Canadians on the federal parties

According to the latest Nanos Survey,

Party personality – Conservative Party: Let’s assume for a moment that each federal political party was a person. What one word would you use to describe the personality of each of the following political parties? [Open-ended] [Randomize parties].

Canada (n=925)

Untrustworthy: 14.4%
Conservative: 12.9%
Bad/Incompetent: 9.9%
Good/Good choice : 9.1%
Trustworthy: 6.4%
Controlling/Authoritarian: 5.8%
Arrogant: 5.5%
Strong/Powerful: 5.3%
Selfish: 4.6%
Intelligent: 4.0%
Progressive: 3.3%
Realistic/Pragmatic: 3.2%
None: 3.2%
Strong leadership: 0.8%
Other: 6.7%
Unsure: 4.9%

Party personality – NDP: Let’s assume for a moment that each federal political party was a person. What one word would you use to describe the personality of each of the following political parties? [Open-ended] [Randomize parties].

Canada (n=923)

Socialist: 13.3%
Caring: 10.2%
Bad/Incompetent: 10.1%
Good : 10.0%
New: 10.0%
Innovative: 8.6%
Trustworthy: 5.8%
Idealistic: 5.6%
Aggressive: 4.2%
Untrustworthy: 3.3%
Intelligent: 2.8%
None: 2.7%
Jack Layton: 1.0%
Other: 6.5%
Unsure: 6.0%

Party personality – Liberal Party: Let’s assume for a moment that each federal political party was a person. What one word would you use to describe the personality of each of the following political parties? [Open-ended] [Randomize parties].

Canada (n=931)

Bad/Incompetent: 18.4%
Untrustworthy: 16.2%
Good: 11.5%
Competent : 6.8%
Progressive: 5.8%
Strong/Powerful: 5.1%
Arrogant: 4.9%
Old-fashioned/Outdated: 4.4%
None: 4.3%
Liberal: 4.3%
Boring: 3.3%
Selfish: 1.7%
Centrist/Middle of the road: 1.0%
Other: 6.6%
Unsure: 5.8%

Party personality – Green Party: Let’s assume for a moment that each federal political party was a person. What one word would you use to describe the personality of each of the following political parties? [Open-ended] [Randomize parties].

Canada (n=941)

Environment/Eco-friendly/Green: 16.7%
Unrealistic/Naive: 14.7%
Not well known: 11.1%
Idealistic : 8.6%
Useless: 7.8%
Caring: 6.0%
None: 5.0%
Good: 4.8%
Hippie/Radical: 4.5%
Innovative: 4.5%
Boring: 3.2%
Other: 6.5%
Unsure: 6.5%

Party personality – Bloc Quebecois: Let’s assume for a moment that each federal political party was a person. What one word would you use to describe the personality of each of the following political parties? [Open-ended] [Randomize parties] [Quebec sample only].

Canada (n=232)

Useless: 15.4%
Narrow-minded/one-sided: 13.0%
Separatist/Independent: 11.7%
Aggressive : 10.7%
None: 6.3%
Untrustworthy: 5.2%
Selfish/Self-centred: 5.0%
Boring: 4.6%
Incompetent: 4.5%
Good: 4.0%
French: 3.4%
Arrogant/Stubborn: 2.9%
Radical: 1.7%
Not well known: 0.4%
Other: 4.0%
Unsure: 7.3%

“We created the country you live in. Never forget it”

In this collection of clips,

1) Ignatieff seems to forget he’s in Canada.
2) An example of Ignatieff’s I, I, I problem
3) A declaration that the election is, to Ignatieff, about the Liberal Party reclaiming its place in Canada.
4) Not a hint of arrogance (because he says so)
5) A tired old attack line.

Warren Kinsella misfires

Our friend Warren Kinsella of the red team, calls me out as a hypocrite for blogging about Michael Ignatieff’s $0 record of donation to the Liberal Party of Canada in 2008, whereas Warren points out Elections Canada lists me as giving $0 to the CPC in 2008.

