Friday, March 30, 2007

Better Know a Riding

I'm heading down to Calgary for the ALP convention this weekend so no updates until Sunday. Until then, I am pleased to present the first part of a 308 part series, Better Know a Riding. Today - Central Nova! The fighting Novas!

Central Nova is home to St. Francis Xavier University, and its neckless President Dr. Sean Riley (left). Their sports teams are the X-Men and X-Women, although instead of telepathy and flight, their super powers include winning the MacLeans school rankings and...I dunno...chemistry. Alumni include Brian Mulroney, Frank McKenna, and, I kid you not, Ronald MacDonald.

Which MP, described as "the closest thing to eye candy on the diplomatic circuit" by the New York Times has the stuff to lead this proud riding? Well, it's none other than Peter MacKay. Today, I profile the battle royale between Mr. MacKay and Elizabeth May. [The Frog Lady has a good run down here as well]

First of all, here are the results from the last election:

Peter MacKay CPC 40.66%
Alexis MacDonald NDP 32.89%
Dan Walsh LIB 24.56%
David Orton GRN 1.59%
Allan H. Bezanson ML 0.29%

So all May has to do is increase the Green Party vote by 2600% to win the riding. There's rampant speculation that the Liberals might not run a candidate which would be HUGE since, if you assume every single Liberal in the riding votes for May, that moves the Green Party all the way from fourth to third. One other thing which I think people are overlooking is that the Marxists-Lenninists might also not field a candidate this time as part of the "Stop MacKay" movement which might prove to be just the momentum boost she needs.

But numbers only tell part of the story so I've decided to compare the candidates on a few topics to see who comes out on top.

Famous Insults

MacKay: Calls Belinda Stronach a dog
May: Calls Canadians stupid
Edge: McKay. There are 100,000 Canadian voters May may have offended with her remarks. On the flip side, neither Belinda Stronach nor any dogs have votes in Central Nova.

How They Handle Losing

MacKay: Kicks chairs. Spends time with his dog.
May: We'll find out soon enough
Edge: Probably May

Rumoured Secret Alliance

MacKay: Condi Rice
May: Liberal Party of Canada
Edge: Nobody does it better than the Republicans - edge MacKay

David vs. Goliath

MacKay: Become Tory leader by beating David Orchard
May: Become Green leader by beating David Chernushenko
Edge: Chernushenko seems slightly more stable than Orchard so May gets the edge here

Recent Gaffes

MacKay: Confuses Halifax with Toronto at East Coast Music Awards
May: Decides to run in Central Nova
Edge: Toss-up

So, really, both candidates seem quite evenly matched. I'll take MacKay by a nose (which, in his case, could mean quite a large margin of victory...).

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Quick Hits

-The debate for reasonable accommodation takes on a whole new life. (Hat Tip MaD)

-Polls go up and down and the common consensus changes by the week so I won't move away from my prediction of no spring election. BUT...if the Tory internals show numbers like this consistently over the next few weeks, Harper would be crazy not to pull the trigger.

UPDATE: I was just about to post when I came across this poll. I can't take any poll that has the Liberal party at 22% too seriously Quite simply - wow.

-I don't know why anyone would want to lead the PQ given the shape that party is in right now. But, at the same time, there's not much left for Gilles Duceppe to do in Ottawa which hasn't already been done before so I guess a jump provincially shouldn't be too surprising.

-I'm not sure what can be said about Danny Williams which hasn't already been said before. Canadian federalism seems to require a "bad boy" and with Harper smitten with the Premier of Quebec and Ralph Klein gone from Alberta, Williams seems to be willing to step up to the microphone and assume that role.

-Speaking of thorns in Stephen Harper's side, Bernard Shapiro is GONE.

-I know that if I were given the choice between meeting Vladislav Tretiak and the President of Liberia, I wouldn't think twice about going with the former. But I'm not the Prime Minister of Canada, now am I?


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The morning after the morning after

Jean Charest: It could have been worse for him but the man is certainly vulnerable, which means there will be intense pressure from within his own party to resign or, at the very least, rebrand. Minority governments are dicey in even the most stable political places and Quebec politics is the antithesis of stability so it’s really hard to predict how he’ll fare or if the PLQ can afford a leadership race before the next election. Because of that, I’ll predict he stays around until the next vote.

Andre Boisclair: The PQ will be having a leadership review vote this June. Given that the party has been known to knife even their most successful leaders, I can’t for the life of me imagine Boisclair surviving the vote. The timing of the vote certainly opens the door for Duceppe to jump provincially should the PQ dump Boisclair but I can’t really see why anyone would want to lead the PQ these days and, we should remember, he already turned the job down once under far better circumstances. Regardless of who their leader is, the PQ has a real identity crisis on their hands now and might not even promise a referendum in their next campaign platform.

