Friday, September 28, 2007

Harper's Deficit

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty seems so pleased to announce his government has amassed another monster budgetary surplus.

He's like a CEO bragging about corporate profits.

But, of course, government surpluses are not like profits.

A surplus means the government is taking in so much of our money that even our bureaucrats and politicians, despite their best efforts, can't spend it all.

Now a truly conservative government would take all that extra money and give it back to the taxpayers in the form of tax cuts.

Yet that probably won't happen.

More likely Prime Minister Harper will take most of that surplus loot and use it to buy votes in places like Quebec.

Which just goes to show the Harper government actually does have a deficit when it comes to principle.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Up from Conservatism

A friend sent me this interesting article, in which an objectivist tries to define conservatism.

It's useful reading for those of us trying to define the Canadian brand of conservatism.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dion Vs. a Carrot

A couple of postings ago, I came up with a list of ten people who I thought would make a better Liberal leader than Stephane Dion.

What seemed to catch everyone's attention about that list was that included a carrot.

Yes a carrot.

Anyway, I got some emails suggesting (sometimes in forceful language) I was being unfair to Dion.

Dion is clearly superior, said these emails, to a carrot.

But I don't think so.

Let's see what happens, for instance, when Dion goes head to head, er I mean head to root against a carrot when it comes to key leadership issues:

Vision: Stephane Dion wants to move the Liberal Party to the Left. A carrot is good for your eyesight.

Advantage: The Carrot.

Charisma: Stephane Dion is a former academic with a keen interest in constitutional affairs. A carrot is an inert piece of vegetable matter.

Advantage: The Carrot

Environmental Policy: Stephane Dion has a green plan. A carrot is actually organic and has a green stem and feathery green leaves.

Advantage: The Carrot

Speaking Ability: Stephane Dion speaks French and a dialect strongly resembling English. Carrots cannot speak.

Advantage: Slight edge to Dion.

Popularity: Stephane Dion has Liberals second-guessing his leadership, he is stuck in the polls and his party just lost a key by-election in his home province. Carrots are a wildly popular vegetable and a rich source of dietary fibre, antioxidants and minerals.

Advantage: The Carrot.

You can't argue with the evidence. The carrot wins hands down. Well it would if a carrot had hands.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Defending Conservatism

I know I have been talking about Tom Flanagan a lot lately.

Here and here, for instance.

But I guess I am fated to be the ying to Flanagan's yang. He keeps saying it's OK for Conservatives to sell out their principles, I keep saying it's wrong.

Anyway, he has an article in C2C, the new conservative online journal which, yes you guessed it, defends the Harper government's record.

The editor asked me to write a response, which appears on the same page.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Flanagan's Follies

As I noted a couple of postings ago, I will be debating Thomas Flanagan at a Fraser Institute event in a few weeks on whether or not the Conservative Party is heading in the right direction.

So it was with great interest that I read his column in today's Globe and Mail, in which Moses-like, he lays out 10 commandments the Conservatives must follow to achieve political success.

One of his commandments particularly struck me: "Canada is not yet a conservative or Conservative country. The party can't win if it veers too far to the right of the average voter."

Translation: To be successful the Conservative Party must betray its base, sacrifice its principles, scrap its values and act just like Liberals because the average voter is too attached to bloated government and high taxes.

My how times have changed.

At one time, both Flanagan and Stephen Harper would have defined political success as making Canada a better, freer place, where Canadians can keep more of the money they earn.

Now apparently success is defined simply as replacing Liberal big government, with Conservative big government.

To me that's not success, it's abject failure.

Believe me, I am looking forward to that debate!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Liberals Should Thank Me

You know what has to be the easiest task ever?

Coming up with a list of people who would make a better leader than Stephane Dion.

In fact, I came up with such a list in about five seconds.

Here it is:

People Who Would Make a Better Liberal Leader Than Stephane Dion

  • Britney Speers
  • A cardboard cutout of Stephane Dion
  • Anybody randomly picked out of the phonebook
  • Stephane Dion's dog, Kyoto
  • A carrot
  • Urkel
  • The Scottish guy on Canadian Tire money
  • Mr. Clean
  • Me
  • You

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Media Alert

I am going to be a guest panelist on the John Oakley Show, Friday morning starting at approximately 9:00 AM EST.

