That's big stuff. Erin helped in this regard by sending a recommendation to the Davidson people, and the papers they had us fill out rival any put out by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. But Natasha deserves it. She will be, I think, a significant writer to watch in the years ahead. She's that good, and she's only getting started.
The Passing of Fathers
I was saddened to discover that Warren Kinsella's father (Dr. T. Douglas Kinsella, Member of the Order of Canada) passed away recently. Warren's written eulogy is on his website and it's a challenge to read.
What can anybody add to this? Deepest and sincerest condolensces to Warren and his family.
The Toronto Few People See
Andrew Spicer points me to this wonderful site on the backlaneways of Toronto. Possibly because I'm a big man who has less to fear from a mugging than other people, I've often been curious about what's behind the main street facades in my home town. Except for the laneways in my local neighbourhood, though, I've never gone (I may be big, but I'm not foolhardy). Now we can enjoy the backlane beauty by proxy.
The Quebec Wildcard
As posted on Blogs Canada.
As the leaders head through the French language debates, the media is starting to focus on Conservative and Liberal fortunes in Quebec. This province will probably be the reason why the Liberals lose their majority, but the Conservatives fail to gain theirs. Support for the Bloc Quebecois remains in the 45-50% range, with Liberal support down to around 25%, and the NDP and the Conservatives trailing at a dismal (but impressive considering their last two outings in the province) 10% each.
If Harper becomes Prime Minister after the next election, it will likely be with the approval of the Bloc Quebecois. He may also have to build a cabinet that doesn't contain a single Quebec minister.
With the Liberal lead diminishing and Harper and Martin running neck and neck, some pundits have looked to a swing of voters in Quebec to the Conservatives, and perhaps a score of a couple of seats. What I don't get about the pundits' reasoning is that they see these seats as being scored from the Liberals. That strikes me as wishful thinking.
Consider: before the sponsorship scandal blindsided the Liberals back in February, they were leading the BQ by as much as 10%. Their collapse has been heavier here than anywhere else in the country. The Bloc has been the primary beneficiaries of those angry former-Liberal voters. So who's left in the Liberal party? 25% of the Quebec electorate, who have stuck with the Liberals despite all signs of deep incompetence, a hint of corruption, and a pathological desire to assign blame to Jean Chretien and the "criminal culture" of Quebec politics.
If these folks haven't been shaken loose by Liberal misdeeds before, Harper's not going to have much of an effect. Almost all of the soft vote in Quebec is currently being held by the Bloc Quebecois.
So, here's the danger: if Harper runs hard in Quebec to try and finish off the Liberals, he's going to win votes from the BQ. He's almost as far behind the Liberals as the Liberals are from the Bloc Quebecois. Thus, every vote he takes from the BQ represents a reduction on the BQ lead... over the Liberals. Add to this the fact that the BQ and the Conservatives disagree on fiscal and social policy, and some of those soft voters might be scared off by a Conservative resurgence to go back to the Liberals.
Result: vote splitting between the BQ and the Conservatives, and the Liberals start to take more than the 15 Quebec seats I initially predicted.
Pushing the Liberals within reach of a slim majority.
That would be ironic.
Images from the French Debate
"Stephen Harper is a square, dude!"
"You should all vote for me! I've got HUGE... tracts of land!!"
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman!"