Tag Archives: canada

Is Canada heading for a coalition?

‘Lawn signs’ are being banged into front gardens across Canada with the 2019 Federal Election taking place on Monday (21st). With the polls close between the incumbent Liberals and the opposition Conservatives, and with neither looking likely to pull away, ‘The Hill’ could be a hung parliament. This would be truly historic as Canada has never previously had a formal coalition in Ottawa.

In recent weeks, the Liberals have pulled themselves level with the Conservatives after falling far behind the Tories in February. The polls suggest that the Liberals could win more seats than the Conservatives, but not enough to win an outright majority.

The role of the smaller parties will come to light here. The left-leaning New Democrats (NDP) are very much the third party but are closely followed by the regionalists in Quebec – the Bloc Quebecois. The Greens, who look set to pick up seats in the Liberal heartlands of the East, could also keep Trudeau in power. All of these parties have more in common with the Liberals than the Conservatives. If there is a hung parliament in Canada, it is more likely that Trudeau will remain at Sussex Drive, than Andrew Scheer.

Under Jagmeet Singh, the NDP have struggled to hit the heights of 2011, where under charismatic former leader Jack Layton, they pushed the Liberals into 3rd place. Singh won the Burnaby South by-election in February this year with an increased majority and will look to win similar ridings across British Columbia to advance from their 44 seats at the 2015 Federal Election. There is a lot of common ground between the NDP and the Liberals, and by winning in a similar number of seats (which is possible), they could help the Liberals over the line in October. With the election looking more and more like a two-horse race, it is entirely possible that the NDP will be squeezed even harder than in 2015. The election campaign hasn’t been easy for Singh, as several of his candidates have defected to the Green Party, believing they have a stronger chance of winning under the Green banner. Singh has said publicly that he could work with the Liberals in a coalition post-election.

The Green Party, under highly credible Elizabeth May, look set to gain seats in ‘Atlantic Canada’. They currently only hold 2 seats (out of 338), but in an election that is neck-and-neck, they could be kingmakers in Canada post-October 21st. Since 2015, the Greens have been on the march in regional elections, including in the April 2019 election in the province of Prince Edward Island, where the Greens beat the Liberals into third place. Like the NDP, there is common ground between the Liberals and Greens, and could work together in a coalition. One area of real opposition though, is the Trans-Mountain Pipeline, which the Liberals have ‘green lit’ for a new phase of construction. If scrapped, there are no hard barriers to a Liberal-Green deal.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

Plymouth Rock

Take a moment to be thankful.

For your job, your friends, that you have food to eat and a place to sleep, for the air we breathe and the freedom we have. Be thankful.

The North American holiday of Thanksgiving was born of tragedy. The Mayflower, filled with settlers from England, docked in Plymouth, Massachusetts in December 1620. Of the 102 passengers and around 30 crew on board, only five women of eighteen survived the winter, and around half the men and crew.

The following spring, the Wampanoag, a …

Posted in LDVUSA and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

The underground road to precious freedom for black slaves

This is the sixth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I had low expectations for Detroit. You hear stories about bankruptcy and violence. In fact, I found Detroit to be a wonderful city. It is beautifully spaced out. Rather than having all its prominent buildings in the centre of the city, they are spread out across the urban area. The heritage of the wealth of the automative industry has bestowed some wonderful buildings to Detroit.

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What the Liberal Democrats could learn from Obama, Sanders and Trudeau

Justin Trudeau by Canadian Pacific CCL FlickrAs a young American woman who has interned in the Canadian Parliament, volunteered for American campaigns and is now working in the British Parliament, it has been interesting following the 2015 British Parliamentary elections through a variety of lenses. The recent change of government in Canada and the ongoing presidential election in the United States seem worth unpacking, in order to delve into possible lessons which could be learned by Liberal Democrats from these other spaces.

