Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Election 2015: Incredibly, 28% of Harper’s Conservative MPs are not running

The number of non-runners is staggering:

Stephen Harper is losing incumbent lawmakers at one of the highest rates in decades, and history suggests that weighs heavily on the Canadian Prime Minister’s chances of winning another term in power later this year.
 Of 166 Conservatives elected to the House of Commons during Harper’s first majority in 2011, at least 46 are not running for the party this fall. It’s the third-highest dropout rate since the Second World War and the highest since 1993, according to data compiled by Bloomberg…

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the first Prime Minister since Louis St. Laurent 1953 to seek reelection with such a high proportion of his caucus bowing out.

When next you read a poll, think of that number: 28% - nearly 1 in 3 – of elected Conservative MPs have decided not to contest the coming election.

They have, in a sense, voted with their feet.

What does that indicate regarding the fierceness of the support of PM Harper by the rank and file MPs? And what impact is this going to have on the Newbies, who have to fill the shoes of those missing in action Tory MPs?

Remember this fact:

In 1993, the Progressive Conservatives lost 40.8 percent of their incumbents and then 99 percent of their seats… Nine other postwar governments had a dropout rate of at least 20 percent, and seven went on to lose seats. The average dropout rate in the postwar period for a government that ended up losing seats was 21.8 percent, while Harper’s is a third higher than that.

Incumbency is powerful, true, but it takes an incumbent to wield it. Almost one out of three incumbent Conservative MPs are not exercising the power of incumbency this time.

This poses the question: Have the Conservative MPs – and other members of the Tory party – already ceded the election to the opposition parties?

And when it comes to the actual election campaign, how would you feel if almost one in three of your “winning” team decided to do something else, rather than fight in the trenches for your party?



Heave Steve - Prince Albert Riding 2015 [Borgerson

Greece & The Euro: Some words of wisdom from a Swiss Ambassador

Dr Daniel Woker
In an article headed Greece and the Nattering Nabobs of the Anglosphere in Real Clear World, Dr. Daniel Woker has some timely advice to the chattering classes: Cool it, you just don’t get it. 

A former Swiss Ambassador to Singapore and Australia, and now a lecturer at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, as well as a columnist, Woker is spot on with this observation:
Where the EU is concerned, the nabobs in London, Washington and elsewhere in Tony Abbott's Anglosphere don't get it, as shown by recent comments on events in Greece and on Germany's role in Europe.

No soccer match, tennis game or golf play-off would ever dare to go into the number of prolongations we are all exposed to by the interminable tragi-comedy of Greece vs Europe. At the time of writing, Greek banks are closed but the final outcome is still far from clear. We don't know if there will be a clear cut 'Grexit', the much discussed exit of Greece from the euro. What will certainly ensue, however, is a prolonged period of muddling through, with severe capital controls and budget policies.

Dr Woker is also right on the money with his observation of the what the Eurozone really is, as compared to the facile assumptions by many commentators:

The Eurozone is not a monetary union such as we have seen before but an economic reaction to the fact that the EU some time ago become one large manufacturing and service-providing area made up of countless cross-border value chains. An area-wide currency provides for a level playing field for suppliers and assemblers regardless of national borders. Contrary to what is often claimed, the political decision to create a single currency (and with it a common banking, regulatory and eventually fiscal union) followed economic reality rather than leading it. As a result, national sovereignty was transferred for the greater good of all. (This is of course anathema to nationalists all over the EU, yet the idea that the UK prefers to opt out of full European integration continues to baffle observers on the continent. After all, Britain without Europe is just an island adrift.)

A union that important to close to half a billion Europeans will not easily allow itself to be torn apart by problems affecting less than 2% of the economic space it encompasses.

So relax, everyone: It is a dark and stormy night right now, but dawn will come.





Sunday, June 28, 2015

Barry Kay of Laurier Institute: Say welcome to Prime Minister Tom Mulcair

Global News graphic of the horse race
James Armstrong of Global News has a fascinating article about the findings of the Barry Kay team of the Laurier Institute, with three really illuminating graphics. The three diagrams clearly spell out the problems facing the Liberals  and the Conservatives, if either Trudeau or Harper are to have a chance of becoming prime minister.

