Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Long December

Time to look at December's polling. Four national polls were taken during this month (two fewer than last month), totalling about 10,200 interviews. Here are the results we get at the national level, with the difference from last month's average in brackets.

Conservatives - 36.8% (-0.5)
Liberals - 28.1% (+2.0)
New Democrats - 17.1% (unchanged)
Bloc Quebecois - 9.5% (unchanged)
Greens - 8.1% (-1.7)

The Liberals, for once, are the big winners this month. They are the only party that has grown at the national level, jumping up two points. This gain seems to have come primarily from the Conservatives and the Greens. The Conservatives are only down half-a-point, but the Greens are down almost two. The current party standings are very close to the 2008 election results. They are also pretty close to the 2006 results. We're somewhere in between.

The seat projection for these results is as follows, with the difference from last month in brackets:

Conservatives - 140 (-9)
Liberals - 86 (+7)
Bloc Quebecois - 50 (unchanged)
New Democrats - 32 (+2)
Greens - 0 (unchanged)

The Conservatives drop quite a bit, moving them below their 2008 electoral results and far from a majority. Both the Liberals and the New Democrats gain as compared to November, but the situation would still not be much different than it is right now. A result like this would be good enough for Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe to stay as leaders of their parties, but one wonders whether Michael Ignatieff, with only a ten seat gain over Stephane Dion's result, and Stephen Harper, with fewer seats and another minority, would want to stick around.The regional results, with difference from last month in brackets:

BRITISH COLUMBIA (4 polls - about 1,180 people)

Conservatives - 38.8% (+0.3)
New Democrats - 26.3% (+0.4)
Liberals - 25.1% (+3.1)
Greens - 9.6% (-3.6)

The Conservatives gain a teeny bit of ground, but it doesn't make up for the 2.7 points lost in November. The Liberals make a big jump, but are still behind the NDP. The Greens take a plunge, erasing the gains they made in November. The province is becoming a bit of a battle ground once again.

ALBERTA (3 polls - about 850 people)

Conservatives - 58.5% (-1.6)
Liberals - 19.6% (+2.5)
Greens - 11.1% (-0.7)
New Democrats - 10.8% (+0.2)

The Conservatives drop, but overall they're steady as they had gained a point in November. Most of that support has gone to the Liberals, as they are up quite a bit. The NDP is steady but is still behind the Greens, who have managed to hold on to a lot of their November gains.

PRAIRIES (3 polls - about 500 people)

Conservatives - 52.4% (+0.8)
New Democrats - 21.4% (-1.1)
Liberals - 18.2% (+0.6)
Greens - 7.9% (-0.1)

The Conservatives are up almost a full point, and are comfortably over the psychological 50% milestone. The Liberals are also up, but still far too low overall. The NDP appears to be bleeding some support, but they are still in a decent second spot.

ONTARIO (4 polls - about 3,050 people)

Conservatives - 39.1% (-0.9)
Liberals - 34.3% (+2.0)
New Democrats - 16.5% (-0.5)
Greens - 10.0% (-0.3)

The Conservatives are down almost a full point, marking losses of more than three points over the last two months. They are still, however, in a very comfortable lead. The Liberals have another month of gain in the province, and are getting back to respectable levels of support. The NDP is down, but is still within range of where they want to be on election night. The Greens barely keep themselves in double-digits, which would be a moral victory for them.

QUEBEC (5 polls - about 2,320 people)

Bloc Quebecois - 37.8% (+0.2)
Liberals - 25.5% (+2.9)
Conservatives - 18.7% (-1.9)
New Democrats - 10.8% (-1.4)
Greens - 6.6% (-0.5)

The Bloc is very steady, as they have erased their small loss of November. The Liberals have recovered from November's losses, and are riding higher than their 2008 results. The Conservatives are down almost two entire points, and are dropping away from the 20% they need to be at. The NDP throws away most of the gains they made in November, but are still in a decent position (for them).

