Every By-Election gives us much of the same problems that we’ve seen time and time again, but in a country that’s still running Margaret Wente columns, clearly we don’t have a problem with that.
So with that, I give you our
Mandatory Morning After By-Election Blog with JOKES!
In case you don’t care about the ridings…
Things that Matter:
Vote Splitting: This by-election basically showed we’re in for Vote splitting, with the Liberals needing to win Conservative votes to win ridings and still being weak in places out west, it’s going to be hard to tell Alberta you’re pro environment and even harder to tell Ontario that you want to raise the corporate tax rate. Because of that, even when it comes time to play the old “Vote Us Or Else Conservative” card I’m not sure they offer enough difference from the Conservatives to the left who they’ll need to convince to vote for them. Meaning? In many ridings the vote split that kept Harper Minority Government’s around is back and better than ever.
Low turnout: Read the first breakdown
Zero TV Coverage: It’s not just people that don’t care, the tv networks barely bothered to do anything on this election. Yes, it’s nerdy and we have twitter now, but it’s hard to listen to a tv reporter do a story on low voter turnout, when they stayed away from covering it for the same reason.
Yes, Leader! Liberals didn’t do much to help their 2011 issue of Parachuting and handpicking with Trudeau’s handling of Chrystia Freeland, the Conservatives were also charged with the Leader meddling in Brandon-Souris to ensure Larry got the nomination and in Provincher the Conservatives have another homophobic Bible Buddy, that they tried to muzzle.
Silent Green is People? Despite the fact those concerned with the environment may find it hard to go anywhere else, the Green Party is not growing - outside of Elizabeth May’s rare televised rant on Harper, you barely even hear about them. Listen I hear your calls for electoral reform, but that’s not happening before 2015 and without it, in a world where everybody is squeezed economically, the message of the green party seems to be falling flat. In any other party, you might say time for a new leader, but considering she has the only seat, your options may have to be more inside the box.
The Art of the Selfie: Also twitter makes satire a little too easy “Thanks Me.. err I mean you but here’s a picture of me”
Now to the ridings… But first a message from Kady:
Which brings us to Bourassa:
Time Machine Results: 2011
#CPC : 3 354 (8.8 %)
#LPC : 15,550 (40.9%)
#NDP : 12,270 (32.3%)
#BQ : 6,105 (16.1%)
Once again, yes it’s a tired cliché at this point to rant on voter turnout and voting reform, but it’s also still insane to celebrate or not flinch at a voter turnout hovering around 44%. By the way that was the HIGH, in a riding that looked like it could go either way for most of the night. The low?
26.2 percent in Bourassa, where Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg got about 50% of the vote, meaning the number of people who actually voted him could fit into a small room or say, Google+. It’s clear at this point we need a change to our electoral process, I’d suggest we hold a vote on it, oh fuck it nevermind.
2011 Time Machine Vote: 39,574 ppl voted in 2011
#CPC : 27,820 (70.6%)
#LPC : 2,645 (6.7%)
#NDP : 7,051 (17.9%)
#Green : 1,164 (3.0%)
Provencher: This riding previously belonged to Vic Toews, who stepped down to finally complete the Babysitter’s club series.
53 year old Political rookie Ted Falk still won with ease, but lost of bit of Toews previous support, which goes to show you Toews old slogan “You either vote for me, or you’re with the Child Pornographers” is worth about 12 percent.
And how does a Tory with no political experience win the MP Prize that comes with a nice salary and potential pension? Well folks, it’s just this easy when you live in a riding that won’t vote for anyone else.
“Falk, who won his party’s nomination by acclamation after several potential candidates bowed out, ran a low-key, risk-avoidance campaign, content to press the flesh door to door, while eschewing all-candidates debates and limiting media interviews.”
Religulous ALERT: There may be good reason for the muzzle, the one time Falk did speak he gave a brilliant soundbite while talking an anti-bullying bill in Manitoba.
