“A few thoughts on how the Liberals must face some inconvenient truths”

This was passed on by a reader who is a member of Sean Godfrey’s election group on Facebook. Godfrey was the Liberal candidate for Oshawa and apparently sent this message to his group after the election. (emphasis is that of my correspondent)

Is s.329 of the Elections Act quixotic?

Section 329 of the Elections Act reads,

“No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district.”

The polls in Newfoundland and Labrador close at 8:30pm local time whereas those in BC close at 7pm. In reference to the Eastern time zone, those eastern polls close at 7pm and those polls on the west coast at 10pm. Therefore, it is technically illegal to broadcast results of any poll between 7pm and 10pm tonight though results should be available as early as 7:45pm.

In this age of new media, bloggers, facebookers and twitterers are expected to operate in the framework of an antiquated law. When this provision of the Elections Act was written, the intent of the law was to prevent television networks from broadcasting results in Newfoundland to British Columbia in order to prevent BC voters from having results before they cast their own ballots. Now that new media offers populist broadcasting to everyone with a mobile phone or a computer, how will Elections Canada enforce this provision of the Elections Act?

In my opinion, this section is a violation of free speech. Yes, I understand the reasoning behind it, yet I do believe that the law does not reflect reality in this age of self-broadcasting. Laws should be enforceable because when it is impossible to enforce a law, a law ceases to have effect. If the purpose behind the law is valid (to prevent “specially informed” voters), a more realistic method of achieving it is required. It is much more reasonable to close all polls at the same moment no matter the time zone.

What is to stop an Atlantic Canadian from updating her twitter status as to the result of her Newfoundland riding? Or the Prince Edward Islander from posting who is in the lead on his Facebook wall? Since the possible forums for national broadcast have gone from a limited three television networks to practically limitless social media outlets, this particular provision of the Elections Act is de facto unenforceable.

And who is responsible for the rebroadcasting of early results? Do I shut down Blogging Tories for three hours this evening because a blogger whose RSS feed I aggregate there may put me in violation of the Act? Is the situation similar for Google Reader and iGoogle which both act as an RSS reader? More broadly, will Google shut down its Blogger site to Canadian IP addresses? Will Twitter face sanction because a Canadian might convey information to another Canadian through its American-hosted service?

Indeed, the law does not reflect reality and must be changed. What remains to be seen is whether change will come from mass social media violation of s.329 or through the legislative process.

Will we see “panicked buying” on the markets?

Thanksgiving day came and went for Canadians as they sat down with their families, ladeled the gravy, passed the potatoes and tucked in the turkey. But as we were under tryptophan’s trance, our neighbours to the south were buoying American stock markets by snapping up shares at a maddening pace. In fact, the Dow Jones by the end of trading was up over 930 points increasing the value of indexed shares by over 11%, the S&P500 was also up over 11% and the NASDAQ up just under 12%. It was a record setting day on the American markets.

So, what does this mean for Canada? While markets in this country were closed on Monday, there stands a excellent chance — absent an unforeseen event — that our markets will see the same frenzied buying that we saw stateside.

And what does this mean for a Prime Minister who has represented himself as a steady hand in turbulent economic times? While Conservatives have historically been electorally handicapped when the economy is poor, a surging market may deliver an economic stimulus for Stephen Harper on election day.

For Canadians, it will indicate some return of confidence to markets and bolstered optimism for this country’s economic outlook. For traders, tomorrow may see a flurry of panicked buying and for more casual bystanders of the market economy, retirement savings may similarly bounce back.

Election day may in fact be bullish. Will it benefit the incumbent Conservative Prime Minister?

Liberal war-room plans “victory party”

The English is a bit more reserved than the French. The English states that it’ll be a victory party which just happens to be on election day whereas the French says that it’s a party of electoral victory!

I suppose victory is how you define it; the invite states that they are celebrating “the victory of our newly-elected Liberal Members of Parliament”.

The Toronto Star stated without irony (since that paper also endorsed the Liberals) that Stephane Dion may snatch the distinction of worst Liberal campaign ever from John Turner and his campaign performance in 1984.

