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"...[Kinsella is] a modern-day Machiavelli, the mastermind who ran war rooms for Jean Chretien and Dalton McGuinty... He's the ultimate political insider... [The War Room] has plenty of fascinating insights and is a must-read for political junkies."

- The Toronto Sun

"The top Canadian spin doctor...tells all!"

- The National Post

"Warren Kinsella’s new book is a must-read for anyone interested in political campaigning in Canada. And not just political campaigning.…I wish I’d had the chance to read The War Room before I became Stephen Harper’s campaign manager; it might have saved me from many mistakes and months of painful learning on the job."

- Tom Flanagan, The Literary Review of Canada

"The War Room is a rich, detailed, and substantive primer on how to run a winning war room - warts, pizza boxes, smelly couches and all - from a master war roomer."

- The Hill Times

"Kinsella has crafted a handy little guide for politicos and non-politicos alike. Just keep it away from the kids."

- The Winnipeg Free Press

"... a great read ... full of fascinating stories..."

- John Moore, CFRB

"...I don't want to say [he's a] genius...but there's valuable insights here..."

- John Oakley, AM640

"I just got one copy, but I plan to get more!"

- John Wright, Ipsos, CFRB

"I do recommend [The War Room] to everyone."

- Charles Adler, Adler Online

"He's Canada's James Carville...a must-read...If you really want to win, you need this book!"

- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD

"A fascinating book...full of great stories."

- Ken Rockburn, CPAC


Due to popular demand (and we're not kidding, either), Bart the Fish is back from the campaign trail! Don't miss his scintillating Campaign 2008 analysis!

(Not sure why I am twitching around there at the start. Itchy rear end, perhaps. Or, a New Democrat was trying grab my wallet. Wouldn't be the first time.)

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Lotsa losers, one winner! And here's yesterday's 'Q' show, podcasted...
LOSERS: The Tories, with their cuts to the arts - maybe. Did they kick at this hornet’s nest deliberately, or did they merely trip on it? The next few days will tell. At the risk of sounding like a Philistine, I can assure you that if the denizens of Deepest Annex leave their million-dollar homes and take to the airwaves to bray and shriek about the cuts, and liken them to an apocalypse and whatnot, they will lose Middle Canada – and play right into Stephen Harper’s hands. If, however, the artistic community plays it smart – by cooling the rhetoric, speaking in French, and detailing the significant economic benefits of a thriving culture – they might just win, and thereby do some serious damage to the Conservatives’ lusted-after majority. Art is the triumph over chaos – but can it triumph over politics? Keep your eyes on this picture.
LOSERS: Blogging politicos! In the past three days, I’ve been interviewed half-dozen times – by the CBC, by the Hill Times, by many others – about idiots like Ryan Warawa. Why are so many gaffes happening to so many supposedly-smart political people, journalists want to know. My answer: everyone, me included (cf. Cookiegate) says stupid things. All of the political parties have gotten into trouble with naked or idiotic or extremist or acid-dropping candidates in the online campaign. All of them! Why? Three things: (a) Google (b) the popularity of blogs and (c) the unique loudmouth culture of politicos. Taken together, those three things are lethal. And the gaffes aren’t over, either – not by a long shot.
LOSERS: Agenda-bearing reporters. Do they think we’re dumb? Do they really think that we are incapable of seeing the games being played? The hostility towards the Premier’s message fairly bristles from this “news” report – from the snotty headline to the flying quotes to the false “admissions.” This kind of reporting is a vestige of a different age – because there are a thousand fact-checkers (and bias-fighters) out there in the blogosphere, now, refusing to go along with the old media power paradigm. And they’re not intimidated by the traditionalists – not anymore.
LOSER: Elizabeth May. As her choo-choo train crawls Eastward, May is playing games about her attendance at a pro-Hezbollah rally, and the smart guys at Western Standard have caught her. You know how to talk, Green leader: say, clearly, you denounce the terrorist organization called Hezbollah. Say it.
LOSERS: Liberal optimists. The dramatic Nanos flip-flop that came on Tuesday crushed the hopes of plenty of Grits – I was at a provincial Liberal event Tuesday night, and I saw plenty of long faces. With Nanos now joining all of the other polling agencies – and thereby pegging the Tory-Grit gap at more than ten points – smart Liberals know that a fat lady, somewhere, is tuning up her voice. Later today, we’ll hear from Bart the Fish on this confusing poll stuff. And, possibly, fat ladies.
• WINNER: The only one – the new Liberal spot! It’s tough! It works!