“Steinbach Regional Secondary School student Evan Wiens attracted national attention as he stepped forward, identifying himself as a gay student, and advocated for gay-straight alliances. In a television interview, as the debate over the bill grew, Wiens was interviewed in front of the high school as other students walked past lobbing verbal abuse at him. While Falk acknowledged homosexuals do face bullying, he also suggested that particular incident may have been manufactured.”
"Whether that was staged we don’t know," Falk said.
Asked if he meant the teens had staged the scene, Falk agreed.
"By the organizers, yeah," he said.
The issue of bullying remains important to Falk, he says.
"Bullying is bullying no matter against who it is, and I don’t think you need to make special inclusions like that – and to drive a different agenda. I think it’s sad, I think that bill would have resonated with people if they hadn’t confused the agendas."
The “agenda” Falk is speaking of is the bill making special note of promoting “gay-straight alliances” but other than that he’s totally down with you left wing homos.
After winning Falk said this “First of all, I want to thank my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ my saviour for giving me this opportunity to serve you here,” he said. “I feel very blessed in many ways.” There you have it, when he’s not shining a light on obvious staged events by bullied gay teens, he’s getting help from Jesus Christ to win by-elections. It’s nice to know when he’s not busy helping Beyonce get Grammy’s Jesus is throwing in with Ted Falk! Listen, I’m no biblical scholar, but Ted if JC really had your back, would you be 53 and in Provencher?
Okay now we take the on the ridings that actually got press – first up Brandon-Souris (not to be pronounced like it’s the name of a Cartoon French Mouse)
35,264 ppl voted in 2011
#CPC : 22,386 (63.7%)
#LPC : 1,882 (5.4%)
#NDP : 8,845 (25.2%)
#Green : 2,012 (5.7%)
FUN DEMOCRACY FACT: Why does this riding need a new MP? Well because after 9 years Merv Tweed left this riding to become Presdient of the Board at OmniTrax! What the hell is that? Well, dear reader OmniTRAX Canada is a rail company that owns the Port of Churchill…
WHO CARES DAN?
Well the Port of Churchill a major arctic port in Canada’s north, Tweed served as the MP for the area for nine years and as recently as six months ago chaired the House of Commons transport committee.
What does that matter?
Well, Omnitrax is already in the planning stages to add crude oil as a product to flow from the port to markets in either Eastern Canada or Europe. It has also been negotiating with Russia about bringing urea in through the port.
NEAT! Back to the By-Election
So here’s where I’m not a big fan of the talking points on the overall swing in this by-election because it mostly comes from this riding where the Conservatives lost a strong candidate and replaced him with a not so strong candidate. So when you see the overall graph like this one on vote swings – it looks like a giant red phallic symbol but in reality, not a whole lot changed on Monday night.
“Brandon-Souris? A 21-point decline in Conservative vote and a 38-point gain for the Liberals, who ran an anonymous parachute candidate of very uncertain quality against a Conservative campaign personally spearheaded by Jenni Byrne, the Conservatives’ 2011 national campaign manager.” – Paul Wells in Maclean’s
First of all, there’s no doubt that the Conservative machinery in this riding is better than the Liberals, but the Liberals didn’t exactly pick up the first hitchhiker driving out of Manitoba and his competition wasn’t exactly the second coming of Reagan in the motivation department. The Liberals chose the son of a prominent politician in the area – I know you’ve never heard those words in a sentence before but still –
The losing Candidate was Rolf Dinsdale who is the son of Progressive Conservative Walter Dinsdale, who had a bit of experience in the riding Rolf ran in – being that he actually held it as an MP for 30 years from 1953 to November of 1982. So I’m assuming the guy has a couple of connections left, and older folks who actually vote – may remember daddy. If the Cons and Dippers don’t have “Who’s Your Daddy… No, Really?” t-shirts with a liberal logo by now, I can’t help them.
The Conservatives on the other hand ran Larry Maguire, who is another one of those great conservative finds, where he can optically represent a group, but in reality actually hate them! Larry Maguire is a farmer who has spent his life disagreeing with most farmers! Yes, he’s been trying to plant the seeds of free market for years, all the way back to the 90’s in fact!
