Monday, January 23, 2006

Election Junkie

So it's all over except for the counting. How are you going to get your results? Will you sit in front of the television watching one of the network feeds and wait patiently as they decide when and/or whether to present the results you're interested in?

How 20th century.

Avoid the frustration. There's a great interactive tool available that gives you access to all the election results in almost any format you could possibly want.

The
Globe and Mail has outdone itself this time. Take a look at these Election Night Goodies.

You'll find a wealth of live interactive tools that provide you with the same information the networks are getting only you'll be able to access what you want when you want.

There's an overall Vote Count for each of the parties. You can even look at results from the last election to see how things are developing.
Browse by Province, select a few ridings to Monitor, view all results in one easy to interpret Layout of the Ridings.

For some ideas of interesting ridings to follow take a look at the previous entry on this site entitled
"Tuesday's Headlines".

Check out the
Election Result Site. You won't be disappointed (providing there are no technical glitches and the site works as designed). Comment on the election like a true professional pundit. Analyze results like a pollster. Get that election fix now.

Even if we get a minority government it may be a while before we have another election. Do any of the leaders look like they want to go through this any time soon?

Be aware that the Globe and Mail Site only goes live at 10:00 PM.

Enjoy the show.


Election Tracker

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Tuesday's Headlines

Wow! It certainly has been a far more interesting election than anyone would have predicted in November. At that time it looked like we would get the status quo again and probably be bracing ourselves for yet another minority government.

What happened to the weather? Remember when everyone was worried about a winter election? Hasn't really come up as an issue has it.

Apart from the overall election results what else is there to look for while watching Monday night's election returns? Here are some possible developments that would merit a headline on Tuesday.


Third Time Lucky For Olivia

Olivia Chow, Jack Layton's wife, is trying for a third time to get elected at the Federal level. She's running in Toronto's Trinity-Spadina riding. Last time her Liberal opponent beat her by just 800 votes.

In this campaign a Liberal Party blogger compared her to a dog. Between personal attacks and Liberal voter fatigue she should be able to bleed off 800 votes. That's all she needs to win.


Sticky Fingers

Another riding to look at is Vancouver-Centre. That's where Svend Robinson is running for the NDP. Remember Svend? He came clean and confessed to a little shoplifting once it became clear that his actions were captured on videotape. Exactly how forgiving are Canadians? Or is it that we believe politicians will be politicians?


Belinda's Folly

Then of course there's the riding of Newmarket-Aurora where Belinda Stronach is running as a Liberal. As was already discussed in
Belinda Bolts it will be interesting to see how forgiving the voters are in her riding.


BC Decides Election

It must be terribly frustrating to be a voter in BC. Some people are predicting that the race could be close or at least close enough that ridings in British Columbia could actually affect the overall election results. If Ontario splits three ways no party will have enough seats to form a government. If that happens it could be a long night for the die-hard political junkies. You know. The one or two million of you that absolutely must be the first to know the election results.


Green Party Doubles Votes

Even with petitions and public outcries the Green Party still couldn't get a spot in the debates or a real voice in the campaign. Is their popularity stalled at 4%. Are Canadians series about environmental issues or not? It's a perfect time for disgruntled or undecided voters to park their vote in a green space. Huge news would be if they actually get a candidate elected. BC is the only place where this is remotely possible.


Bloc Fails to Capture 40%

Wasn't this supposed to be a cakewalk for the Bloc? The Liberals were going to crumble in Quebec (which they have) and everyone would rush to the Bloc giving them the psychological 50% of the vote. Now Gilles Duceppe must be kicking himself for listening to the press and his wife and taking a break in campaigning during the holidays.

Riding in from nowhere came Stephen Harper with a cowboy hat in one hand and a warm welcome to Quebecers in the other. Off they went to the Conservative Party leaving the Bloc scrambling to regroup. Any vote total below their last showing (47%) would be disappointing and 40% would be a crushing defeat. That would mean at least 10 Tories elected in Quebec.


A Shocker in LaSalle-Emard

Paul Martin is the Liberal candidate in LaSalle-Emard. As angry as voters are with the Liberals could he really lose in his own riding. In the last election he won by over 14,000 votes. Stranger things have happened.


