Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Pssssst... Hey, Calgarians... did you enjoy your commute today?

I know *I* did. My normal 1-hour commute only took 2 and a half hours this morning - VERY exciting!

You know who else had a great time? The 300-or-so motorists who were involved in collisions in the past 24 hours.

"Oh, but it just snowed. Had a big dumping." And you're right - we certainly did. The last of that big dumping fell... oh, 108 hours ago. Or so. And in the time since, we've had "51 sanders and ploughs out to clean up the roads - then we sent out as many as 75 this morning".

Whoah... back that up a second...

We had ploughs and sanders in RESERVE?

The city, that wants to ticket me for not clearing my own walk within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall, is telling me that they were holding sanders and ploughs in RESERVE, rather than ploughing or sanding my street 4 days after the snow fell?

Folks... if you were in a collision on an unploughed road on Tuesday, I think you'd better call your lawyer and ask them why the city thought that saving you $0.48 by not ploughing your neighbourhood was good public policy.

While you're at it - go take a stroll through Pump Hill and Mount Royal. I wonder if THEY got ploughed and sanded...

I'm not saying that snow removal is an easy job - clearly, it's not. But I don't think that I , and my million friends, are out of line for wanting to know why we can't seem to keep up, EVER, with the snow fall that we all KNOW is coming. This last storm we had been hearing about on the nightly news for 2 nights prior - "don't forget, the big winter storm is coming Friday afternoon - be ready".

Clearly, city administrators don't watch the news.

Folks, I don't know what plough operators do in June, and I don't much care. I don't begrudge them the time off, if that's what they get. But in DECEMBER, in one of the most populous and northerly cities on the planet, I expect that we've got every single machine out on those roads, 24 hours a day, until we get the snow and ice dealt with. We've got hundreds of people driving into each other, while we keep machines in reserve 4 days after a major snowfall that we had 48 hours warning about, and still haven't caught up to?

Calgarians are calling their aldermen (403-268-2430) demanding better snow removal for their money. Given that we're fresh out of chinooks for the near future, according to forecasters, this is as good a time as any to call and ask why steep hills in residential areas and exits onto major arteries aren't priorities for sanding. Or, if they're priorities on PAPER, why they're not being repeatedly done, rather than a single, quick pass a few hours after the last flakes. And why they're holding machines in reserve 4 days after a snowfall, when they are nowhere NEAR caught up to the snowfall of 4 days prior.

Need a refresher on the numbers?

My pleasure.

Look at that... just about a year, to the day, since my last rant about snow removal in this city.

And I betchya that Ward8Guy STILL hasn't heard back from his alderman.

EDIT Dec.19

City clearing snowy, icy roads "appropriately".

Ah, okay...

Well, as long as YOU think you're doing a good job, I guess everything's okay. Should we even bother with that pesky, expensive election in October 2010, do you think, or are you doing such a good job we should just let that slide?

So, just to be clear, we've gone from "We're doing everything humanly possible", to "we're doing everything we can afford", to "we're doing everything that labour law will let us do", to "we're doing enough. Stop your whining and slow down - hey, look, the Calgary Police want to talk to you all over there about preventing youth crime!".

Hell of a job, Bronco. Tomorrow, we'll hear about how Ed Stelmach is stopping the ploughs from getting to the West end of Calgary with his mean, partisan, city-hating politics...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Alberta Liberals Get Their Man

... and that man is Dr. David Swann.

As you probably read elsewhere first, David Swann was the first-ballot winner of the Alberta Liberal leadership race.

I will admit to being surprised, here. While Swann is a great many things, "inspiring political organizer" wouldn't have been something I thought to put on that list. And yet, he beat the choice of most pundits, Dave Taylor, almost 2-to-1.

What this means for defeated candidates Taylor and Mo Elsalhy is unclear. What it means for the Liberals is... change.

What sort of change EXACTLY, we can't say for certain. Swann has said, though, that everything is on the table: Coalitions, name changes, reaching out to other parties, whatever it takes to encourage an effective opposition that speaks for more than just a small fragment of our province.

This, I think, is a good thing.

Nation, we all know that competition breeds excellence, and a lack of competition breeds complacency. Nowhere is this more true than in politics - particularly in Alberta, where you've got 2 parties fighting it out for scraps on the left, the Greens borrowing a little from everywhere, and the Wildrose Alliance praying for a coalition government in Ottawa so they can get back into the game.

