Archive for the ‘election’ Category

Selective scandal coverage is a disservice

- April 8th, 2011

Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe (bottom right), Liberal Party Michael Ignatieff (bottom left), NDP Jack Layton (top left) and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (top right). CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/ QMI Agency

Who knew that the most pressing issue facing the country was whether the Conservative Party of Canada checked the Facebook statuses of people coming to their rallies to see if they are friends with other politicians.

I’m not saying the Tory tactics are right, in fact it was one of our family of papers, the London Free Press, that started the ball rolling on this. In essence, we broke the story and the rest of the media ran with it.

And how have they run with it.

Almost all other issues were put aside while reporters following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s election tour quizzed the PM and tried to force an apology. They got one Thursday.

Questions about his plans for a cap-and-trade system, the economy and Quebec’s rejection of federalist parties were all vetoed so that we could get to the bottom of Facebookgate. Oh, and there were no questions about Canada sending more troops to Libya.

What is interesting is that while there has been plenty of pick-up on the story we started with the Facebook flap, other media outlets ignored another part of our story that ran on Tuesday.

“When Ignatieff was here last week, the RCMP got physical with two Free Press reporters, even elbowing a pregnant reporter in the stomach. Told she was pregnant, the male Mountie said: ‘That’s what you get for rushing a bodyguard.’ ”

I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines and watched the nightly indignant reports on Ignatieff’s goons roughing up reporters.

What’s that? You haven’t seen any reports like that?

I wonder why?

It’s not like the media hasn’t been tough on Jack Layton. In between snide tweets, the NDP leader has had to deal with claims that his schedule was slower than the other leaders because of his fragile health. Of course that’s not true. Layton’s schedule has been as busy as the other two federalist leaders and he’s covered the same ground.

It’s almost like some reporters are trying to kick the cane out from Jack as he walks by.

Meanwhile it’s all hugs at the Big Red Tent.

On Wednesday, we found out from the NDP that the Liberals had a candidate in Quebec who referred to Native Canadians as “featherheads” and belonged to a white rights group. He had been the candidate since August 2009 but was booted quickly.

We also found out that the Liberals have a candidate in Vancouver who was convicted of drunk driving in 2003. Given how Ignatieff has made it clear he doesn’t believe in criminal rehabilitation for former Harper aide Bruce Carson, you would think he would have something to say. Not really.

You also might think that with two candidates in trouble you’d have seen headlines on Thursday morning that declared the Liberals had racist, drunk-driving candidates.

No, those issues weren’t on any of the front pages, but the Toronto Star did put the Facebook flap back on the front page. Top story, above the fold.

Stories on Liberal woes were downplayed.

I’d rather see election coverage focus on policy. What would each of the leaders do if elected? How would they change Canada?

But if media outlets plan on running story after breathless story about the latest mini-scandal, then it should happen on all the campaigns.

That’s not happening right now and Canadians are poorer for it.

Poverty vs low income

- April 6th, 2011

The Liberals are furious at the Conservative candidate trying to topple their own MP in Ajax-Pickering, Mark Holland.

The Conservative candidate’s crime was saying that we don’t have third-world poverty in Canada.

Take a look at the video.

Now of course the claim that someone is living on less than $2 a day with 8 children is pure rubbish.

Assuming that the woman claiming this level of poverty has all 8 children under the age of 18, she would be receiving almost $3,000 a month in government assistance. Here’s the online calculator.

CCTB online calculation results


Basic monthly amount $945.66
National Child Benefit Supplement monthly amount $1,207.00
Ontario Child Benefit Monthly Amount $733.33
Total monthly amount $2,885.99

This calculation doesn’t count the $100 per month that the mother would receive if any of the children were under the age of six.

There would also be GST rebates every three months to the tune of $387 and because the woman lives in Ontario a $585 payment every three months for the Ontario sales tax or HST rebate.

This of course doesn’t include any social assistance payments. Now of course the woman said she doesn’t get Employment Insurance payments because she was fired and asks if that is fair. Yes, it has always been considered fair. If you are let go because of job cuts or a plant closing you get EI. If you are fired with cause you do not get EI payments, it’s always been that way.

So I have to ask, was this woman telling the truth? Because if the government’s own calculations are correct she’s eligible for $38,519.88 per year. That works out to $105 per day.

Alexander is right, we don’t have poverty in Canada on the level that the World Bank deals with. Do we have low income? Yes. Can you compare our poverty to the third world? No.

