2011 Federal Election

Happy Anniversary!

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

One year ago today, Stephen Harper turned an “unwanted election” into his first majority government, Jack Layton and the NDP soared to never before seen heights, and Liberals spent the evening curled up in a fetal position sobbing in the corner.

On political anniversaries, it’s tempting to give each party a thumbs up or thumbs down, but the past year has been less clear cut, as the major parties try to figure out where they fit in Canada’s new political dynamic.

The Conservatives

It feels like a “Harper majority” was hyped longer than the Phantom Menace – and the end result was just as much of a letdown. After years of being told by both the right and left that a Harper majority would mean an unrecognizable country, it turns out a Harper majority looks a lot like a Harper minority. I hardly think when people warned of his “hidden agenda”, abolishing the penny is what they had in mind.

So if the past year has proven anything, it’s that Stephen Harper has always been and always will be an incrementalist. He has made some changes – goodbye gun registry, so long Katimavik…CBC and Statscan, you can stay, but we’ll make your job a bit harder, in the hope the public begins to question your value. These are bigger changes than he made during the minority years, but the man isn’t reshaping Canada as we know it.

While none of those moves prompted a large backlash, there are storm clouds on the horizon. The F-35 fiasco could tarnish his reputation as a strong financial manager. A stagnant economy would speak directly against the ballot question he was elected on. Robocon could blow up in his face. Bev Oda is still in Cabinet, so that alone guarantees us a few hilarious screw ups.

Outlook: Harper survived year one of the majority unscathed, but he survived with Nicole Turmel as leader of the opposition. The next year will be harder than the last.

The NDP

The past 13 months have been the most turbulent in this “new” party’s long history, filled with highs, lows…and voting delays.

Jack Layton’s death was tragic, but life has gone on for the Dippers. Their leadership race may not have generated the excitement they hoped it would, but they came out of it with the only leader who has a realistic shot at ever living at 24 Sussex, so that’s a point in their column.

With the exception of a few easily forgotten floor crossings, their rookie caucus hasn’t been the embarrassment we thought it would be, so that’s another point for the boys in orange.

Outlook: Mulcair is in the midst of his leadership honeymoon, but he’s been treated to the kid gloves by the Conservatives so far. That’s going to change if Harper ever decides Mulcair is a legitimate threat.

The Liberals

On March 31st, Justin Trudeau knocked out Tory Senator Patrick Brazeau. There haven’t been many highlights over the other 365 days since election night.

That’s not to say Liberal rebuilding hasn’t gone on behind the scenes. The party picked a new president with a lot of good ideas. Today, the Liberals became Canada’s most open party by letting supporters register to vote for the leader. Liberals finally get that the party needs fixing, and I’ve been surprised at the number of new faces I’ve seen at events over the past year – people who joined the party after May 2nd, because they wanted to save it.

In front of the scenes, Rae has performed well in the interim leader’s role, but the “will he or won’t he” saga around his leadership has been a distraction.

Outlook: The next year will be all about leadership, as the Liberals pick the man or woman who will either oversee the party’s death or its return to relevance. No pressure, though.

The Bloc

Can’t say I miss them.

ELXN41

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

This post is just a collection of blog postings on the past election, for the sidebar archives. Consider it a place to visit at any point over the next four years when you’re feeling nostalgic for daily polls, ads, and news stories.

POST MORTEMS
Conservatives
NDP
Liberals
Bloc
Greens

PREDICTIONS AND PROJECTIONS

How the polls and projections fared

A round up of the final polls and projections

Final Calgary Grit seat projections

Ridings to watch: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, Alberta, BC

AD WATCH

Best of the election

Final Liberal Ads
Attacking Jack
Let’s celebrate the GST cut
Just Jack
Mmm…pancakes
Not so subtle attacks
Stephen Harper: The Movie
Ignatieff gets personal
Going after the Tim Hortons crowd
First Liberal ads
Pre-writ ads