However, as it goes, it’s a victory for democracy and all that… so while Conservatives will also be celebrating, we might just come over and buy a beer for some of our Liberal friends even if it’s going to be a Blue on election night.

Media endorsements

Globe and Mail
“On balance, Mr. Harper remains the best man for the job in the tough times now upon us. He deserves if not four more years, at least two more years.”

National Post
“Faced with these high stakes, we believe, Canada would be best served if Stephen Harper’s Conservative government were to receive a second mandate, this time in majority form.”

The Economist
And yet, in a sinking world, Canada is something of a cork. Its well-regulated banks are solid. Growth has slowed but not stopped. The big worry is the fear that an American recession will drag Canada down with it. Mr Harper says, rightly enough, that his government has taken prudent measures to help Canada weather a storm it cannot duck: he has offered tax cuts and selective aid to help vulnerable manufacturing towns. But it is his seeming non-reaction to what is so far a non-crisis that looks likely to deny him the majority he was seeking, and could even let in the opposition. In what is the first credit-crunch election in a big Western country, Mr Harper’s ejection would set a dispiriting precedent that panic plays better politically than prudence.

Toronto Sun
While we respect all the national party leaders, realistically, Canadians Tuesday must choose between Stephen Harper and Stephane Dion to lead us through tough economic times. To us, the choice for prime minister is clear. It’s Harper.

Vancouver Sun
So on the ballot box question that’s on everybody’s mind – the slowing economy – we trust Harper to navigate the rough road ahead. A majority government for the Conservatives led by Stephen Harper is our choice.

Montreal Gazette
“On balance, however, we believe that considering the Conservative record and the goals, policies, and personnel of the other parties, it is the Conservatives who deserve to be re-elected on Tuesday. Amid all the unfair and misleading advertising of this campaign, one Conservative message is truer now than when the writ was dropped: Constancy and prudence with the country’s finances are even more important when we’re in the economic doldrums.”

Ottawa Citizen
“We believe that Canadians should return the Conservatives to government on Oct. 14, but not because Stephen Harper is an inspiring figure. He is not. There are no Obama-esque promises to repair the world. But Mr. Harper offers the steadiest hand and clearest judgment to steer Canada through the rough waters that lie ahead.”

Winnipeg Free Press
“Under the shrill cacophony of the opposition’s cries for action, Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have remained calm. Look at the last two years, the prime minister says, correctly claiming that he has offered generally competent government. In the face of this crisis, he promises more of the same. On Thursday, two major international financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Economic Forum, agreed with him, saying that Canada was on the right course to weather the storm. Mr. Harper’s economic policy is clear and practical and worth supporting on Tuesday. To turn the old saying on its head, this time, hard times should be Tory times. As The Economist said Thursday, if Canadians reject the Conservatives, it would ‘set a dispiriting precedent that panic plays better politically than prudence.'”

Edmonton Journal
“And in that real world, both Canada and Alberta in particular will be best served if Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are re-elected with the strength to be more than caretakers until we have to go through all of this again.”

Kitchener-Waterloo Record
Each voter will have to respond to this question as he or she sees fit. The way The Record’s editorial board views the situation, there are only two viable options, one coming from Harper’s Conservatives, the other from Stéphane Dion’s Liberals. And when we weigh things as fairly and carefully as we can, we conclude that Harper and his party deserve another term in government.

Ottawa Sun
In every election campaign there comes a moment when someone declares it to be the most important election in a very long time. This is that moment for us. What Ottawa and Canada need now is a strong Conservative government led by Stephen Harper.

Calgary Sun
But on the big question — who should be our prime minister — there’s no question. It’s Harper.

Edmonton Sun
Still, after assessing all the party promises, the Edmonton Sun believes the one that will inflict the least damage on our economy and way of life is the platform presented by Harper’s Conservatives.

