Thursday, April 25, 2013

This hits the nail on the head

Been meaning to toss up a post about the Conservatives preparing to launch a tax payer funded attack ad blitz again Trudeau, but this social media image put out by Trudeau hits the nail on the head way better than I could. Go show Team Liberal.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Winners and losers in the LPC leadership race - besides the obvious winner

Was in Ottawa for the leadership reveal, and I've been meaning to write a blog reflecting on the race. First off, let me thank all the volunteers and party staff who worked during the weekend and throughout the race.

While the obvious winner was Justin Trudeau, and congratulations to his team are due, I thought I'd write about who I think are the more subtle winners and losers from both the weekend and the race as a whole. Presented in no particular order.


-George Takach

Takach wasn't taken the most seriously at the start of the race, but his official entry into the race was professional, he garnered a surprising amount of Young Liberal support which gave him decent online buzz, and he positioned himself well to own the "digitial economy" file - not a bad niche to have for a party looking for ways to be economically innovative. That he dropped out to support Trudeau helps him in this category of course. For an outsider candidate like Takach, the best realistic outcome was to raise his profile and make friends with the new establishment, and it seems like he executed it well. If he wants to run for a nomination in the next election, he'll have a good pick of seats, particularly his home riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore

-Supporters of supporters

The supporter class wasn't without its share of controversy, and you can argue about the value of it, how to calculate the turnout, etc, but the fact is with the supporter category over 100k Canadians voted in this leadership race. It would have been interesting to see how the supporter class would have worked in a more competitive race with more candidates able to run truly national campaigns, but those who supported the creation of the class and allowing them to vote can be satisfied - for now. The next test is keeping those supporters engaged and getting them involved on the local level.

-Deborah Coyne

If a candidate who got under 1% of the vote can be considered a winner, Deb Coyne can. She never caught fire, but she had a deep policy binder, performed decently in the debates, and was able to defend her ideas
well. She never thought she could win, but for someone who entered the race to advance certain ideas to keep them part of the discussion, she did well. I hope she goes after a federal nomination in the next election.

-Jean Chretien

Hardly needs to be said, but his barn burner of a speech at the leadership reveal demonstrated why he's the most beloved living Liberal leader.


-Supporters of co-operation

I don't support co-operation, and seemingly neither did many Liberals, with Joyce Murray and her co-operation platform finishing a distant second (which was expected) but underperformed some expectations for vote %. I talked to a couple of friends who were supporting Joyce, and who complained that the third-party groups like LeadNow and the various strategic voting schemes who threw lots in with Joyce failed to deliver. I don't think Joyce was the best salesperson for the co-operation pitch compared the Nathan Cullen in the NDP race, who genuinely surprised a lot of people with his likability and charisma. His unexpectedly strong performance gave a shot in the arm to the co-operation idea after post-2011 federal election analysis brought doubt onto the idea of strategic voting schemes, but with NDP leader Mulcair ruling it out and the co-operation candidate in the Liberal race failing to make as big as an impact, hard to say the idea has momentum.

-Martha Hall Findlay

I didn't think her awkward attack on Trudeu during the GTA debate deserved all the fire and brimstone that the media rained down on her, but it did demonstrate her inability to position herself well as an alternative candidate. She tried position herself as the centre-right candidate and rally Western support, but finished behind the left-wing Murray in every Prarie province, and I don't think she got more than 20% in any riding except for Willowdale, where she still finished a distant second to Trudeau. That she started making noises about running again while she still had 2006 debt also hurt her image. She wants to run again and I think she's a good voice to have in the party, but I don't think she gained anything in particular from getting 5.5% in this race.

-David Bertschi 

Bertschi may have been looking to raise his profile, but unlike the other outsider candidates, failed to do so in any positive way. His campaign was dogged by staff turnover, negative news stories about loaning himself money and other issues. Unlike some of the other outsider candidates, he was never able to even establish a niche for himself on policy issues (like Takach on digital issues, McCrimmon on veterans affairs, Coyne having a generally deep policy background, etc) to develop any sort of constituency. He dropped out without endorsing anyone, which won't earn him any other new friends if he takes another crack at Ottawa-Orleans.

-Michael Ignatieff

Considering the whole point of the exercise was in theory to replace Ignatieff as permanent leader, it left a bad taste in a few people's mouths that Ignatieff didn't make an appearance at the leadership reveal, if only to say a few words.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Follow me on Twitter for coverage of the Liberal leadership showcase tomorrow

I'll be livetweeting the showcase (I nearly typed convention out of a force of habit left over from OLP leadership) so follow me on Twitter at @WilliamNorman.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lowering the age of voter registration to 16: An idea worth looking at

I've been reading up lately on the potential benefits to lowering the age of voter registration. The BC NDP has tabled some legislation to lower the age of voter registration to 16, based on a recommendation from the Chief Electoral Officer of BC in 2011:

The lowest voter registration rates are for young voters 18-24 years of age. There is a 
positive correlation between voting and being registered as a voter before General Voting 
Day. The most effective means of registering youth may be to approach them before they 
graduate from high school. Currently, voter registration is restricted to those at least 18 
years of age, an age when many youth have left high school. 

Australia has addressed this issue by allowing provisional voter registration of 17 year 
olds. Several American states have provisional registration for 16 or 17 year olds, or 
have introduced Bills or declared their intention to do so in this regard.

Legislators may wish to consider allowing the provisional registration of individuals 
when they are 16 years of age. The voting age could remain at 18, with provisional 
registration becoming an active registration on an individual’s 18th birthday. Permitting 
early registration at the age of 16 would permit Elections BC to work with schools and 
the driver licensing program to ensure maximum exposure to the registration process for 
young voters. Many high school teachers have expressed support for this concept as it 
would allow meaningful action by their students in the context of civics education. 
Improving the accessibility of registration opportunities for youth may have a longer-term 
effect on voter engagement and turnout.

Here is another good piece on the possible benefits of lowering the age of voter registration and the experiences of several US states.

Lowering the actual age of voting is oft debated, but I'm not convinced that it would have an overall positive impact on youth voter turnout percentage. Allowing (or perhaps even making it a part of high school civics class) is a solid, workable way to address issues of youth voter turnout and youth engagement, and I think it's worth examining by governments.