RANDOM POSTS

20 Answers

Election Night Reaction

We urge you to vote for these losers

Seeing the world through orange coloured glasses

Pictures from the campaign trail

Michael Ignatieff eats a hot dog

Tory troll application

Election Preview

Party Primers

WEEK IN REVIEW

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

DEBATES

French debate post-game thoughts
English debate BINGO card, pre-game analysis, live blog, and post-game thoughts

CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS

Josipa Petrunic
Stephen Randall

Election Post-Mortem: The Conservatives

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

Previously: NDP, Bloc, Liberals, Greens

A lot has been written over the past two weeks about the election that was, but nearly all of it has been about Jack Layton’s victory. This may be a bit unfair to the election’s actual winner, so let’s pause for a moment to reflect on what Stephen Harper accomplished on May 2nd.

He became just the 7th man to win three elections in Canada’s 144 year history. If he serves out his current term, he will sit 6th on the all-time list of longest-serving Prime Ministers, and second only to Sir John A among Conservatives. It’s a safe bet there will one day be a Stephen Harper Calgary International Airport, and the man just turned 52 during the campaign, so the sky’s the limit in terms of what he can accomplish.

Even more impressive is that Harper very much created his own “winning conditions”. When he was elected Canadian Alliance leader under a decade ago, the Liberals were comfortably in power, facing a divided opposition. Harper’s own party had just cannibalized Stockwell Day, with a dozen MPs breaking off to form a rebel faction in the House.

The prospect of a 200 seat Paul Martin majority lay on the horizon and there was no one out there who thought a dull reformer from Calgary with fractured French and a fairly “un-Ontarian” view of confederation would ever become Prime Minister.

Yet, here we are. Fewer than 10 years later, and Harper now leads a majority government, with the left divided and the Liberal Party decimated. Sure, there were breaks along the way, but from merger to minority to majority, Harper was largely the author of his own destiny.

So how did he take that final step, to get over the 154 seat hump?

In some respects, the election was won long before the writ was dropped. I know many will jump over me for saying it, but Harper has governed as a moderate. Maybe he’s been forced into it, but whatever the reason, he hasn’t done anything during his time in power to rock the boat or worry centrists. This left the ground ripe for a Tory majority, helped no doubt by a little fertilizer in the form of a 5 million dollar Just Visiting ad campaign.

Once the campaign hit, Harper did what he’s always done. He found a simple message and stuck to it. Voters were offered more of the same, or an unstable jumble of opposition parties who would raise their taxes. This message was repeated over and over again, and it paid off at the ballot box.

As for the road ahead, I don’t expect things to change much under majority rule. Yes, the gun registry will go and some “lefty” programs will be cut, but we’re not going to see abortion legislation, two tier Health Care, or a blue flag. Harper’s largest objective in politics seems to be turning the Conservatives into Canada’s natural governing party and he won’t achieve that by jerking the country sharply to the right.

The largest obstacle for Harper in the next four years may very well be his lack of obstacles. The opposition cannot be blamed for holding him back, and the Senate cannot be blamed for killing his crime legislation. Sure, the CBC might be good for a few fundraising letters, but Harper will need a new adversary to rile up the grass roots. A Quebec-dominated socialist opposition party may do the trick there.

The larger challenge will be explaining to his base why he can’t go as far as they’d like him to. But in terms of problems Harper could be facing, that’s a nice one to have.

Election Post Mortem: The NDP

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | Leave a comment


I don’t have much to add to the post-election discussion on the NDP’s past, present, and future, as most of the key points have already been beaten to death. But it’s worth a moment to pause and appreciate what Jack Layton accomplished last Monday. Layton inherited a party with 13 seats in the House of Commons, and took them to 19 seats…then to 27…then to 37. That, by itself, would have been impressive. Then, this election, he took a 50 year old party and not only led them to their best showing ever, he more than doubled their previous record of 43 seats.

Ten or twenty years from now, the words “Jack Layton” will appear under the NDP leader’s name on any Debate Bingo sheets or drinking game. Quite simply, Layton will now be a god to future New Democrats, the way Tommy Douglas currently is, and the way Ed Broadbent almost is. What he has accomplished cannot be understated in the least.

