Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Pollcast: The Bloc Québécois looks for a leader

The Conservatives and New Democrats have been in the midst of leadership contests for months, but the Bloc Québécois, which kicked off its leadership race at the beginning of February, will reach the finish-line first, on April 22.

Calling it a race, though, might be generous — because it is setting up to be a coronation.

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The Bloc has been without a permanent leader since Gilles Duceppe resigned on election night in 2015. There are two candidates officially in the running: Félix Pinel, who ran as a candidate for the party in the last election, and Martine Ouellet, an MNA sitting in Quebec's National Assembly.

Ouellet, who twice ran unsuccessfully for the leadership of the provincial Parti Québécois, left the PQ caucus after making her candidacy official and is sitting as an independent. If she wins the vote — she has the support of most of the Bloc's 10-member caucus — she intends to continue sitting as an MNA in Quebec City until the province holds its next election in October 2018.

Will Ouellet face any serious obstacles in her run for the Bloc Québécois leadership, or is her victory all but assured? How would Ouellet balance being a federal party leader and a provincial legislator at the same time?

And after two elections in which the once dominant Bloc has seen its support slide to less than 20 per cent in the province, does the party still have relevance in Quebec's federal political scene — or a future, with support for sovereignty at new lows?

To discuss the race and the future of the Bloc, I'm joined by Radio-Canada's Philippe-Vincent Foisy and Le Devoir's Marie Vastel.

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

Kevin O'Leary's Conservative leadership rivals struggle to raise profiles

If Kevin O'Leary does not win the Conservative leadership race in May, polls suggest most Canadians will have just one question after someone else is announced as the party's next leader.


Abacus Data recently polled Canadians on their views of some of the leading candidates for the party's top job. It found that a majority of Canadians either had no strong opinion or no opinion at all about Maxime Bernier, Lisa Raitt, Kellie Leitch and Andrew Scheer.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Liberal backbenchers, Tory leadership hopefuls among Parliament's biggest dissenters

Members of Parliament might feel pressure to toe the party line and maintain party unity in the House of Commons. But a few MPs have stood out for their willingness to rise and vote "Yea" when the rest of their colleagues vote "Nay."

Still, this breaking of the ranks is rare: even the biggest rebel in Parliament votes along party lines 87 per cent of the time.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Pollcast: Behind the scenes of the Conservative leadership race

With 14 candidates in the running, more than a year of campaigning and over a dozen debates to be held before the votes are finally counted on May 27, the Conservative leadership campaign poses unique challenges to journalists.

How do we balance coverage when there are so many candidates vying for attention? Which events are the pivotal ones in the race? And how do we gauge how the actual decision makers — expected to be no more than 150,000 Conservative party members that are eligible to vote — plan to cast their ballots?

The CBC's Catherine Cullen, who has been covering the leadership race since its beginning, joins me to discuss these challenges and what she is hearing and seeing behind the scenes on the campaign trail.

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bernier's broad donor base still tops the Conservative leadership field

Maxime Bernier's donor base remains the broadest and deepest among the contestants for the Conservative Party leadership, according to an analysis of fundraising data from the fourth quarter of 2016 — before Kevin O'Leary threw his hat into the ring.

But while the data provides no clue of O'Leary's impact, it does suggest that none of the other candidates have the diversified regional backing needed to win a vote that will give equal weight to each part of the country.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kevin O'Leary's conservatism challenged in Conservative leadership debate

Conservative leadership contestants turned on Kevin O'Leary in a testy debate on the West Island of Montreal, questioning his conservatism and claiming the businessman and television personality has no plan to back up his rhetoric.

But O'Leary, participating in his second debate after attending one in Halifax earlier this month, did not strike back at his rivals, focusing instead on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the need to grow the Conservative Party base.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Census shows Conservatives still hold sway in Canada's fastest growing regions

With the West leading the country in population growth and Atlantic Canada stagnating, the Conservatives continue to have the most to gain from the demographic trends revealed in the latest census release from Statistics Canada.

And while the numbers are a mixed bag for the governing Liberals, the changing population figures in Canada's 338 ridings point to potential difficulties for the NDP.

The electoral map won't be redrawn until after the next census in 2021, so at least one more election will be decided using the current boundaries. But it's better for a party's future to be on the right side of the demographic trends.

You can read the rest of this article here.