Two amazing quotes in this very long article.
Gingrich said. “On the left you have a natural grouping. You have the sense of, ‘What’s this week’s cause? And we did turtles this week. What can we do next week?’”
For someone how is supposedly one of the brightest minds in the Republican party it’s amazing to me that he can be so wrong so often. Does he really think that is how people work? The reality is the in this big messy, complex world there are a lot of issues worth fighting to fix, and they arise randomly as people discover them or one voice rises above the others for a while. People are not searching for new issues of the week. They are open and searching for what is important.
The main point I agree with and should be stressed form this article is that the Republicans lost and have trouble forming groups and trouble reaching out because the hard core conservatism seems to be about a particle ideology rather than general principles. The problem with that is if you can’t convince then you’ve lost. The democrats and what Gingrich and others try to label as ‘Liberals’ are simply people who don’t think they have it all figured out and are open to being convinced. That could be a weakness because you’re not unified. But it’s actually a strength because no one is right, so it’s better for everyone to keep listening so they can constantly improve and use the best solutions out there. If you are sure you’re right from the start then you better be right because no one is going to help you when you’re wrong.
The second quote is ominous for Republicans. If you thought this election was tough:
Reed said. “I think people think of some like magic robots in the sky that we just pointed at people who were into Obamacare and then like anointed them and we gave them, like, secrets. But that’s 2016. 2016 that’s what we’ll do.”
So, scientists are finding that once again, it’s worse than we thought regarding global carbon emissions. Particularly interesting here is the list of the top 10 polluting countries in 2011. Can you see which one of these is not like the others?
Simple back of the spreadsheet calculation here for the per capita pollution:
Canada not looking so good at all on this one.
“The opposition parties would agree on a single candidate to put up against the Conservatives in each riding. Were they to win a majority, they would pledge to govern just long enough to implement electoral reform: a year, two at most. Then fresh elections would be called under the new system, with each party once again running under its own flag, with a full slate of candidates.”
Coyne begins his article talking about how the idea of ‘splitting the left vote’ is a myth we tell ourselves. In fact, he says, all that is happening is that one party has more support than all the others and under our current system they are the ones that win. Thus elections are always unfair in Canada in a way. At the moment this benefits the Conservatives because they can reliably get the largest block, even if it is only 37% or 40% of voters. When someone asks you why our current system is unfair, that shouldn’t the winner win? Ask them if it is fair that 37% of voters can get 100% of the power. It is not.
However, I do disagree a bit with Coyne’s assertion that voters do not vote against anyone, they only vote for someone. But if you think about, it is much easier to figure out who to vote against than who to vote for. Assume for simplicity that all parties really exist somewhere on an imaginary political line. Four political parties will not be distributed equally along that line, and my opinion on various issues probably doesn’t fit right in the middle of the spectrum either. So there is going to be one party which is furthest from my political beliefs than all the others. If this party is significantly further than the others then it’s simply easier to think about how to vote them out than how to pick amongst the other parties. This is magnified if one of the parties is more extreme on some important issues than parties have been historically and if that party even refers to all the other parties with a single label.
While I don’t agree with all of his reasoning, I do agree wholeheartedly with his conclusion. Electoral reform to create some kind of proportional voting system would end all this discussion forevermore. It is important enough that Canadians of all political stripes should support it. Even conservatives (note the small c) should support it as it removes the current constraint of being the right kind of Conservative to hold power. A clear contract with each other and with the Canadian voters would make this clear and make the next election a referendum on reform vs the status quo and stagnation.
The benefit of such an election would be that the resulting parliament would have the mandate to institute electoral reform without another national referendum. Then in the ensuing election under the new system, the voters could reward and punish as they see fit, including supporting a party which promised to reverse back to first-past-the-post if they wished.
A mayor should not be removed from office — a first for Toronto, if it happens — for a simple misjudgment, if it does not involve corruption. And if there is anything the sometimes bumbling Rob Ford is not, it’s corrupt. — PETER WORTHINGTON
Everyone is entitled to their opinion on this of course, and it is perfectly reasonable to say this punishment may have been too severe. As I understand it the judge’s hands were tied with regard to the law. But Worthington is saying that the only valid reasons we might remove politicians from office are criminal activities and self-enriching corruption. What the law says and what the judge said is there is another reason which is just as important. Rob Ford did not make a simple error in judgement, he purposely and repeatedly misinterpreted the law and the rules of council. He takes pride in not knowing the rules, not going to training on the rules, coming up with his own version of the rules and following those.
