Undecided still Undefeated!
Once again, the Undecided Party represents
the majority of Canadians on election day
- Despite a second national press blackout about UDP policies and activities.
- Despite media polls which removed undecided voters from their calculations - pretending they didn't exist and artificially inflating the numbers of the mainstream parties.
- Despite Paul Martin's energetic fear-mongering.
- Despite Stephen Harper's energetic gagging of his own candidates in order to keep them from revealing that Martin was right.
- Despite emails to US conservatives, asking them to gag themselves so as not to scare Canadian voters away from the Tories.
- Despite the felonious, secret, and (evidence indicates) tripartite detention of the Undecided Party's webmaster during the last two weeks of the campaign, suspiciously ending just hours before election day...
...the Undecided Party of Canada once again represented a larger number of Canadians than any of the mainstream parties, as just over 35% of the electorate chose not to choose. By comparison, the 'first place' Conservative Party, scoring 36% of the remaining 64% of voters who did cast a ballot, was, in the end, supported by a mere 23% of the Canadian electorate. (The Liberals managed to convince 19% of the population to vote for 'their Canada,' while the NDP garnered votes from 11%.)
"Despite claims that this election would provide clear choices and widely different agendas for the Canadian electorate to choose from, the people watched the campaign and saw that the number one plank in every platform was self-service." said UDP leader, J. Harvey Fink, from his home in Valley Heights, "And as the leaders continued to apply the same childish sniping so well honed on the floor of the House of Commons, and avoided straight answers to straight questions in favour of regurgitating talking points - and even hid candidates from the media - the majority of Canadians decided that once again, there were no attractive choices on the ballot and 'elected' to choose none of them."
As with the last campaign, the UDP website continued to attract visitors from around the world - from the United Kingdom to Japan, from Australia to Switzerland - indicating that disillusionment with political leaders is not limited to the Great White North. Also, as in 2004, despite the overwhelming numerical victory, the Undecided Party will not be occupying offices in Parliament - due to what Fink refers to as, "a familiar collection of convenient technicalities" (see election night speech, to be posted this evening), but he betrayed no disillusionment.
"Our primary purpose is to continue to disprove the old saw that, 'if you don't vote, you can't complain.' Once again, we accomplished that in spectacular fashion, and in fact, made the point that not voting is a method of complaining. Will the mainstream parties learn anything from the experience, perhaps start to keep their promises, perhaps stop acting like sugar-loaded preschoolers in the House of Commons, perhaps show us MPs that we'd want to make the effort to vote for next time around? We'll see. If not, the UDP will be back in action when the minority government falls.
"For now, the countdown begins as to how long it will take the new Conservative government to deliver some variation on the, 'We've had a look at the outgoing government's books, things are much worse than we were lead to believe, and we're going to have to dump many/most of our promises - but it's not our fault' theme.
"And in the meantime, and in accordance with campaign financing laws enacted before the last election, we're looking forward to a cheque with a combined value of $1.75 for every eligible Canadian who chose not to vote. We're still waiting for the cheque from the last election."
Good News for Martin on Election Day
(Detail. Click for larger image.)
Rumours indicate that the Agar Dunwiddie masterpiece, the "Paul Martin Scream" will soon be put back on display in the National Museum of But Is It Art? in Ottawa. The original story behind this unique yet derivative work can be found below.
CBC Removes Controversial Content
as citizen journalists cause uproar
In an internet-age experiment seeking ongoing feedback from ordinary citizens, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's "Canada Votes" website found itself caught up in a conflict about the opinions appearing on it's "Blogger's Roundtable."
In an essay entitled, "Interruptus stadium", one of the bloggers (who 'neglected' to sign his or her name) let loose with such inflammatory statements as, "Olypian quarrels et gorilla congolium sic ad nauseum," "Non sequitur condominium facile et geranium incognito," and, most controversially, "Souvlaki ignitus carborundum e pluribus unum." Reader Comments in response to the piece ranged from the enraged, "This is a comment," to the enigmatic "hello dwight, here i am doing a test."
The entries were quickly removed from the Roundtable's main page and the name of the feature changed to "Election Roundtable" - but a screen capture of the original content can be found here, and linked pages with the full-length version of the explosive piece and the equally volatile "Dolores et ea rebum" are - for the moment - still active here and here.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, CBC insider Kasd Gubergren said, "Sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua," but even this failed to explain how such content made its way onto the national broadcaster's website.
Investigations are underway.
Duceppe Dismisses The Need
For Another Referendum
BQ to immediately begin dissolving?
In a moment apparently not noticed by the other three leaders during Friday night's election debate, BQ leader, Gilles Duceppe, effectively negated any excuse for his own party's existence.
While responding to a question about the wisdom of revisiting the same sex marriage debate and holding a free vote among MPs (as proposed by Stephen Harper), Duceppe stated that, "Well, we already had a free vote. We shouldn't have a free vote on something that has already been decided."
Amazingly, all three of the other leaders were too busy looking at their briefing notes to catch the statement, and so none of them asked Duceppe about the radical difference between that statement and the BQ's 'keep holding them until we win one' attitude about Quebec referendums.
"This was a clear and considered statement made on national television," said Undecided Party of Canada Leader, J. Harvey Fink, as he met voters at a pie-seating contest in Dingus, Prince Edward Island. "Either it represents a fundamental - and welcome - shift in the position of the BQ, or Duceppe is being an admitted hypocrite about continually voting on matters that have, to use his words, 'already been decided.' Still, he is a politician, so I'm afraid that we're going to have to assume the latter."
So far there have been no signs of the dissolution of the Bloc.
When Is A Debate Not A Debate?
In an attempt to avoid repeating the cross-talking, shouting match, school yard, 'yer mother' embarrassments that defined the debates before the last federal election (and continue to define the floor of the House of Commons and every political panel on nightly newscasts), Canada's television networks imposed a new format on the first two of four debates scheduled for the 05-06 campaign, and the results, while less raucous, were also less than ideal.
"Well, essentially, the new format did cut down on the noise level effectively enough," said Undecided Party of Canada leader, J. Harvey Fink, from the campaign trail in Discount, British Columbia, "but the only consequence was that is made it much easier to see that the leaders weren't answering the questions being put before them."
Fink was not alone in his opinion, as many pundits faulted the broadcasts for being little more than long-form opportunities for leaders to regurgitate their talking points, while the cyclical pattern of turns at the microphones meant that it was impossible for one candidate to directly respond to another's accusations.
"I applaud the attempt to make the leaders act like something approximating adults," said Fink, "but without direct responses to direct challenges, and without compelling the leaders to answer the questions that they've been asked, all we're getting is a commercial that's even more boring than the current, stiff, dead-eyed, Stephen Harper as a sedated Ron Popeil, Conservative infomercial knockoffs. The Undecided Party proposed a debate format that addressed both of these concerns during the last election campaign (see Issues page), and we still believe that it is the best option for getting the voters the information that they deserve."
Whether the networks follow the advice of the UDP or not, two more debates will be held in early January.
Make An Early Appearance
Indicating a serious need for the immediate and widespread distribution of Kevlar footwear, both the Liberal and Conservative parties spent the first full day of the election campaign shooting themselves squarely in the foot, and all indications are that things can only get worse.
Providing a flesh and blood example of the "democratic deficit" that Paul Martin spent his last campaign attacking, 'star' Liberal candidate, Michael Ignatieff, spent Wednesday night listening to boos, jeers and cries of "Shame," as he bypassed the normal -democratic- nomination process and was summarily awarded the Liberal candidacy for the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore ... over potential applicants who might have actually lived in the riding.
Ignatieff's on-the-record support for the invasion of Iraq also resulted in a few shots toward the lower Liberal extremities, as Paul Martin had to defend the writer and ex-Harvard professor's right to his opinions, while going to great lengths to make clear that the party did not support the invasion "in any way, shape or form."
Meanwhile, over at the Conservative firing range, no sooner had Stephen Harper announced the major opening campaign platform of appointing, "an arm's-length, independent office of the Director of Public Prosecutions," with an eye toward "criminal prosecutions arising from the sponsorship scandal," than his own deputy leader Peter MacKay (a former crown prosecutor (but not someone to be trusted with a pen)) pointed out that the idea was untenable.
"There's no way that this office, being set up after the fact, is going to have anything to do with the sponsorship program," MacKay said. "It doesn't involve provincial jurisdictions because this office wouldn't deal with Criminal Code offenses. This is the type of office that would deal with drug offenses, for example. This is an office that would deal with federal statutes."
Several observers not only agreed that a federal appointee would have no jurisdiction over the investigation and prosecution of provincial crimes, but also pointed out that Quebec especially might not take kindly to federal investigators elbowing in on their turf. Still, Harper continued to insist later in the day that Canada's version of Kenneth Starr would, "...decide every aspect of that investigation and the laying of eventual charges" related to the sponsorship scandal. There was little panic at the already familiar sound of gunshots, but the press and public quickly cleared the room as a precaution.
Speaking from a campaign appearance in Riddles, Saskatchewan, Undecided Party of Canada leader, J. Harvey Fink, preferred to see the bright side of these apparently masochistic tendencies. "Well it's a bit like watching people throw pies in their own faces, so even though Gurmant Grewal won't be running again, we'll still have plenty of comic relief to look forward to over the Christmas campaign. The situation also sets up what may be a much more interesting side campaign - as political junkies can track whether candidates spend more of their time attacking their opponents or other members of their own parties."
When asked what he thought of the day's GST developments - which saw the party that created the Goods and Services Tax vowing to cut it, and the party that swore 12 years ago to eliminate the tax if it was elected, defending it, Fink merely smiled and said, "And it's only day three."
Most of the shooting will be over by January 23rd of next year.
No Confidence In The Liberals.
No Confidence In Politicians.
Even as the Conservative, Bloc, and NDP parties were rising as one to support Stephen Harper's motion, "That this House has lost confidence in the government" (the political equivalent of, "We don't like you anymore"), a CBC/Environics poll was revealing that 73% of Canadians don't expect politicians from any party to honour their campaign promises, and that more than half (56%) of those surveyed have little or no confidence in any of the party leaders. (The political equivalent of, "We don't trust you anymore.")
The poll, interviewing 1641 people and conducted between Nov. 21 and 25, also revealed that 63 per cent of those asked said that all the federal political parties are pretty much identical when it comes to honesty and integrity. ("They're all the same.")
