Saturday, April 30, 2005

New Polls

Just a quick update from my vacation here, I wanted to point out the four new polls conducted in the aftermath of Martin's so-called "Bin-Laden like" speech (gotta love those level-headed Conservatives).

First was a GPC poll which had the Liberals up two, with a large portion undecided and the Greens polling at 8%.

That was followed by a CTV-Globe poll which confirmed the two point lead and further suggested an eight point lead in Ontario.

Then we have EKOS putting the Liberals up two points nationally and six in Ontario.

Finally IPSOS-Reid comes up with slightly different totals which are still within the margin of error for the other polls. They have the Conservatives up 3, but with 13% undecided.

But Harper claims he's still going to take the country to the polls. Must be thinking that god will intervene on his side, or maybe he has another child-pornography-esque accusation up his sleeve which will sway the electorate...

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Address to the Nation: The Aftermath

Well, Martin's speech was far from impressive, just as I'd expected. One good thing which he has accomplished is that the Liberals can no claim that the Conservatives were trying to avoid the truth and run a campaign of fear. Fear of the Liberals, of corruption, of scandal and of all anything but them. Harper's speech afterwards was predictable, but to me it just demonstrated how desperately he wants the job. Jack's speech was really disappointing, I had such high hopes for him when he was elected leader. He always seems too excited, he needs some seasoning. Still, the talk of an NDP-Liberal coalition is interesting.

A few things worth noting...

The talk of NDP-Liberal cooperation is intersting, but it still leaves them three votes short. Sure, Carolyn Parrish would back them but where do they get two more votes? Chuck Cadman is a likely no. If it becomes an issue he will be courted hard by the Conservatives. Kilgour seems to be in the same boat. So where is the PMO looking? It seems impossible that there would be two MPs willing to defect from the Conservatives or the Bloc, it's interesting to speculate about. Who knows, maybe some Red Tories are a little leery of the right wing fanatics in charge of the party. We'll know more tomorrow after Jack and Martin meet in Toronto.

The glaring question in my mind yesterday morning wasn't what most would expect, but rather when the hell did the Toronto Star become a right wing rag? Giving Stephen Harper's response as much coverage as the PM's address. They also carried a wishy-washy editorial and ran an incredibly right wing opinion piece (not online). This from the premier left-wing newspaper in the country? Alrighty then...

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty coming out in favour of Martin's plan to wait for the final Gomery report is interesting. It really makes me wonder why the PM won't meet with him. He's no traitor to the Party, he just wants a fair shake for his province instead of getting screwed in favour of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Maybe the NDP can force Martin to back down from his ridiculous stance. Otherwise this election will not go at all well for the Liberals.

And finally the Tories lining up superstar candidates, doesn't bode well. Peter Kent is going to run in St. Pauls (my old riding before redistricting gave part of it to Eglinton-Lawrence), Jim Flaherty is going to run in Whitby and Tony Clement in Parry Sound-Muskoka (against Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell). Former Leaf Russ Courtnall is thinking about it, Elsie Wayne is planning to come out of retirement, and even former Miss Canada Blair Lancaster is contemplating joining the fun. Looks like the vultures are circling.

In any case, very light blogging ahead. Going to visit Mrs. Gracchi's parents out West...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Martin to Address the Nation

For the first time since 1995, a Canadian Prime Minister will be taking his message to the air waves in Prime Time. In a desperate attempt to stem the tide of opposition rising against the Liberal Party, Paul Martin will take his message to the people. Apparently it's not to call an election. It's not a prorogation. He's not resigning. He's banking the future of his party and this country on a five minute speech to the people of Canada.

The move comes on the heels of a new poll which gives the Conservatives a 7 point lead over the Liberals. Another poll also indicates that the lead is strongly Gomery driven, as the two parties are 34-30 with a clean questions but the lead more than doubles with a loaded Gomery-driven question.

This may be Paul Martin's only chance to stop the bleeding, his only chance to save the party and to spare the nation a disaster of a Conservative government.

Given his history with public speaking (see last year's debate)...well let's just say I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

This morning at 11:50 EST white smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel. In the weeks after the death of Pope John Paul II, the public had shown great interest in the election of our next pope. People around the world had voiced anticipation in a reformer, someone who could strengthen the church's gains in the third world and usher the faith in to the 21st century. We got anything but.

German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was born in 1927. He served as his predecessor's chief enforcer of church doctrine. While not technically a member of Opus Dei, he is an admitted admirer of the fundamentalist group and was their chosen candidate. Ratzinger has also taken controversial stances on political issues, including suggesting that politicians who do not oppose abortion should be denied communion (this was in reference to John Kerry) and opposing Turkish membership in the European Union.

In terms of church doctrine, Ratzinger is as far right as they get. He opposes abortion, is against women in the church, opposes birth control, and does not favour priests getting married. In this morning's Washington Post, Ratzinger was described as a brilliant, tough-minded intellectual who started out as moderately liberal and -- like so many American neoconservatives -- developed a mistrust of the left because of the student revolt of the 1960s. He once said that "the 1968 revolution" turned into "a radical attack on human freedom and dignity, a deep threat to all that is human."

