Saturday, April 30, 2011

Your Daily Seat Projections

My final projections will be posted tomorrow, but we've already got the final numbers from Leger, Ipsos, and Angus. Here's the running average:

CPC: 36.5% (+0.4)
NDP: 30.4% (+2.7)
Lib: 20.8% (-1.9)
Bloc: 6.6% (-)
Green: 4.7% (-0.9)

As a reminder, the following projections are based on 10,000 simulations, taking into account the polling margins of error, how shifts in regional support have historically transferred to individual ridings, and the chance the pollsters could just miss the mark, like in some previous elections.

This is the only simulation model out there and, as such, it's far more effective when projecting tight races or three-way races since it recognizes the riding could go either way depending on how the numbers break.

CPC: 139 to 163 seats (mean: 151.0)
NDP: 78 to 108 seats (mean: 93.6)
Lib: 34 to 57 seats (mean: 45.2)
Bloc: 8 to 28 seats (mean: 17.6)
Ind: 0.6

Odds of Tory victory: 100%
Odds of Tory majority: 29% (up from 20% on Friday)
Odds of NDP official opposition: 100%

Since Friday, the NDP are up another 15 seats on average, with the Liberals down 10 and the Bloc down 5. The NDP range in Quebec now sits at an astonishing 33 to 58 seats. However, even though the polls are good for them, if you happen to find yourself in Vegas this weekend, it might be safer to bet on the low end of that. In a lot of close races, on the ground organization will make a difference, and that's one area where the NDP are lacking in Quebec. Heck, it's unclear whether some of their candidates will even be around to vote for themselves. I'm not trying to be snide, I'm just trying to point out the weakness in any seat projection model - the same problem would present itself if the Liberals surged across Alberta. We'll have to wait until Monday to see how it plays out.

Becoming almost as unpredictable as Quebec is Ontario. Decima has the Liberals winning in the province, while Ipsos has them 13 points back of the NDP, in third. As a result, the 95% confidence interval for number of Liberal seats there ranges from 16 up to 33. There are very few safe seats left in this Liberal fortress.

(short methodology, long methodology)


Ad Watch: Compare and Contrast

The Liberals release their final two ads of the election - one targeting the Tories, one targeting the NDP.

How would you rate this ad?
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How would you rate this poll?
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You can rate other campaign ads here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


Angry Bairds

This is just too funny.

This is sure to end well

If you think this all ends on May 2nd, think again:

Harper mum on post-election governing scenario

Stephen Harper is refusing to say whether he would accept a decision by the Governor General to hand power to the opposition parties in wake of the May 2 election.

Conservative supporters booed a CBC journalist at a Greater Toronto Area campaign stop Saturday morning after he challenged the Tory Leader on the matter.

You know, if Harper is going to spend the entire election fear mongering about what the opposition will do after E-Day, it's not asking too much for him to spell out what he'd do. Especially if the question is whether he'd, you know, respect the constitution.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The 2011 Wet Tissue Election

Sadly, this is all people will be talking about over the final 3 days of the campaign:

TORONTO - Jack Layton was found laying naked on a bed by Toronto Police at a suspected Chinatown bawdy house in 1996, a retired Toronto police officer told the Toronto Sun.

The stunning revelation about the current leader of the New Democratic Party comes days before the federal election at a time when his popularity is soaring.

When the policeman and his partner walked into a second-floor room at the Toronto massage parlour, they saw an attractive 5-foot-10 Asian woman who was in her mid-20s and the married, then-Metro councillor, lying on his back in bed.

I can think of many reasons to not vote NDP, but this isn't one of them. And I think most voters will agree.

At the start of the campaign, this might have subconsciously made voters think twice. After all, the optics certainly aren't good for Layton, and it does speak to his character. But no one is going to change their mind over this now. We saw this in Toronto's mayoral campaign last year, when revelations about Rob Ford's past were just shrugged off by his supporters - and may have even made him more popular. We saw it with Bill Clinton in the 90s.

Like Clinton, Layton may also benefit from being seen as the victim. When a 15 year old story surfaces 3 days before E-Day at a time when the NDP is surging - and is broken by a media chain with a reputation as a right wing attack dog, it's going to rub a lot of people the wrong way (no pun intended). As Andrew Coyne tweeted, "I'd rather be caught naked in a massage parlour than fully clothed working for SunNews".

Layton hasn't lied, there hasn't been a coverup. In fact, being attacked on this plays right into Layton's message of rising above the "smear tactics" that plague Canadian politics.

So, yes, Layton may still get his happy ending after all on Monday.

Ridings to Watch - BC

After a look at Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta, we head West, to the always interesting world of BC politics.

I don't have a lot of on-the-ground intel, so check out Pundits Guide for a great qualitative look at the ridings. I'll provide a brief overview here, using data from my seat projections but, by all means, chime in with your own 2 cents in the comments section.

Liberal Party Outlook

We can likely write off Esquimalt-Juan De Fuca. The projection model gives the grits only a 5% chance to hold, and I suspect the "Keith Martin effect" is larger than the incumbency boost I give candidates. Beyond that, the grits have between a 60% and 88% chance of holding Newton North Delta, Vancouver Centre, Vancouver South, and Vancouver Quadra.

The most promising pickup for them is North Vancouver (18%), where Taleeb Noormohamed will try to unseat first term incumbent Andrew Saxon.

Conservative Party Outlook

In addition to the Liberal challenge in North Vancouver, the Tories could be in tough in Surrey North and Vancouver Island North, where my model gives the NDP even odds.

Layton flew into Kamloops today, a seat he certainly could take from the Tories if the orange wave hits the West Coast. The only other seat the Tories have less than 95% chance of holding in BC is Nanaimo-Alberni, where the NDP's Zeni Maartman is trying to knock off incumbent James Lunney.

Oh yeah, and Saanich, which we'll get to in a second.

As for pick-ups, their best chances for gains would be the aforementioned Liberal seats, and Burnaby-Douglas, where they lost to the NDP by just 800 votes last election.

NDP Outlook

Although the NDP are rising in the polls, it's still unclear how many seats they can actually nab in BC. Based on the projection model, their best odds are in Surrey North (62%), Vancouver Island North (45%), Esquimalt-Juan De Fuca (26%), Newton-North Delta (21%), Vancouver Centre (18%), Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo (17%), and Nanaimo-Alberni (7%).

