Saturday, October 29, 2011


Why I love my public broadcaster(h/t @KimFox):


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A "Occupy" Policy Proposal

If there is one overriding fact that the "Occupy" movement demonstrates, there is an ample reservoir of sympathy for dealing with corporate greed, the widening gap between rich and poor. While the movement lacks form, there is base inspiration that is generally well supported, all evidence shows people think we need change, just not much in the way of concrete proposals to get behind. On the political front, we are already seeing certain attempts to tap into this angst, I would submit Brian Topp's clumsy proposals as timely, not by accident.

I think most would agree that many of the arguments behind corporate tax cuts haven't panned out as advertised, despite certain revisionism's from economists. The theory hasn't worked in practice, leaving proponents scrambling to find new rationalizations or simply dismissing the empirical evidence that shows companies HOARDING the new found cash, rather than reinvesting as promised. Here we sit today, with unemployment somewhat stubborn, the economy supposedly stagnant and day after day big corporations are reporting huge profits, "beating the street", simply AWASH in cash. If you look at history, I would submit the disparity between corporate profits and general economic health has NEVER been so pointed.

What is occurring, companies are simply redistributing their profits amongst themselves, the promised general economic benefits harder to ascertain. It may be time for a party to advocate a FREEZE, perhaps a claw back on dividends companies pay to shareholders. It does appear that the fall in corporate taxes has increased profits and those profits are being redirected to shareholders of the companies in the form of increasing dividends. Given that these dividends favour wealthy investors, as well as high ranking employees of said corporations, rising dividends only contributes to the growing gap between rich and poor. In reality, by cutting corporate taxes, we have created a pipeline to further pad the pockets of the wealthy class. Of sure, people can argue that dividends go to all investors, including granny and grandpa, but as the link highlights, the CHIEF benefactors are ONCE again the wealthiest, the big players, the executives of the very companies getting a break. Rather than reinvest, create jobs, maintain corporate health, as corporate taxes were sold, the created mountains of cash are being doled out disproportionately, amplifying disparity, rather than benefiting the economy as a whole, as previously argued. What you have now, the money that used to go into public coffers, no goes into the pockets of powerful interests and top tier employees with their attractive portfolios and options. A political party might be wise to advocate not only a corporate tax cut rise, but take a serious look at the rise of dividends as another "gap" contributor.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tell Quebecor To Pound Salt

No reasonable observer disputes the notion that our public broadcaster should be scrutinized and held to account, after all it is our tax dollars at play and the CBC should be accountable to the Canadians it serves. However, what we are witnessing with Quebecor's obsessive ideological pursuit against the CBC amounts to harassment pure and simple. Quebecor hides behind supposed ethical underpinnings, but when you look at some of the people leading the "jihad", it becomes clear there are other factors at play besides simple idealistic notions of accountability and transparency. That Quebecor decided to hire prominent CBC critics and give them high profile platforms, all the more REVEALING in terms of true intent.

Canada has never seen a media outlet with such an ingrained philosophical bias, extrapolating to a clear AGENDA. In fact, it is time people stop referring to this organization as a "media" organization, when in fact, it is a political organ, a propaganda arm of the right, a biased and bastardized presentation that attempts to present itself as "news". The few exceptions aside, anyone with a functioning fore brain can see the intent, can see the ideological zeal that warps every issue to fit neatly into a pre-determined view of the world. That approach isn't news, it isn't "media" in any definition I've read, it's nothing more than ADVOCACY. Quebecor doesn't support a state sponsored broadcaster, particularly one built on the myth that is biased against their political slant, rather than legitimate pursuit, really a special interest disguised as something else.

What I see is ideological zealots flooding the CBC with mostly trivial demands, which if done to an individual, could be construed as nothing more than harassment. Certain people would be bereft of inspiration if they didn't have the CBC to attack, the almost pathological nature of the pursuit unseemly. Quebecor can present arguments to rationalize their sad obsessions, but the sheer volume and venom underlying the attacks, the buffoonery leading the crusade, it is obvious to most what is really occurring here.

I'm glad the CBC has finally addressed these never ending attacks from Quebecor, although it easily ascertained why they've been hesitate in the past. Staying quiet doesn't work, waiting for the flood of requests to stop will never come, hoping the harassment ends wishful thinking; NO the only way to take on bullying behaviour is to stand up and tell them to FUCK RIGHT OFF.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gaffe Alert

Like every leadership contest, we wait for the first sizable gaffe of the campaign. I submit Brian Topp has provided that moment by commiting the CARDINAL sin of entering into hypotheticals, on of all things TAXES:

Brian Topp is boldly going where most Canadian politicians fear to tread: promising to make the wealthy pay more in taxes.

