Election results

The final results of the election:

Liberal: 135
Conservative: 99
Bloc: 54
NDP: 19
Ind: 1

The numbers have the potential to add up in the most interesting way: Liberal + NDP = 154. Everyone else = 154. Who will the speaker be?

When Jack Layton went to bed tonight, he thought his party held the balance of power. His seat total slipped just enough to make things interesting.

More details to follow

Why I’m voting Conservative

Democracy is something that is easy to take for granted. One can merely consult the voter turnout trend to confirm this opinion as fact. Our voice is there to be heard if we only exercise the right to use it. However, many of us choose not to ignore this right, whether by apathy, by spite or by sheer convenience to ourselves and to our schedules. Lest we have forgotten the sacrifices made by our brothers, fathers, great- and grandfathers, we all have a duty to make time for what they have fought. On June 28th, I will vote.

The Liberals have governed this country for the past 11 years. Whether some of their policies have strengthened or weakened this society and country can always be put to partisan debate. What is unequivocal, however, is that democracy, without competition, is a shadow of what was intended and what was defended. The last 11 years have bred a form of establishment politics which has tempted those with power to use it to benefit their friends, their party and their interests in place of those they claim to represent. An alternative choice to this stale and tired option has not existed for many years, yet now there exists an opportunity for real democratic change. The Conservative Party of Canada intends to reform the system of establishment politics and intends to return the democratic balance between elected and elector. With a Conservative government, fixed election dates would be established in order to restore competition to the system. Indeed, the current election date was a calculated choice among many to dilute the fallout and to circumvent future fallout from the sponsorship scandal. Plus, it had the added benefit of hoping to avoid voters at the ballot box; the electorate will be busy at the cottage and/or with their children, eager themselves to get a fresh start on summer vacation. The election date has been manipulated to dodge the anger against the status quo of Liberal political monopoly.

Fixed election dates would only be the beginning of this restoration of balance; the Conservatives would bring decision making back into the public forum. Currently, any active legislation can be abrogated by the will of the senate, an unelected body appointed by the Prime Minister. The Conservatives want to elect this chamber to restore provincial balance within the system, while the NDP would merely dissolve it completely. The Liberals, however, would keep it as it is in order to continue the practice of patronage (see benefit of one’s friends, above). A senate based upon provincial equality would allow more accountability of the federal government to represent the recipients of transfer payments. The Conservatives also seek to allow parliamentary review of judicial appointment, a right held today exclusively by the Prime Minister.

But what about Stephen Harper’s hidden agenda? Anyone can have a hidden agenda. The hidden agenda of the Liberals was thankfully revealed in time for this election. If a conservative candidate espouses any aberrant view on those “hot-button” issues such as abortion and gay-marriage, it becomes fuel for the fire to those who claim that Stephen Harper has a hidden agenda. Stephen Harper is an economist from Calgary. His favorite economist is Adam Smith who promoted “laissez faire” economics. I believe that Stephen Harper is a Conservative who believes that the government should keep out of people’s business, both economic and social. Stephen Harper says that the issue of abortion has been settled and that neither he nor his government would table legislation on abortion. As for gay marriage, the issue has not been settled by parliament and thus Stephen Harper would allow the people to decide by a free vote amongst all members of the House of Commons (ie. not by his government). This seems to be a fair and democratic compromise between about equal proportions on two polar viewpoints. So, what is hidden? Did you know that Liberal MPs Paul Steckle and Tom Wappel would vote to restrict a woman’s right to choose? Even NDP candidate Des McGrath would vote against alongside Steckle and Wappel against abortion. Let’s move on from this issue of hidden agenda, however, as it is a red herring issue to distract from the Liberal’s uncovered agenda.

Is the issue healthcare? How does Paul Martin not blink when he tells Canadians that the Liberals will “fix healthcare for a generation”? The Liberals have spent a generation reducing transfer payments to the provinces to 16 cents on the dollar, from what used to be 50 cents. Who wrote the budgets over the past generation? Paul Martin.

