Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Remembering Jack Layton at Nathan Phillips Square

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I have been pretty quiet about the passing of Jack Layton. I hesitated to acknowledge his death publicly because I disagreed with him, and his NDP colleagues, on so many things it seemed disingenuous to suddenly gush about him simply because he had died. Then I saw this photo.

Remembering Jack Layton at Nathan Phillips Square | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

Taken by Jackman Chiu yesterday, the image captures a fleeting moment in Canadian political history that I doubt will ever be repeated. Indeed, the chalk remembrances created in Nathan Phillips Square were washed clean just hours later by a powerful storm.

Jack Layton was the most remarkable politician this country has seen in decades. Remarkable not for his ideas or policies or electoral successes but for his ability to say “Follow me” and elicit a response like this. I can think of only one other politician who so deftly seduced Canadians with equal amounts of charm and tenacity. It will be interesting to see now if their sons can follow their fathers into the hearts of Canadians.

A Live Webcast to Discuss the Canadian Political ‘Crisis’

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

As I’m sure you know, we’re witnessing an historic time Canadian politics – and if you know me at all, you know that there’s nothing I love more than political drama – especially if it involves the constitution!

Over the last day or so, I’ve been asked by several people to explain just what the heck is going on up in Ottawa. So far I haven’t been able to explain it well enough in emails and Facebook messages so I thought I’d host a little webTV show to talk about the vote of no confidence and the proposed coalition government.

I invite you to join me right here on Thursday, December 4th at 9pm to discuss the political situation and get a better understanding of just what’s going on. You can ask questions through the chat window that appears either to the right of or below the viewer, depending on where you’re watching this channel. Think of it as a ‘type-in’ show rather than a call-in show.

If you think you can help me explain what’s going on, and you have a webcam, send me an email to request an invite.

You can tune in to the live web broadcast in two places:

I hope you’ll join me Thursday night. See you then.

Electoral College Tie Still Possible

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I’ve mused before about the possibility of a tie in the Electoral College this week. I think it’s still possible even with Obama’s strong showing over the last several weeks.

Here’s the LATimes current analysis: (They have the coolest maps)

Here’s my best shot at what an Electoral College tie would look like:

What would it take?
* McCain takes Florida, Colorado & Virginia from the Obama column
* McCain takes the three tossups: Indiana, Ohio & North Carolina

A fairly plausible scenario.

Another possibility is that New Hampshire gets weird and goes red again. In that case, to maintain the tie, McCain would have to give up Colorado and take New Mexico instead. Either of those southwestern states are a possibility for McCain and New Hampshire is a New England maverick – having gone red in 2000.

Yet another scenario sees Michigan going to McCain, and Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico to Obama. Not as likely, but still plausible.

Update: I almost forgot to add what I think is going to happen…

Obama by just 7 electoral college votes.

Is The Press Too Objective?

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

At the Cambridge Reporter meetup on Tuesday, an interesting discussion sprang up about transparency of media bias.

Here’s what I said, more or less:

No-one is truly objective. I’d rather know where my media talking heads are coming from than to try to decipher disingenuous attempts at sounding un-biased. In other words, journalists should wear their opinions, political and otherwise, on their sleeves in the interest of transparency and fairness. I also said that I’d rather have Bill O’Reilly anchor the nightly news on Fox and Keith Olbermann anchor the news on NBC because at least then I know how much salt to apply and where. Williams, Kouric, etc, have zero credibility for me because I don’t know where they stand.

In the Canadian context, there are no O’Reillys or Olbermanns that I’m aware of because even our commentators bend over backwards to apply criticism evenly. Rex Murphy would be so much more credible, for example, if he was open about his true opinion – not to mention Peter Mansbridge and Lloyd Robertson.

When I watch Steve Paikin on The Agenda with reps from each party – I constantly wonder – who’s he secretly rooting for here? Because he is – he’s human.

Why is it that Jon Stewart is increasingly becoming the primary source of political news for my demographic? Part of it is his humour to be sure – but part of it also is that he’s not afraid to let his guests and his audiences know where he’s coming from. He’s not bound by archaic and deceptive ‘code of journalism’ that expects the press to pretend they are doing the impossible – be objective.

I remember watching the 1995 Quebec Referendum through the national media because, though a Montrealer by birth, I had since moved to central Ontario. I distinctly remember watching Quebecois journalists on CBC and CTV reporting on the campaigns in their diluted, objective way and screaming at them in my head to “Please just tell me what you think! I’m not there – you are!”

Chantal Hebert is well respected journalist in Quebec – but I can’t trust a single thing she says about the Bloc Quebecois because I have no idea where she stands on the sovereignty issue. I’ve heard her both praise and criticize the BQ on tactics but those are delivered through a Quebecoise filter that either agrees or disagrees with the Bloc in principle. So which is it? Are they right or wrong? I can’t trust you, Chantal, if I don’t know you.

So that was a little more than what I said the other night, but you get the idea.

My question to you, then, is this:

Should we allow and encourage the members of the press to shed their artificial objectivity in the interest of transparency and full reporting?

Election 2008: A Tie?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Did you know that it’s possible to tie the Presidential election?

The Presidential election is decided by Electoral College votes which are distributed among the fifty states roughly by population – California gets lots, Delaware not so much. There are 538 electoral college votes up for grabs – and they way they are distributed makes it entirely possible that the election could end in a tie! Using the LA Times interactive Electoral College map (hat tip) it’s clear that not only is it possible – it’s really not much of a stretch.

What are the odds of this happening?

