Friday, September 12, 2008

It's looking like 1984 all over again

And I'm not talking about George Orwell here either folks. Supposedly Mike Duffy, in the comments section of an Inkless Wells post, is telling readers "to stay tuned to CTV tonight. We’ve got a doozie of a poll." One that may be indicating we're on the verge of this. Anyway, for those of you who want more polls to get you warmed up for the Duffenator's big CTV sponsored one tonight, here ya go:

Harris/Decima: Conservatives 41%, Liberals 26%, NDP 14%, Greens 9% Bloc 9%
Nanos Research:Conservatives 38%, Liberals 31%, NDP 14%, Greens 9% Bloc 9%
Ekos Research: Conservatives 36%, Liberals 26%, NDP 19%, Greens 11% Bloc 8%
Ipsos Research: Conservatives 38%, Liberals 29%, NDP 13%, Greens 11%, Bloc 8%

H/T to P Dub (aka Inkless) as the above post is practically a plagiarized version of his great work ths afternoon. And for the record, I never cheated on my statistics exam. ;)

Day 6: A few quick hitters this A.M.

: Conservative party communications director Ryan Sparrow for his ill-advised email which questioned the true intentions of the father of a deceased Canadian soldier, Jim Davis, who had previously criticized the Tory government for its policy which would see troops possibly pulled out of Afghanistan by 2011. Not only did he jump the gun by calling Mr. Davis an "Iggy supporter", he has now added to the ever increasing trail of gaffes which are steadily piling up on the desk of Mr. Harper. And let's just say, I'm not the only [tory] blogger who's taking notice of all these unecessary missteps and gaffes by staffers.

Winners: Gilles Duceppe and Stéphane Dion who both, policy-wise, had one of the worst weeks of all five leaders in this campaign. However, all of their missteps were completely overshadowed by the fact that Mr. Harper, his staff and appointed candidates, were front and center in the media for three full days, and for all the wrong reasons I might add.

Winner: Jim Davis. No, he's not a politico so to speak, but the 60 year old Bridgewater, Nova Scotia resident and father of fallen soldier Cpl. Paul Davis showed his pure grace and patriotism by standing up for the mission in Afghanistan (and against Harper's musings that Canadian troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2011 even if they haven't achieved their goal of leaving behind a safe and secure country.) Not only is he a strong and proud Canadian, he demonstrated his humbleness by calling Harper to ask if he would reconsider his decision to turf communications director Ryan Sparrow for the rest of the campaign. A class move.

Local Loser: New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham for supporting the Liberal Green Shift
. The Premier's record has been far from stellar when it comes to the economy and taxes, which is why it comes as such a shock that he would support a policy that would be so detrimental to the promotion and sustainability of his own provincial energy hub.

Local Loser II: Saint John MP Paul Zed for supposedly suggesting that "Saint John's Irving Refinery will be exempted from Mr. Dion's carbon tax." Funny, because I clearly remember Liberal leader Stéphane Dion saying that there would be no special side deals with provinces (regarding his carbon tax). This is quite typical from Mr. Zed. [He] states one position; then it changes to suit his political circumstances. You can't have it both ways, Paul.

Local Loser III: Charlottetown MP Shawn Murphy for assuring PEI residents that they are not "
going to see the green shift even if the Liberals got elected." This is [at least] the fourth Atlantic Liberal and third federal Liberal (Brison was the other) to back away from his leader's carbon tax proposal or suggest special exemptions with their home province.

Previous Quick Hitters: Day 5, Day 4, Day 3, Day 2

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hot Diggidy Dog - And you thought Canadian politics was boring?

If you ever wondered where the decaying decorum in Canadian politics went?...wonder no more. Today we had a Liberal strategist accusing the Tories of hiring a LOON. We had a Blogging DOG with a PHD posting about dead SPARROWS and damaged PUFFINS. And last, but surely not least, we had BUCKDOG (aka LEFTDOG) allegedly being threatened with a possible libel suit by a Green party communications flack.

At this point, the animal forum couldn't get any worse unless the Libs brought "Slander" Klander out of "CHOW-CHOW" retirement.

"Harper up, and Dion down in new poll"

That's right folks, according to a new (emphasis all mine) Corporate Research Associates Inc. poll, the Tories are making gains in the Bluenose province:
About 34 per cent of decided voters support the Conservatives, up from 27 per cent in May. Liberal support dropped to 29 per cent from 38 per cent. NDP support remained stable, the poll suggests, at 28 per cent, compared to 27 per cent in May. Green Party support remained unchanged at seven per cent.
But before all you Nova Scotia Tory wannabees get seemingly aroused over your party's new found fame, take a look at the date the poll was conducted. That's right my right-wing friends, it was conducted back in August just before the writ was dropped and well before things got a little greasy in a few Nova Scotia ridings for you guys. As I've always said, appointing candidates can be a very tricky business for any leader on the best of days. It's a little like nitroglycerine. Used in the proper fashion and when the timing is right, these freshly minted candidates can help propel your party in the right direction, filling in holes that previously existed. But if you're not careful, they can also blow up in your face. They can create a local backlash, making your party's bid all that much harder. And with the multiple explosions that happened [this week], it hard to fathom those numbers not changing one way or the other.