Mario Dumont: Usually in minority governments, the Premier is the man under the microscope but I think it’s fair to say all eyes will be on Mario Dumont. He’s going to have to borrow a few muzzles from his buddy Steve to keep the wing nuts who were elected in check. He’ll also have to show that his party is credible and ready to govern. If he performs well as opposition leader, the next election is his to lose…but on the flip side, if he stumbles, the ADQ could fall back to fringe status next time since he doesn’t have the entrenched voter loyalty the other two parties command. It will be very interesting to see how much pressure he puts on Charest, in particular with respect to demanding more “autonomy”.

The Bloc Quebecois: Is in serious trouble next election. I’ll go into this a bit more as we lead up to the election since it’s not directly tied to the provincial vote but, for now, is there anyone out there who can name one issue they have to attract voters? Because I don't think an anti-scab law is going to exactly capture the imagination of the Quebecois.

Stephen Harper: I don’t necessarily buy the argument that what happens provincially translates federally…if anything provincial governments usually counter their federal counterparts. However, what the strength of the ADQ has shown is that Harper certainly has the potential to gain votes in Quebec. It shows there are Quebecers willing to vote for a party with conservative values under the right circumstances. Now, no one really knows how much of the vote was a protest vote, how much was anti-Montreal, how much was about reasonable accommodation, how much was about Dumont’s personal popularity, and how much was about Charest and Boiclair being universally hated. But the potential is there for a Quebec breakthrough.

That said, outside of Quebec, I don’t see this as a great victory for Harper. The man burned through a wad lot of political capital (and monetary capital too) to get Jean Charest re-elected and the end result was anything but a resounding victory for Harper’s ally.

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I'll have some analysis later today but here are some of the raw numbers from the Quebec election (huge thanks to AT for e-mailing them in!).

Seat totals by region

Lib: 20, -1
P.Q: 8, +1
ADQ: 0

Montreal Suburbs (Laval and South Shore)
Lib: 10, -3
P.Q: 4
ADQ: 3 +3

Capitale Nationale
Lib: 2, -7
P.Q: 2
ADQ: 7, +7 (ADQ gained Vanier in byelection)

South East (Eastern Townships and Eastern Monteregie)
Lib: 6, -4
P.Q: 3, -2
ADQ: 6, +6

North of Townships
Lib: 2, -1
P.Q: 5, +1
ADQ: 1

Outaouais and North West Quebec
Lib: 5 -2
P.Q: 4 +2
ADQ: 0

Lib: 0, -2
P.Q: 7, +2
ADQ: 0

Centre Quebec
Lib: 1, -5
P.Q: 0, -2
ADQ:10, +7

Rest of Quebec (Mauricie, Lanaudiere, Laurentides)
Lib: 2, -3
P.Q: 3, -11
ADQ:14, +14

Seat Transfer

Lib gained from P.Q: 1 (lost in byelection)

P.Q gained from Liberal: 6
Cremazie, Abitibi Est, Rouyn-Noranda-Temiscamingue, Jonquiere, Roberval

ADQ gained from Liberal: 21
Huntingdon, La Prairie, Marguerite-D'Youville, Charlesbourg, Chaveau, Jean Lesage, La Peltrie, Montmorency, Portneuf, Chambly, Iberville, St. Jean, Shefford, Arthabaska, Beauce Sud, Bellechasse, Levis, Montmagny-L'Islet, Maskinonge, Trois Rivieres, Groulx

ADQ gained from P.Q: 15
Johnson, St. Hyacinthe-Bagot, Drummond, Nicolet-Yamaska, Champlain, St. Maurice, Berthier, Joliette, L'Assomption, Masson, Terrebonne, Blainville, Deux Montagnes, Mirabel, Prevost

Random Observations

1.Bourget, only riding in Montreal the ADQ received over 15% in 2003. they went from 17.31% to 22.86% this time.

2.The ADQ vote declined in Rouyn-Noranda-Temiscamingue. From 27.66% to 26.84%. This decline might have helped the P.Q take the riding from the Liberals. The former P.Q M.N.A for the riding who was narrowly defeated in 2003 was Remy Trudel who was the top vote getter in Quebec for the N.D.P in 1988. Does anybody think he would have run for the P.Q leadership had he been reelected in 2003?