"Well, that's pretty much the Undecided Party's manifesto, isn't it?" said UDP leader, J. Harvey Fink, as he was mainstreeting at the 27th Bi-annual Festival Of The Tights in Sherwood, Manitoba. "Our very first campaign slogan in 2003 was 'Why Hire A Liar?' and it would appear that three quarters of Canadians must be asking themselves that same question today."
Asked if he was surprised that such a large proportion of the electorate didn't trust their politicians to tell the truth, Fink responded, "Not at all. In fact, I expect the only reason the number isn't higher is that the other 27 per cent don't watch the news."
"And this is why the Undecided Party exists." continued the party leader, "When half of the electorate doesn't trust its politicians and three quarters consider them to be outright liars, how can the mainstream parties pretend that the voters are being presented with attractive -or even tolerable- choices on the ballot?"
The Undecided Party has already gone on record as predicting that it will outperform even its record breaking results from the 2004 federal election, where 40% of Canadians chose not to choose (as compared to the 37% who voted for the Martin Liberals), and Fink defended what some might consider an overly confident forecast so early in the campaign.
"Combine the CBC poll results with the fact that this is an election that Canadians didn't want until after Gomery II, that it was called, not over something as substantive as a budget bill, but simply because the opposition thought this was the most opportune timing, that it features the same leaders and same issues, with parties at the same standings, and with what is widely expected to be the same result as the last election, and then add the fact that voter turnout is always lower during a winter election, and we expect to represent an even larger percentage of the population than in 2004."
The election day has been set for January 23.
A Political Idea Whose Time Has Come
Just one day after Peter MacKay recommended the topical application of Duct Tape as a cure for Ralph Klein's 'helpful' speculation that Stephen Harper would lose the upcoming election, other Conservative members demonstrated that a party-wide (or even Commons-wide) preventative prescription of the adhesive would go a long way towards raising the tone of debate - both in the House and during the impending Christmas campaign.
Conservative campaign co-director, John Reynolds, set the intellectual tone for his party's programme early, as he called Immigration Minister, Joe Volpe, a "sleazebag." (Volpe, attacked for his $56,000 in office expenses, countered that Reynolds had run up $138,000 in travel expenses, and accused the Conservatives of being anti-immigrant for voting down one of his bills.) But an even better argument for 3M's special brand of oral contraception was demonstrated by Stephen Harper - as he accused the Liberals of having "been found guilty of breaking every conceivable law in the province of Quebec with the help of organized crime," and being "an organization that was found to have been involved in a massive corruption ring using organized crime to defraud taxpayers."
Setting aside the spectacular hyperbole of the Liberals "breaking every conceivable law" in Quebec (Harper didn't elaborate on how many acts of Arson, Homicide, Hijacking, Kidnapping, Terrorism, and Double Parking the Liberals had taken part in), the organized crime indictment amazed pundits with just how far the Leader could stick his foot in his mouth and down his throat before the campaign had even begun - and had some commenting that it could have all been avoided with just a few inches of The Handyman's Secret Weapon.
MacKay tried to explain his leader's comments away with the only slightly less embarrassing statement that Harper's organized crime accusations were, "a simple reference to the fact that the Liberal Party who are organized were involved in criminal activity." (In yet another case where it would have been best to just say nothing, MacKay's apparent inability to discern the difference between criminals who are organized and Organized Crime may now leave voters wondering if he also thinks that Priceless Artworks are free and Same Sex Marriages refer to heterosexual couples who have lost their spark.)
The Liberal Party, which, after Klein's comments, found the Conservatives doing their work for them twice in one week, simply demanded an apology and threatened legal action - in a hollow threat guaranteed to keep the story in the news for a few more days.
Meanwhile, from his home riding in Valley Heights, Undecided Party Leader, J. Harvey Fink, said that Canadians should pick up the Duct Tape banner and run with it. "Ask candidates who knock on your door in the middle of your supper to apply a strip before letting them in. Bring Duct Tape flags and banners to public rallies to let the speakers know how much stock you're putting in what they're saying. And just imagine the televised leaders' debates enhanced by the use of the magic adhesive. We couldn't learn any less than if they appeared without the tape, and they'd probably come out of the exercise looking more intelligent, mature, and empathetic than if they were allowed to engage in their usual verbal incontinence."
The other national parties haven't responded to Fink's challenge, and barring The Duct Tape Solution, a disgusted electorate will likely have to put up with this sort of behaviour until January 16th or 23rd.
"It's Not What You Think It Is...
But It Could Be,
If You Play Your Cards Right."
Welcome to the Un-Budget
After last weekend's Opposition burlesque of "Whatever we do, it's not out fault," Monday saw the Liberal Party take its turn at insulting the intelligence of the Canadian people, as Finance Minister Ralph Goodale presented the regular Fall Economic and Fiscal Update - which just happened to be double its normal length, and just happened to promise 39 billion dollars in tax cuts and spending over six years (including more than 5 billion dollars of 'gifts' for 2005)...while claiming that the document did not constitute a campaign platform.
(Despite the hip-waders and life vests issued at the door of the conference room where the update was delivered, some bystanders were still lost in the deluge.)
Unfortunately for Opposition forces, members from those parties actually managed to make Goodale look like the voice of reason as they brought the ignorant, infantile, day-care reject behaviour of the floor of the House of Commons to the committee room, and continually interrupted the Finance Minister's attempts to answer their rambling counter-campaign platform questions - reminding witnesses of children who were in serious need of a visit from the Supernanny (or a cattle prod).
Meanwhile, as dares, double dares, and double-dog dares about the inevitable election fly around Parliament Hill, citizens from coast to coast have been seen stocking up on barbed wire, black-out curtains, and pit bulls - though this may just be a coincidence.
"If We Shoot The Hostages,
It'll Be Your Fault!"
Opposition parties try to put blame for their
Christmas campaign on government
At a series of press conferences Sunday afternoon, the leaders of the three opposition parties sequentially announced their agreement to continue to avoid taking responsibility for calling a confidence vote and causing a Christmas election campaign, by instead asking the Liberal government to voluntarily 'resign.' Then, when the historically unprecedented request -and one which Paul Martin has already rejected- is refused again, the Conservatives, BQ and NDP will immediately proceed to ignore the majority of Canadians who do not want a campaign before Christmas and the second Gomery Report, kill popular legislation, and bring down the government with a vote of non-confidence - even as they cry, "Martin made us do it."
Reporters at the press conferences did not appear to be fooled.
The logical weakness of the position was best demonstrated by NDP leader, Jack Layton, as he peppered his answers to reporters' questions with constant use of the modifier,"common sense" (eg. "common sense compromise," "common sense solution") - a phrase almost universally used by politicians when they are hoping that their arguments will be accepted on face value and without any bothersome analysis. Unfortunately for Layton, reporters continued to question the common sense of it.
Meanwhile, the Unwitting Irony Award went -as it so often does- to Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, as he not only abdicated his role as Leader of the Opposition to Layton (again), but also called for Paul Martin to guarantee that opposition days would proceed in the House as scheduled - by providing a "signed agreement" to that effect. If the leader was remembering that his own party wouldn't exist if his deputy leader hadn't breached his own signed agreement, Harper wasn't saying.
Speaking from his home in Valley Heights, UDP leader J. Harvey Fink expressed disappointment, if not surprise, in the behaviour of his peers. "If they decide it's time to bring down the government, that's their decision and their right. But to try to pretend that decision was forced on them because they're afraid to take the heat for going against the will of the majority of Canadians - it shows a troubling lack of spine in people who are supposed to be leaders. But, let's not forget that they are politicians, after all."
The farce resumes on Monday.
To Shit Or Get Off The Pot?
Opposition leaders apparently in need of laxatives
With Jack Layton publicly withdrawing his support from the Paul Martin Liberals, opposition leaders have been falling over themselves in their rush to not introduce a vote of non-confidence on the floor of the House of Commons - even as they continue to declare that they have no confidence in the government.
In the first stall, Stephen 'earliest possible opportunity' Harper, while stating that he wouldn't be jumping at the chance he's been asking for with mind-numbing regularity, declared early this week that he would only vote against the government if a non-confidence motion were introduced by the NDP. (Therefore surrendering one of his primary roles as Leader of the Opposition.) In addition, the Tory boss revealed that he would only support such an NDP motion if it addressed Liberal corruption. (Thus rendering an NDP no-confidence motion based, for example, on the Liberal's health care record...'not good enough' for bringing down the government that the Conservatives have been crying for the defeat of since the morning after the last election.)
One space over (you can see his shoes under the door), Gilles Duceppe took essentially the same position - suddenly unwilling to pull the trigger on the numerically helpless Grits even as he displayed a touching, albeit ... uncharacteristic, regard for federalist sensibilities, "...it's up to the NDP and the Conservatives now to take action, because the two are saying that it has to be done through the federalist parties. So fine, we will go along with whatever they decide."
Meanwhile, backed into a corner by the fact that nobody picked up his ball and ran with it, NDP leader Layton not only shifted metaphors, but also avoided committing to a non-confidence vote by announcing plans to introduce a motion (assuming that the other two opposition parties agree) to propose that the government call an election in January for a February vote - a motion that the government would be under no obligation to follow, for an election that would only be a few weeks earlier than already established Liberal plans.
Perhaps as interesting as this mad frenzy of passivity is the fact that even if the Layton motion were passed and accepted, it would mean that all three opposition parties will have deliberately "propped up" the government through four opposition days and a budget estimates vote (an automatic non-confidence situation). An interesting decision from three parties which all accuse the Martin minority of being corrupt and unfit to govern - and one which would take much of the air out of a major opposition campaign platform, as apparently, the Liberals aren't quite corrupt enough to be worth defeating as quickly as possible.
Naturally, speculation is running rampant about the thinking behind this majestically self-contradictory strategy - with some pundits again raising the controversial theory of Liberal plants influencing decision making in opposition parties (see "Trying to Untangle..." below). Less flexible thinkers are linking the lightning-quick about face on the part of the Conservative Party to the lightning-quick recovery of Liberal numbers in polls just a few days after the backlash from the Gomery report had the Tories in a momentary lead. (Others credit the reluctance on the right to Ralph Klein's public offer to "help" the party in the upcoming election.)
