Possibly the dumbest things Doug Ford ever did

Rob-Ford Now coverWhen I first saw this article in the Toronto Star, I thought maybe it was a spoof, or somebodies wishful thinking. Apparently Doug Ford has lost the DVD’s that contained ALL their contact databases from the 2010 Mayoralty election.  Mitch Wexler had been hired to manage the data, and to do some supporter profiling to help with their efforts to identify Ford supporters. According to the Star, after the election, he handed Doug Ford all the electoral data on two DVD’s.

“I made two DVDs with all of the data from the campaign — entire voters’ list with contact info, supporters, non-supporters, signs, volunteers, all voter contact records, etc. — and gave them both to Doug Ford,” said Conservative data expert Mitch Wexler.”

That is not how Doug Ford sees it. Again, quoting the Star: “Councillor Doug Ford claims the mayor’s former campaign manager, Nick Kouvalis, is refusing to turn over valuable 2010 voter database information.”

Oh My God! Is that not the DUMBEST thing you have ever heard of in Canadian politics? Firstly, the Ford Nation database is an awesome collection of detailed data. It was an impressive database before the 2010 election, but all those thousands of volunteers were busily adding more and richer detail on the Toronto electorate for a whole year in 2010. Nick Kouvalis obviously has access to all that juicy data, and he has joined the John Tory team.

There is a little known fact that comes to bear on this situation. Most Canadians think that personal information about them is protected. You would think that someone with access to a political database like this would not be legally able to just use it, or hand it over to some third party. Well, in all of Canada, (except BC), the privacy act(s) specifically exempt users of data from the provisions of the privacy act, if the data is being used for’ POLITICAL PURPOSES’. I would argue that Nick Kouvalis handing all the Fords data over to team Tory is a political use of data. Even if it isn’t totally legal, good luck proving it happened Douggie. Even if you can prove it, the damage is done.

And what’s with LOSING the freaking disks? Hello Douggie? Is there anybody in there? I have an image of the DVD’s being used as coasters on the coffee table up at the cottage. This electoral data is the most important political asset he owns. Now what are you gonna do Doug? John Tory probably knows every supporter you ever had prior to October 2010. You may (or may not) still have all those paper records from Robs 10 years as a councillor, but what about all the data from the election? What about that supporter profiling? Team Tory is gonna tear through YOUR supporters lists, and tear the heart out of your campaign before you even get started. Maybe you could sue somebody, ROFL.

And to cap it all, Doug Ford goes PUBLIC with his accusations against Kouvalis. ‘Hey World! Look at what an idiot I am!’ Yesterday I believed that Rob Ford was in a good position to win this election. Today, I doubt he has a snowballs chance. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

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Trudeau’s Liberals going for the Conservatives throat.

I am not a big fan of the accepted wisdom that politics happens on a left/right continuum. That creaking old paradigm does not mean much to most of the electorate. Perhaps I should be a bit more nuanced with that observation? While there are many Canadians who view themselves as ‘left’ or ‘right’ wing, there are far more Canadians who will give their electoral support based on the issue or issues that affect them personally, irrespective of ‘left’ or ‘right’ bias. According to the accepted wisdom, the Conservative Party is the party of the Right. Their base is therefore an ideologically motivated monolith, that can be counted on to vote CPC. On the ‘left’ flank of the Liberals sit the NDP. Again, the accepted wisdom is that the NDP’s  ideologically motivated ‘base’ can be relied on to vote NDP. In the ‘centre’ sit the Liberals, who alternate between left and right in a morally bankrupt dance to win power at any cost. Well I am sorry, but when your definition of what motivates people captures no more than a third of the electorate, it is time to dump it.

And dumping the paradigm seems to be what is on Trudeau’s mind nowadays. In the early days of the Liberal leadership race last year, Justin Trudeau came out publicly in support of the NEXEN takeover in the Oil patch. Shortly thereafter, Trudeau announced, (on a visit to Alberta no less) that he supported the Keystone Pipeline, but not the Northern Gateway pipeline through the Rockies. The shock value of a Liberal leadership contender reaching out to Albertans and a key CPC constituency was good for a lot of headlines, but it was also revealing inasmuch as it is the first attempt to directly target a true blue Tory constituency since the Reformers co-opted the PC’s. Since then we have seen Trudeau reaching out to libertarians by supporting Marijuana legalisation. While many would assume that legalising marijuana is anathema to all Conservatives, the fact is that there are plenty of Conservatives who will support the policy, irrespective of party lines. If you still doubt that Trudeau is aiming squarely at the Conservatives, he publicly threw down the gauntlet in his speech to the Liberal policy convention yesterday. “Conservative voters are your neighbours, not your enemies, ‘these are good people,’ Trudeau tells convention

