By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, January 26, 2013 - 0 Comments
Andrew Coyne has another go at making the case for a one-time electoral cooperation pact among the opposition parties to achieve electoral reform, as Elizabeth May has also recently proposed. I still think this is a crazy idea.
Andrew notes that the New Democrats, Liberals and Greens are variously interested in replacing our first-past-the-post system for electing MPs. He then builds his case thusly.
It will be objected that much of this is merely an expression of the parties’ self interest, or more charitably that their principles show a remarkable tendency to align with their self-interest: under proportional representation the Greens would win many more seats than the one they have now, as until recently would the NDP, while the alternative vote tends to favour middle of the road parties like the Liberals. Fair enough. I happen to think these are also useful reforms in the public interest. But it is to those parties’ supporters I address myself here: to their self-interest as much as their ideals.
Because none of this is going to happen as things stand: neither the Conservatives’ defeat nor the democratic reforms each proposes would follow. It is not going to happen so long as the Conservatives maintain their apparently unshakeable hold on 35% to 40% of the voters that have stuck with them for much of the past decade. And it is not going to happen so long as the rest is divided up more or less evenly amongst two or three opposition parties…
So the long-term answer to the opposition’s dilemma is electoral reform, based on some form of proportonal representation. But that isn’t going to happen until they can figure out how to beat the Conservatives in the short term. The obvious answer is for the three parties to cooperate in some way at the ballot box: to combine, rather than split their votes.
The premise here seems to be that it is unlikely the Conservatives will win anything less than another majority mandate in 2015. If you were taking wagers right now, approximately two years away from the next vote, the odds would obviously have to favour the Conservatives. But another Conservative majority is not nearly a sure thing. The Conservatives polled at 33% in December. And the two years between now and the next election leave plenty of time for unforeseen developments. Incumbents at the federal level have a tendency to hold power for awhile, but they also have a tendency to eventually lose.
Could the New Democrats or Liberals win a majority government in 2015? It looks unlikely now, but the NDP was ahead of the Conservatives and in the mid-30s a year ago and the Liberals were ahead of the Conservatives and in the mid-30s in 2009. If the threshold for a majority government is around 39%, the possibility of an NDP or Liberal majority can’t be entirely dismissed.
Eight and a half years ago, the Liberals won a minority government with 36.7% of the popular vote. The Conservatives took 29.6%, the NDP 15.7% and the Bloc Quebecois 12.4%. How possible is it that the New Democrats or Liberals could win 36% of the popular vote in 2015? Could we see something like a 35-30-25 split with the Liberals or New Democrats in first and the Conservatives in second? Maybe you wouldn’t wager your life savings on it happening, but you’d be unwise to wager your life savings on it not happening.
But then, the opposition parties don’t even need to “win” the next election, do they? If the Conservatives are reduced to a minority and the House of Commons math works for the other parties, some combination of the New Democrats, Liberals and Greens could form a coalition government. How possible is a coalition government taking power in 2015? (We nearly had one in 2008. And with that experience, the parties might now be better prepared to pull it off.) Once again, you might not want to bet on it, but you can’t discount the possibility entirely either.
So an NDP or Liberal minority or a NDP-Liberal-Green coalition are within the realm of possibility (and not merely as far-fetched scenarios). And either scenario, I would posit, could result in a government interested in electoral reform. Andrew might be right that the long-term situation seems, right now, to favour the Conservatives. But I don’t think that means the next election result is assured. And therein lies a real opportunity for change.
Andrew proceeds to consider the options. He rules out a merger as unrealistic (I agree). He writes that a “formal coalition” also wouldn’t work (I disagree). He then arrives at his preferred option.
As it happens, however, an alternative has emerged that has found significant supporters in all three parties. It is to forge a purely temporary alliance, a one-time electoral pact. Party riding associations would agree to run a single candidate against the Conservatives, on a platform with essentially one plank: electoral reform. Were it to win it would govern just long enough to reform the electoral system, then dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections.
There are a lot of questions to ask about this proposal. Andrew acknowledges as much.
A favourite counterargument is to rattle off a number of obvious practical questions in quick succession — How would these common candidates be selected? Would this apply in all ridings, or just some? Could voters be persuaded to turn the election into a referendum on electoral reform? — in a tone that implies they could not be answered. Which is certainly true, as long as no one bothers to try.
Let’s allow that some of the finer details could be worked out. I think there are valid questions to be asked about how the parties would sort this out amongst themselves, but let’s imagine that those questions could be answered and those problems solved. Let’s just deal with that third question: could an election be turned into a referendum on electoral reform?
