Tagged: Canadian politics

Breaking news: Kevin O’Leary quits Tory leadership race, endorses Maxime Bernier


Hold onto your hats, folks. Kevin O’Leary has announced today he is withdrawing from the Conservative leadership race, and endorsing Maxime Bernier.

This is a stunner, not only because this has happened way past the dropout deadline (which means O’Leary will still have his name on the ballot, even though he is out), but also because O’Leary was perceived by the media as one of the race’s frontrunners. 

The key word, though, is “perceived”. The reality was probably a different story. I think the political pros and backroom people, and Tory party members for that matter, all knew full well what the media did not: that O’Leary had tons of problems as a candidate. He skipped out on debates, was no good at the French language, and a lot of Tories didn’t like his policies (which they thought were too liberal) and didn’t like his style (big mouth, reality TV resume, etc.). Sure, he had name recognition, and that is probably why his polling numbers were good early on. But lots of Tories didn’t like him for whatever reason; he had very little growth potential from the first ballot on, and no hope at all in Quebec. O’Leary basically acknowledged that today in pulling out.

As for Bernier, this is a huge boost to his campaign which is already rolling in dough and who is at or near the top of the polls. And while this race had been a bit of a jumble with upwards of 14 candidates running, it’s far less of one now. Maxime Bernier is going to emerge from today as the clear-cut, undisputed front runner in the race for Conservative leader. While it’s not in the bag for him yet, the question is increasingly going to be: can anyone stop him?

This was where I was tonight: Conservative leadership candidates debate 

I am indeed a political geek. After spending half the night watching US election returns, I went to Saskatoon tonight to cover the federal Conservative leadership all-candidates debate at the Delta Bessborough Hotel.

Good crowd, and a good policy-oriented debate, though lacking the fireworks we saw during the US primary debates. There were 12 candidates there, and it seemed to me the main focus for most of them was simply to try to stake out positions that were memorable enough to distinguish themselves from the rest of the field. 

Anyway, I’m going to do a big write up for the paper about it. Yes, folks, I cannot help it, I cannot wean myself off of politics no matter how hard I try. 

Weekend political conventions dominate the News from Nowhere

Well, this past weekend was a big one of political conventions here in North America — but before I talk about Canada’s Conservatives or Liberals I want to talk about the USA’s Libertarians.

The Libertarians held their convention in some hotel in Orlando, and unfortunately they looked every bit like a fringe group. I watched some of the proceedings on C-SPAN in between sporting events on TV. It was entertaining, but not in a good way. Quite honestly, it seemed like a lot of the delegates in there were lunatics. These folks were just way, way, way too into politics, there is no other way to describe them. The proceedings went on and on; the convention was full of “point of order” this and “point of information” that. It is amazing they got anything done. It surely was an unimpressive performance, and really bad television.

How these delegates were still able to do the right thing and nominate Gary Johnson for President, and his choice William Weld for Vice-President, is beyond me, but they managed. Even so, it took these foolish delegates two ballots to make their minds up. It should have been all over on the first for both of them. At least there weren’t any fights breaking out in the hall — unlike at Donald Trump’s rallies.

Johnson (pictured), for those who don’t know, was formerly Governor of New Mexico, and Weld was Governor of Massachusetts. After they were nominated, I noticed a lot of whining on social media from these true-Libertarians decrying the “sellout” of their principles and the “sellout” of their party to the Republicans. In reality, though, these two are more of a fit for the Libertarians given their views, which have been out of step with the social conservatives in the GOP for years. And the fact is there is a whack of “liberty” GOP supporters who are upset and in need of a new home, at least for this election cycle.

This ticket is surely going to produce the best election result the Libertarians have ever had — better than what that party deserves, frankly. These two are more experienced and, yes, more stable than what you will find on this year’s GOP ticket led by that wild man Trump. So yes, I’m impressed with their picks, but in general still unimpressed by the party. A lot of those delegates don’t know a good thing when they see it.

Meanwhile there are still a few #NeverTrump social conservatives still trying to decide what to do. I read some blurb about how William Kristol was teasing on Twitter that some well-known conservative was about to enter the race for President as an Independent. And Trump responded his usual way by calling Kristol a “dummy.” We’ll see. If an independent Conservative joins the race for President, I say bring it on. I’ll really enjoy seeing Trump’s reaction to that news, if it happens.

On to the Canadian conventions, and I am surprised that the Liberals (in Winnipeg) and Conservatives (in Vancouver) scheduled their gatherings on exactly the same weekend. They sort of cancelled each other out, publicity-wise. 

