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Posts Tagged ‘NDP’

Justin Trudeau, Jack Layton and the Future of Cooperation

November 27th, 2013 | 45 Comments

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair looks skyward towards Jack Layton, November 27, 2013 ( Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on election night with MP-elect Emmanuel Dubourg, November 25, 2013 (

While Justin Trudeau's Liberals are trying to shape an economic policy that "builds from the middle out", the political challenge they face is to rebuild their party's vote-share from the centre out.

During the last general election, as John Ivision and others reported at the time, the Liberals' objective was to pursue a two-election strategy in which they would roll over the NDP in 2011, and then having consolidated the centre-left could turn rightwards and defeat a new Conservative leader in 2015. This was the strategy advocated by then-Ignatieff chief-of-staff Peter Donolo, the bulk of whose political experience came in the NDP-less era from 1993 forward, and who readily admits now that they underestimated the NDP in the lead up to the 2011 campaign.

Others have pointed to the lack of fit between the more blue-Liberal vibe of leader Michael Ignatieff and the nod-left tone of the party's "Family Pack" platform. If the party wanted to shift to the left to pick up NDP seats, undoubtedly they had the wrong leader to do so. But at the end of the day, it was exposing their flank to the right that was more costly to the party's seat count on May 2.

There was certainly more positioning than policy being considered during the Liberal leadership race of 2012-13, with the exception of Deborah Coyne who laid out extensive policy options, Joyce Murray who staked out clear policy positions and electoral strategy on the party's left, and Martha Hall Findlay who explicitly advocated a blue Liberal shift, having personally paid the price for lack of sufficient right-ward defences as her Willowdale seat fell along with sufficient others in north Toronto and the 905 to give the Conservatives their majority.

The approach of the Trudeau leadership campaign was for the most part to defer the left-vs-right decision as long as possible, by emphasizing values of Liberal pride, and "hope and hard work", rather than stake out policy positions that could constrain their options down the road. And what policy positions Trudeau did advocate were balanced off against one another. For a position against Northern Gateway, there was support for Keystone XL. For a strongly free trade orientation, there was opposition to ending supply management.

More recently, it has become clear to some observers (not only me) that the Liberals are orienting themselves economically more towards the right. This is a wise decision on their part, given the current weakness of the Conservative government, and also the availability of seats that should be low-hanging fruit for them that the NDP is unlikely to contest on a priority basis. Think Willowdale, but also Eglinton-Lawrence, York Centre, Thornhill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Oak Ridges, Halton, Oakville, Burlington, Wellington-Halton Hills … pretty much any seat with high average incomes and educational attainments, and no historic working class or social democratic voting traditions.

Even in Toronto Centre on Monday, the Liberal margin was bolstered generously from the Liberal-Conservative swing polls in Rosedale, while the NDP added to its strength south of Bloor and otherwise defended its base vote which should be sufficient to win the seat on its new boundaries in 2015.

To the extent that Justin Trudeau's election night remarks about Jack Layton were premeditated rather than ad-libbed, I'm guessing that this clear on-going effort to usurp the upbeat positioning of Barack Obama, personified by Jack Layton in Canada until his recent death, is a key part of the Liberals' play towards their left flank (along with the legalization of marijuana). Again, it's their best play, particularly given the sunny magnetism and youthful demeanour of their new leader, who is strong on the hustings if not in the House. But it did not prove sufficient to collapse the NDP vote in either of the central Canadian by-election seats.

Where Trudeau went too far on Monday night, was in explicitly trying to claim Jack Layton's mantle so soon after his death (and if you doubt the continued depth of feeling about this on the orange team, you haven't watched how your orange friends' Facebook feeds change every year on May 2, August 22 or any of the other meaningful anniversaries). First of all, it was an over-reach of Quayle-an proportions in the sense that if you have to say you're the next Layton instead of simply showing it, the proposition suddenly becomes ridiculous. Secondly, it showed Trudeau not to be a gracious winner (the way Layton had always been) and incapable of observing the gentleman's convention that election nights are for marking the temporary end of hostilities, to allow the parliamentary process to proceed.

But with more far-reaching consequences, Trudeau's comments touched a nerve within a party that has to this point maintained a disciplined public face of solidarity even as it grappled with its own changing of the guard. He at once thoroughly galvanized his competitors for the centre-left behind leader Tom Mulcair, and caused real damage to any future working relationship between the two opposition parties. These are mistakes the far more strategically adroit Layton would never have made, as he prized above-all his ability to work across party lines.

Looking ahead, there are seats the Liberals' growth at the expense of the Conservatives makes easier for them to win (such as the two-way races listed above), and others where it puts the NDP in a better position to win (Saskatchewan, southwest Ontario, and the interior of BC for example). The shadow cast by unpopular provincial governments mid-term will be felt more by the Liberals in 2015 (think Nova Scotia and BC) than by the NDP (as this past month in Manitoba). If the Liberals pursue their current path, and the government continues to suffer under the weight of its own scandals, they could see the Canadian political spectrum reshaped into a Liberal-vs-NDP contest with the Conservatives holding up the rear as a third party: arguably a better reflection of the range of Canadian political views that we have at present.

