User-agent: * Disallow: /

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Get well soon, Governator!

This is why I am a blogger, not a skier.

I will always remember my first and only skiing adventure. It was during my grade 8 school trip to Saint-Donat, in the Laurentian mountains in Quebec. After several days of merciless attempts, I finally made my way beyond the bunny hill and onto the "real" hill. By skiing standards, it was a simple course. But for me....well, let's just say I twisted my ankle a few seconds after I began my descent. The resort operators were kind enough to send an rescue toboggan to fetch me. Unfortunately, I wasn't strapped in tightly enough, and on our way down the hill, I came loose and tumbled the rest of the way.

Yup. No more skiing for me. Ever. "Stick to politics," my mother told me. I think she's right.

Happy holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On the fiscal imbalance

My friend Antonio over at Fuddle Duddle (note: leadership is over, so I've stopped calling it Fiddle Faddle...I'll need to find a new light snack!) has an interesting post today about the Quebec government and its struggles to deal with the fiscal imbalance.

Antonio brings to light an important issue. The very existence of the fiscal imbalance is a topic of intense debate, not only between the various political parties, but within our own. Some people -- Antonio comes to mind -- insist that it does exist, that the string of surpluses we've enjoyed at the federal level were accomplished "on the backs of the provinces." Others, such as our new leader, argue that the provinces have all the fiscal tools and capacities at their disposal to sustain themselves and stay out of deficit. Then there are people like me, who despite being familiar with the issue, probably don't have enough information to take a thoughtful position.

Thus, for my own benefit and for the benefit of the thousands -- nay, millions -- of ignoramuses out there, I ask Antonio for a simple clarification:

How much is the fiscal imbalance?

Monday, December 18, 2006

An invitation to Calgary Grit... read Bob Rae's new book, Canada in the Balance. Quite a bit of policy insight there. A solid foundation for our next Red Book, I'd say.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A recovering Bob-oholic speaks...

In case some of you were wondering, I'm still alive. It's just that I've been extremely busy lately. Leadership took a lot out of me, especially with respect to school. Getting caught up with projects, reports and exam studying has been a challenge, but I am managing.

That said, I'd like to briefly comment on this from the Globe and Mail...

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he doesn't want an early election, but he'll be ready to go if the opposition forces one. Mr. Harper says he's seen no indication that Canadians want a spring election, but he warned his rivals that the Tories will not be caught off guard.

For his part, Mr. Dion says...

"I don't want to rush Canadians into an election. That's not what I want, but my duty is to make sure that my party will be ready for elections," he said.

So the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition agree that they don't want elections, but that their respective parties will be ready for a spring vote if necessary. OK. So two questions:
  1. Why is this news?
  2. Since neither the Tories nor the Liberals (who collectively represent 73% of the House of Commons) want an election, can we get on with the business of governing the country so that freakishly political students like me can study in peace and take a breather from this endless cycle of campaigning?

Just a thought...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The most bizarre video I've ever seen

This has nothing to do with politics, but it brought a smile to my face. I thought I would share the joy.

I mean, the big bow? Isn't it just FABULOUS????!!!

(h/t to my friend, Michele Wong)

Friday, December 08, 2006

This is not the Liberal Party

This is sad. I have gotten to know members of the Rae family personally over the past several months, and I know for a fact that they were deeply hurt by the anti-Semitic comments made by some convention-goers.

I expect our new leader to repudiate such comments in the strongest terms. That being said, we must understand that the prejudice of a few does not represent the sentiments of the Liberal Party as a whole. Our party has always been open, tolerant, diverse and respectful. My personal experience in Montreal clearly reflected this fact.

Unfortunately, "ethnic organizing" remains a part of our political culture. Campaigns often target specific communities in membership drives and pit certain groups against others in order to solidy support. This is wrong. It is offensive to the process, to the individual and to our reputation as a party. We should all make a concerted effort to stop it.

UPDATE: Quite appropriately, our leader has responded. Stephane Dion has proven once again that he is an ardent defender of true Liberal values. That's why we elected him. Good for him, and good for us.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I stood with Iggy

I'm back in Sudbury now. I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about my recent posts from the convention floor. Some people have told me that they are somewhat confused about the choice I made.

Bob Rae being knocked off before the final ballot was an emotional blow for me. I - we - worked so hard to get him to that point, and it was devastating to see it come to an end. While I had always been confident Bob would make it to the final ballot, I did contemplate the possibility of having to make a choice.

For months, my second choice was Stephane Dion. He shares my values. On almost all issues, including foreign policy and national unity, his views reflect my own. He is a man of integrity, a man of action and a man of vision. I am comfortable with the choice the convention made.

It would seem natural, then, that I would go to Stephane when Bob dropped off. I didn't. Here's why.

