Great Moments in Spin

Great Moments in Spin

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Great Moments in Spin, Toronto Municipal Politics | 4 Comments

I can’t wait to see the tourism brochures:

Toronto mayor Rob Ford is still dodging allegations that he smoked crack cocaine, but now he seems to think there’s a silver lining to the international attention brought upon his city by the scandal over his (alleged!) drug use: tourism dollars. At least that’s what Ford told Toronto radio DJ Maurie Sherman on Saturday when asked if the extra high-profile press, from morning shows like Good Morning America and Today to late-night hawks like Jimmy Fallon and Jon Stewart, was hurting the city. “No. It’s whatever people perceive it as. Any time you can get Toronto on the map,” Ford said. “I think people have to come to the city and see what we have to offer. And we have great arts and culture, great theatres, great restaurants, great sporting teams. I encourage everyone to come to Toronto.”

Great Moments in Spin

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in by elections, Federal Politics, Great Moments in Spin | 38 Comments

The Onion Conservative Party reacts to their by-election defeat moral victory:

As we know, majority governments do not usually win by-elections.

In fact, Liberals have won the riding of Labrador in every election in history except for two, so we are not surprised with these results.

What is surprising is the collapse of the Liberal support during this by-election. When this by-election was called the Liberals had a 43-point lead in the polls. Since electing Justin Trudeau as leader and having him personally campaign there, they have dropped 20 points in Labrador. That’s a significant drop in only a few weeks. Labradorians were able to see firsthand how Justin Trudeau is in over his head.

Topp Spin

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Great Moments in Spin | Leave a comment

There’s no positive spin to put on yesterday’s by elections for the Liberals, which may be a good thing, because trying to spin by elections too much can make you look rather, well, like Brian Topp:

The Liberal vote in Montreal dropped by about 30 per cent (the Michael Ignatieff-led Liberals got slightly more than 14 per cent in that riding, compared to the Stéphane Dion-led Liberals, who got 20.7 per cent in the 2008 general election).

The Liberal vote in rural Quebec dropped by about 15 per cent (Ignatieff a little over 13 per cent, Dion 15.4 per cent)

The Liberal vote in British Columbia dropped by about 10 per cent (Ignatieff a bit more than 10 per cent, Dion 11.3 per cent).

[…]these by-elections will give the NDP under Leader Jack Layton new energy, new credibility, and an opportunity to focus on providing Canadians with their best alternative to Mr. Harper. As the results show, Canadians are taking a careful look at Jack Layton and the New Democrats.

The Conservatives are holding their rural franchise and filling it in around the edges. But they appear to be in big trouble in British Columbia, and going nowhere in urban Canada. There is no Conservative majority in these tea leaves.


33,608 Canadians voted Tory in these by-elections, which was 35.72 per cent of the total vote cast.

22,783 Canadians voted New Democrat, 24.22 per cent of the total.

19,709 Canadians (perhaps we should say, Quebeckers) voted Bloc, 20.95 per cent of the total.

And 13,914 Canadians voted Liberal, 14.79 per cent of the total.

Ergo, in terms of the absolute national poll, Mr. Harper got in the range of what he had in the 2008 election. Mr. Layton is a solid second, improving nicely. And Mr. Ignatieff led his party to fourth place in terms of total vote, behind the Bloc Québécois.

So, to recap, the Liberal vote drops from 11.3% to 10.3% in a BC riding, and, ergo, this translates into disastrous news for the grits across British Columbia. Some people look at a smudgy window and see Jesus’ face – Brian Topp looks at a smudgy window and sees NDP victory.

Now, I don’t want to dwell on this too much because, to be honest, if there was any good news, the Liberals would be doing the exact same spin-job. However, I would like to point out to Topp that in the March 2008 by elections:

1. The NDP vote in British Columbia dropped by 10% (from 16.1% in 2006 to 14.4% in the by election).

2. The NDP vote in Ontario collapsed by nearly 50%.

3. The Liberals were in majority territory with a total of 48% of the vote in these by elections, while the NDP were just 2 points up on the Greens (12% vs. 10%).