No Fall Election

Some pundits are suggesting Prime Minister Harper, buoyed with his recent political success in Quebec's by-election, will be tempted to gamble and call a general election this fall.

Toronto Star columnist James Travers, for instance, suggests the Prime Minister will want to take advantage of the momentum the Tories now enjoy.


But after working with Harper for about five years when he was with the National Citizens Coalition, I know him pretty well.

And one of the things I know about Stephen, is he doesn't like to take risks or to make strategy on the fly.

He is no gambler.

What Harper does like to do is prepare carefully crafted, usually brilliantly conceived, long range plans of action.

And he will stick to those plans come hell or high water.

So unless an election is forced upon them (perhaps by Liberals eager for an excuse to dump Stephane Dion) don't expect the Tories to deviate from the script.

And the script is to hold onto power for as long as possible.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuns' Sour Take on By-Election

Just when I was enjoying the Liberal Party's embarrassing showing in Quebec, Paul Tuns AKA "Captain Bring Down", pours cold water on the whole thing.

Writes Tuns:

"For once what is bad for the Liberal Party is also bad for Canada. After winning only its second seat in Quebec (ever), NDP leader Jack Layton will believe his party has a chance in the province; the Harper Conservatives will likewise focus on extending their presence in Quebec; the Liberals will be desperate to regain their stature there. All this means that Quebec will be the center of Canadian politics for the foreseeable future. Again. Let the posturing and bidding commence."

Sheesh, even when we win, we lose.

More Burqa Stuff

My friend Rondi Adamson has good piece in the Brussels Journal on the burqa controversy.

I am not Screwing up Canada

As readers of this blog know, I am one of the "Top 5 Political Minds in Canada".

Well, now some people are nominating me for another title: "One of the 10 People Not Screwing up Canada".

Now that's an achievement.

H/T Brian

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dion's Done

Here's a picture of Stephane Dion after tonight's by-election.

Me vs. Flanagan

Get ready for the ultimate showdown! Get ready for the brawl to end it all!

On October 23, 2007, I will be debating political science professor and former Conservative Party advisor, Thomas Flanagan on whether or not the federal Tory party is heading in the right direction.

Should be interesting.

The debate will take place at the Fraser Institutes's "Behind the Spin" event in Toronto.

Go here for information on how to register.

Don't you dare miss it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Predictable Liberals

A couple of postings ago, I suggested if the Liberals do poorly in tomorrow's Outremont by-election, Liberal boss Stephan Dion would be in trouble.

"No doubt," I wrote, "backroom plots are already hatching across Liberal Land."

Turns out, I was right.

Lame Liberal Ads

The Ontario Liberal TV ads aired so far during the election campaign leave me a little perplexed.

If you live in Ontario, you have probably seen them.

They feature Premier Dalton McGuinty essentially delivering monologues with such profound lines as "You know what I love about public schools? They are public." (Watch for that brilliant observation to end up in Bartlett's quotations.)

The problem with these ads is two-fold.

First, McGuinty has all the charisma of a cold cup of coffee and it comes across on TV. In these ads, for instance, his delivery is more wooden than Captain Ahab's leg. He looks like a guy rehearsing for a job interview.

Second and more seriously, the polls show McGuinty lags his party in popularity. Ontarians, in fact, think PC leader John Tory would make the better Premier. McGuinty, on the other hand, is most associated with "flip flopping" and breaking promises.

So why in the world if you are a Liberal strategist would you run ads drawing attention to your party's weakest point? It's like trying to sell your house with ads bragging about your leaky basement.

Oh well, it's probably an ego thing on McGuinty's part.

No doubt if the polls show the Liberals are running into trouble they will break out the attack ads.

Then things might get a little more interesting.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Battle for Outremont

NDP election wins in Quebec are rarer than intellectual humour in a Three Stooges skit.

Yet, the polls now suggest the NDP could actually win a Quebec by-election on Monday. And what's more amazing the riding they could win is Outremont, which is not only staunchly federalist, but also staunchly Liberal.