In my opinion, this is strategically sound. Past elections have featured the Conservative Party shaping the issues, and defining the Liberals and Dippers in the public eye. The Conservatives have spent untold dollars and volunteer hours building their constituencies one issue at a time. By the time the election rolls around, the Conservatives have had another large slice of the electorate in their back pocket, leaving the Liberals desperately trying to win their supporters back. And whilst the Liberals are scrambling to stand still, the CPC unleash the hounds and pick and choose who, how, and when to attack. Whatever happens over the coming year, the Conservatives are going to have to watch their back. They will surely try to expand their appeal, and further build their constituencies, but they are going to have to balance TWO priorities. Every time they go to a podium, they are going to have to think hard about whether they are trying to win over new supporters, or circle the wagons around one of their existing ‘base’ constituencies.

If Trudeau has made the best strategic decision by targeting the CPC support issue by issue, the tactics leave something to be desired. When the CPC goes after a constituency, they go after it retail. They reach out to community groups, they leverage their paid AND earned media, and they never stop identifying individuals who are committed to supporting them on a specific issue. This is so important because it enables them to target their supporters and communicate with them directly, one on one to lock down their support as soon as the writ is dropped. Voters are invited to sign petitions, to donate, to join CPC friendly community groups, and make themselves known to the CPC by name, address, phone number, and most importantly, by email address. The benefits of this are obvious. They can counter any message that is delivered by broadcast media by narrowcasting their response directly to the constituency ‘in play’. They can do this immediately without spending any money just by clicking ‘send’ on an email blast. What is so disappointing about the Liberals failure to harvest direct contacts amongst the electorate is that it is ridiculously easy to do so. All that is needed is to ASK Canadians to sign a petition, or register as a supporter every time you present an idea publicly. When General Leslie calls for fixing military procurement, all he needs to do is invite Canadians to sign on to support his proposal, and another pile of issue specific supporters are loaded into Liberalist. Whether it is Scott Brison talking about the Conservative Deficit, or  Marc Garneau, communications are ALWAYS an opportunity to solicit actionable contact data from the electorate. Even if it is only a few hundred prospective supporters at a time, there is no reason whatsoever not to be adding hundreds of thousands of new supporters to the database every year.

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Rob Ford is in a good position to win the Mayoralty in October.

Harper-FordIf I were a betting man, I would lay pretty stiff odds in favour of Rob Ford beating his challengers in the 2014 Toronto Mayoral election. The Toronto Sun commissioned a poll by Forum, and today they released selected highlights. Like that Rob Fords approval rating has climbed from 42% on Dec.9, to 47% this week. On the important voting intentions question, Ford would win the vote of 41% or this weeks respondents, up from 33% on Dec.9.

There has been a lot of valid criticism recently of polling methodology, and the spectacular failure of recent polls to predict election outcomes. I agree that the very nature of opinion polling, and the differences between a poll or survey and the real thing, an election, make it nearly impossible to accurately forecast the effects of voter turnouts on election outcomes. His polled supporter numbers are almost enough by themselves, but  the strongest reasons I believe Ford is in a good position are precisely those things that a poll cannot readily measure.

In 2010 the Fords ran a very sophisticated ID-GOTV program right across the City of Toronto. With thousands of hard-working volunteers, they were able to canvas for support, and identify an unprecedented proportion of the electorates voting intentions. On election day, they did not drop the ball. They put their thousands of volunteers to work, and got their voters to the polls in droves. Altogether, the turnout in the 2010 election was up around 53%, as compared to 39% in the prior election. Without getting into all the gory details of the various councillor contests that were influenced by, or were an influence on the Mayoral contest, the Ford team essentially identified about 100,000 people who would not ordinarily vote in a municipal election, and got them to the polls to cast their Mayoral and Council ballots. (For those interested in those gritty details, here is a link to a turnout map by Ward.)

So there it is, my argument in a nutshell. Rob Ford won the 2010 election by motivating a large number of people who do not ordinarily vote in Municipal elections. The Ford campaign managed to identify their voters, and ran an effective GOTV to get them all to the polls on EDay. The Fords have been improving their database, and collecting ever more names and information on their supporters over the intervening 4 years. You know how Rob Ford is laughed at for handing out Fridge magnets on any and all occasions with his phone number? Well every time someone calls that number, they are identified as prospective Ford supporters, and their name goes into the ever-growing election database. I dwell on this point because public opinion polls are telling us that the bulk of these supporters have not wavered in their support for Ford despite some of the most outrageous scandals and controversies I have ever seen in Canadian politics. So that growing database is largely populated by people who are going to vote for Rob Ford if they vote for anyone. In 2010 nobody in Toronto had even remotely close to the amount of solid actionable data that the Fords had. Here we are 4 years later, and that database has been fed by robo-calling, fridge magnets, and all those telephoned and emailed expressions of support each successive scandal has unleashed. When somebody calls Rob Ford instead of the Cities service Toronto number, their personal contact data becomes Ford property. At this point in time, the Fords will have identified most of their supporters, so the re-election campaign can focus all of their resources on retaining their support, converting undecided voters, and suppressing the vote of their opponents.

