Lots of sound and fury out there in some quarters (mostly the Conservative Party, and academics/newspaper pundits/editorialists) about how dare the Liberal government propose changing the electoral system from First Past The Post to something else without a referendum (even after extensive public consultations are held)! Its an affront to democracy!
According to the Canadian public in the first poll taken on the topic (amongst a wide variety of topics asked them by Abacus), it appears they like what the Trudeau government’s approach to electoral reform.
According to Abacus: 37% of Canadians say the PM is doing a good job on the electoral reform issue, another 44% acceptable, while only 19% are unhappy. That may indicate the general population are “meh” over the need of having a referendum, as opposed to the Conservative Party and certain media/pundits/columnists who are in an uproar over it.
It’s at an early stage, but at this point, if those #’s continue to hold, the Liberals are under no pressure from the Canadian public to change their referendum stance (and I’ve long stated I don’t feel a referendum is necessary to change the House of Commons voting setup – and its certainly not mandated by the Constitution or a slap in the face to the Supreme Court, as I read 1 hysterical column today in the Star). I would urge the government to stand fast on this (while at the same time ensuring the consultation process is indeed broad and extensive)
First off, Happy New Year everyone! I also hope you all had a good Christmas, and Happy Eastern Orthodox Christmas to those celebrating that this week.
Let’s talk electoral reform again, shall we? I know it’s the seemingly implausible “in” topic these days, but it’s been made into one, what with the Conservatives throwing a temper tantrum, threatening to use the unelected Senate to stop electoral reform if the Liberals don’t give in to their demand to hold a referendum (irony of ironies).
So along comes Andrew Coyne with this column. He is supporting NDP MP Nathan Cullen’s position: implement electoral reform and a new voting system – whatever that maybe and without needing a referendum – then have the voters try it out for at least 1 election, let everyone see how the new Parliament(s) work under it, and THEN have the referendum, which would give voters the choice between keeping whatever the new voting system is vs returning to First Past The Post.
I am open to this as a compromise position when we come down to the end of things after the committee reports back, if we still have Conservatives or others yelling and screaming and otherwise holding things up (though at this stage, which is basically pre-start of said Committee, I’m inclined to actually wait and see what gets proposed before making a decision on that, unlike the Conservatives, who seem determined to try and scuttle reform right out of the gate).
I would offer though if there is to be a referendum, that it be held possibly up to 2 years before the next election. I think in the middle of whatever government’s term is probably the best time to hold this, if this scenario were to play out.
I get the feeling that Conservative supporters are confounded Canadians like a PM with compassion. Amongst the sites that still allow comment sections (and that number is shrinking, but that’s another story), on any given story that shows Prime Minister Trudeau’s empathy, you’ll see, guaranteed, the cross-section of Conservative commentators going on about the selfies etc.
At one news magazine site yesterday, which reported on Prime Minister’s Trudeau taking 20 kids with him from the local sick kids hospital to catch an early opening of the new Star Wars movie, one long time conservative supporting commenter bitterly complained that a) Trudeau was using these kids as ‘photo-props’. b) former Prime Minister Harper would NEVER have done that – that what he would have done to help these kids was give their parents a better child tax credit.. and so on.
While Conservatives complain about a Prime minister posing for selfies and “taking photos” of his charitable side, the Canadian public at large apparently likes the Real Change it sees:
Justin Trudeau is everywhere…He hobnobs with world leaders, cheerfully greets Syrian refugees at the airport, poses sexily in the pages of Vogue, makes moist-eyed pledges to rebuild relations with the country’s Indigenous peoples, and geeks out to the latest Star Wars film. There will come a time when this is all too much. But it’s nowhere in sight. The latest polls suggest that somewhere around two-thirds of Canadians approve of Trudeau and the blizzard of initiatives his Liberal government has let fly since winning power Oct. 19. (my emphasis – ST)
And why do people like Trudeau and his style?
Trudeau won in October because he was the anti-Stephen Harper. His early popularity as PM is thanks to more of the same, both in policy and style. Trudeau embraces the touchy-feely aspects of the job that his reserved predecessor so clearly loathed. He hugs and kisses, bestows backslaps and double-pump handshakes, and, when required, can demonstrate the full spectrum of human emotion.
In other-wards, people appreciate we don’t have a robot at 24 Sussex anymore. Conservatives continue to rage against this and continually try to claim this proves he is “not ready” and variations of this (I believe Rona Ambrose accused Trudeau of being the “selfie PM” after the Throne Speech a week and a bit ago). Those attacks were rejected on Oct 19, and continuing what they know best -smears and personal putdowns – isn’t working right now either for them. Speaking from a purely partisan viewpoint, long may they continue down that futile course.
