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Preview: sober second thought

sober second thought

Published: 2007-03-25T19:53:32-05:00


Brooklyn Bridge



Two weekends ago we visited our friend George in New York along with partners in crime Madhava and Kate from Toronto. A great (and food-filled) time was had by all. A walk across the bridge was both beautiful and practical -- it created some critical calorie space.

New York City [view large]

Welcome, canal-goers!



Well, with the canal finally frozen, Winterlude started on time and to excellent weather, and that meant another edition of Art on Ice!

It was another fantastic (if windy) day, with (again) a real diversity of art on display. Thanks to everyone who dropped by -- family, friends, and total strangers. I appreciated all the interesting comments and encouragement. Thanks especially to Miriam for helping me pull it all together again, to the crew of friends who fetched hot chocolate and beaver tails (yum!) in the more chilly afternoon, and to my parents for the warm ride home after a long day.

If you picked up a card and are dropping by for the first time, thanks for visiting! Please have a look around and feel free to leave me a comment. I'll be posting the full set I displayed at Art on Ice shortly, for those who asked me about having a second look!

Ottawa [view large]

Face, meet egg. Egg, face.


Imagine you reach into your mailbox and find the following piece of campaign material from incumbent Councillor Diane Holmes the day before the Ottawa vote:


'Diane Holmes is a good councillor...'

Ottawa Citizen - Monday, November 6, 2006
Diane Holmes is a good councillor, (...). Ms. Holmes has served Ottawa in many ways since she was first elected as a councillor in 1982. She's been an advocate for women's issues, greenspace, and the arts. She shows a genuine affection for Somerset Ward and the people in it. She's been ahead of the curve on many issues: She pointed out at a candidate's debate last week that it's great to see an election in which transit is the central issue.

She knows her ward and she knows city hall.

And then, further, imagine that you reach in for a second piece of mail and find, courtesy of Holmes opponent Luc Lapointe, a photocopy of the full Ottawa Citizen article quoted, and the article reads like so [emphasis added]:


Luc Lapointe's the best choice

Diane Holmes is a good councillor, but there's every reason to believe Luc Lapointe would be a better one. Ms. Holmes has served Ottawa in many ways since she was first elected as a councillor in 1982. She's been an advocate for women's issues, greenspace, and the arts. She shows a genuine affection for Somerset Ward and the people in it. She's been ahead of the curve on many issues: She pointed out at a candidate's debate last week that it's great to see an election in which transit is the central issue.

She knows her ward and she knows city hall. The trouble is, she knows city hall so well she's turned into an apologist for it.

And so on, as Kurt Vonnegut would write.

Summary: bad move.



Headline: "Ignatieff confident his head will grow."

This is what happens when you (read: I) don't read carefully enough. Lead, Anatole, lead.

The deluge


This pretty much speaks for itself, which is good when you're trying to get back on the blog wagon for the first time in many months (from the I didn't want to bold the entire middle paragraph, but it is priceless.

"The United States Coast Guard have started to patrol the Great Lakes with machine guns mounted on their vessels and are conducting live-ammunition training drills on the U.S. side to prepare officers to combat terrorists flooding across the border from Canada by boat." [emphasis added]


"'We're trying to be prepared in case something happens,' said a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman, Chief Petty Officer Robert Lanier. 'I don't know what it is, but I know I want to be prepared for it when it happens. We need to conduct these live-fire exercises so we are prepared for whatever it may be. If we are not prepared for it, there are going to be questions about why we weren't prepared for it.'"


"As for the shaky status of the world's longest undefended border, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ambra Dickie, said that Canada and the United States signed a written agreement three years ago articulating that moves to arm U.S. law-enforcement vessels with light machine guns in U.S. jurisdiction do not violate the spirit of the treaty. That treaty, the argument goes, was drafted to ensure peace in the Great Lakes by forbidding weapons of war such as cannons on sailing ships.

'We don't have any cannons or rocket launchers or anything like that,' CPO Lanier said." [emphasis added]

Tulip time!


It's tulip time in Ottawa again. In the spirit of the Weather Network's fall leaf colour tracker, here's the tulip bloom indicator.