Just because Rob Ford is in a very strong position, that does not mean he is certain to win. Olivia Chow has managed to establish her position as the most likely candidate to beat Rob Ford come the October vote. She will have the advantage of access to some decent data courtesy of the NDP, and many left leaning and centrist councillors. Her team will need to mine those databases heavily, and build up a new category of voter, Olivia Chow mayoralty supporters. Provided she can win over enough volunteers to avoid having to pay phone banks to ID her vote, then she will have a fighting chance to identify, and get her voters out in sufficient numbers. There is pretty obviously a good opportunity to suppress Rob Fords vote, again provided she has enough volunteers to identify all those Rob Ford supporters, and to reach them with a negative message about their chosen candidate. Lord knows there is plenty of ammunition. There ought to be one or two simple messages that will persuade much of Ford Nation to stay at home on EDay. The problem for the challenger is that (s)he will have to expend considerable resources building up his/her data. So on the one hand, any challenger has to both build their own database of supporters more or less from scratch, and run a parallel Ford vote suppression campaign with limited resources. All Ford has to do is hold onto the supporters that he has already identified, and he will have oodles of cash and volunteer hours dedicated to this one simple task.

So in conclusion, Rob Ford is likely to win the Mayoral election in October 2014. The reason is that most of his work is already done, and his supporters are a rock solid plurality of voters. If he does not win, it will be because an unprecedented number of volunteers step up to the plate for a single opponent, and enable her to run her phone banks full tilt on volunteer hours. Ideas will not matter much. It will boil down to a referendum on Rob Fords mayoralty, and the mechanical process of contacting millions of voters by phone or at their doorstep. That sucks. Politics really should be the realm of policy, and ideas, but welcome to the real world of Canadian electoral politics…

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The Ford brothers are not acceptable as elected officials at any level of government.

Buffoonery is over. Things are DEADLY serious now.

Buffoonery is over. Things are DEADLY serious now.

I have avoided the topic of the Ford brothers for the simple reason that Rob Ford was well-known as a buffoon before he was elected. Toronto voted for a buffoon, and that is what they got. ‘Let this be a lesson to us’ I told myself, chuckled and moved on. The problem is that buffoonery is the least of the troubles the Fords have inflicted on us. The Toronto Star has just published an article that reports on a Police interview with Dave Price, a Ford family friend and staffer, where he states that Anthony Smith recorded the crack video, and was murdered over it. In a separate article from CP, linked to here at National Newswatch, the gangsters who had that video were blackmailing Ford. Fords offer of $5000 and a car was not enough, they were going to meet with him and demand 150, presumably meaning $150,000.

I am bothered by the thought that mostly harmless buffoonery has brought the City of Toronto into international disrepute. I am truly sickened by the thought that Anthony Smith may have been murdered in order to provide somebody in the underworld with excellent blackmail material on Rob Ford. Personally, I am no longer willing or able to overlook the fact (as reported at length by the Globe and Mail), that Doug Ford was a drug wholesaler, with a group of sub dealers and distributors working for him in the Eighties. This is not buffoonery. It is criminality. I find myself wondering about things like giant ferris wheels on the Waterfront, and great big downtown casinos and airport expansions etc championed by the Fords. Were these things actual Ford projects, or was someone whispering in their ears; ‘I have a secret that a Casino construction contract will make go away for awhile’. Every single thing these guys have touched needs to be torn apart, and gone over with a fine toothed comb. If we are to believe allegations at the Charbonneau commission on corruption in Quebec, Ontario Construction industry is not immune to mafia influence. If the Fords have so many connections to criminals, does it not seem likely that the master criminals, the Mafia are not unaware of their past indiscretions? That calls into question every construction project that the Fords had a hand in approving. Forget about construction. Every damned thing they do as official city business becomes suspect, from Taxi and strip club licensing, to leasing vendor spaces, hot dog stands, you name it, it is now suspect.

I think that Rob Ford will probably go away now. I am pretty certain that Doug Ford will not be making his debut at Queens Park either. Murder, extortion, and drug trafficking  just do not go together with public office very well. In short, the Ford bothers are not just buffoons, they are dangerously exposed by their alleged *cough* *cough* links to criminals.

