Trudeau gets it too: Introducing the next Prime Minister.

Justin TrudeauI just followed a link to a Globe & Mail article: “Inside Justin Trudeau’s war room“. I was elated at what I read, because it confirms my belief that the Liberal Party is going to re-write the book on electoral politics in Canada. That is not a shallow conclusion based upon Trudeau partisanship. It is a conclusion arrived at after nearly a decade of close observation of, and occasional close involvement in political organising and electoral politics. There are a range of considerations underlying my conclusion.

I have blogged repeatedly on the significance of the supporter category to the Liberal Party. I start from the simple and obvious premise that electoral politics is no longer about ‘broadcasting’ a one size fits all message through traditional media channels. Broadcast politics is quickly being replaced by ‘narrow-cast’ communications, direct to the voter without the inconvenience of the media filtering, massaging, and altering the message before presenting it to the electorate on the screen or headline.  If this is indeed the case (and the success of the CPC amply proves it is), then the corollary is that no political party can hope to succeed without possessing the means to communicate directly, one on one with masses of people. Enter the Supporter category of membership introduced by the Liberal Party early last year. As I blogged here, and here, by creating a dead nuts simple method to collect the name, email address, and location of people with an affinity for the Liberal Party, the Liberal Party has managed to create a direct channel to literally hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

This first step, of creating the tool, (Liberalist), and populating it with data, (through the leadership contests massive Supporter recruiting drive) is not the end of the road by any stretch. The process is actually pretty dynamic. As the communications tool is utilised, with targeted email communications being directed at Supporters, the responses, and feedback from the recipients of the communications serves to enrich, and broaden the information the Liberal Parry holds about a growing number of Canadians.  To illustrate my point, let us consider a putative email that relates to a specific policy message. The policy message does not matter, but hypothetically, let us assume it is a call to support democratic reform, in the shape of a preferential ballot in future elections. The call to action could readily be to donate a few bucks to fund a policy workshop, and advertising campaign supporting the concept. Every supporter or member who responds to the call to action has now been identified and quantified within Liberalist, as an issue advocate in this policy area. This broadening of the data allows future calls to action in this policy area to be directed specifically towards those Liberals, and Canadians in general who are passionate about the issue, and are most likely to support the principle with their money, volunteer hours, and policy expertise. Multiply this across different policy areas, and you have multi-channel communications medium, direct to the electorate, with simple feedback mechanism continually enriching your data.

At this moment in time, the Liberal Party is re-tracing ground covered by the Conservative Party years ago. That of building direct contact lists of  Canadians complete with enriched data about their political tastes and preferences. The Liberals are able to catch up with, and overtake the Conservatives by virtue of the fact that the Supporter category is free, electronically based, and offers value to subscribers by gifting them with a vote for the next leader. I have argued recently that the ability to build a massive actionable database of supporters is far too important for the Liberal Party to discard once the Leadership race recruiting drive comes to a close. It will in all likelihood be expanded, and continued over the coming years to continue the dynamic process of building and enriching the communications link directly onto the screens of Canadians. The explicit exchange of value currently offered is for Supporters to be rewarded for providing their contact information to Liberalist, by receiving in exchange the right to vote for the next leader of the Liberal Party. An historic opportunity now exists for the Liberal Party to move beyond catching up with a clever twist, and innovate their way into a truly awesome juggernaut.

Trudeau has proposed that the Liberal Party can make a connection with the Canadian public by selecting ALL Candidates through an open and contested nomination process. Well, that is not a bad idea, and I am sure that it would help by mirroring the success of the supporter category in 338 local contests, but IMHO it has serious limitations. To whit, it does NOT create a continuous process of building Liberalist, enriching the data on Canadian voters and engaging the Canadian electorate. It is basically a one-off gimmick, that will come and go the same way the leadership Supporter drive is about to end. It`s a slick, and potentially rewarding tactic, but because of it`s transitory nature, it is empty of strategic significance. What is needed IS a continuous process, that chugs along day and night yielding positive outcomes.

