Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Morning Links

A random assortment of information for the end of your work week...

- It's understandable that Bill Tieleman and other figures in the Fight HST movement are upset over the fact that a Lib appointee at Elections BC has chosen to stall the petition process. But it's worth keeping in mind that the legislation provided for by the petition is unlikely to pass the B.C. legislature in any event - and in the long run, the justified perception that the petition process has been set up to fail may prove to be the best possible outcome in building support for a quick and decisive recall campaign.

- Alice once again sets the record straight on fund-raising mechanisms for Canada's political parties, pointing out in particular that the oft-repeated theory that eliminating per-vote funding would harm the Bloc has no basis in reality. But I'd offer a reminder that there's one more factor worth taking into account, as thanks to the tax credit system much of the fund-raising allocated to "candidate", "riding" and "party" is also effectively publicly funded. (Update: Of course, there are those who won't let the facts spoil a poorly-thought-out rant.)

- Rick Salutin offers up an interesting theory as to how the census, like prorogation before it, may have served primarily as an excuse for voters to shift against a Harper government that's still out of touch with the public:
The long-form census shift was probably introduced as a bit of red meat for the Reform base. Yet the country seems to have seized on it. This is reflected by the downward Tory drift in the polls. It’s as if the population chose to focus on this issue, rather than the crime and fear agenda. They didn’t take the bait and they used the census ruckus as a way of changing the subject.

Jeffrey Simpson argued forcefully on this page that the census blew up in Mr. Harper’s face because our “civil society” – respectable organizations of solid citizens – rose up as one to demand their rightful stats. Yet the Harperites surely factored that in (or out) when they chose to neuter the long form. They likely thought such “elite” reactions would cut for them at Tim Hortons. But what if the unease out there in ordinary voterland is greater than it seemed when it comes to crime and the rest of their agenda. People might not want to go head to head with Tory heavies who come at you armed with costly surveys and public-relations advice. But they might be prone to shifting the ground to an unexpected issue, like the census, and artfully dodging an unfruitful debate about which they feel ambivalent. U.S. voters dive into issues like crime on cue from their politicians. Canadians are a slier and cannier electorate. Maybe they didn’t take the bait, and switched the topic.

We’ve seen that before, with the eruption of the prorogation issue and the arts issue in Quebec. Both served as pretexts to withdraw support from the Conservatives without embracing other parties.
- Finally, Don Martin's piece on Jack Layton takes a bit of a detour into analyzing the Cons. But it's right on point in noting that Layton's return to the public eye following a fairly quiet summer looks to significantly change a political landscape, particularly based on what Layton has been accomplishing in the meantime:
Jack is back.

That's good news for Canada's top political leftie, not so much for rivals Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff. It's been a tale of two leaders for most of this summer -- Prime Minister Harper for being in relative seclusion on a deserved holiday; Liberal Leader Ignatieff for being on the road discovering a real Canadian summer of beer and barbecues instead of his oft-ridiculed travel abroad to enjoy fine wine and French cuisine.

Layton has surfaced in the news periodically, but mostly toiled out of sight to line up star candidates for an election he expects to fight next spring.
While Michael Ignatieff's road-tested image enhancement and Jack Layton's return to active duty were bad news, Stephen Harper's biggest headaches were all self-induced.

That's why Layton was still grinning when an assistant dragged him away from a perfect-weather patio for a French language classroom. "Stephen Harper has become our best opening to attack," he laughs.

"He's pig-headed. My mother is absolutely right about him."

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