3. The Liberal vote from the 2003 election to this one declined in 122 ridings.

The only 3 it increased:
-Riviere du Loup (Mario Dumont's riding). The Liberal candidate was the mayor of Riviere du Loup. The Liberal vote went from 23.76% to 28.15%
-Chicoutimi. Andre Harvey was the Liberal candidate. He was a P.C M.P from 1984 to 1993 and a Liberal M.P from 1997-2004. The Liberal vote went from 35.68% to 36.98%
-Lac St Jean. Liberal vote went from 26.17% to 28.85%

4. Only 4 of the 24 Liberal Cabinet Ministers who were running again were defeated: Pierre Corbeil, Michel Despres, Francoise Gauthier, Carole Theberge

5. Quebec Solidaire best ridings:
-Mercier, 29.38%, 2nd, Amir Khadir
-Gouin, 26.04% 2nd, Francoise David
-Ste. Marie-St. Jacques, 14.16%, Manon Masse
-Hochelaga, 9.63% Gabriel Chevrefils
-Rosemont, 9.30%, Francois Saillant

Voter Turn-Out (via Coyne)

2007: 71.3%
2003: 70.4% (record low)
1998: 78.3%
1994: 81.6%
1989: 75.0%
1985: 75.7%
1981: 82.5%
1976: 85.3%
1973: 80.4%
1970: 84.2%
1966: 73.6%
1962: 79.6%
1960: 81.7%


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Great Moments in Spin

Mr. Boisclair said he plans to lead the party into the next election, but admitted he had misread the electorate during the campaign.

Another referendum on sovereignty “was not, apparently, a priority,” he told the media.

However, he said the overall voting trends supported the PQ's position within Quebec. Two-thirds of seats were given to people who do not accept the status quo, he said.

Couldn't the Green Party claim victory on those same grounds?

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Delusional Calgaria

The government of Nova Scotia is running attack ads against Calgary...yeah, you heard that right.

In fairness, it's a well produced kind of funny, attack ad, but still...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Quebec Votes

Random thoughts throughout the evening:

6:45 pm: Libs 49 (35%), PQ 30 (31%), ADQ 35 (27%)
I haven't been able to get near a TV for so I don't know what the talking heads are saying but I, for one, am really surprised by the ration of seats to popular votes for each party. The common consensus all along has been that a popular vote total like this would probably mean a PQ minority government (or close to it), which means we're getting some weird vote splits somewhere.

6:55 pm: The ADQ has just pulled ahead. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the three parties come out on top when all is said and done...

7:00 pm: Regardless of how this vote turns out, I do think it would be fair to call Jean Charest one of the most overrated politicians of the last 20 years.

7:38 pm: Still neck and neck between Charest and Dumont, with the popular vote almost identical for all three parties...which means, for once, the PLQ is actually being helped by the vote distribution.

With the PQ solidly in third place and that party's penchant to knifing successful leaders in the back, I think it's safe to say that the Andre Boisclair experiment will be coming to a close very soon. Does Gilles Ducceppe jump? I guess it depends on federal election timing.

7:47 pm: Jean Charest down by 400 votes in Sherbrooke to the PQ. Which means it's highly possible that the Liberals form government, Charest resigns as PLQ leader, and someone else becomes Premier. In the comments section, there's already some speculation he could run for Harper in the next federal election. If you're into politics, it's impossible not to have been fascinated by this election.

8:19 pm: Lowest vote percentage by the PLQ since confederation: 33.78% (1976)
Lowest vote percentage by the PQ since 1976: 33.24% (2003)

8:21 pm: Everyone has called it as a Liberal minority. But with 161/212 polls reporting, Charest trails badly in his riding. The big question now becomes, does he stay or does he go?

8:33 pm: Got a bus to catch and I likely won't update until later tonight so I thought I'd muse a bit on the federal implications of this.

For the Liberals, a Boisclair win was obviously the best case scenario for them so Dion certainly doesn't get very lucky in this one. I can't imagine anyone being afraid of a referendum after seeing this result. Let's face it, with the exception of the Adscam protest vote, the PQ/BQ have been on the decline over the past decade (in part thanks to the Chretien/Dion Plan B). I think the BQ is heading for big loses next campaign, especially if Ducceppe jumps provincially.

For Harper, he can certainly claim that his brand of federalism helped crush the PQ into the ground but, at the same time, he certainly didn't do much to help re-elect Jean Charest and the budget tax cuts appear to have somewhat backfired, both inside Quebec and outside. It'll be one of those things which everyone can spin pretty effortlessly.

9:42 pm: Mario Dumont speaking now. I wonder if he'll thank the "anti-ethnic vote" for this one...

9:45 pm: Jean Charest is now declared to have won his seat in Sherbrooke.

9:48 pm: Radio Canada is now reporting that Sherbrooke has been won by Al Gore.


Alas, "Making History" didn't crack the top 100

Via MM, comes this great resource for political geeks everywhere.

The American Rhetoric Speech Bank has thousands of historical speeches which you can listen to, download, or read. I browsed through some of the top 100 over the weekend and they certainly have all the classics. And, hey, if Kennedy and King aren't for you, you can find everyone from John Kerry to Pat Buchanan on the general database (perfect for downloading to your Ipod for the gym!).