Coalition, journalists and Divine Revelation

- April 3rd, 2011

Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe (bottom right), Liberal Party Michael Ignatieff (bottom left), NDP Jack Layton (top left) and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (top right). CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/ QMI Agency

As a group, Canadian journalists aren’t known for being big fans of Divine Revelation, especially not political journalists. In my experience the only time you hear about The Divine up here on Parliament Hill is when someone decides to do one of those “scary evangelicals are taking over” stories.

So it has been a bit surprising that so many reporters and pundits have been receiving Divine Revelation in the early stages of the election campaign. How else to explain all of those wise men and women who have told us time and again that the threat of a coalition is not an issue?

The facts don’t support that theory, that’s not what Canadians are telling pollsters so this insight must be coming from Divine Revelation.

Consider this poll from a week ago, Leger Marketing’s telephone survey of 1,119 adult Canadians. Turns out only 17% believed Ignatieff’s coalition denials. As for whether the coalition idea was real or Harper fear mongering, the public was pretty clear.

Leger also found that all this coalition talk is the real deal. Nearly half – 46% – of those surveyed believe a coalition government is a genuine Possibility, while one in four believe it to be little more than fear-mongering by Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.

Just for the record, only 26% said they believed the coalition talk was fear mongering by the Harper camp.

Still, listen to other pundits and they will tell you the coalition is not an issue, it is a lie. I’m not sure where they are getting that, it must be Divine Revelation.

Let’s look at another poll from a different polling company.

Ipsos-Reid, Canada’s largest polling firm, surveyed 1,070 Canadians online.

The main headline to come out of stories on this is that 54% of Canadians prefer a coalition to a Harper majority. Now that’s 54% favouring a Liberal-NDP coalition. Add in the Bloc Quebecois and support drops to 50% and support for a Harper majority goes up to 50%.

Has anyone noticed that right now the Harper government is not tracking at 50% or anywhere near that in the polls?

Coalition chatter won’t stop

- March 27th, 2011

Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada speaks to the media at Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 25, 2011. (Chris Roussakis/QMI AGENCY)

So Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff did on Saturday what most political observers thought he should have done ages ago, he ruled out a coalition with the NDP and Bloc if the Conservative return with a minority government after the May 2 vote.

That doesn’t mean the Conservatives are about to let the coalition issue die. Jason Kenney raised the issue at a rally in Brampton, near Toronto, on Sunday morning.

“Unless Stephen Harper is re-elected with a strengthened majority mandate, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois will re-form their coalition. They did it before, they’ll do it again, and make no mistake we will all pay the price,” said Kenney. “Never before has the choice been so clear.”

James Moore also was circulating this video on Twitter on Sunday morning trying to make sure that people saw that Ignatieff has promised in the past to lead a coalition.

This video is from a news conference that Ignatieff gave just after he became the only man standing in the coup that replaced Stephane Dion as Liberal Party leader. My Sun Media colleague Jessica Murphy was there several weeks later in early 2009 when Ignatieff changed his mind and ruled out a coalition.

So while Ignatieff has ruled one out now, he hasn’t in the past, until that is he did and then allowed voters to think for four full days this week that he might be back onside with the coalition idea if he doesn’t win the election outright.

Some of the journalists in Ottawa think all of this coalition talk is a red herring, an inside Ottawa story and mostly Conservative spin.

I couldn’t disagree more.

The last time a coalition was attempted Canadians spoke out against it in such strong numbers that had an election been called Stephen Harper would have gained a huge majority. There are Liberal and NDP voters that despise the coalition idea as much as Conservative voters.

It also speaks to a fundamental question. What are you buying on election day? Are you voting for Liberal, NDP, Bloc or coalition policies.

I think this coalition business will die down a little now but it is very likely that it took Ignatieff too long to respond to it and there may be some voters that have already written him off.

Now, as for the competing coalition letters, I’ve posted the 2004 and 2008 letters below. The 2008 letter, and the accord that went with it, is quite different from the 2004 one. There is no evidence that a coalition was attempted in 2004 (and Jack Layton swears at the idea it was about coalition here UPDATE: I misunderstood, this audio is from the 2004 election campaign and not about the letter. Apologies) but the agreement four years later was quite clear on giving each party a role in government.

The 2004 letter was a reminder to the Governor General that there was the option of allowing other parties to attempt to gain the confidence of the House if Paul Martin sought an election just five months after the last vote. Harper now has a five-year track record of governing in a minority Parliament to show that he could have given it a go on an issue by issue basis.

