Monday, July 14, 2014

CBC article on Ontario budget mentions my youth voter registration policy

Yes, this is shameless self-promotion on my part, but hey, my Mom thought it was cool:

"The Liberals also plan to revamp the Grade 10 Civics curriculum to get students more involved in their communities and introduce voter registration in high schools."

Saturday, July 5, 2014

What can the results of the last Ontario PC leadership race tell us about the current one? That Elliott could be hard to beat

Long-time readers will remember when I did some fairly in-depth coverage of the 2009 Ontario PC leadership race. I was reading over some blog posts from that era, bit of a trip down memory lane. I kind of forgot Hudak's big selling point to grassroots conservatives was pledging to eliminate Human Rights TribunalsChristine Elliott running on a flat tax to increase her appeal beyond just red Tories, and of course Hudak Bingo!

The map at the top of this post shows the first round results from the 2009 leadership results, coloured in by which candidate won plurality support in each riding. As a reminder, the PC's used a weighted one member one vote system, so every riding had equal support, from Conservative strongholds in rural Ontario to weak seats in downtown Toronto that even during a leadership race might only have a few dozen members. Hudak is in dark blue, Klees is in light blue, Elliott in green, Hillier in red. You can expand the map by clicking on it.

So, looking at these results, (and my analysis from 2009) what can we learn from the 2009 race that might be applicable to the current Ontario PC race?

  • Elliott, the presumptive front-runner has an advantage in the 905/416, since no other serious candidate from the area seems likely to enter the race. Looking at the results from 2009, Frank Klees was very successful in signing up new members from cultural communities in the 905, as he dominated Peel region, his home York region, and the suburbs of Toronto. Elliott did well in most of the downtown core and her home base of Durham region, but was unable to make gains in a lot of the inner 905 belt. With no other serious candidate likely to emerge from Toronto/905, Elliott could dominate much of the GTA, which would go a long way to help establish her front-runner credentials
  • Breaking into the GTA will be the challenge for any of the other potential candidates, who would all have somewhat of a regional base, but would likely have to dominate their home bases. Lisa Macleod, Vic Fedeli and Monte McNaughton would have home bases in the East, North and Southwest respectively. Now, in 2009 Tim Hudak was able to win the leadership without doing particularly well in the GTA (he won a few scattered seats and split Halton region with Elliot) because in large part he dominated his home base of Niagara/Southern Ontario, but he also had strong results in Northern Ontario and in more rural ridings across the other parts of the province as well. Having favourite sons/daughters from each of the North, Southwest and East could make it difficult for any of them to establish province-wide movements, although I could see Lisa Macleod, who has toured the province pretty extensively and has been fairly high profile as opposition MPPs go being perhaps best suited to pull it off. 
  • If Macleod might be the strongest candidate against Elliott, she'll have to take some caution from looking at these maps. Presumably she would be the Eastern Ontario favourite daughter, and that means she would need to build a coalition of PC supporters ranging from downtown Ottawa moderates to Randy Hillier supporters from the rural areas. Macleod might have to tack to the right both to rally the non insignificant numbers of very conservative conservatives in Eastern Ontario, but also to try and establish a solid Blue Tory vs. Red Tory match-up against Elliott to establish her credentials as the main right-of-Elliott candidate. 
  • Monte McNaughton, who could be a Southern/Southwestern Ontario favourite son was also a champion of right-to-work legislation that caused Hudak some headaches but also could endear him to the more conservative minded activists who are important in leadership races. With Monte needing to dominate Southwestern Ontario to establish himself as a legitimate contender, and Macleod needing to target rural Southwestern conservatives to establish herself as the main right-wing contender against Elliott, the membership sign up and organizational battles that could happen between Macleod and McNaughton in that part of the province could be interesting
  • With that in mind, Elliott has the clearest path to victory: Dominate the GTA, and hold her own in other parts of the province. MPP endorsements don't mean everything  (MPP endorsements can have a pretty big range of importance on the local membership base, sometimes big, sometimes not so much) but that she has endorsements already from MPPs from her home competitors bases (Norm Miller from Northern Ontario, Todd Smith from Eastern Ontario, Jeff Yurek and Michael Harris from the Southwest amongst others) bodes well.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Joe Cressy: "[the next election] is going to won or lost based on seats where you’re taking on Tories." I agree, so let's check the numbers

This graph has been making the rounds on social media to show growing support for the federal Liberals in by-elections across Canada, including Trinity-Spadina, where I was happy to do a bit of volunteering for Adam Vaughan.

Speaking of Trinity-Spadina, I've quoted NDP candidate Joe Cressy above from this article where the NDP tries to spin the rather negative by-election results it's had under Mulcair.