Happy tulip viewing! (Yes, I say that with the full understanding that it has been pouring rain for most of the middle weekend of the festival. That always seems to happen.)

Playoffs Haiku


Sens, you barely scored.
Why do you do this to me?
Please win the series.

Heatley, what is wrong?
There was a gaping hole there.
It was the damn net.

Do we miss Hasek?
It doesn't really matter
while there is no groin.

Statistical Geekery


You know you're a policy geek when you're disappointed that you didn't get the long version of the census to complete.

I recently discovered that the Economist has repeatedly ranked Statistics Canada as the world's best statistical agency. Who knew?

(Yes, yes ... it's been two months since I've posted anything. Things have been a little busy at work.)

Government hours


Yesterday, I worked 17 hours. I got home and went to sleep at 1:45 a.m. and was back in the office today at 7:20 a.m.

Just in case anyone was concerned about their tax dollars, is all.

Snowbanks on the Canal



Giant snowbanks on the canal, with the Chateau Laurier off in the distance.

Ottawa [view large]

Political blur



Another photo from when I wandered around the downtown after the big snowstorm a few weeks back -- this one a shot of Parliament Hill through one of the gates at the southeast corner.

Ottawa [view large]

Art on Ice



Shaddow puppets? ... I take a photo (right) while someone points (left) at one of my photos. As my friend Madhava said, "Metaphotography makes for great blog content." So there you have it.

This past weekend I participated in Art on Ice, a Winterlude event. It's the first time I've ever displayed my photos anywhere off-line, and it was a hoot! It was a spectacular day -- perfect temperature, smooth ice, and not a cloud in the sky. Quite the contrast to last weekend's slush-a-thon. As a result, there were huge crowds out on the canal and stopping in on Patterson Creek to check out the art. I was impressed by the calibre and diversity of art on display (check out "Nuns vs. Dragons" and other work in Bhat Boy's Envisionist Gallery, for example, or "Factory Recall" and the like at Andrew King's studio). Some artists had even made the trek from out of town!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by -- family, friends, and complete strangers! -- including for all the kind words and support. Special thanks to Miriam for putting me in a frame of mind to do this (and then helping with the physical framing too!), to Kathy for the hot chocolate, and to organizers Christopher Griffin and Pam Connolly.

If you picked up one of my cards and are visited this site for the first time, welcome! Have a look around and feel free to leave me a comment!

Ottawa [view large]

Integrity is always just around the corner


That's my slogan for the first week of the new government. "Integrity is always just around the corner." I don't understand it. A few of my friends have written to me wondering why I haven't said anything about it. It's because I don't get it. Why this opening move? It's like a bad political joke: "A floor-crosser and a Senate appointee walk into a bar ..." or perhaps "What do you get when you cross a ex-military-industrial-complex lobbyist turned Defence Minister with a Francophonie Parliamentary Secretary who doesn't speak la belle langue?" Sure, they're wordy ... but the punchlines are killer! So seriously, now. What the hell? Was it really that necessary to have Cabinet members from Montreal and Vancouver but not Toronto? Did the Minister-in-absentia really have to get the high-spending-and-recently-scandalized Public Works post of all things? Was there no juggling of candidates that would have put bilingual Cabinet members where they needed to be? Was Gordon O'Connor really the only candidate qualified for the defence post? There is the school of thought that says Harper was willing to weather a short-term storm in order to get the strongest possible Cabinet (a long-term payoff.) There's another school of thought, though, which says that Harper just blew most of the political capital which would have allowed him the chance to play for the longer-term end game. When your entire campaign, the ethos of your party and your leader, and your first major priority and policy objective are all centered around accountability, this isn't exactly an irrelevant short-term storm. In short, I don't think this is going to go away quickly. There is relative quiet around Senator Fortier, but that will likely end when the House sits in April and he's not there to answer questions. Emerson, on the other hand, is right in the thick of it, and his unflinching denials that he did anything even remotely questionable are not helping. He is being seen as either tremendously stupid (or, more charitably, completely naive or insane) or staggeringly disingenuous. It can't help that Peter MacKay's jumping to his defence has allowed people to bring up MacKay's er, principled destruction of the Progressive Conservative Party. Let alone the obvious contrasts and comparisons with the Belinda Stronach defection last year. Bottom line? Almost nothing smells worse than blatant hypocrisy, and Canadians are sniffing something mighty foul out of Ottawa these days. I leave you with these charming quotes from the circus that was the first week of the Conservative government. I would provide commentary on them but, really, it's too easy. David Emerson: "I don't understand why they would go to such bizarre lengths as to raise that kind of issue [repaying the Liberal association's $96,755 for the campaign] when in fact I had done so much and raised so much for the Liberal Party. [...] I would like the Liberal Party to contemplate how much they are going to pay back to all of the people who contributed to the Liberal Party because I was out there doing the fundraising for them." Peter MacKay: "What David Emerson did, I would suggest, is different, in the sense that he has done this early after the election in hopes of continuing the important work that he was doing inside a government which he was obviously very disillusioned with. [...] Unlike other moves, it didn't happen at a critical juncture that propped the government up. There wasn't that sense that there was strict reward or leadership ambition." Garth Turner: "Speaking of offices, after today I'm expecting the Whip will be assigning me a renovated washroom somewhere in a forgotten corner of a vermin-infested dank basement in Ottawa. That should go [...]