The Greens

The Greens have released an internal poll showing Elizabeth May ahead in Saanich-Gulf Islands but, keep in mind, this is an internal poll. Possibly one of Elizabeth May's household.

All along, I've felt this seat was a 50/50 shot, and I haven't seen anything this campaign to make me to change my mind. Or, I guess I should say, "to make me make up my mind".

The stakes are certainly high for May, since it seems almost certain the Green vote will be going down nationally. If she can't win in Saanich, the Greens could very well fade into obscurity. No pressure.

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Your Daily Seat Projections

The big update will wait until the final round of polls come in this weekend but, for now, the latest from Nanos, Ekos, and Decima have been added.

CPC: 36.1% (-0.2)
NDP: 27.7% (+1.1)
Lib: 22.7% (-1.1)
Bloc: 6.6% (-0.3)
Green: 5.6% (+0.1)

As a reminder, the following projections are based on 10,000 simulations, taking into account the polling margins of error, how shifts in regional support have historically transferred to individual ridings, and the chance the pollsters could just miss the mark, like in some previous elections.

This is the only simulation model out there and, as such, it's far more effective when projecting tight races or three-way races since it recognizes the riding could go either way depending how the numbers break.

CPC: 137 to 162 seats (mean: 149.2)
NDP: 63 to 94 seats (mean: 78.1)
Lib: 44 to 68 seats (mean: 56.7)
Bloc: 12 to 35 seats (mean: 23.2)
Ind: 0.8

Odds of Tory victory: 100%
Odds of Tory majority: 20% (down from 26% on Wednesday)
Odds of NDP official opposition: 97%

Since Wednesday, the NDP are up another 9 seats on average, and are now projected to win 23 to 51 in Quebec, 15 to 22 in Ontario, and 7 to 14 in BC. Those confidence intervals should narrow over the weekend once we're hit with a batch of new large-sample polls, but there's a lot of volatility out there right now, so I suspect we'll have to wait until election day to see how a lot of seats break.

Remember, numbers could shift over the weekend. This isn't a prediction for Monday - it's an approximation of how the current polling numbers translate into seats.

(short methodology, long methodology)


No Win Situation

A preview of the problems that might await the Liberals if Layton surges over 100 seats.

CdnPolitico @stphnmaher Works for me. As a Blue Lib I would not agree to ever support an NDP-led govt. Ever.

torontodan @stphnmaher If Libs prop up Harper, 80% of those who are left will leave the party forever. Myself included.

Ridings to Watch - Saskatoba

Yesterday, I looked at Alberta. Today, we head east. Keep in mind, there's not a lot of polling data from the Prairies, so this is a fairly superficial overview. Any intel those of you on the ground have is greatly appreciated!


There are some certainties in life. Sun goes up, sun goes down. Tide goes in, tide goes out. Ralph Goodale wins in Wascana.

Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River

This riding has switched sides every election since its creation in 1997, so it's hard to give Tory Rob Clarke too much of an incumbency boost. The local candidate makes a huge difference here, and the aboriginal vote is key, so it's a bit of a wild card and not necessarily a riding that will follow national trends. Word on the ground is that NDP candidate Lawrence Joseph is quite popular, so a third-to-first swing for the Dippers isn't out of the question.

Other NDP Hopes in Tommy Douglas Country

The projection model gives the NDP a decent shot at winning back Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar and Palliser.

Liberal Long Shots

The Liberals are hopeful about Monica Lysack's chances in Lumsden Lake Centre, which they came within 122 votes of taking in 2004. Moving up the charts in this riding is also the Polka King, NDP candidate Brian Sklar.

The Liberals are also targeting Saskatoon-Humbolt, where Tory incumbent Brad Trost has gotten himself into some hot water. Liberal candidate and city councillor Darren Hill has been working the riding for quite some time though here, like in Lumsden, there's a lot of ground to make up.


The Liberals have a pair of Winnipeg MPs - Anita Neville, who has represented Winnipeg South Centre for 11 years, and Kevin Lamoureux, who has represented Winnipeg North for 5 months. Of the two, Lamoureux is likely in tougher, with Bill Blaikie's daughter, Rebecca, trying to win back this former NDP stronghold.

Even if Winnipeg North falls, Saint Boniface and Winnipeg South remain possible grit pick-ups if things break their way. Beyond that, Kildonan-St.Paul is the only other seat in play, and it would only flip to the NDP if the orange wave really picks up steam out west.

Elsewhere in Manitoba

The Liberals couldn't hold Churchill with Tina Keeper last election, so we can likely mark this one down as an NDP hold. The rest of the seats in Manitoba are as Tory as they get.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ridings to Watch - Alberta

Over these final 5 days of the campaign, I plan to take a look at the seats to watch in each region, with a little help from my seat projections. There's not much in terms of new polls today, so I'll save the updated projections for tomorrow.

Luckily, you don't need a complex simulation model to figure out how Alberta will vote, so let's start there.

Edmonton Strathcona

This is the main event in Alberta - all eyes are on this riding due to Linda Duncan's victory over Rahim Jaffer here in 2008. With Jaffer persona non grata these days, the Conservatives have countered with Ryan Hastman, a young entrepreneur. While it's unclear how a national NDP surge would impact Alberta, I had this one pegged as an NDP hold before the campaign began, so I'll stand by that prediction, even though the Tories have unleashed much of their Alberta organization against Duncan.

Edmonton Sherwood Park

Before the Ford revolution took Toronto by storm, it nearly hit Alberta last election. Conservative independent James Ford came within 2,000 votes of defeating Tim Uppal last election, and he's running again this time. I haven't heard much about this seat, so I'm going to keep it in the too close to call column for the time being.

Edmonton Centre

As Anne McLellan's old seat, this remains the great Liberal hope for Alberta. The Grits are running Mary McDonald up against incumbent Laurie Hawn (shown below, in one of the most bizarre photo ops of the campaign). Hawn won handily in 2008, and there's no reason to believe this time will be any different.

Other NDP Hopes?

