By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 17, 2012 - 0 Comments
Earlier this month—the evening that Peter Van Loan got very mad at Nathan Cullen, actually—I sat down with Bob Rae. Here is an abridged and edited transcript of our conversation.
First of all, how do you look back on the last year for the Liberal party?
We started with the very successful convention in January, which I think had the largest attendance of any non-leadership convention we’d ever had. We had a lot of people there, a lot of enthusiasm. And then went on from there to the creation of the supporter class. That went well. We’re now well over 40,000 and that number will grow. We’re going to have potentially the largest electorate for the selection of the new leader that we’ve ever had. Then getting the leadership underway, in terms of my decision not to run, getting other people out there running. I think that’s gone well. We’ve now got a full field of potential candidates. We’ve got others that are still weighing whether they’re going to run or not, but it’s going to be a very big field.
Broadly speaking, I have seen my job as the interim leader as initially doing everything I can to make sure the party gets the message about the need to rebuild, to take reorganization seriously and to maintain our presence in the House of Commons, to make sure that we’re there, we’re an effective team. Morale is good, people are participating and I think we’ve succeeded. I never anticipated that, with being the interim leader, you’re going to make some huge breakthrough. My view all the way through was, we’ve got to make sure we’re still in the game, that we’re present, active, relevant to the debates and the discussions and that what we have to say is respected. And I think that’s been the case. And I think the notion that the NDP had that they were just going to be able to waltz in and just ignore the Liberals, don’t have to worry about that, that’s over, I think clearly we’re still there. And we’re not just still there, but in terms of public opinion, we’re doing better, we’re more strongly placed than since the last election. And from that point of view for us, I think it’s been a positive year. It’s been a year of reconstruction.
You yourself, over the last, it seems to me, couple months, have come forward and put some policy discussions out there. Carbon pricing, the gas tax, this week with the tax credits. Do you see your role as something to put ideas on the table? To be advancing ideas? Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 9:29 AM - 0 Comments
The aftereffects in Alberta of the Nov. 26 Calgary-Centre federal byelection, carried off by Conservative Joan Crockatt with just 37 per cent of the vote, have officially become super hilarious. The reader will recall that the two main challengers for a Conservative seat in a relatively liberal-friendly part of Calgary were the capital-L Liberal Harvey Locke, who has spent decades as a top wilderness preservation advocate and all-around Nature Boy, and the Green Party’s Chris Turner, an urbanist author and magazine writer who uses the word “sustainable” with a frequency best characterized as “intolerable”. In short, the two parties both nominated professional environmentalists, neither of whom have done a whole lot else with their lives. We could all probably have anticipated a problem here.
How does a Green candidate run against a Harvey Locke? Turner was shrewd and cynical enough to find an answer: berate the older guy as an out-of-touch Seventies green who, as Locke had admitted in an interview, didn’t even move to Calgary from Banff until it looked like there might be a Commons seat available amid Cowtown’s dark Sanatic mills. (Asked by your correspondent if she approved of this campaigning style, Elizabeth May observed that the GPC is not one of those old-fashioned “top-down parties” in which the leader orders candidates about.) Locke, for his part, spluttered that his young rival was a “twerp”. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 9:49 AM - 0 Comments
“Look, I helped out by being there on the ground. I may have, I may have hindered a little bit, I apologized but in general I think the fact is whether or not we won or lost that byelection there was always going to be an awful lot of work to do in Calgary moving forward towards 2015,” Trudeau said.
There’s actually not a lot of evidence available to determine what effect, if any, Mr. Trudeau’s comments had on the race. The Liberals polled fairly consistently between October 28 and November 21: 28%, 30%, 30% and 32%. The last public poll was conducted over the two days immediately before Mr. Trudeau’s comments were reported. And when the votes were counted, Harvey Locke got 32.7%.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
The Green candidate in the Calgary Centre byelection finds lessons in the result.
Once party nominations have occurred and staff has been assigned, strategies and platforms established, signs and literature produced, it’s not just logistically difficult but fundamentally undemocratic to insist on co-operation. This is for the simple reason that every vote counts and every voter remains entitled to a free choice on the ballot. Once the race is on, there’s no putting the horses back into the barn.