Ontario Embraces Liberals Again

Although most polls say this is unlikely, if the Liberals pull it off once again and form a minority government they'll have Ontario to thank. The other headline that would be just around the corner: "Alberta and Quebec Decide to Leave Canada"


Election Tracker

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What's Your Sign?

Late last year (December 22, 2005) the Globe and Mail ran an article that predicted the fortunes of the party leaders based on their Horoscopes. Now that we're in the final stretch of the campaign let's see how the predictions fared.

Before continuing, here's some background information on each leader.

Paul Martin, born August 28th, 1938 is a
Virgo. Virgos need a lot of attention and adoration. They are accurate, rational and like order. Is it any wonder Paul Martin was an effective finance minister? Virgos will attack back when confronted which is definitely a useful trait in the cutthroat world of politics.

Jack Layton was born on July 18th, 1950 and Gilles Duceppe on July 22, 1947. Both of them are
Cancers. Someone born under the sign of Cancer is considered emotional, romantic and shy. They can swing between joyfulness and melancholy in a short period and don't like being criticized. One interesting characteristic: they like to give things away. What party is Layton from again?

Stephen Harper was born April 30th, 1959 putting him squarely under the sign of
Taurus. People born under this sign are patient, reliable and determined but if insulted they remember it forever. They can be stubborn and persistent which can be useful if your campaigning for the Prime Minister's Office.

Now, back to the forecast. Paul Martin was told to prepare for a successful year and breathe easier. He could "pretty much count on his career progressing as smoothly as one could reasonably expect". This is news Martin could probably use at this point in the campaign.

For Layton and Duceppe, "the year would start out with unexpected career breaks. Goals that may have long been given up on may finally show signs of manifesting". Does this mean a 50% vote in Quebec for the Bloc or 30 plus seats for the NDP? Maybe.

In Harper's case, ambitions will be flying high. Determination to succeed will be strong. Goals should be kept at a realistic level. Maybe this means a minority government is in his future but not a majority? We'll see in a few days.

So what can be made of these predictions? They seem so non-specific. What we need to do is take this whole thing to a higher level.

Let's look at their Chinese Horoscope. If you're not familiar with Chinese Horoscope Signs you can go to the Chinese Astrology site and find your sign.

Tigers and Pigs

As it turns out, both Martin and Layton are
Tigers while Duceppe and Harper are Pigs. Tigers are born leaders and their main interest is in following their ambitions and maintaining control.

In Chinese Astrology Pigs are the most honorable signs of the Zodiac. Their perfectionist nature make them appear to be snobbish but nothing could be further from the truth. Once you get to know them you appreciate their work ethic and the care they show their family and friends.

Chinese Signs have their own
Compatibility Grid. Looking at the grid you see that Tigers and Pigs get along reasonably well with each other. If it wasn't for the election, the leaders would probably get along quite well with each other.

However, what interests us all is not their relationship with each other but their relationship with the Canadian people.

Canada, with a birth date of July 1st, 1867 turns out to be a Rabbit. Read the general description of the Rabbit sign and think about the nation of Canada. Be honest. Makes you think twice about this Chinese Horoscope stuff.

The Compatibility Chart shows that Rabbits get along well with almost everyone except Roosters. They get along particularly well with Goats and Pigs. What Party Leader, currently ahead in the polls, is a Pig? Maybe it's a good sign for our future? Or maybe Duceppe should lead this country? That's this country not a country!

A Search for Meaning

The deeper you search for meaning in astrology the more confusing the future predictions become. It's not like I wasn't warned. Both my Palm Reader and Numerologist told me that I would be wasting my time trying to determine the election results using Astrology. Of course I didn't listen to them because my Horoscope said that I should explore something new today.


Election Tracker

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Modern Shakespearean Tragedy

The reason Shakespeare's plays continue to be popular is because they deal with the human condition and universal themes that resonate with audiences.

They are generally divided into three categories: comedy, history and tragedy. A tragedy is when a great person is brought down by hubris or fate. They experience a fall in fortune as a result of their actions or in-actions. What we are witnessing is the final acts in a tragedy that has been developing over the last few years: Paul Martin's rise and fall as leader of the Liberal Party.


A Fall From Grace

Martin has worked for years towards his goal of becoming Prime Minister of Canada. He assumed the responsibilities of Finance Minister under Chretien's government and by all measures did a fantastic job. But, as with all tragic figures, actions taken have unexpected consequences.