They also link to this site under Prime Minister of Canada speeches [recent]. Oh, and under Prime Ministers of Canada speeches [previous], they link to this site, which contains this announcement:

The content of Canada’s Digital Collections (CDC) is no longer available on this website.

I know in the eyes of some, Canadian history only began January 23rd, 2006, but it would still be nice to listen to some of the great Canadian speeches from years gone by. Think of Pierre Trudeau's address at the 38 BH Liberal leadership convention or his "mon nom" speech during the 26 BH referendum. And who can forget the memorable Turner-Mulroney debate during the 22 BH election? Or some of the rousing speeches John Diefenbaker gave during the 49 BH election. It certainly would be nice if these great moments in our history were available on the Internet for future generations to listen to, n'est-ce-pas?


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bag 'o Links

1. Completely off topic, but if you want proof that Quebec is a distinct society, this video makes a pretty good case of it...

2. As much as I loathe SU politics, it's hard not to find this amusing. Daveberta links to the greatest SU debate of all time.

3. Tid Hudak is running The Great Dominion Dust Up on his site to find Canada's most inspiring politician. He's seeded 64 contenders March Madness style in a series of knock-off games. Today's battles feature Ellen Fairclough (7) against Mitch Hepburn (10), and Jean Chretien (7) versus Robert Bourassa (10).

4. TDH has the run down on the Mississauga Streetsville nomination race.

5. The latest Ipsos Reid poll has the Tories up by ten points in Ontario. If the Conservative internals stay in that range then we're definitely going to have a spring election.

6. Quebec is too close to call. Any speculation at this point is about as scientific as a Super Bowl prediction, making Monday's vote one of the most interesting provincial elections in recent memory. For what it's worth, Democratic Space has Charest winning a minority in his seat projections. I'll be sure to post frequent updates tomorrow night as the results roll in.

7. Battlestar Galactica season finale tonight!

8. Signs it's a slow news day. Then again, has anyone seen Reg Alcock since the last election?


Friday, March 23, 2007

I Listen To Joe

I managed to catch most of Joe Clark's speech at the U of A Monday (appropriately enough in the Tory building) entitled "Losing Canada's Advantage: The Harper Government's Narrow View of Canadian Foreign Policy". With a hook like that, how could I refuse?

The thrust of Joe's speech was that Canada has typically been successful by looking at both sides of the Canadian coin; that is, maintaining a strong friendship with the Americans but also working on an independent voice in the world. This allows Canada to have more muscle in the international community because we're close to the Americans, but it also gives us more say with the US because we're on better terms with a lot of foreign powers than they are.

In Joe's opinion, "Mr.Harper and his colleagues are moving deliberately away from the foreign policy of the past" by making Canada/US relations the "dominant focus" of their government. To back this up, he referenced 16 ministerial trips to the US in 2006 versus 2 to Africa, 2 to China, and none to South America. I must say that given Mr. Clark's experience with overseas travel, I'm amazed he's so keen on it but I do think there is some validity to his claim that Harper is overly preoccupied with the Americans.

He did cite three other areas of concern he has with the current administration:

1. Nothing at all for the developing world (he was equally critical of the Chretien/Martin government on this)
2. The erosion of foreign service
3. The deterioration with relations with China

His criticism was most piercing with respect to China, saying that Harper has returned to "a pre-Nixonian policy" vis-a-vis China. He also lamented the lack of leadership Canada has shown in multilateral organizations.

When asked about Afghanistan, he said he agreed that we should be there but that it should be reviewable more often. He would like to see regularly televised committee meetings where the opposition could ask questions about the mission, similar to what was done with the Gulf War when he was Foreign Affairs Minister.

All in all, an interesting talk and I must tip my hat to Clark for the line of the day:

"I didn't see if foreign aid numbers were increased in the budget today. I try to miss budgets whenever I can...I had an unfortunate experience with them in the past..."

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Addition by Subtraction

Tom Wappell has called it a career.

Great news as this opens up a fairly strong Liberal seat for some fresh blood and gets rid of one of (if not the most) socially conservative MPs in the Liberal Party.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Random News

1) Andrew Coyne is waging one heck of a crusade against the Tory budget and I must say - give me a sword! When this guys picks an issue to feel passionate about, you do not want him against you.

-Tuesday's Column

-Wednesday's Column

-And a link to Jack Mintz's critique of the ever expanding tax code. Next year: tax rebates on dental floss!

2. Stockwell Day is in trouble again...

3. More reports on the new era of peace between provinces and the federal government.

4. The opposition parties pass Paul Martin's private members bill on the Kelowna Accord which the Tories plan to ignore. Of note, Brian Mulroney has spoken out in favour of the bill.

