Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Actions Speak Louder Than Op-Eds

Stephen Harper has announced (in the Toronto Star of all places) that he will now try to encourage the UN to focus efforts on helping prevent infant mortality and deaths during pregnancy and childbirth. While I applaud the Prime Minister's sentiment, this is one of heck of a Saul on the road to Damascus conversion. It will shock no one that a disproportionate amount of infant mortality is centred in the sub-Saharan Africa. Under Stephen Harper, Canada has abandoned sub-Saharan Africa in favour of more work in the Americas. While that is a defensible foreign policy position, it does not set up the Prime Minister well to actually do anything to solve the problems he outlines in his article. I won't even get into the question of how exactly he's going to pay for such an ambitious foreign aid agenda.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Seat Projection Update: Now With Real Competition

The polls are getting downright close as the petty prorogation plan persists in pestering the parliamentary poo-bah. My seat projection is also shifting accordingly with major swings in Ontario, Manitoba, and New Brunsiwck.


CPC 121
LPC 102
BQ 53
NDP 32


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 53, CPC 40, NDP 13
PQ: BQ 53, LPC 15, CPC 7
NB: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 6, CPC 3, NDP 2
NL: LPC 6, NDP 1

Riding By Riding:
Seat Projection Jan 21 2010

Thursday Links and Thoughts

Some quick thoughts and under reported stories for this Thursday morning:
  • I hope Scott Brown enjoys his 36 months in the US Senate. There's little chance he can retain Massachusetts in a Presidential election year (the seat's up in 2012). Pathetic performance by the Dems up in the Bay State.
  • Can we pay attention to stories like this one yet? Religious tensions and conflicts in Africa are more important than most of the North American media would say. Nigeria is so important economically, politically, and psychologically to West Africa and the continent as a whole. This conflict rages while the President recovers from being rumoured dead.
  • Robert Ghiz has decided that Shawn Graham is taking too much of the political flak out east. He's decided to join in.
  • And by the end of the month, they meant whenever.
  • We're still not entirely clear why all the bees are dying. Not enough flower power?
  • Ah, the sounds of a perfectly functioning coalition government doing exactly what the people want. The fact that the Germans are just now figuring out how screwed they are, four months after the election is over is somewhat disturbing. Not a good trend for Canadian Liberals.
  • Yes Virginia, Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal. That's why stories like this don't scare the living crap out of me. I'm not hyperventilating, I'm sighing my relief.
  • Are you ready to see the political fringes of Europe at work? Because the European Parliament isn't crazy enough, the Lisbon Treaty (no, nobody actually read the thing) allows for citizen's initiatives.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Orange is SOOO 2004

Viktor Yuschenko, the once-poisoned President of Ukraine has been eliminated after the first ballot of the Ukrainian Presidential election. Former PM Viktor Yanukovitch (the Pro-Russia guy Yuschenko beat in 2004) leads current PM Yulia Tymoshenko 38%-24% heading into the run-off. I would think Yuschenko's support would go to Tymoshenko before Yanukovitch but then again they may be so angry with Tymoshenko for running against her former running mate that they'll vote for Yanukovitch. I really don't know. Whoever wins, the country is likely to get a lot closer to Russia over the next term. I kind of wish Elections Canada took this approach to voter turnout, (from the BBC): "In the eastern city of Donetsk, one polling station encouraged voters with vodka and sausage." Booze and meat! Now that's a reason to vote!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Projection Update: January 2010

With a few polls out, we have what I would consider the bare minimum to run a projection. A little drop in the polls for the Tories results in a drop in their projection. André Arthur is a winner in this projection.


CPC 134
LPC 87
BQ 52
NDP 34

Province by Province:

BC: CPC 19, NDP 11, LPC 6
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 10, NDP 3, LPC 1
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: LPC 46, CPC 45, NDP 15
PQ: BQ 52, LPC 15, CPC 7, IND 1
NB: CPC 6, LPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 5, CPC 1, NDP 1

Seat Projection

Riding Ratings

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Idle Election Speculation

This is an interesting story on quoting Harper reassuring the business community that the first step to stopping the mounting deficit will be taken in the next budget. I suppose the majority of prognostication on the budget has been that it will be more fiscally austere than the last, well, four. I'll leave the structural deficit issue aside. What I'm interested in is whether or not Harper is still trying to provoke an election. Harper may be thinking it's still December 2008 politically by leaking this kind of story. He's now got eight weeks to get the opposition angry enough to either bring him down or for him to go the GG and cry unworkable parliament again. If he thinks the opposition wants more stimulus, this would certainly be a shot over their bow.