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Jian Ghomeshi of CBC Radio One's 'Q' is a Godlike Genius. We told him that just before asking him the name of his favourite web site in the whole world, and it didn't influence his answer in the slightest. He also likes punk rock.

Live from the studio at 'Q,' here's Jian:

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BE ALERT – Canada needs more Lerts! Old joke, sorry. I’m on 'Q' on CBC Radio One today with Jian Ghomeshi. We are supposed to talk about the Inter-weeb and the election, but if we don’t end up diverting into the global significance of punk rock, I’ll be surprised. (Related: XM killed Fungus 53! Time to fight back, punk rockers!)
WINNERS: Dion’s Liberals. They had a very clean, very no-nonsense platform launch yesterday. There weren’t any dramatic new announceables in there, but I rather suspect drama isn't what the Liberal leader is looking for, these days. Later in the afternoon, a polite young man named Jeff Petch called seeking donations on behalf of the Liberals, so I gave them a couple hundred bucks. Meanwhile…
LOSERS: The Tories, for completely dropping the ball on quick response in respect of the biggest Liberal announcement of the election campaign. Wakey-wakey, fellas! It’s Monday, a school day! The fact that the Grits were releasing THEIR ELECTION PLATFORM was in all the papers: did you miss it? Apparently. (Oh, and apologies to Ms. ITQ for the effrontery of the link; she despises Yours Truly for not ever being sufficiently deferential to the Ottawa media, but she is actually right in this instance.)
WINNERS: Machiavellian Jack Layton. I saw his “coalition government” musings as a gambit to crowd out the Liberals’ campaign-launch day, and it very nearly succeeded. There is nobody a New Democrat despises more than a Liberal, so don’t believe this trial balloon for a minute. But, as political ruses go, it was a dastardly clever stunt. No wonder Quebeckers like Jacko so much!
WINNER: Nick Nanos. Not because he’s right, or even because he’s wrong (no one knows, on either count). Simply because he has everybody talking about his numbers. (The hunch of smart friend: the six points in Ontario that took the minority away from Harper at the last minute in 2004 - and which Harper worked hard to get back in 2006 - is bouncing around. Still. Also, the arts cuts were a stupid, stupid, stupid bone to throw to the SoCon Tory vote - because they already had the SoCon Tory vote.)
LOSER: Elizabeth May, for speaking at a pro-Hezbollah rally, a while back. That said, I don’t believe she equates Zionism with racism, or approves of terrorism, so I look forward to her saying so – say, today – somewhere in Canada. Then she'll be a winner.
LOSERS: Anyone who equates an opponent with Hitler. Rebecca Finch came to see me, not so long ago, looking for a job. She seemed like a nice person. Here’s some free advice to a nice person: now that you are a candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada, you need to remember that likening Stephen Harper (or anyone) to Adolf Hitler diminishes the suffering of Holocaust victims – and diminishes you, too. As with Ms. May, I look forward to Rebecca clarifying her position as soon as humanly possible. (So, too, the other youngster in the photo below – who also wanted to a job with us, and also didn’t get one – and who can’t possibly agree with what Ms. Finch has said.)

Rebecca Finch and an unidentified street person.

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James Carville watch out! The Tory war room is in town!

They're transforming politics, Ezra and Crew. Wow.

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...so says Michael Marzolini, who I always listen to. Greg Lyle, too, who is also a smart cookie.

More here.

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...it's a dictum that probably applies to bloggers, too, as recent events have shown. But, I must say, Christie Blatchford's column in the Globe on Saturday, about why joking about listerios is defensible, stands out in a crowded field of stupidities.