Reaction to the selection has been far from positive. A poll conducted on Daily Kos shows only 1% of the site's readers approve of his selection. Meanwhile, reaction on the BBC's website has been almost as negative. Here's a brief sampling:

Choosing a conservative Pope will send the wrong message to millions of potential converts living in already overpopulated countries and those trying to cope with the Aids epidemic in Africa.
Bruce, White Rock, Canada

Why in a time of evolving consciousness and expansion of progressive thought would they choose someone who is a reactionary to be the new Pope? Well, clearly because of that fact, the conservatives of the world are trying to stem the tide of progress, equality, freedom, and diversity. Perhaps his cold efficiency will remind people that the Pope is just another politician.
Josh Borden, Santa Monica, California

Exactly what is needed - a staunch conservative to remind the world how anachronistic and outmoded the Catholic Church has become. With any luck, as those who dare to think for themselves get further alienated, perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for a world free from organised religion.
Dave, Nottingham

While most of the criticism does center around the new Pope's far right wing views, a vocal minority has expressed outrage about his youth in Germany. In fact, a few Daily Kos readers referred to him as "Natzinger" and one poster even went so far as to say "They had to elect Ratzinger today, because tomorrow is Hitler's birthday. That's a little too close to home."

The source of these comments is the fact that Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth, served in an Anti-Aircraft Unit in Munich as a teenager and was briefly a full member of the army. He fled his unit in the last days of the war and was captured by the Americans. Ratzinger, and his biographer, claim that he was never a willing member of the Nazi Party. They further argue that his time in the regime convinced him that the Church needed to stand up for truth and freedom. Opponents claim it taught him to suppress discussion - as he has during his time as chief enforcer of orthodoxy.

In essence, Cardinal Ratzinger is a reactionary who will likely be viewed with disdain by liberals around the world. As a deist, the Pope's selection has no spiritual underpinnings for me. My only experience with Catholicism came as a small child when my family traveled to Rome. Upon seeing the Papal estates, I asked my parents who owned them. Somewhat bewildered, they replied that nobody really did, but that if anyone did then it was the Pope. In the clarion voice that only children are capable of producing, I then screamed "the Pope's a poop". My family was quickly asked to leave the holy city.

Well, I may have been wrong about Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI, however, definitely appears to be a poop. In fact, the only good thing I can say about him is that at age 78 his papacy is not likely to be a long one. Thank goodness for small favours.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bill C-307 and the Culture of Life

If you thought Canada was going to be spared from the current wave of pro-life fervor spreading through the United States, get ready for a rude awakening. Only a few months ago Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin) introduced legislation that most Republicans don’t even have the guts to suggest.

So what was it? Well, if Maurice Vellacott has his way then pharmacies won’t have to provide birth control anymore.

For the past year the CPC has been trying to paint themselves as a more moderate party, but the fact remains that a large portion of the party’s representatives are fringe fanatics. Bill C-307 is an incredibly dangerous piece of legislation which would be a catastrophe for Canadian women.

The bill is one simple statement followed by a series of defintions, but the meat of the bill is this: An Act to amend the Criminal Code to prevent health care practitioners from being coerced into taking part in medical procedures that offend the practitioner’s religion or belief that human life is inviolable.

Of course the bill would violate medical codes of ethics all across the country. Pharmacists are required to allow patients to make decisions about their own medical care. Sadly, the right to life movement doesn’t seem to care about that.

On the other side of the border, American women have been fighting a similar battle with ‘right to life’ fanatics all across the country. Ever increasingly birth control has come under attack, not just in the form of refusing to fund charities which promote safe sex in AIDS ravaged Africa, but also actively encouraging Pharmacists to stop giving out birth control.

In Texas, House Bill 16 is in committee and will likely pass. The law would allow pharmacists, at their sole discretion, to override phsycian’s recommendation and refuse to dispense birth control or emmergency contraception. Similar legislation has been introduced in various other states, leading to Illinois being forced to pass emergency rules which force pharmacists to help their patients.

Still, there are powerful wingnut organizatins across the country fighting to deny doctors the right to determine what is best for their patients. Pharmacists for Life International and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists are fighting tooth and nail to increase unwanted pregnancies. Now they’re bringing the fight to Canada.

The Conservative Party recently passed, in a close vote, a motion stating that they would not try to legislate abortion. Party members openly suggested that such a motion would make the CPC appear more mainstream and help them in an election. The fact remains, however, that many party insiders were far from happy. Former MP Elsie Wayne made an impassioned speech at the Convention, exclaiming: "I do not believe the majority of our people at this convention are in favour of killing babies…you know that abortion kills babies."

The CPC tries to present themselves as reasonable and in the mainstream. Yet their MPs introduce legislation that would limit access to birth control, party big wigs are fanatically pro-life and delegate debates and the recent conventions included lines like "We've killed three million babies in Canada. This issue needs to be debated."

Yet CPC supporters will loudly proclaim that party has no intention of trying to promote a pro-life agenda. Accusations to the contrary are obviously 'fear mongering tactics'. Unfortunately, Stephen Harper’s words provide little reason for optimism.

"The nature of democracy is that any previous decision can be challenged and overturned because there’s no final winners and no final losers."

Reading the Polls: BC

The Province is home to 36 seats and will be a major battleground which politicos across the nation will be watching in to the wee hours of the morning. Last year the Conservatives won twenty-two seats (36%), the Liberals eight (28.6%), NDP five (26.5%) and there was one Independent. The new Environics poll gives the Conservatives 39%, the NDP 34%, the Liberals 25% and the Greens at 1%. EKOS has the Conservatives at 29%, the Liberals at 28%, the NDP at 37% and the Greens at 7%. The Grits are going to lose seats here, there is no doubt about that. The question is who picks them up, and will this be the difference maker in the next government?

Much like in other regions of the country there are ridings which are over before the first ballot is cast. The Conservatives, in particular, have a number of ridings which are extremely safe, especially in the interior of BC close to the Alberta border. The NDP also have a safe riding: Vancouver East.

