segunda-feira, janeiro 23, 2006

Ho Hum - another Canadian Election

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Tuesday, January 24

The Canadian specialty - too little, too late, too blandly served. Oh well.

That said, I like the look of this guy. The whole campaign went by without me noticing that he has two relatively young children. And then I saw some photographs, like the one at the right, in which he is apparently 'present' - this is an important distinction for me, I mean 'present' in the zen buddhist sense of being-here-now. There was a better shot, a better example of what I am trying to get at, in the Globe and Mail print edition but I cannot find a copy on the web. Nevermind that, the one I did find is enough. Look at him, unconcerned about the exact state of his hair, in the presence of a laughing woman - did he say something to make her laugh? Standing in the truth of the Canadian winter. A little overweight but not complacent. I am sorry that he did not get a majority, then I think he might have shaken this place up a bit (which it surely does need). As it is he will have to walk the line, That will be ok too.

Monday, January 23 - Predictions
Tom Axworthy120986327
Peter Donolo138806030
Goldy Hyder145815626
Janice MacKinnon139725938
Robin Sears161694731
Moe Sihota144726032
David Wilson165604538

Tom Axworthy: chairman of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen's University; Two body blows hurt Liberals
This long campaign had three distinct phases: The first, in the pre-Christmas period, saw the Conservatives masterfully reducing Stephen Harper's negatives with a series of pleasing policy announcements. The numbers didn't change but the pre-condition for a transformation was established -- if Canadians began to focus on Conservative issues like corruption, worries about Mr. Harper would not trump the general view that it was time for a change.

During Christmas, two events gave the Liberal campaign a body blow: the Boxing Day shooting of an innocent bystander in Toronto made law and order, a traditional Conservative strength, top of the line; and the RCMP intrusion into the campaign, with their investigation of Ralph Goodale, highlighted the Tories' best issue -- corruption.

The third phase saw Mr. Martin appealing to NDP-leaners to stop a Conservative majority while Mr. Layton's message to supporters was that if Mr. Harper's victory is assured you might as well vote your first choice. By changing the context, the Conservatives outcampaigned their opponents, but not enough to give them a majority.

Peter Donolo: director of communications for former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien; Tories reshaped Harper's image
Going into the election, the Conservatives knew that Canadians felt a strong urge for change, with the significant obstacle being serious misgivings about Stephen Harper. Their campaign was all about reassuring the public about Mr. Harper and reshaping his image from avatar of the right to middle-class dad.

To the extent that the Conservatives have succeeded - they will likely have enough seats to form a minority - they did so with an assist, albeit unwittingly, from Paul Martin's Liberals. Through bad luck (the RCMP income-trust investigation), self-inflicted wounds ("beer and popcorn" and the boomeranging negative ads) and an inexplicable policy vacuum (no platform until the closing weeks of the campaign), Mr. Martin's campaign provided a counterpoint that oozed "entitlement" versus the Conservatives' proficient expression of middle-class solidarity.

To what extent was the result inevitable? That's what campaign strategists always ask themselves when the dust settles. One thing is clear: One party had learned from its mistakes in the last election and the recent Parliament; the other hadn't.

Goldy Hyder: chief of staff to Joe Clark in 2000-2001; Desire for change will prevail
Where was the Liberal campaign for the first half? The Liberals were stuck in a time warp, still fighting the last election right down to having the same slogan. What were they thinking in underestimating their opponents so much?

Tories took the policy route and seized both the agenda and momentum out of the gate. This strategy clearly caught the other parties off guard and allowed Stephen Harper to play to his strengths and define both himself and the party.

The Bloc is not going to get the 50-per-cent-plus-one support that Mr. Duceppe thought he had in the bag; the main reason is that the Conservatives have climbed to nearly 30 per cent in the polls. This is by far the biggest and most welcome surprise of the campaign. It confirms that there is a pent-up desire in Quebec to reject both separation and corruption and embrace a chance to make Canada work.

Who will win? The easy answer is change. It's what the people want --and will get.

Seat predictions are made possible by, which is well worth checking out.

Janice MacKinnon: finance minister in the Roy Romanow NDP government in Saskatchewan, now teaches at the University of Saskatchewan; A focus on policy
'Time for a Change' is the ballot question and the Conservatives and NDP will be the main beneficiaries of an unfocused, inept and sometimes nasty Liberal campaign.

The Conservatives made the election one of the most policy-oriented in Canadian history. They calmed fears about Stephen Harper's hidden agenda and forcefully made the case for a change of government. The NDP wisely stuck to its strategy of focusing on the Liberals for their ethical breaches and untrustworthiness. The NDP will benefit from strategic voting as some soft Liberals buy the NDP message that it can keep the Conservatives in check and be an effective opposition. Though the Bloc will do well, the momentum in Quebec has shifted to the Conservatives, who can offer a more decentralist federalist option and seats at the cabinet table.

Robin Sears: chief of staff to Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae in the 1980s; Layton's gamble paid off
In the first real three-way election since 1988, two lessons emerged: Campaigns really do matter, and hope really does trump fear.

The Martinettes reran, badly, their shabby 2004 campaign of fear. They completely misjudged Stephen Harper's ability to mount a credible campaign of hope.

Mr. Harper and Jack Layton studied their 2004 foolishnesses and fixed them. Each then launched tight, focused, professional campaigns that won over their own doubters, the news media, and finally, most Canadians.

Each took serious risks: Mr. Harper gambled that he could strike a centrist pose and force Myron Thompson and fellow believers into silence without alienating the core of his coalition. Mr. Layton risked mockery and backlash with his appeal to unhappy Liberals: "Paul Martin is a loser. He abandoned you. Trust me, just this once." Both long shots paid off magnificently.

Two markers were laid for the next round: The Green Party is moving into "serious party" status for the first time. And Mr. Harper and Mr. Layton got real attention in Quebec as alternative federalist voices, undermining the one remaining claim of Liberals as our natural governing party.

Moe Sihota: Vancouver commentator and a former New Democratic Party provincial cabinet minister; RCMP probe was the tipping point
The shift in voting patterns in Quebec was the most startling development in this campaign.

Few would have predicted the Bloc slipping, the Liberals collapsing and the Tories rising from the dead in Quebec. A rattled Gilles Duceppe will walk away from this election knowing that support for his party is based upon anti-Liberal sentiments and not outright support for separation. All of a sudden, the supposed support for a "yes" vote is far from certain -- and that's a good thing.

The RCMP's decision to investigate the income-trust affair was the "tipping point" in this campaign. It caught the Liberals unaware. It reinforced public concern over Liberal corruption. It came during the Christmas campaign lull and thus dominated headlines. Above all, the announcement came from a credible party (the RCMP) and not a political party. From that point on, the Liberal campaign was doomed.

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