75 Search Results for wildrose

My latest: Trudeau is likelier to win

Dief’s jowls jiggled. His brows bristled.

“I’ve always been fond of dogs,” the Conservative leader declared, and the assembled media throng — the ones who had just informed him that Gallup had him losing, badly, to the Liberals — leaned ever closer.

“And they are the one animal that knows the proper treatment to give to poles.”

The ink-stained wretches burst out laughing, and scribbled away in their notebooks. Dief the Chief had conjured a political quote for the ages.

He was sort-of right, too, about the polls (and poles). Diefenbaker would go on to win, big time, shocking the pollsters and the pundits alike. And 1957 would become one of the biggest upsets in Canadian political history, with the Tories ending nearly a quarter-century of Grit rule.

In the intervening years, plenty of politicos have repeated Dief’s quotable quote, or offered up a variation on it: “The only poll that matters is the one on Election Day.”

And both bromides are true: some pollsters get it wrong. Often. Nowadays, with voters getting harder and harder to reach — because many of them use only cellphones, and cellphone numbers aren’t readily found in directories, like landlines used to be — pollsters are making mistakes. Sometimes big ones.

Remember that 2012 National Post headline, declaring: “PQ headed to comfortable majority,” based on Forum’s numbers? The one just before voting day? It was wrong.

Remember BC in 2013, when pollsters said the NDP was nearly ten points ahead of the BC Liberals? Well, they weren’t. On election night, the BC Liberals were five points ahead of their rivals — and won.

How about the time the Angus Reid Group issued a news release flatly stating the fledgling Wildrose Party would form a majority government in 2014? Remember that? Well, they didn’t. The Alberta PCs did. Handily.

And so on, and so on. Brexit: no one really saw it coming. Trump: ditto. Prime Minister Tom Mulcair, what happened?

The definition of insanity, goes the cliche, is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. And here we all go again, with the commentariat eyeballing the polling entrails, and declaring that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are in a so-called dead heat, with Scheer slightly ahead. No party is likely to form a majority in 2019, sayeth the punditocracy.

But are they really in a dead heat? And is a majority truly out of reach?

This writer is not so sure. As much as it pains me to say so, a Trudeau win — minority and maybe even majority — presently seems likely. Here’s why: it’s math.

Even though Trudeau may be behind Scheer by a few points — and even though he’s far less popular than he was in 2015, and he has both the Greens and the NDP working busily to steal away votes — Trudeau remains relatively popular where it counts most: seat-rich Central Canada.

Aggregates of several recent polls indicate Trudeau is comfortably in the lead in Ontario and Québec. Based upon those two provinces alone, the Grits may claim as many as 120 seats. Add in Atlantic Canada, where Trudeau has been dominant for months, and the Grit seat count could easily grow to 145 seats.

Could Trudeau win 10 seats in British Columbia? He certainly could. That gets him to 155. Throw in a few territorial and prairie seats — say, eight — and he’s at 163 seats. That’s short of the 170 he’d need to form a majority, true.

But with Green Party leader Elizabeth May openly admitting that she’d be willing to prop up a second Trudeau government, the Liberals may well get all that they need. At that point, all of Andrew Scheer’s dominance in the West won’t matter — because the places where Scheer dominates simply have fewer seats.

If John Diefenbaker was still here, he’d likely admit that polls do, in fact, sometimes matter. But campaigns matter way more.

In ’57, Dief simply campaigned better in those final days. And that’s why he won big.

Polls or no poles.

This week’s column: never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity

You never achieve great things if you don’t take risks.

How Conservative leader Andrew Scheer doesn’t understand this is an enduring mystery. He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity, per the cliché.

Take (please) Conservative MP Gerry Ritz. Last week, Gerry – who (a) thinks he is funny and (b) has unfettered access to a Twitter account – tweeted that Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was “climate Barbie,” quote unquote.

That she isn’t was obvious. That folks would consider that sexist and inappropriate was obvious. That Ritz was a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging troglodyte – also obvious.

Gerry is (blessedly) soon to be departing the federal scene for his cave in Bedrock. So long, don’t let the Woolley mammoth skin hit you on the way out, etc. big guy.

Cro-Magnon eruptions on social media are commonplace, sadly. Even though they cost Alberta’s Wildrose a shot at government – and even though the lunatic tweets of Donald Trump will ultimately figure prominently in the indictments he will face – conservative types still do them.

So, what Gerry Ritz tweeted wasn’t the conservative exception. It was the conservative rule. It shouldn’t have shocked anyone.

What was surprising, however, was the reaction of Ritz’s putative leader, Blandy Scheer. Instead of recognizing that his MP’s Barbie bimbo eruption was an opportunity, not a problem – instead of stepping up to a gaggle of microphones and condemning sexism and what Ritz said and giving him the boot – Scheer issued a mealey-mouthed statement and headed for the exits.

