Thursday, December 09, 2010

Decorum and Newsworthiness in Politics

When I decided to write about this topic, I had just listened to Don Cherry rant and rave about Pinkos when introducing Rob Ford as the new mayor. The media reaction when from outraged to mocking, but no one mentioned the fact that Cherry's speech was totally inappropriate for the type of event he was at. I would expect some class and dignity in a swearing in ceremony. Instead we get name calling and ramblings from a beloved hockey commentator who should stick to talking about hockey.

I think the 24 hour news cycle, and political news shows has done more to derange the narrative politics in this country then anything else. It has become who can be the most outrageously partisan, and most snarky rather then debating points on merit of their ideas. The Conservatives have been the masters of the snarkiness, and when I see Vic Toews, or Peter Van Loan on Powerplay I watch for a few minutes and tire of their "liberalitis" aka everything bad is Liberals, we are not Liberals. The tv hosts are no better, in letting these clowns get their bully pulpit and often just end up using it to spout talking points rather then have a discussion about the issues.

A big part of the problem is the Prime Minister, who controls his MPs through fear and intimidation, when was the last time we saw a Conservative talk contrary to the PMO without any consequence? This leads the other parties to cry foul, and they try to message in a similar form in the media. Why was Julian Fantino hiding during his by-election campaign. The media tries to hold them accountable, but they get caught up in their collective ADD (its hard to get a quote when you can't answer a question), brought on by the trickle of information and opportunities to find a potential scoop from a cabinet minister.

This ADD is often caused by the various polling companies, who make money somehow on changes in the views of the electorate which are often in the margin of error. Polls create a permanent spin cycle, when there is no news often the only thing to talk about is polls. Lets be honest, any poll coming out in November and December as winter starts, and Canadians prepare for the holidays, will have no bearing on an election in the next spring. Polls are snapshots of a time period. I think their revelence often only applies to panelists on Powerplay, and Power and Politics. To the rest of us, its barely a barometer.

On this tangent, i happened to read an interesting article by David Akin, talking about reporters (with the public) and politicians (with reporters) being distrustful and cynical even in the off hours. It was an interesting observation by David, to note that both Politicians are subject to scrutiny and snarky intrusion in this age? Is there a way to change it? Probably not, but we have to ignore non news days, and maybe then politicians and journalists will try harder to spin less, and be more "normal". Negativity, random speculation, and snarkiness is what I see a lot of in political news by everybody. Do we really want children watching question period? or even a debate on P and P? Think about it?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meeting Rob Ford

In Honour of Rob Ford's first day on the job, let me tell you a story I have about meeting the man.

For those of you that don't know, I work at a high school. Our school hosted a townhall meeting in May this year for the mayoralty candidates. All of the candidates except George Smitherman attended, so I had a chance to meet and chat with all the front runners. The people I chatted with the most happened to be Rocco Rossi and Rob Ford.

Rocco was gracious enough to recognize me from before and we talked about writing and politics. I remember coming out of our conversation thinking, Rocco is a great guy, but I don't think he is going to win. I personally think he should make a run for something in the near future.

When I met Rob Ford, he came up to me, and the first thing he said was, Now here is a guy who has played Football before (I am 6'3 and not skinny). I introduced myself, and Rob asked me if I played Football. I said no, because my school never had Football when I was in high school, and that I run the Rugby program at this school, as well as playing both hockey and rugby. Rob then started trying to sell me on the merits of a Football program for my school, almost in way that was pushy.

He then told the students he would bring a football program to the school. When you have a school that is full of skinny Chinese kids, the first thought I had was, we barely have enough big bodies for a tight 5 (biggest meanest forwards in the scrum) in Rugby, how are we going to have both and offence and defence. Rob went on to tell the kids he would be setting up Football at my school. He then proceeded to tell the students to give him a call, and that he could give them jobs for the summer.