UPDATE @ 11:42 am: Montreal Simon says the same sort of thing as I do at his blog, only with more pictures and with more humour.
I’ve heard and see a few mutterings of concern from folks that the Liberals are actually going to follow through on their campaign promise (re-affirmed in the Throne Speech) that this election will be the last ever election Canadians use “First-Past-The-Post” in. Some are even suggesting that for this change to occur/be legitimate, a national referendum is needed.
I disagree – the Liberals ran this rather openly as one of their key platform campaign planks in the recent election. People were well aware of it when they were choosing to vote for. The Liberals were elected – so they have a mandate from the people to enact this change. A further referendum is unnecessary; there will be plenty of consultations and public hearings I am sure for the public and policyholders to pass along their opinions on why certain reforms are better then others.
In my opinion, we do not need a referendum on this issue, because I don’t believe in using referendums to make decisions on public policy (that was a key Reform Party plan many years ago). If we have a referendum on electoral reform, why not on every piece of legislation such as the right-to-die legislation we have to craft? Or on legalizing cannabis (both potentially way more polarizing then changing the voting system).
If we had let referendums dictate our public choices many years ago, a lot of public policy that was ahead of its time would have taken many more years to be enshrined in our way of life. The representatives of this country are elected by the public to make policy. If the voting reforms aren’t liked, they can vote for a party in the next election that offers something different or a return to the status quo of FPTP.
You might have caught a while back that interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose promised her party would use a “new tone” now that they were in opposition, implying the nasty personal smear attacks were a thing of the past.
Apparently, Conservative MP Candice Bergen didn’t get that memo when she posted this to Twitter last night.
They really are taking this election result hard. You can also see it in the Conservative supporters on social media. Take for example this CTV/Nanos poll today that showed a large majority – nearly 74% – of Canadians felt that Justin Trudeau had the qualities of a good leader. According to Conservatives, that poll was either rigged because Nanos was a biased Liberal, or 1000 people don’t equal the country (just ignore the fact that same pollster was one of the most accurate with accuracy in polling the Oct 19 election result).
The Conservative-leaning media aren’t having a very good time of it either. As one of my fellow progressive bloggers also said on Twitter (an NDP’er), “The same media outlets that advocated Harper’s reelection are now also calling for the continuance of Harperist foreign policy. No surprise”
I’ve never seen such a hue and outcry demanding a government overturn some key planks in its election platform, that it ran and won on not even a month into its mandate.. and Parliament hasnt even sat yet in the first session of this government.
I’ll either be amused or horrified the next 4 years reading these folks, but there will be plenty of material to blog about.
The campaign is over for the 42nd general election, and I will make a slow but gradual return to normalcy and to blogging. I have been notably absent from here.. mainly because I have more or less been volunteering on my friend Danielle Takacs’ Brantford-Brant campaign full time (more on that in a bit). As with regards to the election, from a Liberal point of view, it turned out way better then we could have hoped for. We knew we had momentum going into the final day(s) of the campaign from the polls, but the question would be how efficient our vote would be.
The answer as it turned out was very efficient. We swept the Atlantic, manged to win a majority of seats in Quebec (first time since Pierre Trudeau in 1980 that the Liberals have had that) and took 2/3 of the seats in Ontario. We even managed to gain seats in Alberta and in unexpected places in BC. All in all, a great night, and a majority that will allow Mr. Trudeau to implement his agenda. May it be an ambitious and activist and progressive one.
As for Brantford-Brant, we unfortunately came up slightly short. Phil McColeman is a very popular incumbent, and we also were running against an experienced NDP candidate. When it was all said and done however, we nearly doubled the Liberal vote from 2011 and actually ended up with more votes then what Liberal MPP (and current Speaker of the Ontario Legislature) Dave Levac received when he won in 2014. Mr. McColeman just was able to pull out more of his vote. Our optimism is that most of our 9000 vote increase from 2011 came from increased turnout in the riding – those people liked both the Liberal Party and Danielle’s messages of change and a positive campaign. We will look to build on that the next time out. I am very proud of my friend Danielle for how she ran her campaign and her dignity and class in doing so.
Danielle is a terrific person. I know she will remain active in the Brantford-Brant area with the charities and groups she is involved in, and I am pleased to read and hear from her that she wishes to run again, (per the riding association picking her of course). If and when she does, she already has my support. Congrats Danielle, for running a clean, positive, optimistic campaign, for reviving the Liberal Party in Brantford, and for your hope and hard work.