I start with this little ode to Jack, because the NDP’s success is owed entirely to him. I know that can be said of most parties in Canada, but this was a vote for Jack and Jack alone. And deservedly so, since his performance was masterful from start to finish.

I think back to the very first day of the campaign, when all three leaders faced difficult questions. The way they dealt with them foreshadowed what was to come. Harper simply refused to take questions. Ignatieff gave an incoherent answer to the coalition question, forcing him to clarify his position the next day. Layton faced difficult questions about his health with a smile and a joke – everyone seemed satisfied and that was the end of it.

And that was how Layton approached the entire campaign. NDP ads were as vicious and unfair as Liberal or Conservative ads, but they featured cartoons, and ended with Jack smiling and saying something that made you feel good about him. Every second word out of his mouth was an attack on Harper or Ignatieff, but he had a cheerful way of delivering his lines that made voters feel like he was running a positive campaign. In fairness, the other half of the words were positive, with promises to help seniors, hire doctors, and cut taxes. The math didn’t add up, but math doesn’t win elections.

The story was much the same during the debates. That was really when this campaign turned. His attacks were pointed and, unlike Ignatieff, they were on issues voters could relate to. Ignatieff’s attendance record may not have been the most important issue facing the country, but Layton put it in terms people could understand, leaving the Liberal leader stunned and speechless. In short, Layton gave voters everything they wanted in those debates – he looked like a fighter, he looked cool, he looked confident, and, most importantly, he showed how he’d make their lives a little easier. Voters started trickling his way soon afterwards and, once the people realized it was okay to vote NDP, the trickle turned into a torrent.

Layton’s biggest challenge in the coming years is to leverage his personal popularity to strengthen the NDP brand. After all, this was a vote for Jack, not a vote for the NDP – to form government and ensure the next NDP leader has a chance at forming government, Jack needs to get Canadians comfortable with the idea of voting for the NDP.

Doubts about the NDP’s ability to govern will only be heightened as his rookie caucus continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. After all, the media won’t be able to write election speculation stories any more, so the easiest way to get content for a column will be to stick a microphone in the face of one of the NDP rookies. Suffice to say, a crash course in media relations and the art of the “no comment” will be coming up.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with young MPs – it’s something we need more of, and it could actually prove to be a great way to get young Canadians interested in politics. I came within one floor crossing of being a placeholder candidate for the Liberals in 2005, so I’m open to the idea that these political rookies might actually be a breath of fresh air in Ottawa. If they handle themselves well, the media, and voters, will fall in love with them.

The larger concern for Layton is not so much the age of his MPs, it’s their beliefs. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if a dozen or two of the Layton Bunch are quasi-separatists, setting the stage for some very uncomfortable decisions in the years ahead. Layton’s position on the Clarity Act, Bill 101, and the Constitution is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

So there are challenges ahead for Layton and the NDP. If they look and sound like a government in waiting for the next four years, they might very well find themselves in power come 2015. If they don’t? Well, these gains could disappear as quickly as they materialized.

Election Post-Mortem: The Bloc

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | Leave a comment


I was tempted to just post a snide comment along the lines of “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” and leave it at that for the Bloc post-mortem. But their collapse may very well be the most sudden and shocking in the history of Canadian politics, so it deserves more than 10 words. Not much more, mind you, since I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on Quebec politics.

Before we jump in, it should be noted that Quebec has a history of swinging wildly from one party to the next, so maybe we shouldn’t be too surprise by what happened. They’d tried every flavour but orange, so it may be as simple as that. Still, it’s hard not to be taken aback by a 20 year old party collapsing from 50 seats to virtually nothing in the span of a few weeks.

So what went wrong?

The Bloc came to Ottawa with a clear raison d’etre, but that’s been lacking for a decade. They were given a jolt of life thanks to the sponsorship scandal, but in recent years they’ve had little to latch on to. Sure, Gilles Duceppe was there to make sure Team Canada didn’t name the wrong captain in 2007. He was there to stand up for the many who were outraged at the idea of Paul McCartney playing a concert on the Plains of Abraham (Quebecers are notorious Ringo fans). He was there to make sure Quebecers were not forced to choose between hockey and the French language debates.

