Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Liberal Platform

Today the Liberals released their fully costed platform.  Whether it was a good idea to release it so early is tough tell and I guess we will find out later.  The advantages are it is allows the idea to sink in with the public as it usually takes time before policies sink in and cause voter opinion to shift.  At the same time, it gives the Tories plenty of time to rip apart their platform and attack it.  Looking at the platform, nothing overly controversial that would likely cost them a lot of votes, but little that is attention grabbing either.  It does take a centre-left approach which should help them in their goal to pick up soft NDP and Green voters but will likely do little in picking up soft Tory voters and to win they need to knock about 5 points or more off the Tories which this alone probably won't do.  The one idea that did stick out was having a people's question period where average citizens could submit questions to the prime-minister and cabinet ministers.  This is an idea which I think could popular amongst both soft NDP and Green voters on the left and soft Tory ones on the right.  In fact the Liberals should do more to highlight this as this goes after Harper where he is weakest.  Many who support Harper don't like his arrogance, one man style of governing, or secrecy but vote for him because they feel he is the most competent manager.  This no doubt plays into appealing to this group.  The platform also calls to reduce the deficit, but no real hard numbers on how to do this which likely won't help them although the Tories haven't done this either so no real loss.  I suspect the kind of policies needed to balance the budget aren't going to be overly popular thus why no party wants to run on them as raising taxes or spending cuts, which is what the government will need to do will run into its share of opposition.  As for polling, with few paying attention, I doubt much will change until after the debates at which point we could see some major shifts.  If the Tories perform well, this could turn a majority into a likelihood rather than just a possibility.  While a strong performance by the Liberals or weak one by the Tories would kill the Tories chances at a majority and if the Tories flounder enough could even cause them to lose the election outright.  I will have more on the debates as we get closer and also the aftermath.  Usually it takes a few days to know the full impact as it is not just how well the parties perform, but also how well they can spin their performance as well as how the media reports on it.  I don't expect the NDP platform to come out later, while the Tories have sort of already released their platform as the budget in many ways was their election platform thus anything released will simply provide greater detail, not add much new and if it does contain any surprises it could backfire if they are controversial and also help them too if popular.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Week 1 of the Campaign wrap up

We've now finished the first week of the campaign with four more to go so below is a summary of what has happened and my take.  The Liberals promised to bring back the childcare program.  This has been a promise they have been making since 1993 so not is big a hit as their earlier promises, but considering this is something they have always wanted to do, it would be silly to not promise it.  I cannot see this is either helping or hurting them as most who oppose a national childcare program are probably voting Tory anyways and most who support one are probably already in their camp or the NDP.  This one offers greater flexibility to the provinces which some may pan, but actually makes some sense especially if some provinces swing to the right while their in power.  In particular, if the Wildrose Alliance wins in Alberta or the replacement of Ed Stelmach is more right wing, Alberta probably won't want anything to do with it and likwise if the Ontario PCs win a majority this fall, the same could happen there.  The Tories promised to provide loans to Newfoundland to help support the development of Churchill Falls.  After being shut out of Newfoundland & Labrador last election, this is definitely an issue they could help them regain seats on the Rock and considering that at best they will get a very weak majority every seat does matter.  The problem here is this was widely panned in Quebec so for every seat gain in Atlantic Canada they make over this, they could lose just as many if not more in Quebec.  At the same time the NDP and the Liberals both support this so this no doubt provides any opening to the Bloc Quebecois who are the only party to oppose it.  It also means in all practicality that regardless of the composition of the next parliament, it will go through.  Worried about the damage in Quebec, Harper promised to resolve the HST issue with Quebec so will see if that can offset the anger over Churchill Falls or not.  The NDP promised to scrap subsidies to the oil sands which although this might hurt their chances in Alberta, it probably will sell well elsewhere and ironically enough this is somewhat fiscally conservative as they are not promising to shut down or tax the oil sands as many on the left would advocate, but stop subsidies and tax credits which in the case of the former is not popular with the right no matter which industry it applies to.  They also promised more help to Veterans which seems like not a bad policy as this group tends to vote heavily Tory although considering the NDP is a distant third amongst this group, I am not sure if they have the ability to pick up many votes here, whereas the Liberals if they promised the same policy might.  Harper challenged Ignatieff to a one on one debate only to back out.  This won't look good on Harper and even if it was a mistake to make this challenge he is better to stick to it.  Besides I don't think either Harper or Ignatieff have to strong an edge here as Harper is a decent although not great debater while Ignatieff certainly seems fairly strong, but this is his first election campaign while it is Harper's fourth so I think either side could win or it could be a draw.  Besides I have been consistent that there should be two debates, one between the parties with seats in the House of Commons and one between the two leading parties.  Both would be bilingual debates with questions alternating between English and French.

On the polling this week, not a whole see of change.  The Tories have a solid lead and would either just barely get a majority or just miss it.  The Liberals trail well behind, but show some signs of recovery in the sense they would at least do better than Dion's dismal 26% while the NDP is in their usual 16-20% area.  In Atlantic Canada, there is a high margin of error so polls must be taken with caution but it appears the Liberals are still strong here although the Tories are certainly doing better than last time around.  I do though wonder whether the Tory gains are throughout Atlantic Canada or mostly in Newfoundland & Labrador where they are simply regaining traditional Tory supporters who sat out or voted for someone else due to Williams' ABC campaign.  In Quebec, the Bloc has a solid lead, but only at 40% while the federalist vote is pretty equally split amongst the Liberals, Tories, and NDP.  The Liberals at least have a strong base on the West Island of Montreal thus they will always win at least 8 seats if not more regardless of how poolry they do.  The Tories have held their support since 2008 but with a few regional polls show them declining in the Quebec City area where most of their seats are, I am not convinced they would hold all their seats.  In fact a gain amongst Anglophone and Allophone voters in Montreal countered by a loss in the Quebec City area would produce these numbers yet fewer seats as the Tories are so far behind in Montreal that they would need massive gains to even be competitive in any of the Montreal seats.  In Ontario, most polls show the Tories at over 40% and with a 5-15 point lead while the Liberals languishing in the low 30s.  If the Tories can hold these numbers and not lose seats elsewhere in the country this would be enough for a majority while the Liberals absolutely must do better in Ontario if they want to win nationally.  They need at least 40% in Ontario and have at least a 5 point lead over the Tories, preferably a 10 point lead if they want to win even a weak minority.  There is still four weeks to go, so this can change, but they certainly have their work cut out.  In the Prairies, the Tories still are well ahead but have fallen since last election while the Liberals have gone up.  While that may make the national numbers look more competitive, it has little impact in terms of seats as the Liberals were not competitive last time around in almost all Prairie seats and the Tories won most by massive margins.  In British Columbia, the Tories have consistently polled in the low 40s so slightly down over last election but still high enough to hold at least 20 of their 22 seats and with active targeting they could still easily pick up a few of the close seats they missed last time around.  The Liberals and NDP are battling it out for second place although it looks like the Liberals may have returned to their traditional 25-30% range which they got in every election since 1993 save the last one.  While the closeness may make some worry about vote splitting, most ridings are either safely Tory making strategic voting irrelevant or either the NDP or Liberals have a much better chance.  I don't advocate strategic voting myself, but for those who feel they must do it, best to look at the past three elections and in most ridings it is pretty clear which party one should go for. 

In terms of the campaign, here are my thoughts on each party.

Liberals:  Despite all the criticisms that they were ill prepared for this, they have had a rather strong first week.  Ignatieff looks to be enjoying himself and with a policy per day, they have definitely had a good start.  True it may not be showing in the polls yet, but if one looks back to 2006, the Tories had a very good start yet it took three weeks before they pulled ahead of the Liberals, thus best to keep on doing what they are doing.  If it doesn't work out, that probably means nothing would have.

Conservatives: Harper has been campaigning in the bubble which has been panned by many.  While not a good strategy for gaining votes, it makes it less likely he will make a strategic error and is a common strategy for the front runner to employ in elections.  Still the party would be best to have a plan B in case things do change as once the Liberals start to get momentum it will be tough to reverse it.  We saw this with the Liberals in 2006 what happened once the Tories gained a lot of momentum.  Off course there was the 1988 election where the PCs had a bad start and at one point looked like they might lose the election, yet managed to come back and win a majority so one can recovered if things go badly, but not always. 

