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Christmas Letters: Michael Ignatief

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Yesterday I posted an exclusive copy of Stephen Harper’s Christmas letter. Today, a draft of Michael Ignatieff’s, obtained from my OLO contacts. I publish it here so that those of you not on Michael’s Christmas card list can get a look.


Salutations my Canadian friends,

Isaiah Berlin once proclaimed “philosophers are adults who persist in asking childish questions” – over the past year, I have found that the same could be said about politicians in question period. There, now that I have successfully lightened the mood with a joke, allow me to recap 2009 as is custom to do in these letters.

In May I was named Liberal Party leader, following in the footsteps of many great men, and my predecessor Stephane Dion. I owe a special thanks to my good friend Bob and (NOTE: Can someone in the Liberal research bureau please find the name of the other chap in that race and insert here) for stepping aside.

I immediately placed the Prime Minister on probation, then on double probation. I flirted briefly with the idea of upping this to triple probation, but after wafer-gate and the Iqauluit typo, I felt the time was right to strike. As Machiavelli said “It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver”, so I concocted a clever plan, whereby I would reveal a bold policy vision to Canadians, letting voters know where I stand involving special committees, EI reports, and opposition days. Alas, I was foiled by Jack Layton! Foiled by Jack Layton – what an ignominious fate, would you not agree?

On a personal note, I’ve enjoyed spending time eating my double-double at Tim Hortons, as I watch the Canadians and Maple Leaves duel it out for hockey supremacy, eh?

In conclusion, let me leave you and your family with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Michael Ignatieff – “Patriotism is a strong nationalistic feeling for a country whose borders and whose legitimacy and whose ethnic composition is taken for granted”.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Joyeux Noel, Sincerely yours,

Michael Ignatieff

Christmas Letters: Stephen Harper

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It’s that time of the year again, when Christmas cards and year-end letters start arriving in the mail. I’ve managed to get my hands on the letters being sent out by all party leaders and will be posting them here over the next week. First off, the Prime Minister.


Greetings friends!

It’s been another great year despite these grave economic times, which we are only now coming out of thanks to Canada’s Economic Action Plan. I guess you could say, we all get by with a little help from our friends.

I was able to travel a lot this year, representing Canada internationally at the G8 summit in Italy, and learning more about the country I have lived in my entire life during visits to Iqualuit and the Tim Hortons Donut Innovation Centre. Some Canadian political leaders (and I won’t name names) have said they are ashamed to be from Canada, but not me – I’m always amazed at the great things Canadians can accomplish when we put our mind to it. For example, did you know there is now a triple chocolate donut?

As you’ve no doubt read in “Hot or Not”, Laureen has also been quite busy this year, feeding homeless kittens and supporting the arts community (que j’aime aussi!). In October, she arranged for me to play the piano with Yo Yo Ma, in a spontaneous and non-calculated show of my humanity (the video is available on most government of Canada websites if you haven’t seen it already).

As for Ben and Rachel, I’m quite proud of my offspring. Like his dad, and most suburban swing voters, Ben has a strong affinity for hockey. Which reminds me, I’m still hard at work writing my book on hockey history. (Fun fact: Did you know there used to be a team in Hartford?)

Finally, if you’re still looking for the perfect gift for that special someone of the opposite sex, may I suggest making a 50$ contribution to the Conservative Party of Canada. Your donation will help us fight the tactics of the un-elected an un-democratic Liberal Senators who are stalling my aggressive get tough on crime legislation. I’m not saying Canadians will die this Christmas because of these Liberal Senators, but can we really take that risk?

Merry Christmas!

Stephen, Laureen, Ben, and Rachel

Fourth Annual Politicians in Cowboy Hats

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2008
2007
2006

There were no see-my-vest incidents this year but, thanks to a few news stories, a few e-mails, and Jim Prentice’s facebook page, I’m able to present the fourth annual Stampede Fashion Round-Up.

First up, the federal party leaders:


Elizabeth May, quite fairly, won “worst dressed” last year, but the experts turned it around and named her “best dressed” this time around.

Looking at the comparison below, she has obviously improved, but I think it’s probably a case of low expectations and a better picture being used this year, so I’m not quite prepared to crown her as the champ.


So while May earns a solid runner-up ribbon, I’m going to go with Jack Layton as my choice for “best dressed” among the party leaders. For a mustached socialist from Toronto, he pulls off western surprisingly well.


