The Making of a President (I hope): 2014

Your correspondent’s son, getting on the school bus for his first day of kindergarten, in 2009. Now he’s running for class president!

So my 11-year-old son came home from school today to tell me that he’s running for school president. He goes to a small  school — few hundred students — with kindergarten to grade 6. He’s in grade 6. He tells me that all the senior boys are behind him and no other boys will be running. The girls, however, will be putting forward a girl candidate. He’s worried about that. The girls tend to vote for girls and the boys tend to vote for boys. In my world on Parliament Hill, it’s left vs right, rich vs poor, old vs young but here, at my son’s public school, the key political cleavage is boys v girls.

Mind you, he says he’s got a good friend — a boy —  in grade 3 who he believes will deliver him the grade 3 demographic. I told him I think the grade 3 demographic is key. So that’s good. Continue reading The Making of a President (I hope): 2014

Nothing But Flowers: Goldkind's Green Gardiner

Green-Ribbon-Aerial View


Toronto Mayoral candidate Ari Goldkind doesn’t show up in any of the polls — such as this one, released today showing John Tory in the lead with 37%, Doug Ford in second at 30% and Olivia Chow back at 21% — but Goldkind, who is a criminal lawyer most of the time, is taking the campaign seriously and offering up some interesting ideas. His latest? Turn the Gardiner Expressway that runs east-to-west through Toronto’s downtown into a green space. Continue reading Nothing But Flowers: Goldkind's Green Gardiner

Government MP gives rare tearful apology in House of Commons for failing to answer questions

Paul Calandra, the Conservative MP who is also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, gave a tearful apology today in the House of Commons for the way he failed to answer questions put to him during Question Period earlier this week from Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair.



Here’s the video of the original exchange between Mulcair and Calandra from Tuesday, Sept. 23. It was this exchange that Calandra apologize for on Friday:

Continue reading Government MP gives rare tearful apology in House of Commons for failing to answer questions

The NDP ask a lot of Canada's PM: Be in two places at once

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Moments after speaking in the House of Commons Tuesday (above), NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair told reporters in the House of Commons foyer (my emphasis):

You know, as far as we’re concerned, when you ask a question that corresponds to all the rules on a very important subject of national concern like Canada’s involvement in a war in Iraq, Canadians deserve better and they deserve more respect for our institutions than we got today. … And frankly, the Prime Minister should have been there today.  That’s his role to be in the House.

Wait. Hold on. Continue reading The NDP ask a lot of Canada's PM: Be in two places at once

The Hitler Parody Video the New Brunswick Liberals Don't Want You To See!

New Brunswickers vote Monday in their 38th general election. They will decided either to keep incumbent Premier David Alward and his Progressive Conservative government or choose Liberal Brian Gallant as their new premier. Only PCs and Liberals had seats in the legislature at dissolution but the NDP, led by Dominic Cardy, believe they have a good shot at one or two.

And while there are some serious issues at play in this campaign, one of the odd issues that cropped up in the campaign’s dying days was a Hitler parody video in which Gallant was, apparently, a German general and the MLA for Shedica-Cap-Pelé, Victor Boudreau, was Hitler. (I annotate the above for non-New Brunswickers below) The Liberals demanded apologies from the NDP, a  party that has not had a seat in the legislature since 2003. We’re not exactly sure who created this video but some New Democrats put this out on their social media feeds and that has drawn incredible Liberal indignation, fueled by the fact that Gallant’s grandfather ended up in a Nazi concentration camp because he helped European Jews escape during the Second World War. On live television, the NDP leader tried to apologize for whatever role his partisans played but Gallant — in high dudgeon — refused.

Now, there are dozens and dozens of  these Hitler parody videos. There are at least three featuring Stephen Harper as Hitler and I’ve never heard Harper complain.  The UK Daily Telegraph even provided a handy listing of their favourite 25 such parodies say  these spoofs have become “one of the enduring memes of the Web.”  YouTube has an entire channel devoted to these Hitler parodies. There’s new ones all the time. Here’s Hitler learning the Scotland has voted no. There’s even a Hitler parody in which Hitler complains about the parodies!

