Wednesday, June 07, 2006

hiatus caused by wiki work

Several former readers have been in contact recently to ask what I've been up to, since I've clearly not been been blogging much.

I've gotten into wiki-administration over at wikipedia; also, a career move seems to be coming soon.

So if you need to find me there you can try here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Kinsella on Irving

From the National Post:
Why Irving can't be ignored
Warren Kinsella, National Post
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2006

I met self-described "moderate fascist" David Irving for the first time one cold evening in March 1989, beneath the gleaming chandeliers at the posh Chateau Laurier in Ottawa.

The British author was a handsome man, dressed in a natty suit and immensely pleased by the turnout. Then and now the sainted knight of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Hitler freaks around the globe, Irving stood before the paying crowd of more than 300 and declared himself a "hardcore disbeliever" in the gas chambers used to exterminate Jews at Auschwitz.

His audience, mainly comprised of older, white men and women from the Ottawa Valley, stood and wildly applauded that statement, and virtually every utterance made by Irving thereafter. Neo-Nazi skinheads, hired as security guards, slouched at the Chateau Laurier's doors and handed out copies of a magazine called Canada Awake! It called for "death to race mixers," contained tributes to Adolf Hitler, and called for "race revolution."

It was an astonishing scene, all of it taking place below the gilt ceilings of one of Canada's most renowned hotels. More than 300 people, paying to listen to a notorious Holocaust denier, knowing in advance that the media would be there to record their presence.

A school trustee, a former ranking diplomat, a Justice Department lawyer, public servants, school teachers: all of them there, notwithstanding the risk of exposure, to hear their St. George, the one whose best-selling books would slay the twin-headed dragon of International Jewry and Communism. As a reporter for the Calgary Herald and the Ottawa Citizen, I had followed Canada's far right movement for quite some time, but I was surprised and disturbed by what I witnessed that night.

Seven months following that wildly successful Ottawa visit, David Irving flew to Austria and spoke to banned neo-Nazi groups. In Vienna and Leoben, Irving stated that "the gas chambers in Auschwitz never existed." Later on, when not sharing stages with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke or one-time American Nazi Party leader William Pierce, Irving would call survivors of the Auschwitz death camp "assholes," and claim that "more women were killed in the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car in Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers at Auschwitz."

It was that 1989 Austrian far-right tour, more than any other, which would eventually have profound implications for David Irving's freedoms. The Austrians charged Irving under a 1947 law that prohibits any statements that "deny National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes." In November, 2005, Irving returned to Austria -- despite being warned not to -- and was promptly arrested and held without bail. This week, Irving was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for denying in 1989 the crimes that took place at Auschwitz.

Austria and Germany possess some of the toughest anti-hate codes in the world -- because, to them, hate propaganda is not a subject for the debate club. To them, hate has real and lasting consequences. In other Western democracies, meanwhile, the latest development in Irving's file has stirred a predictable debate about "free speech." In a facile editorial in The Globe and Mail, for example, the newspaper advocated -- as it has done for years in respect of other haters, ranging from Ernst Zundel and Jim Keegstra -- that Irving be "left alone [so that] he might have faded into the obscurity he so richly deserves."

But here's the thing about the Globe's remedy: It doesn't work. At all. In the early 1990s, for example, a young American wrote a number of anti-Semitic treatises in small mid-West newspapers, and no one paid much heed to him, either. He was Timothy McVeigh, and, in furtherance of the hateful creed he shared with David Irving, he would go on to murder 168 men, women and children in Oklahoma City in April 1995. Quite a few of us were wishing that we had paid attention to him, then.

Moreover, the Globe and its ilk do not practise what they preach. Whilst urging the rest of us to "ignore" David Irving, the newspaper neglects to mention that it has written about him, often at length, 103 times since 1989. Physician, heal thyself.

I admit that I am not at all neutral on the subject of David Irving. I have debated him in the media and, in 2000, I was asked to be an expert defence witness in his British libel action against distinguished Emory University professor Deborah E. Lipstadt, who had described Irving in a book as a "dangerous spokesperson" for Holocaust denial. In the end, my testimony was not required: In a 334-page judgment, the presiding judge dismissed Irving's claim and found that he was indeed a Holocaust denier, anti-Semitic, and "a right-wing pro-Nazi polemicist."

David Irving and those like him deny the Holocaust to rehabilitate the reputation of Nazism and obviate the sins of Hitler. To leave Irving alone, as the Globe urges, is to do what far too many did in 1929 -- "leaving alone" the meaning of National Socialism's words, which would then shortly become the reality of National Socialism's deeds.

That, among other things, we should never forget.

Update. Dr. Dawg's comment made me go look up this, which I add for a more complete picture.
The Toronto Star
March 7, 1989, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION; Pg. A5

Angry protesters jeer Holocaust skeptic, by Trish Dyer

OTTAWA - About 150 angry protesters narrowly averted colliding with 250 supporters of British author and Holocaust skeptic David Irving at an exclusive Ottawa hotel last night. The Ottawa chapter of International Socialists, university students, members of Ottawa's Jewish community and the Outaouais Anarchist Circle picketed outside the Chateau Laurier for an hour carrying signs reading, "Never Again Irving Zundel," and "Nazis Out Of Ottawa," before bursting through a side door of the hotel in an attempt to disrupt Irving's lecture.

Irving's Ottawa tour organizer Ian Macdonald had delayed the speech until 300 seats - at $10 apiece - were filled. The speech was organized by the Citizens for Foreign Aid Review Organization. The primarily middle-class, middle-aged audience jeered at a handful of dissenters in the room when they asked questions after Irving's talk.

Irving testified in April, 1988, on behalf of Ernst Zundel in Ottawa and is the author of several controversial books about World War II. He has also produced several cassette tapes on prominent Nazis, including one about Rudolf Hess in German.

In Fredericton, N.B. last night, organizers changed the location for a lecture there Friday by Irving after the Roman Catholic church backed out of an agreement to provide one of its buildings, Canadian Press reports.

Irving had been scheduled to speak at the Msgr. Boyd Family Centre but the church cancelled without providing warning or a reason, said Terrence LeBlanc, president of the New Brunswick Free Speech League. He threatened to sue the church for breach of contract. The lecture will now take place at a hotel in Fredericton.

In Ottawa, four city police officers stood with outstretched arms in front of protesters while organizer Brian MacDougall of International Socialists led several choruses of "One-two-three-four, no more Nazis any more," and "Five-six-seven-eight, David Irving preaches hate." Hotel staff frantically pulled TV cameramen off oak and walnut tables in the lobby.

Minutes after the last protesters had left, the crowd waiting to hear Irving was told there had been a bomb threat and herded into the same lobby.

Three self-described "skinheads" wearing white supremacist badges stood at the door of the meeting room and told reporters they had "been asked to provide protection for Irving," but all three avoided direct contact with the protesters. The skinheads circulated around the room, taking pictures of a handful of audience members who dared to disagree with Irving. Neither the skinheads, the ticket seller at the door, nor the sellers of books and cassettes by Irving would give their names to a reporter.

Irving, who describes himself as an "alternative historian," or "gap-ologist," stood in the meeting room with a bemused expression during the protest.

Carleton University's history department chairman Carter Elwood cancelled a scheduled speech by Irving yesterday, after he and his colleagues were told Irving had testified in defence of Zundel last year.

Irving has never denied the Nazi genocide of Jews during World War II in print and was invited to address students on the basis of his reputation as the author of 23 controversial history books, Elwood told The Star.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Harrison gives up fight to overturn election

Readers might want an update on the final outcome of the Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River. On the morning after the election, the Conservative incumbant made allegations of ballot-box stuffing that I discussed here, here, here, here, and here.

From the CBC:
Harrison gives up fight to overturn election

Jeremy Harrison said Monday he will not pursue any more legal challenges of the vote in the northern riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River.

"I, and many of my former constituents, remain concerned about the very serious irregularities in the voting process in the riding," he said in a news release. "However, the people of the riding now need to know that they have an MP in place."

The announcement means Liberal MP Gary Merasty's job is safe for the time being.

Shortly after the Jan. 23 election, Harrison, the Conservative incumbent, made allegations of voter intimidation and ballot-box stuffing.

While he did not produce any evidence publicly to back up his claim, he later applied for a judicial recount.

