Tag Archives: election

A few observations in the election aftermath

A strong national Conservative majority government….

C’est ca.  Now, consider the remarks made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper once the reality of these election results sunk in for him and his Conservative team. In post-election interviews, the PM has given us a glimpse of how he views his responsibility through the next four – five years:

“We are intensely aware that we are and must be the government of all Canadians, including those that did not vote for us.”

“We got that mandate because of the way we have governed, because of our record…. Canadians expect us to continue to move forward in the same way, to be true to the platform we’ve run on and be true to the kind of values and policies we’ve laid out before them.”

Mr. Harper also intimated that he feels the burden of Canadians’ trust and their vote for a majority government:  “It feels great but at the same time I am very much aware of the immense challenges that lie before us in the government and the responsibility that this office carries with it.”

This is all refreshing that we have a Prime Minister with these reflections after having been handed the keys to absolute power in the Nation’s Capital.  Furthermore, the fact that he immediately jetted back to Ottawa and is back in his office today to attend to the country’s matters speaks volumes for the type of man he is. (Most elected representatives and candidates are cacooning themselves with their families and friends and putting their feet up from their grueling campaign schedules – but not Stephen Harper.)

Let us take this point one step further in saying that PM Harper’s immediate response to the Canadian public is both refreshing and reassuring. Can you remember hearing this type of comment from previous PMs in the wake of their majority mandates? We did not hear it from PMs Chretien or Mulroney – and, in fact, we heard the exact opposite – an arrogant bravado about the dawn of a new Liberal era – from former PM Trudeau. So, given this comparison, we are ever-hopeful our current PM’s observations are a sign of many good things to come…

So, By George Journal will complete our 2011 federal election commentary with a final fractured poem (and note we’ve moved to sailing analogies from flogging that horserace analogy): 

crashing blue wave

a striking Orange undertow

drowned Grits and separatist

forward now, wind in sails

calming waters, edging to the right


The home stretch… a photo finish

And they are in the home stretch:

NDP surges and Liberals suffer a stutter step – is it really neck and neck to place?

and where is the Bloc – and will the Green cross the wire this time?

The Conservative have not broken their purposeful stride throughout the race; 

yet have they pulled far enough away from the pack to deliver an elusive majority?

Here are the calls:

  • Angus Reid: Con 35 % NDP 30 % Lib 22 %
  • Forum: Con 34 % NDP 31 % Lib 22 % …
  • EKOS:  Con 33.7 % NDP 28.0 % Lib 23.7 %
  • Nanos: Con 37.8 % NDP 27.8 % Lib 22.9 % Bloc 5.8 % Green 4.7 %

It’ll be a very interesting photo finish on Monday night!

It’s not about being “first past the post”

Entering into the backstretch, it’s no longer about winning the Run for Sussex Drive.  For the Prime Minister, it’s about winning decisively – lengths ahead of the other ponies.

In a candid response to reporters this week, PM Harper repeated his claim that being first past the post will not be enough. The Conservatives needed a majority is he is to enjoy the winner’s circle for any length of time.

The G&M:    

… Mr. Harper appears to genuinely believe that he has little hope of staying on as Prime Minister unless he wins a majority. “If the people of Canada were to give our government another minority mandate, we’d be honoured to accept it,” he responded, when asked why he didn’t believe another Conservative minority government was possible. But “I don’t think that’s in the cards. I think if we win a minority, all the signals are clear the other three parties are going to get together in some form” to replace the Conservatives, he said. 

So the question is whether there’s enough of a kick in the Conservatives’ stride in the last two weeks of the campaign. Can Harper put the necessary distance between him and the rest of the field?

For the Conservatives, it’ll be a race to the finish…

(Read the full G&M article here:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/will-harper-resign-if-defeated-he-wont-take-the-bite-on-that-one/article1991134/ )

Scrap the per-vote subsidy of federal Parties

There are millions of good reasons (millions of taxpayers dollars!!) to eliminate the annual per-vote taxpayers’ subsidy of federal political Parties.  Kudos must go to the Conservatives for promising to scrap this expensive life-line to political also-rans and Ottawa’s backrooms.

This political Party subsidy must go because:

1) Political parties already enjoy enormous tax advantages and taxpayers should not have to support parties they do not / would not support with their votes (such as the Bloc Quebecois movement!)

