Stephen Harper

Politicians in Cowboy Hats 2015: Lassoing Votes, Stampeding to the Polls, and Other Puns

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014 round-ups – or “100 Years of Bad Photo-Ops

All eyes were on Calgary this weekend, as Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulcair kicked off the pre-election BBQ circuit. Despite the extra media attention, this year’s fashion round-up is a rather tame affair. When you get the truly horrible photo ops is during leadership races when Bay Street Liberals and Annex Socialists venture west for the first time. For the three men vying to win this fall’s election, this isn’t their first rodeo.

In what could very well be his final Stampede as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper leaves the leather vest at home.

In what could very well be his final Stampede as Prime Minister, it’s worth reflecting on Stephen Harper’s time in office. He may not have grown as a leader, but the man has certainly come a long way from the leather vest days.

I can see the attack ads now. "Just Trudeau flips pancakes 5 feet in the air. Do you want someone this  reckless in charge of the Canadian economy? In an uncertain economy, we need Stephen Harper's steady hand."

I can see the attack ads now. “Just Trudeau flips pancakes 5 feet in the air. Do you want someone this reckless in charge of the Canadian economy? In an uncertain economy, we need Stephen Harper’s steady hand.”

Props to Tom Mulcair for bringing the entire family, even if he got the Calgary hashtag wrong.

Since he brought his entire family, I’ll give Mulcair a pass for getting Calgary’s hashtag wrong.

And, of course, everyone had to get their picture with Calgary’s most photographed landmark, Naheed Nenshi.

nenshi with everyone

I assume this wasn’t Rachel Notley’s first Stampede, but this marks the first Stampede where anyone recognized Rachel Notley. That placed a lot of pressure on her, especially since Ed Stelmach called it the “Alberta Stampede” and looked completely out of place during his first Stampede as Premier.

Notley…well she rode a friggin’ horse. Anyone who rides a horse is deemed to have won at Stampeding. It’s that simple.

notley

As for what’s left of the Alberta PCs? The good news is their entire Calgary caucus could carpool together in the parade this year.

Alberta PC caucus could share a car on the parade

Finally, we end this post on a sad note. After losing two nominations and being told “thanks but no thanks” in his bid to run for the most right wing party in Canada, this will mark Rob Anders’ final Stampede as an elected member of Parliament in Calgary. Luckily, Rob took it in stride and was still smiling.

anders

SUPER IMPORTANT VERY URGENT UPDATE:

No sooner had I posted this round-up, than Rachel Notley did the unthinkable, and was caught wearing her cowboy hat backwards.

harper notley3.jpg

As discussed above, a Premier’s first Stampede is a dangerous place.

Still, Notley gets credit for riding a horse and not grimacing like she was trapped in some kind of hillbilly horror show. As for her slip-up, the Post’s Jen Gerson put it best:

Mocking Notley for her imperfect grasp of the white Smithbilt during Stampede is a little like picking on a cosplay actor who misplaced the buttons on the breathing apparatus of a Darth Vader costume at ComiCon.

Almost Blue

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2015 Federal Election, Federal Politics | 18 Comments

Harper, Mulcair

These days, it must feel good to be Thomas Mulcair. The polls show he has a chance to become Canada’s first NDP Prime Minister, and the entire country has been engulfed in an orange afterglow since the Alberta election. But as Uncle Ben once said, with great polling comes great scrutiny.

Indeed, one of the downsides of surging four months before election day is that leaves a lot of time for journalists and voters to put everything you’ve ever said or done under the microscope, and study it at the atomic level.

So when you make the type of verbal slip-up we all make from time to time, people are a lot more likely to notice.

And when you’re one day re-affirming your opposition to the Clarity Act, and the next promising a round of constitutional negotiations, people notice.

And now this:

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair was in discussions in 2007 to join the Conservative party as a senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, discussions that several sources, including former senior Harper staffers, say was the first step in securing Mulcair to run as a Conservative candidate in 2008.

The negotiations between the Conservative government and the man who is today leader of the left-leaning official Opposition allegedly broke down over money: Mulcair wanted nearly double what Harper’s office offered, two sources tell Maclean’s.

Contacted today for comment, Mulcair says conversations about an advisory role with the government did occur, but talks broke down, not over money, but over the Conservatives’ environmental policies.

This has been talked about for some time, so it’s not a bombshell. It’s also not overly surprising if you think about it.