The perceived frontrunner in the NDP leadership race wants his party to make higher income taxes for high-income earners a key plank in its next election campaign platform.

He told The Canadian Press he intends to unveil a detailed proposal in the weeks to come.

"I will be talking about income taxes and I think it's time for our party to step up to that plate and to be pretty clear about that because then we'll have a mandate to act if we're elected," Topp said in a wide-ranging interview.

He also called for a hike in corporate taxes and did not rule out a sales tax increase "at some point," once the fragile economy is on surer footing.

At some point? I actually think Topp could find broad support for "tax the rich", this notion of a growing gap between rich and poor is resonating, perhaps fertile ground, bold but not reckless necessarily. As for corporate taxes, we need a debate about this race to zero mentality, again I think Topp isn't terribly "out there", although he does open himself to the easy "anti-jobs" attack line. Where Topp makes a perhaps huge gaffe, actually musing about raising sales taxes, leaving the door open on an idea which will be met with complete and utter rejection.

A more seasoned politician simply says, "a sales tax increase isn't part of my plans", and let's move on. Instead, Topp leaves room for saddling Canadians with more taxes, forget the philosophical or economic arguments, pure political poison no matter how you slice it. Canadians feel maxed out, the Conservatives have already exploited sales taxes to win a mandate, there is no political upside in this consideration. Topp reeks of a certain disconnect, in the soundbite world, this statement is pure gold, while he will be left explaining details nobody entertains.

Topp's ideas may be attractive to rank and file NDP supporters, but for a party that needs to broaden support, Topp is narrowing appeal, reinforcing baggage that prevents the NDP from capturing mainstream Canada (obviously Quebec aside). I will raise taxes on business, I will raise taxes on certain individuals and I will raise taxes on everybody. Honest yes, pure fodder for the Conservatives, oh my goodness YES, YES, YES, the ads write themselves.

Cutting the GST was actually a ill advised move by the Conservatives, wherein they pandered for votes at the expense of sound tax policy. However, Topp looks every bit the man who "has never been tested" with what amounts to a rookie mistake. I don't see much fallout from partisans, but the wider audience- should Topp succeed- expect to hear "at some point" TO the point of nausea in the future.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nathan Cullen's Limited M$%#&%

Just don't call it a merger, if it makes you feel better let's say "arrangement" or "limited" co-operation, or "joint nominations", but NOT that M word. Nathan Cullen's idea is garnering some attention, and it is an interesting proposal. However, the concept reeks of trying to have your cake and eat it too, advocating what amounts to local mergers without actually endorsing the concept, leaving the wider party affiliations in place, although invariably bastardized by the process.

Let's move from the theoretical proposal to the practical realities and co-operation becomes something more that does threaten the tribal mentality, a first crack which logically favours a wider reality. A riding unilaterally decideds to hold a joint nomination, with the main thrust being a progressive alternative to the Conservatives, one that can win, one that doesn't split the vote, one that puts all oars in the water for a common cause. The three parties come together in a riding and have a nomination, very much like a "primary" as the link points out. Really, no different than a nomination for an individual party, different folks run, different "camps" work to elect their person, in the end all three competitors take the stage and acknowledge the one person who will hold the "anti-Con" banner.

The joint nomination has found their candidate, now it's time to take on the true enemy and win the riding. Let's say the NDP candidate wins the riding for instance. Do the Liberal and Green workers, their riding association members, their volunteers now go home and leave the NDP alone to fight for the win? OR, do these other party members work with the NDP team to win the election? Given we have a meeting of the minds to hold joint nominations, a bit counter productive to believe the nomination is the end of the relationship. NO, if people are coming together to beat Harper, people are coming together to beat Harper, so expect more of that working together post nomination, Libs, Dippers, Greens out on joint canvasses, out on joint sign banging, out on joint GOTV. In other words, semantics and taboos aside, you really have a quasi new party of people with common purpose. The very process itself acknowledges an overriding commonality that USURPS individual tribal wants, so for the love of god just call it a merger, because the guts of the idea are just that.

