10.06.2015 11:59 PM

KCCCC Day 66: In this week’s Hill Times – the NDP are losing, and why

The NDP seems to be losing. How come?

By the time you read this, their barrage of anti-Trudeau attack ads may have put them back in contention. And perhaps Thomas Mulcair had a good showing in that final French-language debate, and he clobbered Stephen Harper. And maybe the party has figured out a way to get back to where they were — which was in the No. 1 spot, for many weeks.

But we doubt it. The NDP were losing ground last week, and they’re likely losing ground this week, too.

To some of us, it isn’t a surprise. Just about two months ago, this space offered up the following: “The New Democrats, flush from the victory in Alberta and a fistful of promising polls, have been dreaming about redecorating 24 Sussex. They seem confident, even cocky.”

Not so much anymore. The NDP war room has been AWOL from the start — and Tom Mulcair has sounded like Medicated Tom, not Angry Tom. His debate performance was the worst of all the leaders. And his party has badly stumbled over controversies involving candidates, on everything from keeping oil in the ground, to accusing Israel of war crimes.

In other words, the final weeks of the New Democrat election campaign strongly resemble the first few weeks of the New Democrat election campaign. That is, it assumed too much — that Tom Mulcair connected with voters (he didn’t), that the campaign’s messages were clear and were being heard (they weren’t), that running a classic frontrunner campaign was a good idea (it wasn’t).

To be fair to the Dippers, most everyone else thought they were going to win, too. People were saying “Prime Minister Mulcair” out loud, and plenty of us were talking out loud about transition to the coming democratic socialist rapture, too.

No longer. The Dippers are dipping, badly, and it is happening at precisely the wrong time. How did it come to pass? Three reasons.

One, Tom Mulcair has lost just about every debate in which he participated. For any other leader, in an era where no normal person watches debates anymore, this should not have been fatal. But for Mulcair, it was.

Remember all those glowing reviews Mulcair used to get from Ottawa-based journalists who still cling to the notion that Question Period is relevant? Remember that? They were in awe of the NDP leader, regularly regaling the rest of us with tales about his prosecutorial fury, his superior debating skills. They spared no glowing adjective.

As a result, the press gallery raised expectations that Mulcair would easily win every single debate. Mulcair and his advisers started to believe their own press clippings, too, which is never a good thing. When it came time for show time, however, Mulcair disappointed, big time. He sounded like he’d been sedated. His smile looked like it was plastered on, like the Joker in a Batman movie. And he was bested, more than once, by Justin Trudeau (the shame!).

Two, the NDP brain trust didn’t take any chances. They didn’t take any risks.

Here’s what I wrote about risk-taking almost a decade ago in my book The War Room (which still makes an excellent Christmas or Hannukah gift!):

“God gave us all necks so we can stick them out. Voters — and consumers, and citizens, and the news media, and just about any sentient being — are astute. They know when you are playing it safe. They know when you are being timid. When they sense you are being deliberately boring, they tune you out, sometimes permanently. Or, even worse, they will conclude that you are hiding something, that you have the much-feared ‘hidden agenda,’ and that you are accordingly dishonest. In politics, at least, it’s a paradox: taking no risks is in itself risky. So, in your campaign for votes or sales or support, it’s okay to occasionally take a few risks. Be a bit louder, be a bit faster, be a bit funny, be a bit more aggressive. Most of all, be more creative. You won’t always win, but one thing is for sure. You’ll never win if you don’t try.”

The NDP didn’t try. They played it too safe.

Third mistake? Mulcair did what Andrea Horwath and Olivia Chow did. He moved to the right, big time. On deficits, on defence, on doing just about anything in government: the New Democrat leader didn’t sound like a New Democrat, at all.

In his mad dash to get to the centre, he left behind his bewildered core vote — and he left everyone else bewildered, too. Election time, as Horwath and Chow discovered the hard way, is no time to toss out everything everyone ever believed about you. Among other things, it’s confusing. Ask Andrea Horwath and Olivia Chow: it also results in a lot of tears on election night.

At the end of all this, however, it is indeed possible the New Democrats will figure out a way to scratch and claw their way back to the top. But it’s more likely they’ll end up being what they usually are between elections in Canada.