For most politicians, their greatest strength can be turned into a weakness. Stephen Harper is strong, but many call him authoritarian. Justin Trudeau is fresh, but the flip side of the coin is inexperience. Mulcair likes to portray himself as a politician with experience who knows how the game is played – but that also means he knows how the game is played. It’s only natural that a political pro like Mulcair would try to squeeze taxpayer dollars for partisan purposes, or would consider his options before jumping to federal politics.

Many will dismiss theses as allegations from the Conservative side of the negotiations, but the problem for Mulcair is that even his own side of the story will seem rather unseemly to many New Democrats. It’s all very good to say talks broke down over the environment, but I suspect most NDP voters have more than one stumbling block with the Harper government. Mulcair says he talked to at least three separate individuals about joining Harper’s team between 2006 and 2007. Most New Democrats, if asked to become an adviser to Stephen Harper, would laugh rather than set up a series of meetings to discuss terms.

The whole ordeal reminds me of the old joke:

Churchill: “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”
Socialite: “My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course… “
Churchill: “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?”
Socialite: “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!”
Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”

Whether the talks broke off due to money or a single issue is mostly irrelevant in this case. The fact that Mulcair was negotiating establishes what kind of man he is.

Politicians in Cowboy Hats

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | 2 Comments

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 round-ups – or “100 Years of Bad Photo-Ops

This week’s pilgrimage of politicians to the Stampede was met with less fanfare than some years gone by. This wasn’t the first rodeo for any of the party leaders, and ever since the leather vest incident, wardrobes are vetted by dozens of staffers and stylists. So there were few surprises and few opportunities to ridicule.

And, let’s be honest, everyone was there for the Shat.

Shatner montage

Which kind of makes me sad Jack Layton isn’t around anymore. Mulcair? He’s supposed to be in town this weekend (if Harper lets him), but I see him as more of a Picard than a Kirk fan. Or maybe Riker – post beard.

Layton trekkie

That left the spotlight squarely on Justin Trudeau, flanked by local Liberal candidates who are trying to go where no Calgary Liberals have gone before (at least in the last 40 years) – to Ottawa.

Trudeau with Calgary Skyview candidate Darshan Kang and Calgary Confederation candidate Matt Grant

Trudeau with Calgary Skyview candidate Darshan Kang and Calgary Confederation candidate Matt Grant

Fresh off a victory of sorts in Fort McMurray – the heart of the oilsands – there are high hopes for a Calgary breakthrough. Ironically, it may be a Trudeau who finally puts the ghost of the NEP to bed in Alberta.

In the gold old days, Calgary children were raised that a Trudeau was to be kicked in the shins, not high fived. Times have changed.

In the good old days, Calgary children were raised that a Trudeau was to be kicked in the shins, not high fived. Times have changed.

In a rare show of civility, Harper shakes Xavier Trudeau's hand, before turning to crowd and reminding them Trudeau is trying to push pot on their children.

In a rare show of civility, Harper shakes Xavier Trudeau’s hand, before turning to the crowd and reminding them Xavier’s dad is trying to push pot on their children.

Harper interviews candidates to fill the senate vacancies.

Harper interviews candidates to fill senate vacancies.

With what now seems like a yearly tradition – an Alberta PC leadership race – in full swing, I’ve taken the opportunity to rank the would-be-Premiers by their Stampede wardrobes. After all, the PC constitution forbids them from talking about policy, so what else are Albertans going to base their decision on?

Finishing third, and the winner of “worst dressed” this year, is Tom Lukaszuk. I recognize he spends 30 minutes on his hair every morning, but surely he could have donned a cowboy hat just this once? All I’m asking for is the bare minimum effort.

luzakuk

In second, Ric McIver gives it the bare minimum effort, wearing jeans and at least carrying a hat around.

mciver

Like the leadership race itself, there was never any doubt about who would win this fashion round-up. Jim Prentice has been a Stampede All-Star over the years – he rides a horse, throws a breakfast, and makes a wide range of outfits work.

Prentice

And, finally, there is Naheed Nenshi, who this week passed the Calgary Tower as the city’s most photographed landmark.

nenshi

10 Years of Blogging

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Federal Politics | 8 Comments
Happy Trails

Happy Trails

Back when I first sat down to rant about politics on May 15th 2004, I never expected I’d still be doing this over 3,000 posts later. The blog has outlasted 3 Liberal leaders, been through 4 federal elections, and documented my involvement on a handful of losing leadership campaigns. During that time, Bart Ramson turned into Dan Arnold, I moved to Edmonton, finished school, and became a “Toronto Grit”. Shortly thereafter, Naheed Nenshi became mayor of Calgary and Rob Ford became mayor of Toronto. Go figure.