Moreover, not to pour more cold water on this poll, but the CRA were benchmarking the recent August numbers with the May 2008 numbers (which were quite low for the conservatives) due to a prior aggressive campaign by the Liberal caucus in the House of Commons regarding the alleged in-and-out transactions involving candidates who wrongly tried to collect rebates for ad expenses they did not incur as part of their local campaigns. Not to mention, it was pre-carbon tax. So honestly, it's not much of a bounce at all.

Anyway, the party or leader numbers are not what got my attention in this poll. Actually, it was the large number of undecided voters, forty-one per cent to be exact, who either don't have a clue, don't plan to vote or just plain refuse to tell pollsters what they are thinking. At this point, I think it's safe to guess that a majority of these individuals are probably not big Harper fans, and therefore, are mulling over their final decision. A decision which was just made that much more difficult (for more people I believe) with the riding gaffes this week. I'd say all those poor handpicked appointments pushed the undecideds well above 50 per cent. It'll be interesting to see the next CRA numbers that come out.

Accurate poll update

From Inkles
s:"The pollster with a mystic reputation for accuracy has his first tracking poll out, and the numbers are closer than in some other polls: 37% Conservatives, 32% Liberals, 13% NDP. Those NDP numbers are one-third lower than in other recent polls.

I happen to think the Nanos legend is a little exaggerated — there is no such thing as election-prediction accuracy this far out, because there are events — cursed events! Blessed events! — between here and the election day. But I know many of you swear by Nik as by the sun and stars, so I thought you’d want to see this."

Day 5: A few quick hitters this A.M.

: Green party leader Elizabeth May for obvious reasons. The decision to include her in the TV debates is huge (and a momentum booster for her populist campaign), especially since she can now have the best of both worlds. What I mean by that is she can still be depicted as the victim with the mainstream media while stealing the spotlight in the debates (as I'm sure all eyes will now be on her on Oct. 1st/2nd)
. Which brings me to my next pick...

Loser: Peter Mackay. I don't pretend to know what goes on behind closed doors in campaign war rooms. However, with that being said, I'll go off on a limb here and speculate that there were a few chairs kicked in downtown New Glasgow, Nova Scotia after May was let into the debates. Things just started getting interesting in Central Nova folks!

: The Liberal National Executive for their lack of respect for Dion. I'm sure they thought they were sending a clear message to Mr. Dion by letting the press get their hands on this transaction, but to the common voter (and I'm sure some Liberal members), it makes the party appear as if they are a bunch of bullies who don't trust Dion to do the right thing when, and if , he loses. It truly shows you that this party is not only a bunch of sore losers, they haven't learned from their very critical past mistakes. Not ready for prime time.

Local winner: Conservative candidate Rodney Weston for putting jobs front and center in Saint John. As my good buddy nbpolitico explains about Weston's recent strategy, "he has been campaigning quite effectively against the Liberal Green Shift plan, which would impose a carbon tax. Weston's argument is that the choice is between a new refinery and new jobs or a carbon tax and no new jobs." The message must be working because I see that even provincial Liberals, like Energy Minister Jack Keir, are backing away from their federal friends on this carbon tax proposal.

Update: In other news, Dion served up pancakes in Saint John, New Brunswick today at a breakfast. And I'm not talking about the food. lol

Update II: Harper is going even further in his attack of Dion's carbon tax plan, saying it will cause "a recession."

Losers: Consortium of television networks for coming across as a bunch of high handed bullies in their handling of the television debates. On the bright side, this whole May ordeal has exposed Canada's election debate process for what it is...a complete sham.

Game changer

The media consortium remains without my respect as they have altered the debate format to map on to their own measure of fairness only after the bullies stopped punching them in the gut.

In any event though, Elizabeth May's inclusion in the debates will be a game changer. One of two things are now guaranteed to happen in my opinion:
  1. Elizabeth May will do well in the debates and the Green Party will win seats in this election; or
  2. Elizabeth May will do poorly in the debates and the Green Party's vote will collapse, seeing them get less than 2% of the popular vote and therefore no more public funding.
To be honest, I always used to think that Elizabeth May was a huge mistake for the Greens because of her history with a somewhat non-credible organization (the Sierra Club) and that she would cause #2. Instead, she has shown fairly professional political instincts so I am more and more inclined to think that #1 will happen.

The Liberals are not running a strong campaign but are putting the environment front-and-centre; the NDP are not running a good campaign; many Canadians remain uncomfortable with Harper and may not want to vote for him but counter-intuitively still want him to be Prime Minister. The Green Party may have no better opportunity to win seats.

The Greens should have a respectable chance in Central Nova where May is pooring a lot of resources and in London North Centre and Guelph where the Greens aggressively campaigned in by-elections and should have a remaining infrastructure and voter IDs (particularly in Guelph where the by-election campaign has just morphed into a general election campaign). Finally the Greens may also have a shot in a few BC seats, such as Vancouver Centre where there is a three or four way race going on, including the former provincial Green leader who is well known having been in two provincial leaders debates.

