Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Frickin' Taser Death

There's been a couple recent taser deaths in Canada. But this one is right in Edmonton, and the attack happened right next to a pub I frequent.

The assailant was on drugs, no doubt. He attacked and chased an innocent man. He ran into a pawn shop and was wrecking the place. Police tried to detain him but he rushed them. Then the taser came out and they zapped him. He laid unconscious. He later died.

First, I hope the innocent man who was attacked is okay, which I think he is, but that would certainly be traumatic.

Secondly, I hope the pawn shop employee(s) and owner will be okay.

Thirdly, I hope the police are okay in this difficult situation.

Fourthly, did the attacker deserve to die?

No. If he did then he should have been shot by police. But he wasn't. A taser was used to subdue him, but it was the cause that killed him. I do not blame the police one bit in this situation. They were doing their duty and their job. I blame those who thought tasers were a good idea.

But this situation, kind of makes the Rodney King video (remember that?) look like a massage because Rodney King is still alive.

Some say it was because of the drugs that this assailant was on that the taser enhanced the effect and killed him. Which is exactly why tasers shouldn't be used. There's a slew of medications, drugs, and other physical defects where a policeman would not know whether the taser could kill.

Call me a bleeding heart, but I'm far from it. This attacker should have been detained (beaten with a club on the legs perhaps to subdue him), arrested, and locked up for a long time.

And I'm all for more police here. I called for it on Whyte Ave, where they parked their cars at each block to prevent any rogue riots. They stepped up (obviously not on my account) and incidences are way down on the popular bar strip. The Edmonton Police Service have been actively recruiting and advertising for more officers and hope more and more people sign up and become what is touted as one of the best police forces in North America.

But we all know that the law regards reasonable doubt as the defining line between innocence and being guilty.

And it is because of that doubt, that time and time again, the use of tasers goes beyond that line and the judge and jury be damned, because the taser has proven it decides the ultimate sentence right then and there.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quebelection 2008: And they're off!

It appears that Quebeckers will head to the polls on December 8th. Last week, two ADQ MNAs crossed the floor to the Liberals.

With that and other things there are some preliminary questions:

1. Will Mario Dumont's ADQ Party continue with the momentum from last election or has Liberal Premier Jean Charest staved it off with good management and the trust of Quebeckers?

  • My bets are with Jean Charest. Conservatives federally didn't make a breakthrough and although there is a loose affiliation between Harper's Conservatives and Dumont's ADQ, voters may equate the two. Charest is the middle ground.
2. With the Bloc Quebecois continuing to have 49 seats in the House of Commons federally, will this translate into voters flocking to the Parti Quebecois provincially?
  • No. A lot of the Bloc voters weren't hard core separatists like the PQ are.

3. What will be the defining issue this election?

  • It's the economy, stupid!

Overall, unlike 10 years ago, I'm hearing a lot of great things about Quebec, Montreal in particular. With the 400 year anniversary of Quebec City, Quebec pride is at an all time high. But it doesn't seem to be equated with sovereignty/separatism other than seeing that the rest of Canada does, in fact, see them as a special nation within our dominion.

So we'll see which party gets glued to that Quebec pride on December 8th. I predict a stronger Charest Liberal minority.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Canadian Federalection 2008 - CPC War Room mishaps

Here are my thoughts on where the Conservative War Room and Stephen Harper disappointed me in this election (and I know many other Conservatives whom I've spoken with agree):

- The famous puffin poop dropping on Dion in a website animation. Who approved this? Absolutely immature and unnecessary.

- Announcement of new policy to treat 14 year old serious offenders as criminals, etc. Duceppe's argument that sending them to jail would be dangerous to them was right and this issue lost the CPC votes in Quebec. This announcement was not a major issue, wouldn't have shored up more support than they already had, and totally unnecessary to bring up during the election.

- Harper's comments on "rich galas" when quickly the media and Liberal war room brought up the fact that his wife, Laureen, was chairman of a gala committee nullified his statements. While his comments solidified core support, it along with the massive arts-cuts spin lost him tonnes of votes and seats in Quebec. (But then why these arts folks who want more funding voted Bloc who would get no funding if they separated have any credibility on this issue is beyond me.)

- When the Liberal war room and Bob Rae exposed the plagarism of a speech Harper gave that was exactly the same as then Australian Prime Minister Howard's regarding the War in Iraq, the fallout was the resignation of a guy in the CPC war room who stole the speech. It wasn't until a week later did the CPC war room expose a plagarised speech Dion gave regarding Kyoto. It got little legs in the media as compared to Harper's. Too little too late boys.

- Harper in the debates. In French, he didn't go after Duceppe as much as he could have on Duceppe not talking about "sovereignty". That issue doesn't play as well in Quebec anymore which is why the Bloc got so many votes--not that their soft supporters actually want to separate, but now they're no different than a western protest party. In English, he didn't go after Duceppe again on this issue. Which leads me to...

