Friday, October 31, 2008

These Past 8 Weeks in Alberta

OK, so my weekly Friday look at Alberta politics and the ALP leadership race got kind of sidetracked, what with the federal election being thrust upon us. So here's a run down of some of the things you (and I) may have missed:

1. To recap, the membership cut-off November 7th, with the mail-in vote to be announced December 13th. The three candidates are Dave Taylor, David Swann and Mo Elsalhy.

2. Daveberta takes a look at the history of ALP leadership races. My guess is that the winner will wind up with about 2,500 votes this time - on the first ballot, that is. I'm not expecting anyone to win this thing outright.

3. Speaking of Alberta's pre-eminent blogger, Daveberta has endorsed David Swann.

4. To the best of my knowledge, Kent Hehr (Taylor) and Harry Chase (Swann) are the only two MLAs to have endorsed a candidate in this race.

5. Dave Taylor released his very good party renewal document a few weeks back.

6. Slogans: Mo - "An Alberta for ALL Albertans", Swann - "The Courage to Lead. The Power to Inspire.", Taylor - "A New Way Forward"

Tune in every Friday from now until voting day for a look at the race - I'm planning to profile the 3 ALP leadership candidates starting next week.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cabinet Making - Follow the Instructions

This was a pretty standard Cabinet making exercise, with few surprises. Among the highlights:

The Strong Performers Get Promoted

Jim Prentice winds up with Environment (presumably because he’s the only member of caucus who owns a hybrid car) and Lawrence Cannon gets Foreign Affairs, meaning we’ll quickly see if the strong reputations Harper’s HoC flank-men have built up are due to their competence or the fact they’ve handled rather benign portfolios to date. Tony Clement replaces Prentice in Industry, which should booster Clement’s bio for the next time he decides he wants to lose a leadership race.

Jason Kenney gets rewarded for bringing over a large number of ethnic voters, by being given Immigration. James Moore gets another well deserved promotion, becoming Minister of Rich People Galas. Peter Van Loan’s reward for (not) answering 90% of the questions in the house? Public Safety.

Oh, and Peter MacKay becomes Minister in charge of Danny Williams.

The Weak Performers Get Demoted

Josee Verner has been sent to Cabinet purgatory – Intergovernmental Affairs. So long Josee! Gerry Ritz stays in place, which means costing Harper his majority is a bigger offense than cracking listeria jokes. Oh, and apparently “gross incompetence” also rats fairly low on list, since Gordon O’Connor managed to, yet again, keep his spot.

As for John Baird? Off to Transport! I look forward to learning about how the Liberals neglected that file for 13 long years.

Garry Lunn also gets knocked down to sport.

New Faces Get Big Roles

As expected, the new women have featured prominently in the new Cabinet. Leonna Aglukkaq will put her experience as Mayor of Wasilla a Nunavut CabMin to work right away in Health, while Lisa Raitt gets Natural Resources and Gail Shea gets Fisheries.

Denis Lebel, Keith Ashfield, and Peter Kent all get Minister of State titles too, although it’s wholly possible that Lebel and Ashfield were just invisible backbenchers rather than new members.

Red State, Blue State

This is pretty cool - a visual history of the electoral college.

hat tip -freakonomics

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cabinet Speculation

Tomorrow is Cabinet Day and, while it doesn’t figure to be as exciting as Harper’s first Cabinet (Floor crossers! Senators!), there’s still some intrigue surrounding it. With Flaherty locked in to Finance, the biggest mystery is who will take over the revolving door at Foreign Affairs. When I first drafted this post yesterday, I was thinking Stock would get the job, but the latest rumours have Lawrence Cannon winding up there. Not a bad call - Cannon hasn't exactly stood out in Transport but "not standing out" is about as good as it gets for this Cabinet.

So if Cannon goes there, that leaves his old portfolio open, along with Monty’s, Fortier’s, and Hearn’s. I’m also going to guess that Gordon O’Connor and Canada’s next top comic Gerry Ritz get shown the door. Josee Verner is likely done in culture, given that that portfolio cost Harper his majority. I'm not sure that anyone else needs to be moved but a few others certainly will be, in order to fill the empty positions.

As for new blood? Well, given where they’re from, and given the lack of women in high profile Cabinet positions, you have to figure Nunavut’s Leona Aglukkaq and PEI’s Gail Shea are locks. Lisa Raitt and Lois Brown probably stand good chances as well since Harper will want to reward Ontario – of course, you have to figure 905 victors Peter Kent and Bob Dechert are also on that short list. My gut says that the Ontario women have the inside track - bringing four new female MPs into Cabinet might be a more tangible way to win over women voters than, say, this.

And, with Fortier gone, Harper will need to find another Quebecer. Maxime Bernier anyone?

For more in depth speculation, David Akin has a run down
here. And be sure to scan Hacks & Wonks for a series of posts on the subject.

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Barack's infomercial appears tonight at 8 pm - the rumoured cost of 5 million dollars is about as much money of the Liberal Party raised in 2007, by the way.

And later tonight, you can catch the next President on The Daily Show. Because, judging by the polls, this one's as close to a lock as they get.

That said, to my American readers, make sure you still vote:

hat tip - JC

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Annual Frank McKenna Won't Run Post: 2008 Edition

But I'm sure this won't stop the rumours:

OTTAWA — Frank McKenna announced today that he will not be a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

“Although I have been deeply moved by expressions of support for me from across the country, I have not been persuaded to change my long-standing resolve to exit public life for good. My only regret is that I cannot honour the expectations of friends and supporters who have shown enormous loyalty to me,” the former New Brunswick premier said in a statement.

“The challenge of winning the leadership, restoring the health of the Liberal Party and returning a Liberal majority government requires a longer time commitment than I am prepared to make. There will be an ample number of well-qualified candidates to do this important work.”