On the other hand, if they try to fight on two fronts simultaneously, any mistake could see them squeezed from both sides.

Toronto Centre Nominations: 23 Differences

September 16th, 2013 | 12 Comments

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

23 differences I noticed between the Toronto Centre Liberal and NDP nomination meetings Sunday, often highlighting the two very different political party cultures on display yesterday:

Toronto Centre Liberal Nomination winner Chrystia Freeland is congratulated by former Liberal MPP George Smitherman, September 15, 2013; Michelle Siu for the Globe and Mail

Toronto Centre NDP Nomination candidates Jennifer Hollett and Linda McQuaig hold up their ballots waiting for the ballot box to be passed, September 15, 2013; Michelle Siu for the Globe and Mail

Liberal NDP
Morning Afternoon
Rosedale - Toronto Reference Library Downtown – Metro YMCA
Started with videos Just the speeches
Winner's tag-line: "Canada is at a tipping point" Winner's tag-line: "We're entering the post-Harper Era"
Main target: Conservatives Main target: Freeland and Trudeau
Subdued "Liberal energy x 100"
Polling stations Ballot books
5 hours balloting Voted in their seats
Preferential ballot One ballot at a time
More diverse crowd Less so, but more low-income
Bumpf present: Placards, buttons, t-shirts, mardi-gras beads, jamaican band outside, no food or drink Bumpf present: Mainly buttons, some hand-held signs, scarves, cupcakes, cookies and "$16 orange juice"
Used Elections Act spending limit of 20% of last election's candidate limit for the riding (i.e., $18,532.80) The party imposed its own $5,000 spending limit
1,289 eligible 800-ish eligible
400-450 in the room 350-400 in the room
515 voted Won't release
315 voted for winner No-one leaking it (and believe me I tried)
Pledge sheets at registration Fundraising pitch by Angus/Cash singing duo
Unknown haul Over $10,000 raised [UPDATE: $15K + $5K in pledges]
Adjourned until votes counted Guest speaker: Pam McConnell (Ward 28, Toronto City Council)
Winning candidate spoke alone on stage Candidates stayed together for victory speech
"Plutocrats" "The Trouble with Billionnaires"
Avoided responding to criticisms in post-meeting scrum Was ready and willing to bring it … hard.
After party at Jack Astor's up the street After party at Pogue Mahone's around corner

Another good roundup comes from blogger Jeff Jedras of BCinTO who attended both meetings as well.

Insta-UPDATE: Must-read take from SunTV's David Akin on both meetings.

Finally, this photo gallery from Michelle Siu for the Globe and Mail highlights the differences between the two meetings very well, two photos from which I've highlighted above.

UPDATED: Fall By-election Calendar Shaping up Ahead of Supreme Court Ruling

August 24th, 2012 | 13 Comments

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

Political junkies will be able to fix soon – an autumn round of by-elections is set to kick off some time after September 11, although Etobicoke Centre seems less and less likely to be one of them.

[See below for update on list of possible NDP candidates in Victoria.]

With Thursday's announcement by Deputy Speaker and Victoria, BC NDP M.P. Denise Savoie of her pending August 31 retirement, only the Supreme Court's ruling on Borys Wrzesnewskyj's petition to declare null and void the 26-vote Etobicoke Centre, ON win by Conservative Ted Opitz last year remains, before we know the full shape of the fall by-election calendar.

Still, the fact that the Supreme Court has yet to issue its ruling on Opitz's appeal tends to suggest that it is preparing to overturn the lower court ruling, as the reasons for upholding a lower court ruling would seem much faster to write than the reasons to overturn.

This leaves us with one riding where the top prize is the Conservative nomination (Calgary Centre, AB), one riding where the same could be said for the NDP (Victoria, BC), and one complete imponderable that probably would normally have been a Conservative-Liberal contest favouring the Conservatives in the past, but where the NDP came second in 2011, and the outgoing Conservative incumbent's record is of unknown importance to future voting intentions (Durham, ON).

Looking at the likely by-election dates:

    Calgary Centre, AB Durham,
(A)  Date of the vacancy: Thu Jun 7,
Wed Aug 1,
Fri Aug 31,
(B)  Date the Chief Electoral Officer was notified of the vacancy: Thu Jun 7,
Wed Aug 1,
Fri Aug 31,
(C)  First day the by-election could be called (11 days after (B)): Mon Jun 18,
Sun Aug 12,
Tue Sep 11,
(D)  36 days after (C): Tue Jul 24,
Mon Sep 17,
Wed Oct 17,
(E)  Earliest date the by-election could be held (First Monday on or after (D)): Mon Jul 30,
Mon Sep 17,
Mon Oct 22,
(F)  Last the by-election can be called (180 days after (B)): Tue Dec 4,
Mon Jan 28,
Wed Feb 27,
(G)  36 days after (F): Wed Jan 9,
Tue Mar 5,
Thu Apr 4,
(H)  Latest date the by-election could be held (First Monday on or after (G)): on or after Mon Jan 14,
on or after Mon Mar 11,
on or after Mon Apr 8,

Assuming the Prime Minister decides to wait and call all three by-elections at once, the first Monday that would accomodate all three would be Monday, October 22, two weeks after the Commons Thanksgiving break week, and three weeks before their November Remembrance Day break.

