Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Value of Endorsements

Leadership races are notoriously hard to handicap, due to the absence of credible polling data. Asking Canadians who they want as the next NDP leader is pointless, since only 3 or 4% of NDP voters will buy a membership. Despite the best efforts of the Globe & Mail, few Canadians have heard of Brian Topp, never mind Nathan Cullen or Paul Dewar.

One way you can stickhandle around this is by counting endorsements, which is what the website has started tracking. His system assigns points based on endorsements from federal and provincial politicians, and was calibrated on data from the 2006 Liberal and 2003 NDP leadership races. It currently ranks the candidates as follows:

Topp 40.8%
Mulcair 23.2%
Nash 18.2%
Chisolm 5.0%
Dewar 4.0%
Ashton 3.9%
Cullen 3.1%
Saganash 1.7%
Singh 0.0%

It should be noted that nearly half of Topp's points comes from Ed Broadbent's endorsement, which would be by biggest quibble with the scoring system. Still, the model does a decent job of quantifying establishment support.

What it is likely less successful at, however, is predicting actual support. Many of these endorsers won't sell more than a couple dozen membership forms and I suspect their influence over existing Dippers is negligible. Yes, sometimes there's a correlation between endorsements and support...but sometimes that correlation is actually negative.

For proof of that, we need to look no farther than the Alison Redford and Christy Clark victories from earlier this year. Redford had the support of just 2 MLAs (one of which was named Alison Redford) on the first ballot and 5 on the second. Redford would have been projected as an also-ran under any endorsement model - especially one which weighted former leaders so heavily (Ralph Klein was a Mar man while Don Getty was all about Horner).

Clark's case is perhaps even more remarkable because, unlike Redford, she was the undisputed frontrunner of the campaign from start to finish. While she did have some support from former caucus members, she counted only one MLA endorsement and would have projected out in third under any formula (unless it assigned God-like status on Harry Bloy). This, despite the fact that everyone knew she would be in front on the first ballot.

None of this is meant to knock the 308 model which, as I said, does a decent job approximating establishment support. It's just important to recognize that support among the establishment doesn't always translate into support among party members, just as support among the general public doesn't always translate into support among party members.

There are significant risks in being seen as an establishment candidate, so I remain unconvinced that the Topp juggernaut is as unstoppable as these numbers would suggest.


Monday, November 28, 2011

The reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated

There's a lot of excitement in Liberal land over the latest Nanos poll:

CPC 35.6%
Lib 28.1%
NDP 27.3%
Green 3.9%
BQ 3.9%

As much as I'd love to jump up and down and chant "suck it Peter Newman", the reality is that this poll is essentially meaningless.

We've just been through an exhausting few years politically and voters are thinking about hockey and Christmas and the latest Justin Bieber gossip - federal politics is the last thing on their minds.

On top of that, the Liberals are leaderless, the NDP are leaderless, and we're almost four years away from the next election. The popularity of a Nicole Turmel led NDP is simply not indicative of how popular a Brian Topp or Thomas Mulcair-led NDP is going to be.

So yes, this is great for rallying the troops, and it shows there's at least some life in the Liberal brand - but it's by no means a sign that the Liberals are on the road back to power.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Party of Principle

While Peter C. Newman has been getting headlines with his diagnosis that the Liberal Party is dead, Andrew Coyne offers his recipe for resurrection here.

While I generally agree with Coyne's article, like Far and Wide, I would quibble that his criticism of the roadmap to renewal is unfair ("do you think it is easy to make a roadmap!?"). After all, opening the party to all Canadians is the first step towards the type of "grassroots, democratic party" Coyne urges the Liberals to become. And regardless of what the Liberal Party becomes, it's going to have to organize, fundraise, and communicate better.

That said, I agree with Coyne's thesis that the Liberals will not vault from third to first by defining themselves as nothing more than a "party of the centre". Instead they need to be seen as a "party of principle", taking bold and risky stances - sometimes zigging right and sometimes zagging left. As the Tories and NDP attempt the squeeze the Grits out of the centre and out of existence, it will become harder and harder to find differentiating positions. It's not simply enough to say "we're not Stephen Harper", because the NDP also happens to be "not Stephen Harper".

