I thought I’d get in on this flickr thing, with a few pics from my European adventure archive.


Ben, whom I jung out with in sunny Spain, brings the flickr link loving. How can you not click?


World Art Rundown

It’s been a very long time, in internet terms, since I’ve done this. Time to flex my blogging muscle group.

Here’s some of my favourite art from around the West Coast and Europe. Excluding Berlin, which deserves its own post.

“Long before anyone had heard of the Internet, early home computer users could read their morning newspapers online … sort of. Steve Newman’s 1981 story was broadcast on KRON San Francisco.”

Thanks Elaine!

The Hill Times isn’t hip enough to host a “Post to Facebook” button, but damn is this list ever solid.


By Bea Vongdouangchanh and Abbas Rana
OTTAWA—In Ottawa, influence is everything. It’s the drug to power’s addiction and given the extraordinary circumstances of the current federal political scene, The Hill Times’ second annual “Top 100 Most Influential People in Government and Politics for 2009” is just another helpful guide.

An influential person is someone who’s listened to and can help make change happen. Some might not have the big title, but do have the dynamism and trust.

Through consultations over the last month with government insiders and well-informed political players, The Hill Times made many revisions to compile the most comprehensive list to reflect the current political situation.


Transport Minister John Baird
Transport Minister John Baird is a trusted, close friend of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and an effective communicator to fend off opposition attacks. An attack dog who’s fiercely loyal to his leader, Mr. Baird will be the one to dole out $33-billion in infrastructure money. He chairs the Cabinet Committee on the Environment and Energy Security and also is a member of the Cabinet Committees of Priorities and Planning and Economic Growth and Long Term Prosperity. He’s also considered a potential candidate to run for Conservative leadership in the future.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon
As Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Cannon is working on some of the most important international files such as Canada-U.S. relations and Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Mr. Cannon is vice-chair of the powerful Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning and a member of the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan and Foreign Affairs and Security.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest
Quebec Premier Jean Charest recently won a majority government in a province which has the second most number of seats federally in the country. He is seen as a potential future leader of the Conservative Party.

Industry Minister Tony Clement
As the Industry minister, Mr. Clement is playing a key role in the current economic downturn as small and major Canadian industries such as auto, manufacturing, mining, and forestry across the country face massive challenges for survival. He chairs the Cabinet Committee on Economic Growth and Long-term Prosperity and is a member of the Priorities and Planning Committee. Mr. Clement is also likely to run for the Conservative Party leadership next time.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day
Mr. Day has a reputation as an effective Cabinet minister. Currently, he’s one of the few ministers working on the Canada-U.S. relations file. Mr. Day chairs the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan and is a member of the influential Cabinet Committees on Priorities and Planning and Economic Growth and Long-term Prosperity. He’s also expected to be one of the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party next time.

Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe
With 49 seats in the current minority Parliament, Mr. Duceppe is an influential player in Ottawa. If Mr. Ignatieff becomes prime minister next year, he would have a strong role to play on the policies of the government as the Liberals vie for his party’s support.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
Mr. Flaherty is one of the lead players trying to mitigate a recession and is responsible for a $230-billion budget which he will table in Parliament when it returns in January. He wields influence on Canada’s economic prosperity and that’s heightened by the current global economic meltdown. Mr. Flaherty is expected to be a formidable candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party next time around.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
The all-powerful Prime Minister, known up until this month’s national political crisis and debacle as a master strategist, will face the biggest change of his political career next month when his government either passes the budget or gets defeated.

Government House Leader Jay Hill
Feared by many Conservative caucus members from his previous role as the chief government whip where he was considered a strict “disciplinarian,” Mr. Hill controls the Harper government’s legislative agenda. A long-time Harper supporter, Mr. Hill is a trusted minister and has influence over which priorities get accomplished in the House. He is the vice-chair of the Cabinet Committee on Operations and is a member of the Treasury Board Cabinet Committee.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff
In the current uncertain federal political landscape, Mr. Ignatieff could potentially become the Prime Minister at the end of January or early February. Also, as the Leader of the Official Opposition, he holds a significant influence on the national political agenda. But there are also strong indications that Mr. Ignatieff is cool to forming a coalition government.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney
Promoted as a full Cabinet minister after the last federal election, the Calgary-area MP has impressed political observers for his effective outreach work in the ethnic communities. A shrewd strategist, spokesman and attack dog, he is a member of the Cabinet Committees on Operations and Social Affairs. With his grassroots network across the country, Mr. Kenney is well-positioned to seek the Conservative Party leadership whenever that happens.

