By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 0 Comments
Last night’s Calgary Centre by-election, won by media personality and former newspaper editor Joan Crockatt, was held in the most pro-Naheed Nenshi part of what is now a very pro-Nenshi city. Like Crockatt last night, Nenshi exploited a split opposition to win the Calgary mayoralty in 2010. But Calgary’s civic Ward 8, which makes up about two-thirds of the Calgary Centre riding, is a place where the mayor dominated all other contestants combined, taking 58% of the vote. The Green Party’s Chris Turner has close ties to Nenshi (though the mayor didn’t endorse anybody), and Turner was clearly hoping to capitalize on that success, employing Nenshi campaign staffers and Nenshian social-media tactics.
It earned him 26% of the vote. That’s still an amazing figure for a Green Party-labelled candidate in Calgary—especially an unknown one with essentially no pre-existing local political apparatus to exploit. From a standing start, Turner earned 20 votes for every three cast for the NDP’s Dan Meades.
The more meaningful pre-election data, however, may have come not from 2010 but from this year’s provincial election, in which Calgary Centre covers about the same area as three downtown constituencies: Calgary-Elbow, home base of both Ralph Klein and Alison Redford; Calgary-Buffalo, the city’s Liberal stronghold; and Calgary-Currie. The right-wing Wildrose Party got 12,694 votes there in April, and one would have to think that many of them were among the 10,201 who made it out to vote for Conservative Crockatt last night. (Her campaign was as Wildrose-heavy as Turner’s was Nenshi-heavy.) The Liberals had 8,449 provincial votes in the zone, and federal Liberal Harvey Locke got 9,034 last night.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
It’s just one poll and the sample is small and the margin of error is high and the riding has never been anything other than Conservative… but for the sake of finding some excitement in this fall’s by-elections, you could imagine that Calgary Centre might be a race.
As reported by the Globe & Mail, the November survey of 376 randomly selected residents in Calgary-Centre showed Ms. Crockatt with 32% to 30% for Mr. Locke and 23% for Mr. Turner. New Democrat Dan Meades was in fourth place with 12%. The survey is considered to be accurate by plus or minus five percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
If this new survey is to be believed, then the November 26 vote could be much more exciting than most political watchers, including myself, had previously predicted. A similar survey conducted by Forum Research in October found Ms. Crockatt with 48% to 28% for Mr. Locke, 11% for Mr. Turner, and 8% for Mr. Meades. Another survey from Forum Research conducted in August found the Conservatives with 44% to 21% for the Liberals, 14% for the NDP, and 12% for the Greens. It appears that within a matter of months, the 40% margin of victory earned by former Conservative MP Lee Richardson in the 2011 federal election and 23% margin for the Conservatives found in the September survey may have completely evaporated.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 11:04 AM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth May’s fear factor
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May… is gearing up
Elizabeth May’s fear factor
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May is gearing up for the three by-elections (yet to be called) that she hopes could double her caucus of one. She feels the Greens have a chance in Calgary Centre, the riding formerly represented by Conservative Lee Richardson, who resigned to work for Alberta Premier Alison Redford, and in Victoria, which became vacant after NDP MP and deputy Speaker Denise Savoie stepped down for health reasons. One of the advantages of the Victoria riding for May is that it borders her own riding, and she won’t have to get on a plane to help with the campaign. Flying can be a problem for May. “I’m too afraid of flying to sleep,” she says. When she takes the red-eye from B.C. to Ottawa she is pretty much up for 24 hours—a skill, she notes, that has its perks: “That’s why I’m so good at voting all night.”