Now, if the Supreme Court were to uphold the lower court ruling and declare the May 2011 election in Etobicoke Centre null and void, similar by-election timeframes would apply to that riding as well. We do know that the 102-page transcript of the July 10 Supreme Court hearing of the appeal was completed on July 26, but not much else as to the timing of the ruling, though the Court is bound by the Elections Act to deal with it "without delay and in a summary way". The timing of the Court's rulings are usually signalled two days ahead of time by news release, and no such release has been issued since early August.

But assuming the Court ruled by the end of August, and if it upheld the lower court, then a notice of vacancy in Etobicoke Centre would go to the Commons Speaker, just like with a resignation, and then the 11 day wait before a by-election could be called would start to count down.

The last day to call the first riding that became vacant (Calgary Centre, AB) is 180 days after the Chief Electoral Officer received notice of the vacancy: so, Tuesday December 4. But a call that late would result in a winter by-election campaign straddling the Christmas-New Year's holiday, and is probably therefore out of the running.

Thus, I'm expecting a mid-September to mid-October call for between October 22 and November 26, in those three ridings.

As to possible candidates in Victoria, BC, several names are making the rounds in NDP circles tonight, including MLA and former leader Carole James (whose provincial riding would then be opened up for the current Mayor Dean Fortin, goes one theory), Mayor Dean Fortin himself, councillors Marianne Alto (a former federal treasurer of the NDP), Ben Isitt, or Pamela Madoff, or the northern Victoria MLA Rob Fleming, who attended Thursday's news conference with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Savoie. Another name to include in the mix is 2008 Vancouver Centre candidate Michael Byers, who co-chaired Mulcair's leadership campaign in BC and now lives on Saltspring Island.

UPDATE: Lawyer Murray Rankin is another name being advanced for the NDP nomination. With a background in environmental and aboriginal law, he practices in both Vancouver and Victoria, but is affiliated with the University of Victoria where he is the co-chair of the Environmental Law Centre. Given Mulcair's strong support from the bench in the recent leadership race, Rankin is the kind of candidate who would easily fit that profile.

A likely candidate for the Liberal nomination would undoubtedly be the Victoria lawyer and federal leadership candidate David Merner — who as a sidebar is my guess for the identity of Merner is a bilingual Victoria lawyer who, when he worked for the Federal Justice Department in Ottawa, had spent considerable funds running for the provincial Liberal nomination in Ottawa Vanier, before Dalton McGuinty appointed Madeleine Meilleur instead. He has sinced moved to BC, becoming the president of the BC section of the Liberal Party (a position he stepped down from in late June to explore a leadership bid). He also sits on the board of, and has championed a Cullen-like platform of "cooperation", although we learn from Joseph Uranowski at the Equivocator blog that Merner's version does not involve co-operating with the NDP, but rather with the Greens and red tories, and even green tories ("conservation conservatives"). Anyways, the @QuiLiberalWho Twitter feed includes a retweet of an incident on Victoria's CTV station by Richard Madan, and was trying to engage BC Liberals like Dan Veniez (who has clearly been watching "The Newsroom") and a very impatient Jason Lamarche; plus the bullet-point questions being raised on (already a very social media-savvy tease such as you'd expect from a LeadNow devotee) hit on themes like electoral cooperation, the environment, and the justice system, which have been staples of Merner's campaign to date. So, LiberalWho is probably from BC, and probably not Taleeb Noormohamed from North Vancouver, thus I conclude he is David Merner from Victoria. We'll see how well I guessed on September 3.

Another possible Liberal name for Victoria would have to be economist Paul Summerville, a supporter of Bob Rae's who was last seen running for Policy Chair of the Liberal Party at their January convention in Ottawa, though he had earlier run for the NDP in St. Paul's, ON in 2006, supported John Horgan for the provincial NDP leadership in BC, and taken a lawn sign for Savoie in the last election.

Thought not to be interested in another run is 2011 Liberal candidate and former mayor of Oak Bay, Chris Causton, nor his Conservative counterparty Patrick Hunt.

Names being brainstormed for the Conservatives at this early stage include Oak Bay MLA Ida Chong, and businessman Matt McNeill.

As to the Greens, they seem to be more focused on Calgary Centre, which both senior organizer Rob Hines and leader Elizabeth May are claiming they can win, apparently based on candidate selection.

The NDP’s Previous Experience with Leadership Primaries

January 5th, 2012 | 0 Comments

The "Leadership Primary" – currently in the news as a proposal before next week's Liberal Party convention – has been tried before as a method of increasing media coverage of the succession in smaller parties, the most notable recent example being the Federal NDP in 1995, after their brutal rout in the 1993 general election.

The party organized a series of regional and labour primaries in advance of the convention, designed to give regional candidates a base from which to build, and as a way of screening out candidates who could not win at least one of the primaries from consideration at the party convention in October.

