Friday, September 19, 2008

Day 13 of the Federalection: Green Shift gets Shafted

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said today that his Green Shift plan featuring a controversial carbon tax is not a major part of his election platform.

"You have said it was but never me," Dion told reporters.

His surprise declaration follows by a day campaign appearances in the Toronto area where he failed to mention it once in his speeches.

Dion released the Green Shift plan in June in Ottawa with great fanfare. It proposes to tax fossil fuels while cutting taxes for lower and middle income Canadians.

"I have always said it was an important policy for Canada. I strongly believe it would be good for Canada," he told reporters.

Dion said: “Okay, maybe I didn’t use the word `green shift’ ” but denied he was downplaying the policy.

It appears that the Conservatives continued bashing of Dion's Green Shift in TV ads and on the campaign trail, even so much so that Liberal MPs had a hard time selling it, that more people were calling it a carbon tax, Dion himself is putting the policy on the backburner (pun intended).

Will voters now say, "Oh, it's not an issue anymore, so I'm okay with the Liberal brand" or will they say, "What DO you stand for now, Mr. Dion?"

This is a major flip flop on Dion's part, and the Conservatives will likely come out with TV ads and run with this. Well they should anyway.

This could be a major turning point in the election if spun properly by Harper and Co. Just when polls showing the Liberals catching up again and Conservative support slipping--there's still three weeks left in this puppy, so a swing around with the Conservatives above 38% means they're in "m-word" territory.

I suspect Harper will get a 1-2% bump after the debate after he (hopefully) hammers Dion on his Green Shift shaft.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Day 12 of the Federalection - H vs. H, ep II

Haught vs. Naught Episode II - Election version

Double Naught
- Conservative Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz for his comments regarding the 12 terrible listeria deaths and if Liberal MP Wayne Easter was one of them. Funny? Yes, but because it was in bad taste at a very poor time ... like um... during an election, he was obviously smart to apologize immediately, but this story has a few days legs in the media. Conservatives will drop 1-2 points as a result and have no hope in PEI and perhaps other Maritime ridings of winning.

Naught - Conservatives. After a strong week, their lead is slipping in key ridings. The above comment won't help. But if they stay focused with key daily policy announcements and good fuzzy ads, a majority is still a possibility. I believe Harper will easily win the debate as everyone will gang up on him, but he being cool and calm, he will look ...well. .. cool and calm.

Haught - All parties for releasing policy platforms that truly define who they are. But the Greens and NDP are looking awfully similar (Bloc too). But as Warren Kinsella said, "campaigns are about emotions", so only if these platforms translate into positive warm fuzzy feelings about the future, then they translate into actual votes. But why does everyone but the Conservatives want to raise the GST? Even when they say they'll lower income taxes, I don't think anyone believes any of them.

Haught - Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer for hosting a party this Saturday. Looking forward to it. A good way to get people out to then motivate them to hammer some signs. Rahim's a great guy and stellar MP.

Haught - Two blogs that kicks ass: Warren Kinsella's Daily Musings, especially his "Warren At Arms Length" vlog, and Steve Janke's "Angry In The Great White North", who's attention to detail is amazing, how he's got Liberal MP Garth Turner on his toes, slams Dion whenever he gets the chance with hard cold facts, but how he finds the time is beyond me.

I'm now also pondering on adding some video to this blog using my old Canon 3.2Mp camera.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day 8 of the Federalection - Another seat projection

Harris Decima seat projection - Sept. 14/08:

169 Conservatives
62 Liberals
46 Bloc Quebecois
30 New Democrats
1 Independent
0 Green

I think the Conservative and Bloc predictions are too high, and the NDP is too low. I still stand at 157 seats for the Conservatives, Bloc around 40, NDP around 35, Liberals around 80, and Greens 0.

But that is much different than this... which would translate into another minority.

CPAC-Nanos released Sept. 15/08:
37% Conservatives
31% Liberals
18% New Democrats
9% Greens
6% Bloc Quebecois

Don't forget that Liberal grassroots support is very soft, where Conservative is quite strong. Are the soft Liberals even going to vote or trickle through the NDP to the Greens? My guess is that voter turnout will be very low this election <60%. Conservatives who want a majority are going to vote.

