Archive for April, 2012

In Alberta, Redford rewards crony with plum job

- April 30th, 2012

Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party came close to ending the 41-year-old dynasty of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta partly because many voters appeared unhappy with what they saw as the arrogance and entitlement of the ruling party.

Still, Alison Redford led her PCs to a resounding win a week ago, winning another healthy majority and ensuring that the PCs of Alberta will be the longest-lived political dynasty ever in Canada’s history when Albertans next go to the polls in 2016.

And yet, Redford’s choice of her new chief staff suggests she may have missed Albertans’ frustration about Tory entitlement. Redford announced today that Farouk Adatia would be her new chief of staffRead more…

Politics, Twitter, and the MSM: What to make of it all?

- April 30th, 2012

Highly recommend an essay by Jean Burgess and Axel Bruns in a recent issue of Journalism Practice. It’s called “(Not) The Twitter Election: The dynamics of the #ausvotes conversation in relation to the Australian media ecology”. [Like most scholarly publishers, the publishers of this paper insist on locking this up behind a paywall so you'll have to seek out your favourite library, I'm afraid]  Here’s the abstract:

This paper draws on a larger study of the uses of Australian user-created content and online social networks to examine the relationships between professional journalists and highly engaged Australian users of political media within the wider media ecology, with a particular focus on Twitter. It uses an analysis of topic-based conversation networks using the #ausvotes hashtag on Twitter around the 2010 federal election to explore the key themes and issues addressed by this Twitter community during the campaign, and finds that Twitter users were largely commenting on the performance of mainstream media and politicians rather than engaging in direct political discussion. The often critical attitude of Twitter users towards the political establishment mirrors the approach of news and political bloggers to political actors, nearly a decade earlier, but the increasing adoption of Twitter as a communication tool by politicians, journalists, and everyday users alike makes a repetition of the polarisation experienced at that time appear unlikely.

Some quick notes after reading the paper: Read more…

A political basketball tournament — and my big smashed nose

- April 30th, 2012
Senator Jim Munson on the court

Senator Jim Munson gets ready to lead his Liberal basketball team.

Played basketball tonight in a four-team tournament: Press Gallery (my team) vs Conservatives vs the NDP vs Liberals. The political teams each had a couple of MPs/Senators supported by lots of young political staffers who play like Steve Nash.

The Media team squeaked by the NDP by 2 points and ended up in the finals against the Conservatives who beat the Liberals. The Liberals were led by the indomitable (if tiny) Senator Jim Munson (right) who were gallant in defeat. The NDP side was led by MPs Peter Julian and Alex Atamanenko playing low post (they’re big guys) with Dennis Bevington and Matthew Dubé being the ball-control wizards.

The Conservatives have an ace in the Hon. Rob Merrifield, the western Alberta MP, who shoots left and apparently doesn’t miss. Also saw lots of flashes of brilliance from MPs Scott Armstrong, David Wilks, and James Bezan.

 

 

The pleasant post-game visit to the emergency department

Your correspondent's pleasant post-game visit to the emergency department

In the finals against, the Tories,  things didn’t go well for me or my Media team. The team got thrashed and I left late in the game after my nose connected rather violently with a Conservative elbow. Here’s me (left) in emergency after where I was thrilled to find out I won’t have to see a plastic surgeon. Still, my nose is pointing a different direction as I go to bed tonight than it was when I woke up! I’m told it will heal “straight”. In the meantime, congratulations Conservatives!

Election financing laws: Re-thinking restrictions on third-party spending

- April 29th, 2012

I am a great fan of Canada’s political finance laws and the reforms enacted by both the governments of Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper. Among other things, our political finance laws prohibit significant third-party spending during election campaigns. I’ve thought that this limit on freedom of expression was appropriate in that its aim was to provide fair access to the public common during a writ period. Mostly, I look to the U.S. and see the distortions in their political system because of Big Money. Obama will likely spend $1 billion on his re-election campaign this year. $1 billion! I would be surprised if the total spending in Canada’s federal election last year for every local candidate and the national campaigns in 2011 hit $100 million.

But now, after reading an interesting essay from  Pauline Beange, a University of Toronto scholar, I’m ready to re-examine some of my assumptions about the restrictions we have on political financing.  Read more…

From Harper to Redford, the politics of fear works

- April 24th, 2012


It matters not if you’re an incumbent of the left, centre, or right. Painting the other guy or gal as scary is how incumbents are holding on to power in Canada.

And it works.

Here’s the argument as it will appear Wednesday in our papers across the country.

[Picture: Taken by me on Sunday in the riding of Calgary-Currie. Premier Alison Redford hugs a supporter during one of 9 campaign events she held Sunday. This one would help spur rookie Christine Cusanelli into the Alberta legislature for the first time.]