I propose that there are lessons worth learning from two American Democrats, President Obama and Bernie Sanders, as well as Canada’s new Prime Minister Trudeau. For the former, the reasons may be self-evident. President Obama rose from a relatively unknown position into an incredibly influential presidency. For Bernie Sanders, it is worth understanding how another political outsider has once again come to challenge Hillary Clinton in her bid for the presidency. Though he will likely lose the primary, Mr. Sanders has been a formidable opponent from a stance that rarely would be noticed in the United States. With regards to the Canadian elections, I would like to explore the ways in which a party can move from a third-party position into a powerful government in the way the Liberals have done under Trudeau.

There are three characteristics which President Obama and Bernie Sanders have shared in their campaigns: they excel in grassroots organising, they offer clear messages of hope, and their platforms are cohesive. The first point, grassroots organising, is something which Liberal Democrats would benefit from greatly. Bringing staunch supporters out to volunteer in elections is a powerful force to reckon with, especially in university areas. In my home state, Ohio, both Obama and Sanders effectively coordinated university students to participate in the electoral process as vocal volunteers. From what I have seen, it seems that the Liberal Democrats could recruit a significant amount of volunteers from universities for the 2020 elections. This is a lesson sorely learned by the Liberal Democrats in the aftermath of the 2010 elections.  Understanding the implications of reversing stances on university tuition prices is a hard lesson, but it does offer a high incentive for maintaining consistency in the future.

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A morning at the White House

A frisson of expectation sweeps the crowd as the tannoy crackles to life and the announcer declares “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States.” The honour guard comes to attention, the band strikes up Hail to the Chief and the most powerful leader in the world emerges. And when moments later, a black SUV sweeps round the drive and stops in front of the White House to deposit Justin Trudeau, the new Canadian Prime Minister… well, perhaps only a visit from the Queen herself would top Washington DC’s current level of excitement.

This was the scene on the South Lawn of the White House as President Barack Obama welcomed his Canadian counterpart to the capital of the United States yesterday. Clutching my ticket, I had joined the great and good of Washington in a line that stretched halfway round the block, excited to be part of the occasion. Three ID and security checks later and I was in.

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LDVideo: The first day in office of a Liberal Prime Minister

This is not the stuff of far flung fantasy. This actually happened, this week, in Canada, to a Liberal Party that’s fought its way back from devastating election defeats.

Here are two things that you should watch and take heart from.

First of all, a 24 minute behind the scenes video filmed by CBC of Justin Trudeau’s first day in office. In parts it has the feel of an episode of The West Wing, but our absolute favourite moment is when he puts down the reporter for being disparaging about the Cabinet travelling on a bus, reminding him that this is how many Canadians get to work. Enjoy.

Secondly, his great response when asked why he’d produced a gender balanced Cabinet. “Because it’s 2015.” By half way through the second decade of the 21st century, you would expect equality and it’s great that he (and Nicola Sturgeon) have set such good examples while remembering that Nick Clegg couldn’t even put one woman in the UK Cabinet when he had the chance.

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+++Liberals sweep to power

The Liberal Party has swept to power, winning 184 seats out of 338, an overall majority of 30. The election platform included such policies as

  • Cutting income taxes for the middle-classes while increasing them for the wealthy
  • Running deficits for three years to pay for infrastructure spending
  • Doing more to address environmental concerns over the controversial Keystone oil pipeline
  • Taking more Syrian refugees; pulling out of bombing raids against Islamic State while bolstering training for Iraqi forces
  • Legalising marijuana
Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 54 Comments

A powerful message from Canada’s Liberal leader in response to Wednesday’s shootings

Canada flag License Some rights reserved by archer10 (Dennis)What would you want a liberal to say in the wake of shocking and violent events in your country? It must be something pretty close to Justin Trudeau’s words, full of dignity, wisdom and empathy.

Watch the video and see the excerpt below:

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The Independent View: Pierre Trudeau and the Just Society – lessons for Canadian liberals today

Canada flag License Some rights reserved by archer10 (Dennis)The general election expected to be held in Canada next year will be a decisive one for the Lib Dem’s Canadian counterpart, the Liberal Party of Canada, as it faces the prospect of returning to office after more than eight years in the political wilderness.