So, for those keeping track, that leaves us with:

Dominic LeBlanc

Michael Ignatieff
Bob Rae

Definitely, Maybe
John Manley
Ruby Dhalla
Denis Coderre
Martin Cauchon
David McGuinty
Ujjal Dosanjh
Gerard Kennedy
Martha Hall Findlay
Ralph Goodale

Long Shots
Carolyn Bennett
Ken Dryden
Joe Volpe
David Orchard
Belinda Stronach

Taking a Pass
Scott Brison
Justin Trudeau
Frank McKenna
Dalton McGuinty
Carole Taylor

If you have any other tips, feel free to pass them on, as I'll be updating this list fairly frequently.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Other Other Election

Because, in Canada, you now must always signal an election by calling off a trip to China:

QUEBEC and MONTREAL — Quebec voters will likely face another election campaign before Christmas as Premier Jean Charest plans to call an election next week for a Dec. 8 vote.

The stage was set for a snap election when Mr. Charest Monday cancelled his participation in the Council of the Federation's economic mission to China. The trip includes four other premiers and members of the Canada-China Business Council, who are scheduled to meet Chinese government and business leader next week in Beijing, Chongqing and Shanghai. Last Thursday, Mr.Charest, who chairs the Council of the Federation, repeated that he intended to be part of the China mission.

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I Hear Vancouver is Lovely in May

There's increasing chatter in the back channels that, because the upcoming Liberal policy convention has been turned into a leadership one, the convention itself might relocate from Vancouver to Toronto, Montreal, or Ottawa.

Even though a Vancouver convention means a more expensive plane ticket for me, I think a move to central Canada would send all the wrong signals. Western Canada, particularly Vancouver, is the most promising growth area for the Liberal Party, and the road to eventual Liberal majority runs west.

There are certainly many more important and many more concrete things the LPC should be doing to make itself a player in Western Canada. But symbolism is important. You don't want to slap Western Liberals in the face after they fought a series of losing battles for the party during the last campaign. And with the Canucks surely out of the playoffs by the time May rolls in,
maybe a few locals will pay attention to the Liberal convention if it's taking place in their own backyard.

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Your Monday Leadership Update

Manley Considering Liberal Leadership Bid

The Other Election

I was down in New Hampshire this weekend, helping out the Obama campaign. I'll be sure to have a full week!

Until then, here's Thursday's SNL open if you haven't caught it yet:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rebuilding the Big Red Machine

The Liberal Party has a problem. And the first step (or twelfth?) in solving any problem is to admit you have a problem. And the biggest problem right now is that too many Liberals won’t admit there’s a problem. So here are a few inconvenient truths:

-The Conservatives raised 12 million dollars more than the Liberals last year. Sure, it may not always be well spent, but it pretty much guarantees that, come May, whoever emerges from the Liberal leadership bloodbath is going to face a relentless barrage of negative ads.

-The Conservatives have well over four times as many donors as the Liberal Party. Think about that for a second. More than anything, this shows how the Liberal Party has been unable to connect with Canadians.

-And the lowly NDP? Oh yeah, they have more donors than the Liberals too.

-If you give the Liberals every riding they finished second, within 10% of winning, that gives them a whooping 109 seats. Even if you give them every riding they finished second, within 20% of winning, that still only leaves you with 137 ridings where they are mildly competitive.

-Want a different definition of competitive? Let's say 25% of the vote. Well, then the Tories lead the Liberals 218 to 144. If you consider anything less than 15% a “dead riding”, then there are 80 dead Liberal ridings and 27 dead Tory ridings.

-Over a third of all Liberal-held seats are in Toronto. They hold 7 seats in Western Canada and did not crack 20% of the vote in any of the four Western Provinces. Of those 137 mildly competitive ridings I mentioned, 17 are in Western Canada, leaving them as a non-factor in 77 seats west of Ontario. That's a lot of seats to write off, especially when you consider it isn't going much better in rural Quebec, or rural Ontario.

-The Liberals are losing ground with one of their traditional voter blocks – new Canadians.

So what’s the solution? Well, these guys have some good ideas – I’ve stolen the best ones they put forward for this post and I encourage everyone to steal any of my own I toss up. I also need to offer a giant hat tip to tGPOitHotW, as he was smart enough to suggest a lot of these things long before the results of the last election woke other people up.

So, in my humble opinion, here’s what the party needs to fix, and a few ways we can go about fixing it:

Growing the Membership

Admittedly, holding leadership races every two years is one way to grow the membership but I strongly doubt that’s the best way to do it. An obvious strategy is to just phone blitz old membership lists and identified Liberals, and ask them to sign up. Another is to hold more public events. Use the few MPs we do have – force them to hold at least 6 town halls a year if you must. And remember that people who generally feel strongly about issues are more likely to donate their time and money, so build connections with activists and recruit them in to the party. Find a local issue and latch onto it - if it gets you 20 new committed Liberals in an unheld riding, then it's worth the effort.

Rebuilding the Ridings

Another way to build the party is by doing it riding by riding, door by door. Ideally, you’d put a 308 riding strategy in place, but maybe we leave the Crowfoots of the world for a few years down the line and focus first on making the party competitive in 200 ridings, which is what you need to be if you want to ever form a majority government again.

So you hire 20 field workers and assign them each to 8 ridings. These field workers should be young and energetic and they should be people who would work for cheap, knowing that this is a golden chance to make connections and move up in the party. Have them make fundraising phone calls Monday to Thursday night – that’d more than pay for their salary.

Then every Saturday and Sunday, they’d be tasked to organize a door knocking blitz in one of their 8 ridings. Even if there are only four Liberals in the whole riding who give a damn, then the five of them can spend the afternoon going door to door. Even if they each only find one person willing to buy a membership, then that’s 5 new Liberals a month, 60 new Liberals a year, and couple thousand people who know the party exists and what it’s 15 second doorstep message is (oh, and as another piece of advice, find a 15 second doorstep message for what this party stands for). And you know what? I’m willing to bet at least 5 of those 60 sign-ups will join the monthly door knock next year and suddenly the riding is twice as strong as it used to be.

Engaging the Membership

So what do we do with do with all these new members? How do we make them give a damn about the Liberal Party? The next step is to engage them.

Some people like policy. For them, set up policy weekends and float discussion papers. Implement a rule where the party MUST adopt two of the top five policies passed at policy conventions – I used to be a huge policy nut but I barely have the energy to go to the policy workshops at the conventions anymore because I know the party will just ignore whatever is passed.