The orange-crush doesn't seem to have hit Alberta as hard as elsewhere, but Layton has made two trips to Edmonton, and the party is hopeful of gaining new seats there. Former provincial NDP leader Ray Martin seems like the best bet in Edmonton East, but he still lost to Peter Goldring by 20 points last election. Still, my projection model gives him a 9% chance of taking the seat, so he can't be ignored.


The Liberals haven't won a seat in Calgary since 1968, and that seems unlikely to change this time. Nevertheless, there are a few ridings worth paying attention to. With Jim Prentice's departure, the race in Centre North should be a lot closer than it has been in recent years, with Stephen Randall running a strong campaign for the Liberals.

Josipa Petrunic has generated a lot of media buzz in Calgary East, thanks to her local issues campaign and could surprise.

Jennifer Pollock got the most votes of any Liberal last election, and has switched ridings from Calgary West to Calgary Centre, traditionally seen as the seat with the most potential for the Liberals in Calgary.

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We Urge You To Vote For These Losers

A look at some Globe & Mail endorsements over the years. I must stress that these are actual editorials, about the candidates they are endorsing. This is not satire.

2011 - Stephen Harper: That is the great strike against the Conservatives: a disrespect for Parliament, the abuse of prorogation, the repeated attempts (including during this campaign) to stanch debate and free expression. It is a disappointing failing in a leader who previously emerged from a populist movement that fought so valiantly for democratic reforms.

2004 - Paul Martin: Therefore, we urge a Liberal vote Monday -- not because they've earned the right to re-election but because, at the very least, we can count on them to do little harm and, at best, the near-death experience might help the old Paul Martin find himself and lead Canada more confidently into the future.

2000 - Jean Chretien: Mr. Chrétien has to go. He has become a one-man band, loving power for its own sake (witness his premature election call), terrorizing backbench MPs who might seek an independent voice when confidence isn't at stake, shrugging off the sloppy record-keeping and politically charged grants of Human Resources Development, dismissing the ethical problems of his intercession with the Federal Business Development Bank, and in general treating his position as lord of a fief rather than as a public trust.

1993 - Jean Chretien: After nine years in opposition, they offer a program best described as Bourbon economics: they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. As the supreme example of the party's "new thinking," the Liberal jobs plan - public works spending, 1930s-style - is an embarrassing fraud. Worse, it is clear that a majority Liberal government would make no serious attempt to rescue the nation's finances. Indeed, it's a safe bet the Liberals would not get the deficit below $30-billion.

1965 - John Diefenbaker: John Diefenbaker squandered his unprecedented opportunities, increasingly clasping authority to himself and doing nothing with it until the pressure of events left him no room to manoeuvre, no time to explain the decisions he was forced to take, almost no friends to defend him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rise Up Liberal Resurrection Rally, Featuring JC

You can watch online here.

As much of a Chretien fan as I am, game 7 won out tonight, so I'll be watching from home. But I'll try to live blog the highlights during commercials.

8:01 pm: Someone from the crowd chants "3 more years" as Ken Dryden takes the stage. Which, I guess, is a somewhat realistic chant in this era of minority governments. Dryden opens up with "nationally, we need help". Hard to argue with that.

8:10 pm: Dryden finishes an emotional and energetic plea to vote Liberal. Jean Chretien is introduced to a song I'm sure he's never heard before.

8:13 pm: Chretien - "In the 70s, the Canadiens needed Ken Dryden. Today, Canada needs Ken Dryden". With the Habs down 2-1, maybe they could use Ken Dryden too...

8:28 pm: Showtime. Chretien knifes the NDP briefly on national unity - "Now they are confused about the Clarity of the Act". I would have liked to see him develop on that a bit more. If there's anyone who can speak about the dangers of opening up the constitution and pandering to separatists, it's Chretien.

I think Coyne sums the speech up nicely on Twitter - "What Chretien and Layton are reminding us of in this election are the strengths of "career politicians" who know how to work a room and look like they're enjoying it". Honestly, Chretien's speech was far less substantive than anything Ignatieff has said this campaign - a bit of nostalgia and a few vague jabs at the Tories. But he was attacking with a smile on is face, and the crowd ate it up.

8:49 pm: Ignatieff does a good job outlining the Liberal platform, and does it with some fire.

He mentions how important it is to "help Matthew" 7 times. I assume this is Madame Paillé's son.

8:58 pm: Here we go - "Rise up! Feel the anger! Feel the heat! RISE UP!"

On the whole, a strong effort by Ignatieff. He sounded strong and forceful and laid out the case to vote Liberal. That's not of the utmost importance, since it will be Chretien who makes the newscasts, but at the very least this should energize the party's GTA base for the final weekend push.

Your Daily Seat Projections

Today's vote numbers include the new Nanos, Ekos, Angus, and Forum polls:

Popular Vote (change since yesterday in brackets):

CPC: 36.3% (-1.5)
NDP: 26.6% (+3.5)
Lib: 23.8% (-1.5)
Bloc: 6.9% (-0.4)
Green: 5.5% (+0.4)

As a reminder, the following projections are based on 10,000 simulations, taking into account the polling margins of error, how shifts in regional support have historically transferred to individual ridings, and the chance the pollsters could just miss the mark, like in some previous elections.

This is the only simulation model for Canadian seat totals, and I feel this gives it a huge advantage. Other models will either undercount NDP seats in Quebec by showing them as a strong second everywhere, or they'll overcount by projecting them as a slim first everywhere. This model recognizes they'll win some of those "close seconds" and lose some of those "close firsts"...AND it recognizes that a 30-point swing won't be uniform across the entire province. Yes, it means I can only peg the NDP seat range at between 15 and 44 seats in Quebec - but that's all we really CAN say at this point, given the public polling data available.

CPC: 138 to 163 seats (mean: 150.4)
NDP: 54 to 86 seats (mean: 69.3)
Lib: 46 to 72 seats (mean: 58.9)
Bloc: 17 to 40 seats (mean: 28.5)
Ind: 0.9

Odds of Tory majority: 26% (down from 54% yesterday)

With our first batch of post-Easter polling data to feast on, there has been a lot of movement since yesterday. The NDP have jumped close to 20 seats, into second place. The Liberals and Conservatives are each down 5 seats, with the Bloc down 10.

(short methodology, long methodology)

Better Know a Future NDP MP

Some people in the comments section think I've been "unfair" to the NDP of late. And maybe I have been. After all, if Jack says he can solve Canada's doctor shortage by paying new doctors $3,472 a head, then who am I to doubt him? The man has a nice smile, so I guess he should be taken at his word.

So in an effort to make amends, I will begin profiling members of his team. Sadly, many of his candidates are unknown to Canadians, by virtue of them not having told anyone they're running for office. To ensure Jack's poll numbers translate into seats, it's important for Canadians to get to know who they will be voting for.

So, let's begin!

Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier--Maskinongé - Quebec): Ruth is an assistant manager at Oliver's Pub, and enjoys rehabilitating injured animals. She is currently vacationing in Las Vegas, and who can blame her? She's already hit the jackpot once, being nominated as an NDP candidate, so why not ride this lucky streak out!

Sadly, Ruth could not cancel her vacation plans, but I'm sure Prime Minister Layton will tackle the unfairness of non-refundable airline tickets once he has solved other pressing issues facing the country, such as high ATM and credit card fees.

A reminder on the definition of "surprise"

From Lysiane Gagnon, a little over a month ago:

Don’t expect a Quebec surprise

As a federal election looms, Quebec might be the quietest place in Canada – the province will yield no surprises, and the battles will be relatively tame.

While Ontario and British Columbia are the ones to watch, chances are that the final results in Quebec will be close to those of the last election.

From March up until about a week ago, the common consensus was this would be a waste of an election. Pundits looked at the polls and declared nothing would change except for a handful of seats.

While we still don't know how campaign 2011 will end, I think we've all been reminded of a valuable lesson. Campaigns matter. Surprises happen. Even when you're not expecting them to.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ad Watch: Attacking Jack

Over the past week, the Liberals launched a pair of attack ads going after the NDP (and a new positive spot). I present the second here, asking for your comments and ratings.

Personally, I'm not so sure bringing up 2005 will do much for voters - it was 6 years ago, and I fail to grasp how the NDP/CPC defeating Martin is any different from the NDP/LPC defeating Harper. But I do love the "Jack up your taxes" line.

How would you rate this ad?
See Results

Also out today is a new NDP ad staring Jack Layton and average Canadians. It's a "close the sale" ad, and it's a good one.

You can rate other campaign ads here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


This Week in Alberta: A Look at the Calgary Grits

Running for the Liberals in Calgary is about as difficult as it gets. On most nights of door knocking, you'll be held personally responsible for the Sponsorship Scandal, the NEP, and the Flames missing the playoffs. To endure that kind of abuse with little hope of victory, you need to believe passionately in your party's message.

So here's a round-up of what some of these brave men and women have been up to so far this campaign:

Calgary Center North - Stephen Randall

I interviewed Randall back in March - since then, his campaign team has turned the 66 year old globe trotter into a bit of an internet sensation.

YYCSteve has been rated the most engaged twitterer in western Canada by Global News, earning a Klout score of 60 - that leaves him 11 points ahead of Tory candidate Michelle Rempel and only 5 back of the Twitter king himself, Naheed Nenshi. As the kids, or Jack Layton, would say - hashtag win!

Calgary East - Josipa Petrunic

I blogged about Josipa's local issues campaign a few weeks back - it's now in full swing with an interactive website you can visit here. The campaign also got a boost this week with an endorsement from three former east side aldermen.

Calgary Southwest - Marlene Lamontagne

This campaign features an active group of young Liberals, who plan to "Paint the Town Red" the night before E-Day. Like most of the other Liberal candidates, Marlene's opponent won't be debating her. Unlike the others, he actually has a valid reason.

Calgary South East - Brian MacPhee

Brian gets to take on Jason Kenney in my old riding. Kenney hasn't had time to debate any of his challengers, but he has had time for smarmy tweets: "Lively debate at our campaign office on whether the Liberals will finish fourth again in Calgary Southeast."

Stay classy Jason.

Calgary West - Janice Kinch

Janice gets to take on Calgary's finest - Rob Anders. Below is a photo of Janice and some University of Calgary Young Liberals who have helped her reach out to constituents, while Anders hides in the Conservative candidate witness protection program.

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Your Daily Seat Projections

Given the number of polls we can expect this week, I'll offer a quick seat projection update each afternoon around this time. For today:

Popular Vote (change since yesterday in brackets):

CPC: 37.8% (-0.8)
Lib: 25.3% (-0.4)
NDP: 23.1% (+1.1)
Bloc: 7.3% (-0.3)
Green: 5.5% (+0.4)

As a reminder, the following projections are based on 10,000 simulations, taking into account the polling margins of error, how historical shifts traditionally transfer to individual ridings, and the chance that the pollsters could just miss the mark, like in some previous elections.

CPC: 143 to 168 seats (mean: 155.3)
Lib: 51 to 76 seats (mean:63.7)
NDP: 39 to 64 seats (mean: 50.2)
Bloc: 27 to 47 seats (mean: 37.9)
Ind: 1

Odds of Tory majority: 54% (down from 69% yesterday)

Since yesterday, the NDP are up 8 seats, with the Bloc down 4.5, the Tories down 3, and the Liberals down 0.5 - Quebec remains the wild card with the model projecting an average 15.2 seats for them there, but with a 95% confidence interval of 6 to 28 seats. So it's still very much up in the air.

If you're looking for an "on the ground" assessment of how the seats might break in Quebec, Fact Checker offers a detailed synopsis here.

(short methodology, long methodology)


Seeing the World Through Orange Coloured Glasses

With orange coloured glasses...
...a party over 50 years old can be considered "new".

With orange coloured glasses...
...the constitution can be opened up and everyone can be made happy.

With orange coloured glasses...
...cuting a tax on home heating fuel is good environmental policy which helps the poorest Canadians.

With orange coloured glasses...
...a cap and trade system starts generating revenue right away.

With orange coloured glasses... can train 1200 doctors for $25 million - even though it will cost the current government $40 million to train 100 doctors.

With orange coloured glasses... man can run an entire government.