NDP Leader Jack Layton
For the first time in the history of fourth and last place parties in the House, the New Democratic Party under Jack Layton, with only 37 MPs in this Parliament, could be part of the government if the next federal budget is defeated and the parties form a coalition government. If this happens, as part of the Liberal-NDP coalition, Mr. Layton and five of his other caucus colleagues could hold Cabinet portfolios.

Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc
The four-term Liberal MP is considered a rising star in the Liberal caucus. Recently, he ran for the leadership of the party but ended up declaring his support for Mr. Ignatieff. In case of a Liberal minority or majority government, he would likely be a member of the Cabinet.

Leader of the Government in Senate Marjory LeBreton
A veteran top PMO political staffer in the Brian Mulroney-era and a senior Harper Cabinet minister, Sen. LeBreton is considered as someone who helps to keep the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance wings of the merged parties together. She controls the government’s legislative agenda in the Upper Chamber. She will also have a say in the Harper government’s 18 Senate appointments.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay
Holding one of the most high-profile portfolios in the Harper Cabinet, Mr. MacKay is one of a handful of Cabinet ministers who have a say on the Canada-U.S. relations and Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security, he is also a member of the Cabinet Committees on Afghanistan and Priorities and Planning. Mr. MacKay is considered as a strong candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party next time.

Liberal MP John McCallum
A former vice-president and chief economist with the Royal Bank of Canada and dean of the Faculty of Arts at McGill University, Mr. McCallum is a go-to person in the Liberal Party on key economic issues. After the next budget is tabled in late January, Mr. McCallum is one of the few Liberal caucus members who will advise the leader on the merits and demerits of the Harper budget.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty
As premier of the largest province in the country, Mr. McGuinty is a critical player on the national scene for economic and political reasons. He has won two back-to-back majority governments and could also consider running for the federal Liberal Party leadership in the future.

NDP Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair
A former provincial Liberal Cabinet minister in Quebec, Mr. Mulcair who now holds the position of the deputy NDP leader will be one of the Cabinet ministers if the Liberal-NDP coalition supported by Bloc decided to defeat the next federal budget and called upon by the Governor General Michaëlle Jean to form government. He will be a formidable contender for the leadership of the New Democratic Party after Mr. Layton.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice
Mr. Prentice is considered a strong and effective minister who, in his new portfolio as the Environment Minister, will have to work on moving the government’s agenda at a time when energy and environment are at odds with each other. His conciliatory style will help influence how Canada responds to U.S. energy and environmental concerns. Mr. Prentice is considered as one of the most competent Cabinet ministers. He’s also seen as another strong potential successor to Mr. Harper in the future.

Liberal MP Bob Rae
One of the most articulate MPs in the House, Mr. Rae is expected to hold the number two position in the Liberal caucus. Liberals have been very complimentary of his decision to withdraw from the leadership campaign in favour of Mr. Ignatieff and thereby helping the Party to conclude this divisive and costly process months earlier.

Liberal Senator David Smith
Ontario Sen. Smith is a legend in federal politics and has been a veteran top Liberal backroom player for decades. He was one of the top supporters of both of Mr. Ignatieff’s leadership campaigns and is one of the top political advisers and confidants of the Liberal leader. Sen. Smith is also one of the key architects of former prime minister Jean Chrétien’s three back to back majority electoral successes in the 1993, 1997 and 2000 elections.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach
Alberta is home to the oil sands and it’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s home and political base. Mr. Stelmach wields significant influence as he represents his provinces’ interests on energy and the environment.

Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl
Mr. Strahl is considered one of the few independent-minded Cabinet ministers who is running his portfolio without “interventions from ‘The Centre.’ ” He has played a key role in making some progress in improving the Conservative Party’s relationship with the aboriginal community.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Peter Van Loan
With the authority to oversee federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the country, Mr. Van Loan, an attack dog in Question Period, is an influential player. He is very loyal and trusted to carry out the government’s agenda.


PMO Director of Issues Management Jenni Byrne
Ms. Byrne, a backroomer, is considered an influential staffer for having a key role in staffing ministerial offices and also to craft strategy to deal with issues facing the government on a daily basis. She is the link between the party’s headquarters and the Prime Minister’s Office. Ms. Byrne’s boyfriend is Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, a loyal Harper foot soldier.

Ignatieff insider Ian Davey
A top Ignatieff adviser for the 2006 and 2008 Liberal leadership campaigns, Mr. Davey, son of the legendary Liberal organizer Keith Davey, is expected to hold an influential role in the OLO.

