Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


My father is a political scientist, specializing in U.S. politics, at a major U.S. university. As you might imagine, between the postmortem for the Canadian election and the rapidly approaching U.S. one, we had a lot to talk about this weekend.

Apart from a certain riding-level race I've already talked about way too much in this blog, the main focus of our discussion about the Canadian election was how little things had changed. This is a sharp contrast with the U.S election, where things are likely to change a great deal in just a little over a week, both in the White House and in Congress.

He was gloating over this just a bit. For a while, I played along. Then I struck.

IP: Wow. So the Democrats are going to have a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and a Democrat in the White House.

IP's Dad: That's what it looks like.

IP: That's amazing. I mean, that will actually make your government...almost as far left as our Conservative minority!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A belated comment on Jason Cherniak's final goodbye

When über-Liberal blogger Jason Cherniak decided to hang up his blogging hat after the last election, there was no shortage of reaction from the blogosphere, left, right, and centre. But the one thing that struck me most about his swan song wasn't mentioned by anyone:

This is my last post on politics. After almost four years of blogging, I have decided that I have had enough. When I started, I was about to start articling at a major Toronto law firm and I was moving up in the Liberal Party. I've continued to move up in the party, but I also know that too many people see me as a blogger first.
"Move up in the Liberal Party." As if the Liberal Party existed not to be an organization of people with common political preferences who are dedicated to making Canada a better place, but as a vehicle for personal career advancement. In which success is defined not by how well the group manages to realize its goals for the country, but by how quickly you can claw your way into important, powerful partisan positions.

I'm really surprised no one's commented on this. Does that sort of thinking really make no one else wrinkle their nose and emit an involuntary: "Eew."?

(Are there New Democrats who think like this? There must be.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Compromising democracy isn't the answer

Late in this last election, after it had become overwhelmingly clear to everyone in Edmonton-Strathcona that this riding was a two-horse race between the incumbent Conservative and recently elected New Democrat Linda Duncan, a guy stood up at one of the all-candidates' forums and asked the Liberal candidate to step down. Linda's response was that she would never ask anyone to do that. I've never been prouder of her than in that moment.

"For the good of democracy," the guy said. I know he meant well, but that's just crazy. When are we going to put a lie to the notion that it would be more democratic to deprive voters of some of their democratic choices so as to rig the election in one candidate's favour? Think about that one for more than two seconds and you'll realize how ridiculous it sounds.

Linda Duncan and her team won in Edmonton-Strathcona through our sheer determination to convince people of two things: one, that she really, truly could win this time, and two, that people who would normally prefer a different party didn't have to "hold their noses" to vote for her because she was by far the best candidate anyway. Was it harder than it would have been if there hadn't been a Liberal candidate running? You bet. But elections are about convincing people to place their X next to your name, not about taking the easy way out. If we hadn't been able to do that, we wouldn't have deserved to win. It's that simple.

There are few people who understand the frustration of living in a vote-splitting riding better than an Edmonton-Strathcona New Democrat. But as one who's been there, I also know that there are only two truly democratic solutions to this very real problem:

1) Fight the good fight until you win, and
2) Join the electoral reform movement and fight for proportional representation.

Looking for shortcuts isn't the answer. It can never be the answer. Because when we compromise what little democracy we do have under first-past-the-post, we're selling our souls. And more often than not, we're selling them in exchange for a loss.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Edmonton-Strathcona addendum

I could tell you all stories about this election that would make your hair stand on end. But because today is a day for celebrating here in Edmonton-Strathcona, not for kicking our opponents when they're down, I'll just leave it at this:

I've spent a lot of time in this blog complaining about Liberal entitlement, and particularly about Ontario Liberal entitlement. But if there's one thing I learned over the course of this campaign, it's that the smug Ontario Liberal entitlement doesn't hold a candle to the meanness and pettiness of Alberta Tory entitlement. And now that I've seen just how much worse it can get, I don't think I'll ever be able to complain about Ontario Liberals again.

(And to all the Edmonton-Strathcona Tories who feel like making sore-loserish comments, do feel free--I don't censor. But keep in mind that you'll only be proving my point.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Live from the Edmonton-Strathcona Linda Duncan victory party!