To bring out the best in our politicians, they need to believe that their jobs actually hang in the balance. That what they say, and do, and how they govern themselves MATTERS, because it helps us determine if they'll be given our consent to govern US. In Alberta, this is often not the case. NDP candidates in Calgary can say whatever they want, because they know they're not getting elected, and won't have to follow through. PC candidates in rural Alberta can say whatever they want, because they know they ARE getting elected.

The opposition in Alberta has been disjointed and fragmented for a long, long time. Swann, even before announcing his intention to run for the Liberal party leadership, was holding open houses, to try and get a feel for how people wanted him, and all opposition MLA's, to proceed. The argument will be made that this shows a lack of vision. I respectfully submit, though, that taking the helm of a sinking ship with most of the crew already overboard and expecting it to blow the S.S. Progressive Conservative out of the water is going to take a collaborative effort on the part of everyone who's still on board.

Swann wants a bigger caucus. He'll have to earn one. He wants a mandate to govern. He'll have to earn one of those, as well. He's not a flash-and-dazzle politician, but neither is Ed. And parties can't hold up their leadership candidates to the "Obama measuring stick" for charisma and inspiration, because nobody's going to measure up.

David Swann is what he is. And what he IS, is the newly-elected Leader of the Alberta Liberals.

Now he needs to get to work presenting a united strategy against the Tory juggernaut in the Legislature. Rather than death by a thousand cuts, he needs to find an issue, one he can RAISE FUNDS ON, and drive it home again and again so Albertans can recite his talking points in their sleep.

Free advice to Dr. Swann: It's not going to be health-care. Not enough of us are mad about it. It's not going to be the environment. Too many of us earn a living in oil & gas or forestry. And it's not going to be anything that Laurie Blakeman ever, EVER asks about in Question Period.

David Swann has been tasked with presenting a viable alternative to the governing Tories. He's been handed the job of competing with the monolithic PC establishment that leftists see everywhere in the day-to-day lives of Albertans.

And I hope he does well.

Because, to co-opt and take liberties with a line from a mortgage commercial I hear ALL THE TIME...

"when political parties compete, we ALL win..."

Here's hoping Swann's Liberals can actually compete.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Now Is The Winter Of My Discontent

Nation, I find myself in a completely unacceptable and unpalatable situation.

That's right... I'm defending Stephen Harper.

I've made it no secret that I'm less than enthralled with the Conservative Party of Canada. While the fiscal conservatism that comes from being an Albertan child in the early 1980's speaks to my pragmatic side, I've always felt less than comfortable with the social conservative element of the party - much as I did with the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties before it.

As a died-in-the-wool Red Tory, whose biggest single issue at this time is the environment (specifically, sustainability), I've got plenty of reasons to be uneasy about the CPC.

While I've met many great people involved with the CPC, I've also met a lot of great people who vote, work, and even run for the Liberals, NDP, and Greens. Stephen Harper, though, goes on my "favourite things" list right in between brussels sprouts and carpal tunnel syndrome. Other people whose opinions I value and respect absolutely LOATHE the man's policies - and I suspect, if I were more inclined to editorialize or pick a side on the issue of federal politics rather than build consensus, I'd probably lean in that direction also.

And yet, if there's a silver lining to be seen through my cloud of discontent at having to write this article, it can be found in the fact that I am reasonably sure that, were the shoe on the other foot and the Tories were trying to pull the rug out from underneath a 51-day-old Liberal minority, I'd be writing the same thing at this point.

Deep breath... here we go...

I understand Stephen Harper's Conservatives won less than 50% of the seats in the House of Commons. BELIEVE me when I tell you that he understands that as well. I firmly believe that the Prime Minister, in a minority government, has the responsibility to ensure that the considerations of the other parties and elected representatives in the House be taken into consideration. It's simple, basic math - if s/he doesn't, then the government will fall in a simple vote. In those instances, the Governor General will have to determine whether to send the people of Canada to the polls to select a new House of Commons, or to ask the Opposition to form a government.

Likewise, knowing that the possibility exists of being asked to form a government, the Opposition parties have to at least have a contingency plan and have held informal discussions about what they might be able to agree upon, in such circumstances, to advance a mutually agreeable agenda. The fact that such discussions happen and such common ground exists, however, does not give them an excuse to disregard the will of the people, and actively seek the government's defeat out of hubris. They have an obligation, just as serious as the Prime Minister's, to try and make parliament work before defeating the government that the people elected. Majority or minority, the people of Canada spoke, and elected the Conservatives lock, stock, and barrel. They elected them knowing their fiscal policies, their social policies, their foreign policies (or lack thereof)... the whole shmear. Whether or not you think Canadians SHOULD have elected them... they did.