Four candidates entered the race, and all but author Herschel Hardin passed the one-primary or 25% overall vote threshold (Hardin penned a very interesting personal history of his journey in the race afterwards, excerpts of which can be found on his website here).

Long-time activist M.P. Svend Robinson won the Québec, Ontario, and BC/Northern primaries, while veteran M.P. (indeed veteran leadership candidate) Lorne Nystrom won the Prairie and Labour primaries, and former Nova Scotia NDP leader Alexa McDonough won the Atlantic primary. Given the preponderance of the NDP membership on the prairies at that time, Nystrom looked like the prohibitive front-runner at the end of that process.

But, the total primary vote bore no outcome to the result at the October 1995 convention. McDonough had won 18.5% of the vote or so during the primaries, and was considered to be out of the race.  However, she went on to command a sufficiently strong 32.5% vote amongst convention delegates (remembering that the convention was held in Ontario), leaving the first-place Robinson scrambling to beat Nystrom to the stage to claim credit for the inevitable outcome, once third-place Nystrom was dropped after the first ballot.

So, Nystrom won the primaries, Robinson won the first ballot, and McDonough won the leadership. And Herschel Hardin got a very interesting book out of it all.

Here are the detailed results:

1995 Federal NDP Leadership Primary Vote vs Convention Vote

* Eligible party members unable to vote in a regional primary, or unaffiliated with a provincial section. Votes counted towards overall total, but winning the "special" component of the overall primary did not count towards qualification to be on the convention ballot.
** Slightly different percentages are reported in Wikipedia; it's unknown whether a weight was applied.
Primaries – Regular
Qué. 25 25 86 111 247
Atl. 40 870 92 268 1,270
Ont. 330 1,035 1,184 1,976 4,525
BC/Nrt 408 625 1,524 2,640 5,197
Prai 447 560 7,183 1,806 9,996
Special* 74 226 289 281 870
TOTAL 1,324 3,341 10,358 7,082 22,105
Pct 6.0% 15.1% 46.9% 32.0%  
Primaries – Labour (East, West, CAW)
TOTAL 6 112 175 142 435
Pct 1.4% 25.7% 40.2% 32.6%  
Alt Pct** 1.2% 28.5% 38.0% 32.3%  
Total Primaries
Pct 4.8% 18.5% 44.7% 32.1%  
Convention Delegates
1st Ballot x 566 514 655 1,735
Pct   32.6% 29.6% 37.8%  
Outcome   eventual
of the race
to endorse

Thanks to a friendly archivist for digging up the raw figures and sending them along. We'll review the other NDP leadership contest history in another post.



For the latest on the NDP Leadership Race, don't forget to follow the half-hourly news updates, and social media tickers at the Pundits' Guide NDPLdr portal page:

Oh Jack. What now?

August 22nd, 2011 | 19 Comments

There are a lot of people more eloquent than me expressing their feelings about this tragically unfair loss to Canadian politics, and summarizing the remarkable career of this mould-breaking politician.

My way is to keep busy instead. So in that light, allow me to look back and look forward in the Pundits' Guide kind of way.

Jack Layton's federal political career began in 1993 – the NDP's worst federal election in my lifetime – when he ran in the old Toronto riding of Rosedale, placing fourth and earning 11% of the vote, then not even enough for a candidate rebate.

Jack ran again in 1997, placing second, this time in the riding he would go on to win as party leader in 2004, Toronto-Danforth. He was re-elected there for the third time this past May with 60% of the vote.

Jack Layton's Federal Electoral History

Elec Riding Rank Votes % Vote
1993 GE Rosedale 4 5,937 11%
1997 GE Toronto – Danforth 2 13,903 32%
2004 GE Toronto – Danforth 1 22,198 46%
2006 GE Toronto – Danforth 1 24,412 48%
2008 GE Toronto – Danforth 1 20,323 45%
2011 GE Toronto – Danforth 1 29,235 60%

In 2003, Layton won the party's first one-member-one-vote leadership convention on the first ballot with 53.5% of the vote, placing ahead of such party stalwarts as Bill Blaikie, Lorne Nystrom and Joe Comartin, but also Québec newcomer Pierre Ducasse. His leadership campaign became a blueprint for his strategic approach as party leader: he caught people's attention with a surprising endorsement from former leader Ed Broadbent, signed up thousands of new party members, and continued to phone canvass identified supporters of his opponents right up till the last week of the campaign.

Layton promised his party a 10-year plan for Québec during that campaign, and the fulfillment of that promise will be remembered as one of his greatest accomplishments, though his record as leader was stellar by any measure.

Jack Layton's Record as Federal NDP Leader

Measure 2000 2004 2006 2008 2011
Seats 13 19 29 37 103
Seconds 25 51 53 67 121
Rebates 57 195 214 243 306
Votes 1,093,868 2,127,403 2,589,597 2,515,288 4,512,411
% Vote 8.5% 15.7% 17.5% 18.2% 30.6%

So, what now, Jack? While we were waiting for his Letter to Canadians to be released, the airtime was filled with recollections of his life in politics, some of them warm and personal, and some the warmed-over sentimentality of those who smeared him short months ago. The punditocracy who completely missed the strategy he was developing and the possibilities for the NDP, will now try and write the party's future, no doubt with plenty of help from its opponents.