Are enough voters so interested in electoral reform that they would support turning the next election into a referendum on that subject? Could enough voters be convinced to momentarily suspend their concerns about other issues? Could enough voters be convinced to ignore the other policy differences between the NDP, Liberals and Greens? Could enough voters be convinced to ignore the possible ramifications of all other policy debates between the parties to vote with the hope that a real election would then be run in short order?
I’ll try to answer those questions: No. Granted, I can’t predict the future with certainty (and have just finished arguing against making such predictions). Perhaps the New Democrats, Liberals and Greens could persuade voters to make this a singular focus. But this strikes me as implausible. I don’t think voters, in general, are so interested in electoral reform that they’d go along with this. At the very least, it seems like a remarkable gamble for the three parties to make. (And, keep in mind, the Conservatives would be keen to explain, loudly and repeatedly and prominently, why this was such a terrible idea.)
But only here now do we reach what is, for me, the deal breaker. Let’s say another Conservative majority was, under the status quo, overwhelmingly likely. Let’s say voters (or enough voters) were keen (or could be convinced to be keen) to turn the next election into a referendum on electoral reform. Let’s even say that an NDP-Liberal-Green pact would win that referendum.
Fundamentally overhauling the electoral system would probably take more than a couple days. Legislation would conceivably have to be passed through the House. Legislation would conceivably have to be passed through the Senate (how would a Conservative majority in the Senate handle such legislation?).
Even if you imagine this proceeding as expeditiously as possible, this would take some period of time (A month? A few months? More?). Someone would have to be Prime Minister while this was happening. Someone would have to be governing. How would that work? Conceivably they would have no mandate beyond changing the electoral system. Would they promise to not touch anything else for as long as they were in government? Would they promise to just carry on with Conservative policy until another election could be held? (Would anyone believe them if they promised as much?) What if something bad happened? What if something came up that required government action?
This is not a rhetorical device. I’m not trying to bury the idea in questions. I honestly want to know how this would work because I honestly don’t understand how this is supposed to work. What kind of government would we have for however long it took to change the federal electoral system and what would be the ramifications of having such a government?
I basically agree that the way in which we elect MPs could be improved (I recently came down with a crush on the ranked ballot). But I don’t like complicated solutions. Complicated solutions are usually the least achievable. Which is not to say they shouldn’t ever be pursued. But, in this case, I think there are less complicated options that might be entertained first.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 11:17 AM - 0 Comments
Chris Selley calls for a move to a ranked ballot.
In the longer term, however, there is a simple and bloody obvious solution to all of this, which is to hold an instant runoff election, using a ranked ballot, in each riding. Non-winning candidates are disqualified in succession, and their votes redistributed, until one has 50%. That way, everyone who goes to Ottawa does so with a majority mandate from his or her constituents. No partisans need be denied their candidate. Citizens needn’t be denied a robust debate between as many different views as desire to be heard. And people who don’t want to vote for anyone but the Greens, or the New Democrats or Conservatives, needn’t do so: They can mark a single X and head home.
No new electoral districts or ridings. No “list members,” who represent nobody but their party. Just the same old House of Commons, but populated using a fuller, more thoughtful, more pragmatic and more democratic expression of voters’ wishes.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 30, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher review the latest numbers from Elections Canada.
Dickson writes that Elections Canada has received 1,147 complaints of inappropriate calls, in 247 ridings, including 252 complaints from Guelph, where the “Pierre Poutine” robocall send hundreds of voters to the wrong polling station. Dickson notes the calls in Guelph are the subject of an investigation that is “separate, but related” to his own.
A total of 1,043 complaints are from voters who say they were directed to a wrong polling station by callers, 625 of them from live or recorded callers “claiming to emanate from Elections Canada.” Elections Canada does not call voters to tell them their polling stations have moved. The other calls are rude or harassing calls from people identifying themselves as Liberals or New Democrats, calling at odd hours, swearing or rudely demanding donations.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 10:26 AM - 0 Comments
Buried in Mitt Romney’s post-election analysis of why he lost – he blames it…
Buried in Mitt Romney’s post-election analysis of why he lost – he blames it on “gifts” to minorities, young people and single women – is an interesting admission about the impact of Obama’s health-care reform on the election.
