By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski says Conservative party director of operations Jenni Byrne is responsible for the “deceptive” robocalls in Saskatchewan. Meanwhile, Leslie MacKinnon goes through the boundary commission’s report to check the public backlash that the Conservatives say they’re representing.
The Saskatchewan commission, in its final report issued in December, noted that it heard 230 public submissions, far more than it had expected, and found that “a majority opposed the proposal.” However, it said, a “significant minority supported it,” without giving any figures. The commission also reported it had been sent 3,000 emails, including many identical postcards and petitions. It concluded, “Clearly, a large number of contacts were inspired by the encouragement of members of Parliament opposed to the abolition of rural-urban hybrid districts.”
The report went on to say, “The Commission has little doubt that the general public accepts the new electoral districts,” without giving any reasons why it believed this to be true. However, it said, it had ignored contacts it considered were attempting to gain political advantage for any party.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
Back in August, Brent Rathgeber explained why he wasn’t going to be commenting on the riding boundary review process.
I have publically stated that it is inappropriate for Members of Parliament to actively lobby for or against a particular electoral map or configuration. This has both an ethical and a practical aspect. Ethically, I believe that MPs, who intend to run again, are in a complete conflict of interest when lobbying for or against a certain boundary configuration and therefore ought to recuse themselves from a conflict, real or perceived. If I were to make a submission to the Boundary Commission, which if accepted, assisted in a narrow electoral victory, certainly allegations of gerrymander would follow thereafter.
By Paul Wells - Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 11:30 PM - 0 Comments
On Dec. 13, the day after the Commons rose for the Christmas break, CTV’s Don Martin met Thomas Mulcair in Stornaway to talk about the parliamentary season then ending. The big news there was the F-35 procurement audit and the CNOOC/Nexen deal. When the House sits on Monday for the first time in six weeks, I’ll be surprised if either is a big issue. Politics in Canada has moved on, and it feels like we are a lot more than six weeks closer to the next election.
We know more about two opposition figures, Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, than we did in mid-December. Mulcair spent the holidays and the first month of 2013 accelerating his efforts to moderate the NDP’s public image. Trudeau made it through the opening rounds of the woefully belated Liberal leadership campaign without showing up at a debate without pants, saying the country is run by too many Albertans — well, at least he managed not to say it again — or doing anything else to blow his reputation among Liberals. And a string of polls (the kind that ask about hypothetical situations in the future, so don’t take them as gospel) suggest he’d take a far bigger bite out of NDP and Conservative support than any of his opponents. So his lead in the Liberal leadership race holds steady.
I think Mulcair’s six weeks have been more significant. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 1:46 PM - 0 Comments
Conservative Senator Doug Finley, one of the primary architects of the Conservative party’s electoral success, who is now stricken with cancer, reflects on death and politics.
Along with his team, Finley ran one of “the most successful political campaigns certainly in Canada in the last 20 years” against former Liberal leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, who took the reins of the party in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Not waiting for the writ to be dropped, the attacks even began before the 2008 and 2011 elections. It was called “of the constant campaign” — because in the minority situation, the threat of an election was always on.
“When you offer to go into the back alley to have a fight, you better come armed to win the fight,” says Finley. He and his team came up with a strategy which would utilize the Liberals’ own words and actions against them. For Dion, it was lack of confidence. For Ignatieff, it was foreign professorial ambitions. “There were no lies or ambiguities. I would call them not attack ads, but factual ads,” says Finley. “They were based on a very strong amount of research,” he says. “As the campaigns evolved, both of these gentlemen fed into the picture we painted of them.”
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Italo Barone, who owns a banquet hall in Montreal’s Little Italy, earlier had stated that he had never donated to the Conservatives, and had emailed the financial agent for the riding association in Laurier-Sainte-Marie asking for a copy of his cheque from 2009. On Friday, after the story appeared in print, he learned that he was mistaken. “This morning I was informed that we did make cheques to the Conservatives,” he said. “I have a friend who was volunteer fundraiser for them, and he asked me for a favour and I said yes.”
… Montreal construction entrepreneur Rocco Carbone confirmed Friday night he had in fact made the donation.
… Many of the donors are registered as having donated $666.66 on the Elections Canada web site but the cheques produced are in the amount of $1,000. A party spokesman said that the party is required to deduct the cost of fundraising events from donations, which could explain the discrepancy between the amounts.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 5:41 PM - 0 Comments
An email from Team Justin.
Justin has only been in this race for 50 days, and the Conservative Party’s attack machine is already operational.
This isn’t a surprise. That’s been the other side’s strategy from the beginning: negative, negative, negative.
