Saturday, April 30, 2005

Being Liberal Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

Jean Chretien has apologized to the Canadian people for his role in the sponsorship scandal. Well, sort of. Not for anything he did, mind you.

Former prime minister Jean Chretien said Friday he's sorry if people "betrayed the nation" and made mistakes leading to the sponsorship scandal, adding he takes responsibility for them.

In his first public statement on the furore since he testified at the Gomery commission in February, Chretien also said he didn't want to comment on Prime Minister Paul Martin's, leadership on the issue, which has ignited separatist sentiment in Quebec and threatens to topple the government.

But Chretien said he's still behind the Liberal party.

"I am a Liberal and if there's an election, I will vote Liberal with pleasure."

Recalling his appearance before the Gomery inquiry, Chretien said: "In my statement, I said I was sorry if mistakes were made and I said I have to take the full responsibility of what's good and what's bad when you're the prime minister."

"And I said if mistakes were made, these people have betrayed the nation, betrayed the government and myself and (through) due process, if found guilty, they should be punished,"

It's easy enough now for Chretien to say that he'll take full responsibility, because there's no way for him to actually do so once he's out of office and safe from the wrath of the electorate or the prosecution.

There are too many of these meaningless apologies offered by public figures today, almost always for past events in which they were not involved, to be received by those who were not directly effected thereby.

The purpose of these apologies is not to take responsibility, nor to express contrition, but to assert the moral superiority of the person offering the apology. In short: I'm sorry those people weren't as good as I am.

(Chretien's non-apology is especially galling considering where and when he made it. Read the Canoe report to see why.)

Friday, April 29, 2005

Don't Panic

There has been a lot of hand-wringing over a couple of recent polls which show that the Liberals have pulled back into a statistical tie with the Conservatives after Paul Martin's televised plea to wait for Judge Gomery's report and deal with the NDP on the budget.

Before we all start running around screaming that those cowards in Ontario are being whipped into submission again, let's stand back and get some perspective.

For the past week, Paul Martin's speech and the budget deal have pushed the Gomery inquiry off the front pages, during a period when the testimony coming therefrom did not really reveal anything new about the sponsorship scandal.

Martin's speech was delivered to reinforce a view that most people held already about not wanting an election now. That view, however, invariably disappears once an election is actually called.

Despite this, however, Liberal support has not risen. Votes are being parked with the protest parties or the undecided bloc right now; this is to be expected when two parties carry out a lot of public posturing without any result.

The long-term trend has shown the Liberal Party consistently running at least 10 percentage points behind its traditional inter-election levels in the mid-40's. Even during Martin's post-election honeymoon, the Liberals were barely able to crack 40%.

The Liberals are starting this pre-election campaign from a much weaker position than they held even immediately before the 2004 election.

There is certainly no cause for complacency, but neither has the roof caved in on us.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Blue Wave Rising Over GTA

According to the latest Environics poll, the good folk of the Greater Toronto Area no longer wet their beds trembling in fear with nightmares of the frightening Alberta right-wing bogeyman:

The numbers, released yesterday by Environics Research Group, show 41 per cent of decided voters surveyed in the 44 GTA ridings support the Liberals, down from the 51-per-cent share of the vote the party received in the June, 2004, election.

Thirty-five per cent said they would vote for the Conservative Party, up seven points from the Tories' 28-per-cent showing last June, and just six points behind the Liberals. The New Democrats had 21- per-cent support, up from 15 per cent in the election.


Looking just at the 905 region, the poll puts the Liberals and the Conservatives in a virtual tie, with Liberal support at 41 per cent and the Conservatives at 39 per cent. The New Democrats were far behind at 16 per cent.


In the 416 region, according to the Environics poll, the Liberals had 40 per cent, the Conservatives 31 per cent and the New Democrats 26 per cent.

Recent polls show a consistent 3 to 5 percentage point lead province-wide in Ontario. Factor in these numbers, and that would mean a virtual sweep outside the GTA, with the exception of 2 or 3 NDP seats up north, and Ottawa-Vanier and Kingston staying Liberal.

The 416 numbers are especially heartening, as they suggest two or three seats in the party's dead zone.

These numbers are good for at least 60 seats, and it wouldn't take more than three percentage points to push that up towards 70.

Provided the wheels don't fall off the bus again, Ontario will bring home at least a strong minority government.

Coffin Nails

The tales of greed, fraud, corruption and wretched excess pouring forth from the Gomery inquiry would test the patience and temper even of Solomon.

So it's not surprising to hear Mr. Justice Gomery blasting Paul Coffin.

From today's edition of The Globe and Mail:

Mr. Coffin admitted his firm being picked to handle government contracts after he lied when he answered the government questionnaire for the selection process.

He claimed to have a branch office in Ontario, inflated the number of employees he had and enlarged his volume of sales by a third.

”I guess that's part of the advertising business. The right to exaggerate seems to be built in,” Judge Gomery said.

The amount of business you're getting from the government is going up like a rocket, it's coming to you through Mr. Guité, Mr. Guité is administering the program--and yet the two of you never talked about it?” a skeptical Judge Gomery asked.

”You're close friends, having diner with your wives. What did you talk about when you're going on his boat or playing golf or going to diner? It's very difficult for me to believe that the subject was never mentioned.”

He (Coffin) said he became a staunch Conservative because he opposed Pierre Trudeau's national energy program.

But after a decade of supporting the Tories, once they were out of power, he only gave them $400. Instead, between 1999 and 2002, he donated $29,300 at Liberal fundraisers.

”Why the conversion? Did you have an epiphany like St. Paul on the road to Damascus?” Judge Gomery asked.

”It would appear that you were getting substantial business from the government . . . so you thought it was good business to show up at (Liberal) functions and it wasn't going to get you any business to show up at poorly-attended Conservative functions.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Judge Not

The Chief Justice of Quebec says that separatists shouldn't be allowed to serve as judges:

Judges have a duty to enforce the Canadian Constitution, which states that Quebec is a part of Canada," Judge Michel Robert said in an interview yesterday. "It seems to me that you can't uphold the Canadian Constitution if at the same time you promote Quebec separation."


One must prove oneself worthy of appointment to the bench through the same selfless public service exemplified by such noted jurists as Madam Justice Claudette Tessier-Couture.

Mr. Justice Robert speaks, of course, with the moral authority of one who has served as the president of the Liberal Party of Canada who helped Jean Chretien force out John Turner for the good of the common weal.

The Sleeping Giant Awakens

The Globe and Mail reports upon the good work that the sponsorship program has done to burnish Canada's image in Quebec:
Quebec — Support for sovereignty in Quebec has broken through the 50-per-cent barrier to its highest level since 1998 amid growing controversy over the sponsorship scandal. A new poll shows 54 per cent of decided voters would support sovereignty in a referendum that offered an economic and political partnership with the rest of Canada -- the same question asked in the Oct. 30, 1995, referendum.

Polls over the past year asking similar questions showed support of between 44 and 49 per cent for sovereignty.

The survey, conducted by Léger Marketing for The Globe and Mail and Le Devoir, comes as a new controversy erupted in Quebec after Michel Robert, the province's Chief Justice, said separatists should not be appointed to the bench.

That's the bad news. Here's the worse news:

This survey, conducted April 21 to 24, shows 76 per cent of voters felt betrayed by the actions of the former prime minister and the Liberal Party of Canada after the 1995 referendum on sovereignty.

That opinion was shared by a majority of federalists regardless of their political allegiance, according to the poll.

"The sponsorship program, which contributed to undermining support for sovereignty between 1997 and 2002, is now having the opposite effect," said pollster Jean-Marc Léger. "In fact it is helping rebuild the sovereignty movement."

The survey found 37 per cent of respondents said the scandal and the allegations at the Gomery Commission motivated their decision to support sovereignty. Even among those who described themselves as federalist, 13 per cent said the inquiry would motivate them to vote for sovereignty

Betrayal and humiliation have been common themes exploited by the separatist movement over the past 40 years, to good effect.

Federalist Quebecois have been betrayed by the Liberal Party and their confreres in the movement; all of them now will be seen as corrupt swindlers in it not for the good of Canada but for what they can milk from Ottawa's teat.

All Quebecois, indeed, now feel that les maudits anglais see them either as crooks out to steal their money or idiots who can be bought off with a few cheap baubles.

The federalist forces in Quebec now no longer have a strong, respected leader or organization. The federal Liberals have been utterly discredited amongst the Quebecois, and are now reduced to a largely anglophone and allophone West Island rump. The provincial Liberals are likely to meet the same fate under a leader who has never really been regarded as a real Quebecois. The Conservatives may as well not exist as this point.

The separatists, on the other hand, have never had a more effective and respected leader than Gilles Duceppe. He has not become a polarizing figure within Quebec, and he also enjoys great respect in the rest of Canada--an achievement that even Rene Levesque was never able to accomplish.

Secession will almost certainly come to pass if there is a referendum within the next few years.

