Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Two Ships Passing in the Night

Since the beginning of December 2009, the two major parties in Canada have seen a shift in the polls. The Conservatives have dropped from a ten-point lead to a tie, from 36% to about 31%. The Liberals have risen from around 26% to 31%. With such a drastic change, I thought it would be interesting to look at how the voting intentions have changed within demographic groups.

The following analysis is based on the EKOS polling done between November 25 and January 26. I've used EKOS as they have been the most frequently reporting pollster and always have a demographic breakdown. They also have the advantage of large sample sizes.

First, let's take a look at male and female voters.The solid line in this chart shows the two parties as they meet in a tie. The lines with dashes show the voting intentions of male and female voters.

It is plainly obvious that Conservative voters aren't evenly spread between the two genders. The gap between Conservative male and female voters is usually about six percentage points. You can see that the two genders have more or less run in parallel, with a slight divergence lately. Female voters seem to be turning away from the Conservatives, but this loss is being made up for by male voters.

Liberal supporters are more evenly divided between the two groups. Female voters have tended to be more Liberal than their male counterparts. The gap between the two, however, has not usually been more than four points. What is interesting is that the Liberals have recently made big gains among male voters. Female voters have stuck with the party in almost equal numbers throughout this time period. In fact, since mid-January, the Liberals can claim that their supporters have been divided almost completely equally between male and female. The gap between the two gender groups has been almost non-existent over the last two polls.

If we compare voting intentions within each gender, we see that the gap between Conservative and Liberal male voters was huge in December and early January - about 10 to 15 points. But since mid-January the Liberals have closed the gap to about three or four points. Nevertheless, male voters support the Conservatives in greater numbers.

The race has been much closer with female voters, the gap being much smaller even in early December. But by mid-December the Liberals had tied with the Conservatives, and they haven't looked back since.

From a gender standpoint, the major shift has been among male voters and towards the Liberals. Female voters have been much less likely to change their voting intentions, but the trend does align with the national one.

Now, voters by age. I neglected the 18-25 age group since the sample size was smaller and the variation was huge. Also, they vote less. Slackers.This chart is a bit more cluttered, so let me explain in detail (also, the 65+ line is not the solid line, but the solid line interspersed with dashes).

We'll start with the 25-44 year old Conservatives. They are the thickly-dashed line. As you can see, they support the Tories in numbers lower than the national average - about four or five points lower. But, their support has not varied greatly, or almost at all, from the national trend.

Meanwhile, 45-64 year old Conservatives have been very close to the national average, only about one to three points higher. They have also closely paralled the national trend, except for the January 4-5 poll result.

Finally, for the 65 and older group, it is clear that this is where the Conservatives find a large part of their support. The gap between the national average and these retired voters can be as great as 10 points. However, they also followed the national trend, for the most part.

Now, 25-44 year old Liberal voters. These are the thickly-dashed line. They have followed the national trend almost exactly, being at most one or two points lower than national support.

As for 45-64 year old Liberals, they follow the national trend so closely that they are obscured by it on the chart. So, 25-64 year old voters are trending in the same direction.

Finally, 65 and older voters. They have supported the Liberals in numbers slightly higher than the national average, about two to four points. But they have trended in the same direction as the others.

Comparing the voting habits within each age group, we find that 25-44 year-old voters have changed the most. They moved to the Liberals in early January. As for 45-64 year old voters, they used to vote Conservative. But starting in mid-January the gap narrowed, and in the last poll the Liberals were in the lead by a small amount. Finally, for 65+ voters, the gap has been huge, as much as 15 points. It has since narrowed, but retirees still vote Tory.

To sum up, the Liberals have made gains within all age groups. No one age-group can be given the credit for the change in Liberal fortunes. What can be said, however, is that younger and middle-aged voters are moving to the Liberals from the Conservatives.

Conservative strength can be found among male and older voters. Liberal strength is among female and younger voters. But the changes we've seen in voting intentions since November and December have been across the board. That is good news for the Liberals, and bad news for the Conservatives.

58 comments:

  1. Interesting. Good job, Eric.

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  2. Does this perhaps suggest that the voters who most closely recognise the historical signifigance (or lack thereof) of proroguation have been sticking with the Coonservatives, while those who eat the media's story about this being unprecedented have moved to the Liberals?