The issue is government accountability. No government can remain in power indefinitely without becoming stale and arrogant. Paul Martin culled the house committee on public accounts which was investigating the sponsorship scandal because he said he needed a mandate from the people to accomplish this goal. Rather, I believe the mandate should given to the Conservative Party of Canada because it is the party of Parliamentary reform. This party deserves this mandate and would exercise it most effectively.

Martin still offers no reason to vote Liberal

News today out of British Columbia describes Paul Martin’s plea to NDP supporters in that province to vote Liberal because an NDP vote will essentially be a vote for Stephen Harper.

“There are two parties that could form the next government, and if you are thinking of voting NDP, I would ask you to think about the implications of that vote … In a race as close as this, you may well help Stephen Harper become prime minister.” — Paul Martin, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

The NDP front is yet another battle for Paul Martin in his battle against Stephen Harper. One the Quebec front, the Liberals issued this release today on the Liberal website which states,

“A vote for the Bloc is a vote to stop Canada�s momentum. It is a vote to allow Stephen Harper to form a government that, simply for ideological reasons, will increase military spending and lower taxes to levels well beyond what our economy can afford” — Stéphane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew, former and current Liberal cabinet ministers

Meanwhile, the current Liberal attack ad in Ontario draws parallels between former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former Ontario Premier Mike Harris with Stephen Harper.

Paul Martin’s team is trying desperately to convince voters to vote against the Conservatives by not voting for the NDP or for the Bloc. What they may not realize is that voters are voting for these parties to, in fact, prevent the Liberals from retaining power rather than to prevent the Conservatives from attaining power. Everyone knows how close this horse race is now and a majority of Canadians believe that this Liberal government needs to be removed. Those that are voting NDP and especially those that are voting Bloc are well aware that this would mean a Conservative government, whether minority or majority.

Sympathy for Dennis Mills

There isn’t another candidate whom has become more a victim of protest politics this election than Dennis Mills, the Liberal incumbent from Toronto-Danforth. Everytime Dennis turns around it seems like it’s either Olivia Chow yelling at him from across the street, or Jack Layton’s horde of protesters (er, campaigners) dogging Mills on the campaign trail.

The latest attack on Mills? Advocates of same-sex marriage picketed his campaign office protesting the incumbent’s view supporting traditional marriage and taking a stance which is familiar to Stephen Harper: to allow Parliament decide the issue rather than the Supreme Court. Previously, Layton covertly organized a protest of a Mills announcement concerning Liberal contributions to the Toronto waterfront.

Mills is a backbench Liberal MP that is now in the fight of his life in his own riding versus the leader of the NDP. Perhaps his most publicized contribution to his constituents was the organization of SARSfest in Toronto, drawing about 500,000 fans to the largest outdoor concert in world history, featuring the Rolling Stones and AC/DC.

Did Harper gaffe on child porn?

First and foremost, child pornography is indefensible. The issue falls under the realm of social conservatism yet it is non-partisan and virtually all Canadians will find themselves on one side of the issue.

Therefore, did Stephen Harper gaffe when his war-room sent out the email “Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography?” and was this gaffe underscored by Harper’s refusal to apologize for it?

Many may rush to the conclusion that the answer is “yes”. Many in the media are drawing parallels with Jack Layton’s assertion that Paul Martin is personally responsible for homeless deaths in Toronto.

While one might criticize Harper for politicizing the recent guilty plea of the murderer of Holly Jones, Harper did raise the issue earlier in the English-language debate concerning the use of the not-withstanding clause. Stephen Harper said that he would use the not-withstanding clause to protect children from the societal ills of child pornography.

If Paul Martin seeks to attack the Conservative Party on social issues such as a woman’s right to choose and gay marriage (issues that not all but many conservatives support), here is an issue put into play by Stephen Harper; it’s an issue which he can win. There is no logical argument that supports child pornography whether for “artistic merit” or for “public good”.

Did Stephen Harper gaffe? The deeper answer is no. Now the issue is under debate in the media and within the campaign. Stephen Harper has directed the final week of the campaign towards an issue that he wants to talk about rather than the issues that have dogged him. How can Paul Martin or Jack Layton differentiate themselves from Stephen Harper on this issue? While the media will initially report it as a gaffe (on a Saturday by the way), the rest of the week will examine the issue in-depth. In fact, Global and CBC are already reporting Paul Martin’s voting record on the issue.

