Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween vs Christmas

Here are a few reasons why Halloween is better than Christmas:

* There are no politically correct demands to replace "Happy Halloween" with "Happy Fall Festival" or "Merry Costume Day."

* No one gives you righteous lectures about the "real meaning" of Halloween.

* You don't have to invite your in-laws over for a traditional Halloween Dinner.

* The Rocky Horror Picture Show is more fun to watch than It's a Wonderful Life.

* There are no Halloween Parades to cause traffic jams.

* When Halloween is over old pumpkins don't leave a billion, jillion needles in your house which keep turning up until July.

* No one ever broke his neck putting Halloween lights up on that tall tree in the front lawn.

* Stores don't incessantly play Halloween songs. (In fact, there really is only one Halloween song.)

* You don't have to pretend to be cheerful all the time.

* For little kids a fat guy, with a big bushy beard in a red suit, is a lot scarier than any ghost.

* Candy, candy, candy!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Agenda and Me

If you missed me on The Agenda, the other night -- good news. You can watch it right here!

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest "strategist" on CTV Newsnet's Power Play tonight at about 5:30 PM EST.

Topic: A bunch of political stuff that's happening.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The crimes Khadr didn't commit

A lot of people are saying the Liberals and NDPers are a bunch of bleeding-heart, namby-pamby wimps because of all the sympathy they seem to be extending to accused terrorist/murderer Omar Khadr.

Well don’t you believe it!

It’s just that “progressive Canadians” believe individual rights are only for those accused of crimes like terrorism.

Had Khadr committed a different sort of “crime”, one where no one actually got hurt, then he would have been in serious trouble.

For instance, it’s just Khadr’s good fortune that he didn’t commit one of the following sins:

  1. Use guns in Afghanistan that were unregistered.

  2. Talk on blackberry while driving a car.

  3. Smoke a cigarette outdoors within 20 kilometers of a child.

  4. Drive an SUV and let it idle.

  5. Own a pit-bull

  6. Offer private health care services inside Canada.

  7. Sell food items containing “trans fats.”
  1. Post an English sign in Quebec.
  1. Ride a bicycle without a helmet

  2. Vote for Rob Ford

Had he done any or all of these things, both the Liberals and NDP would have happily shipped Khadr out to Gitmo faster than you can say Nanny State.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Media Alert

Be sure and catch me tonight at 8:00 PM EST on TVO's The Agenda as I discuss "The curious case of Maxime Bernier."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Liberals need a theory

I have a column in this week's Ottawa Hill Times explaining the Liberal Party's chief dilemma: They don't have a theory to win.

I have reproduced it below:

Liberals need a theory, running an issue campaign can be risky

Famed baseball hitting coach Charlie Lau once said “there are two theories on hitting a knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither of them works.”

That’s the same kind of unhelpful advice I would offer to strategists working for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Except, I would tell them something like this: In politics there are three basic theories on winning an election, but unfortunately for you Liberals none of them work.

What are the theories, you ask?

Well, one theory is you win an election by having a strong leader. That, of course, can mean having a leader who is charismatic or who has a strong, magnetic personality.

Think Pierre Trudeau or Barack Obama.

It can also mean having a leader is who is a celebrity or a star—fitting that mold would be Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dwight Eisenhower.

Strong leaders work well in politics because they attract resources, they attract media attention and most importantly they can attract voters who may not otherwise be interested in the political process.

Unfortunately, however, for the Liberals, no matter how you slice it, their leader, Michael Ignatieff, falls short in the leadership department.

Let’s face it, although intelligent and articulate, Ignatieff has all the charisma of a sea slug. And while he might enjoy celebrity status among readers of the Harvard Literary Review, he was never exactly a household name in Canada.

So for Liberals, strong leadership is not a path to victory.

The second theory to winning elections is you champion a burning issue. Brian Mulroney, for instance, used the issue of Free Trade in the 1988 federal election to help him achieve victory.

However, typically issue-oriented campaigns usually don’t fare so well. True, candidates promoting a strong issue can often attract attention, resources and volunteers, but that rarely translates into winning over voters. Consider the examples of issue-oriented candidates like Republican Ron Paul in the United States or Green Party leader Elizabeth May in Canada.

A lot of people like their ideas, but not a lot of people vote for them.

What’s more, running on an issue campaign can be risky. If you choose the wrong issue, it can actually do you more harm than good. Just ask St├ęphane Dion who adopted the ill-advised strategy of promoting a “green tax” in the last Canadian election.

And when it comes to issues, there’s another problem for the Liberals: what issue out there today is sexy enough to win an election?

Running on a promise to bring back the long-form census questionnaire, probably won’t do the trick.

That’s why it seems extremely unlikely running an issues-oriented campaign would work for the Ignatieff Liberals.

