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.


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.



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.

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.


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


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.


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


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”)

Politicians in Cowboy Hats: Come Hell or High Water

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | 7 Comments

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

Flood waters cannot stop the Stampede and flood waters cannot stop politicians from the annual ritual of self humiliation known as the cowboy hat photo-op. Indeed, if there’s one photo op even more irresistible than the Stampede, it’s a post-disaster zone tour.

The Flood Aftermath

Stephen Harper was the first on the scene, playing dress-up in a Canadian Forces flight jacket, complete with pilot wings. Harper defended his wardrobe choice by saying he was honouring the military – I tend to think a better way to honour them would have been allowing Afghanistan troops to keep their danger pay.

Stephen Harper, Naheed Nenshi, Alison Reford

Next up would be Thomas Mulcair, sporting the official Stampede “hell or high water” t-shirt – four words that in southern Alberta usually follow “I’m never voting NDP come…”.

Mulcair stampede

Justin Trudeau put on his coveralls, got his hands dirty, and made history becoming the first aspiring Prime Minister to ever sport a backwards baseball cap:

trudeau work

While I have no doubts the Tory war room was dreaming up attack ads to use this picture in, at least Justin didn’t ruin a perfectly good pair of jeans:

harper relief 2 - wish he'd worn coveralls

Stampede Round-Up

But we were told come hell or high water the show must go on, so it was time for the politicians to pick up a cowboy hat and flip some pancakes. Alberta Premier Alison Redford proved to be a bit over eager on this front, sending her pancake into orbit, in what I can only assume was an attempt to out-flip Danielle Smith.

redford flips pancake

Although Chris Hadfield was the Stampede grand marshal this year, it appears that Justin Trudeau once again managed to overshadow an astronaut. Because everywhere you looked this weekend, there was Justin. At one point yesterday the Calgary Herald had three separate Trudeau stories on their website – this likely isn’t the first time that’s ever happened, but I suspect it’s the first time none of the stories involved effigies.

trudeau stampede headlines

Mercifully, Justin decided to forego cargo shorts in favour of jeans and belt buckle. It remains to be seen if he’s a big thinker, but the “XL” tag on his hat at least shows he’s got a big head.

trudeau stampede

And here’s Justin – again – with Calgary’s mayor and international Twitter superstar Naheed Nenshi. I’m not sure I agree with the FastForward survey which named Nenshi the “sexiest Calgarian“, but he’s certainly the most huggable.

trudeau nenshi hug

Also Pictured

Devinder Shory, Joe Oliver, Michelle Rempel, and Danielle Smith. (Thanks to MC for the photo)

Devinder Shory, Joe Oliver, Michelle Rempel, and Danielle Smith. (Thanks to MC for the tip on this one)

If recent scandals take down Alison Redford, she will at least have a fruitful career as a children's entertainer.

If recent scandals take down Alison Redford, she will at least have a fruitful career as a children’s entertainer.

Kidding aside, Redford actually gets my vote for "Best Dressed" this year. Not only did she cycle through a series of outfits, she is the first politician I've seen pull off a "Stampede skirt".

Kidding aside, Redford actually gets my vote for “Best Dressed” this year. Not only did she cycle through a series of outfits, she is the first politician I’ve seen pull off a “Stampede skirt”.

There were no disasters this year, but Jean Charest take home the "Worst Dressed" honours - it's a nice hat, but he looks completely out of place in the suit jacket.

There were no disasters this year, but Jean Charest take home the “Worst Dressed” honours – it’s a nice hat, but he looks completely out of place in the suit jacket.

Canada has always been at war with Eurasia

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in History, Humour | 5 Comments
RB Bennett was one of Canada's most popular Prime Minister, to the point where average Canadians would name their buggies after him,

RB Bennett was one of Canada’s most popular Prime Ministers, to the point where average Canadians would name their buggies after him.

We found out last week that the Harper Conservatives will be leading a review of the way Canadian history is taught in schools. We don’t yet have word on whether this review will include teaching students that education is a provincial responsibility under the constitution, but I have been able to procure a leaked curriculum draft, which I have posted below.

Canadian History: Recommended Course Outline

Unit 1: The Conservative Party Founds Canada (19th Century)

Key Date: 1871 – In an act of state coercion, the first ever Census is administered.

Key Date: 1885 – The Canadian Pacific Railway is completed, an engineering marvel which would not have been possible with a carbon tax.

