An Election Closes: Random Thoughts

The Conservatives can still win.  No that isn’t delusion talking it really can happen.  There’s a compelling argument to be made around their handling of the economy.  But a good economic record does not a full government make.  When you add in Stephen Harper and all the scandals, controversies, bad ministers, and bad Senators over the last decade the economic record lies in shadow.  A Conservative win without Harper becomes necessary if they’re able to form a government.The niqab as a wedge issue hasn’t worked.  But it’s shed light on the idea its significance is debated even within Islam

The idea of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister has become less scary than when the campaign first started.  He has grown into his role as party leader, and Canadians have picked up on that.  If he wins he needs to watch the “judgement calls”.  Having your campaign co-chair resign days before a vote doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.  Neither do some of his candidates forced resignations after social media postings.  Should he win, he’ll be judged on how he handles himself in the role.  Parts of his platform may not stand up to the reality of governing.  Promising to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.) is indicative he’s willing to be pragmatic.

The N.D.P.  are the victims of this campaign.  At the beginning they were set to govern.  Their campaign looked pretty sharp, and Mulcair got Harper to admit that Canada was in a technical recession at the Macleans debate.  The problem? He hasn’t repeated it since.  It could have been a kill moment for him that might’ve won it. Through the middle, and end it’s been a bit shaky. Some argue their financial numbers are suspect, and won’t work.  It’s a long-ranging platform with some vision to it, but with the possibility of a minority government they should’ve prioritized.

In Milton it’s felt like a dirtier campaign than others.  Signs have been destroyed, rumours started.  Conservative candidate Lisa Raitt has cleared the record on a few things to do with C.N.. The Liberals’ choice of candidate in Azim Rizvee may have shaken  free a few progressive votes.  It’s shaping up to be a battle between those two, where to use a cliché: every vote counts.  So get out, spend 10 minutes at your voting station and mark an “x”.


Globe & Mail Economic Debate Impressions

I didn’t watch all of last night’s debate so I only got small impressions of what was going on from quick peeks, and  checking Twitter.  We’re no further ahead than when we started.

If Thomas Mulcair’s intention was to be reassuring he may have achieved that.  He made a fresh pitch to Canadians, relating a lot of his answers back to his resume as if to say “I have the experience, I can do this job”.  But I’m still left with a some questions.  One is about the cap & trade: How much will it cost? The moderator asked that but he sidestepped the answer.  The other question is about the plan to raise the corporate tax rate. It is an increase, but isn’t the technical term a rollback when you’re using 2009 levels? Another question I had is: If he had to choose between a $15 minimum wage, and a $15/day childcare program what would he pick?

Someone tweeted that Justin Trudeau looked like an earnest undergraduate with Very Important Things to say.  That’s the impression I got of him too. There’s a fire, and enthusiasm that wasn’t there in debate #1. Sometimes it got the better of him. His opening statement sounded a little like a campaign ad.  And he kept stumbling over the word deficit.   Is it a smart move to run a $30 billion deficit over 3 years? It’s debatable; it might seem like good debt if there are accountability measures in place to assure this money is used for infrastructure.  But generally I’ve always thought it’s not a good idea to carry more debt than you can afford to pay off.  And then there’s the idea to tax those making over $200 thousand/ year.  It’s not a stretch to imagine some of those of people may own small businesses.  Wouldn’t that potentially encourage the behavior Trudeau is already accusing wealthier Canadians of; using small businesses for tax havens?

This should’ve been Stephen Harper’s debate to win.  At times he was defensive; a part of that is a normal.  He is the incumbent running on a 10-year old record.  However I got an impression he didn’t present many new ideas to compare to the other parties.  He also came out flat on the immigration, and refugee questions.  If I were the other leaders the question I would love to ask would be: If we cleaned up the process, how big of a difference would it make to our economy?  You have so many people who come here with professional degrees, yet are unable to find jobs.