“Obamacare” didn’t come up a whole lot in the election, because Obama didn’t want to talk a lot about it (polls show it is still unpopular overall) and Romney, while pledging to repeal it, was not in a position to make it a centrepiece of his campaign (having famously passed the same plan in Massachusetts, every explanation of why he wanted to repeal it had to be prefaced by an explanation of why state laws are different from federal ones). But the health-care reform was a big factor in the Democratic mid-term disaster of 2010, and though it became less of an albatross for the party once it squeaked by the Supreme Court, it was still expected to be more of a liability than an asset for Democrats this year.
But according to Romney, Obamacare worked to mobilize voters. He thinks this is a bad thing, a case of the government doling out favours to special interest groups; but liberals and Democrats might feel that Romney is making a stronger case for the effectiveness of Obamacare than Obama ever did:
“Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus.”
A lot of liberals are already making fun of Romney, or expressing horror at this point of view: that when people feel the government is making their lives better, it’s some kind of “gift” or bribe, rather than the government doing its job. That’s part of the worldview that Romney expressed in the 47% remarks, and which underlay a lot of the philosophical differences in the campaign. But what’s really odd is to hear the Republican candidate tell people that Obamacare was an asset for the Democrats, after telling us for years that it was going to be their Waterloo.
How could Obamacare be such a liability for the Democrats in 2010, and then, according to their own opponent, a major asset in 2012? This speaks to the big problem the Democrats still have to deal with: while they’ve built a workable majority of voters in the past two Presidential elections, many of their voters are not likely to show up during mid-term elections, which have much lower turnout, and a much older electorate. The Democrats did extremely well in the 2006 election because older voters were frustrated with the Iraq war and took their frustration out on the Republicans. But in 2010, the Democrats were in charge, and the natural disadvantage of the party in power was compounded by the Medicare cuts that Obama’s health-care reform incorporated. The older electorate of 2010 voted against the Democrats because they saw Obamacare as hurting rather than helping them. But in 2012, more people were voting who had trouble affording medical insurance, and they broke for Obamacare, not against it.
The challenge for the Democrats in 2014, when they will once again be the party in power, will be to find a way to minimize their expected losses by figuring out a way to get their base to show up for mid-term elections in greater numbers. If they can ever do that, Republicans will be in real trouble for a while. (On the other hand, if the Democrats find some way to make young voters feel betrayed – like for example cutting the benefits they can expect to receive if and when they retire – then their voting coalition could evaporate.) Meanwhile, Republicans’ challenge in 2014 will be to find a way to avoid blowing their third consecutive chance to take back the Senate, meaning that we can expect them to apply a lot of pressure to keep people like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock out of future Senate races. Whether any of this works, I don’t know; this is one thing that not even the polls can predict – yet.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
Peter Penashue has released a letter to his constituents.
I was very clear during the campaign that we would follow the rules. I specifically indicated that, in accordance with the law, we could not accept corporate donations. I was not aware of any problems or irregularities during the campaign.
No one is more surprised than I am at the allegations that have arisen since the campaign. No one is more disappointed. That’s why there is a new Official Agent in place to examine all of the paperwork and to work with Elections Canada to correct any mistakes.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:07 AM - 0 Comments
“I don’t know anything about it,” said Agatha Ryland, an assistant in Penashue’s constituency office in L’Anse au Loup, N.L. Reached by phone, Ryland said Penashue is travelling the remote Labrador coast handing out several Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals for community service and achievement. Penashue’s spokesman Cory Hann could not be reached by email or cellphone, and there was no answer at the minister’s Ottawa office.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 6:53 PM - 0 Comments
I will be explaining my situation and I think it’s very important that I speak with my constituents … we have an official agent reviewing the file and hopefully we’ll be in a better position by then. But I want to speak with my constituents and I think it’s very important that I do that … There’s lots going on and I want to speak with my constituents and explain what happened during the election and I think once they hear the explanation I think they will be in a better position to understand how things unfolded. But, in the meantime … once this week is over, I’ll be flying to Labrador and I want to speak with my constituents.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 2, 2012 at 8:58 AM - 0 Comments
And then there’s Penashue himself. While all this plays out he sits in the Commons, taking the heat, but taking no questions. It’s a difficult position to be in. Attacked, but muzzled. Apparently unable to defend himself, or to explain, which is the essence of parliamentary accountability … The Conservatives clearly believe the best tactic is to let others answer for the weakened members of the herd, and to turn the focus back on past opposition breaches whenever they can. It certainly muddies the water. But it doesn’t allow people like Penashue to see their own way clear of a controversy, even in cases when it could be of their own making.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 12:41 PM - 0 Comments
Stephen Thiele and Gavin Tighe, Borys Wrzesnewskyj’s lawyers, consider the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decisions.
