Thursday, November 30, 2006

One member, one vote defeated


I was strongly against this measure. This convention is a perfect example of why.

We've all seen the way people win in one member one vote races - Stockwell Day eclipsing Preston Manning with massive church sign ups, Bernard Lord beating Norm Betts with a few kegs at U de M and so on. It is a bad way to choose a leader.

In this sort of race in particular, when it requires a lot of deliberation and people moving to their 2nd, 3rd and even 4th choices by the time the balloting leads up. Some deride deals on the floor but it is more than that.

I have encountered delegates here in Montreal who have said, of all the big four candidates, that they were impressed or disappointed to get to see them up close. These delegates are going to make informed decisions that could never be made under OMOV and the party will have a better leader for it.

From the missing blogger

Despite my best efforts, I have failed in live blogging. Here is something I tried to send last night at 2:33 a.m. Montreal time...

My apologies for being MIA. I have been crazy busy but having fun at this convention.

A few thoughts.

On tonight's speeches: Bill Graham was excellent. I am continually impressed by Shawn Graham's continued improvements. It was too bad that Frank McKenna was just introducing Howard Dean, in an introduction he did not have the same fire he usually does. Dean's speech was good, but the video that introduced him was WAY over the top and turned a lot of people off. He spoke with well practiced French which sparked thunderous cheers and applause from the crowd.

On the campaigns: It is really early to tell. Many delegates have not arrived (the lion's share are expected tomorrow, the deadline is 9am Friday). The big four all had demostrations as their candidates arrived and registered as delegates. The Ignatieff group was by far the largest while the Rae, Kennedy and Dion groups were of similar size. (Spin Alert) This bodes well for Kennedy as one assumes Quebec delegates have arrived disproprtionately to other regions and Kennedy should be way smaller. Only Ignatieff and Kennedy seem to have public campaign offices and Kennedy's is far more accessible. I am surprised by the number and enthusiasm of Ignatieff delegates. Perhaps his people are not as turned off as some have speculated.

On the convention: The convention hall, first opened up for the Dean speech tonight, was much better than I had expected. It is a flat room but they've done a great job with it. The candidate's boxes leave a lot to be desired however with only 3ft curtains separating them, it makes it difficult for the candidates to have private conversations. I am told that as of end of today over 2300 delegates had registered. Sounds as though this will be well attended considering that most registrations are not yet expected.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Live blogging starts soon

I will be leaving later today for Old Montreal where I will be attending the Liberal Leadership Convention until Sunday.

I will probably not have a lot of opportunity to read your comments but I will try my best and will be "live blogging" from key events at the convention. I hope you'll enjoy.

Calgary Grit has a very helpful convention blogroll listing all of those who will be blogging from the convention.

Monday, November 27, 2006

An exciting night in politics

Watching the by-election returns now. Very interesting to see Elizabeth May (Green) and Glen Pearson (Liberal) duking it out for first in the early returns. Conservative "star" is training in fourth behind the NDP!

UPDATE 1: Liberal pulls a bit further ahead, Tory breaks into third.

Results so far
Pearson (L) - 30.5%
May (G) - 27.8%
Haskett (C) - 21.6%
Walker (N) - 19.2%

UPDATE 2: Liberal narrows again, could be a long night.

Results so far
Pearson (L) - 31.2% (+0.7)
May (G) - 29.1% (+1.3)
Haskett (C) - 21.2% (-0.4)
Walker (N) - 17.7% (-1.5)

UPDATE 3: I think we can call Repentigny a Bloc hold, lead consistently at 35 to 40 points ahead of a distant Tory.

UPDATE 4: Liberal lead seems to be stabalizing but still only 75/253 polls reporting. Acutal numerical lead is ~350 votes.

Results so far
Pearson (L) - 32.3% (+0.9)
May (G) - 28.1% (-1.0)
Haskett (C) - 21.4% (+0.2)
Walker (N) - 17.4% (-0.3)

UPDATE 5: Liberal lead seems to be growing very slowly, the trend is positive for the Grit.

Results so far
Pearson (L) - 33.0% (+0.7)
May (G) - 27.8% (-0.3)
Haskett (C) - 21.6% (+0.2)
Walker (N) - 16.7% (-0.7)

UPDATE 6: Upward Liberal trend continues...

Results so far
Pearson (L) - 33.5% (+0.5)
May (G) - 27.8% (± 0)
Haskett (C) - 22.4% (+0.8)
Walker (N) - 15.4% (-1.3)

UPDATE 7: I am almost ready to call this for the Liberals. Actual lead now over 1500 votes, 170/253 polls in.

Results so far
Pearson (L) - 34.1% (+0.6)
May (G) - 27.4% (-0.4)
Haskett (C) - 23.1% (+0.7)
Walker (N) - 14.7% (-0.7)

UPDATE 8: 250/253 polls in. Pearson at 9999 votes, more than 2000 ahead of May. I declare this a Liberal hold and a Pearson victory.

Results so far (not margin over last update but from last election)
Pearson (L) - 34.4% (-5.7)
May (G) - 27.0% (+22.5)
Haskett (C) - 23.6% (-6.3)
Walker (N) - 14.3% (-9.5)

This is a huge set back for the Tories in my view. Despite having the power of government and a well known former mayor candidate who is running against a newcomer (who parachuted in from the next riding) instead of a 6 term incumbent and cabinet minister, they have lost 6.3% of the vote and the Liberal vs Tory margin has actually grown by 0.6%.

This is my last post unless May shocks me and somehow surges ahead.

How can they be doing this?

I am sitting here watching the vote on the now infamous motion. The Bloc caucus just finished voting. The looks of glee on their faces was telling. Duceppe looked squarely in Harper's direction, smiled and saluted. Bloc House Leader Michel Gauthier gave the Tories a thumbs up.

How can we be doing this?

Kennedy shows true leadership

The following statement was released by Gerard Kennedy today:

I cannot support the Harper-Duceppe motion currently before the House.

The Prime Minister's responsibility is to protect the constitution and the unity of the country. This motion does neither. It is wrong for Canada.

