Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stephen Harper's Ingenious Plan to Help Pulp and Paper Mills

Yes, apparently prorogue is the word of the week in Ottawa. This means there are a whole lot of dead government bills out there (James Bowie's got the comprehensive list). This also means that there will be a lot of paper required to print new bills and there you have my post title. I don't really care that Harper's decided the house needs an additional six weeks off and a new throne speech. Unlike Andrew Coyne, I don't see the need for a revolution. The Afghan detainee question is by all accounts a historical question dating back to the period between the first reports of torture (whenever those were) and the changing of the guidelines which seems to be a period between 2006 and 2007. There's nothing that is going to change between now and March on the question of the events of 2006 and 2007. If Harper's proroguing to avoid that question, he's not half as politically shrewd as he looks. Otherwise, proroguing is basically the government taking a blow torch to their own legislative agenda. So, with that in mind, I do want to highlight some bills you probably never knew existed that will now be dead.

First, C-40 was an attempt to increase voter participation. The last day of advance would have all the poll locations of election day. I can't say whether or not this would help turnout. In my experience, advance polls are mostly filled with people who would vote on election day anyway with a couple of regular voters who find themselves unavailable on election day. I suppose having a polling station around the corner on an extra day might help turnout, but I wouldn't expect huge numbers. I would expect the cost of the election to go up considerably this gets reintroduced and passed.

C-61 is a very peculiar bill to kill seeing as it is back-to-work legislation for CN workers. I would have thought they would have rammed this through. There's a joke about trains and timeliness in here somewhere. Who knew Stephen Harper was a union man?

The killing of C-63 I believe delays the plans of the Squamish First Nation out in BC to develop reserve land. As is too often the case in First Nations issues, one step forward, two steps back.

Any plans to sue Al Qaeda in this country will have to be put on hold after C-35 bites the dust. The interesting part of this bill is an amendment to make it possible to sue states who sponsor terrorism in Canadian courts. How you would get them to pay up is another question.

C-23 and C-57 are trade deals with Colombia and Jordan that will now be postponed.

Finally, stop the presses: Stephen Harper kills senate reform! Okay, not really. Just C-30 which would have merged the Senate's ethics overseer with the House's. He is also supposed to be taking the time to complete the tiring task of appointing senators. This apparently requires his undivided attention.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Want the Job Because I Want to Do the Job

Michael Ignatieff can be frustrating to watch as a Liberal leader. He's currently doing his year-end interviews. Radio-Canada's interview is fairly generic stuff really, stuff you'd expect Iggy to just nail. Then why in the name of all that's holy are we getting this stupid answer to "why he wants to be Prime Minister." Basically, his answer was that he wants to be Prime Minister in the future because he wants to lead Canada into the future. He then went on to describe some future challenges and says that the Liberals will be the party to think about those challenges. We don't need to think about how to overcome those challenges in office. If you want to think about those challenges, you should have stayed in academics. Politicians act. They do things to overcome challenges. You've had four years to think about how to do that. Enough thinking.

I appreciate that the party is a little gun-shy after The Green Shift but you didn't have to be specific. Say, "we're going to invest in education and research" instead of "we're going to think about what we're going to do about investing in education and research". Stop treating politics as an academic exercise and maybe, just maybe, people will stop thinking of you as an academic and start thinking of you as prime minister.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

10 Events to Look Forward to in 2010 (Not The Olympics)

I don't know what it is about human nature that makes people suckers for a good list. As this year draws to a close, we look ahead to 2010 and what will be making news in the year to come:
  1. Elections in the UK: Conservative leader David Cameron has looked like a Prime Minister in waiting for a while now. He should get his chance to take the reins as the Labour government's time is up in 2010. Expect the EU to be watching with great interest as David Cameron could rock the boat.
  2. Midterm Primaries: The actual midterms will make an appearance further down the list. However, I think the primaries may be the most telling part of the American 2010 elections. The Democrats are facing divisive fights in places like Pennsylvania and the Republicans are going to have to figure out how to avoid Scozzafava-ing (Yeah, it's a verb now) themselves out of major gains in both houses (check out Charlie Crist's fight in Florida). My fearless prediction is the party that purges the fewest moderates will come out ahead. This will also provide a great preview of the Republican race in 2012.
  3. Canadian General Election: I had to include this on the list. It might not happen. The budget may be austere enough to be pass. Ignatieff may also be unwilling to scrap his Thinker's Conference in March. Still, when a government is walking a tightrope as narrow as Mr. Harper's, an election just feels like it has to be close.
  4. A Binding International Climate Treaty: Okay, maybe not.
  5. New Brunswick Election: Fixed elections have come to New Brunswick and September 27th is marked on the calendar for Shawn Graham and his Liberal government to face the people of New Brunswick. It should prove interesting with NB Hydro undoubtedly dominating the debate.
  6. Ontario Municipal Elections: See, I'm not Toronto-centric. Actually, while Ottawa should be interesting, Toronto has the potential to be a three ring circus: Rocco Rossi v. George Smitherman v. Unknown right winger (John Tory?) v. Unknown NDPer (TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone?). Also, Hazel McCallion will probably continue to defy age and democratic history in Mississauga. No one outside of Carolyn Parish will be at all upset about that.
  7. Midterm Elections in the US: The Dems are probably due for a fall. That said, Republicans will need to find bodies for all those vulnerable seats. At any rate, prepare to be inundated by "Will Obama Lose Congress and What Does That Mean for 2012?" stories.
  8. Afghan Torture Scandal: The Continuation: This one isn't going away folks.
  9. The Start of the 2012 Presidential Elections: I'd say the day after the first Tuesday in November should mark the start of the endless fight for Iowa and New Hampshire. Look at Sarah Palin in front of a tractor! Mitt Romney is spending more of his own money! Wait, what did that fringe candidate just say?
  10. Yukon General Election: Dennis Fentie's Yukon Party government appears to be up for renewal in 2010 as well. Hey, elections are elections.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Top 10 Political Deaths of 2009

For no particular reason the top 10 political collapses of the year. I'm really trying to focus on things that are done and dusted as opposed to deaths that are still in process:

10. David Caplan: This probably wasn't self-inflicted but still a major minister of the largest province resigning in scandal justifies a spot on this list.
9. John Tory: Okay, maybe this is wishful thinking on my part. If he does come back it will be a surefire case of political zombeeism. He did manage to prove that no seat is safe... at least when he's around.
8. Rodney MacDonald: The former Premier of Nova Scotia is cooked. Can we all say it together now, "Don't take over a party after an electorally successful leader."
7. Rahim Jaffer: Okay so the shot was probably fired in 2008, but the patient killed any chances of a comeback while in political hospital. I remember a time when Mr. Jaffer was going to be the new face of the Conservative party.
6. Tony Blair: The former UK PM lost his bid to be the first President of the European Union... to a Belgian bureaucrat. Oh, and his party is toast in next year's elections thanks in large parts to his efforts.
5. Ed Stelmach: Steady Eddie was a premier, Steady Eddie had no base, Steady Eddie wasn't very Steady was he?
4. Fair Vote Canada: Okay, maybe not big fish, but they do seem to constantly get caught in the political lines. Andrew Coyne was spreading half-truths again this week on the National for an example. Losing the BC referendum and losing it badly effectively killed any hopes for electoral reform over the next ten years. Fair Vote has basically conceded this point and is now focusing on campaign finance reform which is great but not really their original target.
3. L'ADQ: Québec's third party had the shelf life of Egg Nog. Their collapse has been just pathetic.
2. Mark Sanford: Do you want to hike my Appalachian Trail?
1. Taro Aso: For any LDP leader to lose a Japanese election requires a political death viewable from space. Mr. Aso's culpability in the defeat is debatable.