If life were like the West Wing, it would be enough for the Liberals to boldly declare themselves as the party of principle and, presto, they'd be back on top by sweeps month. Reality is a bit trickier. Principled positions aren't always popular and bold ideas aren't always practical. It's also not like there's an abundance of bold ideas laying around, though Coyne suggests a way to find them:

The answer will lie as much in the way the party develops policies as in the policies it ultimately adopts. On both scores, it will need to capitalize on its own misfortune—to seize the opportunity that defeat affords. Parties that are in close contention for power tend to have little room for dissent, or for that matter democracy. The Liberals, being nowhere near power, have an opportunity to build a truly grassroots, democratic party, one that holds its leaders closely to account, and to let its own example serve as a model of democratic reform for the country.

Bingo. The currently policy process of the Liberal Party is a joke. Policies are debated at convention every two years, prioritized, and forgotten. The top policies rarely find their way into the platform, and I'd be surprised if they're even read by the leader or the platform committee.

The candidates for LPC President and Policy Chair have all talked about making the policy process ongoing and more engaging, but that won't make a difference unless it becomes meaningful.

One solution to this would be to force the party to adopt prioritized policies in its platform. The Alberta Liberals recently passed a bylaw mandating that 2 of the top 3 policies passed at convention find their way to the platform, while the Canmore Renewal Document suggests 5 of 10. Whatever the number, it would make the policy process at convention worth the price of admission, rather than a prime time to visit the hotel bar.

A system like that would not only engage members, it would force the party to take a serious look at the principled and bold ideas they need to take a serious look at.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bag 'O Links: Alberta Edition

1. We've known Rob Anders has been asleep on the job for years...though this may be the first literal instance:

Still, I'm sure most who have heard John Duncan speak will have some sympathy for Anders.

2. Alberta Liberal MLA Bridgit Pastoor is heading back to the Tories, as part of the "future considerations" in this spring's Raj Sherman deal.

3. But who can blame Pastoor for jumping ship when the Tories are at 51%, according to a new Environics poll? With the opposition parties all under 20%, the Tories appear poised for a crushing victory on...umm...

4. ...sometime this spring. Yes, Redford has kind of delivered on her "fixed election date" promise, scheduling elections for sometime between March 1st and May 31st this year. Officially, this flexibility has nothing to do with poll numbers, and everything to do with the ability to adapt to unforeseen events, such as a natural disaster or one of Alberta's hockey teams going on an extended playoff run.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Time for some F'ing Civility

I bookmarked this news story as soon as I saw it in May because, Pat Martin being Pat Martin, I knew it wouldn't be long before it would be worth resurrecting:

"This is my new policy," Martin said, holding up a handful of party-coloured buttons he had made reading "Opto Civitas."

"I choose civility. That's the new me."

He had 300 buttons made up in all party colours -- including a green one for Green party MP Elizabeth May -- and plans to hand them out when the House resumes sitting next week.

For an update on how Pat Martin's quest for civility is going, I recommend this story.


Asymmetrical Federalism

The NDP has made a lot of noise arguing Quebec deserves a fixed percentage of seats in the House of Commons. At the same time, they continue to move full speed ahead with a leadership race where Quebecers will be little more than an afterthought.

After some enthusiastic headlines about the party's membership numbers "soaring" and "tripling" in Quebec earlier this week, comes a dose of reality:

The NDP has attracted 11,200 new members since the launch of its leadership race in August, with the addition of 3,900 new card holders in Quebec providing the biggest boost.

Overall, the party has now 95,000 official supporters, up from 83,800 when Jack Layton died three months ago.

Still, Quebec continues to be under-represented in the race to find a new party leader with just 5.9 per cent of the party cards in the one-member, one-vote leadership race.

The 5.9% figure isn't the worrisome number for the NDP - that number is due to the fact that no one (not even some of their MPs) had membership cards in Quebec a few months ago. What's more relevant is that Quebecers made up just 35% of the new members the party has signed up during the leadership race. If the NDP keeps adding 12,000 members a month, with 35% coming from Quebec, Quebecers are going to cast just 15% of the votes in the leadership race.

This from a province home to over half the NDP's caucus. This from a province the NDP has recognized as a "nation" deserving special status in all areas...except leadership races apparently.

Maybe that's fair, but it's certainly not good news for a party hoping to build an organization in Quebec. And it's certainly not good news for Thomas Mulcair, who hopes to ride Quebec to victory.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Opposition for the Sake of Opposition

The Liberals have come out against an expanded House of Commons, arguing we have enough MPs as it is. I personally feel the problem is one of quality rather than quantity, but most Canadians would likely agree with the Liberal position and it makes a certain amount of sense when you consider Canada's population-to-MP ratio.

