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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


The good news: the Republicans will be wearing this for years to come, and have likely handed Obama the keys to the White House.

The really, really, really bad news: all of us are going to feel this, and not in a good way, either. Globalization means just that. Get ready for pain on a global scale.

(Oh, and any Canadian campaign stuff that happened today just got relegated to the back pages and the end of the newscast. Only Ignatieff - see the final couple pages of his speech, below - seemed to anticipate this.)

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...is just finishing a speech at a packed room at the Economic Club of Canada.

It is more than a good speech. It is a speech that, had it been given earlier and more often by other Liberals, this election would have a very different dynamic.

I have asked his guys for a copy of the speech to post on this web site. I will let you know if I get it.

UPDATE: That didn't take long! Here it is:

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In the 1996 BC Liberal campaign - wherein Tories, Reformers and Grits worked together to beat the NDP, obtaining a lot more votes but somewhat fewer seats - my Conservative buddy Greg Lyle introduced me to the "four boxes" concept. I loved it, and immediately saw its uses.

Since then, all of my colleagues and virtually all of my clients - political campaigns, companies, unions, NGOs - have also seen how it can work for them. We use the concept so often, in fact, we now call it the Daisy Box.

With the Daisy Box, the basic idea is to challenge human nature. You see, people are awfully good at knowing their own strengths, and the weaknesses of the other side. But they aren't so good at thinking about their own weaknesses, and the strengths of their adversaries. The Daisy Box forces them to think about those things, and to prepare.

In our experience, if you can't quickly and effectively fill out the "Us On Us" box, you will lose your campaign. Picture a candidate on your doorstep, and saying: "Hi, I'm Jean Doe, I'm running for the Slackbencher Party, and I want you support because, um, er..." It is essential you define yourself before the other side does.

A while before the campaign started, I scratched out a Daisy Box on how I thought the race would shape up.

What I noticed, right away, was that the Tory boxes - the one in which they define themselves, and the one in which they seek to define the Grits - were really, really easy to fill in. I knew what the Tories were going to say, generally, because they'd been telegraphing their message points for months.

The Liberals, meanwhile, presented a challenge. Some of the definitional stuff was straightforward, because I knew (or used to know) the Liberal Party of Canada. But a lot of the attack messaging didn't seem so salient or relevant.

Anyway. Here's the Daisy Box, below. Time has overtaken my scribblings, so I am amused to see that the Tories stole the "on your side" frame first - and, moreover, I note that the Tories didn't get as harsh in their critiques as I did. They didn't need to, I guess, which is pretty sad.

It'll be interesting to see how many of these themes made it to debate briefing books. (And, on that subject, read this.) Let me know what you think, and have a great week!

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LOSERS: The Conservatives. As this Le Soleil story details, Jean Pelletier is stricken with incurable colon cancer. He is dying. Knowing this, what do the Conservatives do to him? They appeal his victory against John Gomery, whom even they cannot bring themselves to meet, let alone defend. The Tories will lose their appeal, and they will have subjected a dying man to undue and untold suffering. They should be ashamed of themselves. This one won't be forgotten. (And H/T to Norman, who is the only anglo pundit who pays attention to the French media.)
LOSERS: Jack Layton. The guy just can't help himself. Polls show him to be more competitive than his party has been since the Broadbent years, so what does he start to do? He overplays his hand. There is no question that a lot female/urban/ethnic voters are on the move. They are unenthusiastic about the Harper Tories, and - clearly - they are unhappy with the Dion Liberals. Some of them are thinking Green, some of them are considering the NDP. In those circumstances, Layton and his team need to cool it, and demonstrate they have the maturity to be an effective Official Opposition, not the "saviour" of families. In the end, vote distribution - and the NDP's propensity to self-destruct - will ensure that the Grits remain the Opposition, I think. (That said, the way things are going for the Ontario PCs, I wouldn't be surprised if the NDP is the Official Opposition after the 2011 Ontario campaign.)
WINNERS: Um, losers. If you've lost innumerable campaigns, and you have no talent for strategy, tactics or interpersonal relationships, no matter! There'll always be a reporter, somewhere, who will write you up. Losers are winners, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, etc.
LOSERS: Certain commenters who shall remain unnamed. They say one thing here, and the precise opposite somewhere else. Google searches are great at ferreting out hypocrisy, Grits.
LOSERS: Ontario Tories. You can't suck and blow at the same time, folks. You can't holler that your opponent is "talking down" the economy when, just a little while ago and repeatedly, your own Minister of Finance warned people about investing in Ontario. Pot, meet kettle. Black.
WINNERS: The BC Liberal War Room. They've been doing a great job in this campaign. Their latest catch: a wacko Tory candidate who calls refugees "criminals and terrorists," suggests (a la Palin) she talks to God, and (my favourite) that gambling leads to "one night stands" ("Nanny, no more bingo for you! We know where it leads, now!") Good catch. Now demand her resignation, and hope like Hell you don't get it!
WINNER: Susan Ormiston. A lot of Campaign 2008 is taking place online - as the legion of candidates felled by Google makes clear. Ormiston's spot - on a too-crowded, too-hard-to-navigate CBC Election site - is a gem, and the best place to go for news and analysis about the political Interweeb.
• WINNER: The latest Liberal ad is, again, a good one. I don't get the "Harpernomics" tag - "Reaganomics" was a generation ago, and in another country - but the Libs, again, have the best spots:

