By Paul Wells - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 0 Comments
These days I am occupationally obsessed with seeking the history in current events. So it took me only a couple of days to recall this story from May of 2009, two weeks after the Conservatives launched their “Just Visiting” ads against Michael Ignatieff. The story is now almost exactly four years old, and I am curious to see whether anything has changed except the identity of the ads’ target.
The story marks precisely the last time I ever accorded any credulity to the claims of then-Liberal president Alf Apps, who was quite sure the avalanche of advertising against Michael Ignatieff would have precisely one effect: to inflate Liberal coffers as indignant citizens donated to the unjustly slandered Liberal Party. In the breathless prose I affected when I wrote that blog post:
On May 18, five days after the Conservative ads started running, Apps held a special meeting of the Liberals’ National Management Committee….[F]undraising changes will allow “a constructive, comprehensive and focused response to the personal attacks on [the party's] Leader by instead addressing the Harper Conservatives’ failed approach to the economic crisis and refusal to adopt the Liberal EI plan.”
“I believe the advertising campaign undertaken by our opponents last week has created the opportunity to galvanize the entire Party around a reinvigorated fundraising effort now, even before the summer commences,” Apps writes. Continue…
By John Geddes - Friday, January 13, 2012 at 5:24 PM - 0 Comments
Could a French political inspiration be the key to success or failure in revitalizing the Liberal Party of Canada? It seems improbable, but the Liberals’ outgoing party president, Alf Apps, touched on the possibility this afternoon at the party’s policy convention in Ottawa.
The big decision Liberals must make here is whether or not to open up their club, humbled as it was in last spring’s election, by accepting new rules for the selection their next leader and nominating candidates at the riding level. Apps, who will be replaced in a vote at this convention, is championing controversial reforms that would allow Canadians who sign up as Liberal “supporters”—but not as paid-up members—to vote in the leadership race and at riding nomination meetings.
Answering questions from party members at a session at the convention today, Apps mentioned that a promising model for the reform push is France’s Socialist Party. That allusion would of course have meant nothing to most Liberals, or other Canadians for that matter, but it’s surprisingly relevant.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 9, 2012 at 4:39 PM - 0 Comments
On his way out, soon-to-be-former Liberal party president Alf Apps apparently posits that Bob Rae could run for the party leadership.
As for Rae’s part in becoming the new leader now that Michael Ignatieff has stepped down? “It won’t be me,” he said, to which the atmosphere in the room became heavy. “I’m not going to run for leadership.”
Anyway. Mr. Apps throws out three precedents for the current Liberal predicament—their electoral defeats in 1930, 1958 and 1984. Each time, the Liberal party rebounded (eventually) to win government. But those defeats also probably underline just how far the Liberal party has fallen and how much further it has to go this time.
A quick comparison:
1930. The Liberals won 36.7% of the seats, 45.5% of the popular vote and finished second.
1958. The Liberals won 18.1% of the seats, 33.4% of the popular vote and finished second.
1984. The Liberals won 14.8% of the seats, 28.0% of the popular vote and finished second.
2011. The Liberals won 11.0% of the seats, 18.9% of the popular vote and finished third.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 11:45 AM - 81 Comments
Chris Selley posts the context for the latest clipped quote to appear in an attack ad.
A couple months ago I posted the article from which Mr. Ignatieff’s “beer label” reference is drawn. Last month Dan Gardner considered the context for Conservative criticism of something Mr. Ignatieff had said about Canada’s peacekeeping reputation.
By Paul Wells - Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 4:56 PM - 0 Comments
I’m mostly going to leave readers to draw their own conclusions about the latest epistle from Liberal Party president Alf Apps. His analyses of the press gallery and of his party’s leader constitute fair comment. But I admit I’m flummoxed that a Liberal official is still poring over polling data from between elections to seek comfort.
Here’s a secret about elections: they don’t happen between elections. Elections are almost always simultaneous with elections. So one thing people who are interested in politics — journalists, presidents of major political parties — should do is pay some attention to the way voter behaviour on election days compares to voters’ predictions of their own behaviour when elections are distant and hypothetical.
