Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Conservatives make like a boat

And sink, at least according to this new CBC poll.

The poll tells me that (shock, gasp!) people actually like Ignatieff better than they do Harper, probably because the Liberal leader hasn’t shown himself to be petty, paranoid, and power-hungry but also because he hasn’t significantly stuck his foot in his mouth recently. The poll was taken before Iggy suggested curing the deficit with tax hikes, so that could change.

Harper must be scared about Central Canada. In Quebec, the Conservatives are in a statistical dead head with the NDP, long behind the Liberals and the Bloc. Not good for a leader chasing a majority government.

Even more troubling is the new Liberal edge in Ontario. Even though most Canadians have confidence in the economy, many Ontarians are casting their lot with Iggy instead of economist Harper. It raises the question of whether Harper can afford to stand by and let Chrysler fail, thus getting blamed for throwing 8,700 auto workers onto the dole.

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Stanley Cup Playoff Picks

Despite the success of my NCAA Basketball predictions (where I finished dead last in my pool), I’m going to try to predict the Stanley Cup Finals. Yes, I know the playoffs started Wednesday, but I thought up these picks Tuesday night. Follow my picks at your peril. Putting on my Big Game Animal hat, let’s go into…

THE CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS!

(1) Boston v. (8) Montreal. I am a believer in jinxes. This is why I know that the Colts can never beat the Chargers when it counts, why Tiger can’t win a major if he isn’t leading after Saturday, and why the Bruins cannot beat the Habs in the playoffs. That said, their too good to go down without a fight, and I can see the Bruins making a Finals run next year if they can stay together. Canadiens in 7.

(2) Washington v. (7) NY Rangers. The Caps have all that firepower – Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, and more. The only place the Rangers have an edge over the Capitals is in goal, with Henrik Lundqvist emerging as one of the league’s dominant goalies. This will be a tough matchup, but I gotta think Bruce Boudreau will find a way to beat the Blueshirts. Capitals in 6.

(3) New Jersey v. (6) Carolina. Martin Brodeur didn’t make a name for himself by winning more regular season games than any other goalie in NHL history. He made it by taking teams that, frankly, were never the most talanted in the league deep into the playoffs. Since I can’t name a single Carolina Hurricane, I think the Devils get through as long as they can score. Jersey in 6.

(4) Pittsburgh v. (5) Philadelphia. The Flyers have had a very good season, but they’ve played mediocre hockey down the stretch, 11-10-1 since March 1. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has been one of the hottest teams in hockey, riding a hot coach and too many hot sticks to name to home-ice advantage today from playoff question marks last month. The Flyers will find this series surprisingly easy. Penguins in 5.

(1) San Jose v. (8) Anaheim. The Sharks think they’re ready to get over their playoff hump. The Ducks are drowning in aging talent. The only thing they have going for them is J.-S. Giguere, which will be good for at least two wins. The Sharks, though, have a fine goalie of their own in Nabokov, not to mention Thornton, Cheechoo, Clowe, Marlowe…  Sharks in 6.

(2) Detroit v. (7) Columbus. Detroit is far and away the better team. That said, they’ll still find a way to screw up at least twice at this stage. Wings in 6.

(3) Vancouver v. (6) St. Louis. The Blues will have their time, but it won’t be against Roberto Luongo, who I still hold as the best goalie in the league, pound for pound. The only reason the Canucks won’t sweep is because Vancouver hasn’t been able to score in the playoffs since 1995. Luongo and the other guys in 5.

(4) Chicago v. (5) Calgary. This pains me to say, but this series is a real mismatch. The Hawks are a hot young team that finished second in the best division in hockey. Their goalie, Khabibulin, is playing like he did in 2004, when he backstopped the Lightning to a Cup win over the Calagry. The Flames have been foundering of late and spent the last two weeks of the season choking away the Northwest Division. As a Flames fan, with a heavy heart, Blackhawks in 5.

In the Conference semis, I currently have Washington over Montreal, Pittsburgh over the Devils, San Jose beating the Blackhawks, and Detroit going to town on the Flying Luongos.  My money is on San Jose beating Pittsburgh in 6 to take the Cup, but that practically guarantees that it’s not happening.

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The Legislature opens…

I know this is nominally a political blog, but even I have a tough time getting excited about the New Brunswick legislature, and why not? “Debate” over legislation is boring and a  foregone conclusion because of the Liberal majority.  The Progressive Conservative opposition hasn’t had an original idea in three years and probably won’t until a party convention in the fall. Question period too often is full of ad-hominim opposition attacks and shallow government non-answers.

That said, I think this rest of this session will be worth watching for a number of reasons.

  • Cabinet Shuffles. There was a small shuffle in the fall, but many prominent ministers – including Health Minister Mike Murphy and Education Minister Kelly Lamrock – kept their portfolios. Rumor has it they may change jobs by summer. What’s more, Attorney-General T.J. Burke is in trouble for allegedly commenting on an ongoing case. If the allegations are proven true, he may be forced to resign
  • Transformational Change? A couple years back, the Graham government drew up an action plan for self-sufficiency – that is, to get New Brunswick off equalization by 2026. It started proposing  reforms to everything from health care to education, often based on dubious reports. Graham usually had to backpedal a bit on the reforms after massive public outcry (see: polytechnic debate, French Immersion). Over Christmas, Graham blamed the economy for putting long-needed municipal reform on hold. Before summer, we should have a good idea of whether the Liberals can stomach the idea of any more “transformational change.”
  • The Economy. Yes, it’s bad everywhere. But how bad is it here and will the government try to create long-term jobs with its stimulus? I’d rather put money towards attracting a factory to Miramichi than building a highway in the middle of nowhere (see: Fundy Trail Parkway)
  • David Alward. This is his chance to define himself as a leader, which is vital if he wants to become premier. Frank McKenna, Bernard Lord, and Shawn Graham all became premier because they had charisma and vision. Leaders like Richard Hatfield, Camille Theriault, and (yes) Bernard Lord lost because they lacked those same qualities. Alward must start putting forward a vision of his New Brunswick and has to define his personality if he wants New Brunswickers to think of him as a future premier.

Likely, politics will be more interesting in Ottawa and Nova Scotia this spring. But the political picture down the hill should be very interesting as well.

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Finally… To Business

Sorry for the long break between posts, but it’s been a busy couple of weeks what with papers/exams/life/etc. Posts will be made intermittently through the week, but I’ll be getting to a more regular schedule next week.

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