There are a couple of quick points I should make about this:
– I actually didn’t do this. I didn’t call out Ignatieff for his lack of donations to the Liberal Party. So I am being called a hypocrite for something I didn’t do!
– I did in fact donate to the Conservative Party in 2008. Warren, you don’t appreciate that cheques for less than $200 are not publicly disclosed by Elections Canada. I suppose that Warren thinks that folks that write cheques for less than $200 aren’t “putting their money where their mouth is”. I suppose Warren might say that only those that cut big cheques are allowed to have a voice!
– Warren also doesn’t appreciate the difference between movement and party. I work full time for the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, a integral organization in the conservative movement.
– I’ve never been paid $1 by the Conservative Party, whereas you are and have been paid by the Liberal Party for communications! Putting my money where my mouth is? The Liberal Party pays for your mouth!
– If we’re going to compare apples to apples here, you ask “What did they donate to the Conservative Party last year?”, I ask “What did you donate to the Liberal Party last year?” Elections Canada has you listed as $0 to the Liberal Party of Canada in 2008. (You gave to the Ignatieff leadership campaign)

You write,

Michael Ignatieff has donated through the Laurier Club in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Both Michael and his wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar, have donated the maximum amount to the Michael Ignatieff campaign in 2009. And, in 2007, Zsuzsanna donated $1,000 to Michael’s riding and $1,000 to the Liberal Party.

First of all, the Laurier Club doesn’t mean anything in a legal sense to Elections Canada. To Liberals, it’s the max donor club. To Elections Canada, it could be called the “First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence… Club” and it would have the same legal standing. Anyway, donations to the “Laurier Club” are in fact donations to the Liberal Party. And, according to Elections Canada, Michael Ignatieff has donated $0 in 2008. So, either Michael Ignatieff has given $0, or he’s made his donations off-book (you say he’s given the max amount), or you’re mistaken and he’s given as many normal political donors do, with a $50 cheque here and a $75 cheque there. You really shouldn’t be hard on us regular folk, you with your top hat, monocle and deeds to all four railroads, both utilities and Pennsylvania avenue!

Obama sets example for Canada

The election of Barack Obama is historic in many ways, most significantly in the progression along the troubled history of race in the United States. On Tuesday, Americans turned out in record numbers to give Obama a decisive win and vault the first African-American into the highest office in that country. The Obama team also set new records along the fundraising front and may indeed set a precedent for the financing of elections in the future.

According to opensecrets.org, a website on money in politics run by the Centre for Responsive Politics, Senator Obama raised $639 million during the 2008 Presidential election cycle with 91% of that sum coming from individual donations. Comparatively, Senator McCain raised $360 million, 54% coming from the same type; the majority of the dollars from each candidate’s campaign came from people making personal donations to their favourite candidate. A striking difference between campaigns was Obama’s refusal of public funding. The Illinois senator took $0 of public financing while his Republican counterpart from Arizona took over $84 million to make up 23% of his campaign’s spending power.

We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory. — President-elect Barack Obama, Chicago November 4th, 2008

In Canada, the Reform Party under Preston Manning started a tradition of passing the hat in church basements and legion halls during rallies, speeches or simple administrative meetings. A donation of $5, $20 or $100 was passed on to bring change to Ottawa. The tradition continues today under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, though in a much more sophisticated way and one that is buoyed by databases and telemarketing. Conservatives have historically raised an average individual donation of about $100 while Liberals used to depend on fewer but larger sums. Jean Chretien –perhaps to kneecap his long-coveting Prime Ministerial successor — changed the way election financing was done in Canada by banning corporate and union donations. Chretien replaced the private financing of political parties by special interests with public financing by government. For each vote that a party earns during an election, that party receives $1.75 per year from the federal treasury.

On the surface, this reconfiguration of campaign financing seems to rebalance the funding equation from powerful institutions to those that ought to have the first and last word in any democracy. Indeed, voters are empowered not only when they give campaigns their vote but also when they do so with the knowledge that instead of corporate or union backing, there is a small financial sum that comes with each ballot cast that sustains parties instead. However, while Chretien’s system solves one problem, it creates another.

In Quebec where a province defaults to the inert rather than the principled, a problem exists with Chretien’s model of campaign financing. The Bloc Quebecois, doing all it could to supress its core principle of sovereignty for that province, rather stood against — indeed, as a block to — Conservative ideas in the 2008 general election and against Liberal corruption in 2006. In the first half of this year, the Bloc raised just over $70,000 but received $1.5 million in public financing. Donations are a result of direct support whereas that larger windfall comes from standing against something rather than offering something better. The Bloc Quebecois would not exist if it had to rely upon direct non-governmental financing from supporters.

This summer, I met a member of the Obama campaign’s senior staff in New York City. Discussing the presidential campaign and some Canadian politics, I was told that the Liberal Party had approached the Obama campaign to attain some insight into their fundraising capacity and to create a similar system in Canada so that a large number of small donors could fill their campaign war chest. The staffer told me that after initial discussions, the Liberal Party never followed up in any significant way.