What’s more, the presumption that a strong third horse in the race splits the vote is often ignorant of the facts at street level on the campaign trail. This was certainly the case in Calgary Centre, where my campaign saw a huge gain in momentum throughout the latter half of the campaign – not by eroding Liberal backing (which remained steady at around 30 per cent throughout the campaign), but by capturing substantial wedges of support from disaffected Conservatives, NDP voters looking for a better chance at backing a winner, and unaligned voters. My campaign did not split the vote in Calgary; we built our own coalition on the Green Party’s broad, moderate platform.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
Some of the Green party leader’s comments to reporters after QP yesterday.
Remember, this was a byelection. So there was no—I think people get panicked about vote splitting. Whether it is another Conservative, whether all the three ridings had gone Conservative, it wouldn’t have changed the dynamic in the House of Commons one bit. So in a general election, you have a different set of concerns and I think the Liberals, the NDP, need to start talking to each other. I’ve said that for some time. The Green Party at our convention actually had the members pass a resolution calling for me and our federal council to seek cooperation with the other parties so that in the 2015 election, we—I don’t know what form or shape that would take, but at least have discussions with a goal of after the 2015 election, getting rid of first past the post. The only reason we have all these panics about vote splitting and strategic [voting] is because we have one of the most bizarre voting systems that remains in any modern industrialized democracy. We’ve got a situation where the minority of voters can elect the majority of seats and where people worry needlessly. In the case of Victoria, we would have won in my view if the NDP hadn’t launched a last-minute fear campaign to tell supporters that if they voted green the Conservative would come up in the middle. Well the Conservative was stuck at 12% and wasn’t going to budge and it was very clear.
So that vote spitting argument works on all sides. It can motivate people to vote, not for what they want, but against what they’re afraid of and in a set of byelections, we went into them thinking that this was an opportunity certainly to make sure that people could see the Green Party was viable in different kinds of ridings across the country and certainly you know, the fact … that parties that are larger than us, that were in what were presumed to be safe seats, when they won by over 50% just 18 months ago and I refer to both the Calgary Conservatives and the Victoria New Democratics, they eked out victories by very narrow margins and I think that’s a sign that really the politics of Canada is different. The Green Party is a force electorally across the country…
Again, I can’t stress it enough. Byelections do not put in place a government in power. So there’s much less to fear and the fact that people play on this, you know, you’ve got to vote for one party over the other because you’ve got to be afraid of a Conservative additional seat: that’s not going to change the dynamic in the House of Commons. In byelections, I felt much less pressure, but as I said, our party has a policy. Our membership has passed a resolution calling on us to seek cooperation. I did attempt to see, cooperation with one of the major parties before these byelections. I’m not going to go into details, but they weren’t interested.
So you know, we’re just in a position when in byelections, you want to do the best you can to ensure that a different voice is heard on the federal landscape and I think we did remarkably well and I’m very pleased that—you know, people wrote off Victoria as a place where, because Denise Savoie had last been elected there with over 50% of the vote, there was the assumption that it was such a safe NDP seat, that at least nationally, nobody really bothered to cover the fact that our momentum was huge. If the election campaign had been one week longer, we would have taken Victoria. In the meantime, Calgary Centre, I think that … who would have imagined before these byelections that you would even be asking me about a strong showing by the Green Party in Calgary Centre.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says anti-Alberta comments made by two prominent Liberals…
TORONTO – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says anti-Alberta comments made by two prominent Liberals probably had an impact on a tight byelection race in Calgary.
Liberal leadership contender Justin Trudeau apologized last week for comments he made in a 2010 interview, where he blamed Canada’s problems on Albertans controlling the “socio-economic” agenda.
Liberal MP David McGuinty was quoted calling Alberta MPs “shills” for the oil industry and suggested they “go home.”
The Tory premier says anyone seeking a national leadership role shouldn’t be promoting divisions among Canadians.
But Redford says that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Liberals are moribund in Western Canada.
However, she says she’s glad the Conservatives won in her home riding of Calgary Centre.
Tory Joan Crockatt won by a margin of just over a thousand votes, after being neck-and-neck with Liberal challenger Harvey Locke for most of the evening.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:36 AM - 0 Comments
Reviewing the by-elections, Alice Funke focuses on the Green vote.
But, if you look more closely at the right-hand side of the second graph above, and examine the parties’ historic vote-shares in the three by-election ridings, you are immediately struck by what became in many ways the most unexpected story of the evening. And this has big implications for all those trying to “unite the progressive vote” like LeadNow.ca, 1CalgaryCentre.com, and authors like Paul Adams of PowerTrap.ca … The Green Party cut into the Conservative vote in Western Canada. Substantially.