Analysing recent polls, Kay projects that if the federal election were held today, Mulcair’s NDP would win the most seats – 130 –with Harper’s tattered Tories coming in with 119, and the Liberals bringing up the rear with 86.

This would give Mulcair the first crack at forming a minority government that would seek the support of a majority of MPs in a Throne Speech. It would then be up to either the Liberals or the Conservatives to vote for the NDP, in this first vote, and in every confidence vote thereafter.

Coalition or no coalition? That is the question …

If no formal coalition is agreed to between the NDP and the Conservatives, or the NDP and the Liberals, then Mulcair could govern by seeking votes from either of those parties on a case by case basis.

It is quite conceivable that either party would support some but not all of the legislation tabled by the minority NDP government, while opposing other bills. 

However, to survive, Mulcair would need support from either the Liberals or the Conservatives for all confidence votes (votes on supply bills, that entail the spending of money), and his government would lose power if he lost any one of those votes.

Who replaces Mulcair as PM if he loses a confidence vote?

If Mulcair’s NDP failed any confidence vote in the first 12 months or so of the next session of Parliament, the Governor General would be required by Canada’s constitutional convention to approach the leader of the party most likely to form a replacement government, to attempt to form such a government and win the confidence of the House.

Traditionally, this is usually the party with the next highest number of MPs in the House; this would mean Harper.

It would then be up to the Liberals and/or the NDP to support Harper as Prime Minister of a replacement minority government.

What about Trudeau as Prime Minister?

If Harper did not succeed on the first throne speech, the Governor General would most likely then call upon Trudeau to try to cobble together a minority government that would win support of a majority of MPs in the House. If he could not do that, the G-G would dissolve Parliament and call another election.

Mulcair’s options in October:

Based on these projections by Kay’s team, there will be feverish activity starting the evening of October 19, with Mulcair sending out feelers to both Trudeau and Harper about possible support, including possible formal coalitions.

It would be Mulcair’s decision whom to talk to (Harper or Trudeau, or both), and whether to explore a formal coalition (power sharing) agreement.

Mulcair would clearly have a mandate to enter into a coalition, as he has repeatedly told voters that he would be prepared to enter into a coalition with the Liberals in order to replace a new Harper minority government.

It is not as clear that he would have a moral mandate from voters to explore a coalition with Harper’s Conservatives, as, to my knowledge, he has not publicly indicated that he would consider this if he won a minority government. However, this would not constitutionally prevent him trying to form a coalition with the Conservatives.

Trudeau legitimately (from a moral viewpoint) could enter into a formal coalition with Mulcair’s NDP if the NDP won the projected 130 seats, as he has publicly stated that he would consider “the wishes of the voters” in the coming election, should he not gain a majority of seats himself. This also amounts to a moral mandate from voters to Trudeau to enter into formal coalition talks with Mulcair if the NDP ends up with more MPs than the Tories.


Mulcair’s case-by-case default choice:

However, if Trudeau decided not enter into a formal coalition with Mulcair because of certain policies that Mulcair insisted be implemented by the coalition government, then Mulcair could still govern without any formal coalition or cooperation agreement with the Tories or Liberals.

He would simply table his throne speech, followed by other legislation, including supply bills, and seek approval from a majority of MPs in each case.

What about electoral reform if Mulcair has a minority government?

Interestingly enough, if Mulcair tabled a bill to provide for a new electoral system based on a modified proportional representation system (MPR), then the Liberals could vote against this without the Mulcair minority government losing power, as it would not be a supply bill.

This would probably mean the end of significant electoral reform, with the next election being held using the first past the post system.

Could Trudeau refuse to support a modified proportional representational system bill table by Mulcair without political risk?


Global News graphic: The Red, Orange and Blue Bands of seats

His commitment that the 2015 election would be the last with the FPTP system was clearly conditioned by the statement that this would happen if Trudeau became prime minister. It did not cover the case of a Mulcair minority government, so theoretically Trudeau could oppose any Mulcair MPR system on the grounds that Canadians were not consulted in a process similar to the one the Liberal Party has laid out for electoral reform.

However, this would be a very dangerous step for Trudeau to take, as progressive voters might punish the Liberals in the following election by reducing them to a rump in Parliament again.