The ballots were counted by a Queen's Bench judge who ruled Merasty won the riding with 10,191 votes to Harrison's 10,124.
"With a minority government situation, an election could happen at any time," Harrison said. "The citizens of northern Saskatchewan will have an opportunity to pass their judgment at that time."
Apparently Harrison's allegations were insufficient for him to bring the specifics forward.

Update. See now the story in the Star Phoenix, which covers most of the same material but adds:
As well, some of Harrison's supporters declared in sworn affidavits that, in addition to the raffle, partisan election literature was found in polling booths, in contravention of the Elections Act, and that voters from outside the riding voted in the election.

Update For the final ruling about the allegations of ballot-box stuffing, etc., see the official report here. Apparently all the allegations were without foundation.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ottawa Citizen: Why we won't publish the cartoons

Scott Anderson, editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen on his decision not to publish:
Why we won't publish the cartoons

Scott Anderson, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Friday, February 17, 2006

The Western Standard is a plucky little magazine and a nice addition to the Canadian periodical landscape. Only Ken Whyte's Maclean's comes close to it in its unabashed display of conservative views.

The Western Standard was the first publication in Canada to feature the insightful and hilarious Mark Steyn after he packed up his toys and stormed off the pages of the National Post. Other than the Ottawa Citizen, it's the only publication to regularly feature the conservative Christian views of David Warren, the kind of voice that is often shut out in this country. It prides itself on being independent and outspoken and, because it is just that, it's a refreshing foil to the mass of politically correct, government-subsidized journals that crowd our magazine racks.

And it was a big disappointment this week when it tried to pass off a circulation-boosting stunt as a strident defence of free speech when it published the now infamous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

I went on CBC radio the other day to debate the Western Standard's publisher, Ezra Levant, about his decision to publish the cartoons and our decision at the Citizen not to. It didn't go very well. Ezra's style is closer to shock radio than the CBC and, even though he was two time zones away, I could feel his hot breath on my neck. Ezra doesn't debate, he berates. And, for a little while, I was his punching bag. I was hoping for a civil debate but had to settle for the accusation that my paper has caved in to pressure from radical Muslims and "Jew haters."

Boiled down, Ezra's essential point is that most media in North America refuse to publish the cartoons out of fear of a backlash from radical Muslims. Ezra told me there is nothing wrong with fear but he is righteously angry because I refuse to admit that it is simply fear that prevents us from publishing the cartoons. Fear is indeed a powerful motivator and I admit that as a journalist I have had fearful moments (mostly during encounters with irate bosses). But that's not the reason behind our decision not to publish.

Not everything that happens in the world makes its way into the morning newspapers. Editors make decisions based on relevance or newsworthiness, taste, community and journalistic standards, graphic detail, perceived public interest and, yes, public reaction.

The videotaped beheading of a Western hostage in Iraq, to give one example, is newsworthy and interesting. But we don't publish pictures of beheadings because we consider them too graphic. Instead, we describe the act with words. Similarly, we try to avoid showing corpses, gratuitous nudity and foul language. Each story, column, photograph and cartoon is reviewed.

Ezra is right to say that the Muhammad cartoons are newsworthy and interesting. They are also considered very offensive by a large number of people. Editors don't normally shy away from offending some readers, but they generally try not to do it gratuitously. In the case of the Muhammad cartoons, we felt publication would be just that: gratuitous. You can argue that we made the wrong decision -- some of our own columnists have -- but to attribute it to cowardice is simply wrong and reflects Ezra's bellicose approach to anyone who disagrees with him.

Ezra says that newspapers are being intimidated by radical Muslim groups. That's his view and nobody is likely to change his mind. But it's odd to fight perceived intimidation with the tactics of a bully. If the Western Standard had quietly published the Muhammad cartoons, I would have admired the act. It would, I believe, still be the wrong decision, but I could have accepted it as a decision based on principle. Too bad that the publisher chose to turn it into a publicity stunt. As one wise reader has pointed out, it has become nothing more than "a journalistic mooning of the public."

Ezra Levant has gone on a chest-thumping rampage through the ranks of North American journalism, maligning the principled decisions taken by thousands of editors. He is trying to shame and bully others into adopting his view. That, too, is intimidation and we won't give in to it.

My friend Philip Lee, a journalism professor at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, sums up, very well, the view I hold: "Freedom of the press means you can publish, or not. Not publishing is also an expression of freedom, which is difficult it seems for some to grasp."

Scott Anderson is editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen.

Danish paper apologizes for cartoons

Update. Apparently the apology was a hoax: see here

Saudi papers publish Danish paper's cartoon apology

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian newspapers on Sunday printed an apology by the Danish paper whose cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad have sparked deadly protests around the world.

"Allow me in the name of Jyllands-Posten to apologize for what happened and declare my strong condemnation of any step that attacks specific religions, ethnic groups and peoples. I hope that with this I have removed the misunderstanding," wrote Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands-Posten.

The full-page advertisements appeared in Asharq al-Awsat, which is printed around the Arab world, as well as the local al-Riyadh and al-Jazira.

They were dated February 5, but an advertising spokesman at al-Riyadh said it may have taken time for the papers, which are close to the government, to approve the announcement.

In recent days, 16 people have died in Nigeria and 11 in Libya during violent protests against cartoons published by the Danish paper last September and since republished in several, mainly European papers.

The global uproar over the cartoons came after Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Denmark last month in response to pressure from clerics and a popular campaign against Danish products in the kingdom, the site of Islam's holiest shrines.

"It is extremely important to point out that the aim behind these cartoons was not to attack the Prophet at all or devalue him, but as an opening to dialogue on freedom of expression," Sunday's apology said.

"We did not realize at the time how sensitive this issue was for Muslims in Denmark or millions of Muslims around the world."

The adverts included a previously published statement from the Danish embassy in Riyadh declaring respect for Islam
Hat tip to Syncategorematic .

Blessed am I...

You Are a Peacemaker Soul

You strive to please others and compromise anyway you can.
War or conflict bothers you, and you would do anything to keep the peace.
You are a good mediator and a true negotiator.
Sometimes you do too much, trying so hard to make people happy.

While you keep the peace, you tend to be secretly judgmental.
You lose respect for people who don't like to both give and take.
On the flip side, you've got a graet sense of humor and wit.
You're always dimplomatic and able to give good advice.

Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul, Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul

Beer. All. Over. The. Laptop.

This is pretty funny.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ezra's cry for help

A reader forwarded an email he go from Ezra Levant this morning. Apparently Ezra is feeling some heat over his recent decision to publish the Danish cartoons.
Dear Western Standard reader,

By now you have probably heard about our decision to publish the Danish cartoons -- those same cartoons that have been the excuse for riots around the world.

We believe that reprinting the cartoons is essential to properly telling that news story, which is why we did it. We also published them as a symbol of our freedom of the press, and in defiance of those around the world who would censor us through threats of violence.

I've never been more proud of our magazine.

Not everyone is happy with us, of course. A Calgary Muslim leader has reported us to the police, trying to get them to charge me with hate crimes. He has also filed a complaint against us with the human rights commission on the same grounds. Ironically, he has called our freedom of the press "intellectual terrorism".

Those are nuisance suits, of course. But the idea is to cost us money and time, break our spirit, erode our freedom of speech, and teach a lesson to all other media: that anyone who doesn't censor themselves will be made to wish they did.

The threats are working. Already, many Canadian magazine retailers who normally carry the Western Standard have caved in, announcing -- even before they see our new issue -- that they won't put us on their shelves. Again, the purpose of the censors is obvious: hurt our magazine economically, and make an example of us as a warning to all other media.

That's why I'm writing to you today: to ask for your help. Please do three things:

1. Let me know how you feel.

If you support our magazine's decision, let me know. Send me an e-mail to and I'll share it with the rest of our staff, to help buoy their spirits as we face this hurricane, to let them know we're not alone.

2. Encourage your local retailer to stock the Western Standard

Magazine retailers need to know that you value freedom of the press and your freedom to make up your own mind, and to not be censored by them or anyone else. Ask them to stock the magazine, or even to order it in just for you. You'll not only help us survive the boycott, but you'll put some steel in the spine of your local retailer.

3. Help us out directly.

If you're not yet a subscriber, now's the time to sign up -- a subscription is 37% cheaper than buying the magazine at the newsstand, and the money goes directly to us. If you're already a subscriber, consider renewing your subscription today, or extending your subscription, or even joining one of our clubs for enthusiasts by becoming a Sustaining Subscriber or a member of the Publisher's Circle.

