Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Election ’08 Ad Watch: Bushwacked

A new website and new Liberal ads attacking Harper on the economy and foreign policy. Do they work? You be the judge!

(and watch for a surprise cameo from an old face in the third one)

How Would You Rate This Ad?
See Results

How Would You Rate This Ad?
See Results

How Would You Rate This Ad?
See Results

I would also post the latest Tory ad that links fear of the Green Shift to the economy but it has yet to be posted on the Tory site or youtube. I assume this is because everyone in the Conservative war room has been fired by this point in the campaign...

Labels: , ,

Harper Plagiarizes Liberals

Err...the Australian Liberals, that is:

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper plagiarized almost half of a speech he delivered in 2003 as opposition leader, Liberal candidate Bob Rae alleged on Tuesday.

Harper gave the speech in Parliament on March 20 -- the first day U.S. forces began bombing Baghdad, and two days after then-Australian Prime Minister John Howard gave a strikingly similar address.

At a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday morning, Rae played the speech by Harper simultaneously with a speech by then-Australian prime minister John Howard.

Much of Harper's address matches Howard's virtually word for word.

Rae released transcripts and videos of both speeches and suggested they serve as evidence that a vote for the Conservatives is akin to voting for a "Republican-Conservative" government.

First off, kudos to the Liberal war room for digging this one up. A catch like this takes a lot more work than just googling a candidate's name, so they deserve major props. My sense is that this isn't going to turn into that big a deal, but my opinion on that may be clouded by the extreme indifference that greeted Ralph's bout with plagiarism in Alberta (and this was probably a speechwriter who messed up, rather than Harper himself).

At the same time, bringing up Harper's ever evolving memory of his Iraq position doesn't hurt at all. And releasing an ad linking Harper to Bush on the same day shows a bit of forethought on the Liberals' part.

UPDATE: And we've got our scapegoat!

Labels: , ,

Better Know a Riding - Papineau

Welcome to part 2 of my 308 part series - better know a riding. Today, Papineau!

The riding of Papineau is, appropriately enough, named after a political family - Joseph Papineau and his son Louis-Joseph Papineau, famous for his political leadership and trendy hairstyles (pictured here), which would later be mimicked by future Papineau MPs as a tribute to Louis-Joseph. After engaging in protest, politics, and armed rebellion, Papineau helped found le parti rouge, a temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition which initially opposed the Union of Canada but would later sit in a coalition government with the grits in 1858...for less than 1 day, as part of Canada's shortest serving government ever (the government collapsed after Gilles Duceppe changed his mind about running for its leadership).

Today, Papineau is Canada's smallest riding and it has the lowest average family income in Canada...which, on the bright side, means the voters there didn't lose a ton of money today.

2006 Results
Vivian Bardot (BQ) 40.7%
Pierre Pettigrew (Lib) 38.5%
Mustaque Sarker (CPC) 8.3%
Marc Hasbani (NDP) 7.7%
Louis-Phillipe Verenka (Green) 3.6%

2008 Candidates

Vivian Barbot (BQ): This 67 year old (pictured above challenging Justin Trudeau to a thumb war) was a busy rookie in the Bloc caucus as Duceppe's intergovernmental affairs minister. Her long and distinguished career began...oh, who am I kidding...OMG JUSTIN TRUDEAU IS RUNNING!!!

Justin Trudeau (Lib): Trudeau was born Christmas Day 1971 and has been a political star ever since. He burst onto the Liberal Party scene at the last leadership convention when his well time endorsement of Gerard Kennedy catapulted the then third place Kennedy all the way to...fourth place. Since that convention, every single female young Liberal in the country has, at some time or another, had a picture of herself and Justin Trudeau as her facebook profile pic. Trudeau captured the Papineau nomination in April of last year.

In 2005, Trudeau married Sophie Gregoire and in 2007 the couple gave birth to their first son, Xavier Trudeau, already considered the frontrunner in the 2054 Liberal leadership race (slogan: "Mark an X for Xavier"). Oh, and he's also got a bit of an acting career on the side, playing yet another Papineau - Talbot Mercer Papineau - in an a CBC mini series.

Mustaque Sarker (CPC): Mustaque is looking to lose for the third straight time in Papineau...someone should really tell him that the way to get into the Senate as a Quebec Conservative is not by running for the party repeatedly, but by not running.

Costa Zafiropoulos (NDP): Costa seems like a quality candidate, his one weakness being that he is not the son Canada's most famous Prime Minister.

The FLQ Kids: The "Jeune Patriots" are a group of separatists who have launched an "anybody but Trudeau movement" in this tight Liberal-Bloc riding. Their official reason for protesting is that Trudeau refuses to recognize Quebecers as forming a nation...the same recognition that the Bloc Quebecois called "un cadeaux vide" in their recent commercials. The leader of the Patriots recently told journalists that if Trudeau (who they are working to defeat) won the seat, "it could even help our cause [of separatism]", perhaps explaining why the separatist movement isn't exactly the danger to Canada it once was...

