Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Speechless

I want a job speech writing for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Apparently the only qualification you need is access to a Xerox machine.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Me on Duffy

Sometimes I just don't get the Tories.

Let me explain.

This evening I was Mike Duffy Live "Prime Time Edition" debating some lefty-artsy guy about the Conservative government's political strategy of cutting arts funding.

The artsy guy, of course, was all indignant about the cuts.

But I defended the Conservative government, saying cutting arts was good politics because it mobilizes the Tory base and appeals to non-artists Canadians, who would rather see their money spent on something other than giant flying bananas.

OK get that? I was defending the Tories.

So anyway, on the very next segment, Duffy asks Tory spinner Jeff Norquay about my comments.

And how does he respond?

Does Norquay agree with my assessment?

No he attacks me. And then proceeds to explain how the Conservatives are actually spending tons of money on the arts.

In other words, he undid all the good I had done for the Conservatives on national television.

Sheesh.

All I can say is, don't blame me if they don't win a majority.

Me and My Dog


Here's my dog Ace.
As you can see from his expression he holds utter contempt for the person taking the picture.
Oh well, at least he tolerates me.

Harper and Conservatism

Me and some other people are quoted in this Canwest News article looking at the Conservative Party's lack of conservative principles.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

NDP as Official Opposition? No I don't think so

Lots of people are saying the NDP might jump over the Liberals and form the Official Opposition in the next Parliament.

I'm not buying it.

First off, even with a dud like Stephane Dion leading them, the Liberals still have a strong brand name and deep roots in many parts of the country, meaning coming hell or high water they will hang onto their core support which is enough to guarantee them second place.

Second off, the NDP has little room to grow vote-wise. Simply put, their policies are designed to appeal to union bosses, tweedy professors and left-wing special interest groups.

And such policies -- higher taxes, class warfare, pro-big union measures--just don't resonate with the Middle Class.

In fact, the more Canadians learn about the NDP's socialist agenda, the more nervous they will get.

So, the Liberals can relax -- they will get destroyed on election day, but at least they will keep the keys to Stornoway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Harper and the Gag Law

The Calgary Herald has an excellent editorial today on an issue no one seems to be discussing much: the election gag law.

Key paragraph from the editorial:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was himself a victim of it during his time as president of the National Citizens Coalition.

In those days, he was highly vocal on the subject, and conservatives had great expectations this heavy-handed restriction to free speech would be among the first pieces of legislative nonsense on his hit list.

We will assume he was waiting for a majority, as none of the opposition parties are anxious to extend citizen participation and therefore support the law. We will also assume that if he gets it, he will scrap the law.

It would be good to hear him say so, though.

Yes it would be good.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Roots of the Economic Crisis

This is the kind of financial analysis I like:

Time to Start Bashing Layton

The S.S. Liberal seems to be taking on water, it's crew on the verge of mutiny, the sharks are circling.

So what should the Harper Tories do about it?

Well maybe it's time to ease off on the Liberal bashing.

As Napoleon once put it, ""Never interfere with the opponent's actions when he is in the process of destroying himself."

A better strategy would be to start ramping up the attacks on Jack Layton and the NDP, specifically targeting the party's "dangerous left-wing agenda."

Such a plan would not only mobilize the Tory party's small "c" conservative base but more importantly it would help gain support for the NDP.

You read that right.

If Harper attacks Layton from the right it will drive up NDP support, because left wingers will rally around their beleaguered champion.

This, of course, will draw support from the Liberals, maybe even hurting them enough for the Tories to win a few extra seats.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stephen Vader?

You got to admit, this is pretty clever.

Harper, Me and the NCC

Ever since the election campaign started the National Citizens Coalition has endured a lot of abuse.

Left-wingers and politicians and journalists have been saying all sorts of nasty things about the NCC as a way of attacking Stephen Harper, who led the group from 1998 to 2001.

And their insults have gone unchallenged -- until now.

Check out my column in today's Toronto Sun, in which I defend my old group and Harper's record as its president.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Report on Carbon Tax

The good folks over at the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies have released a report giving eight reasons why the Liberal carbon tax scheme is a bad idea.

Only eight?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Star goes to bat for Dion, sort of

You know the Liberals and Stephane Dion are in trouble when even the Toronto Star has a hard time coming up with nice things to say about them.

Here from today's Star editorial is how the paper describes Dion's Green Shift plan: "Dion's plan may be complex, but it is credible and modestly energetic. It can't be dismissed out of hand."

"Credible", "modestly energetic", "can't be dismissed out of hand".

High praise indeed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Election Review

OK let's review what's gone on so far during the 2008 federal election:

* The Prime Minister of Canada apologizes for a defecating puffin.