Paul Martin voted against a motion prohibiting creation or use of child pornography (House of Commons, April 23, 2002)

Paul Martin voted against a motion calling for legislation to protect children from sexual predators (House of Commons, April 23, 2002)

Paul Martin voted against making the age of sexual consent higher than 14 (House of Commons, April 23, 2002)

Paul Martin voted against establishing a national sex offender registry (House of Commons, Feb. 5, 2002)

At the end of the week, who gets more exposure? Stephen Harper for being personal or Paul Martin’s personal voting record on child pornography?

The only direction of attack that the Liberals can take is the method by which the message was delivered. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have opened the issue for discussion (and have distracted the media from the other issues such as the Klein miscommunication) and many Canadians will examine Paul Martin’s voting record defending something viewed as indefensible by most Canadians.

With that being said, as a voter I am appauled by the negative tone of this campaign set by the Liberals and now reciprocated by the Conservatives. I’d like to vote for a party instead of against one.

Conservatives ahead, barely

Ipsos released a post-debate poll today indicating that the Conservative Party of Canada is on the favourable side of a statistical tie as the numbers indicate that that party has 32% compared to 29% for the Liberals and 16% for the NDP.

The Conservatives seems to be stalled, however, as Liberals continue to fall. Perhaps the Conservative momentum after the debates has been balanced by false negative Liberal attack ads.

The Liberals are at their lowest level of support as they have dropped from 41% from when the election began to the current low at 29%.

It’s still aparent that it’s anyone’s election, however, Paul Martin seems to be riding a downward trend as Stephen Harper needs to present reasons to vote for a Conservative government rather than why one shouldn’t vote Liberal.

Harper wins the English debate

Stephen Harper won the debate. Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe and Harper used Paul Martin as a punching-bag tonight and often times the two on the left did the dirty work for Stephen Harper. The Prime Minister-in-waiting attacked Martin when he needed to and Jack and Gilles backed him up. Stephen Harper won the debate because Paul Martin lost.

Paul Martin looked ill and stumbled around and looked defeated in his post-debate interview. The man looked exhausted.

Harper played the boring and non-threatening man again and Paul Martin’s false attacks on the Conservative leader were effectively rebuffed by Stephen Harper and I believe that the public believed him.

Defining moments of the debate:

Paul Martin was weak when he responded to Layton continuous attacks by saying “Did your advisors tell you to talk all the time?”

Jack Layton kept talking and talking and Paul Martin turned to Harper and asked “Didn’t you have a question for me, Mr. Harper?” Harper ignored Martin’s plea for a lifeline from Jack Layton and let Layton ravage him some more.

Layton accused Paul Martin of arrogance for saying that only two parties can form the government.

Harper slammed Layton for blurring the lines between private delivery and privatization calling them one and same. Maybe he read my post.

Jack Layton co-opted the Green Party policy (taking advantage of the absence of Jim Harris) on investigating the causes of disease instead of just investing more in healthcare.

Stephen Harper said that he and his government will not table legislation that will change a woman’s right to choose.

Martin looked like he desperately wanted to take on Stephen Harper but Jack Layton wouldn’t let him often times in the debate.

Harper to Martin: “our troops had to hitch a ride to Afghanistan, they had to hitch a ride!”

French Debate Summary

Paul Martin came off stronger than expected

Gilles Duceppe was very effective and looked comfortable

Jack Layton smiled during every syllable he uttered

Stephen Harper was calm, cool and collected

I don’t believe that anyone in particular won or lost the debate. I expected Paul Martin to stutter and to appear lost. He did not do as badly as expected. Gilles Duceppe looked like he commanded the debate. Jack Layton offered positive this and positive that and played to the camera. Stephen Harper held his own.

