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.
The ongoing Liberal Leadership race is creating some interesting opportunities for the Canadian Blogging Community.
Most of the candidates are blogging in some degree or form. Several interviews have been granted to bloggers and indications are, more are to come.
For my own part, I have been running a series of reviews on the Leadership Websites. This was not intended as a partisan hack job, but as serious a critique as I could provide based on some of the best practices for political websites. I have to say at the outset that I have received cooperation from various Liberal bloggers (Cerberus, Calgary Grit) as well as from individuals on various campaign teams. Marc, Michael Iganatieff's webmaster had arranged for me to attend Michael's recent Windsor event as a blogger. Unfortunately, due to last minutes business related issues, I was unable to attend.
The reason for this post is an initiative Calgary Grit started this week, inviting the Leadership Candidates to Guest Blog on his blog. Carolyn Bennett posted a blog and the war was on. Various conservative bloggers jumped in like there was blood in the water and they were hungry sharks.
Some of the comments:
"Especially with the condescending, arrogant attitude you people constantly allow to creep out on the national stage.
Good luck on your race... you really need it."
"Hey Dr. Chickeepoo! Tell me, this democracy binge and purge you're on. Did you ever bring it up with David Herle, Mike Robinson and Tim Murphy when you were begging for a cabinet seat? Did you bring it up after you got to the Privy Council? Or was it just all about you at that point?"
"Everyone is looking forward to the left wing signing up for the mission in Sudan. We're going to miss Layton and Keith Martin. And you might want to lay off the "Chicken Hawk" phrase condidering Bill Graham's preferences."
Flame wars amongst various blogs are accepted by some and tolerated as part of the game by most. That's not to say it's desired or even necessary.
Many people from all political stripes are watching this process and formulating future strategies based on the results. If one of our goals is to encourage politicians to engage people on the internet, dragging out the howitzers every time they appear doesn't seem to be an encouraging trait.
Elections are one thing, but this is purely a Liberal party race. We cry that the Liberal party has no real policy other than the polls, but when attempts are made to have discussions, out come the large size monkey wrenches. The result:
"As expected, the Tory trolls come marching out of the woodwork."
If this initiative is going to live or die, I'd rather it do so on it's own merits, not because we can't exercise some restraint. Put yourself in Calgary Grit's shoes. What would the reaction be if this was being attempted in a Conservative Party Leadership race?
The internet offers boundless opportunities to engage everyone. Videocasting, podcasting, live webstreams, blogs, discussion forums, live chats and video conferencing are just some of the tools available today, with more being developed all the time. Garth Turner is ready to launch his new MPTV on the 1st of June. Would it be possible to see the Prime Minister or Cabinet Ministers participating in a blog or chat event in the near future? Not likely, given current trends.
In a country with sinking voter turnouts and rising political cynicism, we do ourselves no favours engaging in partisan warfare at EVERY given opportunity. The various blogrolls and their members crave recognition and respect from media and other sources but often exhibit behaviour that produces the exact opposite results.
The majority of people have their own blogs. If you really feel the need to jump on various candidates and their positions, blog away. Lord knows I certainly do.
Thanks to the efforts of Stephen Taylor, Craig Smith and numerous other conservative bloggers, we have established a strong and leading presence on the internet. The way forward is to continue building on that strength. Instead of engaging in useless partisan attacks on Liberal Leadership candidate's online initiatives why not start some of your own.
Invite a local Conservative MP to guest blog on your blog. Start a podcast or videocast. Interview an MP as a blogger and post the results on your blog. Create a round-table discussion involving various bloggers. Better yet - create something totally new and be the leader.
Hopefully this post can generate some lively discussion and encourage people to look forward not back. Let's continue to build a strong conservative presence online instead of wasting time on the Liberal Leadership Follies.
NDP want to give peace a chance Yes. We heard unequivocally from New Democrats that our Armed Forces should not be used for peacemaking (because heaven forbid our soldiers use their weapons!).
They should instead be peacekeeping -- that gentler, far worthier task.
In short, the NDP wants our troops wearing blue UN berets, not camouflaged Kevlar helmets. In today's context, this would mean moving our troops out of Kandahar and into Darfur, as they advocate.
This fresh NDP position demands a new foreign policy for Canada. Jack Layton and Dawn Black are proclaiming -- let our country be a light unto the world; let Canada lead and not follow; let us take our own path, one that builds on our strength (peacekeeping) and reflects to the world the values and principles that define us nationally (the pursuit of peace).