Fast forward to post-election, and our joint candidate head to Ottawa. The candidate is a Dipper, sits in the Commons as such, yet is really a creation of a different arrangement, one that exists beyond what the superficial flag suggests. At this point, after a joint nomination, a joint resolve to elect an individual, joint VOTES, the ultimate expression, we just go back to the old divisions and said MP carries on as in the past. Really? After all this co-operation and SUCCESS, people just pull back and there is no evolution? I don't buy it for a second, the Cullen template if fruit bearing is really the first step towards a total and complete merger. All parties have divergent interests within, but there is a wider affinity, whereing compromise is made for the greater purpose. Cullen's proposal is a timid recognition of a a wider concept, it gently blurs the lines in more palatable fashion for partisans, but the result is something more in my view.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Conservative Monopoly

Certain issues encompass all that is wrong with rigid ideology, wherein abstract commitment to certain "principles" fails to incorporate the real world application, blindly soldiers on no matter the evidence or circumstance. The now approaching SIX year battle to end the Canadian Wheat Boad "monopoly" is reaching climax, and it really is quite instructive to review the history and all the egregious moves by this Conservative government. I won't rehash here, but any superficial analysis will see a consistent pattern of oppressing opposing views, using government tools to try and influence the process, ignoring democratic will, failing to put forth a true economic argument that draws on independent support, a DIRTY fight that shows true colours, when push comes to shove..

There is nothing more STUNNING that Gerry Ritz evoking the Conservative mandate as moral justification for ending the CWB. Ritz uses democracy for underpinning, yet democracy is undoing, it more clearly than anything shows ideological zealots bent on achieving some ideal, NO matter what opposition or expression they face. Supporters of killing the CWB can blather on all day long, it will never change a core fact: farmers have democratic rights enshrined within the CWB, the mechanisms are already in place to allow for reforms or outright extinction. Farmers have opportunity after opportunity to elect anti-single desk directors, and YET every time votes are cast, they keep electing CWB status quo defenders, in overwhelming fashion. To my mind, freedom means self determination, western farmers have continually expressed themselves and supported the single desk. The vote over this summer another decisive result, that is being ignored by the Conservatives, shows an arrogance that doesn't respect core pillars of democracy.

There is a pile of misinformation floating around, so it's hard to decipher what is true and what is exaggerated, when trying to comprehend who will benefit, should the CWB cease to exist. For my money, no more powerful "proof" of upside to CANADIAN farmers than the close to TWENTY legal challenges over the years from the AMERICANS, wherein they claim unfair advantage. What we have here is a Canadian government giving American farmers what they've always wanted, and simply intuition should raise RED FLAGS when comprehending true benefits. Sift through all the bull, there is no escaping the clarity our competitors have revealed, a strong united collective is a powerful force which gives certain advantages, not my view, there's expressed time and time again.

The CWB is really a "strength in numbers" proposition, the little guy banding together to create a potent manifestation that has true power. Once you destroy that entity, you are left with small players who will ultimately be at the mercy of multinationals:
The Winners: Richard Gray, University of Saskatchewan agricultural economist, says big grain handlers such as Cargill, Viterra and Bunge should end up better off. They will face a huge new supply of sellers competing to unload their product and make money off the marketing margin, or difference between the purchase and resale price.

The Farmers: Ottawa is not promising farmers will see more money for their grain, but is instead talking up the potential for more investment such as pasta plants to drive demand for the crops. Studies have suggested the average price fetched will in fact drop because sellers will be competing for business with foreign buyers. And as Prof. Gray notes, just south of the border, where grain is already sold freely, there’s not an abundance of pasta plants. Pasta is fragile and plants tend to be built close to large population centres.

When the government announced they would be plowing ahead with CWB extinction (pay no never mind to this nonsensical idea that it can survive with "choice", a naked attempt to appease with no empirical underpinning), Viterra stock rose, because it is commonly assumed the big players will make more money under a true "free market" expression. Isn't it interesting, with all this talk about corporate greed, multinationals marginalizing local interests, gaps between rich and poor, that this government intends to enact new rules which will benefit the very entities under the microscope. This talk of local economic benefit is the stuff of unicorns, other jurisdictions have shown the promised jobs will never come, but we know full well where the loses will be seen. True is, there is really little economic justification for getting rid of the CWB at this time, plenty of ideological stubbornness, but not much in the way of independent backing.

The Conservatives will likely win this battle, but it has been a shameful exercise, they have conducted themselves like thugs during the process, truly embarrassing for a national democratic government. All Canadians should worry, another example of policy being guided by pre-determinded biases rather than evidence based expressions. It's days like these I almost feel we are being run by a single minded cult, rather than being provided the "good government" we generally assume.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Liberal "Messiah"

The moment you mention the words "Liberal" and "messiah" together, it seems to generate some heated debate. I'd like to flesh out my assertion that this point in Liberal history necessitates a search for the controversial "messiah", BUT not in isolation OR sole energy exhauster. In other words, yes, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, so articulating a want doesn't preclude other vital reforms or evolutions. My mind doesn't work on one track exclusivities, so there is no choice or preference consideration, just a recognition of a certain required facet.

