In tomorrow’s Sun: going sooner than later

If you sometimes get the impression that 80% of political journalism is preoccupied with when an election is going to take place, you’d be wrong.

The correct figure is around 110%. Nineteen times out of 19, with a margin of error of 0%.

OK, OK. That’s silly, of course, but so too is most of what passes for political debate in Canada. We typically prefer the silly stuff to the serious stuff. Thus, our preoccupation with election timing.

Journalists love writing about election timing because it’s more fun than writing about boring old policy. Politicians are fixated on election timing, too, because elections are the crucible in which political dreams are given life, or meet an untimely end.

The public? They don’t care so much about election timing. But what they think – as is well known – is mostly irrelevant to journalists and politicians.

Thus, here we go again: When will Prime Minister Stephen Harper decide to have an election?

He doesn’t really need to seek the judgment of the people until Oct. 19, 2015, but he doesn’t have to wait until the fixed election date.

The tradition was to have an election in or around the four-year mark. Which means we could be trooping back to the polls in May 2015, right?

Wrong. So say the Ottawa soothsayers, who are paid to pay attention to, and write endlessly about, such things. In the august pages of the Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen and the like, a consensus is emerging that Harper will go earlier than May 2015.

We are not making this up, as much as we wish that we were. Election season might soon be upon us.

“A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It’s a proof. A proof is a proof, and when you have a good proof, it’s because it’s proven.”

So sayeth the greatest-ever Canadian politician, my former boss Jean Chretien. And he would know, he called early elections all the time.

Thus, the proof. The Conservatives have quietly nominated around 100 of their candidates already. That places them ahead of the Liberals, and far ahead of the New Democrats, who have nominated none. Thus, the conjecture about the PM pulling the plug sooner than later.

The arguments for doing so are compelling.

One, the bloom has seemingly gone off the Trudeau Rose. A series of verbal mishaps – along with the necessary end to an overly long honeymoon – have persuaded many voters that the sun does not shine out of Justin Trudeau’s hindquarters.

Trudeau is human, it turns out, and not as popular as he once was. Why would Harper not wish to capitalize on that? Better a less-popular opponent than a popular one.

Two, at this very moment, auditors are poring through the expenses of every senator. Most of those senators are Conservative. And, in many cases, the Tory senators have been visited by teams of auditors many more times than once.

Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau aren’t the end of a sordid scandal – they are probably the start of one. Harper, therefore, would be wise to get re-elected before the scandal headlines begin anew.

Thirdly and finally, Harper’s Conservatives have economic glad tidings to pass along – and it is something that the Grits and the Dippers cannot ever hope to match: a balanced budget.

Many economists believe the budget is balanced already. But none of them expect that happy news to be announced until just before the next federal election is called. Among other things, it is an effective answer to virtually every fiscal criticism Messrs. Trudeau and Mulcair can muster on the hustings.

So, at the end of this admittedly proof-free speculation, will Harper do it? Will he have his election sooner than he is required to?

No one knows. But he’d be probably nuts not to be thinking about it.

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PSA

Warren Kinsella – and, additionally, all of the managers of Ontario Liberal campaigns in 2003, 2007 and 2011 – would like to emphasize they have no involvement in the 2014 Ontario Liberal campaign whatsoever. None of us. In any way.

This public service announcement was brought to you by people who are sad about, but not surprised by, what is happening. Thank you.

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John Tory is a joke

Seriously.  He just is.

Not only does his Keystone Kops war room schedule his big announcement for today – at the precise moment Hudak is detailing his plan to have the Government of Ontario work out of a cardboard box – he comes up this when asked about bike lanes.

Here’s a free tip, John: when you are asked a straightforward question, just – you know – answer it.  Until you figure out how to do that, you are (and always will be) Dithers.