My impression of Rob is that he really cares about Football, and having more football teams. He is also a guy that I found easy to talk to, very personable like a guy behind a bbq. Will this make him a good mayor. I don't know, I am not an expert on judging adults. This is just an interesting story I had about meeting Rob Ford during the campaign.

Friday, August 20, 2010

How to win the 2010 mayoral election!

So, I put on my strategist hat tonight, and I realized that I could fix all the front runners campaigns. I figure if they hired me as a highly paid consultant I could have them in the big office in City hall by the end of October. So I am doing this all for free, I am telling each candidate how to win the election! They should print this up and use every suggestion I say!

Rob Ford: Rob Ford has become the populist candidate, but he needs to come clean, do a big apology press conference about his past indiscretions with the law, then to go back to his regular campaigning. He is hitting notes with the public, and anyone who wins Scarborough and Etobicoke is destined to become mayor of Toronto. The honest truth is that Rob would never resonate with the downtown types, and that he should write them off with voter apathy and focus on the homeowners in the suburbs who are currently angry with the potholes in their neighbourhoods and what they see as downtown excess. A recent article called Rob the Barack Obama of the campaign, i would personally say he is the George Bush (year 2000 edition), a personable guy who should play up his little guy against the world side, and for the most part it is working. What would i change for Rob, he has to not deny anything, no more hiding. He needs some polishing on the statesman side of things. I'd offer to write some speeches for him, appealing to tax payers sensibility and to getting rid of potholes on roads across the city. Ford is the front runner, he needs to keep his torrid pace and keep hitting his popular notes about waste at city hall. His message to homeowners and taxpayers makes sense, and a lot of people agree with what he says, even if the downtown chatter classes are acting all offended.

In his policies, Ford needs to do a few things. First, he needs to show us where all the waste is, and create a 4 year plan to cut waste at city hall, and maximize taxpayers dollars. Until he does this, a lot of educated professionals will be sceptical of Rod Ford's plans to cut government. I am one of these people. I ask Rob, where are you going to cut? And how do you plan to keep our city running if you are slashing things? It makes perfect sense to me that Ford has to put out some numbers and explanations for his plans this should be his main policy. If he doesn't put out some concrete fiscal management plans it will look more suspicious and amateur as the election looms closer.

Rocco Rossi: Rocco needs to start taking shots at Rob Ford, as well as he has been at Smitherman. Unlike Smitherman, Rocco doesn't have any political baggage for Ford supporters to bring up. Rocco should start calling out Ford as a reason for council being dysfunctional in the past few years. I would go on the attack, and keep pushing yourself as the sane choice for fiscal responsibility. Talk about how you want to make real cuts at city hall, not just superficial ones that Ford will make. Become a real agent of change, Rocco needs to focus on the issues and attack, and get his message out there. I haven't really seen Rocco branding himself as a sane version of Rob Ford. Once again, he needs to hit the suburbs hard, North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke are the key to winning the city. Out here is where all the homeowners are, and they tend to vote. Mel proved the key to winning Toronto on a centre right platform was through winning the suburbs, and Rocco needs to do this with his ground game.

Rocco needs to continue to pound away with his message of fiscal responsibility, and he needs to really hit on the issues that are important to the people. The theme of the summer has been disenchantment with establishment at city hall, and Rocco needs to keep playing this up. Since he is in third right now, Rocco should go farther out, and his team should listen to the suburban voters, they are the key to winning the campaign.

George Smitherman:
George's campaign has seemed to stumble around a lot. The media has not been very kind to his campaign. His policy website is chalk full of ideas for the city, but the average voter doesn't need 50 different ideas bombarded to them in their vision of Toronto. George Smitherman has a perception problem, first off, he is seen as a downtown big city Liberal. He lives downtown, his team is full of these downtown ideas, and often downtown thinkers are at odds with those of us who live in Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke.