For one thing, there will be a by-election in his downtown Toronto seat, that could be called as early as 11 days from the day the Speaker notifies the Chief Electoral Officer of the vacancy, but must be called within at least 180 days.

Then there will be a leadership convention to schedule and conduct, while parallel contests unfold in two other political parties, and the coverage of those contests will become a major focus of this website going forward.

Layton recommended the NDP leadership race be conducted early in the new year, which would place it after the scheduled Bloc Québécois leadership campaign this fall (assuming it's not further postponed), and prior to the planned Liberal Party leadership campaign in 2013.

But, for now, let's all try and remember the challenge he's given us, whatever our political stripe:

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

NDP Leader Jack Layton campaigning in Courtenay, BC, April, 2011

UPDATED: Expect the Unexpected in Coming Weeks

March 14th, 2011 | 4 Comments

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

Three exhibits this past weekend alone demonstrate how unexpected events can throw a monkey wrench into plans already being made on the run.

UPDATE: See below for more updated coverage of the vote totals in La Pointe de l'Île.]

  • The sudden retirement announcements of three more British Columbia members Saturday morning (two from the Reform Party Class of 1993) will have the Conservative Party moving smartly to replace them with new candidates, and in the case of Stockwell Day's riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, BC, have former Liberal candidate Ross Rebagliati thinking twice about whether he should have stepped down last year. Three Liberals (Shan Lavell, Gordon Wiebe, and John Kidder) are now in the running for a contested nomination to replace him, that has been advertised for Tuesday, March 15, although one party official told me it had been postponed. The NDP has yet to nominate in that riding either, leaving the Green Party's Dan Bouchard as the only nominated candidate for now. The main competition in Chuck Strahl's riding of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon and John Cummins' riding of Delta-Richmond East will be for the Conservative Party nominations, and four candidates are already said to be jockeying for the latter prize: Howard Jampolsky, Maria Devries, Dale Saip and realtor Keith Roy.
  • Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe's bid to have the former Hochelaga NDP candidate installed as the Bloc candidate in retiring M.P. Francine Lalonde's now open seat of La Pointe de l'Île on Sunday, ran headlong into a little hiccup known as party democracy. In fact, Le Devoir reported last month that some members of the riding association were none too keen on Duceppe's having virtually annointed Jean-Claude Rocheleau before Christmas, and were demanding a proper nomination meeting. Of course, a similar thing happened on the road to Daniel Paillé's by-election nomination for the Bloc in Hochelaga, but on that occasion Mr. Duceppe got his way. So further to Wells's First Rule ("For any given situation, Canadian politics will tend toward the least exciting possible outcome"), I let myself believe he would again this time. But while Paillé had only been up against one other candidate by the time his vote was held, Rocheleau was facing two other candidates: long-time party activist Ginette Beaudry and environmentalist Nicolas Montmorency. Québec commentator Jean Lapierre attended the nomination meeting after an earlier interview with Duceppe on TVA, and reported all the happenings on Twitter. Basically, Rocheleau was ahead [UPDATE: the story from L'Avenir de l'Est tells it the opposite way] behind by 11 votes on the first ballot, Montmorency was dropped off, suppertime came, the folks who weren't as angry went home to eat, and the others ganged up on him and elected Beaudry. Rocheleau's Facebook page was taken down within four hours. Lapierre called it a defeat for Duceppe and Lalonde, who had endorsed Rocheleau's candidacy, and almost immediately the NDP announced that Thomas Mulcair would be presenting another group of Montréal candidates this coming Wednesday evening.
  • Well-known Manitoba blogger "Hacks and Wonks", who is also a member of the Conservative riding association in the target seat of Winnipeg South Centre, had a bit of a spit-take on Twitter Sunday evening, when he opened up his email and discovered a four-hour old letter of resignation from their candidate Raymond Hall. The Winnipeg Free Press reached Hall within the hour, who confirmed the resignation but declined all further comment. This is in a riding where the Conservatives were expecting to give long-time Liberal M.P. Anita Neville a real run for her money, with a very active pre-election campaign under way by all appearances, and apparently the Conservatives have also made a significant outlay in preelection advertising here, most of which – with Hall's name on it – is money down the drain, for a riding association that after all only had $2,400 in the bank at the end of 2009. As H-and-W said on Twitter, it will have to be a "speedy nomination" now, because separately he's hearing that May 2 will indeed be the election date. In an interesting sidebar, Hall had defeated Neville's cousin, the developer Hart Mallin, for the Conservative nomination back in July 2009. It's unclear who could step into the breach at this point to replace him.

The resignation of the three British Columbia Conservatives leaves only Dick Harris from the Reform Party Class of 1993 in that province. He had been up at the Prince George-Peace River nomination meeting on Friday night, when Public Eye Online first reported that Stockwell Day was to announce his retirement the following day, and Harris reportedly had not heard any news on that score at the time. Long-time Reform Party supporter Bob Zimmer defeated 6 other contenders to win the right to run in Jay Hill's stead, and will now face former Deputy Premier Lois Boone for the NDP, Hilary Crowley for the Green Party and a Liberal to be named later.