2)  The subsidy payments provide a constant and generous flow of financial support to Parties that no longer need support of their Party members

3) Undermine the democratic process by artificially supporting also-ran political movements – and providing otherwise unattainable war-chests for election campaigns

The result of this subsidization of Parties has been to nurture political leadership that no longer reflects that of their grass roots (it doesn’t matter what Main Street says anymore when the cheque is assured) and the dawning age of Pizza-Parliaments (subsidies are steroid payments to NDP and Greens – and separatists Bloc Quebecois!).

Because the Conservatives have threatened Opposition Parties about the end of their gravy train run, there’s been much written about the $2 per vote subsidy. News columnist Andrew Dreschel puts it this way: Vote subsidies create political welfare bums.

     To my mind, it’s just one more way the general public gets stuck paying for partisan political machines that should be responsible for bearing their own weight. Remember, candidates are also reimbursed for 60 per cent of their election expenses if they snare 10 per cent or more of the riding vote. And parties have 50 per cent of their election expenses refunded if they land at least 2 per cent of the popular vote. The plain truth is, the vote tax is a multimillion dollar ripoff.

Kevin Gaudet, speaking for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in January, advocated that it was time to “pry political parties from taxpayer trough.”

     Scrapping the Vote Tax subsidy, reimbursements and gold-plated tax credits would level the playing field for parties, requiring them to compete for donations. It would relieve taxpayers from some of the burden of funding political parties. It would eliminate one barrier to entry for new political parties. Finally, the cause of national unity would be helped if, instead of being subsidized by federal taxpayer dollars, the separatists would be forced to ask their few supporters for cash, instead of getting it from taxpayers.

Mark Milke, director of the Alberta office for the Fraser Institute makes the case: “The idea that public subsidies help democracy is ridiculous. What subsidies do is insulate political parties from Canadians. They don’t actually have to address the concerns of Canadians. It actually undermines democracy.”

PM Harper furthers this thought, when he explained on the campaign trail March 31st, “”This enormous cheque that keeps piling into parties ever month whether they raise any money or not that means we’re constantly having campaigns, the war chests are always full for another campaign. You lose one, immediately in come the cheques, you’re ready for the next one even if you didn’t raise a dime.”

Readers of By George Journal will know our distaste for per-vote subsidies and our re-occurring call to end this scam of Canadian taxpayers. Bottom line: it’s time political Parties got off the dole and raised their own political war-chests.

The Incredible Cost of the Per-Vote Subsidy to Federal Parties

Last year, Canadians paid Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Quebecois Party $2.7 million to prepare for this federal election campaign.  In 2010, Canadian taxpayers doled out $27 million to fill the coffers of the federal Parties. Here’s how the per-vote subsidy was divided amongst political Parties:

  • Conservatives – $10.4 million
  • Liberals – $7.2 million
  • NDP – $5 million
  • Bloc Quebecois – $2.7 million
  • Greens – $1.9 million

Over the last five years this subsidy adds up to over $135 million.  

  • Conservatives – $ 50.8 million
  • Liberals – $40.3 million
  • NDP – $ 24.6 million
  • Bloc Quebecois – $14.4 million
  • Greens – $7.5 million

It’s incredible to think that the $2 per-vote subsidy provides far more money than any of these Parties would ever raise on their own (perhaps with the exception of the Conservative “fundraising machine”). Think of these millions of dollars as life support for Parties like the Bloc Quebecois who need never have to raise a dime in Quebec again. It is “candy money” for Conservatives and Liberals allowing them to pay for even more TV ads and attack-ad mailings. There is something troubling with the realization that our tax dollars are going directly to fund the Parties’ backrooms.

Election 2011 – an uneventful gallop

When they burst from the gates, here’s what the field looked like (Nanos March 29th poll):

Con 38.4%

Lib 28.7%

Ndp 19.6%

Bq 9.1%

Grn 4.1%



Today, here’s the call (from the Nanos poll):

Con 38.7%

Lib 28.8%

Ndp 18.6%

Bq 9.0%

Grn 4.1%


Three weeks of campaigning and no change. This is a race for the leadership of our country! Either Canadians have yet to become interested and engaged; or the Leaders have yet to connect with Canadians in a way that would alter current perspectives about what is possible in Ottawa….