The result of these considerations might well be that electoral reform replacing the FPTP system might be highly probable even if Mulcair wins a minority government.

Will Harper resign on election night? Probably …

Harper is in for many a sleepless night until the election, because his style of governance is so clearly anti-cooperation that any replacement system would penalize the Conservatives and mean they would be excluded from future governments if he remainded as leader.

Because of this, the chances are also very high that Harper would resign on election night if he did not gain the most seats in the House.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Greece & The Euro: Super Mario will come to the rescue this weekend

Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank
Deadlock reached, the EU negotiators broke off talks with the insurgent left wing Greek government, and that government threw a Hail Mary pass by calling for a referendum on the austerity package on July 5. Meanwhile, a hefty repayment of debt is due on June 30, and commentators are talking about a Greek default, leading to a Grexit from the EU.

Interesting events, but a man who embodies all the virtues that Plato imbued his Philosopher Kings with is now entering the stage right.

That man will avert the crisis and let negotiations continue.

Nicknamed by some Super Mario, Mario Draghi is the head of the second most powerful central bank in the world, the European Central Bank. With an impeccable record as banker, financial diplomat, regulator, small-p politician, Draghi is one of the most formidable persons currently operating in world economics. Born in Italy, trained in a Jesuit school, educated in Ivy League schools in the USA, he has had a remarkable record as a fixer: the go-to man if you have a problem worthy of Hercules.

A member of the Group of Thirty, Draghi is that rare combination of thinker and man of action. He is well know now for his famous defence of the Euro:

In July 2012, in the midst of renewed fears about sovereigns in the Eurozone, Draghi stated in a panel discussion that the ECB "...is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the Euro. And believe me, it will be enough." This statement led to a steady decline in bond yields (borrowing costs) for Eurozone countries, in particular Spain, Italy and France. In light of slow political progress on solving the Eurozone crisis, Draghi's statement has been seen as a key turning point in the fortunes of the Eurozone.

Ready to do whatever it takes.  Words now as famous amongst financiers around the world as Dirty Harry’s Make my day are to Americans.

This weekend Draghi’s ECB meets to discuss Greece and its banks, and he will be speaking to the Greek government leaders.
The chances of Draghi averting this latest crisis are over 80%, in my view. Not only is he a man who thinks outside the nine dots, but he is a fearless defender of the worth of the Euro, who knows full well how much political capital has been invested by so many for so long in the concept of the Euro.
The Super Mario Rabbit

Add to that several more pieces of the Greek debt puzzle, and you can see why a solution will be drawn from Super Mario’s hat, like a rabbit, to the amazement of the chattering classes.

Puzzle piece number one is that most of Greek debt is now owed to EU sovereign or international bodies, with only a small amount owed to private creditors. Also, those public lenders have done what lenders often do when faced with a sticky problem borrower: kick the can down the road, by lending money to service past debt owed to the lenders. Greece right now is going through a revolving door debt scenario: it cannot repay the huge amount of debt it raised during past exuberance, and its public lenders are giving it new funds to pay its interest and principal repayments, so as to prevent any defaults causing embarrassment.

Non-payment of the June 30 tranche will not be default but simply a payment in arrears, and so will not trigger cross-defaults or other penalties for Greece. That means there is time for Super Mario to work his magic.

Expect Draghi to cover shortages this weekend; then some cosmetic changes to the package the EU Troika lenders have tabled so far, which would allow the Greek government to recommend acceptance of the “revised” package in the July 5 referendum. 

That referendum will vote Yes to the revised package, giving the Greek government cover to implement the reforms in the package.

So in around two weeks’ time the EU and Greece can start talking yet again about how to make a huge chunk of the unpayable debt disappear using sleight of hand solutions, and Greece can start considering how to pull itself out of the depression it is now in.

The Eurozone will be preserved; Greece will stay in it, and in the EU, and the dance will continue.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Election 2015 Seniors will determine who is Prime Minister of Canada come late October

Convergence
Here’s one interesting finding from the June 16 Forum poll:

The NDP vote is characteristic of the youngest (43%), the least wealthy (39%) and the wealthiest (37%), in BC (30%) and among the best educated (43%). 