If such a victory were to occur, of course, it would have profound implications for the Liberal leader Stephane Dion, for the Bloc Quebecois and for the political dynamics in Quebec.

First take Dion. If his party loses a safe seat on his own Quebec turf, the ballgame is over for him. He will essentially become a lame duck leader. No doubt backroom plots are already hatching across Liberal Land.

And the Bloc Quebecois must be a little nervous as well. With separatism receding as an issue, will the NDP replace them as Quebec's Left wing voice?

If the NDP does replace the Bloc and if the Liberals continue to perform poorly in Quebec, it would change the political battlefield from separatists vs federalists into left vs right.

That would suit the Conservatives quite nicely.

So keep an eye on Outremont on Monday night. A lot is riding on that race.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Lunch with Tory

I recently accepted a friend's invitation to join him at an Oakville luncheon to hear PC leader John Tory speak. (I never turn down a free lunch.)

And the lunch was good, even if Tory's talk was a bit bland.

OK in terms of style the speech was pretty good; Tory displayed wit and a sense of humour and he didn't drone on.

But there was not a lot in his speech I would call "conservative". Nothing in it, in other words, to mobilize or rally his base.

Yes, Tory talked about the need for honest government and how we needed a Premier we could trust, which is all fine.

Yet instead of calling for lower taxes he promised "reasonable" taxes. To me the only reasonable tax is one that's lower!

He also promised "responsible, disciplined spending". Is that the same as less spending? Somehow I doubt it.

And he also rattled off a list of groups that needed more government money: farmers, seniors, etc.

In other words, Tory wants to wage this election battle over the question of who can run a socialist government more efficiently.

That means, of course, it doesn't really matter who wins the election. Nothing will change.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Trends Favour Thompson

Fred Thompson's campaign to win the Republican presidential nomination seems to be getting off to a good start.

Or at least that's the word from my friend the American pollster John McLaughlin who sent me the following release:


SEPTEMBER 11, 2007

This week’s round of new national polls is extremely encouraging. All are trending up for Fred Thompson. The CBS/NYTimes poll shows a gain of 15 points from a month ago. CNN shows us in a statistical tie for the lead, and the Rasmussen poll of likely Republican primary voters shows Fred Thompson in the lead.

Fred Thompson has clearly become the conservative alternative to Rudy Giuliani, while John McCain remains mostly flat and Mitt Romney is flat or declining. We agree with this analysis:

“Thompson’s gains since announcing have come primarily among conservatives likely to vote in a Republican Primary. In polling completed since his announcement, Thompson leads Giuliani by 12-points among conservative primary voters. That’s up from a five-point edge before the announcement.” (“The Thompson Bounce,” Scott Rasmussen;, 9/10/07)

While good polls come and go, Fred Thompson has clearly moved into a competitive position following a good campaign launch.

To view comparative tables of recent poll trends from polls by USAToday/Gallup, CBS/NYTimes, CNN/Opinion Research, and Rasmussen, along with changes in the gap separating the leading contenders, please visit our website at

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Liberals Listening?

Could it be the federal Liberals are listening to me?

A couple of months ago, I had an op-ed in the Toronto Star advising the Liberals on how they could win the next election.

One of my suggestions being, the Liberals should become the champions of "fiscal conservatism".

Well lo and behold, former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley recently gave a speech in which he suggested the Liberals need to start talking about cutting taxes and government spending.

Saying Canada has lost its "fiscal anchor", Manley stated "We are collecting too much tax, and it is time to benchmark spending as a percentage of GDP."

Thank you John Manley.

Now if I can only get the Conservatives to start listening to me.

H/T Kirk

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ontario's Election By the Numbers

The Ontario provincial election is Dalton McGuinty’s to lose.

So says pollster Greg Lyle of Innovative Research who was speaking this morning at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Public Affairs Association of Canada.

According to Lyle’s numbers – which were hot off the press – the Liberals right now stand at 40 percent support, the Tories at 35 percent and the NDP at 17.

More significantly, when asked which “party brand” Ontario voters supported, the Liberals had a ten point lead 36 percent to 26 percent over the Conservatives.