What did I miss?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Developing? I Don't Think So

Here's an interesting release out of Copenhagen. South Korea is the kind of country that will doom any treaty to failure. South Korea by almost any objective measure is a developed country. Its GDP per capita is higher than 12 members of the European Union. South Korea is the world's fifth largest importer of oil and the eleventh largest consumer of crude. It's a member of the OECD for goodness sake. It's developed. Yet, for some unknowable reason the Republic of Korea is described as "developing" by the geniuses in Copenhagen and praised for making commitments that would be embarrassing from a developed country. In fact, Canada's being lambasted for setting targets dramatically lower than those coming from South Korea. If you are wondering why Korea is setting its targets based on 2005 levels, well, it's emissions almost doubled between 1990 and 2005 making a 1990 date impossible. So why the double standard? Search me. Kyoto set the precedent of ignoring the developed countries in Southeast Asia and Copenhagen looks to continue the trend. South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are developed countries (or whatever you want to call Taiwan). As I've said before, the European Union cannot solve the climate crisis. Canada can't solve the climate crisis. The earth's fate lies squarely in Asia. That's where the growth is going to come from. It may not be comforting to Western environmental activists who would like to blame big domestic corporations, but reality, the scientific reality, doesn't back up the politics.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Projection Update: Chanukah Edition

I haven't run a projection update lately because there are perilously few polls out at the moment. Only five national polls have been put out in the last thirty days. Even those polls that are out have ridiculously wide ranges, especially at the regional level. So with all those caveats out of the way, here's how the numbers breakdown. The riding results are now included at the bottom of the projection.

National Picture:

CPC 143
LPC 77
BQ 53
NDP 35

BC: CPC 20, NDP 11, LPC 5
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 10, NDP 3, LPC 1
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: CPC 52, LPC 38, NDP 16
QC: BQ 53, LPC 14, CPC 8
NB: CPC 6, LPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 5, CPC 1, NDP 1


Seat Projection-12142009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Well That Was Quick

Remember all those long months ago when Rocco Rossi was brought in to save the Liberal Party of Canada. Apparently, everything's fixed and he can go and fix the city of Toronto. I assume he'll run on a platform of tenacity and seeing things through to a successful conclusion... that is until he decides that really he wants to run Dalton McGuinty's war room in 2011. I'm sorry, I've got nothing against Rocco Rossi. Heck, who knows, I might even be persuaded to vote for him, but this looks terrible. If he was thinking of running for mayor, why did he take the Liberal job in the first place? Why does it seem that everyone just wants to use the Liberal Party as a stepping stone these days? No wonder we're stuck in the mud.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Harper Should Stand Up for Canadian Values

The Ugandan parliament is considering a bill to criminalize homosexuality. In fact, they want to make it punishable by life in prison. The death penalty is also on the table. This is in blatant contradiction of Canadian values. Canadian values govern our aid efforts all over the world. At least they're supposed to. If this bill is passed, which would be disastrous, the Canadian government must cut off aid funding to Uganda. While it may not be fair to the people of Uganda, governments rarely respond to small moves. At fairly least, the honorary consul (our high commission in Kenya is responsible for Uganda) should be withdrawn. Canada cannot be giving 23.5 million dollars per year to country that thinks homosexuality is a crime to be punished by life imprisonment or death. Mr. Harper make this intention clear to the Ugandan government now to try to talk them back off the edge of this cliff. If they do not respond, cut them off.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Earth To Canada: You Don't Matter

There's a lot of hullabaloo about Canada's climate record. Heather Mallick has decided to apologize to former imperial masters on our behalf. Apparently, Canadians have lost their way on climate change... oh and also the media sucks and we stupidly keep voting for people we really don't want or something like that. I really could care less about Ms. Mallick. I do care about facts. The fact is that Canada's environmental record is terrible but it's inconsequentially small. Do the math. Canada's total CO2 emissions in 2004 according to the World Bank was 639 MT. The INCREASE in China's CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2004 was 2617 MT. That's more than four times greater than our total output. The US saw its emissions go up by almost twice Canada's 2004 levels in the same time period. If Canada had met its Kyoto obligations it would reduce the 2004 number by about 250 MT which is a lot in Canadian terms but almost nothing on the world stage.

The reality is that the future of our planet doesn't lie in Canadian or even Western hands. In 1990, the countries actually bound by Kyoto made up 58.6% of world emisssions. By 2004, that number had dropped 49.1% in spite of the fact that those countries on the whole were 1600 MT over their Kyoto targets. If the world is going to become insufferably hot it will be because China, India and a few other major players failed to achieve what on the surface seem to me to be unreasonably optimistic targets. In 1990 the world's two most populous countries accounted for just 13.5% of the world's total. In 2004, that number had jumped to 21.9%. The world can no longer be entirely shaped by the decisions taken in European capitals by old white men. Asia is where the climate battle will be lost or won.

We can get warm and fuzzy talking about per capita emissions. The earth doesn't care. The earth cares about the total. A 0.1 T increase in China's CO2 emissions per capita represents a 139 MT in the world's CO2 levels. In other words, the disastrous record of Canada between 1990 and 2004 represents less than 0.2 T increase in China's CO2 emissions per capita. If heaven forbid China were to have the CO2 per capita of EU star Denmark (2004) it would add 8328 MT of CO2 each year. India would add about 9328 MT at a 2004 Danish level. That is a non-starter. All of this doesn't mean we in Canada shouldn't try to reduce our emissions. It just means that if there is drought and floods destroying the world in the coming years, it really won't be our fault.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Canadian Sovereignty Must Be Maintained

There are a lot of Europeans and European sympathizers in a fuss about Canada's expected recalcitrance at the upcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change. While I am all in favour of taking steps to reduce Canada's carbon footprint, we should not be be bullied into doing things which would hurt the long term economic fortunes of this country. We are an oil producing developed country whose oil reserves are just starting to be exploited. Most of the rest of the developed world either has no oil (see most of the EU) or coping with depleting reserves (Norway and the United States spring to mind). That doesn't mean these countries don't need oil today or that they won't need oil in the future. Creative accounting (economic collapse can do wonders for your environmental figure) shields Russia from Euro-scorn and allows the Europeans to fuel their cars with Russian oil and heat their homes with Russian gas (assuming the pipeline is turned on) . The oil-rich Arab states face no consequences for their drilling under Kyoto and are unlikely to face much pressure going forward for reasons unknown. Canada stands alone. We face unique circumstances, we should not accept a generic deal. The truest test of sovereignty is being able to listen to your people and say no even when everyone else wants you to do something.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Good Idea Is A Good Idea

This is great work from our federal government. No. Seriously. People should know whether or not their certifications are valid in a reasonable amount of time. This is hugely overdue. Kudos.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Environmental Hypocrisy

There are some fairly crude arguments being leveled against our fair country in the run-up to the Copenhagen meetings on climate change. Let's start with the most obvious target the tar sands. Some British journalist (no not Iggy) levels a standard line of attack in today's globe: "The Canadian oil sands are a threat hanging over the whole world." Yes, evil, evil oil sands. There's a funny thing about oil production in Canada, it costs a ton of money, so unless the world really needs the oil, there's very little production. Here's Canada's oil exports since 1990 all figures in US dollars:

1990: $4.7 Billion at an average of $23/barrel = ca. 135 million barrels
1995: $7.1 Billion at an average of $17/barrel = ca. 417 million barrels
2000: $13 Billion at an average of $27/barrel = ca. 481 million barrels
2005: $24.8 Billion at an average of $50/barrel= ca. 496 million barrels
2008: $63.2 Billion at an average of $91/barrel = ca 695 million barrels

Canada's domestic consumption of oil hasn't increased significantly over the same time period. So yes, the oil sands are dirty but when we are exporting 700 million barrels of oil to other countries who need the oil, should we be blamed for having oil that's more ecologically expensive to get out of the ground? Canada should not be blamed for sitting on a large deposit of natural resources. It tends to skew the data. We don't consume most of the resources we extract. It isn't our carbon footprint, in the case of crude at least, it's the American carbon footprint that should be blamed.

Canada is also not the per capita leader in carbon emissions. In 2004 (which is the most recent year with complete data that I can find), it wasn't even close. Oil rich Qatar (who is rarely chided) led the pack with 79.3 t CO2 per person. Canada was one quarter that at 20 t CO2 per person. Other oil producers also topped Canada including Kuwait (37.1) the UAE (34.2) Bahrain (23.9), the US (20.6) and an odd name on the list, tiny EU member Luxembourg (25). Often ignored, in that number is that according to David Suzuki's people, Canada's two most populous provinces have seen their per capita emissions DROP since 1990. Indeed Québec has seen its total emissions fall according the Suzuki Foundation. Almost all of Canada's problems lie in the oil patch which as shown above has largely been a spike in exports. We are environmental laggards only because we are leaders in natural resource extraction. Canada demonstrates a fatal flaw in how we assign blame for carbon emissions. It is not the criminal it is being made out to be.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

People Should Listen To Me...

