Archive for the 'Liberal Party' Category

The return of the right-wing liberals

Charlie Smith of Straight.com has an absolutely fantastic piece on Michael Ignatieff.  This piece is definitely worth the read for any progressive who still foolishly thinks that the Liberals under Ignatieff have more in common with the NDP, Bloc and Greens than they do with the radical right wing Tories of Stephen Harper.

From Straight.com:

Triumph of business Liberals: Michael Ignatieff will lead the party

“I believe I have the judgement, the character, the values and the experience to lead at a very difficult time in the life of our country.”

This is what Bob Rae says on the front page of his Web site for his now-defunct Liberal leadership campaign.

I’m left wondering if Michael Ignatieff, the Liberals’ chosen successor to Stephane Dion, has the judgement, character, values, and experience to lead Canada at a particularly difficult time in its history.

Let’s look at the record.

When it comes to judgement, Ignatieff supported the Bush administration’s attack on Iraq even though there was no United Nations approval.

As far as his character goes, some Canadians were no doubt very troubled by a lengthy profile of Ignatieff written in 2006 by the Globe and Mail’s Michael Valpy. There were shocking revelations about how Ignatieff treated his younger brother while both attented the elite Upper Canada College as teenagers.

Ignatieff’s ruthlessness, which was on display in the Valpy profile, suggests that Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally has some competition in this department.

As for Ignatieff’s values, I’ve been bothered by his rather one-sided view of the war in the Balkans in 1999. It’s a viewpoint he seems to share with the CBC’s Carole Off but which has been challenged by retired Canadian Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, former B.C. NDP candidate Rollie Keith, University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus Edward Herman, and Osgoode Hall law professor Michael Mandel.

Honest commentators who can look back with the benefit of hindsight know that the Serbs slaughtered Bosnian Muslims at Srebernica in 1995.

But they also know that the creation of Kosovo was based on fraudulent claims of genocide perpetrated by the Kosovo Liberation Army four years later. Ignatieff helped build his reputation as a human-rights advocate in part on the basis of these now-discredited claims.

Unfortunately, the Canadian media are too ignorant about this issue to call him on this point.

As for experience, Ignatieff was out of the country for 29 years, which leaves me wondering if he’s ready to serve on the average city council in this country, let alone occupy 24 Sussex Drive as the prime minister.

This week’s coronation of Ignatieff is a triumph of business Liberals like John Manley who always wanted Canada to be on friendlier terms with the United States.

I’m guessing that those in Vancouver who will applaud Ignatieff’s rise to federal Liberal leader are likely some of same people who apologized to former U.S. ambassador Paul Celucci in writing for Canada’s refusal to join the coalition of the willing in Iraq.

Don’t be surprised if some on the left wing of the Liberal party decide that now is the time to rip up their membership cards and join the NDP.

3 statistics about the 2008 election you’ll never see in the media

With the 2008 federal election behind us, many pundits (myself included) are being faced with reality that the election did not turn out as we projected.  Having under-estimated the projected level of support for the Conservatives and over-estimated the projected level of support for the NDP and Greens; and with the NDP only gaining about 1% in the popular vote and the Green vote utterly collapsing by more than 1/3 between the last polls and election day, it seems that many progressives have been made to feel sorry for themselves.

As such, the triumph of the Harper Conservatives over the ‘progressive’ forces in this country has been a common theme  explored ad nausium by the mainstream media.

This notion is both interesting and straightforward.  Indeed the only problem with this post-election theme is that it’s completely unsupported by the facts.

If anything, this election should be noted as being exemplary of exactly the opposite.

This election, if nothing else, was a stentorian vindication of the long-term trend witnessed in Canada since the 1974 general election AWAY from liberalism and conservatism and toward progressivism.

A while back, I pointed out the long-term trend in Canadian popular support away from the neo-liberal/neo-conservative, ultra-capitalist parties (of which, I took to include Liberals, the Conservatives, PCs, Alliance, Reform Party, Social Credit, Ralliement créditiste, Confederation of Regions, and other small third parties) and toward the more moderate and/or progressive capitalist parties (which I took to include the NDP, Bloc, Greens, Communist Party, CAP, CPC-ML and other small third parties).  I am pleased to say that not only has this trend continued, but that it has also continued in every region of the country without exception.