Conservative Party of Canada Director of Political Operations Doug Finley
Married to Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley, backroomer Mr. Finley holds the top staff position in the party headquarters. He has the Prime Minister’s full confidence, has served as the Conservative Party’s campaign manager in the last two elections, and currently works on election readiness.

PM’s Chief of Staff Guy Giorno
As the chief of staff to the Prime Minister, Mr. Giorno is the most powerful political staffer on the payroll in the Harper government. Also, he is the chief political strategist and adviser to the Prime Minister. His reputation as a smart political adviser and strategist took a serious hit after the Harper Conservatives almost lost their government over what is being criticized as a too partisan fall economic statement during this economic crisis.

Chief of Staff to Bloc Québécois Leader François Leblanc
In the current dynamics of the minority Parliament, Mr. Leblanc wields significant influence as chief of staff to the third-place party that has to prop up any Liberal-NDP coalition government. Mr. Leblanc was one of his party’s behind-the-scenes negotiators on a coalition.

Ignatieff insider Steven MacKinnon
Mr. MacKinnon is a former Liberal Party national director and until last week was working as a vice-president of Hill and Knowlton. He is expected to be appointed to a senior staff position in the Ignatieff OLO.

NDP Leader’s Chief of Staff Anne McGrath
Holding the positions of party president and the chief of staff to the leader, Ms. McGrath is the top political aide to Mr. Layton. She was one of the NDP’s key negotiators on a coalition government.

PMO deputy chief of staff for strategic planning Patrick Muttart
Mr. Muttart is the second most influential staffer in the PMO because of his key role in coming up with strategies, tactics, polling, and messaging to run the day-to-day operations of the office and the election campaigns. He has direct access to the Prime Minster and is the key architect of the messaging the Conservatives used inside and outside the House of Commons to wage the spin war to undermine the Liberal-NDP coalition supported by the Bloc.

Principal secretary to the Prime Minister Ray Novak
Mr. Novak, who has been a close aide to the Prime Minister since he won the Canadian Alliance leadership, is one of the few staffers who has the most access to the boss. He’s also known as one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s gate-keepers.

PMO press secretary and senior Quebec adviser Dimitris Soudas
As press secretary to the Prime Minister Mr. Soudas has enormous access to the Prime Minister and being senior Quebec adviser, he is the go-to person on issues related to Quebec.

Senior adviser to PM director of strategic communications Carolyn Stewart-Olsen
A former ER nurse, Ms. Stewart-Olsen is also considered one of the Prime Minister’s gatekeepers. She has been with the Prime Minister since he successfully ran for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance Party in 2002. She is a trusted confidant of the Prime Minister’s and her access alone makes her one of the most influential people in Ottawa. She just got a new title too.

PMO communications director Kory Teneycke
Mr. Teneycke is seen by the Parliamentary Press Gallery as someone who has significantly improved media relations. He plays a key role in crafting the PMO communication strategy.

Chief of staff to Finance Minister Derek Van Stone
The chief political aide to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is one of the select few Conservative aides playing an important role in the preparation of the budget scheduled to be tabled on Jan. 27. Mr. Van Stone wields influence by being close to Mr. Flaherty, who will decide what makes it into the budget to ensure it is supported by the opposition parties, .


Canadian Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Perrin Beatty
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is a leading voice for Canadian businesses and in this economic downturn, Mr. Beatty, as the chamber’s “principal spokesperson advocating [its members’] policy positions,” will be front and centre when it comes to getting the government’s attention.

Hill and Knowlton senior counsellor Ian Brodie
As the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the former executive director of the Conservative Party, Mr. Brodie’s influence is obvious. Although with his new job he “will not perform an advocacy role,” Mr. Brodie’s access and knowledge of the inner workings of government make him one of the most connected people in Ottawa.

Ogilvy Renault senior strategic adviser Derek Burney
Mr. Burney is a respected old hand with many contacts around Ottawa and has several routes into the government. He headed the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan and continues to be influential in the government’s foreign affairs agenda.

Hill and Knowlton president and CEO Michael Coates
Mr. Coates not only is the head of one of Canada’s most influential lobby firms, he is a long-time trusted Conservative adviser who played a key role in the recent federal elections including leading the debate preparation for the Prime Minister, making him a very influential person to have advocating for H&K’s largest clients such as Bell Canada, Scotiabank and Merck Frosst.

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers president David Collyer
Mr. Collyer, former president and country chair of Shell Canada, heads the association consisting of 130 members that generates $120-billion a year in the industry. As one insider put it, “He has one heck of a job in front of him since his industry is pretty much driving the economy.” As the CAPP president, Mr. Collyer has the government’s ear as energy and environmental issues play a large role on the political agenda.

