03.11.2012 02:00 AM

In today’s Sun: they deserve to be beaten, but they won’t be

Living north of the Queensway, as they all do, some members of the Ottawa commentariat are telling us that the burgeoning Robocon scandal isn’t going to harm the Conservative regime.

They’re wrong, for the reasons they cite.

They’re right, for the reasons they don’t.

Let us explain: This week, the Toronto Star’s much-respected Chantal Hebert cited — with no apparent enthusiasm — two public opinion polls, by Ekos and Nanos, and declared the Conservative government’s support “rock solid.”


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    Visionseeker says:

    Bang On! A merger is desperately needed. Call it the Liberal-Democratic Party, the Democratic-Liberal Party, or simply the Democratic Party (completely respecting the precipes of democracy and 100% robocon (or related supression activities) free.

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    reformatory says:

    I’m not opposed to a merger, just not 100% convinced of its effectiveness. Had it not been for the sponsorship fiasco, the Liberals.. I believe would still be in power. There have been many times in history (not counting the Chretien years when the right was split), when the Liberal party was in government and the PC and NDP were in opposition – eventually the CONS will fall out of favour and the situation will be better.

    No matter who is in gov’t, parties stick to a centre/right course- because that is the agenda set by the corporate elite. Canadians see the Libs/Cons as one in the same and usually ( election campaigns, mood of the electorate, party organization, and image of the leader ) are the only thing that set the 2 parties apart.

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    reformatory says:

    I agree with WK’s article. Canadian public right now has parked their judgement and are waiting for more details to come out before they judge. That’s why the conservatives are scrambling like mad behind the scenes to control the message, cover their tracks, and control what gets leaks or what gets discovered. The sad thing is they are in gov’t and have more funds, which means they have more abilities to cover up anything they want.

    Harper is playing this out really smart, he learned from the Liberals fiasco and will not make the same mistakes. Elections Canada, and the RCMP is all we got to get to the bottom of this. The cons will try everything they got to stay one step ahead of both. I hope they don’t succeed… but Harper has gotten away with many things that he should not have in the past… Time will tell.

    Back to the NDP/Lib merger. If that happens then Canada will be left with only 1 centre/right party, emulating the US system. We all know the Republicans have been more successful in that battle. Merging the NDP/Lib. in my opinion would provide the CONS with a perennial advantage.

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    Realist says:

    @reformatory: Why do you think the Libs would still be in power? Isn’t it possible that the sponsorship scandal just hastened a trend that was already well-established? The Libs had already lost the prairies and were doing nothing to get them back. Their competitiveness in B.C. was becoming tenuous. In Quebec the Bloc had significantly reduced them even during the Chretien years. The redoubts were Ontario and Atlantic Canada, which left them extremely vulnerable to a united Tory party. As far as I could tell, they were doing nothing to solve these problems. Sponsorship was a big hit, but I think it would be a mistake to blame it exclusively for the Libs’ current state.

    As for a merger, call me crazy but I have the feeling most NDP’ers will not be keen to merge with a party that still can’t hide its disdain for its traditions and its members. The right (re-)united because its various pieces still had had a lot in common. The idea that the Libs and NDP should unite because they’re both something called “the centre left” ignores the huge cultural differences between them. I know, I’ve been a member of both.

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      Mandos says:

      Yes, you have hit the nail on the head. Is someone like, even, Warren himself willing to be part of a left-wing populist party? How many Liberals are willing to sit in the back seat, and remain in a party where hardcore socialists have real influence?

      How many of them would be willing to be in a party where a very large portion of the members are not sympathetic to Israel?

      If they are, then a merger might have a shot. Otherwise, it won’t work.

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      reformatory says:

      @Realist – Because Paul Martin would have still been leader, and he would have had corporate Canada behind him. He would have won over some West seats, made small gains in Quebec and kept the Ontario seats. The several blue liberals voters would not have voted conservative.. and the rest my friend would be history. You’re forgetting prior to Paul Martin’s collapse- Steven Harper was the laughing stock of all pundits and everyone was dismissing him in the same way they dismissed Stock Day. He got lucky- and was at the right place at the right time.

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    Cath says:

    good one today! Your conclusion is bang-on.