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Time for the Liberals to revive the Supporter membership category.

Liberal Supporter GraphicA little over a year ago, the Liberal Party was in the midst of a bold initiative intended to bring a lot of Canadians into the Liberal Party fold. The Supporter category of membership in the Liberal Party was conceived as an easy way to sign up a really large number of new ‘members’ by eliminating a membership fee, and conferring the right to cast a vote in the Leadership contest. The Leadership contest provided a lot of publicity for both the category, and for the Liberal Party, as well as for the actual Leadership contenders themselves.  The creation of this category implicitly acknowledged that possessing the means to communicate freely with large numbers of people who held an affinity for the Liberal Party was more important than collecting a $10 membership fee from a much smaller group of members. This acknowledgement is important, because it really strikes to the heart of the disparity between the Conservative Party, and the Liberals and Dippers in the fundraising arena. The Conservatives raise more money per donor, from a considerably larger number of donors than the other two party’s combined. So if the Liberals tried something quite innovative, and a genuine departure from past practice, so the obvious question SHOULD be: ‘So how did that work out for you?’

Over the course of the Liberal Party leadership campaign, there were a total of about 294,000 supporters signed up, a large proportion of which provided email addresses. Of those 294,000 additional new contacts, 127,000 went through the registration process and were eligible to vote. Over 100,000 of those registered to vote actually voted, so I would say that the whole exercise was a great success. I think that an influx of several hundred thousands of new names and email addresses is no mean feat, and there are continuing benefits. In the months since Justin Trudeau was elected leader of the Liberals, the Liberal Party has had access to all those new contacts, and the results have been pretty impressive. If you head over to The Pundits Guide financial contributions database, you can see from the quarterly results that not only are the Liberals raising significantly more money than last year, but they are doing it by winning over a lot more donors. In other words, new donors with first time, or smaller ongoing donations are stepping forward by the thousand. In the first quarter of 2013 there were 24,068 donors contributing M$1.70, while in 2012 there were 22,867 donors contributing M$2.33.  Q2 2013 saw M$2.96 from 38,014 donors, vs 2012 M$1.81 from 22,611 donors. Q3 2013 saw M$2,17 from 30,108 donors vs 2012 M$1.44 from 20,259 donors. The first quarter was anomalous, because of the ongoing Leadership race, but the growth in number of donors accelerated from 5% (1201 donors) in Q1, to 68% (15,403 donors) in Q2, and kept well ahead of year ago results in Q3 with an increase of  49%(9849 donors). We will have to wait until year end results are publicly posted in 2014 to see what the annual numbers are, but the quarterly numbers are painting a compelling picture of supporters opening their wallets to the Liberal Party.

So why is it that when I mention the supporter category to most Liberals, they refer to it in the past tense? It is as if they can only envision it as part of a leadership contest. Signing up lots of supporters in one short period was and is a godsend to the Liberal party bank account. Guaranteed it will produce a bumper crop of election volunteers come 2015. I should think that brighter minds than mine would be burning the midnight oil working out the details of an ongoing supporter drive. There really is nothing more fundamental to a political party’s success than the ability to communicate via email to large numbers of their supporters, so how about it?

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A veritable Conservative Armageddon

Harper-FordThere sure is a strong stench of scandal in the air isn’t there? I am thinking about quite a number of Conservative shenanigans and ticking time bombs that are all set to go off in the months to come. The most obvious and immediate is the late breaking revelations abstracted from RCMP affadavits this afternoon. In court documents, the RCMP allege that Nigel Wright, former Chief of Staff in the PMO, entered into a formal written agreement with Senator Mike Duffy offering some $90,000 and influencing an ongoing audit, in exchange for promises of confidentiality. The agreement also induced the Senator to lie to the public about the whole sordid mess with a concocted story.

Wright is cooked in his own juice now. I mean, the guy is supposedly a brilliant lawyer and businessman, who has been intimately involved in politics since his salad days. How could he NOT know that making a payment to a sitting Senator IN EXCHANGE for pretty well anything constitutes a breach of trust? And then he actually set pen to paper, and documented their ‘bribes for lies’ faustian bargain. Senators LeBreton, and Gerstein are in it up to their necks, as they were the ones who the PMO worked through in the Senate, and on that all important committee. It looks like the muck will be spread pretty widely, as there are at least a baker’s dozen of Conservatives who were involved in some shape or form. And of course, Stephen Harper is being tied into it, one thread at a time.

