Entries from August 2008 ↓

Wiki this

News: Harper’s election is coming: Dion

Well, whatever yakking Stephen and Stephane do on Monday, an election looks certain. Getting ready for the inevitable will likely dominate the Lib national caucus for the next couple of days in The Peg. You will, of course, get the news here.

Meanwhile, how’s the election going in Halton?, I hear you crying.

Actually, swimmingly. The Cons have yet to anoint their candidate, but soon will. This person combines everyone’s favourite traits in a politician: (a) lawyer, (b) career civil servant, (c) litigious, (d) party hainsider, (e) patronage and (f) really, really good at wasting tax money. More on this person after a ruse of a nomination meeting is over.

Actually, I’ll be pleased to have a real human to debate with, since the little Harper ghosts are getting tedious. The last few days give a good example.

First they vandalized my online bio at Wikipedia. Again. Instead of my proper address (I live in north Oakville, in the centre of Halton), my residence was changed to “Lindsay, Ontario (Halton MP no longer lives in his riding).” Then, once the bio was hacked, they took a freeze frame of it, and posted it on the local Conservative web site as “proof” I moved.

So, I went and fixed it. Then it was vandalized again this weekend, when my address was eliminated entirely, with a note left, “There’s no reference or source of any kind to confirm Mr. Turner’s place of residence.” We fixed it again.

A tad pissed, I decided to dig in and see who was behind this. One of the IP addresses left on Wikipedia tuned out to be the same one which has been used 394 times in the past year on this blog. The person at that address has posted here under the following names:

Lex Luthor
Potsie Webber
Eric Foreman
Graeme Edge
Jimmy Page
Jack Tripper
Defeat the Liberals
, and a few more.

Some further investigation actually led me to the identity of the person involved. So, this should be fun.

Not content with vandalizing my stuff, then using the loot to ‘prove’ a bogus fact, the Big Thinkers behind the Halton Cons copied the IP address I worked from to correct the Wiki entry and alleged it had been used to post pro-Lib comments on their own site. This, of course, was picked up by the blogosphere’s worst investigative failure, Steve Janke, to ‘prove’ another fact, that I post under assumed identities.

Now, does this ring a bell? Does it sound vaguely like Stephen Harper throwing me out of caucus for “breaches of confidentiality” which the entire PMO, the Conservative Research Group, all my former colleagues and a slathering pack of Blogging Tories could not prove? And they never will, because like the local crap, it’s fiction.

This, of course, is unimportant stuff. But it goes to the heart of the national contest now laying before us.

Those who deal in ideas and visions sometimes face those who truck in lies and deception. This is such a time. One of my greatest regrets is what Mr. Harper and his belligerent partisan cronies have done to the party I once supported and respected, to Parliament and to national life. We are more divided than ever, the House of Commons is more irrelevant than at any other time, and a virus of whatever-it-takes-to-win has spread from the prime minister’s office to the lowliest and most inconsequential of Halton Conservatives, sitting in a Milton basement, beating off online.

Oh, the good news? In the end, they lose.

My Wikipedia biography has been edited four times by persons unknown since this article was written some hours ago. Once again, my residency has been eliminated. This should be a warning to anyone who believes anything this online ‘source’ publishes. Once a brilliant community publishing idea, Wikipedia now embodies the failing side of the digital age. — Garth

A Daily Zorpheous appeared on this site for a few minutes earlier today. Some have asked where it went. Alas, it was premature. For some people, the writ cannot come soon enough. — Garth

‘The cradle of digital democracy’

One thing I may be recalled for is being the first politician in the world to be dooced.

Losing my job as a Conservative MP because of a blog was not easy. But when Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Ian Brodie, told me shortly after being elected to stop writing this online column, or be thrown out of caucus, I made a choice. Sorry Brodie, I said, but I did not get here to take orders from an unelected staffer, or to turn my back on digital democracy.

Ironically, I’m still an MP. He’s gone. And soon, maybe his boss, too.

Trying to open the doors and windows of Parliament, and to share this job with you, has made my days in Ottawa tumultuous. Coming back into public life after 12 years, I made a decision to use the new media to engage and inform Canadians as much as possible. Quickly I found this is exactly what parties and leaders fear and fight. The fact I’m the only one in this Parliament who has blogged evey day since it began must tell you something, other than I have a death wish.

However, I would make the same choice today, once again telling Brodie to get stuffed. Parliament does not belong to political parties, despite the fact they try like hell to convince newbie MPs to fall into line. Seldom have we see a prime minister so thinly committed to democracy and with such disdain for voters, as this one. If I were ever to pick a time worthy of an open blog, it is now.

Unknown to me, analyst Christopher Berry has been watching this journey. He’s just let me know he’s published the following, and for that I thank him. — Garth

Political Web Analytics
I’ve been following Garth Turner on the entire Digital Democracy initiative from the beginning.

He’s the only MP that has a real blog, and, he was the first MP in Canada, to my knowledge, to have been booted out of a political party for maintaining a blog. (Talk about fighting the last war.)

The state of Political Web Analytics is extremely young. It largely began with the emergence of forums and usegroups, and basic volumetric figures, and has since exploded with the blogosphere. I frequently find Google Analytics tags on several blogs – so I can only assume that somebody out there is using those analytics. Whether or not there’s much optimization going on is another story.

What’s possibly the most exciting aspect is how Obama built on the Dean legacy of 2004. No, I’m not talking about the scream, I’m talking about how Dean was really the first major candidate to fully leverage the power of the online channel.