Which is, just a parking lot for voters.



  1. I don’t think so… 🙂

  2. Peter says:

    A lot of leftist Dippers would agree that “running from the right” is a mistake and, if Mulcair doesn’t do well, they’ll try to launch one of those take-no-prisoners internal ideological battles the left is famous for, but I’m not buying it. Do we really believe Mulcair would do well running on the LEAP programme? There is much too much romantic nostalgia in leftist thinking today. In the ROC, they have become essentially an urban core party that has little to say, and little respect to give, to anyone else.

    The left is famous for its smugness and intractable belief they are smarter than everyone else. They live to go toe to toe with the ideological right, but what many of them simply don’t understand is that most of the public is not doctrinaire and consumed by politics, and they really don’t know what to say to them. Although they are always calling for dialogue on this or that (the leftist is the one who keeps trying to divert the dinner party conversation away from hockey and vacations to Harper’s latest outrage), they basically hope they can indoctrinate the “decent muddled middle”. Salivating at the prospect of taking on neo-liberals and other principled adversaries, they become puzzled and frustrated if anyone takes a pass to watch the Jays or stand in the street for hours to see the latest visiting royal. False consciousness among the masses is too ingrained in their worldview for them to have much respect for electoral politics.

    • SD says:

      Tom Mulcair is offering $15 per day childcare plus a minimum wage of $15 for federally regulated workers. I do think that he is offering a balance of progressive and centrist policies. I will agree that there are New Democratic supporters in downtown Toronto who are ideological purists when most of the population do not share their points of view. Ideological purity will not win an election.

      • Peter says:

        I like Mulcair, but the knives have been out for him since before the election was called. When the Cons and Libs have to bounce a candidate for saying something stupid, most of their supporters have to good grace to be embarrassed, but a lot of Dippers complain theirs are being muzzled for speaking the truth. The niqab is a tough issue and I give him credit for courage, but a lot of his supporters indulged in a wholesale dismissal of almost the entire Quebec population as irredeemable xenophobes riding a wave of Islamophobia. In an election campaign towards their stronghold!! Laxer is quoted today as saying his full frontal against the TPP is an appeal to his base–a funny thing to be focusing on two weeks before polling day. How is staying outside the Pacific Rim to protect Ontario manufacturers playing in B.C.?

        If challenged, they will unapologetically boast about being true to their principles. It’s almost as if they think the fact that most of the public doesn’t share them is a feature, not a bug. The man should get danger pay.

      • reader says:

        But those two planks are rather modest. The $15 wage is for 2019 when Alberta will already be at that level and by which time it will affect at most 10’s of thousands of people, at worse just 1000’s. It won’t impact on the vast majority of Canadians.

        Similarly, the $15 daycare is to be implemented over 8 years and the million spaces includes existing spaces. Since Ontario has 2 full years of kindergarten and Quebec has daycare, the two largest provinces may see nothing or very little impact by 2019. Given how much this program costs in Quebec and how much money is allocated for it over the first 4 years which includes money to compensate for existing spaces, it would also seem to have little impact over the 4 years of a majority government.

        By contrast, many of Trudeau’s proposals are immediate and take priority over balancing the budget, including the improved child benefit which will lift 300K children out of poverty. Progressiveness should not have to wait given that Canada does not have a huge debt/GDP ratio while Canadian families are heavily in debt.

        • ralphonso says:

          The Liberal platform is really well constructed from a political perspective.

          It can be sold as right leaning (program review, “efficiencies”, tax breaks) or as left leaning (spending, child benefit).

          It is a testament to the Liberal campaign that they’ve managed to sell a budget that borrows money and cuts taxes as left wing. That’s not a critique. That’s an honest congratulations. The child benefit revamp certainly won’t actually lift 300 000 children out of poverty, but that’s not the metric that matters. It is impressive.

          But what is even smarter is that it is largely void of actual commitments to most voters.

          And there are only two immediate, things that the Liberals have to follow through on:

          1. “Middle class” tax cut – stroke of a pen implementation
          2. Revamp of child benefit – stroke of a pen implementation

          That’s it.