Notable notables:

  • Martin conceded that two parties can form the government (Liberal or Conservative)
  • Duceppe immediately declared that this election was not a question of sovereignty (as predicted)
  • Harper and Duceppe sparred over Bombardier and ending corporate welfare. Duceppe cited GM in Ontario receiving subsidies while Harper is against corporate handouts
  • Harper on Layton: ‘must think he lives on a different planet than Americans’. Layton is against NATO, NAFTA, treaty obligations etc.
  • Layton wants to change the system through proportional representation. He believes that this will include more women, minorities and native Canadians
  • Duceppe kept referring to the fiscal imbalance which exists between Ottawa and the provinces. Harper was able to score points on this issue while Duceppe lectured Layton slamming him for not serving Quebec’s interests in this respect.
  • Everyone but Martin: The Liberals are responsible for the fiscal imbalance
  • Martin to Layton: You will massively raise taxes and believe that the government should be responsible for everything
  • Harper to Martin: Will you raise taxes to pay for your programs like Dalton McGuinty? You raised taxes 62 times.
  • Harper to Duceppe: Bombardier doesn’t need lobbbyists in Ottawa to influence the cabinet. Because of you, Quebeckers cannot replace this government.
  • Duceppe to Harper: We’re not responsible for your weekness.
  • Harper grouped CSL, Earnscliffe and Groupaction together
  • Harper differentiated between privitization and private delivery
  • Duceppe, Martin and Layton: The rights of the minority should not be dictated by the voice of the majority
  • Harper: The people should decide moral issues and not the courts
  • Layton: Called Quebec a nation within a nation

As predicted, Paul Martin did “Tell Quebec that a Liberal vote is a vote for federalism and a vote for Canada. This will go along with the ‘wrapping-oneself-in-the-flag’ strategy which Martin has used throughout the campaign. Also, he will reiterate that a vote for the Bloc is a whispered vote for the Conservative party.”

As predicted, Gilles Duceppe did “Tell Quebeckers that Quebec’s interests can only be represented by the Bloc Quebecois and that the Liberals must be punished. Sovereignty will be mentioned but only in passing.”

Stephen Harper also did “Suggest to Quebeckers that his Conservatives will form the next government and that he is taking applications from Quebec ridings whom might want to be represented by a cabinet minister. Rhetorically ask Quebeckers whether they would prefer have representatives in government or in opposition. Harper may even coordinate/participate in attacks led by Duceppe to tip that minority balance that much further.”

What was unexpected to me was that Gilles Duceppe attacked Stephen Harper more than he attacked Paul Martin. Is this rooted in the latest polls or does Duceppe fear Conservative gains in Quebec?

Low point of the debate: Jack Layton called Quebec a nation within a nation. What is he thinking pandering to separatist votes that he will not get?

French Debate

The French language debate will occur tonight at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Stephen Harper, Paul Martin, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe will discuss the issues and confront each other before a studio audience and will be watched closely by many in Quebec and elsewhere and by a few Anglophone pundits throughout Canada.

The focus of the debate will be Quebec and Paul Martin will try to claw back lost ground from the frontrunner in that province, Gilles Duceppe.

What they will do:

Paul Martin
Tell Quebec that a Liberal vote is a vote for federalism and a vote for Canada. This will go along with the ‘wrapping-oneself-in-the-flag’ strategy which Martin has used throughout the campaign. Also, he will reiterate that a vote for the Bloc is a whispered vote for the Conservative party. (funny how Martin believes that Bloc values, such as separatism, are preferable to Conservative values).

Gilles Duceppe
Tell Quebeckers that Quebec’s interests can only be represented by the Bloc Quebecois and that the Liberals must be punished. Sovereignty will be mentioned but only in passing.

Jack Layton
Tell Quebeckers that his party represents the Bloc’s values minus separation. Layton will impress in the debate as he is relatively unknown and well-spoken in french.

Stephen Harper
Appeal to Quebec’s desire for decentralization and tout lower taxes. His key message will be that the Sponsorship Scandal is not a Quebec scandal, not a Canadian scandal, but a Liberal scandal. He will not mention military spending unless asked. When attacked on social issues by Martin and by Layton, Harper will mention that democracy is better served by debate than by direction from above (of which, quite frankly, Quebec has had enough)

What they just might do in order to have a good showing:

Paul Martin
Emphasize his Quebec team made up of separatists to emphasize a bridge building effort with nationalists. Lapierre might even get a mention.