I can't find a link, but here are two key quotes from Blatchford about things she considered funny:

1. "The funniest cartoon I remember, which appeared in Frank magazine I think, was [about the shooting of blacks by police]. It was funny because it was true: Reporters greet bad news like long-lost love."

2. "Another example: At the Toronto Star...the newsroom also had a pool guessing the date Terry would die."

Cops shooting blacks? Terry Fox dying? That kind of stuff is funny?

Personally, I don't think those things are funny. What say you, readers? Is she an insensitive idiot - or a deep thinker, possessed of a great sense of humour, and showing us a better way?

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WINNER? Stéphane Dion, who is about to launch his party’s election platform – maybe. I don’t know what’s in it, but I hope and pray – for his sake – that it talks a lot more about the economy, and less about the carbon tax. We shall see, eh?
WINNER: The Bloc. Because Duceppe is telling the truth: if you look at the seats in play, and do a bit of math, you will conclude – as I have – that the only thing that stands between Stephen Harper and a Parliamentary majority is the Bloc. So, if you’re a traditional Liberal federalist in Québec, what do you do? That’s what the French call a dilemme, n’est-ce pas?
WINNER: The CBC, for having Enright around. The irony, of course, is that it was the CTV’s Doskoch who heard the radio bit that was broadcast Sunday morning. (I slept through it, myself.)
WINNER: Big City Lib! According to National Newswatch and others, Mr. Murphy was the guy who located the evidence that led to the rapid disappearance of the Tory candidate in Toronto Centre! Way to go, Murphy! Now quit sending me snarky emails about the shifty, shifting Green Shift, you bastard!
LOSER: Garth Turner, who posted a “DEATHWATCH” banner alongside a photo of his main opponent, Lisa Raitt. Now, Lisa is a friend of mine, so I’m biased. But even if I didn’t know and like Lisa, I’d now think Garth Turner is an asshole. Still believe he deserves to win, my friend Curran?
LOSERS: The CBC and Canadian Press. I and many other hacks – red, blue and orange – believe CP and MotherCorp are going to be embarrassed, come Election Day, by the Harris-Decima numbers they’re trumpeting day in and day out. The gap is not that huge; there is no bloody way the Tories have that kind of a lead. If I’m wrong, I will eat humble pie on CITY-TV’s election panel. But I’m not wrong. (I think.)
WINNER: Candidate nudism – and it crosses party lines, too! In the Liberal Party, I can assure you, we have become accustomed to MPs and Senators who regard clothing as an inconvenience. Particularly in the Senate.
LOSERS: The NDP candidate recruitment process. But the news isn’t all bad - it gives us another opportunity to post the W@AL documentary about how the Dippers find candidates!

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Ten year old: I want to live in poor nation and help people.

Eight year old: I want live there and drive a Ferrari and say: "W'sup! Stand by for some fifties!"

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It's another Sunday, and another opportunity to ponder Election 2008 without the "winner/loser" duality. On Sundays, the Lord permits us a bit more reflection, right? Right.

A few folks - not many, but some - have asked me where all the Chrétien people are in this federal campaign. Apart from the involvement of a few whose kinship with the Liberal Party of Canada predates Chrétien, they note, a lot of us seem to be sitting this one out. Some are anxious about this, but most of them are just curious. It's a fair question.

The short answer - the cliché - is that we didn't leave the Liberal Party, the Liberal Party left us. Like many clichés, it has the added value of actually being true. Throughout 2002 and 2003, the Liberal Party of Canada was transformed into a virtual abbatoir by the Paul Martin people. As with their predecessors in the Khmer Rouge and suchlike, the Martinites devised all sorts of loyalty tests, and sought the fealty of those who - like them - would stop at nothing, literally nothing, to drive Jean Chrétien from power. The bloodletting stories are legion; most famously, they dropped Stéphane Dion from cabinet and tried (unsuccessfully) to challenge him for the nomination in his riding.

Gomery and assorted Parliamentary inquiries were just a couple of the tactics conjured up to destroy Chrétien and his people. Reputations were unjustly shredded; some were bankrupted by lawyers' fees (my wife and I are still paying thousands in legal bills); some were hounded out, even when they were sick or caring for the sick (like Jean Pelletier, or Pierre Tremblay, or Herb Dhaliwal); many just grew weary of the smears and moved on. They left, and - mostly - they never came back.

