Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Pollcast: Electoral reform, like math, is hard


Some of the government's most controversial files — pipelines, fighter jets, a new health accord with the provinces — could seem like child's play when compared to the minefield of electoral reform.

Justin Trudeau's campaign pledge to ensure the 2015 federal election was the last held under the first-past-the-post electoral system is looking like one of his most difficult promises to keep. Time is running out, the opposition is howling for a referendum on proportional representation and the government has yet to give any indication of what it plans to do.

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Last week, the special committee on electoral reform put forward its recommendations after spending months hearing expert testimony and speaking directly with Canadians. The report recommended the government develop a proportional representation system and put it to Canadians in a referendum.

But the report was not without its contradictions, with a supplemental report from the Liberals on the committee suggesting that implementing a new electoral system before the 2019 federal election was unrealistic and casting doubt on the necessity of a referendum.

Further complicating matters, the New Democrats and Greens also included a supplemental report of their own questioning the necessity of a referendum.

Maryam Monsef, the minister for democratic institutions, then criticized the committee for not doing its job and falsely claimed the report recommended putting a mathematical formula on the referendum ballot. She subsequently apologized for the comments.

Now the government has launched an online survey to gauge Canadians' views on electoral reform. But the opposition has made a mockery of the survey's questions and raised privacy concerns.

So, what now?

Joining me again to discuss the ups and downs of the electoral reform file are the CBC's Aaron Wherry and Kady O'Malley of the Ottawa Citizen.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Liberals hold on to honeymoon gains in national polls


Justin Trudeau's Liberals continue to enjoy more support today than they did in the 2015 federal election and have yet to see their poll numbers take a negative turn. But as the government enters the second year of its four-year mandate, it's making decisions that have the potential to disappoint some of its new supporters.

Over the last quarter, the Liberals have averaged 47.9 per cent support in national polls, a marginal gain over the previous quarter but up 8.4 points compared to election night. The Conservatives have averaged 28.7 per cent, down 3.2 points from the election, while the New Democrats have slipped 7.1 points to just 12.6 per cent support nationwide.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Maxime Bernier's donor base is bigger and broader than Kellie Leitch's


The most recent set of fundraising data for the Conservative leadership race put Kellie Leitch narrowly ahead of Maxime Bernier in total dollars raised. But an analysis of where these contributions came from suggests Bernier has a bigger and broader base of national support within the party — and that puts him in a much better position to win than Leitch. 

Between April 1 and Sept. 30, the latest data available from Elections Canada, Leitch raised $450,421.56, a little more than Bernier's $427,508.72. Ontario MP Michael Chong raised $208,913.72, while Alberta MP Deepak Obhrai raised $1,100.

The other 10 contestants either launched their campaigns after Sept. 30 or had no contributions to report prior to that date.

Taking into account individuals who made multiple contributions and counting them only once, Bernier raised his money from 1,788 individual contributors, compared to 1,049 for Leitch, 370 for Chong and two for Obhrai. In other words, Bernier received money from 56 per cent of all donors to the race in this period, compared to 33 per cent for Leitch and 11.5 per cent for Chong.

But over and above Bernier's advantage in the number of donors, he has a superior regional distribution of that support than does either Leitch or Chong.

And that's a decisive factor in the Conservative leadership race.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Pollcast: 4 byelections and many questions in Quebec politics


Voters head to the polls in four provincial ridings in Quebec on Monday. The contests will mark the first test for Jean-François Lisée, the Parti Québécois's new leader.

Byelections will be held in the ridings of Arthabaska, Marie-Victorin, Saint-Jérôme and Verdun. The last riding, held by the Liberals on the island of Montreal, is not considered to be at play.

But the Parti Québécois will be looking to hold their ridings of Marie-Victorin and Saint-Jérôme, while the Coalition Avenir Québec will try to defend its turf in Arthabaska. The CAQ may also try to make a play for Saint-Jérôme, a seat that Pierre-Karl Péladeau won away from the CAQ in the 2014 provincial election.

A few surprises could be in store. Will the results prove to be bad news for Lisée, could they blunt the gains that François Legault's CAQ has recently made in the polls, or will they turn out to be a shot across the Liberal bow, as the government's satisfaction ratings reach new lows?

Joining me to discuss Quebec's politics on this week's episode of The Pollcast is pollster Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of Léger.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Canadians' views on pipelines divided, but 'social licence' gives opening to Liberals


The decision by the Liberal government to approve the Trans Mountain and Line 3 pipelines while dismissing the application for Northern Gateway has the potential to be a divisive move, particularly in British Columbia where opposition to the pipelines is highest.

But polls have suggested Canadians are moderately in favour of the construction of new pipelines — and that the "social licence" the prime minister has looked for can be a big factor in getting more Canadians on board.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Justin Trudeau a big money draw for Liberals


With all of the controversy surrounding the prime minister's attendance at what the opposition parties call "cash-for-access" fundraising events, one might wonder why the Liberals are willing to risk the potential political cost for a few donations.

The party insists it's following the rules. But in the end, the political calculation might be an easy one — according to an analysis of Elections Canada data, the average event headlined by Justin Trudeau raises slightly more than $100,000 for the Liberal Party.

The prime minister and other members of his cabinet routinely attend fundraising events that come at a price of $1,500 per ticket, near the limit of donations allowed by Elections Canada. We don't know how much of the party's $12.2-million fundraising haul for the first three quarters of the year came from those events, but $1,500 tickets can pile up quickly.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Pollcast: Conservative leadership race begins to heat up


The list of contestants in the running for the Conservative Party leadership has ballooned to 12. One official debate has already been held and the contours of the race are starting to become clearer.

So who is standing out from the pack with six months to go before members make their choice?

The dozen contestants include four MPs from Ontario (Michael Chong, Kellie Leitch, Erin O'Toole and Lisa Raitt), two from Quebec (Maxime Bernier and Steven Blaney), two from Saskatchewan (Andrew Scheer and Brad Trost) and one from Alberta (Deepak Obhrai), along with two former MPs (Chris Alexander and Andrew Saxton) and Manitoba physician Dan Lindsay. 

It makes for a crowded field and a need for contestants to carve out a niche of their own. Leitch has pushed her screening of immigrants for "anti-Canadian values," while Bernier has proposed a series of libertarian-style policies. Chong has put forward a carbon-pricing plan and Blaney has endorsed a ban on the niqab in the public service and attacked Bernier over his views on supply management. Scheer and O'Toole have each touted a long list of caucus endorsements, while Trost has claimed the socially conservative ground in the race.

Is any of this moving the needle among party members?

To break it down, Conservative insiders Tim Powers of Summa Strategies and Chad Rogers of Crestview Strategy are back with host Éric Grenier on this week's episode of the Pollcast.

You can listen to the podcast heresubscribe to future episodes here, and listen to past episodes here.