In another noteworthy nomination over the weekend, Tamil broadcaster Ragavan Paranchothy was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in Scarborough Southwest, ON.

This brings us up to 17 Members of Parliament who have either resigned already (3 of them) or are retiring at the next election (the other 14). This is on the low side, compared with earlier totals, as compiled by Professor W.T. Stanbury for a paper we wrote together a few years back:

General Election Number of Incumbents Not Running Again
1984 36 of 267
1988 44 of 277
1993 66 of 285
1997 40 of 291
2000 22 of 301
2004 54 of 297
2006 28 of 306
2008 33 of 304
41st 17 of 308
or 14 of 305


It was also unexpected to me (not really) that after researching and writing four blogposts carefully explaining Bill C-12, the legislation that seeks to amend the seat apportionment formula in the constitution to permit the creation of new seats for Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, that anyone could ever get it wrong again. But indeed it's happened.

So, to summarize:

  • Bill C-12 does not actually create the seats.
  • It would amend the seat apportionment formula in the Constitution.
  • The seat apportionment formula is only used after a decennial census (the next one will be this summer on July 1, 2011) has reported its population totals by province, and the number of seats it computes is then sent to the Electoral Boundaries Commission to set the boundaries.
  • The resulting number and shape of the seats is called a Representation Order.
  • The new Representation Order will come into effect for the first election after it's adopted.
  • That won't be this election, and IT WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN EVEN IF BILL C-12 HAD PASSED the House and Senate in all stages last week. The process also has nothing to do with the last (non-decennial) census at all.

Only the reader who is truly loyal to the Globe and Mail would take the time to point this out, so please forgive me.

Campaign Innovation: QR Codes

March 10th, 2011 | 11 Comments

In the middle of a busy political day in Ottawa Wednesday, the NDP released french language campaign ads featuring NDP Leader Jack Layton, and Québec Lieutenant and Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair.

As part of the ad campaign, the party also posted billboards in 40 locations around Montréal featuring posterized versions of the two men's standard headshots, along with a square barcode thingy.

Pardon my luddite-ness, but although I've vaguely been aware of these square computer-chip looking things, and what they probably were used for, I hadn't really investigated further and I've certainly never seen them before in an election campaign.

Anyways, here's what the poster looks like [click on image to open a full-sized version]:

And here's a closer look at the QR Code (aka "Quick Response" code; more about them from Wikipedia here), which is what they call the chip-looking square-ish barcode thingamajigs.

Figuring out what to do with these was a bit complicated. Naturally I started by asking the cool kids, and they showed me how, if you had Blackberry Messenger (BBM) 5 on your phone, you could scan a contact or a group by barcode right into your contact list. So, I upgraded to BBM 5, and tried to scan the barcode off my laptop from the Postmedia blogpost about the ad campaign on screen. No love.

This led to me investigating options involving installing an "app" on my "berry", through the Blackberry App World:

  • you have to create a separate Blackberry ID, which is different from the account you set up with them to get your email
  • then, you have to install a program for your browser to interact with the App World (requires a reboot of your computer)
  • then, you have to connect your Blackberry to a USB port on your computer
  • then, you can surf to see which QR Code reader apps work for your particular Blackberry model, and Blackberry service provider (search on "QR Code" to see the available choices).

I wound up installing both BeeTagg and CertainTeed apps, and trying to get them to read the QR code from the Postmedia blogpost version of the poster, but again no love. CertainTeed in particular kept throwing Java out of memory exceptions, and never worked for me on the Blackberry 8330 at all.

Grrr. More research. Then it occurred to me that it's late at night here, and maybe I didn't have enough light on or the QR code wasn't in good enough focus.

I also read that you should hold your Blackberry at least 8 inches away, though you could zoom in with your camera, but anyways the code is supposed to be centred on your screen, and you activate the scan the same way you would take a photo with your smartphone.

Armed with these suggestions, I increased the size of the blogpost with my browser, and turned on a few lights, and tried again.

BeeTagg eventually picked up the code, which was exciting. It takes you to a website address to play the Mulcair and Layton ad. You actually get presented with 4 options from BeeTagg: (i) go to web (, (ii) show the URL (fancy term for a website address), (iii) copy the URL, or (iv) Save, by adding to your BeeTagg Favorites list.

Meanwhile, I had put out a plaintive call for help on Twitter, and a tweep by the name of @eBeaveronline suggested I try the BBM barcode scanner again, so I did. Whether it was the larger size or the improved lighting, it now worked as well. Thanks, Beave!

It has to be version 5 of Blackberry Messenger, and you go to the menu item "Scan a Group Barcode". A graphic appears showing you how to centre the code on your Blackberry screen, and then you select the menu item "Continue…" and train your smartphone camera on the barcode.