Please indulge me for a moment in fast forwarding to a hypothetical Fall 2014 policy convention. Server after server is coming online as the number of viewers and participants ramps up 100,000 – 200,000 , 350,000. Joyce Murray, the Liberal Party’s Democratic Reform advocate has taken the stage to speak in favour of the preferential ballot election plank. The petition to the policy convention is presented. 217,000 pledges from Proportional Representation Supporters pledging $10 each to support the Prop Rep plank in the 2015 campaign. The tension is palpable, the votes are being counted…. Victory! In an historic moment, the Liberal Party has adopted the preferential ballot plank for their 2015 election campaign! The pledges are being redeemed quicker than they can be counted, and slowly the blurred numbers on the screen are settling down to readable numbers. $3,500,000 raised in 1 hour! Justin Trudeau takes the stage to announce Marc Garneau, the Liberal Party Employment and Jobs strategy advocate speaking in favour of EI reforms to provide skills training for 1.2 million unemployed Canadians… The number of viewers drops by 100,000 then starts to ramp up again, as unemployed Canadians flock to their computers to cast their supporter ballots, and redeem their pledges…

Does this sound far-fetched to you? Well maybe it is unlikely, but it is not a difficult outcome to achieve if the will and leadership is present, and the reason is pretty darned simple. People have an affinity for political brands, but they are well and truly motivated by policy issues that strike closer to home than that. The Liberal Party, under (I presume) Justin Trudeau is going to want to keep building their supporter lists, and in Trudeau’s own words, will be looking for ways and means to reach out to Canadians, and entice them into the Liberal Party fold. To quote yesterdays Globe article:“Organization is key,” Mr. Trudeau says. “To me, it means creating a structure in which every single citizen can connect directly and easily if they want.””. Now that can mean a lot of different things, but it is further re-inforced by a second quote from Gerald Butts, a senior Trudeau strategist: `Mr. Butts says, that the traditional levers of government have become ineffective and the only way to make change is to “develop and maintain a national, grassroots, volunteer movement.”`. I will take them both at their words for now, because enlightened self-interest is going to drive the Liberal Party to extend and expand upon their recent success with the Supporter category, and I cannot think of any stronger motivational tool and process than an explicit bargain to mutually support the Party on the one hand, and the policy aspirations of Canadians on the other. The mechanisms for achieving the kind of outcome I envision are actually pretty simple. Think of Jason Kenney, but spread your mental wings a little and multi-task with an even dozen Liberal policy advocates. Each advocate is going to have to work pretty darned hard networking, and making contact with advocacy and interest groups. They will need to have online tools to foster participation, and the consequent policy development, but the prospective rewards are significant.  The focus, as with Kenney is to build up the Party database with a rich collection of policy preferences of large numbers of Canadians, and with the correct focus, it is entirely possible to leave Kenney and the Conservatives eating Liberal  Party dust.

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Conservative Strategy to demonise the Courts?


The Liberal – Activist enemy?

I have noticed something odd about the legislative agenda of the Conservative Party. Hey, I ain’t no lawyer, but it has struck me repeatedly that the Conservatives have been crafting legislation that would quickly be thrown out by the courts. It has struck others as well, including at least one of the Lawyers charged with drafting and preparing laws for parliaments consideration. I have read knowledgable opinions here and there that this or that part of an Omnibus bill would not pass muster in a constitutional challenge, or that precedence would overturn another measure, and I think there may be more to it than incompetence, or the burden of draughting 500 page ominibus legislation.

This morning, being a bit of a political news junkie, I popped over to National Newswatch to see what, if anything was happening in the news coverage of Candian politics today, and I stumbled across THIS ARTICLE in the Toronto Star. In essence, a senior Justice department Lawyer has been warning his political masters, the Conservative Government that they are breaking the law by refusing to vet their legislation for constitutional conflicts and other errors in law. After nearly 10 years of pointing out that it was a legal obligation of the Government to ‘proof read’ their legislation and being told to shut up, the Government Lawyer, Edgar Schmidt sued his own department to enforce the obligation to vet legislation for errors in law.

