Political Perspectives is produced by the students and faculty of Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communication, Canada's oldest journalism school.

SEP 2008

Well, I think it’s interesting

Posted by padams under Election 2008, Election 2008 Campaign strategy, Election 2008 Media commentary

Paul Adams

I know, I know: you think that there are all these polls around, even three published daily now, and nothing has changed: after three weeks, the Tories are still in front but don’t know whether they’ll get a majority; the Liberals are still far behind; the NDP is doing well, but not well enough to displace the Liberals; and we don’t know yet what will really happen with the Greens.

OK, all this is true. (Though, I would remind you: how would you know any of this without the polls?)

But for those of us following the numbers day-to-day, there have been some fascinating dynamics in this campaign so far, and some amazing possibilities ahead.

Below, I’ve put a seat projection based on EKOS latest daily tracking numbers (conflict alert), which I share with all the usual caveats about seat projections. To me, it suggests some fascinating possibilities. (Don’t get vertigo reading this table, which I had trouble dropping in — hey! only been blogging 3 weeks.)


                     Liberal   C.P.C.   NDP     Bloc    Green   Other   Total 
CANADA             66      148       38       55         0          1       308 
Atlantic               7         21         4        0         0          0         32 
Quebec              10          7         2      55         0          1         75 
Ontario              40        46        20        0         0          0       106 
Man.                   2          9         3         0         0          0         14 
Sask                   1         13         0         0         0          0         14 
Alta.                   1         27         0         0         0          0         28 
B.C.                    4         24         8         0         0          0         36 
Yk/Terr                1           1         1         0         0          0          3 
                          66      148       38       55         0          1       308

First of all, it suggests that the rumours of the Bloc’s demise were highly exaggerated. The culture debate has helped the Bloc in recent days, but they have actually been on the rise for a couple of weeks now. The Tories’ hopes of a breakthrough much beyond what they accomplished in the last election are disappearing before their eyes. And look at the NDP in Quebec — can they maybe, just maybe, increase their foothold in the province?

And here’s a thought: Gilles Duceppe, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Lucien Bouchard held that title for a while too, after the ’93 election. If the Liberals lost 12 more seats, on this projection, Duceppe would get the job — even if the NDP picked up every single one of the lost Liberal ridings. Not that I’m saying that’s going to happen. It couldn’t, could it?

As a matter of fact, the race for Leader of the Opposition is looking awfully close at the moment: Duceppe, Dion and Layton could all imagine getting the job under plausible scenarios for the second half of the campaign.

Now, look at Ontario. This may be Dion’s best hope of hanging on to his current job (at least until his own party gives him the heave-ho.) The Liberals have crept back into the race in Ontario. Just ten days ago, using this same model, the Tories would have had 58 seats in Ontario, to 31 for the Liberals and 17 for the NDP. Now it’s 46 Tories, 40 Libs and 20 NDP. 

There remains a lot at stake in this election. There is a big difference between a minority government and a majority — especially when on many significant social and economic issues there is arguably a consensus of 60% or more among supporters of the other parties in opposition to the Tories’ position.

I also believe that the survival of the Liberal Party may be at stake in this election — certainly, if it does not retain at least second-party status. And tied to that, of course, is the potential future of the NDP, which could replace it as the alternative to the governing party.  

And what about the Greens? At the moment, they have captured the support of more than a tenth of the public, yet could quite possibly end up without a seat. The party represents a strong current with regard to the environment, and a strong current of frustration with the youngest cohort of Canadian voters. What does it mean to our democracy if the Greens breakthrough? What does it mean if they don’t?

Personally, I agree completely that the media is overly concerned with the polls — not so much in reporting them, because they provide information useful to voters in making up their own minds — but in allowing them to frame their coverage of the election, muting some legitimate voices, while amplifying others, obsessing on strategy and neglecting the issues of jobs, the economy, the health care system, Afghanistan and the environment that voters care about — or might if the media helped them to understand them better.

But at the end of the day, an election is an exercise is statistics and the numbers will determine in considerable degree what kind of country we end up living in.

Paul Adams is a former political reporter with the CBC and the Globe and Mail, and is now a member of Carleton’s journalism faculty, and executive director of EKOS Research Associates.


Capturing the very young vote

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Michelle Ervin

Jen Hunter is enlisting the help of children to create sidewalk art that identifies businesses that are doing positive things in the community, says her campaign manager, James Taylor.  

The Green candidate for Ottawa Centre plans to run a non-traditional campaign, Taylor said yesterday after a policy discussion at Hunter’s campaign office. Instead of simply talking about change, he said, Hunter wants to embody the change that she envisions.

Read more…


Liberals get rough ride in Calgary

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Emily Senger

The 13 Liberal candidates from Southern Alberta did their best to prove superstition wrong Monday evening as Stéphane Dion made his first campaign stop in Alberta.

More than 300 people gathered at a northeast Calgary hotel where Dion hosted a 45-minute question and answer session in an attempt to sell his platform, which he had released earlier that morning at a press conference in Ottawa.