5. John Ivison has a good article on the potential of the Tories converting to Kyoto. He opens with a brilliant line: "The suggestion from this week’s budget is, if there was a sizeable voting population of Vikings in the country, he'd offer up a few villages in Newfoundland to plunder."

6. On the flip side, the Liberals are now not only backing Harper's crime bill, but trying to fast track it.

7. I'll leave the comments to those in Ontario, but Dalton McGuinty has brought in a pre-election budget of his own.

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You're with us or against us

They hate the cops, vote against 9/11 victims, support child pornography, are soft on terrorism, and care more about the Taliban than our own soldiers.

Man, it's amazing any Canadians can find it in their heart to vote Liberal...

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper accused the Liberals yesterday of caring more about Afghan insurgents than Canadian troops and refused to apologize for the latest in a series of hard-hitting attacks against his political opponents.

“I can understand the passion that the Leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers,” Mr. Harper told the House of Commons to a standing ovation from his caucus.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Peace in our Time - Day 3

"The long, tiring, unproductive era of bickering between the provincial and federal governments is over."

-Jim Flaherty

Calvert Calls Budget a Betrayal

Budget unfair to Ontario: McGuinty

Equalization plan unfair MacDonald says

The political wrath of Premier Williams

Federeal budget fails: Boudreau

BC blasts budget for favouring Quebec

Provinces slam Tories fiscal gap cure

Budget's Central Canada solution splits regions

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Where have you gone Joe Comuzzi

Not a big deal since he's already said he wasn't going to run again, but Joe Comuzzi has been kicked out of Liberal caucus over his decision to back the Harper budget.

Hard to disagree with booting him on this. On the grand daddy of all confidence motions, party unity needs to reign supreme.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Official Budget Response

Scott Feschuk is a friggin' genius

(hat tip OOL)

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Bloggers Hotstove

I was on a special post-budget edition of the Bloggers Hotstove this week with Tasha Kheirriddin and Antonio DiDomizio. If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, it can be broken into three parts:

1. Tasha makes some very smart comments on the budget.

2. Antonio and I bicker about the fiscal imbalance (which I can't for the life of me seem to pronounce properly no matter how hard I try).

3. Antonio goes on an absolutely amazing rant against Mario Dumont.

Anyways, check is out here.

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Couldn't have said it better myself so I won't even try.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Budget 2007

I know most of my fellow Libloggers will classify today's budget as everything from "a disaster" to "the end of Canada". Personally, I'd say it's not bad. I mean, with the Canadian economy in the shape it's in, it's hard to deliver a bad budget. Harper resisted the urge to go down the typical conservative route of massive upper class tax cuts, massive middle class tax cuts, massive corporate tax cuts, and military spending. It reminds me a lot of the kind of budgets Ralph Goodale delivered during the Martin months; lots of scattershot spending with no real theme and enough pre-election goodies to satisfy everyone and cut off the opposition. With that in mind, a few general comments:

1. There's some good analysis of the budget here and here.

2. Via Wells comes this gem from Mario Dumont:

The premier called Dumont "an empty shell" last week. Now Dumont says, approximately: "Well, I say he's a hermit crab. You know what a hermit crab is. It's those little creatures that have no shell of their own and need somebody else's shell to live in. Mr. Charest has no record to run on, so he has to run on Stephen Harper's."

The BQ supporting the budget certainly is good news for Charest who I still think can salvage a minority win.

3. Andrew Coyne was, predictably, in a bad mood calling this the most free spending budget in the history of confederation.

4. Not that Phil Fontaine is ever happy, but he certainly wasn't happy with the budget.

5. Danny Williams waging war with Ottawa has become somewhat comical outside of Newfoundland, but I suspect there may be some repercussions for the flip-flop on equalization on the Rock. There are also some votes to be lost in Saskatchewan. That said, there are a lot more votes in Quebec and Ontario than Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, so I doubt Steve will lose much sleep over this.

6. The Liberals and NDP have both been rather ineffective at communicating why this is a bad budget. I've watched the coverage and read the press releases and it's hard to get a clear message or theme as to what's wrong with the budget from either of them. Obviously Flaherty has done a good job of not giving them anything to latch onto.

7. If Harper was going to "fix" the "fiscal imbalance" by spending in provincial jurisdictions, he should have directed more to education. The post-secondary component of this budget is a joke. More for the RESP program won't improve access or quality to higher education for any Canadians.

8. Like I said bellow, anyone who thinks this will mean the end of the provinces asking for more from Ottawa needs to lay off the ganja.

So, when all is said and done, a very political savvy budget which won't do much harm but won't do anything to drastically improve the lives of Canadians either.