But policy isn’t for everyone. So hold barbeques, social events, and pancake breakfasts. Set up a book club. Hold podcasts and online chats. Create an online community – the sexy centristes did a great job of that in France. Again, scan the world and find the best ideas others have used.

You just need to do something to make people feel like they’re really a part of something. We’ve got 75 MPs. Why not force each of them, including the leader, to randomly call 10 average run of the mill party members every month to thank them for being a member and asking them what they think the party should be doing? We’d reach 9,000 Liberals a year – 9,000 people who would be genuinely excited to know an MP cares what they think. You know what? I bet this would motivate a lot of casual Liberals to get more involved or donate to the party.

Finding the Coalition

Anyone who has read any of the “behind the scenes” books on the Harper Conservatives knows about the brilliant use of micro-targeting they’ve employed. They found their target demographics and they’ve relentlessly gone after them, through direct mail, advertisements, and policies. The Liberals need to find their “winning coalition” and then shamelessly pander to them (luckily we are experience at this). Maybe it’s immigrants, working women, and seniors. Maybe it’s young voters, single parents, and commuters. I’ll leave finding that coalition to people who are a lot smarter than me.

Once we have them, we need to connect with them by showing them that the Liberal Party will tangibly make their lives better and that the Liberal Party leader cares about them and their family.

Raising the Dough

I’ve left fundraising for the end because, in the end, it’s all about the money. The first fundraising tip I’ll offer is to call up a few people on the Barack Obama team come November 5th, and get their help. The Tories weren’t afraid to go to the other side of the globe for advice – we shouldn’t be afraid to look a lot closer than that.

Beyond that, fundraising dollars will flow from some of the other things I’ve talked about. Given the public financing rules, a 308 riding strategy can be legitimately classified as a fundraising tactic. Just look at Alberta. In 2008, the Liberal party got 144,000 votes there. In 2004 – at the height of Adscam – they got 279,000. At $1.95 a vote, that works out to an extra $263,000 a year, or a million bucks over a normal four year election cycle. Growing the party in places where we aren’t yet in a position to win seats means more money and, down the road, it will actually translate into substantial electoral gains.

If you have an engaged membership, they’re also more likely to donate – and to encourage others to donate. Obama has done a great job encouraging people to set up “personal fundraising pages” where supporters can set targets and encourage their friends and family to donate. He’s also managed to use the internet and web 2.0 technology as a fundraising tool – something all parties in Canada have yet to master.

But, regardless of the method, the main goal needs to be to just increase the number of donors. Once you get a $20 donation, it’s easy to talk that individual up to a $50, then a $100 donation. So hold smaller fundraisers with broader appeal. Even if you don’t make a ton off them, the important thing is to get your donors’ information into your database.

Which brings me to my next point – get an f’ing database. The Tories have pages upon pages (bytes upon bytes?) of information on donors, supporters, and voters – the Liberals have trouble sending out automatic renewals for party memberships. The Dave Taylor renewal document I linked to earlier this week made sense – every time a member signs up for the party you should find out what issues they care about and any other information about them you can. The more you know about voters, the easier it is to tailor your message to them. In the same vein, the more you know about your members, the easier it is to target fundraising messages to them.

Which brings me to my next point – get an f’ing message. When it comes to fundraising, pick an issue and fundraise on this issue. The Tories do this magnificently – hate the concept of man on man monogamy? Do those pinkos at the CBC make you want to puke? Worried about $8 a head lettuce? Well, send us $20. The Liberals need to do the same thing (with different issues, obviously).

Looking beyond fundraising, the party really does need to find out what it stands for in broader terms if it hopes to win over Canadians. Maybe another Kingston Conference is the solution. Maybe some deep soul searching will be enough. But, regardless of the path there, Liberals need to find out what they believe in and, more importantly, need to be able to communicate this to Canadians. That means understandable policies people can relate to and a clear message about our values.

In Conclusion

I’m sure there are better ideas than these out there – the important thing is to get people talking about party renewal. And by talking, I don’t just mean party officials saying “renewal” in every speech to pay lip service to the idea. I don’t just mean leadership candidates going to Alberta and giving the usual “Alberta Liberals are the best Liberals. I’m going to make winning seats here a priority!” spiel. I don’t mean confusing the hard work that needs to be done with short term fixes to win a handful of extra Ontario seats next election.

We need an honest discussion about what specific steps the party should take and then we need to actually take those steps. Hopefully the leadership candidates will initiate this conversation. Hopefully grassroots Liberal members will force them to if they don’t.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Race for Stornoway 2

A preliminary look at the field...


Rae and Ignatieff are the two names on everyone's lips, yet again. Both are better candidates than they were last time, when Iggy's newness to politics and Bob's newness to the Liberal Party were major turn-offs. Still, the anybody but Ragnatieff sentiment carried the day two years ago and it remains to be seen if opinions towards these two polarizing figures has shifted.


I'm going to predict none of the other candidates from the last "Race for Stornoway" run this time. Kennedy and Hall Findlay are both young and have made names for themselves in the party - unless they win, there's nothing to be gained for either of them. Brison has already said he won't run and I can't imagine Volpe wanting to give it another go, even if many of his former
supporters are now old enough to vote. Dryden might be tempted to run in an effort to raise issues, but he still has debts to pay off. Bevilacqua, Bennett, and Fry couldn't find enough support to make it to Montreal last time, so unless Carolyn Bennett wants to be the token female, I doubt any of them will make it to Vancouver.


The early focus of the last leadership race was on the big names who took a pass - McKenna, Manley, Cauchon, Rock, Tobin... It would surprise me to see anyone in this crowd jump in when they skipped the more winnable race, but if McKenna or Manley do enter, the entire dynamic of this leadership race would change.


Dominic Leblanc seems like a lock to run at this point - worst case, he positions himself for "next time" and best case he comes up the middle to win. Justin Trudeau has wisely taken a pass...with his age and the speed the Liberals are chewing through leaders, he can likely sit out the next 4 or 5 leadership races. Will Ruby Dhalla toss her hat in or will she once again take a prominent role on the Ignatieff campaign? Will David McGuinty try and one up his brother?