I scratched my head for about 15 seconds, I mean, why would the Conservatives deliberately craft bad laws that not only could, but almost certainly WOULD be overturned by the courts? Obviously it is important to them that un-enforcable and illegal laws should be passed by Parliament, or they would simply do their duty and correct legal flaws before passing any given bill. I am afraid that an answer came to me all too quickly. We have the example of US Republican/Tea Party narrative whereby the ‘activist liberal courts’ are the scapegoat for every decision that challenges the Tea Party’s world view. What a handy dandy strawman that makes eh?  So here’s a plausible scenario for you. The Conservative Government introduces flawed legislation that, for example, allows pipelines to be rammed through Native Lands without consultation. Naturally, those opposed to the legislation challenge it in court, and lo and behold, their rock solid case wins, and the pipeline languishes in limbo. About a million slobbering racists come out of the woodwork to rant about activist courts, dirty drunken Indians, and environmental terrorists. The Conservatives look on owlishly saying ‘ geez, too bad those lousy courts ordered us to give those feckless Indians their way, now all your jobs are gone, and it is the Socialist – Liberal Courts that done the deed!’ Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! All you need to do is continue to create faulty legislation that talks to the political fringes on a selection of issues, and the media will have a continuous stream of ‘bad liberal courts’ stories to feed to the underclasses.

It’s actually a pretty scary thought. Is there any other reasons why the Conservatives might want to discredit the administration and application of Justice in canada? Well yes, maybe. Should the Government find itself in the position of breaking the law, then they can deflect the public impact and stigma by claiming that the courts decisions are motivated by partisanship. It works in the States, so why shouldn’t it work here? Anyway, the actual practice of passing un-vetted laws is in front of the courts now. I wonder if anybody in the media will pick up on the fact that the Conservatives are defending their practice of deliberately formulating un-lawful legislation. It should be very interesting indeed to see how they defend themselves from this suit. I seriously hope their arguments and defense get placed under a magnifying glass for all to see and judge.

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Complete Game Changer for the Liberal Party: ‘Supporter’ votes for Leadership.

I am betting that very few people indeed have given much thought to the Liberal Party’s new ‘supporter’ category of membership. I guess I can see why. Most Liberals thrive on the ins and outs, the manoeuvering and machinations of Leadership politics. The media are even more enthralled, as can be seen by the breathless way in which they try to follow the twists and turns, gleefully uncovering blood-stained knives under pillows. Just look at a random sampling of headlines from todays papers: Bob Rae: The Real reason he won’t run… or: Rob Ghiz out of Grit leadership race, promotes Dalton McGuinty.    Well I have a different perspective I guess, because for me, the biggest Liberal Leadership story is a previously unremarkable, and largely unremarked thing that is TRULY significant. To very little fanfare, the Liberal party has created a new membership class, that of supporter.

I must confess, when I first saw the announcement about supporter memberships I thought to myself:  ‘Gee, that’s a good idea, the Liberals will be connecting to a lot of people that way.’ and moved on to other things. The seed was planted though, and over the next few days a few tactical considerations popped into my mind. For example, the need for Leadership candidates & teams to be networking outside the Liberal Party units and EDA’s was immediately obvious. Scratch a little deeper and one corollary is that there will have to be some policy substance behind that outreach. It is equally clear that if you want to engage people who are not currently members, you have to touch them in a spot where they feel strongly about something. That something has to have a political or public policy component, and you have to touch them deeply enough that they will click on a button on a screen somewhere and become a supporter of the Liberal Party. Follow it through to the logical conclusion and you will realise that having drawn the supporter that far, you now need to retain their interest, and keep them motivated until the day comes for them to go online and cast a ballot for the Candidate of their choice in the actual Leadership vote.

You may be asking yourself at this point: ‘Big deal, that is what we always did. Prospecting for, and signing up not very committed new members for a Leadership race.’ You would be kind of correct, except for one thing. There is zero cost to the commitment, and it happens with the click of a button, outside the control of the campaign that provided the impetus. The initial conversion from interested policy advocate to supporter of the Liberal Party is about the easiest political conversion you are going to find in Canadian politics. The cost is virtually nothing, clicking a button to support something you care about. The real trick will be in keeping the supporter engaged and motivating them to go through the voting process on eday. Sound familiar? Yep, it’s a general election! Except it will be easier to vote, because nobody has to get off their arse on eday to get to a polling station.