In the past, Liberals have been guilty of trying to short cut "rebuilding" by finding one glamorous person to take the reins and make all right. Critics are correct to reject this mentality, and past examples offer instructive wisdom on the leadership front. Truth is, you can pick the most compelling figurehead, but if that person doesn't have the potent organizational tools, the stout base, financial wherewithal and rooted ideals, it's a recipe for failure. In many instances, I agree, Liberals waste precious time hunting for the next Trudeau, at the expense of more mundane pursuits.

However, I would argue we Liberals are in a unique circumstance, our perch precarious. It is important that grassroots Liberals rally behind the flag, and in some respects the post-election period has been encouraging. That said, I see no emerging crystallizing force on the horizon, no commonality that can breakout beyond a conversation between fellow Liberals. Given the new Canadian order, past examples really aren't analogous or comforting, the Liberals have never faced a reality as stark as today, that just seems plain fact from this quarter.

The Liberals need a lot of things, and chief among them is an eventual new leader that resonates, armed with an updated articulation of modern liberalism. Liberals need the vehicle to propel our aspirations, and it's simply foolhardy to bristle at messiah talk. Liberals need a game changer, a voice that mixes up a new status quo which marginalizes us all day long.

A leader that symbolized a grassroots western expression built such a formidable base that party took over the old PC party and now sits with a majority. A leader with the common touch and a perceived authenticity turned a nothing party in Quebec into a political powerhouse that propelled him to potential PM in waiting. Leadership matters, leadership matters A LOT, it's vital, particularly when your down, but not quite out.

I joined the Liberals when a certain leadership candidate joined the fray in 2006. This candidate articulated a vision that spoke to me, it was a message I felt like investing in, it allowed me to overcome my resistance to "tribes" and independence, it engaged and inspired me that things could change for the better. Leaders provide direction, focus, passion, motivation. Leaders bring in new people, new ideas, can galvanize reform, can challenge the status quo, can make Canadians take notice and reaccess past assumptions. Yes, the political party must do the heavy lifting, there are NO shortcuts. But, particularly within this sober Liberal reality, our next leadership decision will be the most critical choice we make, of that I have no doubt. Consider me an unabashed messiah seeker. Amen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

We Might Be Dead

Plenty of ink spilled this week on the death of the Liberal Party. The latest from Susan Delacourt, offers another fair but sober description, well worth a read. These prognosis I've read are instructive for Liberals, because they don't represent some misguided ganging up on we poor Liberals when down, they're actually full of objective merit. In some ways, the Liberals are like the Bruce Willis character in The Six Sense, just waiting for someone to fill them into the true reality.

So, the question, are the Liberals really dead? Truth of the matter, we just might be, but that recognition isn't necessarily as dire as the acknowledgment would seem to suggest. See, I believe looking death squarely in the face doesn't allow for delusional comforts, it's stark, it's urgent, it scares the shit out of you. People who have had a near death experience often have an epiphany of sorts, and it is here where the Liberals can come back from the white light, if the prescription is right.

The reality demands a utter REVOLUTION within the Liberal Party, aggressive positions, seismic internal reforms that present a new age democratic institution, a complete and utter overhaul, that can only be achieved knowing full well death is the alternative. My personal pessimism has been fueled by a complete inability to truly recognize the circumstance, the whole plan seems to be predicated on the external hope the NDP fail which is the stuff of gambling. Susan Delacourt makes a terrific point about old stories, "you had to be there", to which I'd add a culture of ambition, wherein social climbing tends to trump a necessary HIVE mentality.

Look, the Liberals are dead as door nails unless somebody pours icy water on the whole appartus and mindset. To my mind, in this one instance, we very much are looking for the "messiah" leader, because we need a lightning rod, some place to put the revolutionary spirit, someONE to implement the necessary reforms, someONE that can speak above the competing chatter and still lingering appeasements. Liberals need the vehicle, while it's true that leaderitis has plagued us in the past, if EVER the sentiment was justified, now is the time. We need an insurgent, and hopefully this objective talk of death allows for a hero's welcome.... It's the only way, apart from waiting on some LUCK to come our way. We might be dead, Liberals need to start everyday with that morning thought.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

There Will Be Blood

The frame is already coming into focus for the NDP leadership, the establishment vs the insurgent, the traditional slant vs a new philosophical paradigm which offers electoral bliss.