The irony is that it will have come about because of two initiatives to prevent it: the Clarity Act, and the sponsorship program.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Agreement in Principle

An agreement in principle has been reached by these two unprincipled principals to support the principle that Canadians don't want an election right now on the issue of principles. In principle, anyway.

Eminent Persons Wanted

Anne McLellan has announced that Bob Rae, in his capacity as independent "eminent person", will advise Ottawa whether a public inquiry into the Air India fiasco should be swept under the rug a bone tossed to restless Indo-Canadian voters worth the time and effort.

His Eminence may wish to advise Ms. McLellan on how to conduct herself as an "eminent person", since the voters of Edmonton Centre will likely make her one in a few weeks.

Gettin' Outta Dodge

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew, who has never had so much as a hair out of place, is apparently leaving to become secretary-general of the Organization of (Anti-) American States.

Ole, Pedro!

A Firm, Uncompromising, Principled Dither

For a moment there yesterday, it seemed as if Paul Martin had found the pair he lost after forcing Jean Chretien out of office.

Well, he's gone and lost them again, according to today's Mope and Wail :
Paul Martin said yesterday he is willing to boost federal spending to education, foreign aid and child care, but he will go only part way toward meeting an NDP demand that corporate tax cuts be rescinded as he tries to save his struggling minority government.

Mr. Martin laid down the principles as New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton said the Prime Minister has until today to respond to his party's demands not to implement a promised corporate tax cut and to hike spending on other social programs.

Apparently Mr. Dithers might take the tax cut for large corporations off the table but leave that for small and mid-sized businesses alone.

If so, it'll be a Pyrrhic victory for both parties. Paul Martin will lose what little credibility he had left with Bay Street, while Jack Layton gets a worthless IOU. With Chuck Cadman about to vote non-confidence, the budget is now headed for certain defeat. Paul and Jack will have sold each other the rope with which to hang themselves.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Shout Outs!

Thanks to Kate at Small Dead Animals for introducing me to the wider blogworld in her Carnival of the Newbies.

And a tip of the Hatlo hat to Paul Tuns at Sobering Thoughts for his endorsement!

And if you've never read Hilary White's Fiat Mihi , you don't know what you've been missing.

L'Apres-Midi d'un Folle

Canadian Press provides the latest news about Paul Martin's desperate courtship of Jack Layton:

Layton is offering to back the government as long as Martin scraps $4.6 billion in corporate tax cuts promised in the Liberal budget and the money directed at social programs.

Martin would not say Sunday if he's willing to meet that demand.

Speaking at Khalsa Day celebrations of the Sikh New Year, Layton said the issue is not one of supporting the scandal-ridden Liberals.

"We're not talking about propping anyone up, we're talking about delivering something for the people," Layton said.

"It's about trying to get something positive done on social and environmental issues for Canadians."

Good for the country, then, that Jack Layton will never get any closer to being Prime Minister than this. Not because he is a socialist ideologue, but because he is a damned fool.

Layton's inability to do math may doom him just as it did Joe Clark.

The budget won't pass unless all three independents vote in favour of it, and at least one (David Kilgour) has all but come out against it. If so, the result will be as follows:

Liberal (132) + NDP (19) + Independent (2) = 153 YES
Conservative (99) + Bloc (54) + Independent (1) = 154 NO

The government will fall. Martin's promise to reroute corporate tax cuts to social spending will be worth even less than it is now (zero), Layton spends the election defending his decision to prop up a corrupt government, and what promised to be the best election ever for the NDP will be a debacle.

Even if the budget should pass, what will Jack Layton be able to extract in return? His leverage is far less than those of the independents, at least two of whom will be out to get Martin at every turn.

This deal with the devil will not profit the NDP one whit, and may cost them everything, including Layton's leadership.

Don't jump, Jack. You have so much to live for.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Brodbeck on the Bloc

The Winnipeg Sun's Tom Brodbeck is dismissive of the renewed separatist threat posed by the resurgent Bloc Quebecois.

Don't get me wrong. The Bloc is a full-fledged separatist party. Their goal is to break up the country. As far as I'm concerned, they're traitors.

But they have little power in achieving their objective. They can never form the government. And there's little, if anything, they can do within Parliament to further the cause of separation. Besides, they have a weak leader in Gilles Duceppe. He's no Lucien Bouchard. And he has no idea how to whip up separatist sentiment.

Gilles Duceppe is no Lucien Bouchard. That's no cause for complacency, but for worry.

Duceppe has grown significantly in public stature as leader of the Bloc, from a figure of ridicule in a hairnet to a leader respected even in English Canada for his forthright, no-nonsense style. None of the other separatist leaders can make that claim.

Rene Levesque was a broken man in 1985, having agreed to place secession on the back-burner. Jacques Parizeau's arrogance ended his political career with just one comment. Lucien Bouchard proved to be an ineffective premier, and Bernard Landry has never shaken his negative public perception.

Duceppe, unlike these men, has never been a polarizing figure, and is perhaps the best communicator of the lot. He is not a man to be underestimated, and he could well be the next premier--and first president--of Quebec.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Marriage of Convenience.

They were both desperate men with no one but each other to turn to.

They promised to join together in a mutually loving partnership.

They were only doing so just to get a few benefits, but in the process, they made a mockery of one of our society's most treasured institutions.

Read all about it in today's Globe and Mail.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Speech

Good evening.

It went downhill right from there.

I want to talk to you directly tonight – about the problems in the sponsorship program; about how I’ve responded to them as your prime minister; and about the timing of the next general election.

Let me speak plainly: what happened with the sponsorship file occurred on the watch of a Liberal government. Those who were in power are to be held responsible. And that includes me.

I was the Minister of Finance. Knowing what I've learned this past year, I am sorry that we weren’t more vigilant - that I wasn't more vigilant. Public money was misdirected and misused. That’s unacceptable. And that is why I apologized to the Canadian people a year ago.

With that statement, Paul Martin has decided to plead incompetence as a defence against complicity. How could he have failed to see what was going on in his own backyard unless he was singularly unobservant?

But taking responsibility is about more than words. I want to tell you what I’ve done as Prime Minister to deal with the sponsorship scandal – to make sure it does not happen again, to make sure that those who violated the public trust will be identified and will pay the consequences.

On December 12, 2003, I cancelled the sponsorship program. It was my very first act on my very first day in office.

When the Auditor-General’s report was publicly tabled, I acted immediately by ordering a fully independent commission of inquiry, under Mr. Justice John Gomery. Its mandate is to get to the bottom of what happened, and to do it in full view of Canadians. It will report before the end of the year. And I think you’ll agree – Judge Gomery is leaving no stone unturned.

If he didn't know what had been going on with the sponsorship program, why would he have made cancelling it his first act in office, two months before the Auditor General's report was released?

In addition, I fired Alfonso Gagliano, the minister responsible for the sponsorship program, from his appointment as Ambassador to Denmark.

Paul Martin asks us to wait until Mr. Justice Gomery issues his final report before passing judgment on him, yet he did not hesitate to pass judgment on Gagliano.

I put in strict new controls on spending within every single government department.

My government brought forward whistleblower legislation to ensure that when public servants and others come forward with evidence of wrongdoing, they are protected, not punished.

What strict new controls? What effect would this whistleblower legislation have had, had it been in effect at the time of the sponsorship program? What protection would it had offered someone like Francois Beaudoin, fired from the BDC for refusing Jean Chretien's bankrupt arsonist hotelier pal a loan? No law is protection enough against strongarming from the PMO.

To recover taxpayers’ money – money that went to those who did not earn it -- I ordered my government to sue 19 people and companies for more than $40-million.

Sue all you like; if the money's gone, the money's gone, and no judgment will ever bring it back. The only ones who can count on getting any money back are the lawyers.

I committed to acting on the recommendations of Judge Gomery when he brings forth his final report. And I myself testified before his commission, answering any and all questions.

Acting on and implementing are quite different things. How many commissions of inquiry have been acted on by being quietly shelved?

Finally, I ordered that the Liberal party bring in auditors to conduct a forensic examination of its books - and call in the RCMP to investigate what took place during that period.

The accountants did not perform a forensic audit but a review of financial statements; in other words, a bookkeeping review of the receipts to ensure that what went through the proper channels was properly balanced. The sponsorship funds went through anything but the proper channels--no review would ever find them, because they wouldn't have been looked for.

Let me emphasize that point: if so much as a dollar is found to have made its way into the Liberal party from ill-gotten gains, it will be repaid to the people of Canada. I want no part of that money.

How does he intend to collect? What if the the lawsuits fail or there aren't funds sufficient to pay the judgments? Will the Liberal Party hit up its own members and donors to make up the difference? Whose pocket will it come out of?

As Prime Minister, I will never hesitate to describe what happened on the sponsorship file for what is was: an unjustifiable mess. It’s up to me to clean it up. That’s my job. I am cleaning it up. And I am willing to be judged on my record of action.