These ‘Safe Conservative’ ridings are: Abbotsford, Caribou-Prince George, Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, Delta-Richmond East, Fleetwood-Port Kellis, Kamloops-Thompson, Kelowna, Kootenay-Columbia, Langley, North-Okanagan, Okanagan-Coquihalla, Prince George-Peace River and South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast .

So right off the bat we’re calling 15 of 36 ridings safe. However, several others are no brainers (narrow Liberal wins) and as such there will be minimal discussion of these ridings. Still, BC contains a number of races which promise to be tantalizingly close and may decide the outcome of this election.

No more pre-amble…here we go.

Burnaby-Douglas: This was almost included in the ‘Safe NDP’ category, they’ve won the riding every election save two in the last forty plus years and for the last twenty years straight. The race was reasonably close last time around, but Liberal support is going to bleed to the NDP this time around. Look for an easy NDP win, but the Conservatives culd make a push if the Liberals lose support in their direction. Leans NDP in a huge way, but still a ‘swing’ riding. C-NDP Swing Riding

Burnaby-Westminster: Like it’s neighbour, this riding leans NDP, but there is a bigger chance for an upset here. It’s a new riding that the NDP won in a tight three way split. The NDP defeated the Liberals by just over 300 votes and the Conservatives by 2,000. Question is where exactly does the Liberals support go? The Conservatives have a history in the riding, so it may go there way. NDP looks strong, the riding is theirs to lose but the right wing will make noise. C-NDP Swing Riding

Dewdney-Alouette: The Conservatives won this seat by 6% over the NDP last year, 38%-32%, while the Grits polled a respectible 22%. Is there a big enough swing from the Liberals to give the seat to the NDP? Seems unlikely, but a definet possiblity. This will be one of the NDP targets and a race the Conservatives will be nervous about. C-NDP Swing Riding

Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca: This riding in the lower income section of Victoria voted Liberal last time as Reform defector Keith Martin claimed 35% of the vote and beat his NDP opponent by 5%. The seat was an NDP stronghold for two decades before the Reform took over. The Conservatives poll well behind but could make a charge in a three way split. NDP appears to have a leg up in this riding, but it is likely to be close. Much may depend on who the Conservatives have running and just how the campaign is going nationally. Leans NDP but it’s going to be tight. L-C-NDP Swing Riding

Nanaimo-Alberni: The NDP is definetly poised to challenge in this traditional stronghold here, as the Conservatives won by only 7% last time around. Meanwhile, the Liberals claimed 20% of the vote and will likely bleed a great deal to the NDP which held the seat for the vast majority of the 60s, 70s and 80s. May lean Conservative, but this will be a tight race. C-NDP Swing Riding

Nanaimo-Cowichan: The NDP held this riding for the majority of the 80s before losing it to the Reform in ’93. Jean Crowder took it back for the NDP by 7,000 votes last year and this looks like a very likely NDP hold. Just playing it safe with my predictions as the Reform/Alliance/Conservatives held the seat for more than a decade. Leans NDP. C-NDP Swing Riding

Newton-North Delta: This riding saw an incredibly tight three way race last year, as the Conservatives eeked out a 500 vote victory over the Liberals and just under 1,500 over the NDP. The riding is brand new, born of parts of two old Conservative strongholds. However, from what I can see they cut out more moderate parts of those ridings. Newton-North Delta is 38% immigrant and 30% East Indian. Last time the NDP did not run an East Indian candidate while the Conservatives and Liberals did. Liberal support will drop, but where will it go? Tight race, if the national race gets ugly and Harper’s comments about immigrants come up it will likely hand the race to the NDP. C-NDP Swing Riding

New Westminster-Coquitlam: This riding has been held by the Reform/Conservatives since ’93, and by the NDP for 30 years before that. Last year saw another tight three way race as the Paul Forseth eeked out a 113 vote victory over his NDP opponent. 29% of residents are immigrants and average income is $68k. Situational factors suggest that Liberal support will swing towards the NDP, and that party is certainly in the driver’s seat here. C-NDP Swing Riding

North Vancouver: The Liberals won this traditionally right-wing upper class neighbourhood last year, while the NDP came in a distant third. A repeat seems all but impossible. Leans heavily Conservative. L-C Swing Riding
Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam: The NDP owned this riding until ’93, and the Conservatives have held it since then. Last year they won with 41% of the vote, while the NDP and Liberals each received 27% support. A shift of this magnitude seems really unlikely, but if the NDP gets going out west this riding is within striking distance. Leans strongly Conservative but still in play. C-NDP Swing Riding

Richmond: Raymond Chan won this riding in ’93 and ’97 before losing it in 2000 and reclaiming it last year. The NDP is not a big factor here, as both the Liberals and Conservatives polled over 35%. The 2000 Conservative victory was by only 1,100 votes so the party is by no means a lock here despite controlling the riding for almost all of the 70s and 80s. The Liberals are certain to lose much of their nine point lead, the question is if Chan will be able to hold. L-C Swing Riding

Saanich-Gulf Islands: This riding looks to be safe for the Conservatives, they’ve dominated it for ages and won a comfortable eight point victory over the Liberals. Still, this riding contains a large number a really left wing people, in the community around Uvic and on the Gulf Islands – the Greens get 17% support here. If the Green campaign falters and the NDP makes a serious charge in the province they could steal this seat. Still, all signs point to a Conservative hold. C-NDP Swing Riding

