2013 OLP Leadership Race


Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, 2013 OLP Leadership Race, LPC Leadership 2006, NDP Leadership 2012 | 20 Comments

The Liberal leadership race is the first real test of the supporter system, and with the cut-off to sign up and vote now passed, we have our first indication of how successful the experiment has been:


That’s over twice as many members as the NDP recruited last spring, and over 100,000 more than the highly competitive 2006 Liberal Leadership Race. It’s hard to say if this boom is due to the supporter system or Trudeaumania II, but as the following table shows, by any metric you use it’s one of the most successful leadership drives in recent memory:

Race Format Candidates Eligible Per Vote Per Pop
2013 LPC WOMOV Supporters 8 294,002 10.6% 0.9%
2013 OLP Delegated Convention 7 45,000 2.8% 0.4%
2012 NDP OMOV 7 128,351 2.9% 0.4%
2011 BQ OMOV 3 36,341 4.1% 0.5%
2011 BC Libs WOMOV 4 92,000 12.2% 2.1%
2011 AB Libs WOMOV Supporters 5 27,567 21.6% 0.8%
2009 ON PC WOMOV 4 42,000 2.9% 0.3%
2009 ON NDP OMOV 4 23,908 2.8% 0.2%
2006 LPC Delegates Convention 8 185,000 2.6% 0.6%
2004 Conservative WOMOV 3 251,000 5.7% 0.8%
2004 ON PC WOMOV 3 61,104 4.0% 0.5%

It remains to be seen how many of these supporters will actually vote, but when it comes to collecting contact information and bringing new blood into the fold, the numbers are encouraging. The Liberals signed up 0.9% of all Canadians and 10.6% of their previous election voters – both totals greatly exceeding any federal leadership race of the past decade.

Of course, huge sign-ups for the 2011 Liberal leadership races in BC and Alberta haven’t translated to electoral success, so it’s a little premature to start measuring the drapes at 24 Sussex.

But this contest appears to have given the Liberals a jolt of life, which is not always the case during a de facto coronation. Paul Martin capped his decade-long regicide in 2003 with restrictive membership rules and a process that left the party divided. The Party establishment was so enthralled with Michael Ignatieff in 2009, that they didn’t even bother giving members a say.

You can argue all you want about Trudeau’s qualifications and readiness for the job, but at the very least this is a coronation that has brought hundreds of thousands of new Liberals into the fold. Open and competitive races are no doubt more difficult on the frontrunner than hotwired acclamations, but both the party and Trudeau will be stronger in the long run because of this process.

Lessons Learned

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 3 Comments
Goodbye Minister of Finance Takhar. Hello Minister Responsible for Seniors Takhar.

Goodbye Minister of Finance Takhar. Hello Minister Responsible for Seniors Takhar.

You win some, you lose some. Or so I hear.

Regardless, win or lose, we can all take home valuable lessons from the OLP leadership race – and with no fewer than 5 other Liberal leadership races ongoing in Canada, these are rules all Liberals should heed.

1. Play Nice: It likely shouldn’t be a surprise that the majority of the defeated candidates and delegates went to Wynne over Pupatello, considering the latter had spent much of the race belittling them and, just days before the convention, proclaimed “When I stand back and look at the cast of candidates, even I would pick me.”

Nice almost always beats arrogant when it comes to delegated conventions.

2. Leadership races are more about values than policy: Glen Murray was probably the most substantive candidate in the race, and he didn’t make it to the convention. Harrinder Takhar and Charles Sousa had reams of economic plans, but few took notice. On the other side, I bet half the delegates at Maple Leaf Gardens couldn’t name a single concrete policy proposed by either of the frontrunners.

Again, this isn’t anything new. In the 2006 leadership race, Stephane Dion had green scarves, handed out tree seeds at events, and talked a lot about the environment, but it was Michael Ignatieff who actually proposed a carbon tax. Yet it was Dion who owned the issue and rode it to victory.

Even though she didn’t win, Pupatello’s “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” focus with few details to support it up was exactly the right card for her to play. Sometimes you need policy to define yourself, but it rarely proves to be the decisive factor.

3. You snooze you lose: Timing is everything in politics, and the stars seemed aligned for Gerard Kennedy. He offered the party its best opportunity to rebuild its relationship with teachers. His years away from Queen’s Park meant the OLP could move beyond recent set-backs and reboot. Every poll showed him to be the most electable candidate, at a time when the Liberals are in very real danger of losing the next election.

Yet Kennedy waited to get into the race, leaving him barely 10 days to put a team together and sell memberships. By the time his campaign was in gear, Pupatello and Wynne – who had been planning this for years – had already snatched up most of the key organizers and the “may the best woman win” narrative had already been framed.

