Tuesday, January 17, 2006

2006 federal election - episode 7

Warehouse Election Central

Less than a week to go...

Most Obscure Political Party Award
Unusual Political Party of the Day
Official campaign vehicle found this weekend in Kensington Market. Unverified rumour as to whether their campaign song is a reinterpretation of the Ramones' The KKK Took My Baby Away.

Celebrity Endorsement of the Week
Celebrity Endorsement?
When a race is as tight as the fight between Olivia Chow (NDP) and Tony Ianno (Liberal) in Trinity-Spadina, any endorsement will do, as in this sign found on Dundas across the street from the construction site formerly known as the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Newsstand Watch
A.S. Pryncesse looks at what the papers say...

I think the Globe has developed a split personality…

Just when I thought I had pigeonholed the paper as having jumped on the Smug Stephen bandwagon, it decided last Friday to front a large picture of Smug Stephen beside Ricky from Trailer Park Boys, along with the question ‘Evolved?’ While comparing Smuggy to white trash isn’t exactly a subtle approach to reporting, it’s perversely encouraging to know the paper hasn’t really stopped wearing its Liberal colours.

The question of Smuggy’s identity seems to be occupying the minds of all of the papers as the Conservatives get closer and closer to an election victory by campaigning closer and closer to the centre. The Globe jumped into the debate head first, posing the question ‘Who is Stephen Harper?’ on the front of last Saturday’s edition. In his article, John Ibbitson paints Smug Stephen as an asthmatic, narrow-minded nerd who likes to have a good sulk when he doesn’t get his way. The Post’s article from the same day portrayed him as the ultimate team player, surrounding himself with a large group of advisors from whom he absorbs information like a sponge. The Star weighed in on the question through its Letters page, leading with an incredulous missive from a former American who states that Harper’s right-wing history invalidates any attempt to campaign as a centrist.

If personality profiles are a bit soft for you, you can always try to find reality in the numbers. And if not reality then at least another cheap laugh. The Post, despite flattening Conservative support, decided on Tuesday to claim continued growth in Qu├ębec (once again ignoring the margin of error). The Star, however, informed readers the race was "tightening". The Globe’s lengthy article managed to say nothing one way or another, but it did include an alarm-sized headline alerting readers that over half of Canadians are now comfortable with the idea of a Tory majority.

Speaking of numbers, all of the papers are assisting in the your-numbers-are-screwed-up-oh-yeah-well-so-says-you that is passing for debate on the Conservatives’ spending estimates (specifically the source of the $22.7 billion surplus that would be guaranteed if Smuggy were PM). The Globe on Tuesday fronted Paul Martin’s claim that the Conservative plan is "incompetent" after also running a ‘Reality Check’ in last Saturday’s edition. That same day the Star reported that government expenses would likely be rolled back in almost all government departments in order to balance the books. Remarkably, the Post has been silent on the issue.

(See, some papers don’t ever forget their identity).

By The Numbers: The Manor Rd Sign Count
The Bicycle Meets Its Local Candidates
Has Manor Rd signage followed the polls and media? Our number-crunchers take a look...

The numbers, as of 10pm, Jan 16/06, with 29 signs reporting in:
34.5% Liberal (Carolyn Bennett - 10, up 3)
34.5% Conservative (Peter Kent - 10, up 1)
27.6% NDP (Paul Summerville - 8, no change)
3.4% Green (no candidate indicated on sign, riding link - 1, no change)
0% Other - 0 (no "other" candidates in the riding)

The Bennett camp finally jumped into the fray, though we were surprised to see how small the increase in signage was, as larger signs have created a greater impression. The new Bennett signs downplay Paul Martin, as his visage no longer appears. Bennett has also been absent in the mailbox flyer/telephone message/media appearance department, which may be playing a part in the transformation from another Liberal steamroller to a close call.

As noted at Paved, blogs belittling Bennett and Kent have popped up, with identical generic Blogger layouts. Meh.

Kent has held strong, unlike Barry Cline in 2004, whose sign total went down as the campaign wore on. Media connections haven't hurt, as he has popped up on every other "let's talk to local candidates" forum or call-in show on radio. Perceived to be more moderate than most Conservative candidates, Kent has had an easier ride than other local "star" aspirants to office - on the west side of the city, Michael Ignatieff proves how pinning your party's hopes on a recognized name may be not be a wise move.

Summerville seems to be staying the course, as no home on Manor has switched their sign to Bennett (or Kent) in a panic. He leads the pack in telemarketing, with party elders as pitchmen - this week, Stephen Lewis asked for support.

Green Party candidate Kevin Farmer has been invisible to the average, semi-attentive voter in the neighbourhood. No flyers, signs (other than generic) or callarounds, little press, etc, unlike Peter Elgie in 2004. We don't forsee a spoiler role for the Greens in St. Paul's. - AP, JB

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