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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ranking of Liberal Leadership Websites

This is the first Liberal Leadership race that will be run primarily on the web. Sure all the candidates will try to meet Liberals face-to-face but the web is the easiest (and cheapest) place to release policy statements and interact with Canadians. Here's my ranking of the best designed Liberal leadership sites.

1. Ken Dryden- I like the oversized "A Big Canada" Lettering and the site isn't too cluttered with the colours in red and white. The layout is great with Ken's picture on the right and rollover links on the leftside.

2. Scott Brison- It looks similar to Dyden's site. He has a great colour scheme and a mission statement and a great picture on the front page.

3. Carolyn Bennett- Despite not being one of the front runners she has a website that sticks out from the rest. Her layout is simple with an agenda book on her desk containing the various links for her website. It's unique but should have a rollover and being an unknown- she needs her picture on the main page.

4. Bob Rae- Nice simply designed website. Bob has a nice rollover for the top header that has the Liberal logo under the headers. His main weakness is his mission statement's font is too small and lengthy.

5. Joe Volpe- I like the top header that rotates the images and the left sidebar is well designed. But the page is 3 pages long which is three times longer than most of his competitors.

6. Michael Ignatieff- The rotating images for the banner and the layout are excellent. But could they have found a better picture of Ignatieff.

7. Maurizio Bevilacqua- The last two columns are well designed like Dryden's and Brison's websites. But I don't like the flag waving because it's a bit disorientating because you can't stop it moving to read his short mission statement.

8. Martha Hall Findlay- Despite being the first candidate to put her hat in the ring her website his short on content. Her issues page looks like it was designed just on Word. But I look the front page and the news headlines could be placed in their seperate section.

9. Gerard Kennedy- The quick moving ticker is hard to read and should be replaced by a rotating text ticker that doesn't move left to right. Also there isn't a single rollover to highlight something on the main page is clickable.

10. Stephane Dion- Despite being a pundit favourite and seen as a possible compromise candidate if their is a deadlock Dion's site is horrible. His newsroom section hasn't been updated in 3 weeks and there are only a few links to click on. Also if he is running the Liberal party why are his site colours purple and white.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Conservatives accept US trade dominance

Today, Stephen Harper abandoned one his favourite campaign slogans-

"If you do a serious crime, you’re going to do serious time".


When the americans broke the law, Harper caved and lowered the penalties against the US government for breaking the law. NAFTA and the WTO were uncompromising in their support for the Canadian position in the softwood lumber trade war. But Stephen Harper was more appeasing. Canada won the court rulings and the conservatives negotiated a less favourable for Canadians.

For starters, Canada will not get interest on the $5 billion of illegal fees that the US charged on Canadian softwood lumber companies. We won't even get the base amount back. Instead, the conservatives settled for 78%. That means the conservatives accept the US case that Canadians should be penalized for following trade law. Instead of paying $5 billion to the US government, we are paying $1 billion now to the US. Also, on the day the loonie rose to record heights, the amount Canadian companies will be repaid at the a more favourable currency rate for the Americans. What a proud day for Canada!

But it doesn't end there. The conservatives have agreed to collect an export tax on Canadian lumber if its price is too low. Trade law says we don't have to appease the americans but Stephen Harper has his secret agenda to fullfill. It's a good day for David Orchard to launch his leadership bid. Why should we continue have free trade with the US when the violate trade laws and Canada is punished 22% on our exports for abiding by the law?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

First Round NHL Predictions

The first Stanley Cup playoffs in 2 years is finally here. Below are Dave and Joe's
picks. Also as an added bonus, the DaColbert Code (Randomly picked), after Stephen Colbert's flawless oscar predictions is also making a prediction for each matchup.

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Edmonton Oilers

David: I am not afraid to pick the best team to win in this series. The Oilers may be an 8th place team but late season additions of Samsonov and Roloson make the Oilers are strong team.

The Red Wings are unsure of who will start in goal and their leading scorer (Datsyuk) is unavailable for the first game. The Oilers also have greatly improved their defense with Pronger and Spacek playing for the first time in the playoffs for the Oilers. The Red Wings defense has lived up to expectations, led by Lidstrom who led all defense in points. The big weakness for the Oilers is offense. Datsyuk, Lang, and Zetterberg are more potent than any of the Oilers forwards but most of the wings key forwards have not lived up to expectations. Edmonton in 7 games

Joe: Well all the sportscasters have basically been saying that the Wings will sweep this one, they are too good, etc. Well as we all know, most sportscasters are not that sharp and are too chicken to pick underdogs. I think the Oilers will push them to the limit, but the Wings will be able to go through to the next round. Although if the Oilers can pull of the upset, it wouldn't surprise me. The Wings haven't played that well against the Oilers the past few years, and
looking at the past 10-15 years, it seems when the Wings have an awesome season, they seem to stumble in the playoffs, compared to when they finish middle of the pack and win it all. This will be a tough series, espically since the Oilers have literally no pressure on them. Detroit in 7 games

DaColbert Code: Since the last playoffs, let's look at the price of two products. Wings and Oil. Edmonton will win.