Surrey North: Good lord. If Cadman runs as an independent again we could see a split between him and the Conservatives handing the seat to the NDP. If he runs as a Conservative then they win in a landside. If he doesn’t run then the Conservatives win easily. Either way, this seat leans heavily to an independent right winger or the Conservatives. Ind-C-NDP Swing Riding

Vancouver Center: This riding has never been won by the NDP (although the CCF did win the riding once), but the party may be in solid position to take the seat next year. Hedy Fry defeated her NDP opponent by 4,000 votes, collecting 40% to Kennedy Stewart’s 32.3% support. The riding has voted Liberal since 1993 but this could be the year to break that streak. The Conservatives poll well behind at 19% while the Green grabbed 7%. A large portion of this riding are immigrants and the average income is pretty high at $75k. This is a really tough riding to predict, a toss-up between all three major parties. If the Liberals are going to hold on to a seat this might be it. L-C-NDP Swing Riding

Vancouver Island North: The infamous riding which cost the left wing an NDP-Liberal majority, the Conservatives took this riding by less than 500 votes in a race that wasn’t conclusive until the wee hours of the morning. The NDP dominated the precursor to this riding, but the Conservatives / Reform Party have won each race since the ’96 redistricting. The late scare tactics by the Liberals probably cost Catherine Bell this seat, and the NDP is in a good position to take the seat next time around. The Liberals are guaranteed to lose support and more of it will go to the NDP than to the Conservatives. So the question is can the NDP keep the gains they made last year? Seat leans NDP, but it won’t be easy. C-NDP Swing Riding

Vancouver Kingsway: This seat has been solid Liberal territory for over two decades, but they may be in serious danger of losing the seat next time around. David Emerson defeated his NDP opponent by a mere 1,300 votes with the Conservatives running a distant third. 2004 redistricting gave the NDP a lot more power in the riding and the Liberals will be very hard pressed to hold on to this seat. Conservatives won’t be a factor at all (they poll 21% behind the NDP) so this is a two way fight. Things look awful good for the NDP in this riding. L-NDP Swing Riding

Vancouver Quadra: The Liberals have won the last six elections in this riding, culminating in a dominant twenty-seven point victory last year. Stephen Owen collected 52.4% of the vote, almost doubling his Conservative opponent. Sure he will lose some support, but it would take a collapse on an epic scale for him to lose the riding. Will be closer than before, but the Liberals should hold the seat. L-C Swing Riding

Vancouver South: Ujjal Dosanjh won a huge election last time around thanks to a friendly split. He collected 44.5% of the vote while both the Conservative and NDP came in around 25% mark. This riding has an incredibly strong Liberal tradition (bordering on Montreal levels) and it seems completely impossible for a collapse of this scale to occur. This could get competitive if Donsanjh falters of the Liberal slide gets worse in the province, but this looks like a likely Liberal hold. C-L-NDP Swing Riding

Victoria: David Anderson won this riding in a narrow race over his NDP opponent. The Liberal candidate received 35% of the vote while the NDP got 32.5%. The CPC’s Longan Wenham was well back at 22%. The riding has historically been competitive with all three parties holding the seat at times in the last twenty years but the Liberals have controlled it for more than a decade. Almost 20% of the riding is over 65, which may lead to a larger portion of lost Liberal support swinging to the CPC. If the NDP can hold on to their vote from last year they should win, but it could go to any of the three big parties. L-C-NDP Swing Riding

BC Totals: Liberals: High 7, Low 0, Likely 3, Conservatives High 35, Low 15, Likely 23, NDP High 19, Low 1, Likely 10

Conservative Quote of the Day

Today we're going to have several quotes since some right wingers complained yesterday that Harper's comment was just a slip of the tongue. This series of comments by Calgary West MP Rob Anders drew up quite a firestorm from the media and the public. The fuss started over a motion to make Nelson Mandela an honourary citizen of Canada. Anders, of course, was furious.

"[Honouring Nelson Mendela is a] total political-correctness poster-boy thing... He was a Communist. He was a terrorist... The Liberals always deprive us unanimous consent on all sorts of provisions. They wouldn't allow us to honour the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen with regard to their wedding anniversary..."
- Calgary West MP Rob Anders, June 2001.

The comments obviously generated a great deal of animosity. So Anders was asked to clarify and generally given plenty of opportunities to back away from his disgraceful statements. He chose a different path.

"I don't think that, you know, anybody would argue that if Nelson Mandela was saying, you know, 30 years ago, that you should go around with matches and necklaces and strangle people or burn them out of their homes, that is not terrorism."
- Anders, 2001

So, then we can assume that his party was incredibly embarassed of him, right? Wrong.

"Rob is a true reformer and a true conservative. He has been a faithful supporter of mine and I am grateful for his work."
- Stephen Harper

Rob Anders was gleefully accepted by the new unified Conservative Party. Barely a whisper was raised about his disgusting remarks. Today, the Conservatives vehemently deny suggestions that they are racists and suggest those who accuse them of racism are 'fear mongering'.

The newspaper articles, however, are eternal.

"Rob Anders: Incredibly, Anders went one wackier after he trashed honorary Canadian citizen Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and a communist last spring. When the former South African president phoned for a peacekeeping chat in November, Anders refused to take the call because he wasn't granted enough time to outline his many concerns. In a Commons loaded with lightweights, Calgary West's MP almost defies gravity."
- Never a dull moment with magnificent seven. The Calgary Herald. Jan 13, 2002.