This race promises to be very emotional, with Mulcair already musing about taking the NDP closer to the mainstream, ala Gary Doer, contrasted with Topp who sounds very much in line with what we are used to hearing from the federal NDP. As well, when is the last time you heard a federal NDP heavyweight preach the merits of smaller government, Mulcair is bringing provincial NDP evolution (Dexter, Doer, Calvert) to Ottawa, and it will be fascinating to see how stout the resistance, even though the faithful have embraced and celebrated the centrist move in provinces, tribal considerations trumping true political leanings. I suspect Dewar will also offer a philosophical reset, so we will see a true battle for the heart and soul of the NDP party.

I'm continually amazed by Brian Topp and the organization he has built in such sort order. It is no stretch to say he is the establishment candidate and others are quickly positioning themselves as the insurgency challenging the old world order. Dewar has placed himself as a grassroots up candidacy and Mulcair is throwing barbs that he is the unwanted irritant upsetting the pre-ordained coronation. I see plenty of blowback potential in this race, Topp does look every bit the backroom boy with powerful friends, poised to steamroll the field, a posture which tends to demand rank and file defiance. The question will be, is the abrasive Mulcair that messenger, does he enjoy that grassroots appeal to counter, or will his reforming ideas turn off those he need to take on the Topp juggernaut? Perhaps this is where Paul Dewar fits into the puzzle, time will tell.

This race is going to get nasty, make no mistake. Anybody who has watched Mulcair knows that "heated" is a given, I expect continual fireworks between his camp and Topp, the likes of which the NDP haven't seen. In fact, this race looks very Liberalesque in many respects, particularly the role of the vanguard in dictating. I'm curious to see how this notion of the "little guy" party confronts serious Topp down considerations, particularly when the perceived best challenger isn't exactly a natural fit.

This NDP leadership race will be conducted under a microscope, the big leagues demand attention never seen before, and this focus will only heighten the intrigue, the potential divisions and fault lines. I intend to follow this race very closely as well, largely putting aside my own party leanings to comment as a detached observer as I see it. Given we are still months away from picking a leader, this race has all the hallmarks of classic political struggle, all the elements are there for a fascinating affair.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

State Of The Nation

To my mind, if you want to chart an effective future course you must digest a realistic reality. It's fine to be optimistic, but that view tends to gloss over sober circumstances, which in turn doesn't contemplate what is necessary to truly realize your objective.

Today, Nanos provides that Liberal shot in the arm, the NDP falling back a bit, the Liberals rising, the Conservatives could care less as the opposition rearranges their deck chairs. Not a surprising result, if you look closer, much of the Liberals uptick is Ontario based. Whether that is a real move or just the election effect remains to be seen, but it is positive for the Liberal "brand" that McGuinty did well. On the flip side, this election revealed the same dangerous narrowing of Liberal support into urban pockets, as well as huge voter decline, so there is a mixed bag flavour to the result. Overall though, some spillover to federal Liberals is expected, just as spillover to provincial NDP from federal success was earlier.

Looking forward, here is what I expect on the federal scene, realistically. I see little opportunity for the Liberals to get any real traction for quite a while. The NDP leadership race is where the "action" is, it's intriguing to watch and it will continue to suck most of the oxygen out of pedestrian Ottawa. This obvious predicament equates to an almost relegated status for we Liberals and we will have to fight for headlines and attention. Mr. Rae can look formidable in Question Period, the Liberals can push items, we can do the mundane work of rebuilding, but it's hard to see any near term catalysts that will shake public sentiment.

I see a party reconciled to third place standing- and the accompanying attention that designation receives- until at least the leadership in 2013. As the Liberals build up for the convention, people being campaigns, ideas and reforms are truly debated (hopefully), only then we there be opportunity to mix up the new Ottawa order. Of course, this view assumes the NDP doesn't self destruct, or choose a poor leader, but that would be an external development. The NDP aren't some fad, which many Liberals still seem to believe.

The trick moving forward is to understand just how disinterested the public is at the moment, how little they pay attention to machinations in Ottawa, how scarce the opportunity to really change the landscape. Particularly, in a majority situation- without the constant threat of upheaval- most Canadians have tucked their political interest away, snippets here and there, but snappy lines by Mr. Rae in QP aren't resonating, I assure.

Liberals should quietly go about their business, so we are ready for 2015. However, I'm not expecting the polls to suddenly turn favourable, I don't expect to overtake the NDP anytime soon, challenging the Conservatives almost absurd to contemplate. Not optimistic or pessimistic, but perhaps realistic and I believe the correct mindset for the months, and perhaps years, ahead.


Along the same lines.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's Wrong With Canadian Politics?

A couple good reads this morning, digesting low voter turnout, the general malaise that is objectively putting our "democracy at risk". I'd like to point to another story that came out last week, garnering little attention, but offering up a terrific demonstration of ALL that is wrong with Canadian politics:
Only two days into the campaign, PC Leader Tim Hudak’s blue bus broke down in Ottawa. His staffers, afraid journalists would use the incident as a metaphor for his election effort, parked the vehicle far down the suburban street where Hudak was slated to make a campaign announcement and brought in a replacement bus...