Canadian Council of Chief Executives president and CEO Thomas D’Aquino
Mr. D’Aquino’s influence comes from representing an association whose members’ assets total more than $3.5-trillion and whose annual earnings total more than $800-billion. His opinion is sought on fiscal, taxation, trade, energy, and environmental policies in Canada.

Canadian Bankers Association president Nancy Hughes Anthony
With the global economic crisis in the financial services industry, Ms. Hughes Anthony’s job as the head of the voice of Canada’s 54 banks, foreign subsidiaries and branches has become even more important and influential as the government tries to mitigate the current credit crunch. “She has a huge task ahead of her,” said one insider. “Her members are in full panic but she must be heard in Ottawa.”

Gowlings Lafleur Henderson LLP senior adviser Don Mazankowski
Mr. Mazankowski is a former deputy prime minister under Brian Mulroney who was hand-picked as the co-chair of the Prime Minister’s special advisory committee on public service renewal and continues to have many contacts and influence around the national capital.

Earnscliffe Strategy Group Principal Geoff Norquay
Mr. Norquay’s long history with the Conservative Party as an adviser in Brian Mulroney’s PMO and as a communications director in Stephen Harper’s OLO makes him one of the top government insiders in Ottawa. In addition, he keeps a high profile by being a Conservative pundit on political TV panels, which adds to his influence as a lobbyist.

Summa Strategies Vice-President Tim Powers
Mr. Powers is a trusted person to deliver Conservative talking points so he can be seen everywhere from the influential Mike Duffy Live show to blogging for The Globe and Mail. He knows inside Ottawa and is very well-liked and connected, making his access one of the top reasons for his capacity to influence powerful decision makers.

Crestview Public Affairs Co-founder Mark Spiro
Mr. Spiro is a “brilliant mind” who was a key adviser and top organizer on the federal Conservatives’ recent electoral successes. He focused on helping the Conservative Party win several of the swing ridings in the last election to increase their seat count in the House of Commons by 20 seats. Today, he has the ear of many in the top rung of government.


Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney
Canada’s young and top gun on the economy during this global financial crisis, Mr. Carney is responsible for helping to steer the country’s economic health and set the agenda by “calling the shots.” He declared that Canada was in a recession and took steps to stimulate the economy before the government wanted to admit it. His opinion obviously matters. When he speaks, the government listens.

Foreign and Defence Policy Adviser to the PM Claude Carrière
Mr. Carrière has a long history in the foreign affairs field as he spent 28 years in international trade, including as the deputy head of mission at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C. By virtue of his position, he will be a top person to influence foreign and defence policy.

Industry Deputy Minister Richard Dicerni
Mr. Dicerni is a 40-year veteran of the public service and is a trusted and effective civil servant, which is why he is at the helm of the most powerful and comprehensive department in the government. By virtue of his job description, he is an influential deputy minister who chairs the equally powerful DM Committee on Economic Prosperity, Environment and Energy and sits on the Committee of Senior Officials which acts as the “human resources committee for the senior executive cadre of the public service.”

Natural Resources Deputy Minister Cassie Doyle
As the former federal associate deputy minister of environment and a former DM of environment in British Columbia, Ms. Doyle brings years of knowledge and expertise to the Natural Resources Department at a time when energy and the environment are in high profile. She is a loyal public servant who is able to carry out the government’s agenda. She’ll also be rookie Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt’s go-to person on all things natural resources.

Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Leonard Edwards
The Conservative government has made foreign affairs one of its top priorities with its “Canada in the World” mantra. As the top bureaucrat, Mr. Edwards, who has more than 30 years of international experience, wields influence because he is responsible for working on a number of files that cross departments, such as National Defence and International Trade.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott
Although some insiders say his record at the RCMP is “yet to be written,” the position Mr. Elliott holds is influential and, therefore, his opinions matter because he has the ability to influence everything from national security, domestic intelligence and justice policy. His background as an adviser to the Prime Minister and an associate deputy minister at Public Safety give him the knowledge and experience to speak with authority.

National Defence Deputy Minister Robert Fonberg
With Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan and the Conservative government making national defence a top priority, Mr. Fonberg’s significant experience and role allows him to influence the agenda.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser
Ms. Fraser is influential because her reports on improper use of public money, or the effectiveness of some government programs almost always impact the political agenda, causing media attention and affecting future policy decisions.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director Jim Judd
As the director of Canada’s foreign spy agency, Mr. Judd is the ultimate insider. He influences law enforcement policy and foreign intelligence and counter intelligence gathering policies and of course provides top security information and advice to the government.