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Fixing Health Care for a Generation

"The long, tiring, unproductive era of bickering between the provincial and federal governments is over."

-Jim Flaherty

Uh-huh. Glad we finally got that problem solved. More bold proclamations from Canada's Finance Minister:

Mr. Flaherty said the budget should "end the bickering" between provinces over the issue [of equalization].

"The day of governments with their hands out to other governments has passed."


Mindless Speculation

I know whenever anyone fires up the troops, it's perceived that an election is "imminent". I've said for a while that I don't think we'll see a federal vote until 2008, but the common consensus is certainly turning towards a spring vote these days.

So I'll toss the question out there for the comments section: Will we be having a federal election this spring?

Speculate away!

UPDATE: Libs and NDP to oppose the budget, Bloc to support it which puts Andre Boisclair in a rather uncomfortable position, to put it mildly.

I don't think this changes much vis-a-vis election speculation though since the Kyoto and Crime bills are the most likely roads to an election, not the budget.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Spin Away

The latest Ipsos Poll:

CPC 36
Lib 34
NDP 12
BQ 9
Green 8

So, the Tories go from 14 points up a few weeks back down to a 2 point lead. There's only one logical conclusion to reach; Yes sir, Stephen Harper is steamrolling to a majority government.


In other news, Elizabeth May is ready to take on Peter MacKay. She'll lose, but it'll be one of the most interesting riding battles to watch, without a doubt.

UPDATE: Just because I don't feel like starting another post on yet another poll, SES has some interesting numbers from Quebec. Bottom line: Andre Boisclair isn't a very popular man, even though his party is positioned well to get the most seats.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Neck and Neck and Neck


Liberals 33%
PQ 30%
ADQ 30%

First of all, I guess I was wrong, wrong, wrong about Tuesday's debate. To me, it looked like Charest had won and Dumont was nothing more than a hyperactive squirrel (think Jack Layton in the 2004 debates) but it seems Quebecers saw it differently or, at the very least, the overpass stunt paid some dividends.

So this leaves the election outcome a complete crapshot. Any of the three parties could conceivably form what will almost certainly be Quebec's first minority government in over a century.

And that is what makes today's proclamation by Andre Boisclair so interesting:

The Parti Québécois would want to hold a referendum on sovereignty even if it forms only a minority government, leader André Boisclair said Friday.

Obviously, Boisclair would never get a referendum law passed in a minority government so he's just blowing smoke up the electorate's ass. But if he maintains that his raison d'être of forming government is to hold another referendum, it becomes hard to see how Mario Dumont could justify proping up a Boisclair government. If you don't believe in the first priority of the government, how can you say you have confidence in them? Especially after the two bickered to no end on Tuesday and have very little common ground anywhere in their platforms.

What I'm getting at is, let's suppose, the numbers above hold and we get a seat breakdown similar to what Hill & Knowlton predicts (two bad assumptions to make, but, whatever):

PQ 49
PLQ 43
ADQ 33

In such a situation, it seems to me that Jean Charest could make a very strong case to stay as Premier, governing with ADQ support. He'd have won the popular vote and could promise a more stable government than Boisclair.

I'm not sure if we'd see a formal coalition, but I do think that if the ADQ does win the most seats, an ADQ/PLQ formal coalition wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility. Mostly because Dumont doesn't have the talent to make a full Cabinet himself but also because he could probably find common ground with Charest on a wide range of issues.

So will it be Peterson/Rae deux? Peut-être....

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Your Friday Smile

Judge overturns nomination of Rob Anders


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mid-Week Musings

1. The NDP have a well produced ad up on their site which they are asking donations for to air. ABCer picks up the many obvious contradictions in their plea to air it.

2. Martha Hall Findlay has been appointed in Willowdale. I'm not principally opposed to appointments (of qualified people), but it seems to me like Martha could have won the nomination herself.

3. Bill Blaikie has announced he's calling it quits. His riding has been strongly NDP in the past but it just might be in play now. It kind of sucks for the NDP to lose Bill Blaikie while Pat Martin stays around.

4. Closer to home, Anne McLellan's old riding, Edmonton Centre will be having their nomination meeting next week. Running for that one are Nicole Martel, Don Padgett, and Jim Wachowich. The other hotly contested one is Edmonton Strathcona which now appears to be between Toeffal Chowdry and Claudette Roy (who would make a very strong candidate given her background). Apologies to the prospective candidates for butchering the spelling of at least half of those names, I'm sure.

5. Looks like those out West will need to scour US sites on the net for early election results again next time, as the Supreme Court upholds the publication ban.

6. Ed Stelmach has already flip-flopped on his hypothetical support of the new equalization formula. Best line of the article?

[PC spokesperson Tom] Olsen said he wasn't "sure what [Finance] Minister Oberg was talking about."