Predictions: 79% of you who entered my election pool predicted a Trudeau win in Papineau and I tend to agree with that consensus. It's certainly a riding well tailored for Justin and the kid is a tireless campaigner hell bent on earning his ticket to the show. It's far too early to start talking about Trudeau for leadership but the Liberal caucus in Quebec could certainly use some fresh blood and Trudeau will provide just that.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 29, 2008

Caption Contest

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Week 3 in Review

Week 1 in Review
Week 2 in Review

On the Net: Rob Silver on unnamed Liberal sources. James Bow on culture. Maestro analyzes the music being used in election commercials. Christopher Holcroft's blog.

Stock Market: CPC 145, Lib 79, NDP 44, BQ 36, Oth 4. With a Tory majority at 38%.

Election Prediction Project: CPC 118, Lib 72, BQ 29, NDP 22, Oth 2, too close to call 65

Calgary Grit Seat Projections: CPC 155, Lib 78, Bloc 42, NDP 33, Oth 1. With a Tory majority at 52%.

Democratic Space Seat Projections: CPC 142, Lib 80, Bloc 48, NDP 36, Oth 2

Policy Corner: Harper gets tough on 14 year olds, and the Liberals release their full platform as do the NDP.

Sacked Candidate Counter: With another Liberal bitting the dust, it's now: Liberal 3, NDP 3, CPC 2

John McCain Moment: All the fundamentals of the Canadian economy are good. It’s not the time to do anything new, wild or stupid.”

Alberta Content: Daveberta's Alberta candidate list, and Straight Outta Edmonton profiles Edmonton Centre.

Conservative Battle Cry: "The Liberals will destroy the economy!"

Liberal Battle Cry: "The Conservatives will destroy the economy!"

NDP Battle Cry: "Dude - we totally don't have a deal with the marijuana party...woah man, look at our poll numbers."

Bloc Battle Cry: "The Bloc Quebecois are here to protect Canadian culture!"

In Case You Missed It
Lee Richardson unplugged
Darth Harper
Department of Ironic Policy Announcements
Planes, Trains, and Campaigns
Election Cartoons
Department of Bad Excuses

Si vous avez manqué

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Seat Projections

For a full description of methodology used, please see: Week 1 Projections

The polls have taken a turn for the worse for the Liberals, and my projections now show Harper with a 52.3% chance of a majority...and that's mainly due to older sample that hasn't completely decayed in weight yet. As always though, things can change a lot between now and election day.

From a methodology perspective, I'm hoping to see a few more regional breakdowns on some of these polls so that some of the Montreal/Toronto dynamics can be better taken into account.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

You Can't Suspend Your Presidency In The Face Of A Crisis

What an incredibly dumb move by John McCain to shut down his campaign amid swirling economic uncertainty in the States. This presidential race is about choosing which man Americans want to tackle the economic crisis - now, more than ever, is when the candidates should be presenting their plans to the people.

The fact is, there's only so much McCain can do as a Senator - he can do a lot more to end the crisis as a President (In theory - I'm not saying he would...). If he wants to leave the campaign trail to focus on this, fine, that makes a certain degree of sense, but to tell your team to stop campaigning, fundraising, and running ads? That won't make a lick of difference and all it does is give Obama a monopoly on the ground and in the air.

I get what McCain was trying to do, but there was no need to do it and it's just bad politics.

hat tip - C


This Week in Alberta

Finally something to report out of Alberta this campaign!

In light of recent shootings in Calgary, Fast Forward contacted Richardson September 18 to ask how the Conservative approach to crime compares to other parties’ approaches. In reply, Richardson said Canada has been too “soft on crime” by showing too much sympathy towards offenders and their civil rights. “Particularly in big cities, we’ve got people that have grown up in a different culture,” said Richardson, 60. “And they don’t have the same background in terms of the stable communities we had 20, 30 years ago in our cities… and don’t have the same respect for authority or people’s person or property.”

Later in the same interview, Richardson brought up the increase of immigrants coming to Canada. “Canada accepts so many refugees, for example,” he said. “These are people that have had a very difficult life from whence they came. If you’ve been in a refugee camp, then you live day-to-day. And those are troubled people. They come here and, well, it’s easy to take advantage of people that are trying to help.”

Richardson added: “Talk to the police. Look at who’s committing these crimes. They’re not the kid that grew up next door.”

In fairness to the Tories, they have put out a press release with old quotes Keith Martin and Garth Turner made when they were Conservatives, in an effort to show that they are really a tolerant party...

Labels: ,

"My son is at that age when he'd rather overthrow his father's empire than play the piano with him"

I think there's some missed opportunity for good 'ol Star Wars humour in this spoof, but it's still cute.