Politicians, like everyone else, only get one opportunity to make a first impression. Ritz’s idiocy was an opportunity for Scheer to show he won’t tolerate Tory troglodytes. But he didn’t do that. He didn’t do the right thing.

Nor did he do the right thing when Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak blew off both her feet, a few days earlier. Beyak, also known to be a proud member of the Red Chamber’s Caveperson Caucus, has long been known as an anti-indigenous nutbar.

Former Tory leader Rona Ambrose had previously kicked Beyak off a committee when the latter paid tribute to Canada’s fascistic experiment with residential schools. More recently, Beyak was removed from the Senate’s agriculture, transport and defence committees for saying indigenous people should lose their status – and for opining that indigenous culture should be promoted only “on their own dime, on their own time.”

Scheer allowed that Beyak didn’t speak for the rest of the Conservative caucus.  And one of his Senatorial fart-catchers intoned that the party had “concluded our deliberations and the parties have agreed to a set of measures to guide the senator going forward. We consider the matter closed.”

Well, no. It isn’t.

Like Ritz, Beyak is still a card-carrying member of Scheer’s caucus. And, as with Ritz, the Beyak case reminds everyone that Andrew Scheer may be many things. But a leader is not one of them.

Voters – and consumers, and citizens, and every sentient being – are astute. They know when you are playing it safe. They know when you are playing the proverbial ostrich, and waiting for some controversy to blow over.

When they sense that you are a coward, Blandy, they will tune you out, sometimes permanently. Or, even worse, they will decide that you have the much-maligned “hidden agenda.” And that you are accordingly dishonest.

And that you may just agree with Gerry Ritz and Lynn Beyak.

Is it a risk to hammer Ritz and Beyak? Perhaps. There is a red-necked constituency out there that agrees with them. It is a constituency that faithfully votes Conservative. They may get mad at you, Blandy, for kicking out Fred and Wilma. It is a risk, perhaps. Sure.

And it’s a paradox: not taking risks, Blandy, is itself risky.

With the Trudeau government being buffeted by the small business tax mess, with their NAFTA strategy clearly at risk of being blown to smithereens by the Unpresident, with Liberal MPs grumbling in the media – with all those things happening, you should be doing a lot better. A lot.

Kicking out Gerry Ritz and Lynn Beyak may have been risky, Blandy. It may have an internal challenge.

But it was an opportunity, too.

And you missed it.

About that Forum poll: Tories 39, Libs 35, Dippers 15

Three things.

One, it’s Forum. They’re the ones who said there’d be a Parti Québécois majority, a BC NDP majority, a Wildrose majority, and…you get the picture.

Two, it’s a poll. Every single poll in the U.S. Presidential campaign got the outcome wrong, for weeks. Polls aren’t terribly reliable, these days.

Three, as my lovely and talented wife said on Global News this morning, Trudeau’s government is at the halfway point in its mandate – and, as the Premiers, members of the Liberal Caucus and everyone in Canada has said, they’ve done a piss-poor job of communicating the small business tax changes.


Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 8.23.33 AM

Blandy Scheer can’t be the reason for this – he’s the worst new Conservative leader since Joe Clark.  It can’t be anything the NDP are doing, either – they’re at 15 per cent, have no leader, and are now only protected by endangered species laws.

Something else is at work here.  My take is still this, as expressed at the tail end of last week’s column: This government is now at the two-year mark. The indications of entitlement and arrogance — and cynicism — are everywhere to be seen.

Your take, of course, is welcome.  Comments are open.

Alberta Conservative fraud?

Decide for yourself:

A United Conservative Party MLA says there’s nothing wrong with him subletting his downtown Edmonton apartment while claiming thousands of dollars in rent from the public purse.

Derek Fildebrandt, MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, advertises his downtown bachelor suite for rent online as “newly renovated, modernly furnished and very well-kept.”

“It has a sweeping view of the city and is in the thick of the action on Jasper Ave.,” the Airbnb listing says.

Between January and March, eight Airbnb renters reviewed the apartment. Over the same three months, Fildebrandt claimed $7,720 for accommodation in Edmonton.

Here’s the definition of fraud under the Criminal Code of Canada, which still applies in Alberta:

Every one who, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence within the meaning of this Act, defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service, (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding fourteen years, where the subject-matter of the offence is a testamentary instrument or the value of the subject-matter of the offence exceeds five thousand dollars…

Now, this Fildebrandt character has been a bottom-feeding scumbag for a long time – see here and here and here.  This Trumpian little creep is everything that is wrong with politics.