Denis Coderre is musing about running as the voice out of Quebec, with Ujjal Dosanjh's name being tossed around as a Western candidate. If you want to wildly toss out other long-shot names from the west, I suppose there's always Goodale, Christy Clark, Carole Taylor, Anne McLellan, Glen Murray, Tina Keeper, or David Orchard. Of course, who knows which of the 75 current MPs think they have the right stuff...or which defeated MPs want to get back in the game. And, heck, Martha turned her run into a safe Toronto seat so perhaps someone else will try and turn that trick.

One thing is for certain - the speculation will be fierce. When the dust settles, I'm gonna say we have 5 candidates, with only three having a legit shot at the crown. But I wouldn't at all be surprised to be surprised. Nunziata anyone?

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Election '08 Ad Watch: Here Come Our Winners

Throughout the election I asked readers to rate the different ads the parties tossed out on the airwaves. And, even though there were some obvious partisan biases at play, it's hard to argue with the final list. Here are the top 5 ads, based on your votes:

Number 5: Harpernomics (Liberals)

Number 4: Bushwacked (Liberals)

Number 3: Subtle Micro-Targeting (Conservatives)

Number 2: Jack Attack (NDP)

Number 1: Jack Attaque (NDP)

Why you maybe shouldn't always listen to Liberal insiders

John McCallum to be Liberal interim leader: CTV
Updated Sat. Oct. 18 2008 10:54 PM ET News Staff

Ontario Liberal MP John McCallum has been tapped to take over the reins of his party as interim leader if Stephane Dion steps down as expected on Monday, CTV News has learned.

Bird Watching

Sparrow Returns!

hat tip tGPOitHotW

The Other Liberal Leadership Race

I got an advance copy of Dave Taylor's Alberta Liberal Party organization document, which is being released later this afternoon. Given that I've been talking a lot about grass roots reform for the federal Liberals lately, I figured I'd skim the 46 pages. And, you know what? There are probably some things in here the federal Liberals should consider doing, as icky as taking advice from Alberta seems. Among the highlights:

1. "Thorough" would be an understatement for this document. Taylor tackles every conceivable aspect of the ALP structure, from his headline-grabbing pledge to adopt a permanent plastic membership card, to his sexy promise to use html rather than pdf newsletters.

2. Taylor wisely takes a page from the federal Tories, putting an emphasis on information. Members would be asked for policy interests upon sign up, for the purposes of fundraising micro-targeting, and a central database of all voters would be set up.

3. Given the young web gurus Taylor has running his campaign, it's not surprising to see an emphasis placed on moving the party online. The plan is to shift away from paper wherever possible, and create as much two-way communication as possible online.

4. The best part of this document is a pledge to run membership drives on old lists, and to canvass between elections. In some cases, this would involve going into dying riding associations and building the party up one member at a time.

5. There's a promise for the leader to hold more town hall meetings.

6. There's a promise to create an Aboriginal People's Commission.

7. There's the controversial promise of allowing proxy votes at party AGMs.

8. And, most exciting of all...a new logo! And a plan to "review" the party colours.

I'll toss up a link once the document goes public later today. btw, I'm not getting involved in this race at all so I'll gladly post on Swann and Elsalhy's plans for party renewal if they send them my way. And, as for the federal Liberal leadership race? I think a condition of entry for all candidates should be a detailed plan for party renewal - I know I'd have a hard time supporting anyone who didn't release one.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Dion Steps Down

We can all agree, I think, that the Liberals - from the leader on down - were not ready for this campaign, and were not ready to govern. But few races in this country have more underscored the extremely cruel nature of electoral politics. It's an elbows-out game for all concerned, and parties have to know that when they choose their leaders. Frankly, Dion should have known that before he sought the leadership in the first place. But if Steve Paikin ever writes a sequel to The Dark Side he may not need to look for a single other person to write about.

The question immediately, in anonymous quotes and Conservative attacks, was one of leadership. Before he could even begin to go about trying to lead, he was defined as weak and cowardly, pursued by numerous rivals who, while they hadn’t been able to beat him in a year-long campaign, were apparently better, stronger, more deserving captains. For months he was mocked without riposte. Maybe a more archetypal politician might’ve been able to transcend this, might’ve reassured those who doubted his abilities. But, in Dion’s case, all that made him who he was only seemed to confirm what his opponents purported him to be. All that he supposedly stood in opposition to, he now needed to personify. And so maybe the question is how we now define leadership. Or how we know a leader when we think we see one.

There’s always a lot of second-guessing in a campaign like this but the campaign – and Dion’s leadership – were probably over 18 months ago. As Wherry laments above, within months of surprising everyone and winning the leadership, Tory ads had defined him as weak, the media had bought into that narrative, and the knives were being sharpened. I shudder to think of what would happen today to a wooden and uninspiring civil servant named “Lester” who talked with a lisp, wore bow ties, and lost his first two elections. It’s pretty clear that the days of a “not a leader” like Pearson becoming Prime Minister are long gone.

It became common to refer to Dion as “an honest politician and decent human being” during the dying days of the campaign, as if these were horrible character flaws holding him back from becoming Prime Minister. At the same time, voter apathy reached all-time highs, because of cynicism towards politics and politicians. Go figure. Maybe Dion needed the “bastard side” Will Ferguson talks about. Maybe he needed to be more pragmatic. Maybe the failure was not in the product but in how it was marketed.

When all is said and done, the problem is that Dion wasn’t “an honest politician” – he was “an honest man” thrust into the job of politician, a job he just wasn’t well suited for. Brilliant academic, yes. Passionate fighter of Canadian unity, no one can deny. Talented Cabinet Minister, you betcha. But as a politician? It just wasn’t his calling.

Even if you were never a big fan of Stéphane Dion and even if you think the party will be better served under new leadership, it’s hard not to feel at least a little bit sorry for the man. The story of Paul Martin’s leadership was probably a “greek tragedy” – for Dion, it was just a sad story.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just My Two Cents

If the common sentiment in the Liberal Party becomes that the only reason we lost in 2006 was because of Adscam, and the only reason we lost in 2008 was because of Dion, then Stephen Harper is going to become the longest serving Tory PM since John A. Macdonald.