Every contest is different, but I suspect Martin Cauchon’s last minute entry to the LPC leadership race will leave him facing many of the same challenges.

4. You can win by losing: If anyone ever wonders why candidates who clearly have no shot of winning enter leadership races, take a look at what Cabinet Portfolios Charles Sousa and Eric Hoskins find themselves with next week.

5. …but not always: Conversely, the rise and fall of Harrinder Takhar shows there are no guarantees. After a strong showing at the delegate selection meetings, Takhar appeared poised to be the kingmaker and a power player in the party moving forward. After a week of bad press and a clumsy convention floor endorsement of the runner up, Takhar’s stock is now lower than it was before the race began.

6. Confront tough issues head on: Kathleen Wynne could have danced around the issue of her sexual orientation, even after the Toronto Star declined to endorse her because she was a lesbian. Instead, she met it head on in what was universally regarded as the best speech of the convention.

7. Never bring Dufflet chocolates when you go a courting.

As Good as Being There

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 1 Comment

The mainstream media coverage of this weekend’s OLP leadership convention has focused on backroom deals and electoral implications – but this misses the very human element of leadership conventions, which is where blogs still hold a certain degree of relevance.

I therefore encourage everyone to read the following accounts – Misters Goldenberg and Hopkins, especially, provide powerful illustrations of just how meaningful Kathleen’s win was for many.

Adam Goldenberg: Why Wynne’s Win Matters

Matt Hopkins: Kathleen Won

Jeff Jedras: Day 2 a Wynning Day at #olpldr

Jamie Callingham: The Great OLP Leadership Convention of 2013

Convention Math

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Fun with Numb3rs, Ontario Politics | 3 Comments

Wynne Pup

On Saturday, Maple Leaf Gardens was a cauldron of emotions. There were tears, broken promises, dashed dreams, and shrieks of pure unadulterated joy. That’s to be expected when you bring 2,000 people with very different motivations and beliefs together, and ask them to figure out who will govern a province of over 12 million people.

Yet despite all of that, in the end, what mattered more than the signs and scarves and speeches were the cold hard numbers. So it’s worth pausing to study the math behind Kathleen Wynne’s historic victory:

The First Ballot

The big story of the first ballot was Wynne’s jump to within 2 votes of Pupatello. To get a sense of where that support came from, it’s important to not look at the number of delegates elected but at the number who were actually registered at the convention and eligible to vote after backfills, alternate bumps, and no-shows are taken into account:

Pupatello   495
Wynne 454
Kennedy 253
Takhar 235
Sousa 200
Hoskins 100

There were also 67 registered independents and 320 registered ex-officios. Here’s how they broke in round one:

First Ballot

That means 40 delegates either didn’t vote or ate their ballots – including at least one Takhar delegate, unless Harrinder forgot to vote for himself.

The real story of this was Wynne picking up over 40% of the uncommitted voters. Pre-convention reports had her 10-15 behind Pupatello in the ex-officio count, so it seems likely she was able to snag most of the independent voters – and I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising, given many of them were former Glen Murray supporters.

Until we read the tell-all memoirs in 20 years, we won’t know for sure what was going through each candidate’s head at this point, but Wynne’s bounce certainly shifted the odds in her favour, perhaps prompting Hoskins to also shift his endorsement. It also meant the path to a Kennedy victory now relied on more aggresive math – with Hoskins moving to Wynne, Kennedy would have needed at least three-quarters of Takhar and Sousa’s delegates to reach the final ballot. This likely killed any talk of a third option, explaining Takhar’s bizarre move to Pupatello after the deadline to withdraw.

The Second Ballot

Second Ballot

With the race now clearly a two-woman show, Kennedy was only able to grow by 4 delegates, and Sousa fell by 19. While no candidate is ever able to deliver 100% of their delegates, both the numbers and what I saw on the floor suggest that’s almost exactly what happened. Pupatello’s vote jumped by 218 – toss in the 18 confused Takhar delegates who voted for their unofficially withdrawn leader, and you nearly hit Takhar’s first ballot number on the money. Similarly, Wynne’s gain of 153 was nearly spot-on to Hoskins’ first ballot total (though some high profile Hoskins supporters did go to Pupatello, including the Right Honourable John Turner).

While Kennedy and Sousa could have stayed around and pushed the inevitable back to midnight, both recognized the reality of the situation and withdrew. A Sousa-to-Pupatello and Kennedy-to-Wynne scenario would have set up an interesting final ballot, but it does not appear that either candidate nor their supporters had much appetite to back Pupatello, whose team had spent much of the campaign belitleling them.

Both men marched to Wynne, effectively sealing the deal. Unless the protestors outside burned the building to the ground, the math was now such that there was virtually no way for Pupatello to hold her lead.