Wrong and foolish
It's wrong and foolish for Canadian to think we are better than others, especially the Americans. And making our soldiers exclusively peacekeepers is an insult to our past deeds and present capacities. It will decrease, not enhance our standing in the world. Unfortunately, this delusional initiative put forward by the NDP has a sturdy following among the liberally minded Liberals of Canada.
* There should be no increase in Canada's military spending. More military spending will not increase Canadians' security, and the Department of National Defence can spend defence dollars more wisely.
* Defence policy and spending are being driven by special interests. A small, well-organized and well-funded defence lobby in Canada and the United States is driving the public debate on defence spending, despite Canadian public opinion dramatically desiring the federal government to focus on social programs - not military spending.
Now we all know the mantra of our left-wing friends is that any Canadian right-wing institutions that receive funding from the United States are part of the global Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and are in grave danger of succumbing to all things evil emanating from the United States.
What they generally fail to tell you is the amount of funding THEY receive from various left-wing foundations in the United States. Thats right, Canadian left-wing think tanks accepting dirty American money.
One thing very interesting to see during this Liberal Leadership race is how the party and it's candidates are getting back to the grassroots, defining themselves for what they stand for and not against.
After thirteen long years I think I'm starting to get a sense of that "vision" we've all been hearing about. Those great defenders of democracy and all things Canadian, the Liberal party, are speaking to us from the heart.
Early Childhood Development and Care - For thirteen long years eighteen months the Liberal Party of Canada was dedicated to a great national endeavour that truly mattered, a national system of early learning and child care. Now it is gone.
Atom RSS feed added. Podcast feed added, verified feed is working.
Recruitment Material added to the multimedia section (candidate card in .pdf format)
Action buttons added to blog post section.
Site now has 550 members, 553 threads, 609 posts. 65 users with one or more posts. The forums seem to be growing and the discussion expanding and maturing. Lots of blog posts, but none by Michael personally as yet.
8.75/10 Stephane Dion Action Centre titles have been converted to links (About Stephane, Why I'm Running and Get Involved). Events page improved.
Audio from speech to the Economic Club of Toronto. If you managed to suffer through the 1/2 hr of elevator music, the audio quality was good. Now that the campaign has some audio, it might be good to offer it as a podcast, or at least as a download.
Join page has improved. Site captures data now before sending you on to the Liberal party's online form.
7.5/10 Bob Rae - no change noticed. As one of the official candidates, Bob Rae now has access to an online donation page to direct donations to his campaign. Doesn't seem to have made it to his site as yet.
Easy to find Join button on front page, 'Where's Martha Today', 'Picture of the Day'. Promise of a blog coming soon.
Lots of work still required.
5.5/10 Hedy Fry Regular blogging, RSS added, Event calendar now in use and updated.
Still lots of work to do here.
5.5/10 Joe Volpe Wrapper added to take people to online donation page - directed donation to the Volpe Campaign. This is a handy feature, but can be difficult to integrate. Most people should be able to navigate and use this page.
Promise of an online policy dialogue, but it has yet to materialize
5/10 General Observations
Party has revamped their online signup page. Members can now join online and pay immediately with CC or request a form from a Provincial or Territorial Association. Individual candidate donation pages are now available for Official Candidates, but no specific link is available on Liberal.ca
What is it with some of these sites and .pdf files? If your link is a pdf file, you should identify it as such. I can't believe the number of .pdf files I'm running into when I expect a webpage or link. This may be just a pet peeve of mine, but it's definitely annoying. Still lots of 1 mb or bigger pictures floating around some sites. Blue Blogging Soapbox's Liberal Leadership Review Page - all the reviews and links to other Leadership related sites.
Note: I had hoped to attend Michael Ignatieff's event in Windsor this morning and blog about it later, but unfortunately a lack of sleep over the last several days has got the better of me. H/T to Marc for making the arrangements for me to attend and my apologies for not being able to do so. Hopefully Michael will return to Windsor later on and I will have another opportunity. I hope to attend any of the candidate's events in Windsor, as an observer, and then blog about them. We'll see how that goes.
For any of the Webmasters who might be dropping in, or individual candidate supporters, if I happen to miss new features or changes to a site, feel free to email me. (firstname.lastname@example.org). I try to keep a close eye on all the sites, but it's easy to miss something when watching 11 different sites.
Take one disingenuous and misleading report, add a Polaris press release CP news story repeated in various quarters and suitable quotes from MPs in the house - what do you get?
More misleading information in the public realm about our Forces and the mission in Afghanistan. Note how the NDP is already falling back on the old tried and true 'let's spend those billions of dollars elsewhere'. Thirty years of that mantra from successive governments, with vigorous support from the NDP, is what got the military in the condition it's in today.