NDP:  An okay week in terms of policies, but rather slow although considering Jack Layton's health this was to be expected.  Their main challenge is how to deal with a possible migration of their supporters to the Liberals to block Harper.  Most NDPers hate the Tories and thus the NDP has to give them a good reason not to vote strategically.  It is true in much of the West, the NDP not the Liberals is the best party to vote for if you want to stop the Tories, but in Ontario where they have the greatest number of seats, the opposite is generally true save perhaps a few ridings such as Oshawa.  The only good news in Ontario is most NDP held ridings, the Tories placed in a distant third while in the case of Sault Ste. Marie, they would be the most likely ones to prevent a Tory pickup while Welland is a three way race and could go for any of the parties so blaming vote splitting seems silly.  Even if the Tories do pick this up, there is no guarantee all Liberal supporters would vote NDP as their second choice since after all the Tories are strongest in the rural portions while in most of the urban polls they finish in third while win by a massive margins over both parties in the rural parts thus the division has more to do with divison of the riding if anything. 

Tomorrow the Liberals release their campaign book so I will comment on that.  Whether this is a smart or dumb move strategically to release it so early is tough to say.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Debates, policies, and musical chairs


The Green Party has been excluded which some have said is undemocratic.  Although no hard fast rules exist, it is widely recognized that one needs a seat in the House of Commons  to get in.  In order to bring better clarity of who gets in and who doesn't, the media consortium should state their rules after May 2nd for the following election.  My recommendation would be that only parties with at least one seat in the House of Commons (be it from a defection, by-election, or previous election) and those who have consistently polled over 10% get into the debates.  This would exclude Elizabeth May from the debates.  You cannot have every party in and this should be between parties that either have a chance at winning or playing a significant role in the next parliament.  Also Stephen Harper proposed a one on one debate with Michael Ignatieff which Ignatieff agreed to take.  As proposed by Thomas Axworthy back in 2009, there should also be a one on one debate between the leaders of the top two parties.  I agree with this as after May 2nd, either the Liberals or Conservatives will come in first in terms of seats so there should be a debate between the two who could conceivably be prime-minister.  This doesn't detract from those who wish to vote for other parties, it simply reflects the political reality.


Today, the parties rolled out a few policies.  The Tories promised tax credits for small businesses.  This got little media attention.  It seemed like a decent policy, but considering that it wasn't easy to understand and made little waves, I doubt it will have much impact.  The Liberals proposed an expanded CPP option.  Unlike the learning passport which mostly targets younger voters who generally have a low voter turnout, this one targets seniors or those close to retirement who do generally show up on election day, so politically speaking seemed like a smart move.  It off course had many difficulties since it would require approval of the provinces, but what matters is not workability, but how well it sells and I think this one does the job.  The Liberals also proposed raising the number of parents and grand-parents allowed under family re-unification.  There is plenty of reasons why this is a bad policy considering immigration should be used to expand our tax base and counter the ageing population while this just means even more older people and people using a large chunk of our overburdened health system without paying into it.  I suspect it wouldn't be popular amongst Canadians, but that doesn't mean it wasn't politically smart.  The minority who do support this likely see this as a major issue that could determine how they vote while those who oppose it, likely have this well down the list of policies that matter to them thus it won't probably cost the Liberals that many votes.  The NDP proposed raising corporate taxes to 19.5% (up from the current 16.5%, the Tories proposal of 15% and Liberals of 18%) while cutting the small business tax to 9% from its 11%.  To not look like tax and spend socialists, they promised to ensure our corporate tax rate stays lower than the United States.  This also has plenty of problems, but politically it is definitely a wise policy.  I should note though on corporate taxes it is around a 60/40 split in favour of raising them so it seems that most NDP and Liberal supporters agree with their decision to raise them and most Tory supporters agree to cut them thus its not going to probably move a lot of votes.  The problem here is most large businesses start as small businesses and with higher tax rates on large ones this will act as disincentive to expand into a larger one which creates jobs and is good for the economy.  Still good politics though.

Musical Chairs

In Elgin-Middlesex-London, the NDP candidate dropped out and threw his support behind the Liberals.  This certainly plays well to the Liberal idea that progressive voters only have one choice if they want to stop a Harper majority, while the Tories also spin this as being proof of a coalition.  I tend to find the Liberal argument somewhat stronger although in the riding mentioned, the Tories nearly got 50% last time around, so I doubt it will result in this riding changing hands, although in nearby London West, a large number of NDP voters strategically switching to the Liberals could return this to the Liberals even if the Tories hold their vote or go up slightly.  On the bright side for the Tories, Tony Genco who was the Liberal candidate that faced off against Julian Fantino only four months ago threw his support behind Fantino.  Considering all the nasty things he said about the Tories a mere four months ago, this does look like a case of sour grapes, however, the Tories could use this as proof the Liberals are abandoning the centre for the left thus why they are picking up NDP supporters but losing Liberals to the Tories.  I would think this argument would make more sense than the coalition one.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Elections Predictions - Western Canada and the North

Now that I given the predictions in the East where over half of the population lives, below is my predictions for Western Canada and the three Northern ridings.


Manitoba can be divided into two groups, Rural Manitoba which is staunchly conservative in the South where most people live, while more leftist in the North which is fairly sparsely populated.  Winnipeg is more of a mixed bag with the NDP strongest on the North side which is largely working class and has a long tradition of socialism (This is where the Winnipeg General strike started) while the Liberals on the south side and the Tories along the periphery.  For the Tories the further one gets from downtown the better they do.  In a bad election, it isn't until you reach the Perimeter highway the Tories start winning while in a normal or good election, it is closer to the centre although still well outside the downtown.

The Conservatives should win the five rural ridings they have by a landslide (Dauphin Swan River-Marquette, Selkirk-Interlake, Brandon-Souris, Portage-Lisgar, and Provencher).   I also expect them to hold Charleswood-St. James-Assinboia and Kildonan-St. Paul without too much problem.

Winnipeg South - Strongly favours the Tories but is more a fiscally conservative but socially centrist riding thus if the Tories make a major plunder or the Liberals do well, it could go Liberal.

Saint Boniface - Traditionally favoured the Liberals, but with the Liberals strongest in the heavily Francophone Saint Boniface district while the Tories stronger in the rapidly growing suburbs on the south end of the riding, I would give the edge to the Tories but far from certain.

The NDP should easily take Winnipeg Centre while barring a strong Liberal showing amongst Aboriginal voters in the North, they should also hold Churchill.  Unlike the other rural ridings, the Tories will probably come in a distant third here.

Winnipeg North - Traditionally an NDP stronghold, but Kevin Lemoroux of the Liberals won in an upset during the recent by-election.  The NDP will by fighting hard to regain this and the Liberals to hold his.

Elmwood-Transcona - Was an easy NDP hold when Bill Blaikie was MP due to his personal popularity, but with him gone, it now has a more a urban-suburban split with the NDP strong in the Elmwood portion which is closest to the city centre while the Tories are strongest in Transcona which is more suburban.  With only a 5 point spread, this may lean NDP, but I would not be the least bit surprised if the Tories won here.

For the Liberals they won only one seat last time around and there is a risk that they could get shut out of Manitoba which up until the 90s was the most Liberal friendly Western province and still the most Liberal friendly Prairie province.  Still, I think the Liberals have a 70% chance of at least winning one seat in Manitoba. 

Winnipeg South Centre - A traditional Liberal stronghold and was one of two Western ridings to go Liberal in 1980, however Tory gains in the Western parts as well as amongst the Jewish community (It is the most heavily Jewish riding in Western Canada) due to their pro-Israel stances, this is definitely a riding the Tories will heavily target.  The Liberals may have a very slight edge, but definitely too close to call.  The main thing is how well the NDP does as they have in the past gotten up to 20% thus the better they do, the better the Tories' chances are.


