has been going on in my line of work, although I confess that even though I've been thinking about it a lot lately, I remain a little mystified. I'm afraid most of my remarks will be about my kind of people and not about yours, but I do think it is important that public servants understand the guiding neuroses of the Parliamentary press gallery.
Sharon Hill, Windsor Star Published: Thursday, May 25, 2006
COTTAM - The health unit crackdown on homemade food served at church suppers is coming to schools next.
Deb Bennett, director of health protection with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said she received several calls this week from parents who were concerned about food served at schools after hearing about the food safety push with churches.
"It's coming," she told a group of about 50 people who gathered at the Cottam United Church Wednesday.
Bennett said the health unit wants to meet with school boards and start its "education component" before the next school year.
Health unit officials said meat and some pies cannot be cooked at home and then served or sold to the public. Because the health unit can't inspect private homes, food must be prepared at a church or hall that can be inspected. Churches could work together or with restaurants to prepare food for church suppers.
Some sugary baked goods such as cupcakes and fruit pies aren't an issue. Other pies from meat to cream are considered "hazardous" and can't be cooked at home and sold.
The health unit wants churches and fraternal organizations to give notice and get inspections before events such as dinners where tickets are sold. Church events for members, such as a lunch after the service or after a funeral, aren't a problem.
Beth Cooper, vice-chairwoman of the local public school board, said she's all for public safety but wondered how the health unit's enforcement of rules might affect fundraising through bake sales. She said it's getting harder and harder for schools to raise money.
Catholic school board Trustee Mary DiMenna said it could affect some potluck lunches or ethnic events where parents bring in food. But she doubted it would be a big issue since much of the food brought in for children comes from restaurants and fewer schools in her area hold bake sales.
DiMenna said she hasn't heard of children in her area getting sick from food served at school.
Cottam United Church may still be able to serve its American Thanksgiving dinner after all.
After hearing from the health unit Wednesday, organizers are looking for places to cook 46 to 48 turkeys that can't be prepared in people's homes.
And if they choose fruit pies, they could make the 300 pies needed in homes. The church has to decide if it's going ahead with the event by early June so it can order the turkeys.
Let's flash back a little to Stephen Harper's attendance at a PC Party fundraiser at the beginning of May. Pundits and press alike expressed shock at Stephen Harper's introduction of John Tory as the "next Premier of Ontario". Highly partisan, outside the norm were just some of the terms tossed around.
PM's comments draw fire from McGuinty "I don't think it's helpful when it comes to establishing a good, positive, constructive working relationship between the people's representative – duly elected, at least at this point in time – and the PM of Canada," McGuinty said on Friday. "But I will continue to make efforts to reach out to the prime minister."
"There's a convention that there should be some elbow room between the two levels of government," he said. "The job of people in government is not to interfere too blatantly with the political affairs of the other level of government."
Bloggers joined in the mix:
Power Plays Many prime ministers have done what they could in subtle ways to support federalist parties in Quebec, but by and large provincial elections have been outside the realm of federal politicians.
I guess Premier McGuinty forgot to tell his Minister of Education that he was still trying to "reach out to the prime minister":
However, Ontario Education Minister Sandra Pupatello wasn't nearly as diplomatic as her boss Friday in criticizing Harper's actions at the Conservative fundraiser.
"I think it is total inexperience on the part of the prime minister," Pupatello said in an interview. "He may really not realize how rude his behaviour is being interpreted, never mind by us, but by the people of Ontario."
But I digress. The general concensus at the beginning of May was that Federal politicians shouldn't be 'interfering' in provincial politics.
Scott Brison visited Cape Breton on Saturday, attending a rally in North Sydney. MP Mark Eyking, MLA Gerald Sampson and Fred Tilly, the candidate running in Cape Breton North, joined Mr. Brison on the tour. (Sunday Herald, May 21, 2006 - no longer available online.)
Imagine that, federal MPs and candidates for the Leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada 'interfering' in a provincial election. Wow!
Obviously this is a case of monkey see, monkey do, following in the footsteps of ex-Prime Minister Paul Martin. In 2003 Martin campaigned for Dalton McGuinty (yup - same Dalton McGuinty) saying "Politics is a team sport. And this is my team."
While we're on the subject of fundraisers, it's interesting to see the recent efforts of McGuinty supporter Warren Kinsella to paint friend Dalton as just an average guy, while referring to John Tory as 'Richie Rich'.
How soon they forget.
John Tory's $750.00 a plate fundraiser was spun by various Liberals as an example of his catering to 'rich' people.
Dalton McGuinty on the other hand, only hangs out with the average Ontario citizen:
I consider myself an average Ontario citizen and I can assure you I can't remember the last time I payed $10,000.00 for dinner. Hell, I don't know if I even spend $10,000 in a whole year on meals. But then, that's just me.
Note: in line with recent efforts to organize myself a little better, "Spin Cycle" will become my regular Wednesday feature.
CBE works by displaying the most recent posts and categories in order. It updates every 5 minutes. At this frequency (or lack of frequency), any post to this category would not be on the CBE page for long, if at all. Anything posted after it in a more popular category would bump the Criticism category off the page.
I have the CBE Current Posts feed loaded in my RSS Bandit reader, set to update every 15 minutes. I have reviewed the last several days of posts to the CBE in my RSS reader and do not see anything wrong.