George has to play up his suburban roots, he has to get out of the Toronto Centre mindset and get the pulse of the voters elsewhere in the city. Out here we don't care about bike lanes (I think removing road lanes for bicycles is a bad idea on Jarvis, and I am an avid cyclist), we want roads that aren't filled with potholes, like Lawrence Avenue east of Kennedy. George needs to find a smaller vision to ensure election, he needs to silence the doubters with a more simple message, and keep the big thinking to after the election.

In a nutshell, this is what i think these candidates need to do to win the election. Will they listen to my advice? I doubt it. But they have some serious work to do to win.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vote TO 2010

In the next week, I am going to send out questionnaires to all the major candidates running for mayor. I hope they will answer them, because I think as an undecided voter and blogger, it would be interesting for them to answer some non-traditional questions. If you have any suggestions for questions, please send them to me, I am going to be contacting the campaigns tomorrow morning!

Wish me Luck!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


So the Toronto Mayors contest has become a political hacks dream. I am an undecided voter, and I am underwhelmed by all the candidates. Whether its Rob Fords idea to make council half the size, or Rocco Rossi wanting to sell off physical assets of the city, or George Smitherman focusing on issues that are Federal in nature and so 2003 (someone's opinion on gay marriage). To compound the silliness of this, going into someones past record would definitely drag some skeletons out of Smitherman's past. So its like taking a punch to someone, and that opens you up for a roundhouse kick in the face.

This is what happens when the political hacks get the controls of a campaign. They use their extensive knowledge of politics in the past, and see the digging up and research of someones past as important. In the case of the Smitherman camp, I'd say a lot of downtown Liberals are going out on a limb to push Ford's former views on gay marriage, which have absolutely ZERO RELEVANCE in a Municipal election campaign.

They forget that the people who vote in municipal elections are usually rich, and old, and that the suburbs have a huge role to play. Yes, Unless you get the retirees and the people in Scarborough and Etobicoke, you will not win the election. The only person who is really harnessing the suburban vote right now is Rob Ford. The angry homeowner is plentiful all over these areas, and Ford seems to have the momentum there from what i have read in both the local papers out east and in the citywide rags.

My social media experience is this, fellow federal and provincial partisans taking shots at each other from their respective Rocco and George camps. Seriously guys, if you are volunteering you abilities, I suggest you use for a greater purpose than an online pissing contest. It makes both Liberal sides look like idiots and doesn't help an undecided voter like myself want to vote for either side.

That is what I am getting at, I watch the facebook and twitter fights and I think damn, I don't want to vote for any of these candidates if their staffers and volunteers are going to just bait each other and smack talk. It has been a revelation to me, as an undecided voter, the level of toxicity that the partisans can get, and I have come to understand voter alienation only this summer, after voting in every election since I was 18 years old.

The gist of my argument is this, if these people have this group of political hacks at the controls, what does it say about their ability to be mayor of the city? The guy in the chicken suit is hilarious if you are a political hack, but it smacks of amateurism for the average person who is more concerned about market value assessment and taxpayer value, than Rob Ford's opinion on aids 5 years ago. So this is basically a message to the Grits in the race, a wake up call so to speak. You guys need to get your houses in order, clean up your messaging, target undecided voters. The municipal vote base is so small compared to the equivalent Federal and Provincial that this race is wide open.

Being the undecided voter, I wish all of you well in your campaigns, and I hope that one of the candidates can actually give me a reason to vote for them. That is all I am asking for, a reason.... Until then, I think I am going to sit this one out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Canada and the World afternoon session

So far the panel is fairly interesting. The emphasis of this group is on NGO's and how they work at representing Canada around the world. To be honest I lost interest in this panel because it reminded me too much of a "me me me" panel.

Unfortunately, I will be missing Michael Ignatieffs speech as I have to go to the airport. bad timing for a Sunday. Post mortem to come later on.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Canada and the digital world

Here are some random thoughts and observations from my spot on press row. The question line for this topic is much longer than any other. Highly appropriate considering the nature of this conference. This session hasn't turned into a parody of buzzwords and technobabble, it has very wide scope,and the questions have pushed the panel all over the digital map.