In recent elections, Saskatchewan has taken a strong turn to the right abandoning its NDP roots and electing the Conservative federally while the Saskatchewan Party provincially.  In fact Brad Wall has the highest approval rating of any Canadian premier which will likely help the Conservatives.  Part of the advantage for the Conservatives also goes to the fact the four Saskatoon and Regina ridings are 50/50 urban/rural ridings rather than entirely within the city limits thus the Conservatives' massive margins in the rural areas gives them at minimum the advantage in these ridings.  There are six Rural Saskatchewan ridings of which five (Battlefords-Lloydminster, Cypress Hills-Grasslands, Souris-Moose Mountain, Prince Albert, and Yorkton-Melville) should go solidly Conservative.  There are four Regina and four Saskatoon ridings.  While the NDP is strong in the urban core, the Tories dominate the rural portions of the riding.  Since Regina has a large civil service is somewhat more left leaning than Saskatoon.

In addition to the five ridings mentioned above, the Conservatives should easily hold Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre, Regina-Qu'appelle, Saskatoon-Humboldt, Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, and Blackstrap.

Palliser includes Moose Jaw which is somewhat more competitive so although I suspect the Tories will win this, this is one of two ridings the NDP has a shot at winning. 

Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, is 60% aboriginal, but this group typically has a very low turnout and could go either NDP or Liberal.  A strong turnout by the aboriginal community and if they vote solidly either NDP as they did in 1997 or Liberal as in 2000 or 2006 could cause this riding to flip, otherwise it should stay Conservative.

Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar - In the past four elections, this has been quite close despite the slight edge for the Tories (and Alliance in 2000) thus it wouldn't take much to flip this to the NDP.  However, the Tories now hold the incumbent advantage which they didn't last time around thus if I had to make a prediction, I would give the Tories a 60% chance and the NDP a 40% chance of picking this up.  Nonetheless, in his three attempts, Jack Layton has been shut out of Saskatchewan and if he wishes to breakthrough, this seems like his best hope.

Wascana - Unlike other ridings, this is 90% urban and only 10% rural thus the strong Tory margins in the rural portions don't have quite the same impact as the other ridings in Saskatchewan.  Ralph Goodale has enough personal popularity that barring a meltdown he should hold this although his margins have narrowed, so I give the Tories a 10% of pulling this off.  I would likewise give the Tories a 5% chance of sweeping Saskatchewan which would be the first time since 1979 they have swept a province of other than Alberta (they swept PEI in 1979). 


Alberta has long been described as the most Conservative province in Canada.  Provincially, it has elected centre-right parties in every election since 1935 and most elections it is question whether it will be a Tory sweep or just Tory dominance but not a complete sweep.  Rural Alberta is the most Conservative area in Canada and the Tories routinely get over 70% and sometimes 80% meaning they should win all these in a landslide (Fort McMurray-Athabasca, Peace River, Westlock-St. Paul, Yellowhead, Vegreville-Wainwright, Wetaskiwin, Red Deer, Wild Rose, Crowfoot, Wild Rose, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, and Macleod).  Calgary may be one of the larger cities, but unlike other large cities, it goes solidly Conservative.  Expect the Conservatives to easily hold all eight ridings here (Calgary Southwest, Calgary West, Calgary-Nose Hill, Calgary Northeast, Calgary East, Calgary Southeast, Calgary Centre, and Calgary Centre-North).  Edmonton is the most left leaning part of Alberta and was even once nick named Redmonton.  Despite that it is still fairly conservative especially when one considers five of the eight ridings extend into the countryside.  Nonetheless it is the one part of Alberta that the NDP and Liberals at least have a fighting chance at winning a seat or two. 

In Edmonton, the Tories should easily hold Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beamont, Edmonton-Leduc, Edmonton-Spruce Grove, and Edmonton-St. Albert.

Edmonton-Sherwood Park will elect a small "c" conservative candidate the question is whether it is Tory candidate Tim Uppal or independent Conservative candidate James Ford who almost won in 2008.  Unlike other ridings where it is a battle between left and right wing parties, this will be a battle between two right wing candidates.

Edmonton East - This maybe one of the least Conservative ridings in the province, but the party has still averaged close to 50% each election.  The NDP is running former provincial NDP leader Ray Martin so an NDP upset is possible, but highly unlikely, thus I suspect the Tories will probably hold this.

Edmonton Centre - Not too long ago was a Liberal riding, although Anne McLellan's wins were never by very much and considering her personal popularity I cannot see this swinging back to the Liberals and the NDP is too weak to realistically win here, thus probably a Tory win, although likely with only a plurality unlike almost all other Alberta ridings where they will likely get over 50%.

Edmonton-Strathcona - This will without question be the most closely watched riding in Alberta.  The NDP won this in 2008 preventing the Tories from making a complete sweep of Alberta.  However, considering much of their support came from the Western parts where the university is and also a large number of young single/common law renters live, they could face a tough fight as the demographic that put the NDP over the top is the least likely to vote.  At this point, this is too close to call.

British Columbia

Of the Western provinces, this is probably the biggest battleground.  The Tories hold 22 seats out of 36, but it is not as solidly Conservative as the Prairie provinces are while the NDP has long been competitive in BC and even won three times provincially.  The Liberals only got 5 seats and will likely remain in third place, but they still have pockets of support, mainly in the Greater Victoria area and Vancouver and the neighbouring suburbs.  The BC Interior is generally a Conservative stronghold, particularly in the Okanagan Valley and Peace River District.  As it is a very mountainous area, the geography changes with every mountain range crossed and so do the politics, meaning the NDP has a few pockets of support, primarily the West Kootenays and North Coast.  Vancouver Island due to its strong union presence has traditionally been a bastion for NDP support, but with the rapid growth of older upper middle class voters in the Northern suburbs of Victoria as well as retirees along the East Coast from Departure Bay in Nanaimo to Comox, the Tories are equally competitive and strongest in the fastest growing sections, while the Liberals have some support in the Greater Victoria area but it is quite soft.  In the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley is the most Conservative region of BC and one the most conservative in the country outside Alberta while the suburbs lean to the right but the Liberals and NDP are competitive in some, especially the inner suburbs in the case of the Liberals and the suburbs along the Sky Train route for the NDP although the Tories hold most ridings and are competitive in the few they didn't win.  The City of Vancouver proper tilts more to the left and thus the Tories haven't won a seat in the city proper since 1988, but after a near win in Vancouver South last time around, they are hoping to end their drought in the city proper and also win seats in addition to the NDP and Liberals who already hold seats here. 

Solid Conservative: Prince George-Peace River, Cariboo-Prince George, Okanagan-Shuswap, Kootenay-Columbia, Okanagan-Coquihalla, Kelowna-Lake Country, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, Delta-Richmond East, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon.

Likely or lean Conservative

Kamloops-Thomspon-Cariboo - The City of Kamloops is split between the more affluent areas south of the Thompson river that favour the Tories and the more working class area north of the river that favour the NDP.  But with the rural areas being generally Conservative, the Conservatives have an edge although their margins have generally been less than other Interior ridings and a strong NDP showing in BC could put this in jeopardy.

Nanaimo-Alberni - Once an NDP stronghold but with the population decline in resource towns such as Port Alberni and growth of retirees stretching from the northern end of Nanaimo to Qualicum Beach, this now favours the Tories and would only go NDP in the event of a major Tory decline in BC. 

Saanich-Gulf Islands - With Elizabeth May running here, the Green Party may have a shot at their first seat in parliament ever.  The problem is more people live in the Northern suburbs on the island than the Gulf Islands and the Northern suburbs are fairly centre-right unlike the Gulf Islands thus advantage Tories. 

North Vancouver - A very tight race in the past three elections but much of that had to do with Don Bell's personal popularity.  With him not running again, I think the advantage is heavily tilted in favour of the Tories.  Only if the Liberals make strong gains in BC will they have a shot at this.

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission - In 2004 and 2006, the Tories beat out the NDP by a relatively small margin but won by a large margin in 2008.  Over 90% chance of staying Tory, but considering the unpredictability of BC, an NDP upset is possible but unlikely.

Richmond - Went Liberal in 1993, 1997, 2004, and 2006 but thanks to the strong Tory inroads amongst the Chinese community they easily won it in 2008.  Unless the Liberals can somehow re-connect with the Chinese community who are generally centre-right considering Richmond includes three of the safest BC Liberal ridings (The BC Liberals are more of a conservative than Liberal party although include members from both) this should stay Tory.