I hope Ms. May is nervous because the future viability of her party rests in her hands. It is now or never for the Greens.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's in store for the NDP?

I am big believer in the idea that history repeats itself and that if you can understand the core trends of the present, you can predict the future by looking at the core trends of the past.

Quite a while back, I did an analysis of NDP results since its predecessor the CCF was created in 1935.

Interesting facts: the NDP has never gained seats for more than two consecutive elections; the NDP has never gained seats when a conservative party won a majority.

The NDP won extra seats in 2004 and then some more in 2006. Therefore, historically they shouldn't win seats in this election. If the Conservatives were to win a majority, it would be that much less likely for them to win more seats.

Food for thought.

New Brunswick ridings updated

You can check out the full story on my other blog, but I am moving Saint John from leans Liberal to leans Conservative.

This makes my projection 6 Conservatives (+3), 3 Liberals (-3) and 1 New Democrat (n/c) for New Brunswick.

Let May in

I am a little tortured on this point, but I am going to make the case for why Elizabeth May should be allowed in the leader's debate.

I do not know all of the issues that the consortium of broadcasters examines in determining who will be included in the debate. I am moved, but not convinced, by the Greens arguments as to why they should have been included.

Is two-straight elections winning no seats but more the double the number of voters required to get federal funding and a floor-crossing MP enough to qualify? That is a pretty subjective question so one needs to look to precedent. The obvious precedent being the inclusion of the Reform Party and the Bloc Québécois in 1993.

Let's look at their situations then:
  • Reform: Contested one general election before in which they won no seats and 2.1% of the vote and later elected one MP in a by-election;
  • Bloc: Never before contested a general election, elected no MPs (though one MP was elected as an indpendent and immediately joined their caucus before they were a registered party) and about 7 floor-crossing MPs.
It would be fair to argue that the Greens have about as much legitimacy as those two precedents and those two parties went on to win the second and third most seats in 1993. Would they have been able to do that had they not been included in the debates?

To quote Barack Obama, "it is above my pay grade" to rule whether or not the Greens have as much right as Reform and/or the Bloc did in 1993 (which is the fair measure).

But frankly, this point is moot. As far as I can read it, the consortium did rule that the Greens met the test (emphasis added):

During the debate negotiations, (Conservative representative Michael) Coates told the broadcasters that Mr. Harper would not share the stage with the leader of the Green Party, which dashed Elizabeth May's hopes of participating.
Indeed, if you read the consortium's own release, it seems even clearer:

The Consortium approached the parties to explore the possibility of including the Green Party in all or part of the Leaders' Debates. However, three parties opposed its inclusion and it became clear that if the Green Party were included, there would be no Leaders' Debates. In the interest of Canadians, the Consortium has determined that it is better to broadcast the debates with the four major party leaders, rather than not at all.
It is frankly pathetic that this group would allow themselves to be bullied. These are journalistic organizations who are supposed to be the "refs" in an election and ensure fairness. We all know that they largely fail to live up to that standard, but this is one of the worst examples I've ever seen.

The media, who claims its goal is to present us with a fair picture of what is going on, determines it is fair to include the Green Party. Some of the other leaders say they don't like it, so the consortium buckles. Instead, they should have invited all participants who they felt it would be fair to invite and let the leaders decide if it was in their interest to boycott an event and allow their opponents to criticize them without being answered. The media should have called the other parties' bluff. This is a disgraceful forfeiture of their supposed high ground.

Update (nb taxpayer)

Be careful what you wish for nbpolitico, cuz you just might get it.

Day 4: A few quick hitters (and shitters) ;) this A.M.

: The Tories for obvious reasons, or as my blogging partner says Poopgate. Anyway, there is no question that a few Tory operatives screwed up yesterday by adding that feature to the ad, however, the larger question here is whether or not this will end up being more damage to the conservatives then just a one day story. A game changer so to speak (much like beer and popcorn was for Harper in '06 and the distorted face ad was for Chretien in '93). Only time will tell.

Winner: Conservative leader Stephen Harper for owning up to his party's obvious error in judgement yesterday. That should be automatic you say? Well, not exactly. We all remember back in 2004 when he dug his heels in deep and didn't back down "from the substance of a party news release attacking Paul Martin and the Liberals on child pornography." He's definitely come a long way from four years ago and deserves credit for his new found humility. Let's now see if he sidesteps this messy gaffe like some in the MSM are already claiming. :)

Local Losers: repeat winner, Atlantic Tory strategist (specifically in Nova Scotia). The last two days have been disastrous for the Bluenose Tories (at least it has been for those who are still supoorting the party). I wouldn't be surprised to see a resignation come out of all this. However, that's probably not likely since our neck of the woods (and what happens to local candidates) seems to have been overshadowed by the leaders tour. Not to mention, the chap in the Tory war room who was blamed for Puffingate gave them a lifeline.