The Liberal vote is common to older voters (45 to 54 and 65+ - 31%), the wealthiest (34%), in the Atlantic provinces (38%, down from 53% two weeks ago) and Ontario (31%). among Anglophones (31%) but not Francophones (15%), and among females (29%) but not males (26%). 

The Conservative vote is characteristic of the oldest (29%), males (30%), the wealthier ($90K to $100K - 34%), in Alberta (39%, down from 49% two weeks ago) and among the least educated (30%). There is little appeal for this party among Francophones (16%) or mothers of children (23%).

Another interesting finding is that the Harper Tories are now under threat in their heartland of Alberta; the dam burst with the evisceration of the old white men of the provincial Conservative Party a short while ago. Newly liberated Albertans are now contemplating the unthinkable: electing a federal socialist government!

A third snippet? Have one-quarter of the voters who voted for the Liberal Party in 2011 really moved over to the Dippers? Forum says so.

And Forum’s findings on the legitimacy of coalitions is fascinating. Canadians are finally growing up politically, it seems.

Interesting times.

Who? Me? If you insist ...




Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Justin Trudeau’s legacy will equal that of his father

Just when Tom Mulcair was starting to measure the curtains in Harper’s home so that he could replace them when he became Prime Minister; when the polls showed a surge of votes for the NDP after the dramatic events in the recent Alberta election; and when pundits have started writing about Justin Trudeau being a washed up politician, Trudeau has taken to the airwaves to unveil a set of promises that will radically change the way that Canadians vote for and interact with their federal government.

The scope of the changes included in the plans to restore democracy in Canada are breathtaking. As Ivison writes:
Justin Trudeau wants this fall’s national vote to be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post electoral system.

And, if the Liberal leader becomes prime minister, it may also be the last election in which Canadians can choose not to vote, as well as the last in which the only way to vote is by marking an X on a paper ballot.

Changing the way Canadians vote is just one element of a sweeping, 32-point plan to “restore democracy in Canada” that Trudeau announced Tuesday.

The 32-point plan to restore democracy in Canada can be found in the above link to the plan. It is wide-ranging, very thoughtful, practical, and easily implemented.

The plan is sure to dominate political discussion for the next few weeks and perhaps months, as it paints a Canada that is in dramatic contrast to the mean-spirited country that Stephen Harper has attempted to foist on Canadians.

At it’s root, Harper’s government has been anti-democratic, spurning the rights of Canadian citizens to an open government, with a Parliament peopled by elected representatives who are in Ottawa to work for the people who elected them, rather than to be reduced to voting-sheep.

The changes the Liberal government will introduce are remarkable in their scope and in the positive impact they will have on our country. When implemented, Justin’s contribution to furthering Canada’s democracy will equal the extraordinary contribution made by his father, Pierre Trudeau, when he introduced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms during the repatriation of the Constitution.

Our whole system of federal government will become far more open, far more inclusive, far more responsive to the needs of ordinary Canadians, and far more democratic. How our laws are drawn up, debated and voted upon in Parliament will change in a manner that will surprise many with the effectiveness of the new procedures.

Your own MP will have power that past MPs could only dream of, and that no Conservative MP would ever be allowed under Harper’s style of one-man, top-down, Daddy-knows-best governance.

I want to touch on a few of the 32 ideas set out in this extraordinary plan to drag our country into modern democratic methods.

The end of the undemocratic first past the post system:

This single step is a dramatic improvement in our government, and will it itself bring about major positive changes. It will be implemented within 18 months by a Liberal government:

Mr. Trudeau added the Oct. 19 general election would be the last one held under the “first-past-the-post” system, in which the candidate with the most votes is elected in his or her riding, regardless of the percentage of cast ballots that were obtained. The Liberal are promising to enact electoral reform within 18 months of forming a government, after launching a parliamentary study of proposals such as ranked ballots and proportional representation.
“We need to know that when we cast a ballot, it counts, that when we vote, it matters,” Mr. Trudeau said.

This is what the Plan says:

MAKE EVERY VOTE COUNT
We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system. As part of a national engagement process, we will ensure that electoral reform measures – such as ranked ballots, proportionalrepresentation, mandatory voting, and online voting – are fully and fairly studied and considered. This will be carried out by a special all-party parliamentary committee, which will bring recommendations to Parliament on the way forward, to allow for action before the succeeding federal election. Within 18 months of forming government, we will bring forward legislation to enact electoral reform.