ATLANTIC CANADA (4 polls - about 660 people)

Conservatives - 35.7% (+0.6)
Liberals - 31.7% (unchanged)
New Democrats - 28.8% (+3.8)
Greens - 4.0% (-4.4)

The Conservatives make some gains, and have a decent lead in the region. The Liberals are steady, which is a bad thing considering they lost more than four points in November. Their former, and sole remaining, "bastion" is now a troublesome region for the party. Not so for the NDP, who gain almost four points in the region. That marks a nearly eight point gain over two months. The NDP has real momentum in the region, and it would not be surprising to see them jump into second place in January. The Greens are down big.

The Conservatives did not have a very good month, which isn't too surprising considering what was going on in December with the detainee issue. But, they had no big losses, nor any big gains, so it really was a relatively stable month for them, with a small down-tick. However, as they seem to have lost ground almost exclusively to the Liberals, that makes it a bad month.

The Liberals had a terrific month, considering how bad things have been going for them since September. They had gains in all regions except Atlantic Canada, where they were stable. And they had big gains in important places, like British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

The NDP had a so-so month, with small gains in British Columbia and Alberta and small losses in Ontario and the Prairies. The bright spot is the steady improvement in Atlantic Canada.

The Bloc had another stable month in Quebec, while the Greens posted big losses in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada.

In short, 2010 begins with the same things we saw at the end of 2008. However, some potential story lines are emerging. The Liberals appear to be recovering in the battleground provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. The Conservatives still have a government-forming lead, but are showing signs of weakness, particularly in Quebec. The NDP is back to being competitive, and could make some noise in Atlantic Canada. The Bloc is not going away and the Greens aren't electing anyone.

Things should be relatively quiet until March, when Parliament resumes. There still could be some interesting political events, however. And things should ramp up very quickly after the Olympics, as some of the pundits are saying a Spring 2010 election is a distinct possibility. But, then again, a 2009 election was a distinct possibility. I was absolutely certain that we were going to the polls in October. I'm starting to believe that the various parties have realised it is easier to eat their hats for a little while rather than go back to the polls. It used to be that parties would go to any length to get an election (remember Cadman?). Now, they will go to any length to avoid one (proroguing, doing a 180 on basic principles). After five years, are politicians beginning to learn the tricks of a minority parliament?

26 comments:

  1. J. Kenneth yurchuk06 January, 2010 12:49

    There is a rather interesting phenomenon going on on facebook. CAPP (Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament) is gaining support and growing virally (over 1000 new members perhour!) They now stand at about 65000, and expect to hit 100K before the weekend.

    They are in the process of organizing rallies across Canada, and seem to have tapped into a groundswell of discontent that the pollsters have mainly missed.

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  2. And as time goes by, people will forget about the whole Proroguing problem as the economy settles. Of the 65000 people who have joined CAPP, ask yourself this - how many of them voted against the Conservative Party of Canada? Most likely all of them, so really it does not change things much.

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  3. Like it or not, the Conservative government is the government of all Canadians.

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  4. You're right Eric, in saying that generally, the Conservatives are representative of all regions of Canada, which isn't something the Liberals can claim, since they're always generally weak in the West, which, like it or not, is a pretty big part of this country.

    However, just because the Conservative Party is representative, doesn't mean Harper is. He is a Westerner, and his entire goal seems to be to fight for Western interests. That is oddly always been the Conservative line; they build regional coalitions that are representative, yet their leaders tend to be attached to a specific region themselves. Then you have the Liberals, who aren't always regionally representative, yet a lot of times they do tend to govern as if they are.

    Canadian politics is so brilliantly odd.

    By the way, Eric; have you seen any recent Alberta polls? I suspect one has to come out soon, especially with those two floor crossers stirring up the pot.

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  5. No, not since the last ones.

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  6. Best story on the interweb about the prorogue IMHO:

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/05/stop-or-ill-tour/#idc-cover

    Not sure how wanting an election when in opposition and not wanting one when in power is 180 degree shift thou Eric.

    I've been saying for a while that Harper is like a Conservative Chretien in his tactics.

    If he ever gets to the chapter in the Jean Cretien Political Playbook about funneling govt. money to your friends and your party, I'll be done with him.

    Until then it's just bare knuckle politics.
    Same thing that has been going on in this country since I was a boy.

    I doubt the prorogue will move many votes in any event, time will tell thou.