After all, the Tories wouldn't have to worry about Gerald Keddy making absolutely idiotic comment about unemployed Nova Scotians if Stephen Harper had kicked him out of caucus over cheque-gate last month. Just saying...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Riding-by-Riding Projection

I've been thinking of doing this for awhile now. Below, I've embedded a PDF of my riding-by-riding projections. Scroll through to see the numbers for your part of the country:

Seat Projection - 11212009

Projection Update: Torture Edition

No, these projections don't represent any consequences from Mr. Colvin's testimony, but it is a decent way to sum up the week that was. A dearth of polls over the last month means this projection is based on an aggregate of just 7 polls.

National Picture

CPC 145 (-1)
LPC 76 (-2)
BQ 52 (+1)
NDP 35 (+2)


BC: CPC 20, NDP 11, LPC 5
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 10, NDP 3, LPC 1
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: CPC 53, LPC 37, NDP 16
PQ: BQ 52, LPC 14, CPC 9
NB: CPC 6, LPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 5, CPC 1, NDP 1

Friday, November 20, 2009

Abhorent Consistency

The Conservative Party of Canada is showing its true stripes this week. On two equally disgusting fronts. First, the Tories are defaming whistle blower Richard Colvin because he implicated that government employees in both Defense and Foreign Affairs tried to bury the torture of Afghan detainees in Kandahar's prisons. Second, the Tories are continuing their relentless pursuit of the Jewish vote by implicitly calling two Jewish Members of Parliament anti-Semitic. Don't see the connection? Let me explain. The common thread between the two incidents is the Conservatives equating criticism of a state with an attack upon that state or its people. Democratic governments function best when criticism is absorbed and listened to, not when it is rejected out of hand and denigrated. Mr. Colvin becomes the latest in a line of public servants to feel the wrath of the Harper government because they dared to paint a less than rosy picture of what is going on around them. The Tories have responded to Mr. Colvin's allegations by saying that Mr. Colvin is spreading "Taliban propaganda". It is beyond low.

The ten-percenters hit a little closer to home for me. I struggle as a Jewish-Canadian to comprehend the connection between my life in Canada and the state of Israel. Historically speaking my great-grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe not Israel. Mostly though, I'm Canadian. Yes, I'm Jewish in my faith but my country is Canada, and only Canada. I hope for peace in the Middle East but I refuse to take responsibility for the actions of the state of Israel just because the majority of its citizens share my faith. No state, not Canada, not Israel is perfect. No state, not Canada, not Israel is above criticism. Critiques of Israel do not have to stem from an anti-Israeli place let alone an anti-Semitic place. In fact, Israelis are often the most virulent critics of Israel, as should be true in any democratic country. The implication that the position of a Canadian political party on the conflict in the Middle East is of any relevance to the lives of Canadian Jews or the combatants in the Middle East is absurd. Canada may like to think of itself as an honest broker, but frankly we don't do much brokering. We don't matter very much in the grand scheme of Middle Eastern politics. By all means, attack real anti-Semitism in this country. I can say from personal experience that it is all too prevalent. However, saying the IDF may have made mistakes in the heat of battle is not anti-Semitic. As a Canadian, it offends me when people think that my political motivations are governed by my faith. Fifty years ago John F. Kennedy had to ward off attacks that he would take orders from Rome. It is a sad state of affairs when the same mentality that supported those attacks is alive and well in the government of Canada.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sarah Palin's 2012 Chances

There's a fair bit of speculation these days, with the launch of her book, that Sarah Palin will run for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. I agree that she probably will run. I don't think she can win. To follow-up Tom Schaller's piece at fivethirtyeight, here's a few more reasons why:
  1. New Hampshire: While two-time New Hampshire Republican Primary winner John McCain thought she was a kindred spirit, Sarah Palin doesn't seem to mesh with the Granite State. The old small-c New England conservative would seem a stark contrast to Ms. Palin's neo-Conservative new Republicanism. If that weren't enough there will probably be an immovable object in New Hampshire named Mitt Romney. Romney was beat out at the wire by McCain in New Hampshire last time out, but Palin won't be able to play the historical sentiment card. Romney's one of the few potential Republican candidates who fit New Hampshire's political profile. He also has the time and money to run away from the field there. Palin along with most of the rest of the field (Pawlenty may prove the exception) will probably therefore dedicate their attention to:
  2. Iowa: The Hawkeye State is home to evangelical caucus voters and will be target A1 for the long list of social Conservatives in the Republican race. The inside track would have to belong to Mike Huckabee who surprised just about everyone by winning the caucuses last time out. Caucuses in general may prove problematic for the divisive Palin and Iowa voters will have lots of other choices to park their votes with. Everyone from Newt Gingrich, to Haley Barbour, to Rick Santorum are possibilities. Iowa will either go to Huckabee or be a crapshoot, either way Palin has long odds.
  3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: Yes, the Mormon Church. The LDS Church has flexed a lot of political muscle lately (see Prop 8) and will quietly toe the church/state line in their support of Mitt Romney. There may have been a time where this was only important in Utah. Not anymore. There is a long list of Western states where the Mormon vote will provide the money and support the eventual winner will need (including early Caucus holder Nevada). Palin is going to get the cold shoulder from a category of voters that may have otherwise supported her.
  4. Timetables: We should start to see the horse trading surrounding primary and caucus dates soon. This can completely change the complexion of the race. A lot of early races mean a lot more big fields by virtue of the fact that it becomes a cheaper campaign to run and fewer candidates will drop out. Palin needs to be able to take on an opponent head-to-head, especially an opponent like Mitt Romney. If more states join Florida and Michigan and crash the early primaries, Palin could find herself to far behind in the winner-take-all Republican system to have a chance after Super Tuesday. Both parties have incentives to get the primaries out of the way early and may not be as hostile to states jumping the queue as they were in 2008.
  5. Campaign Management: Someone has to run her campaign. Someone who isn't named in her book as getting in her way in 2008. While a Karl Rove or someone of his ilk would probably accept the challenge, getting Palin to conform to the on-message requirements of a long campaign may prove a) impossible and b) detrimental. Palin is famous for being able to say anything at any time something that makes her great media fodder, a head ache for campaign managers and very popular among a sector of voters who are desperate for sincerity. Palin may say some strange things but one gets the sense that she believes what she is saying (at least at the moment she says it). The Republican Party has become a talking point driven party and Palin will make that strategy difficult. Finding the balance between Donna Brazille (the micro-manager of Al Gore's 2000 run) and Aaron Sorkin (the West Wing producer who's strategy was "Let Bartlett, Be Bartlett") will be difficult if not impossible.
  6. Money: People power is wonderful, but big money fundraisers are still key to maintaining a long Presidential campaign. Obama could do both. No one on the Republican side last time except Ron Paul could do either. While the Ron Paul crowd may back Palin (if Paul decides not to run), Palin lacks the big money network common to most successful Republican nominees. People power only got Mike Huckabee a bridesmaid spot last time out. Romney can just lend himself the money, Palin doesn't have that luxury.

Monday, November 16, 2009

No Tolls For T.O.

As Toronto's mayoralty race begins to heat up the perennial question of funding Canada's largest city rears its ugly head. One of the more popular ideas out there among the chattering classes is tolls on Toronto's major highways. The evidence that most advocates like Marcus Gee in this column put forward is that it works in Europe. Usually Stockholm and/or London are offered as examples of functioning toll systems. This is fallacy. Tolls work when there are viable alternatives to taking the highway. While the TTC works beautifully in the city, the suburbs (and frankly much of the old boroughs) are transit nightmares. While it is possible to get from the suburbs to downtown by transit, it is not necessarily easy for a lot of commuters. North American suburbs are far more sprawled out than their European counterparts and Toronto is no exception. Combine this sprawl with an infrastructure deficit and it becomes difficult to get from point A to point B. The other challenge for Toronto is that it finds itself as the go between for one of the busiest traffic allies in North America. The Quebec City-Windsor corridor runs through the northern end of Toronto. Charging tolls on the 401 would drive up the price of just about everything purchased in the corridor. Exempting trucks would be political suicide. Until the city's transit network improves dramatically, tolls will be unnecessarily punitive in Toronto.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Post-By-Election Projection Update

It's still a little slow on the polling front which is unfortunate as it leaves fewer polls in my rolling aggregate for the second week in a row. However, it's as good a snapshot as anything else. The by-election results have been included in the model for whatever they are worth. It doesn't give the Tories Riviere du Loup but it gets them a heck of a lot closer.