Nenshi and Ford have provided me with bountiful amounts of blogging material, but they have not been alone. There was the Michael Ignatieff experiment, on which so much virtual ink was spilled. There was the coalition crisis, which gripped the nation. There was the rise of the Wildrose Party, which led to the rarest of things – an exciting Alberta election. There was the orange wave. And, through it all, there was still time to poke fun at Politicians in Cowboy hatsand leather vests.

Another source for much blog content has been Justin Trudeau, but he is also the reason content has been, and will continue to be, scarce here. I’ve recently started working for the Liberal Party which, needless to say, limits what I’m able to write about. And really, what’s the point of blogging if I don’t have Rob Anders to kick around anymore.

You may still find the occasional retrospective or Pierre Poilievre rant, but this site will be taking a breather from deeper political analysis, at least until after the next election.

So a big thank you to everyone for reading over the years. I’ve always been in awe of the high caliber of discussion in the comments section of this site, and have appreciated the e-mails. As vain as it is to count clicks, the fact that I knew people were reading certainly motivated me to keep at it for a decade. So, to everyone, thank you.

I leave you with a list of 10 of my favourite posts from over the years. These aren’t necessarily the most viewed or the best posts – just 10 that I had a lot of fun writing.

1. Follow the Leader: I only include this post as a humbling reminder about how unpredictable politics can be, and how wrong I’ve been on many occasions. Just one year before Paul Martin’s resignation I provided odds on 13 possible Liberal leadership contenders without listing Stephane Dion, Bob Rae, or Gerard Kennedy. I do mention Michael Ignatieff, but only in what may have been the most awesomely off-the-mark sentence in the history of this blog – and I quote – “This week, we saw Peter C. Newman toot Michael Ignatieff’s name which is interesting because that’s about as serious a suggestion as Justin Trudeau”. Heh.

2. Greatest Prime Minister: In a March Madness style contest, blog readers voted for Wilfrid Laurier as Canada’s Greatest Prime Minister. This begat a series of other contests including “Best Premier”, “Best Prime Minister We Never Had”, “Biggest Election”, and, coming this summer, “Best Minister of Natural Resources”.

3. The Race for Stornoway: 2006 was really the heyday for political blogging. From the “Draft Paul Hellyer” movement, to candidate interviews, to the blogging room at the convention itself, blogging was as close to “cool” as it would ever be.

4. A Beginner’s Guide to Alberta Politics: For some reason, I seemed to blog a lot more about Alberta politics after I left Alberta.

5. Christmas LettersElizabeth May, Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff, Stephen Harper. People, myself included, take politics way too seriously sometimes. So it’s good to have some fun with it.

PS. Ed Broadbent.

6. Leadership Power Rankings (here, here, and here). The wonderful thing about politics is how unpredictable, complicated, and human it is. That’s why I love the challenge of trying to quantify it.

7. Moments of Decade: Hopefully I’m blogging again by 2020, because this is an exercise I’d dearly love to repeat. Readers nominated and voted on the top political moments of the decade, with the Alliance-PC merger topping the list. It wasn’t as exciting as the coalition crisis or the Belinda Stronach Chuck Cadman confidence vote insanity, but it set the stage for the rise of Stephen Harper.

8. On October 6th vote for proper scaling of the Y-Axis. Vote Liberal. Tim Hudak math burn!

9. What’s the Matter with Calgary? Having lived in both Calgary and Toronto, I’ve always been absolutely fascinated by the Nenshi-Ford dichotomy. Elected a week apart, these men are opposites with so much in common, who both shattered their cities’ stereotypes. When I first moved to Toronto, a lot of lefties would shake their head and “tsk tsk” when I said I was from Calgary. Not any more.

10. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Census (But Were Afraid to Ask): I’ve never been of the opinion that Stephen Harper is a monster who has destroyed Canada beyond recognition. Even on issues where we disagree – the gun registry, climate change, Quebec as a nation – I understand where he’s coming from. However, of everything Harper has done, his decision to scrap the long form census remains the thing that boils my blood. Here was the party who sends Happy Hanukkah cards to swing voters calling the census too “intrusive”. It wasn’t an assault on the welfare state or big government, it was an assault on reason. It showed that Harper offered nothing more than government by truthiness.

And that, is why I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the next bit to help defeat him.