    In case it's not clear, I'm referring to old people first, and young people second.

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  3. Ira i'm watching to see what Dalton McGuinty does.

    He wants to prorogue but is scared of doing so because its become a dirty word now.

    In retrospect it kinda seems silly. The opposition blowing up a constitutional tool all gov'ts have used since confederation for short term political gain.

    In another life Ignatieff would have called it "la politique du pire."

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  4. McGuinty would probably be fine if he asked the Opposition to agree to the prorogation. However, Andrea Horwath is already throwing hissy fits over the possibility because she wants the short-term political gain, and not following what it is exactly that the federal parties are doing, and that is making the issue of prorogation based on consensus instead of simply executive decision.

    So, if you must attack anyone for political short-term gain at the expense of a constitutional tool, blame Andrea Horwath.

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  5. Volkov prorogation never required consensus before.

    Didn't Preston Manning throw a fit about adjournment or prorogation at one point? Everybody rolled their eyes.

    Of course, he didn't have a sympathetic media ...

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  6. Ira: Does this perhaps suggest that the voters who most closely recognise the historical signifigance (or lack thereof) of proroguation have been sticking with the Coonservatives, while those who eat the media's story about this being unprecedented have moved to the Liberals?

    Ummm... the drop in Conservative support has been highest in the >65 group. So those with the best historical understanding of the current situation may indeed have acted on that knowledge.

    These are not the curves that the Tories would like to see. The changes will be amplified at the ballot box because (as Éric alludes in dropping the <25 demographic), voting rates increase with age. A drop in the >65 demographic therefore means more than a drop in a younger bracket.

    So what would that mean on polling day? There are still more Tories than Grits in retirement homes so this is a change, not an inversion.

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  7. The sex-specific part of the analysis provides some nice context for the surprise "women and children" initiative Harper recently announced. It's not just about diffusing international focus on AGW. Internationally he gets to change the channel from global warming (or at least suck some oxygen from it); at home this is an appeal to the female vote.

    Ignatieff's lobbing of the abortion hand grenade may complicate that strategy. Soudas has carefully avoided nailing down the Conservative position but it's not clear how long they can sit on the fence. At some point they may have to offend either the rock-ribbed socon base or the female voters they are trying to court. It's probably better to offend the base because they're not going anywhere anyway. The danger is that they'll stay home on election day.

    From a political if not a statesmanship point of view, Ignatieff scores double here. He's been (justly) dumped on for his lack of clarity on issues. This puts him at the handle end of the ladle.

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  8. Shadow, the difference from when Manning did it, versus when people have done it in this day and age, is that Chretien never did it within the timespan of one year, he never did it as long as Harper (except for the Martin turnover), and he never gutted his own major, platform-related bills. Plus, Manning was already seen as kooky and no one, not even the public sympathetic to him, bothered to follow-up.

    And are we really going to get into the traditionalist argument of "it never required consensus before!"?

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  9. John,

    I couldn't agree with you more. Good analysis.

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  10. John the abortion hand grenade is already starting to backfire.

    Laying down a policy marker is one thing.

    Having your office blast out pro-life statements Conservative MPs/candidates have made in the past is heavy handed.

    Then having Warren Kinsella go out and demagogue on the issue like he did today is just ham handed.


    Swing voters don't like this stuff. It turns them off REALLY quickly. On the journalist panel at the end of the show it was pointed out that Ignatieff is starting to playhardball and use wedge issues to divide Canadians.

    "Harper is mean" is a good arguement for the Liberals. Why they would want to throw it away is beyond me.

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  11. Shadow, I don't know whether the Liberals have scored any own goals yet or will do so on the abortion issue; we'll see after it's stewed for a while.

    However, I agree with you that their execution is heavy-handed. "Harper is nasty" is indeed a potent weapon because the electorate is getting fed up. In this context Warren Kinsella strikes me as a liability, not an asset. He's the Grit version of a take-no-prisoners Tory.

    The Grits win here if they come out looking positive. Especially with a delicate issue like abortion. Going negative is a trip downhill.

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  12. Ok John we'll wait and see.

    Wedge issues are good in the short term and drive up the base. So it just might help.