So you are probably still asking yourself, (if you even read this far); When is BGB going to get to the point? Well I already did. This Liberal leadership contest is going to be won by whoever is best at reaching out to previously uncommitted supporters, persuading really large numbers of people to become supporters, and then maximizing the actual turnouts. There will be no intermediaries between the supporter and their vote. No delegates to skew the outcomes and ‘split’ the votes. No dis-enfranchised voters disqualified for BS reasons. Just one supporter one vote.

Based upon my past experience in Green Party Leadership races, the proportion of members or supporters who cast their votes will be quite small. For example, on the Elizabeth May leadership campaign, I had volunteers canvassing the membership by phone using an online database to manage their contacts. (It was new and funky at the time anyway, even if it is old hat now) The entire membership, and lists of lapsed members was canvassed, in decreasing preference for current members, memberships lapsed in the calendar year, and lastly memberships that lapsed more than one year earlier. Altogether the membership doubled over the course of the campaign, about 75% of the new members being committed to Elizabeth May. We ran a complete GOTV on all committed supporters over the actual voting period, but when all was said and done, only 30% of the members voted, and only 35% of the EMay supporters actually cast a ballot. Mind you, these were supporters who renewed or purchased their first membership explicitly for the purpose of voting for Elizabeth May for leader. So you see what I mean when I say that actually motivating your supporters will be at least as important as recruiting them in the first place.

I am sure that every leadership campaign team is mulling over the same or similar thoughts right now. My guess is that some of the fossilized campaigns that are flush with cash will still be stuck in the past,planning hospitality suites, and schmooze fests at Barbeques over the summer months. Where you can look for the real game changers are from the less well-known candidates campaigns, where cash will be an issue from day 1. They will be obliged to embrace the actual facts that current members and delegates do not matter because it will take a very different type of campaign to win. There will be a lot of attention to policy development, and outreach to online communities of just about every shape and form. Liberal Bloggers: You are going to be wooed time and again! You are the gatekeepers to online traffic and search engine rankings. Expect Trippi’s book: ‘The Revolution will not be televised‘ to enjoy a brief new day in the sun. There will be a much bigger broadcast media component to those campaigns that can afford it. Systematic appeals to the general population will actually have a direct payoff in recruiting new supporters from the aether. The implications are boundless, and I can say with confidence that the Liberal Party is going to be transformed almost beyond recognition by the time we all get to eday sometime in April 2013. The political alchemists that wear the Liberals colours are going to be unleashed, and I can hardly wait to see what clever innovations they bring to bear on the Canadian electorate.

Green Party Starts to capitalise on Debate on Debates?

Debate about Democracy?

Debate about Democracy?

So it appears that either somebody at the national campaign is listening to me, or they came to the same conclusion that I posted on yesterday. The kerfuffle about excluding the Green Party of Canada from the debates has led to a ton of positive publicity for the GPC. Something more is needed though, to create a call to action that directly serves the electoral interests of the Green Party of Canada. This is a very rare circumstance in politics, inasmuch as the timing, and longevity of the issue are extremely predictable, and there is some time to really work the message over, and gain some real electoral support.

Off I went to the Green Party website today. Lo and behold, Elizabeth May is hosting a press conference to unveil a policy to provide stable financing for the CBC. OK, ok. So it’s not a Watergate moment, but how many Federal areas of responsibility are there that can be readily related to the televised Leaders debates? If I could perhaps make a wee suggestion, it is not too much of a stretch to relate the debate to the entire legislative environment regulating elections in Canada. And THAT means electoral finances.

We all know the history of the per vote electoral subsidy for Political Party’s, and we also know that the CPC will likely be revisiting this sometime in the next two weeks or so. They have prepared the ground well, and to a great many people, vote subsidies are a wasteful gift to no-good politicians. The Conservatives have been hammering this into their supporters for two years now, and what do you know? It worked. The CPC considers this to be a safe bet, because for the other Party’s no less than them, they cannot survive without taxpayer support. The obvious rejoinder is that all those other subsidies are far more generous, and much more wasteful, but neither the Liberals, nor the Dippers can afford to go there.