With that in mind, everyone should check out the opinions of Misters Silver and Axworthy.

As for Mr. Reid's belief that:

No. [Our goal] should be to win more seats than our competitors and ideally, more than the 155 seats required to form a stable majority government. Let's not over-think this thing, for Pete's sake. It's about getting more Liberal MPs in the next election, not increasing popular vote over the next decade.

Here's the problem. The Liberals won 76 seats. They were within 10% of winning in 33 other seats - so maybe the "quick fix" can get us up to 109 seats next election and if that's Scott's target, that's probably doable. If you're a little more optimistic and you assume the Liberals win every seat they were in second place and within 20% of winning this time, that gives us 137 seats next election. Not bad, unless you consider that using the same criteria leaves the Conservatives competitive in 208 seats next election.

What people need to recognize is that when the Liberal Party isn't even competitive in 155 seats, winning a majority government becomes kind of difficult. And unless real changes are made, it's not going to get better anytime soon, no matter what saviour descends from the heavens to lead the party.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Frank McKenna: Forever Testing the Waters

1989: Ontario Premier David Peterson interrupted a brief vacation with Frank McKenna Tuesday to suggest that the New Brunswick premier should run for the federal Liberal leadership.

1990: Whispers about McKenna's interest in replacing John Turner have been growing in New Brunswick in recent weeks because the premier is shopping for a new speech writer.

1997: Journalist Allan Fotheringham, who reported this in the Financial Post, suggested the Martinites regard former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna as a real danger, though it's hard to see the country choosing a man so earnest and eager to please.

1998: Frank McKenna, the political wunderkind who ran New Brunswick for a decade and is still only 50, might be persuaded to leave the corporate world and go into federal politics, where he was once expected to go.

2002: The former premier of New Brunswick, Frank McKenna, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

2003: Mr. McKenna, who attended the Liberal convention briefly last week and didn't rule out running.

2004: McKenna has made it clear that while he wants to run for election in a seat in the Moncton area, he does not want to fight for the nomination with an incumbent MP.

August 2005: Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna, is seen as the prime contender to replace Prime Minister Paul Martin.

December 2005: Topping everyone's list of heirs-apparent is Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna.

January 2006: The body isn't even warm yet, and already there are at least two senior Liberals -- Frank McKenna and John Manley -- who insiders say are quietly gearing up their leadership campaigns.

January 2006: A longtime friend and political ally of McKenna's said the former premier is a "political addict" and will be very tempted to plunge into the leadership contest.

May 2006: A source, however, told The Hill Times that "don't be surprised if you see the draft [Frank] McKenna campaign by late July" if none of these official Liberal candidates emerges as a clear front-runner.

July 2006: If you ask some Liberals whom, among the 11 candidates, is going to win the
leadership campaign, the answer is now the twelfth, Frank McKenna.


McKenna Eyeing Liberal leadership: source

Lord Discusses McKenna as Grit leader

"I don’t think the people who are putting his name out there are doing it without some indication that he wants it out there," one Liberal said Thursday.

(linkless entries found via proquest)

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Friday, October 17, 2008

And People Say The Left In Canada Is Disorganized...

Spotted in Toronto tonight:

I hate to second guess these guys, but perhaps it would make sense to hold the "STOP Harper" rally before Election Day...

(thanks to JN for the pic)


Meet The Press

For Immediate Release
October 17, 2008

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion to hold a press conference in Ottawa

Date: Monday, October 20, 2008
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: National Press Theatre, 150 Wellington, Ottawa, Ontario

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You Too, Can Be An Anonymous Liberal!

Do you have a grievance? Not happy with someone else in the Liberal Party? Wanna float your buddy's name for leadership? Sure, you could speak out. But why do that when you can be an anonymous Liberal!

I know what you’re thinking. “But if I spew my anonymous rants on a blog or a gossip magazine no one will listen. No credible news source would ever publish them.”

That’s probably true. So just call up one of Canada’s major newspapers with your hot tip (“Fred Mifflin is considering a leadership run”, “Mario Dumont is organizing!”).

But how should you identify yourself? Not by your name or title, silly. Here’s a handy guide:

Influential Liberal: You know a former Cabinet Minister. Or you once met a Cabinet Minister. Or you once saw a Cabinet Minister at a convention.

Senior Party Member: You’re over 30.

Liberal Insider: You were a poll captain on your local Liberal campaign.

A well connected Liberal: You’re friends with Warren Kinsella on facebook.

Veteran Liberal: You’ve been bitching about the party’s leader since Turner.

A Liberal source: While you may not have voted Liberal this time, you have in the past.

Liberal Strategist: You've criticized the party's strategy over beers.

The Results Are In

My pot pourri election pool asked readers to answer 10 questions about the election. Before I reveal the winners, here are the answers:

1. Will Elizabeth May win her seat? Not even close.

2. Will Justin Trudeau win his seat? Yup. One of 4 Liberal pick-ups this election.

3. Will Senator Michael Fortier win his seat? Again, not even close.

4. Will the Liberals win a seat in Alberta? No. And I'm really kicking myself for not wording it as "will the Tories win every seat in Alberta?".

5. How many seats in Quebec will the NDP win? Just one. Just barely.

6. Which polling company's final numbers will be closest to the actual result? Angus Reid takes the top prize - something no one predicted.

7. Which party will run the most vicious attack ad? I've decided to give this one to the NDP for their Quebec Bush ad. It was also, in my opinion, the best ad of the campaign.

8. Will the word "abortion" be used in a major party TV ad? Not in an ad, no.

9. Which leader will get the most points in the gaffe pool? The Tories take this one.

10. Conservative Party over/under in Crowfoot - 80%. Shockingly, over. 82%.

Tie-Breaker: Number of seats won by the Conservatives. 143

And, now, the winners. If you didn't crack the top 10 and want to know how you did, just drop me an e-mail:

1. HosertoHoosier 8 (tie break: 8)
2. jeagag 7 (tb: 2)
3. IslandLiberal 7 (tb: 4)
4. bct2.0 7 (tb: 12)
5. Richard Peregrino 7 (tb: 37)
6. le politico 6 (tb: 10)
7. uwhabs 6 (tb: 15)
8. Antonio 6 (tb: 19)
9. matthew 6 (tb: 28)
10. Kettles 6 (-)

So congrats to the winners! You've won...nothing!