Reformer? I Don't Think So

Stephen Harper was once elected as a member of the Reform Party. While I'm not overly upset about proroguing parliament, I will say he is disgracing the name Reform. I am not talking about Preston Manning, I'm talking about the original Canadian Reform Party, the one headed by William Lyon Mackenzie in the 1830's. I am well aware that historically Mackenzie would be considered a Liberal with his opponents forming the basis of the Conservative Party that John A. MacDonald would eventually lead. However, hear me out. Whatever you may think of the 1837 rebellions, they were the catalyst for the granting of responsible government in the Province of Canada. Mackenzie's big problem (and Papineau's in Lower Canada) back then was that the executive and legislative councils were not responsible to the legislative assembly for their actions. In modern Canada, the executive and legislative councils are the Prime Minister and his cabinet and the legislative assembly is the parliament of Canada. There are those who want to look around the world to find reasons to dislike the proroguing of parliament. I would say that it goes against the democratic foundations of this country. The basic idea that the cabinet is responsible to parliament is what men died for in 1837 and 1838.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Iceland Melts Back Into Chaos

And you thought the Governor General was the only figurehead making news these days. The Icelandic President has vetoed a bill for the second time in sixty years. This is kind of an important bill: it deals with repaying the UK and the Netherlands for bailing out Iceland after their banks collapsed in the fall of 2008. The veto will now drag the repayment terms in front of Iceland's electorate for a referendum. If the referendum fails, Iceland would face the reality of defaulting on its debt. EU membership would appear to be impossible until this crisis is resolved. Yikes.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Scrap The Thinker's Conference

This is not a new position for me, but I like the idea of a Thinker's Conference less today than I did fourteen months ago, so I figured I'd argue for it's immediate destruction. There are a lot of reasons not to go through with this thing, so I'll list these one by one:
  1. Timing: This is the new addition to the list. With the conference scheduled for late March, political reality threatens to scuttle the thing whether we like it or not. The odds of there being an election or at very least a confidence vote around the time of this conference seems to increase by the day. If we do end up in an election or in the position to vote no-confidence we can't very well say "you'll have to wait until our Thinker's Conference delivers our policy platform." If we need a platform before this thing takes place, we run the risk of being contradicted by our own conference. The proroguing of Parliament gives a perfect excuse to cancel the thing. Let's take advantage.
  2. Optics: We have a leader with the reputation of being an elitist out of touch with the cold realities of today. In order to improve that leader's image we are going to surround him with other elites and talk about a point in time when a large number of Canadians don't expect to be alive. It's kind of like asking Stephen Harper to dress up like a robot on Halloween. It confirms a negative image for our leader.
  3. We Already Have A Policy Process: In fact, we just had a policy conference in Vancouver last year and we are scheduled to have another one next spring. The grassroots of the Liberal Party seems to have less and less power everyday. Robbing the grassroots of the illusion of a meaningful policy process is a terrible pill for the party faithful to swallow. It also shows the Liberal Party to be an elitist and closed institution which plays into the optics issues above.
  4. Stop Trying to Recreate Trudeau: We all love Pierre Trudeau. It doesn't mean we have to replay the sixties playbook every time we're in a rut. The Kingston Conference was successful in that time. It doesn't mean it will work now. The En Famille online forum seems to be a more timely version of the Kingston Conference in this open-source internet era.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year, New Election Speculation

No less than Don Newman seems convinced that Stephen Harper wants a spring election. There is a certain logic to it. First, the Tories have enough momentum to convince themselves of the possibility of a magical majority being within reach. That puts Stephen Harper firmly on the spring election side. The opposition has a timing issue to worry about, as in, if not now, when? The fall is probably the most logical point in terms of timing but between New Brunswick's provincial election and Ontario's municipal elections, the fall may be a little crowded this year. The following spring is a painfully long wait for an opposition leader. Letting the government go for two and a half years is not what Michael Ignatieff was appointed Liberal leader to do. Furthermore, while the 2011 budget looks like it's going to be the painful one, there is a real threat of surrendering the fiscal responsibility issue to the Tories if you vote for the big spending 2009 and 2010 budgets and vote against a fiscally prudent 2011 budget. The troops are also supposed to be home by spring 2011 (God willing) making the Afghan issue a little less relevant than it is today. Anything beyond next spring would be a dangerous game for Michael Ignatieff in terms of his own party. Thus, if the opposition parties can find an issue they like, they could drag down the government this spring. Or, Stephen Harper could decide that after the prorogation he doesn't want to face the house again and ask the Governor General for another election on his own. It would be a kind of average minority government length of 18 months.

All that said, the public doesn't want an election in their next few lifetimes let alone in the next few months and convincing them that a fourth election in six years is really worth their while will be a feat for either the opposition and the government. Finding an issue for anyone could be tricky. The Tories are hoping for an Olympic bump but I don't know how you run on "the Olympic government" platform for more than about five minutes. The opposition is mad as hell about prorogation, Afghan detainees, reckless spending and about ten other things but finding anyone outside of Ottawa who cares has proved elusive. Very few elections have been won on procedure or foreign policy and fiscal prudence is usually only demanded after taxes are raised to fight deficits. The opposition also need to bring down the government without seeming like they are forming a coalition to bring down the government, lest they conjure up the ghost of coalitions past. A tight rope for all parties to say the least.
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