In today’s modern era where most people have access to computers and telephones, it no longer makes sense to rely on a purely paper-based system of voting and record-keeping. Voting over the Internet utilizing a secure pin number already exists and has been adopted by various organizations without complaint. Such a system would eliminate, among other things, the need for the completion of a paper “Registration Certificate” for unregistered electors, do away with “vouching” in order for an elector to prove his or her identity, and possibly eliminate the need to show up at a polling station at all.
Such a system may also make voting more convenient and thus “enfranchise” more voters by making it easier for electors to vote in elections. Accordingly, we hope that the decision of the Court may have some unintended positive consequences for electoral reform. A system not unlike that used by the Canada Revenue Agency in the filing of tax returns could be envisaged for the operation of elections.
See previously: Accepting imperfection
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 9:48 AM - 0 Comments
The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Conservative MP Ted Opitz and there will be no by-election in Etobicoke Centre.
Update 10:12am. A statement from Mr. Opitz.
I thank the court for its carefully reasoned decision. It is important to respect the will of the voters in Etobicoke Centre which was demonstrated by the result of the election. I agree with the court’s decision where it identified the importance of enfranchising the electors of Etobicoke Centre. As the court decision confirmed, a fair election took place, the result was clear, was then confirmed on a recount and the result has now been endorsed by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Fifty two thousand people in Etobicoke Centre followed the rules, cast their ballots and today had their democratic decision upheld. I look forward to continuing my work as the MP for Etobicoke Centre, as we continue to implement Prime Minister Harper’s economic action plan to create and protect jobs.
The Prime Minister’s Office is pleased.
Update 10:32m. A statement from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.
While we are disappointed in today’s split decision to overturn the Ontario Superior Court ruling, we accept it as the judgement of the majority of the Court. No doubt there will be a need to review both the opinions of the majority and the minority, and assess what further changes are needed to our election laws.
In addition to the split ruling today, there still exists a disturbing trend of irregularities and reports of election fraud stemming from the 2011 general election. We cannot forget that Canadians across the country were deprived of their right to vote through a coordinated attack on our democracy. Though Mr. Wrzesnewskyj’s case did not deal directly with these matters, it cannot be divorced from the allegations that have called into question the strength of our democracy. There is still much work to be done and many questions to be answered in order to restore our confidence in Canada’s electoral institutions.
I would like to thank Mr. Wrzesnewskyj for his tireless efforts in pursuing this cause. His dedication to upholding the integrity of Canada’s electoral system and the faith we have in Canada’s democracy is nothing short of remarkable. Regardless of the capacity, I know Mr. Wrzesnewskyj will continue to serve his community and the people of Etobicoke Centre.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 11:12 AM - 0 Comments
CBC News has examined the election files of a number of Conservative candidates, including those on the list of the 10 targeted ridings. The records in the Elections Canada files indicate strong control from party headquarters, large amounts of money spent on communications and polling, and tight, take-no-prisoners messaging. That said, the analysis also shows it’s not just about money. Of those 10 target ridings, the candidate who took the riding out-spent the other candidates in six of the races, but sometimes just barely …
The presentation distributed by Nejatian laid out the numbers: by 2017, about half the 7.1 million people in the Greater Toronto Area would be visible minorities. A full 1.3 million would be South Asian and another 900,000 would be Chinese. Other targeted groups included Ukrainians, who make up more than 20 per cent of the population in Manitoba’s Elmwood-Transcona riding, and Jews, who form more than 35 per cent of Quebec’s Mount Royal and, in Toronto, 25 per cent of both Eglinton-Lawrence and York Centre. For advertising purposes, those are large but focused groups, groups that you can reach easily through advertising in the language spoken at home.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 19, 2012 at 3:15 PM - 0 Comments
A note from the Supreme Court advises that a ruling in the case of Ted Opitz et al. v. Borys Wrzesnewskyj et al. will be delivered at 9:45am on Thursday.
See previous coverage of Etobicoke Centre here.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
“Look, last year was my first election. I worked with an official agent, that was his first [and] all of this happened within four weeks, and I recognize that we need to clarify some issues,” Penashue said.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 5:27 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Shortly before the farce was laid bare before the House yesterday, Stephen Harper stood and offered an important clarification on the contractual obligations of the Minister of Agriculture.
“Mr. Speaker,” the Prime Minister explained, “it is not the minister who does food inspection; it is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that does food inspection.”