This leaves the final election theory. And it can be summed simply as the “Us vs Them” theory.

In other words, this strategy entails convincing voters that you represent the interests of the good “us” versus the interests of the bad “them.”

Who is “us” and who is “them”?

Well that depends on which voters you are trying to court. In the United States right now the Republican Party is defining the “us” as regular God-fearing Americans and the “them” as

Washington insiders, lobbyists and powerbrokers.”

For the Democrats, meanwhile, the “us” are “The Little Guy”, while the “Them” are “greedy corporate Wall Street interests.”

Here in Canada, the Harper Conservatives are using this approach with some success. They have cast themselves as representing Tim Horton’s coffee-drinking Canadians as opposed to the CBC-watching, criminal-coddling, champagne sipping, urban elites.

This approach is probably the easiest political path to take. However, it’s hard to see how it would work for the Liberals. Think about it.

Ignatieff, with all his Harvard degrees and his aristocratic pedigree, just doesn’t seem like any of us.

Sure the Liberal leader can try and fake it: he can drink beer out of the can, attend the odd kids’ hockey game and wear plaid shirts, but voters have a way of sniffing out a phony. They prefer candidates who are real.

So it seems “Us” vs “Them” is out.

And that in a nutshell is the dilemma for the Liberals. They simply don’t have a theory on how they can win and election. Indeed, this explains why their party is languishing in the polls with no prospects of turning things around.

Their only hope is if they can come up with a new theory of winning.

If they don’t Ignatieff will have a better chance of hitting a knuckleball then he has of ever becoming Prime Minister.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A splendid book

Given all the publicity the anti-Globalization rioters get these days, it might surprise you to learn that in early nineteenth century Britain there were actually riots demanding free trade!

Yes it’s true.

That’s just one interesting little historical tidbit I discovered while reading A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, by William J. Bernstein.

The book looks at the history of international trade, from the times when cavemen exchanged seashells for antlers to today’s debates over globalization.

And at the risk of sounding like some sort of ubergeek, let me confess I am finding it to be fascinating reading.

Especially interesting is learning how governments through the ages sought to squelch international commerce, usually at the behest of some special interest group.

For instance, in seventeenth century England when the East India Company started importing cheap cotton the resulting competition hurt domestic wool weavers, who demanded Parliament do something.

In response, Bernstein writes Parliament considered a number of bills, “One would have required the wearing of wool by all students, faculty members, judges and lawyers; another, the wearing of wool by all citizens six months of the year; yet another, the wearing of felt hats by all female servants earning less than five pounds per year.”

Sounds like the kind of ideas Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty would consider.

Fortunately, these measures were shot down. (Hurting the chances of these bills passing were East India Company bribes which ended up in the pockets of key members of the House of Lords.)

One bill, however, did pass in 1678 requiring the dead be buried in wool!

The next British protectionist surge was a lot less comical.

In 1815, at the behest of the landed aristocracy, Parliament created a series of “Corn Laws” designed to keep foreign grain out of England and therefore keep grain prices artificially high.

As Bernstein notes, “Protectionist legislation usually strikes at the weak and powerless and the Corn Law of 1815 was no exception.”

Indeed, the price of bread skyrocketed meaning the poor could not afford to eat. Hence the riots demanding free trade.

Eventually, powered by the pro-free trade ideas of Adam Smith and others, a new group of leaders emerged in England who thankfully for hungry Englishmen overturned the Corn Laws.

Free trade won.

But, of course, the fight for freedom never really ends.

There will always be protectionist politicians, business leaders, big union bosses and academics who will put their own parochial interests ahead of the interests of consumers.

Too bad we can’t bury their ideas in wool.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Strange fruit, stranger Ideas

As we all know the CBC never met a trendy left-wing fad it didn’t like.

And so, I was not surprised yesterday to hear a puffball interview on CBC radio with Mark Arellano, a documentary-film maker and professor who was pushing the lastest left-wing fad: “Food Sovereignty”

Arellano has produced a film called Strange Fruit, which from what I heard on the radio, makes the following arguments:

  • Food is too cheap. We should pay at least four or five times more than what we pay today for groceries.

  • Shopping at grocery stores is morally wrong. We should only shop at farmers’ markets.

  • Or better yet, everyone should grow their own vegetables and fruits.

Of course, we once had such a food system in place --- it was called the Dark Ages.

Back in those days, peasants basically ate what they could grow or kill. And many times they would starve to death.

I am sure those emaciated peasants would have felt a lot better knowing they were dying in accordance with left wing principles.

Anyway, I wonder if Arellano thinks we should also slaughter our own pigs and butcher our own cows. That could get a little messy around the backyard.

And I suppose we Canadians should forget all about eating European cheese or American oranges or drinking coffee and tea.