Volunteers at Danielle Takacs’s post-election thank you potluck in Brantford-Brant.
I’ve not blogged in awhile. When you’re doing some volunteer work, that tends to happen (though I remain active on social media). However, my first political hatemail of the campaign has caused me to break my blogging hiatus, because it amused me.
The letter reads:
Thank you ,Haley ,for letting your name stand as a Liberal candidate. Your party(and mine) have run this country for many years with solid
government decisions. Liberal deficits are: lack of Armed Forces support, allowing abortions and possibly assisted euthanasia. When you
get into office, please give these issues your compassionate life-affirming decisions.
Thank you and Best Wishes for your WIN!! Nancy
You may be wondering – as was I as first – who “Haley” is supposed to be… then I realized the last blogpost I have on here is an interview with Haley Brown the LPC candidate for Calgary-Midnapore. Apparently, the email’er believes this blog to be Haley’s, not mine (this was an email to me, remember, not a comment on the post). Scott’s Diatribes as a blogname isn’t clear enough apparently.. I’ll need to come up with a better blog-name to signify who I am.
The rest.. well.. I was tempted to email back to ask “Is that sarcasm, or are you really voting Liberal, wishing us well?” But.. I held off. (Email originated from Calgary.. so at least it’s a local attack)
Anyhow.. thanks for the email, and i’ll pass it along to Haley’s crew, if only to give them a laugh.
I’ve not done one of these interviews in awhile, but an opportunity came up to send some questions to Haley Brown, the LPC candidate who is running against Jason Kenney in the riding of Calgary-Midnapore. If there was ever a Cabinet Minister I’d like to see toppled, Mr. Kenney is at the top of the list. I thank Haley for taking the time to answer the questions, and good luck to her and her campaign!
What made you decide you wanted to run to be the official candidate for the Liberals in your riding of Calgary-Midnapore?
I have always been involved in politics by staying informed, voting, and volunteering in campaigns. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to work on the G8 Summit held in Kananaskis when Jean Chretien was our Prime Minister. I strongly believe it is important to have your voice heard and over the past decade have seen our democracy erode under the Harper regime. Canada is better than this. We used to be a progressive leader on the international stage with a strong government, policy and economy. This is no longer with the Conservatives who are divisive, protecting and promoting their own interests over Canada’s. Canada deserves a government that is fiscally responsible and socially progressive. The Liberal platform offers exactly that.
If a Justin Trudeau is elected (regardless of majority or minority), what do you feel would be key pressing issues a Justin Trudeau government should immediately act on within the first session of Parliament?
Canada’s economy has to be at the forefront of the first session of Parliament. It is clear that the Conservative “status quo” hasn’t worked for Canada with 9 consecutive deficits. A balance needs to be achieved with our economy and environment; the Liberals are the only party to offer this where there is a focus on diversified economic solutions that work for everyone. Other parties favour the extremes which will not keep Canada competitive in the long term.
There is a saying that “all politics is local”. At present, do you feel there are there any local issues in Calgary-Midnapore that may come into play during the election campaign, or is it going to be based on national issues only?
Alberta is often overlooked and taken for granted by the Conservatives in Ottawa, many of whom no longer even live here or spend any time in the communities they represent, creating a total disconnect. I believe Alberta has a unique place in Canada and as a Member of Parliament I will be a strong voice for Calgary Midnapore and for Alberta. We need to develop our resources responsibly, while encouraging innovation. Alberta and Canada can be a leader on this front as we have the entrepreneurship, intelligence, and quality of work.
Related to that, there are some who say once an MP is elected, the constituency’s wishes or concerns sometimes get ignored. Is there anything specific you would do to keep in touch with the riding, and related to that how do you feel you can best represent the riding in Ottawa?
That is exactly what has happened to Calgary Midnapore, whose main predecessor riding (Calgary South East) had been represented by Jason Kenney for over a decade. When I go door to door, many of the people who live in the riding don’t even know he’s their Member of Parliament and have certainly never seen him. He’s from Ontario, and only comes around during Stampede for a photo opportunity. As a Member of Parliament I will be the exact opposite and believe it starts with the community. I am an avid volunteer and will truly be a part of the community and live in the riding. You can only be a true representative if you are involved in the riding that has elected you as their voice.
What do you feel are or have been the Conservatives and the Harper government’s chief weaknesses as they’ve been in government (either recently or over all – something you feel will be a big theme for you to mention in the election campaign)?
