Friday, September 2, 2016

The Pollcast: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May on electoral reform

On the latest episode of The Pollcast, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May notes that a lot of the focus of the electoral reform debate has been on what impact it will have on parties.

But her support for changing the way elections are run in Canada is not about how it might benefit the Greens — rather, she says it is a matter of rights. And that makes a referendum, according to May, inappropriate.

In this latest installment in the podcast series on electoral reform, I also chat with Bloc MP Gabriel Ste-Marie about the Bloc Québécois's position on the issue.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to the podcast here.

NDP's Halifax Needham byelection victory a warning to Stephen McNeil's Liberals

If Premier Stephen McNeil was still thinking about sending Nova Scotians to the polls this fall, Tuesday's results in the Halifax Needham byelection should give him pause.

On the face of it, the New Democrats' win in a riding they have held since 1998 might come as no surprise. After all, Halifax Needham is a riding that elected Maureen MacDonald six times. In four of those occasions, MacDonald won with a majority of ballots cast.

But it was a close contest in 2013. In that election, MacDonald took 44 per cent of the vote. The Liberals' Chris Poole came up 277 votes short with 40.4 per cent.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Liberals hold post-election gains in summer polling

A year after the Liberals began the 2015 federal election campaign in third place, support for the party is holding firm — maintaining the gains the Liberals made in the immediate aftermath of last fall's vote.

Over the last three months, the Liberals have averaged 47.3 per cent support in federal polls, representing a gain of 7.8 points since the October election. Compared to the previous quarter, however, the Liberals are up just 0.6 points. This suggests that the party's support has leveled off and that —10 months after being sworn into power — the initial Liberal "honeymoon" has settled into a new normal.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Upcoming Alberta byelections pose stiff challenge for Liberals

Just hours after Stephen Harper announced he was resigning his Calgary Heritage seat, the Liberal Party sent out an email blast to its supporters. Looking for donations, the party said it was hoping to kick-start its efforts to elect a Liberal MP in Harper's vacated riding.

It's an ambitious appeal. The Liberals were beaten in Calgary Heritage last fall by almost 38 percentage points and more than 22,000 votes.

Byelections will need to be held soon in four ridings. The fundraising request from the Liberals mentioned two of them: Harper's and Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. That seat was left vacant this spring when Conservative MP Jim Hillyer died of a heart attack. A byelection campaign needs to be called for that riding within a few weeks.

You can read the rest of this article here.


  1. It's theatre. The Liberals know they have no real shot in those ridings; they're just saying they do to raise money.

    Since the last election, CPC support has stayed roughly constant nationally, but it has done this by falling somewhat in other places and going UP in Alberta.

    Add to that the historical weakness of governing parties in byelections and I don't see how the Liberal have any legitimate claim to being competitive in these two.

  2. And of course Ira the NDP has absolutely NO chance in Alberta !

    1. The Federal NDP in rural and suburban southern Alberta? Correct.

      The provincial NDP victory in the last Alberta election was entirely predictable. There was no one else who could have won that election.

    2. I am willing to go with that it is in part theatre....I mean that is a big part of what politics is generally speaking and by elections are odd, there is always a chance you could win them even if they are long shots. Winning Harpers forming riding is pure fantasy though. My mom worked for the conservative party in a riding office and she certainly felt that effect of a popular incumbent leaving could be felt for at least 2 election cycles. So for another party to win one there is difficult under normal circumstances.

    3. Carl
      Could we say "theatre of the absurd" ??

    4. Harper's margin of victory was smaller than other CPC MPs in southern Alberta. Jason Kenney was always so proud that he won the highest percentage of the vote of any urban riding, and he was beaten by 6 rural ridings.

      I'll concede that the Liberals have a better shot at Calgary-Heritage than they would at something like Crowfoot, but it's still a vanishingly small chance.

  3. I mean, yeah the Halifax-Needham loss was kind of disappointing I guess, but at the same time if I were McNeil I'd more or less shrug my shoulders and move on - it's about as meaningless as a by-election can be. Not winning a seat held by the NDP since they actually became more than a footnote in a low-turnout environment where the specter of Darrell Dexter has long past... spare a thought for the losers but otherwise move on.

    1. I think byelections can be over-blown, but they are often under-blown too. They can be indicative of things. Think of all of those unimaginably huge swings we saw in the series of NL byelections that confirmed Ball's lead provincewide.

      If McNeil is up 20 points in the polls from 2013, it is odd to me that his party dropped 7 points in this byelection.

    2. This by-election should give McNeil pause. As Eric stated on a uniform swing Halifax-Needham should have gone Liberal by 20 points! That is if the Liberals truly enjoy support among 6 out of 10 Nova Scotians. That does not appear to be the case and in a Province where all politics is local a strong candidate such as Roberts can beat Liberals. A good portion of the NDP's emergence from perennial also-rans to Official Opposition then Government can be traced to the selection and sometimes re-selection of candidates who were well known and liked locally; people such as Eileen O'Connell, John Holm, Graham Steele, Frank Corbett and of course Alexa McDonough.

      Eric is right the Liberals don't need Needham to form a majority government but, their nearly 20 point loss should demonstrate that satisfaction with McNeil is probably quite a bit lower than the polls currently show. Both the Tories and Dippers have gone from third to first during a general election campaigns in the last twenty years. McNeil should be worried.

    3. Kyle,

      About half the time the governing party wins by-elections. There are also the numerous cases in NL that Éric cited. I think that this may be a by-election that McNeil can shrug his shoulders at, with the 27-point discrepancy stated by Éric, but don't shrug your shoulders at all by-elections.

      Just today I wrote an article on my site (link: about the Scarborough--Rouge River race in Ontario today, and explaining how it is likely going to be very indicative of the Ontario landscape.

      The reality is, yes, by-elections can be overblown, but extrapolation from them can still tell you a lot.


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