By Paul Wells - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
There are so many Liberal leadership races going on across the country that sometimes we miss a few. I woke up in an arctic Montreal this morning eager to check one of the larger contests off my list. The candidates to succeed Jean Charest as leader of the Quebec Liberal Party — the convention will be in Montreal on March 16-17 — were having a kind of sort of debate.
The venue was the Sheraton Centre hotel, where a group called Idée Fédérale wanted to gauge the candidates’ federalist credentials. Idée Fédérale is designed to be a place where Quebecers can talk about Canada in public, as though it were respectable; its most visible figures are La Presse editor André Pratte and international-relations scholar Jocelyn Coulon, who inaugurated a durable tradition when he became the first in a string of federal Liberals to lose to Tom Mulcair in Outremont in 2007.
This morning’s breakfast was resolutely low-key. Pratte sat in a plush chair and interrogated the three candidates, gently gently, in turn. They did not appear together except for a group photo. Let’s take them in the order they appeared. Continue…
By selley - Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 1:42 PM - 7 Comments
Must-reads: …Don MacPherson on letting Elizabeth May talk; Don Martin on Stéphane Dion’s day.
Welcome aboard, Elizabeth
Next project: Get Gilles Duceppe out of the English debate!
There were “good reasons” not to include Elizabeth May in the leaders’ debates, Don MacPherson argues in the Montreal Gazette, notably that the line has to be drawn somewhere if any of the leaders are going to have time to say anything, and “drawing it in front of a party that has never elected a member of Parliament seemed like a good place.” But “her exclusion would remain indefensible as long as the leader of the Bloc Québécois is allowed to participate in the English debate as well as the French one,” he argues (to the consternation, no doubt, of the Bloc’s six anglophone supporters). And from a purely political standpoint, MacPherson believes Dion’s support for May represents a strategic masterstroke—both in general, because it strengthens his “environmental credentials,” and because supporting her inclusion in the debate made him look like a champion of democracy.
Or, if you want to look at it from Don Martin‘s perspective, Dion “meekly refused to boycott” the debates if May wasn’t included, which reduced “what could’ve been a triumph of political brinkmanship over [Stephen Harper's] bully antics,” and a heroic moment for women and free-speech advocates, into a mere “flip-flop” on Harper’s part. Other Wednesday screw-ups for Dion include swooping in—Caw! Caw!—on a bunch of Walkerton, Ont. high-school students and using them as props to talk about food safety. “A teacher pulled me aside after Dion’s talk,” Martin relates in the Calgary Herald, “to confide that Walkerton students are sick of being poster kids for poison products.” Can’t blame them a bit.
By selley - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 at 1:14 PM - 10 Comments
Must-reads: Chantal Hébert on dissing the Greens; …Norman Spector on the value of another
Must-reads: Chantal Hébert on dissing the Greens; Norman Spector on the value of another minority; Dan Gardner on election psychology; Christie Blatchford on Sgt. Prescott Shipway; Don Martin and Greg Weston on l’affaire macareux; Thomas Walkom on our dull(er) election campaign.
A most consequential campaign
Is it a dead puffin? Or is it merely pining for the fjords?
In many respects the ongoing repackaging of Stéphane Dion and Stephen Harper mimics the “carefully scripted” sales job the Republicans deployed for Sarah Palin, Dan Gardner writes in the Ottawa Citizen, and much as we’d like to think otherwise, cognitive psychologists have proven that our emotions affect our choices even if we don’t realize we’re experiencing them. “Sadly for marketers—and happily for the rest of us—it’s not quite that easy,” says Gardner. Palin was easy to pitch as “the hockey mom who will give ‘em heck in Washington” in large part because nobody had ever heard of her. Altering already-entrenched emotional responses, on the other hand, is much harder than slapping a sweater-vest and a smile on Harper or a pair of skis on Dion.
Or, as Sun Media’s Greg Weston sarcastically puts it, “it’s a good thing all Canadian voters just fell off the turnip truck and banged their heads on the way down. Otherwise, the political parties would be wasting millions of tax dollars on ads portraying their respective leaders as fanciful creations of the Disney fairy.”
The Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe speaks to various communications and advertising experts about the value of negative campaign advertising, and concludes that while it generally works for policy related issues, it generally doesn’t when it comes to personal issues—like making fun of Jean Chrétien’s face, for example, or a “manipulated photo” (yeah, that’s just what it was) of a puffin defecating on Stéphane Dion’s shoulder. We think it’s safe to say Canada’s sense of perspective is in some serious trouble.
By Anne Kingston - Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 3:01 PM - 15 Comments
There’s something nostalgically retro about Elizabeth May cry of “sexism” to explain her exclusion …
There’s something nostalgically retro about Elizabeth May cry of “sexism” to explain her exclusion from the leaders’ debates. After all, isn’t “sexism” the very vehicle that transported Sarah Palin to the VP debates south of the border? Talking to a group of reporters on Parliament Hill yesterday, May played the victim, blaming the “old boy’s club”: “This is anti-democratic, closed-door, backroom decision-making by four national party leaders who are all men and five television executives – who are all men – to keep out the one woman leader of a federal party.”
That’s poppycock, of course. Even more laugh-out-loud funny is May’s outrage over “anti-democratic, closed-door, backroom decision-making.” As I learned researching this profile of her last year, behind May’s feisty-martyr public persona is a woman well-acquainted with closed-door finagling. Just look at that contentious arrangement she hammered out with Dion in Central Nova last spring. Continue…