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  7. --- "Not sure how wanting an election when in opposition and not wanting one when in power is 180 degree shift thou Eric."

    I was thinking of the NDP, not the Conservatives.

    --- "I've been saying for a while that Harper is like a Conservative Chretien in his tactics."

    That sounds about right. What's grating is that when Harper was in opposition he denounced those tactics. And now the general line from the Conservatives is that the Liberals shouldn't be denouncing what Harper is doing because Chretien did it. But then how can Harper do it when he denounced Chretien? etc.

    --- "If he ever gets to the chapter in the Jean Cretien Political Playbook about funneling govt. money to your friends and your party, I'll be done with him."

    It would be surprising if it came to something like that. From what I've heard, Harper doesn't exactly have cronies so I don't think it is a likelihood.

    --- "Until then it's just bare knuckle politics. Same thing that has been going on in this country since I was a boy."

    The defense that "it's always been like this" is a little disappointing (coming from anyone, including those in government). Wouldn't it be great if we did things differently, better?

    --- "I doubt the prorogue will move many votes in any event, time will tell though."

    I don't think it will have much of an effect, no. But, it just adds to the general portrait people have of the Conservatives and Harper. A move like those can make people on the fence lean away from the Tories.

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  8. Hey Eric, Happy New Year.

    I'm in favour of doing things both differently, and better. The problem is in defining "better".

    My "better" would be a Canadian Republic, with an elected Head of State, and an accountable senate.

    Probably all pipe dreams, and would certainly not be what a majority of Canadians would define as "better".

    I'm not in favour of the prorogue, but I also tell myself that I have never had to push my agenda thru a minority parliament either.

    I don't like the tactics, but I am fairly satisfied with Harpers results.
    If he uses the prorogue well (to the betterment of Canada), then I may learn to like it a little.

    I am a pragmatist at heart, and believe that we have to work with what we are given
    (especially with a Constitution we can't easily amend)

    I always did like the old "Politics ain't beanbag" quote.

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  9. Did Harper spend much time in opposition when Chrétien was Prime Minister? He served one term from 1993-1997, but that's pretty much it.

    If Harper criticized Chrétien while he was head of the NCC, I'd take that as him advocating the NCC's position rather than his own, so that's not hypocritical at all.

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  10. Harper was back in Parliament in June 2002. So aside from 1993-1997, they were both in Parliament for about 18 months between 2002 and 2003.

    But, anyway, I think I saw direct quote somewhere.

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  11. The Liberals have put together a good fact file on this issue:

    http://www.liberal.ca/en/newsroom/media-releases/17194_just-the-facts-shutting-down-parliament-in-perspective

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  12. Eric I'm curious why the seat number for the CPC is low in the Martimes when they lead there? Is their support so concentrated in NB that it doesn't translate into sears elsewhere? TIA.

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  13. They haven't led in Atlantic Canada long enough to give them the projected lead in Atlantic Canada, for one. Secondly, you have it, the Conservative vote is more concentrated and so performs worse.

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  14. Beans!

    Bare knuckle politics would be appointing Dominic Leblanc to be GG (seems fitting given the passing of his GG father).

    And then using Section 26, appointing 13 senators, one of which would be Irwin Cotler as a Conservative, plus Ujal Dosanj and Ralph Goodale as Liberals.

    Conservatives would have an absolute majority in the senate at that point, enough to take decisive control.

    That would set up by-elections for Iggy in which he'd lose at least 2 Liberal seats, possibly 4 in an absolute wipe out.

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  15. Shadow has a point. Harper could go quite a lot farther if he wanted to play hardball.

    It would be interesting to see if Ujjal or Goodale would take those appointments.

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  16. He can't appoint Cotler "as a Conservative". Senators cannot be whipped to vote a party line, since the party has no leverage, unlike MPs who would be facing re-election against someone else from their own party if they did not toe the party line.

    Of course Harper's desire for an elected Senate with fixed terms for which they could presumably stand for re-election, would change it into just another elected body where the members are beholden to political parties. It seems he dislikes the idea of a body where the members can speak their own minds and make their own voting decisions free from Party coercion.

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  17. "He can't appoint Cotler "as a Conservative"."