Cressy's full quote is:

“The next federal election will not be won or lost on the basis of a couple of seats in Canada where it’s the Liberals and the NDP squaring off. Rather, it’s going to won or lost based on seats where you’re taking on Tories,” Cressy said.

“The focus has to be and should be on taking out Harper, not focusing on the Liberals.” 

So, with that in mind, why don't we actually look at the vote changes from the 2011 elections in by-elections in Conservative held seats since the last election?

Calgary Centre
NDP: -11%
Lib: +15

Con: -21%

Liberal vote shoots up 15%, to make the Calgary Centre by-election the best Liberal result in Calgary since 1997, as the Tory vote goes way down and the NDP vote declines by 11%, as they get less than 4% of the vote.

NDP: +5%
Lib: -1%
Con: -4%

Congrats NDP, you managed to increase your vote by 5% (still finishing 24% behind) during a by-election held when the federal Liberals were leaderless and the provincial Liberals were in the middle of a leadership race leaving the local campaign short of volunteers. Worth noting the provincial Liberals would go on to win the seat in the Ontario election, with the NDP back in third. 

So those two by-elections were held when Mulcair was leader, but the Liberals were still without a permanent leader. Let's see what happens when Trudeau becomes leader:

NDP: -1
Lib: +9%
Con: -7%

The NDP vote dips slightly, but the Trudeau Liberals shoot up almost 10% and actually take a seat back from the Harper Conservatives.

NDP: -10
Lib: +23%
Con: -12%

In the ultra safe Conservative Provencher seat, the Liberal vote goes up by 23%, as the NDP vote crashes 10%, finishing with a deposit-losing 8.2% of the vote.

NDP: -18%
Lib: +37%
Con: -20%

Grit vote sky-rockets as a Justin Trudeau-led Liberal Party goes from 4th place and 5% to coming within a few hundred votes of winning the riding. NDP vote absolutely craters to 7% for another lost deposit - despite the NDP holding one of the Brandon seats provincially for decades.

NDP: -6%
Lib: 13+%
Con: -9%

Another ultra-safe Conservative seat to be sure, but the Liberal vote share goes from less than 4% to 17%, while the NDP barely finishes ahead of the Christian Heritage Party for 4th place -  Mulcair's NDP candidate only 3 votes ahead of the CHP with 4.2% of the vote.

NDP: -2
Lib: 25%
Con : -25%

Not quite the nail-biter as Brandon-Souris, but Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha pulls in a solid 35% of the vote on a 25% increase, the best Liberal result in the riding since 1968. NDP at least manages to hang onto it's deposit this time (a rarity with Mulcair as leader in Tory held ridings as we've seen) but the NDP does decline.

So what does that leave us then, when looking at the seats where the Liberals and NDP are going up against the Tories?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Assorted thoughts from the ground from a Liberal majority

Well, having had a few days to think about it, I had some scattered thoughts about the Ontario political scene in the aftermath of a Wynne majority government. I am so happy to have played a small part in it in York South-Weston. In no particular order, here are some things that have I've been thinking about since the election, with one point largely about each party.

  • People judge governments economic credentials and reliability based on job creation, not being deficit hawks for the sake of deficit hawking

"Jobs Not Cuts" was a simple but effective slogan the Liberal campaign was quick to start using to hammer Hudak once he announced he would be cutting 100,000 public service jobs as part of his platform. Balancing the deficit and bringing down the debt is important, as Kathleen Wynne and Charles Sousa have stated many times, but Ontario can't afford to put people out of work and slash public services just to bring the budget to balance a year earlier, as Hudak promised. Liberals were able to tell a good message: vote Liberal, and you'll have a government that protects health care and education as well as protecting good paying jobs that help the economy. This will benefit you and your family. Vote Hudak, and you'll have a government that slashes services that impact your family, with no immediate benefit in your everyday life. Hudak's math errors in the "Million Jobs Plan" didn't help his economic credibility, neither did his attacks on "corporate welfare" while praising companies that had in fact partnered with governments (including Harper's Conservatives) to create jobs. And speaking of Harper...

  • Hudak ran on a hard-right platform that was designed to fire up his ended up firing up moderate voters to vote against him en masse

Paul Wells, while explaining why he supported the PC's in this election explores some of the difference between Hudak's conservative pitch this election which failed pretty spectacularly, and Stephen Harper's conservative pitch, which won him a majority largely based on the kind of seats Hudak either failed to win from the Liberals or actually lost to the Liberals:

"Hudak, on the other hand, had to keep impressing the Ayn Rand League, thanks largely to his ever-shaky command of the party’s leadership. That’s why he put a big number on his public sector job-cut target, because he decided his target audience was people who think eliminating public sector jobs is always excellent. Compare and contrast: During the 2011 federal election, I worked hard to get a succession of federal Conservatives — Jim Flaherty, John Baird — to give me any indication of the scale of public sector job cuts the Harper government had in mind...