I was different, as you may have observed. One of the cardinal Liberal principles having been tossed on the slag heap by the Martin thugs - the Always Be Loyal To The Leader principle - I figured that anyone could now do likewise. I dubbed myself a "Liberal In Exile," and did all that I could do to make the lives of the Martinites a living Hell. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I and my fellow exiles celebrated their slide into minority status - and, two years later, their loss of government. I despised them. Many other Liberals felt as I did, but few said so publicly.

When Stéphane Dion won the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, the Chrétien people celebrated. We saw it as a clear and firm repudiation of Paul Martin and his cabal. What we did not see - not even for a moment - was what has happened. Dion, I believe now, was the ultimate compromise candidate. He won the leadership with about 17 per cent support. He did not have a team around him that was large enough, or experienced enough, to assume control of an organization as complex as the Liberal Party of Canada. Into this void slipped the unemployable Martinites - as TV pundits, as pollsters, as senior advisors. They were back, and so too the old grievances. All willingness of the Chrétien people to get involved again vanished. In the interim, a bad situation only grew more so. It culminated, on the eve of the election, with Dion's most senior Quebec lieutenants calling the Chrétien folks "has beens" who are not needed to win.

It may be true! It may be so. It may be, in fact, that the people who helped to win three successive majorities aren't needed at all, and that Stéphane Dion will somehow snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. I hope so, for him, if not necessarily many of the people around him.

Some Liberals, still seeking the help of the Chrétien team, ask: Will it ever change, even after Stephen Harper wins the election (because I believe he will)? My answer: I am sorry, but I doubt it. By the time the next leadership race takes place (because, also, I do not believe Dion will retire, and will demand the same second chance John Turner got), almost a decade will have gone by. I do not see Bob Rae or Michael Ignatieff waiting that long, either. If the Liberal Party is ever to win back government, it will be with new people, in caucus and the backrooms. That, I think, is how it should be. It's needed.

In the meantime, the Conservatives will have had the country for nearly a decade. Does that concern me, as a Chrétien Liberal? Yes, it does. Of course it does.

But the opportunity to do something about it is gone, and I don't believe the opportunity will be coming back. That may not be a happy end to the story, but that's how politics is, sometimes. You don't always get the result you want.

UPDATE: What a bunch: they can't ever get counter-response right. Check out the comments of "JT" and "Sam" after 9:00 a.m. - they're identical. When trying to fool people into thinking the grassroots are with you, folks, you might want to be a bit better organized. Lurking in blog chat rooms and posting identical talking points under different false names is not what you might call a winning strategy. But what do I know.

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...as put together by my friend Don Millar. You can read more about him in The War Room.

And, if he was actually allowed to do what he knows how to do best, this thing would be a lot tighter. A lot.

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LOSER : Stéphane Dion, for saying his major campaign plank wasn’t. As any regular reader knows, I was one of the few Liberals to object to the timing of the policy, and using my real name, too. So forgive me for being a stickler about timing, again, but – if you are going to discard a major, major policy – do it before the campaign starts. Not during it. John Tory tried that in the Ontario election with the funding of private religious schools, and the whiplash-inducing volte face probably cost him more seats than he would have otherwise lost. Kee-rist.
LOSERS: Media crypto-racists, for trying to defend the despicable canard that all natives are drunks.
LOSER: The subject of this column. Deadliest bit of opinion-making in the campaign so far. Ouch. Is like Randy Denley’s take on the same subject last year – one of those very rare columns that political hacks actually remember and talk about. (It doesn’t happen often, believe me.)
LOSERS: Libertarian hypocrites. If the targets of the criticisms are Muslims, it’s free speech! If it’s the addled Alaskan, let’s get the iron heel of the Stalinist state to crush Mallick!
LOSERS: Those longing for Meech Lake, still. Two facts: (a) federalists will never give enough to mollify separatists – they will always want more, until there is nothing left, and (b) it’s mutually exclusive: the more that one drops at the feet of the “sovereignists,” the more one politically alienates the rest of Canada. Not much of a formula for victory, I’d say. If Hébert and her ilk were right, how do they explain away the winning record of the little guy from Shawinigan?
WINNERS: Greg Weston readers. Weston gets it: the objective, in war room politics, is not to find that single silver bullet that will dispatch one’s opponent in one moment. The objective is to throw them off their message for a day. If you do that seven times (discounting Sundays and down days) in a 36 day writ period, you’ve destroyed 25 per cent of the other side’s ability to get their message out. In this election, it isn’t the Liberal war room that’s doing any of that (they’re practically invisible). It’s the Tories war rooming themselves.
WINNER: Monte Solberg. He’s back! Now that he’s out of active politics, I can say that this guy is one of my favouritest Canadian politicos. Smart, funny, decent. The Tories' loss is the media’s gain.
LOSERS: Media/ad people who think they’re “experts” about political advertising. They know SFA about politics and, often, advertising. Guys like Patrick Muttart, Perry Miele, Don Millar and Gordon Ashworth know what works. And they have the winning records to prove it.
WINNER: Julie Couillard. Julie's back! Julie’s got a book coming out! Warren has a new photo of her!