    If Cotler agrees and the senate Conservative caucus consents he may certainly do so.

    There has been talk of Cotler defecting for quite some time now over support of Israel.

    His wife has already ripped up her Liberal membership in protest of Ignatieff's regretable comments.

    "he dislikes the idea of a body where the members can speak their own minds and make their own voting decisions free from Party coercion."

    Sir, you badly misunderstand or are purposefully misrepresenting Harper's plans for senate reform.

    His proposal was that senators would be elected to a SINGLE, non-renewable 8 year term.

    The length of their term and the fact that they don't stand for re-election frees them from party considerations.

    The fact that they made certain promises to voters, were elected on their merits and reputation, and exist within the context of a caucus of other elected senators tends to weed out unworthy hacks and creates an expectation of accountability.

    Such a system would be very different from the house.

    Its merits may be argued and considered but i'll please ask you do not misrepresent Harper's plans in the future, even if it fits into your Harper is a proto-dictator media meme.

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  18. He can't appoint Cotler "as a Conservative"."

    If Cotler agrees and the senate Conservative caucus consents he may certainly do so
    .
    No, he can't. What exactly would Cotler be "agreeing" to? That he'll be a trained seal? Would there be an oath involved? Even MPs are not required to "agree" to anything, the Constitution only permits multiple political parties, otherwise parties have no legal force. They can only coerce by removing you from caucus and by not allowing your nomination in an election.

    There has been talk of Cotler defecting for quite some time now over support of Israel.
    He can certainly defect as an MP, but he cannot be forced to vote with the CPC in the Senate.

    His wife has already ripped up her Liberal membership in protest of Ignatieff's regretable comments.
    Baloney. She quit the party in protest and returned soon after leadership candidate Ignatieff apologized for his gaffe. She is quite steamed now about the canard you just provided being propagated just last year in the infamous 10 percenters.


    His proposal was that senators would be elected to a SINGLE, non-renewable 8 year term.
    Fair enough, I didn't know he wants it non-renewable. I presumed they could be re-elected. The US presidency is the only elected office I can think of with a limited number of terms. But why shouldn't it be renewable? I can see that provision being lost, or changed in a challenge.

    The fact that they made certain promises to voters, were elected on their merits and reputation, and exist within the context of a caucus of other elected senators tends to weed out unworthy hacks and creates an expectation of accountability.
    Why so? It would be no more accountable than the Commons, and would simply duplicate it.

    Such a system would be very different from the house.
    I don't think so. They would still be beholden to their party, since they would need a soft landing after leaving the Senate. They would still be pandering to voters to get elected.

    Its merits may be argued and considered but i'll please ask you do not misrepresent Harper's plans in the future, even if it fits into your Harper is a proto-dictator media meme.
    Harper misrepresents his own plans, but your point is taken.

    It seems to me that Harper is simply miffed that he can't control the Senate like his own caucus. He doesn't like that he can bully the Commons but not the Senate. But governing is not their job. It is to review legislation with an eye to its constitutionality and the proverbial "sober second thought". We demand peer review of science, newspapers have fact checkers and editors, businesses have approval processes, and I see this as being not very different. All of these things provide inertia to the system and it helps avoid unintended consequences.

    Like the Cotler canard, the Senate canard, that they are blocking legislation for partisan purposes, is being propagated on a regular basis. The fact is there are bills ready to go that the CPC is delaying to foster the "Senate blocking" meme. The amendments are usually in the interest of maintaining a balance of rights. For example, the consumer protection legislation has provisions that allow warrantless searches of private residences to look for contraband. This invites abuse, and the amendments are intended to prevent that. There are no bills being amended simply because they are "Harper" bills. The Senate is designed to be above that. Harper wants it to become what would be just another partisan body.

    Do you support elected judges like they have in the US? It is a similar argument.

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  19. Several provinces have said that they do not support Harper's reforms. Ontario has said it favours that the Senate be abolished. Should Harper get his way then one can certain the changes will be challenged in the SOC.

    I'm puzzled though as to what the real objections are? Rather than reform I'd like to abolish the Senate. It is not needed.

    If we must have the Senate, what is the objection to electing the Senators? Secondly what is the objection to the Senators having terms of eight years and possibly term limits as well?