In recent weeks, fallout from the sponsorship inquiry has led to speculation about an election – which in turn is consuming virtually all political discussion, at least here on Parliament Hill. Initiatives to improve health care, strengthen our economy and ensure for Canada a role of pride and influence in the world are being obscured by partisan jousting.

In short, the Parliament you sent to Ottawa less than a year ago is preoccupied with election talk and with political strategy – not with the job you sent us here to do.

Aside from the budget and the same-sex marriage bill, there don't appear to be any other initiatives coming from this government. The fault for that lies with Martin, not with the opposition.

As people focus their attention on the commission’s hearings, let’s remember that the inquiry is being held in front of a judge for good reason.

There is conflicting testimony; only the judge is in a position to determine the truth. Only he can cut through the partisan politics. Only he can tell us what happened and who was responsible.

Paul Martin has asked to be judged on his record. We need not wait for Judge Gomery to report on the legal and evidential matters surrounding the sponsorship scandal to form an opinion on Paul Martin's political handling thereof.

We also don't need to be told to wait for Judge Gomery before forming opinions of our own. We are not ignorant children, to be patted on the head and told that father knows best.

We’ve all heard that the opposition may defeat the government and take the country to the polls for the second time in a year.

I am prepared to face Canadians and have them judge my response to this serious test of leadership. I will be politically accountable. But I believe that before there is an election, you are entitled to answers – to the answers that Judge Gomery is working toward. I believe that Canadians deserve a full and frank accounting of all the facts. Fairness and due process require nothing less.

For that reason, I commit to you tonight that I will call a general election within 30 days of the publication of the commission’s final report and recommendations. Let Judge Gomery do his work. Let the facts come out. And then the people of Canada will have their say.

Fairness and due process do not require that Jean Brault, Chuck Guite and Paul Coffin's trials wait until Gomery's final report. Why should the parliamentary process be held to a stricter standard than the judicial process? Paul Martin's government needs to command the confidence of the House, not of the Gomery inquiry.

Moreover, how can Paul Martin put a gun to his own head with a pledge to call an election right after the Gomery inquiry reports? The public and opposition will not differentiate between an interim and final report--they'll want an election as soon as a report comes out. If he doesn't want to fight an election based on the scandal and the Gomery report, why tie an election call to Gomery?

Furthermore, what can his government do within 30 days between a report and an election call to implement its recommendations? How can he pledge to do so when he doesn't know what Gomery will recommend?

If the Opposition forces an election before then, that is their choice. But I believe we can do better. I believe we can – and we should – use the coming months to pursue the public’s business. To act on the issues that matter most to you and make a difference in your life.

If we are to have an election, one that will be at least in part about the work of Judge Gomery, surely that election should occur only when we have the work of Judge Gomery.

No further comment necessary. We already have enough of Judge Gomery's work to make a decision about Paul Martin's political handling of the scandal. That is all the opposition and people need to judge.

In closing, let me say this: there are people who think I was wrong to call this inquiry, wrong to expose my government to the political cost of the scrutiny that has ensued. They warn we will pay a price in the next election. And perhaps we will.

But I trust your judgment. And I will not dishonour this office by trying to conceal or diminish such offensive wrongdoing. I have too much respect for this place.

When I was young, I practically lived here in the Parliament Buildings. My father was a cabinet minister in four Liberal governments. He taught me that those who serve in public office have a duty to protect the integrity of government.

My pledge to you tonight is that I will live up to that ideal. I went into public life because I believe in the good that government can do. And I will do my all as Prime Minister to make sure that your government is worthy of your respect.

The final judgment on whether I have done that will be yours.

Thank you. And good night

Martin might have gotten away with this speech until this last mawkish reference to his dear old dad, an irrelevant pull on the heartstrings. It only confirms what I've suspected about Martin all along: that he sought to be Prime Minister not to achieve his own ambitions, but to fulfill his father's frustrated ones. There is something pathetic about a 65-year old man living his life to win his late father's approval.

Paul Martin's pitch to Ontario voters to save him (and that's what it was, otherwise he wouldn't have held it at a time when B.C. voters were at work and Alberta voters in rush-hour traffic) was in equal parts disingenuous, desperate and sentimental.

Richard Nixon couldn't have made a worse performance.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Stay Tuned

Paul Martin's emergency Liberal Party political broadcast has been moved from 7:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

A 7:45 broadcast would have interrupted prime-time programming and pushed opposition rebuttals past 8:00, if any.

Who the hell broadcasts anything on the quarter-hour, anyway? Such ineptitude by the PM's communications people underscores the desperate, slap-dash nature of the PM's latest moves.

Next time, run it at 3:30 a.m. between Moses Znaimer's blue movies on CITY and the Ashley Madison infomercials.

The Last Days of Pompeii

Jean Brault was telling the truth, after all:

Benoit Corbeil: Kicked back sponsorship funds through "volunteers" to senior Liberal Party officials in Quebec.

Chuck Guite: Secret donations to Jean Charest's Liberal Party of Quebec from sponsorship funds.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Address to the Nation

From the Prime Minister's Office:

Prime Minister Paul Martin will address the nation on Thursday, April 21, 2005 at 7:45 pm. He will speak about the sponsorship program and the current situation in Parliament.

"People have got to know whether their President's Prime Minister's a crook. Well, I am not a crook."

And The Lies Keep On Coming

Claude Boulay's testimony at the Gomery inquiry yesterday, with notes from the Globe and Mail:

Ad executive Claude Boulay argued yesterday that Paul Martin's command of the French language isn't good enough for him to have written a gushy letter that opposition critics cited as proof the Prime Minister has been cozy with the Liberal-friendly Quebec businessman.

Lie #1: Paul Martin has lived, worked, and politicked in Quebec for the past forty years. If his French weren't fluent, he'd never have got elected dogcatcher.

Mr. Boulay said, for example, that he didn't remember eating with Jean Carle, a confidant to former prime minister Jean Chrétien, even though Mr. Carle's expense accounts report a meal together when Mr. Carle was a vice-president at the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Lie #2: If everybody else lies, the expense accounts don't. Ask George Radwanski.

Mr. Boulay was adamant, however, in saying he didn't have close ties to Mr. Martin and flatly denying he had petitioned Mr. Martin for a tourism promotion scheme called Attractions Canada, the single largest project under the sponsorship program.

Attractions Canada was initiated by Mr. Boulay's ad agency, Groupe Everest. Groupe Everest handled a total of $67-million in contracts under the sponsorship program, helping Mr. Boulay earn more than $6-million in declared revenues and $5-million in undeclared capital dividends, according to documents filed at the inquiry.

Lie #3: Claude Boulay had been lobbying Paul Martin for sponsorship money as far back as 1994.

Still, a lawyer for the inquiry suggested that a Feb. 18, 1994, letter to Mr. Boulay from Mr. Martin, then the finance minister, could form the basis for more questions about whether the ad executive benefited from his government contacts.

In the letter, the original honorific "Monsieur" has been crossed out and replaced by a handwritten "Cher Claude."

In the letter, Mr. Martin compliments Mr. Boulay and says the services offered by the ad executive could be of interest to one of the government's regional economic agencies for which the finance minister was responsible at the time, the Federal Office of Regional Development - Quebec.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Successor

The pundits have all been calling for the organization to move away from social conservative policies and towards what they think is the centre, but which is really the hard left.

No sooner had his name emerged as a potential successor that the media began screeching about his radical right-wing agenda and his cold and autocratic personality.

Even many of those within the organization joined in the attacks, hoping to scare the voters into choosing a dithering, pliable liberal leader.

But this time, the voters would not be intimidated.

They wanted to hear someone enunciate orthodox, conservative principles without apology or reservation.

They compared him with the alternative.

And they chose to reward competence and principle.


As Paul Martin's government veers towards its inevitable collapse, the atmosphere around it has come to resemble the last days in the Fuehrerbunker. Those who have not fled the madness, have now opened fire on each other.

Warren Kinsella and David Herle, the men most identified with the Chretien and Martin wings of the Liberal party respectively, have taken to slagging each other in front of the House Public Accounts Committee.

Per Politics Watch:

Warren Kinsella, a long-time supporter of former prime minister Jean Chretien, told a Commons committee on Monday that Prime Minister Paul Martin called him at his home once to complain about a contract involving the firm Earnscliffe.

Kinsella said the call took place in the mid 1990s when he was an aide to the then public works minister David Dingwall, whose ministry oversaw procurement of government contracts.


Kinsella dropped accusation after accusation on O'Leary and Herle on Monday, suggesting it was his opinion that finance officials were creating a favourable environment for contracts to end up in the lap of Earnscliffe.

He told the committee that it wasn't just him who complained about the involvement of finance, but other Liberal friendly polling and communication firms and public servants.

He also alleged that he thought many of the contracts to Earnscliffe were in fact "cross-subsidized political activity using the public treasury," an allegation Herle later denied.


Herle put up a strong defence of his position before the committee, at times attracting the attention of committee chair John Williams who he interrupted at one point.