Makes me wonder why we pay for a research bureau for the NDP and Liberals. Is fact checking a lost art in Ottawa, or do we just assume everything published by the Polaris Institute is a non-partisan, balanced fact?
We are also very concerned about the cost of this mission. By the time the current mission is complete in February 2007, it will have likely cost Canadians in excess of $5 billion. The Polaris Institute has estimated that a two year extension or a new mission would cost an additional $2 billion to $3 billion.
"We could provide a huge amount of reconstruction and humanitarian aid for $7 billion, not just in Afghanistan but also elsewhere. As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, military force is a blunt, dangerous and expensive instrument. For $7 billion it is incumbent upon us as guardians of the public purse to confirm that there is no alternative to the counter-insurgency approach and to ensure that this is the right mission."
"I am very proud that we are in Afghanistan, but we are told that the past four years have already cost us $4.1 billion. I am willing to make this investment and to see Canada continuing to work and provide support in this area. However, it seems only logical to also ask whether we have the tools we need to succeed."
"Talking about affordable, on the prudent use of financial resources, we know that we have already spent over $4 billion in Afghanistan since we first went there on our various missions. During the same period we spent only $214 million on UN operations. We know we have 2,300 troops in Afghanistan and only 59 abroad in UN operations."
I'm always extremely nervous when I hear the NDP saying things like the $7 billion could be better spent elsewhere. After a resurgence in support for the military, it didn't take too long for that familiar refrain to start appearing. The forces have experienced 35 years of "spend the money elsewhere" and can't afford anymore.
Gathered in their secret weekly caucus meeting this morning behind soundproof doors in Parliament, Liberal MPs were in for a shock as they discussed the thorny issue of how to handle Prime Minister Stephen Harper's motion to extend Canada's military mission to Afghanistan.
Ralph Goodale, the Liberal House leader, brought proceedings to halt when he interrupted to say that one of the Liberal MPs was surreptitiously using a Blackberry to pass on everything that was being said to CTV reporter Robert Fife, according to one participant. It was assumed that the information pipeline went dry at that point.
Hmmm...., I seem to remember a story about the Conservatives and banning phones/blackberries during caucus meetings.
"What's next, X-rays and body searches. That's an indication that there's not much trust operating on the basis of their Tory team or the Conservative team...That's a bizarre way to operate a caucus. I don't think you can build trust and team spirit on the basis of suspicion," said NDP caucus chair Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North, Man.).
Given the nature of Ottawa, this restriction doesn't seem out of place.
OTTAWA (CP) - The federal government has spent more than $4.1 billion on its Afghan operations since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed 25 Canadians in New York's twin towers, a think-tank said Wednesday while calling for hearings on Canada's role in the wartorn country.
Afghanistan and related operations account for 68 per cent of the $6.1 billion spent on international missions between the fall of 2001 and the end of March 2006, the Polaris Institute said in a report released hours before Parliament was to debate and vote on a two-year extension to the mission.
The reality is a far different story. I have to wonder if CP News even made it past the first page bullets of the report.
First up, I always find it strange that the Polaris Institute is described simply as an institute or a think-tank instead of a left-wing institute or left-wing think tank. We never fail to see the term right-wing applied to the Fraser Institutue or the C.D. Howe Institute, why the double standard?
Page 1 MAIN POINTS: • Canada has spent $4.146 billion on military operations in or related to Afghanistan since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.
There's that $4.1 billion dollar number again. Highlighted for ease of viewing by the press, just in case they don't care to read the rest of the report. Personally I like a little more meat in my research than just the bullets so off I go looking for some stats. The first hint that something is amiss comes in the very first line of Page 2, a term catches my eye:
"Canada spent more than $4 billion on military operations in or related to Afghanistan between the fall of 2001 and the end of March 2006."
I wonder what the Polaris Institute considers "related to Afghanistan". Let's look at their chart.
(Click on chart for full size picture)
Lots of names, figures and footnotes. Lets take a look at the footnotes.
Footnote 1: Operations
Canadian operations related to Afghanistan: APOLLO: Canadian “military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism,” including the war in Afghanistan, from October 2001 to October 2003.
ACCIUS: Canadian contribution to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Canada contributed one Lieutenant Colonel from November 2002 to June 2005.
ALTAIR: Canadian contribution to U.S.-led naval coalition in the Persian Gulf (part of U.S. Operation ENDURING FREEDOM); contribution continued from APOLLO. The most recent Canadian contribution was a six-month deployment of the frigate HMCS Winnipeg during 2005.
ATHENA: Canadian contribution to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF). Canada participated from October 2003 to October 2005.