Class Discussion: It’s important to show students both sides of the Riel uprising. To do this, encourage a classroom debate, where half the students argue that Riel is a traitor, and the other half argue that Wilfrid Laurier is the larger traitor for defending him.

Mandatory Viewing: Students can learn about turn-of-the-Century Canada by watching this educational episode of Murdoch Mysteries.

Unit 2: Robert Borden Wins World War I (1900s and 1910s)

Strike from Curriculum: Borden’s 1917 government, composed of Liberals and Conservatives, should under no circumstances be referred to as a “coalition” government. Instead, refer to it as “an enhanced Conservative Government”.

Creative Writing Assignment: Have students draft an “alternate history” where Wilfrid Laurier is Prime Minister during the War, leading to a German victory.

Mandatory Reading: Stephen Harper’s Hockey Book

Unit 3: Mackenzie King Causes the Great Depression (1920s to 1940s)

Class Discussion: To see both sides of the issue, have students debate if King’s policies in the 1920s led to the depression, or if his policies in the 1930s worsened it.

Strike from Curriculum: 1932 – RB Bennett creates the CBC.

Unit 4: The Rise of Diefenbaker (1950s and 1960s)

Key Date: 1967 – The Beatles release “with a little help from my friends”, a song which would be popularized 42 years later by Stephen Harper and Yo Yo Ma (have students watch video and compliment the Prime Minister on his performance).

Strike from Curriculum: 1957 – Lester B. Pearson wins Nobel Peace Prize (if you must mention this, be sure to talk about other Canadian accomplishments of the 1950s, such as PC leader John Bracken being voted one of Manitoba’s 10 Sexiest politicians in 1951).

Interactive Exercise: Imagine it’s 1953, and write a fundraising letter to Conservative Party members viciously attacking Louis St. Laurent. For bonus marks, film an attack ad.

Unit 5: The Joe Clark Era (1970s and 1980s)

Key Date: 1979 – A nerdy Albertan defeated his far handsomer opponent, Pierre Trudeau. (See if students can find modern day parallels to this)

Class Discussion: Discuss how Ken Dryden nearly cost Canada the 1972 Summit Series. Set up a debate between students on the topic “Which was worse – Dryden’s 83.8% save percentage during the Summit Series, or his push to destroy the family unit through National Childcare?

Unit 6: Modern Day (1990s to Present)

Key Date: 2006 – Canada’s New Government cuts the GST from 7% to 6%.

Key Date: 2008 – Canada’s New Government cuts the GST from 6% to 5%.

Interactive Exercise: Have students dress as their favourite character from the Sponsorship Scandal and hand each other brown paper envelopes full of Monopoly money.

Suggested Term Paper Topics

  • Great Canadian Institutions: The Stanley Cup, Tim Hortons, The National Citizens Coalition
  • Which Liberal leader did the most damage to the country?
  • How did Canada change during Michael Ignatieff’s time outside the country, from 1978 to 2005?

  • Who Would Canadians Turn to in the Event of a Cylon Attack?

    Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Humour | 3 Comments

    As this picture shows, Justin Trudeau is NOT Canada’s best hope to lead the Rebel Alliance. However, in the event of a cylon attack, Justin is the man.

    Last week, Postmedia ran the most awesome headline ever:

    Conservative government’s order of succession shows Canada isn’t ready for a Cylon attack

    The article itself isn’t earth shattering, but it does raise an important, albeit often overlooked, question. Earlier this summer, a poll showed Americans trusted Obama over Romney to deal with an alien invasion, but there’s sadly no quantitative evidence as to who Canadians would turn to if faced with a similar crisis. To bring clarity to this issue, I have therefore looked at how the different party leaders stack up in the key aspects of surviving a cylon invasion, using President Laura Roslin as the gold standard.

    (NOTE: While a case could be made that Marc Garneau’s experience makes him the obvious candidate, I will follow the practice of pretty much every pollster and assume Justin Trudeau is the next Liberal leader)

    Key 1 – Willingness to compromise for the greater good: Despite being an idealist, Laura Roslin was often forced into unwinnable situations that required her to sacrifice her principles to ensure survival. Torture cylon agents? Airlock prisoners? Ban abortion to repopulate the human race? For Roslin, the ends justified the means.

    While all politicians compromise their principles in power, no one does it as effortlessly as Harper. A flip-flop on income trusts? A climb down on Senate reform? Ignoring his fixed election date law? Frak yeah! Harper didn’t blink. And like Roslin, Harper turned a blind eye to his campaign team’s alleged use of electoral fraud to get him re-elected.

