Kitchener-Conestoga likely to remain in Conservative hands on October 19

Published on Oct. 1, 2015, in the ObserverXtra.

For the fourth federal election in a row, the Conservative Party of Canada is set to win the Kitchener-Conestoga riding on voting day even with waning national support for the party.

In the 2011 federal election, local Conservative candidate Harold Albrecht won with more than 50 per cent of the vote. Barry Kay, associate professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), says he will most likely win the seat again on Oct. 19, but probably by a smaller margin.

“The Conservatives have slipped in Ontario a little bit since the last election,” he said after Monday night’s federal leader’s debate. “They are picking up in the last day or so, but Kitchener-Conestoga is blue throughout. The Conservatives should be ahead (after the election) I would say, by at least 15 to 20 points. It is the safest Conservative seat in the immediate Kitchener-Waterloo area.”

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Tories move ahead of Liberals, NDP in latest seat projections

Published on Sept. 29, 2015, on Global News.

It was a good week for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives as the latest aggregate of polls gives them a 20-seat lead over the NDP.

But they’re still a long way away from the 170-seat target of a majority government, and without that, Canada may be left with a tenuous, minority government that the two major opposition parties have said they won’t support.

The latest seat projections by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (Lispop) used eight polls, including approximately 12,000 respondents to come up with the projections which suggest the Conservatives could pick up 126 seats – 20 more than the NDP, and 22 more than the Liberals. Both the Bloc Quebecois, and the Green Party, pick up one seat each.

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Guelph mainstream candidates to ‘stick their necks out’ again

Published on Sept. 26, 2015, in the Guelph Mercury.

GUELPH — The Guelph Chamber of Commerce debate Tuesday will be the first time in this federal election campaign that all four mainstream party candidates will square off.

The Guelph candidates from the Liberal, New Democrat, Green and Conservative parties have confirmed they will be attending the event, which is set to begin at 7 p.m. at Cutten Fields.

Since the marathon federal election campaign was called Aug. 2, there have been three events in Guelph that invited candidates into the same room to discuss local and federal issues. However, not all candidates were able to attend these events. In some cases, not all candidates were invited.

On Sept. 10, Fair Vote Canada held an “all-candidates” meeting to discuss the merits of switching to a proportional representation electoral system and scrapping the current first-past-the-post system. Only Gord Miller of the Green party, Andrew Seagram of the New Democratic Party and Lloyd Longfield of the Liberal Party were in attendance.

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Three-way race tighter than ever with 4 weeks to go until election

Published on Sept. 22, 2015, on Global News.

The Liberals have gained support at the expense of the NDP over the summer, leading to an even closer race than previous polling has suggested, with just four weeks to go until the election.

Only 11 seats separate the three main political parties, according to the latest seat projection by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP), making the 42nd federal election look like one of the closest in in Canadian history.

And one of the most volatile regions is also the country’s most vote-rich: Ontario.

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Want to get out the youth vote? Start (really, really) young

Published on Sept. 22, 2015, in The Globe and Mail.

Our daughter was about three months old when she attended her first campaign event. She could drop a pamphlet like a pro at five. Our son was two when he learned the art of clapping at the right times during a rousing speech at a political rally. Our children, in other words, aren’t strangers to political campaigns.

Even more importantly, they are quite familiar with the act of voting. Since we became parents, my husband and I have never voted alone. No matter the election – federal, provincial or municipal – we schlep our three children through rain, sleet, snow or sunshine to the designated polling station.

They like to follow the bright yellow signs pointing the way to the ballot boxes. They occasionally broadcast who we’re supporting to those around us in line (not cool, but what can you do?). We take them with us behind the cardboard fixtures so they can see the ballot, identify the candidates and the parties, and help us mark the X in the appropriate circle. They also lend a hand with putting our votes in the official box.

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Focus on economy a distraction

Published Sept. 21, 2015, in the Waterloo Region Record.

Forget that dreadful Globe and Mail debate last week. Yes, it was embarrassingly poorly conceived, badly organized and staged, and ineptly moderated. Worse, it served to reinforce the misconception being peddled by the Harper Conservatives that the economy is the only important issue in this election.

It isn’t. Continue reading

I thought a newspaper reader, Bill Phipps from Calgary, hit the nail squarely on the head the other day in a letter to the editor of the Globe. “Contrary to what the media would have us believe, the economy is not the only election issue,” Phipps wrote. “More important and deeper concerns are honesty, integrity, openness, respect for Parliament and MPs, for Canadian institutions such as the Supreme Court, respect for the democratic process, for honouring science and public servants. “Issues by which our compassion and justice will be judged are murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls, and the state of our criminal justice system, including prisons. Finally, the embracing reality of our time is climate change. All these matters are what is really at stake in this election.”


He’s right. All the campaign rhetoric about deficits or surpluses of a few billion dollars – relatively insignificant amounts in a $2 trillion economy – simply distracts voters from more vital causes. The state of our democracy is fundamental. Do our leaders respect Parliament, the courts and the principles enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Are they open and honest with the people, or do they cover up, mislead and at times lie to protect their own hides? Do they really care about the murder of aboriginal women or the plight of Syrian refugees?

We need to talk about these values. Are the parties committed to making Canada a better, fairer place to live, work and raise a family? Or are they satisfied with the country as it is? Have they listened to the majority of citizens who keep telling pollsters that they want change?