ARCHER: Canadian contribution to U.S. Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Afghanistan. Canadian participation began August 2005. Current number of Canadian personnel: 2300.
FOUNDATION: Canadian liaison team at the headquarters of U.S. Central Command for “liaison with the CENTCOM campaign against terrorism.” Current number of Canadian personnel: 7.
Operation Apollo includes all deployed Canadian Forces contributions to the International Campaign Against Terrorism.
Things like the Canadian Naval Task Force deployed to the Persian Gulf:
Chronology of Ship Deployments
August 4 , 2001-February 14, 2002:
December 5, 2001-May 27, 2002:
October 17, 2001-April 27, 2002:
October 17, 2001-April 27, 2002:
HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Preserver
October 29, 2001-May 28, 2002:
December 5, 2001-May 28, 2002:
February 17-August 17, 2002:
March 23-October 14, 2002:
May 1-November 17, 2002:
HMCS St. John's
May 22-November 24, 2002:
September 9, 2002-April 25, 2003:
September 15, 2002-May 2, 2003:
February 2-July 1, 2003:
February 24-July 29, 2003:
March 5-August 28, 2003:
June 15-December 14, 2003:
and 'Foundation' listed above, the Centcom liaison team was something else before it became 'Foundation':
Joint Task Force South West Asia (CA JTFSWA)
The CF units and formations committed to Op APOLLO are organized under the Commander, Canadian Joint Task Force South West Asia (CA JTFSWA). The headquarters of the CA JTFSWA is the Canadian National Command Element (NCE), employing approximately 40 CF members, co-located with U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida. The NCE links the Chief of the Defence Staff with U.S. CENTCOM and the various CF units assigned to Op APOLLO.
In mid-August 2003, following the re-alignment of Canadian activities in southwest Asia, the NCE was reduced to a liaison staff. This liaison team is part of a new mission known as Task Force Tampa (TFT) or Op FOUNDATION.
Let's not forget, we're not talking about Afghanistan alone here, but all CF operations related to the War on Terror. The Polaris Institute thinks that operations such as Navy Destroyers patrolling in the Gulf are "related" to Afghanistan, at least related enough to help them increase their figures. Can't forget that catchy headline.
Here's some soldiers deployed to the Arabian Gulf deemed "related to Afghanistan" :
On March 14, 2003, a platoon of about 35 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta, deployed to the Arabian Gulf region to provide local security to CF units deployed on Op APOLLO. The deployment of the security platoon is part of a Force Protection Plan. In July 2003, soldiers from the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery based at Canadian Forces Base Shilo, Manitoba, replaced the Patricias.
How about some Air Force pers:
On December 27, 2001, the Minister of National Defence announced the deployment to the Arabian Gulf region of two CP-140 Aurora long-range surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft with about 200 Air Force personnel, including flight crews and support personnel, from 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, and 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia.
Can't forget about communications for all these deployed units:
In May 2002, the National Command, Control and Information System Squadron (NCCIS Sqn) was created to organize communications for the CF personnel and units deployed on Op APOLLO. The NCCIS Sqn provides the Canadian Joint Task Force Commander and the commanders of deployed CF units with national communications and information system capabilities. The personnel of the NCCIS Sqn build and maintain the computer and telephone networks that link the units deployed in the Arabian Gulf region to their headquarters in North America.
At its peak, NCCIS Sqn strength stood at about 90 all ranks; it now comprises about 30 CF personnel. The core membership of the NCCIS Sqn comes from the Canadian Forces Joint Signal Regiment in Kingston, Ontario, and from communications units at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario. The mission of this unit, too, is changing to focus on Op ATHENA.
Already, the Polaris Institute's numbers are starting to create a smell.
On to Footnote number 2 - Full Cost:
“Full cost” as defined by DND includes civilian and military salaries; overtime and allowances; petroleum, oil and lubricants;spares; contracted repair and overhaul services; and depreciation and attrition costs of all equipment involved. All figures are in thousands of dollars.
Seems straight forward. But wait a minute! Wouldn't most of those salaries, depreciation and attrition costs, amongst other things, still be going on if the CF wasn't in Afghanistan?
That question brings us to Footnote number 3 - Incremental Cost
“Incremental cost” as defined by DND is the cost incurred by DND over and above what would have been spent on personnel and equipment if they had not been deployed. It is derived from the Full Cost by subtracting salaries, equipment depreciation and attrition, and other sums that would otherwise have been spent on exercises or absorbed as part of normal activities.