Mind you, there is a bright side to all of this.

If we did take Arellano’s advice and grow our own crops, it would mean we would be far too busy to partake in any other activities, such as listening to CBC radio.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Singing the UN Blues?

The United Nations recently gave our country a collective glove wash.

By now we all know the sad story: Canada wanted a seat on the “Security Council” but the UN passed us over, bestowing seats instead to Portugal and Germany.

Portugal and Germany?!

This clearly proves beyond any doubt that a country’s standing in the UN must be directly related to its soccer prowess.

I suppose that means if hockey were a more popular international sport, we’d be running the world.

At any rate, our humiliating UN loss stunned Canada’s political leaders, who reacted to the bad news the way our political leaders always react to bad news – they instantly blamed each other.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff declared Canada lost out because international diplomats were punishing us for our “blatant anti-census agenda.”

“The horrifying image of those blank census forms is burned into the minds of all right-thinking Europeans” fumed Ignatieff. “To make things right, my MPs and I are willing to fill out all the forms ourselves and mail them to capitals of Europe.”

For his part, the Prime Minister took the high road: “I blame everyone but me for this diplomatic mess,” stated the Prime Minister. “But I especially blame Michael Ignatieff for reasons my speech writers will dream up later.”

Of course, regardless of who is to blame, our failure to win a seat at the Security Council table is the biggest blow to our national prestige since the McKenzie Brothers movie, Strange Brew, bombed at the box office.

In fact, when asked how this Security Council debacle will impact Canada’s international reputation, a leading American scholar, who specializes in the UN, replied, “What’s Canada?”

Even more importantly, our failure to gain a Security Council seat means Canada will not be voicing its opinions at the table when the United Nations performs its vital global functions.

What vital global functions?

Well, take the key role the UN plays in maintaining world peace.

Before the UN was invented, countries would invade each other at the drop of a hat.

Now countries have a chance to defend and debate their policies in the civilized and structured environment of the UN – then they invade each other at the drop of a hat.

And let’s not forget how UN helps to redistribute global wealth.

Every day the UN sucks millions of tax dollars out of countries like Canada and carefully funnels them into the pockets of corrupt UN bureaucrats.

And finally, the UN also gives “international statesman” a chance to shine in the global spotlight.

For instance, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad often takes time off time from stoning people to death, so he can politely and reasonably explain to the UN why Israel must be wiped from the map.

In fact, many give Ahmadinejad credit for the UN General Assembly recently voting to name October 25 as “International Wipe Israel from the Map Day.”

Yes isn’t it a shame Canada isn’t playing a more important role in such a fine and useful organization as the UN?

Oh well, at least we can lick Portugal and Germany in hockey.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

"The NCC has let down the Canadian conservative movement"

Writer/author Paul Tuns recently recounted the sad state of affairs at my old group the National Citizens Coalition.

Writes Tuns:

Where is the NCC -- and what is it doing Gerry Nicholls gets asked this question a lot: Does the National Citizens Coalition even still exist?

There is a reason for this question. Quick, name any campaign the NCC is undertaking right now.

When were they last quoted in a news article?

The NCC's last dated press release was March 25 and their last press release lamely called for the Ontario Liberals to "openly discuss their plans on healthcare reform.

"The president's blog is updated semi-regularly -- although Peter Coleman didn't say anything about the gun registry until after the vote -- but is overly partisan .... But a president's blog isn't activism -- even in 2010. The NCC has let down the Canadian conservative movement.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sad question

Here's a sad question I get quite a lot these days: Does the National Citizens Coalition even still exist?

Media Alert

I am scheduled to appear on the Michael Harris Show (CFRA Ottawa) today at 1:35 PM to talk about the recent letter I sent to the Toronto Star on cultural coercion.

BTW -- Professor Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek, linked to that letter.

As he put it, "In this powerful letter-to-the-editor, my Canadian friend Gerry Nicholls takes a stand against collectivism and for individualism."

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Ceasing Cultural Coercion

The Toronto Star recently ran an editorial with the usual statist arguments for cultural coercion.

I responded with the following letter to the editor, which appears in today's paper:

Canadians can make own choices

Re: Fight to survive in a digital age, Editorial, Oct. 1

Why is the Star opposed to consumer freedom? You write that in this digital age, “consumers can use the Internet and on-demand video to watch whatever they want, whenever they want.”

Yet instead of cheering this choice-expanding trend, you see it as a grave threat to our sovereignty and accordingly call upon the state to limit our freedoms.

You want more government regulations to force “Canadian content” on the air and want to coerce citizens through their tax dollars to subsidize what you consider politically correct cultural choices.

This attack on individual freedom is necessary, you argue, to protect “Canadian identity.”

Yet surely, Canadians should have the right to determine their own identity through their own cultural choices.