          No one will be howling “where is my bridge? my highway? my subway”? The family reunification stuff is boutique. There are no health care promises to judge them on. The other money announcements are just filler for campaign stops.

          The platform may be a complete policy mirage – but that’s not what elections are about. It is a brilliant piece of political strategy. This will be studied for ages.

          • doconnor says:

            “No one will be howling “where is my bridge? my highway? my subway”?”

            With their large but unspecified infrastructure spending, people can imagine their bridge or subway being built even if it may not.

          • MississaugaPeter says:

            If Trudeau does not become Opposition leader at least, it will not be studied at all.

            The Liberal document is no different from Harper’s 2% GST cut, an attempt to buy voters with debt that our children will be paying interest on in 30 years.

            No different from Trudeau Senior, when Canada’s debt grew 900% from $14B in 1968 to $129B in 1984. Over 30 years later, one generation later, we still have not paid down that debt and continue to pay $2B/year interest on it.

            With his economic brilliance, and buying an election with a GST cut, Harper in his 9 years has also almost added the same amount of debt, over $120B. Another $2B/year in interest for our children and grandchildren.

          • ralphonso says:

            Trudeau will certainly be opposition leader if not Prime Minister. And infrastructure spending branding – that`s easy to do. The Liberal party platform highlights exactly nothing, nada, zip, zilch of detail in what the spending will be on – so the public can`t hold them to account for specific projects. The NDP backroom has gotta be tearing their hair out while the Liberal back room can`t believe their luck.

          • David Bronaugh says:

            Eh; that’s not really true. That was a time of high inflation. If you look at it in inflation-adjusted terms, it grew by a factor of about 2.5. Not great, but you don’t need to exaggerate.

            Slicing it another way, as a percent of GDP it increased from 22% to 28%.

            Source: https://nationalpostcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/gdp.jpg

      • Mike says:

        Except that those two policies are a mirage.

        The $15 min wage is only in federally regulated industries and effects relatively few people. Most employed in federally regulated industries already make more than $15/hr

        And there are so many holes in the day care plan I’m not even sure where to start. It’s going to take 8 years to implement, so those that are going to benefit from it are two years away from being born. And it is totally dependent on co-operation from the provinces. We all know how that works out. Some provinces are already talking about wanting to count spaces they have already created towards the total. The NDP daycare policy is one of those that sounded good on paper (for political reasons) but no one bothered to work out the details.

    • doconnor says:

      I think your analysis of the left is good, but it not clear what can be done. It’s hard to uneducate yourself.

      Maybe if we put the carbon tax vs cap and trade debate in terms of salary cap vs luxary tax.

    • Lou says:

      Spot on..Those in the left that fall into the smug category, think we who dont vote for them are simply incapable of grasping their superior being .. They dont realize that we look at what they offer , consider it and reject it , consistently …Notley may have caused a big boost in their hopes but her fortunes have crashed and burned , fed umbers in Alberta are in the dumpster , that ultimately harmed the Feds … Something for everyone , populist politics at its worst and the swing to centrist policies left many wondering when the other shoe would drop , when would the hard left in the NDP demand its due …Mulclair is no longer a factor … Its my belief Canadians hate coalitions and it would not suprise me if they put an explanation mark on this election by voting in a majority …

    • That might have been true in a not-so-distant past, but the NDP has changed tremendously. The NDP today is 1:francophones, 2:women, 3:young people, 4:new canadians, 5:first nations. None of these people fits into the image you’re painting which mostly depicts old stock anglophone canadian males. The New New Democrats were, for many, Liberals or Conservatives, the love the Blue Jays, the Pan Am Games, even the Royals! Canada hasn’t understood yet what happened in 2011. You’ll soon realize. Le changement, c’est maintenant!

  3. Brammer says:

    Mulcair and Trudeau both offer a message of hope vs. fear and unity over division. However, Trudeau chose political expediency over principle by voting for C-51. Mulcair did not.

    • John from Saskatoon says:

      They all use fear. Fear those mean Conservatives. Harper has destroyed Canada. Gives money to the rich. His hidden agenda. Give it up already claiming the Libs and NDP offer hope over fear. None of them do.

    • Jack D says:

      Give it a rest.

