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Warren Kinsella - THE RINGERS

"...[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


Herwith, a fave new group of musical lunatics, all improbably sharing similar handles.

I hear Strokes, Libertines and Iggy in here (the musical one, the one that is God, not the political one). Not a bad start.

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Stephen Harper is in trouble. Of that, there can be no doubt. I have heard from senior Conservatives - and even some present and former caucus members - who are very, very angry at him. More than one noted to me how much Jim Prentice looked like a leader in Question Period – and how the Prime Minister looked like a shadow of his former self.

Some people are blaming Guy Giorno, but – speaking as a former staffer – that’s the chicken’s way out. Staffers only give advice; leaders, meanwhile, are supposed to lead. The Conservative leader didn’t.

I’m a Liberal active in this leadership race, so don’t just take my word for it. Here’s just a sampling of what the pundits and pols are saying this morning, taken mainly from conservative media:

• Sun Media: “HARPER’S FATE IN DOUBT…As the survival of the Conservative government hangs in the balance, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's leadership could also be on the line. Some Tories are quietly grumbling about the grave political miscalculation that is pushing the government to the brink.”
• John Ivison, National Post: “Stephen Harper is another politician who looks like he's been hit by a train these days. The Prime Minister was barely audible as he replied to Stephane Dion's question in the House of Commons yesterday, asking him whether he still believes he has the confidence of the House. A tired-looking Mr. Harper…stood there, stripped of hubris, drained of energy, sending the message to Conservatives that resistance is futile. It looked as if losing the confidence of the House had affected his own faith in himself…what will be Mr. Harper's fate? The response of my unscientific poll of Conservatives taken on Parliament Hill yesterday was an almost unanimous thumbs down.”
• Rob Granastein, Sun: “WHY IT’S TIME FOR HARPER TO GO…This is Stephen Harper's fault. If he loses power next week, Harper must be replaced as leader of the Conservative party. And even if he survives, his days should be numbered. Really, what the #$%^& was he thinking?"
• Jeff Simpson, Globe and Mail: “His fate depends, it would appear, on the Governor-General's decision to grant prorogation or an election. Otherwise, he will have done a Joe Clark, miscalculating his way out of office.”
• Randy Denley, Ottawa Citizen: “Most of the blame for this mess goes to Stephen Harper. If his government falls, he should resign. He is the architect of the crisis the country now faces. And all of it was so unnecessary. Harper just couldn't resist the chance to slip in a low blow against his opponents and it has backfired spectacularly. If he hasn't the decency to resign as a matter of honour, his party should insist that he go.”
• Winnipeg Free Press: “TORIES OUTRAGED AT HARPER’S POTENTIALLY FATAL FUMBLE…astonished Conservatives are quietly fuming about the tactical lunder they fear could toss them into opposition. And the blame seems to be landing on the prime minister's doorstep. Stunned Conservative MPs are barely concealing their outrage. Many are venting their anger in private because of Stephen Harper's iron grip on the party and the uncertain prospects of a coalition of opposition parties.”
• Don Martin, National Post: “…Stephen Harper may well join Stephane Dion as a former prime minister, the price for boneheadedly browbeating his opponents in dangerous times…Stephen Harper always projected confident, unflappable leadership. That changed yesterday when his sagging shoulders and lack-lustre performance gave him the look of a lost cause trying to come to mental grips with his six-week squandering of the largest minority mandate in Canadian history.”
• Dan Lett, Winnipeg Free Press: “Harper returned to Ottawa and single-handedly toppled himself….Harper stumbled awkwardly into this predicament and since then has shown no capacity to extricate himself from a dilemma that appears to have evolved from political stunt to political checkmate. There are risks here for the opposition leaders, but they are not alone. Canadians are entitled to wonder how Harper would do leading the country through an economic crisis when he couldn't survive a political crisis.”

So what do you think, dear reader? I cannot see how Stephen Harper can survive if his government is defeated; very quickly thereafter, there will be two parties having a leadership race - not one.

What do you think?

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Can they all work together?

In our current economic circumstances, we are seeing plenty evidence to suggest that people with differing ideologies can, and should, come together for the common good.

Stephen Harper and his team did not understand that, or accept that. They paid the price for that.

If I were Messrs. Dion and Layton, I'd nab a couple Tories for that new cabinet. If Obama can do it, so can we.

(Besides, it'd mess the Conservatives up for years to come.)

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...and so too the stable governance of the country.

Michael and his leadership opponents seen here.

(By the way, have you noticed the Conservatives in Question Period are starting to go through the Kubler-Ross' model, the Five Stages of Grief - denial, anger, sadness, and so on? Will the Conservatives accept what has happened to them?)

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Leadership candidates agree to Dion as PM
Updated Mon. Dec. 1 2008 2:02 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

The three main contenders to replace Liberal Leader Stephane Dion announced on Monday their unanimous agreement that Dion should lead a coalition with the NDP and serve as interim prime minister if the government is brought down.

Speaking outside of the Liberal caucus meeting, Dominic LeBlanc, standing shoulder to shoulder with Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff, said they all back the deal forged with the NDP.

