One side of Mountie culture does look pro “Harper Government” .. and other noise along the campaign trail

Apr 7th, 2011 | By | Category: In Brief

If none of the current Canadian party leaders quite redeem themselves on May 2 (including Elizabeth May of course), here is a possible fresh face for the future. Emmanuelle Chriqui was born in Montreal, raised in the Toronto exurbs, and began her professional career in Vancouver. Perhaps best known for her role on HBO's Entourage as Sloan McQuewick, she has also joined Showtime's new series on The Borgias. In May 2010, she topped the AskMen.com Most Desirable Women of 2010 list.

Almost exactly three years ago now, it was reported that: “Former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli’s decision to name then-Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodale in a criminal investigation likely influenced the 2006 federal election, the chair of the RCMP public complaints commission says.”

Mr. Zaccardelli’s action did seem to correlate remarkably closely with the ultimate shift in  opinion polls which led to the narrow plurality of the first Harper minority government. Mr. Goodale was subsequently altogether exonerated. And ever since many who are not aggressive Conservatives have entertained doubts about the political non-partisanship of Canada’s national police force. Over the past few days of the 2011 federal election campaign these doubts have re-surfaced on two different fronts.

To start with, it now appears that it was William Elliott, the current head of the RCMP (appointed by the Harper Government) who gave the controversial “Mr. Fixit” of the early Harper PMO, Bruce Carson, a security clearance — despite a more extensive criminal record than Mr. Harper claims to have been aware of. Mr. Elliott himself is “stepping down in the summer after a controversial reign and public battles with senior RCMP brass over his management style.” So it may be convenient for him to take the blame for Mr. Carson’s security clearance. (And besides, recently appointed Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin says, there are also “people working in Liberal campaign headquarters who have had ‘run-ins’ with the law.” Mmmm …  What big eyes you have, etc.) These fresh linkages between the Mounties and the Harper Government, however, will no doubt bring back old memories for some among us.

Bruce Carson, left, and Ian Brodie, former chief-of-staff to Stephen Harper, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, May 2008. JAKE WRIGHT/THE CANADIAN PRESS.

To add a little icing to this particular election campaign cake, the RCMP has also just “admitted it helped remove unregistered attendees from Conservative events in southwestern Ontario this week, but says it’s not the force’s job to help political party organizers limit access to political events … In a statement Wednesday, the RCMP said it is responsible only for the protection of the party leaders, and that officers have now been reminded of their duties … ‘The RCMP assisted the party organizers in restricting access to persons not registered for the private event,’ Sgt. Greg Cox said in the statement … ‘This was not in accordance with the RCMP’s mandate, and RCMP members have been reminded of our responsibilities.’” (Mmmm, again. Or, to quote from a recent tweet we have admired from afar: “the Conservative Party of Canada : fostering fear and hatred among Canadians for a better tomorrow…what could possibly go wrong”?)

UPDATE APRIL 7, 7 PM ET: The plot on William Elliott’s role in Bruce Carson’s security clearance thickened early this evening. As reported in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, eg: “The Privy Council Office said Thursday that RCMP commissioner William Elliott did not approve the security clearance for Bruce Carson while Elliott was a national security adviser, contradicting a report in The Chronicle Herald … The Chronicle Herald and CBC both published stories … stating that Elliott, who was national security adviser at the time that Stephen Harper became prime minister, was responsible for the approval. The Chronicle Herald’s story was based on a source with knowledge of the process … Elliott has not publicly commented on the stories that reported he was involved in the clearance or had knowledge of Carson’s convictions.”

Mr. Elliott’s connection to the Mounties came later in any case. It nonetheless still seems to us that it does, as noted above, revive some old memories of the 2006 election campaign. Just how Mr. Carson received his security clearance, however, apparently remains something of a mystery — just in case anyone actually is interested!

Key current polls …

Meanwhile, back at various interim polling stations that do not finally count, the daily Nanos poll went from “Tories maintain 10-point lead but face ‘potential drop’ in BC” yesterday to “Tories hold 9-point national lead, but support softens in BC” today. Today’s (or more exactly yesterday’s) numbers are: Cons 39.6%, Libs 30.4%, NDP 17.2%, Bloc 8.3%, Greens 3.2%, [Other 1.3%].

Nanos is a “national random telephone survey” and presents a “Three Day Rolling Average” for April 4–6. Two other recent polls use somewhat different methodologies. The Toronto Star/La Presse poll by Angus Reid is an April 4-5 online survey of 2,031 Canadians. It shows Cons 38%, Libs 27%, NDP 21%, Bloc 8%, and Greens 6%.

EKOS, in “an effort to reduce the coverage bias of landline only RDD … created a dual landline/cell phone RDD sampling frame” for  a random sample of 1,171 Canadians, April 4–5. It shows Cons 37.0%, Libs  27.8% , NDP 16.1%, Greens 9.3%, Bloc 6.9%, and Other 2.9%.

All these polls show results for decided voters only. Nanos reports 17.7% undecided, Canada-wide. Averaging all polls and assuming Nanos’s reported undecided vote in all cases, gives these results, in round numbers: Cons 32%, Libs 23%, Undecided 18%, NDP 15%, Bloc 6%, Greens 5%, Other 1%.

The view from the Toronto Star

The headline for the Toronto Star/La Presse poll by Angus Reid in the Toronto Star summarizes what could be seen as the best case so far for the still quite beleaguered Liberal challengers: “Ignatieff’s appeal improving but Harper still leads, poll says.”