We're Number Six! We're Number Six!

We all knew the order the major parties would finish on election night - there were few surprises there. However, the real battle, was the race for 6th through 19th. Yet due to the intense media bias against them, we didn't hear their stories:

I don’t know about you, but I would have rather heard stories about Sinclair Stevens running to be Prime Minister, than about Jack Layton running to be Prime Minister. (and Stevens' controversial move to focus on the "dinning room table" rather than the kitchen table)

I would have rather heard about vote splitting on the far far left, than on the left.

I would have rather heard stories about the marijuana party’s war room than about the Conservative Party’s. (guess which one was more mature?)

I would have preferred Jane Taber focus on “anonymous Animal Alliance insiders” than “Liberal sources”.

And how come we never heard about the leadership struggles going on inside the “work less” party? (probably because they only ran one candidate)

So I applaud these parties for overcoming the media bias and tying the Greens in the seat count. I sincerely hope they are all considered for inclusion in the 2010 debates.

6. Christian Heritage: 26,722 votes (average: 453 per candidate)
7. Marxist-Leninist: 8,753 votes (148 per candidate)
8. Libertarian: 7,382 votes (284 per candidate)
9. Progressive Canadian: 5,920 votes (592 per candidate)
10. Communist: 3,639 votes (152 per candidate)
11. Canadian Action: 3,508 votes (175 per candidate)
12. Marijuana: 2,319 votes (290 per candidate)
13. 2,263 votes (323 per candidate)
14. Newfoundland and Labrador First: 1,801 votes (600 per candidate)
15. First Peoples National: 1,640 votes (274 per candidate)
16. Animal Alliance Environment Voters: 529 votes (132 per candidate)
17. Work Less: 423 votes (423 votes per candidate)
18. Western Block: 195 votes (195 voters per candidate)19. People’s Political Power: 185 votes (93 per candidate)


Some Facts To Consider

Obama +2 in North Dakota - a state a Democrat hasn't won since 1964

Obama and McCain tied in North Carolina - a state a Democrat hasn't won since 1976

Obama up by 3 in Virginia - a state a Democrat hasn't won since 1964

Obama and McCain tied in Indiana - a state a Democrat hasn't win since 1976

Liberal Party of Canada Seat Totals in Western Canada
1993: 27
1997: 15
2000: 14
2004: 14
2006: 14
2008: 7

Percentage of Liberal Party Seats in Toronto: 36%
Percentage of Canadian Alliance Seats in Alberta, circa 2000: 35%

Liberal Popular Vote in Four Western Provinces: 19%, 11%, 15%, 19%
Canadian Alliance Popular Vote in Ontario, circa 2000: 24%

Seats in Ontario: 106
Seats in Western Canada: 94
Seats in Quebec: 75


Hangin' Up The Keyboard

Love him or hate him, Jason Cherniak has done a lot for Liblogs and has been a "must read" for years.

So it's a shame to see him calling his blogging career quits. Hopefully he'll be back one day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Real leaders have SIX points in their plans

I hate to sound cynical, but if it wasn't for that bonus sixth point, I'd swear that Harper's new six point economic plan sounds a lot like Dion's five point economic plan which Harper was attacking just a week ago.

Actually, that's not fair. Only two of the points are lifted directly from Dion's notaplan. As for the other four:
1. The Bank of Canada and Minister of Finance will monitor financial markets.

2. Canada will attend the Canada-EU summit.

3. Canada will attend the meeting of G-20 Finance Ministers.

4. "Government spending will be focused and kept under control as the strategic review of departmental spending -- now in the second year of a four year review - continues."

I don't know about you, but this really reassures me and confirms that Canadians concerned about the economy made the right decision yesterday. After all, it takes a real leader to commit that Canada will attend the Canada-EU summit. And if "monitoring financial markets" isn't a real plan, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election '08

Elections Canada
Fringe Parties

Ad Watch
The Winners
Bad Actors Love Harper (CPC)
See the Softer Side of Jack (NDP)
Jack Attack (NDP)
Green Shift (Liberal)
Viva Loss Vegas (CPC)
Harpernomics (Liberal)
Jack Attaque (NDP)
Pot Pourri
Bushwacked (Liberal)
Runaway Train (Greens)
Doodling Dippers (NDP)
Subtle Micro-Targeting (CPC)

Projections and Predictions
Throughout the campaign, I used public polling data to project seat totals. The first set of projections, explaining the methodology, can be found here, with my final projections here. Other updates can be found here, here, and here. So how did I do? It was a missed bag. The NDP and Bloc projections were spot on but the final Liberal and Conservative totals were outside the margin of error. Still, when compared to the other projections and predictions being made, the model held up respectably:

1. Calgary Grit predictions (total miss: 16 seats)
2. Ekos predictions (total miss: 18 seats)
3. Calgary Grit simulation model (total miss: 23.6 seats)
4. Barry Kay projections (total miss: 24 seats)
5. Andrew Coyne predictions (total miss: 26 seats)
6. UBC Stock market (total miss: 30 seats)
6. David Aiken predictions (total miss: 30 seats)
8. Democratic Space (total miss: 36 seats)
8. Kady O'Malley predictions (total miss: 36 seats)
10. Election Prediction Project (total miss: 38 seats)

Week in Review
Week 1 in Review
Week 2 in Review
Week 3 in Review
Week 4 in Review
Week 5 in Review

Debate Drinking Game
French Debate Live Blog
English Debate Live Blog
Better Know a Riding - Papineau
Election Day

Labels: , , , , , ,

E-Day: Harper Wins

So, for the second time in our country's history, we've got a third straight minority government. It's also the first time Canada has elected back-to-back Tory minorities which probably isn't overly significant, but it's a fun bit of trivia (if by "fun" you mean "horribly depressing"). Yes, it's a disappointing result, but there were many times this campaign when I was expecting far worse. As the saying goes in Toronto, for both politics and hockey, "there's always next year".