And the cover-up….. Oh boy, didn’t Harper know about Tricky Dick? Nixon went down in history because of the coverup. Harper has been very careful in his choice of words in Parliamentary question period, but it appears to this humble blogger that his choice of words was not careful enough. No matter what political stripes you wear, I do not think that anybody in the country actually believes him as he equivocates, and minces words. You know what I mean, many apologists can be found. Whole armies of Conservatives will split hairs, but people are paying attention now. Credit were credit is due, we have ‘angry Tom’ Mulcair to thank for getting a lot of troubling Prime Ministerial equivocations and hedging, and a number of outright contradictions into the Parliamentary record.

But it does not stop there. In fact, I suspect that this is only the beginning of a very troubling year for the Conservatives in general, and Stephen Harper in particular. The Prime Minister is going to need every scrap of credibility he can get when the trial of Michael Sona hits the headlines. Sona has already implied that he is being scapegoated, and that there was collusion within Conservative ranks. The Judge in the Robocalls lawsuit has already found that there was fraud in the last election, and that the Conservative database, CIMS was the tool used to perpetrate the fraud. Anything that Sona or any witnesses have to say about a widening circle of Robo-fraudsters is going to get a lot of attention. Stephen Harper, and the CPC had better hope that their credibility is at its peak when they are facing such allegations.

Is there anything else that I missed? Oh yeah, Dean Del Mastro is back in court in just a few short weeks. The evidence against him looks pretty overwhelming to me, and I will be very surprised if he avoids a conviction with actual penalties. The Del Mastro will start on Dec. 6, 2013. Parliament will still be sitting until Dec Friday Dec 13. I bet the Conservative front bench is looking forward to question period…NOT.

And the Senate scandal will continue to bubble away. It is clear that the RCMP is casting a wide net, and are conducting a serious investigation. Sooner or later there will be more court documents publicised. Charges will be laid, and court dates set. It is going to take many months, perhaps years before this scandal is finally put to bed. There will be many an opportunity to contrast what Stephen Harper has said in the house to what is being alleged, and testified to in court. Think about how it will play out, with the Senate case cropping up regularly as the backdrop to a string of sordid electoral scandals unfolding in the courts. Yep, a veritable Conservative Armageddon.

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The relentless collapse of the Green Party of Canada’s grassroots.

Back in May I laid out the evidence to support my contention that the Green Party of Canada is suffering a sustained collapse at the grass-roots level. To summarise my arguments, the local Electoral District associations were largely formed to capitalise on the Revenue Sharing agreements between the Green Party`s head office, and the local electoral units. Any local riding that met the basic criteria of maintaining a local organisation would receive a significant share of the per vote subsidy then on offer under the elections finance act. The central party had a perverse incentive inasmuch as their own revenues would decline every time a new local organisation was formed to take advantage of this revenue sharing deal, so perhaps it ought not surprise us that zero resources were allocated to local organising of grass-roots Green Party riding associations. On the part of the Electoral District Associations, virtually all local ridings that had more than 3 or 4 active members had already formed their EDA before Elizabeth May was elected leader of the GPC. Most of them coasted along under the Revenue sharing agreement, accumulating a small stream of cash for the next general election.

Now that the per vote subsidy is being phased out, the logic that drove the process of EDA formation has disappeared. There will no longer be any free lunches in terms of a guaranteed revenue stream, so the rewards for putting in the minimal effort to maintain an existing association in good standing are non-existent. As a consequence, my expectation that the majority of the Electoral District Associations would collapse is being borne out by the fact that an even 100 Electoral District associations have been de-registered by Elections Canada since 2010. This was not an inevitable outcome. While the EDA`s no longer have an overwhelming incentive to organise locally, the central party will no longer be losing revenues to local organisations horning in on the subsidy cash after the next election. It is very much in Elizabeth May`s interest to start organising locally, and re-building the electoral capacity of the GPC. I will go out on a (short) limb here and guess that the current leadership does not know how to organise nationally, and will not re-evaluate their resource allocation at this late date.

Here is a wee table charting the decline of the GPC grassroots:

GPC EDA formation
Year Registrations Deregistrations
2004 96 1
2005 35 5
2006 24 13
2007 56 3
2008 16 5
2009 48 9
2010 4 44
2011 2 19
2012 4 18
2013 2 19
Total: 287 136