* The Liberal leader who had branded himself a "green" champion doesn't want to talk about his major "green" campaign plank. (Oh wait, it was the media who called it a "major" plank.)

* The Agriculture Minister tries out a little shock jock humour and gets bad reviews.

* The NDP campaign resembles Bill and Ted's Excellent adventure.

* A Conservative candidate resigns, apparently for espousing conservative ideas.

* Bob Rae is using this election to audition for the next Liberal leadership race.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

All a Twitter

I now have a Twitter account.

True, I have no idea as to what this Twitter thing is all about.

But apparently it's the hottest thing in the Internet, so I wanted in!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Star Letter

On Saturday the Toronto Star ran an editorial with the usual stuff about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's hidden agenda.

And in the process the paper took a swipe at my old organization the National Citizens Coalition.

So I took a swipe back in the form of a letter to the editor, which was published today:

Dear Sir/Madam:

You state that Prime Minister Stephen Harper "staked out quite radical positions" while leading the National Citizens Coalition.

Really?

What's radical about pushing for lower taxes, wanting a stronger defence, fighting for free political expression and for the democratic rights of unionized employees?

Those are some of the positions Harper "staked out" during his time at the NCC, positions a lot of Canadians would deem mainstream.

Gerry Nicholls, Former National Citizens Coalition Vice President, Oakville

Media Alert

I will be on the Michael Coren Show tonight at 8:00 PM EST to talk about ... what else the federal election.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reviewing the Liberal Ad

OK this Liberal TV ad has got to be one of the weirdest political spots I have ever seen.

The message seems to be: Vote for the Liberals because they can rhythmically clap their hands.

It makes the Liberal caucus look like some sort of bizarre cult.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NCC Not a Business

I am getting some media inquires regarding Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apparent claim yesterday that running the National Citizens Coalition from 1998 to 2001 counted as running a "medium-sized business."

They are asking me if I consider the NCC to be a "business."

My answer is no

The NCC, to my mind at least, is an organization with a mission -- to promote more freedom through less government.

That's not the same as selling widgets.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Liberals Spreading Misinformation about Harper, NCC

I just sent this email out to my media contacts:

In its "Reality Check" website, the Liberal Party is spreading misinformation about the National Citizens Coalition and a 1993 campaign to defeat then MP Jim Hawkes.

Here's an excerpt from the Liberal site:

"Instead, he (Harper) served as both president and vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), an extreme right advocacy organization that employed Mr. Harper between 1997 and 2001, and also assisted with his 1993 election campaign."

That last bit implies the NCC supported Stephen Harper's election campaign in 1993.

We did not.

We did run a $50,000 multi-media ad campaign urging voters in Calgary Southwest to “Defeat Jim Hawkes”, but this campaign had nothing to do with Harper, but was simply part of larger war the NCC was waging against election gag laws.

Unfortunately for Hawkes, he was the government’s point man and chief public defender of an election gag law the Mulroney government had enacted. That made him, in our mind, a marked man.

We were determined to defeat Hawkes, to send a message to politicians everywhere: any politician who endorsed gag laws would pay a steep political price.

That’s why when the writ was dropped in 1993 we hammered Hawkes with everything in our arsenal: newspaper ads, radio spots, TV commercials --- all of them linking Hawkes with the gag law.

Our message was simple: Hawkes wanted to take away the right to free political speech.

For us, it was not about Harper winning, but about Hawkes losing.

And I should know, I am the one who planned the campaign.

Caldwell on The Leader

Theo Caldwell has an excellent column in today's National Post, lamenting the Conservative Party's lack of conservatism.

A couple of key quotes:

"Harper is probably the best leader on offer but, as comedian Dennis Miller might opine, that is like being the smartest kid in summer school."

"If Harper does have a hidden agenda, as his detractors claim, it is hidden even from those who would be his supporters."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Students for Freedom Conference

I am going to be a speaker at the Midwest Students For Freedom Conference at the University of Michigan, on November 8th.

My topic will be how to market and communicate the ideals of liberty.

And the conference will feature lots of other interesting topics and speakers, including Larry Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Should be a fun event.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Coyne on The Leader

Andrew Coyne has an excellent analysis of what's going on with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party.

Key quote: He (Harper) has made the Conservatives into legitimate contenders for power, in short, at the expense of conservatism. In its place he offers . . . himself."

Debating the Debate

My friend Kirk argued on his blog recently that Green Party leader Elizabeth May has no business being included in the leadership debate.

But like it or not, she will be there with all the other guys to make sure an already unwieldy format is even more unwieldy.

But since the ice is broken, why shouldn't other important political figures have a chance to join the debate?

Here's a list of who I think should definitely be invited:

* Stephane Dion’s dog

* A Puffin

* Sarah Palin’s pregnant daughter

* That talking oil stain from the recent Tory attack ads.