Whatever the reasons, it would appear that the sinister spectre of the 'Christmas election' is likely to be avoided - and the leaders will be heading home over the holidays to rest and imbibe generous quantities of Prune Nog.
Running the Mint is Like a
License to Print Money!
Just Ask Dave!
A specimen of the now-abandoned 'Dingwall Dollar.' Planned as part of a new series of bills to replace the current "Canadian Journey" set, the "You Expect ME To Pay For That?!" series was to have been dedicated to Canadian politicians and bureaucrats known for their love of expense accounts. Beginning with the 1000-dollar denomination bill (being re-introduced in order to 'save time'), the Dingwall Dollar depicts the former Mint CEO in front of his army of expense accountants. (The "Bank of Dave Dingwall" inscription is thought to have been an inside joke which would have been corrected on the actual currency.)
Dave Dingwall, cabinet minister (under Chretien), lobbyist (under suspicion), and most recently president of the Royal Canadian Mint (under the impression that the Canadian taxpayer should pick up the tab for his Dentyne Ice), has resigned his post after it was revealed that his office generated $747,000 in expenses in 2004.
In addition to such expenditures as Post-It Notes, staple removers and paperclips, it was revealed that the Mint also used some 1400 dollars of its freshly printed currency to pay for the ex-Public Works (read, pork) minister's membership at an Ottawa-area golf club (presumably so he wouldn't be bored while he was avoiding going into the office - to do his job), and an additional $1500 in membership fees for the Nova Scotia Barrister's Society (presumably because ...uhm... he didn't want to pay them himself).
Claiming that, "all of the expenses were related to my responsibilities," Dingwall addressed the controversy in a suitably patronizing manner. "If you're travelling abroad, you're going to have expenses. You know, you're not taking a canoe." And when asked why his $277,000 salary (which placed him in the top 0.7% of wage earners in the country) wasn't sufficient to allow him to pay for his own chewing gum, donuts, and bottled water, he responded, "Look, I just throw the receipts on the desk, they take after them and they submit them accordingly." (Raising the questions of, A} Why he even bothered to keep the receipt for a $1.29 pack of gum if he wasn't planning to be reimbursed and, B} exactly how the gum 'related to his responsibilities' as president of the Mint.)
(And though there is no direct evidence, recent revelations do have Ottawa insiders wondering if they finally know the identity of the anonymous 'concerned citizen' who has been waging an energetic letter writing campaign - insisting on mandatory automatic receipt dispensers for all pay toilets in the region.)
While Dingwall claimed that the reason for his resignation was a desire to not "detract in any way from the important work of the Mint" (something that might have been done more effectively by paying a few of his own bills), some think his departure actually has more to do with such recent reports as his receiving a $350,000 kickback (euphemistically called a "success fee" - and a violation of federal financing contracts) for lobbying a 17 million dollar grant for an Ontario company. He has also featured prominently in the recent Gomery testimonies - getting Chuck Guite (currently awaiting trial on charges of fraud and conspiracy) his job in the now infamous sponsorship program and then, according to Guite (who, it should be remembered is currently awaiting trial on charges of fraud and conspiracy), insisting that federal advertising rules affecting said program be kept lax enough that politicians could use the ad contracts as a reward system.
In accepting the resignation of the chief of nickels and dimes (and nickel and diming), Paul Martin stated that Dingwall had, "dedicated most of his life to public service." (Apparently confusing "public" with "self.")
Harper's Summer Rehabilitation Tour Comes To A Close
Electorate's Reaction: "WHAT rehabilitation tour?"
Party's Reaction: "You're Fired. Now, let's get back to what wasn't working."
Following up on the deafening silence of the Stephen Harper Charm Offensive, the Conservative Party met for a national caucus in Halifax and immediately picked up where it left off in the spring - firing more long-time Parliament Hill staffers and daring the Liberal Party to call an election the Tories know they can't win.
In reference to the party's 'downsizing,' Harper stated that he never comments on personnel matters (a policy which clearly doesn't apply to defecting party members), but the leader was ready to talk election. Having barely dodged a national vote in May that could well have given the Liberals a majority government, the Conservatives were apparently confident enough that the Liberals won't be calling for a fall vote that Harper felt safe to challenge the Grits to, "Call the election - we've got the money, we've got the candidates, so ask them what the problem is."
Showing an inspirational level of support for the man who took his job and has screwed it up just as badly, former Alliance leader, now Foreign Affairs critic, Stockwell Day, demonstrated that if nothing else, he possesses observable alliterative skills as he called the Liberals "pathological pursuers of power." (However the powerfully provocative point lost some of its punch given that it was his party calling for the election before Parliament even resumes.)
Also in Halifax while attending an artists' symposium in conjunction with a local Christo exhibit (a symposium which is advocating permanently wrapping the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings - while the MPs are inside), Undecided Party leader, J. Harvey Fink, suggested that Harper start with something on a smaller scale.
"If he's sufficiently out of touch to be serious about wanting an election, then before wasting billions on a national vote with a foregone conclusion, perhaps Mr. Harper should call for a leadership campaign within his own party. I expect that the race and results will be much more interesting -perhaps Belinda will even come back for another try- and they might actually find someone that the national electorate will find less distasteful than five more years of Paul Martin."
Among other scheduled events, the Conservative caucus will also be hearing a detailed plan from Harper on how a Conservative government would improve trade relations with the United States. An interesting choice of topic since the right wing's chief legacy of the past 50 years is the Free Trade Agreement - which has been working...so well...of late. (Party faithful denied that the new approach would be an expansion of Mulroney's original FTA strategy - ie., adding 'smile' to 'bend over.')
The All-Party Member of Parliament
Respect and Maturity Pledge Form
Now that the barbecue circuit has shut down for another summer, and with last spring's Parliamentary behaviour compared unfavourably with an out-of-control daycare still burned into the voters' minds, The Undecided Party's "All-Party, Member of Parliament, Respect and Maturity Pledge Form" is just the kind of reminder that returning MP's need as they prepare for a fresh season as shining examples of Canada's citizenry...
Click here for details.
Trying to Untangle a Baffling Session
Liberal Plants in the Conservative Party?
With Parliament shut down for its annual three-month, paid Summer "recess," political pundits are looking back and trying to make sense of the past few months of drama, travesty, and farce, and fictional political scientist Dr. Winston Grind has come up with an original theory to explain the staggering series of missteps made by the Conservative Party at almost every opportunity specifically that the party is, to all intents and purposes, run by the Liberals.
"It's really the only scenario that fits the facts," says Grind, an emeritus visiting professor at the Warbis Institute, "Just look at the last few months during which the Liberals appeared to have been in their most vulnerable position in over a decade low in the polls, being raked over the coals at the Gomery inquiry, and facing defeat in the budget vote.
"Then, out of the clear blue sky, the most moderate or should we say 'liberal' Tory member crosses the floor, in what was called a defection, but I believe was a case of an agent being 'brought in from the cold' in order to shore up the defences before the non-confidence vote. And while this 'heartless defection' could have been used by the Conservatives to garner sympathy for themselves and anger against the Grits, childish, over-the-top, shall we say, 'theatrical' vitriol from some allegedly Conservative members actually pushed public opinion towards the government."
Making regular use of broad verbal inflections and air quotes, Grind continued, "Then there was the 'bungling' of the entire Grewal Tapes affair, which alienated even more voters from the Conservative cause and simultaneously knocked Gomery right off the radar. Follow it with plans to actually have Harper deliberately getting face-to-face with Canadians who are trying to enjoy their Summer, arrange to have enough Conservative members 'not notice' that something is brewing before the final budget vote and 'take the evening off' in order to give the Liberals an easy majority, and finish the session with a bit of damage that will follow the party right through the Summer months by 'de-legitimizing' the will of the Quebec electorate, and thereby virtually guaranteeing every non-BQ seat in the next federal election to the Liberals."
"It's really a masterful piece of work. I don't know when the infiltration began perhaps during the Conservative/Alliance merger, perhaps it goes back even further, but frankly, I'm not even sure there is a Conservative Party any more. At the very least, the key positions of planning and influence show every sign of being at the Liberals' beck and call. And you'll notice that four principal public relations strategists have left the Tories in the last few weeks. Is it just a coincidence that this is a common procedure for a double-agent whose work is done, and needs to leave before risking discovery?"
Asked why the Liberals didn't more thoroughly manipulate Conservative policies to make the session run more smoothly, Grind was ready with an answer. "Even though the Canadian voter might not want anything to do with the Conservative Party as it stands, I think they still want the illusion that they're making an active choice. If the Tories started behaving exactly like the Liberals, the voter might feel compelled to turn to the NDP for an alternative, and I can only surmise that if Martin has any operatives within the New Democratic Party, there aren't enough for him to feel confident."
(While both the Liberals and Conservatives deny that there is any truth to this stunning hypothesis, Liberal representatives were more likely to reveal a slight smirk when asked.)
When reached for an outside opinion, Undecided Party of Canada leader, J. Harvey Fink responded, "It does seem to be a rather far-fetched bit of reasoning. Of course, the alternative is that the Conservative Party is currently composed of the most disastrously inept collection of players since the Keystone Cops. Either way, I think that Paul Martin is sleeping pretty soundly these days."
Politics Hath No Logic
Like a Tory Scorned
(Harper declares BQ votes "illegitimate")
Still stinging from being outmanoeuvred in Thursday's budget vote, the increasingly desperate but always entertaining Conservative Party has taken the, unique, position that Bloc Québécois votes in the upcoming same-sex legislation decision...don't count.
Apparently having just discovered that the separatist party is dedicated to the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada (no doubt a stunning revelation after months of working side by side in a nation-building effort to defeat the Liberal minority government), party leader, Stephen 'they didn't dump me, I dumped them' Harper has decided to only acknowledge the "legitimacy" of votes by federalist Members thereby ignoring the party that so recently jilted him, the bothersome concept of democracy, and reality.
(In an especially fitting piece of irony, Harper's desire to declare victory by ignoring the will of separatist MPs bears an uncanny resemblance to former Parti Québécois leader Jaques Parizeau's claim after the 1995 Referendum, that he would have won if it weren't for, "money and the ethnic vote.")