I am not writing these posts documenting the decline and fall of the Green Party out of malice, or partisan glee. My intent is to demonstrate an electoral opportunity to the Liberal Party, and anticipate the strategy and tactics that the Liberal Party ought to adopt to capitalise on what is happening across Canada. In past elections, the Green Party sought to maximise revenues by ensuring a candidate was registered in all 308 ridings in Canada. With the loss of so many local EDA`s, and with the loss of the per vote subsidy, that will never happen again. In past elections, approximately 10% of the electorate were prepared to pledge their vote to the GPC. The GPC did not do any meaningful getting out the vote activities, so unsurprisingly, only about 60% of their voters actually showed up at the polls, and the GPC garnered about 6% of the national vote. In the 2015 general election, there will be a lot of ridings across Canada where the Green Party will either have no candidate, or will have zero resources to campaign. Provided the Liberal Party is prepared with a few well conceived policy prescriptions to appeal to Green Party supporters, then they could easily garner half or more of the Green Party vote in most of the ridings across Canada. Since that will represent the margin of victory in many local contests, it should be one of the keys to a majority Liberal government in 2015.

I do not get into policy questions very often, or very deeply. However, it may be useful to suggest a couple of areas in which the Green Party could be vulnerable. The most significant policy area for many GPC supporters is in the area of democratic reform. I think that most Liberals would recognise that Joyce Murray illustrated the potential of voting reform during the Liberal Leadership contest. A credible policy to introduce PR, or Preferential ballots will definitely set the stage to win the votes of a large proportion of Green Party voters. A second policy area that is less significant, but still meaningful is the legalisation (or decriminalization) of Marijuana. A policy offering covering both these bases will make a dramatic difference to Liberal fortunes in British Columbia, and will have a significant effect across the country. These are by no means the only issues which can turn Greens towards the Liberals, but combining both areas, and working them hard will go a long way towards replacing the GPC as the Party of choice for GPC voters left without a candidate in their riding.

Anyway, for reasons outlined above, the ongoing collapse of the GPC grassroots is probably going to accelerate dramatically next year, and 2015 will be the Götterdämmerung, with the residual organisations slipping away. I expect that there will be about 50 EDA`s that survive on the strength of local organising efforts, and the GPC will remain a national party in name only. The ways and means of capturing their electorate will undoubtedly need more refining, but I hope that the Liberal Party, and the Liberal EDA`s are not asleep at the switch, and will be giving due consideration to this one piece of the majority winning electoral puzzle.

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Trudeau just SKEWERED all his critics in one fell swoop!

In a desperate attempt to take Justin Trudeau down a peg or two, the NDP and Conservatives have been crafting a narrative around Trudeau’s public speaking business, and his accepting fees to speak for charities. On my part, I do not think that Trudeau did anything wrong. He put his name on a roster for a speaking agency, and that agency came to him periodically with a deal to speak for fees from various clients. It is a far cry from seeking out charities to prey upon. Various groups intent on raising funds, or enhancing attendance at their conferences or fundraising dinners went to an agency, and fixed upon a high-profile and popular speaker to help them raise a whack of dough. Unfortunately, while some of those organisation that hired Trudeau raked in a windfall, some of them were incompetent, and in the case of the Grace foundation, were incapable of selling tickets for the event. Nine months later, the charity penned a letter to Trudeau claiming that the event bombed, and they would like him to refund the fees and expenses paid to him. Hmmm, well you cannot blame them for trying I guess, but to then publicise that letter as a political attack on Trudeau? Despicable behaviour. Yet this is what the charity proceeded to do, and the Prime Ministers Office, and various gutter dwellers like Brad Wall piled on gleefully thinking’ Aha! NOW we have him!”

In a sense, Trudeau is the author of his own (mis)fortune. Shortly after announcing his intention to seek the leadership of the Liberal Party, Trudeau did something totally unprecedented for a Federal politician in Canada. He voluntarily made a complete and public disclosure of every detail of his personal finances. He revealed the sources of his income, including a tidy sum earned from his public speaking career. He revealed that his ‘princely inheritance’ actually amounted to a quite modest fortune of $1.2 million, invested with a fund manager based in Montreal generating a little over $20,000 in cash per annum. He had sold his $million plus home, and moved into  <$700,000 home (with a mortgage) when he was elected as an MP. All in all, it seems that Trudeau has a comparable ‘fortune’ and lifestyle to say a General Practitioner (medical doctor) or perhaps a middle-aged Electrician.  Trudeau had sought, and received confirmation that there was no conflict of interest between his role as MP, and the continuance of his public speaking business. This truly was a voluntary disclosure of every little nitty-gritty detail of his finances, that is unique amongst Federal Politicians today. Was this some kind of Crazy idealism at work? Crazy like a fox says I.