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I just did Brent Bambury's CBC Radio One show 'Mob Rule' with my Facebook buddies Monte Solberg and Antonia Zerbisias. It was fun, even if my head hurt. I told Brent that the headline in Antonia's paper - that the Liberals and the NDP are tied - more than blew me away. It was historic, I said.

It's sad, too. Stéphane Dion and his team didn't reach out to very many experienced Grits, so many, many folks are watching the carrnage from the sidelines. But I have to say, it's sad to see what we built up get pissed away.

Anyway. What can you do? Last night we got to hang out with Donovan Bailey. That's me and him up above.

Someone at the table told me I should get Donovan to run for the Liberals.

"I wouldn't do that to him," I said, as Donovan listened. "I like him too much."

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WINNER: Stéphane Dion, for moving swiftly and decisively against bigotry. Claims that Jews had advance knowledge of 9/11, and removed themselves from the Twin Towers prior to the attacks, is only the latest of many centuries of anti-Semitic blood libels. Good on Dion for dropping a Winnipeg-area candidate who spouted such filth. So, now, why haven’t the Tories dropped a Calgary MP who says immigrants are responsible for rising crime rates? (And why is Ezra Levant, who defends Jim Keegstra and neo-Nazis, still an official Tory spokesman?)
LOSER: Jack Layton. Years ago, as everyone knows, a BC NDP candidate attended an environmental conference and “removed all of his clothing and stood naked, with an erection, in front of a large group of young women aged 14-17 years. The youth were face painting at the time and were completely clothed…” What was Jack Layton’s view of those who were upset this creep had been embraced by the NDP? Quote unquote: “Some campaigns seem to be based on people's efforts to get out the shovel and start digging around.” Uh-huh. Next time a New Democrat starts lecturing you about sexism, Liberals and Conservatives, make sure to have that Layton quote handy. What a disgrace.
LOSERS: Those already plotting the next Liberal leadership race, in the media or otherwise. If it’s a narrow Tory majority, the only thing that could force Dion out is a full caucus revolt. (If the NDP form the Official Opposition, Dion must resign on Election Night.) If the 2008 result is a Tory minority, like in 2006, I am not at all clear how the Liberal leader can be persuaded to find a new job. I have no skin in this game, as regular readers know. But it seems to me that the He Deserves A Second Shot argument – heard before with Mike Harris, John Turner, Dalton McGuinty and (oh yeah) Stephen Harper – is relevant if Canada ends up with another Tory minority. Am I wrong?
LOSER: Earl McRae. And here I had been thinking he was dead, too.
LOSERS: The media, for poll envy. Norman’s right: “Polls affect campaign coverage and they affect the spirit of campaign workers.” The mood among Liberals is dark, to say the least. It’s enough to make one long for the good old days, when nobody knew what was going on until Election Night. It would make things fun again, if nothing else!

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[h/t Calgree Grit]

I am going to be at a fundraiser, tonight, for hospitals in Jamaica. So I will be unable to watch and live-blog the Presidential debate.

Instead, feel free to send in your comments, below. You live-blog it, Team WK Dot Com!

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...they lead. Good on Stephane Dion for dealing decisively with bigotry.

Now, will Stephen Harper do likewise?


Dion ditches candidate over remarks about Jews and 9 11 (FedElxn-Dion)
Source: The Canadian Press
Sep 26, 2008 12:23

TORONTO - Liberal Leader Stephane Dion dumped a candidate Friday after she was accused of anti-Semitism.