Nobody seriously doubts Stephen Harper is a conservative, so he can tell conservatives they have to wait. That’s why I saw Alison Redford’s Alberta Conservative victory over Danielle Smith’s Wildrose party as a vindication of the Harper style, even though a lot of Harper Conservatives supported Wildrose: because politics isn’t about scratching your swollen id. Harper’s conservatism is a broad and not always internally coherent coalition, and it spends a lot of time wondering when something exciting will happen. "

Stuff like this is also at the core of Wells' The Longer I'm Prime Minister, basically arguing that Harper can afford politically to not govern as a Reform Party conservative because as long as it keeps delivering electoral results, the base will more or less be happy. Harper's relative moderation and embrace of economic interventionism allowed him to campaign to a majority in 2011 with a message to Ontario voters that he could be trusted on the economy because he wasn't radical, had created jobs, etc. Hudak instead campaigned on an unabashed vision of shrinking government that Harper has largely abandoned in the successful pursuit of electoral gain. Quite simply, the coalition of voters that would support Hudak's hard-right, fiscal hawkishness simply isn't big enough to form government, and Hudak's assumptions that his own base would turn out were swamped by moderates who were turned off enough by his platform to get out to vote against him.

  • Horwath tried to expand her voter coalition a step too far, and while she made gains in some parts of the province, lost others
Looking at how much NDP results in Toronto fell, the letter that some NDP stalwarts send to Horwath mid-campaign can't be judged as something trivial - plenty of traditional NDP supporters in Toronto 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

My policy on improving civic education makes the Ontario Liberal Party platform!

Readers of this space will remember my policy on youth voter registration that was passed as a priority policy at the Ontario Young Liberals Summer Fling last year. The policy was also debated on Common Ground platform building discussion site where it became one of the top ranked policies in the education section. 

Today, I am very proud to say my policy has been adopted as a part of the Ontario Liberal Party platform!


We will introduce voter registration in high schools to help students prepare for the responsibilities of citizenship and replace the Grade 10 Civics curriculum with a more hands-on course that includes a community improvement project." 

Thanks to everyone who supported my policy at every step of way!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Is Andrea Horwath for real?

That's what the new Kathleen Wynne ad asks Ontarians after Horwath said NO to an increased child benefit, an Ontario Pension Plan, better transit, and a new job creation strategy for Ontario. I'm really digging the "I'm Kathleen Wynne and I stand behind this message" tag the Premier has been using.

I'm sure NDP'ers will complain about "going negative", to which I have to ask, isn't joining with Tim Hudak and Stephen Harper and saying NO to a strong plan for Ontario a tad more negative?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

While Horwath is silent, labour and progressive speak: The Ontario Budget deserves support

While Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was silent on Ontario's Budget today, continuing her approach that saw her take no position on the minimum wage and pensions, labour and other progressive are speaking loud and clear that Ontario's 2014 Budget deserves support for the people of Ontario.

“Things like pensions, things like infrastructure spending, taking care of child care, seniors, those are all things that have been, you know, the backbone of the NDP’s policies for years. I would expect that [the NDP] would support [the budget].

"Today's budget will make a positive difference in the lives of working families in Ontario - and should be supported by the NDP…We hope the NDP will work with the Liberals to pass the budget."

“The time is long past for debating whether we need a supplementary pension plan…CARP members have been calling for just such a plan…The proposed pension plan will benefit their children and grandchildren, not themselves directly, but it is a ballot question for them.”

“With the improvements in the personal support workers, and supporting health care workers in the community…and with a real focus on ensuring that Ontarians feel like they are better living here in Ontario, we should stay the party line.”

“There are a tremendous number of things in this budget that can do a lot of good for people for child care staff for personal support workers and for those with developmental disabilities.  I remain hopeful that the budget will pass and that we'll be able to make the gains for child care workers and personal support workers.”

"There are important investments in the Budget...There's lots of good measures here, paying PSWs…that's incredibly important."

"Keeping poverty reduction on the table is always the right thing to do…Daily Bread has always been a strong proponent of the Ontario Child Benefit. Indexing it will allow low-income families with children to keep up with the rising costs of living such as food."

"The good news: An Ontario pension plan that will provide an enhanced public pension for those with no private pensions."