… What this suggests to me is that strategies aimed at causing parties to withdraw from certain ridings may have quite different outcomes than their proponents predict. And the one riding that was the most beset with endless clumsy tactical manipulation and cross-party griping about who was splitting whose vote, also wound up (perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not) being the riding with the lowest voter turnout.
Meanwhile, the Greens have clearly delivered a scare to the three other political parties in english Canada in this round of by-elections, and have finally understood the importance of a beach-head versus rising tide strategy to a small party, especially during by-elections. But their continued existence is also in greater jeopardy from the cuts to the public subsidy, as they are not raising nearly enough just yet to replace it and be able to run a substantial enough national campaign to keep beach-head seats in the fold. Also, they have yet to be able to sustain an eye-popping performance from one campaign into the next, as the history of London North Centre, ON, Central Nova, NS,Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, ON, and Guelph, ON amongst others amply demonstrates.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:28 AM - 0 Comments
The by-election results with changes from the 2011 election in brackets
Conservatives 50.7 (-3.9)
NDP 26.3 (+5.2)
Liberals 17.3 (-0.6)
Greens 4.1 (-1.3)
Conservatives 36.9 (-20.8)
Liberals 32.7 (+15.2)
Greens 25.6 (+15.7)
NDP 3.8 (-11.1)
NDP 37.2 (-13.6)
Greens 34.3 (+22.7)
Conservatives 14.4 (-9.2)
Liberals 13.1 (-0.9)
Overall, the Conservatives won the night, but lost a chunk of their vote share in the process.
Conservatives 32.9 (-11.4)
NDP 24.4 (-5.6)
Greens 21.7 (+12.7)
Liberals 19.9 (+3.5)
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
Last night’s Calgary Centre by-election, won by media personality and former newspaper editor Joan Crockatt, was held in the most pro-Naheed Nenshi part of what is now a very pro-Nenshi city. Like Crockatt last night, Nenshi exploited a split opposition to win the Calgary mayoralty in 2010. But Calgary’s civic Ward 8, which makes up about two-thirds of the Calgary Centre riding, is a place where the mayor dominated all other contestants combined, taking 58% of the vote. The Green Party’s Chris Turner has close ties to Nenshi (though the mayor didn’t endorse anybody), and Turner was clearly hoping to capitalize on that success, employing Nenshi campaign staffers and Nenshian social-media tactics.
It earned him 26% of the vote. That’s still an amazing figure for a Green Party-labelled candidate in Calgary—especially an unknown one with essentially no pre-existing local political apparatus to exploit. From a standing start, Turner earned 20 votes for every three cast for the NDP’s Dan Meades.
The more meaningful pre-election data, however, may have come not from 2010 but from this year’s provincial election, in which Calgary Centre covers about the same area as three downtown constituencies: Calgary-Elbow, home base of both Ralph Klein and Alison Redford; Calgary-Buffalo, the city’s Liberal stronghold; and Calgary-Currie. The right-wing Wildrose Party got 12,694 votes there in April, and one would have to think that many of them were among the 10,201 who made it out to vote for Conservative Crockatt last night. (Her campaign was as Wildrose-heavy as Turner’s was Nenshi-heavy.) The Liberals had 8,449 provincial votes in the zone, and federal Liberal Harvey Locke got 9,034 last night.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 9:18 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of tonight’s by-elections in Victoria, Calgary Centre and Durham. Results should start coming in after 10pm when polls close in Victoria. We’ll be here all night (or at least as long as it takes to exhaust whatever drama can be found).
Some numbers by which to measure the night. First, the vote percentages from the 2011 election in each riding.
If you combine the 2011 results for those three ridings, the cumulative total divides like so.
9:45pm. Beyond the obvious (who wins?), some questions for tonight. How low does the Conservative vote go in Calgary Centre? How well does the NDP vote from 2011 hold up? Can the Liberals show improvement? Can the Greens make significant gains? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Polls close at 9:30 p.m. EST in Calgary Centre and Durham and 10pm EST in Victoria. We’ll have live coverage here tonight starting around 9 p.m.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM - 0 Comments
A day after the Conservative candidate in Victoria warned against sending “another MP to Ottawa who will be shut down,” Joan Crockatt suggests that opposition MPs are somehow barred from Diane Ablonczy‘s office.