As Andrew Coyne points out however, Harper’s words then and now do show some hypocrisy in claiming that only the one with the most seats gets to govern.

Here is the text of the 2004 letter

September 9, 2004

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1

Excellency,

As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

Sincerely,

Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe, M.P.
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois

Jack Layton, M.P.
Leader of the New Democratic Party

Here is the 2008 letter signed by Dion, Layton and Duceppe

Monday, December 1, 2008

To our fellow citizens,

Canada is facing a global economic crisis. Since the recent federal election, it
has become clear that the government headed by Stephen Harper has no plan,
no competence and, no will to effectively address this crisis. Therefore, the
majority of Parliament has lost confidence in Mr. Harper’s government, and
believes that the formation of a new Government that will effectively, prudently,
promptly and competently address these critical economic times is necessary.
The contrast between the inaction of Mr. Harper’s government and the common
action taken by all other Western democracies is striking. We cannot accept this.
A majority of Canadians and Quebecers voted for our parties on October 14,
2008. Our Members of Parliament make up 55 percent of the House of
Commons.

In light of the critical situation facing our citizens, and the Harper government’s
unwillingness and inability to address the crisis, we are resolved to support a new
government that will address the interests of the people.

Today we respectfully inform the Governor General that, as soon as the
appropriate opportunity arises, she should call on the Leader of the Official
Opposition to form a new government, supported as set out in the accompanying
accords by all three of our parties.

Respectfully,

Hon. Stéphane Dion
Leader, the Liberal Party of Canada

Hon. Jack Layton
Leader, the New Democratic Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe
Leader, the Bloc Québécois

And here is the agreement Dion and Layton signed dividing power between the two parties

December 1, 2008
An Accord on a Cooperative Government to Address the Present
Economic Crisis

This document outlines the key understandings between the Liberal Party of
Canada and the New Democratic Party of Canada regarding a new cooperative
government.

1. Role of caucuses

The Liberal and NDP caucuses will continue to meet as distinct caucuses. They
will receive briefings and be consulted as appropriate. Both are entitled to offer
advice to the government. The two caucuses may meet jointly as agreed from
time to time to jointly address issues. The caucuses will sit next to each other on
the government benches.

2. Cabinet

Nothing in this Accord is intended to diminish or alter the power and prerogatives
of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister will be the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

The Minister of Finance will be appointed from the Liberal caucus.

The cabinet will be composed of 24 ministers plus the Prime Minister.

Eighteen of these ministers will be appointed from within the Liberal caucus.
Six of these ministers will be appointed from within the NDP caucus, plus six
Parliamentary Secretaries, sworn in as Privy Councillors, will also be named from
the NDP caucus. In the event the Prime Minister chooses to appoint a larger
cabinet, the NDP proportion will be maintained.

The specifics of these cabinet appointments will be made by the Prime Minister
in appropriate consultation with the Leader of the NDP.

The rules and practices of cabinet confidentiality and solidarity will be strictly
maintained. Normal processes of cabinet appointments and governance in the
Canadian federal government will be respected. The cabinet is jointly and
collectively accountable to Parliament for its work, including in daily question
period.

3. A “no surprises” approach

Within the limits of common sense and the needs of cabinet government, the two
parties agree they will work together on a “no surprises” basis.

Furthermore, upon its formation, the government will put in place a permanent
consultation mechanism with the Bloc Québécois.

4. Appointments

Both parties are committed to restoring the integrity, transparency and efficiency
of the appointments process in the Public Service and in federal bodies like the
Supreme Court, the Senate and Commissions like the CRTC.

The Prime Minister will consult the Leader of the NDP as appropriate on
appointments.

5. A standing managing committee of the Accord

A standing managing committee of the Accord, chaired by the Prime Minister, will
be struck.

It will be composed of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the NDP, and such other
persons as the leaders deem appropriate from time to time.

The committee will meet regularly to ensure the good order of the Accord; to deal
with key issues that have arisen; to consult on key appointments; and to resolve
any disputes which might arise from the Accord (for example, by referring issues
relating to the Accord to a trusted committee of experienced, distinguished
Canadians).

6. Term of this Accord

This Accord will expire on June 30, 2011 unless renewed.

Agreed on December 1, 2008.