One suggestion: if the idea is to have several alternatives (other than the non-democratic FPTP system we now have) presented to citizens in a referendum, I would recommend using the preferential vote system in the referendum if there are more than two reform proposals put to citizens to choose from.

If only two are presented (say, a simple preferential vote system or a modified proportional representation system with preferential votes included) then a simple majority of those voting in the referendum should suffice.

The enhancement of the powers of  our MPs:

The proposed reforms would immeasurably increase the role and effectiveness of our elected MPs. This from the Plan:

A Liberal government will restore Parliament as a place where accountable people, with real mandates, do serious work on behalf of Canadians…

MORE FREE VOTES
Liberal Caucus members in a government led by Justin Trudeau will only be required to vote with the Cabinet on three different measures: those that implement the Liberal electoral platform; traditional confidence matters such as the Speech from the Throne and significant budgetary measures; and those that address the shared values embodied in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The reform of the Senate:

The Tories and Mulcair’s NDP want to abolish the Senate, which is a non-starter. The Liberal Party is the only one to propose realistic reforms, starting with the cutting of partisan ties between the House of Commons Liberal Party MPs and the Liberal senators.

Here is the Plan:

A credible plan is one that ends the partisan nature of the Senate, so that it can better serve its core function of legislative review and indepth study. That is why Justin Trudeau removed all Senators from the Liberal Caucus and why we will also create a new, nonpartisan, merit-based, broad, and diverse process to advise the Prime Minister on Senate appointments. We will also work to implement the recent recommendations of the Auditor General regarding Parliamentarians’ expenses, including with legislativemeasures where necessary.

Holding the feet of the Prime Minister to the fire:

Anyone who has watched Harper perform during Question Period knows that he has debased the institution’s role by refusing to answer legitimate questions put to the leader of the governing party by elected MPs.

The Plan will revolutionize this:

RESTORE RELEVANCE TO QUESTION PERIOD
We will introduce a Prime Minister’s Question Period. We will also empower the Speaker to challenge and sanction Members during Question Period, and allow more time for questions and answers. In addition, we will work with all parties to recommend other changes to House of Commons rules that will restore Question Period’s relevance, including the use of online technologies to engage Canadians.

Are Prime Minister’s Question Periods useful? You better believe it! Here is the way Tony Blair describes in his auto biography A Journey his preparation for this grueling test:

I got braver. I realized in the end I had to confront the demons. It was no use praying more the night before, wearing the same shoes (I wore the same pair of Church’s brogues every PMQ for ten years) or hoping I would get by. I decided to analyze it, and try to work out how to do it to the best of my ability... I took a melatonin pill the night before so that I got at least six hours’ sleep. I made sure I had a proper breakfast, and just before the ordeal began, I would eat a banana to give myself energy... I face up to what the fear was. The fear was being made to look like a fool, or simply being outwitted. The way to prevent it was not so much mastering the facts, but mastering the strategy of debate... I discovered the force of humour, of light and shade.

And the above are just the tips of an iceberg.

With this dramatic program to reform our Parliament and to give it back to Canadians. Justin Trudeau has drawn stark contrasts with the Harper era of vote-diminution. This plan firmly places the Liberal Party on the road to a majority government.

Out long, dark night of sub-par democracy is nearing its end. Come October, we will be able to welcome a new Canada, one that cares for, respects and involves its citizens in its affairs.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Election 2015: Why Canadians will have a new government

Yes, Prime Minister ...
Yesterday’s EKOS poll results released by Frank Graves have plenty of food for thought.

The poll results are worth detailed study by anyone trying to get a fix on what will happen in the coming election.

One thing right now, based on this poll snapshot, is that a minority government is considered more likely than a majority government come October this year.

The only question to be determined is: Who will be Prime Minister when 2015 ends?

Stephen Harper is toast:

Even if Harper wins a minority government, his chances of staying in power beyond the first confidence vote are slim to zero.

Neither Mulcair nor Trudeau would dare to prop up such a Harper minority government; either man men would be sent packing as leaders by their parties if they dared do that; and if the parties did not send them into retirement oblivion, voters in the next election surely would. This poll supports this conclusion I have come to.