PCO Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Plans and Consultation Simon Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy was recently awarded one of The Globe and Mail’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and it’s not hard to see why. Mr. Kennedy’s job is to provide advice to the Prime Minister on policy and operational issues and manage Cabinet’s decision-making system. He was described in last year’s list of the Top 100 Most Influential People as the “second smartest person in the room” when meeting with PCO Clerk Kevin Lynch. He still is.

PCO Clerk Kevin Lynch
Mr. Lynch is the country’s top and most powerful bureaucrat. He is one of the Prime Minister’s most influential advisers, especially since the growing centralization of power in Ottawa. His influence has also grown under this economic crisis as he has had to work with Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney to weather the storm. “One helps determine our economic health while the other controls the purse strings if we need help,” one insider noted. “Since there was no Cabinet meeting I am aware of during the election when the economic shit hit the fan, who was calling the shots? These two.”

National Security Adviser to PM and Associate Secretary to Cabinet Marie-Lucie Morin
Ms. Morin, a former diplomat and former DM of International Trade, is considered an effective and smart public servant whose influence comes from being number three in the PCO hierarchy in her role as the associate secretary to Cabinet, and as the Prime Minister’s top adviser on national security issues.

Chief of Defense Staff General Walter Natynczyk
Mr. Natynczyk has been a loyal soldier and public servant and is far less outspoken than his predecessor, but with Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan and the Conservatives’ priority to increase military spending and defence procurement, he is a leading and influential player in ensuring the government’s “Canada First” defence policy materializes.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page
Mr. Page was hired to provide “independent analysis of the state of the economy” as well as “provide an estimate of costs” for proposals within Parliament’s jurisdiction. He is shaking things up. The feisty Parliamentary budget officer has challenged the government on its own finances and stood up to the Library of Parliament when he was told he was “overstepping” his boundaries. During this economic downturn, Mr. Page, with 25 years of experience in the Finance Department and PCO, has been a key source of information. When he speaks, people listen.

PCO Deputy secretary to Cabinet, Legislation, House Planning and Machinery of Government Yvan Roy
By virtue of being the closest person to the Clerk of the PCO, Mr. Roy is influential. He manages legislation, House business, and the machinery of government to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Environment Canada Deputy Minister Ian Shugart
Mr. Shugart, who was only appointed the Environment DM in August, will be influential as the government shepherds its environmental plan through this Parliament. With Barack Obama as U.S. president, experts expect the environment and energy files will be the top cross-border issues, of which Mr. Shugart will play a role.

Secretary to the Treasury Board Wayne Wouters
Mr. Wouters’ responsibilities include providing advice on policies, directives, regulations and program expenditures as the top bureaucrat at the Treasury Board Secretariat. As Treasury Board is responsible for the “comptrollership function of the government” and “general management” of government initiatives, that means Mr. Wouters has influence over how the bureaucracy is run.

Finance Deputy Minister Rob Wright
Mr. Wright’s influence shot up in the last few months during the deepening of the global economic crisis. As the lead on budget preparation and a noted economist, Mr. Wright is Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s top adviser on economic and fiscal policy.


CBC’s The National’s At Issue Panel
With 760,000 viewers of CBC TV The National’s illustrious “At Issue” panel this season to date, Maclean’s national editor Andrew Coyne, Decima Research’s Allan Gregg and The Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert are influential. Not only do political junkies tune in but insiders and decision-makers who want to hear thoughtful, surprising, and provocative insight into the week’s political happenings do too.

La Presse columnist Alain Dubuc
Influential people read National Newspaper Award-winner Mr. Dubuc for his respected opinion on business, politics and economics and how they affect the federal political scene.

Mike Duffy Live host Mike Duffy
With more than 25 years living and breathing politics on the Hill, Mr. Duffy is a well-respected journalist who is considered one of the most connected “insiders” in the national capital. He often breaks stories, is plugged into the Conservatives, receives live inside scoops on his widely-watched CTV show, Mike Duffy Live, shaping the day’s news and politics. Love him or hate him, you can’t duck the Duffster.

CTV Ottawa bureau chief Bob Fife
A veteran reporter, Mr. Fife is often the first to break national stories with, more time than not, trusted, insightful and insider information. He’s well-connected and has significant contacts in all parts of government and his reporting influences the public agenda.

Toronto Star, Le Devoir, The Hill Times columnist Chantal Hébert
As one of the most respected newspaper columnists in the country, Ms. Hébert’s political insights and analysis of federal politics is sought out and read widely among decision-makers and the public in general. Ms. Hébert’s columns always give readers something to chew on, her words are serious business and those in power read her very carefully. Arguably, she’s the best political columnist in the country.