"Rob Anders is a callow 29-year-old Canadian Alliance MP for Calgary West, an Opposition cipher of high dudgeon and low intellect, a sadly misguided voice who knows little of history and shamefully less of global politics....
If Anders had limited himself to attacking the Liberals for pushing the citizenship honour through Parliament without a proper debate in the House, he would have been on sturdier procedural ground. Instead, the redneck disgraced himself and his party by describing Mandela, 82, as "a Communist and a terrorist." Despite getting slapped about the head by colleagues and opponents, Anders was defiantly unapologetic, albeit pathetically ill-informed on Mandela's background....
I feel honoured that Nelson Mandela would accept Canadian citizenship.
I feel ashamed that Rob Anders is a Canadian citizen."
- Citizen Mandela triumphs over a callow MP The Toronto Star, June 13, 2001.

Wonder how Conservatives will explain this one...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Reading the Polls: The Prairies

Next in the series, the Prairies.

This is the Conservative hotbed, where they are hoping to pick up enough seats to make up for a dismal showing in the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec and Ontario. Last year they picked up 46 of 56 seats and garnered 53% of the vote. The Liberals claimed 6 seats with 25.4% and the NDP picked up 4 seats and 15.3%. The Environics poll unlike previous regions, however, Manitoba and Saskatchewan included some very tight races. The NDP could have easily picked up another half dozen seats in the region. The three Prairie Provinces have quite distinct heritages. Alberta is a right wing stronghold and has been for the better part of the last century. Manitoba and Saskatchewan, however, have a strong left wing tradition. So here we go, moving from West to East.

The birth place of the Alliance and the home of Stephen Harper is the Conservative stronghold. Last year they won 26 of 28 seats, losing only two close races in the Edmonton area. The Conservatives received 61.6% of the vote; the Liberals grabbed 22% and the NDP 9.5%. EKOS has the province 70% Conservative, 15% NDP and 10% Liberal. The Grits squeaked out two victories in the province last year, as David Kilgour took Edmonton-Beaumont by under 200 votes and Deputy PM Anne McLelland took Edmonton Center by under a thousand. Given the collapse in liberal support in response to adscam it seems to be a perfectly reasonable assumption to declare all 28 of Alberta’s seats ‘Safe Conservative’. Just to be on the safe side I’ll say that the Conservatives have a low of 27 while the NDP and Liberals each of a high of 1, but if Harper’s gang lost a single seat in the province I would be shocked.

The province is home to fourteen seats, all but one of which the Conservatives took last year. However, they took only 41.8% of the vote and many races were incredibly close. The Liberals took over 27% and the NDP claimed 23.4%. The EKOS poll has the NDP in the lead in Saskatchewan and Manitoba with 37% of the vote with the Conservatives hot on their tails at 35%. Taking a hit from adscam, the Grits have dropped to 23%. Of course, the Environics poll paints a much more bleak picture for the Liberals, but the NDP and Conservative numbers are about the same. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to tell given the inclusion of Alberta in the ‘Prairies’ category in the Environics poll. It’s also key to note that Saskatchewan contains two different kinds of ridings: rural ridings where the Conservatives pull in Alberta-esque numbers and urban ridings where the NDP and Conservatives are engaged in incredibly tight races.

As such, we can call almost half the province’s ridings ‘Safe Conservative’. These are: Battlefords-Lloydminster, Blackstrap, Cypress Hills Grasslands, Prince Alberta, Saskatoon-Wanuskewin and Yorkton-Melville.

Still, there’s a lot of really tight races we need to take a look at…

Churchill River: This huge Northern Saskatchewan is almost 50% native, the third highest rate in the country. Native Rick Laliberte won with the NDP in ’97, then ran as a Liberal in 2000 and won again. Last year, he ran as an independent and claimed 10% of the vote, as Conservative Jeremy Harrison won with 37.4% of the vote while the Liberals got 30% and the NDP 20.1%. Liberal support is certain to collapse, but the Conservatives are going to take a lot of heat for the litany of racist native remarks made by members and former members. If Laliberte runs for the NDP or doesn’t run at all then the NDP could pick up the seat. A ‘swing riding’ that leans Conservative. C-NDP Swing Riding

Palliser: Last year Conservative Dave Batters took this seat away from the NDP which had held power for the last eight years. However, he only won the riding by 124 votes and the Liberals placed a strong second collecting almost 25% of the vote. Assuming they collapse (as the polls indicate they will) the NDP should be in a very strong position. The Conservatives could still be competitive, but this seat leans NDP in a big way. C-NDP Swing Riding

Regina-Lumsden-Lake Center: At first glance this looks like another seat which the NDP could pick up given the tight three way split. However, Larry Spencer ran as an independent and picked up 5% of the vote last year. The former Reform MP is a right wing lunatic who made disgusting homophobic comments (worse than the Conservative norm) and was kicked out of the party. His votes all go to the Conservatives, so we’d need a big collapse for the NDP to take the seat. This will be a swing riding, but it leans Conservative. C-NDP Swing Riding

Regina Qu’Appelle: This former NDP stronghold (20+ years in power) was taken by the Conservatives last year because of an ugly three party split. Andrew Sheer defeated Lorne Nystrom by less than a thousand votes while the Liberals posted a strong third with 28% of the vote. Assuming the Liberals drop to about 15-20%, this race is the NDP’s to lose. Still competitive, especially as the Conservatives appear to be in the driver’s seat nationally. Still, the NDP will be targeting this seat and it leans to them. C-NDP Swing Riding

Saskatoon-Humboldt: This again looks like a swing riding as the three parties were all within 435 votes of each other, but Independent Candidate Jim Pankiw picked up 20% of the vote. Pankiw was actually the incumbent and was elected with the Reform party in ’97 and 2000. He was kicked out of the party because of a dispute over Stockwell Day’s leadership and has not been allowed in the Conservative Party. Assuming he doesn’t run almost all of that support should go to the Conservatives and they should win a comfortable victory.

Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar: The Conservatives won a reasonably comfortable victory last year, but the riding has a history of going NDP and with the party polling so strongly in the province it’s impossible to rule them out. The Liberals only got 15% of the vote, so the NDP will need to steal some support directly from the Conservatives. Tough sell, might be possible but the riding definitely leans Conservative. C-NDP Swing Riding

Souris Moose-Mountain: Another riding that looks like it could be close; it should actually be a landslide. Former Conservative Premier Grant Devine ran as an independent and finished a very strong second. Assuming he doesn’t run again almost all that vote should swing to the Conservatives. This rural riding shouldn’t be close.

Wascana: Finance Minister Ralph Goodale will be fighting for his political life this time around. He’s held the seat since ’93 and won his last race by almost 12,000 votes. However, in 2000 the margin was only 1,752. The Conservatives are polling second and are unlikely to pick up much of Goodale’s lost support as the riding voted NDP twice before electing Goodale. Goodale would need to lose about half his support for him to be in serious danger. That doesn’t seem likely, but anything is possible. Leans Liberals. L-C-NDP Swing Riding

Saskatchewan Totals: Conservatives: High 13, Low 8, Likely 11, Liberals: High 1, Low 0, Likely 1, NDP: High 5, Low 0, Likely 2

Note, while I think 11/2/1 is the most likely right now this province is really volatile. We haven’t even seen the election called for christ’s sake, I personally think the NDP will end up with three seats in the end. Still, I’m basing this on the polls right now.

This is the weakest of the Prairie Provinces for the Conservatives, as they poll under 40%. Still, they collected half of Manitoba’s fourteen seats. The NDP got four seats with 23.5% and the Liberals three seats with 33.2% of the vote. The Liberals probably lost a great deal of support, and the NDP should be polling stronger while the Conservatives appear to be holding steady according to EKOS. As previously stated, Environics’ methodology makes it hard to figure out what they are getting in Manitoba, but the Conservative and NDP numbers from EKOS are probably pretty similar.

Once again, we get a situation where rural ridings vote Conservative in Alberta-esque numbers and these seats won’t even be close. We also have a number of two way Conservative-Liberal races which the Conservatives narrowly won over the Liberals which should no longer be close. As such, we can say that: Brandon Souris, Charleswood-St. James, Dauphin-Swan River, Portage-Lisgar and Provencher, Selkirk-Interlake.

However, here we can also say a few ridings are perfectly safe for the NDP, either because of massive victories last year or because of 10% victories over the Liberals with the Conservatives polling a distant third: Churchill, Elmwood-Transcona, Winnipeg-Center and Winnipeg-North.

That leaves only four ridings which ought to be competitive, and even most of those won’t be tight, I just want to play it safe. So here goes…

Kildolan-St. Paul: Last year the Conservatives took this riding for the first time ever, beating the Liberals by 278 votes and the NDP by more than 5,000. So why’s this riding in the ‘swing riding’ category? Only 8% of people in this riding list ‘Canadian’ as their ethnicity, Lorne Mahoney was a weak candidate and 39% of the riding comes from strongly NDP Winnipeg North. On top of that, the NDP held the riding from 1962-1988. The NDP came in at 22.5%, but the NDP will have momentum in the province and will have their eyes on this riding. A big Liberal collapse could hand this riding to the NDP, but it still leans Conservative. C-NDP Swing Riding

Saint Boniface: Raymond Simard won this Winnipeg riding huge last year, collecting 46% of the vote and defeating his Conservative opponent by over 15%. The NDP was a distant third with 18% and the party is not strong in this riding. The Liberals have controlled Saint Boniface since 1988 and have only lost the riding three times since 1925. The riding has a strong francophone presence and lots of immigrants, a segment of the population the Conservatives will have great difficulty picking up. The Liberals will lose support, but just how much? We could see a tight three way race here, but I think it still leans Liberal. L-C-NDP Swing Riding

Winnipeg South: The Liberals have only lost this seat twice since 1963 and Reg Alcock won last year by 6,500 votes with over 51% support. The Conservatives lagged far behind with 34% and the NDP was not a factor with only 11%. Five percent of the population in the riding is francophone and there are a large number of immigrants. If the Liberals bleed support then Alcock is in trouble, but he’s a big wig in the party and won’t go down without a fight. L-C Swing Riding

Winnipeg South-Center: This riding is essentially a new riding (as of ’86) using an old riding’s name. The Liberals have held it since it’s rebirth in ’86 and this was Lloyd Axeworthy’s seat. Anita Neville won the seat by 7,500 votes collecting 47% support and easily defeating evenly split NDP (21%) and Conservative (27%). Neville is Chair of the National Liberal Women’s Caucus and the party is going to give her a lot of backing. She’d need to lose around a third of her support to lose the seat, that seems unlikely but this is a swing seat none the less. NDP might play the role of the spoiler, simply reducing the number of votes the Conservatives will need to win, but it’s tough to imagine a scenario where they vault past both the Grits and the Conservatives. L-C-NDP Swing Riding

Manitoba Totals
Liberals: High 3, Low 0, Likely 1; Conservatives: High 10, Low 6, Likely 8, NDP: High 8, Low 4, Likely 5

Prairies Total

Liberals: High 5, Low 0, Likely 2, Conservatives: High 51, Low 41, Likely 47, NDP: High 14, Low 4, Likely 7

There ya have it folks…BC and the territories are up next.

