The DAILY DIGEST: INFORMATION and OPINION from ST. JOHN'S to VICTORIA.
ARCHIVED at http://cdndailydigest.blogspot.com/
ARCHIVED at http://cdndailydigest.blogspot.com/
- OPINION AND INFORMATION
Subject: Week Four - From New Brunswick
From: Richard Neuman
I'm not sure which is more painful for your readers, toughing through some of the most socialist, conspiracy theory laden drivel perhaps ever posted on your Below 30, or struggling through my own self-indulgent thoughts on this campaign. Either way, after Week Four, and even while in a hotel room on Easter Sunday in beautiful St Stephen, NB, I am compelled to put things down in writing.
Being here away from my own left wing bastion of Thunder Bay has given me a different perspective on this campaign. First, the drive through Northern Quebec, and then the Montreal to Riviere de Loup corridor has put an exclamation mark on how far the "Natural Governing Party" has fallen in the Belle Province. During the entire trip, fewer than one in twenty election signs belonged to the Liberals, and almost solely placed in a spot inhabited by signs of another colour. The lack of a ground organization in that province was immediately evident for any and all to see. I'm not saying that any of the other Parties stand much of a chance in largely safe Bloc ridings, but even when your candidate is a dark horse you should have a sufficiently dedicated core of supporters capable of banging in a few signs along the Trans-Canada. Secondly, the NDP rise in popularity appears to have come with some organization as well, as their signs were almost as visible and plentiful as the Bloc and Conservative signs.
Week Four was dominated by the NDP surge. I have commented previously that the NDP's ability to recover their vote after a drastic drop in Week Two would be a key to a Conservative majority. I stated I thought it likely that they would recover, perhaps grow, and the subsequent drop in Liberal momentum would drag them below the 30% mark. I felt it possible that the drop for the Liberals might even be more substantial, but I did not foresee quite the momentum changer in Quebec. As a Conservative, this is a blessing of the highest order, as long as it doesn't get too out of hand. I've always held the view that a Conservative majority was possible, even probable, with a level of support under 40%, and perhaps as low as 38.5%. I have not changed that view, except that I might even run the Conservative level required down a bit further given the NDP surge, perhaps to as low as 37.5%.
The NDP surge has been mostly evident in Quebec, but is now showing some signs of life in other parts of the country. This might mean a handful of competitive Tory vs NDP seats to the NDP's way, particularly in BC, it also means that twice as many Conservative vs Liberal races will fall to the Conservatives. Even in Quebec, where a half dozen NDP seats are now a possibility (note - not a probability), not only has the NDP surge provided additional cushion in close Quebec City area Conservative seats, it has brought into contention 3-6 additional seats for the Tories currently held by the Bloc. The NDP vote in Quebec is not very productive at producing seats, and even if they finish above the Bloc in popular vote in that province, 6 seats is the best that they can hope for, none coming from Tories. The NDP surge in Atlantic Canada, although less significant, might also bring them 3 additional seats in the East, but those seats come from Liberals, and the split may help in bringing about a half-dozen Conservative gains in that region, as long as the NDP do not track far above the current level there. Finally, in Ontario where vote splitting is absolutely critical to so many Conservative vs Liberal races, the current NDP surge even if it represents only a few points, would be sufficient enough to elect Conservatives in a dozen ridings. For the Conservatives, there remains a possibility of a loss or two in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but only if the NDP vote not only holds, but grows and the Liberal vote collapses further.
It is a fascinating new dynamic to this race, and although my original projection for a narrow Conservative majority on day one has not changed, the nature of the opposition certainly has. I can see the Liberals falling to 60 seats if the current trend continues, and there remains an outside chance (very much an outside chance by my calculations) that if all the chips fall their way Jack Layton could be leading the official opposition. The number of safe Liberal seats concentrated in Toronto and Montreal prevents them from a 1993 PC disaster, but even at 55 seats the Liberals will be struggling to maintain official opposition status.
There is one week left. The media has shifted focus onto two subjects now, whether the NDP will form the official opposition, and whether the Conservatives will form a majority government. Both topics will serve to make it very difficult for the Liberals to get their own vote out come election day, making it likely that will fall short of their polling by a point. The NDP vote will be very motivated to come out, meaning you can add a point to their numbers, and the same can be said for the Conservatives who are the strongest party on the ground nationally and still have that majority carrot to shoot for.
By Wednesday this coming week, most of the final answers will become clear. If the NDP support continues in a statistical tie with the Liberals, then the Conservatives will have their majority even with a popular vote around 38%. If the NDP support builds and they begin to outpace the Liberals, it is possible that they could prevent a Conservative majority, but only if their support strengthens considerably out west where they might threaten the largest number of Conservative seats. If the NDP support suffers from the upcoming policy reality check, and I do not view this as likely given the amount of time remaining in this campaign, then we may have a Parliament that looks a lot like the one we had when the election was called.
So far, the story of this election is still being written. First and foremost, the lesson for the Liberals is not to give the Conservatives an opportunity to hold an election when you are down ten points at the start in the polls. Conservative numbers have barely moved since day one, despite what has been a poor campaign by the best of measures. This is because people care about their jobs first, regardless of what the polls say, and they view Harper as competent in that regard. Secondly, Ignatieff may have the intellect of Pierre Trudeau but he lacks the panache, and it was that panache that made people feel a part of his vision. Ignatieff does not inspire, even when the words are sufficiently inspirational. Finally, Jack Layton sensed that many Canadians on the left were prepared to listen to a positive message, instead of the negative anti-democracy laden rants of the Liberals, and he was right. He was able to allow Ignatieff set the negative narrative of the campaign, while he looked detached from it all while spelling out an ideological policy that almost mirrored that of the Liberals. The Grits chose to run on the left, as they have often done in the past, and they are therefore in no position to criticize the NDP on policy. Further, they can no longer claim to be the only party capable of forming a government out of the opposition choices, when they are statistically tied with the NDP going into the final week. No more ABC campaign flowing left leaning voters to the Liberals, instead they appear quite happy to go with Jack.
Week Five will be nasty, mostly from a panic stricken Liberal campaign fighting a losing battle on two fronts, but the time for mudslinging is now coming to an end. Expect the Toronto Star to continue the anti-Conservative narrative to a new and as yet unforeseen level of naked partisanship, and to try to knock the NDP back as well with a vote-splitting scare narrative. The Conservatives would be better to lump Jack in with Ignatieff, as two peas in the same pod, and solidify their own vote. It would also be nice if their candidates across the country would stick to the play book and allow the Conservatives to put out a positive message of what a majority might bring in the final week. For the Conservatives, sticking to a message of the stability inherent in a majority, and their economic record, should be all that is required to hold their vote above 38% and remain positioned for majority.
Not that anyone is interested, but I shall put my final projections down next weekend, but don't expect them to change much from week one, if any of you saved them. I know I have, on the off chance that somebody passes them on to the mainstream media and I can be invited to become a pundit, the dream job for any political junky...
On the Road in New Brunswick, but headed to Halifax for the Election...
From: Rebecca Gingrich
Subject: [video you tube]1. A prophetic interview with Sir James Goldsmith
in 1994 Pt1 [ And Harper and other politicians before him are signing
"free trade" agreements for "cheap labor" with globalization.
Things to remember when you cast your ballot
1. A prophetic interview with Sir James Goldsmith in 1994 Pt1
Stephen Harper: HEY CANADA "Its a Loss of Sovereignty"