Read more…


Greens seek student edge

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Jake Williams

Jen Hunter, Green Party candidate for Ottawa Centre, said she is confident going into next month’s federal election.

“This is a riding that can and will elect a Green Party member to Parliament,” said Hunter. Read more…


Green shift doubts in Ottawa South

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Kristen Cucan

With only 20 days to go until Canadians head to the polls, the four candidates running in Ottawa South squared off yesterday morning in the riding’s first all-candidates debate on issues that included health care, immigration, the environment and youth crime. 

Read more…

SEP 2008

Cultural polarization

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Campaign strategy, Election 2008 Faculty links

Andrew Cohen

So Stephen Harper is now training his artillery on artists, actors, writers and poets. He sees votes in beating up the country’s cultural elite.

“I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a bunch of people, you know, at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers, claiming their subsidies are not high enough … I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people,” he said on Tuesday this week.

A rich gala. Subsidies. Ordinary people. Here is a populist’s lament. Mr. Harper didn’t use the word “elite”. He didn’t have to.

He wants the people to know that he doesn’t like this pretentious crowd, which is why you won’t find him at those fancy fundraisers at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. He sends his wife instead.

Here’s the spirit of George Wallace, the scrappy, segregationist governor of Alabama, who gleefully painted his enemies as “pointy-headed intellectuals.” When Mr. Wallace poured out his invective, you could see the dirt under his fingernails and the sweat on his brow.

Mr. Harper is no George Wallace, but his broadside shouldn’t surprise anyone in a targeted campaign pitched to specific voters. The point is to create differences between us (the people) and them (the snobs), playing off one against each other, appealing to that deep well of resentment in the land of the Tall Poppy.

This is a strategy. It is the same reason that Mr. Harper proposes cracking down on juvenile crime, even as criminologists tell him crime isn’t rising and his punishments won’t work. No matter; tough talk sells among rock-hard conservatives.

Ironically, the Prime Minister has spent the campaign trying to show his soft side – wearing a sweater, kissing babies, playing the piano. Now he’s showing off his folksiness. Soon Mr. Harper, who has an MA in economics, will start droppin’ his “g’s.”

But culture matters. While Mr. Harper’s $45-million in cuts to the arts may have little “resonance” in English-speaking Canada, they are an issue in Quebec, where both Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton are exploiting the issue. Mr. Dion even announced his promise to increase spending on the arts last weekend in Place des Arts in Montreal.

Mr. Harper knows this, which is why he isn’t pushing the anti-cultural line in Quebec, where he sees his majority. When he was asked to repeat his “gala” comment in French, he shrewdly refused.

 (This column originally appeared in the Metro newspapers.)

Andrew Cohen is a member of the faculty of the School of Journalism and COmmunication at Carleton University and most recently the author of Extraordinary Canadians: Lester B. Pearson.


Picking digital locks

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Kate Scroggins


When Industry Minister Jim Prentice announced a series of reforms to the outdated Copyright Act before Parliament broke for the summer, he set the blogosphere on fire – pitting digital consumers against the creators of the content. 

Online griping and grumbling quickly turned to offline activism, as critics flooded Industry Canada with letters and protested outside Prentice’s office in Calgary.

Read more…


No talk about student issues

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Dan Robson

In Canada, Donnie Northrup is well below average.

Currently completing a bachelor of science degree at Carleton University, the 20-year-old plans to pursue a graduate degree in educational studies before eventually moving on to law school. 

But Northrup, a dean’s list student, is $12,000 in debt—which puts him well below the national average of $25,000.

Read more…


Their favourite outing

Posted by cwaddell under Election 2008, Election 2008 Student articles

Monique Muise

Forget the early-bird special and bingo night. When it comes to popular activities among seniors in Canada, nothing beats a trip to the ballot box. 

In a survey conducted last year by Statistics Canada, seventy-seven per cent of Canadians aged 65 to 74 said they had voted in the last federal, provincial and municipal elections, according to a Statistics Canada survey.

Read more…

SEP 2008

Culture en péril?

Posted by jsallot under Election 2008, Election 2008 Media commentary


New media in the form of a hilarious YouTube video could make life difficult for Conservatives in Quebec.

The video, titled Culture en péril, has gone viral with more than a half-million viewers in the last five days.

It depicts Quebec singer-songwriter Michel Rivard appealing before a board of clueless federal bureaucrats for a small cultural grant for a folk festival.

The board consists of a bunch of Anglophones who clearly do not understand what Rivard is talking about. They become alarmed when they think he’s using the old anglo-saxon F-word when in fact he is using the French word phoque. It gets even funnier after that.

The bureaucrats are seated in front of a Big Brotherish portrait of Stephen Harper. The back drop to the portrait is an American flag.

The message is clear. You can’t count on Tories to protect Quebec culture.

But I wonder if the fact that the French-language video has been viewed so often in such a short span might undercut the claim that Quebec culture is in peril?

You can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrATQeLLKX0

Jeff Sallot teaches journalism at Carleton University. He is a former Ottawa bureau chief for The Globe and Mail and has covered nine federal election campaigns.