Monday, August 25, 2008

Oh, Drop the Bloody Writ, Already...

Nation, a Federal Election is coming. I'm not happy about it, but there it is.

I suppose it could be worse... were the Harper government to survive until the legislated election date of October 2009, the ensuing election would take place at nearly the exact same time as my own wedding and subsequent honeymoon, thus depriving Canada of its most highly respected political blogger, or depriving me of... well, getting married. At least this way, they'll only mess up my impending move to a shiny, new home.

I don't want this election. Chances are, YOU don't want this election, either. In fact, MOST Canadians don't want an election right now. It will be an exercise in democracy costing taxpayers $300 Million, and a chance for bloggers to wax righteously about the decline of citizen participation when, YET AGAIN, we set an all-time record for low voter turn-out. But at the end of the day, we're going to (in all likelihood) have another minority government, and probably one that looks suspiciously like the one we've got now.

Indeed, the only people who seem to WANT a federal election right now are the parties themselves... they have, or seem to have, enough confidence in their platforms and their campaign teams that they believe despite the polls, their party will make significant and unexpected gains - perhaps enough to win a majority. Either that, or they believe their opponents will screw up enough that there won't be any heavy lifting to do. With this in mind, embracing the inevitability of the fact that an election is coming, let's take a look at what the parties are hoping for, and gambling on...

Conservative Party of Canada (Stephen Harper)

The Tories want an election because they think Dion hasn't been able to coalesce enough support within his own ranks to run a solid campaign. They're hoping to score a few more seats out West, and possibly in newly oil-rich Newfoundland (don't hold your breath, guys), by focusing on the "Green Shift Boogeyman".

What they're gambling on: That voters have completely ignored the "In/Out" proceedings, and that they paid more attention to the GST cuts and good day-to-day management than they did to the Income Trusts flip/flop and Harper's "benevolent dictator" schtick.

Liberal Party of Canada (Stephane Dion)

The Liberals feel they've served their penance for AdScam, and thus they're ready to take back their rightful place as Canada's governing party. The only problem is, many Canadians - including self-identified Liberals - don't feel their leader is up to the job of Prime Minister. They're hoping to gain back some traction pitting central Canada against those "greedy bastards in the West" with the Green Shift, and if they haven't already put together ads linking G.W. Bush, John McCain and Stephen Harper as an "axis of neo-con evil", they need to get on it, pronto.

What they're gambling on: That the appetite for "change" coming out of the U.S. Election is strong enough to convince Canadians that they want it as well - by bringing into power the party that has ruled for 33 of the past 45 years (and 13 of the last 15). And that disgruntled Liberal supporters who stayed home or cast a vote for the Tories or NDP in 2006 have decided 2 years on the "wrong side of the house" is enough, and come back to the fold. AND that someone with a microphone will find Rob Anders with about a week to go in the election.

New Democratic Party of Canada (Jack Layton)

Jack Layton is telling all the world that he doesn't want an election right now - which is ironic, as he's spent the vast majority of the past 2 years voting against the government on just about every single confidence motion that's come forward. Indeed, Layton has been BEGGING for an election since about 5 minutes after Stephane Dion won the leadership of the Liberals. He's counting on the fact that the Tory "not a leader" ads have sufficiently stigmatized Dion that he can capture some of the soft leftist support the Liberals traditionally hold. He's probably not going to - it's a 2 horse race, and everyone wants to back a winner.

What they're gambling on: That Dion is going to make a major mistake during the campaign, shifting exasperated Liberals over to the NDP side for this-go-round. And that Union leaders will jump on the bandwagon once they realize what the Green Shift is going to mean for manufacturing jobs.

Bloc Quebecois (Gilles Duceppe)

The BQ is looking nervously over its shoulder at the gong show that is the Parti Quebecois provincially, and knowing that unless they can paint Harper as a wolf in sheep's clothing and take back the seats the Tories won in 2006, they're headed for the same fate. With Harper far from shy in his pandering to the people of Quebec these past 2 years, the Bloc is in for a long, tough fight.

What they're gambling on: A slip-up in the Tory campaign that allows one of the Western stalwarts (again, I'm betting on Rob Anders) to make an "on-the-record" comment about what they believe "Stephen Harper REALLY thinks about Quebec...". Failing that, an endorsement from Celine Dion?

Green Party of Canada (Elizabeth May)

The Greens are starting to stake out the same kind of territory federally that the Alberta Liberals have, provincially... pouting, and blaming the voters for being stupid enough not to elect them. So long as this party's leadership looks and seems more like a local PETA chapter than a political party that can run the day-to-day business of government if elected, voters will continue to reject them. The recent putsch of most of the people in the Greens who actually know how to, well, run a campaign is probably going to negatively impact their efforts to get elected. The Greens would DEARLY love to elect at least ONE M.P. this time around... but if they do, it will be DESPITE the party's leadership, not because of it.