Conservative Quote of the Day

Here's a new daily post I'm introducing, bringing you the opinions and beliefs of the vaunted Conservative Party. Known worldwide for their compassion, intelligence and respect for our nation, the Conservatives appear poised to assume power in Canada.

"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status..."

- Stephen Harper, 2000. It is Time to Seek a New Relationship with Canada.

Idiot of the Week

Don from All Things Canadian.

This political genius, who has been assaulting Warren for the better part of the year, was kind enough to clue me in to Quebec's political landscape. Apparently, his mathematical formula proves that Westmount is going Conservative this time around. Now, Lucienne Robilliard won the riding by over 40% last year and the Conservatives were a distant fourth, but apparently I just don't understand politics in Quebec. See, despite the fact that the riding has an average income of over $110,000 per year and is one of the wealthiest in Canada, more than 20% of the population is going to vote NDP and another 8% will vote Green. On top of that, roughly 20% is going to vote Bloc even though Westmount has the third fewest number of francophones in the entire province. This, naturally, allows the Conservatives to squeak through with a narrow victory while receiving just over 11,000 votes. All this occurs despite the fact that the Liberals have only lost the riding once in the last eighty years and almost always poll over 50%.

Oh, and FYI, we're also going to lose Mount Royal despite the fact that Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler won the riding by almost 70% last year. Just want to keep everyone up to date on the latest gospel according to Don.

Of course, his own party's pollsters and Liberal organizers disagree with him -- but what does that matter to a political genius of Don's caliber?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Looks like the 'pros' agree...

"We'll be wiped out outside Montreal and Hull" -- Liberal Organizer quoted in Star article

You don't say? Who would have thunk it. Certainly not insane right wing bloggers who are predicting one Liberal seat in Quebec! Then again, this is the same guy who's gone on an anti-Warren crusade for the better part of the year and is using some sort of mathematical formula to make his predictions. Shows you how much the 'blogging tories' know. Thanks guys, keep up the good work.

Reading the Polls: Quebec

Last year the Bloc claimed 48.8% of the vote, the Liberals 33.9%, the Conservatives 8.8% and the NDP 4.6%. New polling paints a new picture though, Environics has the Bloc at 51.4%, the Conservatives at 18.9%, the Liberals at 13.5% and the NDP at 12.2%. EKOS has the Bloc at 50%, the Conservatives at 18%, the Liberals at 15% and the NDP at 10%.

I’m breaking the 75 Quebec ridings in to three categories: Bloc Victories from Last Year, Small Liberal Wins and Big Liberal Wins. From these categories, I’m calling 52 of the 54 Bloc ridings safe, withholding only Louis-St. Laurent which was a reasonably tight three way race last year and Richmond-Arthabaska which voted PC in ’97 and 2000. Close Liberal victories are races where the Grits won by fewer than 6% over the Bloc. These are almost entirely in mixed language ridings which lack a strong history of voting Liberal. Given the drop in support for the Liberals, all but one of these ridings appears guaranteed to go Bloc.

That leaves 13 ridings which the Liberals won big, plus three others which we should take a closer look at. One, Papineau, is Pierre Pettigrew’s seat which he won by only 2.5%. The other two are areas where the Conservatives could make a move.

That still leaves the question, however, of where will the Liberals lose their support? To suggest they will lose support equally across the province is ludicrous, it will be heavier in some regions that in others. So where will it be strong? The obvious answer is that it will be strong where Liberal support is the least solid – in Bloc ridings. Generally, the Grits poll around 25% in ridings they lose, while the Conservatives get around 10%. I would expect those numbers to be reversed pretty much across the board. On top of that, the Liberals will also lose a lot of support in in ridings where there is a tight fight with the Bloc.

In both cases, the reason is simple – the Liberal vote is not a pro-Grit vote, but rather an anti-Bloc vote. It’s vital to remember that the BQ is a far left party and while Quebec is largely more left wing than the rest of the country there are still some who oppose their social and financial agenda. Further, there are lots of people who oppose sovereignty and vote against the Bloc based solely on that. Almost all of those voters are likely to abandon the Grits. I suspect a large portion of the Liberal loses fall in to this category. In fact, if the Liberal lost 2/3rds of their support in ridings they lost, that would account for a 40% drop in their polling numbers – almost all of what they have lost according to the latest polls.

However, voters who have a long history of supporting the Liberals and are legitimately voting for the Liberals rather than against the BQ are far less likely to abandon the Grits. In reference to the above categories: Bloc wins are all strenghtened as the Liberals lose a great deal of support, Close Liberal victories disappear but ridings which were huge Liberal victories are likely to stay in the Liberal column. In short, predictions that the Liberals would drop to one seat in the province are riduclous.

Here’s the rundown of the sixteen ridings to watch:

Bourassa: This North Montreal riding has voted Liberal every election since 1968 except for ’88 and ’93 (lost by 53 votes). Last year, Denis Coderre got 50% of the vote and won by just over 12%. However, in 2004 parts of two Bloc ridings were added to Bourassa which has made it a much more competitive riding. According the 2001 census over 30% of the population lists neither English nor French as their first language. It will be a tough race, but the Liberals should be able to hold on to this seat.

Hull-Aymler: This riding on the border with Ontario has voted Liberal ever time since 1917. Over 75% of the riding opposes sovereignty and Marcel Proulx collected 42% of the vote last year and defeated his Bloc opponent by 9%. This is a riding where the Liberals won’t be losing their support to the Bloc, but rather to the Conservatives. Will Proulx lose that much support? Tight race, but the Liberals should hold the seat.

