The cat blog: Ignatieff vs. Harper

A fact that should frighten us all: the Prime Minister’s cat positives/negatives and Ignatieff’s cat positives/negatives will actually swing a few votes.

The purpose of the cat photo-op for the Prime Minister is to show the “softer side of Steve” according to those that run focus groups. The sweater during the last campaign had the same objective. For years, the Liberals have tried to craft an image of the Prime Minister of a scary, mean and cold man. Kittens and sweaters? All that’s missing is the trolly to the land of Make-Believe, neighbour. Prime Ministerial image crafting aside, to most voters the PM has instead turned out to be calm, predictable and maybe even a little boring. But, against the crafted image of the fearsome ogre by his opponents, the realities both crafted and actual serve him well.

Here, Michael Ignatieff — in sweater — stares down his cat. Ignatieff’s perceived negatives — that he’s arrogant, aloof, crafty and out-of-touch — are not diminished by the cat photo-op. Stephane Dion named his dog Kyoto to emphasize a clear policy initiative of his leadership. Mr. Ignatieff has not carved out any bold policy direction on much of anything and naming the cat Nuance may be a move that only Ignatieff and the cat understand.

Frank Klees interview

Frank Klees is running for the leadership of the PC Party of Ontario and took some time to chat with me today about what his bid means and where Ontario needs to go given the tough economic times and new taxation structure being implemented by Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty. Frank also discusses specific policy measures that he would or would not implement.

Related: Tim Hudak interview, Christine Elliott interview, Randy Hillier interview

Danielle Smith Wildrose Alliance leadership bid is very likely

Danielle Smith is the former Alberta director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and is a regular commentator on Canadian politics. She resigned her position at the CFIB because it suddenly presented a “conflict” for other opportunities, namely seeking the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance now that Paul Hinman has stepped down. I asked her about Alberta politics, refreshing conservatism and her very likely bid.

Larry Summers nods off

US President Barack Obama’s economic adviser Larry Summers is seen here dozing off during a press conference with reporters while his boss explains what he learned about interest payments on borrowed money from the credit card companies.

Michael Ignatieff is said to have met with Summers later on for a private dinner.

If the most exciting political leader of our generation™ put an economist into snooze-mode, I can’t imagine what sort of responsive state Summers is in today after his meeting with Dr. Michael life-of-the-party Ignatieff.

The Liberal leader’s new book is titled True Patriot Love wherein Ignatieff recounts four generations of his family. One wonders if Ignatieff presented Summers with a copy for bedtime reading. Early reviews indicate that it’s no Dreams from My Father. But, who knows, it still could be a sleeper hit.

Press Gallery off message

Sun Media’s Elizabeth Thompson:

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper described last Fall’s stock market dive as “a great buying opportunity,” it was seen by many as a bit insensitive, given the number of Canadians who had just seen a good chunk of their retirement savings melt away.

On Feb.10, when the S&P/TSX hit 8,817.89 – one of the lower points since Harper’s comments – an anonymous tech savvy individual registered the web address and created the Harperdex, which set out to track how much the $1,000 invested the day after Harper’s comments would be worth.
But stock markets are like public opinion polls and what goes down eventually goes up again. At noon today, the Harperdex shows that $1,000 is now worth $1,003 – probably not what the creator of the Harperdex had in mind.

Oh, Liz… you presume too much!

We learn from Canwest’s David Akin,

Ottawa Citizen reporter Glen McGregor quickly put up (mostly, he says, as a fun exercise in some Web programming techniques). The idea was simple: If you had invested $1,000 in the S&P/TSX Composite Index the day after Harper said “Buy”, the HarperDex will tell you what that $1,000 is worth.

It’s good to see that the Liberals are getting some help creating anti-Harper mini-sites. Now, if only we could find out which journalist is moonlighting as Perez Hudak?

Justin Trudeau on Michael Ignatieff

“…je pense qu’une des grandes différences entre Ignatieff et mon père et là, je vais sûrement me mettre un peu dans le trouble, c’est au niveau de la force de son jugement.

I think that one of the big differences between Ignatieff and my father, I’ll be surely getting myself in a bit of trouble here, it’s a level of the force of his judgment.

Avec Ignatieff, il est un peu partout des fois. Il dit ceci, il dit cela, il se contredit. Il n’a pas la clarté que mon père a pu avoir

With Ignatieff, he’s a bit all over at times. He says this, he says that, he contradicts himself. He doesn’t have the clarity that my father could have.

Il a peut-être l’intelligence, mais il n’a peut-être pas la sagesse nécessaire.

He maybe has the intelligence, but he does not have, maybe, the necessary wisdom.

h/t: lesbleus

Ignatieff was once arrested…

…for trying to overthrow the government and install a dictatorship?

That’s the rumour according to the New York Times. And that’s a little bit of a fun history for you this Thursday afternoon. Who knew that about 100 years later, another Ignatieff would be wrapped up in crafty political games?

Here’s the story from the December 14th 1905 edition of the New York Times.

Planned to Dispose Czar?
Rumor in St. Petersburg that Ignatieff has been arrested

LONDON, Thursday December 14 — The correspondent of the Times in St. Petersburg says a wild story is in circulation there that Gen. Count Alexis Ignatieff has been arrested by order of the Emperor for plotting to establish a dictatorship.

Inquiry at Count Ignatieff’s house, the correspondent says, failed to elicit either confirmation or denial of the story.

Of course, that’s Count Alexis Ignatieff that’s referenced in the New York Times piece.

Things do change and thankfully we favour ballots, though today’s Ignatieff now insists he was a reluctant party to the coalition takeover plan of the government in an attempt to circumvent the ballot box and overturn the result that came from the election just six weeks earlier.

Oh, that and the Times might be selling for a penny again sometime soon.

Seen on the Hill: Jack Layton addresses the Tamil rally

From the Ottawa Citizen:

The red Tamil flag, with its tiger head and crossed rifles, had been a source of controversy during the protest, which is now in its third week. The protesters decided to leave the flags at home on Tuesday in a bid to have Canadian MPs hear their message.

Federal politicians have so far kept their distance from the protesters, nervous about the optics of being associated with protesters waving a flag identified with terrorism.

“The majority of people have made a collective decision to hold their flags in their hearts and minds, and not display them publicly,” Sentha Nada, a demonstrator from Toronto, said of Tuesday’s demonstration on the Hill.

Here’s some more background