Quite simply, the Bloc had lost relevancy, and anyone who has listened to Gilles Duceppe over the past 3 or 4 years would realize that.

So what went wrong for the Bloc is very similar to what went through for the Liberals. Duceppe did a great job telling Quebecers why they shouldn’t vote for Stephen Harper, but he didn’t give them a reason to vote Bloc – other than them being the default alternative. He waxed on about issues no one really cared out – the amount of time he spent talking about the 2004 coalition letter was baffling. He said nothing about how he would make the lives of Quebecers better.

When a more charismatic leader came along, Quebecers really had no good reason to stay with the Bloc, outside of nostalgia.

So what now?

For starters, the idea that separatism is dead is just absurd. The Bloc hasn’t been about separatism for a decade and the party with the power to make a referendum happen is poised to win the next Quebec election. I’m not saying they will, but let’s not read something into these results that isn’t there.

It’s also premature to write off a Bloc resurgence if they can find an issue to call their own. Jack Layton basically co-opted most of the Bloc’s nationalist rhetoric this campaign, leaving Duceppe with little ground to occupy. If nationalists feel Layton has sold them out, or a new issue emerges that he refuses to take their side on, there will be an opening. As Paul Wells mused, it’s not unfathomable to see 10 or 20 NDP MPs crossing the floor to join the Bloc down the road. All it really takes is one legitimate issue, and the Bloc could rise again.

Beyond that, I won’t waste any more virtual ink on a party that has done nothing for Parliament or for Canada during its wasted 20 year existence. Enjoy your pensions and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

20 Answers

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Calgary Grit Contests and Polls, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

At the start of the election, I asked 20 questions – 50 of you took the time to answer them, and now we’re able to crown a winner. But first, a look at the correct answers:

1. Will Elizabeth May win her seat? Yes.

2. Will the Conservatives sweep Alberta? No. Once again, Linda Duncan remains the orange thorn in their side.

3. Will Julian Fantino be re-elected? Yes.

4. Thomas Mulcair or Martin Cauchon in Outremont? Mulcair. Who would have thought the most highly anticipated race in Quebec before the election would turn into the least exciting race on election night?

5. Which polling company’s publicly released final numbers will be closest to the actual results? Angus Reid.

6. Over/under on the highest level of support the Conservatives will hit in a national election poll – 42%. Puting aside the Compass siliness, Ipsos and Nanos both had the Tories at 43% once during the campaign.

7. Will the Liberals ever lead in a national election poll? Not even close.

8. Which party will run the most vicious attack ad? After some reflection and some feedback, I have to give this one to the Conservatives. All parties played fast and loose with the facts, but the Tories took direct shots at Ignatieff’s patriotism. Perhaps it’s fair and, truth be told, their election ads were tamer than their pre-writ ads. But in the absence of another obvious candidate, they take this one.

9. Which party will run the “best” ad? As voted on by you, the NDP.

10. Will the words “abortion”, “women’s right to choose”, or some variant, be used in a TV commercial this campaign? Nope.

11. Will any Harper Cabinet Ministers appear in an english-language commercial this campaign? What’s a Cabinet Minister?

12. Will Harper’s sweater vest make an appearance in a Conservative ad? The sweater vest has been replaced with the Canada jacket.

13. Conservative vote over/under in Crowfoot – 80% Believe it or not, but the overs have it.

14. Voter turn out over/under – 60% Just barely over.

15. How many seats will the Conservatives win in Newfoundland? 1

16. Number of independent candidates elected? 0

17. The Bloc. Will they win more or less seats than last election? Ha!

18. Will over half the Liberal seats won come from Ontario? No.

19. Number of times Stephen Harper uses the word “coalition” in the (first) English language debate? Only once, but I gave a point to anyone who said 5 or less.