So what does it all mean?

Well, for The Greens, it's another ballot box let down. They got into the debates. May got heaps of media attention. They ran TV ads. But the end result was only a minor uptick in support - 6.5%. May's suicidal decision to run in Central Nova now means they'll be on the outside looking in for the next two years.

The NDP may be the big winners of the night. This will be their second highest seat total in party history, which is scary because it means a dozen years from now, the future NDP leader will be name-dropping "Jack Layton" the way "Ed Broadbent" gets tossed around these days (that gives me the same queasy feeling I get when it occurs to me that the top 40 music of today will one day be a "golden oldie"). The wins in Edmonton Strathcona and Outremont are especially significant for obvious reasons. Sure, Jack had to abandon NDP idealism, make bad sweater jokes, and say the words "kitchen table" 42,000 times to get it done, but he got it done. Which means we'll see an even more self-confident Jack Layton in the house for the next two years.

The Bloc still doesn't have a raison d'être, but they have another 50 government of Canada pensions so they'll be pleased with the results. Duceppe and the Bloc have been left for dead time and time again...maybe it's time we realized that, unfortunately, they're here to stay. These results will let Duceppe leave on a high - I would be very surprised if he sticks around to fight another campaign.

I'll have a lot to say about the Liberal Party over the next few days but, for now, I agree 100% with everything Andrew Coyne said on the CBC tonight. We're looking at 5 or 6 Liberal seats in Western Canada tonight. We're looking at a party that can't out fundraise the NDP. In short, we're looking at a party with many deep-rooted, endemic problems. This is the lowest popular vote total in the history of the party - but anyone who thinks this was a blip on a radar (just like 2006 was an Adscam blip, right?) and that a fresh coat of paint will mean a string of Liberal majorities is deluding themselves. The one bright spot in this is that it will be a small, but impressive, Liberal caucus. Dion, Rae, Ignatieff, Kennedy, Dryden, Hall Findlay, Goodale, Dosanjh, Trudeau, Garneau, LeBlanc, Dhalla, Holland...I could name a dozen more quality MPs easily. It's a great team and I don't think they'll need to worry about the NDP outshinning them in the House.

And that brings us to the victors. I completely buy the Tom Flannagan theory that Harper is trying to crush the Liberal Party and that another Conservative minority is a step in that direction. Of course they would have loved to have the majority Quebec denied them, but I don't think there are any regrets on team Tory after this one. The backlash to the relatively benign culture cuts and justice reforms sends yet another message to Harper that he must moderate his party or pay the electoral consequences. Having watched the man for a few years now, I think he'll take that message to heart.

Oh, and 58% voter turn-out? That's a sign all the parties have failed.

Election Night Live Blog

6:24 pm: I just got back from casting a ballot for Liberal candidate Christine Innes. It was really a no brainer - say what you will about strategic mistakes the Liberals may have made, but in my opinion they offer Canadians the best platform, the best government, and the best Prime Minister.

It appears the election party I'll be at tonight will have wireless, so be sure to tune in here for results and commentary. And, by "tune in here", I mean "tune in here after 10 pm eastern" as it appears the Elections Canada/Liberal Party conspiracy does not give Liberal bloggers immunity from blackout rules. But, come 10:01, the fun begins! Snark! Trivia! The exact same results you can find on any TV broadcast!

7:52 pm: My text message from Halifax tells me that the the Newfoundland results are now - Liberal 6 and NDP 1. So if these trends hold, we're looking at a 264 seat Liberal majority!

8:21 pm: Signs things are going bad for the Tories in Quebec: Even their own Cabinet Ministers aren't voting for themselves.

9:05 pm: May goes down, which is a shame since she's kind of grown on me this campaign. The sad thing is, there were probably a dozen ridings she could have won.

9:43 pm: The CBC calls a riding for the NDP with SIX votes cast so far. Well, while we're at it, I'm gonna go out on a limb and call Crowfoot for the Tories with...ZERO votes reporting.

9:53 pm: The NDP is in the game in Fort McMurray...perhaps the Danny Williams effect?

10:01 pm: And we're live! CBC has called it for the Tories. The Ontario numbers are looking really bad for the Liberals, with the Dipper pulling votes away from them; a majority is still possible. Jack's down. Ken Dryden is down. Ruby Dhalla is down. But the most surprising result of the night is that the Conservatives are winning the STUDENT election vote. Because nothing plays to 17 year olds like a promise to cut the tax of diesel!

10:28 pm: The CBC has yet to call Calgary Southwest for Harper. Guys, I think you can make that bold plunge.

btw, anyone else notice how the Green candidates are all either 22 year old women or guys with big bushy beards?

10:41 pm: High profile races: Trudeau up, Kennedy up, Turner defeated, Fortier defeated, Mulcair down. And my cryptic Alberta post may come true, but not necessarily how I intended it to - an independent Conservative is neck and neck for the lead in Edmonton Sherwood Park.

10:57 pm: Conservatives at 145...boy those 55 million in culture cuts are sure looking costly now.

Conservative headquarters is watching CBC - imagine that!

11:11 pm: Gerard Kennedy elected in Parkdale High Park which I'm very glad to see. After having door knocked there a few times this campaign I was really worried, so JE and the entire campaign team deserves a hearty congrats for their great job! Despite the seat loses, the Liberal caucus looks like it will be a strong one.

11:25 pm: Outremont neck and neck right now.

12:45 pm: Linda Duncan is now up in Edmonton Strathcona...if she hangs on, I'll win $20, to go with the $60 I'll take from three separate "not a majority" bets. So that's good. And seeing Jaffer booted and the Alberta monolith being broken up is icing on the cake.

An NDP win I take less satisfaction in is Trinity Spadina...just once it would be nice to vote for a winner. Hell, I'd take voting for a winner on American Idol at this point.

I noticed Tony Clement's margin of victory has gone from 28 votes to...11,000 votes. Eek.

Harper's at the podium now. I see Ben and Rachel are up late...on a school night. Tsk Tsk. I'm shocked Ben wanted to be seen with his dad, given that he's at that age when blah blah blah...