Maguire supported the anti-monopoly position in a 1997 CWB referendum on barley sales. Farmers rejected this position, with 67% opting to remain with single-desk marketing.
In 1998 he endorsed anti-monopoly candidates in the first ever election of the Canadian Wheat Board’s directors. Pro-monopoly candidates won eight of the ten positions.
The Swing here is huge and added to that the polling blunder of picking the Liberal to win the riding by 29 points, also makes for a good headline. But I’m not sure if it’s time to start writing the obit for the NDP either, voters basically chose the son of a popular conservative and let’s face it the Progressive Conservative brand his dad ran on and the Liberal brand today outside of a few puff, puff passes, aren’t all that different. They also pinned him against a first time candidate and boring ex farmer who was unpopular with farmers and you can see how easily you can find yourself squeezed out pretty quickly, in an interesting election race. That being said, Tom Mulcair is probably having a Rob Ford kinda night.
But, at the end of the day, even with the biggest political scandal we’ve had in years, even with Justin campaigning out there to much fanfare, the Conservatives still hold the seat. Not sure I’m all that upset about this if I’m Stephen and his shrinking PMO.
Toronto Centre: Voting Time Machine:
55,890 ppl voted in 2011
#CPC : 12,604 (22.6%)
#LPC l: 22,832 (41.0%)
#NDP : 16, 818 (30.2%)
#Green : 2,796 (5.0%)
Since I lived in this riding and am only about a 10 minute car ride away, and got to watch it play out, I can tell you umm… well.. actually it’s not surprising at all.
Okay so first off much like the NDP in Brandon Souris, the Conservative just took a nap on this one.
To understand how Liberal this riding is, I’ll take you back to when I voted in it –
Personal Anecdote to Make this Less Boring:
When I was voting in this riding , the guy in front of me said to his friend he was voting Green – the lady at the poll (despite the fact this isn’t so much on the level) overheard that and said “you’re throwing your vote away” – I said listen if you’ve already decided to vote against the Liberals – you’re going to lose by 10,000 votes or more – so isn’t it all throwing your vote away at that point? And we all laughed like a freeze frame at the end of an 80’s sitcom. THAT’s how Liberal this riding is.
Good News For Team Justin: The Liberals ran their most high profile candidate complete with constant Justin appearances against the NDP’s high profile candidate and NDP allstar cast, and won. Plus Chrystia Freeland is obviously a well spoken intelligent candidate with some name recognition to bolster the Liberal soundbite roster in Ottawa, now that Bob Rae is gone.
Bad News For Team Justin: The NDP managed to get their highest result ever in this riding, also because of the high NDP result, one has to think this basically played down to income level – aka top part of the riding is well off and they voted Liberal while the poor and middle class folk took to McQuaig. With no conservative option on the table in this riding and the NDP also having a pro middle class agenda, the Liberals still don’t really have the litmus test on whether the Middle Class campaigning is really working.
Why I Don’t buy the polling on the Liberal’s Middle Class Message Just Yet : It’s not just my personal opinion against the lack of substance. With two income inequality authors running head to head, it’s not surprising the buzz phrase “Middle Class” stuck. Also in a post 2008 crash/occupy media cycle, if a pollster asks you “Were middle class issues on your mind” even if you’re in Rosedale you’re probably a bit afraid to say “Pfft, NO”.
Good News for the NDP: Highest result you’ve ever got in the riding – and you’ve got a new MP in McQuaig once they redraw the riding. Whether you think it’s good for the country or not, McQuaig’s message worked, but it just didn’t work in Rosedale – which is why the NDP never wins this riding – but there’s a lot more of the bottom half of Toronto Centre than top half Rosedale across Canada.