Now the attempt to cast Trudeau as a double dipping scheming money grubber preying on the taxpayers and poor charities was a very dangerous tactic for his political foes to employ. The reason is simple, there are a great many Conservative, and NDP members of Parliament, and Senators who are drawing in HUGE stipends as public speakers, corporate directors, Lawyers, Doctors, Authors, oh the lists are as endless as the fields of human endeavours. Many, if not most MP`s had careers before politics, and a great many of them have substantial income from outside the house. And guess what? Most of these people have not publicly disclosed the full gory details of how much they get from where. I can guarantee that there are going to be some real stinkers hidden out of public sight. Not necessarily illegal or unethical things. Just things that look much worse than speaking for fees at a charitable event. So the danger for Trudeau’s detractors was that their accusations of Trudeau exposed them to similar accusations, and since NOBODY likes a hypocrite, any truly damning charity looting double dipping Conservatives or Dippers would be in a pretty tight corner. I guess they figured it was worth the risk though. The narrative of Trudeau as a charity gouging so-and-so seemed to resonate, and there is nothing more important than besmirching Trudeau’s name NOW, and stopping the resurgence of the Liberal Party in its tracks.

This morning, something utterly unthinkable happened. I mean, OH MY GOD that is brilliant! unthinkable.

To quote this article : `Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says he is willing to make amends with any charitable organizations that have paid him to speak, but didn’t feel they got their money’s worth.

“I am going to sit down with every single one of them and make this right,” Trudeau told CTV’s Question Period Sunday, addressing an issue first raised in reports about his work with The Grace Foundation.`

Holy Crap! I mean, how could any of those Conservative types have ever anticipated this response. The thought would not ever cross their minds for a second that Trudeau would be willing to hand back money that he did not owe. After all, is that not the entire purpose of being in politics, to line your pockets? Trudeau will now be able to publicly meet with charities galore. One by one, worthy charities will repeat:`Wow, we made so MUCH money from your event, all we can say is that charity X would not THINK of asking for the money back, you helped so many needy folks, etc.` Even better than that, some few charities that have no shame will say `Well now that you mention it…`, and Trudeau, to much fanfare will offer his services for free, and speak at one of the best publicised charity speaking engagements of all time.  I guess that the Grace Foundation is probably going to be raising about a billion dollars at a Trudeau managed event sometime quite soon. And every single time that Trudeau stands at a podium he can enquire: `So When exactly are the Conservatives and Dippers going to be making all their wealth and incomes public like I did?`

Well played Mr. Trudeau, very well-played indeed!

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Green Party grass-roots haemorrhage: Liberals and Dippers be advised.

Well here we are, the Elections Canada filing deadline for Electoral District associations has come and gone, (June 1) so I thought I would update which GPC Electoral Districts are still alive and kicking. A little more than a month ago, I blogged on the slow motion collapse of the Green Party`s Electoral District Associations. In the past 5 weeks, there have been 2 more EDA`s de-certified by Elections Canada, and no new EDA`s formed. That leaves a grand total of 160 EDA`s technically still in existence. I have updated this table accordingly:

GPC EDA formation
Year Registrations Deregistrations
2004 96 1
2005 35 5
2006 24 13
2007 56 3
2008 16 5
2009 48 9
2010 4 44
2011 2 19
2012 4 18
2013 0 8
Total: 285 125

I have attached an Excel spreadsheet with detailed financial statements for the EDA`s that have filed returns for this year here. There are two things to note immediately, firstly, only 142 EDA`s submitted a return at all. That implies that 18 more EDA`s are at risk of de-certification by Elections Canada. Please note that there may be valid reasons for a few of them to be filing late, as the deadline was only two weeks ago, but the majority of those non-filing EDA`s are probably going to be de-certified over the course of 2013. The second interesting thing to note is that 13 EDA`s are reporting either null, or zero assets. Some of them look like they are transferring, or spending the last pennies in their accounts, which looks and smells like preparing to shutter the windows. So between EDA`s failing to file, and EDA`s closing their bank accounts, it is looking like 2013 shall see the demise of something like 31 Electoral District Associations. I will take that with a wee grain of salt though, as I noted Guelph EDA was conspicuously absent from EC filings. I just cannot credit that Rob Routeledge and the Guelph Greens are folding up their tent, so this total will need revision later on in the year. Wow, I feel like I am writing an obituary for the grassroots of the GPC. From 285 local organisations down to 129.

From the financial returns, we can see that there are 99 EDAs that have over $2000 in cash. I mention this fact because assuming those EDA`s survive until 2015, those are the ridings where we can expect a local Candidate to step forward with sufficient resources to capture roughly 4% or more of the popular vote. Out of those 99 ridings, there are about 20 that currently have $10,000 or more. I mention that because these are the ridings where the Candidate will have a fair chance of exceeding 10% of the vote, and earning their deposit back. ( Campaigns that exceed 10% of the vote receive a rebate of 60% of their election expenses from Elections Canada). Only 44 ridings managed to raise a single penny from donors! Out of those 44 who actually raised some money, only 20 raised $1000 or more. Hmm, I think the point I made previously that the existence of the local EDA`s is dependent on the per vote subsidy is amply demonstrated by that simple fact.