He denied any of the work given to Earnscliffe was done to aid Martin in his long leadership campaign or for work for the Liberal party.


Herle also told the committee to remember that Kinsella is "as strong a political adversary of Mr. Martin, Ms. O'Leary or myself as anyone in this country."

Future historians nad political scientists, when they look back on the last 15 years, will shake their head in amazement at the fact that Canada fell into irrelevance and impotence because these two men were more concerned with thwarting each other's ambitions than actually governing.

We have all paid dearly, from our falling standard of living to the decrepitude of out national defence, for having had the country used merely as an arena for two men's rivalry.

Running On Empty

Desperate to hold on to power at any cost, the Liberals have been reduced to cheap parliamentary tricks like this:

Per CBC:

OTTAWA - The Conservatives say they're outraged at the Liberals' latest tactic to prevent the opposition from toppling the government – so upset, they say, that they may defeat the budget legislation and trigger an election.

At issue is a move by the Liberals' decision to postpone an opposition day on Wednesday.

The day was set aside for the official Opposition to debate any motion it wanted to put forward. By cancelling the day, the Conservatives say the Liberals have now lost the moral authority to govern.

Government House leader Tony Valeri said he was told the Conservatives wanted to use the day in "a clear attempt to hijack the House. As a government, we could simply not allow that to happen."

But the motion has not been released and Valeri admitted he never actually never saw it.

The Grits are likely playing several games at once, all of them aimed at keeping the government alive for the next month. If they can get over this hump, they figure that the anger over Adscam will die down over the summer, same-sex marriage will pass and they can demonize the Tories in a fall election and an overwhelming majority.

So this leaves the Liberals with this:

Delay all of the opposition days until late June. This is not likely to happen, since this would require unanimous opposition consent. But it would force the Tories to defeat the budget if they want an election now, allowing the Grits to blast the Tories for sinking the "new deal for cities" and the offshore deal. Moreover, they could blame the Tories for sinking the same-sex marriage bill, thus shoring up the progressive urban vote which might otherwise go NDP.

Whatever happens, the Liberals are now ready to have an election forced on them, and meet it.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Black Smoke Rising

The NDP caucus still hasn't decided whether to back a non-confidence motion.

It Must Be Election Season

Today's Toronto Star reports that Immigration Minister Joe Volpe is buying off the immigrant vote clearing up bottlenecks in the immigration system.

Canada will throw open its doors to help reunite parents and grandparents with their children who have already settled here.

The federal government will spend $72 million over the next two years to speed applications and help the new immigrants get settled in Canada.

As well today, Immigration Minister Joe Volpe will announce that international students in Canada will be able to work while attending school and he'll commit more money to reduce the huge backlog in citizenship applications.

NB: Go to Bug Me Not to get the password for the subscription site. Then bookmark Bug Me Not. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

More Fun With Poll Numbers

Striving Against Opposition has done such a thorough and detailed analysis of the latest Ipsos-Reid poll that it would be redundant for me to reproduce another one.

Nonetheless, a few comments thereon:

Projecting the national poll numbers as a uniform increase in votes across the country misses the regional factors that play into our regionally factious political scene. Projections based on regional breakdowns will give more accurate totals.

Saskatchewan and British Columbia are likely to lose a few Conservative seats because of the populist anti-establishment segment of the Reform/Alliance support drifting away from what is now perceived to be an establishment Tory party, back to the NDP, and even the Greens.

The Tories may also have won three or four seats in Saskatchewan because NDP voters inexplicably shot themselves in the foot by defecting to the Liberals in numbers large enough to lose seats, but not large enough to elect Liberals.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Fun With Poll Numbers

The latest Environics poll confirms the continuing tailspin of the Liberals:

Per Our Great Public Broadcaster:

Stephen Harper's Conservatives are supported by 33 per cent of Canadians.
Paul Martin's Liberals, who currently hold a minority government, are the choice of 27 per cent.
The New Democratic Party under Jack Layton has 24 per cent.
Gilles Duceppe's Bloc Québécois has 11 per cent support nationally, but that becomes 51 per cent in the province of Quebec.
The Green Party, led by Jim Harris, is supported by two per cent.

Taking the regional breakdowns in the poll and running them through Prof. Antweiler's Election Forecaster , the entrails read:

NF: LIB 5, CON 2
NS: LIB 5, CON 3, NDP 3
NB: LIB 7, CON 2, NDP 1
QC: BLQ 67, CON 5, LIB 3
ON: LIB 48, CON 38, NDP 20
MB: CON 8, NDP 6
SK: CON 9, NDP 4, LIB 1
AB: CON 28
BC: CON 20, NDP 13, LIB 3

Total: Conservative 115, Liberal 79, Bloc Quebecois 67, New Democratic 47

Moving east to west:

The Atlantic numbers show little movement because of a spike in NDP support which would do nothing to elect NDP members outside the Halifax region while drawing off too few Liberal votes, thus allowing Liberal incumbents to hold on by narrow margins. A shift of 2-3 percentage points from the Liberals to the Conservatives, however, would tip 5 to 7 seats to the Tories.

The Quebec numbers will finish Paul Martin politically and personally; he'd lose his own seat under this scenario. The Tories get their hoped-through Quebec breakthrough in the formerly straight Liberal West Island and Outaouais enclave. Everybody in Cabinet gets turfed except possibly Stephane Dion.

416 brings it home again for the Liberals in Ontario, but more 905 ridings drop into Tory hands, and the few remaining right-leaning rural Grits go with them. The resurgent NDP cleans up in Northern Ontario, Toronto south of Bloor Street and Hamilton with a couple outliers.

The steady ebbing of Liberal support in Manitoba reaches low tide, from 11 seats in 1993 to zero.

Saskatchewan's 13 Tory seats in 2004 were the result of a bizarre strategic voting failure by NDP voters who switched to the Liberals at the last second, but only just enough to lose both their seats and let the Conservatives come up the middle. This despite two strong independents--Jim Pankiw and Grant Devine--bleeding off Tory votes (and Larry Spencer to a lesser degree).

Alberta: 'Nuff said. Landslide Annie finally runs out of miracles.

British Columbia: NDP gains mostly at the Liberals' expense, but the populist vote that once went Reform/Alliance, comes home to the NDP. The new Conservative party, for better or worse in B.C., will be seen as another establishment party. Such is the price of success in the East.

I'll be back with newer polls and analysis later today and tomorrow.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Easy Money

Scott Brison has done a yeoman's job selling the Liberal Party line on Adscam ("Nothing to do with me! Just a few bad apples! Everything was accounted for! We didn't steal it! Well, not that much went missing! It was for the good of the country!").

Now it seems he might have helped put a little unearned money in Liberal coffers.

From Canoe:

For more than a year, Public Works Minister Scott Brison has been asked to provide receipts or invoices to the Kings-Hants Conservative riding association to account for a $4,400 cheque given to him in 2003 while he was a Tory MP.

"It's still not properly accounted for," said Debbie Janzen, who sat on the board of Brison's old Conservative riding association.

The cheque, which Brison assistant Dale Palmeter said was used to help pay down debts from his failed bid for the PC leadership in 2003, was made out to Brison on July 31 that year.

But it wasn't cashed until Dec. 11 -- the day after he defected to Paul Martin's Liberals.

"Nothing to do with me! Just a few bad apples! Everything was accounted for! We didn't steal it! Well, not that much went missing! It was for the good of the country!"


Jacques Corriveau, a man who knew everyone and everything in the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party, now suddenly can't recall anything to do with the sponsorship fund.

Per this long-time Chretien crony, as reported in today's Globe and Mail:

I have to tell you, Mr. Commissioner, as a volunteer within the Liberal Party of Canada, I was involved in a very political milieu and an advertising environment,” he told Judge Gomery before his explanation trailed off.

“... to say exactly when it happened, no, it was too far away and too close, if you will, to be able to identify who really made me aware of it. No, I'm sorry, I can't answer that.”


Mr. Corriveau, who the inquiry has heard received millions of dollars through sponsorship funding, on Thursday blamed age and recent surgery for repeated memory lapses. A day later, his inability to be precise continued.

Asked when he had first spent time with another person who has figured in the testimony and he could offer no better than a four-year range a decade ago. He didn't remember whether he had recommended the man, Claude Boulay, to another key figure, Luc Lemay.

And he could not be sure when asked how long he had been aware that the federal government was keen to spend sponsorship dollars in Quebec.

Old age and ill health may make a man forgetful. So, too, can the prospect of prosecution and public disgrace.

Corriveau made $6.7 million in sponsorship commissions for contracts steered to Luc Lemay's companies, and another $425,000 from Jean Brault and Groupaction. No matter how faulty your memory, you just don't forget who helped you make seven million easy bucks for doing next to nothing, how, and when.

As Adscam gets closer to Chretien personally, the witnesses do as well, and how many of them will suddenly become forgetful on the witness stand?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Scott Brison Fan Club

Scott Brison has himself an adoring new fan club on the Web. And boy, do they sure love him.