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    Mulletaur says:

    Merger is simply not on the agenda – party elites are not signing up for it, and the grassroots are sure as hell not interested. It wouldn’t help anyway, because all the right leaning Liberals and far left Dippers would run from a merged party. Cooperation at the riding level is possible, but politically difficult for the leadership of both parties – just to take one example, NDP leadership candidates aren’t exactly lining up behind Cullen’s vision of cooperation, are they ? In any case, the NDP is not going to be in the mood to cooperate as long as they think they have a good shot at the big prize – it will take at least another federal election to get beyond this.

    One way around all of this is to have an electoral system which gives voters a second opportunity to pick a winner in an individual riding if their first choice is doesn’t make it : the two round system is best, because it is the most transparent. We have a first round, and the top two local candidates go to the second round a week later. That would ensure that any voters who are inclined to cooperate at the riding level have their chance to do so. It would also eliminate the problem of ‘wasted’ votes. It might also lead to the birth of new political movements that can find political expression in the electoral system even though they have little chance of winning.

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      dave says:

      I am not sure that Cullen is talking about a merger.
      I think he is talking about cooperation at the next election, then, should he be Prime Minister, or in a strong position, his first action in government would be to modify the election system to give us either proportional rep, or partial proportional rep.

      In a way, he is talking about your idea of the two rounds. The first round would be the run off between the locals who are willing ot run, Libs and ND’s. Then the winner of that ‘primary’ would stand in the actual election – supposedly with support from enough Lib and ND voters to deny a Conservative the seat.

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        Michael says:

        One of the biggest problems with Cullen’s plan is that it necessitates that both the NDP and the Liberals not run a full slate of 338 candidates in the next election.

        The amount of money and resources a party is allowed to spend is dictated by the number of ridings in which it has candidates running. So for sake of example, let’s assume the NDP and Liberals 119 candidates (1/2 of 338). That means nationally they can only spend 1/2 as much as the Conservatives.

        To me that is like trying to fight with one hand tied behind your back, and it’s a recipe for disaster against a well funded, well oil Conservative election machine.

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          Tim says:

          I don’t think it’s illegal to put up a name who then has to go out and say “Don’t vote for me, don’t worry I can afford to lose my deposit.” Probably won’t end up being that simplistic a solution but where there’s a will there’s always a way. It’s the will that appears to be lacking in some quarters at the moment.

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        Mulletaur says:

        That simply won’t work. Liberal and NDP militants will not go for that, much less voters. It would mean a kind of joint primary – and for the reasons that I outline above, the NDP doesn’t want that at this point in their history, much less change their constitution to allow this to happen. The only way to truly gauge who has the best chance of winning is with the system I propose of run off elections. That is also the fairest way. It gives voters the initial choice, and then allows them to settle on a second choice in full knowledge of how others have voted in the first round.

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      reformatory says:

      For those of you proposing a merger/cooperation agreement/arrangement- it would be much more worthwhile to introduce Proportional Representation. Under that voting system – a new game would be born. Now that’s something the liberals should be proposing. That is much better than giving up on our identity and re-branding. Why the people advocating for a merger are so intent on giving up on the centre/right policy spectrum is beyond me.

      Since Trudeau– our country has only had Centre/Right gov’t. Canadians it has been well noted have moved further to the right. Why would anybody be proposing something that goes in the opposite direction of most Canadians. Harper’s majority at this moment was caused by the reaction that most Canadians had to the NDP surge. They wanted no part of it.. so they left the Liberals in droves and joined with Harper to keep the centre/right in balance.

      A merger would kill the LPC and the new party would be a loser at the ballot box.

      The only way it would work is if the Liberals took over the NDP and wiped them out as an option- but they remained centre/right but campaigned centre left in order to not let a third party re-emerge. But under todays climate.. that would never happen. The only possibility of that happening is to wait for the NDP to be re-delegated to third party status. Right now that is probable but not certain to happen.

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        reformatory says:

        I should also add..a correction…. Harper’s majority was also aided and abetted by the fact that they seem to have been involved in some elements of fraud. Okay.. Okay it was not just the matter of a spooked electorate fearing the NDP Bosheviks.

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    steve w says:

    “They will either keep Quebec and lose the ROC or vice versa.”