Lesley Hughes _ who's running for the party in a Winnipeg riding _ had faced criticism for an old blog posting in which she suggested Israeli intelligence warned the United States in advance of the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center and ``Israeli businesses'' vacated the premises before the attack.

Hughes later described herself as a ``lifelong friend and supporter of the Jewish community in Winnipeg'' and apologized for the ``perception'' that she is anti-Semitic.

But the apology wasn't enough for her party leader.

``The Liberal party's commitment to tolerance and multiculturalism is paramount,'' Dion said in a statement.

``I have reviewed the past comments of Lesley Hughes and it is clear they do not meet this standard. While I appreciate her apology, I cannot condone those sentiments in any way.

``I have therefore asked Ms. Hughes to step down as the Liberal party candidate in Kildonan-St. Paul.''

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...and bright as a coalbin at midnight.


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What a bunch of idiots.

1. They Tories are going to lose. The Federal Court decision was clear, strong and reasoned. They will be embarrassed by the result they obtain.

2. They are hauling a very sick man - Jean Pelletier - back through the courts, for no good reason. They will, and do, look like heartless pricks.

3. They are doing Paul Martin's dirty work for him. They will derive no political upside from this, with their own base or anyone else's.

4. They are perilously close to getting all of Team Chretien off the bench.

You can decide for yourself whether, long term, that's a smart strategy. You know what I think.

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WINNER: Not the Liberal Party, that’s for goddamned sure. What is my expert political consultant analysis? If Election Day was today, it means a small Tory majority; it means the NDP may form the Official Opposition, depending on regional breaks; and it means that Stéphane Dion will never get a second shot at being Prime Minister. But today isn’t Election Day. Just a bad, bad day for Grits.
WINNER: Canadians, because the parties are finally talking about the economy. It hasn’t escaped the notice of Canadians that people are withdrawing their savings from banks down South, and that a Great Depression seems imminent. We’ve noticed that. We’ve also noticed the historical trend – namely, that when the Americans sneeze, we often get a cold. So Harper’s frame is “a steady hand on the till” (with one of his predecessors, it was always “a steady hand IN the till”). For Dion, it should be: “We eliminated the $42 billion deficit the Tories left behind, we cleaned up their mess, we balanced the budget. The Conservative Party, according to experts, are going to put us back in deficit or already have.”
LOSERS: The Liberals. Who seem – I can’t believe this – to have a candidate in Winnipeg’s Kildonan-St.Paul, Lesley Hughes, who has promoted the Jews-Knew-About-9/11-Before-It-Happened Canard. Solution? Fire her now.
WINNER: My daughter, and millions of Canadian teenagers. In our household, I have observed that the next generation of voters TEXT more on their phones than they TALK. More clever Harper-style retail politics: it works. Or, as our just-turned-13-year-old would say: GR8! Smrt mve SH! ;)
LOSER: Tory Richardson. This is exactly the sort of Reform-era stuff that Stephen Harper doesn’t want or need in the second half of the game. After slavishly courting ethnic communities for three years, this brand of troglodyte-ish grunting reminds people of the Reform-era gems about Jews “running the country,” “gentile people” losing power, and moving “ethnics…to the back of the shop,” and so on.
LOSERS: Grits in BC, I am sad to say. I don’t trust Harris-Decima’s regional breakdowns – they’re way too small to draw conclusions – but I trust Gary Mason, because he’s one of the smartest and fairest commentators around. If Mason says the Libs are in big, big trouble in BC, they are. My prediction about Hedy Fry may turn out to be wrong.
WINNER: Justin Trudeau. After treating Justin shabbily in Outremont – and after pissing off his friends, like me – the Dionistas now see what was always the case: Justin is an asset, with name recognition and star power to spare.
LOSER: John McCain. What a weasel! When the Canadian campaign is over, I intend to focus daily on the US campaign – right up until Daisy’s US Election Night party. Related: aspiring Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin seeks protection from "witchcraft"!

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Tonight, we got to a private screening of one of the best movies ever, The Harder They Come. And there at the screening was Jason Henzell, the son of Perry Henzell, the film's auteur (as my pal Lee would say).

For me, a big deal.

Here's me with Jason. I look somewhat excited. Jason looks scared.

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Holy shit la merde!

If Nick's right - and I don't know a serious Liberal who doubts his professionalism - then this thing has turned into a scramble for survival. That's it.


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I'm on Dave Rutherford's show as I type this. He's my favourite right-wing dinosaur.

I just offered him leadership of the Liberal Party.

He declined.

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