Wednesday, April 4, 2007

women wanted, sign is up ... will they be put in ridings where there is little hope of winning ...

Liberals told to act quickly on candidates
Party kicks into 'election urgency' mode as Harper fuels spring vote speculation

The Liberal Party has declared an "electoral urgency" in Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan, ordering workers in the three provinces to nominate candidates as quickly as possible in case there is a spring election.

Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion has also stepped up efforts to fulfill a leadership campaign promise that 33 per cent of his candidates be women. This week he appointed veteran party worker Isabel Metcalfe to help find female candidates.

"If [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper forces an election, the Liberals need to be ready," a senior Liberal official said. "We have given all the tools necessary to our provincial wings to hold nominations quickly. . . . [The rules] are only invoked in three provinces so that in the event Harper forces an election we will have more candidates already in place if the writ drops."

Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan together have 195 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons and are seen as battlegrounds in the next election as the Conservatives seek to form a majority government and the Liberals try to regain office.

Both parties maintain they do not want a spring election, but yesterday Mr. Harper used some of his strongest language to date indicating that he is ready for one. He accused the Liberals of hoping to defeat the government over legislation implementing the budget.

"I take the threat seriously," he said in Kitchener, Ont. "And I hope Mr. Dion appreciates that if that's the route he wants to go that this party will be more than ready."

One day earlier, the Tories unveiled their new, 1,600-square-metre campaign headquarters in Ottawa's east end and new attack ads suggesting that Mr. Dion would try to roll back budget measures favourable to Quebec.

Mr. Dion has vowed that he will not run a negative campaign. But yesterday Liberal supporters posted a series of low-budget homemade videos on the Internet site YouTube that slam Tory policies and accuse Mr. Harper of breaking his promises.

One, dubbed "The Price Is Right," features theme music from the game show of the same name, and asks viewers, "What is the price of a majority government?" Another mocks B.C. Tory MP Ron Cannan, who advertised an "Open House" for his constituents.

The video shows two people who aren't card-carrying Liberals, one of whom is filming the proceedings, being asked if they are members of the Conservative Party and being given a hard time.

The videos, which are not officially endorsed by the party, were put together by people like Jason Cherniak, who runs a website called Liblogs.

Liberal strategists say their challenge is to get Mr. Dion out to meet as many Canadians as possible and for him to start putting issues and substance on the table.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dion has appointed Ms. Metcalfe, a former candidate and long-time organizer, as a volunteer chair to work on finding and nominating women candidates.

Party officials will not say how many candidates have been nominated, but insist they are on track for fulfilling Mr. Dion's promise and for mounting an election campaign.

Ms. Metcalfe, who ran unsuccessfully against Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor in his Ottawa Valley riding last year, favours appointing women as candidates in certain ridings. But according to a source, Mr. Dion said in a recent conference call that he would appoint women only if necessary, preferring that they fight for their nominations.

Mr. Dion has appointed only one candidate, Martha Hall Findlay, who was one of the first Liberal leadership candidates to withdraw from last year's convention and throw her support to Mr. Dion. She will be the Liberal candidate in the Toronto riding of Willowdale.

Some Liberals are still grumbling about this as neither Bob Rae nor Gerard Kennedy, who also lost to Mr. Dion, asked to be appointed to their ridings.

"I'm keen to get going on this," Ms. Metcalfe said. "Our time is running out. . . . The very first task . . . is phoning out to all those women who have presented themselves as Liberal candidates to ensure that we are going to be getting our 33 per cent."

She said it's important that these women know they are "wanted."

Sylvia Bashevkin, the principal of University College at the University of Toronto and an expert on women in politics, said that in the 2006 election 26 per cent of Liberal candidates were women.

"I would hope that they will not take the cynical road, which would of course be to put a lot of their women candidates in places like rural B.C. and Alberta," where they have little hope of winning, she said.

She said Mr. Dion distinguished himself from the other leadership candidates by making his promise to move women forward.

"I think it was a very astute calculation and I think it was probably very consistent with where many people in the Liberal Party would like to see the party move."

Grassroots attacks

Jason Cherniak, who runs the site, put out a challenge last week to fellow Liberal bloggers, asking them to come up with their own ads over the weekend to counter those unveiled Monday by the Tories. Below are four. None were sanctioned by the Liberal Party.

St├ęphane Dion is a LeaderThe ad focuses on positive things the other leaders -- the BQ's Gilles Duceppe, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, NDP Leader Jack Layton and even the Prime Minister -- had to say about Mr. Dion's leadership victory. It basically throws their nice words back in their faces to make the point that Mr. Dion is "a leader."

The Price is Right: Set to the music from the game show of the same name, this cheeky ad asks, "What is the price of a majority government? . . . How much Mr. Harper?" The ad creator figures about $10-billion of taxpayer dollars.

Wrong Way: As catchy music plays, this very simply produced ad says: "Conservatives are taking Canada in the wrong direction." It then shows various ways the creator thinks the government is taking Canadians in the wrong direction, mentioning such issues as health care and justice and illustrating the text with pictures of a young child in a hospital bed and a handgun.

Money: Tothe sound of Pink Floyd's song Money, this ad asks, "Can you hear that? That is the sound of your tax dollars buying Stephen Harper a majority government. . . . Choose substance over politics."


DivaRachel said...

"women wanted, sign is up ... will they be put in ridings where there is little hope of winning ..."

NOT TRUE! Soooo not true!