National Post columnist John Ivison
Mr. Ivison is a trustworthy person to give sensitive information to. Because of this, he is seen as someone the Conservatives are comfortable giving information to and his columns often have scoops that can shape the public agenda.

Montreal Gazette columnist L. Ian MacDonald
Mr. MacDonald’s long-time affiliation with the Conservative Party gives him direct access to the PMO, which makes him one of the most informed national affairs columnists. Key government insiders and top political players read his column carefully because it can influence public opinion.

Calgary Herald, National Post columnist Don Martin
Mr. Martin’s straight-up, no-nonsense and informative columns are influential because of the contacts he has in all political parties. They carry stature with any government insider. He’s also often seen on the influential “At Issue Panel” and other political TV and radio panels for his insights, which political players take note of.

Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin
Mr. Martin is a well-respected columnist who is thought-provoking and usually “dead on” in his analysis of federal politics. His column is a “must read” in political Ottawa.

Political satirist Rick Mercer
Yes Rick Mercer. Mr. Mercer wields influence because he is a strong barometre of public opinion. When he satirizes political events, it’s a sign that it’s not only a significant event but that his take on it will surely shape public opinion as well as important decision-makers’ thoughts.

It’s still a mystery who runs this news aggregator, but the fictional “Paul Fook’s” website has generated a buzz on the Hill. It’s often the gateway for important national stories, some of which are broken on the site, and reporters, lobbyists and other influential people look to it as a reliable source of information.

CBC senior Parliamentary editor and Politics host Don Newman
For almost three decades, Mr. Newman has been a fixture on Parliament Hill. His reputation for solid reporting and non-confrontational style allows him access to the top government and political players in the country. Politics is also a must-watch show for those who want or need to know everything about the day’s political events.

CTV Question Period host Craig Oliver
Mr. Oliver’s insight is trusted and respected by the many political and non-political viewers who watch his influential show. The 70-year-old political veteran has access to the top people in government and is able to often get ministers on Question Period where others can’t because of his solid reputation for journalistic excellence.

Corriere Canadese, The Hill Times and The Toronto Star columnist Angelo Persichilli
As the political editor of Canada’s only Italian-language daily with a column in the influential The Hill Times as well as in the country’s largest newspaper The Toronto Star, Mr. Persichilli commands not only a large audience, but a powerful one. With a direct pipeline into the government, Mr. Persichilli has become one of the top columnists to influence the federal political scene.

La Presse editorial writer André Pratt
Mr. Pratt is a “prominent” and influential Quebec writer whose knowledge is respected by many readers and influential policy-makers.

Canadian Press bureau chief Rob Russo
The Canadian Press sets the agenda for the day’s news and is often out front with breaking solid, substantive, and trusted stories which the powers-that-be must then respond to. As its bureau chief, Mr. Russo is responsible for setting that agenda, which makes him a person of influence in shaping the federal political landscape.

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson
Mr. Simpson, a legendary National Newspaper Award and Governor General’s Award winner, has established himself as a “must-read” national affairs columnist. His access to key people in government and informed analysis of federal politics means top political players take him very seriously.

Globe and Mail senior reporter and CTV Question Period host Jane Taber
Ms. Taber is plugged into every aspect of politics in Ottawa, with top level sources in each party. Not only are federal politicians afraid to be on her “Not Hot” list in Saturday’s Globe, they know that she’s very capable of getting the inside scoop on caucus confidentials and breaking national news stories that other journalists often follow.


Businessman Laurent Beaudoin
A prominent and well-known business executive, Mr. Beaudoin is the son-in-law of Joseph Armand Bombardier. Former CEO of Bombardier, he currently is serving as chairman of Board of Bombadier Produits Récréatifs Inc. Business executives like Mr. Beaudoin are influential players in federal no matter which party is in government.

Businessman Paul Desmarais, Sr.
Mr. Desmarais is the former chair and CEO of Power Corporation and his domestic and international clout is evident from his friendships with former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, current U.S. President George W. Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

TD Bank chief economist Don Drummond
The well-respected senior vice-president and chief economist of TD Bank Financial Group is media savvy and an outspoken economic analyst. A former associate deputy minister of finance, Mr. Drummond holds significant clout because of his knowledge on economic, fiscal and monetary issues and for his fair and balanced approach in his analyses. He’s media savvy.