NOT to a majority. Absolutely not. The people, in their wisdom, elected a strong enough Opposition that if the Opposition felt that the Tories were not governing in a responsible manner, they could defeat the Government.

The key there, is that the Opposition is only supposed to exercise this option if they feel that the Tories are not governing in a responsible manner. The Parliament has been in session for TWO WEEKS. We had an election 51 days ago, at a cost of $300 Million (in the midst of an economic slow-down - yes, I know, at Harper's request), and the people weighed the platforms and made their choices. Their choice was to put Harper - spare me the speeches about his lack of a plan, the people saw very well he didn't have a clear one, and they still elected him anyway - in charge, but on a short leash.

Harper may be a control freak, a blue-eyed devil, a sweater-vest wearing phony, and a real A-type jerk... he may have made a strategic blunder, he may be the most hate-able politician in Canada, he may have tried to cripple his opponents in a crass partisan move... but those are not reasons to disregard the will of the people. And the will of the people is that Harper's Tories govern the country - or, if proven to be incapable, be defeated. He hasn't broken any promises, or overtly refused to do anything he said just WEEKS ago, during the campaign, that he would do (including co-operating with the other parties - he has backed off on the vote subsidy issue and the right-to-strike issue). The people made what we have to assume was an informed choice - and they chose the Tory platform over any other singular platform or proposed coalition platform (there was none, just for the record).

The Liberals and NDP agree on a lot. The Bloc and Liberals likewise. Ditto for the BQ and the NDP. For that matter, so do the Liberals and the Tories. However, nobody went to the polls on the 14th of October and voted for a Stephane Dion-led coalition. Not 50% plus 1. Not 37, or 26, or 14%... nobody. Because that option simply wasn't on the ballot. And those who DID vote for Dion's Liberals did so presumably knowing he had stated, repeatedly, that he would not entertain the idea of a coalition government. They cast votes hoping for a Liberal government. This is not what they are getting if the coalition takes control. What they will be getting is a government made up of Liberals and New Democrats, propped up on matters of confidence by the Bloc Quebecois. What considerations the Bloc gets for its unconditional support on confidence matters, we're not being told.

And don't be fooled by the use of the phrase "the Bloc agrees to not vote down the coalition government on matters of confidence"... the numbers are clear: The Bloc can't simply abstain or not show up on a matter of confidence. They have to actively vote in favour of the coalition in order for it to survive. The people of Canada (remember them?) sent over 140 Conservatives to the House of Commons, and you can be darned sure they're not going to be showing a whole lot of confidence in the coalition.

Spare me, please, the moralizing that Harper would have done the same/tried to do the same/Stock Day's lawyer made overtures to the Bloc. This is politics, folks. Your guy is a rat, my guy is a rat, there are 99 rats for every decent one you're going to find. I can find you 500 quotes from Liberal supporters screaming bloody murder at how undemocratic the thought of defeating Martin's minority government was back in 2004, just like you can find almost the exact same quotes today - with the differences being that a) the new House had been in session for more than a fortnight, and b) Harper didn't have a signed agreement with Layton and Duceppe and a letter to the G.G. asking that she hand over the keys to the PMO at her earliest convenience.

The NDP in the past few days has been throwing the number 62 around a lot... that's the percentage of Canadians who didn't vote for Stephen Harper. Using Layton's Logic, that suggests to Jack that Harper does not have the assent of the people to be Prime Minister.

As I pointed out in my post immediately preceding this one, however - using that same math, Jack Layton should not be the Member from Toronto-Danforth, as he gained only 45% of the votes in his riding. Further, if we run those numbers federally, we see that Canadians from coast to coast to coast elected 118 MP's. Only in 118 ridings did any candidate receive the consent of the majority to represent them. 13 of those MP's are Bloqistes. Bill Casey, the Independent, is one of them. 17 are Liberal MP's. 7 of them are New Democrats. 80 of them are Conservatives.


Let's see that again.

Of the 118 MP's who met Jack Layton's "majority support" threshold, which he's using to justify defeating Stephen Harper, 24 would be in this coalition, propped up by 13 Bloc MP's. The Conservatives, whom Jack thinks nobody likes, would have 80 seats, and occupy the government benches in a rock-solid majority situation. Jack himself would be hosting "Good Morning, Toronto" on Channel 9 from 6 to 10 each morning.