The motion creates an unmistakable expectation by giving official legitimacy to the "idea" of nation, without defining it. This is an irresponsible step, as there has never been greater need for honest dialogue between Quebecers and the rest of Canadians. Rather than improving national unity, the motion will exacerbate divisions and generate misunderstanding in Quebec and across Canada. It is for this reason that throughout this campaign I have consistently opposed the "officialization" of the notion of Quebec as a nation.

Canada is a united country that must be constantly defined by our common values and a shared purpose. The introduction of this resolution contradicts this need and instead sows division over uncertain symbols.

I respect the sense of identity shared by many Quebecers, reflecting a common culture, language, history and accomplishment and I will continue to promote that identity, rather than playing divisive political games with it. Further, this motion does nothing to recognize, and potentially takes away from, aboriginals, Acadians and other official minority groups with a distinct culture and heritage within Canada.

I deplore that anyone would use this as a wedge issue for political gain. As Liberals, we have to understand that there is no easy way to rebuild the party in Quebec but we must stay resolute in our vision for the entire country. I want Quebecers to know that as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada I will forge a common understanding of the best way for Quebecers and all Canadians to work together on our real challenges: globalization benefiting all families not just a few; an aging population and the growing divide between rural and urban regions.

Out of respect for the interim leader Bill Graham, I am not requesting that any caucus member supporting my candidacy change their vote to reflect my position.

Canadians will know that I do not feel bound by this vote or this process.

Before people say this is reflective of a candidate without a lot of support in Quebec who does not understand Quebec. This motion is opposed by both Justin Trudeau and Alexandre Trudeau and by Senator Serge Joyal, a Quebec minister in Trudeau's government and constitutional expert who has said it is a "dangerous, big mistake" which will create "more stress, more tension, more blackmail and less trust" and "open the door for additional claims for any other province to get something from the federal government".

Also, Maclean's has a perpetually updating thread on this that is worth checking out.

I hope you agree that Kennedy has done the right thing here and think that Liberals will view the same. If so, please go to CTV's site and vote on their question "How will Kennedy's opposition to the Quebec motion impact his chances at the Liberal convention?".

UPDATE: Apparently Michael Chong has resigned from the cabinet over the nation motion? He was one of my favourite ministers and also the guy in charge of provincial relations. If this is true, it is a very significant blow to those supporting the motion. Perhaps he'll cross the floor if Kennedy wins the leadership?

UPDATE 2: Ken Dryden has also come out against the motion... will he now endorse Gerard after the second ballot?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Good luck tomorrow, Charles

Spinks has a good post up on Charles LeBlanc's trial tomorrow.

In summary, Charles is an activist and blogger who, though slightly off of his rocker, has done a great deal to bring attention to the over prescription of Ritalin for ADD/ADHD children and a broad range of other issues effecting the down trodden.

Whether you are a fan of Charles or not, I think we can all agree that the case the Crown has on him is one of the weakest things ever brought to trial. Moreover, this is very interesting to watch due to the precedent it could set in terms of bloggers being deemed members of the media with all of the rights the Charter and other laws.

Good luck tomorrow, Charles!

UPDATE: Charles LeBlanc wins

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

LibLead III

Finally, here is the third installment of three in my series on the Liberal leadership race.

In Part I, I guessed how well each leadership candidate would do as leader in a general election. To read it, click here.

In Part II, I explained that I thought each of the "big four" could realistically win the leadership race and I explained the scenarios as to how this would happen. To read it, click here.

Finally, here is Part III, which I described in my earlier post as:

A bit of the suspence for this one has been ruined as I have already said I think Kennedy will win. I will spell out why in a ballot-by-ballot guesstimation of the results.

So, here we go. For the first three ballots, I used a lot of data from the EKOS survey of delegates, which is the only opinion poll taken during this race that measures a relevant sample of people to determine the outcome of the leadership.

So, here we go.

First Ballot

For numbers, I used the results of the delegate selection meetings (excluding backfills, which would be too difficult to compensate for) and the ex-officio numbers from Wikipedia (which stood at: MI213, BR81, GK112, SD121, JV7, KD47, SB35, MHF3, Und/Neutral 476 when I prepared this).

Using the EKOS poll, I assume that 93% of Ignatieff delegates, 92% of Rae delegates, 94% of Kennedy delegates and 86% of Dion delegates will show up to the convention. I assumed that 60% of delegates for the bottom four and 75% of undecided delegates would show up. (This is elected delegates only).

For ex-officios, I assumed that 90% of those that had endorsed a candidate would show up and 75% of those who had not would show up.

For undecides, both elected, ex-officios who have not made endorsements and declared neutral delegates, I broke them down using the following logic. It is easy to endorse the frontrunner, so most who want to support him have done so. Thus, the undecides were broken down 10% for Ignatieff, 25% for Rae and 32.5% each for Kennedy and Dion.

This gives us the following results for the first ballot:

Ignatieff 1448 (31.2%)
Rae 977 (21.04%)
Kennedy 942 (20.31%)
Dion 843 (18.16%)
Dryden 152 (3.26%)
Volpe 131 (2.81%)
Brison 123 (2.66%)
Hall Findlay 26 (0.55%)

(Disclaimer: I personally think Martha Hall Findlay will do better than this, but couldn't think of a proper way to massage the numbers to make it so.)

Second Ballot

I assume that Dryden and Brison will choose to drop off and Hall Findlay will be forced to. Volpe I expect will remain on the ballot due to the way he has stubbornly approached the race and due to the rumours I have heard about the "deal" he wants in order to endorse a candidate.

Based on the EKOS poll, some pledged delegates to the big four do not want their candidate of choice to win. For Ignatieff, 11% want him to lose, for Rae 12%, for Kennedy 7% and for Dion 18%. For the second ballot, I have moved these people away from their pledges and allotted them to other candidates based on their second choice from the EKOS poll (undecideds excluded from the results).

For Volpe, I estimated 40% of his delegates would dessert him and assigned them to the second choices from the poll, undecides excluded.