Businessman Murray Edwards
According to Forbes magazine, Mr. Edwards’ net worth is about U.S. $1.4-billion and is one of the richest people in Canada. As a leading player and shareholder in the oil and gas industry based in Alberta, Mr. Edwards has a significant influence, especially because the energy file has emerged as a top priority for the government. For Hill insiders, he’s married to former Liberal Hill staffer Heather Bala.

CTVGlobemedia president and CEO Ivan Fecan
Being President and CEO of CTVglobemedia and CEO of CTV, he holds significant influence because of his obvious power.

Canada-Israel Committee CEO Shimon Fogel
Mr. Fogel wields significant influence as the CEO of Canada-Israel Committee, “the official representative of the organized Canadian Jewish community on matters pertaining to Canada-Israel relations.” The Jewish community has been aggressively courted by the Harper Conservatives since they first formed government in 2006.

Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell
British-born and Canadian-raised author and staff writer for The New Yorker, Mr. Gladwell is read avidly by the business, political and intellectual opinion-shapers in Ottawa. The author of three bestselling books—The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, and Outliners: The Story of Success—Mr. Gladwell was on Time magazine’s 100 most influential people list in 2005.

Businessman James Irving
The Irving family is one of the most high-profile, wealthy, and influential families in Atlantic Canada. Mr. Irving is a key behind-the-scenes player in provincial and federal politics. Last week, he was named as one of the nine members of the Economic Advisory Council appointed by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

University of Toronto Rotman School of Management dean Roger Martin
Mr. Martin is read closely by the political and business elite in the nation’s capital. His articles are published in leading national and international journals, magazines and daily newspapers such as Harvard Business Review, Australian Financial Review, Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce Bulletin, Barron’s, Business Week, Time, Maclean’s Financial Times, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star and National Post.

Deputy chair of TD Bank Financial Group Frank McKenna
Former popular premier of New Brunswick and Canadian ambassador to the U.S., Mr. McKenna is one of the most prominent Liberals in the country. He is well-respected for his judgment on both economic and political issues.

Businessman Gwyn Morgan
Mr. Morgan, the former president and CEO of EnCana Corporation, who Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried and failed to appoint as chair of the Public Appointments Commission in 2006 when the opposition parties rejected the appointment, he continues to have the Prime Minister’s ear.

BCE corporate director Paul Tellier
As the former clerk of the Privy Council, Mr. Tellier understands both the government and the private sector well. He is somebody who “understands the economic and political power structures in this country better than anyone else.” In October 2007, Prime Minister Harper appointed him on a panel to review Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.


U.S. Ambassador to Canada
Current U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins will be leaving his post when U.S. president-elect Barack Obama is sworn into office next month, but it doesn’t matter who takes over, the U.S. ambassador to Canada is always an important and influential player. However, the next one will be even more important, if that’s possible, considering the new presidency, the economy, the environment, the war in Afghanistan, and how critical the relationship is between Canada and the U.S.

Governor General Michaëlle Jean
During this minority Parliament, Governor General Jean will be perhaps the most influential person in the country, having to decide—if and when the government does not survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons—on whether to ask opposition leader Michael Ignatieff to form a government (with or without an official coalition), or to send Canadians to the polls. Her decision could significantly change the federal political landscape.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin
By virtue of her position, Chief Justice McLachlin is one of the most influential people in Ottawa. Her rulings are obviously looked at and listened to extremely carefully and are able to influence any future laws Parliamentarians make.

Nanos Research president and CEO Nik Nanos
Since being the pollster who most accurately polled the 2006 election to one tenth of a percentage point, Mr. Nanos has made a name for himself on the federal political scene and can be seen regularly on CPAC and in the Sun Media chain. His company’s slogan is “insight you can trust,” and insiders say top government decision makers do in fact trust his insight.


The Hill Times

Stephen Harper is acting like a child.

Harper’s dirty radio ad is Canada’s highest at his lowest – he has woven a thread of half-truths and misinformation into a sweater vest of lies that could look like patriotism, but isn’t. In fact, it erodes democracy in our country.

His bald accusation that a coalition of elected minority parties is somehow undemocratic displays an uncharacteristic ignorance of how democracy works in every country that has not institutionalized a one- or two-party system. Harper has never been lauded for his sense of fair play, his talent for building consensus from a range of voices, his tolerance for dissent, his ability to negotiate compromises that are acceptable to all parties. These are all things that define a strong democracy and a stable government, but none of these things define the man that for nearly two years governed as if he had the majority that he failed to win in 2006 and again in 2008. For two years Harper bullied a disorganized opposition into submission by naming minor bills as matters of confidence when in fact they weren’t. His schoolyard tactics worked for a time, but now that the other players are standing up for each other he is considering proroguing parliament.