    If the number of senators from each province isn't changed then what possible objection can the provinces have? Surely elected Senators make more sense than unelected political hacks. I see no comparison to electing judges as the judiciary should imo be immmune from any political considerations.

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  20. So Liberal, you mean to say Cotler would refuse the offer of being appointed as a Conservative senator ?

    That is a fair point to debate.

    When you said Harper "can't" I took it to mean you believed there is some procedural hurdle to doing so.

    "But why shouldn't it be renewable?"

    So that senators spend their time doing work instead of worrying about re-election (fundraising, campaigning). So that senators aren't afraid to make tough calls that they believe are the right thing to do.

    "They would still be beholden to their party, since they would need a soft landing after leaving the Senate."

    The kind of people who can get elected in a provincial wide senate election don't need party patronage jobs. They'd probably move on to the bussiness or academic world, unless they just outright retire.

    "They would still be pandering to voters to get elected."

    Explaining your goals and platform to Canadians?

    Sorry but this rule by elites thing is a very LIBERAL idea that reeks of arrogance and won't be tolerated by the majority of people. Anyone who makes our laws needs to be vetted by the voters first.

    "He doesn't like that he can bully the Commons but not the Senate."

    Leadership often looks like bullying. But being weak gets you guys like Martin, Dion, and Ignatieff. You need brass knuckles like Chretien to get things done.

    Yes, i'm certain he's highly annoyed at the Liberal's having a senate majority. They will not any longer.

    "It is to review legislation with an eye to its constitutionality and the proverbial "sober second thought"."

    Nobody is saying Liberal senators are doing anything illegal or unconstitutional by blocking legislation.

    They are merely acting in an unpopular manner for which their party pays at the ballot box.

    "that they are blocking legislation for partisan purposes"

    They're blocking senate reform to protect their perks.

    They're blocking other legislation because they honestly believe they are doing their job, which is technically true.

    "The fact is there are bills ready to go that the CPC is delaying to foster the "Senate blocking" meme."

    Not really. Committees need to take a certain amount of time to review things. Parliement is slow moving and money bills take up a lot of their time.

    On the house side things are moving along as quickly as possible. Harper isn't deliberately blocking any of his own bills, that's just a Liberal meme meant to deflect the blame for senate obstructionism.

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  21. Shadow, you should probably acknowledge the falsehood you stated about Cotler's wife.

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  22. I didn't state any falsehood about Cotler's wife.

    She ripped up her Liberal party membership because of Iggy's remarks.

    That DID happen.


    I was unaware but not surprised that she later re-joined or did similiar damage control measures.

    Hasn't Krieber also backtracked ? Made some ridiculous story about her words being "mistranslated" ?

    Damage control and spin is to be expected and not nearly as relevent as the fact that such an event took place at all.

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  23. I didn't state any falsehood about Cotler's wife.

    She ripped up her Liberal party membership because of Iggy's remarks.

    That DID happen
    .
    Yes, but you used that to support this:

    There has been talk of Cotler defecting for quite some time now over support of Israel.

    His wife has already ripped up her Liberal membership in protest of Ignatieff's regretable comments
    .
    Which is completely unsupported when you consider the whole truth of the situation.

    I suggest that if you wish to scold me with this:
    i'll please ask you do not misrepresent Harper's plans in the future, even if it fits into your Harper is a proto-dictator media meme,
    which I accepted as a point taken, you will equally accept my scolding you by asking that you please you do not misrepresent the reality as "damage control" with statements such as:
    Damage control and spin is to be expected and not nearly as relevent as the fact that such an event took place at all.

    The "fact that the event took place at all" is less relevant than the fact that it was not the last word on the situation. It is like if Harper said "Some people say I am an idiot" and I took it out of context to say "Harper says 'I am an idiot'"

    The "ripped membership card" tale is also less relevant than the fact that your claim that Cotler might defect, especially over alleged Liberal anti-Israel policies, is resoundingly refuted.

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  24. Now you're just spinning the spin.

    The rumour that Cotler might defect has been out there for sometime now.

    I did not make it up. Its been on CTV and Macleans.