For the three that dropped, leaving undecideds in the equation, I moved those who had made up their minds for a second choice to the big four. Then I moved all of their undecideds to who I thought they would endorse.

Based on everything I read in the press, I decided to have Dryden and Hall Findlay endorse Rae and take their undecided delegates (50% and 52% respectively) with them. For Brison, I had him endorse Kennedy - per my previous thoughts on this, click here - taking his 50% undecided in that direction.

This gives us the following results for the second ballot:

Ignatieff 1391 (30.08%)
Rae 1146 (24.79%)
Kennedy 1075 (23.26%)
Dion 920 (19.9%)
Volpe 91 (1.97%)

Note that on this stage, the only judgment calls I made were with endorsements. Other movement is based on the EKOS poll. Therefore, unless Ignatieff gets an endorsement from someone who drops off, and the EKOS findings hold, he is guaranteed to slip between ballot 1 and ballot 2 as the EKOS poll finds more people would bleed from him than would come to him from other campaigns. I found this very interesting.

Third Ballot

I begin this ballot by assuming that Volpe, who would be eliminated, "releases his delegates". Therefore I have accorded his delegates based on the EKOS findings of second choise, less undecideds. This means 60% go to Rae, 15% to Kennedy and 13% each to Ignatieff and Dion.

Then I assume that Ignatieff supporters, some of whom are with him because he is the winner, would give up. I estimate he would lose 15% of his delegates at this time, which is consistent with history of what happens when frontrunners stall. Of the delegates that leave him, I send 90% to Kennedy - as I suspect those leaving at this point would want to stop at all costs Rae and Dion who have attacked their candidate - and project that the remaining 10% will not vote or spoil their ballots.

Also, because Rae and Kennedy have both broken the psychological barrier of 1000 votes and Dion has grown, though not substantially and remains bellow both the 1000 vote and 20% barriers, 10% of his supporters move to other candidates. Of these, I move 10% to Ignatieff, 20% to Rae and 70% to Kennedy based on media reports of synergies and alliances between these two campaigns. I also projected that 10 Dion delegates would not vote.

This gives us the following results for the third ballot:

Rae 1219 (27.67%)
Ignatieff 1203 (27.31%)
Kennedy 1153 (26.18%)
Dion 830 (18.84%)

Fourth Ballot

At this point I would expect a lot of Ignatieff supporters to be frustrated and scared due to his not only having stalled but having also slipped to second place, I project a 30% bleed of his supporters. Of these, I project 70% go to Kennedy, for the reasons above, and 20% go to Rae, while 10% do not vote on the next ballot.

In Dion's case, he has dropped off, I suspect that Dion will endorse Kennedy based on the media speculation and other words heard on the street. However, I am not convinced he could deliver all of his delegates, especially when I already moved 7% of his delegates to Kennedy on the last ballot. I project 60% would follow Dion to Kennedy, while 30% would go to Rae and 10% to Ignatieff.

This gives us the following results for the fourth ballot:

Kennedy 1651 (40.83%)
Rae 1468 (36.29%)
Ignatieff 925 (22.88%)

Fifth Ballot

Ignatieff is eliminated here and per previous arguments, I suspect the lion's share of his support would move to Kennedy. I have 75% of his delegates moving to Kennedy, 20% to Rae and an additional 5% not voting.

This gives us the following results for the final ballot:

Kennedy 2345 (58.66%)
Rae 1653 (41.34%)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


As promised, in my post of just five days ago, I am giving kudos to the first of our two major parties to get their website up.

As Scott pointed out in the comments of that last post, eerily this is not the first time I have seemed to effect a change on the Liberal website. Back on September 1st, I caught the Liberal leader's blog as being way out of date and shortly there after it was back with a vengence.


Whoops! Dion Campaign at it again?

Some of you may recall some months ago some bloggers expressed concerns that the Dion campaign was plagarizing the David Suzuki Foundation in its environmental platform.

A tipster has advised me that a report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce called "THE DEMOGRAPHIC TIME BOMB: MITIGATING THE EFFECTS OF DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE IN CANADA" and Dion's recent pension platform release have a lot of eery similarities.

From Recommendation 4 of the Senate report:

The federal government amend the Old Age Security Act to:
  • allow receipt of Old Age Security benefits to be deferred, with appropriate actuarial adjustments;
  • exempt a portion of employment earnings from the clawback provision associated with the Guaranteed Income Supplement program

Here is Dion's platform on OAS and GIS (emphasis added):

We will remove disincentives to work beyond age 65 by amending the rules for the OAS to allow someone who is 65 or over and still working to defer payments and receive larger payments when they do retire.

We will do this in a way that is actuarially sound so that the total value of OAS payments made will not increase. Payments to those who do retire at 65 will not be change.


A Stéphane Dion Government will help low-income Canadians over 65 who wish or need to work by exempting from the GIS reduction employment income up to $3000 for a single person, and increasing the amount that can be earned without the reduction to $9000 for couples.

This is not word-for-word but it is clearly a borrowing of the same idea and should at least carry a footnote. Some Dion supporters explained away the problem last time saying that a version lacking sources had erroneously been posted to the web. Could this have happened again?

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice...

On Bernard Lord and the future of the Tories

A welcome break from the Liberal leadership for some of my New Brunswick readers, I am going to write today about the future of the Tories and there potential leadership options.

First of all kudos to the journalist who took this neat shot with an exit sign in the background during Lord's speech:

Now on to the meat. First of all, in today's Telegraph-Journal Carl Davies has the following list of potential candidates, all former ministers:
  • Jody Carr (MLA since 1999, Minister in 2006)
  • Madeleine Dubé (MLA since 1999, Minister from 2003-2006)
  • Bruce Fitch (MLA since 2003, Minister from 2003-2006)
  • Trevor Holder (MLA since 1999, Minister from 2005-2006)
  • Paul Robichaud (MLA since 1999, Minister from 1999-2006)
  • Jeannot Volpé (MLA since 1995, Minister from 1999-2006)
  • Claude Williams (MLA since 2001, Minister in 2006)

Davies had done an earlier piece on this - or at least I thought it was him - but I can't find it now. One name I remember reading about was Margaret-Ann Blaney, who I think would be obvious as she was a leadership candidate in 1997 when she had far less political experience than she does today. Perhaps there is truth to the rumours that she plans to run in Saint John in the next federal election?