What they're gambling on: An invitation to the televised debates, and that the other leaders will develop rabies shortly beforehand. A heat-wave in September that sees the average temperature in Whitehorse sitting at plus 45. Peter MacKay decides not to run for re-election.

Good to be back - now, let's get this over with.

Just close your eyes and think of England...

- E.S.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From the Desk of Hillary Rodham Clinton...

"These past months have been historic times for our party, and for our country. Millions of Americans young and old, from every walk of life, every race and creed, have come forward and done what so many have claimed they would never do - take an active and real role in their nation's future. I feel truly humbled that so many of those people chose to support my bid for the Democratic Party nomination for President - to them, no words can possibly express my thanks for your time, energy, enthusiasm and support. This experience has further cemented my belief in our system, our party and our process, and I want all of you to know that this is by no means the end of my own journey - I look forward to serving the people of New York as their senator for 8 more years during the administration of President Obama, at which point I can tell you all that I intend to help our party and our nation make history yet again.

The question that our party faces at this time is how best to reflect the stated preference of those millions of Americans who preferred that I be the Decmocratic Party nominee for President. There has been much debate in the media and on the internet about whether I should formally be nominated at our upcoming convention. To those supporters, I say this: Your votes were cast to send a message - and that message has been received, loud and clear. It has been received by myself; it has been received by our party leadership; it has been received by the next President of the United States, Barack Obama; and it has been received by the world at large. You said that WE WANT TO BE HEARD, and I am here today to tell you that with Barack Obama as our next Commander-in-Chief, we will BE heard.

With that mission accomplished, then, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I in no way intend to stand for or accept nomination at our upcoming convention. The people have spoken and made their choice, and as committed Democrats it is our duty, obligation and honour to stand behind that choice, Barack Obama. Our party must unite behind Senator Obama and ensure the future prosperity and international reputation of our nation by putting all of our energies behind winning the White House this November, and giving the common people back their voice in the halls of power."

Of course, Hillary didn't write this. Neither did any of her speech writers, or campaign staffers. *I* wrote it, just now. But this SHOULD have been written, and released, by someone connected with her campaign over a week ago.

The fact that it wasn't should make Democrats very nervous indeed, as they eye polling numbers in places like Florida.

Discuss: Would Hillary knowingly capitalize on the divide within her party to try and get McCain elected, in order to take him on in 4 years? With John Edwards political career in shambles, would she rather take the Democratic mantle as "next-in-line" and run against an incumbent 76 year-old McCain than against a yet-to-be-determined Republican after 8 years of Obama?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let The Games Begin!

Hello, Nation - long time, no speak. I haven't been ignoring you on purpose, I've just been rather busy getting all of the paperwork in order for the HOME I PURCHASED over the past few weeks. Yes, myself and the soon-to-be Mrs. Savage have decided to leave the realm of the renters, and will be joining the great debt-ridden group known as "home owners". Which I'm looking forward to with a giddyness that's difficult to put into words - even for me. :)

Rest assured, however, I have noticed what's been going on all the while. And I've got to say, while the anticipation for the big event this summer has been off-the-charts (sometimes ridiculous) in the past few months, I can't believe that it's finally here.

That's right... a federal election is coming this fall.


Sorry... what?


What's going on in Beijing?




(Do you suppose the E.S. Nation can get some athletes to qualify in time for 2010? "Now entering the stadium...")

Getting back to things that actually matter... the hype surrounding the possibility of a fall election call has been building for weeks now, with Harper all but DARING Dion to bring down the government, and Dion musing that he might just take Stephen up on his offer. Sensing that this might be his shot, Dion is said to be mustering the troops and making all the fundraising calls you'd expect with a federal election call a few weeks away. The polls suggest that the election results are NOT a foregone conclusion, and might actually be decided by the quality of the campaigns themselves - which would be a nice change in Canadian politics.

I will readily admit that to political junkies like myself, a shuffling of the federal deck is a tantalizing prospect. Indeed, the idea of a federal election in the near future ALMOST makes me forget that my possession date for the new house is scheduled for the same week that the writ might come. Thanks, fellas... hope the missus won't mind moving by herself, while I'm busy blogging.

I'd encourage bloggers of all stripes to familiarize themselves with the policies not just of the party that they personally support, but of ALL of the parties, as those policies stand at this time. After all, we only notice the big, sudden shifts in direction (in the name of political expediency/ass-kissing) when we first take note of the previous course.

Hold onto your hats, kids... it's going to be an interesting month or so as the rhetoric kicks into high gear...

(Oh, by the way - for the record, I am a HUGE fan of the Olympic Games. I performed in the Opening Ceremonies in Calgary in 1988. China? Not such a big fan. Doping and cheating? Ditto. But the romantic idealist in me loves the "fantasy" of the Olympics - so, to our Olympians, who I know would be reading this right now if China allowed access to Blogger sites, I say: "Citius, Altius, Fortius". Give 'em hell, gang.)