Just look, people. Just look:

I have in my lap an Edmonton-Strathcona Federal Election Planning Committee meeting agenda dated May 2nd, 2005. The first item on the agenda is "Candidate Search," and there's just one name under it: Linda Duncan. There are notes scribbled across the bottom in my horrible handwriting that say things like "get Linda's final edits tonight" and "$100 for website hosting $15/mo.". (Although it's all a bit tear-stained now and even harder to read than it once was.)

May 2005, all this started. And we never stopped. To draw an analogy for the benefit of my fellow Edmontonians who worked their asses off on the famous Don Iveson campaign and managed to get an unlikely but oh-so-deserving young man elected to city council: it was a lot like that for us, too. Except stretched over a lot more years, with a much bigger prize, and against even greater odds.

I am as proud of my work on that campaign as I am of anything else I've ever done, and there are literally dozens of other people who have every right to be just as proud. It was a hell of a team, and Linda Duncan is going to make one hell of an MP.


The internet campaigner/webmaster (Idealistic Pragmatist), the campaign manager (Erica Bullwinkle), and the NEW MP FOR EDMONTON-STRATHCONA (Linda Duncan)

DemocraticSPACE blogging, reprise

It's Election Day here in Edmonton-Strathcona, and just in time, democraticSPACE is back from the dead!

To celebrate, here's a reprise of some of the stuff I've written over there over the course of this campaign (in reverse chronological order):

October 13th: Not daring to make a prediction on Edmonton-Strathcona

October 9th: Winners and losers in Edmonton-Strathcona

October 3rd: DemocraticSPACE now projecting Edmonton-Strathcona for NDP

September 29th: Edmonton-Strathcona is on the democraticSPACE strategic voting guide

September 28th: Refuting the Canadian Press story on Edmonton-Strathcona

September 27th: Edmonton-Strathcona: the Greens

September 24th: Edmonton-Strathcona: the Liberals

September 20th: Edmonton-Strathcona: the New Democrats

September 17th: Edmonton-Strathcona: the Conservatives

September 14th: Edmonton-Strathcona: a snapshot

Monday, October 13, 2008

Not daring to make a prediction in Edmonton-Strathcona

Over at democraticSPACE.

Update: democraticSPACE seems to be down, and unfortunately I don't have a copy of the post, but here's a copy of the chart that was in it, anyway:

And here's the short version of the post: In the final analysis, the Tories have been projected as one point above the NDP in Edmonton-Strathcona. DemocraticSPACE's projections model doesn't take any possible strategic voting into account, though, which is the wild card in this election, making it much more difficult to make an accurate prediction. I can foresee any outcome from a much more marginal win for Jaffer than usual to a comfortable win for Duncan, but more likely is one of the more nail-biter scenarios in between.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

I think this is my dream poll

From the Globe and Mail.

CP: 32%
LP: 25%
NDP: 21%
GP: 12%
BQ: 8%

The Conservatives down, the Liberals mired in the mid-twenties but not tanking, the NDP and the Greens both at record highs. If only it were election day.

Friday, October 03, 2008

DemocraticSPACE now projecting Edmonton-Strathcona for NDP

Over here.

Where's your platform? Under your sweater?

My gut reaction last night was as follows:

  • May and Layton were both terrific, although each of them lost me for brief stretches
  • Dion was better than everybody said he'd be, but still nothing special
  • Duceppe was alternately great and kind of boring, and
  • Harper looked really pretty bad most of the time, and certainly not the way he wanted to come across at all.
The thing is, for once I had absolutely no read on whether all this was just how I and others like me had reacted--people with both my policy preferences and my rhetorical style preferences, that is--or whether people with different biases might feel the same. But then I read this. And I figured if my own impressions had that much in common with those of the most conservative Canadian blogger I read, there must be something to them.

The final word on the format: keep it. It's not perfect, but with so many people in the debate, nothing's going to be, and this was the first Canadian debate I've seen that actually looked like they were talking to each other. (Remember 2004? With the "let's pair people off and make them each debate each other completely randomly for thirty seconds before switching them up?" Yeah, ugh.)