But this latest episode takes it to a wholly different level.  What do you think? If Wildrose doesn’t boot him out (again), I’ll be surprised.  And if the cops don’t charge him, I’ll be disappointed.

Parsing a Premiers’ popularity

Angus Reid released its semi-regular Premier thing last week, and I missed it with all the Nazi-fighting.  But, as usual, it tells a story:


The poll may or may not be accurate, 21 times out of 20, plus or minus 101 points.  But it sure is fun to prognosticate about.

Some quick takes:

  • At the top, Brad Wall is the Energizer Bunny of Canadian politics – he just keeps on ticking.  It’s amazing, given (a) how long he’s been there and (b) the state of the oil industry.  This guy is becoming a legend in Canadian politics.
  • At the bottom, Kathleen Wynne has been at or near the bottom of this regular poll for a long time – it can’t be dismissed anymore as an aberration or something that can be magically fixed.  I know her well enough to know she will do the right thing for herself and her party.
  • Near the top, Christy Clark.  Her third place position, here, belies the conventional wisdom in some circles in B.C.  And, this week, we will see why: she has appropriated key elements of the BC NDP and BC Green platforms for her Throne Speech, and she is forcing them this week to vote against same.  She will then use that vote as a club to beat them with in the election that comes shortly thereafter.  Genius, actually.
  • Near the bottom, Rachel Notley in my home province is still somewhat competitive – for an Opposition role.  With the PC-Wildrose forces about to commence a civil war for control, I continue to believe that the beneficiary of the Conservative Wars will be my brilliant friend Dave Khan, the Alberta Liberal leader.  Dave is the guy to watch, next time.  (And I will be out there, helping out.)

What do you think, O Smart Reader?  Who’s really up, who’s really down? Opine away!

I think Dave Khan can be Premier of Alberta

My friend Dave was elected Alberta Liberal leader on the weekend. He’s an amazing guy, and I believe he’s got what it takes to win.

He’s also got a few things in his favour:

  • The ideological extremes are arrogant, and have (stupidly) left the Alberta political centre wide open
  • The notion that a Liberal option is unelectable in Alberta is just not true – Trudeau showed everyone that in 2015, even in Calgary
  • The Wildrose/PC internal battles aren’t over – they’re just starting.  And the NDP remains very unpopular.  There’s room for a smart, centrist Liberal option in Alberta – because Alberta has changed

The Alberta Party is a stalking horse for the Right and the Left.  Khan’s Liberals are the only sensible option for modern Alberta.

Watch this guy.

This week’s column: are you gay?

“Are you gay?”

It was 1983 or so, and my Carleton journalism professor, Roger Bird, had asked me if I was gay. I was surprised.

“Is that an issue?” I asked him.

“If you are writing an investigative series about gay people in politics, I think it is,” Bird said, and he was probably right, as he was about most things. “Are you?”

“No,” I said. I kind of laughed. “My parents thought I was, maybe.”

“Okay,” Bird said. “Go write.”


“Are you gay?”

It was 1979 or so. My Dad wasn’t angry or anything. He was just looking at me, asking if I was gay. We were in the kitchen, and the fridge was humming. Otherwise, silence.

I had written a number of pro-gay editorials in the school paper, my band had recorded a song that contained (funny) lyrics about gay sex, I went to gay bars occasionally with my punk pals, and most of my friends – at Calgary’s Bishop Carroll High School, which would later produce PC Premier Alison Redford, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, and indie star Feist, among others – were gay. They were all in the closet, more or less, but my parents knew (or suspected) I hung out with a pretty gay crowd.

“Are you gay?” my Dad repeated.

“Seriously?” I said. I wasn’t, but I was pissed off. “What if I am? Does it matter?”

“It matters,” he said. I think he meant it matters in Seventies-era conservative Calgary, where homophobia was rampant, and gay-bashing not unheard of.

“No it doesn’t,” I said, then left, angry.


“Are you gay?”

NDP MP Svend Robinson had clearly been expecting the question, which is why he had one of his assistants present for our interview, tape recorder whirring away on the table between us. I was just a Carleton journalism student, and I was known to be pretty gay-friendly, but Robinson still looked terrified. He was gay, I knew he was gay, he knew I knew. But he still looked like he was ready to bolt from his own Parliament Hill office at any minute.

He gave a brilliant, passionate, thoughtful answer, but I don’t have my notes anymore. It was a great answer, one that sounded like it had been turned over in his head a million times, one that didn’t give anything away. But it didn’t deny anything either.

I wrote my story – Roger Bird later gave me an “A” and said some nice things about my writing – but I left Robinson’s sexual orientation unanswered.

It was his business. If he wanted to tell someone, that was up to him. On that day, for that assignment, it wasn’t going to be me.


“Are you gay?”

That’s the question k. d. lang asked Jason Kenney: “You’re gay aren’t you?” she tweeted at him.

