Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Election Equation

To help voters better understand the possible outcomes of the May 2nd election, I have prepared the following mathematical model incorporating all possible variables. 

Hope this clears things up.

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest today on the Murray Langdon Show (CFAX radio Victoria) to discuss non-Royal Wedding news.

My best guess

Yesterday on the Caldwell Account, I predicted the Conservatives would win a majority government.

I told the same thing to the Ottawa Hill Times, when they requested my prediction for next week's paper.

In fact, I have been calling for a Conservative majority since February.

Mind you, February is a long time ago and the situation since then has, of course, changed dramatically.

For one thing, there is the little  matter of the utter and complete collapse of both the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberal Party.

This has triggered an unprecedented surge of support for the (gulp) NDP.

What does this mean for the election?

Short answer: nobody knows.

But I suspect it means the Tories will go from a comfortable to a slim majority.

Here's how I figure it.  A stronger NDP means the Tories will lose seats in the Maritimes, Quebec and British Columbia.

But NDP strength means the Conservatives will win a bucket-full of seats from the Liberals in Ontario -- enough for that slim majority.

Could I be wrong?


This is just an educated guess.

There are just too many unknown variables out there for me to predict with any real certainty.

The biggest variable will be what is on the minds of voters on May 2nd.

If they wake up in the morning in a risk-averse mood, they will vote Conservative; if, on the other hand, the election has turned into a popularity contest, they will vote NDP.

Simply put, Jack Layton is more likable than Stephen Harper.

I'm betting status-quo beats personality.

Still, many other scenarios are also possible including the nightmare of "Prime Minister Jack Layton."

By the way, in the past I have criticized the Tory strategy of pushing the "Reckless Coalition" angle, a tactic which could now very well backfire.

After all, the Tories made the election a stark choice between "Us or The Coalition," meaning they made it legitimate for the Opposition to pursue that course.

But I digress.

The point is, the NDP now poses a serious threat to the Conservatives.

If this were an ideological race, one pitting a pro-free market, pro-small government, fiscally responsible Conservative Party against a socialist NDP, the Tories would win easily.

But the Conservatives forsook their ideology for the sake of power.

If the Tories do end up losing, that could make the outcome sort of ironic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest on Strictly Right, tonight at 9:15 PM ET.

The Political Answer Man

In just a few days Canadians will once again vote in a federal election.

I say "once again" because since 2004 Canadians have been forced to endure approximately 117 federal elections.

Or maybe it just seems that way.

Anyway, at least this election is different.

And by different, I mean it’s the first election in history a “just visiting” Liberal leader who “didn’t come back for us” is running against a Conservative leader who is “demanding absolute power” so he can destroy democracy and wreck health care.

A lot is at stake.

So not surprisingly, many Canadians are asking serious questions about the possible outcomes of the May 2nd vote.

For instance, one serious question I often hear is “When will this stupid, boring election be over?”

That’s why, to help sort things out, I have compiled a list of commonly asked questions for which, thanks to my many years of political experience, I can make up plausible-sounding answers:

Q. What happens if after Election Day no party wins the confidence of the House of Commons?

A. According to Canada’s constitution the Governor-General has the power to appoint any party leader Prime Minister through an ancient British practice commonly known as “The Eeeny-meeny-miny- moe” competition.

Q. If the Liberals lose what will happen to their leader Michael Ignatieff?

A. Ignatieff will step down as leader, but in the interest of continuity his eyebrows will be named Interim party leader.

Q. Will Green Party leader Elizabeth May finally win a seat to the House of Commons?

A. Ha, ha! Very funny, but please only serious questions.

Q. If Prime Minister Harper wins a majority will his governing style change?

A. Absolutely. In fact, he already has picked out a new official Prime Ministerial motto: “No more Mr. Nice Guy”.

Q. But will the Conservatives unleash their “hidden agenda” if they win a majority?

A. They can’t. After winning power in 2006, they hid their agenda so well nobody can find it, so it’s lost. The Conservatives have looked for it everywhere: under the bed, behind the filing cabinet, on the fridge. But nothing. Many believe the hidden agenda is buried somewhere in Tony Clement’s riding.