      The C51 issue clearly didn’t turn into the ace-in-the-hole issue for the NDP so you can stop pretending like Mulcair is the principled Jesus that he isn’t.

      I’m a Liberal, I wasn’t ecstatic that we voted in favour of it, but I’m confident that it can be amended (gutted) to a point where only the absolutely necessary parts remain.

      The NDP’s strategy on this issue is exactly why people get turned off by the over exuberance of self-righteous Dippers. Mulcair has wasted no breath in repeatedly mentioning the bill at every possible opportunity as a political tactic and nothing more. If this truly was a matter of principle and consciousness for our civil rights then he would’ve directed those attack at Harper, not Trudeau.

  4. You don’t get the sense that you can easily like and trust Mulcair. With Harper, Canadians have seen an unlikable guy for the better part of fifteen years. The opposition all those years ago tried to evoke images of “scary Harper” or “secret agenda Harper” and yet he one. Part of the reason for that, I think, is that people know what they’re getting with the man whereas with Thomas Mulcair, it’s just plain old hard to like the guy. He was terrible in the debates. When he opens his mouth he sounds like he’s talking down to you or as my wife says, he is mansplaining everything. And for me, I don’t get the sense that Mulcair really is a dipper like Jack Layton was. At least with Harper, love him or loathe him, you know that he’s a life long conservative with deeply entrenched values. With Mulcair, there’s no substance. I think he’s gone after this election – the NDP can’t win with him as leader.

    • cgh says:

      Very good points. You used a key word which hasn’t been heard much on this site: “values”. Elections are at least as much about the character of the leader and his team as they are about abstract policy questions. It’s only partly about likeability. In large part it’s about the sense of whether or not a leader is being consistent and coherent in explaining who he or she is and what he or she stands for. Voters may not like for whom they vote. What they really want to know is what is on the inside consistent with public appearance and statements. In short, what you see is actually what you get.

      Ronald Reagan was a prime example of this. Nearly all of his speeches talked about values, his own and those he believed to be those of the United States. And he was comfortable talking about values. He was somewhat likeable, but more importantly Americans knew what he stood for. As a result, hordes of centrist Democrats voted for him in both his national elections, even though some of his campaign platform planks were obvious nonsense, i.e. Star Wars.

      And this is where the two opposition parties seem to have got themselves in trouble. It’s become apparent, not just over this campaign but over the previous couple of years, that the respective leaders of the Liberals and New Democrats will do or say just about anything to draw in voters and political support. But with Harper there’s no doubt after 15 years that Canadians know who he is and what he stands for. And he’s been pretty consistent without a lot of waffling. But with Mulcair and Trudeau, they’ve been all over the map, depending upon the issue. It’s not clear that either of them have any values other than “vote for me”.

      • Luke says:

        I always take issue with conservatives seeming to own ‘values’ issues, especially when we start talking about ‘family values,’ which seems to get equated to being an asshole who is against gay marriage/homosexuality and the like. Why do ‘progressive’ politicians not do more to present their side as being, in part, values-based? My values determine, to a great deal, my political status as a somewhat lefty type. I believe there is morality in governing for the benefit of future generations, tackling poverty and homelessness, individual freedoms, basing decisions on evidence (where there is evidence), etc. I don’t think it is a tough sell, either. I think someone like Trudeau can pull off putting a ‘values’ component into the progressive message. I think he does this to some degree, which is probably why I give him the benefit of the doubt quite readily. I also think Nathan Cullen could do this convincingly. He would be a good choice for leader (and the one they should have picked last time).

        • cgh says:

          Read my post again, Luke. This isn’t about conservative values, family values or any other kind of left-right morality. it’s about honesty. Does a leader have values, whatever they are, and govern accordingly? Harper’s values are clear, whether you like them are not, and he’s never deviated significantly from them, and he’s never particularly hid them.

          With the other two, it’s quite different. All of their positioning on issues seems to be one of pure political tactics.

          And be careful who you call conservative. I disagree with a lot of the fam-val stuff from modern conservatives, but at least I know where they stand.