Hanging up the shoes

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics | 1 Comment

Jim-Flaherty-and-Stephen-Harper-ahead-of-the-tabling-of-Budget-2014

It’s not a huge surprise, but it’s still big news. After 8 years, the only Finance Minister Stephen Harper has ever known and loved is calling it quits:

Jim Flaherty steps down as finance minister

OTTAWA – Jim Flaherty is leaving the federal cabinet after more than eight years as finance minister to prepare for a return to the private sector, saying the move is unrelated to his recent health problems.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to name his replacement Wednesday.

Flaherty, who delivered his final budget last month, said he made the decision with his family earlier this year.

“As I begin another chapter in my life, I leave feeling fulfilled with what we have accomplished as a government and a country during one of the most challenging economic periods in our country’s history,” he said in a statement.

An official in the Prime Minister’s Office said Flaherty would be retaining — at least for now — his seat in the House of Commons, meaning he remains an MP for the time being.

Flaherty’s record is a mixed one, and I’m certainly on the more negative side of the partisan divide on this question. He cut the GST, but that helped send us into deficit. He brought in the stimulus, but only after being forced to at knife point. He claimed to end the era of inter-provincial bickering, but only by ignoring the bickering. He was a reliable minister, but regularly set off controversies.

However, any politician who can hold a post of that importance for as long as Flaherty did is clearly doing something right. He has been one of the few constants during the Harper era, and his departure will leave a gaping hole at the Cabinet table.

As is so often the case, speculation will turn immediately to Flaherty’s successor. Does Harper go with a trusted Mr. Fix It like John Baird, Jason Kenney, or Tony Clement? Does he go with someone with zero leadership aspirations, like Joe Oliver? Or someone with a bright future, like Lisa Raitt?

While Harper has done no real succession planning during his time as Prime Minister, he must certainly recognize the end is nigh. And taking over Finance on the brink of what is expected to be a wildly popular budget is about as good a resume padder as there is. While it likely won’t be his chief consideration in making this decision, if Harper turns to anyone with leadership aspirations tomorrow, he will be widely seen as not just choosing a new Finance Minister, but possibly a heir.

UPDATE: Joe Oliver it is!

Caucus Splitting

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Budgets, Federal Politics | 2 Comments

flaherty igloo

By design, Tuesday’s budget was a non-event. The public’s eyes are on Sochi, and the pundits’ eyes are on next year’s budget. So, it should not be surprising that it was the post-budget fallout that grabbed the most headlines, when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty mused that the Tories central 2011 campaign promise of income splitting might not actually be in next year’s budget.

We can debate the merits of income splitting (and this ensures we will), but what I find most shocking about this is that we appear to have the first public rift between Stephen Harper and the only Finance Minister he has ever known. This comes on the heels Cabinet feuds, leadership jockeying, resignation speculation, and backbench revolts. On Monday, the Toronto Star was reporting hourly leaks about Conservative re-election strategy.

By themselves, none of these stories are especially noteworthy. Leadership aspirants are always jockeying for position in Ottawa, and disgruntled party members will flip anything remotely interesting to the media. Despite his candid musings, Stephen Harper’s Finance Minister has caused him a lot fewer headaches than Jean Chretien’s.

But the one thing everyone could agree on about the Harper government is that they were always united and on message. Critics would say this is because of a dictatorial style of leadership, but even they would concede it’s been effective. Now, after 8 years in power, this government is starting to look very much like a government which has been in power for 8 years. And that has got to be worrisome for Stephen Harper.

Liberals Lose Half Their Caucus Under Justin Trudeau’s Leadership

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics, Policy | 27 Comments

It’s rare that something happens in Ottawa that truly surprises everyone. Despite having spent the last year talking about the senate over and over again, it’s safe to say very few saw this coming:

Trudeau leads on Senate Reform: Liberal Leader takes concrete action to remove partisanship and patronage from the Senate

OTTAWA – The Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement:

“Canadians expect their leaders to be open and honest with them, and they expect us to come forward with practical solutions that address problems directly. The Senate, through extreme patronage and partisanship, has become an institution that poorly serves the interests of Canadians.

“Paired with patronage, the pervasive issue of partisanship and control in the Senate is a deeply negative force. We need immediate action to address this. That is why, as of today, the National Liberal Caucus will only include elected Members of Parliament, and not Senators. This action will immediately mean that each of the 32 current Liberal Senators will become independent of the Liberal Caucus.

Yes, you read that right. Justin Trudeau just blew up the Senate, in a political masterstroke.