Department of Ironic Policy Announcements

The Conservative government will:

Increased civil penalties for false and misleading advertising.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Election ’08 Ad Watch: Pot Pourri

I don't have the time to do a full recap of each of them, so here are a few recent ads for your viewing pleasure. Feel free to snark away in the comments section - the Bloc using a mime in their ad certainly sets up quite a few punch lines, j'imagine.


And You Thought Sarah Palin's Vetting Was Shoddy

The Hall of Fallen Candidates grows:

Conservatives - 2
The Halifax Tory who lasted as long in the race as Gilles Duceppe's PQ leadership run
The blogging Tory

Liberals - 2
The Quebec radio host who mused about killing natives
Another Liberal who made anti-native remarks...albeit back when he was in Mulroney's Cabinet

NDP - 3
The BC drug advocate and youtube star
Dude...Another BC Pot Resignation...Woah
The BC Skinny Dipper (the first non-replaceable casualty)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Planes, Trains, and Campaigns

Elizabeth May has been doing a cross-country train trip this week to drum up Green Party support in small towns. Being a sap for retro-campaigning, I've got to say I really like this idea - especially for a party trying to grab headlines and a leader trying to position herself as being different than other politicians.

This is something that I even think one of the major parties should look into for future elections as a way to kick off the first week or close out the campaign. Logistically, they'd need to script things a bit tighter than the Green whistle stop tour which has a certain ad hoc feel to it. But it would be a great way to get some media attention and position yourself as being "in touch with average Canadians" as you blitz through small town Tim Hortons from coast to coast.


Poll Position

Liblogs was engulfed in a virulent debate this morning about why the Nanos numbers were so far off from everyone else. Well, that didn't last long:

Nanos: CPC 38, Lib 27, NDP 21, BQ 8, Green 6
Decima: CPC 37, Lib 24, NDP 17, BQ 8, Green 11
Ekos: CPC 36, Lib 25, NDP 19, BQ 8, Green 12

The only significant difference is on the Green Party vote, which is definitely a reflection of the Nanos questions being closed and the Greens being prompted as a response on the other polls.


Did You Hear The One About The Listeria Victim?

A look at the lighter side of the campaign so far, through the cartoons. Hat tips to Aislin, MacKay, Cook, the Globe, and Maple Leaf Web.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Richer, Fairer, Greener Canada

Updates to follow once I get some free time, but for now:

Read the Platform

Globe Recap

A Richer Canada

The Liberal platform stays true to the Liberal legacy of strong economic and fiscal management, including commitments to:

Balance the budget: We will restore the $3-billion contingency fund abandoned by the Conservatives to give Canada’s government more room to maneuver in tough economic times.

Tackle the infrastructure deficit: We will work with provinces, territories and municipalities to implement long-term funding for infrastructure that underpins our economic competitiveness and quality of life. We will help to improve our transit, our water treatment, our roads and bridges and our sports and recreational facilities so we can raise our families in healthy, vibrant cities and communities.

Bolster the manufacturing sector: We will create a $1-billion Advanced Manufacturing Prosperity (AMP) Fund to help Canada’s manufacturing sector retain and create jobs as it transitions to a greener future.

Provide access to post-secondary education: We will help make post-secondary education accessible to every Canadian by boosting and simplifying existing support for students, and increase investments to support research to help more Canadians succeed in the 21st-century knowledge economy.

Promote Canadian arts and culture: We will restore the ideological cuts made by the Conservatives, defend artists from censorship, double the budget of the Canada Council for the Arts and provide needed assistance to both artists and institutions in an industry that fosters vibrant, livable cities and communities, supports innovation, helps us understand our past and imagine our future, and stimulates our economy.

A Fairer Canada

The Liberal platform also commits to building a fairer, more inclusive society by:

Implementing the 30-50 Plan to reduce poverty: We will launch a full-scale attack on poverty in Canada, with the goal of reducing the number of people living below the poverty line by at least 30 per cent, and the number of children living in poverty by at least 50 per cent.

Creating child care spaces: We will work with the provinces and territories to create new early education and child care spaces that are centered on the quality, universally-inclusive, accessible and developmental (QUAD) principles, giving families a real choice.

Investing in health care: We will work to clear the bottlenecks that are currently slowing Canada’s access to health professionals, so that more Canadians will get the care they need, with shorter wait times. We will also introduce a national plan for catastrophic drug coverage that would ensure Canadians living with serious illnesses can focus on their health instead of worrying about their finances.

Investing in new Canadians: We will reverse the irresponsible immigration measures introduced by the Conservatives last spring and invest a total of $800 million in new federal funding to deal with the immigration backlog, welcome more new Canadians, and ensure that they succeed.

Bringing back the Kelowna Accord: We will bring back the Kelowna Accord and work in consultation with Aboriginal Peoples and provinces and territories to improve Aboriginal health, education and housing outcomes.