VERY cool, because this time you don't even have to take a photograph with your camera to do the scanning. It just recognizes the code, and pops up a window asking if you want to open the link '' or not. Clicking Yes takes you to the website that plays the ad. In fact, I had never played a video on my Blackberry before either, so there were a lot of new experiences for me as I figured this all out.

Anyways, if you have a Blackberry, don't bother with the other Apps. Upgrade to Blackberry Messenger version 5 if you don't already have it, and then use the "Scan a Group Barcode" menu item, holding your Blackberry about 8 inches away from the barcode (and don't do it in the dark, or with too small or fuzzy a version of the QR code).

If you have an Android or iPhone, you've probably already absorbed this coolness by osmosis, and think I'm hopelessly uncool to have to explain it all step by step. Sorry about that.

Last detail: how do they create those QR codes, and how can you do the same? Here's why I'm glad I at least tried the BeeTagg reader, because its originators also have a BeeTagg QR code generator. You give it a URL, and pick one of three kinds of codes (there are two others besides QR codes), and then it generates a beetagg shortened URL, and associates a QR code image with it, that you can download in many different image file formats. For example, here's a QR code I generated to take you to the main page of the Pundits' Guide website:

And here's one to take you to the other pre-election communications volley released on Wednesday:

So, I guess the idea is that with the billboards up in Montreal, people (cool kids, at least) would be able to train their smartphones on the QR code on the billboards, and pull up a video of the party's TV ad. The party logs another hit on its website, and for all I know, might be able to pick up some information about who (or at least which smartphone) clicked through, though I need a bit more research on that aspect.

Anyways, see if you can get your QR code reader working, because it looks like QR codes are the next tele-townhalls in terms of trendy campaign tactics that everyone wants to get in on.

And remember: you heard it here first.

Bloc Quebecois Poaches Second NDP Candidate

February 24th, 2011 | 11 Comments

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

What used to be the common modus operandi of the Liberals in English-Canada has now been adopted by the Bloc Québécois in Québec, as leader Gilles Duceppe is set to announce a second former NDP candidate will run under the Bloc banner, can exclusively report.

Set to change colours is 2008 NDP candidate Christelle Bogosta in Brome — Missisquoi, QC, the seat about to be vacated by two-term Bloc M.P. Christian Ouellet, at 76 years of age the oldest M.P. in the Commons.

[UPDATE: has more from Liz Thompson, including Bogosta's letter to NDP Leader Jack Layton, though you'll have to become a subscriber to read the story.]

If nominated by her new party, the Addictions specialist will face former Liberal M.P. Denis Paradis, in a riding that featured the closest two-way race in Québec in the last election, with a margin of 2.4%. This is Paradis' second attempt to regain the seat he lost to Ouellet in 2006, and in the last election he charged that Bogosta had split the federalist vote, as she told the website at the end of January while still the nominated NDP candidate. Evidently Paradis won't be able to make that charge stick now. Bogosta obtained 9% of the vote as a New Democrat in 2008, falling just shy of the 10% required to obtain a rebate of candidate expenses.

La Presse Canadienne reported earlier Thursday that Ouellet was set to step down and that Duceppe would be announcing a "surprise" candidate at a news conference on Friday. Later in the day, Le Reflet du Lac reported on local speculation that former Orford mayor Pierre Rodier might be the surprise. But, by early evening, confirmed that Rodier was not the target, and sources from both parties are now refusing to deny the Bogosta switch.

The news comes on the heels of the approval of former Hochelaga NDP candidate Jean-Claude Rocheleau's nomination papers for the Bloc candidacy in another open Bloc Québécois seat, La Pointe de l'Île, being vacated by long-time Bloc M.P. Francine Lalonde who signed Rocheleau's nomination papers, according to l'Avenir de l'Est. He will have to face a contested nomination, however, as area environmental activist Nicolas Montmorency also had his qualifications approved. A third announced candidate, riding executive member Ginette Beaudry, remains unconfirmed as a candidate to date. The contested nomination meeting will be held on Sunday, March 13. Rocheleau's intention to seek the nomination was announced last fall by Gilles Duceppe.

This means that of the four Bloc Québécois seats which will be open in the next election, Duceppe has gone outside his own party ranks to the NDP for candidates in two of them. No doubt, NDP officials are only glad they hadn't lined up a candidate in Marc-Aurèle Fortin as yet, where Bloc M.P. Serge Ménard has just announced his retirement. to accept a job with the Charest government.

UPDATE: Thanks to a reader who wrote in with a link to a clipping from Le Devoir which reported that while Ménard will be stepping down, the story about that job offer was wrong, and indeed it was already announced to have gone to someone else.

Nominations Update Marathon

February 6th, 2011 | 12 Comments

Time to mix up the modus operandi, dear readers. To methodically catch up on the nomination news, I was going to work my way through all the three-way races, followed by the two-way races, the first-time incumbents, and then work our way across the country province-by-province east to west, in a leisurely but fulsome way.

Forget that. I think we're into it now, and so I better get up to date PDQ.

Hence if you have nomination news to pass along, let's hear it all in the comments, and meanwhile I'll be working through my emails, tweets, DMs, clipping archives, and all the usual sources. With any luck and a bit of elbow grease, we'll have a reliable count in a week's time or so.