* A sweater vest

* Kim Jong Il

* Bob Rae (so he can get some practice being Liberal leader)

* A lipstick wearing pig

Good Luck John

Today is John Williamson's last day as federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Starting in a few weeks John will be taking graduate courses at the London School of Economics, which is pretty darn impressive.

And while I certainly wish John luck with his studies across the pond, his departure also makes me a little sad because the Canadian conservative movement will miss him.

For the six years he led the CTF, John was a consistent and principled champion of freedom who held politicians to account, regardless of their partisan stripes.

We need more of that in this country, not less.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fearless Election Forecasts

In my latest Sun column I offer some "hard hitting" election predictions, some of which might even come true.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Hidden Agenda Wish List

So far there is only one big issue in this election: puffins.

And while puffins are certainly important, I also believe we need to discuss other matters during the most crucial period of any democracy.


So with that in mind, I wrote a column, which appears in today's National Post, on the Conservative Party's so-called "Hidden Agenda."

Actually, the column discuess what the Conservative Party's "Open Agenda" should be.

It doesn't include puffins.

Media Alert

I will be on Charles Adler On line at approximately 2:00 PM EST to discuss my column in today's National Post.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Puffin Power


Once upon a time I worked for major political advocacy group.

And part of my job was to create issue ads. And lots of the ads I created were pretty crazy.

I had ads with oinking pigs, ads with donkeys, even ads with flatulent cows!

But it never occurred to me to create an ad with defecating puffins.
I guess I have lots to learn from the political geniuses in the Tory "war room".

Dion's Political Career RIP

I get the feeling Stephane Dion's career as Liberal leader is already dead and that the rest of this election campaign will just be a long, drawn out political obituary.

Green with Envy

I wish Green Party leader Elizabeth May would stop whining about being excluded from the leader's debate.

Why should she be invited?

After all, the Greens are just a fringe party, albeit a fringe party that generates lots of publicity.

And the only reason it gets any publicity is that the Greens are capitalizing on the trendiness of the environment issue right now.

That, however, won't translate into them winning any seats come Election Day.

Besides the only "green" May is focusing on during this election is the kind that fills your wallet.

Thanks to the "Welfare for Political Parties" scheme we have in this country, her party will rake in $1.75 per vote.

Not a bad way to make a living.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Reviewing the Tory Ad Part 2

OK just as I was hoping the Conservative Party has unleashed some anti-Dion attack ads.

I hope this means no more sugary stuff.

Anyway, of the new ads, I like this one the best.

It's funny, it hits all the right buttons, has interesting visuals and as an added bonus subtly takes a poke at one of Dion's biggest weaknesses: His poor English.

Only fault is the ad tries to say too much -- but then again the Dion-led Liberals offer so many juicy targets.

Also interesting is how the Tories are using the same "don't take a risk" strategy as the Liberals used against them in the last election.

The Problem with the Green Shift Plan

In the recent past, the Ottawa Citizen's Susan Riley was almost ridiculously pro-Stephane Dion and pro-Carbon tax.

And now she's disappointed with other key Liberals for their failure to back up the Liberal leader on the Green Shift scheme, a point she made in a teary column a few days ago.

So I responded with a letter to the editor pointing out the obvious:

Monday, September 08, 2008

Re: Liberals shift down, Sept. 5.

Dear Sir/Madam:
Columnist Susan Riley's impassioned defence of Liberal leader St├ęphane Dion and his Green Shift plan completely misses the point.

Mr. Dion's scheme might be good economics, as Ms. Riley believes, but it's terrible politics.

Here's the problem: any political idea you need to explain to voters before they will accept it is by definition a bad idea. In politics you want people to react, not think.

Winning political ideas are the ones which you don't need to explain because they resonate with a voter's emotions: fear, anger, pride, patriotism.

And it's hard to get emotional about a complicated Green Shift plan that's more about tax codes and subsidies than saving the environment.

This is a lesson the Liberals might have to learn the hard way.

Gerry Nicholls, Oakville

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Reviewing the NDP Ad

The latest NDP political TV ad is what happens when you ask somebody who doesn't know how to write a "negative ad" write a "negative ad."

The biggest problem with NDP commercial is that it actually looks like a pro-Harper spot.

I mean it actually reinforces a prime Tory message by calling Stephen Harper a "strong leader" not once, not twice, but three times.

Another problem is that the spot crams way too much information in a 30 second ad. A good ad focuses on just one idea. This one has propaganda overload.

And, the bit about the doctors disappearing has a visual of a nice family visiting a doctor, so the image contradicts the message.

Finally, it's a mistake to have Jack Layton pop in at the end looking all happy.

It destroys the mood.

You cannot mix a negative and positive message in one ad -- it's got to be one or the other.

The Writ

Well the Governor-General today officially "dropped the writ."