Vancouver Province
Rather than roll the dice, protecting Canadians during these difficult and unstable times calls for proven, rational measures from a federal government that uses workable fundamentals, such as keeping taxes low, paying down debt and maintaining controlled spending. That’s why we are endorsing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives and urge voters to give them a majority on Oct. 14, a majority incidentally that should include stronger representation from B.C.

Winnipeg Sun
Harper has also proven himself on the world stage. He’s unafraid to make tough decisions and, unlike the Liberals, committed to properly funding our military and giving it a clear mandate and mission, before sending our soldiers into harm’s way.

Brantford Expositor
Like many Canadians, we have been fairly satisfied with Harper’s government since it took office in January 2006. The Harper government has cut taxes and the national debt. It has promised to remove our forces from Afghanistan. It has belatedly responded to the crisis on the stock markets.

Calgary Herald
“Thus, the choice is simple. The Calgary Herald endorses Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. They deserve to be re-elected based on their record, competence, and on the prime minister’s steady hand as Canada heads into uncharted, choppy economic waters.”

Windsor Star
“Harper has come under fire in some quarters for not empathizing more with Canadians fearful about their finances but Canadians don’t want their leaders to feign emotion and pretend to “feel their pain.” They want their leaders to alleviate it through sound policies rather than sound bites, actions rather than words. Canadians need sturdy leadership in these uncertain times and Harper offers it.”

Toronto Star
For all these reasons, Harper and the Conservatives do not deserve to be re-elected on Tuesday. We prefer Dion and the Liberals.

The Media on poorly bilingual leaders

It’s the new low in a snake’s belly of a campaign.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion misunderstands a complicated question and the Conservatives trot out leader Stephen Harper to declare it the definitive proof this Liberal leader is unfit to serve as prime minister. (Don Martin in the National Post, October 9, 2008)

“Day, who lived in Quebec as teenager, is desperate to improve his mediocre French so that the Alliance may broaden its appeal to Quebec voters. He was the first to admit yesterday that his French needs work and brushed off previous reports that tagged him as perfectly bilingual.” (Windsor Star, July 28, 2000)

“Mr. Day read carefully from a written French text. Even with the text, it was obvious within two minutes that any claims to bilingualism are seriously exaggerated.” (Paul Wells, National Post, April 1, 2000)

“Compounding Reform’s problem is that its leader can’t tell Quebecers his message in their language. Manning is unilingual. But he’s trying. He thanked those present for coming by reading from a prepared text in French – a halting, tortured dialect exacerbated by his natural nasal twang.” (Toronto Star, July 19, 1994)

They were kids, but they didn’t handle Reform Party Leader Preston Manning with kid gloves when he spoke yesterday at an all-girls’ private school.

Manning, who wants to run Canada’s proposed new right-wing political party, was asked in French about his notoriously poor skills in the language by a student during a stop at St. Clement’s school.”(Kingston Whig-Standard, March 11, 2000)

“Despite the appeal to posturing and sound-bite simplicity, the televised leaders’ debates sent one undeniable message: Reform leader Preston Manning is not worthy of being Canada’s next prime minister. Despite the appeals to a Fresh Start, which is his party’s campaign theme, he has personally not made a fresh start by still being unable to speak French. A modern leader of this nation cannot have such a liability. Forty years ago, Canadians could forgive John Diefenbaker’s famously tortured French. In 1997, such bilingual ineptitude in a national leader is inexcusable.” (Kingston Whig-Standard, May 15, 1997)

“But national public life happens in both languages. The federal government serves Canadians in both languages, and if you were a public servant, you would want to be evaluated in the official language you feel more comfortable in – which is one of the reasons senior government jobs require bilingualism. You would think that anyone who wanted to engage in national public life, as opposed to local or provincial public life, would learn both English and French.” (Toronto Star, October 20, 2002)

“It first became clear that Preston Manning’s campaign to win the leadership of the Canadian Alliance was in serious trouble during the candidates’ debate in Montreal. Manning’s composure was shaken by his inability to perform in French; he looked, for the first time, as if he thought he was losing. Stockwell Day, on the other hand, looked like a winner.” (Toronto Star, April 29, 2001)