However, this smells a lot like a party opposing something for the sake of opposing it. Because the reality is, there's no way the Liberal Party could ever follow through on this pledge if they were in power.

Given the screams of horror that come out of Liberal ranks whenever the NDP even hints at opening up the constitution, it's a safe bet the Liberals aren't about to go down that road anytime soon. Which means each province must have at least as many MPs as it has Senators, and cannot have fewer seats than it had in 1985.

So even if the Liberals wanted to piss off a few smaller provinces to achieve true rep-by-pop, their hands are tied - Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, and the territories are all at their 1985 seat totals.

If the Liberals want to keep the total at 308 seats, all they can do is shuffle chairs around between Alberta, BC, and Ontario, unless they repeal the laws of mathematics. Come to think of it, that might actually be easier than opening up the constitution.

So while there's some value behind the intent of this position, it's completely unworkable in reality unless the Liberals want to leave Ontario, BC, and Alberta seriously under-represented. Which might be a good thing, given the number of votes a plan like that would cost the Liberals in those provinces.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Primary Debates

In his debut, my friend Jeff Jedras takes aim at the proposal Liberals will be voting on in January to move to a US-style primary system to choose the party's next leader and nominate candidates.

While I've already voiced my support for this system, Jeff raises three valid critiques which I want to take the time to rebut - one logistical, one conceptual, and one on the decision-making process.

1) Logistical: "One concern is the potential for shenanigans; supporters of another party signing up as Liberal “supporters” to vote in the primary and negatively influence the process, such as voting for the least-favoured candidate."

Again, I point to the Alberta Liberal example, where such shenanigans were tried (against a much weaker party) and failed spectacularly.

The reason for this is simple enough - most people don't give a big enough damn to try something like this, and those who do are too high profile to risk getting caught. Finding 50,000 rabble rousers willing to sign up and make Tony Genco the next Liberal leader simply can't be done under the radar, and whoever tried to organize a campaign like this would seriously hurt their credibility.

Seventeen US states let Democrats vote in Republican primaries and vice versa. Their rationale is that a candidate who earns primary votes from across the aisle, will also earn general election votes from across the aisle. If Karl Rove can't find a way to get Denis Kucinich the Democratic nomination, then I don't think we have much to fear here.

I know some are concerned about special interest groups taking over a nomination meeting, but a $10 membership fee isn't going to stop them - if anything, a supporter system makes a takeover harder since it takes more votes to win. If an anti-abortion group goes from needing 100 votes to 120 votes to win a nomination meeting, it makes it that much more difficult for them to get their candidate of choice nominated (remembering of course that all candidates still need to be green lit by the party).

2) Conceptual: "One of the key incentives for joining a political party is the opportunity to vote in leadership and nomination races. This proposal devalues membership. Already, during each successive election, it has become harder to get Liberals to volunteer to knock on doors, stuff envelopes, and get out the vote. We need committed members, and more of them, to successfully rebuild this party."

Here's the thing. By itself, party membership means nothing. The point of signing someone up to be a member is to get their contact information so that you can get them to knock on doors, stuff envelopes, and get out the vote. I agree we need more of these people, but the way you get them is by making it easier to join the Liberal fold. Consider the supporter system a gateway drug to lure liberal-minded Canadians into the big red tent (and yes, I totally intend to put that line, creepy as it is, on a button at the Ottawa convention). Once they've registered, they can be invited to become full fledged members, volunteer, and donate money.

Yes, we need to make membership meaningful to retain and engage members. But if we want to grow the membership, we need to tear down the barriers to becoming involved, and a primary system would do just that. You don't think a few of the millions who signed up to vote for Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries also gave their money and time to get him elected in the ensuing general election?

I know many are uneasy about "instant Liberals", but if this change means thousands of new Canadians pouring into our ranks, then that's fantastic. There are instant Liberals I signed up for leadership votes who are now more involved in the party than I am.

3) The Process: "The party executive wants to amend the constitution so the new leadership selection process can be adopted at the biennial convention in Ottawa January 13-15, 2012, barely two months from now. Meetings to elect delegates to that convention are happening now, and many are being cancelled and the delegates acclaimed due to a lack of people willing to fill all the available spots. It’s not as if this concept has been debated in Liberal circles for months. We’re just getting this now. We’re talking about fundamentally changing the most important thing we do—selecting a leader—and we’re rushing into it."