Tabernac, she's back!

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Our youngest: "Daddy, I farted three times in prayer circle at school."

Me [uncharacteristically at a loss for words]: "Oh. Well, then."

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Fat lady singing? Done like dinner? Over because it's over?

Oh, Christ, I don't know. But it sure as shit isn't good, that headline.

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LOSERS: Tories hoping for majority territory by Week Two. It just ain’t there – they’ve seemingly hit a ceiling. Dion’s floor, however, has yet to determine itself. And the NDP and the Greens, you can safely assume, have their power tools out, and are working hard to lower that Grit floor. (Man, there were just way too many metaphors in that one.)
LOSER: The Tory staffer at the centre of the latest gaffe. Though the anti-aboriginal slur resulted in apologies aplenty, the staffer’s idiotic remarks stepped all over the Conservative campaign’s desire to get out their message of the day. It also ensured that, in any riding where the 2006 result was tight and the aboriginal vote is sufficiently large, Tory candidates are now facing an additional obstacle. Stupid, insensitive and – for a campaign as supposedly disciplined as the Tories’ was supposed to be – self-defeating.
WINNERS: The Liberals, for siding with a young man who deserves support. I have met him, and I cannot believe that deportation is warranted in his case. A reversal in this case would send a positive message to a lot of urban voters looking for a sign that the Tories don’t always give the Bush regime whatever it wants.
WINNERS: The Conservative bloggers taking on Garth Turner. The statistics, in this case, don’t lie: a lot of people are paying attention to Garth’s critics, and that can’t possibly be helpful to his campaign. Jim Curran wants to bet me that Lisa Raitt won’t triumph in this riding – you’re on, good sir. Now, what are we betting? Your SFH tee?
WINNERS: The Bloc, who – unfortunately – seem to be rebounding somewhat in Quebec. They’re not the force they once were, however: the Parti Québécois has now signaled its intention to help out the Bloc’s campaign effort. The PQ wouldn’t be making noises about mid-campaign help if it wasn’t needed, je pense.
LOSER: Generations of Liberal spin doctors. The Toronto Star – for decades as resolutely Liberal as Outremont – seems to be slipping away, as Outremont did. How come? You got me. The Tories receive the uncritical support of the Notional Pest, the Sun chain, the CanWest chain and – lately – the Globe/CTV axis. What possible marketing argument can be made for the Star aping everyone else? Again, you got me. (Oh, and the casual Ashworth smear is bullshit. The guy was key to Chrétien winning three majorities, and McGuinty two. Do you really think it’s him to blame – or is it, just maybe, the disagreeable youngsters and/or unemployable thugs who have never run a national campaign before?)
WINNER: Jean Chrétien, naturally. (Did you expect I’d ever say anything else?) In a couple sentences, the guy highlighted a major Tory weakness – and reminded everyone about a major Liberal strength. With him at the helm, would the Liberals be cruising to big majority in 2008? You know the answer to that one, too.

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