In 2008, in every region of Canada without exception — West, Ontario, Québec, Atlantic & North — the combined ultra-capitalist parties (Liberal and Conservative) decreased in popular support.  Meanwhile, in every region of Canada, the combined more moderate or progressive parties increased their popular level of support.

The public’s appetite for laissez faire capitalism and vicious cuts to social spending as instituted by the Conservatives of today and the Liberals of yesteryear is clearly declining.  The only question is, how much longer can these two warring factions of the capitalist class continue to operate as separate parties before they are forced to ‘unite the right’ once again amidst the rising tide of public opinion against their policies.

And that is something that the mainstream capitalist media or their conservative apologists just won’t let you contemplate.

If the Tories don’t get a majority, thank the Bloc not the Grits, Greens or NDP

Having just finished a massive update to the Paulitics National Polling Resource, the Provincial/Regional Polling Resource, and the Seat Projection Meta-Analysis, there is one fact that has become abundantly clear:

If the Conservatives don’t get a majority, we should thank Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc Québecois, not the Dion Liberals, the May Greens, or Layton’s NDP.  Of all of the data uploaded this evening, the astonishing rise of the Bloc in Quebec (pictured below) is perhaps the most impressive.

Because of the Bloc’s rise, the Conservatives have dropped 10% in Quebec since September 13th.  In other words, 1 in 3 Tory supporters in Québec have abandoned that party since September 13th.

Tories recover on eve of election, but still down from 2006

The latest polls are certainly to be viewed as a mixed bag for all five of the major federal parties, save the Bloc Québecois.  For the latter, of course, there is little ‘mixed’ about the situation.  The Bloc’s situation appears to be moribund.

For the Tories, the latest polls have given them a slight bump (which will be accentuated when the latest Environics poll pegging the Tories at near-majority government level support is included in the Paulitics Polling Resource).  However, the Tories still remain down from their 2006 election showing by statistically significant margins despite being flushed with cash and despite their aggressive recent media buys.

For the Liberals, the recent polls have shown them slumping on the eve of the election — not exactly the best time to have a slump in popularity — and have not been able to break beyond a statistically-significant margin of their 2006 support in well over a year.  Still, on the other hand, the Paulitics Polling resource does show the Liberals as one of only two parties to rest above their 2006 levels of support, even if it is by a statistically insignificant margin.

For the NDP, after dipping badly in support, the recent polls have shown what must be a welcome up-tick in popularity back to within the margins of their respectable 2006 finish.  However, much like the Grits, the NDP have not been able to break out above their 2006 levels of support by a statistically-significant margin in well over a year.

For the Greens, after flirting with the 12 percent threshold in the Paulitics rolling-5 poll average for a time, the latest polls have witnessed a dramatic slump for the Greens back down to the 8 percent area of support.  That said, even if the Greens are able to hold on to this comparatively low level of support through to election day, they will still have roughly doubled their level of support since the previous election which is something that the other parties shall ignore only at their own peril.

For the Bloc, I have yet to update the Paulitics Provincial Polling Resource, so a complete picture of the carnage is not yet available at this time.  But, with that in mind, the latest provincial poll results from Leger Marketing put them at a dismal 30%.

Overall, even without the possibility of a legal battle over the constitutionality of the election itself, the election is shaping up to be an interesting one.

Just how big is Quebec’s shift away from the right wing? Pretty big

Given the recent provincial by-election results in the province of Quebec, bloggers and politicians everywhere have been talking about the results and their implications.

As with any event, it helps to actually review what happened and then, based on this, generate an analysis.  If we do it the other way around, we risk being like a Conservative cabinet minister who, during a Question Period session shortly after the by-elections, tried to ridicule Gilles Duccepe by saying that the by-elections were a huge victory federalists and a huge defeat for the PQ.  (I don’t remember which Tory cabinet minister it was who said it, but I remember being shocked when I heard it).

In fact, contrary to the Tories’ contention, both the by-election results and the recent provincial polling results show a rather different story.

First, the by-election results.

Simply put, the Tories’ closest provincial ally, the ADQ, witnessed a staggering collapse.  This is rather significant since the far-right ADQ is lead by Mario Dumont, a man who attracted the attention of the international press in 2007 and who was (appropriately, in my opinion) called “Canada’s Le Pen” by the U.K.-based newspaper The Independent (source).