A Greener Canada

Building on the Green Shift plan, the Liberal platform contains measures that will:

Help Canadians go green: We will provide up to $10,000 in direct financial support, and introduce an interest-free Green Mortgage program for up to an additional $10,000 for homeowners making eco-friendly improvements to their homes.

Protect our health: We will introduce tough new measures to ensure Canadians have cleaner air, fresh water, non-toxic consumer products and safe food.

Preserve our natural heritage: We will create new National Parks and Marine Protected Areas to help preserve Canada’s cherished wilderness areas and biodiversity.

Canada and the World

Restore our independent voice of leadership: We will lead, not hinder, multilateral efforts to fight the climate change crisis and we will return to Canada’s traditional position of opposing the death penalty on the global stage.

Recommitting to development: We will increase Canada’s international assistance contributions and restore Canada’s special relationship with Africa which has been abandoned by the Conservatives.

Clarity and transparency on Afghanistan: We will unequivocally commit to ending the current military mission in Afghanistan in 2011 and will deliver the same message to our NATO allies who have been too often left to guess what the true position of the Conservative government is. We will carry out the remainder of the mission guided by the principles of accountability and transparency because Canadians deserve to know the whole truth about this mission.
(Citizen photo hat tip - CCT)

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Department of Bad Excuses

The Conservatives say Toronto Centre Tory candidate Chris Reid resigned this weekend after telling them that he couldn't commit to serving four years in government.

2008 Toronto Centre By Election Results
Liberal 59%
NDP 13.8%
Green 13.4%
CPC 12.3%

Week 2 in Review

Week 1 in Review

On the Net: (Conservative) Premier Danny Williams' ABC campaign has a website. And be sure to check out the Democratic Space campaign coverage.

Quote of the Week: “My own belief is if we were gong to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.” -Stephen Harper

BS Detector: Stephen Harper, on why the opposition parties want to destroy the Canadian economy: "My concern is thatobviously, going forward, that we have a government that's going to be sabotaged by a bunch of parties who don't want our economy to be successful."

Stock Market: The UBC stock market has the Tories leading the Liberals 36.9% to 27.4%, with the NDP (17.0%), Bloc (8.4%), and Greens (9.5%) all trailing. They have a Harper majority at 33.5%.

Election Prediction Project: CPC 107, Lib 71, Bloc 28, NDP 18, Other 2, Too Close to Call 82

Poll Projections: CPC 150.4 Lib 85.8 BQ 41.5 NDP 29.4

I'm Too Sexy For My Sweater Vest: "I've got a crush on Harper" could turn into the catchiest campaign theme song since "sing a song for Jim".

Policy Corner: The Liberals release their PSE platform. The Greens release their full platform. CTV has a list of campaign promises to date here.

Conservative Battle Cry: "We're running a positive campaign, unlike like those cowardly losers the Liberals."

Liberal Battle Cry: "With economic fears sweeping the country, it's time for...Bob Rae!"

NDP Battle Cry: "Yes we can...cut ATM fees!"

Bloc Quebecois Battle Cry: "With friends like these..."

In Case You Missed It
Idiots and Turds
They'll go Neg
Ladies and Gentlemen, the comic stylings of Mr. Gerry Ritz

Labels: ,

Friday, September 19, 2008

Seat Projections

For a full description of methodology used, please see: Week 1 Projections

With three companies running daily tracking polls, there's a lot more data available, which has decreased some of the variance in my projection model.

I've also tweaked the system slightly by weighting the Ekos polls less - with the demon dialing, the're getting much larger samples than the other companies and were dominating the model.

No other changes in methodology from last week, so without further adieu, here is where things sit. Again, as a disclaimer, these results are only as good as the publicly released polls and makes no effort to project where things will be at on October 14th.

Simulation Totals


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, the comic stylings of Mr. Gerry Ritz!

After fretting about the political dangers of the Listeria scare, Ritz quipped: "This is like a death by a thousand cuts. Or should I say cold cuts."

Then when told of a death in Prince Edward Island, Ritz said, "Please tell me it's (Liberal MP) Wayne Easter."

Green Book

The Greens released their platform today - smartly trimming down their previous 160 page policy document to a slick 8 pages (including pictures!).

Although I know they'd disagree, from my view it appears the Greens are trying to stake out the left of the spectrum. While the Dippers have become a lot more populist and mainstream under Layton in a bid to replace the Liberals on the left, the Greens seem to be waving the flag on idealism in a bid to replace the NDP as the conscience of Canada. The NDP of old would have certainly been supportive of environmental taxes and a GST hike - not any more. A lot of the language about pulling out of NAFTA and NATO is also very retro-80s NDP.