This selection of candidates is pretty slim pickens. Of them, I think only Robichaud would be able to mount an decent performance in an election campaign. Holder and Williams both might be able to do something with a lot of work and they do have a few years for it. Hopefully Dubé will run so that there is a woman in the race, as New Brunswick politics desperately needs more prominent woman.

Of the candidates, all of the Anglophones are unilingual and most of the Francophones struggle with English; Dubé and Volpé in particular. Robichaud's English has dramatically improved over his time as minister but he still has a very heavy preference for French and falls to it whenever in a difficult spot in the House.

I wonder if anyone from outside of the caucus with calibre will come forward? Think Norm Betts in 1997. I doubt Betts himself would be interested but that is another option. Another former minister who has remained a prominent figure would be Dennis Furlong, but his heart never seemed to be into politics when he served. Peter Mesheau and Elvy Robichaud, in my view, were the strongest ministers in Lord's government, but both just retired so one presumes they are not interested in the crown.

Also, I wonder what about the new kids on the block? The Tories elected 4 freshmen on September 18: Claude Landry, Bruce Northrup, Mike Olscamp and Carl Urquhart. I don't know many of them but Landry, from what I've seen, seems charismatic and has political experience having served as Elvy Robichaud's EA for much of ther former's time in cabinet. He clearly had a good grasp on the files as he has been given the prominent Health critic portfolio.

From this early staging point, I would say that the best bet for the Tories would be Landry. However, he has yet to appear on anyone's list so we shall see.

What about the Lord?

As for Lord and whether he will stay or go, I would strongly suspect he will go. Even his supporters admit he has a strong ego and I don't think he could face the legislature as leader of the opposition, and, if he could, he certainly couldn't do it over and over for four years. He has said he intends to stay in Fredericton until June when his wife and children finish school (his wife works in a the public school system). Perhaps he will announce his resignation around Christmas (he has promised an announcement one way or another at that time) and stay on to lead the party through the spring until a new leader is chosen.

Otherwise, Davies article predicts Volpé would be interim leader. I would think that that would be a terrible choice, a tendancy to become easily angered, lack of charisma and poor command of English do not make for a strong opposition leader. A young Turk such as Holder would be a better choice for opposition leader. The Tories need to start off with energy or they will have a hard time to recover for lost momentum.

UPDATE: Harrap has a post up on the subject as well

Sunday, November 19, 2006

LibLead II

As promised, here is Part II of my three part series on the Liberal leadership.

For Part I, which covers how each candidate would do in a general election, please click here.

This is: "Part II - How each candidate could win the leadership"

Though it is my belief that Gerard Kennedy will win the leadership, there are a number of scenarios that could play out which would see any of the "big four" winning the race. I will portay the scenarios.

The Hill Times recently reported that both Ignatieff and Rae believe that their best bet to win is an Ignatieff vs. Rae final ballot. I am sorry to let those two gents down, but I do not believe that this ballot is possible. I cannot conceive any situation where they will be the last two standing. For the record, however, I believe Rae would win under such a scenario quite handily.

So, how I will break this down is the possible final ballot match ups and who would win in each.

Ignatieff vs. Kennedy - Kennedy wins

Under this scenario, Ignatieff will not bleed very much support while Kennedy will have placed third in the final four and picked up the lion's share of Dion's support, pulling ahead of Rae and eliminating him on the second to last ballot.

A great deal of Rae's support would go to Kenendy seeing him win by a marin around 55%-45%.

Ignatieff vs. Dion - Too close, slight edge to Dion

Under this scenario, Ignatieff will not bleed very much support while Dion will have placed third in the final four and picked up a substantial amount of Kennedy's support. However, a good number of Kennedy's delegates west of the Ontario/Manitoba border will have been uncomfortable with another Francophone from Quebec as leader and move to Ignatieff and Rae. However, enough will move to Dion to allow him to place second in the final three.

On the final ballot, Kennedy's remaining supporters will spilt around 55-45 to Dion over Ignatieff however a strong number of Rae's supporters going to Dion should push him over the edge possibly winning in a very tight contest over Ignatieff by about 52 to 48, however it could go either way.

Rae vs. Kennedy - Kennedy wins substantially

Under this scenario, Ignatieff will bleed substantially. He will not meet the promised 35% on the first ballot or even come close to it, instead finishing near 30, perhaps in the high 20s. On the second ballot, many of Ignatieff's supporters will bolt causing him to slip to below 25% and either just ahead or just behind Rae.

Situation A

Kennedy pulls well ahead of Dion as many disaffected Ignatieff supporters come to him as they are turned off by Rae and Dion who have been very negative towards their candidate who they would like to support in their hearts. By the time Ignatieff and Dion drop off, Kennedy is well over 40% while Rae is around 30%. Ignatieff's remaining supporters swing quite hard to Kennedy giving him over 60% on the final ballot.

Situation B

Kennedy does not manage to pull to far ahead but in a dramatic shock, Ignatieff slips to fourth of four just behind Kennedy. A great deal of his supporters go to Kennedy, as they are turned off by Rae and Dion who have been very negative towards their candidate, causing Kennedy to surge from third to first on the ballot of three candidates. From their momentum and the support of most Dion delegates push him to a win of >55%.

Rae vs. Dion - Too close, slight edge to Rae

Under this scenario, Ignatieff will bleed substantially. He will not meet the promised 35% on the first ballot or even come close to it, instead finishing near 30, perhaps in the high 20s. On the second ballot, many of Ignatieff's supporters will bolt causing him to slip to below 25% and either just ahead or just behind Rae.

Notwithstanding gaining ground from Ignatieff supporters, Kennedy will not be able to stay ahead of Dion thanks to the support of many of the supporters of the "lower tier" four candidates going to the lone Quebecker.