7. People are still all a tizzy over Mario Dumont's debate stunt. Apparently 1.7 million people watched the debate which, considering Quebec's population, is quite remarkable.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Le Debat

Random comments as I half pay attention to the Quebec debate (Fuddle Duddle's got the french live blog going too)...

6:12 pm: I just log on to the CPAC website now as Charest says "you need to elect the best team, I have the best team". I guess the fact that none of his candidates have been busted for genocide denial or racist comments does put him in first.

Health Care

6:14 pm: Dumont promises more private health care.

6:16 pm: Boisclair says that "Charest does not deserve a second chance". I'm not sure if Andre Boisclair is really the person who should be saying that people don't deserve second chances...

6:23 pm: Boisclair says that all Quebecers should have access to drugs. I'm sure Andre knows a guy who can help ensure that...

6:25 pm: Dumont attacks Boisclair for what "his government" did when the PQ were in power. I don't think Andre Boisclair can be held responsible for what the PQ did considering he was stoned most of the time.


6:33 pm: We all love the environment blah blah blah...this is gonna be a dull round.

6:39 pm: Ding Ding Ding! Boisclair becomes the first candidate to take a shot at Alberta during the debate, lamenting how Quebecers' tax dollars are funding the oil sands. I know! I just hate how Quebec tax dollars keep getting sent to Alberta.

6:48 pm: Let me just say that it's nice to watch a debate where we won't have to listen to hours of post-game analysis about how good everyone's French was.


6:55 pm: I'm not sure if you can look "Prime Ministerial" in a provincial debate, or even if that's a good thing, but Charest seems to be cool and in control of this one. Dumont and Boisclair also keep going after each other like rabid squirrels whenever they get the 1 on 1 debates against each other which, one imagines, also serves Charest well.

6:59 pm: Jack Layton Andre Boisclair complains about government money going to the banks and insurance companies.

7:03 pm: Dumont produces a document related to the overpass collapse...I'm not really sure what the brouhaha is all about so I guess we'll need to wait until the post game show to see what it's all about.

7:08 pm: Boisclair asks Dumont "what is the room to manoeuvre?" repeatedly. Even the translator gets fired up over it! It looks to me like Boisclair caught Dumont not knowing his facts. WHAM! BAM! You know it's bad when Andre Boisclair makes you look inexperienced and not ready to govern.

Social Programs

7:13 pm: Jean Charest takes credit for increasing the Quebec birth rate. Who does this guy think he is? Pierre Trudeau?

7:27 pm: Charest: "Mr. Dumont, why are you saying the opposite of the truth?". Charest goes on to absolutely own Dumont on the topic of school boards.

Quebec's Political Future (Let's get ready to rummmmble!)

7:32 pm: Boisclair says that Charest accepted Trudeau's constitution. Huh? Charest was, like, 24 then. (hat tip to Antonio on that one)

7:35 pm: Boisclair doesn't answer what his "Plan B" is if a referendum fails. Dumont doesn't answer what constitutional powers he wants. They go back and forth on this for about three minutes.

7:40 pm: Boisclair attacks Charest for not demanding enough from Ottawa. Charest then lists everything he's squeezed out of Martin and Harper over the last four years.

7:43 pm: Boisclair compares the fiscal imbalance to giving a blood bank to a vampire. I'm not really sure how the metaphor works but I'm glad he didn't say "giving crack to an addict".

7:47 pm: Dumont says that the Counsel of Federation is a playground for Charest to go to Niagara Falls, Edmonton, and St. John's. Believe me - I live in Edmonton - and no one would consider a trip to Edmonton as a junket or perk.

So, all in all, I'd say Charest did what he had to do - he looked the most like a leader out there. Dumont really fizzled in my opinion. Of course, I'm sure people in Quebec may get a completely different impression from it so it'll be interesting to see tomorrow's media spin.

UPDATE: It's a small sample, but the overnight polls seem to have Dumont taking the debate. Go figure. (H/T Nottawa)

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The latest Census figures are out, and for those who enjoy looking at those sorts of things, the Globe does a good job of breaking it down.

Oh, and in a completely unrelated story, Pat Martin is predicting the death of the NDP:

Martin said his party must make significant gains in the federal election many observers predict will come this year or be forced to admit it may never be anything more than a fringe player and end its 46 year existence.


"We've been suffering from that for years because we don't want to be seen as radical extremists," he added. "So, the result has been to bore people into some kind of stupor, where nobody has any idea what we stand for anymore."

My favourite part of this article is that the Edmonton Journal features it right next to a picture of Jean Charest and some children with the title caption "puppets and politics". In honour of Pat Martin perhaps?