Can you chip in $10 or more right now to help us fight back?
This week we saw them cynically spin out-of-context comments. Check out this story in the Winnipeg Free Press.
Before long, they will jam the airways with negative ads trashing Justin.
They’ve done it before. They’re trying to do it again. I’ll be blunt: we need your help.
Justin is running a positive campaign focused on the issues that matter to middle-class Canadians. While the Conservative Party re-hashes old attacks from the past, we are focused on expanding economic security and guaranteeing opportunity for all.
Let’s stand with Justin – will you chip in to help?
Justin Campaign Team
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 3:36 PM - 0 Comments
An interesting pitch from the Conservative candidate in Victoria (a riding that hasn’t elected a Conservative since 1984).
The closing argument is “Lets (sic) not send another MP to Ottawa who will be shut down,” which seems a rather negative assessment of the Harper government’s treatment of opposition MPs.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:26 AM - 0 Comments
Postmedia raises questions about Conservative fundraising efforts in the Quebec riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie.
The unexplained donations – Postmedia News uncovered 11 – fall mostly into three groups: a group of donations of $666.66, totalling $99,999; a group of donations of $733.33, totalling $32,999.85; and a group of donations of $333.33, totalling $14,333.19. Postmedia tried to contact all the donors on the riding’s donor list from 2007 to 2009, almost 550 people. Many failed to return calls; others could not be located. Some said they couldn’t recall making donations, and others declined to discuss the issue. But 11 said they definitely did not make donations, and would like to know how their names ended up on the list.
Rocco Carbone, who owns an asbestos removal business, was surprised to hear he was listed as a donor to the Tory riding association. “I gave money to the party?” he said. “I never gave no money to no party.” Italio Barone, who owns a banquet hall in Montreal’s Little Italy, said he is not a Conservative and doesn’t know where Laurier-Sainte-Marie is. “I have nothing to do with the Conservatives,” he said. “I want to find out who the guy was doing the fundraising because I have a few words to say to him.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
Alice Funke reviews the third quarter fundraising returns.
For the first time ever, since early 2008, the NDP has reported a higher national quarterly contributions total than the Liberal Party. The upstart party filed a third quarter return late yesterday showing $1,459,561.05 in contributions, versus $1,440,761.34 for its former “natural governing” competitor, a gap to the upside of $19K after falling $60K short of that objective in the second quarter…
A look at the Conservative Party’s fundraising record shows the long-term importance of building a base of small donors, as they have clearly been able to promote many small donors to larger donors over much of the intervening six years or so. But that party showed a bit of retrenchment in Q3 of 2012 as compared with recent non-election third quarters, posting the lowest number since 2007 ($3.42M vs $3.15M), though notably that was also the year just following a successful election campaign. And you can’t really ever call it a bad quarter when you continue to raise as much as your competitors combined!
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Staff at the Museum of Civilization are concerned about the museum’s rebranding and new mandate.
Though museum staff have largely been kept in the dark about the impending changes, rumours of a name change have been swirling within the institution for months. Some staff have spoken openly of their fear that the museum could be turned into a propaganda arm.
The worry, said one staffer, is that the Canadian history stories that will be the subject of research and exhibitions will be identified by politicians across the Ottawa River rather than the museum’s own experts. “And that is quite worrisome,” the staffer said. “We’ve been told so far that we will be retaining our autonomy,” the staffer said. “But at the same time, the topics of exhibitions seem to either be dictated from across the river or chosen by (museum CEO Mark O’Neill) to please the people across the river.”
By macleans.ca - Friday, October 5, 2012 at 2:18 PM - 0 Comments
Aaron Wherry, Paul Wells and John Geddes discuss the first three weeks of the fall session on Parliament Hill:
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 5, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Matthew Kellway’s statement before QP yesterday afternoon.
Mr. Speaker, whether it is making up policies or fantasies about commies hiding under their beds, Conservative backbenchers can be counted on for a daily fix of fact-free statements and a trip to the twilight zone. Since the E. coli crisis began, the New Democrats have asked 33 questions about tainted meat, Conservatives not one. Are they talking about the economy or health care? No. Conservatives have made 32 statements and asked 10 questions, 1 out of every 4 Conservative questions, about us the New Democrats.
For my colleagues across the way, I ask if this is really what they wanted to do with their life in elected office, indulging the fantasy life of the kids in the PMO? Could the member about to rise please tell us what is going on in her riding and what she wants to do for Canadians? I urge the Conservatives to take Parliament seriously so Canadians can start taking them seriously.
“It’s a gentle and sometimes humorous shaming exercise for them to say, ‘You’re better than this, don’t do whatever the PMO wants you to do,’” NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said in an interview Thursday.