Meanwhile, the Tories' exciting new world view holds nothing but good news for the Liberal party, since, without the help of the now invalidated BQ voice, the Conservatives will have no hope of defeating the government in any non-confidence votes in the Fall. In fact, the new policy may be most problematical for its creator, during the upcoming Stephen Harper Summer Rehabilitation Tour, as Smilin' Steve tries to explain to the citizens of La Belle Province why he declared their chosen representatives irrelevant and to the rest of Canada, how the concept of Ottawa dismissing the will of the Quebec electorate will combat separatist sentiments.
While the actual method the Conservatives will be using to exercise their ignore-ance has not been revealed, it is widely expected that Harper et. al. will place their hands over their ears and repeat, "na na na na na....." until the Bloc members have finished voting.
Tour de Farce
Budget is Passed in an Orgy of Political Hypocrisy
Using an arcane procedural manoeuvre and a careful count of absent Conservative members to cut off debate on the NDP amendment to the budget, the Liberal party caught the Tories unprepared Thursday night and passed Bill C-48 by a vote of 152-147, thereby eliminating any chances of a summer election. Less than pleased at being caught with their strategic pants around their ankles, Conservative MPs displayed theatrical outrage with the outcome, even as they were being spared a campaign that would almost certainly have cost them seats.
Accusing the Liberals of being willing to deal with, "the socialists or with the separatists or any bunch of crooks they can find," the just can't win for losing Tory leader, Stephen Harper, simultaneously displayed a staggeringly short memory even for a politician as he apparently forgot that since May and up until that very evening his party had been aligning itself with the selfsame separatist "crooks" in an attempt to defeat the government.
Meanwhile, deputy leader, Peter MacKay, demonstrated the sincerity of his own admission in May that there was a need to enhance civility in Parliament, by equating the Prime Minister to Hollywood's most famous serial murderer and cannibal observing that "Hannibal Lecter is running the government."
For their part, the Liberals, who had spent the last months attacking the Tories for their 'unholy alliance with a party dedicated to breaking up the country' saw no problem in signing an agreement with the national home-wreckers in exchange for their help in pushing the budget vote, while the Bloc, by helping the Liberals snooker Harper et. al., actually facilitated the speedy passage of a bill that they voted against.
(In the credit where it's due department, the only national party which managed to appear consistent throughout the budget saga was the NDP, which also proved that being last in the polls doesn't necessarily keep you from influencing public policy.)
As for the signed agreement between the Bloc and Liberal parties, in which the Grits agreed to ensure a vote on the same-sex marriage bill (a bill that they had first guaranteed a vote on before the end of the session, then said that they couldn't guarantee, then guaranteed again when they realized that the people had actually remembered their earlier statements), next week will reveal if Paul Martin is any better at honouring signed contracts than Peter MacKay.
And now, with Canadians safe from an election campaign for at least a few months, the current session appears poised to end next week. And as Martin, Harper and Layton head for the barbecue circuit, MacKay is widely expected to play to his strengths, re-don the rubber boots, dig in the dirt with his loyal dog, and grant sincere and heartfelt interviews from the sanctuary of his family's farm.
The Charm Offensive
Needing to burn off some of the excitement about the upcoming Stephen Harper Rehabilitation Tour, the leader and deputy leader, Peter MacKay, impulsively grabbed a brand new, mint condition football that just happened to be lying around the office on Thursday, and engaged in an unstaged, impromptu, impetuous, whimsical, uncontrived, and with no interest about whether other people might see it, game of catch on the lawn in front of the House of Commons.
Seemingly unaware of what happened the last time a Conservative hopeful engaged in such a high profile game of catch, Harper and MacKay tossed the ball around (with increased animation after a photographer arrived) showing that Harper's just plain folks, and illustrating that nothing looks more homey and natural than a man in a tie, dress shirt, dress pants and dress shoes tossing the old pigskin around in front of the Parliament Buildings.
(Thursday's choice of football over other potential 'demonstration' sports such as baseball, lacrosse, or show jumping seemed especially appropriate, as not only is the CFL season about to launch for 2005, but because that league is also in the middle of a debate about the wisdom of revisiting disputed events on tape.)
While those of a cynical nature might doubt the spontaneity of the event, some witnesses who refused to identify themselves insisted that pick up games of formally attired football between MPs are a common occurrence on the Hill whenever the weather is favourable. (Though it would appear that Flag Football recently replaced Touch Football after some of the more conservative members on both sides of the House objected to what they saw as the potentially homoerotic nature of the former.)
Harper's Rehabilitation Tour officially begins after the House recesses for its annual three-month paid vacation.
Harper Plans 'Charm Offensive'
Gives Phrase Whole New Meaning
From the party with historical ties to the 'Progressive Conservatives' and out of the building populated by 'Honourable Members,' Stephen Harper et. al. are apparently planning to add 'Charm Offensive' to the lexicon of political oxymorons, as the leader dusts off his family for a summer tour of central Canada's hot dog grills and barbecue pits.
Trying to display the lighter side of Stephen Harper while cultivating his own alternative to Paul Martin's unsettling but popular beaming smile (but only succeeding in looking like a man inspecting the fit of his upper plate), the Conservative leader provided a sample of his new found jocularity by telling reporters on Wednesday, "My wife said to me recently, 'you do need to have more fun ... you're not having fun even by your standards,' so we'll do some of that." (Requests for a tape recording of that conversation fell on deaf ears.)
Instead, Harper added, "We'll get out and let them know more about who I am..." a surprising strategy considering reactions to the leader's personality to date. Meanwhile, deputy Leader Peter MacKay also voiced the opinion that dropping Harper into the midst of an unsuspecting electorate would be a good idea. "I think that they'll find an honest, hard-working, family man who has the best intentions of leading this country and wants to do so out of a sense of patriotism and purpose," MacKay said, sounding like a campaign manager for G.W. Bush
(For their part, it would appear that the Liberal Party couldn't be happier that Harper who, like Stockwell Day and Preston Manning before him, seems ideally suited to discouraging exasperated voters from swinging to the right will not be allowing his sense of patriotism to manifest itself by stepping down to make room for a more palatable leader before the next election. As the Conservatives also claim to be content with Harper's continued leadership, it would appear that on this count at least, the two parties find themselves in complete agreement.)
Asked if he thought his planned circuit might clash with the proposed Grewal/Dosanjh Butchered Tapes Tour (see below), Harper's brand-new smile began to generate grinding noises, and shortly thereafter, smoke alarms caused the evacuation of the building.
Those Liberals will stoop to any level in their desperate, degenerate, depraved pursuit of power!!
And we have the doctored tapes to prove it.
(Part Three: The Tales Of The Editor)
With resurfacing allegations that Taped Crusader, Gurmant Grewal, might have 'bought' his Canadian permanent resident status in 1993 (not an uncommon practice) and then taken his money back but kept the merchandise (one would assume an illegal practice), the Conservative Party might be forgiven for wishing that the Newton-North Delta Member had just stayed in Liberia.
Even as the Tories try with increasing desperation to turn attention from the accuser to the accused, a Decima Research poll taken between June 2nd and 5th found that, not only did the release of the tapes not hurt the Liberal Party in overall numbers, but that 25 percent of respondents believed the Liberal side of the story as opposed to 23 percent siding with the Conservatives. In Grewal's home province, the numbers deteriorate from the Conservative point of view to 31/21.
Overall numbers look even worse, with Liberal party support jumping 14 points to 37% of decided voters, only 23% for the Conservatives, and 21% for the NDP. Numbers in the Conservative's make-or-break province of Ontario now sit at 48% Liberal, 24% NDP and 22% Tory.
(Some politically cynical observers are theorizing that these numbers might dissuade Harper from trying again to pursue his recently declared goal of putting the government "out of its misery at the earliest possible opportunity" during the next non-confidence vote but less sceptical pundits point out that would mean that the leader was saying one thing and then doing something else entirely.)
Meanwhile the BC MP continues to do his best, despite his stress leave from the Hill, to keep political junkies entertained most recently by breaking airport security rules and prohibitions explained to him by airline staff as he tried to get passengers on an Ottawa-bound flight to carry a package for him. For most people, such a determined effort would probably have resulted in a long chat in the airport security office, incarceration, or even a summer exchange trip to Guantanamo Bay but in this case, it appears that the Member's reputation in whatever context might apply preceded him.
Back in Ottawa, Conservatives are showing increasing frustration at not being able to control the public reaction to unfolding events.
"I think it is a one-sided hatchet job on Mr. Grewal," said MP John Reynolds, presumably upset that the hatchet somehow got pointed in the wrong direction, while party leader Stephen Harper declared his continuing support for Grewal, saying, "Everything on those tapes, and everything I've seen Mr. Grewal do since, is consistent with his story. On the other hand, as I point out, everything the Liberals have done since is a series of evasions [...like, for instance, getting the accuser out of town and away from the press...], of fabrications [...presenting doctored tapes as 'pristine'...], of changing of stories and outright lying [...first saying nothing was missing and only admitting to 'glitches' and providing the missing 14 minutes of incriminating 'snippets' when audio analysts pointed to obvious edits...]."
In the one bright spot for the Member from BC, it appears that copies of the Butchered Tapes (see below) are flying off the internet's virtual shelves, and there's hopeful talk of signing Bjork as the opening act for the Grewal/Dosanjh summer tour.
(Update: The Tale Of The Edits)
With the Conservative re-release of the Grewal tapes originally called 'pristine' by the party but cited by audio analysts as having gaps that might indicate editing the magically rediscovered snippets (in fact, 14 minutes) of conversation contain exchanges that might be considered... damaging to the Conservative's self-appointed 'sting master.'
The nation is reeling with this startling, shocking, and unforeseen development.
Responding to Ujjal Dosanjh's suggestions about crossing the floor, Grewal says in one of the restored gaps, "If it is something good, then it would be tempting," and in another, "I want to be someone up there. If I go with you guys, I want to be someone up there." The latter response presumably referring to cabinet or some other powerful post, as opposed to a second floor suite of offices, or heaven.
In another segment, Grewal is heard bringing up the subject of rewarding his wife to Martin chief of staff, Tim Murphy, against the advice of Dosanjh.
"Ujjal, I'm contradicting your advice a little bit, okay, the understanding is that, if possible, then my wife would be the preference for that adjustment possibly independent. So that's the, that's the understanding but Ujjal told me not to mention like this, I understand why he's, you know, doing that, that nothing but clarity is always better, it doesn't harm either of us."