I know the Liberal response to every problem is to call a Royal Commission, but this gives delegates to the January convention two months to debate the idea - plenty of time to make up their minds. Liberals have talked about "renewal" for years without anything happening - it's time to get off the pot or shift the way we do politics.

The reality is we need to lay down the ground rules for the next leadership race before we find ourselves in the next leadership race. We're now a third party, and a series of rolling primaries would add much needed excitement to the contest, helping us introduce the next leader to Canadians.

I don't think the end result would be any different under one-member-one-vote or the registered supporter system. But, like Jeff says, process matters, and this new way of electing leaders would send a message to Canadians that the Liberal Party is willing to change and open itself up to Canadians.

UPDATE: Jeff responds to my responds here, to which I respond here and he responds here. At this point, I call him and argue Hitler was against a primary system, to which he calls me a redneck and hangs up. Let's agree to disagree and call it a draw.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Copps' Laws

I haven't picked a horse in the race for LPC President, but Sheila Copps is certainly the candidate I'm most familiar with - I was, after all, one of a very very small number of Copps delegates at the 2003 Liberal Leadership Convention.

And while I like a lot of what I've heard from Sheila so far, I completely disagree on this point (and I'm not alone):

As for Mr. Rae, Ms. Copps says the executive should not be able to restrict who runs and who does not. That’s up to voters.

She noted that when Mr. Rae took over the leadership, he agreed to rules set by the party’s “current” executive that the Interim Leader would not seek the top job permanently.

But a new executive could change that rule. And Ms. Copps will if she is elected president.

The thing is - there's no rule against Bob Rae running for leader. Rae promised he wouldn't run when he accepted the job, and whether or not the executive repeals a non-existent rule isn't going to change that.

It's like a candidate who spends an entire election saying "no coalitions" then forms a coalition. There's no law against it, but it's certainly a breach of trust, and there would be political fallout.

But this isn't a post about Bob Rae. Rae has consistently said he won't run, and until we start hearing "anonymous Liberals" urging him to, he should be taken at his word.

Rather, the issue here is Copps who is, intentionally or not, turning the national executive elections into a proxy leadership war. The point of delaying the leadership race for 63 years (or whatever it was) was to give the party time to rebuild before turning its attention to leadership. As naive as this was, that was the deal, and everything should be done to make sure the national executive elections are about rebuilding the party, not the next leadership race.

I'm not sure what Sheila hopes to accomplish by continually promoting Rae's candidacy, but she's not helping her own by doing this.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

A Roadmap to Renewal

The Liberal Roadmap to Renewal has been released and can be read here. There are several longer drafts floating around I've put on my weekend reading list, but at 80-100 pages, I may just wait for the movie version.

While the process feels a little too top-down for my liking, we've been talking about renewal for years so I'm glad something is being done and that members have concrete proposals before them to debate and vote on at January's Biennial convention.

As for the proposals themselves, some are unnecessary, some are flowery, and some skate around the real issues. Why we need to affirm the policy process is beyond me - I'd much rather see it reformed and made meaningful.

At the same time, there is some real meat in this document. The most visible and flashiest change would be moving leadership and nomination races to the primary-style system I blogged about earlier this week. This, coupled with the end of protected nominations for incumbents and the end of leader's ability to appoint candidates would be a significant leap towards creating a more open and grassroots party.

I won't go into detail on some of the bookkeeping changes being discussed, because if I do you'll never visit this blog again. It's not exciting stuff, but I will say that the move towards streamlining and centralizing accounting, fundraising, and operations will save money. And raise money too, come to think of it.

Fundraising to defend the new leader and buy more technology doesn't require constitutional amendments, but those are worthy initiatives I'd be willing to open my chequebook for. The party needs to adopt a culture of data collection, so good on them for moving into the 21st Century.

The document is rather quiet on what must be done to engage existing members, but those kind of initiatives don't require constitutional change - just a willingness by people in positions of power to make things happen.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Luxury Tax

The Conservatives admit to overspending by $420,000 and are found guilty of breaking election laws.

The punishment?

A $50,000 fine...or about the amount they'll raise from their next anti-CBC e-mail.