Loser: Gilles Duceppe. This was an easy choice as it's day four of the campaign and the Bloc leader has yet to have a good day on the campaign trail in La Belle province. To put it mildly, campaign number five could be a very bumpy ride for the veteran separatist leader.

Policy winner: Jack Layton. Yes, I said it. Jack Layton. The leader of the NDP party scored critical points in battleground Ontario yesterday by criticizing the conservative's economic policies in central Canada, and vowing to protect Ontario jobs. Extra points for doing it in a city, Thunder Bay, that has been hard-hit by paper mill closures. Looks like he will remain focused on this message again today where he will continue to hammer away at the loss of manufacturing jobs. All this while the Tories consume themselves with Puffingate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The problem with Atlantic polling breakdowns

When Atlantic Canadian numbers are broken out of a national poll, they begin as suspect because their sample is so small it likely has a margin of error that is greater than 10%. But that is just the beginning of the problem.

Atlantic Canada is not a homogeneous region. In all elections from 2000 forward (and to a lesser extent 1997), NDP poll numbers are misleadingly low. This is because while the NDP polls well in Nova Scotia and ok in New Brunswick (thanks to Yvon Godin scoring over 50% in his riding), they have been in the toilet in PEI and Newfoundland. Thus, any substantial numbers from Nova Scotia are washed away and muted.

This election will be much worse. I wouldn't be surprised if the Tories were polling below 15% in Newfoundland & Labrador thanks to Danny's popularity and visceral opposition to them. Similarly, the Tory numbers are likely at 2006 levels or less in Nova Scotia due to lingering anxiety over the Atlantic Accord. What non-Maritimers fail to realize is that the Atlantic Accord would have done nothing for New Brunswick nor for PEI and in fact, some felt it advantaged NS and NL to our disadvantage.

Therefore if the Tories are polling at 35% in Atlantic Canada, they could well be at 55% in NB, 45% in PEI, 30% in NS and 15% in NL. Even with a proper sample, Atlantic-wide numbers will be largely meaningless, especially this time around.

Every federal election, CRA does a poll with a sample of about 800 per province so we can get a real picture. It will be especially important this year. I can't wait.

What's going on in Nova Scotia?

Though I'm not fully convinced of their methodology (the average of ridings), the recent Strategic Counsel poll seems to suggest that the Tories are making significant gains in the battleground ridings of three key provinces (BC, Ont and Que). With that being said, what on earth is happening with them [Tories] in the Bluenose province as I see another one of their last minute candidates is drawing negative press (click on image for full story):

Back to the polls. Here's a must read conversation between two leading Canadian pollsters regarding the battleground ridings and where the Tory's will most likely hold onto their gains?

Update II
What's the chances that she was not fully vetted by the local EDA (if they have one)?

Update III (from nbpolitico)
She has dropped out as a candidate. This is quite embarassing for the governing party - two ridiculously ill thought candidates in the same province? Whoever is in charge of candidate selection for the CPC in NS should be the next to resign.

Update IV
Is it me, or is the Herald starting to resemble the "daily black cloud" for conservative strategists in Nova Scotia? Another one of their "late to the game" candidates falls flat with the locals.

Are bloggers getting the upper hand on the MSM?

It sure seems to be heading in that direction. If you don't believe it, look at what one person can accomplish with just a camera and a blog (Funny b/c I've had so many of these types of conversations. Now with technology, they can go viral in nano seconds):


The media is all over a video as part of the Conservative's website that depicted a puffin pooping on Stéphane Dion.

The Conservatives promptly removed the pooping scene from the animation (though a puffin still flies by).

The media coverage of this seems a bit overblown, but it reminds me a bit of football ref overcompensating for a bad call in the first quarter. The media was also all over Michael Ignatieff when he made the joke that "(t)hey hide their excrement ... (t)his seems to me a symbol for what our party should be."

Both were a bit silly, this animation is possibly a bit more of a story but both were definately overblown.

The Joel Bernard question

NBT says in a round-up post this morning:

Losers: Atlantic Tory strategists for parachuting a candidate into Bill Casey's riding of Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I said this riding could have an ill effect on other campaigns throughout the province (as well as neighbouring provinces), and it hasn't disappointed. The perception of the party has plummeted considerably in just two days because of this bonehead decision made in Ottawa. If I were a Tory in a winnable riding, I'd be furious.
This really is unseemly.

I know when I lived in Ontario, and even today when, in my job, I work with people from Ontario, that an unfortunately high number of them really do have an illogical misunderstanding of how things work out here in the Atlantic.

You would never hear someone from Ontario ask a Manitoban, "oh, well you must have all of the government/business contacts in Saskatchewan?" or something along those lines. They are distinct provinces and they would share no more in common than Ontario and Quebec or Ontario and Manitoba - other neighbouring provinces. But all the time you'll hear, "oh, well New Brunswicker, you must know all about Newfoundland, it's the same thing anyway right?"