          • Luke says:


            I wasn’t meaning to imply one way or another whether you were conservative or otherwise, if that’s what you took from my post. I also wasn’t attempting to distract from your point about leaders projecting values, or not I agree Harper is a known quantity, like him or not. He is as he has been. It’s probably his best attribute at this point.

            I was just noting that a values-based approach is both feasible and advisable on the progressive side.

        • Nicole says:

          It is similar to how conservatives have co-opted “Christian” values by supporting corporations and tax cuts for the rich, when if you take a look at the New Testament, it is all about Jesus giving to the poor and helping those in need. Nowhere does it say that people who are poor deserved it and just need to work harder.

    • Dear God, I spelled “won” wrong. Obviously need my glasses next time.

    • bobbie says:

      Excellent points Sean.

  5. DougM says:

    “For any other leader, in an era where no normal person watches debates anymore, this should not have been fatal.”

    I always knew I was a little different from my friends and family. On a serious note, it was the niqab issue that sent the NDP newcomers away to other parties. Whether media, pundits, or Tom Mulcair like it or not, the majority of Canadians see the niqab as oppression. Since the French language debate the NDP have been sliding down ever since.

  6. Maps Onburt says:

    Wow. Spot on Warren. From all the partisan Joliet than thou posts of the rabid NFL partisans, it was clear that they felt Mullaney was going to wipe the floor with Junior Trudeau and that everyone just had to share their hatred and absolute disdain for the current PM so they were already measuring the drapes for 24 Sussex and that’s never a good thing to do. You saw your in the wacky Leap Manifesto but also in the posts of their supporters. They were bound set and determined to take Canada way left of centre damn the torpedoes.

    I don’t think Muscle it has completely lost this just yet and he is the natural opposition leader on issues like TPP where he will seem a lot more comfortable in his shoes and genuine to Canadians. That should earn him some points back from his base (even if I earnestly disagree with their positions). It sure will be an interesting couple of weeks.

    Given the debate of the past new days of Nanos vs the world (and thanks for the pointer to my post Warren, it wasn’t unnoticed), it’s interesting to see that Nanos has the Liberals coming down this am – everywhere except Atlantic Canada and a slight rise in BC. Of course his headline is “Two way race between Liberals and Conservatives continues, NDP nine points back of front runners”. Could this be the beginning of a Long March to bring his polls back to where everyone else is? Who knows, but it will be fun to watch all the heads explode at the thought of PM Stephen Harper potentially taking another majority! You can just see all the strident DHS players coming out of the wood work. They even dragged out the tiny angry Newfie. Next we’ll have to listen to Maude Barlow and Margaret Atwood. Oh the horrors!

    • Scott says:

      You mean Nanos and Leger and Innovative vs Forum, Ekos and Mainstreet. Ipsos is a wash. Mainstreet isn’t worth a second glance. They have produced some serious outliers.

  7. Cory says:

    The NDP campaign was boring. Can anybody honestly point out any policy announcement of theirs that was interesting or novel? It seems like everything the proposed was just the usual stuff that all parties on the left talk about always: more money for students, more money for daycare, more money for healthcare…

    You may disagree with what Trudeau proposed, deficits for example, but at least he caught the public’s attention.

  8. Ted Heighington says:

    Mulcair is an excellent, terse PM prosecutor, debater and status quo challenger as Opposition Leader. A respected and much-needed HOC devil’s advocate.

    But take those same qualities and put Mulcair on a soapbox alone as a public speaker and potential leader, and he loses all his effectiveness and like-ability.

    His gruff style, and yes the beard, work well on one side of the House, but are detracting and eerie on the other side. Nothing the NDP has proposed or proffered is taking them south in the polls. It’s strictly because we have been over-exposed in the media to Mulcair, the smiling individual, and not admiring him as the PM’s old, angry prosecutor….

  9. SD says:

    Tom Mulcair’s campaign during the summer was fine. He was able to consolidate the support of loyal NDPers. However, after Labour Day, he did not become more aggressive against both Harper and Trudeau. He was still happily talking about how he comes from a family of one of ten children. That is one mistake. Don’t talk about yourself. Talk about the voters and their lives.

    The $15 per day childcare policy is a good one to attract votes. However, in Quebec, the people already have cheap childcare. Tom is offering nothing new to Quebeckers.