In the same newspaper Thomas Walkom has recently published two more-intriguing-than-usual columns: “Walkom: The reasons for Harper’s paranoia”;  and “Walkom: At the door, voters are wary and skeptical … AJAX [Ontario, of course] … If voters in this suburban town are indicative, Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals have far, far to go … But Stephen Harper’s dream of a majority Conservative government is certainly not in the bag … During a day of unscientific conversations on doorsteps and in shopping malls, I found an electorate that remains suspicious of Ignatieff, unenthusiastic about the May 2 federal election, yet wary of Harper.”

To round some part of the same picture out, see also, from the same newspaper again : Hepburn: “It’s all about Ignatieff” ; and “Carson was ‘Harper’s guy’ on Afghan file.”

More from Central Canada …

Yesterday Dan Gardner in the Ottawa Citizen asked what struck many of us here (and at our monthly focus group meeting last night) as a very good question: “Are we going to reward contempt of Parliament?” Mr. Gardner concluded with: “it seems most of the public either does not know or does not care that Canada’s head of government has repeatedly lied about Canada’s Constitution. Nor are they concerned that the government has shown so little respect for the constitutional order that Parliament was forced to find it in contempt … In the week following Parliament’s historic condemnation of the Harper government, polls showed support for the Conservatives either stayed flat in the high 30s or rose into the low 40s. If that’s how Canadians vote on May 2, we’ll get a Conservative majority … Contempt for Parliament will be rewarded. And then … we’ll be in real trouble.” (Not everyone will agree, of course, but …)

On somewhat more (or, conceivably, still others might think less?) optimistic notes, see: “A Tory minority seems as inevitable as its demise” ; “Corporate tax cuts don’t spur growth, analysis reveals as election pledges fly” ; and “US defence expert says jets will cost double DND and Tory estimates.”

Western Canada (and Quebec) …

Inadvertently or otherwise, President Obama to the south of us may have very gently intervened in the Canadian federal election campaign of 2011. See : “Obama says Alberta’s oilsands potentially ‘destructive’.”

Two articles from the Vancouver Sun also hold out some no doubt very dim prospect that fans of  Alberta’s oilsands could see some logic to a prime minister other than Stephen Harper, if a critical President Obama is re-elected in 2012 — along with a Congress less dominated by Tea Party Republican values. See : “Oilsands more than a PR problem: Ignatieff” ; and “Ignatieff heaps praise on West for climate change action … ‘Some of the most dramatic and important work to improve the environment in the oilsands has been taken by the Alberta government,’ he said … Although his campaign has not yet made stops in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Ignatieff said these provinces would not be left out.” (As happy as they may be if they were?)

Finally, back east on the banks of the old St. Lawrence “River of Canada”  Randall Palmer at Reuters has been explaining to anyone in the outside world who may actually be listening that “Separatists could decide on who governs Canada.”

More from the Vancouver raincoast : tastefully naked celebrities (and Jodie Emery)

The arrival of a fresh comment on a September 2009 article on this site has drawn our attention to an issue that, in a more sensible world than the one we have in Canada today, would certainly figure in the Canadian federal election of 2011. As best we can make out, the comment comes from Helena Guergis’s part of Southern Ontario. But the issue has a particular Vancouver twist. See the original article on this site: “Marc Emery’s chant of the weed: Stephen Harper just visiting Canada too.” [UPDATE APRIL 8: We have been a bit hasty in our “in a more sensible world” conclusion here. At least one party is trying to be sensible: “A Green government would bring the ‘voice of reason’ to Ottawa, leader Elizabeth May said Thursday as she unveiled an election platform that promises to overhaul Parliament, jack up corporate taxes and legalize marijuana.”]

Perhaps as relief from the stress (and intermittent sheer boredom?) of Campaign 2011, the Vancouver Sun website is currently featuring an engaging visual retrospective called “Photos: Tastefully naked celebrities? … Is there such a thing as tastefully naked? When celebrities doff their duds, is it all about the art or more about elevating their number of trenchcoat-wearing Twitter followers? Here are some shots of some almost naked celebrities that have recently been in the news — you be the judge as to the level of art involved.”

We are indebted to this same attraction for suggesting the concept of illustrating our election campaign report here with some tasteful photographs of Emmanuelle Chriqui.

As explained by Wikipedia, Ms. Chriqui “was born in Montreal, Quebec, the daughter of Moroccan Jewish immigrants. Her mother was born in Casablanca and her father in Rabat, and Chriqui has relatives in Israel. Her family practised Orthodox Judaism in the Sephardic tradition … When she was almost two, her family moved to Toronto, Ontario. She grew up in Markham-Unionville, a suburb northeast of the city. Her mother, who once told her she would become an actress, passed away when Chriqui was very young … As a child, she took acting classes, for which her older brother paid. Chriqui attended the drama program at Unionville High School. After high school, Emmanuelle decided to pursue a career in acting.”

The Wikipedia article carries on: “Chriqui began acting as a 10-year-old in a McDonald’s commercial. She moved to Vancouver in the mid-1990s, guest-starring in series such as Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Forever Knight, Once a Thief, and Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal … She is perhaps best known for her role on HBO’s Entourage as Sloan McQuewick, as well as the love interest of Adam Sandler in the movie You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. In May 2010, she topped the AskMen.com Most Desirable Women of 2010 list … Chriqui has joined Showtime’s upcoming series, The Borgias.”

We can still be proud, no doubt, that our latest bouts of sordid Canadian federal politics in the Sodom and Gomorrah of Ottawa, Ontario fall short of the altogether appalling examples set by The Borgias long ago, in another part of the global village. And if Emmanuelle Chriqui does become over the next few decades the kind of icon of Canadian femininity that Pamela Anderson has provided over the past few decades (successful at home and abroad, just like Michael Ignatieff?), some and perhaps even many will at least see that as a sign of continuing cultural advance, and perhaps even one kind of political progress too!

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