And even I’ll concede the Dippers had a fairly good 2008 election, gaining seats. So, you know, maybe those by elections weren’t the best predictor of what was to come 7 months later.

I’m not saying by elections are meaningless – my post yesterday, which looked at the numbers, shows they’re about twice as useful as past election results when it comes to predicting electoral outcomes.

But trying to predict how an entire city or province will vote, based on a few shifting percentage points (when only a quarter of people are voting)? Or simulating a national election based on four ridings?

In the words of Gob Bluth – Come On!

This Week in Northumberland, UK

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Great Moments in Spin | Leave a comment

What I love most about Ed Stelmach is how his government seems drawn to the silly little screw-up stories. The latest example:

EDMONTON – Tourism officials in northeastern England are both pleased and baffled by a new $25-million Alberta rebranding campaign that features a photo of children frolicking on one of its North Sea beaches.

While the tagline on the advertisement reads: “Alberta: Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.”, the Alberta government has confirmed the photo was taken near the English village of Bamburgh in Northumberland. The photo also appears in an Alberta promotional video that has been posted on YouTube.

Now, I will give the ad firm who came up with this some credit – it had never occurred to me to promote Alberta as a beach front tourism destination. And, in fairness, if you are going to promote Alberta as a beach-front tourism destination, you sure don’t want to use pictures of any Alberta beaches because, well, there aren’t a lot of nice ones. Certainly not as nice as that one in Northumberland anyways.

But, as is so often the case, the real joy in this is watching Team Stelmach spin. First up – Cindy Ady, famous for her work on the Idaho-Alberta Transboundary Task Force:

Tourism Minister Cindy Ady told reporters that her department wasn’t involved in the rebranding campaign

Silly reporters. Assuming the Department of Tourism would handle a 25 million dollar tourism rebranding campaign.

But the real all-star spin doctor is Tom Olsen:

When the story about the controversial photo was first published earlier this week in an Edmonton newspaper, the Alberta government stood by the use of the images.

There’s no attempt to make people think that this is Alberta,” Tom Olsen, a spokesman for Premier Ed Stelmach, told the Edmonton Journal.

Yes! What idiot would jump to the conclusion that a picture on a Tourism Alberta poster, with the word “ALBERTA” scrolled over it, was a picture of Alberta?

But Tom soon backed down, and was singing a different (albeit equally amusing) song yesterday:

However, in an interview yesterday, Mr. Olsen said the still advertisement was “an error” and was quietly yanked a few weeks ago. The Premier’s office wasn’t notified about the decision to pull it until yesterday afternoon, he explained.

Mr. Olsen said the government still supports using the image in the promotional video. “It’s symbolic of the future children and the world,” he said.

Symbolic of the future children and the world? I’m not even sure what that means…

In the words of NDP leader Brian Mason “Most lame spin ever“.

The Talking Points, They Are A Changin’

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Great Moments in Spin | Leave a comment


July 23, 2008: Canadians Ready for a Fall Election, Dion Says

August 24, 2008: Dion Says Harper Could Reconsider Election Call


August 8, 2008: Told that Canadians are wondering when the next election will be, Layton’s response was, “Me too, the sooner the better.”

August 21, 2008: NDP Leader Against Early Election Call


“What we have achieved over the fall and particularly over the spring, I think it’s a remarkable record of achievement.”

-Stephen Harper, June 2008
“Quite frankly, I’m going to have to make a judgment in the next little while as to whether or not this Parliament can function productively.”
-Stephen Harper, August 2008

Great Moments in Spin

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Great Moments in Spin | Leave a comment

Alberta spent $3.8 million on its Smithsonian party in Washington in 2006, an event hailed as a huge success by the government and slammed as a waste of taxpayers’ money by the opposition.

[A spokeswoman] said surveys conducted by the Smithsonian show that before the festival 77 per cent of people polled had very little knowledge about Alberta, while 95 per cent of those surveyed at the end said they had a good experience.