Fleetwood-Port Kells - The Tory support is not particularly strong here, but rather neither the NDP or the Liberals are strong enough to knock them off on their own.  Each have their areas of support but unless the centre-left vote heavily unites behind one of the two parties the Tories should hold this.  Besides this area leans towards the centre-right BC Liberals provincially meaning some Liberals probably have the Tories rather than NDP as their second choice.

Toss-ups or too close to call Tory held ridings.

Vancouver Island North - A tight NDP-Tory race in the past two elections and should be again.  The Tories are strong in the retirement communities in the southern parts of the ridings while the NDP more in the resource ones to the North.  Who can do a better job of getting their voters out will win.

Surrey North - This is normally a solid NDP riding as they got over 70% in the last provincial election in this area and Penny Priddy won by 18% in the 2006 federal election but Donna Cadman won for the Tories largely based on the popularity of her late husband Chuck Cadman.  Considering the closeness last time around and Cadman's low key profile should be a close race and if the Tories lose any Lower Mainland ridings, it would probably be here.

NDP ridings.

They will definitely win Vancouver East and unless something totally unpredictable happens I suspect they will aslo win Nanaimo-Cowichan, Victoria, and Burnaby-New Westminster.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley and British Columbia Southern Interior will probably stay NDP considering they won by over 10% last time around, but the Tories do have their strengths, especially in the interior parts of SBV and the western parts of BCSI so a weak turnout by the NDP voters and strong one by the Tories could flip this, but otherwise should stay NDP. 

Vancouver-Kingsway - Went Liberal in the past, but after David Emerson's defection to the Tories this left a sour taste in many's mouths.  The NDP vote has consistently been around 35% give or take a few percentage points, the main difference in 2008 is the Tories made strong gains largely at the expense of the Liberals.  This riding has a large Chinese and Filipino population who the Tories have aggressively targeted.  The Tories have no chance at winning this, but if the Liberals wish to win this they need to convince traditional Liberal voters who switched from the Liberals to the Tories to come back to the Liberals which won't be easy. 

New Westminster-Coquitlam and Burnaby-Douglas are likely to be tight NDP-Tory battles.  The Liberals have no chance at winning but they could play the spoiler role.  Both ridings have large ethnic communities who have traditionally voted Liberal but many switched to the Tories last time around.  Further Tory gains amongst ethnic voters would help them take these two ridings while the Liberals regaining some of the lost ethnic votes would make these two safer for the NDP.  At this point too close to call although New Westminster-Coquitlam has a slight NDP tilt while Burnaby-Douglas is a 50/50 chance in terms of winning. 

Liberal ridings

Vancouver Centre is probably the safest of the five Liberal ridings since although not a very strong Liberal riding, its demographics are even less favourable to other parties.  The high end condos in Yaletown and Coal Harbour aren't favourable to the NDP while the large Gay population in the West End won't help the Tories thus the Liberals may very well get under 40% but will probably still win due to the simple fact they have support in all parts of the riding and amongst all groups. 

Vancouver-Quadra - An affluent riding, but includes the left leaning Kitsilano and the university thus unless the Greens and NDP siphon off a large number of votes, it should stay Liberal.  The Tories have a ceiling under 40% thus without a strong split on the centre-left they cannot win this. 

Newton-North Delta - A three way race with the edge to the Liberals followed by the Tories and then NDP.  This riding has the largest South Asian population in Canada and although they tend to favour the Liberals, the Tories have aggressively targeted this group while the NDP provincially has done well amongst South Asians thus gains by either of these parties could increase their chance of winning this riding. 

Vancouver South - With a 22 vote gap, this will be one to watch.  70% are immigrants and visible minorities who traditionally went Liberal, but the Tories have made strong gains amongst.  The Chinese are the largest who the Tories have gained significantly amongst, but this riding also has a large East Indian population who they've made less inroads amongst and generally have a higher voter turnout.  Despite this, the Tories could still win this and lose seats nationally and likewise a Tory majority nationally does not mean a win here as BC has a long history of bucking the national trend. 

Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca - A Keith Martin riding not a Liberal one.  In fact prior to 2004, the last time they won this was in 1968 during Trudeaumania.  This should be an NDP-Tory battleground as the Tories almost won last time around, but in 2004 and 2006 the main challenge came from the NDP as well as this is a strong NDP area provincially.  It will come down to whom has the better turnout and also where do the Keith Martin personal votes migrate to.


Yukon - Likely Liberal

Party label is less of an issue than individual candidate.  Incumbents are rarely turfed thus why it stays with one party for long periods be it PC from 1957-1987, NDP from 1987-2000 and Liberals from 2000-present.  The Tories are hoping the strong opposition to the gun registry will put them over the top, but I suspect Larry Bagnell's personal popularity even if most in the riding disagree with him on this issue will allow him to hold this one.

Western Arctic - Three way race with very slight edge to the NDP

Ideology and party label are largely irrelevant in this riding, people generally vote based on who is the best candidate.  The NDP have the incumbent advantage but the Liberals have former premier Joe Handley and the Tories have former provincial cabinet minister Susan Lee.  Expect a tight race with any of the three having a decent shot at winning. 

Nunavut - Likely Conservative

It was a three way race last time around, but like other Northern ridings, people vote based on candidate, not party label or the ideology of the party.  With neither the NDP or the Liberals having a well known candidate at the moment and the fact their MP is minister of health, it should go Tory unless the Liberals and NDP can recruit some star candidate who is quite popular.  Add to the fact this riding is often ignored thus having someone on the government side is preferable for many over the opposition benches and at this point it looks highly likely that the Tories will win federally.

Anyways here is a summary of results.

Solidy Tory 92 seats, likely Tory 129 seats, win all their toss ups 161 seats, Highest possible 188 seats, so this gives an average of 145 seats meaning a solid minority but still short of a majority although a majority is more likely than losing at this point but they still could lose if they make a major blunder.

For the Liberals, solid Liberal 39 seats (ouch if your a Liberal), likely Liberal 59 seats, win all their toss up seats 89 seats and highest possible 130 seats.  So a Liberal minority is possible but they have to win all their toss ups plus some of the likely wins for other parties.

Bloc Quebecois: Solid Bloc 39 seats, likely Bloc 44 seats, win all their toss ups 55 seats, and highest possible is 62 seats thus their results are probably the most predictable of all parties, despite the volatility in Quebec.  Not likely to break their 49% they got in 1993 and 2004, but could break the 54 seats they won in both elections. 

NDP: Solid NDP 11 seats, likely NDP 23 seats, win all their toss ups 44 seats and highest possible is 58 seats.  No chance of them winning the election, but the could break Ed Broadbent's 1988 record of 43 seats and under a perfect scenario form the official opposition (although I would say there is less than a 1% chance of this happening).  The absolute worse case scenario which is highly improbable has them falling below 12 seats and losing their official party status.

First few day policies by leaders

In the last two days, the leaders have proposed their first policies.  Yesterday, the Tories proposed income splitting which while this sounds popular on the surface it won't kick in until 2015.  This was widely panned by many and seemed like it was badly handled, however, considering it would take effect just before the next election if the Tories won a majority, I wonder if this was deliberate as a way to motivate those to give them a majority as otherwise this would be some future election promise.  Today, the Tories promised a cut in taxes for small businesses.  Seems like not a bad policy politically since policies that help small businesses are generally popular amongst the public as opposed to those that help large corporations.  In addition, small business owners tend to be more numerous in rural and suburban Canada where the Tories are strongest and hope to pick up seats as opposed to the urban centres.  Also this might help them amongst the immigrants who came in under the investor class.  There are four primary immigration categories.  The Tories aren't likely to get many votes from those who came as refugees or family class, so it makes sense to focus on those coming in under the economic class and business class who are more likely to be open to voting Tory.

For the Liberals, they proposed a $1,000 education passport.  Asides from whether this is a good idea or not, it makes sense politically,  The Tories are strongest amongst oldest voters who are most likely to show up at the polls on election day, while the Liberals have traditionally done better amongst younger voters.  The problem is youth turnout is quite low and Ignatieff doesn't have the charisma like Obama, JFK, or Trudeau had, so if he wants to motivate the youth vote, he needs to find a policy that reasonates and post-secondary education is without question the area that is best to target.  The only problem is many youth voters are so apathetic that I wonder how many know about this.  On the positive side, this may sell well amongst those in their 50s since many have children in their teens who will be going on to PSE in the next few years, so he could gain some here. 