Lac-St. Louis: This Southwest Montreal area riding has gone Liberal every election except ’84 and ‘88 since 1966. The Bloc is not a factor in this riding, and Liberal Frank Scarpaleggia got 64% of the vote and defeated his Conservative opponent by 52%. Is this a riding where the Conservatives can make a big move? Will the Liberals drop the 30% they would need to for the Conservatives to win? Seems unlikely, but it’s a race worth watching. If the Conservatives make this competitive it will be a good sign for the party.

Lasalle-Emard: Paul Martin’s riding has voted Liberal every election since ’68 save one. Martin won by 26% over his Bloc opponent last year, collecting almost 57% of the vote. Conservatives pulled in under 5% in the last election and there is no chance they will win this year. A bad split could hand the seat to the Bloc that but that seems really unlikely.

Laval-les-Ilse: This is going to be a tough riding for the Liberals to hold, as Raymonde Falco won by only 10% over his Bloc opponent. Worse, the riding has voted Conservative in the past so there could be a strong swing away from the Liberals. Conservatives won’t be able to take the seat unless the Liberals lose almost all their support and it goes almost entirely to the Conservatives (ie. impossible), but a split will likely hand the seat to the Bloc.

Mount Royal: Lac-St. Louis, but with a bigger split (76%-9%), a superstar candidate (Attorney-General Irwin Cotler) and a stronger history (Liberal since 1940). Much like Lac-St. Louis, the Conservatives will target this seat, but I’d be shocked if they lose it. The Liberals will lose support here, but it won’t all go to the Conservatives, and there simply won’t be a big enough drop in support for Cotler to lose the seat.

Notre Dame-De-Grace-Lachine: The Liberals have held this Montreal area riding since 1962 and Marlene Jennings defeated her Bloc opponent by over 30% last year. The Conservative candidate pulled in only 10% of the vote, so it would take a brutal drop for the Liberals to lose this seat.

Outremont: Jean Lapierre, the Minister of Transportation, is in serious trouble. Despite getting 41% of the vote and defeating his Bloc opponent by almost 8%, this will be an incredibly tough seat to hold. The NDP claims 14% of the vote here, so we may see an interesting split destroying Lapierre and giving the seat to the Bloc. Liberals have lost the seat only once in the last seventy years. Tight race and one which should be really fun to watch.

Pierrefonds-Dollar: The Liberals have lost this seat twice in the last 50 years and Bernard Patry collected 64% of the vote and won by almost 50 points over the Bloc. If the Liberals lost 40% of their support and it all went to the Conservatives it wouldn’t matter in the least. Even if it all went to the Bloc they would still probably win. Solid Liberal hold.

Pontiac: This riding near the Ontario border could be the most interesting race in Quebec. Liberal David Smith won the race with 38% of the vote, the Bloc pulled in 29% support, the Conservatives 22%, NDP 6% and Greens 5%. The riding voted Conservative twice in the 80s but has been solid Liberal territory besides that. French is the mother tongue of the vast majority, so the Liberals will likely take a pounding. This could be the Conservatives’ break through riding.

Saint-Laurent-Cartierville: Superstar candidate (Stephan Dion) who won by almost 50% (66.8%-17.3%) in a riding full of immigrants (46%) while only 33% speak French in this Montreal riding. The Conservatives finished fourth in this riding behind the NDP. They’ve held the riding was created in 1988. Easy hold for the Liberals.

Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel: The Liberals have held this Montreal area riding since 1979 and Massimo Pacetti took 64% of the vote and won by 42% over his Bloc opponent. The Conservatives came in fourth in this riding, so baring an absolutely brutal split the Liberals should hold the riding. However, this was Alfonso Gagliano’s riding so it is possible that the Liberal backlash will be stronger here than elsewhere. Seems unlikely, should be an easy Liberal hold.

Westmont-Ville-Marie: The Liberals have dominated this riding for almost a century, and Lucienne Robilliard won last year with 56% of the vote. The next four parties were relatively evenly split, with the Bloc picking up 14%, NDP at 12%, Conservatives at 10% and Greens at 6%. Unless the entire opposition manages to gather around one party then the Liberals will hold on to the seat.
Louis-St. Laurent: This riding has voted for an incredible number of different parties, electing members of four different parties. Bernard Clearly of the Bloc won last year with 38% of the vote, defeating his Conservative opponent by 7% while the Liberals lagged behind with 22%. Will the Liberals lose enough support for the Conservatives to take the seat? This will be one for the Conservatives to watch, a big chance to break through in Quebec.

Papineau: Minister of Foreign Affair Pierre Pettigrew is in for the fight of his life. In fact, he’s almost certain to lose, but I’m putting it here just because he’s a senior member of cabinet in a visible post. He only won last year by 1% of the vote over his Bloc opponent. Still, the area has a huge immigrant population with 46% reporting neither English nor French as their first language. Should be a Bloc pick up.

Richmond Arthabaska: Andre Bellevance took this riding easily for the Bloc last year, collecting 56% of the vote and defeating his Liberal opponent by 28%. The Conservatives got only 10% of the vote, but the PCs won the seat in ’97 and 2000. However, Andre Banchard was against the merger and quit politics after Stephen Harper took over the party. The Conservatives will be looking for a strong showing here, but the Bloc are almost certain to win this seat.

So here's the breakdown:

Liberal High: 13 Low:4 Likely:9
Cons High: 3 Low:0 Likely:1
Bloc High:69 Low:59 Likely:59

Skipping over Ontario, next up Prairies...