Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday squalls

Just back from Iqaluit. A few items that caught my eye this past week:
  • Hassan Diab. The defence rests. :)

  • Michael Ignatieff. Barely visible for weeks, the Leader has surfaced at a Farmers' Market in Peterborough this morning, to be followed by an excursion to the Canadian Canoe Museum. Then he will be whisked by air shuttle to Ottawa to sample a Beaver Tail, and thence to Winnipeg to scarf down a couple of nips (just kidding).

    All well and good, this bumping of elbows with οἱ πολλοί, but we are not reassured. Like Stephen Harper's leather vest, or indeed his blue sweater one, it's a bad fit.
    Most just plain Canadian folks, after all, don't write a book about being Canadian. Somehow, despite his attempt to merge, Ignatieff remains unconvincing: he'd be more at ease in the salons of Paris, if those still exist. Now he finds himself playing "Canadian" while trying to establish EI reform as the front-burner issue for a Fall election.

    The latter is a sweaty endeavour indeed. A standardization of EI benefits, with an over-all lowering of the qualifying period, means much to the unemployed and to progressive policy-makers. Unemployment in Canada is not insignificant. But is this the issue that will galvanize Canadians to sweep the Liberals to power?

    The continuing recession and the uncertain future facing many working Canadians today is what's on most people's minds at the moment. But I suspect that workers would generally prefer to keep their jobs, rather than getting improved EI benefits. No doubt the Tories are being obstreperous in committee, as they always are--they wrote the manual, after all--but this seems an odd issue over which to fight an election.

  • Mike Duffy. Harper's point man in PEI crashes through the underbrush, announcing Harper's moves to immanentize the eschaton, something that conservatives apparently once frowned upon. During his speech to Charlottetown Rotarians, Duffy dropped many heavy hints that an election was coming. Which brings me to

  • Teresa Wright. The mediocrity of the Blogging Tories has been unleashed upon this decent journalist because she listened to Duffy and did him the honour of taking him seriously--a considerable risk at the best of times.

    It's not every day that a Senator runs home to remind folks of all the gummint goodies they've been getting, and the ones still to come. And the Conservatives have been hastening the riding nominations process across Canada. As tea-leaves go, these ones are relatively easy to read.

    But Harper alone, of course, gets to call the shots. Hence Duffy's almost comical recoil, and the drearily predictable character assassination of the reporter by the usual Conservative blogging shills.

    Kady O'Malley nails it, and this is already old news in the blogosphere, but it does seem to me that the Conservobots are rather too obviously marching in formation, even when there's no battle to fight. Since when has election speculation been out-of-bounds for journalists? That's all it was, after all, and fairly informed speculation in this case. Better get a grip, people, because there's lots more of that coming.

  • Larry O'Brien. OK, a sub-par Mayor was acquitted on influence-peddling charges. Two dolts faced off, and one of them, Terry Kilrea, simply out-fumbled the other. O'Brien got the best justice that money could buy, and now, as veteran city hall observer Randal Denley says, it's back to business as usual. We'll just have to grin and bear Hizzoner's dreadful trademark smirk for the next 15 months.
Enough for now. I have yard-work to do and Saturday errands to run.

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