Everyone is still in fighting form. And there are still plenty of questions.  To watch the Globe& Mail debate click here

Election Digest: Week 6

The first full week of September campaigning is done.  Here’s a taste of what happened

1.The Wonderful Wizard of “Oz“: Sagging poll numbers caused Stephen Harper to call in Australian fixer Lynton Crosby.  When asked by Reporters what Crosby’s role would be party spokesman Kory Teneycke responded: “We don’t get into that.”  Is the Conservative Campaign fixable? Stay tuned

2. The Interviews: CBC National Anchor Peter Mansbridge sat down with each of the party leaders for one-on-one interviews. Questions asked included what the first thing the candidate would do for the economy.  Justin Trudeau’s answer: “Call together the Premiers, talk about climate change, get to Paris at the end of November…” (Full answer here).  Thomas Mulcair’s answer: Well we would start by trying to kick-start the Canadian economy. We would start with the people who would create 80% of the jobs in Canada (Full answer here).  Stephen Harper was asked how he plans a surplus at the end of the fiscal year, and answered by turning it back on the N.D.P: “The N.D.P. is promising- we have cost it at $35 billion of annual spending promises.  Not even their high…” (full answer here).   Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was asked about her party’s place in a minority government.  She answered: “We’re talking about a Minority Parliament here where Canadians can have the choice between of fractious parliament sniping that doesn’t get too much done.  Or with enough Greens elected we could have 4 years… (full answer here).

3. Promises made: Liberals promise a $1.5 billion Youth Employment strategy. The money would be spread over 4 years, and used to create up to 40,000 jobs annually.  The plan includes a potential 5000 positions as guides, and Interpreters at Parks Canada.  The N.D.P. targets the automotive sector with a promise of more financial incentives including $90 million for a federal automotive sector innovation fund over the next 5 years. The Conservatives targeted Lobster Fishing in Prince Edward Island  promising $20 million over 3 years with $15 million on marketing, and $5 million on innovation.

4. First platform released: The Green Party became the first to release its platform.  HIghlights include a plan to abolish post-secondary tuition for those who can’t afford it, an expanded universal healthcare system to include prescription drugs, and repealing C51.

Meanwhile in Milton…

A fairly quiet week, as the door-knocking, and meeting with voters continues.

Up next: It’s about the economy, and a second trial.

Election Digest: Week 5

Nothing’s going to happen until after Labour day they said. Well we’re at the half point of the campaign, and it hasn’t been as boring as promised

1. A picture changes everything: 3-year old Alan Kurdi’s body_85366006_afp_body washed up on a Turkish beach after the boat he was travelling in with his family capsized.  The image captured a Turkish soldier carrying the body away from the beach. The Canadian connection? Alan’s aunt lives in British Columbia, and had plans to bring an older brother over, and then Alan’s family.  The older brother’s application had been denied.

2. The politics of a picture: Thomas Mulcair, and Stephen Harper both react with humanity.  Mulcair reflecting on his experience as a grandfather, Harper on when his son Ben was that age.  Trudeau responded with a request for a meeting between himself, and the other two. A request that has since been declined by Stephen Harper

3. Promises Made I: The Liberals and N.D.P. are both calling for Ottawa to increase the number of immigrants/ refugees to Canada.  The Liberals want an additional 25000 refugees, and have promised to dedicate $100 million this fiscal year to processing refugee claimants.  The N.D.P. want another 46 thousand refugees by 2019, with an additional 10 thousand coming by the end of this year.  N.D.P believes their plan will cost another $74 million this year, and $63.8 million/ year until 2019 for another 9000 refugees each year.   The Conservatives meanwhile believe a partial answer lies in military action against ISIS.

3. Promises made II: The N.D.P. promises what they describe as a moderate corporate tax hike, although how much remains unknown.  The current rate stands at 15%.  The Liberals focused on stopping violence against women promising $40 million to renovate Women’s shelters. Conservatives focused on economics announcing Burlington Ontario would be the centre of an effort to create new products for the manufacturing industry.  If re-elected the Conservatives have promised $30 million/ year beginning in 2016 for 5 years.