People in the Liberal Party started to work towards undermining Chretien's leadership in order to advance Martin's goal of assuming the leadership of the party. Eventually they were successful but completely unaware of the seeds of destruction that they had already planted.

By accelerating Chretien's departure Martin was put at the center of the sponsorship scandal. Perhaps if things had taken their natural course the burden would have fallen more on Chretien and his supporters. Instead, Martin as leader was forced to deal with the issue. The untimely removal of Chretien also served to fragment the Liberal Party, something which would eventually come back to haunt Martin during the election. A team divided can't possibly succeed.


Be Careful What You Wish For

It's not important who was responsible for creating the rift in the Liberal Party between the Chretien and Martin camps. What is important is that this action created the foundation for the fall we are all witnessing.

What remains to be seen is how Martin will react on election night. There is already talk in the media about who will succeed him and whether he would resign on election night. Martin must by now have some magic number or what-if scenarios that he will use to guide him on election night.


Martin To Resign?

Several things would most likely seal his fate. If the Conservatives get a majority and the Liberals get less than 100 seats or if the overall Liberal vote is less than 25% or perhaps if Martin loses his seat in LaSalle then what's left for Martin to do?

The Liberals would be quick to look for a new leader to start rebuilding the party. Why prolong the agony by sticking around? In the event of a catastrophic Liberal loss the weeks following the election wouldn't be pleasant for sure.

Although the election is still a week away and in politics that's a lifetime, the final act of this tragedy seems unavoidable. Such great success early on only to be brought to this. Instead of assuming a place of honor in Canadian history it looks like Martin may be forced to take a seat at the kiddy table with the likes of John Turner, Kim Campbell, and Joe Clark. Shakespeare would have enjoyed this.


Election Tracker

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Effective Time Management

You have to wonder how effectively the Liberals are managing their time these days. It seems like they need to take a look at Stephen Covey's "First Things First" or "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". Even in an election campaign that is as long as this one, who has the time to create ads that they don't intend to use?

That's the problem with the explanation the Liberals are giving for the recent "military in Canadian cities attack ad". It wasn't just outlined or story-boarded. They recorded it, did the necessary post production work on it and included it on tapes released to the media. Why else would you do this if you weren't planning to use them?

Perhaps that's why their campaign is in such disarray. Lack of effective time management and proper prioritization of tasks. They spend their time creating ads they won't air, posters they won't display, brochures they won't distribute and policies and promises they won't keep.


Google It

If you enter "Attack Ad" in Google, the first item that comes up is a link to the US Republican Party, specifically www.GOP.com a hub for all information related to the Republican Party. It's no wonder the Liberals continue to rely on this tried and true method of gaining power. It worked for Bush against Kerry in 2004, it worked in the last Canadian election so why not try it again. Unless of course everyone sees you coming and prepares appropriately. Speaking of attack ads, here's a link to a spoof attack ad that illustrates how silly things can get to:
Bush vs Jesus Attack Ad .


Cartoon humor

Sticking with the theme of humor in politics, the most effective attack ads are really some of the political cartoons dealing with the federal election. In the US they say that once the late night talk shows start making fun of your campaign you may as well hang things up and go home 'cause it's pretty much over. In Canada it's the editorial cartoonists that wield this power.

Here's a sample of some of them:

Federal Party Leaders by Chapleau
A Sampling of Aislin Cartoons
The Passion of Paul Martin by Chapleau


Finally, here is a link to a directory of editorial cartoonists with samples of their work. Not all of them relate to the election but are interesting to look at just the same.

Directory of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists
With the election seeming to go on and on sometimes you have to take a step back and laugh a little at the whole thing.


Election Tracker

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Belinda Bolts To Bloc

Imagine how Belinda Stronach must feel at this point. She was a star candidate for the Conservatives in the last election. Even with the money and power of her father's manufacturing empire (Magna International) she was only able to squeak out a win by fewer than 700 votes.

After less than a year in opposition she realizes the Conservatives aren't in line with her beliefs. Coincidently, Paul Martin is looking for a new up and coming go-getter to add to his party. In fact he's so taken by her potential that he gives her a cabinet position.

Fast forward 7 months and everyone's fighting for their jobs. On election night it will be interesting to see whether the voters of Newmarket Ontario appreciated the change of heart their candidate had. In a recent rally attended by both Martin and Stronach she didn't look too happy. Paraphrasing from "The Godfather", just when she thinks she's out (of opposition) they drag her back in. Or worse.