In this picture, Harper tells a local farmer about anti-Stampede comments Michael Ignatieff had made earlier in the day. Harper would later return and clarify that it was actually PETA which had made the comments.

Ever since leather vest-gate, Harper has put in solid, but not spectacular, performances. This year is no different – he seems to have settled on the checkered shirt and dark cowboy hat as his go-to outfit.


So Harper went with the red shirt, and the rookie Ignatieff went blue. While Ignatieff didn’t embarrass himself, he played it safe, and deserves a 4th place finish. I know Ignatieff’s an academic and a bit out of his element, but if Stephane Dion can pull off a cowboy hat, anyone can.


A surprise appearance by Gilles Duceppe! He does go with a hat, so I may have to slot him in ahead of Iggy in the rankings.


Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier poses with Lisa Raitt. Raitt sported a black cowboy hat until she misplaced it by the pancake tray.


This brings us to Stampede superstar Jim Prentice. Sure, past environment ministers have turned in their SUVs for hybrids, but Prentice one-ups them by going horse back.


Prentice poses with the Tory caucus.


Like Prentice, Harry Chase is a Stampede superstar…the man is a cowboy, and could stare down Wyatt Earp. However, I must once again point out that the “Harry Chase MLA” apron is absolutely ridiculous.

While Chase always looks the part, provincial politicians often struggle at the Stampede. Ed Stelmach and David Swann are both nice people but both were clearly outdone by a bunch of city-slickers from Ottawa. I mean, for crying out loud, the tree-hugging Green Party leader had a better Stampede outfit than Alberta’s Premier and leader of the opposition!

2008 Man of the Year

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2004: Ralph Klein
2005: Belinda Stronach
2006: Michael Ignatieff
2007: Jean Charest

It’s time to crown the Calgary Grit “Person of the Year”. As the above list of past winners shows, this award doesn’t necessarily go to my favourite politician, or to the politician who had the best year. Rather, it goes to someone whose influence was felt on the Canadian political landscape – with that said, I try to stay away from the PM whenever possible, since that’s always an easy cop-out.

So who wins in 2008? Well, let’s look at the runner-ups first. Maxime Bernier and Julie Couillard injected some life into the droll world of Canadian politics, but had little long-term impact. At the provincial level, Jean Charest and Ed Stelmach were re-elected in a pair of rather uneventful elections. Few Premiers made bold political moves, outside of Gordon Campbell’s carbon tax – but its rejection in the federal election limits his influence to the West Coast. And, once again, few in the Harper Cabinet distinguished themselves, although Jim Flaherty’s fiscal update certainly makes him a candidate. Guy Giorno is also a tempting choice, but it’s difficult to say what percentage of PMO decisions were his, and what percentage were Harper’s.

I toyed with the idea of thinking outside the box and picking Barack Obama. After all, Canadians paid far more attention to the US election than to our own. And the don’t-call-it-NAFTAgate scandal did bring it home, to a certain extent. However, I see little evidence of an “Obama effect” on our election so while his election was historic and may change Canada significantly over the next 4 or 8 years, it didn’t change Canada significantly this year.

No, in the end, the three most significant political events of the year were likely: the Green Shift, the federal election, and the coalition confidence crisis. And one man was at the center of each of them.


The fall of Stephane Dion in 2008 wasn’t unexpected. It wasn’t unique. But, it was the story of the year.

His bold policy, the Green Shift, was a great metaphor for Dion himself. Canadians said they wanted action on the environment, just like they said they wanted thoughtful and honest politicians. The Green Shift was a good policy in theory and, if given the chance, would have accomplished a lot. But, it could not be messaged or sold properly, and was soundly rejected by voters – as was Dion.

That rejection came during the 2008 federal election, when Harper became only the 5th Conservative Prime Minister ever to earn re-election. However, the election was never about Harper. From the very first attack ad in 2007, it was clear the election would be about Dion. So, despite a strong showing in the French debates and some spirited attacks against Harpernomics, voters chose Harper over Dion.

Or so they thought.

This brings us to what was, hands down, the defining moment of 2008 – the fortnight of insanity that began November 26th. Every hour, the political world moved a little. An election was on, an election was off. A coalition was rumoured. The vote was Monday, no it was next Monday. Dion would be PM, no it would be Ignatieff, no it would be Dion, no it would be Harper. For political junkies, this was better than an election.