Recommended reading for Scott: Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.

The devil always comes round to collect his due.

The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel

The Globe and Mail's Jane Taber reports today that Paul Martin will try to scare voters into believing that forcing an election over Adscam will bring about the breakup of Canada:

"Canadians will vote for unity given a choice between the separatists and federalists," he said, according to a source. "We [Liberals] will expose the unholy alliance between the Bloc and the Conservatives."

Another MP said the Prime Minister used the words "winning conditions" in describing what Liberals believe is the Bloc's plan to eventually hold a referendum, after taking advantage of weakening Liberal support in Quebec and forcing an election. There are dire predictions among Liberals that they could lose more than half a dozen of their 21 seats to the Bloc.

How the sponsorship program was supposed to win the hearts, minds and loyalty of Quebecois back to Canada has never been adequately explained; a few flags here, a maple leaf logo there, and somehow 250 years of grievances against les maudits anglais were supposed to be overcome.

What is clear, however, is that Quebec is rightly insulted by the patronizing notion that it could be bought with a few cheap baubles.

Adscam has caused irreparable damage to the federalist cause within Quebec and to Quebec's image within the rest of Canada. Both are now associated with corruption, sharp practice and extortion. National unity will not sell with that image, at that price.

There has been an increasing indifference to threats of secession from Quebec; an attitude of "let them go if they want" has become the default response by the man in the street. Countless economic and political concessions from Canada have not been reciprocated by Quebec. Eventually, people get tired of being threatened.

However, no major political party outside Quebec wants to embrace this attitude as a matter of policy, lest they be tarred as anti-French, anti-Quebec, treasonous bigots. As long as there has not been a referendum vote in favour of secession, all political parties must maintain at least the appearance of staunch support for the continued unity of Canada's two founding nations.

No one wants to be seen as giving up on Canada. Nor will they, until they see that Canada has given up on itself.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Campaign Management

The Tories are gearing up for a late June election (the momentum on all sides makes one inevitable, whether anyone wants it or not) and it looks like the same guy will be managing it again:

Per the Globe and Mail:

Sources said yesterday that the Tories have begun appointing staff for the campaign. University of Calgary political scientist Tom Flanagan will again manage the effort, while Doug Finley, a veteran of the previous campaign, will run the communications war room. Others are being slotted into the effort as well.

Tom Flanagan is a brilliant policy thinker; he practically wrote Reform/Alliance policy singlehandedly. But he's never struck me as a particularly great campaign manager. The academic style doesn't translate well into a campaign where decisions have to be made at times unilaterally in a split-second based on gut feeling.

Flanagan advised Harper to coast during the last week of the last election, when the wheels came off the bus, while Martin was scaring Ontario with threats of "the hidden agenda."

Harper's been loyal to his academic patrons, without whom he would not be where he is today, but it's time to take advantage of the new talent that came in with the merger.

A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed

Wouldn't we all like to have close personal friends like Jacques Corriveau (close personal friend to Jean Chretien), with a wad of cash in hand whenever we need to throw a last-minute trade show or party! I can't even get my pals to cough up for beer money.

As reported by CBC:

Jacques Corriveau, a personal friend and key organizer for former prime minister Jean Chrétien, came to the rescue of a Montreal businessman in early 1997 by providing $450,000 for an outdoors event show, the federal sponsorship inquiry heard Tuesday.

Luc Lemay, who owned Polygone and Expour, two companies that later received millions of dollars in sponsorship funds, says he received the mysterious unsolicited payment from Corriveau.


Lemay's companies won more than $36 million in sponsorship funds. The inquiry estimates that Corriveau's share in fees was over $6 million.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Liberal Freefall Continues

While not as dramatic as yesterday's EKOS poll, today's Ipsos-Reid poll is no less traumatic for the Liberals, who find themselves reaching depths not plumbed since John Turner's hapless leadership:

An Ipsos-Reid survey, conducted last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, showed the Liberals with the support of 27 per cent of decided voters, down from 34 per cent in a poll completed earlier last week as explosive testimony from the Gomery inquiry was just beginning to emerge.

The Conservatives, who will most likely decide the timing of the minority government's fall, held steady at 30 per cent. Still, it's the first time since late in June of 2004, before Canada last went to the polls, that the Conservatives have tracked ahead of the Liberals.

See the rest in today's Globe and Mail .

The question on everyone's mind, of course, is how this translates into seats.

Taking the regional breakdowns and running them through UBC Professor Werner Antwiler's Election Forecaster , the numbers came out like this:

Conservative 115
Liberal 78
Bloc Quebecois 68
New Democratic 44
Other 3

By region
Atlantic: CPC 20, LIB 9, NDP 3
Quebec: BLQ 68, LIB 7
Ontario: LIB 46, CPC 43, NDP 17
Manitoba/Saskatchewan: CPC 11, LIB 8, NDP 7, OTH 2
Alberta: CPC 26, LIB 2
British Columbia: NDP 16, CPC 15, LIB 4, NDP 1
North: LIB 2, NDP 1

Bear in mind that these numbers have been generated from a very rough methodology which assumes that:

1) Everyone who voted for the party in 2004 which gains votes in 2005, continues to vote for that party.
2) Voting patterns do not change at the individual riding level, thus skewing the results where strong independent candidates ran in 2004, but are not likely to run this time.
3) Decided voters who did not express a preference for the four major parties would vote for another candidate, thus inflating the number of votes for other parties somewhat.

The regional breakdowns show that for the Tories, the price of seats in Ontario is losing them in the Prairies and British Columbia.

Many Reform/Alliance voters out West were former NDP voters who used to see the NDP as the voice of the common man speaking out against the powers that be in Central Canada. As the NDP moved away from its traditional farmer-labour base to upscale urban special interest groups, the populist vote went largely to Reform/Alliance. Not out of support for fiscal conservative policies so much as for the sense that Reform/Alliance fought for the West and the common man.

The Conservative Party has ditched much of the populist rhetoric and policy in a bid to win more seats in the East and Ontario. They have succeeded, essentially, in changing the perception of being Reform/Alliance under a new name, and in becoming a safe governing choice, but at the cost of some Western populist votes.

So we're back to where we were in 1984.

Except for the Bloc.

The federalist vote is splitting three, maybe even four ways in Quebec now. This split will not help elect Tories anywhere, but it will reduce the Liberals to a West Island rump and elect Bloc MP's where the Bloc had had no hope before.

Unless and until the federalist vote in Quebec coalesces around the Liberals or another party again, the Bloc will be able to deny anyone a majority government, and will frustrate parliaments to come as surely as the Irish Nationalists frustrated Westminster prior to Irish independence.

Quebec now has greater control over the federal government in parliament than at any time in its history.

The embers of secession are being re-lit.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Paul Martin's Brass

Mr. Dithers may be out of ideas, out of luck, and out of time, but he is certainly not out of brass.

Today the Liberal Party's lawyers will ask the Gomery inquiry to find out whether some dastardly thieves stole the money that the party was planning to steal for itself:

From Campbell Clark of Canada's National Newspaper:

Ottawa — The Liberal Party will call on Mr. Justice John Gomery today to investigate whether large sums of money allegedly paid to well-connected members for government sponsorship contracts ever made it to the party coffers.

As part of a communications strategy to cope with the scandal and distance the party from any Liberals who allegedly took payoffs, officials will offer to help Judge Gomery delve through any party records he needs.

That move is being made as Prime Minister Paul Martin makes his first comments on the scandal since advertising executive Jean Brault's damning testimony last week. Mr. Martin is expected to "acknowledge the outrage" Canadians feel and promise tough action will be taken when the facts are known, Liberal insiders say.

The Liberals are not asking Mr. Justice Gomery to look at the evidence; they want him to find an overwhelming amount of no evidence. The books will be a veritable treasure trove of no evidence of fraud, theft and corruption. A more detailed and accurate compilation of no evidence will never be found anywhere else. Gomery will hopefully report that he has reviewed the no evidence and found that it is, indeed, highly credible no evidence. And those who have profited from the no evidence will be able to sleep at night on their no evidence of ill-gotten gains.

Now if he would just let us have a look at the no evidence to be found in the books of 55555 Inc.

EKOS Poll: I Love The Smell of Napalm in the Morning

The Toronto Star , the Liberal Party's ever-faithful newspaper, and EKOS Research, the Liberal Party's ever-faithful pollster, have lost the faith by reporting this poll:

EKOS surveyed Canadians immediately following the release of devastating testimony last Thursday by former Montreal ad executive Jean Brault at the inquiry looking into the federal government's sponsorship scandal. Brault alleged gross misconduct in the Quebec wing of the federal Liberal party.

The pollster found that only 25 per cent of respondents nationwide would vote today for the Liberals, compared to 36.2 per cent for the Conservatives. The Liberals won a minority government with about 37 per cent of the vote in June 2004.

