Buckets of Data

December 2, 2005

Toronto Sun: Dec. 2, 2005: Marsden: why I’m not running

Filed under: Marsden,Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 10:55 pm

The Toronto SunDecember 2, 2005 FridayFINAL EDITIONSECTION: EDITORIAL/OPINION; Pg. 23LENGTH: 601 wordsHEADLINE: WHY I’M NOT RUNNING;A GOOD PUNDIT IS A POLITICAL LEADER’S WORST NIGHTMARE — AND STEPHEN HARPER HAS ENOUGH PROBLEMSBYLINE: BY RACHEL MARSDENBODY:Last week, I received an e-mail that made me wonder if I was being “Punk’d”.”I am wondering if you might consider becoming a candidate in Toronto Danforth for us,” wrote Conservative Party organizer, Georganne Burke. “It would be a fun, high-profile campaign, with Jack Layton and Deborah Coyne as your opponents.”Hanging out with federal NDP leader Jack Layton and former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s “baby mama” for a couple of months sounds more like a bad reality TV show than a serious political opportunity. The experience would have been like a one-night stand: A quick, dirty, wild romp, zero satisfaction, and a really bad hangover.I briefly considered the request, as evidenced by my official response to related media queries: Gut-busting laughter. And should I ever decide to get a full-frontal lobotomy, I would be happy to reconsider my position — because that’s precisely what it would take for a political columnist to run for public office under the leadership of someone (Stephen Harper) they’ve accused of lacking any sort of political vision or ability to dress himself, flip-flopping on issues critical to conservatives, and possessing “the charisma of a mortician.”Any credible pundit would make a horrible candidate, as it appears the party has finally realized. As the National Post reported, the Conservatives now consider me to be “too high-profile”.What a crock — political parties recruit big-name candidates all the time. The difference is that while those other “high-profile” types would no doubt repeat the party’s daily talking points like good little automatons, I would take the memos from headquarters, cut them up into snowflakes, hang them on my Christmas tree, and then go out and say whatever the heck I felt like saying. And script deviations make great “high-profile” copy.There’s no room for speaking one’s mind in our Canadian system. If your leader doesn’t have a vision, then tough luck — you had sure better not be coming up with one, either.Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna, drove this point home when he called the American political system “dysfunctional” because U.S. politicians have a pesky habit of speaking up, rather than toeing the party line to suit the leader like they do here in Canada. Canadian politicians are more whipped than Brad Pitt since he hooked up with Angelina Jolie.Political columnists with any credibility couldn’t follow talking points if their lives depended on it. We’re generally big-mouthed, creative types with strong opinions and a clear vision of where we think things ought to be going — unlike our politicians.American commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have been far more influential in shaping the political landscape from outside the system than any one politician could ever hope to be on the inside. What our country desperately needs if it’s ever going to change political direction is more Rush Limbaughs and fewer political sycophants.Should one of us blowhards end up getting elected, you can bet that we’d be duct-taped to a backbench with a large sock stuffed in our mouth for the duration of the parliamentary session.Political commentators should be loathed by members from all parties — because absurdity and stupidity aren’t the exclusive domain of any one of them. A good pundit is like a reflective storefront window that politicians like to blame for making them look fat, instead of their cheeseburger habit.So I’ll be spending this election campaign doing what I enjoy most: Lampooning political idiocy right here on these pages. And, as usual, no one will be immune.NOTES: Marsden is a Toronto-based political columnist and communications strategist.


Surrey Leader: Grewal trailed in poll, but it wasn’t a factor

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 9:44 pm

Grewal trailed in poll, but it wasn’t a factor

By Dan Ferguson Staff Reporter
Dec 02 2005

I could have won, insists Newton-North Delta MP

A Conservative Party of Canada poll carried out before Newton-North Delta MP Gurmant Grewal resigned showed the controversy-plagued MP faced an uphill battle for re-election. “I was running behind,” Grewal told The Leader on Wednesday, the day after he announced he would not be running in the current election.

Grewal would not reveal the exact numbers in the recent poll, except to say he wasn’t behind by much. “It was neck and neck.”

Grewal said the poll results did not prompt his decision, adding he’s won come-from-behind victories three federal elections in a row. “Every single time I was underestimated.”

He said he made his decision to withdraw on Monday after learning the Liberals were planning to revive the controversy that erupted when he secretly taped discussions with senior Liberals about him joining the party.

It would be a “smear campaign,” Grewal said, one that would twist the facts and paint him as a person of questionable ethics.

Grewal has said the Liberals sought him out and dangled plum jobs to get him to cross the Commons floor, while the Liberals claimed Grewal was the one who made the approach and angled for the postings.

He maintains there are no new revelations that could be used against him. “If I look in my closet, there is not enough inventory in it,” he said.

Another factor in his decision was the delayed release of a report on the taping by Parliament’s ethics commissioner. Grewal understood the report would be released before the election, and had heard rumours that it would be critical of the Liberals’ conduct during the discussions. But without those findings, Grewal said he knew it would be easier for the Liberals to distract voters and divert attention from the governing party’s sponsorship scandal. “The dogs (would) keep barking,” he said.

Grewal admitted to some frustration, even anger at the way the taping controversy played out. He is proud of having a tough hide, but he tensed and his eyes narrowed for a moment when he was asked about Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s decision to crack a joke during a parliamentary press gallery dinner in Ottawa about Grewal re-editing a video tape of a hockey game.

Then, he shrugged it off and said Harper was simply poking fun at news coverage, and he remains confident of his leader’s support.

Beyond working “as a family member” to help his MP wife Nina get re-elected, he said he hasn’t decided what comes next. He confirmed he has been sounded out about being a talk-show host on a local Punjabi-language radio station, but described it as a tentative offer and only one of several possibilities open to him.

“I’m an optimistic man,” he said. “I have an MBA (master of business administration degree). I have options.”

He said he may write a book about his experiences as one of the first South Asians to be elected to parliament in Canada.

Grewal is proud of his record, listing off accomplishments that include forcing the federal government to remove radioactive material from Surrey storage sites, campaigning to win legal protection for whistle-blowers and the elimination of taxes on taxes.

In nine years as MP, he said he never took a vacation.

The 47-year-old will not be eligible to collect a parliamentary pension until he turns 55.

“I used to think politics is a noble profession,” he said. Now, he said the battering he took over the tapes and other issues has left him “somewhat cynical” about the way the political game is played.

(Unrelated: Cindy Silver, North Vancouver)

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