Hudak used the replacement bus for less than a day, until he got his wheels back.

PC campaign staff divulged this story to reporters after the election wrapped up Thursday night.

And there, the state of Canadian politics in a nutshell, and a powerful citation as to WHY nobody gives a shit. I don't blame the Hudak campaign, god knows Liberals are well aware how a completely unrelated mechanical failure can DOMINATE an entire day, IF NOT MORE, of an election campaign. Can you imagine the sheer PANIC to find another bus before it became public knowledge, I mean we are talking about seats in the balance here! SAD, but TRUE.

The above story encapsulizes campaign fixation with the superficial, how the TRIVIAL can take center stage. Nobody will dispute, when I say if that bus broke down, it would have received more attention than the debate over clean energy in the Ontario campaign. Truth is, campaigns are all now about avoiding mistakes, sanitizing the message, protecting the messenger, carefully crafting every step to avoid the dreaded "gaffe". This posture has contributed to voter disinterest, in a way that deserves much more attention: campaigns are bland, they're SAFE, they avoid any controversial issues, their goal is to not offend or ruffle, the antithesis of what politics is supposed to encompass. Again though, today's campaigns are really a product of learned response, they are merely reacting to past pitfalls, trying to avoid, a clean campaign is preferred to a substantive one.

The Hudak bus incident speaks volumes about the state of things. Bravo to the Hudak team for switching buses, that one moment was perhaps key to thwarting a Liberal majority, SERIOUSLY.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

McGuinty Should Step Aside

Given the makeup of the Ontario legislature, I assume this Liberal government has at least two years- possibly even a full term- before any threat of an election looms. With that realistic backdrop in mind, I think the provincial Liberals would be wise to consider a transition plan, set a course that incumbents rarely appreciate, if the ultimate goal is continued implementation of philosophy, rather than ego driven pursuits.

I'm as happy as the next person about the election result, and seriously have nothing but praise for the Liberal campaign and the Premier in general. McGuinty was unflappable, he conveyed quiet confidence, it was those traits that served him well in this campaign. It really was an incredible reversal of fortunes, considered dead and buried, McGuinty defied all expectations and won a very historic victory, that cements his legacy. However, the winning side of every campaign has a tendency post-election to gloss over any fundamental problems, even the mere mention of concerns unwanted negativity.

RARELY, does a politician step aside at the right moment, too often it is the voters who ultimately force a retirement rather than graceful exit. Here's hoping that Dalton McGuinty, and the Liberal team can see beyond this victory and appreciate an erosion which is likely to continue in the future. Liberals received 600000 less votes this election, and if you look at the electoral map, you see a narrowing area of appeal, dangerously analogous to the federal cousin decline. Despite the victory, I would argue this Liberal regime has reached it's apex and the future is very uncertain. The Liberals won no new ridings, the same gang will rule Ontario and there is every reason to believe Ontarians will eventually desire a new direction.

In this election, Liberals benefited from a clumsily opponent who essentially "threw it away". This realization doesn't discount from the terrific campaign we ran, nor does it undercut McGuinty's personal triumph, but rather than get out the thundersticks, I think it important to look at the horizon with a sober and detached perspective.

Dalton McGuinty mused awhile ago that he was contemplating retirement, only to pull back when any admission equated to lame duck or lack of desire, something opponents could use against them. In my mind, the shrewd strategy is for the Ontario Liberals to quietly cultivate some sort of transition logic, do the impossible and reinvent the brand while still in office, which can be achieved when a new leader comes forth(British Columbia a terrific example here). The ideal situation would be for Mr. McGuinty to continue to put his stamp on the province, then a couple years in, announce a retirement and allow the Liberals to pump in fresh air. This scenario offers the best circumstance to win another mandate in the future. I see this election as more "dodged a bullet" than a terrific endorsement of the Liberals, the numbers support this view, as does a detached perspective.

Craziness, I know.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Election Wrap Up

A few thoughts from a fascinating Ontario election result. First off, there is a bit of utter revisionist nonsense floating around that the PC lead over the summer "wasn't real", even though all signs pointed to a huge Liberal deficit. YES, the sentiment was very real, it revealed a distinct desire for something new- and the polls never suggested otherwise, even throughout the campaign- the PC's were every bit poised for victory and the Liberal challenge looked immense. That backdrop makes this election result somewhat incredible, because "kick the bums out" was every bit a electoral mentality.