You can find out more and do all of that right online, at

It's fast, easy and secure -- and it helps us stay strong, and keep growing.

When we started the Western Standard nearly two years ago, I never imagined that we would have been at the center of a fight for our culture's basic freedoms -- or that the rest of Canada's media would be so silent, leaving us to fight this fight by ourselves.

But we're not all by ourselves. We have you.

Thank you for your help -- I look forward to your e-mails.

Yours truly,

Ezra Levant

P.S. The best way to help us right now is to click on

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Who are the Western Standard's advertisers?

Air Canada seems to be distancing itself from Ezra Levant's Western Standard because of its decision to republish the controversial cartoons displaying Mohammed (see here). That is not really a surprise. This is just the kind of headache that most corporations want to avoid.

And they seem to have got out just in time to avoid being associated with Ezra's next blunder--a racist slur at native peoples (here).

Given all this, one wonders what Ezra's other advertisers think. I'd like to ask them, but have no idea who they are.

Does anyone have access to an old Western Standard? A list of its advertisers could be interesting.

Update Andy from Edmonton sends me this list:
Air Canada
Canaccord Capital
Currie Rose Resources
Central Gold Trust
Canadian Renewable Fuels Association
Children First Grants
Fort St. John
Eagle Crest Resorts in Mulege Bay, La Paz
Kimber Resources
Northern Miner
Norsemont Mining
Peer Financial
Saint John's School of Alberta
Silverado Mines
Timely Medical Alternatives
WYN developments

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Merasty wins in Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River

From the CBC:
Merasty holds on to northern riding

The ballots have been recounted and Liberal Gary Merasty has held on to the riding of Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, a vast riding that covers the northern half of Saskatchewan.

In the original count last month, the Conservative incumbent, Jeremy Harrison, lost by 73 votes to Liberal challenger Gary Merasty. The official result announced late Friday night reduced that number to 68 votes, but didn't overturn the result.

Harrison demanded the recount, suggesting the election had been stolen.

"We got reports of things like the Liberals driving around and threatening natives that they wouldn't get their cheque if they didn't vote Liberal, reports we had from individuals of plans to stuff ballot boxes," he told the Regina Leader-Post.

"Even the last poll, somehow it took 3 1/2 hours to count the last poll and, lo and behold, it was nearly 100 per cent turnout, all of which went Liberal, just enough votes to go over the top. So we're really concerned. These are the kinds of things that happen in banana republics, not in our country."

He offered no evidence of specific wrongdoing, at least in public.

Merasty claimed victory and said he was disappointed by the accusations but would go along with whatever procedure the law requires.

On Wednesday, 20 volunteers started to recount the ballots, with 174 polls and about 24,000 votes to go through.
Disputed ballots were set aside for the judge to rule on.

The original vote count was 10,192 votes for Merasty and 10,119 for Harrison.
The important sentence, I think, is the bold towards the bottom. In the immediate aftermath of his loss, Harrison made some serious allegations. But he apparently was not able to provide any evidence to substantiate them. His lawyers apparently made no mention of them during the legal proceedings that he initiated (see here).

Why the excessive and irresponsible allegations? Harrison lost the election on the last poll, which must have been disappointing to him. I pointed out a week ago, however, the results of the poll in question is consistent with the ways it's voted in the last couple of elections: here and here. Harrison should have known all this.

Friday, February 10, 2006

More Emerson manouevring?

Vancouver 24 Hours is reporting that the Conservative candidate in Vancouver Kingsway, Kanman Wong, said that there had been contingency plans for him to step-aside for Emerson even before January's election.

Tory had plan to assist Emerson
Vancouver Kingsway Conservative Kanman Wong says he had a backup plan to step aside for controversial new cabinet minister David Emerson - long before January's election.

"That was my plan. I heard lots of rumours that Mr. Emerson wasn't happy with the Liberal party long before the election," Wong said in an interview yesterday. "If one day Mr. Emerson prepared to cross the floor I was ready to step aside for him."

Instead, Emerson ran as a Liberal, taking the riding over the NDP's Ian Waddell and Conservative Wong, only to jump ship this week to the victorious Tories.

Wong said he respects Emerson completely, but wouldn't have made the same move if he were in the same position.

"If personally I had to [leave a party], I'd pretty much sit as an independent first, and then run in the next election," Wong said.

"It's bad timing for Mr. Emerson, certainly."

Meanwhile, the NDP's Waddell, a two-time loser to Emerson, wants victorious NDP MPs to push for an ethics investigation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper, Waddell says, broke the MP's code of conduct by enticing Emerson with a plum cabinet post.

NDP Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian says the party will push for one, but would prefer to see Emerson defend his seat in a byelection.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

At least Harper has a sense of humour

Globe and Mail:
And in perhaps his most Machiavellian choice, Mr. Harper made Ontario MP Helena Guergis the parliamentary secretary to International Trade Minister David Emerson.

Ms. Guergis was an outspoken proponent of a private members' bill that would have forced any MP who switched parties to face a by-election before returning to work.

Mr. Emerson, of course, is the former Liberal industry minister whose stunning defection to the Tory front bench was the biggest headline of Monday's cabinet announcement.
Update Also from the Globe and Mail
One MP who tabled a private member's bill in the last Parliament — Ontario's Helena Guergis — told reporters she planned to raise the issue again with colleagues.

Her office was set to issue a press release earlier Tuesday reaffirming her support for anti-crossing legislation. That was before Mr. Harper made her parliamentary secretary to none other than Mr. Emerson on Tuesday afternoon. The press release was not issued.

Update 2. Apparently Ms. Guergis was not about to issue that press release (see here)

Hypocrisy, thy name is Reynolds

John Reynolds, hypocrisyThere are many Conservatives who are being criticized for intemperate comments that they made last May when Belinda Stronach defected to the Liberals (here, for example), which is fair enough provided that criticism does not go too far. Talk is cheap; Conservatives had every right to feel betrayed by Belinda when she crossed, and those feelings found themselves into words. Now a few of them are getting a chance to eat them. No big deal. The lesson? Everyone should be slower to throw stones, because sooner or later one of your associates will turn your house into glass.

Talk may be cheap. But legal complaints are not. And while writing up a few thoughts about Emerson's crossing at my other blog (here), I noticed this old Toronto Star story from last June (here), which reported that Reynolds complained to the Law Societies of Ontario and BC about the actions of Peterson and Dosanjh in the defection and non-defection of Stronach and Grewal respectively:
Reynolds provides transcripts he claims indicate that Dosanjh and Murphy offer a cabinet position to Tory MP Gurmant Grewal or a "significant position” for Grewal’s wife Nina, also a Tory MP, in exchange for their votes.

He also provides transcripts he says indicate that Peterson offered former Tory Belinda Stronach a cabinet position in exchange for crossing the floor to the Liberals.
Got that. Reynolds filed a complaint with the Law Society of Ontario that argued that David Peterson should be disbarred for having "offered former Tory Belinda Stronach a cabinet position in exchange for crossing the floor to the Liberals".

Now compare what Reynolds is saying in today's Globe and Mail:
The day after the election, Mr. Reynolds called Mr. Emerson at his Vancouver home.

"I said, 'How would you like to stay in the government?' So we had a conversation about the pros and cons of that, and then, I said, " 'why don't we just sit on it for a couple of days? I'm not talking to anybody. You think about it and we'll get together,' " Mr. Reynolds said.
Doesn't this look an awful lot like what he tried to get Peterson disbarred for?

Update. Apparently Reynolds was interviewed on ROBTV yesterday, a clip of which is reported here:
John Reynolds: "When we won the next day I was talking to Stephen would you like me to talk to David Emerson... Steve said hey talk to him so I did I phoned him up."

Amanda Lang: "So the prime minister's response was Ya that's a good idea, let's call up our big foe and ask him to join cabinet. He didn't say what are you talking about John?"

John Reynolds: "No, no."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Still more on Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River

From the CBC:
Judge orders recount in Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River

A Saskatchewan judge has ordered a recount in a northern Saskatchewan riding where the win was decided by 73 votes.

The recount will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Prince Albert's Queen's Bench courthouse, Justice Allisen Rothery ordered Monday.

Liberal Gary Merasty beat incumbent Conservative Jeremy Harrison in the riding of Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River in the Jan. 23 federal election.