This represents the first non-election period poll in nearly 12 years that has shown the Conservative Party, or its predecessors, leading the Liberals nationwide.

Fears that Ontario would, like their French counterparts, "vote for the crooks and not the fascists", now are being laid to rest:

In Ontario, the Conservatives now lead with 40 per cent of the vote. The Liberals are at 33 per cent. Prime Minister Paul Martin escaped the indignity of losing the government last year when the party won 74 of the 106 seats in Ontario.

It's not just the sponsorship revelations dragging the federal Liberals down in Canada's biggest province, but also the so-called "fair-share" campaign that has pitted Premier Dalton McGuinty's provincial government against Martin's Liberals.

According to Frank Graves, president of EKOS, last week's scandal revelations only "lit the fuse, igniting resentment over fair-share treatment and ultimately producing a Liberal implosion in Ontario."

When we think of regionalism in Canada, rarely do we think of Ontario regionalism, because Ontario has always acted as though what was good for Ontario was good for Canada.

No longer.

Ontario has been the milk cow for the rest of Canada long before Alberta struck oil. Its immigrant and urban social liberal blocs have dutifully sent back huge Liberal contingents to Ottawa in defence of the national (i.e., Liberal) interest for four straight elections. What few promises have been made to urban Ontario (the "new deal" for cities that has never, nor will ever, materialize) have been casually broken because the Grits have always been able to keep Ontario in line with dark hints of "Alberta rednecks" and "hidden agendas".

The cities continue to decay, the highways are full of potholes, the tax base keeps fleeing to suburbia even as more demands fall on it, and still the Liberals keep taking Ontario for granted.

This Toronto Star editorial explains it all for you in greater detail.

Adscam has also finally stuck to Paul Martin personally:

By a ratio of two-to-one, Canadians are more likely to see Martin as part of the problem than as part of the solution to the sponsorship mess, the EKOS/Star poll shows.

A full 60 per cent of respondents said they saw the Prime Minister as "an essential part of the Liberal government since 1993 and now, as leader of the Liberal party, should be held accountable for the sponsorship mess."

Less than half that amount — 29 per cent — said Martin "had little to do with the sponsorship mess and deserves credit for calling the inquiry."

How could Martin have expected otherwise? People who haven't been following Adscam's twists and turns can still follow this simple logic: The Liberals created Adscam. Adscam took our tax money and wasted it in Quebec. Paul Martin handled our tax money. Paul Martin is from Quebec. Therefore Paul Martin was part of Adscam. QED.

And now for the even bigger numbers:

Liberals are now trailing in every region of the country, especially in Quebec and British Columbia, where the poll shows the party under threat of obliteration.

In Quebec, the Liberals have just 15 per cent support; in Alberta, only 10 per cent.

These were the types of low, low numbers that former prime minister Brian Mulroney's Conservative government received in polls in the months before it was dumped from office in 1993 and reduced to just two seats in the Commons.

The Liberals were always good for 15 seats in the West Island and Outaouais, come what may, until now. 15% in Quebec can only mean that the francophone federalist vote outside those areas has fled to the BQ, and the federalist vote in that area is splitting.

There may not be 15 safe Liberal seats any more. There may be barely a half-dozen. Paul Martin's La Salle-Emard, with a francophone majority, probably is not one of them. Jean Lapierre's Outremont certainly isn't. Perhaps he should ask David Kilgour for pointers.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


The ever-insightful Angry in the Great White North ponders whether the Liberals would dump the same-sex marriage bill just to stay in power a little longer:

(T)he Conservatives could make it known that the price to have the Conservatives defeat an early Bloc Quebecois attempt to bring down the government (the first such attempt could come as early as next Thursday) will be to pull the legislation immediately.

This puts the Liberals to a test. Are they in government in order to push a vision they believe in, or to just to have their hands on the levers of government? The ejection of the Kyoto legislation makes it clear that power was more important than this evironmental legislation. Now the test will be between power and same-sex marriage. Assuming that the Liberals leadership does not really care about this legislation (and I will cynically assume this to be true), they need to figure out if the damage they suffer from capitulating on this issue (loss of support from to social left-wing in this country, who will move their support to the NDP or the Greens) is more or less than the slow repair of the damage suffered from the Gomery Inquiry, that damage being repaired with the passage of time. The Liberal leadership may believe that if they can just hold on long enough, they will win back more votes from angry Liberals furious over Adscam than they will lose from stripping down their legislative agenda to merely governing.

As I see it, the Liberals will do anything to keep the SSM bill alive for two reasons:

1. Paul Martin needs a legacy.

He's spent 15 years campaigning for the job and reflecting on how history would judge his premiership. Addressing the democratic deficit within Parliament might have made future backbench MP's grateful, once freed from the power of the whips and PMO, but left the general public indifferent.

No one believes that he has fixed, or could fix, healthcare for a month, let alone a generation. Passing Kyoto would do nothing to clean the air, but would poison the party out West. Nor could he resolve the fiscal imbalance without destroying the Liberals' image as the only party that believes in a strong federal government that has the money to spend to make everyone equal (in prosperity or penury).

Same-sex marriage, on the other hand, is something he couldn't help but be remembered for. Whether as the great defender of the Charter of Rights and sexual equality, or as the great destroyer of the Canadian social fabric, he would at least be remembered.

2. The Liberals are running out of ammunition for the next election.

The latest Adscam revelations have destroyed whatever hopes Martin might have had of distancing his government from his predecessor. His policy promises have been sacrificed, one by one, to keep his minority alive. The Conservative Party he faces now is not the jury-rigged one he faced ten months ago, but one with a confident leader, well-defined policy agenda, and an election-ready machine.

The only effective tactics left to the Liberals are scare tactics--rather, scare tactic. The Grits must keep shouting about "subversion of the Charter", "taking rights away" and "bigotry" in order to deflect attention from their corruption and inaction.

Paul Martin may not prefer to fight on this hill. But he has retreated so far that SSM will be the hill he wins or dies on.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Ipsos Factos: Tories Rising, Grits Falling, Quebec Worrying

Ipsos-Reid's latest poll for CTV and the Globe and Mail, completed two days before the Gomery inquiry publication ban was lifted, shows the Tories within four points of the Grits nationwide and in Ontario:

In Ontario, the gap between the two main parties shrank from 15 percentage points in February to only 4 points this week. The Liberals led the Conservatives 38-34 in the province, with the NDP at 17 per cent.

Such results in an election would probably mean substantial gains of seats for the Conservatives in Ontario, where last year the Liberals won 45 per cent of the vote and 75 seats, the Conservatives took 31 per cent of the vote and 24 seats, and the NDP took 18 per cent and seven seats.

This should be good for another 20 seats out of Southern and Eastern Ontario and the 905 belt, perhaps a couple more to the NDP in Toronto. That alone would produce a minority Tory government, because many Ontario votes will be wasted on huge Toronto majorities that do nothing to help candidates in swing ridings.

The bad news is that Quebec federalists seem to switching allegiance, not to the Tories, but anywhere else but:

In Quebec, where the sponsorship scandal has already been particularly damaging to the Liberals, Mr. Martin's government fell five percentage points to 29 per cent — support that went to the Bloc Québécois (41 per cent) and the fifth-placed party in the province, the Greens, now at 7 per cent.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, remain mired at 8-per-cent support.

The unreported figure of decided voters for the NDP would be 15% in Quebec. Not all of that would be coming from disgruntled Liberals either, if we compare the 2004 vote to the Ipsos-Reid Poll.

2004 Election: BQ 48.9% LIB 33.9% CPC 8.8% NDP 4.6% OTH 3.9%
Ipsos-Reid: BQ 41% LIB 29% NDP 15% CPC 8% OTH 7%

This raises two questions: is the federalist vote in Quebec so inimically hostile to the Conservative Party that it will move to the NDP or Green Party instead? Might the NDP also be able to draw off some hard-core socialist Bloc votes, cancelling out seat gains it might otherwise have taken from the Liberals?

To answer the first question:

The federalist core remains the West Island and Outaouais, two regions the Tories would have found tough nuts to crack because they are heavily urban, and have either large allophone or civil service populations. In that case, they'll be even worse dead zones than Toronto.

To answer the second question:

Probably not, not even with a Quebec-born leader. Nationalism trumps economic and social policy, even in Quebec. Although Quebec nationalism is largely leftist today, it has been rightist in the past (Union Nationale/Creditiste), and could just as easily swing to the right again.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Down the Money Trail

Today's Ottawa Citizen lays out every major bribe, kickback and under-the-table payment Jean Brault and Groupaction paid to the Liberal Party.

Read it and weep.

Groupaction wasn't an ad agency that raised funds for the Liberals on the side; it was a Liberal fundraiser that did advertising on the side.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Gomery Inquiry Lid Blown Off

You know that thing we were all talking about but weren't supposed to talk about? Justice Gomery says it's OK to talk about it now.