Canadian Political Party's

The per vote subsidy is the lifeblood of the GPC, so there is no question that this is almost an existential question for us, and we better be ready, but why should we give a hoot about the tax credit, and especially the 60% electoral expense rebate? Sure, some of our best ridings receive the rebate, but I promise you, we aren’t going to get elected to enact this policy, so they will still have their turn at the trough.  Since the way has been prepared so neatly for us, how about we simply steal this issue away when it hits the headlines next? So how about we build up a forceful counter-proposal, that is actually grounded in facts? The burden on the public purse represented by the vote subsidy is a mere pittance compared to how much money Canadians shovel at their political Party’s. As the in-and-out scandal has highlighted, 60% of all electoral expenses get rebated to the local campaigns, (provided they exceed 10% of the vote). Then there is the political donation tax credit, which reimburses the donor up to 75% of their political contributions. Combined, these two gifts to the political Party’s amount to literally hundreds of millions of dollars over a complete election cycle. I do not have the time to go dig up all the actual numbers, but they are in the public realm, so it will be as easy as falling out of a tree to create a factual compelling narrative about Democracy for sale, the taxpayer funding of sleazy mud-slinging political ads, closed shop debates, and the slow death of fair play in the Canadian electoral system. One of the planks would be the elimination of both the expense rebate, and the tax credit, and the beauty of it is that it will disproportionately appeal to the typical Conservative supporter.

I know that this is a lot of work, and I am sure that there are other issues and ideas that could be utilised to capitalise on the Debate about Debates. This is nice though, because it will serve Elizabeth May in splitting away Conservative voters from Lunn in SGI, and it helps the other 307 Green Party Campaigns to chip away directly at the conservative vote, while giving longer legs to the whole debate thing. 100% guaranteed that the GPC will be alone in championing elimination of ALL political subsidies, and we will have something really interesting to intrigue visitors to our petition about the debates page.

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Trippi Review; And the winner WAS.. Old school dirty tricks

Joe Trippi

Joe Trippi

In this continuing review of Joe Trippi’s “The Revolution will Not be Televised” , I have to report some pretty mixed feelings. In his book, as the ‘Dean for America’ online campaign takes flight, it massively exceeds the political establishments expectations. At the same time, the organizational weakness of the Dean for America campaign starts to exert a negative influence.

I guess I’ll break it into two competing themes. The first is so exciting to read about! Born out of need, the web based networking campaign starts to virally spread it’s wings, and permeates every crack of every region in America. The integration of, and later the GetLocal tools into the campaign really empower decentralized campaigning. People are easily enabled to act on their own initiative. Instead of passively waiting to be organized, the ‘membership’ seizes these tools, and starts to organize hundreds, and then thousands of events without reference to the Campaign team in Vermont. According to Trippi, it is this very act of empowerment that breathes life and vigour into the campaign. Dean himself becomes the vessel into which thousands upon thousands of people pour their hopes and dreams. In practical terms, meetup actively engages people, and pulls them from their musty basements into the real world as political activists. It is the tool which translates thought, debate, and sense of community into action.

As the campaign progresses, and the wider world of old school media, and machine politics of the democratic Party starts to notice something happening, things are taking a somewhat different turn. Trippi the long time operative, fieldwork guru, and master of message is watching both the wild new world unfolding, and the ‘real world’ big bad wolf knocking at the door. The opposition research of the competing campaigns is building their files, and starting to release damaging attacks on Dean in the old world of Televised politics. The Campaign is suffering from the usual divided camps within the campaign office. There are few communications professionals to massage the media and message. This is aggravated by Dean’s unscripted, and off message public communications. Without a team to help craft the message, and spin the opposition press releases, more and more damaging hits are being landed on the campaign. Is the fieldwork solid in Idaho? The answer is no. On the ground, there is tons of action, and the new world is having an astounding impact, but the solid, methodical, machine like groundwork is not quite happening.