The Third Ballot

As Jeff Jedras reports, some delegates decided it wasn’t worth waiting for the burst water pipes to be fixed and called it a day. Still, all but 57 stayed and voted:
Third Ballot

Together, Kennedy and Sousa moved 89% of their vote to Wynne on the final ballot – remarkable when you consider the historical norms, but likely in line with what Takhar and Hoskins also delivered.

Perhaps the timid nature of the campaign left most delegates without strong feelings towards either of the frontrunners, so they figured they might as well follow their man. Perhaps the short timeline gave candidates little time to woo delegates for second ballot support. Perhaps the four defeated candidates all commanded an unusually high sense of loyalty from their troops.

Whatever the reason, this convention came down to cold, hard, delegate math. And the math worked for Wynne a lot better than it did for Pupatello.


Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 1 Comment

I’ll post a recap of the weekend that was and thoughts on the road ahead tomorrow, but for now let me take a moment to congratulate Kathleen Wynne on her well deserved victory. She’s a likable candidate with an impressive record who ran a great campaign, and I was proud to vote for Ontario’s first female and first openly gay Premier on the final ballot.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 7 Comments

The Case For Kennedy

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Featured Posts, Ontario Politics | 3 Comments

This weekend, Liberals from across Ontario will gather at Maple Leaf Gardens for what is likely to be one of the last grand old leadership conventions in Canada. Having 2,000 delegates decide who governs a province of 13 million doesn’t scream “grassroots”, but it makes for one heck of a show. There will be signs, there will be noise makers, there will be t-shirts, there will carefully orchestrated spontaneous outpourings of enthusiasm.

Rumours will fly, candidates will lead their delegates across the floor, and the TV cameras will scramble to find a heartbroken teenager in tears. Whether or not you have a horse in this race, if you like politics, Saturday is going to be Must See TV.

I’ll be attending the convention as a Gerard Kennedy delegate, and I suspect the grind of the campaign and lure of the hospitality suites will leave me with little time to blog. The OLP has been gracious enough to accredit bloggers, so expect Scott Tribe and others at Progressive Bloggers to be posting frequent updates as the voting progresses Saturday…and Sunday, if we see a repeat of 1996 when a leader wasn’t crowned until 4:30 am.

Up until that moment, delegates will be doing everything they can to persuade each other to vote for their candidate of choice. So for any delegates scanning blogs on their train ride into town, let me re-iterate why I’m supporting Gerard Kennedy and why I encourage you to.

What first drew me to Kennedy and keeps me coming back is that he is one of the most genuine politicians I have ever met and I’m 100% confident he’s in politics not for power, but for purpose. After growing up in small town Manitoba and going to University on a hockey scholarship, he became executive director of an Edmonton food bank at the age of 23, then of the Daily Bread Food Bank at the age of 26. Despite his aforementioned 4:30 am defeat to Dalton McGuinty, he stayed loyal, and as McGuinty’s Education Minister he got results – labour peace, smaller class sizes, higher test scores.

Of course, all the candidates in this race share Liberal values and they all have impressive resumes and a record of accomplishment in Cabinet. However, for me personally, there are two things that set Kennedy apart from the field.

The first is that Gerard is more genuinely committed to changing the way politics is done in this country than anyone I’ve ever met. He was talking about renewal long before it became an empty buzzword, and has released a comprehensive plan for change that will lead to a more open Liberal Party. (In fairness, many of the other candidates have released strong renewal platforms, especially Hoskins and Sousa).

Dalton McGuinty’s surprise resignation letter to Liberals 100 days ago was titled “Renewal”, because he recognized the party needs to change the way it operates to survive. Kennedy is not a member of the party establishment, and he offers real change.

And it is indeed because he is an agent of change that Gerard is well positioned to lead the Liberals to victory in the next election. Despite the happy-go-lucky feel-good mentality that has dominated this race, Liberal Party members need to recognize the situation we find ourselves in. The party has been in power for a decade, has alienated much of its base, and faces the very real prospect of a spring election. That’s an election we can win, but there’s also a very real risk we could tumble to third if the new leader isn’t able to connect with voters and show them the party has changed.

On that front, Kennedy has the advantage of being a known commodity from the Camelot period of the McGuinty government, who is trusted by voters. At the same time, he’s a fresh face who wasn’t at the Cabinet table when controversies around Bill 115, the Mississauga Power Plant, and E-Health exploded. It’s no surprise that every single poll released this campaign has shown he is the most electable candidate in the race – by a significant margin.

That’s the case I’ll be making this weekend. It’s a strong field of candidates, and I’ve heard very compelling pitches from each of their campaigns. When the confetti falls Saturday night (or Sunday morning), we’ll find out which case proves most compelling.