Tankers not tank tops
Over the summer, NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie, the party’s environment critic, was raising awareness about environmental issues surrounding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. While in British Columbia, her fellow NDP MP Nathan Cullen introduced her to Greer Kaiser, a local activist originally from Nova Scotia, the province that Leslie represents. Leslie connected Kaiser with local Halifax environment groups (the Atlantic chapter of Sierra Club Canada, the Ecology Action Centre and the Atlantic Canada Sustainable Energy Coalition) and the duo brought their pipeline-awareness message to a barbeque called “Tankers vs. Tank Tops.” Participants were asked to wear creative tops for the cause. Leslie had a multicoloured tank top and then put on a T-shirt, given to her by the organizers, that said, “No pipeline. No tankers. No problem.” Liberal MP Geoff Regan attended the event but did not wear a tank top.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 1:51 PM - 0 Comments
Joe Soares has the endorsements of Rod Bruinooge and Doug Finley, while Greg McLean has the endorsement of Lee Richardson, Calgary Centre’s last MP. Now, Joan Crockatt announces the endorsement of Mike Duffy.
We Conservatives have a great story to tell. Joan Crockatt is the perfect candidate to help get a strong conservative message out to Canadians. If you’ve ever seen Joan interviewed on television you know what I mean: she has an uncanny ability to control the debate and to win people over to our side.
She is a communicator who can beat Liberals and New Democrats on the doorsteps and in the media. In fact—I’d put Joan Crockatt up against Thomas Mulcair or Justin Trudeau on a television panel any day of the week.
The vote for the Conservative nomination is scheduled for Saturday.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 13, 2012 at 8:42 AM - 0 Comments
If electoral history is any judge, the answer to that question is “no.” Since 1966, Calgary Centre has gone Progressive Conservative to Reform to Canadian Alliance to Progressive Conservative to Conservative. All-but-one of the province’s ridings are held by Conservatives. All of the neighbouring Calgary ridings are held by Conservatives. And it’s been 70 years since any of the Calgary ridings elected anyone other than a Conservatives (Liberal George Henry Ross in Calgary West and Liberal Manley Justin Edwards in Calgary West, both elected in 1940).*
Only once has a New Democrat finished better than third in Calgary Centre. The NDP candidate in 2011 received 7,314 votes—an all-time record for a New Democrat there, but 21,000 votes short of Lee Richardson.
Nonetheless, Nathan Cullen was in Calgary Centre Wednesday night for an “interactive workshop” about “uniting progressives.” (“This by-election can be this perfect vehicle to hold the Prime Minister accountable for his lack of respect towards hard-working Canadians and the democratic process itself.”) He was happy to report over the phone yesterday afternoon that the event drew 200 people, including Liberal, Green and Progressive Conservative supporters.
It’s going to be a tough slog, obviously, but you have a meeting before the writ’s even called and 200 folks show up, talking about door-knocking and social media and trying to make this election count, it’s a good start anyway … it’s the Prime Minister’s backyard, right? It’s also traditionally tough terrain for us, so we’re open-eyed about it, we’re not deluding ourselves, but if there’s a feeling on the ground and you’re running with canvassers and that kind of momentum, it’s going to be the folks in the riding that determine that. I get the sense, just from the meeting last night, that people from all around Calgary want to come in on this. I think sometimes by-elections sort of sleepily go along and they’re not a big deal, but maybe just with Bill C-38 and some of the things that the Prime Minister’s getting in trouble for—I mean, the Economist taking shots at you, it’s got to hurt. There just seems to be a mood in the air that’s different than other by-elections that I’ve been to. And that’s not to say that it makes it necessarily that much easier, but it just gives you a real energy. And that’s critical. I mean, when we won Outremont, the energy was palpable. It’s not there yet, obviously, but, boy, it was a good feeling last night … There’s obviously something in the air and who taps into is going to benefit from it for sure.
The NDP has shown an ability to surprise (Outremont in 2007, Edmonton-Strathcona in 2008, Quebec in 2011), but Calgary Centre would probably have to be considered a leap above and beyond any recent precedent. The more realistic question might be how well the New Democrats would have to do in Calgary Centre for it to be considered a “win”—Second place? Within 10 points? Within 20 points?— in the post-game analysis.