John Tory, verbatim, on bike lanes:

20140514-183552.jpg

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Ontario Election 2014, in 140 characters or less

Oh, and also this:

  1. No one is paying attention yet. Still.
  2. Amount of media coverage the election is getting, not surprisingly, is miniscule.
  3. The Ontario Liberal sexist Facebook stuff may seem like no big deal to some. Danielle Smith will tell you otherwise.
  4. Horwath has had the best visuals, hands down.
  5. Hudak’s job cuts thing is his version of John Tory’s religious school funding.


Wikipedia is threatening legal action if I don’t take this down (updated)

Come and get me, wikidiots.

UPDATE: For those wondering what the problem is: for years, a loon in Ottawa has for years “vandalized” (to use Wikipedia’s terminology) the “Warren Kinsella” page, using fake names. I don’t even think I deserve a Wikipedia page, but the Wikidiots feel otherwise.

Anyway: for laughs, a friend developed a Wikipedia page about me containing just the facts, ma’am. I link to it. So do others. Wikipedia has apparently seen it, and today sent me a legal letter, demanding it be taken down.

So I plan to make them a deal: deal with the so-called vandalism by the guy in Ottawa (or just eliminate me as an entry), and I’ll take down the mock page. Until then, they can both fuck off.

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In Tuesday’s Sun: ch-ch-ch-changes

OTTAWA – At a get-together here over the weekend, Barack Obama’s fabled spokesman guy, Robert Gibbs popped by.

When Gibbs spoke, the room went quiet, like it did in that old commercial where people lean in to hear advice from some financial advisor. You could hear a proverbial pin drop.

Gibbs was Obama’s White House voice from 2009 to 2011 – and, before that, he was one part of the triumvirate that helped the Chicago Senator win the presidency. He’s smart, among other things.

He’s asked about the Democrat’s chances in 2016, after eight years in the White House.

“It’s hard,” he says. “After eight years, after that much time, you’re in a change cycle. And change is a powerful theme.”

Indeed it is: Brian Mulroney rode it to a huge victory in 1984. Jean Chretien did likewise in 1993. Bill Clinton in ’92, George W. Bush in 2000. And Stephen Harper won with change, too, in 2006. But the people gave him a minority first, to ensure that his desired changes weren’t too radical.

Year 2014 is another change year. Harper has been there for almost a decade. In provinces like Ontario, provincial Liberals have been in power for more than a decade, and they look it.

Challengers in change cycles need to embody new, to be sure. But as Gibbs says, the “change” candidate needs to represent a clear alternative.

So, in 2008, Hilary Clinton had supported the Iraq war. Barack Obama didn’t. Apart from that one critical difference, their policy differences were mostly miniscule.

It isn’t enough, however, for the change candidate to merely say that being the first black president – or the first female president, or the first openly-gay Premier – is the change on offer. The change has to represent a risk.

Justin Trudeau takes risks. In the year and a bit since he became Liberal leader, in fact, Trudeau has taken plenty of risks.

Pot and pipelines. Open nominations that aren’t open. Ukraine jokes. Admiring dictatorships. And, last week, saying he won’t let his caucus to vote their consciences anymore.

By the usual standards, Trudeau should be politically dead. And the mistakes enumerated above – which, coincidentally enough, form the basis of a series of Conservative attack ads – should have ended his ambitions, long ago.

But he remains standing and strong. Forty plus polls have been taken since he became federal Liberal leader – and he has led in almost every one.

Why? It’s possible, perhaps, that the Con ads are serving Trudeau’s purposes. That is, by endlessly reminding voters that Trudeau represents radical change, they also remind Canadians that Trudeau – really, truly – is a real change.

They may even agree that he is radical change. But they are prepared to accept the radical stuff – the risks – in exchange for true change.

Trudeau, clearly, doesn’t intend to change his change-y ways. He’s out there on the tightrope, and he kind of likes the view.

Harper and Tom Mulcair, meanwhile, are down below, watching the Liberal leader do things they never would. They’ll never say it out loud, of course, but their entire strategy seems to revolve around waiting for Justin Trudeau to hit terra firma.

As strategies go, it’s not much of one.

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