What's needed:

  • Party – Riding – Nomination / Selection Date - Candidate
  • Nomination "Type" – was it by acclamation, a contested nomination, an appointment, other, etc.
  • A link to some online reference to the nomination, preferably a news story or two with some good local information and/or attendance counts at the nomination meeting and vote counts if they released them
  • The candidate's website, if any, or Facebook fan page
  • I'm experimentally collecting some other data about candidates as well for future incorporation into the site (the kind not reported to Elections Canada, which collects occupation and residence), such as: electoral experience at other levels, ethnicity, union affiliation, language of preference, Facebook page, etc. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel in competing with any of the excellent sites already running at, or, but this would be a great dataset to collect. Send it if you got it.

To see what's already in the database, here are the lists of nominated candidates that have been assembled thus far:

As a sideline to help with it all, I'm resurrecting the nomination meeting data countdown. So far we have:

… but there's got to be more. If you can have other meetings to add, please send them in, and I'll get the list put back up in the left-hand column. Once we get the current list of candidates, and candidates stepped down, we'll get onto the upcoming nominations.

If you sent something in before, I'll find it eventually, so please don't be offended. If you're not easily offended and don't mind sending it again, I'll of course be eternally grateful.

So: one week to get the list up to date, people. We can do it!

And I'll tweet 'em if I get 'em @punditsguide, or if you'd rather correspond by email, you can reach me at

Meanwhile, here are all the nominations from the four major parties that I've been able to identify, that were not in the database, but are now. The Greens have had a bit more churn (which means a bit more work for me), and will thus be the focus of a subsequent update, along with some of the smaller and/or newer parties.

Ready? Here we go:

Recent additions and deletions from the Liberal party slate:

Recent additions and deletions from the NDP slate:

Recent additions and deletions from the BQ slate:

Recent additions and deletions from the Conservative party slate:

RE-UPDATED: All Parties Pick Candidates for Winnipeg North

June 30th, 2010 | 8 Comments

UPDATE: A commenter below says that it’s been announced that Conservative candidate Ray Larkin will not be running in the by-election after all. I’m trying to reconfirm with my sources. Thanks as always to PG readers for being so fast with their feedback.

RE-UPDATED: According to the Conservative Party headquarters, regional director Marni Larkin did not announce that her father Ray Larkin would not be running in the by-election, and he is indeed their candidate in this riding.  No harm checking out the question, however.  Thanks again to everyone for their assistance.

Contrary to reports in some Winnipeg media this morning, all four major political parties have now picked their candidates for the forthcoming election in the vacant seat of Winnipeg North, MB.

Last night’s meeting in The Maples Community Centre (not the Winnipeg Convention Centre, as earlier speculated) saw a reported 1,000 of 2,300 eligible Liberal members cast ballots in a two-way contested nomination fight between Inkster MLA Kevin Lamoureux and his unsuccessful challenger, Point Douglas city councillor Mike Pagtakhan, who will now likely run for re-election in this fall’s municipal election instead.

Meanwhile, 2008 Conservative candidate controller Ray Larkin has been tapped to run once again by his party, sources tell the Pundits’ Guide.  Larkin achieved a second-place finish in the last election, obtaining a record 22.4% of the vote for his party in that riding, while the Liberals fell to third place, below the 10% threshold for receiving a rebate of paid candidate election expenses.

Undeterred, new Liberal candidate Lamoureux believes their recent growth in membership sales from 100 to 2300 (1300 reportedly signed up by his campaign) signals a resurgence for his party, claiming that “the Liberal Party needs to win Winnipeg North”.

The two join NDP candidate Kevin Chief who was acclaimed at the end of May in the hopes of replacing retiring Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who stepped down to run for Mayor.  Wasylycia-Leis had obtained her party’s second-highest vote share in the last election, and ranked in the top 5 since at least 1997.

First to be nominated on April 21 of last year was the Green Party’s John Harvie, who remains their candidate according to the Party’s official list on its website.

The Prime Minister has until October 27 to call the by-election, which given the usual 36-day writ period would put it on or before Monday, December 13, 2010.  However, in light of the competing municipal election in Winnipeg on October 27, the scheduled return of Parliament on Monday September 20, and the PM’s previous patterns, we could see a call come in the first week of August for an Election Day of either Tuesday, September 7 (after Labour Day), or Monday, September 13.

The candidate spending limit will be $76,000 or so during the campaign period, based on the 2008 riding population of 79,366.  Registered parties will be able to spend about half again as much.  Of course this doesn’t apply to any spending incurred for items prior to the election call.

Looking at the riding associations’ finances, as recently added to the Pundits’ Guide riding profiles, we see that only the Conservative Party had filed its EDA return when I last imported the data, and reported a Net Worth of $3750 (approximately 5% of the spending limit).  I notice the NDP has just filed its return with Elections Canada as well, reporting a Net Worth of $48.9K (64% of the limit), so I’ll get that return into the database as soon as possible.  Neither the Liberals’ nor Greens’ EDA return is filed in the Elections Canada database as yet.