Likely voters, likely schmoters

I and others got burned in Ontario’s election, big time, when we started to believe in this “likely voter” category.  Right until election night on June 12, it made sense to me that “likely voters” are the demographic that we need to pay the most attention to – and, as such, the Ontario Liberals and Ontario PCs were therefore tied in voter intention.

Before I was going to go on air, however, I ran into Abacus’ David Coletto (now on his honeymoon – hi, David!) and asked him this: “Um, have you pollster guys worked out what this ‘likely voter’ category is, perchance?”

Said David: “No.”


The rest is history.  The “likely voters” weren’t nearly as “likely” as we’d been told.  A (very likeable) Kathleen Wynne and her Ontario Liberal election team won a majority when (a rather dislikable) Tim Hudak’s PCs snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with their 100,000 pink slips craziness.

Do we in the media, and sundry pollsters, learn from past mistakes? Ha! Surely you jest!

Thus, this morning, we have Angus Reid Global telling us that, among “likely voters,” the Harper Conservatives and Trudeau Liberals are now tied.  Read it right here.

Me, I don’t believe it.  Once bitten, twice shy.  Fool me once, yadda yadda.

Trudeau is ahead, full stop.  That’s what my gut is telling me, and I shouldn’t have ever stopped going with it.  Hasn’t failed me, ever.

Likely? Schmikely.

Sue Ann Levy in her own words

She was going after Yours Truly on a local radio station this morning, I’m told.

I won’t call her a member of the lunatic fringe, because that would be unfair to lunatics who live on the fringes. Instead, I’ll quote Her Craziness herself, from a story the now-defunct Grid did on her. It’s a beaut.

“…I always felt you shouldn’t go after your colleagues, and I always made it my business not to. I’m appalled, in the last six months, by the way some of my colleagues have taken really personal shots at me.”

Apologize for Ezra’s words? We should apologize that SAL exists.

In Tuesday’s Sun: Chickens R Us

What’s that old line? That “the better part of valour is discretion”?

Something like that. The author of said line was William Shakespeare, naturally; Falstaff uttered it after pretending to be dead on the battlefield, in Henry IV. It reminds us that Bill remains, hands-down, the originator of all the best political truisms.

It also demonstrates that “discretion,” in this context, can be synonymous with cowardice. Cowardice is arguably what comes to mind, this week, as we survey comings and goings (mainly goings) on Parliament Hill.

All three political parties are guilty of putting discretion before valour, in recent days. The NDP (in particular) and the Liberals (to a far lesser extent) for their half-pregnant position on the war against ISIS. The Conservatives, meanwhile, look like cowardly lions because a record number of their caucus are waddling towards the exits to, ahem, “spend more time with their family.”

“Spend more time with my family” ranks right up there with the three other great all-time whoppers: (i) “I’ll respect you in the morning” (ii) “the cheque’s in the mail” and (iii) “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

A score of Conservatives MPs, their gold-plated Parliamentary pensions now secured by six years of sterling service as trained seals, have decided to depart before the next federal election. In total, 21 Conservative MPs – including a third of all Alberta Tory MPs – have chosen discretion over valour. For those who ponder such things, that’s a whopping 15 per cent of their caucus.

That’s a lot, considering that only four New Democrat and four Liberal Parliamentarians aren’t running again.

Asked why he was hitting the road, Perth-Wellington Tory MP Gary Schellenberger invoked that hoary old chestnut, spending more time with his family. He’d “missed a lot of birthday parties,” Schellenberger told the Stratford Beacon Herald. Gotcha.

Actually, truth be told, a lot of us are wondering if Gary wants to avoid another kind of “party” – the hanging kind. You know, the one taking place at or around the time of the next general election, when Justin Trudeau may be giddily eviscerating the Conservative Party, as Jean Chretien did in 1993.

To be fair, however, it’s not just craven Conservatives who are choosing discretion over valour. Some New Democrats are looking decidedly spineless, too, in another context: the necessary war against the serial murderers who make up ISIS, now raping, murdering and beheading their way across Syria and Iraq.

“It’s hard to see how we can support the government,” said the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, Paul Dewar. “We couldn’t get behind the kind of ill-defined combat mission these guys are talking about so far.”

If that sounds rather like Neville Chamberlain to you, you’re not alone. The timorous Dippers are being sophists. Military action against ISIS – which no less than a unanimous Security Council has agreed! – is what is needed, and needed now. It is not a case of “supporting the government,” as Dewar disingenuously suggests, but actually a case of joining the civilized world in opposing organized barbarism on a historic scale.

And is war “ill defined”? Yes, of course. Wars, typically, are not mapped out in neat sequential steps. They are messy. And the NDP is engaging in the worst kind of dishonesty to avoid, you know, actually making a decision.

The Liberal position on the war against ISIS, fronted by an actual decorated former military man, Marc Garneau, was not nearly as gutless as Dewar and Co. “Let’s see what the government actually proposes…and then we’ll make a decision,” Garneau said to CTV on Sunday.

That’s fair, but it shouldn’t be construed as an actual position. Some day soon, the Liberals will need to stand with either the Tories or the Dippers. They can’t equivocate.