Indeed, the nation’s conveyor belts are not directed through Gerry Ritz’s Parliament Hill office. Each package of meat, each piece of produce, is not personally stamped by him with his ministerial approval. He does not spend his weekends swabbing for bacteria, or at least he is not required by the standing orders to do so.
Nonetheless, it is the opinion of both the New Democrats and the Liberals that Mr. Ritz should bear some of the blame for the largest beef recall in this country’s history.
“Mr. Speaker, 44 days after the onset of the crisis of contaminated meat, there is still another product recall that has just taken place,” Thomas Mulcair reported this afternoon. “Does the Prime Minister realize that his Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is responsible because it is his program, his way of doing things, that put the lives of Canadians in danger?”
The business of responsible government is a constant debate about what precisely the government is responsible for. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 10:56 AM - 0 Comments
The CBC raises more questions about Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue’s election campaign.
Mr. Penashue previously faced questions about campaign spending earlier this year and dealt with them in a vaguely hypnotic fashion.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 1:46 PM - 0 Comments
The Conservative party’s interest in cap-and-trade actually predates its 2008 campaign platform. In 2004, the party’s platform expressed an interest in the concept.
A Conservative government will implement the commitments of Stephen Harper’s February 2004 paper, “Towards a Cleaner Canada,” including: Legislate caps on smog causing pollutants like Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Negotiate power plant and smokestack emissions limits with the United States and border states. Investigate a cap-and-trade system that will allow firms to generate credits by reducing smog-causing pollutants.
The same commitment to “investigate a cap-and-trade system that will allow firms to generate credits by reducing smog-causing pollutants” appears in the Conservative party’s “policy declaration” of March 19, 2005.
Bob Mills, a Conservative MP at the time, apparently assisted in the drafting the 2004 policy paper. On June 8, 2005, Mr. Mills stood in the House and stated a commitment to cap-and-trade.
Unlike the smog blind Liberals, the Conservative Party of Canada has a real plan to deal with air pollution. We will legislate caps on smog-causing pollutants like nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds. We will also propose a cap and trade system within Canada that will give companies incentives to actually reduce smog-causing pollutants.
According to David Akin, the Conservative party’s 2008 policy declaration expressed support for “support a domestic cap-and-trade system that will allow firms to generate credits by reducing smog-causing pollutants.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 3:06 PM - 0 Comments
Last night, Jason Kenney wondered via Twitter what the lowest share of the popular vote had ever resulted in a party forming government.
BC Iconoclast has gone through the returns and finds that last night’s win for the PQ—with 31.9% of the vote—is the second smallest mandate in Canadian history, undercut only by the BC Liberals’ win in 1924 with 31.3% of the vote.
A total of 35 mandates have been won with less than 40% of the popular vote. Nine of those were in federal elections, including 2004 (which ranks as the 12th smallest), 2006 (10th), 2008 (19th) and 2011 (32nd).
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 1:46 PM - 0 Comments
Ezra Klein considers truth in the American presidential campaign.
Quite simply, the Romney campaign isn’t adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation. Even if you bend over backward to be generous to them — as the Tax Policy Center did when they granted the Romney campaign a slew of essentially impossible premises in order to evaluate their tax plan — you often find yourself forced into the same conclusion: This doesn’t add up, this doesn’t have enough details to be evaluated, or this isn’t true. I don’t like that conclusion. It doesn’t look “fair” when you say that. We’ve been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. I’d personally feel better if our coverage didn’t look so lopsided. But first the campaigns have to be relatively equal. So far in this campaign, you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you can’t be both.
Mark Leibovich goes looking for joy.
But what’s been completely missing this year has been, for lack of a better word, joy. Yes, it’s always kind of fun to follow Joe Biden around and wait to hear what will come out of his mouth next, and who knows what Paul Ryan has hidden under his oversize jacket. But the principals don’t seem to be experiencing much joy as they go through their market-tested paces. A kind of faux-ness permeates everything this year in a way that it hasn’t been quite so consuming in the past. The effect has been anesthetizing and made it difficult to take any of the day’s supposed gaffes, game-changers and false umbrages seriously. The campaigns appeared locked in a paradigm of terrified superpowers’ spending blindly on redundant warfare. How many times do they have to blow up Vladivostok? Where were the surprises, the pleasures of discovery and the true emotion of the newly vitalized? The volunteers who decided to get involved because so-and-so inspired them, not because the other guy (the socialist or the plutocrat) scared them? They seemed in such short supply. This might or might not be the most important election of our lifetime — as we are told it is every four years — but it really did feel like the most joyless.