We just find it passing strange that the horses are trampling down the backstretch and there’s been no change in their positions.

The Run for Sussex Drive

As we pass the mid-way mark of the first week of the 2011 federal election campaign, the horse race has heated up. So early on and the ponies are frothing and the stakes have seemed to already doubled.

From the earliest polls, the Conservatives have bolted from the gates ahead of the pack.  Here are the early calls:

Abacus:                        Con 36% Lib 27% Ndp 20% Bq 9% Grn 8%
Forum Research:     Con 41% Lib 24% Ndp 19% Bq 10%
Decima:                        Con 38% Lib 24% Ndp 19% Bq 10%

Our favourite (and most accurate) Canadian pollster, Nik Nanos has issued similar numbers from a March 29th Nanos Research poll:  Con 38.4% Lib 28.7% Ndp 19.6% Bq 9.1% Grn 4.1%

(Interestingly, the Nanos poll also revealed the undecided at 21.7%.)

Already this is serious stuff. If the Conservatives cannot expand their lead through the course and the horses cross the finish line in their current pattern, Canadians will have a messy minority situation.  

With current positions, there will be no post-race celebration. In this Run for Sussex Drive, it appears that should the Conservatives not win their coveted majority, they will be unseated by a left-of-centre-separatist-supported coalition. Hence, the early “fear mongering” rhetoric from the Conservatives about what it might mean to have a two-headed horse with a separatist a—hole stumble across the line and into the winner’s circle.  

(If the race results weren’t so damn serious for our Nation, this trot through the next few weeks would be very entertaining!)

NOTE:  Daily updates on the latest polling results can be found at:  http://www.nanosresearch.com/main.asp

Saddle up! It’s going to be quite a ride!

The Economist and its review of the Canadian Prime Minister


A recent issue of The Economist marked Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s five-year anniversary in power by asking some very provoking questions for Canadian conservatives as well as the general public. In the article entitled, “The circumspect and circumscribed Conservative,” the question is put: “Stephen Harper has proved remarkably durable by curbing his instincts. Can he now remake his country?”


Here’s the crux of the analysis:


     STARTING a conservative revolution in Canada was never going to be easy. It is a socially liberal place, proud of its welfare state and ruled for 79 of the past 115 years by the centre-left Liberal party. The first time Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party in a general election, in 2004, it finished a distant second to the Liberals, who saw themselves as Canada’s “natural governing party”. Two years later, with the Liberals crippled by a kickback scandal, the Conservatives did well enough for Mr Harper to form a minority government. An evangelical Christian and economic libertarian, he vowed to turn a would-be “second-tier socialistic country” into one that “the Liberals wouldn’t even recognise”.


     Five years on, Mr Harper has pulled off two surprises. The biggest is that he is still prime minister, despite failing to win a majority in a subsequent election in 2008, making his the longest-serving minority government in Canada’s history. The second follows in part from the first: Canada remains a country that the Liberals can recognise perfectly well, with big government and social liberalism largely intact. “He emerged from the movement. He was going to be our Ronald Reagan,” says Gerry Nicholls, a former colleague of Mr Harper’s. “But he’s become what he’s always opposed. If he destroys the Liberal party by becoming it, what’s the point?”


Read the full article here:




Putting an end to per-vote federal political subsidies


Just imagine in Canada, we are taxed to pay for the activities of our national political parties. Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for all politicos – paying for both MPs who represent our point of view and those who don’t – and even for Bloc MPs who are only interested in getting a bigger hunk of flesh from “Body Canada” for Quebecois. This practice amounts to state-sanctioned pick-pocketing. Since 2004, when former PM Jean Chretien and his Liberal band of “Nottingham sheriffs” decreed it law, we’ve all been paying for the shenanigans on Parliament Hill.


FACT:  In 2010, the total cost to taxpayers was $27.4 million.


Here are some more facts on the party subsidy as reported in the Hill Times:

     In 2010  five  parties received $27.4-million from the per vote subsidies. The Conservatives received $10.4-million; the Liberals received $7.3-million; the NDP received $5.0-million ; the Bloc Québécois received $2.8-million; and the Green Party received $1.9-million.

