Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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.


  • "By comparison to the other opposition parties, there is no doubt that the Bloc is well placed to hold its own and even possibly marginally improve its lot in an election held over the next few months."

    - Chantal Hébert, in her March 14th column.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:11 AM  

  • thanks to Iggy,Dion,Martin we have Illyich Layton and his Bolshevik horde rallied to rape and pillage the country.

    By Blogger mauser98, at 8:32 AM  

  • Oh brother. Do Conservatives have a "blame others" gene in them?

    You want to blame the Liberals for the NDP surge? Iggy has run a good campaign in my opinion. Blame the voters.. or the progressive ones, if you want someone to blame. They're looking for a way to stop Harper, and Layton has suddenly, for whatever reason, appealed to them.

    We all might not agree with it.. but that's called democracy.

    By Blogger Scott @ Prog Blog, at 8:40 AM  

  • So then we can claim that Quebec's dalliance with the NDP is the result of a strong showing in the French language debate? Momentum needs a starting point - perhaps that was the defining moment of the NDP campaign.

    By Blogger J Teller, at 8:52 AM  

  • Mauser98 seems a bit nuts

    By Blogger Gene Rayburn, at 8:53 AM  

  • Campaigns matter.

    Columnists don't.

    By Blogger Joseph Kerr, at 9:16 AM  

  • Blame the voters. Yeah, them dummies voting for the people they think best represents them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:03 AM  

  • What will we Liberals do if indeed, Jack Layton becomes official opposition leader?

    Will we form a coalition government with them to rid the country of the tyrant Harper?

    Will we make Jack Layton Prime Minister? Will we, at least, ask for a couple of cabinet posts. I think we should.

    My biggest worry is that some Liberals (e.g., Scott Brison) won't accept PM Layton and a mostly Dipper cabinet because some Liberals aren't exactly left-of-center.

    What do we do about those Liberals that refuse to accept NDP leadership? Kick them out!

    By Anonymous Liberals for PM Layton, at 10:28 AM  

  • It will be unnecessary to kick out Liberals who don't see themselves in a NDP led NDP-Liberal coalition-thingy. They'll leave the Liberal Party entirely on their own volition. And I'd expect a good chunk of them to move to the Conservatives. Ditto for centre and right-of-centre Liberal voters. One plus one does not necessarily equal two.

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 11:30 AM  

  • I don't imagine that a coalition, with either the NDP or Conservatives but especially with the former, would shatter the Liberal Party. I definitely agree with the argument that a merger would not mean 1+1=2. The NDP could easily lose its Western populist appeal; while the Liberals could easily lose votes in the 905.

    A coalition means something very different. It would be an explicitly temporary arrangement. I think that even the ex-PC Scott Brison wing would prefer to stick with the party, support whichever government the caucus deems superior, and maintain the existence of a centrist Liberal brand. There would be a realistic hope that they could make a comeback at some point if they could stick together.

    Now if the NDP could institute some kind of proportional representation, that would really change things. I could then see the current Conservative and Liberal vote blocks splitting into three or four separate parties. PR really removes the impetus to have big tent parties that are essentially back room coalitions. Of course, how the NDP would manage to pass such legislation without a majority is beyond me.

    By Anonymous Robin, at 12:12 PM  

  • I, for one, welcome our new socialist overlords...

    By Blogger The Rat, at 12:22 PM  

  • "Mauser98 seems a bit nuts"

    To be fair, at least one NDP candidate - Mathieu Ravignat - actually IS a communist.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 12:59 PM  

  • New Forum poll has NDP within three points of the top spot.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:28 PM  

  • This is not your father's, or grandfather's NDP. They are not socialist. Ever hear them talk about nationalizations anymore? Taking over the means of production? They are a social democratic party.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:31 PM  

  • "When will people learn? Democracy doesn't work!" - Homer J. Simpson

    I, for one, welcome our new communist overlords.

    By Anonymous EM, at 1:37 PM  

  • Anonymous is right. The NDP are a very grounded group of people who will provide good government.

    I would hope that we here loud and clear from our leader that he will be willing to form a coalition with the NDP calling the shots and Jack Layton as PM.

    As Ignatieff has told us, and we know its true, the important thing to is restore our democracy by ousting Harper.

    If that means Jack Layton is PM and the cabinet is made of Peter Stouffer, Pat Martin, Libby Davies and - most importantly - Thomas Mulcair, etc., well -that's fine by us Liberals.

    If Ignatieff doesn't make it clear that he's okay with the idea of supporting Jack Layton, then people will get scared about post-election insecurity and will run right into Harper's arms.

    Liberals: we've got to get behind Jack Layton.

    By Anonymous Country First, at 1:53 PM  

  • I've been wondering the past couple of days. Is there a possibility of a right-left vote split that lets the LPC come up the middle?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:31 PM  

  • Anonymous said...
    New Forum poll has NDP within three points of the top spot.

    Good gawd, CPC-34% NDP-31% LIB-22%

    Imagine what parliament will look if that was true? I'll stick with A-R, Nanos & Ekos for reliablility, though both Ekos and Nanos do show the CPC slipping lately too.

    By Blogger Tof KW, at 2:39 PM  

  • I don't think it is possible at this point to tell whether a federal NDP government would be a disaster (a la BC and Ontario provincial governments) or provide decent governance as they seem to manage to do in the prairie provinces. However, my gut feel is that the Federal NDP is closer in outlook to their Ontario and BC brethren than they are to the prairie provinces NDP.

    And, until the NDP breaks its formal ties with the unions, I can't help but think of it as the Labour Party (with the baggage that brings with it) rather than as the Social Democratic Party.

    My 2 cents.

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 3:02 PM  

  • Jim R,

    Buzz Hargrove supported Paul Martin when he had to. Why can't we support Jack Layton.

    I'd bet Ignatieff could secure the post of Foreign Affairs Minister and would be a heck of an advocate for Layton's foreign policy.

    If we swallow some humble pie, we'd probably see a couple of other Liberals in the Dipper cabinet (Not Rae or Dosanjh given the harsh things they have said in the past days). I could see Maria Minna in SOW. I could see Garneau in Sport.

    By Anonymous Let Layton Lead Liberals, at 3:06 PM  

  • There is no way that Ignatieff would get Foreign Affairs in an NDP-Liberal coalition. Foreign policy is the one area where he has way too much baggage to participate. Assuming he could even keep the Liberal leadership, which is by no means a small assumption, he would likely get something with both a higher profile and a better political fit for the new government.

    Like really, his past views on Iraq and current views on Afghanistan put him in an awkward position in the Liberal Party let along the NDP.

    By Anonymous Robin, at 3:22 PM  

  • Robin,

    good points but:

    1) Iggy must stay to make the coalition stick. Rae is a total no-no from the Dipper perspective and, we've got to admit, Dippers will have a massive say in what Liberals decide to do re; leadership.

    2) Okay, maybe too much baggage there. But other high profile positions are taken:

    Judy W-Leis gets finance.

    Stouffer gets defense.

    Mulcair goes to intergovernmental affairs and environment.

    Pat Martin goes to Public Works.

    Maybe Ignatieff could get Transportation?

    By Anonymous Let Layton Lead Liberals, at 3:38 PM  

  • @Let Layton Lead Liberals,

    There is a difference between accepting Buzz Hargrove's endorsement and providing him with a de facto cabinet seat.

    [BTW, I'm not affiliated with any party in any manner whatsoever.]

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 3:59 PM  

  • I could see Maria Minna in SOW. I could see Garneau in Sport.

    That's fine provided they actually manage to get re-elected!

    Quotes from this Hill Times article:

    "If the voting intentions hold, the Liberals stand to lose at least four of the party’s Montreal fortresses to the NDP, including Westmount-Ville Marie, where former astronaut Marc Garneau is battling for re-election ..."

    "In Ontario... the NDP is set to win at least two Liberal seats in Toronto, Beaches-East York, held by Maria Minna, and Parkdale-High Park"

    By Blogger saphorr, at 4:01 PM  

  • Maybe I'm being naive, but is it really so hard to imagine Rae working with the NDP?

    Yes he's said all kinds of insulting things about them this election, but it's not like there's not precedent. David Cameron and Nick Clegg said all kinds of very unpleasant things about each other and a week later were shaking hands.

    By Blogger saphorr, at 4:05 PM  

  • People Let Layton Lead Liberal is an obvious troll so stop responding.

    The NDP are not communist, they are not even socialist anymore. They are a left of center social democratic party. They also couldn't possibly be worse at managing the budget than the Tories have been.

    By Anonymous MPAVictoria, at 4:07 PM  

  • sophorr,

    I am not suggesting Rae couldn't work with the NDP, but would the NDP accept him? I'm not so sure. And I think we need to be careful not to alienate the leading party in the coalition by putting someone in charge that would make Layton (and Mulcair) nervous.

    Jim R,

    I agree there is a difference. I am just suggesting it is time we make Canada comfortable with the idea that Liberals will be productive junior partners in an NDP led coalition.

    By Anonymous Let Layton Lead Liberals, at 4:09 PM  

  • MPAVictoria is an obvious troll so ignore that comment.

    Except that I agree with the comment. I think the NDP provide the most sound approach to budgeting - their platform includes spending increases that are taken care of with reasonable tax increases. I am confident they would avoid any deficit by appropriately setting tax rates.

    By Anonymous Let Layton Lead Liberals, at 4:12 PM  

  • The vote hasn't happened yet. You may discover that Lysiane Gagnon and Chantal Hebert were right.

    And it's not just old stereotypes, I do think the NDP are financially reckless. Two things trouble me especially:

    1. Doubling pension pay-outs when boomers are about to retire. How do we pay it? With our deficit, we can't borrow it, it would be crippling to tax it, and they're not promising any spending cuts.

    2. Business make decisions based on government promises. To talk about an immediate and massive increase in corporate taxes could be enormously disruptive, and unfair. Build trust by promising to honour current rates for a fixed time (2-3 years), and then bring in the new rate.

    I'm not saying that the Liberals or the Conservatives are fiscally prudent, but NDP policy as written would do tremendous economic damage.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 4:26 PM  

  • asymmetrical federalism

    If the article at is to be believed, asymmetrical federalism, whereby "Quebec could opt out of any national programs in areas of provincial jurisdiction and receive full compensation from the federal government", is official NDP policy.

    Does anyone really expect that something like that could possibly fly in the rest of Canada? Either a NDP government would be forced to allow all provinces the same privilege (which seems highly unlikely) or it would have to go back on this policy, thus alienating its possibly sizeable Quebec caucus and setting us up for a rerun of the Mulroney-Bouchard split that resulted in the birth of the Bloc.

    I can only hope the article is incorrect because should the NDP assume some form of power, that policy is a recipe for disaster.

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 5:06 PM  

  • The NDP governments in Sask and Man are essentially Liberal governments, since there isn't a viable Liberal Party in those provinces.

    Can you imagine what an NDP Cabinet would look like?

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 6:01 PM  

  • What portfolio would Libby Davies get? You guys remember her, right? LIBBY FREAKIN' DAVIES - DEPUTY LEADER OF THE NDP??? Good god, if a cabinet containing her doesn't send you screaming for the blue road I don't know what would.

    By Blogger The Rat, at 6:28 PM  

  • By Blogger 柯云, at 7:59 PM  

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