Very good speech by Harper. Very gracious and Prime Ministerial. But, then again, he is the Prime Minister. *sigh*

Monday, October 13, 2008

Polls, Projections, Predictions

This is your chance to make predictions for tomorrow - either on popular vote, seat totals, or on any of the close riding races you've been following that you think might surprise people. The final projections from the Calgary Grit simulation model are at the bottom of this post - but, before then, here's what some other people are saying. I'll be updating this post throughout the day tomorrow, so if you come across anything I've missed, feel free to send it my way.

First up, the polls:

CPC 34.2%
Lib 26.7%
NDP 21.4%
Bloc 9.5%
Green 8.2%

Ipsos Reid
CPC 34%
Lib 29%
NDP 18%
Bloc 9%
Green 8%

Harris Decima
CPC 34%
Lib 25%
NDP 19%
Bloc 11%
Green 9%

Angus Reid
CPC 38%
Lib 28%
NDP 19%
Bloc 9%
Green 6%

Strategic Counsel
CPC 33%
Lib 28%
NDP 18%
Green 11%
Bloc 10%

CPC 34.6%
Lib 22.9%
NDP 20.5%
Bloc 10.3%
Green 10.2%

CPC 34.8%
Lib 26.4%
NDP 19.4%
Green 9.6%
Bloc 9.8%

Then, the predictons and projections:

Election Prediction Project
CPC 125
Lib 94
NDP 36
Bloc 51
Ind 2

Democratic Space
CPC 128
Lib 92
NDP 34
Bloc 52
Ind 2

UBC Stock Market
CPC 131
Lib 89
NDP 39
BQ 47
Oth 2

Barry Kay Seat Projections
CPC 135
Lib 87
NDP 33
Bloc 51
Ind 2

David Akin
CPC 128
Lib 84
NDP 43
Bloc 50
Green 1
Ind 2

Andrew Coyne
CPC 133
Lib 88
NDP 34
Bloc 51
Ind 2

Ekos Predictions
CPC 136
Lib 84
NDP 35
Bloc 51
Ind 2

Scott Reid
CPC 124
Lib 82
NDP 43
Bloc 58
Ind 1

Kady O'Malley
CPC 129
Lib 91
NDP 33
Bloc 53
Ind 2

Andrew Steele
CPC 121
Lib 90
NDP 44
Bloc 50
Ind 3

Which finally brings us to the Calgary Grit Simulation Projections. The methodology can be found here. The short version of it is that I've taken regional breaks on all publicly released opinion polls and plugged them into a model that takes into account results from the past 2 elections, by elections, and incumbency effects. Then, based on the variance of the polls and the variance in this model (found using '04 data to project '06), I simulate 1000 elections - this way, it recognizes that a projected 40% to 39% win in a riding only means the party on top has a better chance of winning the seat...they won't neccesarily take it.

For this final update, I'd considered flushing all the data except for the last results from each pollster, but a lot of people do vote in advanced polls and thanksgiving polling is always kind of wonky so I've kept the model the same - that is, weighted using a 3 day half life (so 1000 interviews today is worth as much as 500 interviews 3 days ago). Because the final polls use bigger samples and are more recent, they'll be weighted far more heavily anyways. Oh, and Strategic Counsel never posted the regional breaks from their final poll on their website, so they've been excluded.

So, with all that said, the model predicts:

CPC 133.2
Lib 86.2
Bloc 51.6
NDP 36.0
Ind 1.0

If you're curious, just using the final polling numbers produces a very similar result of CPC 131.6, Lib 86.7, Bloc 52.5, NDP 36.2.

I spent some time this weekend going through things riding by riding and, as for my personal predictions, I'll say: CPC 136, Lib 84, Bloc 49, NDP 37, Ind 2.

Below are the tables, regional breaks, confidence intervals, and all that jazz:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week 5 in Review: Looking back from the future to the past week, had I been blogging in the present

On the Net: Kinsella has "when they were younger" pictures of the party leaders. Fagstein runs down the newspaper endorsements - the Globe goes with Harper, the Star with Dion, and the Sun goes with Layton.

Projections, Polls, Predictions: Will all be posted here tomorrow.

Apparently Judy Sgro and John McCallum were unavailable: Conservative MP Heckles Duceppe at Campaign Event

Better Know a Riding: The Globe profiles Parkdale High Park.

If you were running to be PM now and struggled in your second language as you did in 2006, what would you have done differently then? Video from Harper during the 2006 French debate.

Vote Early, Vote Often: Advanced polling numbers.

Policy Corner: The Liberal Platform. The NDP Platform. The Green Platform. The Conservative Platform.

Conservative Battle Cry: "Stephane Dion. Wrong on the conditional subjunctive tense. Wrong for Canada." (h/t anon)

Liberal Battle Cry: "Let's party like it's 1999!"

NDP Battle Cry: "I can still win this thing guys! Guys? Are you listening to me? Guys..."

Bloc Quebecois: "Go ahead. Predict our demise again. We dare you."

In Case You Missed It
Helena to be the bread winner?
Tale of the Tape
Talking Turkey
Politics Tonight

Election ’08 Ad Watch: Subtle Micro-Targeting

Initial Reaction: So much for "the economy is strong".

Ad Intent: Duh.

Tag Line: Stephane Dion. Not Worth the Risk.

Things that Work: This one gets the message across and plays on what has become the only issue of the campaign - the economy, specifically, economic uncertainty.

Things that Don't: I can't find any glaring problems with it, but that's what the comments section is for. Earlier in the campaign, this one would have been easily spoofable, but I'm not sure there's time left for that now.

Ad Buy: I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that this one gets more air time on soap operas, than on football games.

Cliche Score: A little girl is always worth a point. A little girl drawing has to be worth at least 2.

Who Would Have Thought... that the only ad of the whole campaign to use an actual kitchen table would be a Tory one, rather than an NDP one?

Grade: B+
I was expecting a nastier "bomb the bridge" attack from the Tories over the last week, but this should be fairly effective. It gets the Tory message out and plays on the mood of Canadians. It's not flashy and won't grab anyone, but this is a better way to go than cheesy scratch and win ads.

Reader Rating:

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