Heading into the campaign, the only Liberal hope as I saw it was "campaigns matter", as well as a firm contention that Hudak wouldn't resonate with Ontario voters, blunting the "change" mantra (btw, I now hate that word). There are now some numbers to counter, but in the final analysis, both those critical hopes manifested, the Liberals simply ran a better campaign and Hudak was more a drag on support than anything, he lost the debate and by all accounts found few coverts on a personal level, the DUD was just that. PC's and apologists can point to the seat totals- and I really hope they do- but to my mind, this election represents a failed opportunity, a better message, better messenger, better campaign, it was really all there for the Progressive Conservatives to capitalize.

For the NDP, there is little question the Layton aftermath put some indirect wind in their sails, as well as other obvious breakthroughs. A good result for Horwath, but again, during the campaign, a fairly flat baseline and she never caught fire, with perhaps the north being an exception. Again, we heard last night how Ontario voted "for change" from Horwath, but several factors suggest they voted with tertiary interest and I still see Premier McGuinty, so the revolution was clearly muted.

Of course a Liberal majority was what the faithful hoped for, but as I said privately to a few friends, given the circumstance, a minority would be a terrific result. If I said to you August 1st, "hey Liberal, you can have a minority, which is effectively a majority, given the Speaker votes with the status quo, would you take it?" YES SIR, YES SIR, sign me up NOW!! Let's keep it real, first past the post flaws aside. From a partisan perspective, I'm pleased, an agenda I geniunely believe in continues...

However, I would argue everyone is a loser here in one important and sobering sense: voter turnout was abysmal, under 50%, a RECORD low. The Liberal vote was way, way down, the gravity of which only lessened by the relatively sad ability of other parties to truly "get out the vote". Truth is, this election was a pedestrian affair, it excited no one, people voted out of duty rather than desire and apathy won the day. Turnout is a testament to a failed opposition message, a tired opinion of the government of the day and above all a repudiation of the process, the superficial debate that resonates with no one, the predictable campaign tactics and the barrage of polling which distracts(on that last point, I think we need a serious debate about limiting polls during campaigns, if not an outright ban). The cookie cutter campaign and the coverage, someone needs to digest that Canadians are increasingly tuning it right, it bears no relationship to their lives, the disconnect is FRIGHTENING. The political party that can solve the riddle and challenge the entire status quo process will find a very fertile audience. We desperately need some entity to blow it up, and blow it up real good, this recurring template is an electoral loser, that only gets worse with successive disappointments.

One final point, not a great night for first past the post, the raw vote totals clearly at odds with seat counts, and while it worked to my party's advantage this time, that's irrelevant, the optics are somewhat brutal.

All in all, happy to have Premier McGuinty back with a practically strong mandate, I truly believe we are in the midst of a greening revolution in this province and will only become clearer with the superior eyesight that time affords. Now, let's just hope the PC's decide to keep Hudak on ;)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Okay, This Is The "Last Poll"

This morning I read the Angus Reid poll that showed the PC's in the lead and was a bit surprised they hadn't captured any Liberal move, it reeked outlier. Dubbed the "Last Poll", the results were as such:
Tories are at 36 per cent, the Liberals at 33 per cent, the New Democrats at 26 per cent and the Greens at 5 per cent.

However, that was SO this morning, turns out Angus Reid went back into the field today and suddenly found that Liberal surge others had shown:
Liberals 37%, Progressive Conservatives 33%, New Democrats 26%, Greens 3%,

Okay, so the last poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday had a 3% PC edge, then the new last poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday shows a 4% Liberal lead. If accurate, a massive swing in one day of polling, by any standard.
A quibble, this morning AR said:
The Progressive Conservatives continue to boast the best retention rate of all contending parties (84%), followed by the NDP (79%). In contrast, the Liberals are holding on to 66 per cent of their voters in 2007, and the Greens to 48 per cent.

The latest last poll:
The late change in Liberal fortunes lies in the unmistakable return of Ontarians who supported the governing party in the 2007 election. In this final survey of absolutely certain voters, the retention rate for the Liberals is 75 per cent, compared to 66 per cent in the middle of the campaign.

Compared to middle of the campaign? Try way, way back to THIS morning. A bit of a odd disconnect, but perhaps a testament to that volatility in Ontario I've always highlighted.

Okay, now to the only poll that matters... May the DUD come through!

"I Like You, But I Don't Like Your Leader.'”

Simply amazing comment from PC candidate Cheryl Miller, particularly since it was made just after said leader exited their JOINT radio appearance. Another convert to DUD nation:
Speaking Wednesday morning to host Steve Garrison of News/Talk 1290 CJBK, Miller said, "It's kind of interesting. I knock at doors and people say, 'I like you, but I don't like your leader.'”