The impact of those two weeks will be far reaching – from the Liberal leadership (non) race, to how Ignatieff will define himself as a leader, to the timing of the next election, to the constitutional precedents that were set. Sure, Dion was no more a player in the coalition saga than any of the other leaders, but his lame-duck leader status no doubt hurt the opposition insurgents. It also turned political insanity into Liberal insanity, leading to the crowning of a new Liberal leader 5 months ahead of schedule. Just as Dion’s win in 2006 was due to a rejection of Ignatieff, Ignatieff’s win – nearly three years to the day later – was due to a rejection of Dion.

So while 2008 was not the best of years for Stéphane Dion, his influence was felt throughout it.

Third Annual Politicians in Cowboy Hats

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2006 Politicians in Cowboy Hats
2007 Politicians in Cowboy Hats

A big thanks to everyone who sent in pictures or posted them on their own blogs. Let’s begin the photo round-up with the CP wire story’s winner and loser:

And with good reviews from the Alberta media scarce during his time there, who can fault the LPC from pouncing on this and making it the top story on their weekly e-brief:

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion attended the Calgary Stampede last weekend, where he was named the best dressed political cowboy. Wearing boots, blue jeans, a fitted plaid shirt, topped off by a broad-brimmed cowboy hat, Mr. Dion looked like a true cowboy as he walked the grounds of the stampede, meeting with Albertans.

Dion also gets top tough guy Clint Eastwood points for walking into a wild west town, knowing that everyone was gunning for him. So I’ll second the consensus and name him “best dressed” for Stampede 2008, taking the title from last year’s winner, Harry Chase.

As for the green party leader? Mayday mayday! Call in the fashionistas! Since Liz has gotten a lot of flack for the above picture, I will post a slightly more flattering one of her from Sunday. May also gets Clint Eastwood points for wearing the Canada-USA pin, something no other party leader in Canada would ever be gutsy enough to do:
So what about the Village Person? Well, his psychic may have dropped the ball on giving him the Maxime Bernier heads up, but she’s earning her paycheck in the fashion advisor role. Unlike the nerdy Quebec professor, who benefits from low cowboy expectations, Albertans expect a lot of their local PM and ever since leathervestgate, Harper has actually done a good job at looking presentable during the 15 minutes of public appearances he puts in every Stampede. In this picture, Steve gets into the spirit of things by giving a handshake so friendly to a little girl, you’d think she was his daughter.
Another Albertan on the hot-seat following his “Alberta Stampede” comments last year was Ed Stelmach. Now, after winning 72 seats in March, Stelmach could show up wearing nothing but a belt buckle and it probably wouldn’t matter much. Come to think of it, wearing nothing but a belt buckle might have been better than this random mish-mash of clothing:
So what about those trying to replace Ed as Alberta’s top cowboy? Well, politics are always at play during the stampede and with the ALP leadership race on, this year was no different. Saturday morning saw David Swann’s breakfast go head-to-head against the federal Liberal one. For the first time in a while, Liberal MLAs visited the federal breakfast, with Dave Taylor, Darshan Kang, and Kent Hehr eating pancakes with Dion. Meanwhile, the Swann breakfast drew 2000 hungry Calgarians, among them Harry Chase. Still, in our fashion review, we must give Taylor the win over Swann:

Last year’s winner of “worst dressed” for a bizarre animal sweater vest, Carolyn Bennett was much improved this year. I’ll give her credit – she stampedes every year and appears to have an extensive western wear wardrobe, which isn’t bad for a Toronto gal. She’s pictured bellow with newly elected MLA Kent Hehr:
Finally, the Liberal candidate looking to replace Myron Thompson in Wild Rose, Jen Turcott, sports a stylish cowgirl outfit. A good try, but how could anyone look better than Myron in western wear?

2007 Man of the Year

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It’s that time of year again when everyone picks their person of the year…or cops out and does something incredibly lame. So, always one to follow suit, it’s time for the prestigious Calgary Grit person of the year selection. As was the case over the past three years when Michael Ignatieff, Belinda Stronach, and Ralph Klein were crowned, this doesn’t go to my favourite politician, the best politician, or even necessarily a good politician. It goes to an individual who had a big impact on Canadian politics. And, when possible, I try to resist the urge to go with the big party leaders in Ottawa because that’s a bit easy. So, without further adieu, votre gagnant:


Despite all the election speculation and viciousness in Ottawa, 2007 in Canadian politics was all about the provinces with six provincial elections and a new era of inter provincial bickering. And while a good case could be made for crowning Dalton McGuinty, Brad Wall, or Danny Williams, much like Forrest Gump, Jean Charest just seemed to be in the centre of everything this year. Hell, he even made a cameo appearance or two in the Mulroney-Schreyber affair. The debate on reasonable accommodation that spread across Canada was at its most intense in Quebec, with Charest establishing the Bouchard-Taylor commission to study the issue.