Which is kind of appropriate, since they never got more than a political slap on the wrist for the "in and out scandal". The blame for that may rest on the opposition parties for bad branding - had it been dubbed the "Conservative money laundering scandal", they might have got some legs out of it.

The end of whatshisnames campaign

Not since the Dean Scream has a Presidential campaign imploded in a matter of seconds.

This clip may go down as one of the worst debate performances in US history:


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

An Open Party

The Liberal White Paper on party reform has been leaking out over the past few days, and will reportedly be released in full tonight. I'm sure there will be a lot of worthwhile ideas within it, but the one likely to grab the most headlines is the proposal of moving to a primary-style system where any Canadian could register to vote for the next Liberal leader (and perhaps in local nomination meetings too). Without a doubt, this will be a hotly contested vote at this January's convention.

Before the rhetoric starts flying, both sides of this debate need to recognize this isn't going to lead to millions of Canadians stampeding out to vote in Liberal Party primaries. A $10 membership fee and the stigma of political party membership is a deterrent for some, but if you give a damn about who the next Liberal leader is, those are pretty small barriers to jump over. So when supporters argue it's going to double the party base and opponents argue it's going to lead to a takeover, they're both being melodramatic.

With that caveat given, I come down strongly in support of the concept, for the following reasons:

1. It will get more people involved in the party. Not as full fledged members, but consider this a gateway drug. First you hook them with the primary system, then you lure them into the seedy world of political rallies, membership forms, volunteering, and donating money.

2. The party will get valuable information from these supporters. In the new age of micro-targeting and fundraising, having additional data on Liberal-inclined voters is worth a lot more than a $10 membership fee.

3. Symbolically, it's the right play to make. It would send the message that the party is changing and that it's open. Voters have grown increasingly cynical of backroom old-style politics, and this would counter that.

4. It would create excitement and draw media attention to the Liberal leadership race. In the past, this would have been a given, but life as a third party is different. The next leader is likely to be an unknown to voters, so getting media attention during the race makes introducing him or her to voters afterwards a lot easier.

The argument opponents of the primary system usually raise is that it opens the party to a takeover. Poppycock. The Alberta Liberals switched to an open supporter system for their recent leadership contest and, sure enough, Craig Chandler's PGIB group threw their weight behind a far right candidate (who has since jumped to the Wildrose Alliance). The result? Their man finished fourth with 626 votes. If a weak Alberta Liberal Party can shrug off a right wing takeover in the heart of Conservative country, surely the federal grits have nothing to fear.

Even at the riding level, if a special interest group wants to stack a nomination meeting, they'll find the 10$ a head to do it now. A supporter system actually makes takeovers harder, since it means more votes are needed to win. Instead of signing up 100 anti-abortion activists to win a nomination meeting, you might need 120 or 150.

No, the only downside I see is on the financial ledger. Any leadership format outside of royal succession is going to lead to instant members, so there's an argument you might as well get some money out of it. This move will likely wind up costing the party over half a million dollars.

That's not an insignificant sum of money to write off. In the end, I think much of it will be made back by eventually getting donations from some of the new members and by making membership meaningful enough that supporters will want to join.

The payoff of opening the party up to all Canadians exceeds this cost. It would be a bold move, at a time when the Liberal Party is hungry for boldness.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

NDP Hits a Wall in Saskatchewan

The year of the incumbent continues in Canada, with Brad Wall taking 49 of 58 seats and 64% of the vote.

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Since when did the Tories worry about contempt of parliament?

CBC in contempt of Parliament if it doesn't produce documents Access Committee requests: Del Mastro

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Race for Stornoway

The NDP leadership race appears to have solidified, with nine candidates vying for the keys to Stornoway.

While I doubt any of the contenders are causing Stephen Harper sleepless nights, it's a diverse field which is good news for the Dippers. Every true-orange New Democrat will be able to find a candidate to their liking, and a lot of membership forms will get sold. Nearly every imaginable demographic is represented...all that's missing is Pat Martin to provide comic relief.

It's too early to seriously handicap the field, but a nine candidate field and a 5-month race means it would be incredibly premature to declare this a Topp-Mulcair showdown. Someone will emerge from the pack to challenge the frontrunners, and it's likely to come down to second and third choices.

Pundits Guide appears to be the place to be for NDP leadership news, while Far and Wide puts the candidates under a Liberal lens.