     Compare the per vote subsidies to the amounts raised by direct donations from individuals to the parties. The  Elections Canada’s website indicates that in 2009 (the latest full year available), the Bloc Québécois raised $834,762; the Conservatives raised $17,770,477, the Greens raised $1,166,874 ; the Liberals raised $10,120,312 and the NDP raised $4,039,104 (The Hill Times, March 29, 2010).The total equals $33.94-million.

     With the most recent adjustment for inflation, the per vote subsidy was raised $2.04 per year for 4Q 2010.


These facts are important to tuck away in our memory for this whole issue is soon to be a central point of argument and, possibly, a federal election issue.  (ed. – Given our disdain for this subsidy, full marks go to PM Stephen Harper and his persistence in wishing to cut the taxpayer per vote subsidies to political parties!)


The By George Journal will follow this argument as it is presented to the public in the months to come. To review the facts of the matter, we recommend W.T. Stanbury’s column in the Hill Times – “Comparing the per-vote subsidies to all federal political subsidies”


Full article:



The ugly #’s behind our Big (Ontario) Government


Columnist Christina Blizzard calls a Big Government as she sees it. Here’s what she writes about Ontario’s McGuinty Government:


     The bald figures are these:

     1.Your electricity bill will climb 46% over the next five years.

     2.The government will give you a 10% rebate on the total bill — including the tax.

     3. In 2002-03, the year before the Liberals took power, total revenues to the province were $74.6 billion.

     4. That figure for the 2010/11 fiscal year is $107.6 billion. That additional $33 billion, one way or another, has come out of your pocket and mine.

     5. Total expenses in 2002/03 were $74.5 billion.

     6. Total expenses in 2010/11 are projected to be $125.6 billion — a $51.1-billion increase.

     The more the Liberals take money out of our pockets, the more they spend — and the more we go in debt.  This is irresponsible, verging on the reckless — and it has to stop.


To understand exactly what a Big Government approach will do to an economy, read “Spanky Math spanks Ontario: Thursday’s economic update features a head-spinning amount of bad news plugged in the numbers” – Christina Blizzard in the Toronto Sun:



The problem with young Canadians’ apathy towards politics

Canadians’ apathy towards politics is reaching new lows. Today we have an ingrained sense of cynicism for anything political and, particularly among our country’s youth, a growing disenchantment and disengagement with our political process. This unhealthy condition is reflected during elections when we are able to best gauge the citizenry’s interest by the percentage of ballots cast. So, here’s our sorry state in Canada:  
  • Just 54 per cent of adult Canadians voted in the 2008 federal election (ranked 16th out of 17 “peer countries” in the OECD)
  • Just 44 per cent of Ottawa voters bothered to vote in last week’s municipal election (a drop of 10 percentage points from 2006)
  • One in five of those eligible to vote for the first time in 2000 chose to do so

Enter Robert Fowler into this discussion. He’s Canada’s longest-serving ambassador to the United Nations and foreign policy advisor to three prime ministers. This past week Mr. Fowler spoke to University of Ottawa graduates as well as to Ottawa Citizen reporter Don Butler. His observations were recorded in the Citizen article:  Diplomat scolds Canada’s lost generation


We give TWO THUMBS UP to Mr. Fowler for his frank and biting assessment of what our citizens’ disinterest means for the future of Canada. In his words:

  • The civic and political literacy of young Canadians is appallingly low. Your age group’s involvement in the political process, at all levels of government, stretches any reasonable definition of apathy.
  • You seem to be enthusiastically disqualifying yourselves from any right to demand good government in your own country, and effective Canadian engagement abroad.
  • It’s intellectually dishonest for those who’ve collectively ignored their civic responsibilities to moan about the standards of political leadership in Canada.
  • Young Canadians] feel perfectly free to bitch and scream about the state of governance in our cities or our province or our country. But they do nothing about it. What I’m really saying is, they don’t deserve bitching rights.
  • The gap between rich and poor continues to grow and an exploding [global] population will only make that worse. Yours is a world that will necessarily impact everything you do, everything you hope to achieve, and if you allow it to get much sicker, it will threaten your potential successes and diminish your prospects.
  • … that world will get back at them, whether they like it or not. It’s going to impact them. It makes sense for them to want to influence it and change it in a way that will make that impact positive rather than negative.
  • Canada can’t run on fumes. It’s nice to say the world needs more Canada, but it’s mostly Canadians who say that.

Don Butler’s Ottawa Citizen article can be read here: