The latest polling data and what it may mean

Today, SES research in its daily rolling poll indicates that the Conservatives and the Liberals are statistically tied in the wake of the news of the RCMP criminal investigation into the apparent leak on income trusts.

The poll shows the Liberals at 35%, the Conservatives at 34% and the NDP at 14% with a 3.1% margin of error. Thus a virtual tie exists between the two front runners.

Is this good news or bad news for the Conservatives? It could be bad news if the Conservatives break through this early. During the 2004 campaign, soft NDP support became anxious when the news media (and Stephen Harper) predicted that a “Conservative Majority” was in sight.

But this time has been different for the Conservatives as they’ve been running a policy heavy campaign, floating real and positive ideas to the Canadian voting public. Most importantly, the campaign has been one for positive change in lieu of one that demanded that Canadians punish the Liberals. Over the first half of this campaign, the Conservatives were on a daily mission to remove every single rational reason that Canadians could think of to not cast a Tory ballot on January 23rd.

Meanwhile, the Liberals have been running a catchup campaign responding to Conservative announcements and losing media attention when they present their also-ran policy. Further, as many observers have noted, perhaps a significant element of the Grit campaign was to wait and let Stephen Harper shoot himself in the foot. You almost thought that they expected the Conservative leader to take the bait over the handgun ban. However, the Conservatives handled the announcement with agility as they pointed out that the ban had been effectively on the books since the 1930s. Police chiefs and victims of gun-related crime also lambasted the Liberals on the shallow policy.

Here we are in late December at the end of the first half of the campaign. Paul Martin must feel like a kid who thought he could study from old exams and pull it off at the last minute. However, the test is a lot different this time and Mr. Martin must feel like he’s got a lot of cramming to do.

Now, as the Liberals team are facing scandal after scandal (the most recent being the RCMP investigation of the income trusts), the Liberals will find it difficult to offer anything positive while they fend off what could turn out to be a mini-Adscam during the final half of the campaign.

In fact, the Liberals will also find it difficult to go negative against Stephen Harper while the Canadian electorate perceives a completely different situation unfold in front of them in the news media.

Paul Martin and his team are panicking at this stage of the campaign while the Conservatives must be breathing easier as they can take comfort in having run a clean and professional campaign thus far.

Will the polling number give voters a reason to pause? And if they do pause, will it be to see a scandal-plagued Liberal campaign that has run off the track? Will Canadians instead see a Conservative minority government as a real possibility and become accustomed to this idea over the next few weeks. If they do – and this is highly speculative – we might see a late-breaking trend: bleeding Liberal support going NDP to hold the Conservatives to account.

You don’t need to be a pollster to see that the Conservatives have gained momentum whereas the Liberals have clearly lost it.

Becoming a judge in Ralph Goodale’s Saskatchewan (updated)

Ralph Goodale is one of those cabinet ministers from the West that Paul Martin believes that by mere appointment will do much to mitigate western alienation.

Appointing Ralph Goodale also keeps the Liberal light flickering in Saskatchewan. Remember that Goodale was the Leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party from 1981-1988 and during this time he was the only Liberal MLA elected (in 1986).

Would you be surprised to find out that almost all federal judges appointed from Saskatchewan are Liberal Party donors?

I’d say I was, but I’m coming to understand Liberal methodology.

Click image of table to enlarge

While the Liberal Party has been largely shut out of provincial and federal politics, one has to wonder why the federal judges appointed from Saskatchewan do not necessarily reflect the voting patterns of the people from that province.

Here are breakdowns of the donations by party from the federally appointed judges in Saskatchewan since 1993.

The Hon. Mr. Justice R. Dennis Maher

The Hon. Mr. Justice Dennis P. Ball

The Hon. Mr. Justice Frederick John Kovach

The Hon. Mr. Justice Gerald M. Kraus

The Hon. Mr. Justice Noel S. Sandomirsky

The Hon. Madam Justice Donna L. Wilson

The Hon. Mr. Justice Ted C. Zarzeczny

The Hon. Mr. Justice Guy A.J. Chicoine

The Hon. Madam Justice Lynn B. MacDonald

The Hon. Mr. Justice Gerald Norman Allbright

The Hon. Mr. Justice Grant M. Currie

The Hon. Madam Justice Mona Lynn Dovell

The Hon. Mr. Justice Peter Foley

The Hon. Mr. Justice J. Duane Koch

The Hon. Madam Justice Jacelyn Ann Ryan-Froslie

The Hon. Madam Justice Gene Anne Smith

The Hon. Mr. Justice R. Shawn Smith

The Hon. Madam Justice Ysanne G.K. Wilkinson

The Hon. Madam Justice Mary Ellen Rose Wright

The Hon. Madam Justice Jennifer Louise Garvey Pritchard

I don’t know if I find it odd or maddening when I hear Canadian Liberal friends complain about how the “balance” on the US supreme court is in jeopardy because of George W. Bush’s appointments.

In Canada we have no such balance (even to upset by one judge). In Canada, we haven’t anything close to balance. Do Conservatives even apply to law school when faced with such job advancement statistics?

In Canada, most of us celebrate diversity. I hope that one day we can celebrate diversity of thought.

CBC covering up for Goodale?

By now, most of us have heard that the RCMP is investigating Ralph Goodale’s income trust announcement.

Here’s the letter that set off the news-storm addressed to NDP finace critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis from the RCMP.

I just received an email from a concerned conservative in Ralph Goodale’s riding and he details suspicious behaviour from the state-run broadcaster:

CBC National News with Peter Mansbridge gets introduced on the broadcast originating in Regina tonight at 10 pm. Mansbridge begins his intro of the lead story – the Ralph Goodale RCMP Investigation.

No sooner has Mansbridge begun, but commercials start running instead. This goes on for several minutes, returning to the feed only when reporter Caroline Dunn is wrapping up her report.

Mansbridge moves to an interview with Goodale. Less than a minute into the interview, commercials start running again, returning to the feed only at the very end of the interview.

After this, there are no other broadcast problems.

Now, occasionally, we do get the Winnipeg or Calgary feed accidentally, so something might have happened accidentally. However, any CBC feed in Winnipeg would have been showing the same thing as Regina (CBC National News), and any CBC feed from Calgary would not be broadcasting commercials from 2 minutes until 6 or 7 minutes after the top of the hour. That’s when you run compellling content to grab viewers.

The obvious conclusion is that it was a deliberate move by someone inside the CBC Broadcast Centre in Regina (where Ralph has friends) to ensure the biggest story of Ralph Goodale’s political career was not broadcast into his own riding.

I smell a rat…

UPDATE: In a followup email:

the 11 pm broadcast is on right now. So far, it’s been OK. But the bulk of the audience is at 10 pm.