    When those columns about 3 defectors came out three or four months ago reporters specifically mentioned it WASN'T Cotler because his name is thrown around so much.


    Taken with his wife's actions I think its VERY clear that something is happening there.

    I corrected you on a factual error on Harper's policies.

    It is not the same as arguing somebody's interpretation of events because clearly there are many possible views on what this all means.

    Eric's comment that I should address my falsehood was rather ridiculous because what I said DID happen.

    The additional information you provided appears to be spin/damage control.

    It is to be expected.

    We just seem to have different intereprations of a set of events.

    That's fine ! Doesn't mean i'm wrong.

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  25. Now you're just spinning the spin.
    No, I am pointing out spin based on incomplete information.

    The rumour that Cotler might defect has been out there for sometime now.

    I did not make it up. Its been on CTV and Macleans
    .
    I did not claim you made it up. However, I had never heard about the fact that Mrs. Cotler rejoined shortly after until I found that article after considerable digging. So that rumor would seem to have legs only based on people spreading it without there being any truth to it. The fact that the CPC 10 percenters would ignore this very important fact is despicable. It is simply lying.

    When those columns about 3 defectors came out three or four months ago reporters specifically mentioned it WASN'T Cotler because his name is thrown around so much.
    I didn't see those columns. But it would seem there is some selective reporting going on, if the facts that she had to point out in November 2009 were not mentioned to refute the Cotler rumors (were they pointed out?). Strange considering the meme that our media is supposedly so left wing dominated, no?

    Taken with his wife's actions I think its VERY clear that something is happening there.
    What is happening is a smear campaign, something unbecoming for any political party or its supporters. This crap was going on at the Liberal convention of 2006 as well.

    I corrected you on a factual error on Harper's policies.
    Yes.

    It is not the same as arguing somebody's interpretation of events because clearly there are many possible views on what this all means.
    Returning to a party you quit in anger is not an "interpretation". It is a fact. I corrected you on that fact, since it refutes any thought of Cotler defecting over it.

    Eric's comment that I should address my falsehood was rather ridiculous because what I said DID happen.
    And Harper calls Canada a second rate welfare state. Plus he refers to "so called" global warming. He has not retracted those statements, though he appears to be moderating his view years after, not a few weeks as Mrs. Cotler did.

    The additional information you provided appears to be spin/damage control.
    No, the additional information is simply fact. Reporting one fact while not reporting the other is spin. Have you heard that smokers who quit have an increased risk of diabetes? Does that mean smokers should not quit? I saw someone drop that in a blog as an OT comment. However if you look it up, it turns out the reason for the diabetes risk is the weight gain that often accompanies quitting smoking.

    We just seem to have different intereprations of a set of events.
    No, we have different amounts of information reported about the same events. You didn't even know about the second part until I found it (nor did I).

    That's fine ! Doesn't mean i'm wrong.
    I think your information was incomplete and because of that misleading. It is spin to point out many other places where the incomplete information was reported and accepted as complete, and use that to claim "something must be going on".

    Anyway, I am glad I learned the whole story about Mrs. Cotler, it will be handy the next time someone tries to beat up the Liberals over it.

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  26. If you read my above statement I made it clear that I did not know about Cotler's wife rejoining the party.

    Now you are making some claims that are speculative and not facts, yet are you treating them as such.

    Cotler's wife rejoining the party does not disprove the "Cotler will become Conservative senator" rumour since the party switch rumour is not based on his wife's actions.

    You may think it does, but again that is speculation not fact.

    Secondly, Cotler's wife rejoining the party does not mean that all is well and there's nothing to see here.

    You may think it does, but again that is speculation not fact.

    My interpretation of her rejoining the party is that its just spin and damage control.

    Since neither of us are in her head we don't know, do we ?


    Once again, we have different views on what the facts mean. But you shouldn't equate different views with being factually incorrect.


    Also, I don't believe the 10 percenters had any information on Cotler or his wife so that's not really important.

    They did include the bit about Iggy's regretable war crimes accusation.

    They did not include his retraction and promise to visit Israel.

    (I don't believe he has yet ?)

    You may think this is incomplete information but I don't think people are obligated to include people's defence/spin/damage control in their statements!

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