Labels: ,

Guest Blogging: Liberal Education Policy

The Liberals released their PSE platform today and, since I think this is an important and often overshadowed policy area, I figured I should critique it. As luck would have it, an expert in the field sent me in his (rather lengthy) synopsis of it which I will repost rather than giving my own 2 cents because:

A. He knows more about the issues than I do
B. That saves me the time of typing something up myself



From a student perspective it's close to a 9 [out of 10]. The feds can't lower tuition, but short of 100% grants for everyone, this provides a lot of support. Students (and a lot of the public) hate that the interest rates on student loans are so high.

From a policy perspective it's a mixed bag. The endowment is a serious investment and the grants will be helpful (although the conservatives already have their own grant plan). Turning back-end tax credits into cheques-in-the-mail is also great. It's a lot of spending though. I don't understand the need for BOTH a lower interest rate and a 2-year interest (and payment) holiday - that's alot of money. So, closer to a 7 on policy.

An upfront Education Grant payable to each student every three months at the same time as the GST rebate is paid to most students. This grant, when combined with the GST rebate received by most students, will be worth about $1,000 cash per student per year.

It is my understanding that this is replacing the education (and maybe the tuition?) tax credits.

Pros: Excellent idea. The current tax credits are quite regressive. You can only get nonrefundable tax credits if you are making enough income to pay taxes. Which for students usually means they either transfer them to their parents or wait until they are graduated and making good income. As a very much non-low-income earner once said to me “My son just bought a couch with his tax credits. Is that the best use of government money?” This will give money to students when they need it most. I haven’t done the math but hopefully this is budget-neutral. If it is, it seems like a great move.

Cons: Parents that currently get their kids’ tax credits might not be so happy. Hopefully these new grants won’t play havoc with the complicated needs-assessment system that is student financial assistance in Canada – will students have to claim this as income? This money could have been targeted better – either needs-based or aimed at specific students. But it’s good politics to have some universal assistance, and sometimes simple is better.

Creation of The Canada Education Endowment (instead of the Conervatives’ Canada Student Grant Program) in the sum of $25 billion, set up for 20 years. Quebec will have the option to not join the endowment. The Endowment will fund:
a) Research
b) $200,000 distributed annually in needs based grants (up to $3,500 each)
c) $100,000 distributed annually in access grants (up to $4,000 each) to provide financial assistance to help individuals who are members of groups such as Aboriginal Canadians and persons with disabilities that are traditionally under-represented in post-secondary education.

Pros: This is their way of saying “We will renew the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation.” A clear nod to CASA and the other groups that supported renewal. There are a lot of reasons why an endowment is a great idea. It is more stable and allows for a more flexible approach with the provinces. 20 years is a long time, though, and 25 billion is a huge amount of money! (I may have these numbers wrong, I will have to double check) Millennium was originally created with $2.5 billion for ten years and did some amazing things with that money.

It’s great to see research in there, as the current government has not indicated that it will do anything to replace the CMSF’s research capacity. Targeted access grants are great, so it’s good to see them keeping that aspect of the CSGP. Special status for Quebec will probably make Charest happy. And oh yeah, this will freak the CFS out.

Cons: While I think there are clear policy advantages to an endowment, I can’t say how it will play politically. I’ve been in the PSE bubble for far to long to be able to figure that out, but I’m interested to see the debate, especially how the provinces respond. A $25 billion, 20 year endowment is a huge spending pledge – will it garner that many votes? They are borrowing the money to create the endowment, I’m not sure how that will play out.

The government is already moving forward on the CSGP, so this would involve scrapping that work. That’s democracy though. I don’t like the 2:1 needs-based to targeted ratio, but it probably is a lot easier to sell than putting all the money towards low-income, students, etc.
Special status for Quebec will probably make everyone else unhappy.

Lowering the Student Loan interest rate to prime + 0.5%

Pros: About freaking time. While students aren’t directly affected by interest rates until they graduate, they are worrisome. High interest rates cause a lot of stress for recent (and not so recent) graduates.

Trust me, this is the number one issue people in general have with student loans. This will be popular for good reason.

Cons: Most people in PSE policy circles actually don’t like the idea of lowering the interest rate. Despite the common perception that rates are really high and that the government makes money from student loans, this isn’t true. When you factor in the interest subsidy (4+ years interest-free for university students) and the interest rate tax credit, ‘real’ student loan interest isn’t that high. This will be a huge cost for the government. There is a strong argument to be made that you could do a lot better with that kind of money.

I understand but disagree with that analysis. Despite the fact that ‘real’ interest isn’t high, that doesn’t change the fact that a student could graduate and (if they can get approved) pay off their
government loan with a private low-interest loan. That isn’t good for anyone. Politics and policy are sometimes about appearances and an apparently-high interest rate can be just as bad as a real one.

Re-instating the Student Loan ‘grace period’ to be interest-free (it used to be, but is no longer for federal loans) and extending it to 2 years.