This is the sort of mentality that is involved in the Joel Bernard pick. This will be big news Nova Scotia. And NBT is right, a bad riding could become a series of bad ridings because of this move. I imagine quite a few people in Pictou County read the Truro Daily News which, I imagine, will be all over this.

This could hurt Peter Mackay quite a bit.

My question is, ok, it is one thing for Conservative HQ to be dominated by those who may not understand Atlantic Canada and the fact that there are four provinces here. But why didn't Peter MacKay know better? Ok, maybe he wasn't kept in the loop. But, why didn't Joel Bernard know better??

Day 3: A few quick hitters this A.M.

: Atlantic Tory strategists for parachuting a candidate into Bill Casey's riding of Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I said this riding could have an ill effect on other campaigns throughout the province (as well as neighbouring provinces), and it hasn't disappointed. The perception of the party has plummeted considerably in just two days because of this bonehead decision made in Ottawa. If I were a Tory in a winnable riding, I'd be furious.

Winner: Elizabeth May for getting booted from the debates.
We all know the media loves a victim. And because it was an unfair move by Big Networks (all men as she pointed out), she’ll get a second look by a lot of folks who are not only turned off by the campaign vitriol, but disgusted with the process in general. Furthermore, she has pushed the news cycle for two days on this issue. Good (and free) PR for her. Update: It's now morphed into a website.

Loser: Stéphane Dion for calling Harper a "liar". With so many uncertainties about Dion and his party's policies, he ends up being the lead for all the wrong reasons today (some in the local MSM have even run with it ). Not good for someone who needs to clearly define himself and fast.

Losers: Both parties for trying to set the agenda way too early (6 a.m. for the Tories) Yikes! Methinks the press will beat this to death until they both capitulate and let them sleep in.

Local Winner: Conservative candidate Daniel Allain for drawing a huge crowd at his " Campaign for Change Rally" at the Crown Plaza and gaining considerable momentum in Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe. It would seem that Allain, much like Barack Obama, has made excellent use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in his bid to dethrone the Liberal incumbent, Brian Murphy. Moreover, this strategy could go a long way in casting him as a young, capable candidate who is ready to take on the tough challenges in a complex world. Other politicians in NB, both federal and provincial, should definitely be taking notice.

Policy losers: The Liberals and Dion. Accused yesterday of being a "gamble" by the Tories, twenty-four hours later Dion has turned from a gamble to a gambler, promising to "double up" on the $1,200-a-year child care allowance and restore the court challenges program. I think people will see through this "promise everything" style of campaigning, especially if it involves their own money.

Monday, September 8, 2008

There's something different about you...

...did you get a haircut?

Both the Tories and Liberals have ads out showcasing their teams in La Belle province. Not much there to talk about other then two possible governing parties trying to mask a few weaknesses and obstacles that exist for them in Quebec via a cheesy ad.

One thing which I thought was weird (maybe I've been away from Ottawa too long) was the fact that all the Tories around the table, except Josée Verner, were wearing some kind of light blue, unbuttoned dress shirt. However, when they emerged from the old style country house, VOILA, all of them had ties and two of them miraculously had on white dress shirts. All I can think of is that they sweat a lot around their boss and needed a change of shirt pour vrais (sorry for the cheesy line, just trying to blend in).

Anyway, I guess being around Harper really does require a full dose of Gillette Clinical Strength Antiperspirant these days.

[click straight to Youtube to view video]

NBer and former Tory staffer to run against Casey

Nobody said politics was fair

Steven Maher from the Chronicle Herald is reporting that former political staffer, Joel Bernard, will be carrying the conservative banner in Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Let's just say that parachuting in a candidate from outside the province will definitely pose a host of problems for the Tories, but one thing is for certain, things will definitely start heating up in that riding. I wonder if MacKay and Keddy will campaign on Joel's behalf and against their former friend and colleague?

Regardless, Mr. Casey still had the line of the day for Day 2 of the campaign regarding his new political opponent: "I’m looking forward to introducing him to the riding,” he said. “I don’t think he’s ever been here before, so I’ll enjoy introducing him to Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.” Ouch!

Read full story from the Herald.

: Will Bill Casey's campaign spill over into NB?

Update: Thanks to nbpolitico, we find that out that Joel Bernard was a former MLA and deputy speaker in the NB legislature. Nothing like being undersold by the Halifax press. ;)

New Brunswick battlegrounds

Part of a series on Atlantic ridings

Fredericton (currently Liberal) *incumbent retiring
This is the only open seat in New Brunswick. The Liberals have nominated airport CEO David Innes and the Conservatives have nominated PC MLA and former provincial minister Keith Ashfield. Both candidates are "boring old white guys."

Ashfield represents a provincial riding which lies almost entirely in New Brunswick Southwest, though its largest community (New Maryland) is in this federal riding and Ashfield himself hails from Lincoln. He is a long time party guy (ran unsuccessfully in 1991 before winning in 1999, 2003 and 2006) and knows how things are done. He has been campaigning almost full time since being nominated. Innes is more of a political neophyte, and has not been able to devote as much time to campaigning as Ashfield has, due to a busy day job.