Many would probably advise to simply ignore this, but unfortunately, it's becoming a regular thing. I love a good partisan scrap just as much as the next person, but this is beyond anything acceptable.
When we have universities that are begging for more research money, why does the government continue to fund these "independent" organizations. Cut the middle man out and either start providing the research money directly to universities or conduct the research using the Public Service.
In the last ten years while the previous Liberal government was extolling the virtues of Kyoto and patting themselves on the back as caring about the environment, just how much money were they spending on research?
This seems to be a recurring pattern. We've spent a lot of time funding independent organizations and advocacy groups while simultaneously doing nothing.
Did we just realize this year that we need to reduce our emissions by 35% or has the government known all along and used their funding power to keep various organizations fat and happy?
Note: in order to help organize myself a little better, "Follow the Money" will become a regular Tuesday feature. This way I can do the appropriate research ahead of time, when I have the time. Feel free to email me any links, suggestions or information for future posts.
"The enterprise operated from Lebanon, Canada (Windsor), China, Brazil, Paraguay, and the United States, according to the indictment.
Plochinski said the indictment was handed up in April 2004 but kept secret until the March 29 raids, in hopes more members of the organization could be identified. Federal agents decided to act when Karim Hassan Nasser crossed from Canada into the United States."
"A Smuggling Hotbed
The case is not an isolated occurrence of smuggling or other illegal activities involving tobacco products in Michigan or Michigan residents.
In May 2005 four residents of Windsor, Ontario were charged in Ontario courts with smuggling and possession of 642 cases of "unstamped" tobacco products that apparently had been brought into Canada from Michigan, suggesting Michigan has become a distribution hub for cross-border smuggling.
In April 2005 Ohio law enforcement officials arrested a Jordanian-born resident of Dearborn for illicit tobacco trafficking and seized more than $1 million in tobacco products from him.
In October 2004 a truck holding 135 cases of cigarettes worth more than $27,000 was hijacked in Washtenaw County, Michigan after the thieves pistol-whipped and blindfolded the truck's driver."
Debris Trail from Celestial Junk sent me an email awhile ago asking for a banner and button for The Torch, so without further ado:
I still have some work to do on the smaller button. I'm not that good at working with the smaller sizes. When I get a chance, I'll be redoing that one to come up with a button that's a little more readable and a better size.
Comparing apples and lemons The Liberals blundered over the helicopter purchase by the Mulroney government, which the Chretien Liberals made an election promise to renege on. They did. Costing us billions in the lost contract and then billions more in replacing the helicopters. Now the Harpocrite government has done the same thing with the canceling the Liberal Governments Environmental programs.
Rob Moore, a psychic failure Mr. Speaker, on Monday the United Nations will release a report on Canada's human rights record. ... What has the government done to conform with the recommendations that will be made on Monday Because only men shoot guns It is used to take guns away from violent criminals, the mentally unstable or men who threaten women before they shoot.
George Bush wears pants, Stephen Harper wears pants... I suppose if the prime minister has pancakes in the morning he will be eating a "Bush-style breakfast" and questions will be put in the House. And if he uses Aunt Jemima syrup (instead of the maple sort) he will be accused, not only of "American-style sweetening", but also of racism.
In less than two days, my little idea has grown incredibly. I really want to thank the 30+ volunteers who have already signed up, with more emails coming in every hour. I have had calls offering me technical and financial help. I have been contacted by Siri Agrell of the National Post to do a follow-up on her piece of May 6th. And on Monday night I will be speaking to Rob Breakenridge on CHQR (Calgary) at 8:05pm Mountain Time.
The first post on the blog was entitled "Countering Apathy", but now I am beginning to rethink that. Canadians are not apathetic toward their military at all. They really care, as they've shown over the past couple of days.
Our main shortcoming remains the inability to get the word out to the troops en masse, but the applications are trickling in nonetheless.
People are offering advice, too. One person pointed out (to my shame) that I had referred to all our Forces as "soldiers", instead of the soldiers, sailors and airmen that are over there. It's a silly mistake that I promise will be corrected.
Keep the applications coming. As soon as we have more soldiers, everyone will have one to sponsor. And thanks again for all you've done so far. posted by Wendy Sullivan at 9:23pmIf you haven't heard about Canadian Angels yet, stop in and check it out. A simple way for any Canadian to show their support for our Armed Forces members.
Ever wanted to host your own live call-in radio show?
Now you can! Skypecasts Preview offers free live casting with up to 100 people. The caster controls the microphone, with the ability to mute all or pass the virtual mic around. Chat is also available between participants and the host or just between participants.
All you need is the Skype client, a headset (preferred) or microphone and speakers.
There is a widget for Typepad users to promote your cast. HTML snippets are under development for all others.
Record your cast and make it available as a podcast.
The service is still in preview or beta mode but I have listened to several shows and the quality is fantastic. Some casters are still having difficulty with the setup as far as the interaction goes. Feedback can be an issue with some users. As the service matures and guides and tips are produced by the early adopters, I'm sure this issue will disappear.
To take things up a notch in the overall VOIP wars, Skype is offering FREE calling within North America for the remainder of the year. Handy for anyone on a budget.