The Boomer storm clouds:

There is one huge warning signal to the two opposition parties, though: the firm grip that the Harper Tories have on senior voters, who are the ones who actually exert most influence on which party’s candidate is sent to Ottawa as an MP. This result from the EKOS poll shows the lead in that vital voter segment still enjoyed by the Conservatives:

Harper's Boomer advantage


What does this mean? Simply this: that Boomers can be substantially influenced by any government that slices and dices the economic pie so as to give Boomers more of what they want: policies that they like, policies that protect the assets and earnings (including pensions) of Boomers; policies that reduce the taxes that Boomers pay; and policies that older people tend to regard as best for the country.

What does this mean for the Liberals and NDP? That they have not done enough homework to make big enough inroads into this vital segment of the voter universe. There is still time, but not much, for the two parties to put on the table clear, concise, hard-edged, positive policies that will shift 5% to 10% of this enormously important voter segment to decide not to support Harper. That’s all it will take to do the job of retiring Harper in October.
What will happen the week after the election?

If Harper wins a minority of seats in the House, but more than any other party, then he gets by convention the first crack as continuing prime minister to try to cobble together a government and a platform (in a Throne Speech) that will enjoy the confidence of the majority of MPs in the House.

If either the NDP or the LPC vote to support his government in that confidence vote, then he will live to govern until the next confidence vote.

What does this mean for the first few weeks after the election?

This is clear: Harper will be running two strategies to stay in power.

Firstly, Harper will desperately try to demonize the idea of any coalition between the socialist MDP and the tax and spend Liberals under the untried leadership of Trudeau.

At the same time, because demonizing such a cooperative effort will be substantially tougher than it was when he could confuse the facts in 2011 by alleging that a coalition of the secessionists MPs from Quebec plus the socialists plus the arrogantly entitled Liberals would ruin the country, he will be running a parallel campaign, designed to drive a wedge between the NDP and LPC. He will do this by dangling shiny things before both Mulcair and Trudeau, if only they would support him this first confidence vote.

This might even be a nudge nudge wink wink offer to sign any blank cheque regarding policy initiatives that either such leader would present to him as the price for propping up his minority government in the first confidence vote. 

He only needs to get such support a few times before he will run out the conventional law time clock (which is roughly longer than 6 months but less than 12 months). If his minority government survives beyond this stage, then the Governor General will be obliged by law (our conventions) to agree to any request Harper makes to prorogue Parliament and take his chances in another election.

Why Harper’s bid to run the clock out will fail:

Of course, in my view, this second line of response will fail, for the simple reason that if either Mulcair or Trudeau agreed to prop up Harper, the voters and their party would send them packing as soon as possible.

Neither Trudeau nor Mulcair have any room to avoid voting to defeat the Harper government.

That’s why more than 60% of voters have consistently refused to vote for Harper’s right wing, anti-government, inactive and demeaning government. This body of voters will surge one way or the other, as required by which leader sups with the devil, to punish such leader.

Political suicide is usually not the first choice of politicians. Just ask Harper’s latest senior cabinet minister, who has no doubt tested the wind in his native province, and decided that he does not  want to spent the next four years in opposition.

So who takes over when Harper loses the confidence of the House?

Here’s the EKOS poll on the rising support for a “coalition” government:



Of course, the EKOS poll is flawed, because it is presenting to voters a choice between a Harper minority government or a “coalition” of the NDP and LPC.

As I have mentioned in this post, this is sloppy polling.

The choice can equally be between a continued Harper government or another minority government, that is supported in confidence votes on a case by case confidence vote without any formal coalition.

If voters were given such a choice in a poll, in addition to the formal coalition choice, the number supporting an Anything-But-Harper new government would go through the roof.

So who will be Prime Minister in October?

Let’s look at the EKOS poll for straws in the wind.

When asked who they preferred as PM to lead a “coalition” of the NDP and LPC, the majority seemed to want Trudeau as leader.

Graves has this comment on this poll result:

As Mulcair’s NDP is the only party with wind in its sails right now, we need to understand how the public would view the prospect of either a Trudeau-led or Mulcair-led coalition. Here we encounter an interesting finding which may serve as a source of uplift to a pretty listless voter outlook on Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party.