Q. What will be the first action the Conservatives will take if they win on May 2?

A. Prepare TV attack ads against whoever is the new Liberal leader.

Q. Is it possible NDP leader Jack Layton could be Canada’s next Prime Minster?

A. Yes. In fact, he has already written his victory speech.  Here’s an excerpt: “Wow. I really didn’t think I would win … I’m serious. My policies are completely unworkable and unrealistic. They would wreck the country in a week. So, can we have a recount?”

Q. But what about the possibility of a “Coalition” government?

A. Ingatieff has been clear on this. He will never, ever, ever form a coalition government …. unless he does.

Q. When will the next federal election be called if we elect another minority government on May 2nd?

A. May 3rd.

Q. Isn’t everyone sick of elections?

A. We will keep having elections until the voters get it right!

Q. What about Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc, are they finished?

A. No. Back in 1867 the Fathers of Confederation decided Canada must always have at least one politician from Quebec to perform the crucial duty of annoying English Canadians.

OK, I hope this Q & A session makes the political situation a little clearer for everybody.

Of course, even I can’t answer the most important question that’s currently uppermost in the minds of most concerned Canadians: Who will win the Stanley Cup?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Twitterers beware

There are certain Twitterers  who had better make sure Elections Canada is not on their followers list.

 I am referring to those in the Twitterverse who plan to defy Canada's election law by posting real-time voting results on election night.

If they do so they will be violating Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act which prohibits the "premature transmission" of election results.

In other words, you can't reveal how Canadians have voted in a region where the polls are closed, to Canadians living in a region where the polls are still open.

And if anyone thinks violating this law is akin to a harmless prank, they better think again. The fact is the bureaucrats at Elections Canada enforce Section 329 with a Spanish-Inquisition like zealotry.

Just ask Paul Bryan.

Back in 2000 Paul, a British Columbia software developer, decided he would defy the law because he believed it infringed on free speech.

So, acting on principle, he posted real-time election results from Atlantic Canada on his website. This was back in the Stone Age era of the Internet when there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Craigs List. (How did we survive?)

Please note, Paul didn't project winners. He didn't provide analysis. He simply gave British Columbians a chance to see how voters in Newfoundland were casting their ballots.

Elections Canada took notice of this egregious  crime and took immediate action to safeguard democracy.

The next day they dispatched police to Paul's home and officially charged him with a crime. The police also seized his computer  hard drive and other equipment.

Meanwhile, Stephen Harper, who back then was still president of the National Citizens Coalition, was outraged with the bullying ways of Elections Canada.

So the NCC took up Paul's cause and challenged the law in the courts.

Unfortunately, in an incredibly short-sighted ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Paul and sided with Elections Canada, so the black out rule remains in effect.

Of course, it's a law which is now probably unenforceable. Modern communication technology has rendered it impossible to keep track of all possible violators.

As one of the lawyers arguing against Section 329 told the Supreme Court justices, "The only way to get fairness is to get rid of Section 329 or to shut the power off on election day so no one gets any results."

Of course, knowing how Elections Canada bureaucrats think, they might just decide to shut off the power, rather than allow free speech.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Media Alert

More evidence Sun News is just about pretty faces and beautiful bodies -- I am scheduled to be a guest today on The Caldwell Account.

Kinsella scaring the kids

A letter I wrote in response to this Warren Kinsella column was published in the Winnipeg Sun.

Here's the unedited version:

Dear Sir/Madam:

Given the recent Liberal scare tactics you would think we were nearing Halloween instead of Election Day.

Certainly, Warren Kinsella’s recent Sun column will keep the kids up at night. 

A Conservative majority, it seems, will result in a nightmare Canada where gun-toting, bible thumping farmers from the hinterlands will invade our cities to ransack abortion clinics and set up a gallows on every street corner.

Then there are the Liberals negative TV spots which are even scarier than the ads for Scream 4.

It’s all frightening stuff.

But, of course, all this fear-mongering is a pretty good sign that the ones who are really afraid of Election Day are the Liberals.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Media Alert

Am scheduled to be a guest "strategist" on CTV's Power Play tonight at about 8:45 PM to talk politics.

My take on Liberal attack strategy

Check out my latest column in the Hill Times, where I discuss whether the recent Liberal attack ads are good political strategy or simply an act of desperation. (Note: it's behind a subscription wall.)