With a recent poll showing the governing Conservatives trailing behind the Liberals, the party’s leader Justin Trudeau stands a good chance of becoming the first Canadian Liberal prime minister since 2006.

However, if Justin Trudeau …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Opinion: Ontario Liberals show real Grit, win a fourth term and make history with the first elected LGBT Head of Government in the Commonwealth!

Ontario Premier Kathleen WynneCongratulations to our cousins in the Ontario Liberal Party in Canada who, overnight, have won a remarkable fourth term of provincial government and, at the same time, have made history with leader Kathleen Wynne becoming the first elected LGBT Head of Government in the Commonwealth!

Going into the election, the Liberals had been in a period of minority government and Wynne had taken over-a year ago from the by-then unpopular Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The party has been in Government in Ontario since 2003 and some pundits had predicted that the opposition Progressive Conservatives (I know, what an oxymoron, right?) would return to Government for the first time in over a decade…but Wynne and her team had other ideas!

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 21 Comments

Liberal Party of Canada elects Justin Trudeau as leader

Canada’s Liberal Party has had its troubles in recent years. Two years ago they suffered the worst election result in their history, returning only 34 MPs and falling to an unprecedented third place behind the Conservative and New Democratic parties.

The Guardian reports that Justin Trudeau was elected the party’s leader with a massive majority. He attained 80% of the vote, a good start for somebody who needs to unify the party after years of infighting. His acceptance speech attempted to put those divisions behind the party:

I don’t care if you thought my father was great or arrogant,” Trudeau said.

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Government meets student tuition fee protests with ‘the rule of the truncheon’

Student protests against tuition fee increases have been going on for weeks. In response, the government has introduced emergency legislation, legally curtailing demonstrations, hiking penalties and suspending classes at 25 colleges.

Close to home?

Actually, Quebec.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

What not to say about a hung Parliament

The initial promise of Canadian Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s campaign is fading badly as polling day approaches on Canada and one of the main reasons is one very familiar to British politics. It’s the failure to have a good answer to the question, “What would you do in a hung Parliament?”

As Adam Radwanski puts it The Globe and Mail when looking at how Ignatieff and Conservative Premier Stephen Harper are faring:

If the two men were being graded by civics teachers, Mr. Ignatieff would indeed be winning. His explanation of how another Conservative minority would work – the need

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One Canadian online political campaigning rule unlikely to make it to the UK

Canada’s CBC News reports:

A politician running to lead the B.C. New Democrats says he is refusing to comply with a requirement of leadership hopefuls to hand over the passwords to their social media accounts.

Nicholas Simons, an NDP MLA who’s hoping to run in the leadership race, says he’s left that information off his nomination package.

The party’s intent is to try to ensure there are no skeletons hidden in candidates’ private profiles.

As the report mentions, leaving aside the gauche politics of this, it’s also rather unwise to demand someone hands over passwords when it is a common feature of terms …

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Will Ignatieff’s open campaigning approach work in Canada?

Despite the similarity of the Canadian and British political systems – far, far more similar than the US and British ones – it’s American rather than Canadian politics that usually gets talked about for political lessons for Britain. Hence in the run up to the general election TV debates there was plenty of talk of the US debates (Presidential system) rather than the Canadian ones (Parliamentary system).

The Canadian approach to cutting a large government deficit was briefly all the talk of London think tank circles last summer. That fashion for of Canada quickly moved on, even though the comparisons

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Turning Canadian

Overseas places come and go as the fashionable one to talk about in Westminster political circles. After 1992 it was Japan, with the fourth Conservative general election victory in a row spawning comparisons with Japan and the long period of Liberal Democrat rule there. In the run up to 2005 it was the Australian state of Queensland, where an incumbent state government had seemed set for re-election but suffered a shock defeat, put down largely to complacency amongst its supporters. And of course, as a third example, when in doubt there’s always the 1960 US Presidential election, Barack Obama or …

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Daily View 2×2: Jenga special

It’s Sunday. It’s 9am. It’s time for jenga, but first the news.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

  • A failure of scrutiny on digital bill: Peter Black blogs about the letter signed by, amongst others, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidates Bridget Fox and Julian Huppert. Danger of Parliament rushing through legislation without proper debate? Who would have thought it.
  • Elementary errors: Giles Wilkes on the important difference between a stock and a flow. More interesting and useful than I’ve made it sound.