For the NDP, they proposed reducing credit card fees, which is politically popular, but economically stupid, but considering the NDP has 0% chance at winning the next election they only have to worry about the former not the latter.  The problem here is without the high fees, credit card companies would be less likely to give credit cards to lower income individuals as there is too great a risk of them not paying their bills or defaulting on their credit.  Still, if it is popular and will sell amongst the public, that is really all that matters as the NDP won't form the next government so unlike the Liberals and Tories, they don't have to think about whether the policy is workable or not. 

Monday, 28 March 2011

Ontario Predictions

In the last election, the Tories won 51 seats, Liberals 38 seats, NDP 17 seats.  Since then the Tories picked up on in a close by-election from the Liberals.  Ontario can be split in six regions by area codes.  The 416 was is mostly Liberal with a few NDP ridings near the waterfront and a few suburban ones the Tories might have a shot at if they win a majority, but I wouldn't surprised if they get shut out again.  The 905 belt is the big battleground with the Tories generally being more solid the further one gets from the city while the ridings closer to the city are the ones the Tories need to win if they want to get a majority while the outerlying suburbs are the ones the Liberals need to win if they wish to return to office.  The 705 area code is Central Ontario which is all Conservative and will probably stay that way.  The 519 is Southwestern Ontario is mostly Conservative but with a rural/urban split and places such as Kitchener, London, Guelph, and Brantford being your battlegrounds.  Windsor is solidly NDP and those are the two 519 ridings the Tories have no chance at winning.  Northern Ontario is an NDP-Liberal battlegound with the Liberals fighting to regain the ridings they lost due to opposition to the carbon tax last time around, while the Tories are hoping to improve on their two seats they already hold due to their opposition to the gun registry which is quite unpopular in Northern Ontario, nevertheless in all but one, they have a rather steep hill to climb.  The 613 is Eastern Ontario and this has been the base of where the Tories have expanded their support in Ontario.  In 2000, the Canadian Alliance won 2 seats in Ontario, both in this region; in 2004 the Tories got above 50% in three ridings in Ontario, also all in this region, while 6 of the 7 ridings where the Tories got over 50% in 2006 where here and 7 of 10 ridings they got above 55% were here.  Otherwise most of these are staunchly Tory, nonetheless, urban Ottawa and Kingston tilt more the left where the Liberals and NDP have won some seats.


Solid Conservative: Durham, Whitby-Oshawa, York-Simcoe, Burlington, Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, Niagara West-Glanbrook, St. Catherines, Niagara Falls, Simcoe North, Barrie, Dufferin-Caledon, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Wellington-Halton Hills, Kitchener-Conestoga, Cambridge, Perth-Wellington, Oxford, Huron-Burce, Elgin-Middlesex-London, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, Chatham-Kent-Essex, Sarnia-Lambton, Parry Sound-Muskoka, Renfrew-Nippissing-Pembroke, Carleton-Mississippi Mills, Nepean-Carleton, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, Leeds-Grenville, Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Prince Edward-Hastings, Northumberland-Quinte West (32 seats)

Likely Conservative:

In the 905 belt, barring a major blunder the Tories should hold both Newmarket-Aurora and Halton.

Simcoe-Grey could be an interesting depending on the Guergis effect but I doubt she will split the vote enough for the Liberals to win or win it herself, but rather the Tories will win it with a much smaller percentage of the vote.

Haldimand-Norfolk - a very long shot, but considering it is held by the Tories provincially and was won in 2004, I think a Liberal win is quite unlikely.

Essex - Although its close proximity to Windsor does somewhat weaken Tory support as well as the Liberals + NDP would easily surpass them assuming every voter who voted for one would favour the other, still barring some major change in the polls it should stay Tory.

Ottawa West-Nepean - Although Baird only won by nine points, in 2004 the Tories came up only two points short suggesting they have a floor of 38-40% while a ceiling of 50% thus they will probably win, but not by massive margins.

Glengarry-Prescott-Russell - Due its Francophone majority, it is one of the few rural ridings the Liberals have an outside chance of winning, but the trend has been heavily in the Conservatives favour despite the fact this was once one of the safest Liberal ridings in the country.  The Tories run even amongst Francophones and their massive margins amongst the Anglophones make it difficult for the Liberals.

Peterborough - Generally a bellwether riding, but with a 16 margin to overcome, the university being out of session, this is a long shot.  In fact a Liberal national win is probably more likely than this going Liberal and the last time it elected an opposition member was 1980 and this was a Conservative.

Lean Conservative

In the 905 belt, Oakville and Thornhill favour the Tories but if the Liberals get some strong momentum an upset is possible.

Oshawa - A Consevative-NDP battle but with most of the growth on the Eastern and Northern sections which are mostly upper middle class suburban families as opposed to the inner core which is more your blue collar union workers, the trend is generally in favour of the Conservatives.  And they usually get around 2-3% above the Ontario average so if the Tories are polling in the low 40s in Ontario pretty tough to beat them regardless of how well the NDP does.

Brant - After favouring centre-left parties for over 50 years it turned to the right in 2008, but when one considers the Tories almost won this in 2004 and 2006, hardly a Liberal stronghold it once was.  Brantford is pretty evenly split, while the 25% who live in the rural sections will likely go strongly Tory, so lean Tory, but a Liberal win under the right conditions is possible.

Kenora - Long an NDP-Liberal battleground, the Tories pulled off a first win in over 75 years in 2008.  It could go either NDP or Liberal if there is a strong turnout amongst aboriginal voters who make up 1/3 of the riding, but with many of the reserves only accesible by air, turnout is often quite low and the Tories are stongest in the southern parts.  Also the unpopularity of the gun registry maybe the Tories best weapon to keep this riding which is deeply unpopular here. 

Ottawa-Orleans - In the past three elections, this has been surprisingly close and has not shown the big swings other ridings have.  Due to its large Francophone minority it use to be staunchly Liberal but now leans Tory but if the Liberals do make any gains in the 613 area code, this would be their best hope.

The Battleground Tory held ridings

Both Oak Ridges-Markham and Mississauga-Erindale were narrowly won by the Tories last time around.  If they hope to get a majority they need to expand and pick up other close ones while if the Liberals even want to weaken the Tory minority let alone win, these are must wins.  Favours the Tories based on the current polls, but this could easily change in their Liberals favour so too close to call. 

Kitchener Centre and Kitchener-Waterloo were big time upsets against two long-time Liberal incumbents.  If the Liberals make any gains in Ontario, it would be these two.  Likewise with the Tories only getting 36%, a weakening of the NDP and Green vote could cost them the riding even if their share of the popular vote remains the same or increases slightly.  They really need to crack the 40% mark if they wish to ensure this stays with them.

London West - Also another close battle in the urban 519 but a bit more favourable for the Tories than the two Kitchener ridings, but still a close race.


Safe Liberal ridings: Davenport, Toronto Centre, Don Valley East, Willowdale, St. Paul's, York South-Weston, York West, Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Ignatieff's riding), Etobicoke Centre, Etobicoke North, Scarborough Southwest, Scarborough Centre, Scarborough-Guildwood, Scarborough-Agincourt, Scarborough-Rouge River, Pickering-Scarborough East, Markham-Unionville, Mississauga-Brampton South, Mississauga East-Cooksville, Ottawa-Vanier (20 seats)

Likely Liberal:

Beaches-East York has been a riding that the NDP has normally been quite competitive in, but thanks to Maria Minna's popularity and left leaning views, this has stayed Liberal, but with their strength here a strong surge for the NDP and strong decline for the Liberals could flip this to the NDP although in terms of likelihood of going NDP, it would put this as the fourth most likely in Toronto.

Richmond Hill and Mississauga-Streetsville will probably stay Liberal unless the Tories make bigger than expected gains amongst ethnic voters which based on the results in 2008 cannot be ruled out.

Nippissing-Timiskaming has bucked the trend as the Liberals have increased their vote since 2004 and the Tories have declined, however the unpopularity of the gun registry could reverse this although probably not enough to hand it to the Tories.

Ottawa South - Despite its competiveness in 2004 and 2006, David McGuinty seems to have a high enough profile that barring a major meltdown he should keep it in the Liberal fold.  After Ottawa-Vanier, it is the safest Liberal seat outside the GTA in Ontario. 