Also I am quoted on the same topic in this Hill Times article.  (It's free!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Who do you most want to lose on May 2nd?

Getting quite a spirited reaction to my posting about which candidates I would like to see lose on Election Day.

So let's ask a more specific question: if some sort political genie granted you the power to make any one candidate lose, who would it be?

Remember, you only have one choice, but it can be anybody in the race.

Candidates who must lose

During elections people usually root for certain politicians to win; I, on the other hand, root for certain politicians to lose.

Yes, I know this reflects a bitter, cynical take on life, but hey it's a hobby.

Anyway, here's my list of candidates I would love to see lose on May 2nd:

1. Julian Fantino – Be nice if voters deserted him the way he deserted home owners in Caledonia. 

2. Bob Rae – Still don't think he has suffered enough for what he did to Ontario's economy.

3. Michael Ignatieff -- Actually I hope he loses for pity's sake. I mean, after his party gets trounced at the polls on May 2nd it would be so much easier for him to return to Harvard if he didn't have to worry about resigning his own seat.

4. Justin Trudeau – Obvious reasons. (Actually, I just put his name on this list to make my right-wing readers happy. Personally, I hope he wins because he provides Canadian politics with what it needs most these days-- comic relief.)

5. Elizabeth May – Her losing every election has become a Canadian tradition. Would hate to see it end.

6. Thomas Mulcair – The only thing worst than a socialist, is an overly ambitious socialist.

7. Ralph Goodale– I still hold a grudge against this guy for his promotion of Canada's Little Kremlin on the Prairie, otherwise know as the Canadian Wheat Board.

8. Mark Holland  – Oh, he's just so smug!

9. Ken Dryden  – For making politics as boring as hockey is exciting!

10. Linda Duncan -- A federal NDP MP in Alberta! It just doesn't make any sense.

OK, I've had my say, now it’s up to voters to act accordingly.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Media Alert

I will be a guest on Square Off (CHCH TV) this afternoon at 5:30 PM ET to talk about election gag laws.

My open letter to Michael Ignatieff

The Ottawa Citizen was kind enough to print an open letter I wrote to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the question of health care.

Check it out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quick debate mini-review.

We saw Harper at his best tonight. He is clearly at peak of his communication powers. Calm. Steady. On message.

Clearly the "winner" if you can have a winner in such things.

Michael Ignatieff stumbled a bit, though he had periods where he was on a roll. Key problem is inexperience. (I guess the Harvard debating club isn't that good.) He needs more training, more debates. Of course, this will likely be his last English debate.

Jack Layton was OK. Just basically on auto-pilot. Landed a few good shots against Ignatieff.

Duceppe was Duceppe.

And did anybody miss Elizabeth May?

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest on the Adam Stirling Show (CFAX Victoria) tonight at 6:10 PM ET to talk about tonight's debate.

Previewing Tonight's Debate

What can we expect from tonight's debate?

Well here's the strategy for the candidates:

Stephen Harper 

The Plan
Look like a Prime Minister. Since he's had five years practice at looking like a Prime Minister, this should be a piece a cake.

What he needs to do
Harper must remain calm, smile, stick to his message and refrain from singing any Beatles' songs. Must also say the world "Coalition" at least 500 times in the first two minutes of his opening statement.

What could go wrong?
If things start going badly might ask moderator to "prorogue" debate.

Michael Ignatieff

The Plan:
Convince people he could in theory be a Prime Minister of Canada instead of Russian Czar.

What he needs to do
He must be aggressive, but not too aggressive, smart but not Harvard smart, calm but not weak, Liberal but not Dion Liberal and hope for a miracle.

What could go wrong?
Might by accident refer to himself as leader of the Reckless Coalition while speaking in American accent.

Jack Layton

The Plan
Remind people he is actually in the race.

What he needs to do
Convince people that although socialism failed in the past, it's now sort of retro-chic.

What could go wrong?
Might inadvertently kill moderator Steve Paikin while trying to deliver "knock out blow" to Harper.

Gilles Duceppe

The Plan
Annoy voters in English Canada.

What he needs to do
Just be his annoying self.

What could go wrong
Might win majority of English Canadians to his cause.

Elizabeth May

The Plan
Sit in front of TV and sulk.

What she needs to do
Get over it.