Now we're actually starting to approach some real numbers. The total incremental cost, according to Polaris, is $2.166 billion dollars since 2001, and that's only if you include the Persian Gulf Deployments in the Afghanistan figures.
We're not done yet. In Footnote 1, they have listed:
ACCIUS: Canadian contribution to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Canada contributed one Lieutenant Colonel from November 2002 to June 2005.
United Nations Assistance Mission? I thought the United Nations missions were being tallyed up in a later section of the report. Why are they including United Nations costs under the Afghanistan total? The officer was deployed to Afghanistan, but not as part of Apollo.
How about Altair:
ALTAIR: Canadian contribution to U.S.-led naval coalition in the Persian Gulf (part of U.S. Operation ENDURING FREEDOM); contribution continued from APOLLO. The most recent Canadian contribution was a six-month deployment of the frigate HMCS Winnipeg during 2005.
More destroyers in the Persian Gulf. You'll note the addition of the text "part of U.S. Operation ENDURING FREEDOM". This is one of the institutes thin lines of reasoning for including all these costs under the 'Afghanistan' category.
The U.S. actually has troops deployed to Afghanistan under Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. They also have troops deployed in many other places under that Operation.
Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA)
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's go back and look at that $4.1 billion dollar figure again. The Polaris report and CP story would like you to believe that is the total cost spent on Afghanistan since 2001.
We now know that the actual figure is $2.166 billion and if you strip away all the "related to" numbers I suspect that number would at least be halved.
The Polaris report would like you to believe that the cost of the Afghan mission is approaching $1 billion a year and climbing. Nice bit of fear, but we've seen how reliable their numbers are.
Yet another interesting question is the lack of "related to" costs when analysing Canada's spending on UN missions. You know, the number they want to appear as small as possible. If related costs are good for the Afghanistan calculations, why not the UN?
The worst thing about this is that most Canadian newspapers and news outlets ran with this CP story virtually verbatim. Published as fact. At least that's what Canadians think they got.
That's enough of the spin cycle for this one. Time to apply some heat to this report and story. By heat, I'm certainly not thinking about the dryer.
I don't care much for Stephen Harper's reaction to this, but there is plenty of fault to go around on this issue. For all the oppositions cries of this government trying to act like George Bush, they just gave a three star performance of an American-style Congressional partisan hack job.
Well done to the NDP, Bloc and Liberals. You have become what you fear the most.
Note: I really wish our local CHUM station would play Lowell here. Anything would be better than the daily dose of left-wing pablum we're forced to listen to every day. I look forward to the hosts taking a day off. The fill-in host, Leah Hanson, is a sharp one from Calgary who doesn't give anyone a free ride.
Liberal Leadership Website Reviews - Email Test Results (en francais)
I expected poor results from this test but I must admit I was truly shocked by the lack of response.
None of the campaigns had any sort of auto-responder setup to verify receipt of my email. Eight of the eleven campaigns did not respond as of 6:00 am this morning and one campaign did not have any email address listed.
Congratulations to Marth Hall Findlay's team as the first team to respond, Hedy Fry's team as the second.
Using a Gmail address, email@example.com, I sent the following email to every campaign on the 12th of May, beginning at 5:30 am: (Gerard Kennedy was subbed for Scott Brison in the email to the Brison campaign)
I have a friend who has been trying to get me to join Scott Brison's campaign but I wanted to check out the other campaigns first.
Specifically, where does each campaign stand on youth related issues such as post-secondary funding.
I'd appreciate any info that you could provide.
I used the general info address listed for each site. If there was no info address, I then used whatever address was listed for communications. The following are the email addresses used and the response or lack of one.
firstname.lastname@example.org - no reply
Maurizio Bevilacqua - no email address found on site. I could have used the Admin address from a Domain Name Search, but the purpose of the test was to mimic an average visitor.
email@example.com - no reply
firstname.lastname@example.org - no reply
email@example.com - no reply
firstname.lastname@example.org - reply from Youth Coordinator 13 May, 10:48am. Promise to forward to Policy Director.
email@example.com - reply received 16 May, 5:59pm. Promise of further information to follow.
firstname.lastname@example.org - no reply
email@example.com - no reply
firstname.lastname@example.org - no reply
email@example.com - no reply
Email communications are effective campaign tools, especially for campaigns on a tight budget. Autoresponders can be an effective first step in the communications chain. Include a 'failsafe' email address in your autorespond email.
Example: "If you do not receive a reply to this message within 48 hours, please forward your email to firstname.lastname@example.org ." The 'xyz' email should be someone higher up in the campaign. If they begin receiving a flood of email, then obviously emails are going unanswered and the problem can be rectified.