Lean Liberal:

Bramelea-Gore-Malton is probably the least vulnerable of the three Brampton ridings but if the Tories can make strong inroads amongst South Asian voters, they could pull off a win here.

Guelph - With the university a fairly centre-left riding, however if the Tories can increase their vote to 33% and there is a strong split on the centre-left with the Greens and NDP, this could go Tory.

London North Centre - Unlike the other two ridings which tend to favour certain demographics and lean in one direction, this is a mix of everything thus why the Liberals do well, but when one considers they only won by 6% last time around and the Tories strong poll numbers now in Ontario, this could be vulnerable. 

The Battlegrounds

The Tories have been shut out of the 416 in the last three elections, but last time around came close and should they make a breakthrough, Don Valley West, Eglinton-Lawrence, and York Centre would be the most likely to fall in their favour.  Expect them to put a lot of effort into winning these.

Closer to downtown, Parkdale-High Park will be a close fight between two high profile candidates from the NDP and Liberals with the NDP fighting to retake the riding and the Liberals trying to hang on.

In the 905 belt, the Liberals will be fighting to retake Vaughan and the Tories to hold onto it after narrowly winning in a by-election.

Brampton-Springdale and Brampton West were won by extremely narrow margins and are definitely top of the list of Tory targets in the GTA and Ontario thus which way these go will be a good sign of whether we are heading for a Tory majority or minority and likewise if they aren't even close we might be talking about a Liberal win.

Mississauga South and Ajax-Pickering may be less diverse than the other 905 ridings, but are definitely tough battlegrounds as the Tories try to push towards the city and the Liberals try to push them back out towards the countryside.

Kingston & the Islands - With long-time incumbent Peter Miliken resigning and the fact the university is not in session, the Tories will be targeting this quite heavily trying to increase their dominance in Eastern Ontario, while the Liberals will fight to keep this in their column.

NDP ridings

Solid NDP: Toronto-Danforth, Hamilton Centre, Windsor-Tecumseh, Windsor West, Timmins-James Bay (5 seats)

Likely NDP:

Hamilton East-Stoney Creek - Favours the NDP although the Liberals generally tend to do well in Stoney Creek however being suburban in nature the Tories are also competitive here but weak in the Hamilton portion making it unwinneable for the Tories so the Liberals have to appeal to the soft NDP and Tory votes if they want to win which is an uphill battle.

Hamilton Mountain:  The Liberals are running a former Ontario MPP, the question is if the gain votes, will this come at the expense of the Tories as the Tories wouldn't have to up much to get 33% and a strong split on the centre-left could allow them to slip up the middle, nonetheless the Liberals and Tories could only win under ideal conditions thus favouring the NDP

London-Fanshawe - Favours the NDP, but a strong Tory uptick could flip this in their favour but a long shot.

Thunder Bay-Rainy River and Thunder Bay-Superior North favour the NDP however there is an outside chance of a Liberal win especially if any Tory gains on the gun registry issue come at the expense of the NDP.

Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing and Nickel Belt should go NDP barring a major decline in support in Northern Ontario.  If they do lose those ridings, it will be to the Liberals, not Conservatives.

Ottawa Centre - Favours NDP, but with its centre-left tilt you have a lot of Liberal-NDP swing votes and a left wing platform by the Liberals could help them there (albeit hurt them elsewhere).

Lean NDP:

Trinity-Spadina - The growth a high end apartments along the lakeshore favours the Liberals as well as a strong turnout amongst the Italian and Chinese community and to a lesser extent Portuguese community.  Nonetheless Olivia Chow being Jack Layton's wife probably helps the NDP.  Also a relatively young population helps the NDP so youth vote turnout also could make a difference.  NDP advantage but far from certain.

The Battlegrounds

Welland - A tight three way race and could go for any of the three parties.  The NDP do well in the heavily industrial urban areas of Welland, Port Colborne, and Thorold but have limited support elsewhere while the Tories almost won last time and tend to win big on the rural sections combined with a 25-30% in the built up areas.  The Liberals have previous incumbent John Maloney thus despite being the least likely party to win this, they still could win here.

Sudbury - If the Liberals regain any of their losses in Northern Ontario, this their best hope.  The Tories have no chance at winning this but could play the spoiler role depending on whether they gain or lose votes and from who.

Sault Ste. Marie - The Tories had a strong second place showing and with the opposition to the gun registry this could put them over the top in this centre-left riding.  The Liberals did well in 2004 and 2006 thus there is an outside chance of winning, but more likely they will play kingmaker if anything.

Tomorrow I will do the West and the three Northern ridings.  Although the majority are safe Tory ridings, there still are some battlegrounds in the West and even a few ridings in Winnipeg and Vancouver where the Tories will likely come in third.

Election predictions - Quebec

In Quebec there are 75 ridings, 49 that went Bloc Quebecois last time around, 14 Liberal, 10 Conservative, one NDP, and one Independent.  In a by-election the Conservatives picked up one more to increase their seat count to 11.  The Bloc Quebecois should win at least half the seats, while the Tories will fight to hold what they have and the Liberals could gain or lose but barring some seismic shift which is not impossible in Quebec, there likely won't be too many changes while the NDP will win between 0-2 seats.  By region, Eastern Quebec favours the Bloc, Appalaches-Chaudieres is the one Tory stronghold left, Eastern Townships may not be a separtist stronghold but the weakness of Liberal and Tory support means the Bloc should hold most of these.  For the Montreal Suburbs, most should be easy Bloc Quebecois with a few of the more densely populated and more diverse ridings could be competitive.  The Outaoais should be a battleground, solidly Bloc in Central Quebec, while in Quebec City the refusal to fund the arena could put some or all of the Tory seats in jeopardy while Northern Quebec should favour the Bloc with Tories competitive in the Saguenay region.  On the Island of Montreal, the Bloc should dominate the East end, the Liberals the West end while a few battleground in between

Bloc Quebecois:

Safe Bloc Quebecois: Gaspesie-Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Rimouski-Neigette-Temiscouata-Les Basques, Richmond-Arthabaska, Bas-Richelieu-Nicolet-Becancour, Compton-Stanstead, Shefford, Sherbrooke, Saint Hyacinthe-Bagot, Drummond, Saint Jean, Beauharnois-Salaberry, Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Chateaguay-Saint Constant, Longueuil-Pierre Boucher, St. Bruno-St. Hubert, Vercheres-Les Patriotes, Chambly-Borduas, Laurier-Saint Marie, Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, Hochelaga, La Pointe-de-l'Ile, Marc-Aurele-Fortin, Terrebonne-Blainville, Riviere du Nord, Laurentides-Labelle, Rivieres-des-Milles-Iles, Argenteuil-Papineau-Mirabel, Abitibi-Temiscamingue, Montcalm, Repentigny, Berthier-Maskinoge, Joliette, Trois Rivieres, Saint Maurice-Champlain, Quebec, Louis-Hebert, Montmorency-Charlevoix-Haute-Cote Nord, Manicouagan, Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou (39)

Vulnerable Bloc ridings (those won in 2008, not necessarily held now):

Haute-Gaspesie-La Mitis-Matane-Metapadia - Favours the Bloc Quebecois but former MNA Nancy Charest could allow for a Liberal upset in this traditionally separtist riding

Montmagny-L'Islet-Kamouraska-Riviere du Loup - The Tories picked this up in the by-election but are in a tough fight with the Bloc Quebecois who want to retake this.

Brome-Missiquoi - With the Bloc MP stepping down, the Anglophone population at 15%, this is one of the few rural Quebec ridings the Liberals have a decent shot at taking.

Saint Lambert - Favours Bloc Quebecois, if they can get some wind in their sails, the Liberals could win this.  Laval and Alfred-Pellan would also fall under this category.

Jeanne Le Ber and Ahuntsic - Extremely tight races in the last three elections and is likely to be again.  whichever way they go, it will likely be a long night for both the Bloc and Liberal candidates.

Gatineau - A three way race between the Bloc Quebecois, Liberals, and NDP with any of the three having a decent shot of winning.

Chicoutimi-Le Fjord - If the Tories make any gains in Quebec, this would be it, but unless they can get in the upper 20s province wide, I expect this to stay Bloc.