National Picture

CPC 146
LPC 78
BQ 51
NDP 33

Province by Province:

BC: CPC 21, NDP 10, LPC 5
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 10, NDP 3, LPC 1
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: CPC 53, LPC 38, NDP 15
QC: BQ 51, LPC 15, CPC 9
NB: CPC 6, LPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 5, CPC 1, NDP 1

Warren Kinsella on John Tory

I always find the strange bedfellows part of politics amusing. I understand that Kinsella and Tory are friends and I respect his decision to support him in the mayoralty. However, it is difficult to take this kind of thing with a straight face given the history. Here are some good examples from Warren's site:

"If you liked Brian Mulroney, you'll love John Tory!"
- Kinsella, Sept. 16, 2007

"The differences are clear.

John favours private education, private health care and monied private interests. We don't.

Oh, and John - who has been displaying appalling judgment in week one alone, with "U. of Zero," "por favor" and claiming that teachers "rig" tests - wants to use your tax dollars to teach your kids about creationism. We don't."

Kinsella, Sept. 10, 2007

"Wow. That's it for John and politics."

-Kinsella after Tory's defeat in DVW, Oct. 10, 2007


Kinsella after Tory went negative, August 28, 2007

"More bad judgment from John Tory. (And, remember, he says you are to blame. Not him.)"

Kinsella, September 28, 2007

Above a picture of Tory and PC MPP Randy Hillier:


We said we’d get a photo of anti-gay, anti-native, anti-urban Randy Hillier with his leader, John Tory. And we did.

(And check out the sign. That's Tory about to speak to, or having just spoken to, a rabidly far-right-wing group. It means these two have been pals for a long time. Interesting, no?)"

Kinsella, July 18, 2007

" me the next time you see John Tory lined up somewhere other than the Four Season's, would ya?"

Kinsella, July 2, 2007

"I was warming up, a bit, so I kept going: "Shame on John Tory! Shame on him! Shame on him for claiming to be an urban, urbane 'progressive' conservative, and then turning around and permitting the candidacy of someone who rails against 'Quebec, Native, Arts, Homosexual, Urban and Multi cultures'! "

The John Tory we all knew, I told the writer, ceased to exist on the day that he permitted Randy Hillier to be his standard-bearer. And that is the case we intend to put before the people of Ontario this Fall. And they will agree with us."

Kinsella, June 14, 2007

And it goes on, and on, and on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ghosts of Dumont Haunt Bloc

The Conservatives are the big winners out of the by-elections yesterday picking up the previously Bloc held riding of Montmagny -- L'Islet -- Kamouraska -- Rivière du Loup. Rivière du Loup is of course the long time home of former ADQ leader Mario Dumont. While the ADQ is dead in the water in Québec, the small-c conservative nationalists in small town Québec who brought them to the verge of power are still a political force to be reckoned with. We forget that the original Bloc Québecois was as much a splinter of the Progressive Conservatives as anything else. The Bloc incumbent, Paul Crête, had originally defeated an old PC to gain the seat in 1993. The Bloc's uneasy relationship with small town Quebec is the stuff that Conservative majority dreams are made of. Conservatives are rightly optimistic this morning. Months after being written off in the province, they are back and winning seats. Holding this riding in a general election is of course a whole other business. Still, Harper's grand governing coalition looks more alive today than it did a week ago.

As for my projections? Well, I got the winner right in three out of four and was right that CCMV was not going to be close. My margins were way off but I attribute that at least partially to the by-elections are crazy rule of thumb. Also, 22.3% turnout in Hochelaga?!?! Of note in all the results is the terrible performance by the Green Party. This partially accounts for my margins being way off. The Greens pulled a pathetic 4.3% in BC and had their best result in MIKR at 4.8%. I always have the suspicion that the Greens get a lot of the "None of the Above" vote in a poll and that is not likely to translate into votes on election day. Still, the BC result is particularly shocking as my aggregate of polls has them at 11.48% in the province. With the Liberals exceeding expectations in Nova Scotia, the Greens are the only party to underperform my projections in every riding. By-elections should be a top priority for this party if they ever want to be an electoral force (look at what a win did for the Wildrose Alliance). Not finding 5% of the vote anywhere is a spectacular failure. The leader most under fire today should be Elizabeth May.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Monday Quick Hits

Some quick thoughts for a Monday:
  • Now Former Deputy Premier of Ontario George Smitherman has announced his intention to run to be mayor of Toronto. For those outside of the centre of the universe, the race is open after incumbent Mayor Miller announced he would not seek re-election.
  • It may be time to check back in with fivethirtyeight. The site and its head Nate Silver, gained fame in last year's presidential election for their high level poll analysis. Silver is using his statistical powers to out what he believes is a fraudulent polling firm. The evidence seems pretty damning against Strategic Vision who Silver accuses of making up some or all of their numbers over the last few years.
  • Today is of course by-election day in 4 ridings across the country. No, the Liberals won't win any seats. No, they really didn't have a hope in hell of winning any of the seats up for grabs. No, it doesn't say anything about Liberal fortunes. Since when does a party's spin get to be the headline in a straight news story? How about "Looming by-election defeats raise questions for Harper"? It would be just as honest. They're freaking by-elections. It's the political equivalent of Plinko: you drop the writ and see where it ends up.
  • Ed Stelmach survived a confidence vote in Alberta over the weekend. Votes of the Progressive Conservative Party membership (or their delegates) have been more decisive that elections over the last forty years. That may change. The 77% approval falls in the lukewarm range. Lukewarm is generally a temperature associated with the growth of unwanted things... like right wing opposition parties.
  • Twenty years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall. It's a historical symbol that has governed the last twenty years of history. It should be remembered as such.
  • The guy who beat the indicted Fmr. Rep. William Jefferson in Louisiana wants to get re-elected. Proof? He voted for healthcare reform.
  • I'm trying to decide if the upcoming talks in Copenhagen will be detrimental to the fight against global warming or just generally useless.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Projection Update: Pre-By-Election Edition

With by-elections in four ridings set to go on Monday, it's time for our regular projection update. The only new poll is from Ekos but my rolling aggregate has aged out three polls so it's more than one poll moving the numbers. The Liberals and the NDP get a bump this week.

National Picture

CPC 149
LPC 76
NDP 32
BQ 51


BC: CPC 21, NDP 10, LPC 5
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 12, NDP 2
ON: CPC 54, LPC 37, NDP 15
PQ: BQ 51, LPC 15, CPC 9
NB: CPC 6, LPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 5, CPC 1, NDP 1

As for the four by-election ridings, my projections follow with all the normal "by-elections are crazy" caveats. I think the winners are probably accurate. The margins I won't vouch for. Three I can just pull from my projections:

New Westminster Coquitlam:

NDP 39.92%
CPC 36.22%
LPC 13.54%
GPC 9.64%


BQ 44.68%
LPC 22%
NDP 11.92%
CPC 11.08%
GPC 8.58%

Montmagny -- L'Islet -- Kamouraska -- Rivière du Loup:

BQ 40.01%
CPC 27.43%
LPC 19.72%
GPC 7.01%
NDP 4.9%

In Nova Scotia, trying to project around Bill Casey is a challenge. However, based on 2004 and 2006 results and current polling I get:

CPC 52.21%
NDP 18.06%
LPC 16.84%
GPC 8.29%

Make of that projection what you will. The question in Cumberland -- Colchester -- Musquodobolt Valley is whether or not people are still angry with Harper over Atlantic Accord stuff. If they are, this projection is nowhere close to accurate.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Things That Are Registered in Canada

  • Corporations
  • Pets
  • Cars
  • Weddings
  • Babies
  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Electricians
  • Real Estate Agents
  • etc., etc., etc.