The outcome of the election could depend on whether left-wing voters vote NDP or stay home (a likely Conservative win) or vote Liberal. The NDP does not currently have a candidate, the one they had previously nominated stepped down and endorsed Innes the day he was nominated. Notwithstanding that, I will very tentatively class this as leans Conservative gain.

Madawaska—Restigouche (currently Liberal)
This is something of a bellweather - both of its predecessors (Madawaska-Victoria and Restigouche-Chaleur) tended to go with the government. In 2006, the current incarnation missed that, but just by a hair. We'll be seeing a re-match between incumbent Liberal J.C. D'Amours and 1980s-era provinicial minister Jean-Pierre Ouellet.

The popular NDP candidate, Rodolphe Martin, is not running this time. Normally that would be good news for the Liberals but Martin's votes came from blue collar forestry workers who are just as likely (or maybe more likely) to go to Ouellet as they are to D'Amours. I would say this seat leans Conservative gain.

Miramichi (currently Liberal)
This is a fairly safe Liberal seat. Charlie Hubbard had reason to worry earlier in the cycle when the Conservatives had nominated well known and well liked businessman Bill Tozer. Tozer has since stepped down and, barring another remarkable candidate, the seat should stay safely Liberal hold.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe (currently Liberal)
Although former mayor Brian Murphy doesn't have quite the stranglehold his predecessor Claudette Bradshaw had here, he won by a healthy margin in 2006. However, the Conservatives have nominated Daniel Allain, a fluently bilingual individual with a record of public service inside and outside of politics who may be formidable. The difference between Bradshaw in 2004 and Murphy in 2006 was 11% (59% vs. 48%). Allain certainly faces an uphill battle but this is interesting enough for to a bit unsure and say leans Liberal hold.

Saint John (currently Liberal)
Who was the quote, "the reports of my death are greatly exagerated," attributed to? If you said Paul Zed, I wouldn't be surprised. Many pundits wrote Zed off for dead in 2004 and 2006 but he won both times. But, Zed only won by four points (43% to 39%) in 2006. He'll face Rodney Weston a former agriculture minister and chief of staff to Bernard Lord. Weston, while well regarded by the political class in Fredericton and by the media, was defeated in his attempt for re-election in 2003 despite representing a conservative riding. Weston is from rural Saint John County and his old riding (Saint John-Fundy) only includes a small part of the city. I am not sure how well he would play in the city proper and the higher-end suburbs. For now the seat leans Liberal but a closer examination is warranted.

NB: CPC +2, Lib -2, NDP n/c

Nova Scotia battlegrounds

Part of a series on Atlantic ridings

Central Nova (currently Conservative)
This is going to be a very interesting race. Most people would assume Peter Mackay would walk away with this and that Elizabeth May's run here is simply symbolic. However, May has had a surprising political canny since taking over as leader of the Greens and I think that there was a lot more than symbolism in play in her picking this seat. She has lived in Ottawa for many years so why not run in Ottawa Centre, one of the strongest Green seats in the country? She grew up in Cape Breton, so if she was going to run in Nova Scotia, why not run there?

I think she chose a riding where she had some tangible claim to roots but one where the Liberals knew they had no chance of winning. This way she would be more likely to score the deal to run unopposed by the Libeals. In 2006, the Liberals ran third. The race was between Mackay and NDPer Alexis MacDonald. The result? A much-closer-than-generally-realized 40.7% to 32.9%. May chose Central Nova only after the popular MacDonald announced she would not be a candidate. The base NDP vote in Central Nova has always been more in the range of 10-15%. It was 11% and 19% the years that favourite daughter Alexa McDonough led the NDP.

In 2006, Peter MacKay got less than 41% of the vote. In 2008, the NDP will have a far weaker candidate, the Liberals will have no candidate and Elizabeth May will likely be devoting a lot of time and money into this riding. May's candidacy in London North Centre managed to improve the Green score in a tightly contested riding by over 20% only 11 months after the preceeding election and only 5 weeks after she announced her candidacy. In Central Nova, if she can pick up a half of the Liberal and a third of the NDP vote (not unimaginable) and Mackay otherwise holds his vote from 2006, she would only need a bit over 17% from the remaining Liberal and NDP votes and from Mackay to pull the upset. Likely? No. More likely than most people think? Yes.

She seems to have penned an alliance with next-door MP Bill Casey as well which certainly won't hurt.

For now, this seat leans Conservative hold, but a close eye should be kept on it.

Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley (was Conservative, currently Independent)
Bill Casey, first elected as a Progressive Conservative in 1988, is running 20 years later as an independent. The Conservative candidate will not likely do very well considering that the whole riding association is backing Casey for re-election. Former federal PC leader (that would be Progressive Canadian) Tracy Parsons is running for the Liberals.

Depending on the strength of the official Conservative candidate, it could be possible for Parsons to slip up the middle but it is more likely that Casey will win his sixth term. Likely independent hold/gain.