The ballot with four candidates will see Rae and Dion duking it our for first at around 30%, while Ignatieff and Kenendy will be fighting for third at around 20% each. Ignatieff holds third causing Kennedy to drop with his supporters splitting between Rae and Dion with a slight edge to Dion, causing Dion to pull into first place.

On the final ballot, Ignatieff supporters, many shocked, will not vote, while the remainder will split slightly in Rae's favour. Rae would beat Dion by no more than 52% to 48% under this scenario but it could go either way.

Stay tuned for Part III where I will do a ballot-by-ballot prediction. Sneak peak: It will go 5 ballots.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

For a good cause

Spread the Net -

A friend of mine sent me this site and asked me to post on it. I am happy to do so as it looks like a really good cause. Moreover, it is run by UNICEF which I think proves that it is honest and worthy and, after all, UNICEF is "my charity", I contibute monthly.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Chantal Hébert agrees with me

Noted columnist Chantal Hébert seems to agree with my electability analysis in her column today.

In particular, she agrees that Kennedy is the best candidate to win in Ontario and will hold what we have in Quebec. She also agrees that Dion cannot grow in Quebec and is likely to lose ground elsewhere. She also agrees that Rae could gain disaffected NDP votes outside of Central Canada and grow in Quebec. On Ignatieff, she doesn't dare go as far as I have suggested (complete disaster) but says he "remains a wild card" and that his bolder policy positions could gain support in certain sectors but "could also lose the party support in crucial areas of the country".

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Shame on our big parties

Both the governing Liberals and the opposition Tories have had their websites down for weeks. The Tory site went down days after the election with its sole content being a thank you letter from Bernard Lord. The Liberal site stayed up with the occassional update between election day and the swearing-in of the new government since which time it has been down for "post-election retooling".

Come on! The election was 8 weeks and 3 days ago. This is the twenty-first century. A website is not a luxury, it is a neccesity.

Kudos to whichever of the parties gets their site up first. I'm watching, as I am sure are many other bloggers and web savvy New Brunswickers.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

LibLead I

I am going to be doing a three part series on the Liberal leadership race which will be laid out as follows:

Part I - How each candidate would do in the next election

The Liberals are historically a very, very successful electoral party. Though many thought Harper would be guaranteed a win in the next election - likely a majority - early in his mandate, polls and pundits now say the Liberals have a chance of winning.

I will assess the likely results of the next election under each leadership candidate.

Part II - How each candidate could win the leadership

Though it is my belief that Gerard Kennedy will win the leadership, there are a number of scenarios that could play out which would see any of the "big four" winning the race. I will portay the scenarios.

Part III - My predictions as to the results of the leadership race

A bit of the suspence for this one has been ruined as I have already said I think Kennedy will win. I will spell out why in a ballot-by-ballot guesstimation of the results.

So, without further ado, here is...


Michael Ignatieff

A combination of Harper's desire to go to the polls and the zealousness and over confidence of Ignatieff's insiders will almost certainly mean an election in March or April 2007.

Ignatieff will be well prepared and well scripted and will come out of the gate strong, perhaps even pulling substantially ahead of the Tories in polls. However if you thought the 1984 leader's debate was good - LOOK OUT!

Messrs. Harper, Duceppe and Layton will spend almost the whole of their debate preps in "bait Ignatieff" practice sessions. Each will find, quite easily considering Mr. Ignatieff's incredible number of detailed works, four or five areas where Ignatieff has made comments on an issue which are both (real or perceived as) contradictatory to his current position and offensive to their base supporters.

Ignatieff will be prepared for this, but, with some many hooks being through, it is inevitable that he will bite on at least one, setting him up for a trap which will see him bombarded by his three opponents. The campaign will be over at this moment.

This result will see Harper grow, possibly to a majority, with the Liberals loosing large numbers of seats to both the Conservatives and the NDP. It is unclear whether or not the Liberals would be official opposition after the vote.

Bob Rae

Bob Rae believes, as does his team, that he is the most prepared of any candidate to assume the office of Prime Minister and I suspect that this is probably true. Rae actually suggested we should have an election this fall while the leadership is on, so he will certainly want to go to the polls. Election again would be in March/April 2007.

Rae would grow slowly but steadily in the campaign. In the debates, watch for Harper to go after him hard on his record in Ontario. Rae has a pretty strong defence to this, I've see him address it, and he has said if Harper goes after him on his record, he can effectively turn the tables on Harper. "Mr. Harper speaks of my record of 15 years ago, what about 4 years ago when he supported the Iraq War? What about 7 years ago and the Alberta Firewall?" This strategy should be able to at least hold Rae to a draw.

Rae's flawless French and natural charisma on the campaign trail will do him well.

In Ontario, where Rae's record will likely result in lost seats to the Tories, he will probably break even or be down only a few seats due to seats gained at the expense of the NDP in Northern Ontario in particular, but also in Toronto.

In the West, the NDP has been shut out of its traditional Saskatchewan stronghold for an unprecedented two elections in a row (in 1993, the NDP won 5 of its 9 seats there). This is because Layton's brand of social democracy does not play to the prairie populists who have traditionally backed the NDP. Rae's does and he will pick up a surprising number of seats in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and may also grow in BC.

In Quebec, his French and his record as an ally of Quebec in the Meech and Charlottetown debates will help him and he may gain a handful of seats as well.

The result will likely be a large minority Liberal government.

Gerard Kennedy

Kennedy, I do not suspect, will be so anxious to go to the polls. He has a fairly strong grasp of the issues but will want to make a greater impression on an electorate that does not know him and improve his French. He will do his best to avoid a spring election.

Under Kennedy, watch for an election in October/November 2007 or possibly April 2008. The most important question of how successful Kennedy will be depends on how soon he is able to get into the House. His lack of a national profile and the likelihood of a delayed election call means his getting into the Commons will be far more important than Bob Rae.

Perhaps interim leader Bill Graham, aged 68 by next March, and having already been both Foreign Minister and Defence Minster, would retire and enable Kennedy to gain his Toronto Centre seat, which is not far from where Kennedy was elected in Ontario? This would probably be the safest and most ideal route to the House and I will operate on the assumption that there would be a quick by-election seeing Kennedy elected in January before the House returns from its Christmas break.