What could go wrong.
Nobody will miss her.

Media Alert

Am scheduled to be a guest on the Arlene Bynon Show (AM 640 radio Toronto) today at 1:10 PM ET to discuss debate prep.


Check out my mini-book reviews in the latest issue of Campaigns and Elections magazine.

By the way, this is a terrific journal; a must read for political junkies or for anyone involved in running political campaigns.

The American  C and E is a bible for political consultants, so it's good to see Canada get its own edition.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Media Alert

Am scheduled to be a guest tonight on CTV's Power Play to talk strategy. Sometime after 8:00 PM.

Sun News Preview

Here's me and Theo Caldwell on the set of his soon-to-be aired Sun News show, The Caldwell Account.

Theo asked me to drop by and check out the new Sun News digs in Toronto.

Let me tell you the sets are cool, the place is crackling with energy and it should be a heck of fun network.

I expect Theo's show will be especially informative and entertaining.

He's a smart, articulate guy, who knows the issues.

Can't wait for Sun News to air.

This election isn't truly free

I hate to interrupt all the political attack ads and partisan sniping by discussing an actual issue.

But Canadians need to understand something about the ongoing federal election.

It isn’t truly free.

In fact, Canada has not had a truly free federal election for years.

What am I talking about?

Well, since the year 2000 we have had in place what I like to call an “election gag law”.

This gag law (its part of the Canada Elections Act) impose severe legal restrictions on how much money citizens or independent groups can spend on “political advertising” during federal elections.

And according to the law, “political advertising” includes any ads that support or oppose a political party or candidate or which simply take a stand on any issue that might be associated with any political party or candidate.

The gag law, in short, makes it virtually impossible for unions, environmental groups, church organizations, taxpayer advocates, or for any group or individual to effectively or freely express political opinions at election time -- the most crucial period of any democracy.

Or to put it another way, gag laws give politicians and political parties a monopoly on election debate -- everybody else has to shut up and watch from the political sidelines.

This is bad for democracy.

Election debate should not be exclusively the domain of political parties.
Citizens too should have the right to engage in the market place of ideas. They should have the right to criticize political parties and to promote issues they believe need to be discussed during elections.

And often the only effective way for citizens to make their voices heard is through paid advertising – TV spots, radio commercials and newspaper ads.

Thanks to the election gag law that’s no longer an effective option.

That’s why this election is not truly free. To be blunt, election gag laws infringe on the right to free democratic speech.

And not just for those who may wish to advertise, but for all Canadians.

Free speech, after all, is a two way street. It means not only having the right to speak, but also to listen.

The gag law ensures Canadian voters won’t have the opportunity to hear different ideas or opinions from non-political parties.

Again, that’s bad for democracy.

Proponents of gag laws insist they are necessary to ensure “fair” elections. They say without them the “rich” will buy votes.

But that’s nonsense. Canadians make their decisions on the issues and facts not on who runs the most glitzy ad campaigns or on who spends the most money.

Recall during the debate in 1990 over the Charlottetown Accord. The “Yes” side outspent the “No” side more than 10 to one and still lost in a landslide.

So much for the money buying votes argument.

Of course, the real reason politicians like gag laws is it allows them to set the national agenda. They can discuss the issues they want to discuss without pesky independent voices upsetting the apple cart.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Canada, in a terrible decision, ruled in 2004 that gag laws were constitutional.

That means it’s up to politicians to scrap these laws.

Happily, Prime Minister Stephen Harper understands the dangers of denying free expression. In fact, while president of the National Citizens Coalition he led the constitutional battle opposing the 2000 gag law.

And while running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, he even signed a pledge to repeal the gag law should he ever form a government.

The fact that he has not done so yet is likely due to his running a minority government. Should he win a majority, however, I fully expect and hope he will keep that pledge.

What’s more, if the Liberals form the next government I would expect their leader, Michael Ignatieff, to consider at least reforming the gag law. He is, after all, making protecting democracy a key plank in his election platform.

And I can’t think of a better way of protecting democracy than by restoring free election speech to all Canadians.

Polls and advertising

Here's my latest from the Ottawa Hill Times (Behind a subscription wall)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Addicted to Twitter

Gotta say I am really getting addicted to Twitter.