Here, I present a brief overview of the field:

Topp of the Pack

Brian Topp: The media crowned him as the race's frontrunner within hours of Jack Layton's death, though that may have simply been a case of journalists unable to resist a good pun. Topp has the most establishment support, but as Alison Redford and Christy Clark recently showed, that may not necessarily be an asset.

Topp has released a "tax the rich" proposal which should be popular with NDP members, but it's not without risks. I can guarantee eight other leadership camps will be whispering about the Tory advertising onslaught this would bring about, in an effort to brand Topp as unelectable.

The Challenger

Thomas Mulcair: The longtime NDP Dauphin has had a rocky start to the campaign, spending more time complaining about the rules than giving Dippers a reason to vote for him. Still, Mulcair is experienced and is the party's best bet at holding Quebec (at least according to Thomas Mulcair).

Unlike Topp, Mulcair's pitch has been directed more at the general public than the NDP faithful, promising to ween the NDP off their union dependence. He's clearly trying to portray himself as the candidate most likely to lead the NDP to the promised land. That's not a bad pitch - even though federal NDP members might be less concerned with power than most, it's a message that should resonate with provincial Dippers in BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia who have tasted power. Hell, who am I kidding - everyone wants to be in power.

Dark Horses

Paul Dewar: Dewar would probably be my choice at this point if I had a bit more orange in my veins but I'm always a sucker for an underdog. He's a good communicator, though some questions remain about his french.

His urban strategy is smart politics, since that's where the votes are in a one-member-one-vote leadership race.

Peggy Nash: She's relatively well know and relatively well liked, and I imagine she has a good network of NDP, union, and activist contacts to solicit for support. I can't imagine anyone is overly excited by her, but she's the highest profile woman in the race and might have some appeal as a consensus candidate.

Nathan Cullen: His proposal to work with the Liberals in some ridings will help him stand out, but it might make him too polarizing a figure to get the second a third ballot support he'd need to win. He has a strong social media presence so far, and all indications are he'll get his fair share of media coverage.

Cullen also has geography working in his favour. He's the lone BC candidate, and one-third of all current NDP members are from that province.

Long Shots

Robert Chisolm: On paper, Chisolm is a strong candidate - he's a former union leader and former leader of the Nova Scotia NDP. He has the ability to clean up in Nova Scotia, but lack of name recognition will be an obstacle elsewhere. He's going to need to find an issue to call his own, to distinguish himself from the crowded field.

Romeo Saganash: Saganash was the first candidate out of the gate, and is intriguing enough to warrant a close look - he's from Quebec, is fluent in English and French, and has been actively involved with the Cree Regional Authority. I'll confess to knowing little about him, but if his political skills are polished, he's likely to get media attention and could be this season's break-out star.

Martin Singh: Singh is likely the least known candidate in the contest and doesn't have the House of Commons platform to raise his profile. I can't see him winning, but his pro-business stance could help him stand out.

Singh is from Nova Scotia, but launched his campaign in Brampton - his support in the Sikh community could make him a formidable threat in a one-member one-vote contest, and I wouldn't at all be surprised to see him in the top 5 or 6 on the first ballot. Growing from there will be more challenging.

Niki Ashton: Ashton is expected to declare shortly, and it's no secret this will be more about raising her profile than about winning. At 29, her support will come predominantly from youth and from her home province of Manitoba. If she does well, she could position herself for a future run in 10 or 20 years.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

This Race Is Unfair, Vote For Mulcair!

Some leadership campaigns like to make a policy announcement every week.

For Thomas Mulcair, it appears he had adopted a "complaint-a-week" strategy. The latest:

NDP's Mulcair blames 'whisper campaign' for tough slogging in leadership effort
Candidate says the fact he's from Quebec is being used against him by some party members

Outremont MP Tom Mulcair blames "a whisper campaign" and clever spinning by competitors for a perception he's trailing Brian Topp in the NDP leadership contest.

During a recent trip to Vancouver, the 57-year old lawyer and father of two told me: "The people who spin for Mr. Topp use the word 'front-runner,' as they have done from Day 1.

"But there have been a fair number of polls so far and every one has put me ahead, so I'm happy with that."

Mulcair also cited "a whisper campaign by anonymous sources" about his having a bad temper and not being a team player. "My best calling card to answer that," he said, "is there were 33 people standing on stage with me the day I announced my candidacy" on Oct. 13.

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