While Canadians express a clear preference for a coalition led by either Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Mulcair over four more years of Stephen Harper, it’s Trudeau who has a clear advantage here. His 56/35 advantage is nearly double the 51/39 advantage that Mr. Mulcair enjoys. Given the obvious momentum advantage for the NDP, this is a mildly curious and possibly important finding. Perhaps the public prefers to tilt to the center in anchoring any future progressive coalition. Or perhaps they simply haven’t caught up with the new polling position of the NDP. This will bear careful watching.

I think the most likely result, based on recent polls, is that when the Harper minority government is defeated in the very first confidence vote, then the Governor General will, as convention requires, call upon the leader of the party with the next highest number of seats, to attempt to form a government that can command the confidence of the House.

The recent polls indicate that this will be the NDP. Of course, come election day, it is possible that the LPC will have more MPs than the NDP, in which case it will be Trudeau who will try to form a government that has the confidence of the House.

Whoever the G-G approaches, the other opposition party will have to decide whether to support either Mulcair or Trudeau as the replacement Prime Minister.

The negotiations will start for the terms of such cooperation, but the signing of a formal coalition agreement is far from certain. Neither leader can dare vote down the other opposition party leader: he and his party will pay a huge price come the next election.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ranked ballots in 2018: Democracy is coming to Canada!

Politician with Courage
And not a moment too soon! The Liberal Party government of the province of Ontario deserves the congratulations of every Canadian for their bold step in dragging democracy into the 21st century with this step:


The provincial government will change the Municipal Elections Act to allow cities to adopt ranked-ballot voting by 2018.

The announcement, made Thursday morning by Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Ted McMeekin, was the central focus of a current review of the elections act, which will also look at campaign finance rules and enforcement of those rules.

Cities will not be obligated to use ranked-choice ballots, but changes to the act will allow those municipalities who want the system to adopt it. Toronto Mayor John Tory has publicly voiced his support to use ranked ballots in the 2018 election, while 

Mayor Jim Watson has been more circumspect, wondering if it’s a change people want. In their Citizen candidate surveys filled out during the 2014 campaign, about half of current councillors were at least open to looking at ranked-choice ballots.

Fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters turned out to cast a ballot in Ottawa’s municipal election last fall. Proponents of ranked ballot voting say the system encourages more participation, less negative campaigning and does away with strategic voting.


Now it’s time for the provincial governments of Quebec, Alberta and BC to follow this bold step.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Vanity Videos and the Morphing of the Tories

Mister 100 Percent Satisified
Move aside, YouTube: here come the new, improved Harper Tories’ Vanity Videos, made especially for every Canadian voter:

Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre won't apologize for using taxpayer dollars to produce YouTube videos of himself promoting the universal child care benefit.
Poilievre insisted Friday that he's simply using innovative ways to inform Canadians about the newly enriched and expanded child benefit.
But opposition MPs denounced the "vanity videos" as a new low for a government that has a penchant for producing partisan advertising on the public dime.
And the Canadian Taxpayers Federation agreed.

The Cat has been given a brown envelope by the Cat's informant, Deep Throat, with the Conservative speaking points for next week’s Question Period. They explain that the Vanity Vidoes are in the interests of one hundred percent of Canadians, and not just the 30% or so who vote for the Tories, because they are an “innovative Action Plan” that shows exactly how the Conservative Government is listening to Canadians, and doing its best to transform itself into what Canadians expect.
Deep Throat

At the same time, a new Vanity Video will be shown on YouTube that shows the Prime Minister morphing into Prancing Pierre, and then into Tango Tom, and finally into Heidi Klum.
The speaking points explain, in capital letters, that YOUR GOVERNMENT EXPECTS THAT EVERY CANADIAN NOT INFLUENCED BY THE TAX AND SPEND OPPOSITION WILL WELCOME THIS TRANSFORMATION OF CANADA’S GOVERNMENT INTO SOMETHING EVERYONE CAN ENJOY.

Here are some stills from the Vanity Video to accompany the above Talking Points memo (the morphing takes place from top left to top right, then on to bottom left and ends at bottom right image):



There you have it. Yet another scoop from the Cat’s Deep Throat.



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