Social Networking and Politics 2.0

Monday, April 14th, 2008

In the video below, Democratic Presidential front-runner Barack Obama talks about social networking and its impact on his campaign at a private function in Silicon Valley. In particular, he mentions the ability to create organizations in Idaho and Kansas throught the online social nets before the campaign apparatus was involved. He also muses that these technology-enabled grass-roots movements have reduced the impact of high-profile endorsements and dogmatic special interest groups.

Most interesting, however, was his mention the potential to apply “these same principles” to government.

More details about the event at

(via Geoff Livingston)

McCain vs. Clinton is Bad for Democracy

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Why? Because everyone will stay home on election day. Conservatives will stay home because McCain is too moderate.  Progressives will stay home because Clinton is too establishment. Moderates will stay home because neither candidates is scary enough to force a decision. Hawks will stay home because neither is strong enough on the war in Iraq. Doves will stay home because both supported the war in Iraq.

So who’s left? Not many. This scenario will almost certainly accelerate the democratic deficit in America that has seen voter turnout numbers tumble in recent elections.

I Got Your News Fix Right Here:

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

LNC I am absolutely enamored with  This newish site – started a few weeks ago by a Steve Baron of Fox News Chicago – gives you single-page access to newscasts from around the country.  On an important political night like tonight, this is extremely valuable. How else, for example, would I know that Hilary was being interviewed right now on a local Dallas Fox affiliate?

One of the most interesting things about LiveNewsCameras is that it is hosted (or moderated, as they call it) by a human… a real person… live! In the upper right corner is a second streaming window from which a NewsJockey (NJ) keeps you up-to-speed on what’s happening on the various feeds.

Even cooler than that, however, is the site’s use of Twitter. Underneath the moderator is the site’s Twitter feed. Ostensibly, the purpose is to alert viewers (and Twitter followers who may not be actually watching) of breaking news  on the various feeds. BUT, as I found out accidentally, the feed also includes Twitter replies! The potential here for a truly social experience is HUGE! I’ve already experienced social news-watching through the usual channels, but imagine if LiveNewsCameras’ Twitter panel was filled with viewer tips and commentary!

I’ll be watching very closely to see how this site evolves over the next several weeks – I’ve already sent them some of my initial thoughts and I encourage you to do the same.

[credit to Dave Winer for pointing to via Twitter]

Social Media in Real-Time

Monday, February 4th, 2008

I’m a political junkie. I have been fascinated by politics and government for many years a passion which eventually led to a now underused degree in political science.

I am also now a Twitter junkie. The "global watercooler" allows me to eavesdrop on many conversations and throw in my $0.02 on a variety of topics when I think I have something valuable to add.

In the past week or so, these two vices have collided in a spectacular way. It started with the Democratic primary in South Carolina last Saturday. A few of us social media/political junkies (@stuartma, @JillFoster, et al) began discussing the results as they came in. Those of us purists with online-only access to CNN’s raw feeds (TV is so 1.0) had to rely on others to report the numbers as they came in. We could then offer our thoughts on the how’s and why’s… Or just "listen" and learn.

Once the results were solid and the networks had made their projections, the speeches from each of the candidates began. This was the magical part of evening. Barack Obama’s speech elicited responses from my Twitterverse that were raw emotion and reflected his ability to reach down into people’s soul and stir it up.

That this communal emotional response was palpable in an online medium is, I believe, revolutionary. To the casual observer, Obama’s speech was a great one, to be sure. But the ability to witness the emotions it evoked in others in real-time transformed the speech from a political event into an emotional event shared by a community of pseudo-strangers. This has never really been possible before.

Last night I observed a similar event during the Super Bowl. Since I’m more of a CFL guy than NFL, I wasn’t watching the game. I was, however, watching a couple dozen folks twitter the game as they watched it. Thank to Jeremiah Owyang‘s social media experiment, most of the Twitter-banter centred on rating the (in)famous SuperBowl commercials as they aired. The results of Jeremiah’s experiment can be found by searching for @superbowlads at terramind’s search service. Currently, it lists over 2500 responses. hundreds of people sharing an event in real-time through an online medium. Very Cool. [late-breaking re-cap from Jeremiah]

In between commercials, there was, of course, a football game going on. While I was doing other things online (watching this stunning video, for example), I could get a feel of how the game was going just from the expletive-laced bursts of emotion emanating from my Twitter client.

I am very much looking forward to that other ‘Super’ event this week: Super Tuesday. I will miss the bulk of the day’s conversations since I’ll be in meetings and without internet access all day (though I may sneak a peek at TwitterBerry now & again).

As the polls close, however, I’ll be ensconced in my hotel room all a-Twitter about what the results will mean… even for us Canadians. My prediction? I think by wednesday morning (it’ll come early!) we’ll have a pretty good idea of the two names on the Presidential ballot come November.

I have some more thoughts brewing about the social-scalability of Twitter. Tonight may have been proof that we’ve finally seen the end of the technical scalability problems!  I’ll post later in the week on what I mean by "social-scalability" and why I think it’s a problem. Stay tuned.

Jon Stewart for President

Friday, October 13th, 2006

An new movie comes out today called Man of the Year starring Robin Williams as a talk show comedian who runs for President – successfully. There is speculation that the film is based on the calls for talk show comedian Jon Stewart, of the Daily Show, to run for President. Stewart is widely regarded as the smartest (and funniest) political comedian in the business and I think I could actually support the notion of him running for the White House.

The reason is not because he’s funny – though that would be refreshing! The reason is that he’s smart – very smart. And can be very serious. In his first broadcast following 9/11, Jon replaced his comedic monologue with a passionate 8-minute commentary on the events of that day – his first State of the Union.

Would you vote for this guy? I would.


UPDATE: Apparently YouTube has been “asked to remove all Daily Show, Colbert Report, and South Park video clips from the site due to copyright infringement, and obliged. ” via Google Blogscoped