Halifax (currently New Democratic) *incumbent retiring
As far as I can tell, no candidate has been named here yet for any of the major parties other than the NDP's Alexis MacDonald who is known for nearly defeating Peter Mackay in her 2004 and 2006 election attempts.

This riding could probably go Liberal or NDP (or even Conservative) given the right candidates but owing to recent history and a head start, I'll rank this a leans NDP hold.

West Nova (currently Liberal)
All things being equal, this riding should be retained by Liberal Robert Thibault. He is a well regarded MP and the Conservative brand has been damaged by the Atlantic Accord. However, the Conservative candidate who lost by just 500 votes last time, a well regarded former provincial minister, is running again and the NDP holding at around 20% is challenging for the Liberals. For now, I think Thibault has the edge but it will be a nail-biter (again). Leans Liberal hold.

NS: CPC -1, Lib n/c, NDP n/c, Ind +1

Prince Edward Island battlegrounds

Part of a series on Atlantic ridings

Cardigan (currently Liberal)
Lawrence MacAulay has tended to get elected and re-elected here very easily, however in 2000 when the popular Kevin MacAdam ran against him he won by less than 300 votes. That shows us that the right Tory could pull an upset here. The question is, is Sid McMullin the right Tory? For now, we'll say this is a likely Liberal hold but it is worth watching.

Egmont (currently Liberal) *incumbent retiring
Former senior Binns minister Gail Shea faces former (briefly in 1996) Liberal premier Keith Milligan. This should be an interesting race but for now, the edge would seem to be with Shea. Milligan didn't win the nomination at the meeting but was appointed after their preferred candidate stepped down, for this to be the story of a former premier is likely a sign that the Liberals are nervous about his ability to complete. Leans Conservative gain.

PE: CPC +1, Lib -1

Newfoundland & Labrador battlegrounds

Part of a series on Atlantic ridings

Avalon (currently Conservative)
Danny Williams will loom very heavily over Conservative efforts in Atlantic Canada, but that loom will be total darkness in Newfoundland & Labrador. In Avalon we see the only incumbent Tory (Fabian Manning) to even bother to reoffer. Manning and Williams have a long history of disagreements and Williams will likely use his popularity to crush Manning. The fact that this is traditionally a Liberal riding will not help either. Likely Liberal gain.

Random—Burin—St. George's (currently Liberal) *incumbent retiring
Former PCer-turned-Liberal Bill Matthews is not seeking a fourth term. The Conservatives, thanks to Williams, but also thanks to the riding's history probably don't have a shot here. However, in 2004, the NDP ran Fr. Des McGrath who got a respectable 33% and second place. The NDP campaign will likely be putting some resouces into helping elect Jack Harris (more on that later) and if the NDP candidate can capitalize on McGrath's past showing they could have shot here. For now though, it seems a likely Liberal hold.

St. John's East (currently Conservative) *incumbent retiring
Former NDP MP and provincial NDP leader Jack Harris almost certainly has the upper hand here. The Tory MP is retiring, Harris will likely be the choice of Danny Williams and Harris is very well regarded across Newfoundland but particularly in St. John's. This seat is, at least, a lean NDP gain.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl (currently Conservative) *incumbent retiring
Is the third time the charm for Siobhán Coady? After running close races in 2004 and 2006, Coady is hoping for a ticket to Ottawa. The retirement of Loyola Hearn would probably been enough on its own but the anti-Harper campaign of Danny Williams should make it comfortable. I call this a likely Liberal gain.

NL: CPC -3, Lib +2, NDP +1

Atlantic Ridings to Watch

Thanks everyone for stopping by the temporary home of NB taxpayer and I. I wanted to take a brief look at the region before delving back into a more New Brunswick-centric take on the election, which I began on my main blog a little while back.

So, I will do a quick blow-by-blow of the 32 ridings in Atlantic Canada. The first 17 are safe and are unlikely to change hands, while the latter 15 could be interesting. I'll just list the boringsafe seats and do a brief overview of those that have the potential to move.

Safe ridings
  • Acadie—Bathurst, NB (New Democratic)
  • Beauséjour, NB (Liberal)
  • Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL (Liberal)
  • Charlottetown, PE (Liberal)
  • Cape Breton—Canso, NS (Liberal)
  • Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS (Liberal)
  • Fundy Royal, NB (Conservative)
  • Halifax West, NS (Liberal)
  • Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL (Liberal)
  • Kings—Hants, NS (Liberal)
  • Labrador (Liberal)
  • Malpeque, PE (currently Liberal)
  • New Brunswick Southwest (Conservative)
  • Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS (New Democratic)
  • South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS (Conservative)
  • Sydney—Victoria, NS (Liberal)
  • Tobique—Mactaquac, NB (Conservative)
So we're off to the races with Libs 11, CPC 4 and NDP 2.

This post was way too long, I am splitting it into four smaller posts on battlegrounds which you can find at:

My preliminary findings from the battlegrounds would be the following (vs. the last election) for the 32 Atlantic seats:

Lib 19 (-1)
CPC 8 (-1)
NDP 4 (+1)
Ind 1 (+1)

Political gaffe numero uno?