Down to the Wire

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 5 Comments

We’re now down to the stretch drive in the OLP leadership sprint, with the following (still unofficial) delegate count after this weekend’s round of voting:

Pupatello 506
Wynne 468
Kennedy 259
Takhar 244
Sousa 204
Hoskins 104
Independent 67

It’s a fractured field, and that becomes even more apparent when you consider no candidate received over 22% of the actual votes cast. It will come down to the convention, at which point delegates will be free to jump any which way after the first ballot. As history has shown, delegated conventions are unpredictable beasts, so it’s anybody’s guess who exits Maple Leaf Gardens as Premier in 10 days time.

Getting Dumped

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 13 Comments

He may have baked you lasagna, but Glen has moved on and found someone new.

Today, Glen Murray bowed out of the Ontario Liberal leadership race and David Merner took a pass at the federal job. The reaction to both announcements has ranged from a shrug to an in-depth analysis on the impact this would have on the other candidates’ chances. Overlooked has been the human element.

It’s never easy for a politician to pull the plug on a leadership campaign. In most cases, it’s something they’ve dreamed about and worked towards for years. Imagine you’d devoted your entire life to a cause and were reaching for the pinnacle of your career…then imagine the realization slowly sinking in that it wasn’t going to happen. It’s not just a case of admitting failure – it’s giving up the dream.

Further below the surface is the impact a move like this has not just on a candidate, but on their supporters. Believe me, I’ve been there. Since getting into politics a decade ago, I’ve supported Allan Rock, John Manley, Sheila Copps, Gerard Kennedy, and Dominic Leblanc in five unsuccessful leadership bids. Three times, my candidate of choice dropped out before the convention, so I can sympathize with what David Merner and Glen Murray supporters are going through today.

No, it’s not the end of a lifelong dream, but you’ve still invested yourself behind an individual and a cause only to see it disappear in a blink. The candidates themselves come to the realization it wasn’t meant to be over time, but for their supporters the news is often a swift punch to the gut. I found out Dominic Leblanc wasn’t running when I got a call from a cheerful Bob Rae supporter asking me if I’d like to sign on. Surprise!

I don’t think David Merner’s supporters held out much hope of Merner-mania sweeping the nation, and they’ve been given plenty of time to mourn, move on, and find someone new.

The people I really feel bad for today are the nearly 500 Liberals who put their names forward last weekend to run as Glen Murray delegates at the OLP convention. They’ll now be forced to run as independents, effectively ending their chances of being elected. Had Murray dropped out one week earlier, they’d have been free to run for another candidate. One week later, they would have been wined and dined six times a day. Instead, they’re left twisting in the wind, with no real opportunity to go as a delegate to what might be Canada’s last great leadership convention.

On the surface, it’s hard to get too worked up when candidates with no real chance of victory speed up the inevitable. But hundreds of Liberals got dumped today, and that always hurts.

How They Stand

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 11 Comments

It’s been hard to get any kind of quantitative read on how the candidates stack up in the Ontario Liberal Party leadership race to date. Gerard Kennedy may be leading the polls among Ontarians, Sandra Pupatello may be winning the endorsement race, and Kathleen Wynne may have raised more money dough than anyone else, but none of those numbers give us anything more than a hint of how rank and file Liberals will vote at the delegate selection meetings this weekend.

What may provide more insight into how much support the contenders actually have are the number of Liberals running to be delegates for each candidate. Those numbers were leaked to the Toronto Star Monday night, and they make a lot of intuitive sense:

Wynne 1533
Pupatello 1281
Kennedy 846
Sousa 778
Hoskins 714
Murray 461
Takhar 456

This leadership race is following the same format as the 2006 federal race (albeit under a much, much shorter timeline), and it should be noted that the number of people running as delegates was the variable most strongly correlated to first ballot support in that contest (r = 0.96 for you math nerds) – even more so than polls among party members. It’s not an exact measurement – in ’06 Bob Rae did far better than his “Form 6″ totals suggested he would – but it certainly gives us an idea of how the contest is shapping up.

And that shape confirms what most have suspected for a while – Wynne and Pupatello are out in front, but neither of them are likely to crack 30% on the first ballot, leaving those in the pack well positioned for a Dion-esque or McGuinty-esque convention charge. The only real surprise from Monday is Eric Hoskins, who has gone from the presumed 7th place finisher to a legitimate challenger – if his support translates into delegates this weekend.

But the picture is still fuzzy and will likely stay fuzzy until after the delegate selection meetings, at which point we’ll have a much better idea of how creative the math needs to get for each candidate to chart their path to victory.

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