    I believe Nathan Cullen is marketable to both Quebecers and the country where Tom Mulcair would have Quebec but experience problems resonating in the RoC. Brian Topp I don’t believe is very marketable anywhere in the nation and am flummoxed as to why so many have endorsed him.

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    William says:

    A merger and mandatory voting will put and end to “conservative” rule.

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      JenS says:

      I just can’t get behind mandatory voting. Would I like people to be engaged and vote? You betcha. Do I want unengaged people going in and checking the first box because the are legally required to do so? No. It doesn’t in any way address the real issue, which is lack of engagement.

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    Philippe says:

    Good article as usual Warren. No so sure about the 2015 prediction though – that’s a hell of a long time away and a lot can & will happen between now & then.

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    Jason King says:

    “The public remains unconvinced it is any of those things.”

    And why should we take this as a legitimate statement? You tend to discredit points that dont agree with your worldview and try to obfuscate with bizarre points about David Suzuki, Alan Greenspan and Steve Fonyo that have nothing to do with the point or you start asking if Kennedy is a hero. And when you ask for corroboration and get it you go all silent.

    Why are we supposed to be convinced about anything you say?

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    kenn2 says:

    The public can recognize unethical behaviour, even if meets the letter of the law. The real question is whether they can overcome their cynical expectation that this crap will happen no matter who’s in power. The CPC is simply stoking that cynicism; it gives them the cover to operate as they wish without real repercussions. This will never get cleaned up unless we make them feel those repercussions.

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    Ed Stockelbach says:

    Well, it’s 3 years to the next election.

    That’s one hell of a long time. Now, politics is a combination of the empirical and the ‘inspirational’. When the stars are in the right alignment, we get leadership. Jack is dead, and there are no people in the ‘progressive’ cohort right now that have caught the public’s imagination. The Liberals do not need another Dion, or a Stanfield malaprop.

    IMHO, there is another 18 months-24 months for a ‘JFK’ to emerge. Continuing the American perspective, the Robocall Scandal is galvanizing Canadians who are thinking about this — and it’s not going away, because the web gives us a weapon. You ain’t heard nuthin’, yet.

    I am not a lawyer, but,

    IF YOU LIVE IN ONE OF THE “SCAMMED” RIDINGS, you might be able to sue Stevie and the CPC personally for damages, for violating your civil rights under the Canadian Constitution. Remember, if you don’t try, you don’t get.

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    Cameron Prymak says:

    ‘The public remains unconvinced it is any of those things.’

    ‘And yet, an Angus-Reid poll that just landed in our inbox finds that 44% of Canadians, including 17% of Conservative voters, agree with the statement that “the misleading robocalls definitely changed the outcome of the May 2011 federal election.” ‘

    From Chris Selley on Mar 6 in the National Post.


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      Unintelligentia says:

      I think Gord was referring to the “run from the very highest levels in the CPC” part.

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        Cameron Prymak says:

        There wasn’t any high level involvement in the Watergate break-in either but Nixon paid the price.

        I hope history doesn’t repeat itself but witness the partisanship of Del Mastro’s responses last week.

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    Chris P says:

    I’m not for a merger with the NDP…However, I’m open to looking at opportunities to merge with the Green Party.

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    bluegreenblogger says:

    lol Chris P. That train left the station years ago. The Green Party barely exists now, so there is nothing to merge with. Elizabeth May has her seat, and it will not serve her interests to be a little fish in a big Liberal pond. The rest of the Party is bankrupt, in disarray, and are wed to parochial (very parochial) hobby horses. It will not be particularily relevant by 2015. The GPC created the entire infrastruture of the Party, regional organisers, and formed EDA`s under Jim Harris in order to make sure that the per vote subsidy was maximised. It was dynamic for about 2 years, then imploded. The EDA`s were locally maintained basically because if an EDA met basic reporting requirements, they received a portion of the per vote subsidy. Even with funds flowing as a reward for filing returns, a whole lot of EDA`s failed to file returns and were de-certified in 2010 & 2011. (Quebec was the worst, when the only francophone organiser in the party was fired in order to divert her salary to the SGI Campaign pre-writ spending, the entire Province quit the Green Party, and that is not an exageration.) You do not have to worry about the GPC siphoning off votes in 85% of the countries ridings anymore. I doubt they will even find the usual crop of paper candidates. A very few of the stronger ridings will have some $$ in the bank, due to the campaign expenses rebate, but the number who qualified is much much lower than in prior elections. There will be no more than 25 solid candidates in 2015, and not a single serious contender for office except Elizabeth May. The absolute ceiling for them will bve 4%, more likely to slip back to under 2% without the subsidy to spur candidate recruitment