NY-23 and the GOP

The Republicans are spinning hard tonight after losing a congressional district they've held for over 150 years. The last time a Democrat won in that area, Canada was still a colony of the British Empire and included only southern Quebec and Southern Ontario. Yes, there were unique circumstances at play here as I've outlined previously. The really devastating news for the GOP is that congressman-elect Bill Owens (D) almost cracked 50%. The spin before the Republican dropped out was that even if the Democrat sneaked up through the middle, Hoffman or whoever won the GOP nomination in 2010 would wipe the floor with him on the larger midterm stage. With Scozzafava barely on the radar, Owens can honestly say he won this election head-to-head albeit with a rare endorsement from the official Republican candidate. Losing what should have been a safe house seat isn't good for the GOP, irrespective of circumstance. Remember, the GOP has seen this play before, Dennis Hastert's old seat (IL-14) was lost to the Democrats in a special election and lost again on election day last year. This was accompanied by similar double victories by Travis Childers (D) in Mississippi's 1st. While Barack Obama's coattails will be gone for Democratic candidates in 2010, this is not the way the GOP would like to start that campaign.

As for the elections in New Jersey and Virginia? State races won for state reasons. Particularly New Jersey where Jon Corzine's massive unpopularity was simply too much to overcome. As for Virginia? True to recent form, they voted opposite of the president's party a year after his election as they've done for the past 33 years. Although, if I'm honest, that's probably a coincidence. I would stipulate that Democratic Northern Virginia (the "fake Virginia" for you McCain voters) may be more interested in Washington DC than Richmond. Governors are useful in congressional and presidential elections to raise money and campaign, set the rules of the game, and potentially become federal candidates themselves. However, rarely are their elections about what is going on in Washington.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Constitutions Aren't Situational

Afghanistan is still struggling with its upcoming Presidential run-off. After being forced by the international community to have the constitutionally mandated second vote, Pres. Karzai now looks to be unopposed after his opponent, Dr. Abdullah. As a result, the Afghan Election Commission has apparently canceled the second round of voting. This bit of pragmatism was forced again by the international community who had now interest in paying in blood and money for the security around a second vote that would be a Karzai coronation. There's only one problem with all of these practicalities: they're unconstitutional. The Afghan Constitution is clear that if no candidate wins 50% of the vote in the first round of voting, a second round is required between the top two candidates. Democracy can only gain legitimacy (something it sorely lacks in Afghanistan) if the people in power respect the laws and constitution. If Presidents and election commissions don't feel obligated to follow the law, why should anyone else? It would seem to me that there is a fairly obvious way to solve the constitutional quagmire Afghanistan is in: hold a run off between Mr. Karzai and the third place finisher Dr. Ramazan Bashardost. Dr. Abdullah has said that he is no longer a candidate which would mean that the top two candidates remaining are Pres. Karzai and Dr. Bashardost. While I don't think the vote would be close, it would maintain the legitimacy of the constitution and that would be priceless.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Strange Case of New York's 23rd

Since it's the first Tuesday of November next week, there are elections in United States. Most of the attention is on gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia where Republicans look poised to unseat and replace respectively Democratic governors. The Virginia race is an inauspicious start for DNC Chairman Tim Kaine. However, the real drama is in New York's 23rd district in a special election to replace former Rep. John McHugh (R) who is now Secretary of the Army John McHugh. The district is heavily Republican (the Dems failed to field a candidate for McHugh's first election in '02) and should have favoured Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava. However, the Republican base can't stand Scozzafava and has backed Conservative Party of New York candidate Doug Hoffman who is considered to be more in line with the new GOP. All of this was going to make for an interesting three-way race come Tuesday with the split right wing vote putting Democrat Bill Owens in contention. The race became downright strange this weekend whens Ms. Scozzafava suspended her campaign and released her supporters to vote their conscience. This makes Hoffman's victory a lot more likely. While this does not really represent a third party forming in the United States (the Republican caucus is preparing to welcome Hoffman with open arms), it does show just how far right the GOP has gone when a moderate Republican can't get herself elected in upstate New York.

Friday, October 30, 2009

At Issue Panel Needs A Recent History Lesson

The National can be a frustrating newscast to watch. Last night was a prime example. Mansbridge apparently has done an interview with Danielle Smith the new leader of Alberta's Wildrose Alliance. During the at Issue panel, he showed a clip where he asked Smith the somewhat obvious question of "if you hate provincial Tory deficits, how do you feel about federal Tory deficits?" Smith proceeded to walk the Alberta Tory tightrope by claiming that the evil NEP-Liberals forced Saint Harper the Prudent into deficit by opposing last year's economic update. One problem. At the time of last year's economic update, Canada was already in deficit. Even if you don't remember that part, the whole Liberals forced Harper into deficit story doesn't really add up.

The two issues that caused such uproar about the economic update were the plan to a) do nothing about the collapsing economy and b) cut party subsidies. The cynical among us would say mostly the latter. The resulting crisis hurt the Liberals badly and led to a change in leader. By the time of the budget when the party subsidies were off the table, Interim-Leader Ignatieff was clearly in no mood to oppose the budget and made only token showings of any opposition. Stephen Harper had as close to a tabula rasa as a minority government could have had on a crisis-budget. Our current federal fiscal mess, like the one Ms. Smith opposes in Alberta, was created by a Conservative government that cut taxes too fast in good times and was consequently burned when the economy turned sour. The stimulus spending is almost exclusively one-time spending that will only contribute to future deficits via debt payments. The real challenge is overcoming the structural deficits left by previous Tory budgets. Now, Ms. Smith is within her right to spin. The three journalists on the at issue panel, however, have a responsibility to call the BS. They didn't and promoted the Tory talking point of the Liberal opposition somehow being responsible for the federal deficit. Shame! I have to wonder if part of the reason for their sheepishness was Ms. Smith invoking the people of Alberta as her source for information.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Projection Update: Mr. Donolo's Hole

There seems to be a warm reception for the new man in the OLO. Best of luck to him. He's going to need some luck if these numbers are right. WARNING: THIS PROJECTION RESULTS IN A CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY.

National Picture:

CPC 156 (38.91%)
LPC 70 (27.01%)
NDP 29 (15.28%)
BQ 53 (8.71%)

Province by Province:

BC: CPC 21, NDP 10, LPC 5
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 12, NDP 2
ON: CPC 61, LPC 33, NDP 12
QC: BQ 53, LPC 13, CPC 9
NB: CPC 6, LPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 5, NDP 1, CPC 1

That's downright ugly for the Grits. I will note that although the numbers indicate Avalon (NL) going Tory, that may or not be accurate depending on the mood of Premier Williams. The Liberals being shut out in Manitoba is a distressing possibility. This projection also would mean a loss of the two Liberal ridings in Southwestern Ontario: Guelph and London North Centre. Yes, it is possible for a party to win a majority with the current set up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ZAP!! You're No Longer Emitting

As much as I hate to give attention to people who disrupt the business of parliament, with bill C-311 in the news. I decided to do what I know most people in parliament won't do: read the damn thing. Always enlightening to read new (or new again) legislation. Bill C-311 is no exception. In essence C-311 is a cap and trade bill that would tie Canada to reduce its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 and a jaw-dropping 80% by 2050. As someone who plans to be alive in 2050 (unlike, say, the NDP caucus) setting outrageous targets for the government that will be handing out my CPP is a little frightening. I assume technological miracles are being assumed in that target. Relying on miracles is always a good way to get things done. There are some really fun parts later on. For instance get a load of 7 (1) (b) which states:

"The Governor in Council may make regulations under this or any other Act within the limits of federal constitutional authority limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that may be released in each province..."