My impressions of this group is that it is a very technologically driven group, and the consensus view is that Canada needs a national strategy for broadband, and for content in a digital world.

The digital divide will hit Canada hard, unless they develop a strategy to improve our internet situation, a digital strategy so to speak, rather than making accessibility. The issue is that Canada has been left behind in terms of connectivity,and that we need to be innovative.

They tiptoed around copyright, taking a view that one shouldn't make laws on the go, I find that people are far too afraid about making big changes in copyright legislation. Just look at music industry and its problems.


Sheridan Scott believes that the news media has a place in the future, That the news media should continue to be a trusted source of news, even in our 24 hour economy. That the credibility that the news media has should keep it in its place, and that it should continue to do its job. The panelists addressed small communities and local reporting touting partnership between government and private enterprise to service smaller communities,

We need a strong national broadcaster with a strong voice for Canada in the digital world. The panelists continually have pointed the bbc and its player as a standard for what a national broadcaster should be as an example.

main recommendations

Sheridan said that we should have clear national goals for digital economy, and that broadband is a ticket to future prosperity and be able to deliver cultural strategy

Andre stated that its very important to celebrate an encourage our creativity, and the propensity of Canadians to create and government support the ability to create content, and we need to combine institutions and agencies in creature of culture, Minister of Culture and Communications necessary. Bringing together various levels.

Glen to conclude, Government action needs to be defined in a free market to citizens rather than consumers. Base judges and actions based on citizenship. Cultural strategies geared towards inclusive citizenship.

That's all for today.

Canada 150 Energy session

The North American energy Market

Michael phelps takes a stand on carbon, that the best way to reduce carbon emissions is to tax it. That is best way to reduce it. Dan comments that carbon should have a price, either through the market or a carbon tax. Giving it a well established price, and or working both a market price and a carbon tax.

Issue of devolutionis up,panelists not sure about power of the territories, Dan Gagnier dwels on the amount of hydro electric energy that is untapped in the north due to the lack of royalties offered to the aboriginal population. Hydro companies should form partnerships with these groups.

The political football in the room is the carbon tax, and Phelps handles in interestingly, and is more nuanced tothe issue. Dan then talks about the implementation of the carbon tax, and how it must be brought in. I feel that a carbon tax is inevitable if people are logical rather then emotional about this issue,.

In a nutshell, carbon should be taxed in a revenue neutral fashion, that the cap and trade system is more for making money, and that other parts of the world have already done this. In all honesty I found that this conversation was extremely adult, and nonpolitical, It was from a purely practical standpoint,and I found it very interesting. The panel brought a diverse group of questions and comments. Is the carbon tax a political football? I don't know, I should ask people outside this room.

Canada #150 Live From Montreal Day 2

its around 1pm and the afternoon session and Sheila Watt-Cloutier is about to take the stage. She will be talking about the future of the arctic and its people. But the 3 flat screens all say Energy, which is the next event.

There have been 12000 visitors to the Canada 150 website to view the webcast. i am sitting behind the cameras,next to some regular big time media reporter dudes, and some fellow bloggers here enjoying the festivities.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Canada 150 Conference arrival....

Having just recently arrived from the aiport, I have just arrived in the blogging area at the conference. it is empty except for a blogger from the msm. Fist impressions of the conference has to be connectivity. I have never seen a conference so wired up top to bottom on the internet.

more to come...

Friday, March 12, 2010

You think CBC would have interns...

That would have found this video, and put it on air farce, 22 minutes, the Rick Mercer Report. This is hilarious and bizzare.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Kids aren't alright.......

Its that time of the year again, OYL AGM time, the time when my blog gets a lot of traffic from University dorms and libraries. Let me begin my story with this. This morning I received an email from David Valentin, the outgoing OYL student Director. Here it is in its full context.
Here is David's Letter.
I want to make you aware of a very serious situation. Last night, cheating was discovered that appears to support the OYL Forward candidate for Eastern Region at the AGM this weekend in Richmond Hill.

