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Guardian Comment of the Day

15 May

There were a lot of great ones on this article, but this one amused me most:

– May 14, 2011 at 13:32:21

Marxist Lennist ideology, (aka Ghiz and Casey) is alive and well on Prince Edward Island.


On the topic of graduation

10 May

I can’t count the number of times I’ve recalled this conversation from October 2009 that I had with Casey.  He is prescient (and maybe kinda cruel)

Quote of the day

10 Feb

“Canada’s spy service, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, refused to say what it spent on alcohol, citing national security.”


The Ottawa Sun

The Punditocracy, my awful prof, and winning elections (a how-to guide from an amateur)

28 Jan

As we’re on the cusp of two elections – federal  and provincial – I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to win, who has the power, and what well-run campaigns have in common.  What caused NB’s Tory sweep?  Not just electricity issues.  Political organization and election readiness.  But was there more to it?  I haven’t figured it all out yet, I guess.  But with talking heads chomping at the bit for stories in slow-news January, election predictions have me thinking about pundits.  Are the people who write scathing editorials actually ruling public opinion?

On Tuesday night, I sat through a grating Public Policy class at UPEI.

“I hate Harper,” said the prof, “…he’s a dictator! People have said that he’s a dictator!  He has all the power and can do anything he wants.”  I grimaced instinctively because she sounded like a 2003-Bush-Basher.  Nine times out of ten, the Bush Basher was fairly correct in their bashing, but were unclear exactly what Bush did wrong.  I’m not a great Harper fan myself.  I didn’t vote for him, though I will next election because I support Donna Profit.  But, without sounding  like a self-righteous twat, I was kind of shocked by how this ‘educated’ woman was more or less repeating Liberal talking points.  Of course Harper’s not just going to wantonly run the country on his own personal agenda.  Of course he has advisors and a party and public opinion to be concerned about.  Her arguments sounded like the abysmal first-year Global Issues papers I used to mark.  Her politics were pretty self-evident throughout the class, which is fine, but I got the distinct sense she only half knew what she was talking about.  I might be judging too harshly, but Liberal talking points are free on the internet and I’m paying money to take that course..  Anyway, I left annoyed but vowed to stick with it so I can effin graduate, finally.

Not thinking much of it, a couple days later, my mind wandered back to a Summer day in Opposition Office with The Director.  We were talking about Federal politics and what it would take for Islanders to like Harper. It’ll never happen, he said, the Liberals were really successful in branding him as evil.   And he was so right.  The Libs had the longest party dynasty and very successfully used it to their advantage to negatively brand Harper in a long-lasting way that especially resonated in Atlantic Canada*.  But how much of that was the Liberal’s fault, and how much could be attributed to parroting talking heads?  As Rick Mercer says in this video(feat. the best Canadian attack ad spoof ever made), the Liberals built a political dynasty that was one of the longest in Canadian history.  They successfully branded themselves as ‘the’ patriotic party during a period of weak opposition. It was great politics.  And without diminishing the cleverness of pundits, the Liberal talking points paved the way for hundreds of articles on how Harper acts unilaterally, when, in fact, there is some evidence of this – but it’s wildly blown out of proportion.   There are so few ideological cleavages between the federal Liberals and minority Conservatives.   Anyone who argues differently works for a party or lives in Alberta (which is, more or less, working for a party.)

This Summer I was at a McKenna function trying to cajole my large extended family into voting for Olive at the Tory leadership.  Eventually, most did**.  But this particular week, Paul MacNeill of the Graphic fame had written something scathing about Olive, or her chances of winning, or why she ought not win.  I forget now, but it wasn’t complimentary.  I was in the middle of my Olive pitch, and one of my uncles said, “Lookit, Paul MacNeill might have a point! He knows this stuff inside and out!”   And then whatever I said was worth less because I had an agenda and he didn’t.  Which is fair.  I’m not debating the merits of Paul MacNeill, whom I’ve admired from my Semantic/Cadre days. I’ve strongly agreed and disagreed with  him(and not just on partisan stuff) throughout the few years I’ve been reading.  In this case, I’m more interested in the importance of Paul as a pundit.  As this Vanity Fair article highlights, news has lost.  Opinion has won.  Most days I check the National Post before the Globe because their opinion stuff is better.  If you can sway the pundits, then you can sway the masses  – especially, it seems, on PEI.  Anyone in the middle of an election will tell you that momentum matters.  Seeing the Liberal caucus out dining last Summer, video camera in tow, was a blow to the gut because that sort of stuff is invaluable to election time.  And impossible for opposition caucuses who don’t have full shadow cabinets.  Talking Heads aren’t oblivious.  Even without platforms or candidates, public opinion suggests that the tories have lost already – which I will indubitably be discussing later!