While these restorations still don't address the instances of the digital edits, they do leave observers in awe of the amazing coincidence that the "minor glitches in the transposition" (in the words of Stephen Harper) from tape to CD occurred just at the moments that the Conservative member was incriminating himself.
Also apparent is the fact that Grewal doesn't have the skill of his Liberal handlers when it comes to dancing around the legalities without actually spelling out anything illegal and resurrects the question of whether Grewal actually WAS considering crossing the floor for the right price, and only released the tapes when his plans fell through. (Questions raised when it was revealed that the Member was the one who initiated contact, and that he didn't mention his ongoing 'undercover' operation to anyone in the Conservative party.)
Additionally, inaccuracies in the printed transcripts actually make the Liberals look better albeit only equivalent to the difference between a really, really ugly warthog and just a really ugly warthog.
In one case, the Conservative-released transcript has Murphy telling Mr. Grewal that other Conservatives have offered to cross the floor, but, "frankly it is better for us and frankly for someone like you to get that reward."
In fact, the recordings have Mr. Murphy saying that the Prime Minister considered it wrong to offer a reward. "They have asked for a reward outside of politics, and I just don't think that's the Prime Minister doesn't think that's the right thing to do. So I want you to know that it is you might say there's an element of trust in what's been happening here, but there's a reason and frankly it's better for us, to be honest and frankly it's better for someone like you to move forward on that basis."
And, as developments continue to draw attention back on the accusers, a further audio analysis has found identical segments of sound in two areas of tape (where someone offers a cup of tea) where the audio match is too exact to be a coincidence with the only remaining explanation being a case of 'cut and paste.'
Mr. Harper has said he will stand by Mr. Grewal and will not ask him to resign, but the deputy leader of the Conservatives, Peter MacKay, has now avoided standing up for the credibility of Grewal or the recordings..or anything...or anyone.
"Look, I'm not putting my faith in anyone in this entire matter, I'm not here defending anybody's veracity or whether the tapes are pristine." MacKay said in a sweeping declaration of lack of trust in any member either in the government or his own party.
Meanwhile, collectors on The Hill are snapping up copies of the originally released recordings hastily, if not skilfully, packaged in a thematic tribute to the Beatles' infamous "Butcher" cover and rumours are rampant that a mix tape of the Grewal/Dosanjh duets recorded at the "Tune in A Bucket" karaoke bar (see below) is now being prepared for a Summer release and promotional tour.
(The Grewal 'Butcher' cover, displaying Photoshop skills in line with the
Conservative Party's audio editing skills. Click for larger image.)
As events in Ottawa turn once again from travesty to absurdity, no fewer than four audio analysis experts across the nation have declared that at least some of the tapes recorded by Gurmant Grewal and publicly released this week by the Conservative Party as evidence of the Liberal Party's inherent corruption had been altered. Examples of the alterations include gaps of silent tape (possibly indicating that material had been excised) and clear digital edits where the sound quality and level of background noise instantly alters and then after an interval, returns to previous levels during what is supposed to be a single conversation.
While the Conservative Party at first denied that the released recordings were anything but pristine copies, Steven Harper has now claimed that the phenomena were 'minor glitches' in transferring the audio from tape to CD format. (A scenario that does nothing to explain the digital edits.) Further, a Conservative Party press release asserted that 'when the missing audio is restored, the substance of the conversations remains the same.' (A proclamation which would seem to admit to the removal of material that the party has denied removing.)
Released only after a puzzling (perhaps now explained) two-week delay, the 90 minutes of released audio only comprise a fraction of the four hours Grewal claims to have recorded but they have already provided more than their share of amusement as the BC MP, Paul Martin chief of staff Tim Murphy, and Liberal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh do everything but actually ask for and offer a political kickback in return for an abstention on the May budget vote.
Theories about what might be on the unreleased tapes abound. While some pundits believe material has been held back because it might be damaging to the Conservatives' case or Grewal's legal status others are guessing that the public is simply being spared numerous meetings that Grewal and Dosanjh are supposed to have held at "Tune In A Bucket" an Ottawa-area Karaoke Bar. (In fact their joint rendition of "You Don't Send Me Flowers" is already rumoured to be making the rounds of Parliamentary staff.)
Meanwhile, Conservative MP John Reynolds compared the Liberal handling of the tape scandal to, "sort of like Monty Python's Flying Circus but more sinister," prompting UDP leader, J. Harvey Fink, to observe that the Conservative handling of the actual recordings was, "sort of like Monty Python's Flying Circus, but more farcical."
And Gurmant Grewal who, after launching the scandal, has been avoiding the press like a sunburned vampire avoids a day at the beach, responded to reporters' questions on Thursday with, "I can't answer any other questions simply because the RCMP is investigating. Let them do their job" a rationale used with impressive frequency by the Liberal Party, and always met with howls of ridicule by the Conservatives.
Asked when the rest of the tapes might be released, a spokesman promised full availability as soon as possible but, "...clearly, mastering CoolEdit is more difficult than we first thought."
Further Vindication for the UDP
Trust in politicians drops even lower
In an Environics poll of 1500 Canadians, released by the CBC on May 30th, 65 percent of respondents said that they have little or no confidence in Canada's political leaders (an increase of seven percentage points from a similar poll last year). In the same survey, 72 per cent agreed with the statement, "You don't really expect that politicians will keep their election promises once they are in power."
"And this is why the Undecided Party exists." said party leader, J. Harvey Fink, contacted at the Necessity Festival in Bivalve, New Brunswick, "When almost two thirds of the electorate doesn't trust its politicians and three quarters consider them to be outright liars, how can the mainstream parties pretend that the voters are being presented with attractive -or even tolerable- choices on the ballot?
"And let's not forget that this poll was taken between May 12 and 16 - before the Stronach defection and the rather colourful reactions from Conservatives across the country, before the Grewal accusations and counter-accusations, and before all the other pre-budget vote antics. We can only imagine what the numbers would have looked like a week later."
MPs return today after a week off, for what will probably be the final session before a paid three month summer vacation. As for predictions of what the parties might be rolling out to top their most recent excesses, some pundits have heard rumours of water balloons, toilet papering opposing parties' benches, and an accusation that an as-yet-unnamed party leader is a tree molester, an alien, and pregnant.
(The possibility and nature of a relationship between these last three claims is the subject of much speculation on Parliament Hill.)
UDP Maintains Undefeated Record
46% of Labrador Electorate Choose Not To Choose
With party hacks and political pundits watching the riding like a dog watches food that has hit the floor, Labrador's Tuesday byelection surprised no one and returned a Liberal to the House of Commons - with the help of roughly 28% of eligible voters. (Conservatives represented about 17% of eligible voters, and the NDP 5%.)
And while new Liberal MP Todd Russell declared the result to be an endorsement of his party and a "no to the vision of Stephen Harper," he didn't address what the overwhelming majority of non-voters represented - especially given the importance of the outcome, ideal weather on election day, and the sweet-talking visits made to the riding by no fewer than four Liberal cabinet ministers, as well as Stephen Harper, Peter MacKay, and five more MPs from the Conservative Party.
At Undecided Party campaign headquarters, the meaning was both clear and indisputable.
"While the other parties were going to such extremes, this was actually one of our easier victories." said campaign manager, Gerry Mander, "With the understandable cynicism voters were showing about the mainstream parties' sudden, theatrical, over the top...let's face it, downright unseemly interest in this traditionally ignored region, we simply counter-campaigned by leaving the people alone and trusting in their intelligence. Obviously, they proved us right."
"The fact that all the mainstream parties, concentrating all their attention on this numerically small riding, could still only coax 54% of the electorate to bother casting a ballot speaks volumes." said UDP leader, J. Harvey Fink, while attending a cheese mending conference in Possum Stool, Manitoba. "We're confident that with another 7 or more months of behaviour like we've seen in the past few weeks, we could easily see a record non-turnout in next year's call to the polls."
While the Conservatives will have opportunities to call further non-confidence votes before the House recesses for it's three-month paid vacation, it is now widely assumed that sagging public opinion numbers will motivate the opposition party to shelve any more attempts, "to put this government out of its misery at the earliest possible opportunity" until one of those opportunities coincides with more attractive poll results.
May Sweeps Week
Ends With A Bang
(stay tuned for more of the same)
After a week full of slander and accusations, defection, espionage, alleged attempted bribery (and alleged attempted entrapment on the part of the bribee), medical drama, heartbreak, and undeclared allegiances, the Liberal government survived a historically close non-confidence vote thanks to a gum-chewing Chuck Cadman the ex-Reform/Alliance member who rose from his seat as casually as from a living room couch and thwarted the ambitions of the party that dropped him as a candidate in the 2004 election.
Welcome to Desperate House Lives.
And now with many pundits predicting that the Conservative Party, sagging in the polls, will count its blessings at escaping an election of its own making, and not take advantage of any opportunities to defeat the government before the summer break, Canadians will be left wondering if there will be any attempts to reintroduce even the merest suggestion of decorum to Parliament Hill. Early indications are not promising.
On CBC's Newsworld the morning after the vote, a panel of party representatives continued to exchange rehearsed accusations even as they agreed that such behaviour was a major factor in voters' overwhelming cynicism about politicians. In a solo interview, Deputy Conservative Leader Peter MacKay also acknowledged the nation's disgust with its MPs, and the need to enhance the civility in the house, and then went on to describe the Liberals using such conciliatory terms as "grasping," "corrupt," "manipulative," "sinister," and "desperately clinging to power."
Meanwhile, in recognition of the futility of asking the 'Honourable' members to try to live up to their title, the House of Commons will be undergoing renovations over the summer break, with the benches on both sides of the floor being replaced with sandboxes. While adjusting Parliament's decor to its inhabitants' behaviour, changes will also include slides, swing sets, bouncy castles for party leaders, and spacious 'Time Out' corners on both sides of the House.
Renovations should be completed by the time Parliament resumes in the Fall.
"It's like when Judas gave up Christ"
TV 'streeter' reaction wins Stronach Hyperbole contest
Among the many reactions to Belinda Stronach's decision to cross the floor of the House of Commons and support the Liberals in the upcoming budget vote, a simple evenning news 'person on the street' segment provided the most entertainingly excessive assessment of the former Conservative's actions.
Almost lost in the various pro and con remarks from professional practitioners of overstatement across the country, "It's like when Judas gave up Christ," from a private citizen of Alberta, brought religion and politics together and barely fell short of adding the apocalyptic to his summation of events. Judges we also impressed by the statement's ability to 'flatter' the Conservative leader even while denouncing the defector.
Second place also came from Alberta, with evangelical Christian minister and Alberta MLA, Reverend Tony Abbot, who surprisingly avoided the Biblical and opted for, "To me, what it is, it's a little rich girl basically whoring herself out to the Liberals."
Representatives from central and eastern Canada are promising to do better with the next defection.
'They're all the same.'
Poll confirms that voters already subscribe to the
UDP's founding principle.
In a recent SES Research poll of 1000 Canadians, asking voters to compare the ethics of opposition parties to the Liberals, not a single party scored higher on the scruples scale than the incumbent government.
Only 28.1% said the Conservatives were more ethical, while 39.9% claimed they were the same as the Liberals and 19.6% believed they're less ethical than Martin's party, 34.4% judged the NDP to be more ethical than the Grits, with 35.2% believing they're the same and 16.5% saying they're less ethical, and only 18.2% thought the Bloc is more ethical than the Liberals, 28.9% said it's the same and 31.9% viewed Duceppe et. al. as less ethical than the governing party.
(In a revealing but not surprising turn, the most complimentary scores went to the NDP, the national party that has never held power - and therefore has never had a chance to break promises or translate unpopular policies into law.)
Also not surprisingly, given that every opposition party in the past has promised (but never delivered on) an ethical house cleaning if elected, Stephen Harper's communications director, Geoff Norquay, said the Conservatives will highlight the issue in the next campaign.
"We're going to be offering a significant government ethics package that will attempt to regain and to re-earn that public trust," because voters want to believe in a government that, "will be honest, that will keep its promises, that will not steal taxpayers' money."
While the Conservatives' practical stance on promises was demonstrated by the very birth of the party, it is also apparently of the opinion that although stealing the taxpayers' money is wrong, squandering it on an election that taxpayers don't want, before they get all the facts on the ethics crisis that the Conservatives claim is the reason for the election, in an attempt to obtain power, is okey dokey.
A vote of confidence on the Liberal budget is scheduled for Thursday.
A Vote Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing.
In a move that surprised no one, the Bloc/Conservative alliance outvoted the Liberal/NDP alliance yesterday on a motion calling on the public accounts committee "to recommend that the government resign." In a move that surprised no one, the Liberal government (and constitutional experts) declared that a motion calling for a recommendation from a committee did not constitute a no confidence vote. And, in a move that surprised no one, despite continuing to claim that they had won a vote of no confidence, the Bloc and Conservative parties did not go to the Governor General to demand any action be taken, and in fact returned today to the floor of the House of Commons to pose questions to a government that they continued to claim had been defeated.
Speaking from his pre-campaign training camp somewhere in the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Undecided Party of Canada leader, J. Harvey Fink, noted that the only element that surprised him came in the form of a statement from the Leader of the Opposition.
"I have to admit that Harper's comment that he was 'tired of the games' seemed a bit odd coming from someone who just had his party call for -and fly in two cancer-afflicted members of his own caucus to be present for- a vote that he knew would only have a debatable symbolic significance." said Fink, "Because if he really thought that that motion would bring down the government, perhaps he should hand the reins of the party over to somebody with a stronger grasp of the rules, like Belinda Stronach, while he goes to Remedial Government School."
"And let's face it," he continued, "this whole racket is a series of games. The Bloc/Con attempt to force a vote while Gomery's still fresh is a game. The Liberals' attempt to stall until Gomery starts to fade is a game. The fact that the opposition doesn't want to be seen as voting against a popular budget is a game, and both sides are maneuvering to have the vote when their team has the most players. If Harper was really tired of games, he should really quit politics. Or he could always vote for the Undecided Party in the next election."
Asked if the UDP would be ready for a Spring campaign, Fink simply replied, "Let the games begin."
MacKay accuses Martin of being a "bald-faced hypocrite."
In related news, Paris Hilton accuses Jessica Simpson of being a "dumb blond."
Responding to a comment by Prime Minister Paul Martin, that MacKay showed arrogance in suggesting that, "like a visit to the dentist," an election was something that the country might have to go through regardless of the wishes of its citizens (as long as it was what the Conservative Party decided it was for the best), Deputy Conservative Party leader MacKay accused Martin of being a cynic and hypocrite.
"This is the same man who entered public life...with the avowed promise to defeat Free Trade." said MacKay, who also pointed out the Liberal's change of position on the GST once in power.
This comment, of course, comes from a man who gained the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party after not only promising, but also singing a document pledging, not negotiate a merger with the Alliance Party - not long before negotiating a merger with the Alliance Party.
The Pot and The Kettle are investigating their legal options regarding this unauthorized appropriation of their routine.
If you haven't been aware of the Undecided Party
(and its undefeated record) before,
help yourself to the following collection of
news and press releases for events
prior to the current campaign.
Wham, Bam, Thank You Canada
(Now if you would be so kind as to bend over.)
Three years late, and using less time than it takes to burn an effigy, President George W. Bush briefly thanked Canadians last week for housing more than 30,000 stranded airline passengers in the wake of 9/11.
Devoting less than two minutes of a 28 minute speech to the subject (and delivering that address in Halifax in order to avoid the unpleasant spectacle of free speech on the floor of the House of Commons in Ottawa), Bush turned almost immediately to the tasks of promoting his policy of preemption, and blindsiding host and Prime Minister, Paul Martin, with a call for Canada's participation in the, 'it would be funny if it wasn't so sad,' Missile Defence Program.
Asking for support "to protect the next generation of Canadians and Americans from the threats we know will arise," the President backed his northern partner up against the wall even as he was praising their friendship. With the Liberals in a minority position and the majority of Canadians against taking part in the program, Undecided Party of Canada leader, J. Harvey Fink, was asked for his thoughts on a speech that could eventually be seen as the first step toward a defeated government.
"Well, I hope that nobody actually believed he came here to say thank you," said Fink, "If so, those people need a serious lesson in the difference between gratitude and opportunity."
Asked about the President quoting MacKenzie King to support his policy of preemption ("We must...go out and meet the enemy before he reaches our shores. We must defeat him before he attacks us, before our cities are laid to waste"), the UDP leader responded, "I think it's indicative that the only Canadian Prime Minister that Bush could find to bolster his argument was the same one who regularly talked to his mother and his dog, both dead at the time, when he needed advice.
"And given that the quote they're using to support the 'Bush Doctrine' comes from 1942, the President and his speech writers also seem to be under the impression that Canada single-handedly decided to lead a preemptive attack on Germany in order to prevent the invasion of Poland and the rest of Europe, even though they were three years too late. Still, if you're trying to justify an ineffective and treaty-breaking anti-missile system when the only likely form of nuclear attack will be via suitcase or shipping crate, a little bit of deliberate stupidity can really grease the wheels."
Much like some Americans who try to pass themselves off as Canadians as they travel the world, Bush also tried to cash in on Canada's favourable international reputation by making abundant references to the friendship between the two neighbours at the same time as defending his right to invade at will.
"Obviously the speech wasn't aimed at Canadians," said Fink, "it was intended for a global audience. Bush was trying to promote the impression that, 'we can't be that bad if these nice Canadians like us so much,' even as he was pissing on our rug. There are a lot of two-faced politicians in the world, but that kind of simultaneous handshake and face slap is something you don't see every day. Give credit where it's due."
Still in Halifax, Fink has extended his stay to try and get some sleep.
Two for Two at the Polls
UDP follows Provincial victory with
first-time federal triumph
Building on the success of last year's Nova Scotia provincial election (where the UDP represented 36% of the popular vote), the Undecided Party of Canada once again improved on even the most optimistic pre-election polls, as 40% of Canadians chose not to choose. By comparison, the 'first place' Liberal Party, scoring 37% of the remaining 60% of voters who did cast a ballot, was, in the end, supported by a mere 22% of the Canadian electorate.
"Despite enormous government and media efforts to the contrary, this was the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history," said UDP leader, J. Harvey Fink, from his home in Valley Heights, "and I think that the appearance of the Undecided Party, and our reassurance that choosing not to chose was a valid choice, freed many Canadians to exercise their franchise in the negative."
(Indeed, the UDP website saw a sevenfold increase in 'new visitor' traffic on election day, indicating, even at such a late date, an abundance of voters desperately looking for an alternative to the mainstream political parties.)
Fink added, "Factoring in the strategic voting that took place not for, but against, specific parties, and the UDP supporters who wrote-in the party's name on ballots -which were therefore disqualified and not counted- our true plurality is even bigger than the official 40%. We may never know how much bigger, but as it turns out, our official majority, equal to the combined Liberal and New Alliance totals, had room to spare even without any extra help."
"I think we may be seeing the start of a global movement along the lines of the Green Party," added campaign manager, Gerry Mander. "Our website has recorded visitors from around the world -England and Japan...Denmark, Croatia and Australia- and I expect that it will only be a matter of time before other national Undecided Party websites start popping up all over the world wide web."
Despite the overwhelming numerical victory, the Undecided Party will not be occupying offices in Parliament - due to what Fink refers to as, "a familiar collection of convenient technicalities" (see election night speech), but he betrayed no disillusionment. "Our primary purpose was to lay to rest the old saw that, 'if you don't vote, you can't complain.' We accomplished that in spectacular fashion, and in fact, made the point that not voting is a method of complaining. Will the mainstream parties learn anything from the experience, perhaps start to keep their promises, perhaps stop acting like sugar-loaded preschoolers in the House of Commons? We'll see. If not, the UDP will be back in action when the minority government falls."
"In the meantime, and in accordance with new campaign financing laws, we're looking forward to a cheque with a combined value of $1.75 for every eligible Canadian who chose not to vote."
(Official Undecided Party Press Release)
Undecided Party in dead heat for second place - mainstream parties looking for coalition
With three weeks left before the federal election vote, the Undecided Party of Canada -despite an almost complete lack of budget, publicity, and mainstream media coverage- continues to hover within striking distance of forming Canada's next government.
In a Leger Marketing poll held at the end of May, the number of respondents who were undecided, would refuse to vote, or planned to spoil their ballot, represented 22% of the nation's electorate (well within the 1.8% 'margin of error' of the New Alliance's 23%, and just a fresh sponsorship revelation away from the Liberals' 27%). Speaking from the campaign trail, where he was attending the Borglum, Saskatchewan Frisbee Festival, Undecided Party leader, J. Harvey Fink revealed that in light of the UDP's continuing strength, "certain unnamed parties from certain unnamed parties" having been making overtures about support in the eventuality of a minority government.
"Clearly, if these two organizations are coming to us asking for support, they haven't spent much time looking at our website," said Fink, "and the grovelling was just embarrassing. But if they wish to adapt and support a UDP minority government after the ballots are counted, we'll consider the possibilities at that time."
Voters go to the polls on June 28.
(Official Undecided Party Press Release)
Debating the Debates
With the Green Party's recent publicity offensive in an attempt to be included in the upcoming televised debates, Undecided Party of Canada representatives have been asked if the UDP will also be fighting for the right to take part in the June 15 and 16 'pageants.'
As those who have perused our Issues page will know, the UDP does not wish to have anything to do with these celebrations of concentrated verbal incontinence. But we do have few suggestions on how to modify these unfortunate spectacles, in order to increase their appeal and usefulness to the interested Canadian voter. To loosely quote ourselves;
"...we at the Undecided Party feel that these pre-election debates have all the usefulness of a screen door on a submarine (something the Navy is apparently looking into at the moment), and only marginally more decorum than the floor of the House of Commons - which itself shows only marginally more decorum than a pre-school food fight. Frankly, we'd rather remain a credible voice in the days leading up to the election.
As anyone who has ever watched one of these fiascos will know, leaders shake hands and then spend the rest of the evening interrupting each other, pointing their fingers in each other's faces, and generally trying to drown out whatever points their opponents are trying to make. And while relatively little information is lost in the bedlam (audiences will know every leader's response or non-response as soon as the question is asked), the behaviour is still so unbefitting someone asking for permission to run a country, that we feel certain steps should be taken to make having to sit through the production slightly less annoying, and slightly less embarrassing for our country.
We at the Undecided Party propose that the next federal election debates be held with each of the candidates confined to individual sound-proof booths (with microphones under the control of the moderator), so that only the candidate chosen to answer a given question will be heard. If other debaters still refuse to wait their turn and attempt to draw attention by, for example, banging on the isolation booth's glass, or by making gestures or faces, or, if a candidate refuses to give a straight answer to a simple question (or uses the 'won't answer hypothetical questions' dodge), we're not against the idea of administering electric shock to those who insist on wasting the viewers' time. Mild at first, but increasing in intensity if candidates persist in ignoring the simple human niceties their mothers should have taught them. (Cutting off the air supply to a specific offender's booth, or filling it with water, are alternatives with their own appeal, but we feel that electrical shock is the best choice for both its simplicity and immediacy.)
By making these modifications, we feel that we could bring both relevance and civility to the debating process, and if they prove successful, we may also adapt them to the Commons floor after our election."
UDP Sees Potential Converts in
New and Unexpected Territory
In a new EKOS opinion survey released last week, 46 per cent of respondents said they were either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to change their minds before casting their ballots.
"This is definitely an interesting statistic," said Undecided Party leader, J.Harvey Fink, from the campaign trail, "though it shouldn't be that surprising. Given the choices available, and behaviour so far on all the mainstream fronts, it's easy to imagine that even once-faithful party supporters might be thinking that the grass must be greener on the other side of the fence. I'm afraid they're in for a disappointment, but in the meantime, it only supports our assertions when, even amongst the 'decided,' the undecided voter dominates the polls."
(Official Undecided Party Press Release)
UDP Reiterates Policy on Poverty Reduction
With the recent uproar about NDP leader Jack Layton's attack on Liberal housing policies, The Undecided Party of Canada has noted that the nation's poor have been receiving little or no attention in the early days of the campaign. In the hopes of changing this situation, the UDP is calling attention to its platform as regards a unique way to help alleviate this national dishonour, and we challenge other parties to respond to our 'modest proposal.'
Having spent much of our own lives below the poverty level, we at the Undecided Party feel that the reason for the lack of any genuine sympathy on the part of most elected members is the simple fact that they don't know what they're missing - things like food, clothes, and heat in the winter.
Clearly, Members of Parliament (with a base salary of $139,000 - which places them in the top 2% of Canadian income earners) have no idea what it's like to try to make ends meet when your fondest wish is to be able to claw your all the way up to the poverty level, and perhaps they simply don't realize that taking money away from things like equalization and affordable housing doesn't actually help the poor - even if they do keep tax havens open in the Caribbean. So, giving Members the benefit of the doubt, and making allowances for their endearingly simplistic view of the world, we at the Undecided Party suggest 'participatory education.'
We propose that for one month of every year, each serving MP will be required to eat the diet of a minimum wage earner (eg. Kraft Dinner), live in the accommodations of a minimum wage earner (one-room bedsit), use the transportation of a minimum wage earner (walk), and, to be fair, even experience the occasional luxuries in the leisure-time life of a minimum wage earner (Big Mac by candle light - in order to save on the light bill).
While this is certainly not a conventional proposition, and it should by no means be seen as a substitute for increased funding to social programs, we feel that some enforced empathy would go a long way towards a serious reconsideration of Ottawa's attitudes towards the unemployed and working poor - if only to make the MP's one-month ordeal a little easier for the next year.
Of course, we fully realize that there is no chance that any mainstream party or its members would ever agree to lower themselves to the level of so many of their constituents.
But wouldn't it be nice if we -their employers- could make them.
(Official Undecided Party Press Release)
Green Party steals UDP platform
In a stunning move, reminiscent of the George Harrison, "My Sweet Lord"/"He's So Fine" copyright infringement lawsuit, Canada's Green Party has 'appropriated' the major platform of the Undecided Party - calling themselves the home for the nation's disaffected voters.
At the Green's official campaign launch on May 20, Party leader, motivational speaker, and business consultant, Jim Harris declared, "Our challenge, as the Green Party, is to reach out to every voter who is so disillusioned, dissatisfied, disgusted with traditional parties and politicians..." and, "If every single person who is not going to vote in this election votes Green, we will form the next government."
"Too bad they couldn't come up with any strategies of their own." mused Undecided Party campaign manager, Gerry Mander, "They must have seen that we're doing so much better than they are in the polls (including first place in a recent Leger Marketing poll., ed.), they decided the best way to gain some ground was to copy the defining policy and founding principle of our party. It's the kind of thing you'd expect from the Liberals or Conservatives."
"I know identity theft is a growing phenomenon," responded UDP leader, J. Harvey Fink from Halifax, Nova Scotia where he's taking part in the inaugural Bluenose Marathon, "but I didn't think it extended to entire political parties."
Fink is also concerned about the 'watering down' of the undecided vote. "If truly disaffected voters were to place their mark beside a Green Party candidate, no one would know -when the ballots were counted- how many Green votes were actually for the candidate and how many were protests against the other parties. A write-in vote for the Undecided Party can only have one meaning, and as such, will make a much clearer statement about the feelings of Canada's electorate."
Fink added, "If a voter agrees with the Green Party's own policies, or feels that he or she can comfortably support a Green candidate, then by all means they should vote for them. But if they want to voice their dissatisfaction with the process and its participants, they shouldn't allow themselves to be duped into propping up another party's numbers. Make your non-vote count."
An election call is expected this weekend.
Undecided Party takes the lead in
In a Leger Marketing poll of 1500 Canadians, taken between March 19th and 22nd, 34% of respondents described themselves as 'undecided,' or claimed they would either refuse to vote or 'spoil' their ballot (practices which are clear manifestations of Undecided Party positions). This number represents a 10 point lead over the Liberals at 24%, and is well ahead of the New Alliance and NDP at 16 and 10 percent, respectively. (British Columbia showed the greatest support for the new party with a 62% undecided response.)
UDP leader, J. Harvey Fink, expressed satisfaction from a non-mination meeting being held in his home town of Valley Heights. "Clearly, we're in this election to win, and I never doubted that on the night, the Undecided voter would represent the nation's largest constituency, but I am surprised that we've taken the lead at such an early date - especially considering that our publicity machine hasn't even begun its work.
"Of course, it helps when the competition is doing much of your work for you." added Fink, "These poll results speak volumes about the mindset of the Canadian voter, and the tireless efforts on the part of all the mainstream parties to create and maintain that mindset. Who, having watched the last few days in the House of Commons, seeing behaviour that would have the 'Honourable' members thrown out of a pre-school, would want to give any of these people jobs with a minimum salary of $135,000 a year?"
The leader also expressed satisfaction that the Leger poll clearly enumerated the undecided voter. "Too many polling companies and media outlets try to hide undecided voters by either ignoring them or dividing their numbers amongst other parties' camps. Not only does this deceptive practice artificially inflate the popularity of the other parties," (Liberal, NA, and NDP figures appear to climb to 38, 26 and 16% when undecided respondents are 'eliminated'), "but it prevents those who are thinking about 'choosing not to choose' from knowing just how many other Canadians are feeling the same way. We hope that other information sources will begin to follow Leger's lead."
(A PDF version of the Leger poll results is available at http://www.legermarketing.com/documents/pol/040329Eng.pdf.)
Seven Months After Winning Inaugural Campaign, UDP Still Leads in N.S.
In a poll of 1600 Nova Scotians held between February 13 and March 8, and released in the March 19 edition of the Chronicle Herald, 40 percent of those surveyed about provincial political preferences declared themselves Undecided. None of the three mainstream parties -including the ruling PCs- could break the 20 percent threshold in voter support.
In the words of UDP leader, J. Harvey Fink, "The fact that we have more than double the support of the next closest party clearly illustrates that last August's election numbers were no fluke. We led in pre-election polls, we won 45 of 52 seats on election night, and we're more than 20 points ahead seven months later. We can't wait to see the results from the upcoming federal campaign."
Federal poll numbers are proving more difficult to decipher, as some agencies only quote the statistically inflated 'decided' results, while others go so far as to draft undecided voters (calling them "leaners") into the ranks of mainstream parties. The continuation of this tactic may mean that the real numbers won't be known until election night, but the last poll that clearly stated undecided voters placed that group in second place - behind the Liberals, but ahead of the New Alliance and NDP.
Speculation about the election date continues, but it is widely expected to be held this Spring.
