Category Archives: Alberta

Stephen Harper’s 1st By-Election Loss

labrador By-elections to the 41st Canadian Parliament - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia There have been 21 federal by-elections since Stephen Harper became Prime Minister of Canada.* Of those 21, the Conservatives held 4 (Labrador, Durham, Calgary Centre and Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.) Of those 4 by-elections 3 took place since the 2011 federal election.

Even without a permanent leader the Liberals made big gains in the Calgary-Centre by-election. However, until May 13th, Stephen Harper’s party had won all of the by-elections they contested in ridings the Conservatives previously held (they also made gains in several other by-elections.) The Labrador by-election seems like it will be quickly forgotten with the various Senate-related scandals that have engulfed the PMO but it may be an important historical marker down the road.

Congratulations and “You go girl!” to Yvonne Jones for showing that Justin Trudeau-style hope and hard work can win against Stephen Harper/Peter Penashue-style cynicism.

*Repentigny, London North Centre, Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Outremont, Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, Vancouver Quadra, Willowdale, Toronto Centre, New Westminster—Coquitlam, Montmagny—L’Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, Hochelaga,Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, Winnipeg North, Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, Vaughan, Toronto—Danforth, Calgary Centre, Durham, Victoria and Labrador.

Conservatives call Justin Trudeau to testify at the House Un-Canadian Activities Committee

Blaine Calkins (CPC – Wetaskiwin) and the 5 other government MPs have called for David McGuinty and Justin Trudeau to answer questions at the the House Natural Resources Committee. They want David McGuinty to speak because of a poorly phrased statement he made about politicians prioritizing the national interest about all else. The Conservatives want Trudeau to answer questions on a statement he made during an interview 2 years ago.

Part of me wants Trudeau to go to the committee. Yes, the Conservatives are wasting the Committee’s time and taxpayers’ dollars. Yes, they are doing so for crass political reasons. However, if he did show up and answer their questions with knowledge and resolve it would give him an opportunity to expose the Conservatives for their hyper-partisan nonsense. If he doesn’t go, that is also fair. The CPC’s shenanigans don’t deserve encouragement.

In the meantime, I have some questions for Blaine Calkins and his fellow caucus members: Justin Trudeau made his statement 2 years ago and has since apologized. Is this really worth wasting your time, Mr. Trudeau’s time and the time of your committee? You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

Lessons for the Liberals from the Calgary-Centre by-election

Harvey Locke ran a great campaign in Calgary-Centre taking a strong second place. and keeping the Conservatives under 40% in the so-called “Conservative heartland” is nothing to sneeze at. I am proud of the campaign the Liberals ran in all 3 by-elections yesterday.

However, I do fear that Liberals across Canada are taking the wrong lessons from the Calgary-Centre by-election. There are those who will argue (out of their own self-interest) that the Liberals lost in Calgary-Centre because of vote-splitting and the only answer is progressive cooperation.

Vote-splitting was not the problem and cooperation is not the answer.

First, allow me a brief digression on how we got here. The in-fighting and tales of structural deficiencies of the Liberal party are well documented. However, I tend to view the last 2 elections from a game theory perspective. We Liberals campaigned fiercely against the Conservatives. The Conservatives campaigned fiercely, and more effectively against us. The NDP campaigned against both and that helped them leapfrog the Liberal Party to become the officially opposition (there is obviously more to it, this is only an examination of the 2011 Federal Election through a game theory lens.)

The Liberal Party has been trying to fight a 1 front war when we are clearly dealing with 4 separate adversaries (the Conservatives, NDP, Greens and Bloc.) We cannot treat the Greens/NDP as if they are a pool of voters for us to take from and we can’t treat Conservative voters as if they are an unpersuaded monolith.

The Liberal Party has been far too lenient towards the Green Party. Not running a candidate against Elizabeth May in 2008 was a big mistake. In some ways, like being respectful of Ms. May in the House of Commons, we have done the right thing. However, the Green Party does not owe the Liberal Party a single thing. Just like the NDP, the Green Party will always put itself first, neither party actually wants to prioritize progressive issues.

The Calgary-Centre by-election was not a Liberal versus CPC competition, it was a Liberal vs CPC + Green one. The Green Party ran a negative campaign against both the Conservatives and the Liberals. If we ignore the negative campaign the Green Party ran in Calgary-Centre as we move forward, the Liberal Party is setting itself up for further loss.

On Chris Turner’s website there are 2 household lit pieces in PDF form. The first one is 3 pages, the majority of which is an anti-Liberal “Just visiting” style attack piece.

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The Liberal campaign focused on critiquing the Conservative candidate. I vehemently disagree with those who think that the Liberals lost because they “split the vote” with the Green candidate. The Liberals lost because they a) failed to persuade enough voters to switch from the CPC and b) didn’t take on the Green candidate with as much force as they went after Joan Crockatt.

The Liberal Party’s pragmatic and prudent policy positions can appeal to Conservative voters but if we write off that segment of the electorate before the campaign even begins, the Conservatives will only have to pick of a small segment of Liberal/NDP/Green/Undecided voters to win, as they did in Calgary-Centre.