Cullen said some Tory backbenchers have privately told him they refuse to read the often-childish statements. The NDP’s latest tactic is aimed at shaming other backbenchers into similarly refraining. ”If the only way to speak in Parliament as a Conservative is if you’re willing to repeat idiotic lies, then that says a lot about them and not about us.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 8:32 AM - 0 Comments
Some number of anonymous Conservative backbenchers express disenchantment to John Ivison.
There is a widespread feeling on the backbenches that they have been taken for granted. A number say they are fed up being told what to do by “kids in short pants,” young enough to receive their briefing notes in phonics … Now it sounds like a group of Conservative back-benchers are talking about flexing their own muscles by voting against government legislation, if they don’t approve of it. “We haven’t decided on any particular bill yet,” said one MP … there is a sense that the Prime Minister and the select band of courtiers around him have gone too far in concentrating power in the PMO.
This is intriguing, but to what end? David Wilks had some independent thoughts once too, but he decided the omnibus budget bill wasn’t a battle he was prepared to pick. What battle are these anonymous Conservatives willing to pick?
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 11:39 AM - 0 Comments
The Conservative party has issued a release in response to Thomas Mulcair’s deferring to the press gallery. Apparently Mr. Mulcair is trying to “co-opt journalists” into defending his cap-and-trade proposal.
It’s a sad fact that Mulcair thinks the media will protect his economic policies from being scrutinised, and that he will be able to get away with a carbon tax scheme that will raise the price of everything including gas, groceries and electricity.
Conservatives will not hesitate to tell the facts to Canadians about carbon taxes even if Mulcair thinks and hopes he can avoid the media scrutiny which the economic program of the Leader of the Opposition ought to attract.
And here is Stephen Gordon’s guide to carbon pricing.
By Stephen Gordon - Monday, September 17, 2012 at 9:46 AM - 0 Comments
I didn’t think it was possible for the climate change policy debate to drift even further from reality than it already had. But a series of posts by Maclean’s Aaron Wherry—most recently here and summarised here—has proven me wrong. The politics of climate change has always required a certain suspension of disbelief. But the Conservatives’ attempt to portray the NDP’s climate change policy as the equivalent of a carbon tax and the NDP’s indignant rebuttal to the effect that their policy is in fact a cap-and-trade model have advanced the transformation of the file into a form of kabuki.
To a first approximation, cap-and trade is the equivalent of a carbon tax. Here is the Econ 101 version of how the two work:
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 3:21 PM - 0 Comments
The auditor general’s office, in order to fulfill an access to information requests, wants to release emails between the AG’s office and several House of Commons committee clerks, but lawyers for the House of Commons are claiming parliamentary privilege and are seeking a court injunction to prevent the release, but the Conservatives say parliamentary privilege doesn’t apply and would support a motion to waive that privilege, but the Liberals say it’s all the government’s fault.
Update 3:46pm. And it was the NDP that filed the initial access to information request.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 6:32 PM - 0 Comments
Bruce Anderson figures the Conservatives need to do a better job of explaining themselves.
Critically, Mr. Clinton’s partisanship seemed rooted in his argument, not in his DNA: a difference voters notice intuitively. Canadian Conservatives would do better if they put more emphasis on being better “explainers,” and worked to shed, rather than reinforce, the suspicion that they are in politics because they hate people in other parties.
Many (not all) Conservative ministers and MPs often seem forced to utter spin lines or talking points that are almost comically partisan and simplistic. These lines cause inflammation, probably by design, but in the end they prevent voters from ever really hearing the goal behind a policy choice, or the reasons why the Conservatives believe it will work. Confidence in both conservative and liberal ideas weakens when they are presented in a highly partisan way, and the opposite is also true: Canadians are pretty open to rational ideas coming from either side of the spectrum.
Bill Clinton’s success as a speaker is a difficult standard to apply. Does his success demonstrate that voters are more interested in hearing specifics about what a politician plans to do (the so-called “laundry list” style)? Or is it only because Clinton is so talented a speaker that he is able to dwell on policy?
The answer probably isn’t that voters are interested in boring speeches. But I’d bet that voters are more interested in hearing about policy than critics—who evaluate speeches on style—often allow.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 27, 2012 at 4:31 PM - 0 Comments
The big unions who participated in this scheme include the United Steelworkers, the Canadian Labour Congress, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Machinists Political League, the International Association of Firefighters, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. This last union represents many members of the media.
The Maclean’s newsroom is unionized through the CEP, which obviously explains everything I’ve written over the last six years.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 11:38 PM - 0 Comments
CALGARY—The federal Conservatives have a candidate in the vacant riding of Calgary Centre, former newspaper editor Joan Crockatt.