Safe Liberal ridings - Lac-St. Louis, Pierrefonds-Dollards, Saint Laurent-Cartierville, Mount Royal, Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine, La Salle-Emard, Westmount-Ville Marie, Bourassa, St. Leonard-St. Michel (9 seats)

Likely Liberal - Honore-Mercier, Laval-les Iles, Hull-Aylmer

Toss-ups or nail biter races: Brossard-La Prairie and Papineau (Justin Trudeau's riding so cheers for those who hate the Trudeau name if he loses, tears for those who support the Trudeau brand).


Guaranteed Tory win: Beauce

Win as long as they stay above 15% province wide: Levis-Bellechasse, Lotbiniere-Chutes-de-la-Chaudieres, Megantic-L'Erable.

Lean Tory but somewhat vulnerable: Pontiac (both Liberals and Bloc have equal chances here), Louis-St. Laurent, and Jonquiere-Alma

Toss-ups: Charlesbourg-Haute-Saint Charles and Roberval-Lac Saint Jean

Tough re-election battle: Beauport-Limoliou


Outremont will likely be a tight Liberal-NDP battle as former Chretien cabinet minister Martin Cauchon tries to return it to its Liberal roots and NDP heavyweight Thomas Mulclair tries to keep it in the NDP fold.


Portneuf-Jacques Cartier will probably go Bloc Quebecois although Andre Arthur may hang on, but I wouldn't count on it as independents rarely win three elections in a row.

First election predictions - Atlantic Canada

It is still early in the election and a lot can change between now and election day.  So this below looks at what seats each party has locked up and for the battlegrounds who has the edge and what are the chances.  This is meant as a starting point and each Monday I will update this based on changes that occur.  What I don't update is where no change has happened.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Last election, the Liberals won 6 seats and the NDP one seat.  Of the four seats off the Avalon peninsula (Labrador, Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, Random-Burin-St. George's) these have long been Liberal strongholds with few exceptions and although I expect the Tories to do better than in 2008, I still expect the Liberals to easily hold these four.  In Avalon, the Liberals picked this up due to William's ABC Campaign, but with Danny Williams no longer premier and the desire to at least have one member on the side of government this is likely to a be another battleground.  At the moment, I would give the Liberals the edge, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Tories retake this.  For St. John's South-Mount Pearl, this was a traditional Tory seat, but last time around was a tight NDP-Liberal fight.  No doubt the NDP will have their eyes on this, but with the Tories set to run former provincial cabinet minister Loyola Sullivan and many ex-Tories who switched due to the ABC campaign, the Tories could also be a factor, although I still think an NDP or Liberal win far more likely, nevertheless I expect the Tories to do much better than the dismal 12% they got last time around.  In St. John's East, this may have once been a Tory stronghold, but Jack Harris has enough popularity that I expect this to stay NDP.

Nova Scotia

In the last election, the Liberals won 5 seats, Tories 3 seats, NDP 2 seats, and one Independent.  In the case of the two Cape Breton ridings (Cape Breton-Canso and Sydney-Victoria), I expect the Liberals to easily hold these two while despite the Tory strength in Mainland Rural Nova Scotia, I expect the Liberals to also hold Kings-Hants, while they should hold Halifax West too.  Dartmouth-Cole Harbour leans Liberal, but an NDP pickup is possible here however.  For the Tories, I expect they will hold Central Nova and Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, while West Nova and South Shore-St. Margaret's are likely to be tough fights with the Liberals the main opponent in West Nova and the NDP in South Shore-St. Margaret's.  I would give the Tories a slight edge in both ridings, but this could easily change.  For the NDP, they should easily hold Sackville-Eastern Shore while Halifax favours the NDP but the sagging popularity of the provincial government could make this susceptible to a Liberal pickup.

Prince Edward Island

Last election, the Liberals took 3 seats, while the Tories won their first seat in PEI in over 20 years ending the long Tory drought on the island.  Cardigan should be an easy Liberal hold since their incumbent is running for re-election and they won by large margins last time around.  Charlottetown went solidly Liberal in the past three elections, but so did Egmont in 2004 and 2006 and like Egmont last election, the incumbent is retiring.  Now considering this one is more urban and includes much of the civil service, I believe it will be tougher for the Tories to take this, still I don't think the Liberals have a lock on it.  Leans Liberal, but not locked up.  Malpeque was a close one and considering that Wayne Easter has stepped on the Tories' toes several times, you can bet they will throw whatever they can at this riding to help ensure he gets defeated.  Nonetheless with the incumbency advantage and the slight Liberal tilt of this riding, he still stands a good chance at holding it, although it certainly could go Tory.  In Egmont, the Tories won by only 55 votes thus making it look like an easy Liberal target, but with their member Gail Shea being a cabinet minister and the fact many in PEI want at least one member on the government benches, especially if the Tories win a majority, I suspect she will hold her riding as long as the Tories remain well ahead in the polls nationally.  Off course if the Liberals close the gap, then its a whole different story in which case I suspect this would return to the Liberal fold.

New Brunswick

Last election, the Tories won 6 seats, Liberals 3 seats, and NDP one seat.  The three ridings they won in the 2006 (New Brunswick Southwest, Tobique-Mactaquac, Fundy-Royal) were won by last margins last time around and are largely rural, Anglophone, and Protestant which means solidly Tory.  Of the three pickups last time around, Fredericton is probably the least vulnerable while Miramichi being somewhat more vulnerable but still likely Tory, while Saint John is likely to a close match up as in the past two elections.  For the Liberals, Beausejour should be an easy hold, while Madawaska-Restigouche is somewhat vulnerable since despite its predominately Francophone demographics as Madawaska County has often voted Tory both provincially and federally never mind the Tories recruited Bernard Valcourt.  The problem for them is this riding is it seems to move more in line with the poll numbers in Quebec rather than Atlantic Canada where the Tories aren't doing so well, mind you neither are the Liberals too so that would suggest the results would be similiar to last time around.  Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe has traditionally been a Liberal stronghold but in the past three elections the Tories have chipped away at the advantage.  The maybe didn't get Bernard Lord to run which would have made this a sure fire win for the Tories, but that doesn't mean they cannot win it, it will just be more of a battle.  Acadie-Bathurst has gone solidly NDP in the past four elections and should as long as Yvon Godin is their MP.

Coalition vs. Issues

A lot of talk has been on the issue of whether there will be a coalition or not and also accursing Harper of being a hypocrit of proposing a similiar one in 2004.  No doubt this is an important question, but it shouldn't dominate the election campaign.  Considering the bad blood and ideological gulf between the Tories vs. the Bloc Quebecois and NDP, I see such coalition is out of the question.  Likewise, while a Liberal-NDP coalition back by the Bloc Quebecois is possible, I somehow doubt they will attempt this unless the election is really close as the damage it would do to the Liberals would be too risky in the long run and despite the fact the Liberal Party has made more than their share of dumb mistakes, I cannot see them being this stupid.  I could be wrong off course, but that is my guess.  What it really comes down to though is what does each party stand for and what policies do they want to adopt.  This is what should matter to voters when they head to the polls.

The Tories want a majority which is understable, however they need to tell Canadians what policies they want to adopt and why they need a majority to achieve these.

The Liberals want to return to power which is also understandable, but they need to tell us what exactly they plan to do if they form government and how they would do things differently than the current government and why this is a better alternative.

The Bloc Quebecois cannot win the next election so they need to elaborate on the policies they want adopted and how electing more BQ members would help them achieve this regardless of who wins the next election.

Unless your are completely delusional, there is no chance of the NDP winning the next election, but that doesn't mean they cannot have an impact.  After all CPP and medicare came about largely due to the strong NDP presence in the 60s.  They need to articulate what policies they want whomever wins to adopt and what the expect in order for the governing party go gain their support on certain issues.

The Green Party will be lucky if they win just one seat, nonetheless the more votes they get, the more likely other parties are to pay attention to their policies, so they need to state what policies they will advocate.

