Erin has had five poems accepted into Descant. Many of you may not know about this magazine, but in poetry and literature terms, it's big. Erin has been trying to get published in there for years, and the news is a great boost to her morale!

Carnival of the Canucks IX

The ninth installment of the Carnival of the Canucks is up and running at creator David Janes' website. It has been a very political week in this country and this week's installment reflects that. The linky goodness today gives you a good overview of the issues that are on the mind of Canadian bloggers.

Interesting Times


Benjamin Landless: Interesting times, my friend! We live in interesting times!
Francis Urqhart: To the Chinese, it was a curse to live in interesting times.
Benjamin Landless: Oh, yeah? Are any of them newsmen?

-- Paraphrased from House of Cards.

Well, who'd have thought that Paul Martin would have made the next election campaign interesting, huh? Fresh on the furor over the Auditor General's report comes news that Liberal support is flagging (35% versus 48% four weeks ago) and that Liberal MP John Bryden has left the party, citing Paul Martin as the major reason why.

Earlier, I made a prediction on the outcome of the next general election that some people thought was rather radical. Given what's happened these past few weeks, a person on a board I attend asked me if I was going to change it. My response: not yet.

These past few weeks have thrown all predictions out the window, but this is not the end of the Liberals. For one thing, the election hasn't been called, yet, and is still weeks, if not months, away. The controversy has only just struck, and Paul Martin has only just started his PR counterattack. His appearance on Cross Country Checkup turned a few heads and was considered to be miles better than George Bush's appearance on Meet the Press.

When people who aren't sympathetic to Paul Martin point to his unscripted response probing questions for two hours on national radio and television and count that as one of the reasons they are proud to be Canadian, then you know that Paul has reached people. The Ipsos-Reid poll which places Liberals at their lowest point since they were first elected in 1993 was taken after the Auditor General's report hit, but before the counterattack started, and it will be interesting to see what follows.

Also interesting is that, although the Liberals have fallen 13% nationally, the Conservatives have only picked up 8%, and the NDP is sitting stable. The Conservatives are still 1 point behind the public support received by the Canadian Alliance during their drubbing in the last election, and 11 points behind the public support received by the Canadian Alliance and the PC Party combined in that same election. This suggests that although Canadians are mad as hell over what has happened, they're not so mad as to start breaking things and breaking parties. A phone-in caller to Cable Pulse 24 seems typical: angry at the Liberals, desirous of punishing them. The prescribed punishment: "Minority government. At least". The message: many Canadians don't believe the Conservatives or the NDP can give us better government than Martin now does. For Grant Hill and Stephen Harper, Bill Blaikie and Jack Layton, that's got to hurt.

Finally, the Liberals have an ace up their sleeve: the upcoming budget. I have heard reports that the surplus for the first nine months of 2003 is higher than expected -- possibly over $5 billion. This means the final budget surplus for 2003 could be as high as $8 billion, and this doesn't include other measures that Martin could take to increase his wiggle room (cancel the Atlantic and Western Economic Diversification agencies, for example -- something the Conservatives are campaigning to do, or cancel various corporate welfare policies, which would wipe the smile off the NDP's face).

With that unexpected money, Martin could supply the provinces with the tax dollars required to fix their health care systems and make a substantial down payment on the new deal for the cities -- bold moves that would pull supporters back. There might even be room for tax cuts.

It's all too early to tell. But we would be mistaken if we wrote off Paul Martin now.

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