1. Tempest in a hockey tweet. Heritage Minister James Moore should know better; a recent Twitter post was wrong on so many levels.
In fewer than 140 characters, he's managed to revive the national unity debate - or at least land himself in a little hot water for this reckless tweet: "The Canucks are Canada's team in these playoffs. Plus, they're wearing those handsome Canadian Alliance-esque blue/green jerseys"
First, favouring one homegrown squad or the other when there are only two Canadian teams left in the playoffs is bad enough when you are the Canadian Heritage Minister. But going so far as to favour the Western team (he represents a suburban Vancouver riding) over the team from Quebec when the party that you represent as Minister of Official Languages is depending on the province for its majority government is deranged.
Not surprisingly this tweet did not go unnoticed as he is closely monitored by the world of television journalists. They were buzzing - or at least, blogging.
In a blog post called Tweets Have Consequences, Denis McGrath, a TV writer and a big deal in the Writers Guild of Canada, wrote: "I wouldn't have minded the evocation of the 2nd iteration of the Alberta wingers who took over the Conservative party a while back, but Moore is a politician - and words, whether they're calling a constituent a 'bigot' or choosing a team in a match - have impact."
Arguing that sport is a "special metaphor for everything", Mr. McGrath writes that by stating that the Canucks are Canada's team, Mr. Moore is doing what the Harper Conservatives do best - splitting Canadians apart into "an us or them."
"Us doesn't include the CBC, artistic elites, union people, city dwellers - and Quebec. In a fractious, minority parliament situation, divide & conquer, shore up your base & cherry pick some ridings here and there might be the only way toward stability. But it's killing the country. Killing it."
Mr. McGrath comments, too, on Mr. Moore's poor timing in declaring the Canucks "Team Canada" on the heels of the men's hockey Olympic gold medal victory that united the country. He says it goes beyond "tone deafness, into a very much darker corner of the current political climate."
Oh, and he was just warming up…
Building to his conclusion, Mr. McGrath tells Mr. Moore not to lecture the electorate as to who is more Canadian, based on who they are rooting for in the playoffs.
So James Moore, what were you thinking? "Was trying to have fun. Relax, lighten up. Geez," Mr. Moore told his critic.
2. Election bluster. Despite battling cancer, NDP Leader Jack Layton says he is feeling good and ready to fight an election over the secret Afghan detainee documents.
Mr. Layton told CTV's Question Period yesterday that House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken's ruling last week was clear: MPs must have access to the documents to keep government accountable. "This is all about accountability, something Stephen Harper said he thought was important, at least when he was trying to get elected the first time around."
And the NDP Leader said he hoped a compromise could be found soon. The Speaker has given the parties two weeks to find a solution to the document release; the Harper government could be held in contempt if no deal is reached - a finding that could trigger an election.
Mr. Layton, who joked that one of the secrets to his success at fighting prostate cancer is eating more broccoli and less red meat, remains slightly skeptical. But he says he is not afraid to campaign on the issue in an election.
"I think a lot of Canadians would say, 'Why couldn't [Stephen Harper]work with the rest of parliament, why couldn't he respect democracy?' He's operating the most secretive government we've seen in years," Mr. Layton said.
"He seems to want to keep everything under control or behind closed doors, and we've got this whole business of lobbying and what kind of lobbying is going on with this government," he added, referring to the Guergis/Jaffer affair.
"So I'm not sure he'd want to be that anxious to go off to a vote right now, but we'll have to wait and see how things play out."
The all-party group negotiating the document release is to meet again today for another round of talks.