Sasha Issenberg says campaign reporters can’t see the campaign.
Over the last decade, almost entirely out of view, campaigns have modernized their techniques in such a way that nearly every member of the political press now lacks the specialized expertise to interpret what’s going on. Campaign professionals have developed a new conceptual framework for understanding what moves votes. It’s as if restaurant critics remained oblivious to a generation’s worth of new chefs’ tools and techniques and persisted in describing every dish that came out of the kitchen as either “grilled” or “broiled.” “When I went to work for my first campaign, in 1994, I was actually surprised at how journalists tended to think one step ahead where campaigns are four steps ahead,” says Joel Benenson, a former newspaper reporter who now serves as President Obama’s chief pollster. “Think of it as a level-five player in chess and a level-eight player in chess. You had people covering campaigns who are at the mercy of the grandmasters of politics.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 10:07 AM - 0 Comments
Mitch Wexler at PollMaps.ca has applied 2011′s election results to the proposed new riding maps. The Conservatives gain 25 seats, the NDP pick up eight seats and the Liberals somehow manage to lose two seats.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
Glen McGregor figures the Conservatives would be favoured to win the new riding of Nepean.
A Citizen analysis using 2011 poll-by-poll results shows that, had this smaller riding been in place in the last election, Poilievre would still have won easily with 51 per cent of the popular vote and an 11,000-vote plurality over the nearest challenger. Though rock-solid, Conservative support in the area is not quite as strong as it is within the larger boundaries of the existing Nepean-Carleton riding, which includes rural areas that helped earn Poilievre 54 per cent of the total votes.
The Liberals and New Democrats would do only slightly better in the new riding, the poll breakdowns show. The Liberals would have finished with 27 per cent of the vote and the New Democrats with 18 per cent, both only small gains. The pattern is similar using results from the 2008 election, when 52 per cent of electors in polls that are now in the proposed Nepean riding would have voted for Poilievre.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM - 0 Comments
The proposed riding boundaries for Ontario have been released. Most of the new ridings would be created in and around Toronto: one in Oakville, two in Brampton, one in Mississauga, two in Markham and two in the city of Toronto itself. There is also plenty of smaller adjustments.
The reasons for the proposed changes are offered here.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 24, 2012 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
“I accept the findings of the CRTC regarding the election call placed by my campaign designed to educate Guelph voters about specific policy differences between myself and an opponent. We were unaware of certain requirements and inadvertently neglected to include some identifying features in the message, such as a phone number and address. When I first learned of the errors in the call earlier this year, I was fully and immediately cooperative with the CRTC; I take full responsibility and apologize for the infringement.
“This has been an important learning experience, not just for me, but for all MPs and future candidates. Consequently, I have volunteered to do whatever I can to assist the CRTC to educate MPs, candidates and their staff to the full extent of regulations governing calls and the use of auto-dialers. It is important for these types of investigations to take place regularly to ensure that Canadians are aware of our rules and that they are respected.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 20, 2012 at 2:17 PM - 0 Comments
Stephane Dion’s speech on electoral reform to the Green party convention this past weekend.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 3, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
TVA has announced a series of three debates for the Quebec campaign.
Normally these debates are organized under the aegis of a consortium of Quebec television networks under the utterly fatuous notion that television networks put aside their corporate differences for the public good. But these are not normal times. And so, beginning Aug. 20, TVA anchor Pierre Bruneau will moderate (or referee, depending on your point of view), three days of one-hour debates anchored to the themes of government, the economy, social policy, and the issues of Quebec’s nature and identity.
The event kicks off with Liberal leader Jean Charest crossing political swords with Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois on Aug. 20, continues the following night with Francois Legault, head of the Coalition pour l’Avenir du Quebec butting heads with Charest and then finishes Aug. 22 with what might be the most interesting undercard in recent Quebec political history: Marois vs. Legault.
Radio-Canada will host a debate with four leaders on stage.
The next federal election isn’t for another three years, but it’s never too early to think about how the current national debate system—two debates, one in English, one in French, with four or five leaders onstage—could be changed. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Stephane Dion challenges Stephen Harper.
Dion said Harper should not be afraid to publicly say he prefers a Quebec premier who espouses federalism — just as former prime minister Jean [Chretien] did. “It seems to me that a prime minister should not be shy to say that he wants all the premiers to believe in the country.”