Of course, we don't use Jack's Math to determine our leaders and representatives... we use REAL math. The guy or gal with the most votes, wins. In some private elections, such as for the leadership of political parties, if nobody gets 50% support, we knock off the bottom few vote-getters and vote again. This would, needless to say, be BAD news for Jack's party, looking at national vote totals.

Nation, perhaps the best reason that this can not be allowed to happen is the simplest one: Canadians (remember them?) voted on this already. They voted 26% in favour of the Dion-led Liberals, and 37% in favour of the Harper-led Conservatives. And yet, somehow, despite the fact that his OWN PARTY rejected him and prompted his resignation 6 weeks ago, Dion is primed to become our next Prime Minister, IN DIRECT CONTRAVENTION TO THE STATED WILL OF THE ELECTORATE.

Using Jack's Math, 74% of the Canadian public doesn't want to see Stephane Dion as Prime Minister (and 63% - the combined Tory-Liberal vote - were dead-set against having Jack himself anywhere near the Cabinet table) - yet this is what the coalition is foisting upon us.

At least the Bloc was clear from the beginning that they'd support anyone if they thought it was in Quebec's interest. That they choose now to side with the author of the Clarity Act is beyond me, but there is much I don't understand about Quebec politics. That the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau can in good conscience support and sit in a government propped up by those who wish to destroy his father's legacy is also a mystery.

Layton never completely ruled out working with the Liberals, but he was quite clear in the Leader's Debate when he zinged Dion with "you can't even run your own party, how do you expect to run the country?". And yet here we are, with Layton, straight-faced, telling us all less than 60 days later that he supports Stephane Dion for Prime Minister.

Now, nobody is disputing that what the coalition is proposing is legal - of course it is. But, this soon after an election, it's not RIGHT - and there's a huge difference there. Sleeping with your best friend's wife behind his back isn't against the law. It doesn't make you a criminal. But it DOES make you a bad, bad guy and a worse friend.

Nation, as I said at the outset of this post, I'm not at all pleased with the task I found myself compelled to take upon myself tonight. Truth be told, I feel like I need a shower. But many people who watch Canadian politics, from ALL sides of the aisle, have felt like that over the past week or so.

You and I know what this is about. If we cut through the spin, and we sit in silent contemplation of the people involved, and their personalities and motivation, we KNOW what this is about. Let's stop pretending.

Stephen Harper is a jerk and a political opportunist. He is not a nice man. And Jack Layton, Stephane Dion, and Gilles Duceppe hate him. HATE him, with a passion. They want to hurt him, and get him out of their lives, and know that by working together, they can do both.

If, however, the coalition TRULY feels and is motivated purely by the opinion that Harper isn't up to the task of being Prime Minister, despite the EXTREMELY recently expressed desire of the people for his party to lead government, then they should defeat him and send us back to the polls, to ask us if we're REALLY sure. Of course, Jack will have to tell us all before then whether he intends to follow the "Jack's Math" philosophy, and tell any New Democrat with less than 50% support to, in fact, concede defeat to his opponents en masse. Then, the coalition should commit to bowing to the peoples' will.

After all... these members of Parliament, from ALL parties, are elected to SERVE. And if they forget that, then they should have to answer to US - their bosses.

In an election.

Which we just had.

Like, yesterday.

Glass Houses


Jack Layton garnered less than 50% of the votes in his own riding in the 40th General Election...

Does this mean that if Sharon Howarth, Andrew Lang and Christina Perrault all sign a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer, then Jack's got to give up his seat in Parliament?

Do the right thing, Jack... the majority of the voters in Toronto-Danforth said they didn't support Jack Layton's ultra left-wing ideology...

Sucks when the shoe's on the other foot, no?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Talking Points - The Informed, Non-Rabid Partisan Edition

Nation, while we as Canadians collectively hold our breath, take an extra shot of espresso and try to figure out exactly what the hell is happening in Ottawa, it behooves us to take a look at a lot of the things that are being said, by partisans and pundits on all sides, and do a bit of a "reality check".

Talking Point: "The Liberals and NDP have no right to take power."

Actually, as most of us now realize, they don't have the right, but they DO have the opportunity, should the Governor General decide it prudent. Anyone still opposed to my assertion that the GG should be an elected official, answerable to the people? Anyway, while the notion is LEGAL, it's hardly defensible ethically, this soon after an election.

Talking Point: "Harper is an idiot for not knowing that they CAN take power."