*Liberals won in Calgary South in 1963 and 1968, but that riding was redistributed in 1987 between three other ridings.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
The Conservative MP for Calgary Centre rose after QP today to announce his resignation. Mr. Richardson was first elected as a Progressive Conservative in 1988—here is his maiden speech—but he first worked on the Hill as an executive assistant to John Diefenbaker and later served in the Prime Minister’s Office of Brian Mulroney.
Last spring, he sought the Speaker’s chair, finishing third in balloting. He will be returning to Alberta to serve as principal secretary to Premier Alison Redford.
Below, the text of Mr. Richardson’s remarks in the House. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 11:49 AM - 0 Comments
A shoeless MP, the Senatrix Martini, and a meeting with Celine Dion
Raitt ditches her heels
A snap vote to attempt to delay the Conservatives’ controversial omnibus crime bill saw MPs racing to make it into the House of Commons last week. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney got in seconds after the warning bells stopped. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt whisked in just before him, but she’d had to remove her high-heeled shoes as she bolted down the staircase to make it to the chamber on time.
The Senatrix martini
MPs from all parties packed a reception hosted by Canada’s gay rights group Egale. The event was hosted by Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth. Before she addressed the boisterous crowd, the senator tried to quiet it, shouting, “Shut up!” This prompted Liberal MP Justin Trudeau to quip, “Shut the f–k up usually works better”—referring to what she famously told aid groups who protested against the Prime Minister’s refusal to fund abortions as part of its international maternal health initiative. If they didn’t, the senator suggested, they would face “more backlash” from the Tories. Egale had a juggling barman serving martinis, one called the “Senatrix,” named for Nancy Ruth, and another called the “Naked Whip.” Colourful platters included edible flowers, one of which was tasted by Toronto NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan. One gay Hill staffer, who used to be in the Prime Minister’s Office with Stephen Harper, told Capital Diary of the time the PM congratulated him on his same-sex marriage. Stephen Harper went on to make his dream come true when, on a trip, the Prime Minister surprised the staffer by pulling him aside and allowing him to meet Céline Dion, who he was preparing to greet.
At the reception, Egale told Capital Diary it is working with coroners to track gay suicide deaths. In Saskatchewan, it is involved with the province to train police officers about LGBT issues, and in Newfoundland it is co-operating with the government to provide anti-homophobia resources in classrooms.
Why robocalls aren’t popular in the Arctic
NDP MP Dennis Bevington said in the 2008 election he used robocalls to send messages to voters in his Western Arctic riding. He hasn’t used them since. The problem, he says, was the response from constituents. They kept telling him: “Hey, I tried to say something to you but all you did was keep talking and talking. I couldn’t get a word in.”
The perfect campaign jacket
NDP leadership candidates have been fanning across the country as their March 23-24 convention, and the vote for Jack Layton’s replacement, nears. Few are in Ottawa, but last week Niki Ashton made a short return to the capital, turning heads in a bright orange coat she’s dubbed her “campaign jacket.” Ashton says the coat was strategic because she needed something for outdoor photo-ops in wet and cold weather. She says the coat has been perfect in all of Canada except when she is back in her home riding of Churchill in Manitoba. “Then I need my Canada Goose,” says Ashton.
Trying the robocall scandal dish
At the centre of the robocall scandal is the riding of Guelph, where there happens to be a food joint called Pierre’s Poutine. “Pierre Poutine,” of course, was the name used to set up a robocall account to target the riding. Frank Valeriote, the Liberal MP who represents the riding, says he’s never been there. Indeed, he only recently tried poutine for the first time, at the Royal Oak, an Ottawa pub. All the talk of “Pierre Poutine” got him thinking he needed to at least taste the stuff.