The demise of the Dean for America campaign was, according to Trippi, an out of context, but embarrasing video clip palyed over, and over, and over again by the mainstream media. The ultimate victory of the ‘big guns’, was determined despite all the thousands of faithful grassroots supporters. An indifferent public was bombarded with inconsequential fluff, and the Campaign was thus decided.

There is so much of interest in this story overall, and I would enthusiastically endorse it as a good read. As a template for the new world of politics, my expectations were upset. By repute, Trippi had revolutionised politics, and the old ways of TV politics were doomed. After a cereful reading, what I take away is the opposite. Yes, there exists an exciting ‘new’ tool that Trippi released on the world. Yes, it HAS changed the way that politics is done in North America. No, the old world of TV politics is nowhere near doomed. These campaign tools are the subtext, while the Campaign writ large is still about message, organization, Identifying, then getting out the vote.

Just look at Obama. His team wrote the most recent chapter in this saga, and they won by feeding their machine with the juices squeezed from Trippi’s creation. Their grassroots organization was inspired by the Dean campaign. Their air war, and ground war were inspired by hundreds of years of electoral political history.

Green Party better scramble: 21 New Ridings for Ontario

Discrimination Relaxed?

Discrimination Relaxed?

So now it’s (semi) official. I read it in the Globe and Mail. Ontario is to gain 21 electoral districts in the re-distribution of seats due to population changes. There will undoubtedly be howls of protest across the country, but I will refer those interested in the facts about the issue to check out this link. It basically summarizes the supreme court rulings, and the nuts and bolts of re-districting. For Green Party of Canada activists, and organizers, the question immediately rises to the forefront. How will this impact our electoral chances? I cannot answer categorically, because the answer will lie in the gory details, but here’s a quick look at the details that will have the most impact.

In Toronto, the outlying districts have the most coherent concentrations of Conservative voters. These ED’s could possibly be crafted to return one Conservative plurality. The downtown ridings are a write-off for the Conservatives. The Conservatives have a definite interest in splitting districts around the perimeter of the city. My guess is that they will create one more Toronto ED, based upon population growth, and an average population of 105,000 per ED in Ontario. I am not as familiar with the other Ontario Cities, but I assume that a similar calculus will come into play.

905 All Aboard!

905 All Aboard!

Rural Ontario will not change very much, but suburbia will get a lot of new ridings. The implication for the GPC is that a positive message promoting stronger transit, and commuter links will have a very positive impact on our electoral outcomes in suburban Ontario.

For the Green Party, those ridings where they have concentrated pockets of support will benefit. This includes most ridings which have active EDA’s, that focus their resources during elections. In the case of Bruce Grey Owen Sound, and Guelph, the new boundaries should be very closely scrutinised. These ridings both have relatively high levels of support, and boundary changes could make either, or both quite winnable in the next election. Because most EDA’s have focused their efforts on a small part of their riding, you can expect that those new ridings that contain these target polls will gain on average 1%-2% on a per riding basis. This will tip the balance for many EDA’s over the 10% threshold to receive a rebate of 60% of their election expenses. That will have a nice impact on subsequent elections.

The most important factor will be how well the GPC meets the challenge of organizing 21 new EDA’s. We mustn’t forget that Alberta will see 5, and BC will see 7 new ridings added, and these will have a pretty big impact on the GPC’s electoral prospects also. BC could break out with one or two winnable ridings as well, so I can only hope that the GPC notes well it’s opportunities, and allocates resources accordingly.

As usual, the most important factor will be how many members, and volunteers the GPC can recruit before, and after these changes come into effect. Because many EDA’s are at, or below a critical mass of volunteers, further dilution will see many EDA’s shrink to something too small to do much of anything. The GPC simply must refocus efforts on recruiting, and organizing the membership.

If you want to have a lot of fun, working with people who love their country, and are prepared to sacrifice their time, effort, and money to make a real difference, I encourage you to Join the Green Party NOW!

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Political Welfare and Taxpayer abuse.

With a Canadian election likely in 2009, and the recent spotlight on pay per vote subsidy, I decided to do some background research on the Conservative Party’s so called in and out cash grab from the taxpayers pocket. Yes, I know it’s old news, but the fact is that it is hard to get at the local details of this boondoggle using Election Canada’s electronic database, so I wanted to track the cash flows riding by riding.

