Thursday, May 21, 2009

Will Harper attack ads work?

Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail asks in today's column, do nice guys finish last?

He goes on to make a pretty damning case for it in his article:

“There's an old rule in politics. Don't bet on the nice guys. Robert Stanfield was the princely example. Lost three in a row. Lester Pearson was too soft to ever win big. Joe Clark was characterized as wimpish, Stéphane Dion the same. The American Democrats had nice-guy Michael Dukakis, nice-guy Walter Mondale, nice-guy George McGovern and another skirt-wearer, nice-guy Al Gore. They all went down.

Ignatieff responds - too nice?

Liberal MP Ujall Dosanjh had this to say -
“With these ads, the Conservatives are showing a streak of anti-intellectualism and xenophobia that goes back to their Reform roots. It needs to be confronted.” The implicit suggestion, says Mr. Dosanjh, a Punjabi, is that if you've spent a lot of time outside the country - like he and Mr. Ignatieff have - you're less of a Canadian.”

These ads, unfortunately are affective; they are created because they work. And in the face of no real counter campaign from the Liberals, I’m afraid they will hurt Ignatieff’s chances of building enough support to mount an effective election campaign.

The Tories have the bucks and they’re spending them like drunken sailors in a whorehouse. One can only hope that they will have used up considerable resources by the time the upcoming election is called. Unfortunately, they do have friends in low places and Alberta is awash in blue money.

This campaign has been greatly helped by the free coverage the media have given it. Not only did I have to listen to this tripe while watching American Idol (ok, it was in good company), but there is almost daily reference to it in the print, electronic and web medias.

The sad truth is that it will push buttons and will convince a large number of Canadians that Harper is Mr. Canuck. He can wear a sweater, a cowboy hat, a flak jacket or a lab coat when he absolutely has to (and he also plays piano for all you cynical special interest artists out there).

The liberals have to do something soon to counter this campaign. Being cosmopolitan, intelligent, creative and “a true patriot” are not inhibitors to leadership. Nor is drinking espresso instead of Tim Hortons. That Harper targets these attributes as "scary stuff" puts him more on the side of Pol Pot than John A.

For an interesting discussion of this, listen to the Globe and Mail Roundtable Podcast:

And for an enlightened chuckle, nothing beats Rick's Rants:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Ellen gives a very inspirational (and funny) commencement speech upon being awarded an honourary degree at Tulane University in New Orleans, her hometown.

Now that she's hugely successful with a talk show that is second only to Oprah's in popularity, it's easy to forget that just a few years ago, after the cancellation of her sitcom in 1998, she was largely forgotten. More than that, she was often the butt of jokes; being laughed "at", not "with". After celebrating her historic coming out, some of the gay community thought that she went too far by making her show too "gay". She made us feel uncomfortable. She became too "preachy".

In this address, Ellen refers to this time and the period that followed her show's cancellation when the phone went silent.

I think that whatever happens in her career, Ellen will always somehow manage to get the last laugh.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cities: Making a place for people

As a Montrealer I am used to negotiating around and through city traffic dodging drivers (especially taxis!) like a game of Pac Man. So I found this posting from Richard Florida (Creative Class) to be very interesting.

I'm currently reading his latest book, Who's Your City? and find his take on urban planning to be refreshing in its focus on creativity, culture and successful cities.

This is an interesting piece from the New York Times that describes a German experiment in making an urban suburb nearly car-free. One thing that I had noticed while reading the article and looking at the photos was that this didn’t look like the kind of suburb I’m familiar with, either here or in Ontario, (as in Burlington or Mississauga). That’s probably why it works. The reason is density, in having services conveniently located to be within easy walking or cycling distance.

VAUBAN, Germany — Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.
Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.
As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. “When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.

Read the New York Times article here: Nearly Car Free

All the colours of the rainbow...

(from Pam's House Blend) 359 people from 48 countries take part in massive global web video project to mark the IDAHO 2009

05.17.2009 - A global project to create a public awareness video for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO) on May 17 has attracted the participation of 359 people from 48 countries across six continents around the world. The groundbreaking project is a joint undertaking of the Paris-based IDAHO Committee and the social network, attracting 50,000 people to its website within a month.

In April, members of the global LGBT community were invited to step out in front of the camera and in their own language introduce themselves, state where they are from and how proud they are to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The result is a video that sends the powerful message that LGBT individuals are present in every country, every society and every corner of the world. Participants submitted videos in all of the world's key languages, including Afrikaans, Arabic, Cantonese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tamil and even American Sign Language.

When so many places in the world have laws against homosexuality and even in some cases deny it's existence within their borders, this campaign and video manages to portray in a very simple and positive way that "I'm proud to be gay."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

International Anti-Homophobia Day - time to reflect

Today marked the international day against Homophobia.

A good enough reason to reflect on the insidiousness of this problem:

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