The Conservative Party is not our friend. The NDP is not our friend. The Green Party is not our friend. The Liberal campaign in Calgary-Centre worked extremely hard and did a fantastic job.

Further reading:

A conversation between Micah Goldberg & Joseph Uranowski on: Progressive Cooperation

Why the Conservatives Love the “Strategic” Voting Sites

Vote Harvey Locke: The Progressive Choice for Calgary-Centre

Today (November 26th) is by-election day in the great riding of Calgary-Centre!

The Liberal campaign has been as exciting as it has been improbable and for the first time since 1968, Calgary-Centre might such send a Liberal to Ottawa. Though the moment began shifting from the CPC to the Liberals started in mid-November, the race first came to national attention when a Forum poll (November 20th)  had the CPC candidate Joan Crockatt at 35%, the Liberal candidate Harvey Locke at 30% and the Green Party at 25%. Many called that poll a fluke and noted that Forum had called the Alberta Provincial election for the Wild Rose (it should be noted that Forum was one of the only polling firms to correctly call the recent Kitchener-Waterloo provincial by-election.) The last poll of the campaign has Crockatt at 37%, Locke at 32% and the Greens at 17% (This poll shows the Liberals surging and was done by the firm that predicted Mayor Nenshi’s win.)

There are 3 keys factors that have led to a possible Liberal victory in the riding:

  • Harvey Locke is a great candidate: All of the Liberal candidates in 3 by-elections today (Victoria, Durham and Calgary-Centre) are strong candidates. Harvey Locke is a superb candidate and will do an excellent job representing Calgary-Centre in Ottawa. He has a long history with the riding and an impressive resume working as a photographer and conservationist . He was President of the Alberta Liberal Party, speaks English, French and Spanish. Harvey Locke is my kind of centrist Liberal and he is the only candidate transpartisan enough to effectively represent the people of Calgary-Centre.
  • Infighting between the Alberta PCs and Wild Rose: The Alberta provincial election earlier this year was divisive and hard fought by all sides. Calgary-Centre is where Premier Alison Redford lives, however Joan Crockatt endorsed the Wild Rose during the provincial election. The media was quick to focus on this by-election as a civil war on the right in Calgary-Centre.
    Harvey Locke received a warm welcome at the PC AGM, which just happened to be in Calgary Centre.  Crockatt didn’t dare make an appearance.  A photo of Harvey posing with Alison Redford at the event, with nary an inch of space between them, quickly spread throughout the Twittersphere, dispelling any misconception of a “united right” in the province.
  • Joan Crockatt is a divisive candidate who has performed poorly: Ms. Crockatt was editor of the Calgary HeraldShe presided over a prolonged and bitter strike at the Calgary Herald when she was editor there.  She avoided the first 3 debates and embarrassed herself at the 4th debate when she attacked the U.S. economy and accused the CBC (where she has appeared numerous times as a panalist) of showing pornography. Her Tea Party attitude towards the Obama administration is not reflected by the Canadian poulation (it seems like the only Canadians who wanted Romney to win are in Prime Minister Harper’s cabinet.) One of Joan Crockatt’s biggest slip-ups was skipping Mayor Nenshi forum’s forum on cities. Nenshi criticized the decision in the press and even tweeted a few of Locke’s criticisms of Crockatt during the forum. With Rob Anders next door, the people of Calgary-Centre have seen what happens when they rubber stamp a regressive conservative candidate who brings the wrong kind of attention to their city.

Though the Green Party campaign has been surprisingly negative in Calgary-Centre, I believe that it time for progressives to unite behind the fiscally prudent, socially progressive and environmentally responsible candidate. If you  or anyone you know live in Calgary-Centre please vote for Harvey Locke.

Here is a poll that shows that Mr. Locke is the only candidate who can galvanize the progressive vote and send a message to Stephen Harper.

Micah Goldberg: Trudeau Leadership Needs Big Ideas

Politics is more about timing than it is skill. Being the right person in the right place at the right time is more conducive to political success than being the wisest, best-educated or most prudent individual in the world.

With Bob Rae’s decision to respect his oath not to seek the permanent Liberal Leadership position, the window of opportunity for Justin Trudeau has become a titanic gaping hole in the side of the Liberal caucus. There’s little doubt that Trudeau can become Liberal Leader if he wants to, but the question “should Justin Trudeau run for Liberal Leader in 2013?” appears to have been largely ignored.

 

In January, during the Liberal biannual convention I heard Mr. Trudeau speak for the first time to the Young Liberal Caucus. I was unimpressed, finding myself craving to leave what seemed like a one-man production of Les Miserables produced by a high school drama teacher going through a mid-life crisis. If he was expected to be a statesman, then I his exaggerations and flourishing calls to end the impoverishment of Canadian youth to be, if nothing else, substantive.