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

BA fights to limit the impact of cabin crew strike

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Thinking the unthinkable

Imagine the following scenario.

Labour (or the Conservatives) lose the general election.

Gordon Brown (or David Cameron) resigns as party leader.

With much of the rest of their frontbench team also discredited, the party elects a non-MP – the (ex) Mayor of London – as its leader.

A sitting MP then resigns so the new party leader can stand in a by-election for Parliament.

With me so far?

Now imagine that in the by-election the other main parties do not put up candidates but rather give the new party leader a free pass into Parliament.

Pretty unthinkable, isn’t it?

Yet curiously that’s just what political tradition in Canada …

Posted in Parliament | 3 Comments

Why Gordon Brown will start the TV election debates with an advantage over David Cameron

The political impact of TV debates in other Parliamentary democracies (and yes, yawn yawn, obligatory American reference, in the US too) has often been more about expectations than about absolute performance. Beat expectations and you benefit from the debate, even if that means people viewed you as the narrow loser. But if you were expected to be a big loser and then beat expectations and only just lose, you benefit.

Also the impact of debates has often been to reinforce people’s existing predilections rather than switch people between different parties or candidates. That has, for example, been a common feature in Canada, where TV debates have been held off and on since 1968. (Yawn yawn, US example, 1988 second Dukakis-Bush debate and others.)

In other words, you’re best placed to come out well from a debate if your party is the one most in need of motivating its supporters and if the expectations about your performance are low. Step forward then, Gordon Brown.

As for Nick Clegg?

Both of Brown’s advantages are advantages over David Cameron – and only over David Cameron. Liberal Democrat share of the vote is fairly static overall as turnout changes: from purely partisan motives, the level of turnout does not really matter, though of course from the perspective of health democracy higher turnout is much to be preferred. The expectations one is trickier, but the expectations amongst many in the media that Nick Clegg will benefit hugely from being in the debates is based on simply him being there, so he won’t go in to them with the pressure of extremely high personal performance being expected by the media.

Moreover, for Nick Clegg there is that third factor: TV debates can raise the profile of leaders beyond the main two parties.

For Nick and the Liberal Democrats this is likely to be a major boost, because consistently the party does best when it is in the news (even if, during the post-Kennedy leadership contest several MPs did their level best to disprove that). As simple a move as asking people about their views of party leaders before asking them which party they’ll vote for raises the third party’s vote in opinion polls. That’s why for many years Gallup gave the party higher ratings that other pollsters.

Compared to that, appearing in a trio of TV debates alongside Brown and Cameron will be a massive boost for Nick Clegg and the party.

Whilst we wait to find out what the televised general election debates will bring, enjoy this moment from the 1988 Canadian debates. The 1988 election was a re-run contest between Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives, who had won a landslide in 1984, and the Liberals under John Turner, still leader despite leading his party crashing out of power in 1984. John Turner is the silver haired one:

Posted in General Election and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments

Massive $6bn lawsuit for repeated breaches of music copyright

Defendants in Canada are facing an eye-watering $6 billion payout in a court case over repeated breaches of music copyright over several years. Claims for unpaid royalties total $50 million, but on top of that the defendants face having to pay $20,000 for each copyrighted song which has been used without payment. Records show that the total number of such songs is more than 300,000.

Although the songs involved have easily identified copyright owners who would happily accept payment and who are paid by other law abiding users of their music, no such payments have been made in the case of …

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