We all have different issues we want addressed and no doubt you will never satisfy everyone and on any given issue some will agree and others will disagree.  The important thing is the issues are discussed and then one can vote for who has the best platform.  I also think in a democracy it is important that all views including controversial ones are discussed.  Running large deficits, raising income taxes, nationalizing major industries, scrapping free trade, outlawing abortion, scrapping bilingualism, bringing back the death penalty, increasing private sector involvement in health care, and cutting immigration levels are all controversial policies no party wants to touch, yet on most the issues mentioned above 30-40% agree with such policies.  I disagree with the majority advocated above but that doesn't mean I think all parties should oppose those policies.  In fact it would make sense to have one party on each of those  support it so long as they didn't win assuming public opinion is where most polls it says they are.  Elections are not just about winning, they are also about advocating certain ideas and promoting them in parliament even if unpopular.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

And they're off

The election has now started and is set for May 2nd.  During the next 5 weeks we will off course hear lots on why each party deserves your vote and why the other is unfit to govern.  At this point not much has been said in policy.  The main issue on the first few days is that of the coalition.  The Liberals have ruled it out which was a smart move as had the dogged them the whole campaign, Harper probably would have easily won his majority.  After all, during this period was the only time he polled over 45% nationally and over 50% in Ontario so it makes sense he would want to use this as an issue to beat the Liberals with.  Yes they are constitutionally legitimate, but at the end of the day what matters, is, is it morally legitimate.  If a coalition is formed that includes the party that has the most seats or the opposition party comes close to winning it may have some legitimacy with the public, but when one loses as badly as the Liberals did in 2008, it is a tough sell.  Britain may have one now, but it also includes the party with the most seats and the prime-minister comes from the party with the most seats.  This was not the case in the proposed 2008 coalition.  With the Liberals taking this off the table, this could actually backfire if the Tories appear desperate.  The Bloc Quebecois and the NDP brought up how Harper proposed one in 2004 and this may make him look like a hypocrit, but considering the bad blood and ideological differences between the Tories and those two parties, I cannot see Harper forming a coalition with either of them.  In terms of polls, the Tories have come out strong being on the cusp of a majority and ahead of the Liberals in all polls in Ontario.  Even in Atlantic Canada they appear fairly strong and are back to 2008 levels in Quebec, still a lot can happen during the course of an election and considering that the Tories have dominated the airwaves in advertising it remains to be seen if they can hold or even improve on those numbers.  The NDP and Bloc Quebecois are doing okay while the Liberal numbers are atrocious.  Some may wonder why the heck they brought down the government considering their bad numbers.  Certainly they have a steep hill to climb, still I believe a weak Liberal minority is plausible as is a solid Tory majority.  Elections are after all unpredictable and anyone who says campaigns don't matter is completely wrong.  Many Liberals think that once the public sees Ignatieff, they will like him and support him being PM.  While it is true that the people I have met who know him personally say he is a very likeable person, he doesn't come across very well on television and considering few will meet him in person, I am bit skeptical of this.  After all, how someone appears on television is quite different than in person.  I have also heard Harper is far more likeable too in person than he appears on television.  Nonetheless a strong Liberal campaign and a number of Tory blunders may do the job, but considering this is Ignatieff's first election campaign and Harper's fourth it seems more likely that Ignatieff would make a major blunder as those seem to be far more in common in first campaigns than those who have ran multiple ones.  The first two weeks probably won't draw a lot of public attention thus I don't suspect the poll numbers will move much.  Once we get close to the debates and certainly after is when you will see movement in the poll numbers.  I will continue to update this on a regular basis as well as also mention the main policies as presented during the campaign and issues discussed.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

When and how the government falls

In all likelihood the government will fall within the next 24 hours and within the next 48 hours, Stephen Harper will visit Rideau Hall and ask for parliament to be dissolved setting the path for an election on either May 2nd or May 9th.  The opposition would like the government to fall on the issue of ethics.  After all this would be the first time any government in any commonwealth country has been found in contempt of parliament whereas the Conservatives would probably like the government to fall on the budget which they believe most Canadians either support or at least don't dislike enough to feel it warrants an election.  Considering how disengaged Canadians are, I doubt what issue they fall on will make too big a difference in the results, however I suspect both issues amongst others will come up during the campaign.  The opposition would like to portray this government as autocratic, disrespectful of democracy, and corrupt.  By contrast the Conservatives want to portray themselves as good economic managers who managed to take Canada through the recession relatively unscathed unlike many other developed countries such as the US and much of Europe who are in major trouble.  True one could argue the contempt of parliament was a charade as the opposition was going to find the government in contempt no matter what they did and it was driven by political opportunism not genuine principle.  By the same time one could argue Canada's strength is due to the economic policies of the Chretien/Martin government and their strong fiscal policies as well as refusal to deregulate the banking industry.  However, politics is determined more by perception than reality thus I suspect the ethics issue won't help the Tories and the economy is probably their strongest suit, but how it will play out still remains to seen.  For one thing, this is Ignatieff's first campaign so how well he does and the other parties depends heavily on what type of campaign he runs.  If he does better than expectations, he may just end of winning a minority government as many Liberal strategist believe, but if he makes a number of major gaffes which is not uncommon for leaders in their first campaign, he must just hand Harper a majority on a silver platter.  I think anything from a Liberal minority to Conservative majority is possible, but I will avoid making any predictions until we get closer to election day as a lot can happen during the course of a campaign.  I do promise that I will give my seat projections one day before the election.  As the campaign progresses I will discuss the major issues and even give my opinion on the issues without endorsing any party or candidate.  On the issue of a coalition, I will discuss that at a later time although I do think regardless of how prominitely it plays in the campaign it should be mentioned.  In terms of polls, I will focus more on trends rather than each poll as we will be getting so many that analyzing each one seems counterproductive.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Budget and Upcoming election

The government has brought down its budget and all three opposition parties have said they would oppose it, thus an election looks like a near certainty.  As for the budget it didn't contain a poison pill, but neither did it fully satisfy the opposition demands thus if one wanted to avoid a budget there was plenty of reason to, but if one really wants one that could easily support it.  Either way, all parties including the government have plenty of reasons to not want an election, but at the same time avoiding one carries its own risks.  For the Conservatives they are knocking on the door of a majority so it might seem silly not to go, but with all the news in the past few weeks of lack of ethics, the government is vulnerable, never mind past campaigns haven't always resulted in results being similiar to pre-election polls.  For the Liberals, their poll numbers are atrocious thus every reason to avoid one as they trail the government by several points, trail in Ontario which has in the past been fairly favourable to the Liberals, but they would look like even bigger hyprocrits if they backed a government they say is unfit to govern, never mind elections are unpredictable and Ignatieff may have negative views by many of the public, but most people's opinions of him are pretty shallow and can easily change during the course of the campaign.  For the Bloc Quebecois, the polls may look good, but their prospects of making big gains are very low as there are some seats that will never go for them and as we saw in 2006 and 2008, the Quebec vote is quite fluid and can easily change during the course of the campaign going up as it did in 2008 or down as it did in 2006.  For the NDP, the leader's health is a concern as well as their somewhat lacklustre polls, but considering your typical NDP supporter hates the Tories even more than your typical Liberal supporter, supporting the government could hurt them in the long-run.  Anyways I will give my seat projection on the day before the election as well as comments on the events as they happen.  At this point anything from a Liberal minority to Tory majority is possible.

I'm Back

Its been a while since I last blogged and since I forget my password and everything associated, I decided to start a new one.  Unlike my last one, I will only blog during provincial, federal, as well as US elections and this will be a non-partisan one.  I may endorse or oppose certain policies, but I will neither endorse nor oppose any candidate, party, or leader.  Instead I will try to give a neutral look at the political events occurring.  In order to ensure my blog is widely read, I will be a member of Blogging Canadians at which has blogs of all political persuasions including non-partisan. In today's environment most blogs just parrot the partisan lines of each party, otherwise blindly opposing everything their opponents support and supporting everything their chosen party does.  I believe all parties have good and bad policies and more importantly believe that if we are to build a better country it requires a willingness to listen and respect those with different views.  I also love to make predictions on how certain policies will affect voter intentions as well as look at both the advantages and disadvantages of each policy as almost everthing has an advantage and a disadvantage.  I welcome comments of all political persuasions, but will delete any spam, racist remarks, swearing, and insults.  This is for those who want to have an intelligent discussion on the issues at hand.  It will be more active during elections and when the weather is crummy here in Toronto (I like being outside when nice although being just above freezing and about to snow tonight, that may not come for a while).