    Then the scary goes away and the accuser is remembered as a partisan bomb thrower who divides people.

    Which maybe means the Liberals are planning to strike while the iron is hot and vote no on the budget in the hopse of a snap election ??


    (As to the actual merits of it, non-medically nessecary abortions are a bit of a luxury. Food, basic medical care, and condoms are nessecary. But the budget is limited. Money would be better spent focusing on those core areas.)

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  13. No abortion is ever a "luxury". Think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that end up being spent on fulfilling the needs of unwanted children.

    I would think that small "c" conservatives would be 100% in favour of abortion. In fact if you are a real fiscal conservative you should want to make abortions compulsory because they save so much money. Less child care to pay for, less education to pay for, less welfare payments to all the parents forced to stay home and take care of unwanted kids rather than being out in the workforce.

    There is no greater drain on the public purse than an unwanted child!

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  14. DL you obviously took my words out of context.

    Providing a sterile surgical environment and paying for a doctor and nurses to administer a non-essential abortion is expensive.

    With a world wide shortage in basic medicine we'd be far better off using that money for providing basic services, paying for condoms and sex ed, or providing food aid.

    Far more lives would be saved.


    Now, on to the actual merits of your statement.

    In most agrarian societies kids pay for themselves. Large families are economically nessecary.

    As for the public finances there is nothing more destructive than an inverted population pyramid.

    China's one child policy is going to be a fiscal nightmare for them.

    Our own health care costs and pensions in Canada are coming under strain as there becomes more consumers of gov't services than providers of tax revenue.


    MORE children, not LESS are needed. That's the small c opinon!

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  15. DL really

    I thought you were ridiculous this afternoon, but have you taken leave of all your senses.

    Just because you don't like cons (that is very self evident), don't be so foolish in your statements.

    It's going to get to the point that you will be ignored completely.

    After all what response is there to give to such statements.

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  16. "Providing a sterile surgical environment and paying for a doctor and nurses to administer a non-essential abortion is expensive."

    In my opinion, there is no such a thing as a non-essential abortion. If the mother wants to abort it is ipso-facto essential that it happen because the alternative is either she uses a knitting needle or throws herself down a flight of stairs and runs of health care costs that are 10x higher than what the abortion would have cost OR she reluctantly gives birth to an unwanted child and that child lives in total misery and deprivation and ends up being a drain on social services.

    Choose your poison.

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  17. Of course, ideally abortions should never happen because people SHOULD be using birth control - but these social conservative religious freaks tend to be against condoms and birth control pills as well. Let's face it - most so-cons are just a bunch killjoys who just hate the idea of people having sex - and they like the idea of sex having consequences. These are the same reasons why they oppose any initiatves to fight AIDS. They LOVE AIDS because they like anything that discourages people from having sex and enjoying themselves - its all Calvinism 101!

    PS: If you really want to know which one individual did more than anyone else to seriously fuck up western civilization - its that theocratic fascist John Calvin. He may be one of the most evil people in the history of the planet - and most social conservatives are inspired by his beliefs - yecch!

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  18. "MORE children, not LESS are needed. That's the small c opinon!"

    And how do you propose you get more children, Shadow? By stopping abortion provision and forcing women to bear children?

    Well, if you're going to do that, you might as well also look at more effective options. Like forcing women to have more children. Institute a policy of one child per woman in Canada. Force women out of the workplace and into homes where they won't have a career to take away from child-rearing. Hell, if you forced women to have constant sexual intercourse until they had a certain quota of children, you'd really increase the population!

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  19. DL why is it that people from the so called "CARING party " do nothing but spew venom at others.

    Earlier you accused Harper of wanting people with Aids to die because they didn't vote con.

    Now your here again with your ranting and raving.

    Why are NDPers always so angry.

    Not getting any yourself (sorry couldn't help myself)

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  20. I'm going to ignore DL's bigoted rant except to comment that a nessecary abortion is one that is medically required to save a woman's life.


    Hey Volkov there are plenty of ways to increase children in society. I think Quebec actually increased their birth rate after a worrying decline recently.

    A baby bonus is one way. Assistance with child care is another. Ending workplace discrimination, providing men with paternity leave.

    Lots of good ideas that don't fit the bill of your satirical modest proposal.