A fake email address was created to impersonate a Riding Association President. It was used to appoint 3 delegates by sending an email to the AGM's Chief Returning Officer. The Association President has confirmed that this is not his email address, and that he did not appoint these delegates. Like all of us, he is not pleased with how easily and carelessly the people responsible misrepresented themselves using his identity. If this happened once, how many other delegates were appointed fraudulently?

We may all be shocked, but we cannot allow ourselves to be shocked into silence. We as an organization cannot ignore proof of cheating. We must stand up. We deserve better and we can do better.

If you agree with me, please make your voices heard to ensure the integrity of the results of the AGM this weekend.

Furthermore, we ask that the AGM Returning Officer Brian Whitmore ( re-verify all riding association appointees by scan or fax that includes the Riding Association President's selection, signature, and photocopy of ID.

Voice your desire for a fair, open, and accountable Annual General Meeting this weekend.

As Young Liberals in the political system, we learn responsibility quickly, and this is an unfortunate juncture in learning that.

Cheating cannot be tolerated within our commission. Join the fight for a fair, open and transparent Annual General Meeting.

Thank you –

David Valentin
OYL Student Director

Now, lets take a look at the alleged email sent by the Leeds Grenville Riding president.

So, there you have it, a gmail account, with numbers used to add delegates. It doesn't look like the email of a riding president who is a lawyer in the Brockville area. In fact, I have been told that this particular person has his secretary do his emailing for him. Here is an email sent by the riding president to the CRO for OYL 2010.

From: Janet Pepper []
Sent: March 11, 2010 11:19 AM
Subject: Ontario Young Liberals - AGM

I have had a chance to review the email allegedly sent by me. It is not my email and was not sent by me.

Gregory O. Best

No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG -
Version: 8.5.436 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/2734 - Release Date: 03/11/10 07:33:00

Now, this email checks out. So by now, you are wondering, does Jamie know deepthroat, lets say that I have my sources, and that some youth seem to enjoy sending me stuff. They appreciate my discretion, and I get a good scoop. So you ask now, who are these people and who are they connected too.

Well, deepthroat, lets call her Deepthroat (any reference to Watergate is purely for ironic purposes) my source, happens to be facebook friends with members of the OYL forward slate, and all 3 of these people are non-political friends of the guy running for policy chair. So There you have it, the connection, from the slate to this gong show.

For me this is another reason why we should abolish the slate system in youth politics, it creates a hyper competitive environment where youth scheme up ways to screw over fellow young liberals. People should run on the power of their own campaign rather than as a team. If these teams don't play fair they should be kicked out of the league. Maybe some type of constitutional amendment may be in order, but till then I can complain from my soapbox.

PS: As of 8pm tonight, those 3 delegates have been disqualified.

The system only works if there are people there to make it accountable.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Live Ignatieff Townhall

For those of you who have questions for Michael Ignatieff, please feel free to join this online townhall, which is starting at 2:45pm. Since i am busy at work at that time feel free to ask the Leader about?
Why the Liberals won't Prorogue?
Why the Liberals would be better at reigning in spending?
And many other questions.

This is a rare opportunity to hear from a party leader. I highly doubt that the Prime Minister would subject himself online. He wouldn't want candid and hard questions being asked of him. So take the opportunity, and find out what is on Michael Ignatieff's brain today.

The link is here

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"I do not know Tom Flanagan"

Shelly Glover, Conservative MP, has never met the architect of Stephen Harper's electoral success. She also has no idea who the prominent commentator is. Here are my theories why.
1) New Conservative memo, that in the media's presence all Con MP's must disavow any knowledge of Flanagan.
2) THE PMO has decided to recreate the history of their electoral success, a new history minus Tom Flanagan
3) Since Tom Flanagan now has his own opinion, the PMO is making sure their MP's never exercise theirs with their iron fist.

Enjoy the clip.