"The accord that was presented to us received unanimous support and the other issue which is very important is we decided the only person and the best person to lead and form a coalition government is the elected leader of our party, the leader of the opposition Stephane Dion," LeBlanc said.

Ignatieff echoed his words, saying the coalition deal is economically responsible, preserves Liberal ideals and upholds Dion as party leader until May, when a leadership convention will be held.

"We are at one, the three of us, that the only person who can lead the party is the duly elected leader of the party Mr. Stephane Dion," Ignatieff said.

Rae described the meeting as historic, positive, upbeat and moving.

Earlier Monday the candidates met with Dion, who presented them with the draft agreement that has been negotiated with the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois, who would support the coalition from outside of government.

"They agreed that the terms were good, and they went to the Liberal caucus, where we are told they unanimously said they support Mr. Dion in being the leader," said CTV's Mike Duffy.

The current political storm erupted last week after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveiled his economic update -- a blueprint that contained no stimulus package, temporarily shut down public servants' ability to strike and outlined plans to slash public funding for political parties.

As a confidence motion the fiscal update must pass in the House of Commons or the government would fall.

Almost immediately after Flaherty's announcement, opposition parties began meeting to discuss forming a coalition.

Details have been in the finalization process over the weekend and on Monday as party members worked to hammer out an agreement to topple the Conservatives.

CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported earlier Monday that a high-profile, four-person economic panel would guide a Liberal-NDP coalition government on finance matters.

The group would comprise Frank McKenna, Paul Martin, John Manley and Roy Romanow.

"This is a way to assure Canadians the economy would be managed properly," Fife told CTV Newsnet.

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He's just 18, he's funny and smart, and he's become a star by posting vids of his songs to YouTube. Here's one of Bo Burnham's better-known ditties.

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Do you think, fellas, that this sort of thing is in any way assisting you, as you desperately seek to remain in power?

Like many Liberals, I don't know much about this coalition stuff beyond what I read in the papers. I have reservations about some of what I read.

But when I get notes like the one from "Hampstead Girl," those reservations tend to dissipate, and I think: "My God, we really have to defeat these guys. We really do."

And so we might.

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Humiliating defeat is tough to take, even for the profoundly mentally ill.

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Some of you have asked me what Michael Ignatieff thinks. Here's what Michael Ignatieff thinks.


Michael Ignatieff speaks to CTV News
Friday, November 28, 2008, 11:25 am
Pearson International Airport

CTV News: Liberal leadership contender Michael Ignatieff is going to comment on this…let’s take a listen.

Michael Ignatieff: I’m on my way to Newfoundland to talk to a lot of great liberals. There are some rumours swirling around about coalition talk, and other kinds of talk… I just want to make it clear to everybody that I’m privy to none of it, I’m party to none of it. I’ve got to go out to Newfoundland and tell Liberals what a terrible government this is, because that’s the key issue. They haven’t met the challenge of the hour. I’ve got to tell Newfoundland Liberals why we Liberals can’t support that economic statement of yesterday. I’m not going to get into any hypotheticals about what might happen. The government can respond and walk back down the hill, but we’re not budging.

Question: Do you have any response about Mr. Duceppe’s claims that he would support a coalition?

Michael: I have absolutely no comment about what Mr. Duceppe or any other leader has to say about this. I’m a candidate for the leadership of my party, I’m running to win in a convention in May, and that’s all I know until someone else tells me differently. Thanks.

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Conservatives drop party-funding cuts from key motion
Last Updated: Friday, November 28, 2008 | 2:53 PM ET Comments575Recommend276CBC News
The government won't include a controversial proposal to end public subsidies of political parties in an upcoming confidence vote on the fall fiscal update, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office confirmed Friday.

Kory Teneycke told CBC News that only tax measures will be part of the ways and means motion to be voted on by MPs on Monday.

"The portion dealing with political subsidies … will be part of a later bill," said Teneycke. "It will not be part of the ways and means on Monday."

It's a sharp reversal for the minority government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

When the fiscal update was delivered on Thursday, government officials and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the party financing measures would be considered matters of confidence.

"It is part of the government's fiscal framework and so the bill I'll introduce on Monday is a matter of confidence," Flaherty said in response to a direct question about whether the party financing cuts were worth sending Canadians to a second, $300-million election in two months.

Federal parties currently receive $1.95 for every vote they receive in a federal election, provided they win at least two per cent of the nationwide popular vote. The annual subsidy is used to pay for staff and expenses.

Cutting the subsidies would effectively gut the opposition parties, who are far more dependent on them than the Conservative party.

The Liberals and New Democrats quickly rejected the proposal and launched a series of discussions about forming a potential coalition government if the confidence motion fails to pass and the government is defeated. Former prime minister Jean Chrétien and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent are steering the talks, according to reports.

Teneycke said opposition parties are not acting out of concern for the economy, but because they're worried about losing the subsidies.

"It's surprising the opposition parties would act in such an undemocratic fashion," he said.

Teneycke said the government still supports cutting the subsidies during this economic downturn and will introduce them at a later date.

"The prime minister believes political parties need to do their share," he said

With files from the Canadian Press

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