    Er ...

    I HOPE that was satire ! Its hard to tell these days with DL having gone off the deep end.

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  21. It wasn't, Shadow. It was actually a response in kind to the idea that ending the provision of abortion will help with the population. Its ineffective, and if you're already willing to end a woman's reproductive choice in regards to abortion, then you might as well take the next step and take away her right to not be legally raped.

    Is there ways of increasing the population? Sure. Russia recently managed to reverse population decline with incentives and tax breaks. But they didn't take away a woman's right to abortion provision.

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  22. MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE.

    Wow. Just heard about the Mohawks evicting white people married to natives from the reserve.

    Apparently there is a long standing 1980's policy banning inter-racial marriage.

    THIS is why the NDP is nuts for not supporting ending the human rights exemption in the Indian Act.

    Quebec 2010 is Mississippi 1950's I guess.

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  23. Volkov being pro-life is not the same thing as being pro-rape and you know it. That's a disgusting slur, especially since most of the pro-life advocates are feminist women.

    My reason for Canada being against providing abortions in the third world is because its expensive and the money would be better spent elsewhere.

    I then debunked DL's idea that abortions are good for the economy because the less children the better.

    Never did I advocate taking away abortion rights for economic reasons or to increase world wide population.

    Never.

    Go back and re-read my comments please.

    You've basically squished all sorts of non-related arguements together to draw out of context conclusions.

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  24. What I did was demonstrate exactly how such an idea really worked, especially in the context of "more children are economically beneficial, so lets end abortion provision."

    The fact of the matter is that ending abortion provision because more children is beneficial means that ending prosecution of rape is equally beneficial. Not only are expensive court cases dropped, like expensive abortion services, but more children will most likely be born. Can you disagree? Not on the level of being politically whiny about "women's rights," but on whether or not it is economically beneficial. Well?

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  25. ---- "most of the pro-life advocates are feminist women."

    Woah woah woah woah woah. I think MY head is going to explode.

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  26. Oh yeah, I forgot about that Eric, good call.

    Most pro-life advocates are not feminists. There does exist feminists that are pro-life, yes, but they are far from making up the majority of pro-lifers. And the feminists that are pro-life, are pro-life because they think its a plot by men to make sure they don't have to worry about having kids when they have sex. These are also the people that are essentially anti-sex.

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  27. Just because something is economically beneficial doesn't nessecarily mean its the RIGHT thing to do Volkov, which seems to be what you're implying I said.

    I simply pointed out to DL that less children are not nessecarily good for public finances.

    It was a general comment, not a policy suggestion that we take away abortions to create more children.

    (I also said Canadians need more children but never suggested we get them by taking away abortion.)

    As for your question Volkov, I strongly doubt legalized rape would be beneficial to the economy.

    It would disrupt the family structure (causing suboptimal allocation of resources) and do psychological/physical damage to women that would lessen their productivity.

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  28. Shadow

    I told you abortion was devisive.

    To quote Bill Clinton again abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

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  29. Shadow,

    I never said that you said such a thing, I'm sorry if I implied that you did. It was simply an academic exercise.

    However, legalized rape would almost certainly be beneficial to the economy. Because even though it would, yes, cause harm to family structures and cause psychological damage to women, it would still boost the population and the women would still eventually go back to work, since their livelihood depends on it.

    Is it right? Of course not. Nothing is possibly more disgusting to think about. But when you start basing ideas solely on whether or not it is economically beneficial, social qualms mean next to nothing.

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  30. Eric, Volkov you're off base.

    Feminist women, like Sarah Palin, believe that women are strong enough, capable enough, and smart enough to be able to provide for their own children or put them up for adoption.

    Men are the ones pressuring women to have abortions.

    Both because they set up a workplace that is hostile to mothers and because of the sexual objectification of women.

    Worries about weight gain, stretch marks, and looseness is a chief reason for abortions amongst young women, many of which have several abortions. Often their sexual partners refuse to wear protection and threaten to leave them if they don't "take care of it".

    Abortion is a contributer to male domination over women. Support for it is profoundly anti-women.

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  31. --- "Feminist women, like Sarah Palin"

    My head exploded again!