By cutting all ties to the Senate, Trudeau inoculates himself against the Auditor General’s upcoming report on Senate expenses, and leaves Stephen Harper as the last defender of a partisan upper chamber – an awkward position for the man many believed would bring about overdue reform. This gives Trudeau the same footing to criticize the Senate the NDP has enjoyed for years. Perhaps even stronger footing, since Trudeau’s solution of a non-partisan Senate would not require a constitutional amendment, unlike Mulcair’s plans for abolition. Just like that, the NDP has been neutralized on one of its traditional wedge issues.

More important than the issue itself, is what it says about Trudeau. As hot a topic as Senate reform is in political science lectures, few Canadians will base their vote on this issue. What they will base it on is their perceptions of the party leaders, and Trudeau can now use this issue to define himself for voters. It plays to his image as an agent of change who will walk into Ottawa and shake up the way politics is done. Given how disillusioned voters are with the status quo, that’s exactly where you want to be positioned.

Moreover, this move just screams “strong leader”. Already, Liberal press releases are asking why Stephen Harper lacks the strength and judgment to follow Trudeau’s lead, no doubt a dig at the Tory tune comparing Harper’s “strong leadership” to Trudeau’s “lack of judgment”.

Like any bold move, there are risks, but I’d argue those have been overblown. It will rub some party stalwarts the wrong way, but a lot of Senators won’t miss having to shuck tickets for Liberal fundraisers. Yes, there may come a day when Prime Minister Trudeau longs for a rubber stamp Senate. However it seems unlikely the Senate will survive in its current form long enough for Trudeau to ever appoint back a Liberal majority. Having an uncooperative Conservative Senate might actually provide Trudeau with a good foil – remember how Stephen Harper loved to complain about the “unelected Liberal Senate” holding up key pieces of legislation? Those very same talking points are now coming to a Liberal fundraising letter near you!

In the end, what stands out is that this was a case of action. If Trudeau had promised a non-partisan senate, no one would have paid it any attention. Seriously, try to find me 5 people who remember Michael Ignatieff’s very impressive democratic reform platform from the last election. Voters respond to actions rather than promises, and in one morning Trudeau did more to advance the case of Senate reform as the leader of the third party than Stephen Harper has done in 8 years as Prime Minister.

Canada’s New Government Turns 8

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in History | 4 Comments

harper cake
Today marks the 8th anniversary of Stephen Harper’s election as Prime Minister. At the time, a lot of Liberals figured they could turn him into Joe Clark after a quick leadership change. Yet, by this time next year, Harper will have passed Louis St. Laurent, Robert Borden, and Brian Mulroney, to become the 6th longest serving Prime Minister in Canadian history – and most succesful conservative in over a century.

That’s the good news. The bad news for Harper is that it’s hard to fight the “time for a change” bug. Trudeau and King both lost elections after around a decade in power, and Chretien’s own party forced him out of office. Usually, you only get a fourth term if voters don’t trust the other guy and, from where I sit, there are two fairly impressive “other guys” with their sights set on 24 Sussex.

That said, no one expected Harper to last 8 years, so we would all be foolish to under-estimate him.

Bart’s Books: Stephen Harper, Episode II

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Book Reviews, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

paulwells

“On any day, [Harper] has a choice, he can do the big conservative thing that would be the end of his career, or he can do some of the small conservative things that won’t.”


I’ll save you the trouble of reading the rest of this book review – if you like Paul Wells’ writing style, and you liked Right Side Up, then go out and buy “The Longer I’m Prime Minister” now. Because you’re certain to find that book more interesting than the rest of this blog post.

For those of you still with me, it’s best to think of this book as Episode II of the Paul Wells Stephen Harper trilogy (or maybe Episode V, if there are plans for a few boring prequels about life at the National Citizens Coalition). In Right Side Up, we saw the rise of Harper. In The Longer I’m Prime Minister, we get a look at how Harper governs. Time will tell how long we’ll need to wait for the fall of Harper, but this book provides valuable insights into how he has made it this far.

Much of his success has, no doubt, been due to lackluster opponents, on whom Wells is merciless (e.g. “the owlish and intermittently comprehensible Dion”). But Wells shares the opinion, to which I also subscribe, that Harper has been underestimated by too many people for far too long. This isn’t a case of Mr. Magoo stumbling out of trouble – Harper owes his success to meticulous planning and discipline.

Take for example, Harper’s governing style. Wells paints a picture of a leader wanting to avoid the tragic flaws that claimed his predecessors. So after watching Lucien Bouchard and Paul Martin undo successful Prime Ministers, Harper has been careful to ensure no minister’s clout grows to the point where he becomes irreplaceable. After seeing Mulroney slain by Meech and Charlottetown, Harper learned not to chase dragons.