Why do pundits cause momentum?  I’ll propose two answers. One is the most commonly used: constituents want to vote for whoever will be in government so that their roads are more likely to be paved.  The other reason, I think, is that people want to feel like they’re informed.  You can read the news and absorb it.  You don’t necessarily form an opinion on it.  I’ve read every article on the Eastern School Board and have no idea what the right decision is.  But if someone tells me what to think, then forming an argument is easy.  That sounds condescending to the electorate, but think about it: you can swallow up news daily, every hour, or you can read a weekly column and, depending on the pundit, get relevant information and a solution or problem with it.  No wonder pundits have sway.  They’re impartial and tell you what to think.  They’re not looking for your vote.  Which is why it is kind of scary that PEI has so few, because – ironically – the pundits who preach that too much power is in the hands of too few are actually the people with the power.  But think critically: even if pundits aren’t biased, the people who inform them are. I’ve been a pundit, I’ve been the person who’s informed pundits, and I’ve listened to pundits to help form my opinion.  I’ve also listened to pundits in dismay as they get stuff wrong often.  But good communications people in politics can have a heavy hand in convincing commentators what to say, particularly when there’s a looming deadline.  So please don’t just repeat what you heard on CBC or read in the NationalPost.

Anyway, in my opinion, one of the only ways to counteract the pundit is to have politicians own voices intertwined in the discourse.  It’s no secret that I’m a fan of social media.  It puts a face and a voice to the press releases that parties send out.  The futureof politics is going to limit the use of traditional media.  And why not?  You can edit what you say online – you have little control over what lands in the papers.  It’s an easy way to disseminate information quickly and efficiently while still being somewhat personal.  Naysayers are morons.  Listen to me.  Now that I have a blog, I’m more or less a pundit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts though!  Am I completely off in left (or right, as it were) field?

Next blog post: in which the answer will not be ‘social media fixes everything,’ I promise


*Not withstanding the PC/Reform/Death of Red  Tory sentiment that prevailed after the 2003 Merger.  Admittedly that probably had something to do with PEI’s Conservative shutout, though tradition, being a have-not province, having a lower-than-average income median – all those things didn’t help.  Talking in generalities, I guess.

** A success, since there were like, sixty of them there.  Go Team McKenna.  Catholic Conservatives since the boat ride over from Ireland.


Summerside is the best ever

25 Jan

As printed in The Guardian this morning, Summerside is suing entertainment behemoths StarLink Production because StarLink isn’t coming through on a deal… for which Summerside advanced them 1.3 million.  This isn’t funny, it’s actually pretty sad, but it is KINDA funny.  Anyway, here are some highlights from The Guardian:


On Monday, the city was to file a complaint with the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division, for fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, negligent misrepresentation and rescission (rescinding) of a contract against Katrina Berg Sussmeier and Starlink Productions Inc.

In the Nature of Action against Sussmeier and Starlink Productions, the city alleges that in July 2009, Sussmeier presented the city with the opportunity to hold the Michael Jackson Tribute Concert featuring performances by Beyonce, Usher, Ne-Yo and Leona Lewis.

“In July and August 2009, Sussmeier pressured representatives of the city to act immediately to book the concert and represented that she and Starlink had the authority to arrange for such a mega-concert,” the Notice of Action claims.

The city entered an agreement with Sussmeier on July 24, 2009. In late July, Sussmeier emailed the city demanding an immediate wire payment of $650,000 so Beyonce’s appearance at the concert could be guaranteed.

“You’ll have Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, Usher, Beyonce if we get that wire,” she stated in an email to J.P. Desrosier, events and program development officer with the city.”


Gee those sound like great acts from a reputable promoter!  But google ‘StarLink Productions”.  Do you think ‘Due Dilligence’ includes checking out their website?

Because they have the worst website ever made, completely devoid of any acts like Beyonce and co.


Anyway, I’d be miffed if I lived in Summerside, but I’m amused because I don’t.


Guardian Comment of the Week: Political Edition

24 Jan

This might actually be insightful if we had 31 members in the legislature

Guardian Comment of the week

18 Jan

It’s only Tuesday, but I’m confident it won’t get any better than this.

The shooting/murder that happened this week is one of the saddest things to happen on PEI this decade. It’s the first homicide investigation since 2006 and we’re lucky for it. I extend my condolences to anyone who knew Kyle, or Dylan, or the rest of the Dingwell family.  The death isn’t funny at all.  The idiot comments on the Guardian website sure are.

There are a ton of really ignorant gems on this story in particular, but this one is my all-time favourite.