By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Conservative party was operating within the bounds of normal process when…
OTTAWA – The Conservative party was operating within the bounds of normal process when it used robocalls to explore public opinion surrounding plans to change riding boundaries in Saskatchewan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.
Not so, opposition critics — including NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae — cried Wednesday as they accused the Conservatives of using “fraudulent” calls to manipulate the process.
An arms-length, independent commission is proposing to redistribute some of the province’s 14 federal ridings in order to better reflect increasingly urban populations in Regina and Saskatoon.
But the changes have met with stiff resistance from Conservatives, who hold 13 of Saskatchewan’s 14 seats and fear a more concentrated urban vote in some ridings might favour their political rivals.
The Conservatives admitted being responsible for the so-called “push poll” calls to would-be voters in Saskatchewan, which said some proposed changes to electoral boundaries would undermine provincial values.
The computer-generated calls identified no political party, saying only that they came from a company called Chase Research. That was a mistake, the Conservatives say.
In the face of a barrage of opposition questions Wednesday in the House of Commons, however, Harper insisted the party broke no rules.
“The party followed the rules and our position to the public is very clear on the commission,” he said. “The commission is working to re-draw the electoral boundaries according to the law.”
He said it’s part of the normal effort to produce new electoral boundaries.
“We are simply operating within the process,” he said.
Rae described the calls as nothing short of a Conservative effort to gerrymander Saskatchewan ridings.
But Harper said the commission expects to hear outside comment. “Those commissions accept and expect input from parliamentarians, from political parties and from the general public.”
Mulcair, for his part, was scornful: “Since when do robocalls become input in our political process?”
Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale has asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to investigate the matter.
Goodale called the robocalls a “deplorable” attempt to undermine the work of the commission that should be fully investigated by the federal telecommunications regulator.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 5:51 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The federal Conservative party is acknowledging it commissioned a so-called push poll…
OTTAWA – The federal Conservative party is acknowledging it commissioned a so-called push poll in Saskatchewan that warned listeners that electoral boundary changes would “destroy Saskatchewan values.”
Residents have complained of automated phone calls that suggested the redrawing of ridings in Regina and Saskatoon would pit rural people against urban dwellers — then asked respondents to agree by pressing a number on their phone.
The robocalls provided no party identification, but said they came from a company called Chase Research.
By Colby Cosh - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 7:42 AM - 0 Comments
It is my duty pursuant to section 21 of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act to lay upon the table a certified copy of the reports of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commissions for the provinces of New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. These reports are referred permanently to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer, uttered these words Monday. As it happens, one of the reports he plopped down before the House touches closely upon the interests of his other (secret?) identity as Member for Regina-Qu’Appelle. The proposed riding map for Saskatchewan is by far the most controversial of the 10 now approaching finalization. It’s so controversial that one of the three commissioners appointed to draw the map refused to sign off on it, filing a minority report instead.
This is thought to be the first time that a Canadian boundaries commission has split irreconcilably in this way. It’s a nasty failure, since the whole point of a boundaries commission is to use logic to arrive at a broadly acceptable nonpartisan consensus. A conscientious government would be careful to avoid trouble of this sort from the outset, but apparently nobody saw it coming.
The problem isn’t partisanship as such. For the past few decades Saskatchewan’s federal riding map has had a unique “pie-slice” nature whereby there are no constituencies wholly within either of the two major cities. The good folks in southwest Regina, for example, have voted in the Palliser riding, alongside residents of Moose Jaw, since 1996. Voters in the northeast of the city are in the Regina-Qu’Appelle riding, mixing their votes with those of a half-dozen small towns like Indian Head and Wynyard—the latter being almost 200 kilometres away by road.
This arrangement was originally tolerated on the premise that in Saskatchewan there are no meaningful differences of culture or interest between the city and the country. All are one under the sign of the wheat sheaf. This seems to have become a perverse point of provincial pride, much like the lack of a sales tax in Alberta; the boundary commissioners were told often at public hearings that there is no such thing as “urban Saskatchewan” for political purposes. Two of the panelists dismissed this argument, snortingly, and created five new all-urban ridings, three in Saskatoon and two in Regina. The third member of the commission, David Marit, feels so strongly about the truth of the argument that he is willing to jeopardize the whole mapmaking exercise by refusing to sign a unanimous report.