Bad News for the NDP: With Chrystia taking a riding that was hers to lose, pundits on the right will say “HEY, more proof the NDP hasn’t found the centre yet” which then will make the NDP search for it and come off like wishy-washy Liberal-lites ex. See George Smitherman 2010 or Mulcair’s West vs. East Pipeline message. This is the poison pill to nowhere. After the Liberal’s found themselves in the wilderness in 2011, it astounds me to think the lesson learned was “be fence sitters”.
Recap: You say Senate Scandal - I say vote splitting. You say left merge! I say good luck to you! You Say voter apathy, I say Crack Mayor…
The Race for Toronto Centre
As a comedy writer, I’ve been somewhat distracted by the fact the city I live in is being run like an episode of The Wire guest starring Benny Hill, So I haven’t spent as much time as I would’ve liked on the Toronto Centre by-election. I’ve always enjoyed both Chrystia Freeland’s punditry in North America and Linda McQuaig’s writing in Canada, and as you probably know from our work, I believe income inequality is a huge problem. When I first came to Toronto after high school, I lived on Sherbourne Street in the heart of Toronto Centre. During my first night in my Sherbourne apartment, I asked my Toronto friends why last night I heard so many cars backfiring? They introduced me to the CP24 crime report, apparently I wasn’t in Barrie any more. Of course the other half of the riding is home to some of the richest Canadians, it’s a place where cars back fire less and folks are chauffeured around by unicorns, it’s also shockingly enough where all the politicians debating income inequality live. Considering all of those factors, I was interested to finally sit down and watch the Toronto Centre debate on the Agenda last week.
For policy nerds, considering the talent, this was suppose to be like Iron Chef: Income Inequality edition. So, I grabbed some kale, crawled into my yurt and cranked my portable environmentally friendly tv until my publically funded Agenda with Steve Paikin appeared.
First up, we had a lovely portion about who was more hypocritical on the tar sands, this proved especially depressing, and I was somewhat surprised it didn’t end with the Green party candidate huddled in the fetal position, weeping.
Then there was a good chunk discussing why Chrystia Freeland hasn’t completely changed the course of the Journalism business, I won’t lie I zoned out a bit here, I think the issue was that Freeland didn’t save a pack of wild journalists from drowning and something, something hypocrite.
After finally debating REAL income inequality issues - things got a bit confusing. McQuaig doubled down on the ideas the NDP have been touting since the past election, raising corporate taxes, closing tax loopholes, while Chrystia Freeland says she wants to help the middle class and was against McQuaig’s suggestions of how to do that. Freeland countered the NDP by calling them the “old ideas” and that raising taxes on the rich or anyone is a bad idea in our current economy because of our low growth. Fair enough that’s a well argued reason to not raise taxes, but she didn’t offer any alternative to how she would help the middle class. It’s a tv debate though, so I thought maybe McQuaig just did a solid job of monopolizing time and that Freeland’s views on the “how” would be plastered all over the internet. So I went to her website, to find out the counterpoints on how to help the middle class.
Here’s what they say for helping the middle class -
“A strong Canadian economy: The Liberal middle-class priority”
With the cost of living rising faster than incomes, Canadians can’t keep up. The Liberal priority is a strong economy in which the largest number of people benefit from prosperity and high-quality jobs.
The cost of essentials—food, shelter, transportation—are increasing faster than the average Canadian household income.
Rising costs also mean that benchmarks of middle class success are rising out of reach for many Canadians, particularly post-secondary education, childcare and out-of-pocket health care, including prescriptions and homecare.
This new economic reality is difficult for middle class families to bear, let alone Canadians who struggle with lower incomes: food bank usage is up 31 percent since 2008 and household debt is skyrocketing.
Canadians now feel they are more likely to fall out of the middle class into poverty than rise out of poverty into the middle class.
Liberals know that if we don’t address this growing anxiety today, Canadians will stop supporting a growth agenda―a threat to a core Canadian ideal that prosperity is a realistic goal for all Canadians.
The time for investing in a thriving middle class is now―make your voice heard in Ottawa.
Together, we can build a more progressive and prosperous Canada, and better lives for all our families.”