Running on the Record

Normally the party in power runs on its record reminding voters of their great accomplishments and promising goodies to come if they get re-elected. Not in this election.

It's almost funny to watch. The Liberals outline in great detail what they plan to implement if elected then watch the opposition parties simply remind voters that they had 12 years to do it and they didn't.

The only exception to this is the economy. The Liberals mention it often and so they should. Give credit where credit is due. Progress has been made on that front. Many Canadians don't realize that we were spending $40 billion more per year than we were bringing in. Year over year that adds up. At one point the country as a whole was in debt by more than $600 billion.


Credit Card Debt

Imagine your weekly salary is $1000 but you put $1100 on your credit card every week. That's a deficit of $100. In a year you have credit card debt of $5200 (not considering interest). Continue at this rate and your credit rating goes down, your monthly credit payments are unmanageable and eventually you face the business end of bankruptcy.

That's pretty much where Canada was headed before Martin pulled in the reigns and curbed excessive spending. Whether you agree with how the cuts were made or not, making them was the right decision for us all.


It's Hari-Kari Time

Less than two weeks to go in the campaign. It's just about the time that the Conservatives traditionally start to self-destruct. Remember the last election. Harper begins talking about the West finally taking power and starts thinking about changing the drapes and carpeting at 24 Sussex. The crazies in the Conservative party come out of the woodwork and give interviews on what's in store for Canada. Voters in Ontario switch back to the Liberals.


So far in this election we've only seen a few incidents of this. Just after the holidays Harper started to talk about Conservatives having momentum but that was quickly quieted down. Maybe this time things will be different. Guess which party will be most surprised if that happens?


Election Tracker

Friday, January 06, 2006

Leaders Neck & Neck in Poll

In a recent survey of Canadian voters 36% of them when polled felt that Paul Martin was the tallest politician. Close behind at 34% was Jack Layton, and well back was Stephen Harper at just 15%. 7% of voters were undecided at the time the poll was taken.

Accounting for the statistical margin of error, Layton and Martin are dead even at this time. The results are particularly interesting in light of the surge in Layton's number from the last time this question was asked. It represents an increase of almost 25%. This poll is deemed accurate 19 times out of 20. The 20th time, all bets are off.

In another recent poll, more voters would choose to have a beer with Layton than with any of the other major party leaders. When you dig deeper into the numbers, the results get murkier as you account for voters that prefer wine and factor in those that don't drink alcohol at all. Never the less, the poll does provide interesting results for all the parties to analyze. Eagerly anticipated are the results of the next poll which will take a major look at lasagna.



Embracing Surveys

Canadians sure do love their polls. So far in this election about 75 of them have been released. That's two polls a day and that doesn't include all the private polls that are being conducted by each of the political parties.

The media helps fuel this frenzy by commissioning many of them. It seems to help Canadians figure out what everyone else is thinking and ensure that they jump on the right bandwagon. That's part of the problem. How many people are affected by poll results and like sheep go with the crowd?


Influencing Democracy

The problem with polls and statistics is that the results could be subtly or not so subtly manipulated depending on how you phrase the questions and present the results. If you want to influence the election you could conceivably commission enough polls and massage the results to put forth whatever agenda you favor.

Another problem with polls, particularly how they are reported by the media, is that only the national results are presented. The devil is in the details but who has the time for that?

If you do then take a look at these sites:







  • One final poll result. Canadian voters were asked whether they responded to questions asked by pollsters. 63% of them said they did, 29% said under no circumstance do they ever respond to pollsters, and 8% were undecided.


    Election Tracker

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Boo!

    If you want to give someone a scare it helps to have the element of surprise on your side. However, if you want to keep someone scared you need a strategy that relies on creating fear of the unknown. Spielberg used this strategy effectively in "Jaws". For the longest time viewers never saw the shark, they developed a sense of fear from imagining what it might be like. Most fears are like that. It's the element of the unknown coupled with your imagination that heightens the sense of fear in us all.


    A Hidden Agenda

    This is the same strategy used by the Liberals to create a fear of Harper, the Conservatives, and their "hidden agenda". They continue to try to scare the electorate with this unknown, unseen, monster under the bed approach.