Duceppe to court federalist. A gaffe no if, and or buts

This is clearly a desperate appeal (or a bonehead idea) by Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe:
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe says federalists can vote safely for the Bloc without supporting Quebec sovereignty.

Duceppe says sovereignty will be decided in Quebec, not in Ottawa where the Bloc works.

The Bloc leader says there's nothing strange about the Bloc courting federalists, considering how other parties such as the Conservatives have been wooing nationalists.

Duceppe made the comments Monday in a riding where there is a tight race between the Bloc and the Conservatives.

Federalist voting for a separatist party. Come on, Gilles.

Bonehead Update

The response to every gaffe, misstep, half measure or knucklehead comment in North America??? Blame [or link to] Bush.

Campaign ads: what's old is new again

Yes Mable, attacks ads do work

I see the Tories have rolled out their first real set of attack ads for the 2008 campaign. Two quick things here: 1.) like their first blitz of successful attack ads in 2007, these ones, which are being dubbed the triple threat, again do a great job of emphasizing the gamble voters could be taking if they chose Dion and his carbon tax scheme, and 2.) the statements made by Dion in these ads remind voters of the uncertainty of his presence via his half sentences which confuse many, most importantly the undecideds.

If I were to grade these three ads, I would give them an A- as I'm sure there are better ones to come. Like Gerry Nicholls, this one is my favorite of the three (as I love how it puts a pounding on Dion's shaky tax plan, which btw, he still has yet to clearly define):

Day 2: A few quick hitters that caught my eye

  • Many of us Canadian political junkies can remember the deal (that wasn't really a deal) between Elizabeth May and Stephane Dion in which Dion agreed not to run a candidate against the Green Party leader in the Central Nova riding, which is currently held by Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay. According to Dion, the deal "will offer to Canadians a gesture of cooperation in order to be sure that Canada will put together all its assets as a great nation." Well, fast forward about a year and a half from that day, and ironically we see that the Greens and Liberals are not running candidates in Tobique-Mactaquac, many ridings in New Brunswick, Brossard, Gatineau, Outremont and Lasalle Emard. Unfortunately, for them, it has nothing to do with political cooperation just disorganization.
  • Despite all the recent confusion for Dion nationally, he still holds a comfortable lead locally here in NB (an eight-point margin over the Conservatives) in a poll taken in early to mid-August by Bristol-Omnifacts Research. I might remind those of you who only read the Telegraph for your daily intake of news of two things: 1) there have been eight national polls release since then showing closer margins in Atlantic Canada between the Tories and Liberals and 2) this polling company is the same one that had Bernard Lord's Tories sitting at close to 52% to the Liberals 38% in the Miramichi ridings a week before the 2006 provincial election. I don't have to tell you how those numbers panned out in the 'chi.
  • I see the economy very well could be the ballot box issue this time around, according to David Akin. However, I'd advise you to take Akin's advice under consideration since, according to Coyne, there really isn't a ballot question at this point. I have to agree with Andrew on this one, especially here in New Brunswick where the ballot question could ultimately come down to a number of key issues.

Will Bill Casey's campaign spill over into NB?

The politics of negative campaigns

I see that Bill Casey has launched his campaign bid to be re-elected in the Nova Scotia riding of Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley as an independent. Now I won't get into the detailed logistics of that particular contest since it is obvious that Casey will not only most likely win on his popularity alone, he has the entire (and former) riding association and President on his side.

More importantly, I noticed in his press release that he has received an endorsement from the Green Party (and Elizabeth May) and NL premier Danny Williams (who said a year ago he would campaign for Casey due to the Atlantic accord fiasco). At first glance, I see such endorsements (and their possible anti-Harper rhetoric down the road) as a huge problem for Nova Scotia conservative candidates, not to mention, a potential obstacle for PEI and NB candidates as well. The negative rhetoric in Nova Scotia could ultimately spill over into ridings in Moncton, Miramichi, Saint John and Fredericton (where the races are very close between the Liberals and Conservatives).

Moreover, from what I hear, Scott Brison is still running unopposed by the conservatives in the Tory leaning riding of Kings-Hants. This obvious lack of organization by the Tories, coupled with Casey's pledge to work closely with him on environmental issues, could spring Brison free to campaign on behalf of other candidates (and parties) who oppose Harper. Not good. Although, I see senior Nova Scotia Tory Peter Mackay is already on the attack as he probably realizes this fact.

Let's just say, judging from the initial tone on day one, this has the roots to be a very nasty campaign in Atlantic Canada. Better buckle your seat belts folks!

A Blog for Election Junkies

A bit about us

Welcome to New Brunswickers Paint the Political Picture. This blog will follow developments leading up to the October 14th contest, focusing specifically on issues, gaffs, speeches, video ads, (and everything in between) of all the candidates running in the New Brunswick region for the 2008 federal election. However, being the political junkies that we are, we may have a tendency to comment on the national scene from time to time as well. And for those who don't already know, my friend NB politico will be bringing the noise from the centre and I [NB taxpayer] from the right.

With that being said, let the games begin!