“Change” is four-letter word to Stephen Harper. He is satisfied with his management over the past 10 years. He is content that, to his eyes, the Canadian economy has outperformed other industrialized countries. “Where would you rather have been but in Canada?” he asked in the debate. “Looking forward, where would you want to be but Canada?”

Both opposition leaders advocate change. Thomas Mulcair, wary of being labelled a radical while he tries to manoeuvre the NDP into the safety of the political centre, is no Tommy Douglas. He does not call for sweeping change. His Canada sounds pretty much like Harper’s – deficit-free, but with higher corporate taxes, an increased minimum wage and a stronger social safety net. He would introduce his $15-a-day child-care program and, with the provinces, a national pharmacare program to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

At least Justin Trudeau is bringing some passion to the campaign. He interrupted his opponents repeatedly during the debate. “If you think things are great, then Harper is your guy,” he said at one point.

His message: Canada would be better under a Trudeau Liberal government, but just how it would be different from the Harper Conservatives – aside from massive federal investment in the nation’s infrastructure – remains unclear.

Trudeau’s passion may help in Ontario where voters are still trying to make up their minds. Seat projections put the Liberals well ahead in the province, but the race remains a three-way deadlock nationally.

It is going to take more than dreary quibbles over economic statistics to break the deadlock. It is going to take a vision from one of the leaders. If Trudeau or Mulcair cannot come up with something more compelling than they have so far – a vision that the 70 per cent of the electorate who say they want change can buy into – they will have only themselves to blame if they split the vote and Harper wins a fourth term.

Is it too much to ask: a vision based on Canadian values?

Vote Compass: Canadians say rich should pay more tax, divided on how to spur growth

Published on Sept. 16, 2015, on CBC News.

Canadians overwhelmingly believe corporations and the wealthy should pay more tax, but they’re split over major economic initiatives such as building more oil pipelines, according to the latest results from Vote Compass, CBC’s online voter engagement survey.

The economy has been the biggest issue in this election campaign so far, with the parties offering competing visions on how to spur jobs and growth — and on the subject of taxes.

Fiscal matters are bound to remain a major talking point this week as Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau take part in the second leaders’ debate, in Calgary on Thursday, which is to focus on the economy.

Read more. 

Seat projections show a tight race but one thing’s (almost) certain – a minority government

Published on Sept. 15, 2015, at Global News.

The latest outlook from the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) projects the NDP could pick up 120 seats, the Conservatives 116, and the Liberals 101. The projections are based on aggregated and weighted samples of polls from Ipsos, Nanos, Abacus, Ekos, Forum, and Innovative Research with a sample size of over 8,000 respondents.

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Anything can happen in next five weeks of this campaign

Published on Sept. 12, 2015, in the Waterloo Region Record.

There’s never been an election like this one.

“The fact you’ve got three political parties so close, it’s something we’ve never experienced,” says Barry Kay, political science professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and an expert on voting behaviour in Canada.

“We’re going to see lots of (party) leaders” in the next few weeks.

Read more.

Unconventional political figures arise in the U.S. and U.K.

Published by Barry Kay, on Sept. 11, 2015, in the Waterloo Region Record

At the same time that conventional political assumptions in Canada are being challenged by the NDP’s current, if fragile, lead in public opinion polls, we are witnessing an astonishing array of unconventional phenomena occurring in other nations we frequently identify with.

A particular example is the rise of fringe socialist Jeremy Corbyn, who seems poised to capture the U.K. Labour party’s leadership this weekend on a platform of nationalizing banks, railways and energy companies, as well as withdrawing Britain from NATO.

He also regularly expresses solidarity with such allies of the workers’ struggle as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Venezuelan regime.

Read more…

Three-way race seen in Brantford-Brant

Published on Sept. 10, 2015, in the Brantford Expositor.

The current party leanings of Brantford-Brant riding voters are “too close to call,” according to the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy.

Candidates who are particularly articulate and likeable can benefit but other factors such as just how many voters turn up or tune in also matter, Kay said.

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Liberal candidate Chris Brown apologizes for offensive booze-fuelled tweets

Published on Sept. 10, 2015, in the CBC News.

Liberal candidate Chris Brown has apologized for making profanity-laced remarks on Twitter, attributing them to booze-fuelled anger over the death of his partner in an accident involving a drunk driver.

Each party has vetting processes to screen candidates, but some background searches don’t turn up all the potentially damaging material. Usually, the goal of bringing it to light is not to discredit the individual candidate, but to damage the party brand, Perrella said.

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Liberals picking up momentum in Ontario, B.C., according to latest seat projections

Published on Sept. 8, 2015, on Global News.

The Liberal party has gained momentum, according to the latest seat projections from the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP), and is coming within striking distance of forming the official Opposition.

The Liberals have gained 17 seats, mostly in Ontario and Quebec, for a total of 103 since last week’s numbers. Liberal gains come at the expense of both the NDP and Conservatives, which have been hit hard, losing four seats, and 13 seats, respectively.

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Bloc to be shut out in Quebec as NDP momentum continues

Published on Sept. 1, 2015, on Global News.

The NDP is still projected to form government on Oct. 19 but the latest seat projections from the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) show the overall numbers mask fluctuating regional support and the probable demise of the Bloc Quebecois.

Read more…