That’s right, Stephen. Take your ball and go home.

Harper’s further and ongoing allegations that coalition talks represent some kind of conspiracy and coup are astoundingly myopic. The radio ad narrator says, “[Stephane Dion] even thinks he can take power without asking you, the voter.” As if Canadians weren’t just asked the $3 million dollar question, a mere seven weeks past, in which 62% of Canadian voters from every part of the country expressed the building national consensus that Harper is too ideological and divisive for the top job? Of course you’re not being picked to play on the team, Stephen. You don’t play well with others. The last time you helped build a unity in Canada it was to diminish the range of political expression by bringing together two parties with vast ideological differences that both happened to be popularly understood as ‘right wing’. That was five year and three elections ago.

I could go on for ages about everything that’s wrong-headed about Harper’s dying breath. So I will.

In his excellent piece on globeandmail.com, Andrew Steele quotes Harper as saying, “we will use every legal means to resist this undemocratic seizure of power,” and then goes on to list his ten best guesses at what’s in Harper’s book of dirty tricks. It’s a scary list, made scarier for the academic authorities he sources his material from. Top of the list is firing Canada’s first black Governor General, something with no historical precedent in Canada. But know what does have national precedent? Canada’s first coalition government dates to 1917, when Robert Borden’s Conservatives negotiated support from a number of Liberals at the height of the First World War. I’m personally curious as to why it’s taken us more than 90 years and another world crisis to get to the cusp of our second, federal, coalition, when they are pretty much par for the course in parliaments across the globe. But more importantly, this particular example, and a wash of provincial examples both before and after confederation, show us that the spirit of compromise that coalition governments inherently represent is Canadian. This is an exciting time for the True North! Harper would have us believe otherwise.

Items 2, 4, 5, and 7 are various forms of delay, including, speaking of things without precedent, proroguing parliament before the government has demonstrated confidence of the house by carrying out some, any kind of, business. But any delay would only buy Harper the time to carry out items 3, 6, 8, and 9, all of which are variations on the theme of bribing opposition MPs into supporting the government.

Short of buying MPs piecemeal at outrageous expense – every sinister success would take a small bite out of the kitchen-table-and-sweater image he worked so hard to cultivate in September and October, and additionally would undermine his own authority by limiting the political largess he can dole out to his supporters – his only other option is to, was to, prop up his own party with the Bloc Quebecois. But at this point the proposition is basically untenable. Neither Canadians nor Quebecois would allow Harper to vilify one coalition as “separatist” and “undemocratic” while cynically embracing an appreciably identical one. And Harper’s continued disrespectful hectoring of the Bloc Quebecois is harming him, rather than helping him. Courting the Bloc after ads like this would prove hypocritical, and thankfully, outrageously, impossible. If Harper ever had a chance to play ball with this diverse parliament, he is evidently squandering his opportunity to captain it.

Harper’s time to present a game plan that the parliamentary players could follow was immediately after the election. Instead, Canada’s most divisive Prime Minister chose to cheat and bully one to many times. Where there was discord, now there is unity and consensus, and Harper’s puerile protest that a national coalition built on compromise and shared values is somehow undemocratic, and worse, un-Canadian, is only so much crying over the milk he spilled himself. The truth is this: Harper’s tantrum of an attack ad threatens the integrity of parliamentary democracy in Canada.

It is time for Stephen Harper to show a little maturity and pass the ball. This is Canada. Power must be earned, not strangled.

The 5 in 5 book list

5 books I am currently in the middle of, in 5 different genres, in the order I picked them up:

The Crimes of Love, Marquis de Sade. Erotica. One of his most popular, and least offensive, tracts.

Red Dog, Red Dog, Patrick Lane. Family Saga. A fantastically powerful writer, who barely disguises his poet’s instincts in his debut novel.

Antic Hay, Aldous Huxley. Satire. One of the most clever and linguistically hilarious books I have ever read.

A Life Decoded, J. Craig Venter. Biography. Dr. Venter is a true maverick, and a brilliant scientist and futurist.

Darwin’s Radio, Greg Bear. Science Fiction. He remains one of the most thorough researcher-authors of our time.

I’m preparing for a collabo-photo essay in my other line of work showcasing solid, modern architecture and design in Toronto. If you know of a structure or interior I should include, please share. Anything built in the last half-decade or so is up for grabs.


Facebook Pirate! It speaks for itself.

Also, I got to interview this guy today.

J Craig Venter is the Reed Richards of genomic science

J Craig Venter is the Reed Richards of genomic science