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Talking Liberal Platform & #Elxn43 on “The Arlene Bynon Show”

This morning I had the chance again to join Arlene Bynon on “The Arlene Bynon Show” on Sirius XM’s Canada Talks 167, along with Alise Mills. We talked about the release of the Liberal platform and it’s price tag, the news around Andrew Scheer’s past employment history, Jagmeet Singh’s position on working with a “collaborative approach” and the state of the campaign. You can listen to the audio below. Enjoy!

Checking in at the Midway Point

Here we are onto Day 20 of our 40 day 43rd General Election campaign and wow, what a campaign it has been. It’s felt like so much longer than the 20 days that it’s been and it feels like ages since we saw that first leaders’ debate. Given the timing of where we’re at in this campaign, this feels like a good time to check in to see where we’re at going ahead.

If I was to describe this campaign so far, I’d say that it’s been a campaign where so much has happened and changed, yet nothing has happened nor changed. We’ve seen some major developments, like the Trudeau Brownface scandal, questions about Andrew Scheer’s actual professional past, the implosion of the Green campaign under new pressure and the resurrection of Jagmeet Singh’s leadership. Add to that the slow burning return of the Bloc Quebecois and the presence of Maxime Bernier’s PPC, there has been a lot that has happened over 20 days.

Yet nothing has changed in that the polls remain stubbornly stuck in place. The overall poll numbers have barely moved for everyone, as all of the parties are oscillating within the margin of error and seem stuck in place. They move slightly up, then slightly down as they all bob around in the waters of this campaign. Normally any one of those big things mentioned above would have shaken something loose and either sunk one party or propelled another one upwards in the polls. Instead after nearly three weeks we haven’t seen anything shake up the actually horse race numbers so far.

So what we’ve had is a lot of action, a ramping up of the pressure for all parties and all with little to no movement. That means that if anything is ever going to shake loose in this campaign, the last three weeks of this race promises to be huge. That will make every event count all that more as more and more people pay attention and the undecided out there make up their minds. Therefore this week will be crucial, with the TVA debate taking place Wednesday night being the first big event with potential to shake things up. It will be the first time we’ll see Trudeau and Scheer on the same stage together and understandably the confrontations between the two front runners will take on added importance.

On top of that it will be a big night for both the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP. With no Elizabeth May of the Green Party on the stage, this will give Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet his first chance to speak to the whole province of Quebec and to try to keep building momentum. Personally I will be interested to see how much Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Scheer go after him. Also this will give Singh a chance to prove himself against the front runners and to prove that he can defend the interests of Quebeckers. He has the biggest hill to climb, but with no Elizabeth May on that stage, he will be able to focus on the other leaders and will likely have to play little defense. This will be Singh’s chance to prove that he is the alternative for those who won’t vote Conservative and can’t hold their noses to vote Liberal. For this campaign to be a good one for the NDP and to hopefully move the polls more in their favour, a strong performance in this debate is a must.

And really folks, the way this race has gone the remaining debates have all taken on increased importance. It’s a truism in Canadian politics that debates don’t tend to be hugely important in the horse race numbers but given the way this campaign has gone so far with so little movement in the polls, something has to break this logjam. It seems most likely that if anything is going to do that, one of these debates to come will be it. As we go ahead over the next 21 days, there is still a lot of campaign to go and a lot that could happen. We’ll see what that brings but so far this campaign feels like one that is running in place.

What You Need to Know – Week 3 of #Elxn43

The newest episode of “What You Need to Know” is recorded and now up. Every Friday during the campaign we’ll be releasing a new episode where we’ll talk about the events of the week and give perspectives from across the partisan spectrum

In the second episode Neil Brodie , Susan Smith and I talk about the policy hits and misses so far in this campaign, along with what we are looking for in the week ahead. You can download and subscribe to “What You Need to Know” everywhere you can get your finest podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify. You can also listen below. Enjoy!

“A Golden Ticket”

It was just over a week ago here that I wrote about the case of the former Green candidate in Peterborough-Kawartha Brock Grills and some news on his part. He stepped down back in the summer for “personal reasons” before then coming out and openly the Conservative candidate in the riding, Mike Skinner.