With its 140 character limit, it's really the ideal form for political communication -- it forces you to get a message out in a concise manner, without a lot of substance.

Plus, it's like having access to your own private online news service.

Anyway, anybody who wants to "Follow" me can do so here:

See below my top tweets from the last week or so:

* Desperate #LPC considers replacing Michael Ingatieff in TV debate with Pierre Trudeau's Panama hat.

* NDP to release platform today. In unrelated news, Canadians experience massive yawning epidemic.

 * Here's a deal for Liz May: I will support her getting in debates if she starts opposing stupid tax on grocery store plastic bags!

 * Item from #GPC platform: Sacrifice Ezra Levant to "some sort of Earth deity"

 * Don't want want to say the LPC is having $ problems, but Michael Ignatieff's "open letter" on health care arrived with postage due!

 * Glad to see #cpc determined to eliminate the deficit, since they are the ones who created it.

* New poll shows race tightening: 48% say elxn more boring than watching paint dry; 45% say paint drying slightly less boring.

News flash: After putting journalists in platform "lock up" today, the #CPC "accidently" loses the key
* Elections: A period in a democracy when citizens exercise their right to learn all the dirty secrets of those running for office.

 * Possible scandal: Turns out former Conservative leader John A. Macdonald was not born in Canada!!

* Spoiler Alert: The surprise ending of Canadian election -- Michael Ignatieff is really Stephen Harper's son! 

* News flash: Green leader Elizabeth May is taking Britain to court for inventing "First past the post" electoral system

* News flash: Student complains Liberal security team forced her to attend Ignatieff rally!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Media Alert

Am scheduled to be a guest today on the Arlene Bynon Show (AM 640 Radio) to discuss the election at 2:30 PM ET.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Media Alert 2

I am scheduled to be a guest tonight on The World Tonight with Rob Breakenridge.

Topic: Election

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest on the CBC program Connect with Mark Kelley, tonight at about 8:10 PM ET.

Topic: Crime and Punishment .... and politics.

Accountability in schools

If you are in the Toronto area and you care about education, then I highly recommend you attend "MEASURING UP:  A Conference on School Accountability".

This event will feature several interesting speakers,  including Sun News personality Theo Caldwell.

And if that doesn't entice you get this: Also if you attend you will get to see the Canadian premier of the controversial documentary The Cartel.

Anyway, check out the details here and register today! 

Monday, April 04, 2011

Media Alert 3

Will be on Power Play tonight to talk strategy at around 8:30 PM.

Media Alert 2

I will be a guest on The Afternoon News with Richard Brown today at 7:35 PM ET, to talk about Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the media.

Me in the Hill Times

Proud to say that I have signed on as a regular columnist with the Ottawa Hill Times for the duration of the federal election.

You can read my first effort here, on the issue of regulating political ads. (Note, it's behind a subscription wall)

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be part of  panel this morning on CBC radio's The Current at about 8:30 AM ET to discuss the election.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The problem with Red Books

Today the Liberal Party is unveiling its "Red Book".

The Liberals, of course, are hoping the 2011 Red Book will perform the same magic as the 1993 Red Book which helped propel them to a majority government.

It's a good theory, except for one thing: The 1993 Red Book story line is a bunch of baloney!

The Liberals won in 1993, not because of any  book, but for the simple reason that Jean Chretien was not Brian Mulroney. Canadians wanted change.

Plus, the Progressive Conservatives under  Kim Campbell ran the worst election campaign in the history of the universe.

In fact, I would suspect that only about 0.01 percent of the Canadian population in 1993 even read the Red Book.

So releasing a Red Book in this election won't help the Liberals -- but it could very well hurt them.

After all, the Tories will be poring over Ignatieff's Red Book seeking out any unpopular proposals which they can pounce on spin and against the Liberals.

Before the day is done, in other words, the Liberals could very well be on the defensive.

And that's the problem with coming out with specific policy ideas during an election campaign.

Every idea you propose has the potential of alienating voters. Why take that chance?

A much better strategy is to stick to vague promises and emotional appeals.

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest today on The Weekend Morning News (CKNW Vancouver) at 10:15 AM ET to talk about the election.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Greens just over-hyped fringe party

The Ottawa Citizen asked me to elaborate on my recent blog posting on the Green Party. You can read the resulting column here.