What the people making this argument really mean, naturally, is that the “pie-slice” system has allowed rural Saskatchewan and the satellite cities to dominate or at least counterbalance Regina and Saskatoon in federal elections. Dissenter Marit is the president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities; I suppose he would have us believe he wants the big cities to remain divided for some other purpose than “divide and conquer.” But, of course, anybody who followed the 2011 election knows how the rural tail ends up wagging the urban dog under the existing system. The New Democrats picked up 32.3% of the vote provincewide, but this translated to zero seats in Parliament; the Liberals, with 8.6%, recaptured Ralph Goodale’s Wascana seat quite comfortably.
I took a look at the poll-by-poll results from the election, counting only the Regina and Saskatoon votes within the mixed ridings. These totals exclude advance and mobile polls.
As you can see, within the major cities the New Democrats are very competitive indeed with the Conservatives. (Though it’s also worth noting, lest any myths of extreme injustice and skulduggery flourish, that the Conservatives do seem to have “won” both metropolises.) Palliser MP Ray Boughen, a former mayor of Moose Jaw, would have gotten his clock cleaned if not for the Moose Javian votes. Farmer Nettie Wiebe, the NDP candidate in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, won a majority in the city and got beaten narrowly (for the third time in a row) on the strength of rural votes. And, sure enough, Speaker Scheer got fewer votes within Regina than the NDP’s Fred Clipsham.
It remains to be seen how well Thomas Mulcair’s “Western strategy” will ultimately work out, but in essence the Conservatives will start the 2015 campaign a couple seats down in Saskatchewan by virtue of the new electoral map alone. That is assuming the Conservatives in the Procedure Committee don’t use David Marit’s dissent as a pretext to go after the new map with a fat blue pencil. Vigilance is urged.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
If Stephen Harper’s proposed new riding boundaries are applied in British Columbia, the Conservatives…
If Stephen Harper’s proposed new riding boundaries are applied in British Columbia, the Conservatives will strongly benefit, the Vancouver Sun reports.
If the 2011 election results were applied to proposed new election boundaries, the Conservatives, who took 21 of 36 B.C. seats in the 2011 election, (with 46 per cent of the popular vote), would take 29 of 42 seats under the new boundaries. The NDP would lose two of their 12 seats, while the Liberals and the Green party would maintain their current seat count.
Analysts, however, caution the federal Tories not to expect electoral hegemony in B.C based on these new boundaries. Support for the Conservatives has been sliding, largely due to the government’s support of the unpopular Northern Gateway pipeline, and weakened support for fisheries and the Coast Guard. Analysts also add that the Tory success from the 2011 election was largely due to a Liberal-NDP vote split that may not occur in 2015, the next federal election.
The Conservatives plan to draw up 30 new ridings due to changes in population density. Ontario will get 15 of those seats, B.C. and Alberta will each take six, and Quebec three. Pollmaps.ca shows that the Conservatives would benefit in every province but Quebec and win 25 of the 30 new seats, if the 2011 popular voting results were applied to the 2015 election.
By Colby Cosh - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 4:50 AM - 0 Comments
To kick off the Alberta election, here’s Danielle Smith with some sheep, as featured on Wildrose.ca. This should not be taken as some sort of sly joke about voters, either on her part or on mine. It’s an excellent photo-op, and will be all over the news this morning; it is literally irresistible. In general, the early days of the campaign have me formidably impressed with the Wildrose tacticians. I imagine, if only because I’m used to pretty slapstick Alberta oppositions, that some snickering comic-book brain-thing in a jar is using servomotor arms to thrust and slam the levers of a great machine. But it’s probably nothing as romantic as all that; just Tom Flanagan dashing off a few memos.
Why is Danielle Smith messing about with mutton? Continue…