Harrison has alleged a variety of electorial irregularities, including ballot-box stuffing.

However, during arguments in court Friday, his lawyer James Rybchuk focused on alleged adding errors at several polling stations.

He said case of a booth where returning officers counted 74 ballots when only 73 were cast is representative of the problem.
Gary Merasty's lawyer Tiffany Paulsen said Rybchuk's assessment is incorrect. She also said the supposed errors Rybchuk raised weren't supported by the documents.
I guess those allegations of ballot-box stuffing were not serious enough to actually mention in court.

Update. From the Star Phoenix:
A Queen's Bench judge has ordered a judicial recount of the federal election results for a northern Saskatchewan riding.

Justice Allisen Rothery released her decision Monday, after hearing an application on Friday from a trio of "electors" seeking the recount for the riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River. It will take place in Prince Albert on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Despite the order, Rothery actually struck down the affidavits of two of the applicants and indicated there is no evidence to back most of the claims of the third. However, upon reviewing the official statement of the vote, submitted by the returning officers, she found a deputy returning officer incorrectly counted some ballots. Spoiled ballots and unused ballots are to be counted and placed in a sealed envelope. Rothery found some unused ballots were not counted. Because of that evidence, not the claims made by the applicants, Rothery concluded she "must grant the application for a recount."

The applicants had claimed the deputy returning officer wrongly rejected some ballots, incorrectly counted some votes, and wrote down an incorrect number of votes cast for one candidate (it didn't specify which candidate). [snip]

The legal action for the recount was launched by "a group of electors" from the riding, according to a Conservative party news release. However, the three people listed as the applicants -- Arlene Kolosky, Dustin Pike, Ron Dosdoll -- are all closely tied to Harrison's campaign.

Dosdoll is Harrison's campaign manager, Pike is Harrison's official agent and Kolosky represented Harrison at the validation process conducted by Elections Canada.

Merasty is seeking costs against the applicants of the action "for filing irrelevant material in their affidavits," according to Rothery's order, in which she has reserved that decision.
Again, none of the allegations of ballot-box stuffing were actually brought before the court and the specific items that were raised were dismissed.

Update 2 CTV reports that the recount has started and will take a couple days.

Update 3 CBC reports that the counting is continuing.

Comment, Mr. Vellacott?

Canadian Press NewsWire (May 17, 2005):
Western Canadians didn't pull their punches Tuesday in their response to Belinda Stronach's surprise bolt to the federal Liberals.

"I said that she whored herself out for power, that's what she did," said Tony Abbott, a Conservative member of the Alberta legislature.

That metaphor was echoed by Maurice Vellacott, Tory MP for Saskatoon-Wanuskewin.

"Some people prostitute themselves for different costs or different prices," he told the Regina Leader-Post. "She sold out for a cabinet position."
And CTV news (May 18, 2005):
[Reporter] SMITH: Tony Abbott did apologize, sort of. But this MP.

MAURICE VELLACOTT [Conservative - Saskatchewan]: Prostituting yourself, that's right.

SMITH: Is sticking with his choice of words.

VELLACOTT: Prostituting yourself is the language that's been used of many other people, I guess, who are prepared to sell whatever they stand for.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Update on Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River

From the Globe and Mail:
Door prizes were used to lure voters, band says
Wednesday, February 1, 2006 Page A10

Shell Lake, Sask. -- Residents of a northern Saskatchewan Cree reserve were offered the chance to win prizes to get them through the polling station doors for the Jan. 23 federal election.

Fletcher Greyeyes, head councillor for the Ahtahkakoop First Nation, said everyone who voted was entered into a draw for a TV, portable stereo and a DVD player. He denied allegations that the raffle was limited to those who voted Liberal.

The reserve is in the northern riding of Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, where Liberal challenger Gary Merasty defeated Conservative incumbent Jeremy Harrison by 73 votes. Mr. Harrison said he has applied for a judicial recount. CP
On the Ahtahkakoop poll, see also here and here.

Update to the Update The Star Phoenix reports on the process.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Maybe ssm is not so safe after all.

I did some quick calculations about same-sex marriage shortly after the vote and guestimated that the conservative motion to overturn it would fail by 20 votes (see here).

Clayton over at Marriage Vote does a much more meticulous calculation and comes up with same-sex marriage surviving by just two votes.

Update As commenter Nitangae points out, Clayton's numbers seem to be firming up towards the confirmation of ssm.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

More on the Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill allegations

A few days ago, I noted the story about Conservative allegations of electoral impropriety in the Saskatchewan riding of Desnethé-Missinippi Churchill River, pointing out that the last poll to report (Ahtahkakoop), which Harrison had complained had put the Liberals over the top, had in the last election given Harrison only one vote. And only one vote when PC in 2000 (no one voted Allliance.) (The data is all downloadable at elections Canada.)

What I didn't realize was that the poll Ahtahkakoop used to be called Shell Lake, which is where my mother grew up and all my cousins live (or used to live before they grew up and moved away; I'm hoping to visit my uncles there two weeks hence.) Anyway, here's a map (within which, by the way, sits both my grand-father's farm and my great-grand-father's!):The Conservative Candidate complains that Ahtahkakoop went overwhelmingly Liberal. But this, as I mentioned, is consistent with their recent voting pattern, and consistent with other native communities in the area. Note that other reserves also appear in the map: Sturgeon lake (no CPC votes in 2004), Big River 118 (3 CPC votes in 2004 from 391 eligible voters), Mistawasis 103 (3 votes from 439 eligible voters), Sturgeon Lake (124) (no votes from 211), Sturgeon Lake (125) (3 votes from 300), Montreal Lake 106 (10 votes from 343). So Ahtahkakoop merely followed its normal voting pattern.

And in this it seems to have been consistent with how natives voted in 2004. In that election, there were 176 polling stations. Of these there were seven in which the CPC got no votes (Descharme Lake, Garson Lake, Kinoosao, La Loche, Pelican Narrows, Sturgeon lake); sixteen where they only got one vote (Shoal Lake--Ruby Lake, Ahtahkakoop 104, Sandy Bay, Cumberland House, Stanley Mission, Turnor Lake, La Loche Reserve--Clearwater River, Cumberland 20, Missinipe--Grandmother's Bay, Pelican Narrows, Pelican Narrows, Hall Lake, La Loche, Sturgeon Landing, Camsell Portage, Stony Rapids), eight with 2 votes; nine with 3 votes; etc. (If you want you to check my figures, download the data from Elections Canada yourself.)

What's the pattern here? I don't know all of these communities. But their names suggest that they are native. And in this riding, not many natives vote CPC.

The local Conservatives surely know this and concentrate their efforts elsewhere. What's their complaint? That the turn-out was higher than they expected, or, rather, hoped.

Is there any reasons to explain why it might be higher? Three come to mind:
  1. it is winter, rather than summer (cf. the turnout in Nov. 2000 to June 2004 here)
  2. the Liberal candidate was a high-profile native leader from near-by Prince Albert;
  3. the Conservatives had said they would ditch the Kelowna accord
Yes, the Conservative Harrison has repeated allegations of Liberal threats and inappropriately placed campaign literature. But allegations like those swirl in every campaign office about every party. If any are true, they should be punished.

But the data before us can be explained without widespread fraud. The native vote, which everyone expected to go overwhelmingly against the Conservatives, did, and their turn-out was high. And that should be a good thing, no?

Update CBC: Merasty's victory has shrunk to 73 votes and Harrison has until tomorrow to apply for a recount.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Harper will be to ssm what Mulroney was to the death penalty

Over at the Ambler, Kevin Grace, while critiquing some thoughts of mine on whether there was a socon-effect in some ridings, made an interesting statement:
I have it on unimpeachable authority that Harper never cared much about SSM and was shocked when it became a popular outrage.
Others have assumed as much (here); I don't doubt it.

One point that could be added is the effect that this will have on the issue for the future.

I'm not sure how many of my blogging friends are old enough to remember the politics of the late-70s and early 80s. One issue that especially animated conservatives back then was the death penalty. It hadn't been used in Canada since 1962 and was voted off the books in 1976. Conservatives used it as a wedge issue to good effect, and when Mulroney was elected with a majority in 1984, many hoped that it would to re-introduced. It was not to be the case. In a free-vote in 1987, capital punishment was rejected, never to re-appear as a serious issue.

