Thursday, August 13, 2009


A lot of ink has, and will, be spilled over the issue of whether or not the New Democratic Party should change its name. We'll see more this weekend at their convention in Halifax.

My friend Ian Capstick has an interesting commentary on this in the Globe and Mail today.

My own take on this issue is that a name change, while not a bad idea in and of itself, isn't really a crucial issue for the party. If the party is smart, some new key policies and a campaign strategy will come out of the Halifax convention this weekend, and these will get press coverage along with the who-hah over the name change, whatever the party's decision is.

While branding is important, it is unlikely to make a difference at the polls for at least a few more elections (witness the number of people who still refer to the federal Conservatives as "Tories" or "PCs"), as everyone will keep using the old name in conversation (much as most people I know who are around my age still talk about the "Skydome" and the "O'Keefe Centre" despite their changes in name). As a long term rebranding exercise, a name change is not a terrible idea, but the short term gains will be pretty much non-existent. A major policy announcement, on the other hand, could attract some real attention.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

A Hillside Moment - Final Fantasy

I normally keep my blog's content strictly on political/historical matters. But every so often, there is the occasional personal anecdote or cool happening that requires a post. This is one such occasion.

Every July, Guelph is host to the Hillside Festival, a weekend-long community music festival that has become so popular that weekend passes sell out within a matter of a couple of hours when they go on sale in May - before the complete performance line-up has been announced. I've gone for all or part of the festival every year since arriving in Guelph, and have always had some fun memories of it. But nothing compares to the thunderstorm-filled weekend a week ago when we saw Final Fantasy (aka Owen Pallett) perform as the thunderheads rolled in. A few very skillful fans recorded his performance as the heavens opened. Enjoy!

Congratulations to the stage crew for safely getting him through that number!

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Michael Ignatieff, the United Kingdom and the Conservative Party of Canada

I recently received my latest partisan get-my-blood-boiling free-mailer from the Conservative Party, courtesy of Gary Goodyear. It's part of the Conservative party's "Ignatieff: Just visiting" campaign, smearing the Liberal leader for having the temerity to become an internationally-recognized scholar with long-term academic postings in the UK and at at Harvard (quelle horreur!) and alleging that he is insufficiently patriotic to Canada.

Now, I suppose that reasonable people can disagree on Ignatieff's long-term commitment to staying in politics (and in Canada) for long if this gig doesn't pan out for him. But, the historian in me can't help but find it fascinating/amusing that the Conservative Party of Canada is attacking a Liberal leader for being too closely tied to the United Kingdom! John Diefenbaker, champion of all things British and Commonwealth, must be rolling over in his grave to witness the party he gave so much of his life to engaging in petty partisan attacks using "Britishness" as a club to beat its opponents with.

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