    I do think that Tom Mulcair has offered a good balance of progressive and centrist policies. However, he has played things too safely. He hasn’t explained what kind of Canada he wants. He’s presented policy after policy without any connection on how these would connect in making Canada a better country. As for Andrea Horwath and Olivia Chow, Ms. Horwath promised lower auto insurance rates and some accountability office. Unfortunately, many people who live in downtown Toronto do not drive. As for the accountability office. what was that? Olivia Chow reminded me of the woman on The Simpsons who shouted “Won’t somebody think of the children?” I did notice that Ms. Chow’s issue priorities did not match the general public’s whereas John Tory did.

    Tom Mulcair needs to become Angry Tom. He needs to get angry at the kind of Canada Harper has created. He also needs to get angry at the kind of Canada that Trudeau could lead. Harper’s Canada is a mean, racist country. Trudeau will likely become a flip flopper. All of his promises won’t mean a thing as he will likely break most of them. Be passionate! Demonstrate your desire to lead the country, Tom.

    • SD says:

      I went going to three Tom Mulcair rallies. He basically talked about the same thing at all three. I skipped the fourth rally because I figured it was going to be the same as the other three.

      • Mike says:

        Every leader of every party does the same rally every time. And gives the same speech at every rally. If it’s Tuesday it must be Rimouski.

        That’s why Don Guy says to candidates “it’s not the first time you’ve heard it, but it’s the first time they’ve heard it”

    • Maps Onburt says:

      I probably shouldn’t offer campaign advice to the opposition but you dippers crack me up. No wonder you are in third. Even if Harper is sitting at 35% (and I don’t think he’s there), the absolute most “angry Tom” could get form him is 5% AT BEST. 30% will vote COC or nothing. What is more likely to happen is he’ll drive that 5% to Trudeau who has the momentum. Going after Harper is the last thing he should be doing when he’s in third place (it did make sense when he was ahead). He needs to knock trudeau down to third and ONLY then go after Harper. Do you want to win or just hate Harper? He’s like a red flag to you.

      • SD says:

        I appreciate your advice and those from others. It’s not just policies that matter, but also the “values” that a leader and his/her party holds and a vision for the country. What kind of Canada does Tom Mulcair want?

  10. MississaugaPeter says:

    You could tell the NDP were not deep in talent or arrogant when their Director of Communication had just 2 years earlier tweeted that the pope should f*** himself.

    You could tell the NDP were not deep in talent or arrogant when they forgave the said Director of Communications. It was the start of many bad decisions. Look at how quick Grewal was dumped yesterday by the Conservatives. A riding they had a half decent chance of winning, they quickly took the distraction out, even though they could not replace him.

    The message should have been “Responsible Change”, to counter Trudeau’s “Over the Top Change” or “Reckless Change”, but a lack of talent or arrogance …

    • ralphonso says:

      Their message was responsible change. And it has faltered.

      The reality is that no one believes platforms or positions or promises. It doesn’t matter what you say you will do, just how you come across.,

      Layton did well last time because he was different. Mulcair is not different. Trudeau is (maybe a little too different!)

      In the end, the whole “running via the center” mantra is really just Conservative and Liberal talking points. The NDP’s positions haven’t really changed substantially in the last three or four elections. What has changed is the Liberals ability to convince people the NDP has changed – and for that, kudos to you Liberal campaign team. Well done.

      • MississaugaPeter says:

        If the message was responsible change this old hack missed it. I guess I need it spelled out in the commercials and the backdrops.

        On NDP.ca, the headline has nothing to do with change, it is “Tom has a plan – do you?” To answer the NDP question, yes, this Orange Liberal initially planned to vote for you, but now I am voting Green!

        While on the website, lots of stock photos, where is the outrage that was blasted on the CONS for doing the same?

        • ralphonso says:

          That`s the point. Measured change is not anger and outrage. It is planning, experience, capability, competency, etc.

          The NDP understood the mood for change, but missed the type of change people wanted. They didn`t want steady eddy, they want a fresh face, someone different from the rest. Policies, platforms, etc are just used to support perceptions of difference.

  11. Pat says:

    Their war room wasn’t even smart enough to out-bribe the CBC.

