Blogs

Harper, the campaign, and the economy

By Royce Koop on Oct 6, 2008

...now an issue - the economy - is battering the Conservative campaign, and it's completely a result of Harper's handling of the issue.

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A proposal to fix an outdated provision in election law

By Harold Jansen on Oct 6, 2008

With just a week or so to go to the election, we're about to run into a part of Canada's election law that always irks me. Section 329 of the Elections Act prohibits the publication on election results while the polls are still open locally. As someone who grew up in Alberta, I understand the reason for this. We're better served by not knowing what is happening out east. In 1980, I remember turning on the TV at 8:00 PM (poll closing time back then) and being informed that there would be a Liberal majority government. At that point, they had not counted a single vote from Alberta yet. It's a nice reminderof why your vote doesn't matter. It's hard enough to get people out to vote now; more disincentives are not useful.

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Could the NDP elect a member in Alberta?

By Melanee Thomas on Oct 6, 2008

I'm sure all political observers in Alberta would agree that Edmonton Strathcona is the Conservative's weakest seat in Alberta. Harold Jansen figures the Conservatives will take it, but this just might make it more interesting.

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The Bloc has Margaret Atwood's vote (but not mine)

By Melanee Thomas on Oct 5, 2008

I love Margaret Atwood. I remember nearly losing it for laughing during an oral book report in high school relaying the funeral scene in Life Before Man, being stunned when I finished the Handmaiden's Tale as a young undergraduate, and adoring the uniqueness of the Penelopiad last year. Imagine my surprise when this woman, who I'd characterise as a large influence on my development as a feminist, said she'd vote Bloc if given the chance as there's no real alternative in Quebec.

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The Conservatives and Liberals as Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum?

By Royce Koop on Oct 4, 2008

One of the perennial criticisms of Canada's two big brokerage parties (oftentimes levelled by NDP leaders) is that they're really tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum parties: They stand for essentially the same things and govern accordingly. The 1993 federal election was supposed to have changed all that, but alot of the speculation about Harper trying to construct a moderate, centrist party raised the spectre of a return to the days of Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum.

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Will the NDP wake up and respond to the threat the Greens pose?

By Harold Jansen on Oct 3, 2008

It's been interesting listening to the post-debate analyses. One theme keeps coming up and that is that Elizabeth May impressed a lot of people. As Andrew Coyne pointed out in the CBC's post-debate "At Issue" panel, the debate cemented the Greens' place on the national stage. Talking to people around here, I'm surprised to hear the chord that the Greens seem to be striking with a lot of people. Some of this is a "none of the above" vote; the Greens have never been in power anywhere and are fresh and new, so people see this as a way of registering dissatisfaction. Other people find their policies refreshing: it's pro-environmental and socially progressive without without the baggage of the traditional NDP.

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English debate: Harper gets pounded, but nothing that essentially changes the campaign

By Harold Jansen on Oct 3, 2008

The Engish debate was actually pretty entertaining. I took a few peeks at the replay of the US Vice-Presidential debate and I actually thought the Canadian debate was more interesting. I actually thought all five party leaders were reasonably effective and the debate clarified a few things in the election. I'm not going to talk about Gilles Duceppe: he's a good debater, but basically irrelevant for the English debate.

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English debate preview: pressure on Dion and Layton

By Harold Jansen on Oct 2, 2008

Tonight is the big show: the English language debate at 9 Eastern/6 Pacific. The dynamics here are a little different than in French. The Conservatives are in a stronger position outside of Quebec, so Harper mainly has to stay out of trouble. I imagine we'll see the relaxed prime-ministerial sweater vest version of Stephen Harper again. All four leaders will be gunning for Harper again. I don't expect we'll see the NDP and Liberals squabble too much over who is the real opponent to Harper. The way the Conservatives are poised to break through in British Columbia means they both have to dump on Harper big time. Harper just has to weather the storm. It's pretty much impossible for an incumbent prime minister to "win" the debate; you win by not losing, which is about the best you can hope for.

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Poll names Dion winner of French debate

By Harold Jansen on Oct 2, 2008

A CanWest/Global National poll of francophone voters found that Dion won the debate, Duceppe finished second, and Harper third. The sample size (637) was fairly small, but that's still an interesting and somewhat surprising finding. I didn't think Harper was that bad, but perhaps the "sit back and look prime ministerial" approach didn't play as well in French as it did in translation.

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French debate: Duceppe looked strong, Harper pretty passive, May surprising

By Harold Jansen on Oct 1, 2008

I watched the French debate tonight (in translation; I'm an Albertan!) and thought it wasn't bad. I really liked the table: I thought it was a lot better than the stuffy podiums and made it feel more intimate and interactive. I usually hate the questions from "average" Canadians, but my favorite moment was actually where the leaders had to say something nice about the leader to their left. It was different and caught my attention.

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French debate preview: pressure on Harper

By Harold Jansen on Oct 1, 2008

In an hour and a half, the French language debate will be starting and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds. This really is the contest between Dion, Duceppe and Harper. Although the NDP is making some gains in Quebec, I don't see Mr. Layton as particularly relevant and Ms. May's struggles in French mean she'll be marginal for much of it.

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Plagarism is Always Wrong, Mr. Harper.

By Melanee Thomas on Sep 30, 2008

At least that's what every decent undergraduate student knows.

Thanks to the sands of time, I find this kind of bald-faced policy mistake hilarious. It's illuminating as I've suspected Harper has been coordinated with a variety of interests for quite some time. Much of the anti-Bloc campaign in Quebec seemed too slick to be coincidental. Harper strikes me as the kind of leader who micro-manages every detail of any action plan to the "T", ensuring each operative knows their role in executing the plan. I just assumed he was too savvy to be so blatant, or smart enough to realise a number of people would think, "hmm. That sounds awfully similar. Let's compare the text." 

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Why the Liberals need to lose this election

By Harold Jansen on Sep 30, 2008

As I've watched the Liberals sputter through this and the previous two elections, I've reached a conclusion: it would be good for the Liberals to lose this election. And I mean really lose it, as in a Conservative majority government. This is not a judgment about whether the Liberals would do a good job in government. That might or might not be the case. But for the Liberal party as a party, it would be healthy to have a break where they aren't in government and have no prospect of getting there for four years.

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Platform Report Cards: Grading the Parties on Education

By Melanee Thomas on Sep 30, 2008

Now that all the party platforms have been released, we can expect a plethora of report cards on the details of the platforms to be released by a number of advocacy groups. I received my first today from the Canadian Federation of Students. The CFS, representing over half a million post-secondary students from coast to coast, evaluated the party platforms on tuition fees, student aid, Aboriginal education, Graduate Students & Research, Copyright reform, and funding for universities and colleges in both English and French.

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The Conservatives are at the majority mark, according to LISPOP

By Harold Jansen on Sep 29, 2008

In my last post, I noted that Wilfird Laurier's Barry Kay had the Conservatives just a couple of seats away from a majority. His latest projections put the Conservatives right at the magic number of 155. This has led Gilles Duceppe to call for support for the Bloc in order to deny the Conservatives a majority. It will be interesting to see whether those calls have any resonance with the electorate. Stephen Harper has worked hard to put a moderate face on the Conservatives (often to the dismay of the more ideologically inclined members of his party).

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