Now, I have opinions about the New Brunswick Liberal reaction to this parody. I think it’s way over the top and that they should have shrugged their shoulders and moved one. I said as much on my program, Battleground, on Sun News Network on Friday.  But you’ll also want to watch this clip for the video of  Gallant’s refusal to accept an offered apology from Cardy in the midst of a debate moderated by CTV’s Steve Murphy.

Need help with NB jokes?

If you’re just coming to the New Brunswick provincial election, here’s some things you need to know to get the jokes in the parody:

    • Brian Gallant’s Liberal Party has been leading in the few polls done in that province for over a year. There have been four public domain polls released since the campaign started, two by Corporate Research Associates and two by Forum Research. While each firms has some different numbers, the trend is similar: What was a monster lead at the beginning (19 points in CRA poll one) by the Liberals over the incumbent PCs has narrowed but still seems healthy enough.
    • “Leader Boudreau” is, presumably, a reference to Victor Boudreau, a Liberal MLA who was interim leader of the New Brunswick Liberals until Gallant won the permanent job. Boudreau, who was finance minister in Shawn Graham’s cabinet, is s cinch for cabinet if Gallant wins government Monday. The video’s creators have made Boudreau the Hitler character.
The creator of this parody has apparently designated this charactor as that of NB Liberal Leader Brian Gallant.
  • “Dominic, Brian, Roger, and Ottawa consultants …” The Dominic here is almost certainly Dominic Leblanc, the Liberal MP who is co-chair of the NB Liberal campaign. The “Ottawa consultants” may be a reference to David Herle and his Gandalf Group who, several reports said, are doing polling for the NB Liberals. Herle has just come off managing the super-successful majority-producing campaign of Kathleen Wynne in Ontario. But I’m pretty sure Herle and Gandalf Group are Toronto-based. I’m not plugged in enough to know who Roger is. The “Brian” though, would seem to be the 32-year-old Liberal Leader Brian Gallant. The video’s creators have assigned him the role of a Nazi general.
  • “Murphy” and “Forestell” are Steve Murphy, Halifax-based anchor of CTV Atlantic and Harry Forestell, anchor of CBC TV New Brunswick.  Gallant’s interviews with Forestell were, in my view, the most disastrous I’ve ever seen a leader give.
  • “The Farmer” That’s the incumbent premier, Progressive Conservative leader David Alward.
  • “Now Cardy is gaining on us”. That would be NB NDP Leader Dominic Cardy. And while the behaviour of the Liberals over the last week — not to mention their indignation over this video — would suggest the NDP are causing problems for the Liberals, the four polls we have seen have shown NDP support has weakened over the course of the campaign.”Coon” is David Coon, leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick.
  • “Shannon” No idea who that is. Anyone?

Now the NB Liberal Hitler parody is not the funniest one you’re ever going to see. The best-ever at making Hitler funny was Mel Brooks (Jewish!) The Producers. Here’s the signature tune from that terrific musical:

Gilmore's 15 reasons not to trust Apple's crypto claims

Apple FaceTime and iMessage
From Apple’s Web site, this image shows the interface for iMessage on the left and shows what Facetime looks like in action on an iPhone or iPad.

For the most of the past decade, the posts at this blog have been mostly about politics — an unsurprising result of the fact that I began reporting from Parliament Hill in early 2005. But in the decade before that, I was a technology reporter, fascinated less by the finances of the industry than by its inventors and inventions, by its rebels, and by its deep thinkers. John Gilmore is an inventor, a rebel and — to me, at least! — a deep thinker. Made wealthy from his work at Sun Microsystems, Gilmore is one of the c0-founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and has long been a champion of the empowering possibilities of software, knowledge, and access to information.

This week, Apple got the (re-newed) attention of Gilmore Continue reading Gilmore's 15 reasons not to trust Apple's crypto claims

The 2014 Summertime "Ottawa Spends" Winners

From a tuna sport fishing derby to golf tournaments to brain research, Conservative MPs rang up a whopping $1.4 billion bill handing out cheques on the summertime spending circuit.