I argued a couple days ago that there are not enough votes in the house to overturn same-sex marriage (see here).

It seems to me that net effect of Harper's coming free-vote will be, barring some unexpected gamesmanship (cf. here), that the issue is laid to rest forever.

more noise on the fate of the ssm liberals

Over at the Ambler, Kevin Grace takes apart my post (here) on the dozen or so socially-conservative candidates that could be identified last summer. I had suggested that these candidates generally did a couple points worse than we'd expect from the general movement in the election and might be attributable to discomfort with social conservativism. Grace points out that this can just as easily (and more credibly) be attributed to statistical noise.

I think his point is confirmed if we look at the ssm liberals. I list them here with their results in 2004 and 2006, the net change, and the net change in their province.

2004 2006 change prov.
Andy Savoy (Tobique—Mactaquac) NB 48.2% 42.9% -5.3% -5.4%
Paul Zed (Saint John) NB 43.3% 42.9% -0.4% -5.4%
Charles Hubbard (Miramichi) NB 48.1% 42.3% -5.8% -5.4%
Bill Matthews (Random—Burin—St. George's) NL 46.8% 45.5% -1.3% -5.2%
Scott Simms (Bonavista—etc.) NL 48.2% 52.0% 3.8% -5.2%
Rodger Cuzner (Cape Breton—Canso) NS 53.3% 53.2% -0.1% -2.6%
Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines) ON 40.4% 37.0% -3.4% -4.8%
Judi Longfield (Whitby—Oshawa) ON 45.0% 38.8% -6.2% -4.8%
Roger Gallaway (Sarnia—Lambton) ON 41.9% 33.1% -8.8% -4.8%
Gary Carr (Halton) ON 48.4% 41.4% -7.0% -4.8%
Ken Boshcoff (Thunder Bay—Rainy River) ON 39.4% 35.1% -4.3% -4.8%
Gerry Byrne (Humber—etc.) ON 62.6% 52.9% -9.7% -4.8%
John Cannis (Scarborough Centre) ON 56.7% 55.4% -1.3% -4.8%
Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North) ON 43.0% 36.0% -7.0% -4.8%
Roy Cullen (Etobicoke North) ON 63.3% 61.6% -1.7% -4.8%
Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt) ON 64.1% 62.6% -1.5% -4.8%
Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River) ON 57.9% 65.6% 7.7% -4.8%
Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan) ON 53.4% 56.2% 2.8% -4.8%
Gurbax Malhi (Bramalea) ON 49.5% 50.7% 1.2% -4.8%
John Maloney (Welland) ON 39.6% 35.5% -4.1% -4.8%
John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood) ON 57.5% 53.3% -4.2% -4.8%
Dan McTeague (Pickering—Scarborough East) ON 57.0% 52.7% -4.3% -4.8%
Paul Steckle (Huron—Bruce) ON 49.8% 39.8% -10.0% -4.8%
Paul Szabo (Mississauga South) ON 51.7% 43.9% -7.8% -4.8%
Alan Tonks (York South—Weston) ON 59.8% 57.1% -2.7% -4.8%
Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest) ON 49.5% 47.8% -1.7% -4.8%
Bryon Wilfert (Richmond Hill) ON 58.5% 53.4% -5.1% -4.8%
Brenda Chamberlain (Guelph) ON 44.6% 38.4% -6.2% -4.8%
Wajid Khan (Mississauga—Streetsville) ON 50.6% 45.9% -4.7% -4.8%
Massimo Pacetti (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel) QC 63.9% 57.2% -6.7% -13.2%
Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard) QC 63.6% 51.1% -12.5% -13.2%
Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis) QC 63.9% 48.2% -15.7% -13.2%
Raymond Simard (St. Boniface) QC 46.6% 38.6% -8.0% -13.2%

Conclusion? Most of these Liberals' fortunes more or less fell in rough proportion to their provinces. This should mean that same-sex marriage probably played no great role in the election. Or rather, what roles it did play ended up cancelling as those who were motivated to vote pro- on this basis were equalled by those voting con-.

(In a slight defence of my last post, it was intended to explore the effect of social con-ism in general rather than ssm in particular. But still, such changes, except perhaps for Cindy Silver and Rondo Thomas, are probably noise.)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why Paul Martin lost

(cross-posted to Buckets of Grewal)

comments on the socon factor and the election

(Update. See now also Jay Currie)

Over at the Ambler, Kevin Michael Grace (who is always a good read) reacts to my nose-counting of the other day and opines: "If Canadians were so hell bent on punishing those known (or suspected) to harbour retrograde notions on the dignity of gay nuptials, they would have rejected Conservative MPs en masse."

There may be some truth there. But we have to keep things in perspective. Same-sex marriage was only one of a number of questions competing for the voters' attention. And even if a candidate were out of step with their constituents, ssm could hardly turn a safe-seat into a marginal one.

What we need to be interested in are those marginal ones, and the fate of socially conservative candidates within them.

Last spring, the Globe and Mail published a couple articles pointing out that several Conservative nominations had been won by candidates who seemed to reflect a religious right agenda. I tried to identify candidates that fit (see here) and, coming up with only a dozen or so names, concluded that they were not numerous enough to be a threat (here and here).

What happened to those candidates? Here is last summer's list, with some figures:
  1. Andrew House in Halifax. Lost. Came in third with 18%, improving on the 2004 candidate's 15%.
  2. Rakesh Khosla in Halifax West. Lost. Came in third with 23%, improving on the 2004 candidate's 21%
  3. Paul Francis in Sackville-Eastern Shore. Lost. Came in third with 22%, improving on the 2004 candidate's 21.5%.
  4. Darrel Reid in Richmond. Lost. Came in second with 39%, improving on the 2004 candidate's 35.3%.
  5. Cindy Silver in North Vancouver. Lost. Came in second with 36.7%, improving on the 2004 candidate's 36.4%.
  6. Marc Dalton in Burnaby-New Westminster. Lost. Came in third with 27.6%, slipping from the 2004 candidate's 28.3%.
  7. Kevin Serviss in Sudbury. Lost. Came in second with 21%, the same as the 2004 candidate's 21%.
  8. Ron Cannan in Kelowna. Won with 49%, improving on the 2004 candidate's 48%.
  9. Rondo Thomas in Ajax. Lost. Came in second with 32.8%, slipping from the 2004 candidate's 33.6%.
  10. David Sweet in Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough. Won with 39.1%, improving on his 34% of 2004.
  11. Harold Albrecht in Kitchner-Conestoga. Won with 41.2%, improving on the 2004 candidate's 35.4%.
So, what's the pattern? Most Conservative candidates' totals improved, perhaps not as much as we'd otherwise expect--the Conservatives nation-wide were up 6%, and only Albrecht had that much of an increase. (Rondo Thomas, who was perhaps the most openly evangelical about his evangelicalism, actually went down.)

But even so, these figures suggest that being regarded as a religious activist would only cost a candidate a couple percent. In some races, of course, that can be enough.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Electoral misconduct in Churchill Saskatchewan? Probably not.

The riding of Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan is in the news over its election night results, which were:
Gary Merasty (LIB) 10237 (41.46%)
Jeremy Harrison (CON) 10131 (41.03%)
Anita Jackson (NDP) 3788 (15.34%)
John A. McDonald (GRN) 535 (2.17%)
The morning after the election Harrison, the Conservative incumbant, was outraged that he lost the riding when the last poll reported. Here's the relevant clip from the story in the Regina Leader-Post
Defeated Conservative MP Jeremy Harrison is alleging the Liberals used dirty tricks to steal the election Monday night in the northern riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, a claim strongly denied by victor Gary Merasty. [snip]

Harrison, the only Saskatchewan incumbent to be defeated, is calling for an investigation and a new election.[snip]

The last poll of the night to report -- from the Ahtahkakoop First Nation -- gave Merasty the win.

Harrison, who was first elected in 2004, said the Conservatives are suspicious about voter turnout levels that seemed to reach 100 per cent on some First Nations in the riding.
(See also the Free Dominion thread or SDA for an extra helping of gracelessness, with more than a hint of racism.)