Her comments came mere minutes after she and Hudak joined Garrison on air for a nine-minute interview — the Tory leader joined the interview late and left early as he prepared for a last-day blitz of the province.

Really quite odd that Miller would appear with Hudak, since see believes he is torpedoing her chances at election. Federal Liberals know the feeling at the door, but rarely does someone throw their leader under the bus in such a public way, especially under these circumstances.

She is right though, NOBODY likes Hudak. Hudak's last day "blitz" seems to be encountering a Russian winter so to speak.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

New Poll

Quite a shocking poll from Ipsos, another double digit lead and pronouncements that it's a Liberal victory, just a matter of seat formation. Lots of caution still, nobody should be complacent because ground games matter, but one fact is now IRREFUTABLE:

They more they see, the less they like...

Trending Liberal

Yesterday, we saw conflicting polls, but that divergence has quickly evaporated, as the new Nanos suddenly looks a lot like the earlier EKOS, while the new EKOS shows further widening of the Liberal lead. In a nutshell, two big pollsters are showing a late break to the Liberals it would seem, with EKOS openly talking about a Liberal majority.

Last night, NANOS came out with their final result, which showed considerable swing:
OLP 38 #PCPO 33.2 #ONDP 25.8

Libs up 3, PC down 3, NDP same

That's quite a big change for a rolling poll, but interestingly it reconciles with the EKOS offering, both now showing a decent Liberal lead, evidence of late breakers moving. This morning, we are still officially waiting on the EKOS numbers, but all indications point to an expansion of the 7% lead yesterday, further Liberal momentum:
"A new EKOS poll to be released to iPolitics later this morning suggests Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals have opened up a clear and probably insurmountable lead on their rivals in the final stages of the Ontario campaign."

Last night on twitter, Frank Graves openly spoke of a Liberal majority scenario as well.

Details aside, it appears the Liberals have another wave of momentum. The first big moves came just as the campaigns geared up, the "insurmountable" PC lead evaporated quickly. Now, in the crucial late stages, cautious evidence that people are moving again and it spells big trouble for Hudak. The problem now, there are no saviour headlines for the PC's, it's all about what is going wrong, shrinking odds, the polls will fuel an air of decline right through to the ballot box. Federal Liberal supporters know too well this scenario, pretty much guaranteed defensive posture now for the Hudak PC's. On the flip side, McGuinty has wind at his back, momentum at the perfect time.

Of course, we can still expect big surprises Thursday, by no means counting chickens. However, if you're planning out an optimal "end game", these polls feed a best case scenario for Liberal fortunes, obviously this is the preferred trend as people make their final arguments.


EKOS and Nanos out with their internals. EKOS gives the Libs a large 10% lead now, and interesting to note the numbers hold relatively well on the likely voter question. Nanos pegs PC support at the lowest of the campaign, both pollsters show cratering support. As well, the NDP look flat, which could suggest some bleeding if Liberals have the momentum.



Monday, October 03, 2011

Dueling Polls

Two polling heavyweights out today with different results, both conducted during the same time period. If you're a Liberal, then EKOS acts as a powerful elixir, just don't look at the Nanos which actually gives the DUD the nod. What to make of it all?

37.8% LPO
30.6% PC
22.7% NDP
7.3% Green
1.6% other

36.4% PC
35.6% LPO
25.7% NDP
1.2% Green

Perhaps an exercise in polls providing little clue to actual results? Here you have EKOS showing the Liberals moving into potential majority position, whereas Nanos would likely put the PC's into power, a bigger disconnect we rarely see. EKOS shows no NDP bounce, which Nanos highlighted yesterday, only to see a slight ebb today. Additionally, when it comes to likely voters EKOS finds the Libs and PC's do better, whereas the NDP falls to 19.3%.

We do see a consistent pattern with the two pollsters, Nanos tends to show little relative Green support, whereas Graves does, we saw this divergence federally as well. I find 1.2% for the Greens a bit low from Nanos, but EKOS at 7.3% also looks quite high, relative to what others are finding: Green support looks weak this election.

One thing I've noticed is that, with Nanos in particular, for all the talk of momentum, if you look at his graph it's been pretty stable for the last three weeks. To this amateur, Nanos looks more statistical noise than any real trend (not withstanding results prior to September 11). In a more limited sense, EKOS also shows a fairly pedestrian trendline, which suggests a leveling out of support perhaps, after the big early moves in this campaign and pre-writ.

So in conclusion, NDP spoiler, NDP afterthought, Libs surging or losing and the DUD a DUD or a Premier. Alright then...