The key for the Conservatives and Harper is to not peak too soon, which is why the campaigns on the ground aren't going full tilt. Heck, the Liberals don't even have enough candidates!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day 5 of the Federalection - Seat Projections

Here's some seat projections from various sources:

CalgaryGrit has the following based on some serious statistical calculations:
Conservatives: 137.9 (95% CI from 132 to 144)
Liberals: 98.5 (95% CI from 93 to 104)
NDP: 28.8 (95% CI from 25 to 32)
Bloc: 42.0 (95% CI from 39 to 45)
Indepent: 0.8

Hill and Knowlton have a cool seat projector map tool you can play with as well as predictions from several polling companies:

C=Conservatives, L=Liberals, N=NDP, B=Bloc Quebecois, G=Green, I=Independent/Other

Harris-Decima (Sep 8):
C: 133
L: 100
N: 26
B: 46
G: 0
I: 3

Angus-Reid (Sep 11):
C: 152
L: 61
N: 44
B: 50
G: 0
I: 1

Ekos (Sep 11):
C: 143
L: 80
N: 39
B: 46
G: 0
I: 0

No majority gov'ts in any of the scenarios. I still think the Bloc and Liberals are going to lose seats and the Conservatives and NDP will gain. One independent seat in Quebec. So from above I think Harris-Decima are out to lunch and of Angus-Reid and Ekos, I'd like to say Angus but Ekos is the happy medium. I just don't see the Liberals keeping the seats they have, especially now with strong NDP and Green campaigns.

But campaigns matter and we'll see if voters look beyond the gaffes and style and simply to Harper's record, Dion's policies, and Jack's Obamaness.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 4 of the Federalection - Haught vs. Naught version

Hatrock's Haught vs. Naught is back. If you didn't know, it's a muse on CTV's Jane Taber's Who's Hot and Not feature, but it's my version.

So a quick NAUGHT: CTV Election 2008 "Racebook" website leader profile pictures. Could you have picked worse photos? Didn't think so.

HAUGHT: Green Party leader Elizabeth May for being included in the televised debates because Jack Layton and Stephen Harper changed their minds and she didn't give up.

HAUGHT: Jack Layton and Stephen Harper for changing their minds on this. I was on the fence on this one but the latest poll shows the Greens bleeding votes mostly from Liberals as a "catch all" alternative to the Liberals, so smart strategy. And have you seen Elizabeth May talk at a podium yet? You're in for a treat.

HAUGHT: Stephen Harper for ending the Afghanistan debate. We're pulling out in 2011. Next question.

HAUGHT(naught?): Stephen Harper's remarks that he'd rather be a fruit.

HAUGHT: Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty for staying neutral in this election.

NAUGHT: Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach for not staying neutral. Shut the f**k up!

NAUGHT: Has-been prime ministers Clark, Turner, Campbell, and Martin on promoting climate change solutions. Does anyone care? Next. (Nice try Dion?)

In America:

HAUGHT: McCain-Palin. Big jump in the polls as white women move to Palin and independents leaning McCain. Can Obama counteract?

HAUGHT: Democratic Senatorial candidate and comedian, Al Franken for clinching the nomination in MinnesOta.

NAUGHT: Joe Biden for his crafty implied comments regarding Gov. Sarah Palin special needs child. Obama, you'd be best to muzzle the guy, but don't say some didn't warn ya when you picked him.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Day 3 of the Federalection

Some thoughts on Day Three...

I'm looking forward to some policies, but now we have dominating the media...

- Dion calling Harper a liar on Harper stating that Dion would raise the GST (which he DID say) especially when Dion said he wouldn't go negative. Bad taste.

- Conservative website notaleader having comic with a bird defecating on Dion. Very bad taste. Harper agrees. Story will have one more day of traction. But here's a page where you can make your own Dion attack ad. It's kind of fun actually.

- Conservative attacks on Dion's Green Shift Carbon Tax plan really hitting home in BC where they already have a carbon tax. A few more days of this and Canadians will want to hear something else but they don't want to talk about the carbon tax because it sounds like a new tax. Harper saying any politician that claims a new tax would be revenue neutral is misleading the public. He's right.