But what about the Ahtahkakoop poll? Let's look at what happened there last time. (You can download the poll-by-poll results for yourself here):
Poll Number: 105
Poll Name: Ahtahkakoop
Earl Cook (NDP) 5
Al Ducharme (Lib) 113
Marcella Gall (Green) 1
Jeremy Harrison (Con) 1
Rick Laliberte (Ind) 22
Rejected Ballots 0
Total Vote 142
Electors 458
So, what does this tell us? In the last election, only 1 voter out of 142 voted Conservative. 143 voters supported a Liberal (Ducharme) or ex-Liberal (Laliberte). The voter-turnout was low 31%.

This time, according to the Leader-Post, voter turn-out was much higher, presumably something in the order of 66%, and the vote went all-Liberal (unsurprising given the fact that there was no vote splitting with Laliberte).

Why the increase in turnout? Again no real surprise. The last election was held in mid-summer, when many in northern Saskatchewan are on the land. In mid-winter, they will be home.

That hypothesis can probably be confirmed if we look at the 2000 results:
poll. no. 101
poll name Shell Lake
Laliberte (Lib) 382
Funk (NDP) 14
Rogers (PC) 1
Peterson (CA) 0
Votes cast: 398
Eligible voters: 534
Turnout 74.5%
So, is there a story here? Probably not. At least as far as the Shell Lake/Ahtahkakoop poll goes.

(The interesting side story is to note that Shell Lake's lone PC voter from 2000 seems to have migrated to the Conservatives in 2004. I wonder how s/he voted this time?)

(Another piece of trivia: I went fishing on Shell Lake in '73 or '74.)

Update Other news stories have been filed by the G&M, CBC, CBC Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Star Phoenix. Most of these emphasize other aspects of Harrison's allegations rather than the Ahtahkakoop poll, which as I explain above does not seem anomalous.

[edited out snears about Conservatives being sore winners; added data from 2000]

Same-sex marriage is safe until the next election

In the last couple posts, I've been trying to gauge the effect of the election on same-sex marriage.

As I count noses, I estimate that there are about 100 Conservatives who will vote against ssm (here) and at most 29 Liberals (here). There were five BQ who voted against ssm in the last parliament, one of whom was defeated (Desroches). The NDP will all vote for ssm.

This means that there could be about 130 votes for a motion to revoke same-sex marriage. I suspect that is a ceiling, not a floor. Some of those who voted against ssm last time did so reluctantly and for the status quo. Now, however, same sex marriage is the status quo. And it will increasingly be so.

Add to this a general reluctance on all but the most committed to this issue above all others to avoid the embarrassing excesses of the last debate, and you have a recipe for no change on this front.

What happened to the anti-ssm Liberals in the election?

In the last couple posts, I've been counting noses for the free-vote that Harper has promised on same-sex marriage. As part of that, we need to review the Liberals who voted against ssm in the last parliament. These are:
  1. Ray Bonin (Nickel Belt), re-elected
  2. Ken Boshcoff (Thunder Bay—Rainy River), re-elected
  3. Gerry Byrne (Humber—etc.), re-elected
  4. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre), re-elected
  5. Gary Carr (Halton), defeated by pro-ssm Garth Turner (CPC)
  6. Brenda Chamberlain (Guelph), re-elected
  7. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North), re-elected
  8. Roy Cullen (Etobicoke North), re-elected
  9. Rodger Cuzner (Cape Breton—Canso), re-elected
  10. Roger Gallaway (Sarnia—Lambton), defeated by Pat Davidson (CPC), whose position on ssm is not clear.
  11. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi), re-elected
  12. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt), re-elected
  13. Wajid Khan (Mississauga—Streetsville), re-elected
  14. Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines), defeated by anti-ssm Wade Dykstra (CPC)
  15. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River), re-elected
  16. Judi Longfield (Whitby—Oshawa), defeated by Jim Flaherty (CPC) anti-ssm (?)
  17. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan), re-elected
  18. Gurbax Malhi (Bramalea), re-elected
  19. John Maloney (Welland), re-elected
  20. Bill Matthews (Random—Burin—St. George's), re-elected
  21. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood), re-elected
  22. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Scarborough East), re-elected
  23. Massimo Pacetti (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel), re-elected
  24. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard), re-elected
  25. Andy Savoy (Tobique—Mactaquac), defeated by anti-ssm Mike Alan (CPC)
  26. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis), re-elected
  27. Raymond Simard (St. Boniface), re-elected
  28. Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—etcc.), re-elected
  29. Paul Steckle (Huron—Bruce), re-elected
  30. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South), re-elected
  31. Alan Tonks (York South—Weston), re-elected
  32. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex), retired, replaced by anti-ssm Bev Shipley (CPC)
  33. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest), re-elected
  34. Bryon Wilfert (Richmond Hill), re-elected
  35. Paul Zed (Saint John, NB), re-elected

So, my guess is that there are at most 29 anti-ssm Liberals in Parliament. (I say at most because there are some in this list whose vote against ssm was a vote for the status quo and may vote against a change back.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Conservatives not endorsed by Vote Marriage

There are 124 Conservative MP-elects, 101 of whom were endorsed by Vote Marriage as supporters of 'traditional marriage'.

What are we to make of the missing 23?

Five are fairly well-known as being in favour of same-sex marriage:
  1. Garth Turner (CPC, Halton, ON).
  2. Gerald Gordon Keddy (CPC, South Shore—etc., NS)
  3. James Moore (CPC, Port Moody-etc., BC)
  4. Jim Prentice (CPC, Calgary Centre-North, Alta)
  5. John Baird (CPC, Ottawa West--Nepean, ON)
No surprise that these were left out of Vote Marriage's list: they sit on the wrong side of the question in VM's eyes.

But what happened to the rest? Here is the list from English Canada.
  1. Blaine Calkins (CPC, Wetaskiwin, Alta). Not endorsed; no mention of marriage that I can find on his website.
  2. Brian Storseth (CPC, Westlock--St. Paul, Alta) Not endorsed; no mention of marriage on website.
  3. Bruce Stanton (CPC, Simcoe North, ON) Not endorsed; no mention of marriage on website.
  4. Mike Wallace (CPC, Burlington, ON). Not endorsed; no mention of marriage that I can find on his website
  5. Pat Davidson (CPC, Sarnia--Lambton, ON) Not endorsed; no mention of marriage on website.
  6. Patrick Brown (CPC, Barrie, ON) Not endorsed; no mention of marriage on website.
  7. Rick Norlock (CPC, Northumberland--Quinte West, ON) Not endorsed; no mention of marriage on website.
  8. Jim Flaherty (CPC, Whitby--Oshawa, ON) Not endorsed; no mention of marriage in website.
I'm not sure what to make of the Flaherty omission. He has long courted the social conservative vote in Ontario, most recently in the Ontario legislature where he bucked his party by calling for a recorded vote on a revision of Ontario's laws to bring them in line with the new federal legislation and being heckled by fellow Conservative John Beard (also now elected.) Flaherty's rival in Whitby was Judy Longfield, one of the Liberals who voted against ssm, who was not endorsed by Vote Marriage either. Might they have decided to refrain from endorsing either? Or did Flaherty not want their endorsement? Or is his position more nuanced than many of us are supposing?

As for the other Ontario omissions, it is possible that these too did not want the endorsement either because they are in favor of same sex marriage (or are at least not strongly opposed to it), or perhaps because they have other priorities.

Finally, there are the new CPC MPs in Quebec, about whom I'm finding it difficult to find much:
  1. Lawrence Cannon (CPC, Pontiac, QC), who is widely reported as pro-ssm.
  2. Josèe Verner (CPC, Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC), on whom see below
  3. Christian Paradis (CPC, Mègantic—etc., QC)
  4. Daniel Petit (CPC, Charlesbourg-etc, QC)
  5. Jacques Gourde (CPC, Lotbiniëre-etc., QC)
  6. Jean-Pierre Blackburn (CPC, Jonquiëre--Alma, QC)
  7. Luc Harvey (CPC, Louis-Hèbert, QC)
  8. Steven Blaney (CPC, Lèvis--Bellechasse, QC)
  9. Sylvie Boucher (CPC, Beauport--Limoilou, QC)
On the attitude of the Quebec group, it is worth noting this Canadian Press NewsWire story from January 20, 2005:
"Harper's Quebec wing, including his unelected Quebec lieutenant, Josee Verner, openly support gay marriage, a woman's right to an abortion and other liberal-leaning positions."
To judge from this, it is possible that many if not most of these are in fact pro-ssm.

That would nicely explain why they were left out of the Vote Marriage endorsements.