With orange coloured glasses...
...a party as responsible as anyone else for breaking Ottawa can "fix Ottawa".

With orange coloured glasses...
...a negative campaign running negative ads is all about hope.

With orange coloured glasses... looks perfectly fine when you cost your job creation tax credit on the assumption job creation will fall by 70%.

With orange coloured glasses... can make $70 billion in new promises without raising taxes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Everyone's talking about Tout Le Monde En Parle

With 1.5 million Quebecers watching, Michael Ignatieff put in quite the performance on Tout Le Monde En Parle yesterday. He laughed, he was relaxed, he was confident. He talked about Liberal policies, he answered tough questions. It was a tour de force. The media reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

You can watch it online here (clip 2).

I do wonder what the Quebec polls would be looking like if we'd seen that Michael Ignatieff in the debates.

Why Stephen Harper should be afraid of Jack Layton

No, not because of the latest poll that has people somewhat prematurely speculating about Layton as Prime Minister.

Rather, Harper should be worried, because it turns out Jack is a better piano player than him. Now all we need is for Iggy to beat him in a hockey trivia contest, and the man's spirit will be absolutely crushed beyond repair.

Poll Soup: What the NDP surge means

Trying to make sense of what the NDP's Quebec surge means in terms of seats is a difficult game. For starters, most public polls lump all of Quebec together when, in reality, a voter in Montreal is very different from a voter in Abitibi. Just because the Liberals or Conservatives are down province-wide, it doesn't mean their incumbents are in danger, because their vote is so concentrated.

Even more challenging is trying to understand how a surge like this will be spread across the province. Most seat projections use the 2008 election as their baseline - my model is based primarily on 2008, but it also factors in the previous 2 elections and a regression "prediction" based on riding demographics. I think that's a key improvement since it includes information about the voters, not just how they've voted in the past, but even then, all that data is from the old reality. We're living in a very new reality.

If the NDP doubles or triples their Quebec-wide vote, it's impossible to predict what the impact will be in each individual riding. The simulation model I use factors this in to a certain extent, which is why I report the probability of a given seat going to each party, rather than boldly saying if they'll will win or lose. But the end result of this is a 95% confidence interval for NDP seats in Quebec of 3 to 19 - that's hardly a precise target, and there are a lot of seats they have between a 4% and 8% chance of winning...with a few more polls showing the Dippers in first, that range will creep up.

Pundits Guide has a good article on the danger of taking these projections as the gospel truth. It's also important to remember that a lot can change in a week - just because something is projected today, it doesn't mean it will come to pass on May 2nd.

So with all those caveats, here's where we stand with 7 days to go (change since last week in brackets):

CPC 38.6% (+0.5)
Lib 25.7% (-1.3)
NDP 22.0% (+1.9)
BQ 7.6% (-0.7)
Green 5.1% (-0.4)

Keep in mind that with the exception of a turkey-dinner fueled Nanos poll, we haven't seen data from any phone calls conducted since last Wednesday (NOTE - I ran this before today's Innovative and Environics polls were released).

So the above vote and the following seat projections could very well change significantly in the coming days. As such, I'll be back with updated projections later this week, a closer look at the seats to watch in each region over the weekend, and a final projection on Sunday night. Also, I'll post daily seat projections on Twitter.

Not surprisingly, the largest NDP movement has come in Quebec, where they've gone from a 0-7 seat range last week, up to a 3-18 range this week. These gains have come almost exclusively at the Bloc's expense, with Liberal and Conservative seat ranges in Quebec unchanged from last week:

To get a better sense of how well the model is handling the wacky world of Quebec politics, consider the following two riding polls, released today (and fielded last week):

Brome Mississquoi - Bloc 32%, Lib 26%, NDP 26%, CPC 11%
Chambly Borduas - Bloc 37%, NDP 24%, Lib 15%, CPC 7%

Comparatively speaking, my model has Brome as a 35% chance of going Bloc, 35% chance of going Liberal, and 28% chance of going NDP. Which makes a lot of sense given the riding survey findings. It also underscores why a probability model is so much better for these kind of ridings. A simple projection would just put it down as a Bloc victory, without recognizing there's a very good chance the Liberals and NDP could very well win it.

In Chambly, I still show the Bloc with a 96% chance of winning, with the NDP at just 4% - once again, this is consistent with the riding poll that has the Bloc up by 13 points.


Finally, someone attacks the NDP's candyland platform

The NDP platform has been given a free ride this campaign. Luckily, there are people out there willing to put the NDP's platform promises under scrutiny. Those people? The NDP:

NDP casts doubts over its own green spending promises

OTTAWA — The federal New Democrats say they might not be able to pay for $3.6 billion worth of green spending initiatives that were promised in their platform for the first year of a new mandate if elected to form a government.

The party quietly explained in a statement over the weekend that it would be forced to delay the promises, in government, if it is unable to launch a market-based system forcing polluters to pay for greenhouse gas emissions by buying credits from those that reduce emissions.

"We do indeed propose that revenues from pricing carbon (dioxide emissions) be put back into improving the environment — that's how carbon use will be reduced," the NDP said. "If revenues from pricing carbon are delayed or are lower than planned, then the investments will also be delayed or will be phased in more slowly than planned."

But they have failed to identify what measures, which appear in Year 1 of their platform, would be chopped or delayed.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week 4 in Review: Here Come the Socialists!

Previously: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

Last week, I said the election was still searching for a storyline - with the Bloc imploding and Quebec turning orange, it seems we finally have one.

Over the last 7 days we've been reminded that a week is a long time in politics. A dull campaign has suddenly sprung alive, and who knows what's in store over the final 8 days?

Poll Soup: It's been a quiet weekend for polls, with only Nanos releasing new numbers: CPC 39%, Lib 26%, NDP 23%. We did however, get a flurry of polls on Thursday, started off by the CROP shocker, which showed the NDP leading in Quebec. Ekos has the Tories up by 10, with the Liberals and NDP in a dead heat for second. And Ipsos...well...if you're a Liberal, the less said about that poll, the better.

Election Prediction Project: CPC 119, Lib 61, NDP 29, Bloc 38, Too close 61

Gaffe Pool: The campaigns have been playing surprisingly error-free ball this election: Harper 16, Ignatieff 2, Layton 0, Duceppe 3.