20. Who will the instant-polls show as having won the first English language debate? Harper. Though in retrospect, Layton was likely the real winner.

The tie-break was the predicted seat count. The closest tie-break answer came from Alice Funke at Pundits Guide, who foresaw an NDP official opposition – but her entry was delivered time-stamped after the closing date.

So the winner of the best seat prediction actually turns out to be the winner of the contest over all – RidingByRiding. He also had one of the better seat projection models this campaign, so give the man’s blog a look.

1. RidingbyRiding 15 out of 20
2. Wheatsheaf 15
3. DL 14
4. Mackenzie Bowell 14
5. Brent 14
6. Invisible Hand 12
7. Marc Bernard 12
8. A View from the Left 12
9. Saphorr 12
10. Dave Cournoyer 12
11. Scott in Montreal 12
12. David Climenhaga 11
13. Jay Michi 11
14. Aidan Hayes 11
15. Anon 6:59 pm 11
16. Judith Davies 10
17. Mr. Rectifier 10
18. Bruce Stewart 10
19. Nbpolitoco 10
20. Terry G 10
21. Robert Vollman 10
22. Ian 10
23. Derek Raymaker 10

Everyone else had under 10 correct, so I won’t embarass you by posting the full standings. But by all means, you can request your score either in the comments section or over e-mail.

I also did an informal query on election day asking for your updated predictions. On that one, “Brian from Toronto“, was the closest to the mark, predicting: CPC 155, NDP 105, Lib 24, BQ 18.

Election Post Mortem: The Liberals

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

In the 2004 election, the Liberal Party lost 37 seats. Liberals blamed this on Adscam, and they blamed it on Dalton McGuinty. This was considered a bad result, but the good news was voters had gotten it out of their system and, regardless, they’d never make Stephen Harper Prime Minister so there was a little to worry about. Consider it a speed bump on the road to 200 seats.

In the 2006 election, the Liberal Party lost 32 seats. Again, Adscam got much of the blame, as did the RCMP, the gaffe-plagued campaign and, depending on your faction, one of the previous two Liberal Prime Ministers. This was considered a bad result, but a new leader and a few months of Reform-Alliance government would lead voters right back into the arms of the Liberal Party.

In the 2008 election, the Liberal Party lost 36 seats. This time, it was really all Stephane Dion’s fault – him and that darn Green Shift! This was considered a bad result, but we’d all learned from the mistake in Montreal, so we’d just name Michael Ignatieff leader and take back government. The sooner the better – after all, leadership races can be messy and, as we’d seen, party members couldn’t be trusted with an important decision like picking a leader.

In the 2011 election, the Liberal Party lost 33 seats. The good news is that (I hope) everyone now recognizes there’s a problem here. A problem that runs deeper than leadership.

For this reason, I won’t bother dissecting the Liberal campaign in too much detail. After all, it actually wasn’t a bad campaign. The tour ran smoothly. There we no major gaffes or misspeaks. There were big crowds. The platform was fine. The ads were fine. Yeah, the debates were a bit of a disaster, and the leader couldn’t connect with voters, but do people honestly think there is anything the Liberals could have done differently? Sure, a different leader might have held on to second place or might have kept Harper to a minority, but if the end goal is forming government, it’s clear major changes are needed.

So what happens now?

The first thing Liberals need to do is put 2015 out of mind. That’s a long ways away and given the tectonic shifts we saw in the political landscape over the past four weeks, it’s foolish to predict with certainty what we’ll be up against in four years. Maybe Harper will be hugely unpopular after a decade in power. Maybe Maxime Bernier will be the Tory leader. Maybe Jack Layton’s Quebec caucus will be his undoing. Maybe a Mulcair-led NDP will be flying high in the polls (I’ll believe that when I see it). Maybe the Bloc will be back. Maybe the Greens will be polling in the high 20s.

There’s no way for us to know what the future holds, so the Liberals need to look inwards and get their own act together before worrying about who they’re running against.