Kennedy I think will be very effective against the Conservatives in the House. It may take him a month or two to adjust to the much different universe that is Parliament Hill as compared to Queen's Park, but he does have experience in having found the most effective messages to use against a similar government during his 7 years in opposition to the Harris/Eves administration in Ontario. He will manage to avoid defeating the Spring 2007 budget and will then raise the Liberals so significantly in the polls, that the Tories may not want to go in the fall of 2007.

An election campaign would be hard fought, but Kennedy's natural grassroots appeal will help him to gain ground in all corners of the country. Watch for Kennedy to run in an Edmonton seat and if he can secure some star candidates, likely considering his support by Alberta Liberal MLAs who may be endangered in the next provincial election, he will win 2-3 seats for sure in Alberta, possibly as many as 5. He will also see growth in British Columbia with an outside chance in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In Ontario, his strong record as Education Minister, where he has been hailed by teachers, parents and students, will see him manage to gain seats both from the NDP and the Conservatives.

In Quebec, despite his French challenges, which should be markedly improved by the time of the election anyway, he will do well. I have been told by Quebeckers that just because you can't speak French, doesn't mean you don't speak the same political language as Quebeckers, while many who are fluently bilingual can't get the mentality of Quebec voters. Kennedy will have better command of French by then and, in any event, already speaks the political language of Quebec. At the very least, he will hold what we have which is in my mind a low watermark. However, I think he will be able to steal progressive votes from the Bloc and gain 5+ seats in Quebec.

The result, a strong Liberal minority or possibly a slim majority.

Stéphane Dion

The election timing is unclear here but I would again expect to go in the spring.

Dion has a real challenge in the election. He is essentially a more moderate, Francophone Stephen Harper. He is an uncharasmatic intellectual who is more interested in thinking than communicating.

So, at the end of the day, English Canada will have this choice: A boring man I can understadn well who is already PM, or a boring man whose English is hard to follow and who I've probably never heard of unless I am a very close follower of politics. This is not a good ballot question for Liberals.

I think Mr. Dion would hold our solid federalist seats in Quebec but would have little room to grow there, while he may slip slightly in Ontario but lose a lot of ground in the West.

The result, Harper with a strong minority or a slim majority.

* - I have left Atlantic Canada out of specific analyses as I don't see any major changes here in any of these scenarios.

"Greening Government" continues

Further to my last post, and to Scott's complaints that the government is not doing anything substantive on the file, here is an article from today's Times & Transcript (emphasis added by me):

N.B. gov't goes green
Liberals push aggressive plan to make gov't buildings more environmentally friendly

As published on page a1 on November 14, 2006

FREDERICTON - The new Liberal government is pushing forward with an aggressive greening of government initiative aimed at curtailing harmful greenhouse gas emissions created by the province's buildings.

Almost 20 government-owned buildings in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton have been converted to natural gas, a decision Supply and Services Minister Roly MacIntyre said is targeted at cutting pollution, but not necessarily power bills.

"It's not always more cost-effective but it is a major reduction in greenhouse gases," MacIntyre said.

The environmental push by the province is taking two distinct tracks, according to the minister, one for existing building stock and another for new construction. MacIntyre said new projects, such as the new justice centre in Moncton, are easier in the sense that they will be built with helping the environment in mind.

"The architects know that is what we are looking for (with Moncton justice centre). These are huge projects. We are going to make sure that building is state of the art," he said.

The proposed justice centre is among a growing list of green buildings owned by the provincial government.

For instance, new district ranger offices in Bathurst and Florenceville, the new Havelock elementary school and the new Waterville hospital have all met the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), an industry standard for environmentally friendly buildings.

Meanwhile, Ottawa has recognized the new Complex Scolaire in Moncton, Bathurst's new elementary school and a Department of Transportation maintenance garage in Lameque through the Commercial Building Incentive Program.

In the future, all new green buildings will adhere to the LEED principles and MacIntyre said the department will exceed the national energy building code for new construction and retrofits by 25 per cent. The supply and services minister said these plans, as well as the recent decision to switch the government's vehicle fleet, to environmentally-friendly cars and trucks is a clear move by the Liberals to lead by example on energy efficiency and conservation.

"The greening of government is one of our highest priorities but it is a quiet priority, you don't hear a lot about it," he said.

MacIntyre said the government is also doing a lot of work to make existing buildings more green and many of those changes are being done without much attention. Not only are low-emission lights being installed, new sensors are also being purchased so the lights automatically turn off when the building is not occupied.

The Department of Supply and Services is also turning to new windows, heating systems and ventilation units to help curb greenhouse gas emissions. Into the future, MacIntyre said construction decisions will be made on energy efficiency and reducing emissions.

"One of our biggest objectives is the reduction of greenhouse gases, at the same time energy efficiency is very important to us," he said.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Prudent policy

This is a good move which I wholeheartedly support.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post US election thoughts

Well folks, it is going to be a loooooong election night this year, even longer than 2000.

The results in Virginia are very close and under state law, a recount is guaranteed for races closer than 1% if requested. Incumbent Senator George Allen was on TV last night saying he would be requesting a recount. Just FYI, there was a recount in Virigina last year for the race for Attorney General. There were fewer votes cast in that race than in this one and it took until December 22 to complete the recount. So it looks like control of the Senate will be a very nice Christmas present from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the question is whether or not the Republicans or the Democrats will be the recpients.

That is unless the Republicans hold Montana. The Democratic candidate leads there but it is just as close as in Virginia. It is a much smaller state (about 400,000 votes cast as opposed to about 2.5 million) so presumably a recount would be easier. I am not aware, however, what the recount rules are in Big Sky Country.

So for my Senate predicitions, I was pretty close to on the mark. The only state I've missed so far is Rhode Island which I predicted would go Republican but instead it went for the Democrat by a margin of 53-47.

If the Democrats carry both of Virginia and Montana, I will have predicted all but one race right, if they carry one of them, I will have had the total Senate numbers right but will have missed two races.