Ad watch: It's a Jack Attack! The Tories and Liberals both launch attack ads on Layton, who responds with this feel good gem. And the Conservatives launch this one, scaring voters about a GST hike which nobody paying even the remotest amount of attention to politics believes is a remote possibility.

One-on-One: All three leaders sit down (or stand up) with Peter Mansbridge.

Blog Post of the Week: James Bow rants about the state of politics.

In Case you Missed it: Layton's Free Ride

Liberal Week in Review

Battle Cry: "Beware of the NDP! NDP Premiers have ruined Canada. We should know - they're all running for us."

The week that was: If you dissect individual campaign events, individual policies, individual ads, or individual speeches, it actually hasn't been a bad campaign for the Liberals outside of the debates. But for whatever reason, Ignatieff hasn't caught on, and the Liberals haven't been able to get that illusive thing known as "momentum".

So with the Liberals down in the polls, they've done their best to rise up on Easter Sunday, and start generating some of that Mo. At noon today, they aired a half hour infomercial with Michael Ignatieff. I watched it and I liked it but, then again, Michael already has my vote, and Vince talked me into buying both a Slap Chop and a ShamWow, so I'm a sucker for these sorts of things.

For Quebecers, they got a chance to see Ignatieff on Tout Le Monde en Parle tonight, and the early reviews have been quite positive.

Playing for second isn't where the Liberals wanted to be at this point in the campaign, but Ignatieff still sounds confident and the campaign hasn't looked desperate, or even fazed, by any of this. Which is good, because there's a lot riding on the next 8 days.

Battle Cry: "Canada Good! Taxes Bad! Canada Good! Taxes Bad!"

The week that was: Is there even a point in doing a week in review for the Tories? Every week is the same. A few minor controversies, some rogue candidates, some accusations about Harper refusing to take questions...but, a tightly scripted and unwavering message: "Ignatieff will raise taxes", "Ignatieff wants a coalition", "we need a stable majority government".

Jack Layton rises in the polls? Harper just adds his name to the stump speech, and re cuts the coalition commercial. Nothing changes.

Which gives you a pretty good idea of why Harper is winning.

NDP Week in Review

Battle Cry: "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? "

The week that was: The NDP surged ahead on International Reefer Day, and haven't looked back, pulling into first place in Quebec, and drawing even with the Liberals nationally.

The NDP are now blessed with the all important "momentum" that all campaigns strive for, but few capture. It lets Jack go into Duceppe's riding. It lets him air positive commercials. He can shrug off any attacks against him as "desperation" without directly responding to them. The newscasts talk about Layton "surging", and the newspapers all show more flattering pictures.

It remains to be seen if Layton will be able to ride the wave of momentum to election day, or if he'll actually have to answer tough questions about his candyland platform. On political shows this weekend, on 8 separate occasions I heard pundits say that the NDP platform would now be put under greater scrutiny, but I did not once see it actually being put under scrutiny.

For Jack, the week ahead will decide if he becomes a God to future generations of NDP partisans, or if 2011 will be looked back upon the same way 1988 was - as a missed opportunity to kill the Liberal Party.

Battle Cry: "Merde."

The week that was: A week ago, most assumed the Bloc was heading for their usual 40 to 50 seats. Now? Complete panic has set in, with the NDP surging ahead of them in the polls, and Duceppe left with no option but to rally the hardcore separatists to avoid a complete wipe out.

So what went wrong?

As I said in my french debate recap, Duceppe has sounded like an angry man without a reason to be angry all campaign. Simply put, the Bloc has long since lost its raison d'etre.

Until now, they've survived by latching on to hot button issues. They've survived on Duceppe's popularity. They've survived due to the struggles of the federalist parties.

At various times in recent years, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper, and Michael Ignatieff all came close to knocking them out - now, Layton has them on the ropes and we'll know in a week if he succeeds where the others failed.

Ad Watch: Let's celebrate the GST cut!

In a commercial very reminiscent of what this blog's readers voted the third best ad of the 2008 campaign, a woman frets about paying the bills and worries about the tax hikes a Liberal (or NDP!) government might bring in.

Yes, we all know Ignatieff won't raise the GST, but she doesn't. So no one tell her.

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You can rate other campaign ads here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


Like Jean Lapierre Before Him...

...Gilles Duceppe is desperately trying to turn this into an election referendum:

Election a federalist-sovereignist battle: Duceppe

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe appears to be escalating his party's message amid a dramatic drop in poll numbers, saying the election is not a "left-right" battle, but a "fight between the federalists and the sovereignists."

Duceppe made the statement in a Twitter post on Saturday.

This follows yesterday's announcement that Jacques Parizeau will be joining Duceppe on the campaign trail.

There are two obvious problems with this strategy:

1. Duceppe has spent the past decade arguing that federal elections are NOT about sovereignty; and

2.He's been right.

As the Liberals learned in 2006, Quebecers understand that federal elections aren't referendums. While I don't doubt Duceppe will be able to hold on to his core of staunch nationalists, we're about to find out just how small that core is.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Party Like It's 1995

Jean Chretien will join the Liberal campaign this week, and Jacques Parizeau will join the Bloc campaign.

Vote Early, Vote Often

Just a reminder that advance polls are open yesterday, today, and Monday. will gladly point you where you need to go.

I just got back from voting for Christine Innes, a fine candidate in Trinity Spadina who I've had the honour of door knocking for this campaign. Christine, as you may know, is running against Olivia Chow since, after all, I'm just incapable of ever living in a Liberal riding.


Peter Mansbridge talks coalitions with Michael Ignatieff in studio, talks coalitions with Jack Layton on the campaign trail, and talks coalitions with Stephen Harper in an empty hockey rink.

All three do a good job getting their message out, but Layton clearly made the best choice in terms of format. Viewers get to see the energy of the campaign trail, and his interview comes across as a quasi NDP infomercial at times.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Ad Watch: I...Won't...Stop...Until...The...Job...Is...Done

The NDP release the kind of ad you're supposed to release when you're surging. It's all Jack, it's all positive, it plays on that sense of momentum.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tour Gratuit

On Sunday, I lamented that this election campaign was still lacking a defining storyline. Given the polls today, it's safe to say we finally have it.