In my mind, everything should be on the table, and party members should be the ones to decide after careful and thoughtful debate. I personally think merging with the NDP is a foolish idea, but some Liberals think it makes sense and they deserve to be heard. Let’s figure that out and then move on together.

I’m sure my idea of who the next leader should be is different from what a lot of other Liberals will want, so let’s vote on a leader and then move on together. Unless of course Frank McKenna is interested, in which case, we can just skip the vote. (I kid, I kid…)

Personally, I’d like to see the Liberals take a strong stand against the soft-nationalist policies of the Bloc NDP, but a lot of Liberals will disagree, wanting to win back Quebec. Let’s figure out where we stand and then move on together.

Some will want to move left. Some will want to move right. Some will say we should trash good policy in favour of populist trinkets. The debate needs to be had, and the membership needs to be involved in that debate.

Not just for show, but for real. Ever since I’ve been involved (and I’m sure before then), the party has let the membership talk and then ignored what they had to say. There’s a 14-step policy process, where policies suggested by individual Liberals can climb all the way to the floor at a national convention where, if enough Liberals support them, they may one day be filed away in a binder in the PMO OLO LO.

The Party set up a Change Commission and a Renewal Committee a few years ago. Both did a lot of good work. Both produced reports. The hell if I know what happened after that.

Now, I have a lot of ideas. Most are probably stupid. I’m not going to rehash them all now, because I’d basically be retyping the blog post I wrote after the last election. Or the election before that. Sadly, little has changed in 5 years.

What I will say now, is that the party needs to figure out answers to the following six questions:

1. What do we stand for?

2. Why should Canadians vote Liberal? (this answer cannot contain the words “NDP” or “Conservative Party” in it)

3. How do we communicate the above to voters?

4. Who exactly should we be convincing to vote for us? (I’d call this “who makes up the Liberal coalition”, if not for the obvious attack ad it would lead to)

5. How do we engage our membership?

6. How do we raise enough money to live in the post-subsidy world?

The good news is we have two years to answer these questions, then another two years to put it into practice.

I have a lot to say about this and, judging from the e-mails, blog posts, and Facebook notes I’ve seen flying in the past 48 hours, a lot of Liberals do too.

So here’s what I’m willing to do. Send me your ideas of what you think the Liberal Party needs to do moving forward, and I’ll post them here. Even if I think something’s a dumb idea, I’ll post it, because I’m not the arbiter of what’s a good idea and what’s a bad idea.

There’s definitely a lot of work to do. We need to recognize there’s a chance the Liberal Party may very well fade away into oblivion. There’s also a chance we could be in power within an election or two. As we’ve all learned over the past month, politics is unpredictable and making bold predictions with certainty is a good way to look awfully silly.

The next four years may very well be the most important in the history of the Liberal Party, so let’s get to work.

Ad Watch: The Best of Elxn41

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Ads, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

Over the past month, I’ve asked you to rate election commercials. I’ve gone back and calculated the mean grade for each, and will now count down the top 5 ads of the election.

You’ll notice the following are all NDP or Liberal commercials. The Greens’ clever “change the channel” spot comes in at number 6, but out of the 17 ads I asked you to rate, Tory commercials finished 10, 11, 13, 14, and 16.

I think that’s more a product of who was rating the ads than their quality. After all, Patrick Muttart’s micro-targeting likely hasn’t identified readers of Liberal blogs as a key Conservative voting block.

For the record, I think the Just Visiting campaign and the subsequent series of Tax Attacks against Ignatieff were, hands down, the most effective commercials of the entire (pre) campaign.

But the voters have spoken and here are their top 5 ads of the election:

5: Health Risk (Liberal)

In terms of production values, this was the best ad of the campaign. It’s got great visuals, great audio, and the heart monitor creates a real sense of urgency. It goes after Harper on an issue that is important to voters.

The only knock on it would be that it doesn’t give anyone a reason to vote Liberal. It likely didn’t help that Ignatieff wasn’t talking much about Liberal plans for Health Care on the ground while this one was on the air.