But on the positive side, both conventions were a heck of a lot more successful than the shambles that the NDP put on earlier this year in Edmonton, where they voted for the LEAP Manifesto and then also stabbed leader Tom Mulcair in the back. That was political suicide at its finest. But enough about the NDP.

I would say the Conservatives convention went very smoothly. Not only was there a classy farewell to Stephen Harper on the first night, but they also voted to change their constitution to get rid of their policy opposing same-sex marriage. 

Interestingly, I noticed most of the Saskatchewan delegation voted to keep the policy! That doesn’t surprise me, though, because the Saskatchewan wing of the party is hopelessly full of social conservatives and family-values people. Anyway, that was interesting.

I also notice a lot of prospective leadership candidates were campaigning and had their hospitality suites going, and that Kevin O’Leary had officially joined the party. Gee, I almost wish I was there.

I wasn’t really tuned in to what the Liberals were doing, their convention seemed boring in comparison. I guess the big news was that Bob Rae made a gagging reflex when a tribute was paid to Stephen Harper by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I actually find that kind of funny.

That is all for the moment.

Coming soon — poll closings in Manitoba!

The polls close within the half-hour in the province of Manitoba which is holding its provincial election today. The expectation is that tonight will be the latest in a long string of bad news for the New Democratic Party as it is expected the PCs will win a massive majority. I find this race particularly interesting because I covered PC leader Brian Pallister while I was a reporter in Manitoba years ago, when he was the local MP. That he may become Premier is something I find amusing. 

For that matter, I also interviewed the current Premier Greg Selinger a couple of times, so it will be interesting to find out his fate as well. Anyway, results can be found here from the CBC, CTV Winnipeg, and Global. Polls close at 8pm CDT.

(But if you are more interested in American politics than Manitoba politics — polls close in New York State at the same time.)

Okay folks, last chance to vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t get to whine 

Just going to head off to cover the election night but so far it is shaping up as a big start for the Liberals in Atlantic Canada, winning 31 of 32 seats there. Results here.

The Conservatives getting clobbered which is no surprise in that region, but the NDP have no seats there and that is astonishing.

Another important result — the Blue Jays lead the Royals 3-1 in the second inning. Yes, we have our priorities.

Roundup of election stories with a week left

  
We are one week away from the Oct. 19 Election Day — a fact you are reminded of whenever you watch any big sporting event on TV. They are loaded with political commercials such as the Conservatives’ “Just not ready” ads targeting Justin Trudeau, countered by Trudeau’s “ready” ads, countered by ads with smiling Tom Mulcair of the NDP trying to sell you on what he’s selling.

In fact, I understand Mulcair was in Saskatoon today, just a few days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid a visit. Saskatoon is certainly a battleground, as usual.

I thought I would put up a bunch of my stories I’ve done from the Battlefords-Lloydminster riding from the last few weeks. After a very slow start, the race has gotten really interesting — though perhaps not for good reasons (!). We have seen candidates dropping out, and even an Independent dropping into this race. The election forums have been something else, too, with booing, apologies, you name it.

So here are those stories.

First, my story on ex-MP Doug Anguish entering the race as an independent.

Next, my story on NDP candidate Sandra Arias quitting the race for financial reasons, to be replaced by Glenn Tait

My story on the North Battleford all-candidates’ forum, which saw insults, boos, you name it. Plus, here’s a story on the candidates’ reaction.

Then I did a story on the Lloydminster forum last Wednesday. 

Plus, a story on a couple of local campaign events from the NDP and the Conservatives a day later — an NDP office opening and a Conservative fundraiser luncheon in which Gerry Ritz gave a speech. In the interest of fairness, I also included quotes from the other candidates at the Lloydminster forum the day earlier.

Also, I coordinated efforts at the paper to set up the all-candidates pages in the Regional Optimist. Those have been running for a couple of weeks and the last one featuring submissions from the main candidates will run on Thursday.

Advance polls have been going this weekend across Canada, and many  Canadians have already gone out and voted. It should be another hectic week on the campaign trail — hopefully, I’ll be able to survive until Election Day, which promises to be another late night. Thanksgiving Day today has proved to be a much-needed day off, given my schedule as of late.