The NDP surge is one of those surprises that maybe shouldn't be too surprising. After all, there have been thousands of attack ads aired against Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper over the past year, and apart from a few cameo appearances in coalition commercials, no one has dared lay a finger on Layton. He's been able to get his message out unopposed - with Jack being more popular and a better politician than either Harper or Ignatieff, it shouldn't be surprising that voters have responded to it.

On top of this, the NDP are big enough to be taken seriously, but not a big enough threat for power to be taken too seriously. Yeah, their platform is full of holes, but they'll never be in a position to implement it, so all that really matters to voters is that Jack wants to give more money to seniors, hire more doctors, and cut the cost of home heating fuels. Let the Prime Minister worry about how to pay for it.

Given the sudden reality that the NDP are serious players in this election, it's only fair to start taking them seriously. There's now a real possibility the NDP will come out of this election with 60-80 seats, with close to half of them coming from Quebec. So what kind of "table de cuisine" issues will these NDP MPs be fighting for?

Well, for starters:

1. In the debates, Layton promised to open the constitution to create "winning conditions" for federalism in Quebec. It's unclear what this maybe it's time someone asked him, eh?

2. We've had several stories about quasi-separatist NDP candidates in Quebec, and there has been some switching back-on-forth between the two camps. If the NDP start electing place holder candidates across Quebec, we can likely expect that a few of them might hold extreme views. Now might be the time to take a serious look at just what kind of NDP team Jack will be bringing to Ottawa - maybe Mario Dumont can offer advice on how this might turn out.

3. Jack Layton was against the Clarity Act in 2004 and for it in 2006. It would be good to know where his Quebec team stands on the issue today.

4. Jack Layton supports extending Bill 101 to federal jurisdictions.

5. The NDP have cozied up to fringe separatist groups in Quebec.

Now, some of this isn't any worse than what the other parties have done. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that the co-founder of the BQ was Paul Martin's Quebec lieutenant. And, despite some of the jabs above, I actually do think it's a good thing for Canada if the NDP can finally squash the temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition known as the Bloc Quebecois.

But it's only fair that voters in Quebec, and in the rest of Canada, know where the party stands before casting their vote for them. A little clarity from Jack would be appreciated.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quebec Turns Orange

I haven't reported on any individual polls as of yet this campaign, but this one, accurate or not, is going to be the only thing talked about tomorrow:

NDP 36%
BQ 31%
CPC 17%
Lib 13%

UPDATE: Ekos is in...and the Bloc has dropped to 24% in Quebec. People have been predicting the death of the Bloc for years, and sure enough, Gilles Duceppe finds a way to get his 40-50 seats every election. So let's not count him out quite yet - if there's a leader with the charisma and credibility to take on Layton, it's Gilles.

But...if this does hold...who would have ever predicted the NDP would be the party to knock off the Bloc?

Just when you think Canadian politics is as dull as it gets, it finds a way to surprise you.

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"Canada must reflect the true character of the Canadian people"


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Before They Were Stars

From vintage voter, comes pictures of our current leaders in their youth. Their hair and glasses were all bigger, though some things never change - even a young Steve Harper had issues with "reality".

Monday, April 18, 2011

Poll Soup: And here comes the NDP?

Tons of polls out today, with something for everyone.

If you're a Liberal, you're no doubt salivating at eating into the 8-point Tory lead in today's Decima and yesterday's Ekos polls. The NDP are surging in the latest from Leger and Angus Reid, with the latter showing them tied for second with the Liberals. The Tories, meanwhile, enjoy double-digit leads in Nanos and Forum polls.

Put it together and what have you got? Not a huge shift from last week, with the NDP up and the Tories down: (change since last week in brackets)

CPC 38.1% (-1.1)
Lib 27.0% (-0.3)
NDP 20.1% (+1.7)
BQ 8.3% (-0.4)
Green 5.5% (-0.9)

Translating this to seats, we see a similar shift, with the Dippers up and the Tories down:

Last week, the Conservative seat range was 141-168 seats, with a 46% chance at a majority. This week, their range is 138-162, with the majority odds down to 22%. For the Dippers, their pre-debate range of 22-35 seats has jumped to 28-42...and there are now 7 seats in Quebec they have at least a 5% chance of taking, with Outremont (89%), Gatineau (44%), and Hull-Aylmer (30%) the most promising.

As I've said before, I don't want to post seat-by-seat numbers, since models like this work far better at the aggregate level and can't possibly take into account all the riding-level dynamics. But I recognize the fun in this, so here are a few of the ridings to watch. Just please bear in mind that these projections are all based on regional shifts - just because the Tories are up in Ontario, it doesn't mean they're up in Ottawa, and a good (or bad) local campaign or candidate, can make a huge difference. And, of course, this is a reflection of current polls - this isn't a prediction of where support levels will be on E-Day.

With all those disclaimers in place (also: do not use seat projections and operate heavy machinery), I'll gladly take requests for others in the comments section:

-In PEI, the Liberals gace a 28% chance of taking back Egmont, but the Tories gace a 38% in Malpeque and 33% in Charlottetown.

-Justin Trudeau is at a 75% chance to hold in Papineau.

-Kingston and the Islands is the most vulnerable Liberal seat in Ontario (25% hold), with Sudbury, Mississauga-Erindale, Vaughan, Trinity-Spadina, Oak Ridges-Markham, and Kitchener-Waterloo all at between 20-30% chances of being picked up.

-Linda Duncan is at an 84% chance of holding Strathcona, with Edmonton East a 1-in-10 shot for the NDP and Edmonton Centre a 1-in-10 shot for the Liberals.

(click here for methodology)

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Scoreboard Watching

As we enter the stretch drive on the campaign trail, I figured I'd check in on the "20 questions" pool, to see if the campaign has unfolded as people expected it would.

Over/under on the highest level of support the Conservatives will hit in a national election poll - 42% (63% said over)

While Harper's numbers have been consistently below 40% of late, he did sneak over in one early Nanos poll, sparing me from having to rule on whether or not I would accept the COMPAS 45% as a legitimate poll.