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday News Roundup

Daveberta has the run down on the new legislative session in Edmonton and the performance of Mr. Ed thus far. Speaking of which, Stelmach says he's not ready to pick a fight with Ottawa over the new equalization scheme but I'm guessing Danny Williams won't be quite so nice.

There weren't many leaks for the first Harper budget but it looks like secrecy may not prevail this year. The Globe has some speculation here:

The finance minister's “fix” [for the fiscal imbalance] is expected to include at least $3.5-billion extra for the provinces: about $1-billion more in annual equalization payments, $1-billion in annual transfers for post-secondary education, an already announced $1.5-billion fund to tackle climate change, and possibly more for other infrastructure projects.

Even though I tend to agree with Dion that the fiscal imbalance is the creation of provincial finance ministers with over active imaginations, it's hard to argue against money for education, the environment, and infrastructure. All the more reason I can't see the government falling on this budget. Still...I did find this cartoon pretty funny:

In Quebec, Mario Dumont is upset over the "witch hunt" being waged against ADQ candidates. I know! You find one or two candidates who worry that "the ethnics will swamp us" and complain that we "let them wear turbans" and suddenly everyone is on trial...

Out West, it appears the federal Tories are having problems of their own with a BC candidate who exaggerated his resume. As someone whose current resume has "2006 Time Person of the Year" under his accomplishments, I can sympathize with Mr. Pandher.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wrapping Up The Green Font Series

Original Questions
Why did it become an issue?
How big an issue is it, really?
Can the Greens actual get votes?

The Globe & Mail may still have 97 parts left in their Environmental series but I'll be wrapping mine up today. There are two questions from the original six I asked which still need to be answered; namely, will this change anything in the next election and, if so, what?

Is this a ballot question? Or is it the new healthcare?

Some Answers:

-I think it was already a significant ballot question in the last election.

-If Harper continues as he has people will still be highly worried and be looking for someone who looks like they will do something. If Harper puts in some kind of plan, I think a number of people will be satisfied even if the plan does not go far enough.

-This will be a ballot question, but in a negative sense.

-You know, it's tough to guess. Not a ballot question - not yet, anyway. The new healthcare.

-As for the question of how big an election issue will be ... that's a good one, and I don't know the answer. Like I said, for several elections, the enviro wasn't a big issue as all, as best as I can recall. If "something else" (a recession? PQ winning in Quebec? a new terrorist attack - again, God forbid) comes along, the enviro may sink down the list again.

My Take

This is one I've gone back and forth on since last fall when it really seemed to pop up as an issue out of thin air (or, hot air, I guess). I think I've finally settled more on the "it will be an issue" side of the spectrum. Even derisively calling it "the new health care" may have been unfair, because the two tier health care scare was an issue in the 2000 campaign.

That's not to say it will be the main ballot question - only that it will move some votes. It seems elections often come down to personality and leadership and with all the parties inching closer together as far as policy, it might not turn into the massive wedge issue the Liberals desperately hope it will become. But after watching provincial governments "go green" and seeing the sustained world wide attention around it in the punditry and general population, I do think it will be one of the top 2 or 3 policy issues people will be basing their vote upon.

If this becomes a ballot question, which party does it help the most?


-Factoring it all in, I'd guess the Liberals would benefit most, but it's hard to say.

-People who value the environment are turning away from the NDP in huge numbers either to the greens, or perhaps to give Dion a chance and hope he keeps his promises. And people who used to vote NDP for protest are tiring of Jack, and seeing increased credibility of another party that is fresher to vote for in protest. This means the NDP's main group of supporters still remaining is the group who believe they are better than libs to deal with social issues.

-The obvious answer would be the Greens. However it also helps the Liberals as long as Harper is unable to salvage his image on the environment.

-It will help the Liberal party the most because the Conservatives are perceived as anti-environment.

-No one (has a plan). Yet.

-If Dion plays his cards right, it should be the Liberals. He's making it the party's prime issue, so if he can't win with it, the party's in trouble.

My Take

Yeah, obviously it helps the Greens the most - that's the easy answer. And, as for the Bloc, it probably won't make a difference for them one way or the other. I also think it's probably fair to say this will hurt the NDP more than it will help them, just because some of their votes could get siphoned off to Elizabeth May.

As for the big two, that's still up in the air. The environment is likely an issue the Liberals are perceived to be better at. But, at the same time, if Kyoto is the wedge and you have four parties on one side and the Tories on the other, it really doesn't help the Liberals unless they can convince Green and NDP voters that:

a) A Harper government would be disastrous
b) They'll do as good a job as the Dippers or Greens on this issue

So, while it's kind of a cop out to give an "I don't know", that's really where I sit on this. At the very least, the Liberals need to have a few more arrows in their quiver than just the green enviro one.