She emphasized a number of times that voting for a government MP has its benefits. “If you’re in Mexico and you lose your passport, do you want to call an opposition member of Parliament? Or do you want to call someone who can walk across to the minister’s office?” said Crockatt.
For the record, if you do lose your passport while outside Canada, the official Passport Canada website advises you to “report the loss or theft to the nearest Government of Canada office abroad and to the local police.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 12:53 PM - 0 Comments
“I’m sorry I said what I did. I was wrong to relate the area of the country that Mr. (Stephen) Harper is from with the people who live there and with the policies that he has that don’t represent the values of most Canadians,” said Trudeau, who was speaking at the Vancouver Art Gallery, on the final stop of his B.C. tour.
Trudeau said Conservatives are making the comments an issue because “they are panicking they might lose a byelection in Calgary Centre.” He dismissed any notion that his remarks may have hurt the Liberals’ chances in Calgary. ”There is a sense that people (in Calgary) are tired of being taken for granted by a government that is taking this country in the wrong direction,” he said. ”The energy has an awful lot of Conservatives very frightened. So when they get scared they attack.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
A new poll, this time from Return on Insight, gives the Conservatives a five-point lead over the Liberals in Calgary Centre.
Here are the top numbers in the four public polls over the last month.
November 20-21. Return on Insight. Sample: 293.
Conservatives 37%, Liberals 32%, Greens 17%, NDP 12%
November 17. Forum. Sample: 374.
Conservatives 35%, Liberals 30%, Greens 25%. NDP 8%
November 12. Forum. Sample: 354.
Conservatives 32%, Liberals 30%, Green 23%, NDP 12%
October 26. Forum. Sample: 343.
Conservatives 48%, Liberals 28%, Green 11%, NDP 8%
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 6:23 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Jason Kenney walked out into the foyer, towards the appointed microphone, perhaps appearing not quite as ashen as he was supposed to look.
“Why are you smiling, Mr. Kenney?” a TV reporter quipped.
“Because it’s lovely outside,” the Immigration Minister responded cheerfully. “And I’m always glad to see you, Bob.”
Then it was time to get very serious.
“I’m very disturbed to see comments that were made by Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau two years ago that have just come to light and completely contradict his criticism of his Liberal colleague Dalton McGuinty’s attack on Alberta and Albertans.”
He meant David, of course.
A generous member of the Conservative staff had just been by to hand out copies of Mr. Trudeau’s remarks—in the original French and helpfully translated into English—but in case anyone was unable to read, Mr. Kenney proceeded to reenact the instantly infamous exchange. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 4:18 PM - 0 Comments
A statement from the Trudeau campaign in response to this story.
“The Conservatives are using out of context statements made years ago in a long interview. They are clearly concerned that they are losing the by-election in Calgary Centre and are resorting to smear campaigns to stop their slide.”
“Justin knows that Calgary, Alberta and all of western Canada are at the very heart of Canada’s future. That’s a message he has taken to every part of the country, from the beginning of the campaign. We need to get beyond the divisive politics of the Conservatives and include all Canadians.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 12:03 PM - 0 Comments
Williams told me an Ontario MP’s far-away musings typically wouldn’t make much difference—except that this is a hard-fought three-way race, in which even a marginal shift in voter preferences might matter.
“The Conservatives are going to try to milk it for all it’s worth,” she said. “If this does cost the Liberals votes, would those votes by more likely to go to Joan Crockatt or Chris Turner? I’d have to say Chris Turner.” Her reasoning: “Turner has a lot in common with Locke. They’re both strong environmentalists.” As well, Williams doubts centrist voters—some of whom have swung from Conservative voting in the past to leaning Liberal this time—won’t see going Green as all that jarring a transition. “The Green party isn’t particularly left, it’s more centre.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:03 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Oh how happy Conservatives must’ve been made last night to read the inflammatory remarks of Liberal MP David McGuinty. Oh how giddy they must’ve been at the prospect of hanging this one on the Liberal side. One presumes several backbenchers could barely sleep, so anxious to get on with today’s festival of shame.
Well, of course, happy and outraged. Deeply, terribly outraged. Yes, yes, incredibly outraged. Profoundly saddened even.