Garth Turner, to my knowledge, is the only Federal Canadian politician to start leveraging the channel.

The most recent example? Garth called on a large number of the regular posters and trolls on his weblog to come out and meet Dion in a private session before a huge townhall in Halton. Garth used the Internet and his mailing list he gathered from his comment section, to advertise the event.

The result? A massive mob of diverse Canadians who came out to see Dion and Garth.

I believe that Digital Democracy is coming to Canada, and I somehow lament that there are not more political scientists with experience in the field of web analytics.

The web analytics could really inform some of the causal and influential variables about how Garth’s blog grew. The financial analytics, if Garth was to ever to volunteer them in 10 years time, could unlock another deeper level of insight. Canada traditionally lags the United States in a few respects – and here it is…the actual cradle of real Canadian Digital Democracy.

The possibilities for the use of web analytics in the optimization of political campaigns, I can foresee, as becoming a major component of political life in Canada. Just as you have polling firms that do political polls in their spare time (and it’s heavily commoditized), there will eventually be an intense demand for web analytics to optimize political campaigns.

Are we there yet?

The Conservative Party of Canada has imported a large amount of Republican database RFM segmentation technology. We see this in part with the abuse of “10 percenters” – the direct mailing spam that the Canadian taxpayer pays for. It all goes into a database. It was all pioneered down south.

The Liberal Party of Canada and the Democratic Party of the United States are catching up though, and, are more acutely aware of the social aspect. Web 2.0 is actually in the core DNA of Gen X and Gen Y, and the LPC definitely has an inside track if they can figure out how to use, measure, and optimize those channels. In fact, these technologies could be absolutely key in getting out the vote.

In sum, I’m calling it out now.

It’s trend, it’s happening. We’re in very, very early days, still.

But it’s exciting.
Posted by Christopher Berry

Agenda of hope (1)

In the news:
Resale home levels hit a record high

Canada narrowly dodges economic bullet
Gas may hit $1.75 a litre, bank says
US incomes and spending spiral lower

Some think this election will be fought on leadership. Some on the environment. But it will really be about the economy. More evidence came Friday.

Most Canadians have no idea of what lies ahead of them. Recession, job loss, falling markets, declining home values, shuttered factories, rising inflation, unemployment and interest rates.

Lest you accuse me of being a election-grabbing opportunist, go back and read posts here from a year ago. I predicted tough times for the middle class and – based on Harpernomics – the certainty that the US housing bust would travel north. And it has.

In Vancouver, for example, sales of single family homes have dropped by 70%, and the number of people trying to bail out of their properties has exploded by 73%. In Saskatchewan, which was the real estate darling of Canada six months ago, sales are down 25% and listings are up 42%.

Across Canada, there are 80,000 resale homes for sale, the most ever. Add to this tens of thousands of private sales and endless new housing developments, plus 56,000 new condos in the GTA pipeline alone, and you can see what’s happening. In the space of a few months, a seller’s market has turned into an owner’s nightmare. In some cities realtors are telling people it will take a year to find a buyer. Scads of young buyers who were sucked in by 0/40 mortgages – a Jim Flaherty innovation – are almost certainly looking at negative equity in 2009.

The real estate market is reflecting the economy reality. We’ve just had the worst two back-to-back quarters in 17 years, and growth is stuck in the mud of high energy costs, a high dollar, high taxes, weak consumer spending, falling productivity and a country that’s lost its competitive edge.

The car business is a mess. In the south end of Halton, Ford killed off a shift and to the north, in Guelph, auto parts workers are being sent home. The tourist business from coast to coast has been decimated by the higher dollar Mr. Flaherty bragged about. Now housing and job woes are emptying Best Buy and Home Depot stores, which means Ottawa was wrong to cut the GST instead of income taxes. Families need more after-tax income right now, not ten bucks off a new plasma TV they can’t afford.

This week economists looked at the 95,000 jobs lost last month alone and called the slowdown now shaping up as “historic.” Next year, we are being told by people like Scotia’s Adrienne Warren, it gets worse.

This is not what a great many people who voted Conservative in January, 2006 expected. It’s not what Stephen Harper, the part-time economist, promised. They thought Tories would drop capital gains taxes and income taxes, preserve income trust investments, rein in government spending and focus on sound economic management. But that didn’t happen. Nobody’s been more surprised, or disappointed, than me. I fell for the Harper mantra of economic competence, and unfortunately talked a lot of Halton voters into following me.

So, with middle class families feeling squeezed as never before in 15 years, how could this vote not be about finances?

Over the coming weeks I will be on doorsteps and in front of groups of citizens making them aware of the damage that’s been done to our community – a great portion of it preventable. And I will be laying out an alternative.

I will remind them of some things I and my colleagues have been fighting for:

• Income splitting for working families
• Allowing stay-at-home spouses to earn income, make RRSP contributions and improve family cash flow.
• Deductions from taxable family income to fund education through RESPs.
• Extended, enhanced and affordable child care
• A new billion-dollar fund to help manufacturers create value-added green jobs.
• Money for families to make their homes more energy efficient and less costly, and to afford a new generation of automobiles
• No subprime-type 40-year mortgages enticing people into unrepayable debt
• A roll-back of the onerous Conservative 31% tax on income trusts
• Income tax cuts of more than $9 billion
• A return to the stability of surplus budgets that existed until Stephen Harper got the keys to the Mint.

And there’s more, lots more, coming. It’s what this election is about. Hope.