So are there any meaningful conclusions for Liberals, Dippers, and Conservatives to draw from the slow motion collapse of the Green Party local units? If I am correct, and the Green Party does not actively recruit candidates across Canada, then it is safe to assume that less than half of the ridings in Canada will even have a GPC candidate to split the vote. That may not seem like a big deal, but about 3% – 5% of the electorate in those ridings will be voting for somebody other than the Green Party. Those votes are up for grabs. For those 20 or so ridings where the EDA is relatively well-financed, there will continue to be a GPC vote that will be large enough to influence the outcome. For the Conservative Party, there is no real upside from the collapse of the GPC.  It will be unequivocably bad for them, and will cost them a dozen of more seats in 2015. For the Liberals and NDP, there is obviously an advantage. Depending upon how well they each appeal to the Green Party voters, they will tip the balance in a handful of ridings each. Even in those ridings where the local EDA is strong, and the bank account is robust, there is a good opportunity to simply hammer the Greens, and bury them as an electoral factor. That is not very nice language I know, but seriously, the Leader of the Green Party has been harping on the same message since her first General Election. That message is that voting for the Greens is splitting the progressive vote, and allowing the Conservatives to get elected. It is no wonder whatsoever that her acolytes, and the EDA`s are voluntarily closing the curtains and putting out the lights. Anything else would be the heights (or depths) of cynicism, and the electorate deserves to be reminded of this fact come 2015.

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Robocalls Case: If the CPC did not do it, then someone stole the data. Call in the RCMP please.

I am not too happy that Elections Canada is getting nowhere with their robocalls investigation. Back on the EDay in question, I too received a robocall informing me that my polling place had changed. At the time I shrugged it off as Elections Canada incompetence, because I had already voted at the normal place. I am 100% certain that personal data about myself is in the possession of the Conservative Party. The investigation into electoral fraud has been conducted by a relatively toothless Elections Canada. Marc Mayrand, the head of Elections Canada testified before a Parliamentary committee that the Conservative Party has been stonewalling, and delaying EC’s investigations. This does not surprise me, as EC does not have the power to compel anybody to answer questions. Well that sucks, and I am wondering if I am entitled to have a real genuine investigation of what happened to my personal data back in the 2011 General Election period (and since then for that matter)?

On May 23, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled on the lawsuit seeking to dismiss election results in 6 ridings. Here is the complete text of the ruling. I read here that: “Judge Richard Mosley ruled unequivocally that fraud did take place and his judgment linked that fraud directly to the Conservative party’s internal database — but found no evidence that any Conservative candidate or official was involved.” So if I have all this straight, the Conservative Party has claimed it was not they who made the calls. The Judge has ruled that it was in fact data from their CIMS database that was used to make those calls. If it was not the Conservatives, and the usage was not permitted, then somebody stole that data. That data includes my name, phone number, possibly huge swathes of personal data about me, including what my voting intentions were. Now it is true that an elections offense is investigated by Elections Canada. It is also true that  data used ‘for political purposes’ is exempt from many of the provisions of the privacy act. But if the Conservative contention that the data was stolen is true, then that is no longer an elections offense is it? If the personal data on potentially millions of Canadians was accessible to data thieves, then it is no longer ‘political purposes’ the data is being put to, is it? So I guess the privacy act exemptions on political use should no longer apply? So why is elections Canada investigating a case of data theft? Why is Elections Canada investigating a breach of the Privacy act? Should there not be a real police force investigating this crime ( or crimes)? A police force with the resources to conduct a forensic analysis of the Conservative Party’s database, retrieve my personal data from criminal hands, and bring this case to prosecution?

I am not a Lawyer, which is why there are so damned many question marks in the previous paragraph. What I am, is a Citizen of Canada, and I have just discovered that very, very, personal data about myself has fallen into criminal hands. I believe there is something like 13,000,000 individual records in CIMS. This is, in fact, the biggest, most comprehensive case of data theft ever to occur in Canada. All kinds of personal data is stored in CIMS, not just who everybody wants to vote for, but people who signed petitions, people who emailed their MP’s, and what they were emailing about. Credit card information for hundreds of thousands of political donors. The types of data are endless, and range from picayune to potentially devastating. Is there a lawyer reading this post who can answer some of those question marks above? I want somebody to get to the bottom of this, and Elections Canada is probably not the appropriate investigative body.

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