It all seemed like an odd move at the time for a candidate who supposed cared so much about the environment, to back a Conservative Party that has no plan to deal with the issue. It made you wonder about Mr. Grills judgement or at least his motives. Something didn’t add up here and it raised some legit questions about what might be happening here. Well it turns out that the Peterborough Examiner had some questions of their own and looked into this. And what they found and reported on today not only answers a lot of questions, it raises even more good ones:

Let’s get this straight folks. First the Greens seemed to have tossed Grills but allowed him to step down with the old “personal reasons” excuse, which we now see was not the case. Secondly, a week before the “resignation”, the party believed Mr. Skinner offered Grills a job after the fall election if they “co-operate” in the campaign. And not just any job it seems, according to former Green volunteer Sean Paul Cowling, who is quoted in the Examiner story. He is quoted saying this about this job:

“He (Grills) told me he was offered a golden ticket by Mike (Skinner),” Cowling said in an interview Thursday. “He alluded to getting an $80,000 job with Mike if they worked together on the election. It blew my mind.”

An $80,000 a year job?!?!?! Seriously?!?!? Yeah, if that allegation was proved in court, that would be quite illegal, violating Election Law at the least. The fact that Grills allegedly referred to this as a “golden ticket” to boot makes it all look the more shady and wrong. What is it with Conservative candidates in Peterborough and shenanigans man? First Dean Del Mastro, now this? You would think that case ended up in jail time and awful headlines for the Conservatives that they would be a lot more careful. Yet here we are with this story and these allegations.

Anyway, it probably comes as no shock to anyone out there that both Grills and Skinner are denying any of this, but there is a big sticky problem with that denial. Remember why I wrote about this story last week? What was it that brought Mr. Grills to my attend to begin with? Yeah, the fact that he actually went and openly backed Skinner on Facebook. The fact that Grills still turned around and backed Skinner does make this whole story a lot more plausible, and equally disturbing.

Not only is this story raise all kinds of questions about the tactics the Scheer Conservatives may be using (has any other Conservative candidate tried something like this?), it also reeks of another similar scandal taking place in Alberta right now. Remember the alleged Kamikaze candidate scheme during Alberta Conservative leadership campaign, a race that resulted in Jason Kenney becoming Premier? Yeah, the story where it has been alleged that Kenney’s team backed a candidate with money, resources and even talking points with a plan to run down Brian Jean, only to then drop out and back Kenney. Remember, the RCMP are currently investigating that story and we are awaiting to see what comes of it. This story seems to have a lot of the same kinds of allegations and hallmarks as that one, which is a very bad look on the Scheer Conservatives.

Going forward both Andrew Scheer and Green leader Elizabeth May have some serious questions to be answered. For Scheer, he has to get to the bottom of this, especially due to the potential legal consequences here, and remove this candidate. I don’t know how you can credibly run a campaign on saying the Liberals are corrupt while keeping a candidate with damning allegations like these on your team. Simply put, no apology is good enough here. We’ll see if Scheer actually does that.

As for May, her team has some big questions to answer too. If they knew about these allegations, why did they allow this candidate to walk away quietly and use the old “personal reasons” excuse for “resigning”? Also, given the potential legal issues with what this story raises, did the Greens take these concerns to Elections Canada or the police, or did they sit on them, hoping that they wouldn’t come out and embarrass them? From what has been reported so far, it seems that they didn’t blow the whistle on Mr. Grills to any authority, which is a serious dereliction of responsibility on their part if true and raises serious questions about their judgement.

I hope that this story gets the national attention that it deserves because we have laws outlawing this kind of behaviour for good reasons. We don’t want to see parties playing the system, and voters, in an attempt to assure a certain result. The fact that anything was allegedly offered is bad enough, but the fact that such a lucrative salary was allegedly on the table, a “golden ticket”, is disgusting. This cannot be allowed to just be swept under the rug and I truly hope that Elections Canada steps in and gets to the bottom of this. We can’t condone this, and silence here is not an option.

Talking #Elxn43 on “The Arlene Bynon Show”

This morning I had the chance to join Arlene Bynon on “The Arlene Bynon Show” on Sirius XM’s Canada Talks 167, along with Mike Van Soelen. We talked about Andrew Scheer’s pledge to hold a public inquiry into the SNC-PMO Scandal, the potential discussions around corruption, the Doug Ford effect on the federal Conservatives and the potential effect of populism in this campaign. You can listen to the audio below. Enjoy!