Here's the Transfer

Here's the Transfer

My premise is that the Conservatives will camapaign on revoking the $1.95 per vote subsidy to Political Party’s labeling it as welfare, and a greedy grab for the taxpayers money. It’s no surprise  that everybody loves to catch a hypocrite, so I decided to document the Conservatives apparent past abuses in all their grisly details, in a nice easy to refer to spreadsheet format. I’m sure that all my fellow bloggers would be delighted to have some specific details on their local CPC candidate, and I thought this effort would be a good public service.

So here I am, 12 hours later, and I’ve only manged to completely document the Provinces of BC, and Alberta. The Elections Canada site has lots of data, but the dowloads aren’t exactly in a user friendly format. Still, I’m getting my cut and paste routines down pretty well by now, and within another couple of weeks, I will be able to put a downloadable spreadsheet up here for the world to borrow.

Aha! A Clue!

Aha! A Clue!

As usual, the devil lies in the details. The gross numbers are, well, boring. The Conservative Party transferred about $2.358 mm to various campaigns during the course of the election return period. Individual campaigns appeared to transfer approximately $496,000 back to the CPC. So what?

Well, lets look at a representative example. The David Matta campaign in Surrey North, BC., recognised a payment of $15,000 to the Conservative Party of Canada, dated May 8, 2006. This payable was an election expense, and so eligible for a taxpayer subsidy. The Conservative Party made a transfer to the Surrey North Campaign on May 31, 2006 for $15,000. The CPC recognised a non-monetary transfer of $15,000 from the Surrey North Campaign, back to the CPC in 2006. The actual transfer date is withheld. In plain English, several months after the election, the CPC and the Campaign decided that the Campaign owed $15,000 to the CPC for unspecified election services. They obligingly switched the money in and out of the Campaign, which entitled the Campaign to receive a $9,000 cheque, courtesy of the Taxpayer. If the same analysis holds true for the rest of Canada, ( And CPC transfers in Quebec were really enormous) then the taxpayers forked out almost $300,000 because of an accounting sleight of hand.

I have a lot more checking to do, but there were over $2 million in transfers to play with, so you can imagine just how much of the Taxpayers money was funneled to Conservative Campaigns all over the country. Since surplus funds are then transferred back to the Riding association, and the Riding association can transfer funds back and forth with the Party in between elections, the scope, and opportunity for self dealing, and squeezing the maximum from the public purse are a Lawyers, or an auditors dream come true. If you check back here in the new year, you will find exactly how much money your’ local Conservatives received from the taxpayer from this tidy little arrangement. Actually, we’ll never find that out exactly, because it would take a full blown forensic audit, but I’ll at least have what they have not shrouded in obscure accounts.

The Conservatives have run into a number of problems with Elections Canada, including the improperly treated convention fees at their 2005 Convention, that some people say might have been the cause of the mysterious, and sudden resignation of the Elections Canada Chief, Jean-Pierre Kingsley. His surprise resignation was announced the day after the Conservatives re-submitted their financial statements to reflect the changes made to bring them into compliance with the law.

As you may have gathered by now, I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about Election Finance. I’ve read “An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act (political financing),  AKA; Bill C-24 end to end, (Yes, I have masochistic tendencies). There are just so many loopholes in spending limits, so many ways to circumvent the intent of the law, and even the letter of the law. It is pretty fundamental to a free society to keep dirty money, and improper influence out of the electoral system. Really, it’s about time we eliminated private donations, and made elections 100% publicly funded, with Criminal sanctions against those who break the law. That’s a whole other post though.

And don’t forget, Politics can be fun, and it’s part of your civic duty to pay attention. Please, join the Green Party of Canada, and do your bit!

Green Party must Reconsider Coalition Government Position

There are significant risks to the Green Party of Canada, and Elizabeth May arising from the more

Strategic Adjustment

Strategic Adjustment

than wholehearted support for the proposed Liberal – NDP coalition Government. There’s nothing inherently wrong with coalitions, and this one might have had a positive impact on the quality, and tone of Canadian governance BUT… It is looking increasingly unlikely.