Over in the House of Representatives, there was no surprise to see a Democratic victory however, my prediction of a minimum gain of 35 seats seems unlikely, though possible. The Democrats currently have a gain of 27 seats, with 14 up in the air. If those seats split 50-50 for the Democrats, then I will miss my target by 1.


So we are now down to 11 races up in the air, with the Democrats still having an gain of 27. One of these races is actually decided in terms of party affiliation.

In Louisiana, they have "open primaries", where anyone who wants to run, runs and then if no one gets 50%+ on election day, they have a runoff election with the top two finishers. In LA's 2nd district, the top two finishers are Democrats so this seat will be in Democratic hands. So we are at +28.

In Texas, the courts ruled a number of boundaries as illegal late in the election cycle. As a result, the court ordered open primaries as there would not be time to nominate new candidates for election day. In TX's 23rd district a runoff will be necessary as the Republican incumbent got only 48% of the vote. All of his opponents were Democrats, except for a lone Independent who got 3%. So the result here is D49-R48-I3. I think there is a fair shot the Democrats could win this in the runoff considering it would be a choice between a representative in the majority or the minority.

One other race, Washington's 8th district, has the Republican incumbent leading by a small margin but only 48% of the returns are in. This race could go either way.

The remaining 8 races are all close, but most of the returns are in.

They are:

CT 02 -> Courtney (D) leads Simmons (R-inc)
GA 12 -> Barrow (D-inc) leads Burns (R)
NC 08 -> Hayes (R-inc) leads Kissell (D)
NM 01 -> Wilson (R-inc) leads Madrid (D)
OH 02 -> Schmidt (R-inc) leads Wulsin (D)
OH 15 -> Pryce (R-inc) leads Kilroy (D)
PA 08 -> Murphy (D) leads Fitzpatrick (R-inc)
WY 01 -> Cubin (R-inc) leads Trauner (D)

So if these leads hold, we'll have 3 more Democrats for a gain of 31 with a possibility of 1 in Washington and 1 more in a run off election. So close to my 35... sooo close. Hopefully 2 more of these will flip before the results are certified.


The Democrats have won the Senate. Outgoing senator George Allen will not exercise his option to request an automatic recount, this Jim Webb will become the 51st Democratic Senator for the next session.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It is do or die for the NB NDP

Friends, my earlier prediction of ultimate doom for the NDP may have to be revised. My thesis included a proviso that doom would come "unless there is a change in leadership". Ladies and gentlemen, there has been a change in leadership.

Allison Brewer has resigned.

First, though I have tried to be fair to Brewer, I have no choice but to take a few parting shots at her because of the way she has stepped down.

After claiming that they "won" the election despite the worst showing virtually ever for the NDP and then stating the nonsense that 5% of the popular vote is not really worse than 10% of the popular vote and saying she would not resign, she has.

No one would blame her for saying that she had said she wouldn't step down while she considered her options but then decided it was the best course. Instead she gives some sob story about how "she can't afford" to be NDP leader because there is no salary and hopes that she "doesn't have to leave the province" to find work. She then goes on to say how the next leader must be bilingual and also be absent of her other flaws.

So which is it? The leader has to be something she is not, or she can't be leader due to financial circumstances? When she ran for the leadership she knew that the party would never be able to pay her a salary so, if she was to ever get paid she'd need to win a seat. On September 18 she didn't win a seat. Thus, it should not have been a matter of her waking up two months later and thinking, all of a sudden, "holy shit, I haven't been getting a pay cheque!"

Methinks that the pressure was building for her to step down and that this is a cop out.

Any way, end of rant.

Free advice for the NDP

Don't elect Yvon Godin as your leader. Yes he has name recognition and political experience and yes he has had a great deal of electoral success in the Northeast but an impressive resume does not an impressive leader make. Please see examples of Stockwell Day and to a lesser extent Paul Martin, both of whom were heralded as the future of their respective parties and led them to certain doom.

Here are the problems with Godin as leader:

  • His victories in Acadie-Bathurst are not provincially transferable: Godin could probably win a seat for himself but his coattails would not be that long. The voters in the Northeast are dependent on government and provinical politics is too parochial to risk electing a distant third place party to the legislature. They used to have a similar view on federal politics but when the minister responsible for cutting EI was their own MP, it was time to put the boots to him and Godin, a successful champion of EI, has been re-elected ever since.

  • His in not bilingual: His English may or may not be better than Allison Brewer's French, but it is not very good. I have had a very hard time understanding him in English, and this is bad news for the NDP as I think their prime areas of growth are not the North. This follows in my next point.

  • He will not play well in areas of NDP strength: The NDP's base is in Saint John. Period. Many argue that the North holds the key to the NDP's future because of Godin's success there but I do not believe that that is the case. The NDP has always been strongest in Saint John and has had consistent strength in Saint John. This was not just the Elizabeth Weir factor, it was true before her leadership as well. Several ridings, particularly Saint John Harbour and Saint John East, are dream NDP seats and should be strongholds regardless of tides. There are other seats, such as Saint John Lancaster and maybe Fredericton-Silverwood where the NDP should be a serious contender. Godin will not play well in these areas.

What the NDP needs may not be out there, but they need a non-abrassive, non-controversial leader with tremendous energy and charisma who speaks effortless English and is fluent in French. With a leader like this, they could position themselves to win up to 5 seats in any election and build from there. This leader could have been Elizabeth Weir, but an analysis of her campaigns seems to show she preferred failure. When a certain region went well for her in election A, she would ignore it in election B rather than concentrate on building on the strength. Why? She liked being the only NDP member, she knew she could never be premier or even opposition leader so why build a small third party caucus when she could be the whole show. The next leader must be selfless and avoid this.

Some may argue that the NDP should go with Godin and make a hard target for the north, but that is not realistic. There were blips in Dalhousie-Restigouche East in 1995 (34.7%) and Nepisiguit in 1999 (27.8%) but those were due to unusual external circumstances and not reflective of a consistent or even repeatable trend. The North will try to be with the government unless the government screws them. Considering that almost half of Shawn Graham's caucus is from the north, the screwing is unlikely to have happened in time for 2010.