(2) Dallas Stars vs. (7) Colorado Avalanche

Dave: I concur with Joe that the Avalanche team is a much weaker team than 2 years ago (no Forsberg or Foote) But they surprised me and made the playoffs. The Avalanche's offense is better but a depleted defense and an unsettled goaltending situation makes the Avs vulnerable. Dallas in 7 games

Joe: A few years ago this would be a semi-final matchup, but the times have changed. Dallas has been very quietly been playing great this year, while Colorado have been pretty average looking. Dallas have great goaltending, and a very deep squad. Colorado have question marks in goal, and not near the depth they once had, Dallas in a breeze. Dallas in 5 games

DaColbert Code: Colorado reminds most of Americans of snow and ice. Dallas reminds people of dessert and heat. Colorado will win.

(3) Calgary Flames vs. (6) Anaheim Ducks

Dave: The Flames are in for a tough first round better. But the best team in the west should be able to defeat the Ducks. Kipper is the top goalie in the league and Iginla has been averaging close to a point a game since the Olympics. But, it will be a long series because Selanne has been red hot. Calgary in 7 games

Joe: Well in the last playoffs, at the beginning, I picked the Flames to go to the finals, no really I am serious! This time I am not so nice to them. The only thing keeping them going is Kipper. Iginla is basically their only offence, so a desecent defensive team can stick to him like glue. No question the Flames can keep goals out of the net, but can they score. The Ducks on the other hand have quietly ran up the table to the sixth spot, and with no one really picking them, I think an upset is in the making here. Anaheim in 6 games

DaColbert Code: Let's compare the two regions to their political affiliations. Calgary votes conservative. California is a blue state. Then look at what horses one during the last federal elections. Calgary will win.

(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) San Jose Sharks

David: Vokoun is injured. The only reason why the Predators have a chance is their defense which is led by two strong europeans, Timmonen and Zidlicky. Thornton and Cheechoo should score a bundle against Nashville's replacement goaltenders. San Jose in 6 games.

Joe: Well ever since Joe Thornton has put on a Sharks uniform, they are around 30 games over .500. They along with the Devils are the hottest teams in the league going into the playoffs. Joe has set Cheechoo on fire, helping him get the Art Ross this year. Nashville looked like a dark-horse team until Vokoun went down for the season. This will be a good tough series, but with Vokoun going down I think the Preds will have to look to next year. San Jose in 6 games

DaColbert Code: Nashville is known for country music. Country music is usually about losing something. Like a hockey team that lost their goalie to a blot clot and is facing the league's leading point (Thornton) and goal scorer (Cheechoo). But there are no country songs about hockey. Nashville will win.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Ottawa Senators vs. (8) Tampa Bay Lighting

David: The Senators won first place in the East but Hasek is iffy. The Lightning's goaltenders are dreadfull but most of the offense is still intact from the last Stanley Cup championship. Ottawa in 7 games

Joe: Boy a tough one to call. The Sens have been slumping the past few weeks, but so have Tampa. If the Sens matched up against the Habs, I would have picked the upset, but with both teams having goalie trouble, I think the Sens are just too good and deep compared to the Lighting. I dont think this will be a grinder series, but there maybe a 7-6 game here and there. Ottawa in 5 games

DaColbert Code: First vs Eight matchup is David vs Goliath matchup. David beat Goliath. Zdeno Chara is 6'9" and Martin St. Louis is 5'8". Tampa Bay will win.

(2) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (7) Montreal Canadiens

David: Montreal might be this year's Calgary Flames. They made the playoffs with a goalie who came from no where and have a few forwards who could inflict some damage. (Koivu and Kovalev) The Hurricans suprised everybody with Staal's breakout year and added Weight and Recchi to their team too. But their defense is thin and might cost them in low scoring games while playing against the league's hottest goaltender. Montreal in 6 games.

Joe: This is another tough one to call. The Hurricanes have been playing well this year, except for the last little bit of the season they have been average. They have a deeper team then the Habs, but the have some big question marks in goal. While the Habs are trying to decide who will be in goal, even though we all know it will be Huet. This is another one of those series where even though looking on paper Carolina should walk through, I just have a gut feeling an upset is in the making. Montreal in 7 games

DaColbert Code: Cristobal Huet is from France. France's most famed sporting event is the Tour du France. Lance Armstrong is the most celebrated champion of that cycling champion. He beat cancer just like Saku Koivu. Montreal will win.