I'm sure Premiers Stelmach, Wall and Williams may have some questions about the federal government's constitutional authority to hand down such restrictions. When the flaws of your plan are right there on the page, it may be time for a new plan. Also curious is 10 (1) (a) (iii) which includes "fiscal incentives" as a means of getting emissions down. Now by fiscal incentives, the NDP couldn't mean a carbon tax right. Not after the fuss they made in the last election about Dion's evil carbon tax. The problem with the plan in general, however, is that there is very little thought about how you'd actually manage such a program. Yes you set a cap and you issue permits for emissions. Okay, are we selling the permits for a set price? Are we auctioning them off? There's a lot of different theories on how to do this and C-311 is decidedly vague. I know Liberal MPs will probably end up voting for this thing. They shouldn't. Canada's challenges on climate change are unique and are going to have to be addressed in a dynamic fashion. We can't expect to know the road ahead today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Seadoo v. Snowboard

That's the race shaping up in Okanagan -- Coquihalla with Ross Rebagliati seeking the Liberal nomination in the riding currently held by Stockwell Day. I am supportive of anyone who wants to seek public office, regardless of their political affiliation. I am certainly supportive of Ross Rebagliati ambition if that's what he wants to do. My questions here are for the LPC or I guess or more accurately the LPC-BC who have decided to ask Rebagliati to run in Okanagan -- Coquihalla. Let me paint the picture with my current projection for the riding:

CPC (Stockwell Day): 54.2%
NDP (TBA): 16.72%
GPC (Dan Bouchard) 15.01%
LPC (Rebagliati?): 14.28%

Okay, statistically, to paraphrase Joe Lieberman, it's probably a three way tie for second. The problem is it's a distant second. If Rebagliati can rally the anti-Day vote to his banner, all the power to him. It's probably still going to leave him 20 points back. When you have candidates with name recognition, you want them to do well. This doesn't mean flying star candidates into safe seats all the time but it does mean avoiding embarrassing defeats. It hurts the narrative during elections, especially at the regional level when your star candidate is going down to defeat and going down hard. If you're looking for a happy middle ground think about Justin Trudeau running in Papineau. Papineau was a winnable unheld seat which is exactly what you want for a star candidate.

If you are going to run Rebagliati in a no-hope riding in central British Columbia, at least run him in his current home town of Kelowna where at least he could claim to be the local guy. There's no current candidate for the Grits (according to Pundits' Guide) and the Liberal odds are actually a little better (35 point margin with the LPC leading the three way tie for second). I'm all for three hundred and eight strong candidates, but we can be selective where we run the candidates with national name recognition.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Projection Update October 22nd Edition

Okay, no fancy title, just the facts today. Only one seat changes from last week:

National Picture:

CPC 149
LPC 78
NDP 29
BQ 52

Province - by - Province

BC: CPC 21, NDP 10, LPC 5
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 10, LPC 2, NDP 2
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: CPC 58, LPC 36, NDP 12
QC: BQ 52, LPC 14, CPC 9
NB: CPC 5, LPC 4, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 6, NDP 1

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Afghanistan Run-Off Vote 2009?

It is downright depressing watching the "election" process in Afghanistan. The unbelievably high level of fraud is embarrassing for everyone involved. If the numbers are accurate, there should be a run-off. The constitution demands it. The security on the ground makes it less likely. 1 million invalid votes out of 5.5 million cast. Why are we believing the results are close to accurate? How can we guarantee Karzai and Abdullah are even the top two candidates? Fraud that systemic throws into question every ballot "cast". Canadian soldiers are risking their lives to help these politicians cheat their people. Enough is enough. Get our brave men and women home.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Projection Method Revision and Update

There has been a lot of commentary that my projections seem out of whack with current polling. Frankly, I agree. I diagnosed the culprit not as my system of projection, but the polling aggregates I was using to make my projections. No offense to Eric over at threehundredeight who does a wonderful job, but the innate conservatism of those numbers meant they were lagging current polling. As a result, I've tried my hand at aggregating polls. These projections are based on all public polling I could find for the last thirty days. The weighting is based on the age and sample size of the polls. Future projections will be based on a rolling 30 day aggregate. I've included my polling aggregate results in parentheses for your information.

National Picture

CPC 150 (38.13%)
LPC 77 (28.15%)
NDP 29 (14.99%)
BQ 52 (8.73%)
GPC 0 (9.39%)


BC: CPC 21 (40.47%), NDP 10 (22.83%), LPC 5 (23.66%), GPC 0 (12.69%)
AB: CPC 28 (62.98%), LPC 0 (15.46%), NDP 0 (11.46%), GPC 0 (9.19%)
SK*: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB*: CPC 10, LPC 2 , NDP 2
ON: CPC 59 (42.87%), LPC 35 (32.42%), NDP 12 (14.78%), GPC 0 (9.66%)
QC: BQ 52 (37.46%), LPC 14 (25.51%), CPC 9 (19.54%), NDP 0 (9.77%), GPC 0 (7.09%)
NB**: CPC 5, LPC 4, NDP 1
NS**: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
PE**: LPC 4
NL**: LPC 6, NDP 1

*Prairie Aggregate:
CPC 53.06%
LPC 21.84%
NDP 18.9%
GPC 6.32%

**Atlantic Aggregate:

LPC 38.04%
CPC 31.4%
NDP 23.02%
GPC 6.97%

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And Will The Member Resign!

Gerald Keddy must resign from office. Why? Forging cheques. Unless Mr. Keddy was personally giving over 300k to a local community group, he's not authorized to sign government cheques. This particular cheque is identified (comically enough in the memo line) as being from the Recreational Infrastructure Canada Program administered in Atlantic Canada by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The agency is under the jurisdiction of Peter McKay and Keith Ashfield politically but the cheque should presumably bear the signature of ACOA president Monique Collette or some other high ranking bureaucrat in that organization. He can't claim that he didn't know what was going on when his signature is on the cheque... in a different ink from the one it was printed in. The Conservative logo is appalling, Mr. Keddy's signature may be worse. As much as members might like to say it, they can't legally bring home the bacon themselves. Gerald Keddy is the Member of Parliament for South Shore -- St. Margaret's and the Chairman of the Commons Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans. He has proven himself unworthy of either office. Resign! If he won't Mr. Harper, it behooves you to remove him from his chairmanship and your caucus.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Because There Weren't Enough Opinions Out There

I'll throw another log on to the fire. Michael Ignatieff is going through what almost all Leaders of Her Majesty's Official Opposition go through. This is both true and a truism. The problem for Ignatieff is not the current abysmal poll numbers, but the political position he's gotten himself into. It all started when he decided the only person who could be interim leader was himself. Now, I understand that hindsight is 20/20 but think this through. The 2009 budget was always going to be fairly unopposable for the Liberal Party of Canada. A stimulus was beyond necessary and the Conservatives wanted to do it. Thus, Ignatieff had to support budget. The problem was he had to support the budget while showing himself to be different than Stephane Dion. That was no mean feat. Dion had both been too weak as leader (all those abstentions added up in the public's mind) and too strong in the wake of his defeat in the 2008 election (coalitions are not a very Canadian concept). Ignatieff had to neither abstain nor threaten to defeat the government. Thus, the absurdity of putting the government "on probation." While people thought it brilliant at the time, it trapped Ignatieff politically. The Tories called his bluff. They didn't live up to the demands they didn't want to live up to and forced Ignatieff first in June and then in the fall to threaten the government with defeat less than a year after their election. At this point, there's very little room for Michael Ignatieff to back away from the edge of the cliff. The only thing stopping from falling off the edge is Jack Layton and the empty pockets of the NDP. That's not really a tenable position for a Liberal leader.