    Edge: Harper

    Key 2 – Embrace the prophecy: Roslin relied heavily on visions to lead her people. After all, the ancient scriptures of Kobol identified her as the spiritual leader who would find earth.

    While Tom Mulcair may have a bit of a god-complex, Justin Trudeau seems the most likely to be the chosen one. Like Roslin, he comes from humble roots as a school teacher and has little experience in a position of power.

    Moreover, he was born on Christmas Day and thousands of Liberals already see him as their Messiah. Maybe there’s something to it.

    Edge: Trudeau

    Key 3 – Able to fight: Inevitably, as the human race struggles to survive, there will be mutinies, rebellions, and hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. There’s a good chance the President will have to literally fight for their life at some point.

    On this point, it’s no contest. Yes, cylons may be tougher to knock down than Conservative Senators, but Trudeau has proven his toughness.

    Edge: Trudeau

    Key 4 – Humanity: Of course, we still need to address the most important aspect of a cylon attack – what if they’ve already placed human look alike “skinjobs” in positions of power, waiting to activate them once the fighting begins. Above all else, it is paramount that the leader of the post-apocalyptic government be not only human, but above suspicion of being one of the final five.

    While it seems unlikely the cylons would create a model so obviously robotic and devoid of emotions as Stephen Harper, there would no doubt be suspicions. And really, we must ask ourselves how much we know about the current Prime Minister. How often do you hear Harper talk about his childhood growing up in Ontario? Would it really surprise anyone if this flimsy backstory is nothing more than a cover designed to hide his mechanical roots?

    Justin Trudeau, however, has been in the public eye since he was born. Criticize him all you want, but unless the cylons have developed a model that can age from fetus to adult, Justin is undeniably human.

    Edge: Trudeau

    So while we may not know where he stands on all the issues, on this point there is little doubt – Justin Trudeau is the leader Canada needs in the event of a cylon attack.

    So say we all!

    100 Years of Bad Photo Ops

    Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Featured Posts, Federal Politics, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | 7 Comments

    As you have probably heard a hundred times over the past month, the Calgary Stampede turns 100 this year.

    Calgary has changed a lot over this time. A seat at the 1912 rodeo cost 50 cents. Calgary’s population was 70,000. And, oh yeah, back then Alberta was a Liberal bastion, with the Grits holding 6 of 7 federal Alberta ridings and 36 of 41 provincial seats. Times have changed.

    So maybe then-Prime Minister Robert Borden can be forgiven for not braving the hostile frontier known as Liberal Calgary to visit the first ever Stampede.

    The first notable political Stampede photo-opp I could track down came from 1928, featuring soon-to-be-Prime Minister RB Bennett. Bennett, after all, was from Calgary and actually once owned what would become the Stampede land.

    RB Bennett left his Bennett buggy at home to walk the grounds

    It’s not clear when it became expected for Prime Ministers to “go cowboy”, but I suspect the sight of Lester B Pearson in a three-piece suit and bow-tie may have been the tipping point that made politicians realize they needed to at least try and fit in. It’s hard to look more out of place than Pearson, so this photo may well have been his “leather vest” moment.

    Mike Pearson lets loose at a 1960s Hays Breakfast

    Next up is one of the most bizarre sights ever witnessed in Calgary’s history: The great satan himself, Pierre Trudeau, riding a horse down 6th avenue, in suit (with his trademark lapel rose) and cowboy hat, waving to the crowd. It’s a look any other politician would have been ridiculed about for weeks, but if there’s one thing even Albertans could agree Trudeau had, it was style.

    And any time you can ride a horse with confidence, you usually get passing grades on the Stampede Fashion Report.

    No, that’s not an effigy. That’s Trudeau himself. (1978)

    Liberal Prime Ministers since Trudeau have not fared as well. While Jean Chretien delighted in telling the same story about his great uncle visiting Alberta in 1900 on each and every trip to Calgary, he always looked out of place at Stampede.

    Paul Martin meanwhile, was always Paul Martin – trying too hard to make everyone love him. Photo ops galore with the Calgary Flames is one thing – the “I love Alberta Beef” sticker and full jean outfit was likely overkill.

    Not only did he enjoy stealing Alberta’s money…the grinch himself stole their donuts (1995)

    Paul Martin at the most important Stampede ever, in 2004

    Which finally brings us to the most infamous Stampede picture of them all.

    The year was 2005, long before then-leader of the opposition Stephen Harper hired a psychic/stylist. It’s too bad, because she could have cautioned him against the tight leather vest and backwards cowboy hat that made him look like one of the Village People. At the very least, she would have been able to predict the coast-to-coast ridicule his outfit prompted.