Welcome, Blue Overlords.


Tonight, Canada voted for some change. Not the greatest possible change, mind you. But enough to make a point. Canada voted more for what it wanted to leave behind -- a tired, relatively corrupt, bitterly divided old party with a leader who found passion only in times of crisis and direction at no time at all -- than for what it wanted in its place.

What we get in place of the Liberal Party remains a bit of a mystery. Without a majority, the Conservative Party of Canada will likely have to stay a somewhat moderate course, as it did during the campaign. But many Canadians don't equate the new Conservatives with the old Tories and certainly don't believe in the dramatic evolution of Stephen Harper and the ex-Alliance/Reform. Even beyond their concerns with the published Conservative platform, they remain suspicious of the unanswered questions, the too-finely managed campaign, and the lack of media access to those candidates less palatable to mainstream Canadian taste.

There were no major surprises tonight, with the exception of the Bloc, which unexpectedly lost both popular vote and seats. Hooray! No significant gain for the Greens, sadly, in either total vote or, as expected, in seats. Relative to expecations set by polls in recent weeks, it is likely that only the NDP will be deeply (even if not fully) satisfied this evening. The Bloc had dreamed of 50%, the Greens of 5% and perhaps a seat, the Liberals of a last-minute reprieve, and the Conservatives, appropriately humbly, of a majority. The CBC keeps doing the Conservative + NDP math, but I'm not sure it matters much.

Here in Ottawa Centre, Broadbent buddy Paul Dewar trailed Liberal Richard Mahoney early on but came back to win the riding handily.

Elsewhere? Belinda Stronach and Scott Brison prevailed as cross-over Liberals, Michael Ignatieff survived a tougher-than-expected election to win in Toronto, and Olivia Chow finally broke through in the same city for Trinity-Spadina. A handful of ex-Ontario Cabinet Ministers won across Ontario, while NDPers Nystrom, (ex-GG) Schreyer, and Svend "my precioussss" (sorry) Robinson couldn't pull off comebacks. Ralph Goodale won easily despite the income trust investigation, but fellow Prairie/Western Liberal stalwarts Reg Alcock and Anne McLellan are fighting to hold on to their seats, and Pierre Pettigrew seems headed for a fall.

Quebec star candidate Marc Garneau lost his riding and, having given up cushy CSA and Carleton appointments, just begged for a job on national TV. That scene basically sums up the kind of campaign and election night result it was -- how the mighty have fallen, how the results are deserved and yet still somewhat disatisfying, and how Canadian politics have become kind of embarassing and awkward. With that ... good night, and see you on the other side.

Minority snowflake.


A fresh snowfall for a fresh start on Parliament Hill.
Ottawa [view large]