I wish I remembered all the proper latin names for logical falacies I learned in TOK because…well…this is certainly one of them. Here’s an idea:

Give me 3.8 million dollars to throw a Dalton Day party on Monday. We’ll have Dalton McGuinty costumes for everyone! Dalton themed food! Dalton themed prizes! Everyone will get wasted out of their minds! You know what? I’m willing to bet that around 77% of people at my party would have very little knowledge about Alberta. And, hell, I bet with 3.8 million dollars I could ensure at least 96% of people there have a good time!

Methinks the folks at Edspedia (now offering the “Cindy Ady Valentine’s Day Special”) will have fun with this one…

Not so Great Moments in Spin

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Great Moments in Spin | Leave a comment

Further to the story of Ed Stelmach’s plunging poll numbers, comes a surprisingly candid explanation from his spokesman, Tom Olsen:

The reason the dramatic plunge is “believable,” according to Olsen, is that “hundreds of thousands of new Albertans don’t know the history of Progressive Conservative governments in this province and are spending their time assessing what they see.”

Yes, you heard that correctly. According to the office of the Premier, the reason Stelmach’s poll numbers are dropping is because people are actually looking at the party rather than blindly following the PC brand name.

Great Moments in Spin III

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Great Moments in Spin | Leave a comment

OK, that’s provincial and municipal. Time for federal:

The leaders reacted harshly after the Commons question period where Harper challenged the credibility of Liberal Leader Stephane Dion because he hasn’t served in the military, and took a shot at deputy leader Michael Ignatieff because he lived outside the country for three decades.

“I will just say it is true I have never served in the Armed Forces,” Harper replied when Ignatieff noted that Harper had not served in the military either. “I consider that an experience in my life that I have missed, but I can say I have always lived and worked and paid my taxes in this country.”


When Dion pressed O’Connor to voluntarily resign since the prime minister “doesn’t have the courage” to fire him, Harper defended the retired brigadier-general as he has in the past, by emphasizing O’Connor served in the military for 32 years.

“And when the leader of the opposition is able to stand in uniform and serve his country, then I will care about his opinion of the performance of the minister of national defence,” Harper added.

Other rules for when you are allowed to criticize Canada’s New Government:

-Only first nations people can question Jim Prentice’s performance at Indian Affairs

-Only doctors may cast doubt on Tony Clement’s vision for Health Care

-Only MPs with personal stylists can criticize the Prime Minister

Great Moments in Spin II

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Great Moments in Spin | Leave a comment

If I’m going to hit Stelmach, I guess it’s only fair to hit his nemesis too. From Mayor Dave Bronconnier’s letter to Calgarians:

“Until Thursday, April 19, I was hoping to be able to send you a list of the much-needed infrastructure projects The City of Calgary would be fast-tracking, projects that would have enabled us to begin catching up with a level of growth never before experienced by a Canadian City.

The list would have included beginning the west and southeast new lines of the LRT; more police, fire and EMS services; more buses and CTrain cars, widening and repairing roads; more parks upgrades and maintenance; more parks rec centres and sports facilities.”

So…a feud over strings being put on 85 million dollars has cost the city billions and billions of dollars of projects. Uh-huh. Bronco should just have gone all out and continued:

“The list would also have included filling every pothole in the city, the abolition of municipal taxes, instantaneous snow removal, paving the streets in gold, a chocolate fountain in every backyard, and a first line centre for the Flames…”

[Full disclaimer: I’m doing some data analysis for a rival mayoral campaign.]

Great Moments in Spin

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Great Moments in Spin | Leave a comment

EDMONTON – Premier Ed Stelmach isn’t surprised by a recent poll showing his support slipping, particularly in the province’s two largest cities.

“There’s a lot of pressures on Alberta today,” Stelmach said Tuesday. “Anything from taking longer to get to work because of congested roads, to issues tied to housing, more people moving to the province — this is a result of Alberta growing economically.”

Yes…Ed Stelmach is losing support because Alberta’s economy is booming. Uh-huh. I guess like all Premiers, Mr. Ed has his fingers crossed for a recession to boost his popularity?

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