  12. bobbie says:

    Bottom line for me is:

    1) The NDP misread the Alberta “revenge” vote and based their campaign on Notley fumes. Mistake. Remember that Notley said that HER NDP was NOT Tom’s NDP.
    2) They’ve run a really bad campaign. Campaigns matter.
    3) Mulcair is STILL, the more unknown of the three main party leaders and it’s looking like the more we see him the less we like him.
    4) When you stand for everything you stand for nothing.

    The Dipper implosion will be the story of this campaign. Trudeau will replace Mulcair as leader of the official opposition in a large Harper minority government.

  13. Matt says:

    Mulcair also seems to be ignoring anything that interferes with his talking points.

    As Richard Madan of CTV reported yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Trade and senior government officials set up a conference call yesterday to give the leaders details of the TPP agreement.

    Elizabeth May was the only one to join the call.

    Guess learning details of the agreement would throw a wrench into his and Trudeau’s criticisms of “Harpers secret deal”

  14. Alex says:

    I am not convinced that the NDP collapse is finished. If you look at the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections, Jack Layton received roughly between 15.5% to 17.5% of the vote. I believe that this is the hardcore NDP base. Right now they are in the 22% to 24% range. If the Dippers fall to these levels (or even 2 to 4 percentage points more), and the bulk of these votes go to the Grits, then we could see a Liberal government.

    I still think the Cons will win, and that a Harper majority is possible. But Trudeau being PM is also possible. Know hope.

    • Kelly says:

      I think you are basically right. Especially if the Cons keep pushing the Niqab thing and openly running against Muslims (I mean Jason Kenney basically used an ethnic slur against the Muslim mayor of Calgary — referring to Nenshi as “people like you” — for Pete’s sake) . If that happens I wouldn’t be surprised to see some prominent Progressive Conservatives (your Joe Clarks and Brad Walls — who called Harper’s policy of denying medical care to refugees un Canadian and then simply defied him on it) to come out and condemn Harper which could push some soft Con voters toward the Liberals, as well. So if the Libs pick up another 5 points from the NDP and another 2 from sickened moderate Cons — the few who haven’t already been run out of the party — Trudeau will be PM. Otherwise I think it’s 2008 all over again with a Con minority and the Bloc holding back the NDP and Liberal from forming a coalition government.

      • Cory says:

        Anybody who would be influence by Joe Clark’s opinion has long left the Conservative party, especially since he campaigned for the Liberals in the last election.

        With all these old has-been enemies of Harper coming out in the media to declare him the devil incarnate I’m expecting Garth Turner to show up anytime now.

        • Kelly says:

          Joe Clark won’t influence the core con vote but he could influence blue liberals still sitting on the fence…nervous about the economy but disgusted by the racism that permeates the Reform party remnant currently in control of the (Phoney) Conservative party. Particularly women voters. When the two veiled muslim women were physically attacked (one in Montreal and the other in Toronto) and when Jason Kenney used an ethnically charged “people like you” statement to characterize the Muslim mayor of Calgary a shift happened. At that point people of good will realized that, wow the cons really are dangerous and we are seeing the NDP crash as the shift to Trudeau picks up steam. A little like a few years ago when a bunch of Liberals and NDP supporters joined the Alberta PC party to stop far rightists Ted Morton from winning the leadership of the Alberta PCs and becoming premier. Similar shift to the NDP in the provincial election (Liberal vote collapsed). The reverse will happen federally as NDP support shifts to Liberals to get rid of Harper.

  15. A. Voter says:

    Was it wise to talk about raising corporate taxes when most of our media is corporate owned? When Margaret Wente and Conrad Black are praising Trudeau, it seems as if there’s an agenda to sink the NDP. The bad NDP campaign is their main problem though. The blogger Teddy On Politics, who claims to be more accurate than 308ridings, believes the NDP could get 150 seats still. Depends on the vote split in close ridings likely.

    • Matt says:


      Conrad Black likes something Harper is doing – HE’S A CONVICTED CRIMINAL they scream.

      Conrad Black says something complementary about Trudeau – Even Conservative Conrad Black LIKES TRUDEAU. HE’S AWESOME.

