By Colby Cosh - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - 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 - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 1:15 PM - 0 Comments
Paul Adams commends Joyce Murray for advocating joint nominations among Liberals, New Democrats and Greens.
There’s no doubt Murray is a long shot to win the leadership. And I understand that it is likely that the winner will denounce the idea of inter-party co-operation during the leadership campaign, just as Thomas Mulcair did with the NDP. But once the Liberal leadership is over, all the opposition parties will be staring a stark reality in the face. None of them is likely to win a majority in the next election unless they co-operate or merge. If one is lucky enough to win a minority, it will depend on other like-minded parties to pass its legislation and stay in power. Sooner or later, in other words, the current opposition parties likely will be driven to co-operate.
There will be a window after the Liberal leadership, whoever is elected, when it will be possible to explore possibilities like the one that Cullen and now Murray have proposed. It is worth remembering that the leaders of both the PCs and the Canadian Alliance rejected the idea of party merger when they were leadership candidates. But they changed their minds and persuaded their parties otherwise once they were elected. They did so because it made political sense. Of course, there is another possibility for the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens, perhaps the most probable of all: that they will once again compete with one another in the 2015 election, and in doing so allow the Conservatives to triumph as they have in 2006, 2008 and 2011 against a divided opposition. At that point, the impulse for co-operation likely will be irresistible, but too late to prevent yet another Conservative government advancing policies they all oppose.
There remai numerous questions to be answered about joint nominations. But there is one way joint nominations might make sense: if they were explicitly part of an outright merger. Thing is, Joyce Murray, like Nathan Cullen when he sought the NDP leadership, rejects a merger. And Ms. Murray says the joint nominations would only be for the next election.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Andrew Coyne calls for a one-time co-operation pact aimed at electoral reform.
There are a lot of reasons to prefer proportional representation — I’ve written about it often — but for the opposition parties there is one reason in particular: the current system heavily favours the Conservatives, as the party with the support of the largest single block of voters.So while I don’t see the case for merging the other parties, I do think there’s some merit in a proposal floated by the Liberal leadership candidate Joyce Murray: namely, a one-time-only electoral pact, for the sole purpose of changing the voting system. The Green Party has proposed something similar. And Nathan Cullen famously ran for NDP leader on an electoral cooperation platform. The details no doubt vary, but here’s how I can see it working. The opposition parties would agree on a single candidate to put up against the Conservatives in each riding. Were they to win a majority, they would pledge to govern just long enough to implement electoral reform: a year, two at most. Then fresh elections would be called under the new system, with each party once again running under its own flag, with a full slate of candidates.
Supporters of each party, therefore, would not have to give up their allegiance. Neither, for that matter, would reform-minded Conservatives. They could vote for the reform ticket this one time, then return to the Tory fold when it came to deciding who should represent them in a reformed Parliament.
I guess the theory is here at that the 2015 election could be an election about electoral reform. That strikes me as an odd notion. Are we going to suspend all other issues of consideration? Are the the Liberals, Greens and New Democrats going to put aside all other policy proposals? Are they going to promise, for the year or two it takes to implement reform, to not do anything else of consequence? Or are they going to have to agree on a unified platform? Could the general public be convinced to take electoral reform so seriously that all other policy issues would be secondary?
I also continue to find the idea of riding-level co-operation to be hopelessly problematic. To start, doesn’t the last federal election demonstrate the folly of trying to figure out ahead of time which party’s candidate has the best shot of winning? How many of the ridings that the NDP won for the first time in 2011 would have had a New Democrat candidate if a co-operation approach had been adopted two months before that election?
Alice Funke sees lots of practical issues. But how would this work politically? Having agreed to co-operate on nominating candidates, how tied to each other would the parties be? Could they still disagree amongst each other? Would they have to agree to refrain from attacking each other? Wouldn’t the Conservatives happily be able to exploit differences of opinion and attack the three as a united front—the NDP held responsible for any mistakes of the Liberals and vice versa? What if 200 Liberal candidates are nominated, but, mid-campaign, the Liberal leader is suddenly enveloped in some scandal?
On a local level, how sure are we that Liberal or Green voters will vote NDP or vice versa? What would be the impact locally in 2019 on a party not running a candidate in 2015? Wouldn’t sitting out a campaign in a given riding make it at least a little bit harder for a party to mount a campaign four years later?
As when Nathan Cullen proposed it, the idea still strikes me a too cute by half. I think people who want to see co-operation among the three non-Conservative parties might as well argue for a merger (though I don’t think that makes much sense right now) or the possibility of a coalition government. Joint nominations, in my mind, put you in no man’s land between those two ideas.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 1:04 PM - 9 Comments
Using riding-level data from the PunditsGuide.ca database, and calculating each party’s vote and the number of non-voters as a percentage of the number of electors in each riding, it was found that, over the seven general elections held in the last two decades, many previous party supporters would rather stay home than switch…
There are currently 36 seats in B.C. The Conservatives hold 22, of which 13 were won with more than half the ballots cast. For Byers’ strategy to work at all, the agreement would have to focus only on the seats the two opposition parties have the best chance of winning from the Conservatives. Because if the parties were to stand down in each other’s held seats, many would be at risk of falling to the Conservatives instead, undermining the whole point of the exercise.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 3:10 PM - 13 Comments
Stephen Harper was talking global financial turmoil and national health care in Victoria today, but a lot of the chatter in the corridors of the hotel where he spoke was strictly local politics.
In this case, however, the most intriguing local race, for the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding, hints at a direction for national party politics.