- Harper's leadership. He was trumpted as a "strong leader" at the beginning of the campaign, but when the U.S. economy tanked, and Canadians stocks tanked, that leadership didn't come through as much as Canadians were told to expect. He should have trumpted more and more how the Canadian banking system is #1 in the world, how our mortgage lending system is rock solid, how Canadians are smart people, and basically provide some sort of inspiration and hope, and how we differ from the U.S. on these aspects. Luckily the few days before the election, he got that support back, as voters had no where else to turn to.

- The spin on Stephane Dion's re-re-redo-interview on CTV. CTV and the media were already running with it, so why did the CPC war room and Harper have to mention anything about it again. That tactic backfired due to the Liberal Party (LPC) war room and Bob Rae spinning it back very well. This resonated in Quebec.

- And locally in Edmonton-Strathcona, on the Rahim Jaffer campaign, whoever thought of printing up and distributing flyers spouting NDP leader Jack Layton's quotes on marajiuana being "a wonderful substance" and contrasting it with Conservative policy criminalizing it when Rahim himself was quoted a couple years ago in favour of decriminalization, had poor political judgement and no understanding of the riding. This policy stance was irrelevant and a very poor choice for a wedge issue in a riding that is the most libertarian one in Alberta. This mishap was quoted in the Edmonton Journal editorial leading up to election day, and now knowing the NDP implied stance, people from all over the left side of the spectrum probably caused an exodus to the already well-run NDP Linda Duncan campaign. I'm not saying it was the main cause, but it was a cause.

- Finally... TV ads. Conservative TV ads spent most of the time attacking Dion's carbon tax. Some of them looked cheap, reminding me of old Progressive Conservative ads. While there were positive ads of Harper in his "sweather", there were no ads spouting the positive Conservative record and their current platform. The Liberals did it in 2000 and won handily.

That's all I gotta say... for now anyway. Anyone looking for a political strategist/spin doctor?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Canadian Federalection 2008 - Hatrock on GlobalTV and Results

Hey if you were watching Global TV last night, you would have seen me at the Rahim Jaffer Campaign wearing my Conservative Party hockey jersey giving a live interview with Carolyn Jarvis. It was fun, and she thanked me for a good interview. I can't find the interview online though. Oh well. I also had a short interview on CFCW radio.

I basically said that Rahim has always been a grassroots kind of guy and that the race was tight because even Liberals in the riding rejected Dion's carbon tax and they all rallied behind the NDP, who were running an excellent campaign and I commended them for that.

Then I got tonnes of calls, texts, and emails.

All that said, I'm disappointed that Rahim didn't win. His wife, Helena won handily, so Rahim is certainly not out of federal politics, and hopefully Conservative supporters who didn't show up to vote are now motivated next election. Voter turnout was 65% in the riding, which is one of the highest in the land and especially Alberta, so the lefties in the area were well organized and did a great job in GOTV (get out the vote).

Recap of my predictions...

At beginning of campaign (with actual results):
157 Conservatives (143)
70 Liberals (76)
40 Bloc Quebecois (50)
40 NDP (37)
1 Independent (2)
0 Green (0)

Election Day Revised (with actual results):
147 Conservatives (143)
75 Liberals (76)
50 Bloc Quebecois (50)
40 NDP (37)
1 Independent (2)
0 Green (0)

Not bad eh?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sign vandals

One thing I noticed in Edmonton... there are a lot of Conservative signs that were destroyed, moved, or broken, particularly Rahim Jaffer's signs in Edmonton-Strathcona and Laurie Hawn's in Edmonton-Centre. And I'm talking the big signs.

I noticed absolutely no NDP, Green, or Liberal signs treated the same way.

It'll make No Difference, Parlicularly when this stuff usually backfires.

Canadian Federalection 2008 - Typical Liberal last minute strategy

In the 2000 election, the Liberals poigned the thought of a Stockwell Day led Canadian Alliance government. They took Stock's cockiness and translated it as a beacon call to leftists to unite under the Liberals. It worked. It especially worked because the right was still divided.

This divide and conquer method is a sneaky trick in Canadian politics, one the Conservatives tried this election by painting Dion's carbon tax as THE issue, dividing the already divided Liberals even further and having those old left Liberal votes drip to the NDP, Greens, or Bloc.

The method didn't work so well in Quebec, where the drip went to the Bloc as the Conservatives failed to divide and conquer properly there by announcing changes to the Young Offenders Act to try 14 year olds violent offenders. While that policy shore up support in Southern Ontario and the West, that coupled with the arts movement in Montreal shuttered any big Quebec breakthrough. Too bad really.

Watch for British Columbia though, where the big vote split on the left will allow many Conservatives to "shoot up the middle" and win.

With the Conservatives at about 34% going into the weekend, they'll be shy of that majority by about 20 seats. Some say if they hit 38%, then it's possible, due to the pile of votes splits on the left.

And the Liberals know it. Which is why Dion, on the last day of the campaign, called for an end to vote splitting. This is the same strategy they used in 2000, but this time, they'll fall short.