So there’s a method to his monotony. Harper intentionally dulls his speeches so that quotable lines pop. Moreover, by being formless, he becomes harder to hate and easier to project ourselves onto.

Most of this is Wells’ analysis, built by interviews with backroom conservatives. There are few on-the-record quotes and, as a result, no bombshells about the Harper years. We don’t learn a lot about Harper the person – only Harper the Prime Minister. However, the book serves as a nice stroll down memory lane, from Lawrence Cannon’s bafflegab on Quebec as a nation, to Michael Ignatieff putting the Tories on probation, to the case of “Liberal zombie spy” Linda Keen.

This refresher course on the Harper years is enjoyable – and relevant in light of recent the Nigel Wright controversy. Most will remember the Chuck Cadman affair, when Conservative operatives allegedly offered the dying MP a life insurance policy, in exchange for his vote. Even more interesting is the largely forgotten case of Alan Riddell, who was offered $50,000 to step aside in favour of another candidate. Sound familiar?

I’m sure there will be more about Nigel Wright in Epsidosde III but, for now, The Longer I’m Prime Minister provides an enjoyable overviw of the Harper years and sheds some light on why the man we all love to underestimate has been so succesful.


A copy of this book was provided by Random House for review.

2013: Year in Review

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Humour | 1 Comment

January: SunTV applies for corporate welfare, arguing that they cannot survive unless the government forces people to watch them.

Later this year, they would give Rob and Doug Ford their own show…before cancelling it faster than Lucky 7.

Whoever could have guessed this fine young man would find himself at the centre of so much controversy

Whoever could have guessed this fine young man would find himself at the centre of so much controversy?

February: Patrick Brazeau is knocked out of the Tory caucus. While the Senate has yet to change rules around travel expenses, they were quick to pass a “no pictures of senators in thongs” bill.

March: In what was really the only victory for Toronto’s Mayor this year, he rallies council together…to get a burger joint built near City Hall.

Trudeau: Too sexy for his shirt? Too sexy for Canada?

Trudeau: Too sexy for his shirt? Too sexy for Canada?

April: After David Bertschi drops out, Justin Trudeau is crowned Liberal Leader.

Building on the success of “Not a leader” and “Just Visiting“, the Tories set out to define Justin as…too sexy?

May: The Liberals retrieve Labrador, winning Peter Penashue’s old riding by 16 points. Always the optimists, the Tory war room sends out a press release claiming this shows Justin Trudeau is “in over his head”.

super nenshi

June: When Calgary is hit with a once-in-a-century flood, Mayor Nenshi earns praise for his leadership, that includes 43 consecutive hours without sleep. Not to be outdone, when Toronto is hit with a flash flood a few weeks later, Rob Ford vows to go 43 hours without crack.

July: Stephen Harper shuffles his Cabinet, promoting his most talented MPs, and Pierre Poilievre. Poilievre winds up in charge of democratic reform, a clever move to show that Stephen Harper actually does have a sense of humour.

August: The PQ announces plans for a controversial “Values Charter”. Justin Trudeau immediately denounces it, while Tom Mulcair announces he will wait and see if it’s “very intolerant” or “extremely intolerant” before deciding where the NDP stands.

duffy wrecking ball

September: The Senate sandal explodes, with accusations that members of Stephen Harper’s staff conspired to repay Mike Duffy’s expenses. The good news for Harper is that it’s perfectly plausible he was in the dark, given his reputation as a “hands off” type of leader.

October: Michael Ignatieff releases a book subtitled “Success (and Failure) in Politics”. Suffice to say, the section about the latter is significantly longer than the section about the former.

In a coincidence, Stephen Harper’s hockey book is also released this month. In it, Harper describes how Wilfrid Laurier’s “tax on everything” nearly killed the infant NHL.

ford macleans cover

November: Toronto’s desire to be the centre of the universe is actualized, as the city dominates the international news and US talk shows. Toronto parents are forced to explain to their children what “crack” is. Me? I have to explain to my cat that, no, the Mayor of Toronto is not coming to eat him.

December: Conservative MP Brian Jean sends out a 50-question crossword puzzle in his taxpayer funded newsletter…about Brian Jean!

Quick. What’s a 9-letter word for obsessive preoccupation with ones self? 8th letter is “a”.

(answer: We will accept either “BrianJean” or “Egomaniac”)

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