Down to floor space
As the hype continues to build for the Calgary Stampede’s 100th anniversary in July, so do the requests by friends to Calgary MP Lee Richardson to crash at his place. “I keep saying yes,” says the Tory MP. The problem is he’s getting set to demolish his house, and during the Stampede he’ll be renting a smaller one. Book now with Richardson for Stampede 2013.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
Will Trudeau go blue?
Things are heating up between Liberal MP Justin Trudeau…,
Will Trudeau go blue?
Things are heating up between Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, 40, and Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau, 37. The two are set to go at it in the ring on March 31 in a charity boxing match for Fight for the Cure. Trudeau trained as a boxer years ago and is currently working out in the ring and watching Tae Bo videos. Brazeau holds a second-degree black belt in karate. The fight will be for real. “If I break my nose, then I break my nose,” says Trudeau. The Liberal MP’s wife, Sophie Grégoire, has also helped her husband prepare for the showdown by purchasing Trudeau a robe with his name on the back. But Trudeau is not sure he can wear it. Says the MP, “The robe is blue and I’m fighting from the Liberal red corner!”
Minister skirts issue on transgendered
Much drama last week over the issue of transgendered people needing to match the sex on their identification when travelling by air. Gay Liberal MP Scott Brison could not resist a few one-liners. “I thought airport security was already a drag.” On how Transport Minister Denis Lebel handled himself in question period, Brison quipped, “The minister skirted the issue.” More seriously, Calgary Conservative MP Lee Richardson said such security issues could be solved if people, for example, “just matched their iris identiﬁcation” within an enhanced security system.
Conservative advice for Occupiers
Alumni from Nova Scotia’s Mount Saint Vincent University gathered on the Hill for a reception. The event was hosted by Nova Scotia Liberal Sen. Jane Cordy, NDP MP Megan Leslie, who represents Halifax, and Conservative Sen. Nancy Ruth, who established Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at the Mount in the ’80s when the government at the time offered to create four women’s studies chairs across the country as long as the university matched the funding. Nancy Ruth stepped up and donated the $500,000 needed. She has an honorary degree from the Mount and last fall joined Sheila Fraser when the former auditor general received her honorary degree. At the time the senator spoke to a class of students who were supposed to hear a lecture about women and politics, but the students were more interested in asking her questions about the Occupy movement. “What do you do when the police come and pick you up?” asked one person. She told the students to find out who was on their police services board and added this advice: “Never protest alone, always work with other networks.” At the Hill reception, Liberal MP Geoff Regan asked that the attendees be told he had to leave before the speeches because he was on House duty. This prompted NDP MP Peter Stoffer to quip: “I’m on House duty but I’m not going.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 6, 2011 at 3:33 PM - 4 Comments
After completing my master’s degree, I drove the Escort up to Ottawa to work in the federal public service. Walking down Bank Street one evening, I saw a sign on Subway restaurant stating it was the last day that Sub Club stamps would be accepted. I ran to my apartment to get my pile of stamps before Subway closed.
Upon returning to the Bank Street franchise, I found myself in line with Andrew. The Subway cashier informed me that he could not accept a handful of loose stamps; they had to be affixed to cards. I asked if he had any blank Sub Club cards. The cashier explained that he did not because the program was ending, but that he was prepared to accept any type of card. Without missing a beat, Andrew pulled out his business cards and offered that I could use them. So, I stood there sticking Sub Club stamps onto “Andrew Scheer, MP” cards while he ordered his sandwich. That’s my best story about Andrew being a good guy.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 11:02 AM - 44 Comments
Greetings from the press gallery of the House of Commons, where we will shortly commence with live coverage of the 41st Parliament’s Speaker election. MPs are presently filing into the chamber, acquainting and reacquainting themselves with each other. The proceedings will commence around 11 o’clock.
There are presently eight candidates seeking the post: Dean Allison, Barry Devolin, Ed Holder, Lee Richardson, Denise Savoie, Andrew Scheer, Bruce Stanton and Merv Tweed. Officially, Justin Trudeau will appear on the first ballot, but that is owing to his having not notified the clerk in time that he did not wish to be in the running (MPs must officially opt out of the Speaker’s election).