So in the end we should probably assume that Vote Marriage's list of anti-ssm Conservatives is more or less complete at somewhere around 100.

election effect on net-opposition to ssm (in progress)

As I mentioned (here), Vote Marriage endorsed 208 candidates in this election. Of these, 113 won. Of the winners, 99 were incumbants (mostly Conservatives, and a few Liberals) who voted against ssm last time. The fourteen new MPs who are on record against same-sex marriage are these. Five of these are replacing MPs who were against SSM:
  1. Colin Mayes (Okanagan—Shuswap, CPC), replaces retiring Darrell Stinson (CPC, anti-ssm), net effect 0.
  2. Edward Fast (Abbotsford, CPC), replaces retiring Randy White (CPC, anti-ssm), net effect 0.
  3. Michael Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac, CPC), defeats Andy Savoy (Lib., anti-ssm), net effect 0
  4. Richard Dykstra (St. Catharines, CPC), defeated Walt Lastewka (Lib., anti-ssm), net effect 0
  5. Ron Cannan (Kelowna--Lake Country, CPC), replaces retiring Werner Schmit (CPC, anti-ssm), net effect 0.

Nine replaced pro-ssm MPs.
  1. David Sweet (Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough—Westdale, CPC), defeats Russ Powers (Lib., pro-ssm), net effect +1
  2. David Van Kesteren (Chatham-Kent—Essex, CPC), defeats Jerry Pickard (Lib., pro-ssm), net effect +1
  3. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Center, CPC) defeats Anne McLellan (Lib., pro-ssm), net effect +1
  4. Fabian Manning (Avalon, CPC), replaces Efford (Lib., pro-ssm), net effect +1
  5. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC), defeats Lynn Myers (Lib., pro-ssm), net effect +1
  6. Maxime Bernier (Beauce, CPC), defeats Claude Drouin (Lib., pro-ssm), net effect +1
  7. Pierre Lemieux (Glengarry--Prescott--Russell, CPC) , replaces retired Don Boudria (Lib., pro-ssm), net effect +1
  8. Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC), defeated Reg Alcock (Lib., pro-ssm), net effect +1
  9. Tony Clement (Parry Sound--Muskoka, CPC), replaces Andy Mitchell (Lib., pro-ssm), net effect +1

On the other hand, there were anti-ssm marriage MPs, who were endorsed by Vote Marriage, who have been replaced by pro-ssm candidates. Here is a list:
  1. Dawn Black (NDP) defeated Paul Forseth (CPC, New Westminister), net effect, -1
  2. Penny Priddy (NDP) replaced deceased Chuck Cadman (IND, Surrey North), net effect, -1
  3. Alex Atamanenko (NDP) replaced retired Jim Gouk (CPC, BC Southern Int.), net effect, -1
  4. Catherine Bell (NDP) replaced John Duncan (CPC, Vanc. Island N.), net effect, -1
  5. Irene Mathyssen (NDP) replaces Pat O'Brien (Lib., London-Fanshawe.), net effect, -1
  6. Garth Turner (CPC, pro-ssm) defeated Gary Carr (Lib., anti-ssm), net effect, -1
  7. Sukh Dhaliwal (Lib.) replaces Gurmant Grewal (CPC, anti-ssm) in Newton-North Delta. According to this he "promises to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the issue of same-sex marriage." Net effect -1.
  8. Omar Alghabra (Lib.) replaces retired Carolyn Parrish (Lib., anti-ssm) in Mississauga—Erindale This story implies that he is pro-ssm. Net effect -1

(I assume here that all NDPers are pro-ssm.) Some other ridings where MPs changed with possible effects:
  1. Bev Shipley (CPC, not endorsed by Vote Marriage) replaces retired Rosie-Marie Ur (Lib, anti-ssm) in Lambton-etc. His comments here make me assume he is anti-ssm. The net effect is 0.
  2. Mike Allen (CPC, not endorsed by Vote Marriage) defeated Andy Savoy (Lib., anti-ssm) in Tobique-Mactaquac. His web-page says he will 'defend traditional marriage', which clearly means he is anti-ssm. Net effect is 0.
  3. Blair Wilson (Lib.) replaces John Reynolds (CPC, anti-ssm) in West Vancouver-etc. (Update: in the comments Ian points out that Wilson's website implies that he supports ssm. Net effect -1
  4. Gary Merasty (Lib.) replaces Jeremy Harrison (CPC, anti-ssm) in Desnethé-etc.
  5. Tina Keeper (Lib.) replaces Bev Desjarlais (NDP, anti-ssm) in Churchill
  6. Jacques Gourde (CPC, not endorsed by Vote Marriage) defeated Odina Desrochers (BQ, anti-ssm) in Lotbinière-etc.

The base from which to compare is the series of votes on ssm in June 2005, when ssm passed by 158 to 133, with 16 absentees.

If you have information to add, please add it in comments, which are enabled.

silver linings… (1)

Although I'm not thrilled about having a Conservative government, there are some positive results.

One is that the Vote Marriage campaign was pretty much a failure. They endorsed, on my quick count, 207 candidates. Of these, 113 won their ridings (mostly Conservative encumbants), and 94 lost.

This probably means the death of the anti-ssm movement, not least because for the future it will become an increasingly losing proposition.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cindy Silver loses

As many of you know, I've been blogging a fair bit about Cindy Silver in North Vancouver. CBC has now called the election for her opponent.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Remember Florida when you remember to vote

I'm just adding my voice to those encouraging everyone to vote tomorrow. Vote early. Vote proudly. Vote your conscience.

But if you're a Liberal voter who lives in one of these ridings, or are an NDP-voter living in one of these ridings, or are a Green voter who lives in a riding in either group, I encourage you to think seriously about voting strategically.

Remember Florida:
strategic voting

Apropos of nothing in particular…


Vote Marriage support a headache for Conservative ridings: news story

I'm not sure why it's in the London Free Press and not a Toronto newspaper, but there's a story in the London Free Press about the automated calls from Pat O'Brien's anti-same sex marriage. The story seems to be consistent with everything I blogged about yesterday (here)

Calls from pro-traditional marriage group causes headaches for Conservative

NEWMARKET, Ont. — An automated phone message endorsing a Conservative in a riding north of Toronto is causing headaches for the candidate.

Newmarket-Aurora residents have been getting the calls from Vote Marriage Canada, a group opposed to same-sex marriage. In the message, spokesman Pat O’Brien asks residents to complete a survey on same-sex marriage and endorses Conservative candidate Lois Brown.

But many residents say they’ve been receiving dozens of the calls, with one business saying it had more than 50 in an afternoon. Rita Smith, Brown’s communications manager, says they didn’t approve the message and have filed complaints with police and Elections Canada.

O’Brien says he doubts people have been receiving dozens of the calls, and notes it’s within CRTC rules to conduct the survey. Smith disagrees, saying Brown’s campaign office has been flooded with complaints.

‘‘We had nothing to do with this demon dialler phone blast. It was just dropped like a bomb on the riding.

‘‘This is the last thing that anybody needs on the weekend before E-Day.’’

Brown is in a tight race in Newmarket-Aurora, where she is up against Liberal candidate Belinda Stronach.

Update. See now the CBC report.

Friday, January 20, 2006

heterosexual marriage is a gamble…

As you can see by comparing this website

with this one



(Hattip to posters at this rabble thread)

Update For the source of the picture, see here.

Conservative candidate complains to the OPP about Defend Marriage callout

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been demon-dialed today with a message from Defend Marriage Canada. It is Pat O'Brien's voice idenifying himself as having left the Liberal party over bill C-36, the same-sex marriage bill, asking several automated questions and then informing me that the endorsed candidate in my riding was [insert-name of Conservative candidate].

Shrug. Who cares. 15 minutes later, the same call.

Less of a shrug. Might care a little bit. 15 minutes later, the same call.

Now I'm annoyed enough that I phone the campaign office in question. A nice young man answers, but as soon as I mention the calls becomes very apologetic insisting that Defend Marriage have nothing to do with them. Apparently they've been getting angry phone calls all day, and that… get this … they've phoned the OPP to complain about the calls.

That is not all. The young man said that the OPP complaint was originally filed by Lois Brown's campaign, where this calling has been going on all day.

So, it seems that the conservatives have not been able to keep their crazy aunt hidden in the attic, and at least in these two ridings, it seems that they're doing some damage.