WHAT IN JESUS H. CHRYSTIA’S NAME DOES THAT MEAN?
You could sit in an occupy general assembly with only the members that used sock puppets to communicate, and end up with a clearer message.
That’s about five paragraphs that says “Middle Class” over and over, we don’t need you to tell us life sucks, we know that, we’re living it. We need you to do something about it.
Liberal friends, sometimes I think you believe you lost seats to the NDP because Jack Layton was magical and once the chalk in downtown Toronto washed away, you were basically good to go, Sorry gang, but you lost Canadians votes because young people and hell, most people aren’t sure what you stand for any more. Despite the pot position probably being a distraction away from your views on the Senate, it was still a good start - it’s somewhat unpopular yet it’s somewhat populist but you actually took a position. It’s almost like we’re remembering how politics is suppose to work.
I was also happy to see you acknowledge the middle class squeeze, yes it’s somewhat awkward that your messenger is our most famous Prime Minister’s son, let’s be honest, it’s a bit like Rogers and Bell lecturing you about oligopolies, but hey benefit of the doubt right?
Except in one of the most high profile by-elections in the country, with the famous candidate who spent the past few years of her career talking about income inequality and the middle class - I have no idea what your platform is to help the middle class?!? Is there a decoder ring in a box of Trudea-O’s that I’m missing?
Meanwhile, it’s hard to watch Linda McQuaig hold her tongue, in a conversation that needs her point of view depsperately. In the midst of some sentences, you can actually watch her do soundbite gymnastics, so her words don’t get the NDP in trouble as they contemplate the amazing race to the centre. While all this is happening, one is occasionally awakened by the blunt honesty of the Green Party as he spouts off about our broken political system with reckless glee. His honesty is to be admired, so too is the robotic charm with which Geoff the friendly conservative reads his talking points and does a pretty solid job not to put any attention on himself. The whole thing is more engaging than your average political debate, but the “average political debate” these days is really quite “average”.
You wonder why the voter turnout is so low? It’s because we’re all treated like morons every single election. I’m pretty damn cynical about politics but the past four years in times where we need serious conversation about the future, we’re running more and more elections around the world, on absolutely NOTHING.
This strategy of “don’t mess up, don’t say anything and just repeat slogans” is getting a bit insane. I hear you cynics humming David Byrne “Same as it Ever Was” and yes, slogans have always been the great marketing trifecta of lazy, patriotic and vague, but now slogans are barely even that.
Slogans now say so little, you wouldn’t even know they were running for office.
We have slogans now just to let you know the candidates believe in physics.
Obama and Julia Gillard ran on “Forward” - showing you they’re the candidates that are what? Pro time? Then Kathleen Wynne in Ontario not to be out done ran her Liberal campaign on “Forward Together”! So, we’re also supporters of time moving, but more in a group-on sort of way.
In Australia Kevin Rudd ran on “A New Way” which I hope was in the “Forward” direction, or else, how embarrassing for him.
Stephen Harper recently has a habit of reminding us where we live - with podiums marked “Canada”. I’m not sure if that’s to reinforce patriotism or to help his senior citizen voting base out.
And as if it’s not bad enough that our politics now are based in a Mad Men wet dream of flimsy slogans like “Forward”. Sadly half of the time, they don’t even bother changing designs - here’s the backdrop of the UK’s David Cameron “Ready for Change” campaign and here’s Stephen Harper’s “Here for Canada”.
These days Rob Ford’s “STOP THE GRAVY TRAIN” is beginning to look more and more like a nuanced policy.
It’s funny to watch a race supposedly on income equality in Toronto Centre two years after a frothing at the mouth media, scoffed at the seriousness of the occupiers message of “We are the 99%”. Editorialists leaped into action with claims the protest lacked substance and couldn’t be taken seriously and most importantly kids, if you were serious you would just VOTE, VOTE, VOTE . If only those silly, misunderstood kids, knew how to be adults and use important messages like “Forward” maybe Chrystia and Linda wouldn’t have to avoid debating the whole mess.