The other part of his problem is that he's just spent a significant amount of money on putting bad advertisements on the air. Adds that frankly are just cause for derision. With the self-proclaimed prince of darkness back on the scene, I have to wonder why Ignatieff didn't go negative in English. I know he went negative in French, taking the absurd step of doing it himself but 233 out of 308 ridings didn't see those ads. It will be interesting to see whether there's any follow-up to the Liberal Party's great second quarter fundraising totals. I'm skeptical. Remember how much fanfare accompanied the good news? We are now weeks past the end of the third quarter, no fanfare. It may come, I'm not holding my breath. If the party spent all of its money on bad ads, Ignatieff won't have the capital to earn himself new political capital. As I said at the outset, he could recover from this; opposition leaders have a little bit of Lazarus in them. I just wouldn't want to be in his position right now.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Projection Update: Dead Heat... In Jeanne - Le Ber Edition

Yes, a tie has broken out in the battleground riding of Jeanne - Le Ber. The Liberals and Bloc are tied at 35.61% of the vote. I have no clue how to resolve this. I could flip a coin or draw lots but I'm going to go with the incumbent which is the Bloc's Thierry St.- Cyr. Without further ado, the rest of the projection:

National Picture:

CPC 128 (+1)
LPC 97 (-2)
BQ 51 (+1)
NDP 32

Province by Province:

BC: CPC 19, NDP 11, LPC 6
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 9, NDP 3, LPC 2
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: LPC 48, CPC 45, NDP 13
PQ: BQ 51, LPC 17, CPC 7
NB: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 2
NL: LPC 6, NDP 1

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Stephen Harper's Culture of Defeatism

The four by-elections have been called for November 9th. It is interesting that the Conservatives are not just downplaying their chances in Québec and BC but also in Nova Scotia. Cumberland --Colchester -- Musquodobolt Valley is as safe a Conservative seat as they come. If you don't count the victory by exiled Conservative turned independent Bill Casey in the last election, the Tories have only lost the riding once in the slaughter of 1993. For Tories to be saying they don't expect to win any of the seats means one of two things: either they think that people in rural Nova Scotia are still angry about the Atlantic Accord etc. or they think they can win there and are trying to set the bar so low that they can't help but jump over it. Time will tell. In the interim, I decided to run off a quick projection based solely on the 2004 and 2006 results and the current polling:

CPC 49.25%
LPC 21.9%
NDP 20.49%
GPC 7.35%

Those numbers explain why I've been counting this riding as Conservative in all my projections to date. It also seems to contradict the Conservatives low expectations.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Brussels Breathes

Ireland has passed the Lisbon Treaty by a two to one margin.

Ridings In The News

As promised, a quick look at my current projections for some ridings making the news these days. Just a quick reminder that my projections don't compensate for strength of candidate. I'll start in BC, where Elizabeth May has taken up residency in Saanich -- Gulf Islands:

CPC 36.8% (Current MP Gary Lunn)
LPC 34.68%
GPC 15.01%
NDP 13.35%

Yes, May's Greens are projected third. A reminder that this riding lacked an NDP candidate last time out which significantly distorts their projected total. Speaking of the NDP in BC, a by-election is looming in New Westminster -- Coquitlam to replace Dawn Black who moved into provincial politics. The normal warnings are in force for a by-election:

NDP 39.62%
CPC 32.63%
LPC 17.28%
GPC 9.62%

In Québec most of the noise has centered around Outremont where Martin Cauchon will take up the Liberal banner:

LPC 42.23%
NDP 28.65 (Current MP Thomas Mulcair)
BQ 13.13%
CPC 7.87%
GPC 7.09%

Once again, the massive vote shift toward the NDP in Outremont is hard to deal with in my model. Thus, the NDP may be undervalued. However, you can see why this riding is so important to Liberals in Québec who view it as one of the easiest pick ups out there. Another possible Liberal pick up in Jeanne -- Le Ber where the odd person out in Outremont, Nathalie Le Prohon is looking to carry the Liberal banner:

LPC 36.31%
BQ 35.21% (Current MP Thierry St-Cyr)
NDP 12.06%
CPC 7.18%
GPC 7.13%

There are also a couple of Bloc MP's to be replaced sooner or later in Québec. Paul Crête must be replaced in Montmagny – L'Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup:

BQ 39.9%
LPC 24.78%
CPC 22.94%
GPC 5.88%
NDP 5.47%

In Hochelaga, Real Menard is gone, although his replacement might wait a bit:

BQ 44.57%
LPC 27.05%
NDP 12.48%
GPC 7.45%
CPC 6.59%

I am aware there's also a by-election to be held in Nova Scotia but as I've said before my projections for Cumberland -- Colchester -- Musquodobolt Valley are not reliable.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Projection Update: Sky Is Falling Edition

With all the bad news coverage and bad poll numbers out for the LPC this week, I've decided to throw a seat projection update on to the fire. Yes, the Liberals are down to 2006 type levels in this projection, but no they are not about to fade into the political abyss. It is somewhat reassuring for me to finally see some movement in my projection numbers. I was a little worried that they were overly historically deterministic.

CPC 127 (+7)
LPC 99 (-8)
NDP 32 (+1)
BQ 50

Province by Province:

BC: CPC 19, NDP 11, LPC 6
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 8, LPC 3, NDP 3
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: LPC 48, CPC 45, NDP 13
QC: BQ 50, LPC 18, CPC 7
NB: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP1
NS: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 2
NL: LPC 6, NDP 1

I'll put up some riding-by-riding numbers for some ridings in the news over the weekend.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Biggest Vote You Didn't Know Was Happening

Irish voters will vote on Friday. Why is that important? Well, Irish voters hold the future of Europe and more specifically the EU in their hands. They've already rejected the Lisbon Treaty once and a second No vote would throw a wrench in the efforts to modernize the EU. The EU is still run like an organization with 12 or 15 member states when it now has 27 and seems destined for further expansion in short order (Iceland and Croatia being prime candidates). The old consensus model which relied on easy agreements between a few heads of government is in desperate need of replacing. The European Parliament, to be blunt, needs a purpose. All of this has led to an effort for major reform. Those efforts became slightly less major after French and Dutch voters rejected the so-called EU Constitution. The watered-down Lisbon Treaty required only parliamentary votes from 26 out of 27 EU states. Only the Irish got to vote on it. Having failed to get the desired answer the first time, the EU is going back to the well with a slightly better offer. Europe will either have a new governing structure or be sent back to the drawing board after this vote. Yes, in PR friendly Europe, 4 million Irish voters will decide the fate almost 500 million people.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Outremont and the LPC

I've watched the farce going on in Outremont with a sort of masochistic fascination. The good news and the take away should be that a) the candidate the Liberals in Outremont seem to want (Martin Cauchon) will be the candidate and b) the guy who wanted (Denis Coderre) to obstruct the people's voice has resigned as Québec lieutenant. One news report breathlessly claimed Coderre was taking top advisers with him. Where exactly is he taking them? By all reports, Coderre will seek re-election in his riding of Bourassa which last time I checked was in the province of Québec. He will continue to sit in the Liberal caucus. So is he taking the brain trust with him onto the campaign trail for the PLC(Q) in Québec? Give me a break. The media has had forty years to fall in love with the "Liberal in-fighting" story and this is about as close as they've been able to get under Ignatieff. The reality remains that the party is remarkably united. Even most people (like me) who opposed Mr. Ignatieff's ascension to leadership have resigned themselves to his leadership. There are no rival camps plotting his demise. If Coderre ended up on the wrong side of a nomination battle and therefore felt undermined, so be it. It doesn't mean the party is divided. After all, the truly aggrieved party (or the one that theoretically should be) is by all reports so angry, she's running for the Liberals in another Québec riding. Sorry guys, this isn't a threat to Ignatieff's leadership. It doesn't mean anything for Liberal chances in Québec other than the fact that we now have two pretty good candidates in unheld ridings.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why I Use Polling Aggregates For My Projections

Because individual polls do crazy things especially at the regional level. Take the latest from Angus-Reid. Two jaw droppers. First in Ontario, the Tories have a 14 point lead (44-30-15). That would be eight points wider than the margin they had in 2008. Second, in order to close the Ontario gap nationally, the Liberals register a 35 (57-22-21) point lead in Atlantic Canada. That would be a full 22 points better than they did in 2008 in the region. Neither of these things are likely even close to true. Also of note: the Greens register 14% in BC and 3% in Alberta (they got 9.4% and 8.8% respectively in 2008 and Alberta was their best province in 2006). I really wish Canadian pollsters would put out fewer polls with bigger sample sizes and get results that are, to be blunt, believable.