4: Going after the Tim Hortons Crowd (NDP)

Like the previous Liberal ad, this one also attacks Harper on Health Care…but from a completely different direction. It uses cartoons, it uses a specific example, and it ends with Jack giving the NDP alternative.

It’s hard to say which strategy is better or worse, but the end result was a nearly identical grade for both.

3: Contempt (Liberal)

I suspect if I had people rate all the ads today, this one wouldn’t crack the top 10.

This commercial was released pre-writ when everyone (at least everyone in the blogosphere) was wound up on the contempt ruling and the scandal of the day the Tories were serving up. Those issues went nowhere quickly during the campaign.

2: Family Care (Liberal)

This was my personal favourite. It humanized Ignatieff and helped him connect with voters on an emotional issue many Canadians have gone through themselves. Moreover, it showed the Liberals had a plan to address a problem.

It certainly wasn’t as flashy as the other two Liberal ads above, but ads don’t always have to be flashy to get you votes.

1: Just Jack (NDP)

This ad and the Imagine follow-up are exactly what you want to air to close the deal when your party is surging. It’s feel good, it shows momentum, it gives the final voting pitch.

Most notable is how Jack-centric this ad was. The commercial focuses exclusively on the NDP leader and shows him talking about how “I will hire doctors” – not how “we will hire doctors”. All this was likely wise since, after all, people voted for Jack, not the NDP.

So you can mark down “NDP” on your scorecards for the best ad question on my election pool.

I still need to pick a “nastiest” ad of the campaign and, truth be told, I’m torn. The Health Care spots above were unfair to Harper, as was the NDP’s jab at Ignatieff’s voting record. Then you have basically every negative commercial run by the Conservatives this election, attacking Ignatieff and Layton on coalitions, phantom IPod taxes, and even Ignatieff’s loyalty to Canada.

In this flaming cesspool of negativity, it’s hard to pick a “winner”, so I’m open to suggestions in the comments section.

Election Post-Mortem: The Greens

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | Leave a comment


The Greens got 360,000 more votes in 2008 than on Monday – in fact, they lost a larger proportion of their vote than either the Liberals or the Bloc.

And yet, the 2011 election will go down as a historic night for the Green Party of Canada, having elected its first MP.

Making sense of the election that was for the Greens is a lot easier than for the other parties. In short, the Greens gave up on the national campaign and went all in on Saanich. They dragged every volunteer they could find to the riding, polled it heavily, and May spent every waking moment this election tricycling through the riding, mostly ignoring the national campaign. They were rewarded with a seat on Monday, validating her decision to run there. As I said at the time, Saanich was likely the best riding for May and, at the very least, it was a better call than her ill-advised and ill-fated decision to take on Peter MacKay in Central Nova.

So what should the Greens watch out for as they drive their one-seat hybrid down the road to relevancy?

Having a seat in the House will make a huge difference. Even in a majority parliament, it will give May an outlet to broadcast her message. The challenge for her will be finding the right message. The environment has faded as an issue in recent years, and despite May positioning the Greens as a party who rise above the petty attack that dominate Canadian politics, she has been rather sharp in her criticism of Harper in the past. Striking the right balance in the House will be a challenge.

So will be winning that second seat. The Greens were not over 20% anywhere else in the country, and only got their deposit back in 8 ridings.

Monday was certainly historic for the Greens, and they have every right to raise a glass of beet juice in celebration. Even though I’m not a fan of the party, May will bring a different perspective to Ottawa and will contribute more to the political dialogue than most backbench MPs. She is a welcome addition to the House of Commons.

However this was only the first step on the road to relevancy and there’s still a lot of work left for the Greens.

Je m’excuse

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If there’s one thing these election results have shown, it’s that we all owe Stephane Dion a big apology. For the past 3 years, he has been the punchline of every political joke. He has been ridiculed, and treated as if he were the biggest failure in the history of Canadian politics.

And yet, as yesterday showed, the problems with the Liberal Party certainly ran deeper than Dion.

Right about now, 77 seats sure ain’t looking that bad.

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