    How can anyone possibly vote for the Conservatives? They have a hidden agenda. What is it? We don't know. It's hidden. What we can be certain of is that it couldn't possibly be good. Why? It's hidden. That's why. Why would you hide it if it wasn't bad therefore it must be bad. Really bad. Scary Harper must be stopped or he'll bring out his "hidden agenda".

    Let's take a step back and try to look at things objectively. Maybe there's a hidden agenda and maybe there isn't. How about examining what we know about the Conservative platform so far?

    With healthcare they want to reduce waiting times for medical services. Not so scary. On the Economy they want to cut the GST and strengthen internal audit procedures in government so that there is more accountability and hopefully less waste. Sounds OK.

    On Defense, they would increase the funding to DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team). It's a little embarrassing, and maybe scary, when the Canadian quick response team takes weeks to get to where they are needed. If the Conservatives want to improve that, great.

    Another thing they want to do is increase our military capabilities in the Arctic. We do have a border there and should be able to provide some level of defense when needed. Otherwise, Denmark, that's Denmark, will continue to push us around up there. Now that's scary. Or is it embarrassing?


    The Non-Hidden Agenda

    The non-hidden part of his agenda goes on and on. They would guarantee access to both parents and grandparents of children involved in a divorce. They would create a Ministry responsible for senior citizens. They would make scholarships and bursaries tax free. They're against the criminalization of marijuana. They're for mandatory minimum sentences for criminals that use a firearm in the commission of a crime. They're against the Kyoto Accord. Now this doesn't mean they're against preserving the environment, just this particular agreement on the environment.


    Same-Sex Marriage

    What about the big issue everyone talks about: Same-Sex Marriage? Harper has publicly stated that he would call for a free vote in parliament on the issue. This means every MP is free to vote their conscience or at least vote in a way that doesn't upset the majority of the voters in their riding. Sounds pretty democratic. What's so scary about that? A free vote could go in favor of same-sex marriage, couldn't it?

    You could look at these positions on the various issues and decide that they're not what you stand for and vote for someone else. No problem with that. There is enough of a publicly outlined plan on most issues to consider without even taking the hidden part of the agenda into account.

    Fear Not Canada

    Here's the reason why most Canadians won't, or shouldn't be swayed by the Scary Harper argument this time around. Most likely we're looking at a minority government. The opposition parties probably will find it difficult to bring down a minority Conservative government without a damn good reason. A good reason might be if Harper trots out his hidden agenda.

    What if Canadians are more fed up with the Liberals then they're letting on to the pollsters and we get a majority Conservative government? Could happen. Once they get a taste of power do you think they'll throw it away so easily by bringing out this hidden agenda everyone is so scared of? In the next election, the Liberals would make the Kim Campbell defeat something the Conservatives would reminisce about.

    Whether the Conservatives win a majority, minority, or not at all, this often discussed hidden agenda will probably remain hidden.

    Thank goodness. Publicly I say I'd like to have a peak at it, but just between you and me, I'm a little scared.


    Election Tracker

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    An Alternate Dimension

    Doesn't it seem like we are living in an alternate dimension? Remember elections where the Liberals were disciplined, held ranks and stayed on message? The Tories could always be relied on to have someone come out with an idiotic comment that would help convince voters that they were all crazy.

    Not this election. Something very strange is going on. Harper is coming out with one well targeted policy after another, making few mistakes, and deflecting loaded questions like a Jedi Master. Take for example the Income Trust Scandal. Rather than get involved, Harper, like a seasoned politician, told the press that he'd let the Liberals go ahead and explain that one. Beautiful!

    Martin, on the other hand, seems to be working from an old Tory playbook. He had to deal with the Beer and Popcorn slip-up. Then some Liberal genius forgets that anyone can read a blog and proceeds to trash both Layton and his wife. Granted, it's not Martin's fault directly, but it does point to a certain lack of control of the troops.

    And what about the Goodale
    income trust scandal? You would think that after the sponsorship debacle and voter perception of rot in the government that the Liberals would do whatever they could to appear ethical and squeaky clean.

    At first it seemed that the Liberals were just trying to keep their powder dry and get through the first half of the election without too much damage. The heavy artillery would come out in the New Year. Polls are showing that it may be too late for that. Will they really be able to convince enough people that Scary Harper shouldn't be trusted?

    The worst thing a general can do is fight the last war.


    Election Tracker