    Mind you, 7 months later Harper was Prime Minister, so he got the final laugh.

    Luckily, this picture doesn’t show the ass-less chaps.

    Harper’s an Alberta boy, so he should have known better. But, for some reason, Albertans sometimes have great difficulty looking like Albertans.

    Take Ed Stelmach who, in 2007, had one of the worst Stampedes ever. Stelmach kicked off his first Premier’s breakfast by welcoming everyone to the “Alberta Stampede“. Minutes later, he was nearly pied. To top it off, the man looked horribly out-of-place the entire time in a dark blue suit jacket and a “get me out of here” smile.

    Miraculously, this picture was never used in a “flip flop” campaign commercial.

    Here, for your viewing pleasure, are others who had varying degrees of success in pulling off the “cowboy look” over the years.

    Mackenzie King can be forgiven for leaving his cowboy hat at home in 1939, when the King and Queen came visiting.

    Carolyn Bennett finds herself at the Hays Breakfast, after getting lost en route to an “ugly Christmas sweater” party

    PC leadership candidate Gary Mar poses with the winner of the Gary Mar look-alike contest, in 2011

    Harry Chase always shows up to Stampede breakfasts looking like he’s ready for a gun fight at the O-K Corral.

    Jim Prentice poses with the Tory caucus, in 2009

    Gilles Duceppe, during a rare visit to the Stampede grounds, in 1997

    Take a Seat

    Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics, Humour | 14 Comments

    Independent MP Bruce Hyer has put forward a motion to improve House of Commons decorum:

    Independent MP calls for ‘random’ Commons seating plan

    NDP-turned-Independent MP Bruce Hyer told the CBC’s Julie Van Dusen Thursday he’s introducing a private member’s motion calling for random seating in the House of Commons. The seating plan could change a few times a year, with MPs dispersed among representatives of other parties.

    “We would no longer be sitting in hockey teams, with our coaches dying to send us over the boards for a brawl,” Hyer said. “We’d get to know them as people.”

    The MP, who is now free to speak and vote as he wishes, thinks the move would end the “mindless solidarity and tribalism” he sees around him and improve cooperation and decorum.


    Now, as the seating chart below will attest, Bruce is currently in what we call “the cheap seats”, sandwiched in the back corner of the House between another ex-Dipper and what’s left of the Bloc. So the cynic in me thinks Hyer might be proposing this for the same reason I’d be down for a random seat draw any time I find myself in the nosebleeds at a hockey game.

    My first instinct was to dismiss this as a trivial suggestion that would be no more productive than having MPs partake in ice breaker games before QP each day (I’d suggest having them play “two truths and a lie”, but I’m not sure how many MPs would be capable of coming up with two truths). After all, it seems hard to believe a new seating plan would do anything to clean up the bile that has soaked into every crevace of the House of Commons.

    But the more I think about it, the more I like Hyer’s suggestion. Just imagine the matchmaking possibilities this creates! Consider the following desk-mates who could theoretically be paired at random:

    John Baird & Rob Anders: At the very least, siting Anders next to one of the loudest MPs in Ottawa would prevent him from dozing off in the House.

    James Moore & Irene Mathyseen: This would ensure Mathyseen has a good view of Moore’s laptop, so that she can dutifully report back to the media on every web page he views.

    Vic Toews & Justin Trudeau: Maybe they’d be able to settle their issues by talking to each other, rather than through passive agressive tweets.

    Peter MacKay & Peter Goldring: Goldring may be without a drivers license for a while, so MacKay can always lend him the search & rescue helicopter on weekends.

    Pat Martin & Pierre Poilievre: Non-stop hilarious hijinks! Keep a camera on them, and CPAC would have more than enough material for its first ever sitcom.

    Dear Alberta PCs: Welcome to life as a Liberal

    Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2012 Alberta Election, Alberta Politics, Featured Posts, Humour | Leave a comment

    Dear Progressive Conservatives,

    First off, congrats on the 40 years in power. It was a good run and, speaking on behalf of the Alberta Liberal Party, I’d like to think we played a small role in making it possible.

    But the latest polls show Danielle Smith and her band of lovable homophobes poised for power – some polls even have PC support dipping below 30%, into “Liberal territory”. It looks like the party’s over, and if Alberta’s history is any indication, once you lose power, you never get it back.