Election? What election? Campaign 2015 off to a slow start where I am

  
I tuned in — sort of — to some of the coverage of Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling the election for Oct. 19. It seems like he’s in a no win position no matter what he did today. By calling the election today, he faces all these accusations about how taxpayers money was going to be wasted because the election period was so long. But had he held off a few more weeks he would have faced different accusations about using taxpayers money for partisan purposes (ie. all these Canada’s Action Plan ads) when he could have called an election and saved taxpayers’ their money. So he would have been blasted no matter what. Isn’t being PM great?

Here in Saskatchewan, it seems like the early election call has caught all the parties and candidates off guard. I was in Saskatoon today to see Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, but there were no political signs going up, nothing. That’s a stark contrast to past elections when I was living in Toronto, when elections would be called and the signs would start getting put up on the streets that very afternoon. 

Of course, in Battlefords-Lloydminster not only are there no signs going up, but incumbent Conservative Gerry Ritz has yet to know who his opponents are. None of the other parties have nominated anyone yet, although I understand the NDP are having their nomination meeting in two weeks. As for the Liberals, they were thrown into turmoil when their original nominee withdrew over a controversial Facebook posting. So I don’t know what’s happening with them. 

Anyway, that tells you the state of the race right now. Yes, technically we’re into an election, and yes, the official campaign period is a long one. But the reality is that things are barely getting organized on the ground, so the amount of “actual” campaigning from the local campaigns isn’t going to go on for a full 77 days in a lot of these ridings. It’ll be a bit shorter than that. That’s pretty obvious based on what I saw today. 

Honestly, at least here in Saskatchewan, I get the impression more people care about whether Corey Chamblin is being fired as coach of the Roughriders than about politics. Seriously. 

Also, a reminder to myself to post an angry rant tomorrow about what happened to Cecil the Lion and HitchBOT in the past week. Human beings are just terrible, folks. That’s all. 

Patrick Brown gets the win in Ontario PC leadership race

This week of elections and election surprises ends with Barrie MP Patrick Brown completing his upset of Christine Elliott in the Ontario PC leadership race. Clearly, Brown out-organized and out-hustled the competition “for the win”, as his slogan said. Those PC memberships he sold were no mirage, the members came out to vote for him in big numbers. 

There had been only two candidates left in the race at the end, so it wasn’t a tension-filled day. I tuned in the leadership vote results live stream online, and the organizers really did try and drag out the results to make it seem more exciting than it was.

The good news is everyone can go home now, unlike the famous/infamous 2004 leadership vote which dragged on and on and on, and which didn’t get finished until way past 11pm at night. 

(Of course, the Ontario Liberals have been even more notorious for leadership conventions that don’t end until about 5 in the morning, but that’s another story.)

Election results coming later tonight in Alberta

I don’t think I will bother live-blogging the Alberta election night. I may post my reaction to the results later. 

But if these polls are to believed the Alberta PC dynasty of Premier Jim Prentice is in a heap of trouble and could be toppled by, of all parties, the NDP. 

In fact, these polls are unanimous. They all predict a big win for the socialists. Honestly, I can’t wrap my head around that sort of result. It just flies in the face of all my thinking about Alberta’s electorate. Alberta has been a bedrock of conservative and free-enterprise sentiment going back decades. Moreover, this is Canada’s bastion of capitalism. This is the Oil Province, the Texas of Canada. 

But the NDP are notorious for being the party of the have-not places. Any NDP win would seem to fly in the face of Alberta’s entire political history and everything that province stands for. 

Keep in mind some things about Alberta political history. When change happens there, it happens not in a small fashion, but a big way. It’s characterized by governments in power for years before being thrown right out. Also, when incumbent governments lose in Alberta, they aren’t merely defeated; they are overthrown. The government party usually ends up being destroyed. When the United Farmers government lost to Social Credit in 1935, they were reduced to zero members. Social Credit then ruled for 36 years with little opposition until they lost in 1971 to Peter Lougheed; they never came back after that. Federally, the PC party dominated for years until the 1993 election when they lost all 25 of their MPs, mostly to Preston Manning’s upstart Reform party. 

I wonder if we are in store tonight for another one of these huge political earthquakes that Alberta seems prone to from time to time.

Counting is now on in Manitoba NDP vote

We’re still waiting for results of the first ballot in the NDP leadership convention in Manitoba between incumbent Premier Greg Selinger, Steve Ashton and Theresa Oswald. 

There is live coverage and you can catch that on the CBC. This shouldn’t be too long a day.

Ontario Liberals and Kathleen Wynne win a majority — Tim Hudak to resign as PC leader

All I have to say is that all is not lost for PC supporters living in Ontario, they can always move to prosperous Saskatchewan and help Premier Brad Wall and the Sask. Party stay in power forever.