4. Candidate moves: This week the Conservatives let two of the Toronto-area candidates go.  Jerry Bance was let go following a revelation that he urinated in a mug while working as an appliance repair man in 2012.  Meanwhile Tim Dautaud was axed following confirmation that he was in fact the YouTube “Unicaller” responsible for videos of prank calls.

Meanwhile in Milton…

1.Raitt lays down the gauntlet: Conservative candidate Lisa Raitt officially opened her campaign office.  She told a room packed with supporters she would be the first M.P. for Milton

2. Liberals promise University: The federal Liberals promise to bring a post-secondary campus to Milton.  Post-secondary education is a provincial responsibility.  The most candidate Azim Rizvee could do if elected is to lobby for infrastructure money to help with its construction.

3. N.D.P.: Local theme for the campaign: #HopeforMilton.  Learn more about Alex visit the website.  He announces the campaign song: “We’re all In This Together by the Sam Roberts’ Band.

To come: With Labour Day behind us, the campaigns get serious.

General Election 42: Everyone has baggage

As we all know by now, the 42nd federal election began this past Sunday morning at around 10am.  And it’s going to be looong topping out at 78 days when all is said and done.  This might be a good thing because everyone brings baggage to the campaign.

1. Conservatives: Theirs comes from a number of places. They begin from what should

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's bus sits ready on Parliament Hill on the first day of an election campaign in Ottawa on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Conservatives are the only party to unveil a campaign bus.  Photo source: Canadian Press/ Justin Tang

be a place of strength: incumbency- 10 years of it to be exact.  But there’s a sense of fatigue surrounding this government.  Cabinet ministers are leaving,  and there have been multiple defeats at the hands of the Supreme Court.  The economy is sputtering, and the party unwilling to talk about it. And then the scandals, the most high-profile of which is about Senate spending . Mike Duffy’s trial resumes this week and the one inescapable fact is that Stephen Harper named Duffy to the Senate. An argument can be made this goes to judgement, and judgement can be considered a quality in a good leader.  This is going to make for a rough campaign.

2. NDP: Theirs are labelled: Ontario and Quebec.  The party made historic gains during the last federal election in Quebec.  But those are in some doubt with the return  of Gilles Duceppe to the Bloc Québécois making them a credible alternative.  Outside of Northern Ontario, Hamilton, and sections of Toronto, Ontario has been difficult to crack.  Many still remember Bob Rae as an NDP Premier, and the social contract and won’t vote for them.  What could help the NDP make gains? Position Thomas Mulcair as the pragmatic leader.  Remind voters he was once a Liberal Quebec cabinet minister, and courted by the Conservatives.  Turn the inevitable “flip-flopper” label into flexible, and willing to go for an idea no matter where it comes from.

3. Liberals: It’s Bill C51.  The huge question is how they can reconcile Liberal ideals of freedom of expression, and religion, and the right to a fair trial with the concept of supporting a piece of legislation that arguably does none of that.  This is particularly potent because Justin Trudeau’s father was the one who repatriated the constitution,  and included a Charter of Rights & Freedoms.  It’s about positioning.  They could’ve let the legislation go, and then told us why they opposed it, and they would’ve done differently.  Communication might end up a problem for them too over as the campaign continues.  It’s early days, but it’s looking like Trudeau has a dual message track.  The first is the “fairness for the middle class”, and the second is tailored to whatever area of the country he finds himself in.  And sometimes he’s been leading with the second, instead of the first.  If the “Fairness for the Middle Class” idea is lost in confusion it will lose him the election. And it’ll play into the concept that he’s not ready.

4. Green Party: Two words: Elizabeth May.  Specifically the performance at the press gallery dinner where she appeared less than sober.  The rant on Omar Kahdr, and the federal cabinet was caught on camera.  So was the rescue by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.  When your party is struggling with legitimacy, and trying to win seats these are the last images you need.  It’s going to cause a credibility problem.

Now let’s unpack.