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    Geoffrey Laxton says:


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    Skinny Dipper says:

    I did observe the demonstration in downtown Toronto today. Two things occurred to me: First, there were less people in attendance than at the prorogation protest about two years ago–and the weather was nicer today. Second, there were less people in attendance at the Vote Suppression demonstration than those participating and watching the “Oppress and Beat up Those Dang Irish Parade” or the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Yonge Street.

    I think one reason why Harper’s Conservatives are still doing well in the polls is because his party mainly focusses on the economy. Put it another way, the Conservatives focus the bottom levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Canadians are interested in issues related to food, shelter, and clothing. These are basic needs. Illegal vote suppresion and other electoral frauds deals with higher needs of fairness. Unless the opposition can show a connection between electoral fraud and Harper’s poor handling of the economy, the Robocon scandal will have very little effect on the voters.

    If I watch the local news at 6 p.m., I bet the St. Paddy’s Day Parade will get more coverage than the vote suppression demonstration.

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      Dude Love says:

      To quote a Globe and Mail article on the protests:

      “There were modest turnouts of several dozen in Halifax and Montreal while local media outlets estimated the turnout in Toronto was in the hundreds.”


      Prorogation protests were in the thousands…

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        Warren says:

        Protests mean dick.

        All you need is three people to cause maximum damage:

        * Judge
        * Crown
        * RCMP witness with great documents

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          Skinny Dipper says:

          How come you weren’t in downtown Toronto today for the Irish demonstration, Mr. Cinnsealach?

          According to this website (http://www.kinsella.org/history/eanna.htm), you have a very interesting reputation.

          Based on this account, Cinnsealach means foul laugh. Other versions exist however:

          Cinn means head, point, chieftain, commander and selach means unclean, vile. So one version of Cinnsealach is “unclean head.”

          Another version, and one you could believe the druid would have uttered, is “vile chieftain.”

          One favored by an Irish family in Ireland is crest of a wave as the Gaelic word for sea or salt water is “saile.”

          Finally, according to a Gaelic dictionary, Cinnsealach means “authoritative.”

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            Warren says:

            Good research.

            Was crashed, actually. Bad Irish flu.

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    bza says:

    I am actually thinking of making Nathan Cullen my number one choice for the reasons you laid out in your piece. I don’t think there should be a full on merger since the histories of the parties are too different. Perhaps some other mechanisms whether it by primary nomination meetings or some other type ofinformal cooperation is the way to go.

    What has made Cullen my number one choice is that he has lately said that he is not attached to his policy proposal in a formal sense, he is flexible to how it could be adopted. So although the Liberals and Greens may not even go for the idea, I like the idea of electing a leader who would at least consider an olive branch to other progressive parties instead or ruling it outright like the other candidates. Topp or Mulcair would round out the rest of my top 3.

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      dave says:

      Same here…altho, Cullen is a kind of homeboy as well. I also like Mulcair and Topp, but I have Nash in there as well.
      Once that is done, my next step is this: I know Liberals say they are progressive, I have to convince myself that they act progressive. I have to find somewhere in their history an example of their acting progressive on their own intitiative.

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        Lawrence Stuart says:

        It’s a fair point. What does ‘progressive’ mean to you?

        To me, it means keeping the capitalist goose laying golden eggs, while making sure both that the gold, and the costs to clean up the turds it produces, are equitably distributed.

        And I’d hope we could probably have long, productive, discussions on what ‘equitably’ means.

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    Steven says:

    Is it just me or have the HarperCons been playing their “Economic Action Plan” propaganda ads with increased frequency lately?

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    JamesHalifax says:

    I don’t think the LIberals want to get involved with the current crop of Dippers. Wait until the next election, when half or more of the Quebec Dippers realize they are going to lose…….and reveal their true seperatist colours.

    I don’t know of any Liberals who would stick around for that. With all their Faults, the Liberals have always wanted a united Canada. (except Monsieur Trudeau (Justin) of course.

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