But here's what I don't get.

Many of these "progressives" on the left, including soft NDP supporters call for a proportional representation (PR) system. Perhaps if you actually voted NDP and Green, more MPs from those parties would get elected and you'd have more of a say on the issue rather than being all "scared" about Harper and being coyed into voting Liberal--a party that doesn't support PR.

As well, the more folks that vote NDP and Green, the more money they get from the new election party finance laws... $1.75/vote to be exact.

The Liberals are broke, in debt, and Dion's still in about $700,000 of debt. They have no grassroots support so little money coming in. Their old big corporate donors can only give $1100 or so.

The NDP and Greens have run excellent campaigns with leaders saying smart, articulate things. The NDP particularly have had slick TV ads, and Jack Layton has been outstanding right from the first day. He is an effective MP and opposition leader--much more effective than Dion ever was this past session.

The Liberals won't win this election, so voting for them is a waste. I encourage all of my NDP and Green friends to for once vote for the party they actually WANT to vote for, not against, which is never a wasted strategy.

Heck, I did it in 1993, 1997, 2000 when I voted Reform/Canadian Alliance. I wanted a strong opposition and while I didn't agree with all of their policies, there were some major issues that I did agree with. I never thought they'd form government but I didn't ever vote Progressive Conservative either.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Canadian Federalection 2008 - Prediction - Slight Conservative Majority

My prediction from the beginning of the election still stands for the most part. I'm usually way, way off.

157 Conservatives
70 Liberals
45 Bloc
35 NDP
1 Ind
0 Green

But I actually think the Bloc will be still at around 50 and the NDP 40, putting the Conservatives at around 147. But yeah, my previous prediction still stands. It's more hopeful.

Don't forget to vote early and vote often! (I already voted at an advance poll.)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Canada Federalection 2008 - [insert colour] Shift

A lot has happened since my last post 6 days ago... the debates (including the Canadian, the U.S. bailout, and looming world economic recession.

Polls indicated that the Conservatives were teetering close to a majority if not there. The Liberals remain stagnant in the mid 20's, the NDP are edging close to that, and the Bloc has regained its earlier losses.

But with a week left, and a weak left (get it?), Harper is poised to continue on as prime minister.

So what's happened in a nutshell?

The old Harper, er..., John Howard speech from five years ago I think was spun well by the Liberals; the story had legs over a few days. The Conservative war room seem to be asleep in trying to point out heavily that Bob Rae and Dion have both plagiarized themselves. But all the parties have had candidates quit over some controversy. I don't think this has affected the national campaigns overall that much.

Duceppe won the French debate, Layton the English debate, while Dion improved and went beyond his very very low expectations, where Harper didn't wow anyone, and has remained calm, cool, and collected throughout it all... as a prime minister should do. Chretien did it in 1997.

The Liberals have gone to the old playbook in equating Harper with Bush. I think Canadians are really tired of this line and reeks of desperation from the Liberals. The Conservatives are coming out with another warm fuzzy one with a positive message, which will work and gain them a couple points.

So let me get this straight... arts folks in Quebec are complaining about Harper's so-called cuts to arts and now putting their protest vote with the Bloc, a party that wants to separate from Canada and no longer receive ANYTHING from the federal government. Hmmm... yeah, makes a lot of sense to me. With 5000 people marching in Montreal today, you wonder why they're not working instead.

I don't think people are buying Dion's carbon tax approach and Harper needs to remind everyone of that, which he did in the debates. Today, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Harper both went on national TV to calm investors and mention the aspects of the Canadian economy that have controls on it and the foresight they had a year ago when they put in these measures such as requiring 5% down on a mortgage and eliminating 40 year amortizations. They need to continue to hammer this all week to ease people's worries.

Dion's plan to have meetings within the first 30 days will be too late and Jack's plans will also be too late, which is why the Conservatives need to explain that they already put in measures to protect the Canadian economy.

Most of all, if the Liberals get near the margin of error, then you can expect soft-NDP votes to go Liberal again. It's these folks who seem to determine how well the Liberals do by preventing some vote splitting. But luckily for the Conservatives, the NDP have put together an excellent campaign and Jack Layton's performance has been very good.

Noise Filtering
This week, we're going to see more campaign TV ads, spin, rhetoric, polls, and pundits than we've ever seen before. How Canadians filter the noise and soak up the one or two emotions they get will determine their vote.

I think people see a Conservative gov't as inevitable, and the only way Harper will get to the magical 155 seats is with a split left happening in 20 more ridings this time around. I think they've gained their lost seats in BC (+5), will still grab more in Ontario (+10) and double their seats in Quebec (+10) which puts them awfully close to a majority. If they hit 37.5%, they'll get the majority.

Therefore, I still stand behind my 157 seat prediction for the Conservatives with the Liberals around 75 and as a result, the Red Green Shift will have turned Blue.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bob Rae giving talking points to Dion

I love ads that simply directly quote people... and with Pink Floyd to boot! (h/t Steve Janke).