    So as someone who spent many years fighting for the Alberta Liberal Party, I thought I’d offer a few tips to help facilitate your transition to irrelevance.

    1. Blame the Media: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Liberals complain that “we would have won, if only the media had covered our education platform“. Yes, it’s not in any way productive to trash the media, but it’s something you can bond over with other activists, and it’s healthier than blaming voters.

    You’ve already got a good start on this – I’ve seen lots of tweets from PC members complaining about Danielle Smith’s free ride this campaign. One Facebook post dismissed a ThinkHQ poll as “Wildrose propaganda”, even though the company is run by Dave Bronconnier’s former chief of staff.

    2. Blame the electoral map: Repeat after me – “why does rural Alberta get so many seats?”. Seriously, whose idea was that?

    3. Forget the Past: I know there will be a temptation to look back longingly at the glory years. Maybe you’ll even try to convince a nephew of Ed Stelmach’s to run for leader one day, to try to reclaim the magic of the 70-seat Stelmachian era. But I’ve told enough Alexander Rutherford stories on the door steps to know voters don’t give a damn about the past.

    4. Accept the Messiah: Back in 2001, a drunk Ralph Klein berated the homeless in Calgary, and the voters shrugged. He threw a book at a 12 year old girl, berated AISH recipients, got busted plagiarizing an essay, and told ranchers to “shoot, shovel, and shut up” next time they saw a case of mad cow disease – each time, voters shrugged. It used to drive me crazy, but after a decade, I came to accept it.

    The sooner you accept that Danielle Smith is infallible, the less likely you’ll be to develop high blood pressure.

    5. Learn to Love Opposition: Rejoice! The days of having to defend no-meet committees, controversial appointments, and spending boondoggles are over. I know you found it awkward explaining why Ron Stevens billed taxpayers for a 3-day “stopover” in Hawaii, as part of his fact finding trip to Australia to “study” their gambling system. Luckily, the days of PCs doing anything on the government dime are gone.

    Yes, there will still be MLAs to embarrass you. But the good news is there will be far, far fewer of them.

    On the other side, it’s a lot more fun to criticize than to be criticized. You don’t think vegans in the Annex don’t secretly love complaining about Rob Ford? Righteous indignation is a drink that can make you forget about landslide election defeats, and given Danielle’s Smith platform and caucus, she will be serving you up the ingredients for this drink every day.

    6. Become an Idealist: I know a lot of PC members are only members because the PCs are in power. They won’t be members for long.

    Once they’re gone, you’ll have the freedom to advocate for policies you believe in. You think the Alberta Liberals are proposing carbon taxes and tax hikes to get elected? Of course not. Trust me – you’ll feel a lot better having the door slammed in your face when you say something you believe in, than having the door slammed in your face because of a scandal involving an idiot Cabinet Minister you’ve never met.

    7. Embrace the Novelty: It will take a few years, but before long you’ll find yourself at a party in Ontario and someone will exclaim “boy, a PC supporter in Alberta – that must be tough!“. I know you’ll be tempted to argue or educate them – “actually, we won 8 seats last election and were in power back in 2011“. But don’t do it! Take it from me, no one cares that the Liberals hold seats in Calgary or that the party routinely gets 25% of the vote.

    Instead, play up the stereotype – talk about the 3 person riding association meetings, or the time the 90 year old grandma in rural Alberta chased you off her porch hurling f-bombs your way. It’s what your audience wants to hear. Call yourself an “endangered species” and claim you joined the PCs as “an act of youthful rebellion” – you’ll be the hit of every party.

    Heck, even a benign blog title like “Calgary PC” will be eye catching and mysterious before long.

    Not Rae’s Day

    Posted on by CalgaryGrit in April Fools Day, Humour | Leave a comment

    After months of media speculation, Bob Rae has finally cleared the air on his leadership ambitions, announcing he will not run for permanent leader:

    Rae Will Not Run For Permanent Leader

    Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae says he’s fine with the “interim” label, closing the door on the growing speculation he might run for the permanent job.

    “It won’t happen” said Rae in Halifax, after a photo opp with local fishermen. “I accepted the interim position on the condition I would not run for the permanent leadership, and I’m a man of my word. Under no circumstances will I be a candidate in my party’s leadership race next year.”

    When pressed about what he would do if the national executive changed the rules to allow him to run, Rae was blunt: “This isn’t about non-existent rules – this is about a politician living up to his word. It wouldn’t be fair to the other candidates if I declared after having the leadership podium for a year. You guys are going to have to find someone else to ask this question to from now on.”

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