Ford put forward the notion in trial that his definition of a conflict of interest didn’t match the one everyone else in the room was using and thus relative to his own interpretation he did nothing wrong. But he’s been in council for 15 years. There is simply no excuse for not understanding what the rules mean and not even knowing what ‘in camera’ means. I think Ford was removed from his job because he doesn’t take it seriously, and he does this to the point of negligence.
What an exciting day to be a political addict in Canada. Who says Canadian politics is boring? People who aren’t paying attention, that’s who. At least four exciting things happened yesterday. Yes, four.
First, the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, was found in violation of the Conflict of Interest act and will be removed from office. Essentially, he voted on something he really shouldn’t have and clearly took pride in not knowing how the process of government works as a defense. A process which he has been involved in for 15 years. Fascinating.
Second, we find out that Mark Carney, you know, the head of the Bank of Canada, our faithful and steady captain who rode us through rough waters, who everyone loves so much they elected him head of the international Financial Stability Board. Well, the Brits love him so much they headhunted him right out from under us. Which I guess we’re fine with, sounds like he wants more a challenge. Amazing.
Of course, he’ll have to deal with the British press now, but they’re nice right?
(Whoa…seriously? A moose? Who trusts a moose with money? Everyone knows only beavers, cariboo and loons can be trusted with hard currency.)
Third, of course, there’s sport! No, I don’t mean the Grey Cup, although that was great…Argos! I mean elections, you know…the best sport ever? There were three yesterday! And they weren’t boring, at all.
Alright, Durham was kind of boring, but in a good way. Congratulations to Erin O’Toole, the new MP for Durham, Ontario for winning your riding by an astounding 50.7% (last time I checked).
What’s that? That doesn’t sound that astounding to you? I’ll have you know that Mr. O’Toole now has a right that only 145 out 309 members of parliament may claim. That is the right to call himself the duly elected representative of his riding who also has the support of the majority of the population which he serves.
Because for half of all MPs, more half their constituents didn’t vote for them. Write that one down.
You can see the see the official results here. The boring headline you’ll undoubtedly see somewhere is that all the incumbent parties won, two Conservative and one NDP, so no change in parliament, yawn. But it was so much more exciting than that. The real winner last night by a longshot was the Green Party. They didn’t win any seats but they had the political nerd class on the edge of their seats for hours last night on twitter watching #yyc and #yyj, what tweeters call Calgary and Victoria respectively (airport codes, you know).
The greens had historically high results and had a real shot at winning either seat if any other single candidate had not been there. In fact, that’s true for the Liberals in Calgary as well, if the NDP weren’t running it could easily have been a three way photo finish. If the Greens weren’t running it’s hard to tell because the NDP did so badly. But the Liberal would almost surely have won handily. Now, don’t mistake this kind of talk as making an excuse or spinning the result for the Greens or the Liberals. There is a larger point here and Canadians and politicians are slowly waking up to it.
Another hint, journalists on twitter were a bit shocked the Greens were doing so well in Victoria. No one was looking at Victoria. Everyone knew it was going to the NDP…right? But Victoria was just as close as shockingly close Calgary. The bigger shock for many people was that the two old national alternatives the Liberals and the Conservatives were essentially irrelvant in Victoria. Their combined vote tallies paling in comparison to either the NDP or the Green vote on their own. So what is going on with our country?
What I think is going on is a kind of phase shift in Canadian politics. People used to feel like there were two and a half viable, national parties in Canada, plus the Bloc of course. The Orange crush in 2011 was the first step tearing this reality down. The order of the ‘half party’ was swapped from the NDP to the Liberals. We have only been slowly coming to accept that as a nation. The media in particular seems to forget sometimes which party is Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and which is the third party.
But the second result of Election 41 was the election of a Green MP. A party which has polled over the years between 3% and over 10% support nationally. Last night’s by-election shows us her was not just luck. The Greens garnered around 25% and 34% of actual votes in Calgary(!) and Victoria. Elizabeth May’s stellar performance in parliament doesn’t hurt the image of the party either.
We all need to face it, there are now four, viable, national parties in our country now. They have very different approaches to many issues but three of them have a lot more in common than they have seperating them when compared to the Conservatives, so they need to find a way to work out their differences. There is no good reason why the voters of Calgary Centre find themselves represented this morning by a candidate who received only 37% of the votes cast. Especially when the next party received only 4% less than them and everyone knows what the second choice of most of the remaining third of the electorate would be.