In the three by-election ridings, the ADQ’s support collapsed to just over 1/3 of their formerly mighty self.  Now, even though none of these ridings were strong ADQ ridings, nothing I think could have prepared political observers for just how spectacular of a collapse the ADQ made.  For instance, in my riding (Hull), the ADQ dropped from being the 3rd place party to being dead last among the 5 main provincial parties with both the Greens and Québec solidaire (which is an amalgamation of left-wing provincial parties including the Quebec Communist Party) finishing above them.  In fact, only the tiny Parti indépendantiste did worse then the ADQ in my riding.

Turning to the province-wide provincial polling results since the last provincial election, we see an equally bleak picture for ‘Canada’s Le Pen’ and the far-right ADQ.

Following the last provincial election, the ADQ had actually improved over their provincial results and were polling as the #1 provincial party with seemingly prohibitive odds of forming the next provincial government, either minority or majority.

As you can see, Quebec’s repudiation of far right politics since that time, clearly extends beyond merely the three ridings which had by-elections earlier this month.

Now that it seems as though the Québecois are well on their way to throwing out their version of Le Pen and become once again a beacon to progressives throughout Canada, maybe Canadians can learn from this and get to work on throwing out their version of George W. Bush.

Liberals surge, Tories plummet, NDP recovers

Several new polls have been released in the last couple of days and the Paulitics Polling Resource has now almost recovered from the recent flurry of bizarre Ipsos-Reid polls.

weird-polls.png

Since the Paulitics Polling Resource uses rolling-five poll averages and that latest absurd Ipsos poll showing 42% for the Conservatives is still included in the rolling average, you can probably expect the next poll released to reduce the Conservatives’ standings even more.

Other than the Conservatives, the Liberals have recovered and now stand 4 points higher than they were less than 10 days ago.  Unfortunately for the Libearls, however, this surge in support has only brought them back up to the less than stellar level of support the received in the 2006 election.

More importantly for the Grits, this surge in support has come where they need it most: Ontario.  While the Liberals remain either stagnant (or worse) just about every where else in the country, they have jumped over 5 points in Ontario in just 9 days and now enjoy a commanding lead in the vote-rich province over the Conservatives.

The NDP has maintained its strong standing in Atlantic Canada, but has droped precipitously in Quebec and to a lesser extent in the Prairies (Manitoba and Saskatchewan).  Less than 3 weeks ago, the NDP was tied with the Liberals in La Belle Province, now the NDP has lost 1 in 3 of its supporters and has slumped back down to the 10% range.

Meanwhile in Quebec, the Bloc has recovered nicely since its mid-October low and the Conservatives have slowly and steadily been increasing their support since the summertime.

The Greens have also slipped slightly in Quebec, losing roughly 30% of their support (dropping them from 10% to 7%).  The Greens have also shown lackluster performance in BC (where they have also lost between 30% and 1/3 of their supporters, but are still up considerably from their 2006 election showing), the prairies and, more importantly for Elizabeth May, in Atlantic Canada where they have continued their slow decline in support since their summertime peak at 10% and now stand at 6%.  Elsewhere the Greens are holding steady.

So, paradoxically enough, we have a situation where really every party can be unhappy with the recent poll results to some extent.  The only party who can reasonably be quasi-happy with the latest poll results, the Bloc, still finds itself badly down from its level of support in the 2006 election.

La Presse joins Paulitics in predicting an NDP victory in Outremont

Just over two months ago, I used a variety of polling data and financial data from all of the parties to suggest that an NDP victory in the upcoming Outremont by-election was very likely.  In the 4 simulations I ran, the NDP won 3 of them and only lost the 4th just barely.

Yesterday, the francophone newspaper La Presse released the first and only poll which asked voters in the riding of Outremont who they were voting for.

The poll confirmed — kind of — the predictions I made in early July.  It matched the order in which I suggested the parties would finish — NDP then Liberal then Bloc then Tories.  Although my analysis had the race as being much closer than the La Presse poll suggests it will be.

Either way, it’s going to be an interesting race and, if Dion can pull off an 11th hour stay of execution for the Liberals, then, at the very least, La Presse can join me in eating humble pie and I won’t have to eat it alone.


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