(By the way, if you get one of these calls, be sure to phone your local conservative candidate. It'll keep them off-balance going into election day.)

Update. Apparently even Conservatives find the calls annoying. See this thread over at Free Dominion

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Linda West's university has a world wide reputation ...

As we've been seeing over the last couple days, Linda West, CPC candidate in Elmswood-Transcona includes as part of her educational background a PhD from "Washington University" (here). This is not the Washington University of St. Louis, but Washington International University, a mail-order outfit in Pennsylvania.

This "university" has been attracting its share of legal troubles. The real Washington University sued it and forced it to change its name to Washington International University (see here). And it was driven out of Hawaii by the Department of Commerce and Consumer affairs (see here).

Washington International University has attracted legal attention from other jurisdictions, too.

Michigan includes it in its list of institutions that will not be recognized in applications for civil service positions.

In Oregon degrees from WIU are "invalid for use in state or licensed employment in Oregon and the use of such degrees can result in criminal prosecution or civil penalties depending on the circumstances of the use".

WIU degrees have been dismissed as worthless in Pakistan, Sweden (see p. 25), and Singapore.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Linda West's university's legal troubles in Hawaii

As we've been seeing, Linda West, CPC candidate in Elmswood-Transcona includes as part of her educational background a PhD from "Washington University" (here). This is not the Washington University of St. Louis (which is a top University), but Washington International University, a mail-order outfit in Pennsylvania with a faculty of seven.

This "university" has been attracting its share of legal troubles because of its activities. The real Washington University sued it and forced it to change its name to Washington International University (see here).

The office of Consumer Protection in Hawaii, where WIU was based, brought complaints against it in 1999 that it violated consumer protection laws (pdf here) and required it (among other things) "to dissolve its Hawaii corporation and shall not represent in any literature or promotional documents it is incorporated in or affiliiated with the state of Hawaii." (item 6 of the judgement: pdf, here). According to the Hawaii Dept. of Commer and Consumer Affairs, WIU Hawaii dissolved in March 2000 (here).

Some background about Linda West's (Elmwood Transcona) university

As we saw in the last post, Linda West, CPC candidate in Elmswood-Transcona includes as part of her educational background a PhD from "Washington University" (here). This is not the Washington University of St. Louis (which is a top University), but Washington International University, a mail-order outfit in Pennsylvania with a faculty of seven.

Over at the CBC Forum for Elmwood Transcona, West herself tried to clarify matters
The University of Washington, as it was called when I attended is a degree granting institution in the United States and when I graduated it provided my with a diploma that was notarized by the state.
A little digging around confirms. Here I've archived a news story about how the institution came to have its present name: it was originally Washington University, but it was sued by the real Washington University in St. Louis. Especially noteworthy quote:
"We are entrepreneurs, we are not educators," says Yil Karademir, the Lower Merion businessman who, with his wife, runs the university and readily acknowledges it is not accredited. "I'm in it for money. I'm not in it for education."

Karademir and his wife founded Washington University three years ago. It's incorporated in Hawaii and the British Virgin Islands - and, no, it's not connected to the better-known Washington University, the one in St. Louis. That school is suing Karademir's, claiming trademark infringement.
In an article in the New York Times about degree mills, the outcome of the suit is reported (the full article is archived, here):
An unaccredited school called Washington University, which has an office in Bryn Mawr, Pa., but is incorporated in Hawaii and the British Virgin Islands, settled a suit in June filed by the more established Washington University of St. Louis. The suit charged that the unaccredited school infringed on its trademark and engaged in unfair competition.

The details of the settlement are confidential, but the consent judgment entered by the court told the school to come up with a new name, and one that separated the words "Washington" and "University" with a word of at least 10 characters.

Yil Karademir, who owns the unaccredited school, chose Washington International University. (Unaccredited schools tend to favor the word "International," as well as "America," "United" and "Pacific.")
The article goes on to report
Mr. Karademir said his school is made up mostly of international students who are given academic credit for life experience, though he plans to add on-line courses in the fall. Washington International's Web site is extensive and promises to grant degrees in one year. "The academic comunity sic find our degree programs to be OUTSTANDING!" the Web site declares. "All Washington International University degrees are ATTESTED and sealed for authenticity by a Government appointed NOTARY!"

Costs range from $2,850 for a Bachelor of Science in business administration to $7,400 for a combination bachelor's and master's degree.

[Edited to archive full article here and add NYT article]

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CPC Linda West touts mail-order PhD

Over the weekend there was a story in the Winnipeg Free Press (quoted at POGGE, whom I hattip) questioning the academic credentials of Linda West, Conservative candidate in Winnipeg. Her webpage lists her academic achievements thus, "RN, BA, MBA, CHE, Ph.D.", specifying further down the page that her Doctor of Philosophy in Health Administration is from "Washington University".

The Free Press pointed out that "Dr." West's degree was not from Washington University in St. Louis, but from Washington International University, an unaccredited university in the USA.

When this was brought-up in the CBC Forum for Elmwood Transcona, West herself made an appearance and clarified matters:
In the mid to late 1990s I was involved in a project to improve rural health care by strengthening rural ER services. It involved having care providers having a real say in what was done. I wanted to measure and study the results. It was the ideal thesis material.

I approached the UofM and other Canadian Universities all of whom would accept me only if I quite work. If I quite work I would lose my access to the data – talk about a rock and a hard spot.

The University of Washington, as it was called when I attended is a degree granting institution in the United States and when I graduated it provided my with a diploma that was notarized by the state.
I'm not sure where to begin here. First, it is a little disconcerting that West does not even know the name of the institution that she attended. It is not 'Washington University', as in her website, nor the 'University of Washington' (another fairly good real university: see here), as she calls it here.

Perhaps we should not be surprised that West could be confused about the name. It is, after all, hardly a large institution. Indeed, its webpage lists its seven faculty members, only two of whom hold PhDs (see here). This is beyond miniscule. For comparison, Ontario has a 'rule of 10' which requires that university departments must have 10 faculty members in order to offer a PhD degree. That an entire university has only seven faculty members is beyond derision.

Nor is the program at Washington International University very rigorous. On their webpage here they tell us that:
Your extensive work experience, specialized training received and professional knowledge in your field eliminates the need for core materials
And elsewhere we learn that
All accelerated degree programs are designed to be completed within one year.
So West spent one year, part-time, on her "PhD". For comparison, a PhD at a real University (like the real Washington University in St. Louis, or the University of Washington in Seattle) is typically five years of full-time work. This is why earning a PhD is in itself a considerable achievement, which is in turn why people like West want to have one. It is a grueling process.


Monday, January 16, 2006

How expensive is Conservative committment on fiscal imbalance?

For those who've missed it, the economist who endorsed the Conservative platform as economically sound has issued a clarification: the Conservative platform that he had seen did not include the commitment to pay for out-of-jurisdiction health-care or for correcting the so-called fiscal imbalance.

The Conservatives have an explanation (here):
Conservative finance critic Monte Solberg said last night the Tories did not put a price tag on fixing the fiscal imbalance because that remains to be worked out in deals with premiers.
The Conservatives, of course, could tell us what their proposal would be and cost it out. As it happens, we already have a provincial proposal made by Quebec's Commission on the Fiscal Imbalance, which concluded that
to restore fiscal balance within the federation, the provinces must have additional financial resources. In Québec's case, the Commission estimated these financial resources at a minimum of $2 billion per year in the near term, and at least $3 billion annually in the medium term.

For the provinces as a whole, the Commission estimates that $8 billion in additional financial resources is needed annually in the near term.
Now, it may well be that the Conservatives' proposal to fix the 'imbalance' is less expensive. But even if a Conservative government met Quebec half way, we're looking at an extra $4 billion per year. That is not a trivial amount.

Strategic voting

Greg Morrow over at Democratic Space has put together a strategic voting guide for each of the mainline parties. Most ridings are not competitive. But there are dozens where a few hundred strategically cast votes might make the difference by voting for their second choice. Go check them out here:

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Conservative candidate Zeisman dumped

CTV news is reporting that Zeisman has been dumped by the Conservatives. If he is elected, apparently he will not sit with the caucus.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Conservative candidate Zeisman charged with smuggling

CTV is reporting that the Conservative candidate for Southern Interior, Derek Zeisman, is facing charges for smuggling. See here.

Update. More on the Zeisman story here.