This campaign has been rough on all of us. We all believed very strongly in our respective candidates. We believed that our man (or woman) was the best to lead the party and the country.

Logically, we also believed that other candidates were not right to lead the party. I felt that way about Michael Ignatieff. I disagreed with him on many issues of great importance. I felt he was a bad choice, and I said so bluntly on this blog.

Looking back at some of my previous posts, I realize that in many ways, I was unfair towards Michael. On several occasions, I had harsh words for him. More than once, I attacked his integrity and the integrity of those around him. Friends of mine who were committed to Michael took my comments personally. They told me so, in person and by email. I can understand their feelings: When people said bad things about Bob Rae, I also took it personally.

On the convention floor before the third ballot results were announced, I had a lot of time to reflect upon the past several months. I cried, not only because I knew Bob was about to lose, but also because I knew this campaign had been so negative and so divisive, and that I had been a part of it.

The results were announced. I looked over to the Dion and Ignatieff teams. They were both exhuberant. I looked at my own team. Everyone was depressed. I asked a few people where they were going on the 4th. Every single one of them said they were going to Stephane. "We've got to stop Iggy," they said.

At that point, I knew what the results of the 4th would be. I was not concerned about "stopping Iggy." I was concerned about party unity.

Party unity is about more than having faith, trusting and supporting our new leader. Stephane Dion is more than capable of inspiring our trust, and he will have my fullest support going into the next election. Party unity is about having faith, trusting and supporting each other. By being negative on this blog, I broke faith with many hardworking Liberals who supported Michael Ignatieff.

I called two of my friends on the Ignatieff team. I told them to make room for me. They did. I looked down from the table I was standing on and saw a senior Ignatieff organizer whom I met back in April when the campaign was just getting underway. I shook his hand. Another Iggy supporter and fellow Queen's Park intern was nearby. He helped me off the table, took off his red Ignatieff scarf and put it around my neck.

Through a sea of signs and people, I walked across the hall. I climbed over a few chairs, finally reaching the Ignatieff section. I embraced a close friend as the people around us cheered. "John Lennard!," people screamed, surprised at my move. (I never knew I had so many fans!)

Fighting back sobs, I went to the voting area. It took me three attempts at casting my ballot. I didn't want to vote for anyone else -- Bob was the man, Bob was my leader, Bob was my choice. I wrote a blog post from the voting room saying I just couldn't do it. It was painfully difficult... but I did end up voting.

At the end of the day, I stood with Iggy. I stood with his supporters as the results were announced. My friend from Queen's Park looked at me right before the big moment. We both knew what was coming. I was proud to be there with him, and I hope he was proud to have me there.

I feel completely at ease with my decision, because it was the right one to make. Friendship must always be more important than politics. The grind of the campaign and my own personal faults made me lose that perspective. But on the floor of the convention, among Liberal friends, I found it once again.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

a united liberal party

Canada wins.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device.

I can't vote

Got into the booth, and I just couldn't do it.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device.

My personal choice

Although I expect dion to win, I'm going with Michael ignatieff. Reason: I have personal friendships over there that have been strained over these past few months. I want to reach out to my friends and let them know that I have no hard feelings.

My northern ontario delegates are free to support who they want. My MP is supporting Dion. Dion has the support of our Quebec delegation and our ontario delegation. He will make a great leader and I will support him fully when he wins. But personal friendships need to be repaired.

I hope everyone understands.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device.

Welcome Judy

It's about experience, and Judy recognizes that.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Jimmy K supports Bob

You heard it here first.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device.

At the speeches

I am sitting beside Prime Minister Martin and in front of future PM Rae.

Wow! What luck, eh?
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device.

Kennedy and Dion

No deal.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device.

I'm back

Sorry for the lack of updates. It's been a busy couple of days here in Montreal.

A wonderful start to the convention! Every single team is full of pep, driven in large part by the enthusiasm of their young liberal supporters. Believe me, I know: I've lost my voice probably three times over due to excessive cheering!

Thoughts so far: Iggy's team is out in force, with well planned logistics and a good sense of how the visuals will play in the media. Good for them. Rae team, by contrast, has a quiet confidence about it. I don't know which approach will win the day. Readers' thoughts?

Dion and Kennedy? Don't believe the rumours.

Speeches: Dean's speech was good, perhaps a bit underwhelming. Paul Martin literally had me in tears. He was relaxed, bubbly, humourous... The Paul Martin I remember from way, way back when. It was, no question, the best speech I've ever heard him give. Tewksbury was funny... There's talk of him possibly running in Martin's lasalle-emard seat in the next election, although his lack of french may be a hinderance.

On a final note, I met and had lunch yesterday with a man for whom I have the deepest of respect and admiration. I asked him his honest opinion: Do you think Michael Ignatieff can win? His response: Do you think Michael ignatieff should win?

This will be my guiding principle throughout the convention.

More later.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device.