She asked it, last week, because Kenney had proposed outing Alberta kids. Some media folks had asked him about school gay-straight alliances, and he said to them that parents should be notified when a kid joins one. Which, of course, has the effect of outing them.

Is the newly-selected Alberta PC leader gay? I don’t know. Many of us always assumed he was. None of us cared, either. It was his business. It was nobody else’s business.

Over the years, I have known many politicians who are in the closet, going back to that long-ago encounter with Svend Robinson. I wish they didn’t feel like they had to be. But, again, it’s their business. It’s personal.

Jason Kenney made the personal the political when he said what he said. It became important – as lang pithily observed – when Jason Kenney proposed one rule for gay kids, and an entirely different rule for guys like him. You know, like hypocrites do.

I’m an Albertan, like Jason Kenney and k. d. lang. Growing up, I sometimes talked to my high school friends about why they were in the closet. They said they feared the reaction of their families, or friends, or a future employer. Or they feared simply getting the shit beaten out of them. In other words, they had their reasons.

Jason Kenney may have his reasons, too. It’s his right. But Jason Kenney shouldn’t ever, ever use the law to take away the rights of kids, in Alberta or anywhere else.

When he tries to do that? Well, that’s when people will start asking Jason Kenney if he is gay, too.

Because a hypocrite is a hypocrite, gay or straight.


Are you gay?

If you are, it’s something to be proud about. If you are, I think it’s from God. If you are, it’s wonderful. If you are, it’s your business.

Not hypocrites like Jason Kenney.

It’s Forum. But, holy crap. Also, change chosen.


Approval of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government is so low the Progressive Conservatives are in supermajority territory, a new poll shows.
The Tories would snap up 70 of the 107 seats at Queen’s Park if an election were imminent, the Forum Research phone survey of 1,184 people shows. The NDP would become the official opposition with 26 seats and the Liberals would hold just 11.

The whole nasty thing is here.

So, three things. 

One, it’s Forum. They’re the ones who said there’d be a Parti Québécois majority, a BC NDP majority, a Wildrose majority, and…you get the picture. 

Two, it’s a poll. Every single poll in the U.S. Presidential campaign got the outcome wrong, for weeks. Polls aren’t very reliable, these days. 

Three, it’s Ontario. In 2003, 2007 and 2011 and 2014, polls said the PCs would win. They didn’t. 

That all said, the Ontario Liberals – with whom, I wish to emphasize to the court, I have not been involved with for many years, Your Honour – obviously need to make some changes. 

This poll isn’t what they call an outlier. It’s reflective of other polls, internal and otherwise, in recent months. If it isn’t true, it’s probably pretty close to being true. 

It also reflects what folks at Queen’s Park – in all parties – are muttering in the corridors of near-power: 13 years on top is a long time. And: a variety of political chickens have now come home to roost – Hydro, pocketbook concerns (like, say, tolls), the most-recent ethical imbroglio, the shine coming off the Liberal brand as the Trudeau honeymoon fades, etc. etc. That kind of stuff. 

But the big one, the one that is hardest to overcome? Change. With Brexit, with Trump, “change” is just about impossible to beat, these days. At a certain point, the people just want it, you know? They want it. 

That all said, I will leave you with this: I possess a poll that says something totally different. It shows the Ontario Liberal Party – as a brand – is still the winning one. It shows the Libs can win again. 

But it also shows it wins only if it changes. 

Cue Ziggy Stardust.

Jason Kenney and caucus supporters photographed on an outing on Bow River yesterday


If Warren Kinsella was still alive, he’d be making a Barney joke right about now.

Okay, that’s kind of mean, but I’m kind of a mean guy.  Besides, Kenney made it personal first, so I’m going to hound him into his grave.  (Reubenesque Richard Nixon lookalike.)

And, while we are on the subject of Jason’s quest to lead the third party in the Alberta legislature, I note that several columnists upended their bedpans, yesterday, in the bit of real estate usually reserved for their opinion columns.  If anyone can unite the Right, it’s Jason! He’s a contender!  And so on. A pantload does not begin to describe it.

How come? Well, here’s why, found – typically – at the very end of an entirely-missing-the-point Calgary Herald story about the PC’s Jason Kenney and Wildrose’s Brian Jean:

Though Jean said he’d listen to the wishes of the Wildrose membership, he added that he doubted the party wants him to step aside to unite under a Kenney-led PC Party.

“That is not going to happen,” Jean said.

Talk about burying the lede.

Anyway. As noted on this wee web site many days ago, why does everyone assume that Brian Jean is going to simply pull over, hand the keys to Jason, and walk off into the sunset?  He isn’t going to do that, but don’t count on the Herald to actually notice.

Now, where is that Barney?