Saint John however is fickle. It is almost all Liberal and as a result will be ripe for the picking for either the Tories or the NDP in 2010. With the proper strategy, the NDP could win 2 to 4 Saint John seats with relative ease in 2010. That is where they must focus.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Final thoughts on US midterms

The Republicans will retain control of the Senate.

The Democrats will gain control of the House.

These are not bold predictions, they are relatively widely held though some believe that the Senate will go Democratic as well and a small minority (I know of one) think the House will stay Republican.

Recent polls have shown that the race is tightening and that the Republicans have far greater hope than they did a week or two ago, however it is my view that the large general malaise towards Congress and the President remains and that this will not be good. Couple this with the Mark Foley and Ted Haggard scandals, which will likely supress conservative turnout, and it looks very good for the Democrats.


The Senate: Republican control may hinge on a victory in Rhode Island. I am convinced that Senator Lincoln Chafee will be re-elected here, despite the fact that I cannot find anyone of the prognasticators agreeing with me. Chafee and his father before him have been on the ballot and successful in 1976, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000. Rhode Island is used to electing liberal Republicans named Chafee. Chafee openly admitted he did not vote for George W. Bush in 2004. He has kept it close in the polls and the fact that most have ceded the race to the Democratic challenger will likely stay home now. No one in Rhode Island (except conservatives) want Chafee to lose, the momentum for his opponent is a desire to defeat any Republican to give the Democrats control of the Senate. If they think that this will happen without having to vote against Chafee, they will gladly avoid the vote.

UPDATE: Chafee has been declared defeated and I predict the Democrats will now win the Senate with victories in Pennsylvania and Ohio (already called), Virginia, Missouri, Montana

The House: The Democrats will win at least 35 seats, perhaps as many as 40-50+. Republican record turnouts in the past few election cycles will not hold in 2006. This will cause the Democrats to carry a lot of seats that would otherwise be marginally Republican.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's all over but the voting

With apologies to the Toronto Star, I think their new poll all but guarantees that my candidate of choice, Gerard Kennedy, is all but guaranteed to win the Liberal leadership on December 2.

The Star/EKOS poll is a survey of almost a quarter of Liberal delegates to the Montreal convention. The Star bills it as good news for Stéphane Dion, but I just don't see it.

I think most people who are watching this race closely, it is becoming more and more evident that whichever of Mr. Dion and Mr. Kennedy finishes third on the ballot with four candidates will win the leadership race. Why? Their combined vote totals put them in first place and their campaigns have almost publicly admitted an alliance which would see one go to the other.

So why do I see Kennedy as the candidate pulling in third?

First, the important fact to cite is that Kennedy currently stands at 17.3%, while Dion stands at 16.0%... that is a significant gap for Dion to make up over the course of one or two ballots until one of them is eliminated. Thus, I have always thought that the odds are that it would be Kennedy, not Dion, that would be in the showdown with Ignatieff and Rae.

So what does the poll tell us? Dion has the greatest growth potential of any candidate, therefore, the Star argues, he will surge and win. However, growth potential is largely irrelevant until one of the "big four" drops off and a large chunk of delegates become avaiable. In order for Mr. Dion, or another candidate for that matter, to exploit major growth potential, they must first hold in third or higher until the weakest of the big four falls.

According to this poll, in my view, it is unlikely that Mr. Dion will be anything but the weakest of the big four.

A few selected quotes from the Star, emphasis added by yours truly:

Asked if there is "any candidate you would definitely NOT like to see win," ... Gerard Kennedy, who resigned as Ontario education minister last spring, scored the lowest at 2 per cent.

EKOS found 21 per cent of delegates prefer Dion as their second choice, ahead of Rae and Kennedy. Trailing was Ignatieff, with 8 per cent. (It is unclear where Kennedy stands here but it is less than 21% but higher than 8%, presumably significantly higher)

The undecided vote is also a big unknown. Asked for their second choice, 38 per cent of delegates declined to answer.

(Kennedy's) delegates are "fiercely loyal, determined to come to the convention and convinced he is the man to beat the Conservatives in the next election."

In contrast, Dion had the lowest delegate attendance intentions, with 13 per cent of his delegates saying they are unlikely to be able to travel to Montreal.

Without tapping in to the support of Ignatieff, Rae or Kennedy's supporters, Dion has to make up 1.3% on Kennedy while 13% of his supporters (2.1% of convention delegates) are unlikely to attend. So, with only a small fraction of delegates opening up, Dion needs a gain in the neighbourhood of 3.4% to pull ahead of Kennedy. This is very unlikely.

Thus, it would seem, the inevitable result would be for Dion to drop and go to Kennedy, catapulting him into a strong second or a weak first. It also seems likely that whoever is in third at this point, either Bob Rae or, less likely, Michael Ignatieff, they are likely to go to Kennedy due to the growing animosity between the two candidates and their supporters.

Thus, ladies and gentlemen, it's all over. Kennedy wins.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

National Unity

I thought you might all enjoy the cute joke that just popped into my inbox...

Two boys are playing hockey on a frozen pond in Red Deer, Alberta, when one of the boys is suddenly attacked by a crazed Rottweiler.

Thinking quickly, the other boy takes his hockey stick, shoves it under the dog's collar, twists it, and breaks the dog's neck, saving his friend.

A reporter is strolling by, sees the incident, and rushes over to interview the boy. "Young Flames Fan Saves Friend From Vicious Animal" he starts writing in his book.

"But I'm not a Flames Fan," the little hero replies.

"Sorry, but as we are in Alberta, I just assumed you were," says the reporter and he starts writing again.

"Oilers Fan Rescues Friend From Horrific Attack" he writes in his notebook.

"I'm not an Oilers fan either," the little boy says.

"Oh, I assumed that everyone in Alberta was either for the Flames or the Oilers. What team do you root for?" the reporter asks.

"I am a Maple Leafs fan" the boy replies.

The reporter starts a new page in his notebook and writes: "Little Bastard from Ontario Kills Beloved Family Pet"