My first point is that the Canadian electorate has succumbed to CRAP blandishment, and is shying away from what is increasingly being labeled a Parliamentary Coup. In general, support levels are pretty low for the coalition government, and even Green Party supporters are evenly split on the issue.

My second point, made in a previous blog, is that this political crisis is just so typical of the Old School style of confrontational politics. This is NOT consistent with how the Green Party should be doing business. If we truly believe that all Parliamentarians should be seeking consensus, then we should be saying so. That will mean the other Party’s talking to the CRAP over the prorogation. Frankly, I think they have all been behaving badly, and irrespective of who started it, we shouldn’t be joining in the blame game. Unless, of course we blame them ALL for being such children. There has already been some criticism of this hypocrisy in the press, and more will follow.

My third point is that over the coming months, this crisis will become more and more convoluted. It will be twisted to serve all kinds of parochial interests, that have nothing to do with the Green Party. There is absolutely nothing to be gained, (Not even a Senate appointment for Elizabeth), from involving ourselves further in it, and the risks of being closely associated with other parties stinky agendas will increase so long as we are uncritically supportive.

SO… Elizabeth May needs to step back. The Liberals are NOT our friends, and her friend, Dion is

One Survivor?

One Survivor?

going down fast. Fine, coalitions, and consensus politics are great, but this crowd are up to their usual tricks. Pay per vote funding has been preserved, so get the hell out of town, fast. We need to stand strong on our painfully built image as the Party that is above this vitriolic fray. Elizabeth, use your podium to Urge people to JOIN THE GREEN PARTY!

Most importantly, we must recognize that there is yet another election coming soon, and we MUST focus on building our membership, EDA infrastructure, donors lists, and recruiting Quality Candidates for our best prospective ridings. Lets not repeat the mistakes of the last election, by being organizationally ill prepared.

In that spirit, I will once again appeal to my readers to help do politics differently. Support good policies, not flash in the pan message vendors, and join the Green Party Today!

Politics can be a lot of fun, when your colleagues are honest, heartfelt advocates of good, meaningful policies. Contact your local EDA executive, and offer to help them by doing whatever you’re good at. (Especially if that’s fundraising, or networking)

Elizabeth May Appointed to Senate?!

This Globe and Mail article is a good synopsis of Canadian political situation at this moment.

A second Reuters piece discusses much the same.

Spot Elizabeth May's Seat

Spot Elizabeth May

There is a real eye opener, that has some very interesting, and potentially controversial implications.

“And Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is endorsing the proposed coalition government and says she has spoken with Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion about the possibility of her being appointed to the Senate.”

Holy cow! Appointment to Senate? First off, is this Elizabeth May’s entree to cabinet? Jack Layton will have

Jack Layton

Jack Layton

something to say about it if that’s the case. The Dippers AND Dions fellow Liberals will not want the GPC sitting on the front bench in Parliament. It would be good for Canada, and Elizabeth would make a brilliant Minister of Environment, but that’s another question. They will not want the GPC to have such a prominent role PERIOD.

Secondly, The GPC has a long standing commitment to democratic reform. How well does it sit in YOUR craw that she may have an appointed seat in the Senate? The counter argument is solid, and obvious. In what respect is it undemocratic that someone who received just short of 1 million votes should sit in the Senate?

Dig a bit deeper. The CPC will probably fashion a wedge to split soft Liberal supporters, on the issue that the coalition is a constitutional coup. If they succeed in managing the debate, then the electorate will be debating the democratic legitimacy of this coalition Government. Square the issue for the GPC, because the democratic legitimacy of Senate appointments does raise an ethical quiver with most people (I believe).

The GPC stood to gain simply by standing above the fray, and pointing to the children battling in the Parliamentary sandbox. Isn’t it a terrible shame, support the clean Party that wants to do politics a different way. Ask yourself this question. Is the Green Party of Canada going to do better with Elizabeth in the Senate, and perhaps in Cabinet, OR will the GPC do better by picking more support amongst an increasingly disillusioned, and disaffected electorate?

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