 

Five months ago, I would not have wanted Justin Trudeau to be the Liberal Leader, the Prime Minister or my own member of parliament. Honesty, however scarce in politics, is a still a quality I value highly, and he seemed to be lacking it.

 

Last month I saw Mr. Trudeau speak for a second time in Calgary. No drama. No exaggerations. No pomp. He had a conversation with an adult audience about why there is not just a place, but a need for the Liberal Party and centrism in Canada. His thesis (if I can call it that) was that domestic nation-building is always superior to ideological demagoguery.  For forty-five minutes, with no typed speech or hand-written notes, Mr. Trudeau came across as a well-educated, sincere, concerned Canadian. Maybe Les Mis got a new producer.

 

Justin Trudeau has the enthusiasm, the appearance of sincerity and intelligence, and most importantly the name that can put his name in a serious conversation to lead the country. But he’ll need more than a collection of traits to become Prime Minister, and I, like most people, believe that is the point of becoming Liberal Leader.

 

The Liberal Party has become reactionary. What was the last big idea that came out of the Party? A small credit for University Students that would be the equivalent of subsidizing the cup-holders in a new car? If the Party wants to return to power, it must start behaving as an innovative government. Trans-Canada transportation innovation, a national progressive energy policy, a (serious) re-commitment to the Kyoto Accord, a method of dealing with high prices for groceries on reserves or correcting the correlation of youth unemployment and debt. Big ideas exist, but to bring them to fruition is a challenge the Liberals must take on.

 

My answer to the initially stated question is that Justin Trudeau, more than any other Liberal candidate should become Prime Minister if he wants to demonstrate that the Liberal Party is one of brokerage and prudence, but also one of progression and innovation. Only this way can he bring the derelict Liberal caucus from the periphery of Canadian Government and back into good, accountable governance, one where question period actually means something, where bills are given an opportunity to be scrutinized, and faith in the political system as a whole is restored.

 

Yes, Justin Trudeau can become leader. Yes, Justin Trudeau can become Prime Minister. He will need to decide for himself whether he is ready to take bold stands on issues, and support innovation at a time when Party and Country needs it most. Otherwise the fence he sits on will sink under the weight of an already disinterested and disheartened Canadian electorate.

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Follow Micah on twitter: @micahgoldberg

Read Micah’s blog: CenterAndLeft

Alberta Votes 2012: The lesser of two evils, is still evil.

I came across this condescending and narrow-minded video campaign a few days ago. Albertans vote on Monday so I thought I would commented on it before the polls open in the province of the Great Horned Owl.

I have cited Pundit’s Guide’s article Why the Conservatives Love the “Strategic” Voting Sites in “A conversation between Micah Goldberg & Joseph Uranowski on: Progressive Cooperation” and “After a jump to the left, the Liberal Party needs to take a step to the right” but it applies here (especially since I have read online over and over again that Danielle Smith is a Stephen Harper clone):

  • The sites’ entire raison d’être validates the concept that people who voted for the Conservative Party in 2008 can’t be appealed to further to change their vote now, and thus discourages people from even trying. This is a fundamentally defeatist proposition for the sites’ founders to take, one that also underlies the decision by the Liberal Party not to bother making appeals in that marketplace, but to turn its attention towards other competitors instead. It also implicitly discourages people from voting at all where things seem “hopeless” based on previous election results, which feeds precisely into a vote suppression strategy for the Conservatives, and in fact does at least part of that suppression for them.
  • The sites’ obsession with who can win has virtually eliminated issue-based politics from either election coverage or debate at the riding level. This is a perfect state of affairs for a party such as the Conservatives which is consciously trying to move the ideological centre of the country a few inches to the right.

In their fantastic Tory Or Wildrose? campaign, the Alberta Liberals point out how there are regressive elements in both conservative political parties in Alberta. So not only does this strategic voting campaign in Alberta have the potential to benefit Danielle Smith and the WRP, but the party it aims to help out isn’t all that progressive either. Progressives need to work during and between elections to change hearts and minds, not come out of the woodwork at the end of a campaign with only fear mongering as a strategy.

One final thought: Yes, elements within the Wild Rose Alliance are regressive and have made unacceptable, bigoted remarks. This doesn’t mean that we should necessarily paint the whole party with that brush. Progressives need to focus on demanding accountability from Danielle Smith and making sure those remarks are denounced, and candidates are held accountable. The WRP’s economic and environmental policies are quite regressive. But when you make the whole party out as a caricature their base will rally and larger, equally relevent issues get ignored, become white noise or are diluted.

“This Hour Has 22 Minutes” did a great job satirizing the similarities between the PCs/WRP and their leaders here:

2 examples of awesomeness from the Alberta Liberal Party


I have listened to this song too many times. It is catchy, makes a lot of good points and contains a few delicious puns.

Also from the Alberta Liberals: Tory Or Wildrose? This quiz outlines how regressive the Wild Rose Alliance & Alberta PCs really are. It is simple, well designed and poignant.

Good luck to Dr. Sherman and the Alberta Liberals!