On the national stage, Charest’s drive for re-election led to a massive influx of cash from Ottawa to ensure the election of the most federalist Premier in Stephen Harper’s lifetime. When Charest turned the cash around into a 700 million dollar tax break in less time than a Gilles Duceppe leadership run, he pretty much exposed the fiscal imbalance hype as being nothing more than a mythical creature. It also set off a new round of bickering between the provinces and Ottawa that featured attack ads and lawsuits. And, if the polls are to be believed, the tax cuts were about as popular in Quebec as they were outside the province, nearly threatening to bring down his government a few weeks after the election.

As for the election itself, it was far and away the most interesting of the six, with three parties legitimately in the game. The ADQ was on the rise led by Mario Dumont and the PQ was floundering with Andre Boisclair, the biggest bust to come out of Quebec since Alexander Daigle. And while it’s hard to claim victory when a majority turns to the slimmest of minorities, Charest did manage to hang on. If you’re someone who watches politics like sports (and you probably are if you’re reading this blog), it doesn’t get much better than the 2007 Quebec election.

And that’s why Jean Charest was the Man of the Year in the eyes of this blogger.

Second Annual "Politicians in Cowboy Hats" Blog Post

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Everyone seemed to enjoy last summer’s Stampede fashion review so, after hitting all the major breakfasts on the first weekend, I’m pleased to present my recap of how the big names fared this year. For some historical perspective, the Globe & Mail offers up Stampede pictures throughout the ages.

Ever since the disaster of 2005, the nation’s eyes turn to Stephen Harper every Stampede. Last year, Harper hoped in and out of the Hays breakfast in under 20 minutes, wanting to avoid human interaction at all costs. To his credit, this year the PM stayed and posed for pictures for double that time. As for the outfit, Harper looked about as good in western wear as it’s possible for Stephen Harper to look in western wear. Clearly his psychic stylist is earning her money, although it might be time for a taxpayer funded nutritionist.

I caught Prentice at BBQs Saturday and Sunday, and he wore the same outfit on both occasions. It’s also the same thing he’s worn every single day of the Stampede since, one imagines, his 12th birthday. It’s a good look but it might be time for Jim to mix it up a little bit.

I can’t make fun of Carolyn Bennett for her wild pink outfit since the Stampede has been running a “tough enough to wear pink” promotion to raise awareness for breast cancer. It’s a shame since it would have been really easy to poke fun at her pink shirt, bizarre sweater vest, and green Dion scarf.
Kevin Taft has been everywhere this week – the Stampede parade Friday, a series of breakfasts Saturday, and the Hays breakfast Sunday. The pink worked well on Friday, but Kevin’s wife pulled off Western a lot better than him at the Hays breakfast Sunday. The jacket? Definitely a no-no. Still, at least Kevin is aware that it’s the Calgary Stampede.
Actual conversation with Jason Kenney:
Me: Hey Jason, you’re in MP – I was hoping to get a picture with you.
Jason: Are you Young Liberals or Young Conservatives?
Me: Young Liberals.
Jason: I won’t hold it against you. I used to be a Young Liberal too.
Me: Yeah, in Goodale’s office. Just wanted the picture because I’ve got a collection of pictures of myself with Tory MPs…I got one with me and Anders last year.
Jason: Ha Ha. Well I’m not as bad as Rob, eh?

And, with that, Jason Kennedy went up about 200% in my books. Admittedly, he was starting pretty low so a 200% increase isn’t a lot, but he’s climbing.

Speaking of which…

Craig Cheffins, new to elected politics, obviously has yet to learn the “never dance when there’s a camera around” rule.

Stephane Dion looked almost the same as he did last year. For a French University professor, he always presents himself surprisingly well at Stampede.

Peter Miliken, a frequent visitor to the Hays breakfast flashes his sheriff badge. If only he could lay down the law in the House of Commons and keep the children in order…

Harry Chase is probably the only politician in Canada who can wear a coat like that and pull it off. The man looks like he’s straight out of a Western and probably deserves “best dressed 2007″ for that. That said, it’s never a good sign when you need to identify yourself as an MLA on your apron.

There were also a bunch of other politicians at the Hays breakfast I wasn’t able to track down. Lawrence Cannon was out and about espousing the values of Quebec nationhood to the Calgary faithful (which means he must have felt a bit like Jason Jones in those Molson Canadian commercials). Bill Casey was also shaking hands. Carol Skelton may have been around but since no one alive knows what she looks like, I don’t have a picture (unless she accidentally wandered into one of the other shots).

Man of the Year

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Time doesn’t have a copyright on it so, for the third straight year, I’m ready to crown my Person of the Year. Last year, Belinda took the honour for her waltz across the floor which grabbed headlines and changed history. In 2004, I went with Ralph Klein for his re-election and interference in the federal vote. And while Stephen Harper is the obvious choice this year, I think picking the PM is a big cop out (although not as lame as picking “You”, I guess) so this year’s Calgary Grit Person of the Year is…

Michael Ignatieff

A year ago, Michael Ignatieff was fighting for a seat in Etobicoke Lakeshore, admit virulent criticism that he was anti-Ukrainian and supported torture. It was as messy a run for office as you’ll ever see in a safe Toronto seat (which, for the Liberals, are most Toronto seats). A year later, he came within a few gaffes of winning leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada and, despite his loss, he drove much of the political agenda in 2006 and is now Deputy Leader of the LPC. Not bad for a rookie.

As the frontrunner, Ignatieff grabbed most of the headlines in the year long Liberal leadership race and, as Dion said in his acceptance speech, took the lumps because of it. Everytime he sneezed, his critics said it was proof his immune system couldn’t handle the top job and his supporters said it was a sign he wasn’t a typical politician and that the sniffles were why they loved him. His stand on Afghanistan may have been the reason Harper called a snap vote on extending the mission and he led the debate throughout the entire leadership race (often arguing both sides, as one scribe wryly commented).

But despite what many Liberals say, the Liberal Party is not Canada and to be man of the year, there needs to be some meaningful and lasting contribution to the country. Ignatieff did just that during the Quebec nation fiasco this fall. While Ignatieff’s ownership of the nation motion was proportional to the motion’s popularity for much of the year, it’s hard to deny that he got the ball rolling on it. No policy this year was more controversial and none has the potential to have a larger long term impact on the very nature of our country. Those who support the motion feel it will squash separatism while those who opposed it (such as myself), feel it’s a very dangerous step towards the edge of the cliff. Time will tell, but for better or worse, Ignatieff’s role in this debate made him influential in 2006.

Michael Ignatieff is not a politician but that’s what made him a gift to blogging in 2006. Big ideas, big gaffes, and a polarizing figure – the holy trinity of blog material. One presumes Iggy will continue to provide good fodder in 2007.

Stampede Round-Up

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It was a busy weekend for Calgary Liberals with a swarm of candidates descending upon the city for Stampede photo ops. Saturday morning was the annual Liberal breakfast, held this year at the Calgary Zoo. I was able to snap pictures of the seven candidates in attendance:

Gerard Kennedy likely won the cowboy competition of the Liberal leadership fashion pageant. He was the gutsiest when it came to “going western” and pulled it off the best (on both Saturday and Sunday). He seemed very relaxed when he spoke at the Liberal breakfast, keeping things light. (I have more GK pics posted on his OC)

Dion deserves full marks for effort. No one is going to ever confuse him for Clint Eastwood but, this being his fourth Stampede, he knows that you have to at least try (translation: the cowboy hat is a must). Stephane was proudly telling anyone who would listen that “I look better than Stephen Harper in my cowboy costume“. I did notice that one of the buttons on his shirt was undone when we had a sit down interview on Sunday, so my hope is he wasn’t walking around all morning like that. Of interest, on the pamphlet table his campaign included free cabbage seeds which was…odd.

Ignatieff stayed away from the cowboy hat, going with blue shirts both on Saturday and Sunday. I’m not sure how well he could have pulled off a complete Stampede wardrobe so maybe that was a wise move. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t mention the carbon tax at all in his Saturday morning speech…

Carolyn Bennett looked a lot better on Sunday than Saturday. The Sheriff badge on Saturday made her look more like an 8 year old at Halloween than a serious politician. But she bounced back well on Sunday and was probably the best dressed of the Liberals at the Hays breakfast.

Dryden got the biggest laugh of the morning when he talked about how he’s always worried about fitting into his jeans. Strange thing is, his outfit actually looked slimming. Like Iggy and Brison, he went with the jeans and open button shirt, avoiding the hat.

Scott Brison got a good response to his speech on Saturday and scored some points by talking about going to Cowboys when in Calgary. That might explain why he didn’t feel quite up to dressing up for Sunday. His jeans and golf shirt was probably the least “Stampedy” outfit of any of the politicians at the Hays breakfast.

Hedy Fry showed up late on Saturday and, along with Dryden, was a no-show on Sunday. Her speech was pretty much “I’m a Western Liberal. You’re Western Liberals. You should vote for me.” I found it quite odd that a Vancouver MP would say “I welcome the other candidates to Calgary and the Stampede”.

As always, every single candidate sucked up to the crowd with various variations on “Calgary Liberals are the best Liberals” and “we need to elect more Liberals in Alberta”. You can read Naylor’s Take on the Stampede Breakfast here.

Sunday was the Hays breakfast and Paul Wells has a good fashion review on his site. Among the highlights of his spy’s report:

Someone is dressing the Prime Minister. […] About a zillion times better than last year’s bizarre too-tight S&M gear.

Jim Prentice wore the same damn buckskin jacket he always wears, Stampede or not, but given his portfolio, it makes sense.

As for the Liberal pretenders, Carolyn Bennett looked great and stylish in denim and suede.

Stephane Dion looked like Stephane Dion in western wear, which is not as weird as it sounds.

Michael Ignatieff looked exactly as you would expect an academic who was told to dress western to look. […] No hat, though, which I’m told he claimed was because he has an enormous head and did not want to make it more enormous.

Most shocking outfit was on Scott Brison. Normally, our Scott pulls off the downtown-hipster-late-cowboy thing well, but he didn’t even try today.

The winner by far of the fashion sweepstakes was Gerard Kennedy. You can tell when someone is really a westerner, and this guy is to the ranch born.

Since I’d talked to the Liberal contenders the day before, my two main targets for the morning were Jim Dinning and Steve Harper. Unfortunately, I missed Harper completely. It sounds like he jumped out of his limo, did some media and left fairly quickly (with so many human beings around, Steve was no doubt uncomfortable).

I did manage to track down Jim Dinning. I went up to him and said “Hello Mr. Dinning, could I have my picture taken with the next Premier of Alberta“. Jim laughed and we had our picture taken. However, as soon as the click went, he turned and walked over to a nearby business exec without saying a word to me. Considering I could very well have been a potential supporter, that rubbed me a bit the wrong way; last year, Jim Prentice was willing to chat even after he knew I was a Liberal. On the fashion front, Jim wore a white top with his own name on it.

So, all in all, a fun weekend. I interviewed Stephane Dion after the Hays breakfast and will have a recap of that later this week.


Liberal MLAs Harry Chase and Dave Taylor [left] and the third amigo, Liberal MLA David Swann [right]

Rob Anders?

2005 Person of the Year

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Just as Time doesn’t always pick a saint as their Person of the Year, I gave Ralph Klein the “Calgary Grit Person of the Year Award” in 2004 for his interference in the Federal Election and his rather underwhelming provincial campaign. This year, the Person of the Year goes to none other than Belinda Stronach.

Belinda’s defection is one of those events that will make a great “what if” history essay in twenty or thirty years, the same way political followers love to play the “what if Joe Clark could count” game these days. A June election would have been completely different – we would have had the Grewal fiasco and Jean Brault dominating the headlines at the start and the Chaouli decision dominating the headlines at the finish. Perhaps Gilles Duceppe would have run for PQ leadership in the fall, and at least one of the two major parties would be in a leadership race right now.

Although Chuck Cadman was just as crucial in the cliff hanger vote, nothing will compare to Belinda crossing the floor. It told us a lot about Harper and Martin. It thrust Peter MacKay into the spotlight. It got Canada the “political play of the week on CNN”. It left a lot of people, myself included, absolutely stunned. When I saw the headline on Bourque, it took about five minutes for it to actually register, and about six different media sources before I believed it was true.

So while she hasn’t made a splash as one of the twelve Ministers of Democratic Reform, because of her floor crossing, Belinda Stronach gets my “Person of the Year” award.

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