Here's what we can talk about:

MONTREAL -- Top federal Liberal officials forced an ad executive to secretly divert more than $1 million to the party's Quebec wing in exchange for sponsorship contracts, the executive told the Gomery inquiry in politically explosive testimony that had been kept under wraps by a publication ban that was finally lifted Thursday.

Brault's Groupaction firm also defrayed party staffing costs through Liberal employees who were planted in his firm at the urging of party brass.

The scheme went on for nine years and involved at least $1.1 million involving top officials in the office of former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano.

If true, the scam would be unprecedented in modern federal politics because tax dollars were funnelled from public coffers to the Liberal party while middlemen took huge commissions for little or no work.

Yeah, but we knew that already (unofficially, anyway), you might be saying.

There's more:

Brault last week portrayed Groupaction as a virtual financial arm of the Liberal party's Quebec wing - a wing that was $3.8-million in debt by late 2003.

''We were very heavily solicited,'' Brault recalled last Friday under questioning from lead inquiry counsel Bernard Roy.

''We didn't ask questions and we understood that all contributions were going to be taken into consideration and that we would be compensated (for it) one way or another.''

That first line explains why Paul Martin called in the RCMP and is suing Brault for $40 million: somebody in the Quebec wing swindled the party out of all that money they worked so hard to steal. If we can believe the party's financial statements. Since the whole racket was illegal to start, there was no fraud, since an illegal contract can't be enforced.

But Brault has shown an equal amount of chutzpah by claiming that he was the victim of a shakedown by the Quebec wing:

Brault provided several examples of a wide-ranging conspiracy to funnel cash to what Liberal brass called ''the cause'' which he understood was that of the Liberal party.

''I was told the party counted a lot on me and my financial aid,'' Brault recalled.

Brault claimed specific requests for money were usually made by one of three men:

_ Jacques Corriveau, whose Pluri Design graphic firm received $494,000 from Groupaction.

_ Benoit Corbeil, president of the Liberal party's Quebec wing in the 1990s.

_ And Alain Renaud, a Liberal fundraiser who worked at Groupaction for several years, earning more than $1.1 million.

Throughout his testimony, Brault portrayed himself as an unwitting Liberal donor who only forked over the cash to keep federal contracts that netted his firm $60 million, including $17 million in commissions and other fees.

He soon found himself facing a barrage of requests to pay party bills, telephone bills and web design costs - requests he said he usually refused.

What brass! Brault was quite happy to be shaken down as long as the contracts came in. He knows the price of doing political business in Quebec--everyone has, since the days of Duplessis.

Ah, damn it. I'm too pissed off to post anymore on this.

Horse, Barn Door

Today we'll know if Mr. Justice John Gomery will accept a fait accompli and lift the publication ban. Part of it, anyway, according to CTV :

Watching developments in the capital, CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife said this morning he expects Gomery will only partially lift the publication ban.

"Certain evidence that Jean Brault gave, because it involves his criminal trial, will likely be kept under lock and key," he says.

"But a lot of allegations that he's made about the Liberal party or the people who ran the Liberal party machine in Quebec, we expect, will be released today," Fife told CTV's Canada AM, noting that public reaction to that news could still prove damaging.

I'd like to know how Justice Gomery can separate what concerns Brault and is merely damaging to Brault, as opposed to what concerns Brault and is merely damaging to others. Given the complexity of the Adscam scheme, and Brault's central role in it, almost anything coming out of the Gomery inquiry testimony can be said to fall under the ban, or not.

Lien On You?

The Toronto Star reports that the Law Society of Upper Canada is investigating 72 lawyers as part of an investigation into mortgage fraud involving the Teranet land registry system:

In the report presented at the society's recent convocation, the law society says fraudsters have been able to use the province's electronic land registry system, Teranet Land Information Services Inc., to alter records — including changing ownership of properties to themselves. The fraud artists then use the documents to obtain mortgages. They may even make a few mortgage payments before running off with the rest of the cash. The fraud isn't discovered until the homeowner receives a mortgage bill or tries to sell the property and finds that there's a lien on it.

The report says mortgage fraud has ballooned to about $300 million a year and become easier with the "depersonalization" of banking due to a move away from face-to-face contact between borrowers and lenders due to the growth of Internet and telephone banking.

Before people start screaming about an army of crooked lawyers ripping off the public, a note of caution:

The report says the lawyers may be "unwitting" participants in the fraud, having been called into the transaction too late to catch a fraud that took place early in the deal.

In one scenario outlined in the report, a fraudster gains access to the Teranet system using a lost or stolen diskette meant to give lawyers and other real estate industry professionals access to land registry records, and changes title on a property to his or her name — even paying the required fees and taxes.

"Now the fraudster has title to someone else's home," the report says.

From there, the fraudster can get a mortgage — using Teranet to fraudulently discharge any outstanding mortgages to make the loan approval go more smoothly, if necessary.

An explanatory note, as I understand it:

Before Teranet was set up, there were two land registry systems in Ontario: one known as land registry, primarily in southern Ontario, the other known as land titles (or Torrens), in northern Ontario.

The former was a registry of instruments (deeds, mortgages, liens, etc.) on lots in concessions and townships dating back from the time the original townships were created as far back as the late 1790's, and forward as they were subdivided

The latter was more simply a record of title to a particular piece of real property and history of its transfers and charges thereon.

As part of any standard real estate transaction, a lawyer has to do a title search confirming, in fact, that the seller actually has title to the property. The search usually goes back 40 years, bearing in mind any curative provisions of the Planning Act that remedy earlier defects that might otherwise have prevented good title from passing.

Under Teranet, all real property in Ontario will eventually be converted to the land titles system. Under land titles, the same in-depth title searches need not be run as land titles is itself good title. Nonetheless, searches for any charges on the property must be run.

Teranet allows real estate transactions to be closed entirely on-line, without having to go a county registry office. The PINs and passwords are effectively the lawyers' electronic signatures stating that good legal title can pass, all charges have been taken care of, taxes paid, etc. If anything goes wrong, title insurance might cover it, but the lawyer is open to liability for professional negligence.

If Teranet has been compromised this way, a fair number of real estate lawyers who were otherwise innocent might lose their practices once word gets out in the profession and to the public. As for those who might have been complicit, LSUC will have to hit them as hard as if they'd dipped into the trust accounts--the one sin LSUC will not forgive in this life, or the next.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Tu Quoque

Strong World reports that some of the Adscam kickback money wound up in the Parti Quebecois' pockets, according to former Groupaction executive Alain Renaud:

But another former Groupaction executive, Alain Renaud, said that while the firm was getting millions of dollars in federal sponsorship money, it was secretly cutting cheques to the separatist Parti Quebecois.

Renaud said that in one transaction, a total of about $90,000 was given to the PQ as part of Groupaction's getting a $4.5-million advertising contract for the Quebec liquor board, called the SAQ.

Groupaction apparently won the contract in a competition when a bagman for the Parti Quebecois had a meeting with the firm's top executives.

One of those executives told Sun Media: "The bagman came by and said: 'Well, you won the bid, and all that's needed now is a signature, and the documents are on the minister's desk to be signed, and it's going to cost you fifty grand.' "

Renaud recalled about $45,000 a year in donations were to be paid to the PQ for two years.

Very interesting to see this bit of information come out just as the Bloc is considering bringing the government down over Jean Brault's testimony.

Given the close relationship between the BQ and PQ, might this not be a veiled threat to the Bloc: vote us down and all your dirt, and the PQ's, comes out during the campaign!

This sounds like a real desperation ploy, if anything. The Liberals are dead in the water in Quebec. But perhaps they can throw mud at the PQ in hopes that enough will spatter over the Bloc to make voters think, "They're both crooks! Let's stay at home and not vote!"

Maybe they think they can save at least their current seat totals this way.

Your thoughts?

Election Talk

The city has been abuzz with rumours of an upcoming election. One had to be held sooner or later, and recent events assure that it will be sooner.

The media has been making all manner of speculations, much of it ill-informed or wishful thinking, coming from secondhand rumours from unnamed sources.

Who's running? Where do they stand on the issues? How do they plan to govern? Will they make great sweeping changes or will they stay the course? Whom will they appoint to the top jobs?

As with every election before it, there will be plenty of polling projections and pundit predictions, but everything rests in the hands of the voters.

Everyone's plans have been depending on the date, and now we have one: April 18.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


CTV reports Scott Brison giving Canadians the mugger's threat in Question Period: hand over your money or get the crap kicked out of you.

Public Works Minister Scott Brison repeated the Liberals' new "dangerous game" mantra after a sponsorship-related attack on the government by the separatist Bloc Quebecois.

"This is an attempt to destroy Canada and the reputation of the government," he said Tuesday in question period.


Prior to that, Brison said: "If it's good for the separatists, it's not good for Canada."

In perspective, $100 million in lost sponsorship money is small change compared to the billions of dollars pumped into Quebec by the rest of Canada each year, for forty years, through equalization, grants and programs, with the ultimate aim of appeasing separatist sentiment.