In the meantime, however, it is Fall in Ottawa – where the leaves are red and yellow.

And, where not a few of the MPs are looking a bit yellow, too.

An apology to Justin Trudeau

I’m not a Sun News employee.  I just go over there to fight with their conservative employees, on-air.  So I can’t tell you if this Citizen report is true:

On Sunday, CTV parliamentary bureau chief Robert Fife tweeted that former prime minister Brian Mulroney had contacted the Liberals to say that Sun Media would apologize Monday for Levant’s comments. Mulroney sits on the board of Quebecor, the company that owns Sun Media.

Trudeau’s office would not comment. Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, retweeted Fife’s report. But Butts said he was retweeting the comment “for info only,” and that he could not confirm or deny whether it was true.

If it is true, it is also the right thing to do, and kudos to Messrs. Teneycke and Mulroney for taking this step.  As I’ve written previously, what was said about Trudeau’s parents – one deceased, and not here to defend himself; and one a person who has struggled with mental illness, and who has never held public office – was appalling.  (And, parenthetically, given how truly kind Ezra was about my Dad when he died in 2004, a shock.)

If an apology is broadcast, I don’t expect Trudeau or his team to now start communicating with Sun News. Contrary to what many others have written, they didn’t before Ezra said what he said.

So the apology – if it happens – is happening not to persuade Justin Trudeau to start talking to Sun News.

It’s happening because it’s the right thing to do.

In Friday’s Sun: on Trudeau, Levant and a reporter

[Posted here early, frankly, because the band is getting together.]

Forget about Justin Trudeau and Ezra Levant. Difficult, we know, but try.

Reflect, instead, on David Akin.

David Akin is a journalist, a real one. Unlike Ezra (or Yours Truly), David is not a purveyor of infotainment. He is a real reporter, one who chases facts, and I would not be surprised if he has actual ink running through his veins.

David has worked as a journalist at the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Globe and Mail, Canwest and CTV News. At CTV, he won a Gemini Award for his work. At the Globe, he was a National Newspaper Award finalist.

David presently works at the Sun News Network, where he covers elections on his Battleground show. I can tell you, without qualification, that he is one of the most respected journalists on Parliament Hill.

And Justin Trudeau won’t talk to him.

Not because Ezra Levant called Trudeau’s parents names on his TV show last week. After Ezra did that, Trudeau announced that he would not be talking to anyone associated with the Sun News Network.

No, Justin Trudeau hadn’t been talking to David Akin for long, long before that. Simply because he was associated with Sun.

I know this because, last Christmas, Sun execs asked me to interview Trudeau on-air. I’d been a Special Assistant to Jean Chretien, I’d run as a Liberal, and I wasn’t Ezra Levant. So I called up Trudeau’s most senior advisor, who I’ve known for years.

The senior advisor laughed. Not a chance, he said. Why, I asked. “Because,” he said, “Ezra Levant put my name on a list of the most dangerous people in Canada.”

I tried to point out that being called “dangerous” by Ezra Levant is the highest compliment a Liberal could receive. I argued that I’d run all the questions by them in advance. To no avail.

No interview, I was told. No access to a (possible) future Prime Minister by the (actual) largest newspaper chain in Canada.

I told David Akin about all this. He shrugged. “Don’t feel bad,” he said. “Trudeau won’t ever talk to me, either.”

Real journalists are never afraid to correct the record. So, let’s do so: Justin Trudeau refusing to talk to anyone associated with Sun News – a diktat that will soon be embraced by every Liberal seeking to curry favour with him, just watch – isn’t news. He’s been refusing to do so for a long time.

Which brings us to this week, when Justin Trudeau formalized his Sun ban.

“We have raised this issue with the appropriate people at Quebecor Inc., the owners and operators of Sun News Network, and have asked that they consider an appropriate response. Until the company resolves the matter, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, will continue to not engage with Sun Media,’’ said a Liberal Party spokesperson.

Lots of journalists thereafter jumped into the fray. Their commentary can be summarized thusly: one, Ezra Levant is a “clown” (as one Globe writer put it). Two, even if Ezra is a clown, Justin Trudeau is wrong to stop talking to real journalists like David Akin.

Me? Well, I do infotainment, like Ezra does. But I think that Trudeau had no reason, none, to ignore Sun folks before now. It made him look petulant and thin-skinned.

Now, however, he has all the excuse he needs to ignore us. (Oh, and if someone called my Mom that name? I’d beat them until they had to eat dinner through a straw.)

This one looks bad on everyone: Trudeau, for never speaking to a great reporter like David Akin; and Levant, for making it harder for a guy like David Akin to do his job.

Because – and this isn’t infotainment, folks, it’s fact – if reporters like David Akin can’t do their job, democracy itself suffers.

For Throwback Thursday: TTC

Cathy Allman is going laugh at this one.

Circa 1983 or so: The Trial Continues at Carleton University’s Roosters. Chris Benner on skins, Mel Kennedy on keys, and some pale and skinny goof on strings.

That’s Harold Hoefle up front, believe it or not. And yes, you could smoke pretty much everywhere in those days.