What’s more, the issue matrix favours the Liberals as the two top issues for Ontarians in the election – health care and education – are good ones for McGuinty to campaign on. In fact, the Liberals “own” the education issue.

And finally, Lyle says there is no real great desire for change. While 52 percent of Ontarians think it’s time for a change only 35 percent strongly think it’s time for a change.

Could the Liberals still lose?

Yes says Lyle, if PC leader John Tory can better define himself and build up his favourables or if some scandal breaks during the election. Another wild card is NDP leader Howard Hampton. If he can raise his visibility and connect himself to issues like the environment, health care and education, the NDP could win enough seats to bring about a minority government.

It seems, if McGuinty’s faces a real threat in this race it comes from the Left. The NDP, for instance, owns the environment and social policy issues. And the NDP got a real boost when it was decided to keep the Green Party out of the debates.

For some reason, Tory has not been able to capitalize on the “ethics in government” issue. He is, however, strong on issues like taxes, crime and the economy. To be successful he has to make those the issues of the election. That means changing the channel from the “faith-based” school issue.

The PC base is strong, but they don’t have a lot of room to grow. The real fight during the election, says Lyle, will between the Liberals and the NDP as they struggle to win over soft supporters from each camp.

Here is how the leaders stack up on the favourable/unfavourable numbers:

Dalton McGuinty: Favourable 33% Unfavourable 43%
John Tory: Favourable: 35% Unfavourable 31%
Howard Hampton: Favourable 23% Unfavourable 24%

Tory also scores better than McGuinty on who is a better leader: 29-19; and on who has a better plan, 23-20.

And 48 percent of Ontarians think McGuinty is a flipflopper and 41 percent say he does not keep his promises. (No surprise there)

Perhaps the most interesting number of all, however, is that 61 percent of Ontarians have not made up their mind yet, and they want to hear more.

What they hear over the next few months will decide Ontario’s destiny for the next four years.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hands off Free Speech

Here's a column I wrote which recently appeared in the Windsor Star

It's my take on what's wrong with mixing union bosses, forced dues and politics.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Burqa's Law

Back in my previous life, I had several run ins with Elections Canada bureaucrats -- who I always believed lacked an understanding of the importance of free expression.

Now it seems they also lack something else: common sense.

How else can you explain their preposterous policy of allowing Muslim women to vote veiled?

As David Harris of the Canadian Coalition for Democracies put it, ""Elections Canada’s initiative violates the basic premise of public voting in Canada and the principle of equality of all Canadians before the ballot box. It is an invitation to fraud, misrepresentation and the debasing of our democratic electoral system."

Exactly. And last time I looked Canada wasn't an Islamic Republic? So why are we suddenly enacting sharia law? What's next public floggings and beheadings?

Let's hope the leaders of all parites unite to change this policy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bulb Blurb

Reason magazine takes a look at the Conservative government's plan to ban incandescent light bulbs and finds it not so bright.

The magazine states, for instance, that the Tory government's favoured compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury -- which means they could contanimate the soil and water, meaning they will be treated like "toxic waste".

Oh yeah, the Tory bulbs cost about $3 each, while the old fashioned bulbs cost about 50 cents.

But David Suzki likes them and I guess that's all that counts.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Blogging Gerry

Blogger extraordinaire Stephen Taylor recently asked me to join his famous Blogging Tories aggregate.

And I said yes!

So welcome to all you Blogging Tories out there who stumble upon my humble blog.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labour Blog

In honour of this being Labour Day and all, I thought you might want to check out the National Right to Work blog.

This is the blog where you can get the latest news and views from America's Right to Work movement, plus tidbits about Big Labour's misdeeds and hypocrisy.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rogers' Rules

Rented The Queen last night, and must say I enjoyed it.

But the Rogers people who wrote the "Parents' Guide" that accompanied the movie are a little overzealous.

This is what it said on back of the DVD box:

Sex/nudity: bare-breasted statues.

Objectional Words/Phrases: approx. 1 (plus an additional "naughty" Britsh term).

Bare-breasted statues? Naughty terms?

Do I really need to be warned about this kind of stuff?