(3) New Jersey Devils vs. (6) New York Rangers

David: New Jersey became red hot when their GM took coaching duties and scared the shit out of the devils as he wanted to take a closer look at his team and decide who should get rid of. Mogilny was sent to the minors but the rest of them was kept intact. It paid as the Devils resurrected a failed season. Too bad their playing a resurrected Jagr and have to score on the goalie who won Gold in Turin. NY Rangers in 7 games

Joe: Well the Devils went from fighting for a playoff spot to division champs. What the hell happened? They look great, and Brodeur looks like he did when he won 3 cups. The Rangers on the other hand look like they have fallen off the horse, but they should not be taken lightly. The thing that will make this a great series to watch and a tough grinding one is that its a subway series. It may not be as good as the 1994 semi-finals in which the Rangers went on to win, but
it should be one of the better ones. New Jersey in 6 games (I put green in the name because I want them to go back to their old jerseys)

DaColbert Code: New York vs New Jersey is a sibling rivalry. In sibling rivalries big brother always wins. Like Martin BROdeur. New Jersey will win.

(4) Buffalo Sabres vs. (5) Philidelphia Flyers

Dave: I picked the Sabres to finnish last place because they have no visible big name players. They made the playoffs with no clear star forward and Ryan Miller just got his first shutout this season in the last game he played. The Sabres are a hard working team with no gapping holes. 6 players scored more than 20 goals. But the biggest upside for the Sabres is their opponent. Primeau and Kim Jonsson are injured. Forsberg, Gagne, and Pitkanen are playing injured. Also it's the flyers, so you have no idea who their goalie. Buffalo in 7 games

Joe: Does this series have defence and hitting written all over it. Well even in the new NHL it maybe like that. Buffalo had a great over-achieving year, and I still dont know how. The Flyers were a lot of peoples early season favourites to win the cup. Everytime I hear sportscasters talk about them, they always just say how they are no good this year. Well they are a good team, and I think Buffalo is a little too young and green to beat them. They just have to keep up
the good work. Philadelphia in 5 games

DaColbert Code: Maxim Afinogenov a Russian led the team in points. And the Greatest Russian Leader of All-Time- Peter The Great, as in Peter Forsberg. Philadephia will win.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ralph Goes out Kicking and Screaming

Ralph's exit speech and the way he answered questions was diplomatic and gracefull.

But the timing could be worse for his party. His exit speech was mere hours before Stephen Harper's first throne speech. Was he trying to steal the spotlight or wanted to go out quietly with little fanfare? (One theory for Klein's low support at the convention is the federal conservatives are still mad at Ralph for saying they couldn't win)

Also he's going to officially announce his resignation in September. Why not resign during the summer so the party can have a september convention and the new leader will lead a november fall session. Ralph's timing forced the leader to be elected right before Christmas and forces him/her to hold their first session in the spring.

So Alberta has a lame duck premier whose own party wants him to leave and in revenge he is forcing their new leader to start governing one year from now.

The PC party is divided over Ralph's future, they are about to go through a rocky leadership race (with one candidate that is not even sitting in their caucus), and no major decisions likely will be made in the next year. The opposition is licking their lips.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ralph and Reality Collide: Reality Wins

Lyle Oberg doesn't look an idiot this morning for questioning Klein's leadership.

For months many people were speculating that Klein's approval rating could hit the low 50's. But Ralph setting an expirary date for himself was suppossed to give him a bit of a boost so he wouldn't have to resign in shame. When Ralph first started as premier his goal was clear- to wipe out the debt. Since then he has talked about toying with the health-care system and has never had any plan to guide a debt-free Alberta. The PC party has become stale and has made very few changes to the laws of the province (look at the Brooks labour dispute and the mistreatment of the elderly in long-term care facilities) and are infrastructure isn't keeping with the booming economy. (Alberta needs a new highway from Edmonton to Fort McMurray and Edmonton should have started expanding its LRT 10 years ago)

On April 1st his party gave a clear message that they won't support Ralph's long goodbye and his plan to turf all cabinet ministers that want the job a year and a half before the leadership race starts. Let's look at Ralph's recent record. He fired a cabinet minister who suggested people might want to seriously review Klein's leadership, and he threw a book at a page. Alberta PC's decided they didn't want their leader to continue to be a national laughing stock while their party support plummets and in 2 years select a new leader to save the sinking ship.

Klein has become too autocratic and the PC party showed they were in touch with what was happening on the ground. Albertans want a change and a new direction.