Very shortly the Usher of the Black Rod will arrive to inform the House that its collective presence is required at the Senate. The Speaker of the Senate will then inform the House that it should choose a Speaker if it wishes to proceed with business. The House will reconvene and Louis Plamondon, as the longest serving MP in the House, will take the chair. The candidates for Speaker will then be called to stand and briefly state their respective cases. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 30, 2011 at 5:32 PM - 4 Comments
Next in our series on the prospective speakers, Barry Devolin, the MP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. His answers are after the jump.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 8:43 AM - 44 Comments
Yesterday, I emailed the offices of the seven MPs confirmed to be seeking the Speaker’s post. I sent each candidate the same set of questions with the promise that I would reprint here any and all responses in their entirety. Those questions were as follows.
1. First and foremost, why do you want this job?
2. To what degree have you been concerned about the levels of civility and decorum in the House during recent sessions? Would your approach to maintaining civility differ from Mr. Milliken’s and, if so, how?
3. Mr. Milliken objected to the use of statements by members to launch partisan and personal attacks? Do you share his concern and, if so, what could be done to deal with this matter?
4. Mr. Milliken made three closely watched rulings on privilege during the last Parliament: specifically on matters related to the opposition’s access to documents in regards to the transfer of detainees in Afghanistan, International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda’s dealings with the House and an opposition demand that the government comply with certain requests for information. Did you at the time, or do you now, have any objections to any part of those rulings? As Speaker, would you have handled those matters at all differently?
Responses will be posted here in the order they are received.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 20, 2011 at 1:58 PM - 5 Comments
The NDP’s Denise Savoie has officially entered the race to be the next Speaker of the House. From the news release:
“I’m running for Speaker with a singular focus on raising the tone and quality of debate in Parliament, to restore the trust that Canadians deserve to have in their politicians and democratic institutions,” said Savoie.
As Assistant Deputy Speaker in the last Parliament Savoie launched a number of explicitly non-partisan initiatives aimed at fostering constructive and informed discussion on important topics, including workshops on climate change and the first all-party Parliamentary Arts Caucus. “I’m asking my fellow MPs to imagine a Parliament that functions well – where debate is not focused on scoring points, but rather on creating better, more inclusive public policy,” said Savoie.
As a fluently bilingual Franco-Manitoban who has lived in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and now in British Columbia, Savoie brings a pan-Canadian perspective to the Speaker’s Chair.
Of the seven MPs who are now in the race—Savoie, Andrew Scheer, Lee Richardson, Ed Holder, Barry Devolin, Merv Tweed and Dean Allison—five voted in favour of Michael Chong’s motion on Question Period reform. Mr. Scheer was in the Speaker’s chair at the time of the vote and Mr. Holder’s vote was paired.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 11:37 AM - 29 Comments
The Canadian Press widens the current field to replace Peter Milliken as Speaker to six MPs, all of them Conservatives.
Ever-cheerful Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer, who has worked alongside Peter Milliken as deputy speaker and assistant deputy speaker, is again trying his luck. He’s also the only functionally bilingual candidate among the Conservative MPs in the running. The NDP has said it believes the Speaker should be bilingual. ”I think back in 2004 I was quite the heckler, quite the partisan guy, and spending so many years in the chair has really taught me the importance of impartiality for the chair occupants but also a better personal understanding of what motivates other members of other parties,” said Scheer, who turns 31 on the weekend. ”(It’s) the idea that while you certainly might believe that your ideas and your policies are the best for Canada, not to take anything away from the opposition MPs who truly do want the same thing that you want — for Canada to be the best country in the world.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:15 AM - 3 Comments
The National Arts Centre hosted Ottawa’s Gold Medal Plates dinner to raise funds for…
The National Arts Centre hosted Ottawa’s Gold Medal Plates dinner to raise funds for the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Local chefs prepared special meals and high profile Olympians attended including Alexandre Bilodeau (below), the first Canadian to win gold on Canadian soil.