CALGARY—The federal Conservatives have a candidate in the vacant riding of Calgary Centre, former newspaper editor Joan Crockatt.
She beat out five others vying for the job in a hotly contested campaign hoping to replace former MP Lee Richardson, who left to work for Alberta Premier Alison Redford.
Conservative officials say they’re not going to release the numbers of Saturday’s vote.
Crockatt is a former managing editor of the Calgary Herald and also worked as a senior newspaper executive with Southam Newspapers, and Canwest Global Communications.
For the past decade she had been a communications consultant and media commentator.
A date for a byelection in Calgary Centre has not been set.
Richardson, 64, announced in May he was resigning to become principal secretary for Redford.
He was first elected to the Commons in the riding of Calgary Southeast in 1988 with the government of Brian Mulroney. He was defeated by a Reform candidate in 1993.
He returned to the Commons in 2004, winning in Calgary Centre and was re-elected in 2006, 2008 and 2011.
Richardson once worked for former Alberta premier Lougheed and was a deputy chief of staff to Mulroney.
The riding encompasses Calgary’s downtown core. A good portion of its 128,000 people are in the 20-40 age bracket.
Calgary can always be counted on by the Conservatives as a strong base of support and Calgary Centre is no exception.
Richardson took nearly 60 per cent of the vote in 2007. The Liberals were a distant second with only 17 per cent.
Former prime minister Joe Clark won the seat in the 2000 election.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 4:37 PM - 0 Comments
Angus Reid tries to ascertain the impact of the Conservative and NDP attack ads.
The ads definitely serve to both keep the supporters of the two main parties engaged, and irk their counterparts. New Democrats believe the Tory ad is unfair, and Conservatives feel the same way about the NDP ad.
Still, it’s important to look at how other past voters react to these advertisements. The views of supporters of the Liberal Party and the Green Party are similar to those of New Democrats, particularly on the deficit and on the low confidence expressed in Stephen Harper’s leadership.
Of course, it also matters how many people actually see each ad. The Conservative ad has appeared on television. The NDP ad, at least to my knowledge, has not. (For what it’s worth, the NDP ad does lead the Conservative ad in YouTube views: 69,264 to 33,985.)
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 10:51 AM - 0 Comments
Two years in, relations between Britain’s coalition partners Cameron and Clegg hit an all-time low
They seemed so smitten with each other, standing side by side in the 10 Downing Street rose garden, so full of innocence and hope. David Cameron and Nick Clegg, leaders of Britain’s Conservatives and Liberal Democrats respectively, were forming a coalition government and were appearing together to announce it to the press. If there was any lingering bad blood—David Cameron was reminded of the time he had said his favourite joke was Nick Clegg—they laughed it off. They were united, said Cameron, by a desire to provide Britain with stable leadership. Added Clegg: “This is a government that will last.”
That was a little more than two years ago. The stability of their coalition today, however, looks far from certain. A chance for power can motivate opposing parties to put their differences aside. Watching that power slip away has a more divisive effect. Opinion polls since May show the opposition Labour Party with a consistent 10-point lead over the Conservatives. Support for the Liberal Democrats fell off a cliff shortly after the last election and has stayed there pretty much ever since.
Members of both parties worry that the coalition involves too much compromise. Left-leaning Liberal Democrats feel their party has sold out, notably by raising university tuition fees, despite an election promise to scrap them altogether. “There is a real sense of betrayal,” says Judi Atkins, a research fellow at the University of Leeds. Some Tories similarly believe Cameron panders too much to his Liberal Democrat partners.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 2:03 PM - 0 Comments
Eric Grenier has updated his monthly polling averages for June at threehundredeight.com.
The New Democrats are first in British Columbia (+6), Quebec (+19) and Atlantic Canada (+10). The Conservatives are first in Alberta (+41), the Prairies (+7) and Ontario (+4).
(Editor’s note: For basically as long as this blog has existed, I’ve more or less imposed a ban on “horse-race” polling; my view being that the fussing over every new poll was generally unnecessary and often unhelpful. Especially during the minority parliament years, I attempted to maintain some kind of high-minded approach, avoiding the clamour over every little twitch and hiccup in the party numbers. I think I also once tried to avoid providing free time to the latest party adverts.
I’ve slowly come to abandon those principles.I’ve long since abandoned that ban on ads. And while I still don’t think polls should generally dominate the discussion, I’ve realized it’s also silly to ignore them. I also think Eric’s monthly numbers and historical charts provide important perspective. So from here on, I’ll be checking in once per month with Eric’s latest averages.)