Hon. Stéphane Dion
Leader, Liberal Party of Canada

Hon. Jack Layton
Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada

Ipsos leadership poll boosts Harper and Layton, devastating for Ignatieff

- March 26th, 2011

Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe (bottom right), Liberal Party Michael Ignatieff (bottom left), NDP Jack Layton (top left) and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (top right). CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/ QMI Agency

As if the horse race numbers were not devastating enough for the Liberal campaign, Ipsos-Reid has a poll out today showing the numbers behind the horse race.

Bottom line, Harper leads in all but one category, Ignatieff is in third in all but one and Layton is a solid second.

Campaigns matter, things can change but this is not a good place for the Liberals to start from.

Rather than put my own take on the numbers I give you the Ipsos news release. Argue away over what it means.

==============

As Government Falls and Election Ensues, Half (49%) of Canadians Believe Harper would be Best Prime Minister for Canada,
Layton (34%) Bests Ignatieff (17%)

Harper Ahead on all Key Positive Leadership Traits as Canadians Say Healthcare (18%), Economy (15%), Taxes (12%), Jobs (8%) and Trustworthiness (7%) Most Important Issues of the Campaign

Ipsos-Reid–As Prime minister Stephen Harper visits the Governor General and Canada’s fourth General Election in seven years officially begins, a new Ipsos Reid poll reveals that one half (49%, up 1 point since early February) of Canadians believe that Stephen Harper would make the best Prime Minister of Canada. In second position is NDP leader Jack Layton (34%, down 1 point) who has garnered twice as many votes as Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff (17%, up 1 point).

The Conservatives will hit the campaign trail reminding voters of their track record on the economy, while the Liberals and other opposition parties will try to frame the ballot question around ethics, trust, accountability and transparency.

Asking Canadians what they would say is the most important issue if a local candidate appeared on their doorstep, healthcare and health issues take the top spot with mentions from 18% of Canadians, unaided. Following closely is the economy (15%) while taxes (12%) are in third place. Unemployment/jobs (8%) and honesty/trust (7%) round out the top-five issues.

Other issues mentioned by Canadians, unaided, include the environment (5%), poverty/low-income Canadians (4%), seniors/the aging population (3%), debt (3%), pensions (3%), immigration (3%), government spending (2%), welfare and social programs (2%), energy costs (2%), and gas prices (2%) among other issues. Interestingly, 2% of Canadians say they would close the door and tell their local candidate to go away.

Examining key leadership attributes that could be at play during the campaign and in the minds of voters as they decide for whom to vote, the data reveal that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is ahead of his counterparts on every major positive attribute studied. Canadians were asked to pick which of the major leaders is best described by each respective trait:

·         Someone you can trust: Stephen Harper (42%, up 6 points since November), Jack Layton (34%, down 1 point), Michael Ignatieff (15%, down 5 points), Gilles Duceppe (9%, up 1 point, 38% in Quebec).

·         Someone who will get things done: Stephen Harper (47%, up 4 points since November), Jack Layton (27%, up 1 point), Michael Ignatieff (17%, down 4 points), Gilles Duceppe (8%, down 1 point, 34% in Quebec).

·         Someone who has what it takes to lead Canada: Stephen Harper (50%, up 7 points since November), Jack Layton (26%, unchanged), Michael Ignatieff (18%, down 8 points), Gilles Duceppe (6%, up 1 point, 24% in Quebec).

·         Someone who is best to manage during tough economic times: Stephen Harper (52%, up 7 points since November), Jack Layton (22%, down 2 points), Michael Ignatieff (18%, down 6 points), Gilles Duceppe (7%, unchanged, 30% in Quebec).

·         Someone who wants to be Prime Minister for the right reasons: Stephen Harper (44%), Jack Layton (34%), Michael Ignatieff (16%), Gilles Duceppe (6%, 25% in Quebec).

·         Someone who has a vision of Canada that you can support: Stephen Harper (45%, up 5 points since March), Jack Layton (30%, down 2 points), Michael Ignatieff (18%, down 6 points), Gilles Duceppe (7%, up 3 points, 31% in Quebec).

There remains one leadership attribute where Stephen Harper does not lead, but is in a close second place:

·         Someone who has a hidden agenda: Michael Ignatieff (46%, up 9 points since November), Stephen Harper (39%, down 6 points), Jack Layton (10%, down 4 points), Gilles Duceppe (5%, up 1 point, 21% in Quebec).

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between March 21 to 23, 2011, on behalf of Postmedia News and Global National. For this survey, a sample of 1,014 adults from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and political composition to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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