Pros: You really shouldn’t call it a grace period any more if it’s not interest-free. The interest-free status just makes sense, as most students assume it is interest-free anyway. 2 years is a long time, this will play extremely well with students. It’s not clear if they are extending the time you wait to repay your loan to 2 years, but if they are that will make students, graduates (and probably parents) very, very happy.

Cons: Wow. Extending interest-free status to 2 years will be very, very expensive (see previous comment re: math). And if they extend the period you wait to repay your loan to 2 years, that will be incredibly expensive. Would there really be enough benefit from this to justify the cost? I seriously doubt it, there are surely better things that could be done with such a huge sum of money. This doesn’t seem to make sense if you are also lowering the interest rate. This will play well with students, obviously, but does the public really think university students should get a 6+ year interest-free loan?

Make all students eligible for guaranteed student loans of $5,000, regardless of parental income.

I’m assuming you’d still have to qualify for the loan, but most students will.

Pros: Well, I campaigned for the elimination of expected parental contribution for most of my time in student politics, so I should love this. This acknowledges that (most) students are adult learners, as the new language goes. This is a big issue for students and their parents. It addresses the belief/fact that middle-income families get screwed by the financial aid system. This will be popular and a big vote-getter.

Cons: I’m a bit torn on this one. I’ve always believed students should be treated like adults, and while grant funding should be targeted at low-income students, almost anyone should be able to borrow to finance their education. These are subsidized loans though, and they do cost the government quite a bit. There is the risk that people who no not really need the loans, or who get money from their parents, taking advantage of them. The last thing you want to hear about is the BComm student who takes out a $5000 taxpayer-subsidized interest-free loan every year to buy GICs.

Increasing support for the Indirect Costs Program to $500 million a year which will represent an increase of over 60 per cent above current levels.

Pros: Universities will love this. It is a good policy, which lowers university overhead.

Cons: Students won’t see a dollar of this, directly or indirectly. Does the public care about the specifics of research funding accounting?

Increase the annual funding levels of CIHR and NSERC to $1.275 billion from their current levels of $960 million. Increase the annual funding level of SSHRC to $450 million from the current level of $320 million.

Create a new Interdisciplinary Sustainability Fund of $100 million. This fund will be available to scientists, researchers and graduate students for projects that reach beyond the barriers of their discipline.

Make the Science, Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax credit 25 per cent refundable through the Green Shift.

Pros: Research is good - especially when you are trying to stimulate the economy and improve productivity. Interdisciplinary research is also good. Universities, and probably industry, will love this (no talk of commercialization for industry though).

Cons: I’ve never believed research is much of a vote-getter. SSHRC who?

Extend the time period that individuals have to repay their student loans.

Design new student loan programs that will increase access for under- represented groups such as Aboriginal Canadians.

No real details on these two points.

Overall this is an impressive platform. A lot of significant policy proposals that will improve the PSE system. Students should be pretty supportive of this, and CASA will be very happy, I wager. It’s expensive though, and not all the money is well-spent. I’m interested to see how this plays out. Although issues haven’t’ really been playing-out in the campaign thus far, so it probably won’t matter…

Labels: , , ,

Idiots and Turds

Who do you think Tory officials would have referred to with that colourful language? Liberals? The CBC? Elections Canada?


Those words were in reference to Conservative campaigns who felt uneasy at the in-an-out scheme.

Hat Tip - Radwanski


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Election '08 Ad Watch: Jack Attaque

I don't intend to review all the Quebec ads that come out this campaign since, by most of the definitions offered, I'm not a member of the Quebec nation. I will do a quick overview of them at some point, if only to get an idea of the Quebec strategies the parties are using.

But the NDP "Bush Ad" is just so darn impressive that it's worth taking a look at.

First Impressions: And I thought the new Batman movie was dark...

Ad Intent: Harper = Bush = scary

Tagline: Le Pouvoir de Changer

Things that work: It's incredibly powerful with great imagery guaranteed to make you take notice and give you chills - some of the effects are almost subliminal (watch the little kid's head explode at the 5 second mark). It attacks Harper on the issues where he's vulnerable and there doesn't appear to have been much of a "they've gone too far" backlash.

Things that don’t work: Very little, except for the one knock I'll mention when I grade it.

Soldiers in our Cities with Guns: The black and white, larger than life leaders, soldiers, and tanks, gave me a strong "World War 2 Newsflash" vibe. I'm thinking that was probably intentional.

Do You Like Handcuffs: A pair of shackled hands appear as the image under the words "esclave des petrolieres".

Cliché Score: 3 (The Harper-Bush comparison is worth a point. The black and white in an attack ad is worth a point. The military imagery is worth a point.)

Grade: A-
It's an A+ ad on it's own. Still, I need to dock them some marks because I'm not convinced the NDP are actually fighting the Tories for votes in Quebec. NDP votes will come more from the Bloc, so it's debatable how much this will actually help them.