Unfortunately, the writ broke when it hit the ground, sparking a major constitutional crisis.

Until it's resolved we will be a writless nation.

Historic Day

Well the day many of us have eagerly awaited is finally here.

This is the day when the campaigns finally kick off; the day when we find out who are the true leaders and who are just pretenders.

Of course, I am talking about opening day for the NFL.

Oh yeah, today's also the day an election is going to get called.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Mary Poppins Ads Must Go

Here's the problem with the latest Tory cutesy-wutesy TV ads: they don't make any political sense.

That's not to say positive ads never make sense.

A guy like Ronald Reagan could use them effectively because they reflected his image as a optimistic and likable leader.

But Harper is no Reagan.

Like it or not, Stephen Harper is widely perceived as a cold, calculating, bully.

It might not be true, but in politics perception is reality.

And airing a bunch of ads with Harper in a sweater talking about motherhood issues, isn't going to change that reality.

The Liberals, if they any political intelligence at all, (which is debatable) will capitalize on this perception and let loose a stream of super-negative attack ads which will portray Harper as a cross between Genghis Khan, Mike Tyson and Simon Cowell.

Since such attack ads will play to an already existing perception they will resonate with voters.

That's why I suspect once the election is truly underway the Tories will drop the Mary Poppins routine and slip on the brass knuckles.

In fact, Liberal leader Stephane Dion is much more vulnerable than Harper when it comes to negative perceptions.

Canadians view him as a wimp.

Why a wimp?

Because Tory attack ads defined him that way.

In other words, both parties have good solid strategic reasons to go negative.

Should be a fun election.

Spoiling for a Fight

I am quoted in this Winnipeg Free Press story commentating on the Conservative Party election strategy.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Tory Pre-election Spending

Glad to see the Canadian Taxpayers Federation bashing the Conservative government for its Liberal-style pre-election spending spree.

Taking on the Tories like that takes courage as the PMO doesn't take kindly to any sort of criticism.

But that's the kind of courage the conservative movement needs right now.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Political Nausea Alert

Just watched the latest Conservative Party TV ads.

And I just have one thing to say: somebody pass me a barf bag.

I mean a guy can take just so much sappy, corny, hokiness before nausea starts to set in.

Yes they are "positive" but this is the kind of maudlin stuff a party runs when poll-wise it's way out in front.

It also helps if the guy in the ad is a sappy, corny sort of person; that's not Stephen Harper.

I suspect the Tories have better ads in the can that will air once an election is officially called.

At least I hope so for my stomach's sake.

Understanding American Politics

The American political system puzzles me sometimes.

I mean to become a US presidential nominee for a major party a candidate must endure a gruelling 18 year primary process, spend a trillion dollars in places like Iowa and show up a couple times on Jay Leno.

But for the Vice Presidential nominee it's totally different; they are plucked out of nowhere.

Take John McCain's running mate Sarah Palin -- the former mayor of Moose Butt, Alaska. Until a week ago, nobody outside of a few polar bears had ever heard of her.

And now she's the "Queen of Hockey Moms."

Still I must say, I thought her speech last night at the Republican convention was excellent, just the right mix of political jabs and folksy charm.

One thing's for sure, the Republicans now have the polar bear vote wrapped up.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Dion Advancing in a Different Direction

Liberal leader Stephane Dion is at a caucus retreat which I guess is a good place to announce a caucus retreat.

It seems Dion, who is feeling heat from MPs who actually want to have a chance at getting re-elected, is altering his Carbon Tax Plan so that it now offers subsidies to certain people.

So bottom line: a complicated plan, just got more complicated.

Mind you, it's always a Liberal reflex to throw money around when things get tough.

And if this keeps up, by the time Election Day rolls around Dion will be offering motorists special subsidies every time they fill up at the gas station.

What Fixed Election Date?

I have a column in the Sun media today examining why Prime Minister Harper can ignore his own fixed election date legislation and call a snap vote.

Basically it's because he can.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Reviewing the Tory Ad

I have been meaning to comment on this Conservative Party TV ad.

Here's the comment: it stinks.

First of all, does anybody really believe regular Canadian voters go around talking in Tory-approved "talking points."

Second of all, this ad is striving to do the impossible: make Stephen Harper look cuddly.

A better and more honest ad would say something like, "My name is Stephen Harper. I know you don't like me very much, but you would like Stephane Dion even less."

Also check out Rondi Adamson's take on this ad.

Quidditch Anyone?


Here's me standing in front of Trinity College at the University of Toronto. My son is living in residence there and I got a chance to check it out on Labour Day.

It's pretty cool, very British, very traditional -- kind of like Hogwarts.

Actually, I will miss my son when he's away, because he's the only guy around here who knew how to operate a computer.