Disconnect and self-interest. Those words encompass what Mr. Harper and the Conservatives are and how they have governed. They are an opaque government who only works with others who align with their sole ideals. This is not good policy or good government and this does not put Canada’s interests first. Even this election campaign, the longest one in modern Canadian history, is solely to benefit the Cons and preserve their jobs. It also forces the Canadian tax payer to foot a much greater bill at the end. With a Liberal government we can get Canada back to a place where Canadian values are embraced, where evidence based policy is supported, where there is a strategic vision for growth, and where innovation and real change can take place.
The 42nd General Election writ was dropped yesterday, causing the 11 week campaign to officially begin.
It was interesting watching Harper try to pull off an Orwellian type response to why such a long campaign, claiming that it would somehow save money for the taxpayers – while it’s generally known that this extra long campaign will cost taxpayers an extra $125 million dollars. Also, ISIS, ISIS and more ISIS. We’re apparently supposed to be scared into voting for the CPC again. Also, the economy isn’t doing that great, we’re still going to run a deficit this year, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, and we’re in a technical recession, but anyone else would do worse. The Conservative campaign in a nutshell, apparently.
While Harper was doing what was rather predictable, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair did something rather unexpected; he gave a statement but took no questions, and then got burned the rest of the day for it. It made him look like he and his team felt he was the front-runner, so they weren’t going to do anything to screw things up. Instead, he ended up looking like Harper in avoiding unscripted moments – and even Harper took 5 questions yesterday. Not a good start for someone claiming to be Prime Minister in waiting.
As for the Liberals, Justin took some initial heat from some pundits for not immediately being available to response to the writ drop – apparently many Canadians were up on Sunday morning waiting to hear from him- but his performance at the Vancouver PRIDE parade plus his news conference, where he said that unlike other party leaders, he’d take as many questions as they had, and saying he promised to be at Vancouver PRIDE, and Harper wasn’t going to make him break it (as well as saying getting out of the Ottawa Bubble is good) went over very well. A lot of media commentary online and on TV declared Justin Trudeau the winner of Day 1.
The Liberals were also bolstered by a new Nanos poll yesterday showing them in a 3 way race within the Margin Of Error and gaining on the other 2 parties:
The latest ballot tracking from Nanos Research shows a razor-thin margin of voter preference support separating the first-place Conservatives from the NDP and Liberals, in a survey that asked respondents which two parties they would consider voting for in their local riding. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives led the survey results with 31.5 per cent support overall, followed closely by Thomas Mulcair’s NDP at 30.1 per cent, with Justin Trudeau’s Liberals trailing at 29.3 per cent support.
Nanos is regarded as the premier pollster in Canada with the most accurate results, so this result was greeted with much delight in Liberal circles, as it shows us much closer then some other pollsters have shown, and the LPC gaining. The LPC had a very good day overall yesterday.
Finally. I just wanted to link to a posting my friend Danielle Takacs – who is running in Brantford-Brant – posted at her campaign page as to why she is running. Her posting shows why I am supporting her – besides being her friend, I mean. She is running for the right reasons. I encourage you to go read it. The last couple of paragraphs describing her getting a donation from one of her volunteers who is dying and given only months to live is particularly.. poignant. I teared up, quite frankly, when I was told what had occurred.
Today is a pretty neat day – I’ll be in Toronto gathering with some of our blogging afffiliates past and present to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Progressive Bloggers – the original blogging aggregator of progressive blogs in Canada. It was started up in June 2005 by Wayne Chu, aided by Dan Arnold (of CalgaryGrit fame) with some advice from me and others on forming something to show the then very active blogosphere there were more then just the Blogging Tories online. (The blogosphere back then was seemingly dominated by conservative blogs – I’d like to think we helped counter that a tad).
Wayne stepped away from his admin role in 2006 and handed the reins to me. We have undergone some transformations of aesthetics and of format and of moderators, but we are still here, and blogs are still here, despite their predicted death by some (though Liblogs, the Liberal blogging aggregate has seemingly and sadly ceased to be on the past couple of months). Progressive Bloggers still gets around 60 000 pageviews a month (or around 2000 a day), so there still is interest in reading detailed posts on topics, when people want more then 140 characters to analyze something. I expect those numbers to climb once the election hits in October.
I thank all those over the years who have been blogging affiliates and still are of Progressive Bloggers. Without you, there is no aggregate to show Canada.
(Also, as an aside, apologies for the length in between posts on here . As you can tell, I’ve been involved in helping out on a political campaign, plus other personal things have intervened at times, and that leaves for long interludes between blogposts at times.)