The annual summer spending spree began on June 21 when the House of Commons shut down for the summer recess and it ends Monday when the House opens for its fall sitting season.

But in the 85-day-summer that government MPs had to hit the barbecue circuit, a total of 432 spending announcements were logged in our exclusive QMI Agency “Ottawa Spends” database.

Read the rest of the story ...

An unprecedented disaster of an interview for the Liberal leading in New Brunswick

CBC New Brunswick Harry Forestell, left, takes no prisoners in the “re-do” interview with New Brunswick Liberal Leader Brian Gallant.

With just five full days of campaigning to go until New Brunswickers vote on Monday, Liberal Leader Brian Gallant will be struggling to recover from the worst media interview a politician ever gave in mid-campaign since Stéphane Dion got confused in the 2008 federal election.

But while Gallant’s mix-up, like Dion’s, involved a re-do, Gallant cannot blame his media interlocutor for a confusing, ill-worded question.

In the re-do, in fact, he did the exact opposite of making things right. He was forced to admit, time and again, his own errors and, in doing so, dissembled at least twice. Continue reading An unprecedented disaster of an interview for the Liberal leading in New Brunswick

In Alberta radio blitz, McIver aims squarely at Prentice

Ric McIver
Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ric McIver speaks to the Edmonton Sun’s editorial board on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 Today, MciVer’s campaign launched a radio blitz against rival Jim Prentice.. (Codie McLachlan/Edmonton Sun)

The race in Alberta to become that province’s next premier takes a new twist Thursday with a province-wide radio blitz aimed at taking the front-runner down a few notches.

Listen: This radio ad from the Ric McIver campaign began playing all over Alberta today

The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta will hold its first vote Saturday in the leadership contest to replace Alison Redford, who resigned in March in a cloud of scandal involving misspending of public monies.

Former Harper cabinet minister Jim Prentice is the front-runner in a field of three candidates seeking to become leader of the party and the next premier of Canada’s wealthiest province. Continue reading In Alberta radio blitz, McIver aims squarely at Prentice

Transcript: LPC hopeful Andrew Leslie quizzed on Israel-Hamas — by CPC staffer?

Legion event 1
In this picture, provided by the federal Liberal Party, Lt Gen (ret’d) Andrew Leslie, hopeful of winning the Liberal nomination in Ottawa-Orleans, speaks about the Israel-Hamas conflict with a woman who the Liberals say is a Conservative Parliament Hill staffer, Alexandra Constantinidis

Late last week, a recording was forwarded through a third party to the Ottawa Sun and and to my newsroom in Sun Media’s parliamentary bureau. The recording, about five minutes long, contained a conversation from Aug. 19 between Lt. Gen (Ret’d) Andrew Leslie and, at the time we received it, an unidentified woman. In the process of verifying that circumstances and content of this conversation we contacted Leslie and the office of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Leslie also made a recording of this same conversation and, on Tuesday, provided us with his transcript of conversation. His transcript matches the transcript we made from the first recording we received. The Liberals also identified the woman having the conversation with Leslie as the Parliament Hill assistant to Calgary West Conservative MP Rob Anders, Alexandra Constantinidis. Attempts to reach Constantinidis Tuesday to confirm she is the other participant in this conversation were unsuccessful. (Constantinidis’ Facebook page indicates she is a student at Mount Royal University and may well have returned to Calgary to start classes this fall there.)

The circumstances of this rather odd conversation? A public discussion that occurred at the end of a roundtable Leslie held on veterans affairs at a Royal Canadian Legion in his riding of Ottawa-Orleans on Aug. 19. Leslie, who was appointed by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to co-chair the Liberal Party’s Council of International Affairs Advisors, is seeking the Liberal nomination in Ottawa-Orleans. The conversation was recorded by both parties. Continue reading Transcript: LPC hopeful Andrew Leslie quizzed on Israel-Hamas — by CPC staffer?