    --- "Worries about weight gain, stretch marks, and looseness is a chief reason for abortions amongst young women, many of which have several abortions."

    Ugly, ugly, ugly.

    --- "Abortion is a contributer to male domination over women. Support for it is profoundly anti-women."

    Feminists (real ones) would disagree. Quite loudly.

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  32. Incidentally abortions are actually a very cheap procedure that is almost always done in an Out-patient setting. Of course ideally no one would have an abortion because they would use birth control - but mistakes happen. The cost of an abortion is vastly lower than the cost of hospitalizing a woman so she can give birth and its also vastly lower than the costs over time of dealing with all the children born to women who didn't want them.

    Shadow raised the issue of cost. My point is that its much cheaper to give someone an abortion than it is to have them give birth against their will.

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  33. Eric I know we're supposed to stick with the talking point that all abortions are the result of saving women from rape, incest, or death.

    But jurisdictions that actually collect information on this show that's just not the case.

    If you have one abortion there is a high degree of probability that you will have one or two additional abortions.

    With adoption services and free medical care for pregnant women in western countries there is ZERO economic reasons to have an abortion.

    What's left as motivation are avoiding social ostracism and maintaining sexual desirability both physicaly and culturally (fetishism of virginity).

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  34. DL For the cost of an abortion you could provide about 50 life saving vaccines.

    There's very little downside cost to unwanted children in third world countries. Many of them will be sold into slavery, prostitution, or become child soldiers.

    Fixing that requires broader structural changes. Which won't happen until basic food, medicine, and security exist.

    You're putting the development cart before the horse DL.

    Abortion is a second or first world luxury, not third world. Very poor use of aid money.

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  35. liberal supporter03 February, 2010 23:45

    Feminist women, like Sarah Palin, believe that women are strong enough, capable enough, and smart enough to be able to provide for their own children or put them up for adoption.
    Good! Then women are strong enough, capable enough and smart enough to make their own decisions about their own bodies. They are smart enough to choose wisely, without the nanny state coercing them to bear children when they don't want to.

    Men are the ones pressuring women to have abortions.
    Baloney. So the poor dears need a law to coerce them to have children because they are not strong enough, not capable enough, and not smart enough to resist the evil males pressuring them?

    Both because they set up a workplace that is hostile to mothers and because of the sexual objectification of women.
    So when the workplace is made mom-friendly, and when sexual objectification no longer exists, abortions will no longer occur. Therefore there is no need to criminalize it.

    Worries about weight gain, stretch marks, and looseness is a chief reason for abortions amongst young women, many of which have several abortions.
    Speaking of objectification, the usual relative pronoun for a person is "whom", not "which". "Which" applies to objects, such as women who are simply used as baby factories. Most women having abortions are more concerned about the economic problems of having a child at a particular time. And even if it is for the reasons you cite, it is really none of your business.

    I have way more respect for people who want no abortions and no exceptions, not even for rape or incest or death of the mother, than I have for those who would judge if an abortion is ok by their own standards when they are not the one with the pregnancy.

    Often their sexual partners refuse to wear protection and threaten to leave them if they don't "take care of it".
    Baloney. "Often"? Do these partners also demand that the women not use any birth control? A rather old canard. And it still results in you judging someone else's worthiness to have an abortion for their pregnancy.

    Abortion is a contributer to male domination over women.
    So we need to protect the fragile females by forcing them to have babies, since wanting an abortion is obviously a case of Stockholm syndrome? They are not strong enough, not capable enough, and not smart enough to actually decide for themselves about their own bodies?

    Support for it is profoundly anti-women.
    Yes, when you carefully word it as support for abortion, which implies something like China where abortions are forced on women. Similarly, being forced to give birth is anti-women.

    However, supporting a woman's right to choose is pro-women, because it means you believe women are strong enough, capable enough, and smart enough to make their own decisions about their own bodies.

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  36. Liberal supporter

    agree 110%

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  37. "There's very little downside cost to unwanted children in third world countries. Many of them will be sold into slavery, prostitution, or become child soldiers."

    Oh brother. I don't know whether to laugh or cry...I don't even know where to begin to argue with such claptrap.

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  38. Liberal supporter

    You go

    Right on !!!!

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  39. Sigh. Liberal supporter aren't you clever!