To help, I’ve swiped a chart from the estimable Nanos Research, which shows party-support trends since 2002. (Pause.) Ok, for whatever reason, WordPress doesn’t want to insert the chart in this post, so just click on this link to load your own .pdf: Nanos trend
Now, just about the most reliable trend in the chart is that every time there’s been an election, Conservative support has jumped smartly upward while Liberal support declined as sharply. You see it happen in 2004, when what looked like a Liberal rout of the Conservatives turned into the loss of the Liberal majority. (Memory plays tricks. It was not at all clear, on the day Paul Martin dropped the writ, that his majority was even in danger, and when Jean Lapierre said several days into the campaign that he expected a Liberal minority, it was covered as a big gaffe.) You see it again in 2006, and you see it most spectacularly in 2008. But you also see it in the autumn of 2009, after Michael Ignatieff announced that Stephen Harper’s “time was up” and we seemed to be headed for an election.
As a rule of thumb, the Harper-era Conservative writ-period bounce seems to be about five percentage points or a little more. The Liberal writ-period decline is comparable. Which means if the two parties are tied in voter support on the day a campaign begins, the Liberals should, as a rule of thumb, expect to be 10 points behind when people actually vote. Right now the two parties are not tied.
Of course history isn’t fate. There will be elections where the Conservatives don’t benefit from a 10-point swing during the writ period. But if you’re writing an 18-page memo about polls sometime soon you might want to mention this very robust trend.
UPDATE, Sunday: Many commentators say three data points (2004, 2006, 2008) is a flimsy data set. Quite true. Here are two more. The 13th link from the bottom (“Update on the Federal Political Landscape”) from a list of old Ekos polls shows you an Ekos/Torstar poll from 2002; like Nanos, Ekos gives a longish time series of its party-preference polling. What kind of jumps out is that the two lowest troughs in Liberal support since the late 1990s are the two moments when Canadians actually voted: the 1997 election and the 2000 election. If anything, the combined swing illustrated by Liberal declines and PC/Reform/Alliance gains is more than 10 points.
So that’s five federal elections in a row, 1997 to 2008, where the trend is for the Liberals to bottom out and the (assorted conservative, then Conservative Party) opponent to have better results than recent polls had indicated. Note that this isn’t about “governments” dipping while “oppositions” gain: conservative parties posted writ-period gains against the Liberals without regard to which of them was in power.
I’m told this pattern goes back decades. I’m looking for confirmation.
By Paul Wells - Friday, July 16, 2010 at 10:52 PM - 0 Comments
The president of the Liberal Party of Canada has sent out a memo explaining that the Parliamentary press gallery and its outport operations in Toronto and Montreal don’t have a clue what’s going on. You have to admit the argument has a certain surface plausibility.
Anyway, here’s an account of Alf Apps’s memo, with the memo itself embedded in full. Frankly I found the memo more useful than the accompanying story, but no matter. Good on Public Eye for getting this memo and posting it. I have analysis of my own, but I’ll refrain from contaminating your consideration of Apps’s arguments.
Open discussion in the comments — ideally more polite, each commenter toward the others, than some of our comment-board discussion has been lately.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 9:01 AM - 29 Comments
So Warren says that Alf told him that someone said something to Ed and Roy. And John says that Alf told him that Jean talked to Ed and Roy and Joe. But Alf says he’s only talked to Warren and John and that he only heard about Jean and Ed because Warren told him. Anyway. Hopefully the guys at the West Beverly Blaze will figure it all out soon.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 11:46 PM - 65 Comments
The private investigator says the Prime Minister’s Office did not accurately report to the ethics commissioner the information he passed on to them. He says he has no evidence as to the conduct of Ms. Guergis in his “possession or knowledge.” The concern, he says, was “optics.” He says Mr. Jaffer was the “back door” to federal funding and Liberal party president Alf Apps was Nazim Gillani’s “getaway driver.” Mr. Gillani responds. Mr. Apps’ law firm says Mr. Apps was briefly on retainer to Mr. Gillani, but the law firm declined to do work with Mr. Gillani and the retainer was returned. And CBC reports that the private investigator arrived in Ottawa driving a nice car.