Labour Minister Lisa Raitt.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 11:05 AM - 0 Comments
Over the weekend, Jeffrey Simpson lamented for the lifers he sees as presently dominating federal politics. He defined a lifer as one who has been involved for a long period of time at any level of politics, not just as a candidate or elected representative. In this way, for instance, Mr. Harper is a lifer because he has been involved in politics since the mid-80s.
The academic research in this regard—though Simpson’s definition complicates a direct comparison and his focus on party leaders is relevant—has generally raised the alarm about the exact opposite concern: that our MPs have too little experience and are too prone to turnover. To wit. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 10:20 AM - 9 Comments
All parties were united by wearing blue to show their support for NDP leader…
All parties were united by wearing blue to show their support for NDP leader Jack Layton in his battle with prostate cancer. The men were given ties and the women were given scarves by Prostate Cancer Canada. Below, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 29, 2009 at 1:12 PM - 14 Comments
Back to yesterday’s QP. Specifically this answer of the Prime Minister’s.
Mr. Speaker, the record of the Liberal Party is this: Liberals got this country into deficits when borrowing was at record levels, and then when recession came, they were cutting the unemployed and raising taxes right in the middle of a recession, something this party will never do.
For as long as the current Conservative government has been in power, it has found convenient excuse in the various failings of the “previous Liberal government.” But here is an entirely new standard for historical reference. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 9:00 AM - 72 Comments
Ezra Levant held the Ottawa launch of his new book, Shakedown: How Our Government…
Ezra Levant held the Ottawa launch of his new book, Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights. Levant is the journalist and Conservative activist who was taken to the Alberta Human Rights Commission when he published the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in the Western Standard.
(Left to right) Ezra Levant, Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein and Maclean’s columnist/keynote speaker Mark Steyn.
Transport Minister John Baird (right) and Tory staffer Chris Lawton.
Keynote speaker Mark Steyn.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 3:01 AM - 6 Comments
Jim Flaherty’s wife Christine Elliott, who is running for leader of the Ontario Progressive…
Jim Flaherty’s wife Christine Elliott, who is running for leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, held a meet-and-greet at the Elephant & Castle pub and restaurant in Ottawa. Flaherty introduced himself as Mr. Christine Elliott.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 9:39 PM - 3 Comments
The Cement Association of Canada held a reception on the Hill to schmooze and…
The Cement Association of Canada held a reception on the Hill to schmooze and have some concrete discussions.
Toronto Liberal MP Joe Volpe.
Calgary Tory MP Lee Richardson.
Today's edition of Last Candidate Standing – Special "Did you even Google "NDP" before signing up to run?" edition
By kadyomalley - Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 4:07 PM - 35 Comments
UPDATE: McKeever has apologized for his remarks. Well, sort of — but probably enough for the party to keep him on the ballot, at least unless something else turns up in the Googlecache-ic record of the Internet.
What, really, can one say about Andrew McKeever, the NDP’s candidate in Durham, who, according to the Liberals, spent his spare time this summer engaged in a protracted Facebook flame war with supporters of “American traitors” like Corey Glass, the former US soldier who fled to Canada to avoid being sent back to Iraq? Other than wonder how he managed to miss the fact that it was the NDP – the party for which he’s now running – that successfully passed a motion in the House to protect Glass and others from deportation, of course.
McKeever apparently even started a rival group – “DEPORT US WAR RESISTERS” – although he admitted that it didn’t have as many members as the pro-resister group, which didn’t stop him from directing borderline threats at his detractors. A sample: “Answer a fucking direct question you cunt. I can guarantee, if I ever see you face to face, I will make you squeal for the same authorities that you have such a (baseless) [sic] disdain for.”
To quote McKeever himself, “Ugh. You people are nowhere near as bright as you think you are.”