Xtra
7 min

Lacklustre leadership speeches

And those were the final NDP leadership
candidate presentations. And how very . . . underwhelming they were. Nathan Cullen’s
was spare and he had lots of personal anecdotes about fighting the Northern
Gateway pipeline, but he shied away from spelling out his plan to run joint
nominations with Liberals (and presumably Green) candidates. Paul Dewar had a
slew of introductions, ranging from the horrible off-key hip-hop warbling of
Charlie Angus to a video of Maher Arar, but his French remained terrible, and
his claims of taking on Harper and winning (over Afghan detainees) were grossly
exaggerated. Brian Topp’s performance was fairly wooden, but professional. Niki
Ashton had a “Madonna mic” and looked to be doing her best mega-church
televangelist impersonation, but as is typical of Ashton, she gave plenty of
platitudes and her “warning to Harper” but said little of consequence other
than she wants to draft a “Lethbridge Declaration” to win the West. Thomas
Mulcair blew his timing with a five-minute video with bad lighting and echoing
sound, a six-minute lead-in drum line, another video, more introductions, and
four minutes to rush through his prepared speech, which he read off paper,
rather than the teleprompters provided. Peggy Nash was worse, with her own
videos demonstrating poor sound mixing, endorsements, and she went so far over
her 20 minutes that they played her off with her closing song – which was
also Dalton McGuinty’s campaign song (“Hello,” by Martin Solveig and Dragonette
– the lead singer of which is Ontario Liberal MPP Greg Sorbara’s daughter). In
other words, Nash proved that she couldn’t manage a 20-minute presentation.
And Martin Singh had a fantastic animated video presentation that was all
about his story but didn’t convey anything about the kind of size and scope of
a leadership role, followed by a violin solo from his son and his final
remarks. In all, the afternoon was a case study in the decline of the art of
oratory in Canadian politics. More commentary from Andrew CoyneChantal HébertMark Kennedy and John Geddes and Aaron Wherry from Maclean’s. First-round voting results come in at 10am; subsequent
rounds continue through the day.

Chief of Defence Staff General Walt
Natynczyk suspects that someone high up in the Conservative government leaked
his (entirely legitimate) use of a Challenger jet to the media as some part of
a campaign to embarrass him. MacKay and the PMO deny this, of course, but it
does show us a rift between the military and the ostensibly pro-military party
in government.

Today’s Robocon revelations are that the
man behind “Pierre Poutine” set up – and then abandoned – a series of robo-calls
set for election day that were to appear to be from Frank Valeriote’s campaign
office, and apparently they were to sound like they supported
Valeriote. The likelihood is that this was going to be another means of
annoying Valeriote supporters into not voting for him, or not voting at all.

In amidst the NDP leadership and attack ads
against Bob Rae, a few anonymous Liberals – and a few not so anonymous ones –
think that they should move up their own leadership contest, with the suggestion that
they crown Bob Rae. And . . . cue the internal division. But the party president came
out to put the kibosh on that, so keep calm and carry on, and all of that.

An Osgoode Hall law professor finds that
luck of the draw can be a large determining factor when it comes to the success
of a refugee’s claim, considering the records of certain IRB adjudicators, and
similarly if they try to appeal to the Federal Court to have a negative
decision overturned. And yes, there does seem to be some correlation between
Liberal and Conservative appointees, both in the IRB and the Federal Court.

As New Brunswick and British Columbia look
at creating Senate “election” legislation and frameworks (such as creating
electoral districts), there remains no actual vision of what a “reformed”
Senate will look like. Which, believe it or not, is actually a Very Big Problem.

From Thailand, Harper says he wants us to pursue a free-trade agreement with that country, as well as set up police cooperation
on human smuggling groups that operate out of that country.

And the Supreme Court has ruled that
aboriginal background must be taken into consideration during sentencing, which
could have an effect on all those forthcoming mandatory minimums.

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