(Official Undecided Party Press Release)
UDP Donates Unusual Campaign Contribution
The Undecided Party of Canada has donated the highly debatable masterpiece, "Paul Martin's Scream," to the National Museum of But Is It Art? in Ottawa.
Based on the famous painting by Edvard Munch, and created in response to political developments of early 2004, the Scream depicts, in the words of the artist, Agar Dunwiddie, "...the moment Martin realizes that if Chretien hadn't been pushed out of office before he was willing to leave, this mess would be in his lap right now."
With the paint still wet, Dunwiddie donated the work to the Undecided Party's campaign fund, but as campaign manager Gerry Mander pointed out, "You really can't gas up a car with a painting, or stuff it into a vending machine's coin slot, so we thought it best to release it for the greater good of all Canadians - and get the deduction for the charitable donation."
The painting itself will soon be hanging in the museum's "Art of Politics" wing, with such other highly derivative works as "Dejuner Avec Herb (Gray)," Salvador Wali's "The Inconvenience of Memory," and the disturbing, "Nude Mulroney Descending A Staircase."
(Detail. Click for larger image.)
Results in first pre-election poll would make Undecided Party official opposition
In a Leger Marketing survey taken in late January, 26% of those polled qualified as 'undecided' (ie., refused to answer, didn't know who they would vote for, wouldn't have voted, or would have spoiled their ballot).
This impressive result, from a poll taken even before the official launch of the Undecided Party's national campaign, instantly positions the party in second place as the nation looks toward a federal election - behind the Liberals at 36%, and ahead of the New Alliance and NDP at 16 and 11% respectively.
"This is a logical progression of our success in Nova Scotia," said UDP campaign manager Gerry Mander, referring to last year's provincial election, "Our numbers grew throughout that campaign and left us in first place on election night - and we expect the same outcome on the national stage." Added party leader, J. Harvey Fink, "Obviously, we're not aiming at second place, but I could probably adjust to a $200,000 per year salary as leader of the opposition."
In an ironic note not likely to please the upper levels of the New Alliance party, when the same poll asked which leadership candidate would be best suited to guide that party in to the next election, fully 50% of respondents were...undecided. (Stephen Harper received 18% support.)
An election is expected this spring.
(Official Undecided Party Press Release)
Undecided Party Logo Wins Fictional Award
Even as Ottawa buzzes with recent speculation about a new party logo for the Paul Martin Liberals, the Undecided Party of Canada (http://www.undecidedparty.ca/) has announced that it has won first place in the 2004 Ragnar International Wonk Award for Political Design, in a ceremony held at the Wonk worldwide headquarters in Oslo. (Second place was taken by the New Progressive National Independent Allied Democratic Equality Party of New South Wales - which was awarded special recognition for getting everything into a single symbol. Canada's new Conservative Party logo was disqualified as, "too insipid to be worth our time.")
About the UDP logo, award founder and tax-motivated philanthropist, Gag Ove Ragnar gushed, "Like the Canadian flag itself, the UDP logo is elegantly simple, instantly recognizable, and predominantly red."
Added Anthony Hamilton, jury panel member and columnist for "Politically Correct" magazine, "Well, the logo just says it all doesn't it? The Maple Leaf for geopolitical orientation, and the question mark symbolizing an electorate asking, 'Why Bother?,' 'What have they done with my money now?,' 'Do that really think I'm THAT stupid?,' and whatever other questions arise in the day-to-day scandals of the average Canadian government. It's a combination of passion and ennui that just makes my blood boil very restfully."
Presently on an obscure fork of the campaign trail, UDP party leader, J. Harvey Fink could not be reached for comment, but campaign manager, Gerry Mander said, "Well, the Liberals can save themselves the trouble of a new logo and give up right now. We're already second place in the polls, we've now got an internationally honoured logo, and with our smaller political machine's lower overhead, we're guaranteeing that UDP graft will only cost the taxpayer a fraction of Liberal Party graft."
The election is widely expected to be held in early May.
(And now relive history with this archive of the UDP's inaugural -N.S. provincial- election campaign...)
Pole to Pole at the Polls
UDP represents highest percentage of electorate
on big night
Following the pattern set with the earliest pre-election surveys, the Undecided Party dominated election-night numbers, with more than 36% of the electorate deciding that the Best Choice was No Choice. By comparison, the Progressive Conservative party received the support of just over 23% of eligible voters, with the Liberals at 20% and the NDP at 19.6%. Even more impressive is the fact that non-voters outnumbered mainstream candidates in all but seven ridings - creating a 45 of 52 seat sweep by the UDP. (None of the other party leaders' tallies outnumbered non-voters in their own ridings.)
Undecided Party leader J. Harvey Fink expressed his satisfaction from his home in Valley Heights. "I'm pleased, but not at all surprised by the outcome. The voters have been saying for years that they're tired of the same old political games, and then they were rewarded with four weeks of more of the same. What I find most impressive is the fact that when it came time to vote, rather than holding their noses and picking one of the mainstream parties, even more voters chose not to choose than said they would do so in any of the pre-election polls."
Despite the overwhelming evidence of support, the Undecided Party will not be occupying offices in Province House - due to what Fink refers to as, "a suspicious collection of petty technicalities" (see election night speech below), but he exhibited no visible signs of disappointment. "After our clear but sabotaged success in Nova Scotia -an unprecedented success for a first-time party- we're free to devote our full attention to the upcoming federal election, and showing the entire country that choosing not to choose is a valid choice."
In the meantime, the leader will continue to run his businesses of training drug- and bomb-sniffing hamsters for cash-strapped airports, and holding motivational seminars for the comatose.
Read J. Harvey Fink's
election night speech
(Pre-election news archives below - oldest stories first)
UDP Dominates the Polls
In a poll of 702 voters, conducted for the CBC and Halifax Herald and released July 14, 34% of respondents answered 'undecided' when asked which party they would vote for. Liberals and PCs trailed well behind at 22% each (with numbers rising to a 34% tie only when ignoring the responses of the undecided).
"I'm gratified, though not surprised," said Undecided Party leader, J. Harvey Fink, from his home in Valley Heights. "Voters are so fed up with the disappointing performances of one government after another, that they're starting to think of voting itself as an act of futility, and we don't even have to campaign in order to get a first place result."
When asked what policies the UDP would implement if, in the time-honoured phrase, 'the election were held today,' Fink directed this reporter to the party website and echoed another political chestnut with, "The only poll that counts is the one on election day. In the past, the undecided voter hasn't had a party to reflect his or her frustrations, and has not voted at all. I hope that with the formation of the UDP, those same voters will go to the polls on election day and give concrete evidence of their dissatisfaction."
The election will be held on Tuesday, August 5.
UDP Offers only Original Suggestions on Sunday Shopping
While the three mainstream parties are all staking out their territory on the issue of Sunday shopping -that territory being, "yes"- the Undecided Party has challenged leaders to respond to the proposal that retail outlets not be the only operations forced into expanded hours.
"Let's be clear here," says UDP leader, J. Harvey Fink, "even though some parties may be making noises about 'protecting' businesses and workers from being forced to participate, economic pressures will compel stores to be open, and the risk of employer-based repercussions will compel staff to work. So we suggest that if the stores are forced to open on Sundays, why not apply the same rules to the MLA's constituency offices, civil service operations, banks, corporate offices, and most importantly, the Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce that have been fighting so energetically for this change.
"As you know, retail operations are already much more accessible to the public than these 5-day a week, nine to five operations, and it seems only fair that these other services and businesses should be just as willing to make themselves more available to the time-stressed public."
At time of writing, there has been no response from the other party leaders.
"Who's yer Maggie?"
UDP Scores Win in Televised Debate
While not actually invited to participate in Tuesday's televised leaders' debate on the CBC, Undecided Party head, J. Harvey Fink has claimed victory by process of elimination.
"The simple fact is that more people didn't watch the debate than did watch it. To me, that's a clear indication that the majority of the province's voters aren't interested in what the mainstream parties are saying. The obvious alternative is the Undecided Party."
Nevertheless, Fink is currently in negotiations with an unnamed network to take part in a 'remedial' debate during the last week of the campaign. The format has not been decided, but may consist of the UDP leader debating himself (in anticipation of which, Fink is practicing at interrupting his own statements), or possibly with a party or parties to be named at a later date.
UDP Still in Control at the Polls
An Omnifacts Bristol Research poll released by the Halifax Daily News on July 25, showed voter support for the Liberal party to be at 26%, with the PCs at 23% and the NDP at 22% - which means that the province's undecided voters still outpace the competition at 29%!
Asked if he was concerned about the narrowing field compared to the CBC/Halifax Herald poll of July 14th, Undecided Party leader, J. Harvey Fink responded in the negative. "Actually, I'm more impressed than ever with the party's number 1 position - especially considering that at this late stage in the campaign, with the exception of a profile broadcast on ATV/ASN, the UDP has received almost no media coverage - which means that many undecided voters don't even know there is a party which directly reflects their views."
Voicing suspicions about what he referred to as an apparent media 'cone of silence' regarding the party, Fink went on to point out that, "while this latest poll reveals that mainstream parties have specific strongholds -such as the Liberals' command of Cape Breton- the Undecided Party has support throughout the province, crossing political, geographic, and economic boundaries. I think most of the other parties would envy our broad voter base."
The election will be held on Tuesday, August 5th.
UDP holding on to first place
In another poll held for the Halifax Herald and the CBC, and released one week before the vote, Nova Scotia's Undecided Party continues to represent the majority of respondents with 28% describing themselves as undecided. (The Conservative Party was in second place at 26%, with the NDP at 22% and the Liberals at 20%.)
"Again, I'm impressed with our results considering the virtual media blackout concerning the Undecided Party," said party leader, J. Harvey Fink. "In fact, some poll headlines don't mention the undecided voters at all - artificially inflating the numbers of the mainstream parties."
When asked how he might raise the party's media profile in the last week of the campaign, Fink replied, "Following the theory that any publicity is good publicity, we're considering using scandal as a tool to get the party onto the front page."
"And in an unrelated note," he added, "I want to state that there is no truth to the rumours that a leading member of the Undecided Party is the half-alien love child of Elvis and Oprah, and that he is currently carrying on an illicit affair with Jennifer Aniston...and Brad Pitt...behind both of their backs."
When asked which of the member's parents was the alien, Fink replied, "I don't really think that's relevant, do you?"
The election will be held on Tuesday, August 5.