A tried-and-true election strategy for the Liberal Party has been to strike fear into the electorate about what a Conservative administration might mean for Canada. In the last election we were warned that a Conservative majority would allow Harper to finally implement his hidden agenda. Yet the Conservatives in power have not been innocent of taking this lower path either. Defining Stephane Dion as a weak leader and scaring the electorate as to what his “tax on everything” would mean to the economy took a negative track and suggested people vote against, rather than for the Conservatives. People are goaded out of fear to vote against and they often hold their nose for the not-as-offensive choice they end up “supporting”. Since money comes from support, we should break the model that rewards false support and strengthen one that challenges parties to offer ideas rather than fear. Government subsidization of political parties hurts Canadian politics.

The motto of Barack Obama’s campaign for President was “Yes We Can”. Under the current Canadian system, we give welfare to parties for being best able to convince Canadians of the other parties, “No They Can’t”. If we made politics about the positive (Yes), responsibility of self (We) and enablement (Can) rather than the negative (No), what one’s opponent would do (They) and a need to stop them (Can’t), perhaps we could reduce voter apathy both at the ballot box and when parties pass the hat. If we gave voters more power to finance those they support rather than sustain those they least detest we could shift Canadian politics for the better.

On Tuesday, American politics changed. It is time to end campaign welfare so that we can replace politics that scares with that which inspires.

Yes we can.

“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)

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.

The battle for second place

As we enter the third week of the federal election campaign, one cannot help but be struck by how early poll numbers suggesting a Conservative majority government have held. Nanos/CPAC numbers were fairly consistent over the past three days indicating an approximate fifteen point margin between the Conservatives and the Liberals. As one senior Liberal strategist told Sunmedia’s Greg Weston, “For us to make any significant gains would require that just about everything go terribly wrong for the Conservatives.”

We’re about to see the opening of a secondary race; the race for Stornoway is going to be of intense media focus. Consider this: the NDP has a greater chance of tieing or surpassing the Liberals than Liberal leader Stephane Dion has of challenging Stephen Harper for the lead. When we consider this truth, the narrative changes: this is no longer a race to replace the Prime Minister, this is a race to hold him to a minority. And, as NDP and Liberal numbers tighten up, there’s a new math problem for the left-wing collective calculator to solve. Indeed, pollster Angus-Reid yesterday showed results of a national tie between the Dippers and Grits with a larger sample size than usual and a margin of error of just 2.5%.

The New Democrats have always battled with the Liberals to be champions of the left, and now a new entrant – the Greens – are proving to be a serious challenge for Layton. In the past, we’ve seen the estranged Liberal family unite under the banner of the Think-Twice Coalition that usually includes folks like Buzz Hargrove, Maude Barlow, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May. Will we see an 11th hour alliance between Liberals and the Greens or will such a move sour the goodwill that May has built by making a case for her inclusion in the leader’s debate?

If the Tories play things responsibly and do some smart thinking – twice if need be – and refrain from being too eager to respond to each and every opportunity to put out some pushback, this race will focus on the territorial skirmish on the left. This week’s debate may just help Canadians break from the psychology of the Conservative-Liberal dichotomy and a solid performance from Jack Layton is important for this to happen. In fact, look for Stephen Harper to be a willing combatant against Layton when the NDP leader challenges him this Thursday. Harper and Layton will balance this by doing their best to dunk Dion with their respective right and left feet whenever he tries to get his head above water but we’ll see Elizabeth May come to his rescue in order to get some valuable stage time. Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe will just muddle the left-wing message by taking up yet another podium and will do well to underscore the divide between a calm and collected Harper and the jumbled, disjointed side-show to his left. Though Canadians have been impressed with Duceppe’s English language debate performances in the past and are familiar with the Bloc leader, having a separatist voice among the muddled and crowded opposition will just lead more Canadians to side with Harper. If Layton finds his voice with Harper’s help, a strong debate performance by the NDP, in concert with the surging of his party’s poll numbers and the darkness embracing the Liberals may change the media narrative (and Canadian psychology) to think of the NDP as the champion of the underdog left. It is doubtful that the media will then focus on Harper vs. Layton for the rest of the race. They will, however, treat the Dion-Layton-May contest as its own.

The combination of these factors will put the Liberals in crisis mode as their war-room, faced with a question of survival, not only electoral but institutional, debates on whether to spend the limit or bank the few dollars that come its way during the rare fundraising event that is a general election.

What hasn’t been discussed may in fact be the clincher for a Harper majority this election. With so many parties eating each other’s lunch on the left, that magic 40% threshold for a majority may in fact be old math. Jean Chretien, facing a fractured right won a 155 seat majority with 38.5% of the popular vote. The left has pushed for proportional representation in the past in order to buck unity of ideology for increased representation in Parliament. After October 14th, as May, Layton and whoever replaces Dion work over the new math they might come to realize that unity presents the only way forward. For now, the left battles itself with four divided voices and the prize is second place.