    Turning the feminist arguement on its head!

    Yuck. You're probably one of the people who say women WANT to be prostitutes, that its their "choice", that it should be legal, and that it has nothing to do with male domination.

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  40. "Liberal supporter" sound s way too with-it and progressive to be in a retrograde party of hacks like the Liberal Party. Come on over to the SUNNY side of the street!

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  41. Liberal supporter

    yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

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  42. HEY DL

    come on over to us theirs always room for a wit like yourself.

    Bring your friends

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  43. Liberal supporter

    you completely demolished shadow's argument.

    THANK YOU

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  44. liberal supporter04 February, 2010 00:07

    Turning the feminist arguement on its head!
    No, I think it was Sarah Palin claiming women are smart etc, and then declaring we need to protect them with laws presumably because they are not smart etc was what is turning the feminist argument on its head. The "turning" is the inherent contradiction in her statement.

    Yuck. You're probably one of the people who say women WANT to be prostitutes, that its their "choice", that it should be legal, and that it has nothing to do with male domination.
    No, I'm not. I'm one of the people who say women are strong enough, capable enough and smart enough to make their own decisions about their own bodies.

    However, to address your new canard, I'm sure some women do want to be prostitutes, and it already is legal. Which is why the laws are all about soliciting and "living off the avails" which targets the pimps who are a part of male domination. However, most women are smart enough, capable enough etc to avoid getting involved in prostitution. Some are in that business because they have to support children and have no other skills because they dropped out of school when they were pregnant.

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  45. Liberal supporter

    YOU ARE GOD

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  46. Liberal supporter

    I think I love you

    ReplyDelete
  47. Liberal supporter

    Will you marry me?

    ReplyDelete
  48. Liberal supporter

    You win the oscar for best argument of the evening

    congrats

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  49. Liberal supporter

    You are my hero

    ReplyDelete
  50. Liberal supporter

    where oh where have you been all my life?

    ReplyDelete
  51. DL - On the issue of abortion as luxury, The Fraser Institute did a study many years ago showing that unwanted children are a larger drain on government resources than abortions are, so funding abortions made good economic sense.

    I love good non-partisan policy research.

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  52. Hey Ira I assume that was in the context of a first world developed country like Canada.

    As opposed to a study designed to see which approach to foriegn aid maximizes the use of tax payer dollars.

    I can tell you that if DL's arguement is that unwanted children are expensive then providing 900 condoms and a sex ed class instead of one abortion is a better use of aid dollars.

    Its universally accepted that protection and education are better for public health and cost less then abortion as birth control.

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  53. Not to mention that the abortion as birth control idea does nothing for stopping the spread of aids and other STIs.

    Using our limited aid dollars to pay for condoms instead of abortions is a no brainer!

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  54. Right now the Tories don't seem to want Canada to assist in ANY form of family planning since they cut their grant to Planned Parenthood by 99% and almost all of what PP does is encourage people to use birth control etc...I wonder if the money is instead going to some evangelical Christians who want to hand out Bibles?

    After Harper's gone, maybe the Tories should try something new - like a leader from somewhere other than Alberta and a leader who is a member of a mainstream church (or better yet none at all) - rather than this succession of holy roller crackpots!

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  55. ...and I referred to Ignatieff's "lobbing of the abortion hand grenade". At least he had a political objective when he did so. I was just making an observation.

    Sorry about that, folks. I'll now back away from the barricades. Slowly, with my hands in plain sight.

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  56. DL you are aware that Canada has its own aid agency?

    Simply cutting a grant means NOTHING. Funding could be re-allocated to a group that does the same thing, funding could be brought in house to be done by CIDA employees.

    You have absolutely no basis in fact for suggesting that the Harper gov't has an anti-birth control stance.


    As far as I can tell the only thing they've done is abandoned your ridiculous "abortions as birth control" aid strategy. As opposed to you know, ACTUAL birth control.

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  57. DL wrote:

    "I wonder if the money is instead going to some evangelical Christians who want to hand out Bibles?"

    You just cannot comment on any thread without being repulsive can you?

    It seems the half-wits who populate the NDP ranks cannot make even a semi-coherent argument without resorting to outright fabrications and smears.

    You are pathetic.

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