Harper KNEW they could take power - his argument that they "had no right" was, as above, an ethical argument, not a legal one. This is one of my biggest beefs with HarperHaters (who bear a striking similarity to BushBashers): They'll talk about the object of their disdain as a Machiavellian villain, with his sinister fingers in all sorts of complicated, convoluted plots - but also dismissively attack his basic intelligence or understanding of the workings of government whenever they get a convenient quote, to prove what an unqualified idiot he is. Harper's been in Ottawa long enough to know that an opposition coalition can take power in a minority parliament - he was the Leader of the Opposition IN a minority parliament. I'm sure the issue came up once or twice. Give the man enough credit to assume he knows as much about parliamentary procedure as your average Grade 11 Social Studies student.

Talking Point: "The 3 Amigos signed on the dotted line - it's all over but the crying, now."

Not true. Stephane Dion can talk about "MY government" all he wants, but the reality is that the decision as to what happens next rests entirely with the Governor General. She can grant a Tory request to prorogue (suspend) parliament (democratically unpalatable, but no more so than another election or the idea of a bait-and-switch government change 7 weeks after a Federal Election), she can grant the coalition her assent to form a government, or she can send us back to the polls (which is sounding more and more like the only way to fix this, one way or the other, once and for all).

Talking Point: "Harper himself mused openly about this sort of thing when he was the Leader of the Opposition."

Yes, he did. That didn't make it ethically right then, or now - and the schadenfreude that the HarperHaters are experiencing right now doesn't make this the best thing for the country, either. The Leader of the Opposition is the head of the Government-in-Waiting. Harper wrote the Governor General in September 2004, supported by Layton and Duceppe, to remind her (Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson) that the defeat of the Martin Liberals should not immediately result in an election, but that she should "consider all of your options." The word "government" did not appear, except in the context of "Liberal minority government". I'd submit, respectfully, that there is a BIG difference between writing the G.G. 12 weeks after an election to remind her to "consider all of your options" in the event of a defeat of the government on a confidence motion, and writing the G.G. 6 weeks after an election to "respectfully inform (her) that, as soon as the appropriate opportunity arises, she should call on the Leader of the Official Opposition to form a new government...".

Talking Point: "The coalition has the support of the majority of Canadians."

False. The parties that are agreeing to form the coalition won 54.42% of the popular vote in October. The biggest slice of that, though, is from a party whose leader had ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition. So, while the parties have the support of the majority, the question of supporting a coalition government has never been put to the Canadian people. As such, its level of support is unknown (although, one could safely assume many of the hard-line separatists are not exactly enamoured with the thought of their franchise being used to support a proposed Prime Minister who was the author of the reviled Clarity Act, and many fiscally conservative Liberal voters are scared to death of having Jack Layton and 5 other NDP members around the cabinet table).

Talking Point: "Harper won the election just 6 weeks ago with 37% of the votes - how is this possible?"

The Conservatives got more seats than anyone else, but not a majority. You can't really call it a "win". The fact that the election was held 6 weeks ago, and that the House has been sitting now, including today, for a period of 2 weeks makes it a hard sell that, in 2 weeks, the Harper Government has been so completely incompetent as to require replacement. What have the Tories done in the past 2 weeks that was so contrary to their stated plans that the opposition feels that the 37% plurality that gave Harper a (weak) mandate to manage the economy should be disenfranchised?

Talking Point: "The coalition lied to Canadians just a couple of months ago, during the election."

Not REALLY... well, not ALL of them, at any rate. Layton repeatedly refused to rule out a coalition. Duceppe, likewise, repeatedly said the Bloc would be willing to work with ANY party, provided they were advancing the agenda for the people of Quebec. So, neither of them really LIED. The only party leader from the coalition who ruled out a coalition deal was Stephane Dion who, when he thought he had a political future, said that the NDP wanted to raise business taxes, and the Liberals would never ally with a party that advocated such measures in economic times such as these. Now that he doesn't have to worry about raising funds from businesses for the next 4 years, Dead-Man-Walking Dion isn't all that opposed to the idea... but, reportedly, Ignatieff is beside himself at the prospect of inheriting the leadership of a party that sold out big business and the federalist cause for a brief stint back on the government benches before the impending 41st General Election.

Talking Point: "This is about the $1.95 per vote subsidy."

Not anymore - but it COULD have been. Harper's people could have stuck to the $1.95 as a "symbolic gesture that we in Ottawa have to tighten our belts just like everyone else". As I wrote before, it was a good political move but bad policy. Harper tried to bully the other parties, and they called his bluff. However, when the Tories foolishly took it off the table, they gave the Opposition no reason in the world (beyond ethical ones, that is) to keep them afloat. NOW, when the government is defeated in a confidence motion, the Tories will come out and say "this was all about the $1.95 per vote the other parties wanted", and the opposition parties can come out in from of the cameras and say "that's baloney - we knew we were going to get to keep that, they took it off the table - so this isn't about that, it's about bad fiscal management...". A strategic error on the part of the Tories. You make those a lot in poker, when you try to over-play your hand.

Talking Point: "This is about the Conservatives' lack of a fiscal plan."

It COULD be - if we were going through these machinations after the budget. But this isn't the budget, it's a fiscal update... a statement of where we're at currently, and what we're planning to do in the next 2 months, until the budget comes out (not that I'm enamoured even with that short, interim plan). If the opposition expects the Tories to come out with a radical fiscal plan NOW, completely ignoring the fact that our largest trading partner is going through a fundamental policy shift itself in a month and a half, they're insane. You have to see what direction the wind is blowing before you set your sails. The wind starts blowing on January 21st.

Talking Point: "Harper had the support on the Bloc on MANY motions - what's the big deal with the coalition doing the same?"

The big deal is that the Tories survived many confidence motions despite the Bloc's LACK of support, also (helped by the Liberals and their consistent "confidence motion flu"). The coalition, as proposed, requires the consistent and unwavering support of the Bloc in order to survive. This means that NO "money bill" can be passed without the Bloc's approval. Likewise with the NDP. In theory, this provides for better government. In practice, though, it means strongly whipped votes, partisan rancor, and a Government of Canada that is quite literally being held ideologically hostage by socialists and separatists. (I should point out here that, as a social progressive, I don't find the term "socialist" as offensive as some people - it's just not necessarily the best group of people to have managing your money when times are tough and businesses are closing down).

Talking Point: "The Governor General will probably send us back to the polls rather than give approval for a coalition."

Perhaps. The argument is that the Gov. General would never approve of a government that absolutely depended on the support of the separatist Bloc Quebecois in order to survive each and every confidence motion. But, suddenly, this stuff seems to matter again, doesn't it?

Talking Point: "Ignatieff doesn't like this deal, and will kill it immediately if he's elected Liberal leader."

Maybe. Although, if he IS elected leader in May, Ignatieff will be given the keys to 24 Sussex later that day, and those are hard keys to hand back to the clerk. The reality is, if this deal falls through or the G.G. sends us back to the polls, the Liberals are going to be scrambling to run the election with a lame-duck leader, an interim leader, or a hastily-appointed new leader. Regardless of which scenario comes true, though, the party will be tarred by this deal. Their right flank and hard-line federalists are going to balk at the coalition. The only hope Ignatieff has in this is to distance himself from it IMMEDIATELY if he wins the leadership, and hope that the coalition is seen not as a Liberal move, but as a Dion move.

Talking Point: "This deal will tarnish the Liberal brand for YEARS, as being the "gateway drug" that leads to the NDP, and as the federalist party that handed over control of government priorities to the Separatists."

For a while? Yes. But on the whole, Canadians have a short political memory (not counting Albertans and Quebecois). AdScam was only a few years ago - some Liberals actually STOLE public money - and when do you really hear anything about THAT (other than from an Albertan or Quebecois) anymore? In practice, though, the coalition government doesn't get the unconditional support of the Bloc - just an agreement not to bring down the government. So the coalition can pass day-to-day policy without the Bloc (if they can get the Tories on board), or have those same policies fail, without having their government fall. The Liberals are, however, getting the same reputation that the "easy girl" at school had - "we're federalists, we love Quebec, we're socialists, we're greens, we're whatever you want us to be, we just want your love and your vote..."

Talking Point: "Alberta will get over it."

Maybe. Maybe not. Going from 5 cabinet members, PLUS the Prime Minister, to possibly 1 (if Linda Duncan were to get named as one of the 6 NDP ministers, otherwise ZERO)? For that matter, consider: In Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, the total number of Tory votes was greater than the NDP and Liberal votes combined. How do you suppose those 4 provinces are going to feel about the Quebec separatists and the NDP/Liberals over-turning their election results? What do you suppose those voters might think about losing their cabinet ministers? How do you suppose they might react? And what might they decide they need to start talking about?

I not saying... I'm just saying...