So immensely outraged, in fact, that the Immigration Minister was sent out after the meeting of the Conservative caucus to specially address the matter. And no less than four Conservatives—each of them an Albertan who could claim a personal affront—were sent up before Question Period to variously fume. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM - 0 Comments
So it is significant – though impossible to criticize – that a Green Party organizer emailed committed supporters a note headed “There is another poll tonight – be sure to pick up,” not long before the latest survey. “Word from Chris Turner’s Head Quarters is that another poll is being conducted at this very moment,” said the email from Green Party Volunteer Co-ordinator Natalie Odd to committed Turner supporters. “Please be sure to pick up any calls your receive this evening!”
The emails were followed up with phone calls to supporters, although the pollster actually appears to have called a day later than the party expected. In addition to such emails and calls, Mr. Turner’s supporters posted similar messages on Facebook and some people distributed the call-display number the polling company was using.
This bit of gamesmanship seems to involve two assumptions: that it’s possible to manipulate a poll and that a good showing in a poll can precipitate a good showing on election day. The sample sizes used so far in Calgary Centre have been relatively small, but I’m not sure what the relative odds are that something like this could be pulled off. I can imagine that poll numbers could influence turnout and the result, but what are the odds that alerting supporters to the possibility of a poll would result in enough people responding to a survey who normally wouldn’t to significantly impact the results of that poll? I invite any and all mathematicians in the crowd to sort that out.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 11:08 AM - 0 Comments
A poll released Sunday by Forum Research in Calgary Centre found 35 per cent in the riding plan to vote for Ms. Crockatt, while Liberal Harvey Locke had 30-per-cent support, the Green Party’s Chris Turner, 25 per cent, and the NDP’s Dan Meades, 8 per cent. Those numbers have not changed, given the margin of error of five percentage points, since a similar poll for a week ago. But it’s a 13-point drop for Ms. Crockatt, who stood at 48-per-cent support in a similar poll conducted a few weeks earlier.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
@Nenshi - Hope you give the Conservative Party credit tomorrow for giving cities stable, predictable funding through the $2 B gas tax!
.@Crockatteer or … You could come and tell people yourself! Invitation open. When did it become my role to do the candidate’s job for her?
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:56 AM - 0 Comments
The mayor’s office is helping to organize the Cities Matter Calgary Centre forum at the central public library on Sunday. Nenshi said Crockatt is the one candidate who hasn’t confirmed her attendance. “I can’t imagine why she would want to miss this opportunity to discuss the government’s commitment to Calgary,” said Nenshi, who doesn’t align himself with any political party.
In an interview, Crockatt said she will attend a different community forum on Saturday, but it will be difficult to participate in the Sunday debate because her schedule is jam-packed. Her campaign has focused on meeting voters one on one — she has been door-knocking since the summer. But she noted the riding covers City Hall and other important Calgary organizations. Her team is trying to reorganize her schedule so she can attend, but Crockatt said she only received the invitation this week.
Here is Mayor Nenshi’s op-ed in its entirety.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
It’s just one poll and the sample is small and the margin of error is high and the riding has never been anything other than Conservative… but for the sake of finding some excitement in this fall’s by-elections, you could imagine that Calgary Centre might be a race.
As reported by the Globe & Mail, the November survey of 376 randomly selected residents in Calgary-Centre showed Ms. Crockatt with 32% to 30% for Mr. Locke and 23% for Mr. Turner. New Democrat Dan Meades was in fourth place with 12%. The survey is considered to be accurate by plus or minus five percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
If this new survey is to be believed, then the November 26 vote could be much more exciting than most political watchers, including myself, had previously predicted. A similar survey conducted by Forum Research in October found Ms. Crockatt with 48% to 28% for Mr. Locke, 11% for Mr. Turner, and 8% for Mr. Meades. Another survey from Forum Research conducted in August found the Conservatives with 44% to 21% for the Liberals, 14% for the NDP, and 12% for the Greens. It appears that within a matter of months, the 40% margin of victory earned by former Conservative MP Lee Richardson in the 2011 federal election and 23% margin for the Conservatives found in the September survey may have completely evaporated.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 1:11 PM - 0 Comments
In a release this morning, the Prime Minister announced byelections in Victoria, Calgary Centre and Durham. (A fourth byelection could be necessitated by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Etobicoke Centre this Thursday.) Bob Rae thinks the Prime Minister should’ve waited for the Supreme Court and added Labrador (Peter Penashue’s riding).
As Kady O’Malley notes, the Conservative party’s early line that “majority governments don’t win by-elections” is mostly nonsense. Two years ago, we did the math on the last thirty years of byelections—see here and here—and came to a similar conclusion.