Deutschland Decides 2009

With pan-European elections behind us, the second largest electorate in the EU will cast its votes this weekend. Angela Merkel should get a plurality of the vote, but with MMP in full force in Germany the results of the election could take awhile. The last time out, it took about a month for Merkel's right wing CDU to form a coalition with the left-wing SPD (the party of her predecessor Gerhard Schroder). This time it is expected that Merkel will either get close to or get the votes necessary to form an alliance with parties on the centre and right. German voters, however, won't know whether they'll get a right-left or right-centre coalition if they vote for Angela Merkel on Sunday. If that wasn't confusing enough, the electoral system is under fire for failing to be proportional enough. The economist explains:

"A quirk in the system could cast doubt over the poll’s overall fairness. If a party wins more districts in a state than the number of seats it ought to get according to its share of second votes, it keeps these “overhang seats”. This could happen in Baden-Württemberg. The constitutional court has demanded changes to this part of the electoral law by 2011."

Mix that with different candidates campaigning with different levels of intensity depending on whether or not they actually have to win a seat locally, and you start to see the joys of a proportional system. At any rate, by Halloween we should know the composition of the German government. It's simply shocking that Ontarians rejected a similarly wonderful system in 2007. If only they knew the joy of proportional representation.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Good News, For Once

Toronto Mayor David Miller has announced that he will not seek a third term in 2010. It will be interesting to see if the NDP finds a different candidate or holds their nose to back Smitherman.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Democracy Isn't Broken

I just finished watching the CPAC debate from last night on what to do about our "broken democracy" from last night. The entire premise is absurd. Canadian democracy functions ridiculously well, if not too well. The problem is Canada is a fairly diverse political landscape with fairly disparate views. When you get a Conservative leader from Alberta who would rank as one of the most conservative political leaders in the world and an NDP leader who would fit in with the most left-wing social democratic parties in the world, you may have a problem getting agreement between the two. When you throw in a politically inert separatist party that reliably receives 9-11% of the vote, regardless of how you count the votes, the problem becomes even worse. This is not an uncommon phenomenon. If you look around the world, countries with wide political spectra (Israel, Italy etc.) and countries with large established separatist movements (Belgium), have a hard time finding stable government. That's not a reflection of broken democracy, it's a function of a country with big disagreements. If you took a random person from each of the 308 ridings and put them in parliament, they wouldn't have any luck forming a stable government either.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ignatieff Promises Intense Navel-Gazing

Sorry. What's the use of being in the peanut gallery if you can't at least throw some peanuts? I don't think our promise to Canadians should be that we will spend your money figuring out how the Conservatives wasted your money. Accountability? Great. How about passing laws about spending millions of government dollars on what is thinly-veiled partisan advertising? Giving money to the Auditor-General should not be the takeaway from an economic speech. Not with unemployment where it is. People need to know that there is a party who will look after them and their family. We'll worry about balancing the budget when people start getting back to work. I didn't hear Ignatieff's speech. The CBC report may be a grave distortion of what he said. I hope it is.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Seat Projection for Mid-September

An updated seat projection for your consideration. Polls are current as of September 17th.

National Picture:

CPC 120
LPC 107 (down 2)
BQ 50 (up 1)
NDP 31 (up 1)


BC: CPC 19, NDP 11, LPC 6
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 7, LPC 4, NDP 3
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: LPC 55, CPC 39, NDP 12
QC: BQ 50, LPC 18, CPC 7
NB: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 1
NL: LPC 6, NDP 1

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Re-Elect Mark Holland

The Tories think they've got a big fish in former ambassador to Afghanistan Chris Alexander. They might have a big fish. The challenge for Mr. Alexander is he isn't running against some boomer backbencher, he's running against Mark Holland. The whole youth angle is less convincing when your opponent is six years your junior. The three time incumbent will not be easy to knock off. I'll run a full projection Sunday or Monday, but I just quickly updated my projection for Ajax-Pickering. Scroll down if you want to know how I get these numbers.

Projected Election Result for Ajax-Pickering based on polling aggregate from Sept. 17, 2009

CPC 34.2
LPC 48.4
NDP 7.57
GPC 9.52

I'm not sure a former ambassador has the name recognition to close that gap. It should be a fun one to watch.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seat Projection Explanation (The Long Version)

After I started doing seat projections in July, I took a post to try to explain how my model works. However, I keep getting comments questioning my projections. So without to much overlap, I'm going to try again. I'll try to work this through from the beginning of my thought process. Being an avid follower of politics on both sides of the border, I often get envious of the amount of information available to American politics buffs. One of the things that particularly made me envious was Charlie Cook's Partisan Voting Index (PVI). In Canada, when we say a riding is "safe" we don't really have a quantitative measure, in the US, the PVI gives a decent idea. Originally, I set out to recreate a PVI type of model for Canadian politics. A parliamentary system changes the available data so what I decided to do with my non-existent stats background was compare each riding's vote share in the last three elections for the five major parties and other candidates to the results federally and provincially. I chose the last three elections because the parties and ridings are the same which makes things relatively simple. From that comparison, I derived a general positive or negative rating for each party in each riding. I quickly realized that these numbers are relatively meaningless by themselves but are relatively easily translated into a projection given some decent regional polling.

In other words, to generate the ratings I took for each previous election:

Riding Rating (2004)= Party Vote Share in Riding (2004) - (x% of Federal vote share (2004) x y% of Provincial Vote Share (2004))

I then added the three elections together:

Riding Rating = a% of Riding Rating 2004+b% of Riding Rating 2006 + c% of Riding Rating 2008
(where a%+b%+c% = 100%)

When I fell upon threehundredeight, it gave me a decent way of having a reliable polling aggregate without having to botch one together myself. The numbers I generate are a mixture of the federal and provincial polling added to that negative or positive rating I mentioned above.

In other words I manipulated the formula above to solve for riding vote share:

Party Share in Riding Today = Riding Rating + (x% of Federal Vote Share (Today) + y% of provincial Vote Share (Today))

Other projections use different methods to come to their conclusions. A lot of seat projections don't go riding by riding and just use regional and federal polling to estimate the number of seats a party is going to pick up based on previous experience. When there is a riding-by-riding component, it is usually based on non-polling data. For instance, when Lindsay Duncan defeated Rahim Jaffer in Edmonton-Strathcona, some projections predicted that result which would only be discernible from the facts on the ground or a local poll commissioned because of the local events. Since I have no ambition to keep tabs on 308 races or access to local polling, I pretty much put my numbers out without any changes. I can't tell sitting in Toronto whether a star candidate will be successful (see Thomas Mulcair) or a failure (see Glen Murray), therefore I don't try to guess. The projections that I've put out so far have only two changes from what my numbers tell me. I've noted them before. First, in Cumberland--Colchester--Musqodobolt Valley where Bill Casey's retirement makes my projection of 40.44% for an independent candidate look silly. Second, in Nunavut where there is no regional polling and there was a massive change in voter preference last time out.

As I've mentioned previously, my model seems to work best when riding results are fairly consistent with federal and provincial trends. If a party massively gains or loses fortune, it becomes more difficult to assess. This is more true if the change was between 2006 and 2008 than it is if it was between 2004 and 2006 because of the heavy weight I give to the 2008 result. Thus, there's probably ten or so ridings where I don't really trust my numbers. Outremont and Edmonton--Strathcona spring to mind. Whether or not my model will be proven accurate on election day is not yet tested. After the next election, I'll put out an accuracy measure. Well, probably two accuracy measures. One will be based on my last projection before the election which will rely on pre-election polling. The other one that I'd like to do is insert the election result federally and provincially into my model and see what that would have produced compared to the actual result. While that may be a little bit of revisionist history it does more accurately isolate my model as opposed to the combined accuracy or our various public polling firms. Until I can test the model with an election, you'll just have to take my projections for what they are. Finally if you're interested (and if you've read this far you might be), here's the data for the Conservative held riding of Pontiac (QC) from my most recent projection as a random example:

Riding Rating:
CPC + 2.98
LPC - 1.59
NDP -0.42
GPC -0.06
BQ -12.57

Federal Poll (from threehundredeight):
CPC 33.2
LPC 32.1
NDP 15.8
GPC 9.3
BQ 9.2

Quebec Poll (from threehundredeight):
CPC 16.1
LPC 30
NDP 10.9
BQ 36.8

CPC 25.92
LPC 29.25 *
NDP 12.44
GPC 7.26
BQ 24.23

* Projected winner

I hope that clarifies for everyone. I'll try to get a new projection out in the next few days (assuming Eric at threehundredeight updates Thursday or Friday). No promises between the by-election tomorrow and the holiday this weekend.
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