Reader Grade:

How Would You Rate This Ad?
See Results

Previous Ads: See the softer side of Steve, Bad actors love Harper, Jack Attack, THE Green Shift, Viva Los Vegas


They'll go Neg

I signed up for the Conservative Party's e-mail list before the campaign started and got this today:

There will be fiery speeches. There will be ads. There will be custom web sites. And the Liberal War Room will be issuing a flurry of messages to reporters covering the Conservative campaign. The tone will be dark. The predictions will be dire. And Liberals will be crossing their fingers that the narrative will work – just as it has in previous campaigns.

They need to run such a campaign because they have nothing substantive to offer.


We cannot allow the Liberals’ campaign of fear to succeed. We need to fight back with facts supported by top-rate advertising, direct mail and rapid response. And we need your help to help us make that happen.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Election ’08 Ad Watch: Harpernomics

The Liberals finally drop the gloves:

First Impressions: This must be one of those fun Where's Waldo videos...now where did they hide Stephane?

Ad Intent: Attack Harper and frame The Green Shift as an economic issue.

Tagline: Let’s get started. (I have yet to see a strong tagline/slogan from any of the parties so far this campaign)

Things that work: The Liberals actually attack on the economy, which is good (not the economy...attacking on it). It's an effective attack that backs it up with a positive message about the Liberals.

Things that don’t work: I'm not sure the "last place to invest" attack will resonate much outside of Ontario, so I'd be running this one almost exclusively there.

I Guess the Cowboy Picture was Unavailable: The black and white pose of Harper is possibly the most flattering picture ever used in an attack ad - the man looks 20 years younger in it.

Cliché Score: 1.5
The Canadian flag gets half a point. Saying "turn the page" while literally turning the page on the screen is worth a point (and kinda clever). Normally I'd give out a point for the "black and white" attack picture but it's a good picture of Harper so no points for that.

Grade: B+.
It's not what I'd call a memorable ad, but it should be an effective one.

Reader Grade:

How Would You Rate This Ad?
See Results

On the air? As always, be sure to report actual sightings of the ads in the comments section. I'm curious where they're airing, how often, and on what kind of shows.

Previous Ads: See the softer side of Steve, Bad actors love Harper, Jack Attack, THE Green Shift, Viva Los Vegas


If McCain wants a Sarah Palin stand-in...

...he knows who to ask.

One of the best SNL sketches in years.

Labels: ,

Famous Last Words

“My own belief is if we were gong to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week 1 in Review: Gone to the Birds

On the Net: The most attention was on the now-dismembered notaleader.ca, for obvious reasons, but the Liberals also launched promisebreakers.ca and scandalpedia.ca. On a more positive note, ThisIsDion was also launched.

Quote of the Week: Stephen Harper - "Do you like handcuffs?"

Guess Who's Back? Ed's Back! Jack Layton dropped his first "Ed Broadbent" reference of the campaign earlier this week, in reference to the puffin poop. It's like 2006 all over again!

Guess Who's Back? Rick's Back! Rick Mercer compares the Canadian and US elections.

Stock Market: The UBC stock market has the Tories leading the Liberals 37.5% to 28.5%, with the NDP (17.7%), Bloc (8.6%), and Greens (8.8%) all trailing.

Poll Projections: I'll be doing detailed updates of my seat projection Thursday or Friday of every week. However, given the barrage of polls out there, I'll be releasing less detailed Sunday updates as well. And, adding in the last three days of polling, the Tories are now projected to win 144.5 seats, the Liberals 92.5, the Bloc 42.3, and the NDP 27.8. Oh, and if you're interested, the Conservatives wind up a majority government on 4 out of the 1000 simulations.

Plane Names: The NDP plane has been christened "Kitchen-Air", the Liberal plane has been dubbed "Profess-Air", while the Tory plane has been cleverly named "Sweater Vest Jet".

Policy Corner: Economist Stephen Gordon on the Tories' diesel tax cut - "I’m running out of synonyms for stupid."

Conservative Week in Review
Battle Cry: "Two and a half more years! Two and half more years!"
Grade: C+
Yeah, it was a bad week for the Tory war room. There's no denying that. But the Conservative ad campaign appears to be working and Harper himself has looked cool, collected, and downright un-scary. Plus he dealt well with the gaffes which is something he hasn't always handled well in past campaigns. And despite the failure of the 6 a.m. press sessions, they've controlled the agenda and gotten their message out.

Liberal Week in Review
Battle Cry: "Introducing Canadians to Stephane Dion...only 21 short months after he was elected leader!"
Grade: C+
Dion, at the least, met expectations this week and avoided any major mishaps. However, with the Tories gaffe-prone and failing to put any real policies in the window, the door was open for the Liberals to set the agenda and, for a wide range of reasons, they failed to get their message out. Just look at the attention Harper's diesel fuel cut got compared to Dion's promise to double the child tax benefit.