- Liberal plane an old junket from 1979 is a big polluter. Dion says they contributed carbon offsets to a green technology company that's only built a windmill back in 2001. Story will die in 1-2 more days.

- Green Leader Elizabeth May not allowed in the televised debates. I think most people want her on but strategically, a smart move by Layton and Harper to not want her on. Issue won't die.

- It's day two and I'm already tired of Harper's "family man" campaigning. Looking forward to some campaign policy planks.

- Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe. BORING. He used to not be boring.

- Jack Layton still being exciting .. riding Obama's wave, not mentioning the Liberals, attacking Harper on policy

- Stephane Dion counteracting Conservative attacks on his leadership with online ads of him in the outdoors doing outdoorsy things. Good plan. Also admits that he has a hearing problem and is the reason why he has difficulty speaking English with a clear accent because "English has a 'music' to it that I find difficult to hear". Humbling.

But two policies announcement did come out today:

- Conservatives will lower the diesel tax by two cents. Not a real kitchen table policy. Translates with truckers but will trucking companies pass that savings on to consumers? Unlikely.

- Liberals will DOUBLE the child care tax credit from $1200 to $2400 per year per child. THERE YOU GO! Taking Conservative policy and making it better right at the kitchen table.

Winner today... Liberal Leader Stephane Dion. He's been taking punches and fighting back with good policy and a humble nature.

But is it simply too late to shake the weak leader image portrayed in Conservative attack ads? Time is running out.

My prediction still stands at a slight Conservative majority, due to Bloc and Liberal loses in Quebec, Ontario, and BC with NDP gains also causing vote splitting on the left.

The Conservatives under Harper with three parties on the left now remind me of the Liberals under Chretien with two parties on the right from 1993 - 2004.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Leader Kick-Off Speeches and Campaign Ads

Well after day one of the Canadian federal election here are my first impressions.

Stephane Dion (Liberal) -- Very poor speech. It's still difficult to understand what he's saying sometimes. Mentions their "exciting" platform, but doesn't specifically mention his Green Shift carbon tax plan. No ads that I've seen, not all candidates have been nominated, lack of money, and no campaign plane! Good start! (D-)

Jack Layton (NDP) -- Very good inspiring speech and very good campaign ad. He seems upbeat, optimistic, specific, and even acting like a consumer advocate which is new and refreshing. Jack doesn't mention the Liberals at all, just Harper and the Conservatives. With a backdrop of the Parliament where he spoke across the river in Gatineau, it was an excellent stint. His French is much better than Dion's English, that's for sure. Hints at Obama and "change" and "hope" and all that good stuff. Says he's shooting to be prime minister. I think this is excellent strategy... making it a choice between Conservative policy or NDP values. He then takes a balsy move and gets on the NDP airplane to Harper's riding in Calgary to give another excellent speech. His supporters seem very enthusiastic. The NDP have an opportunity to win more seats in Ontario and Quebec. In BC, the Conservatives are doing well again and will gain seats where the NDP may lose. Excellent campaign ad against Harper. If Jack continues on like this, he can solidify those soft-NDP supporters who are often weary of a Conservative majority and vote Liberal. If I was a lefty in Canada, I'd be voting NDP for sure. (B+)

Elizabeth May (Greens) -- Good speech. Very fiery but received little to no media coverage. But she's annoying to me. I think she's too lefty for what I thought the Greens were--libertarian, fiscal conservative, low tax, environmentalists. Now it just seems they're about the environment. I still don't think they're going to win any seats but will come close in many ridings. (B-)

Gilles Duceppe (Bloc) -- Boring. Says to prevent a Harper majority to vote Bloc. Duh. I like Gilles Duceppe, but I think Quebeckers are tired of him, as they're tired of the separatist thing. Conservatives are doing well there because of their open federalism policy which to me is holding the country together better than Trudeau/Chretien Liberal centralization. (C-)

Stephen Harper (Conservative) -- Relaxed, but a bit boring. He admitted that he's still learning "your language (French)" which came across as humbling in an odd way. He outlined the difference in choice on taking a risk or a "steady course". The Conservatives are simply going to coast through the election on Harper's leadership. I wonder if that's risky by also not highlighting the rest of the team. Paul Martin did the same and look where it got him. (C+)

Voter Turnout... I think this will be worse than last election and less than 60% will vote. People just don't seem to care as much.