Yet although Quebec separatism periodically waxes and wanes, the threat never goes away, and never will go away, as long as Quebec remains a French-speaking island in a sea of English.

And to think about it, the federal Liberal party doesn't really want it to go away, either. As long as the threat exists, and the Liberals enjoy some measure of support in Quebec, they can always claim at election time that only they can save the country, and they (that is, we) will pay any price, bear any burden, to keep Canada united.

Now it appears that Quebeckers will not be bought off any longer, and the rest of Canada is sick of paying out and getting nothing in return.

In hindsight, the means by which the sponsorship program was supposed to instill love and pride of Canada in the hearts of Quebeckers seem quite pathetic.

To think that 250 years of grievances against les anglais , from the Plains of Abraham and the rebellions of 1837 through to Louis Riel's hanging, conscription and Meech Lake could be reduced to a marketing problem, to be solved by sticking up a few maple leaf logos on billboards!

To think that mere advertising agencies could solve today what statesmen over the years could not!

To think that love of country could be bought with taxpayers money!

Papal Poll

As reported on Yahoo:

According to an opinion poll at the weekend by the National Post newspaper, 60 percent of the country's Roman Catholics described the pontiff as conservative. Only 21 percent endorsed his positions.

Pontius Pilate governed based on opinion polls too; that's why he released Barabbas.

Brand New Name, Same Old Management

CBC reports that the Alberta Liberal Party fears that the sponsorship scandal has so completely damaged the Liberal brand that they're thinking of changing their name.

Says leader Kevin Taft:

Until now he has resisted suggestions the Alberta Liberal Party change its name. "But my resistance on that is down right now, to be honest with you. ... As the leader, I have to ask myself how long do we hang on that? I wouldn't have said that even a week ago, but my resistance to people who raise that is down right now."

I don't know how much more damage the feds could do to the Liberal name in Alberta, short of nuking the tar sands, slaying all the cattle and turning the grain elevators into bathhouses.

A change is as good as a rest, and changing a few names and faces might help the Liberals immensely.

The same strategy worked wonders for many of the post-Cold War Communist parties in Eastern Europe. One day they were Communist, the next day they were Social Democratic or Progressive Socialist. And after disillusionment and economic decline set in, a few years later they were voted back in office.

Any suggestions for a new name for the Liberal Party?

Adscam, Part Deux

Captain's Quarters neatly sums up Jean Brault's second day of testimony with an account that not only reveals the depths of corruption within the federal Quebec liberal organization, but also gives the lie to Paul Martin's repeated claims of innocence in the whole affair.

Quoth the Captain:

Brault was invited to join a consultative committee for Rogers Cantel – a Canadian mobile phone company, chaired by former Liberal cabinet minister and key Martin ally Francis Fox. (Fox later served as Martin’s Principal Secretary when Martin became Prime Minister). At one of the Cantel lunches, another former Liberal minister and Martin organizer Jacques Olivier told Brault that he should “Stick to Corriveau. He will open doors for you.” (Olivier was referring to key Chrétien ally Jacques Corriveau, who Brault brought in as a subcontractor on advertising contracts.) This shows that two of Martin’s key Quebec organizers knew what was happening with government contracting and sponsorships.

And all the while, Paul Martin has been running around performing his best Captain Renault imitation, claiming to be shocked, SHOCKED, to find bribery and fraud going on in here!

But wait! There's more!

Another connection is through Liberal organizer – and former assistant to Fox – Yvon Desrochers. When Brault was asked about direct political interference in the awarding of sponsorships, he mentioned that Desrochers and Corriveau pushed hard for approval of federal money for the renovation of the Corona Theatre in the riding of Liberal cabinet minister Lucienne Robillard (who still sits in Paul Martin’s cabinet as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs), even though there were indications of construction problems. The person responsible for transferring the funds was told to “cut the check and don’t ask questions.”

Close ties link Fox, Olivier, Desrochers, Martin fundraiser and former hockey star Serge Savard, and another one of the Adscam firms – Claude Boulay’s Groupe Everest – and all are connected with the Martin, not Chrétien, wing of the Liberal Party in Quebec. (Desrochers later committed suicide after the discovery of another corruption scandal, the Montreal International Aquatic Games, in which millions of dollars went missing.)

Throughout all of this, Martin has been able to make at least a barely plausible claim that the Adscam corruption had nothing to do with him and his machine, but with Chretien and Gagliano.

But really, how could he not have known?

Paul Martin spent nearly 15 years building a party within the party, taking over ridings and provincial party machines from Chretien's people, until, like an anaconda, he squeezed the life out of his opposition. He knew all of the players in Quebec, some of them since the 1960's.

He couldn't have been elected dogcatcher, let alone prime minister, without encountering the shady characters and schemes who populate the Quebec wing of the Liberal party.

He knows, as well as anyone, how political business is done in Quebec. It's been done the same way since the glory days of Maurice Duplessis, and it will always be done this way--backdoor deals, under-the-table kickbacks, secret commissions, padded payrolls, tollgating.

Martin doesn't want to get to the bottom of this, because he's been lying right down there all along.

A Warning To All Loyal Canadians

If you click on this link, you are helping the enemy!

Monday, April 04, 2005

A Cancer on the Body Politic

The Liberal party is fighting to maintain a publication ban at the Gomery inquiry, not to protect a man's right to a fair trial, but to prevent the full extent of its corruption in the sponsorship scandal from becoming known.

However sponsorship scandal is merely a symptom of a cancer that has grown on the Canadian body politic.

That cancer is the belief that the Liberal party alone is entitled to rule because it reflects the values and interests of our elites.

We see that belief reflected in the arrogant statements made by politicians that Canadian values are Liberal values. By definition, that makes political dissent un-Canadian. Such is the credo of dictatorships, not democracies.

It is reflected again in the media's unrelenting hostility towards opposition politicians and political beliefs of any stripe, especially those of a more conservative bent.

And again, we see it in the civil service, which has shown its readiness to abandon the long-standing principle of political neutrality.

We have reached a point in this country where one party not only believes that it alone has the right to govern, but also that the government itself is merely an extension of the party.

Such was the case with the Christian Democratic Party in Italy and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico. Such attitudes led to the corruption of both party and government, and then finally to the collapse of both when the people had had enough.

I have had enough of the idea that our national unity can only be maintained through sharp practice and dirty money.

I have had enough of the idea that one party has the right to bribe and intimidate the public, at all costs, to keep itself in power.

I have had enough of the idea that the country exists to serve the party.

I have had enough.

UPDATE: Angry in the Great White North hasn't just broken the ban, he's beaten it into a gelatinous pulpy mass. It's up to you whether you want to click on the Terrifying Links of Death.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Rotten to the Core

If a certain American blogger is to be believed, former Groupaction boss Jean Brault just fired the smoking gun in his testimony at the Gomery inquiry.

The sponsorship program wasn't corrupted by the Quebec Liberal machine;it was already corrupt from the start.

UPDATE: Discretion being the better part of valour, and cowardice being the better part of discretion, I have valiantly removed the link to the blogger who may have broken the publication ban.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Joannes Paulus P.P. II, 1920-2005

Subvenite, Sancti Dei, occurite, Angeli Domini: Suscipientes animan ejus, offerentes eam in conspectu Altissimi.

Suscipiat te Christus qui vocavit te, et in sinum Abrahae Angeli deducant te.

Suscipientes animam ejus, offerentes eam in conspectu Altissimi.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat ei.

Offerentes eam in conspectu Altissimi.

Come to his assistance, ye saints of God, come forth to meet him, ye angels of the Lord, receiving his soul and offering it in the sight of the Most High.

May Christ receive thee, who hath called thee, and may the angels bear thee into Abraham's bosom.

Receiving his soul, offering it in the sight of the Most High.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Offering it in the sight of the Most High.

The Last Hours

People were surprised and saddened when they heard the news, but not entirely shocked, because the situation had been obviously deteriorating for a long time.

The faithful are gathering to keep solemn vigil, hoping against hope for a miraculous recovery, but resigned to the inevitable fate.

Although the exact details have not been reported, it is clear that all hope has passed, marking the end of a long and eventful reign.

Preparations are underway now for an election of what may prove to be a quite different successor.

But that's enough about the Gomery inquiry rumours.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Zimbabwe Votes

Dictator Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has won a majority government in Zimbabwe, CBC reports.

Mugabe's party has won 46 seats, which combined with the 30 seats appointed directly by Mugabe, gives him a majority.

Pikers. Our friendly dictator gets to appoint an entire house of Parliament.

Although there was little bloodshed in this election campaign, opposition leaders and independent observers said intimidation was rife, and that the electoral roll had been tampered with. They believe the list was inflated by the inclusion of up to a million dead people.

Our natural governing party prefers to carry out its intimidation more gently.

Fortunately, it is not so corrupt that it adds millions of dead to the electoral rolls to cast reliable Liberal votes.