NDP Week in Review
Battle Cry: "I will follow Stephen Harper to the gates of...Calgary!"
Grade: B
Jack says he's running to be Prime Minister but, in reality, he's attacking Harper so that he looks like the stronger opposition leader. And, so far, he hasn't done a bad job of that. The goal of the NDP in any campaign is always to stay relevant and he's managed to grab headlines with populist policies.

Bloc Quebecois Week in Review
Battle Cry: "We are so screwed"
Grade: D
The Bloc has limped out of the gate, with former separatists questioning the very raison d'etre of the party. And, you have to wonder, what issue does the Bloc have to rally behind anymore? Will they actually propose anything this campaign that hasn't been proposed by someone else? I have my doubts.

And, yeah, the Greens are probably the winners of the week. However, Conservatives everywhere have threatened to boycott my blog if the Greens get their own "week in review" recap so I will not elaborate on their performance at all.

In Case You Missed It
Fly Away, Little Sparrow
Not a Leader: Russian Invasion Edition
Puffin Poop
The League of Below Average Prime Ministers Endorses the Green Shift


Friday, September 12, 2008

Awful Mental Images

Stephen Harper: "Do you like handcuffs?"

Seat Projections

Since 538 rocks my world, I figured it might be fun to try something similar for the federal campaign, so I've developed a seat projection system that uses a probabalistic approach. Here's the explanation, in as plain English as I could put it. Feel free to e-mail me or ask for clarification in the comments section - I'm open to suggestions for improvements:

1. I've collected all the publicly available polling data released since September 1st (Nanos, Leger, Segma, Environics, Ipsos, Angus, Decima, SC, and CROP). I've only included data where regional splits are available.

2. A weighted average of the data is calculated for each region, assuming a 3 day half life for polling data. What that means is that a 3 day old sample of 500 from Quebec is weighted equally to a 6 day old sample of 1000 from Quebec - both would be counted as 250 completes. The "days old" number is based on the middle night of polling.

3. At this point, each seat is projected based on the change in the region. So if the Liberals are up 10% in Alberta (ha ha ha), they get 10% added to each seat. Sort of. In order to make the model more realistic, I've weighted the "base" for each seat 3/4 from 2006 and 1/4 from 2004, to reflect any "bizarre" fluctuations that may have happened last election due to local candidates, etc. I've also made a correction for incumbents retiring (between 2004 and 2006, the "incumbency factor" was worth 4.1% once regional changes were controlled for). And, in ridings where a by election has been held, I've given the by election and last election equal weighting. The important thing to remember is that, even after all this, everything gets projected to the regional numbers. So regardless of the tweakings, the numbers projected in Atlantic Canada will match the polling data.

4. And I could quit at this point and just list the projected wins and loses. But the problem with that is that a projected 2% Liberal win counts as 1 Liberal seat, as does a 30% projected Liberal win. And when you consider all the error associated with these projections, the two are definitely not even. So I decided to go the simulation route.

So I ran 1000 simulated elections. In each one, the regional numbers were simulated based on the sample size for the region (using the half-life discussed above). And then each riding was given a "random shift" based on the "regional to riding variance" observed when I ran this same model on the 2006 election using 2004 data (standard error of about 4% for each riding).

So in each of these 1000 elections I've got a winner in every riding. That means I can project a "probability of victory" for each seat, and get an average number of seats won per party.

It should be noted that this is all assuming the election is held today...I'm not predicting future shifts in popular support. It's also assuming the polling numbers are accurate. And it's not going to take into account a lot of the "unique" riding dynamics (Bill Casey, Lizzie May, etc) or different shifts that might be occuring between, say, Vancouver and rural BC.

So, based on the simulations, here are the results and graphs:

Conservatives: 137.9 (95% CI from 132 to 144)
Liberals: 98.5 (95% CI from 93 to 104)
NDP: 28.8 (95% CI from 25 to 32)
Bloc: 42.0 (95% CI from 39 to 45)
Indepent: 0.8 (Andre Arthur is the only independent who's going to show up on this model and, regardless of whatever the projections say, he's pretty much a lock since the Tories aren't challenging him)

It should be noted that, up until a few days ago when the Decima and Nanos polls rolled in, this model was projecting a high probability of a Tory majority.

Here are the regional breaks:

Atlantic Canada
Liberal: 22.2
Conservative: 6.5
NDP: 3.3

Bloc: 42.0
Liberal: 16.0
Conservative: 15.4
NDP: 0.8
Ind: 0.8

Conservative: 51.4
Liberal: 44.3
NDP: 10.2

Conservative: 19.4
Liberal: 4.7
NDP: 3.9

Conservative: 27.7
Liberal: 0.3

BC + Territories
Conservative: 17.4
Liberal: 11.0
NDP: 10.6

See Also: Barry Kay Projections, Hill and Knowlton Projector, UBC Election Stock Market