But I think there's a lot of soft conservatives/former liberals out there who are pleased with Harper's leadership and are tired of these minority parliaments and get more done.

But I'll be honest, why I'd never vote NDP from an ideological stand-point, I'm inspired to follow Jack Layton and his style, speeches, and see how it resonates with voters and translates into votes. It's certainly on day one, the most exciting campaign. But why am I doing this? Because the better the NDP do, the worse the Liberals do, and the NDP are a much more effective opposition, which a good democracy needs, and I'm sure that's also why Stephen Harper is so relaxed and humble.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Elections in North America

And a way we go!

Dion vs. Harper vs. Layton vs. Duceppe vs. May

McCain/Palin vs. Obama/Biden

Obama Biden
O_ama bi __den
Osama bin Laden

Neat eh? Sorry, just playin' around and don't read into it. Please! This election will Palin comparison to others where many were just Biden there time. Oh, stop the insanity!

Everyone knew the American election was coming, but did anyone see a Canadian one? I seriously thought Harper was going to ride the minority train until October 2009 when his own fixed election date law set it.

Speaking of this fixed election date law, I saw MP Pierre Polivere on TV state that the law allows the prime minister to call an election. Sorry, but I'm confused. Did the law already essentially just move up the five year limit to four years? Does it only apply with majority governments?

Anyway, I'm going to make some early predictions and analysis in both N.A. elections:

U.S.: Obama/Biden by a nose and a work buddy owes me lunch.

It comes down to this... Can the Republicans mobilize and get their base excited about John McCain and scared about Obama the way Karl Rove did for Bush? I call it "tapping into the xenophobe". I don't think this will happen as much and I think the Dems have a much better and inspiring candidate in Obama than they did with John Kerry. The Dems need to remind Americans about the staggering debt under Bush and pin McCain to that same policy (which they have).

I watched Gov. Sarah Palin's speech last night. She's feisty alright. I'm not a big fan of the Democratic spin against her, especially on her experience--kind of hypocritical when Obama doesn't have much at an executive level. I think the Dems are actually a bit scared of her. But what I do know is the best speech came from former Senator and actor, Fred Thomspon and his emotional story telling and introduction of John McCain.

America's economy and foreign debt is staggering. Each American owes about $35,000 to pay off their $10 trillion debt where in Canada... it's $14. Fourteen dollars.

There's no doubt that the manufacturing sector in Canada is hurting because of loss of exports to the weakened American economy, but other sectors are doing pretty well.

Canadia: Harper/Conservative majority by a nose.

I say this because the Conservatives are in a much better position with a high approval rating on Harper's leadership than they were going into the 2006 election. They will gain in BC, Ontario, and Quebec and this will put the ball just over the crossbar. The allegations against the Conservatives on the "In and Out Scandal" and the "Chuck Cadman Affair" just haven't stuck.

The Liberals under Dion have been weakened with a lack of decisiveness, a confusing tax policy, no grassroots, and a lack of cash on hand. So much so that they're still paying down debts from the leadership race.

The NDP will gain slightly with some actual sound policies and lefties liking Layton much more than Dion. The only thing that might prevent this is the usual soft-NDP strategic voter who'll be asking two questions:

1) Are the Conservatives on the verge of a majority and if so, can I stop it by voting Liberal?

2) If I vote Liberal, will it actually make a difference because they're not that strong, so would parking my vote with the NDP give them more voice in parliament?

Jack Layton needs to hit home that the Liberals have been a terrible opposition party (probably one of the worst in history) and if "you truly care about working families then stick with us because we actually oppose the Conservative gov't". Keep hitting that home Jack!

The Bloc will be weakened in Quebec due to their tiredness and bordem of Duceppe opening it up for the NDP and Conservatives.

So there.