So finally the fourth piece of exciting news from yesterday, at least for me. Some hope going forward:
“There are some ridings where the vast majority of voters would like to have a progressive voice. So, if a riding is willing to have a run-off (nomination) so that the progressive voice has a chance of becoming elected, then that’s something that I think is a good idea.”
That quote is from MP for Vancouver Quadra Joyce Murray, who yesterday put herself forward for the leader of the Liberal Party. Oh, and she’s also openly in favour of Electoral Reform. This is rare for a Liberal.
Now, I’m not necessarily saying Joyce Murray would be the best leader for the Liberals and I don’t know if the Liberals would be the best party to govern at this point. But a phase shift is occurring in Canadian politics and all the parties need to wake up and deal with it. This is the kind of proposal which needs to be openly, and maturely discussed rather than dismissed out of hand or attacked as undemocratic. Nathan Cullen on the NDP side made similar proposals when running for leader of his party.
This by-election showed us that there are three viable progressive parties in Canada. Canadian are trying to vote for them, but strategic voting is hard and messy and not as good as a real proportional voting system. Until we get that, the parties need to find a way to make it easier for the progressive majority of Canadian voters to get what the they actually want, and that is a progressive government.
For this week’s column, I was going to write about the Grey Cup (Go Stamps!) or the ever-missed Santa Claus parade. But the Calgary Centre byelection was never far from my mind.
It was just a few weeks ago that I wrote about the burgeoning campaign, which has since blown up with Twitter wars, national headlines and a possible end to the Conservative reign.
So in case you hadn’t heard there is a by-election coming up on Monday, three in fact, and the polls look interesting. The most exciting is the by-election in Calgary Centre where polls indicate a three way race between the Conservatives, the Liberals and (deep breadth) the Green Party.
Now I’m on the record as being very in favour of strategic voting in elections so I won’t go over all that again. Check out this amazing site run by 1CalgaryCentre which is trying to organize voters to choose a single progressive representative for their riding. If this works it could be a template for how to elect progressives going forward.
For all the talk of the NDP and Liberals merging to defeat the Conservatives, Canada is a multi-party system for a reason. Canadians recognize there are more than two sides to any issue. But this reasonableness is a handicap within our winner-take-all voting system which is rigged for two parties. What could the parties do about this? They could support proportional voting for a start. But short of that the most I think parties could consider in future elections is strategically cooperating to not run against each other in a selection of ridings to increase each other’s chances. Even this seems unlikely to happen. So barring the complete collapse of the NDP or the Liberals, it is up to voters to take it upon themselves to vote intelligently and strategically to achieve the goal they want.
Remember that the goal of voting is not simply to show support for the one party which you prefer. We have lots of polls for that and you can donate money to parties as well. I consider myself a progressive non-partisan voter, so rather than pick one I recently donated an equal amount of money to four progressive political organizations: The Green Party, the NDP, the Liberals and just to keep them all honest LeadNow.
An election is still a poll, the best possible poll in terms of accuracy, but the true purpose of voting is the elect someone to represent you in Ottawa who is closely aligned with your point of view. As a progressive voter these days that surely means if your favourite candidate or party is one of the three progressive, federalist parties and they cannot win, then the next best outcome is for one of the other progressive candidates to win. By voting for a losing candidate, to show support, you may be helping to elect the worst possible outcome from your point of view. That simply isn’t rational. Despite all the attempts by politicians and even the media to make elections about emotions and gut feelings, we all know it should be about rationally choosing the best candidate for you, for your riding, for your province and for your country.
So if you live in Calgary Centre and are an NDP voter, a Green voter, a Liberal voter; if you voted for Joe Clark in days gone by, then I suggest you consider yourself, first and foremost, a progressive voter. Let this guide your choice rather than the label of a single party and take a look at all the options before you vote. Consider not only which candidate or party you like the best but which one is most likely to win as well. Then go out and vote on Monday and send a message that no one will be able to forget.
If the Conservative party wins Calgary Centre as expected, but with much lower support than ever before it will be a message politicians will take notice of but which the media will talk about for a few days at most. But imagine an actual member of parliament for the NDP, the Liberals or the Greens (!). They would rise in parliament regularly for the next three years and be announced as “The honourable member from Calgary Centre” and then proceed to tear into the regressive Conservative policies of this government. No one can ignore that. Make that happen Calgary, for all of us.