I know, I know — not funny.

It’s Ontario’s turn to vote — election coverage tonight

Well, after all that primary excitement Tuesday in Virginia with Eric Cantor losing in the biggest upset in history, I think it will be hard to muster the same enthusiasm for the Ontario provincial election.

In fact, I am not holding out much hope for this vote at all. I expect voter turnout to be terrible and for voter apathy to be through the roof. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people cared about the World Cup starting than about this vote.

But if any of you do care about the election, results can be found from CBC, CTV, CityNews, Global and Newstalk 1010.

Enjoy election night, you political junkies. Polls close at 9 ET.

The Senate, Temp Foreign Workers, Keystone XL… Aargh! Every day brings another new headache for Stephen Harper

You have to think the temptation must be huge for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to say “chuck all this” when it comes to the headaches associated with the job of running the country.

Just today, the Supreme Court handed down their ruling on possible Senate reform and in their wisdom (?) determined, ahem, you cannot reform the Senate without at least seven provinces with 50 percent of the vote signing on. As for the Senate, you can’t abolish that at all without all the provinces agreeing to it.

Aargh! We’re stuck with an unelected Senate forever thanks to this ruling!

You could react to this decision by saying “maybe it’s the Supreme Court that we should abolish,” except to do that you probably need all the provinces to agree to that, too. What a farce.

To add to the PM’s woes, all the restaurant owners are now mad about the Temp Foreign Workers program getting suspended for them, even though it was the bad apple franchise owners whose flaunting of the rules prompted this decision to happen to begin with.

On top of that is the headache in the USA at the White House where, last Friday, President Barack Obama again delayed the Keystone XL pipeline project.

How frustrating is that? If I were in Harper’s shoes I’d wonder why I even bother being PM given how difficult it is to get any worthwhile projects done. Oh, and then there is the minor issue of the Russians threatening to start World War III.

Harper must be wondering why he didn’t settle for ownership of a Junior A hockey team in Alberta somewhere as his life’s ambition, because being PM of Canada is proving to be one big headache.

2013 CONSERVATIVE CONVENTION COVERAGE

The political focus now shifts in Canada to Calgary and the Conservative policy convention happening there this weekend.

Unfortunately, it is hard for the national MEDIA to get their minds off of Eastern Canada and the happenings there. I notice all these headlines in the newspapers and on the TV screens screaming “Senate Overshadows Conservative Convention.”

That, of course, is old news. What these headlines really ought to read is “Rob Ford Overshadows Conservative Convention.” Maybe they should add the headline “Rob Ford Overshadows the Senate, Too.”

Anyway, if you like to bore yourselves watching convention proceedings live, CPAC has the live coverage here.

VERY INTERESTING POLITICAL NIGHT AHEAD BOTH IN NORTH CAROLINA, AND IN QUEBEC

It promises to be a very interesting night for political watchers both north and south of the 49th parallel tonight, as the Democrats take to their convention tonight in Charlotte, North Carolina to renominate President Barack Obama.

Again, like last week at the GOP convention, Tuesday night promises to be “Ladies’ Night” as First Lady Michelle Obama is set to speak.

Up here in frozen Canada, nervous federalists wonder if it will be “Ladies’ Night” in Quebec, too, as separatist Pauline Marois tries to wrest the premiership of Quebec from Jean Charest in the election today and become the first female premier in Quebec history.

What a dubious result that would be — history could end up being made by someone wanting to tear the country right up.

It’s a very tight, race, though, and the prospect of a minority “hung assembly” result looms large with Francois Legault and the CAQ very much in the race and threatening to split the vote.

Even though the result is far from certain there tonight  — and Charest still has a reputation for having more political lives than your average cat — this has not stopped the entire press outside Quebec from freaking out in print over the prospect of a Parti Quebecois victory, and the prospect of more fights with the federal government. more ridiculous and repressive language laws and of course, the thought of holding yet another referendum on breaking the country up.

All I have to say is God help us all if the PQ wins. But they’ve been in power before and Canada still managed to survive, in spite of their efforts. So I won’t be freaking out if they win. In my view the Parti Quebecois is like an annoying bug that keeps on coming back into your house. You have to keep on swatting it all the time.

Election coverage starts at 8pm EST, or about an hour from now. In the meantime, I am watching the fair and balanced Democratic convention coverage and all the speeches from Charlotte praising President Obama. I’ll be back later.