Gilles Duceppe
Downplay separatism, a lot. Instead declare that the Bloc is for Quebec’s interests in Canada.

Jack Layton
Aim left and hard. Layton has nothing to lose in Quebec. He might just present himself as the only politician on the ‘true left’ as the Bloc is broadening its base.

Stephen Harper
Suggest to Quebeckers that his Conservatives will form the next government and that he is taking applications from Quebec ridings whom might want to be represented by a cabinet minister. Rhetorically ask Quebeckers whether they would prefer have representatives in government or in opposition. Harper may even coordinate/participate in attacks led by Duceppe to tip that minority balance that much further.

Bottom line
Layton and Harper will be marginalized in this debate but will impress with their French language skills. Although a liberal minority would serve Layton better than a conservative minority, don’t expect Layton to attack Harper in the French language debate as this will appear tangential. Layton’s biggest score will be his demonstration of his capacity in French to English-Canada.

The debate will focus on the two front-runners, Duceppe and Martin with coordinated attacks by Harper and Layton respectively.

The must do
Paul Martin must win this debate and must show significantly better than Gilles Duceppe or his fortunes in the polls will not change and then trend will continue towards a Conservative minority government on June 28th.

The surprise of the evening
Green Party leader Jim Harris will streak across the stage

Breakfast with Reynolds

This morning, my alarm went off at an ungodly hour so that I could get downtown for breakfast with Conservative house leader (and former leader of the official opposition) John Reynolds. Getting up at the seventh hour of day is a challenge for any student but I told myself that it would be a good way to get on a normal person’s schedule.

John Reynolds was to give a speech at the downtown Holiday Inn to supporters to bolster the campaign of local Conservative candidate Blair MacLean. I was running a little late for the 7:30am start, but no matter, these things never start right on time anyways.

ReynoldsKingston001.jpgAs I walked towards the hotel I was greeted by Global National’s Kevin Newman, or rather the superimposed visage of him plastered on the side of the Global Decision Canada bus. I was surprised that Global would be covering the event.

Or so I thought.

One of the reasons why I dragged myself out of bed so early in the morning was to show support, and to show support one helps fill out a room with others for the media (which always seems to underestimate numbers when it comes to Conservative rallies).

ReynoldsKingston002.jpgThere wasn’t even a reporter in the room. No Kevin Newman, not even someone from our local channel CKWS. The Global people were merely staying at the same hotel. So, while Kevin Newman was waiting for his complimentary “what, no bagels?” continental breakfast, John Reynolds was giving his stump speech to the Conservative gathering in the 6th floor conference room. I really don’t blame Newman; it was 7:30 in the morning.

I spoke with Mr. Reynolds (he was sitting at my table). I’ve been involved with the new Conservative party for a while and I’ve been writing about it for almost as long. Sure, we could have chatted about what might be expected (“how ’bout ’em polls?” and “the Liberals must be really worried about their seats” etc. etc.) but I didn’t want to initiate the expected conversation. I did, however, start with something safe (the upcoming debates and how a good performance by Harper should contrast with Paul Martin’s mumbly joe approach very well). But then I came up with something out of left field.

“Jack Layton should also do well in the debate don’t you think?”

I was surprised by the answer. “Yes, he should do quite well. He’s very good in French and the NDP will do better with French voters than they have in the past. It’s good because this time all of the national leaders are fluent in French.” He went on to say that parties have been dogged by that issue in the past.

Off the cuff to an unexpected question, unrehearsed and genuine.

Sure, there are more relevant questions to pose to a Conservative campaigner and the success of the NDP is hardly a topic that’s burning in my mind, but I didn’t want to hear something that I’ve already read, I wanted to hear his opinion. The conservation that followed was actually interesting instead of expected.

So, it was good that politics didn’t put me to sleep this morning, yet I’m a little short of it and I’ll now need to battle through the workday without passing out sometime after lunch.