Number of times Stephen Harper uses the word "coalition" in the (first) English language debate? (median: 13, mean: 120,653)

By my count, there was only one mention. A View from the Left is the closest at "0", but I'm willing to hand out points to anyone who said 5 or below.

Who will the instant-polls show as having won the first English language debate? (Ignatieff 39%, Layton 24%, Harper 22%, Duceppe 10%)

Despite Layton's tour-de-force, the instant polls all showed Harper as the winner.

Mulcair or Cauchon in Outremont? (73% predicted Mulcair)

A CROP poll from a few weeks back had Mulcair leading by 20 points...and this was before the NDP surge in Quebec. I wouldn't want to count out Martin Cauchon, but in the battle of leadership aspirants, Mulcair is certainly the odds-on favourite at this point.

Which party will run the most vicious attack ad? (73% said the Tories)

We've seen some blood in the water of late, but I feel like the harshest stuff is yet to come.

Will the words "abortion", "women's right to choose", or some variant, be used in a TV commercial this campaign? (33% said yes)

So far, the answer is a no. A "yes" here would likely give us a new contender on the previous question.

Will any Harper Cabinet Ministers appear in an english-language commercial this campaign? (21% said yes)

Unless Tony Clement was in the crowd on that Summit Series footage, still no Cabinet Ministers as of yet.

Will Harper's sweater vest make an appearance in a Conservative ad? (29% said yes)

Sweater vests are so 2008 - our fragile economic recovery calls for a suit and tie.

Week 3 in Review: Hash-Tag FAIL

Week 3 was all about the leaders debates - Tuesday in English and Wednesday en francais. We were treated to a round of hockey metaphors by the participants and boxing metaphors by the pundits. In the end, there was no knock-out punch, no consensus winner and no defining moment.

Which is fitting, since the entire election is still searching for a storyline - three weeks in, and it's still difficult to sum up what this election is all about.

Poll Soup: I'll post updated projections tomorrow. For now, Nanos has the Tories up 39-28 and Ekos has it 35-28. Both show the NDP making modest post-debate gains. Oh, and Ipsos has concluded the "Outcome of election rests with fence-sitters".

Election Prediction Project: CPC 112, Lib 61, NDP 26, Bloc 35, Too close 74

Gaffe Pool: Harper picks up a few points for the "very ethnic" slip, while the Greens avoid points due to their exclusion from the Gaffe-o-mater: Harper 14, Ignatieff 2, Layton 0, Duceppe 3.

Ad watch: The Liberals attack Harper for killing our Health Care system, the Tories attack Ignatieff for raising taxes, and the NDP attack Michael Ignatieff for missing a few votes in Ottawa.

Quote of the Week: For the third straight week, we have to give it to Gilles Duceppe for the opening line of the English debate: “I would like to congratulate Mr. Harper for answering a question from a citizen for the first time in this campaign.”

Tweet of the Week: From @InklessPW: At 1911 Laurier-Borden debate in Flin Flon, Laurier didn't understand when Borden said "hashtag fail." Ended a great career.

In Case you Missed it:
Ad Watch: you can still rate the latest NDP, Liberal, and CPC commercials
French debate post-game thoughts
English debate BINGO card, pre-game analysis, live blog, and post-game thoughts
Seat Projections
October Surprise

Liberal Week in Review

Battle Cry: "Rise up...below 30% in the polls!"

The week that was: It remains unclear whether or not Ignatieff exceeded the public's expectations in the debates, but it's safe to say he did not exceed the media's. Which shouldn't be a huge surprise - he was up against three men who have debates each other 7 times and have been playing the political game their whole lives. So it's understandable Ignatieff wouldn't match up in terms of style. Where he disappointed though, was on substance - his fixation on scandals and democracy simply ate up air time that should have been devoted to a very populist Liberal platform.

After the debates, the Liberals shifted their focus to Health Care, launching a hard (and, in my opinion, effective) attack ad and promising a First Ministers meeting within 60 days of the election.

Battle Cry: "Give me my majority to prevent economic collapse, separatists, earthquakes, and an early round playoff exit!"

The week that was: Harper continues to be dogged by trivial scandals and, as I said last week, I'm sure that suits him just fine. After all, a day spent covering Helena Guergis is a day where Harper doesn't need to answer questions on Health Care, the $11 billion hole in his platform, or his record.

Trivialities like this also turn most voters off...and likely feed the feeling we should just shrug our shoulders and give Harper his majority, if only to give us all a 4-year reprieve from this "bickering". That was Harper's pitch in the debates and on the campaign trail last week.

This weekend, he added "separatists" to the ever-growing list of problems a Tory majority would solve - since, after all, Quebecers would respond well to having the rest of Canada ram a hugely unpopular Conservative government down their throats. Uh-huh.

NDP Week in Review

Battle Cry: "To all my NDP homies, let's bust a cap in this government's ass - semi-colon, dash, close brackets! "

The week that was: I'll be honest. I don't like the NDP, Layton's self-righteous tone, or his hypocritical stands on a range of issues. To put it into "hip" terms Layton would pretend to understand, I won't be clicking "like" on his Facebook page anytime soon.

But despite all this, I've got to admit Jack has impressed me this campaign. This is a man who has been battling cancer for a year, cannot walk without a cane, and couldn't get through a 3 minute scrum without sweating buckets a month ago. Yet this campaign he has been a force. He has shown more energy and vigour than the other leaders combined. On Tuesday, he stood for two hours, smiling, delivering witty jabs, and pivoting to sell NDP policies in his most sincere voice. Then he did it all again the next night.

As frustrating as it is to run into a hot goalie, or to see the opposing pitcher tossing a no-hitter, there comes a time when you just have to sit back and tip your hat to him. In what might very well be his final election, Layton has delivered one heck of a performance.

So What?

Michael Ignatieff's "rise up" speech, which has been generating a fair amount of online buzz this weekend.

Ten dollars says Ignatieff shouting "rise up" will be coming soon to a Tory attack, after a narrator asks "what does Ignatieff say about raising taxes?".

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ad Watch: Mmmm...pancakes...

The Tories and Liberals went neg earlier this week. And now, Jack Layton, running to be PM, is on the attack...against Michael Ignatieff


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