      • Scott says:

        Get real Matt. They were pointing out that a hard core Con was praising Trudeau. No one said they liked Black.

        • Christian says:

          Being praised by the likes of Black and Wente is NOT a compliment nor an endorsement anyone should seek. Rather my advice would be do the opposite of what they suggest and more importantly watch your back.

        • ralphonso says:

          Nah, let’s get honest. If Conrad was writing that about the NDP we’d all be all over it! I know it is hard, but let’s try for adult discussion here.

          • Scott says:

            Are you talking to me? Cause if you are you’re a dimwit. I merely pointed out what was said not what I thought about it. And by the way, I’m pretty sure I was an adult before you were born.

    • Vancouverois says:

      The NDP could get up to 338 ridings still: the vote hasn’t been held yet.

      However, it seems to me that their chances of getting as high as 150 are not all that much greater than their chances of getting 338. Unless there is a major shift in the last week of the campaign, they seem likely to fall below Layton levels of success.

  16. Mike says:

    Perception is reality.

    With Harper what you see is what you get. At this point Harper has lived up to expectations. (or down to depending on your perspective)

    Mulcair and the NDP talked themselves up way too much. Tom was the experienced minister, the prosecutor in chief, the competent manager. When the campaign flopped like a limp biscuit voters were disappointed, and now aren’t going to vote NDP because they did not live up to the hype.

    Trudeau and his team have done a great job of managing expectations. The CPC and the NDP helped them out. Both Harper and Mulcair thought Trudeau was beneath them. The CPC had the attack ads, but the NDP were selling the “just not ready” line just as much. They both did Trudeau a huge favour.

    When Trudeau walked onto the stage of the first debate wearing pants, he had won.

    The CPC may yet win this election, the NDP certainly won’t. But Trudeau and the Liberals have set themselves up for a good run over the next 10 to 15 years. And that is no small miracle given that on 2011 every journalist in Canada had written the Liberal Party obituary.

    • Bluegreenblogger says:

      I am a supporter of Trudeau, and the Liberal Party. One of the reasons I supported Trudeau is that he has assembled a competent team, that I trusted to look ahead instead of re-fighting old battles. I have watched over the past two years as they tinkered with responses to attack ads, and basically crafted, in full public view, the antidotes for the expected Conservative, and NDP tactics. My point is that If no-one takes you seriously enough to notice when you blunt their sharpest tools, then it is not surprising that when it actually counts they are caught by surprise. I am also a Monty Python fan. In the Holy Grail movie, there is a scene when Lancelot attacks a castle single handed to rescue the fair maiden. He runs about a kilometer across a field, waving his sword and shouting. Then he gets to the gate and shouts ‘surprise!’ as he chops down the guards. My point is that watching it happen in real life is quite astounding. Trudeau has been doing much the same thing since the leadership. Testing and probing for solutions to known problems. Now we are surprised that the expected vote shift favours him? All he did was incorporate his opponents spending into his own narrative.

    • ralphonso says:

      Exactly right on the pants comment. It was meant to be derisive but actually was pretty much bang on. I think it was the turning point of the campaign. Trudeau is actually a very bad debater, but he knew no one was watching other than select clips.

      As for writing off the party in 2011, pretty much no-one did. Let’s not get too self-congratulatory here. The NDP’s popularity fell within six months. The party was polling well for three of the last four years and has recovered from both hard work, and excellent platform and a colossal NDP screw up.

      • Scotian says:

        With all due respect, I have to take exception with your assertion that no-one wrote the Lib party off as a viable political force for the next few elections, assuming it survived at all for that matter, in 2011. I recall that period very clearly and the best anyone saw coming for the Libs for at least the next couple of election cycles was a long painful rebuilding before being seen as a serious contender again, much as happened to the PCPC after 1993. I would also suggest that part of why the NDP fell after those 6 months is because Layton was gone, and for that matter there were some left with the feeling that they were taken for a ride by Layton given how swiftly he first stepped down as leader right after the election and then passed away, in that he knew he was seriously sick/dying during the campaign yet rebuffed sharply aka hid any health questions when asked of him and his party. Following that with the NDP supporters splintering due to the leadership race starting and of course there would be some decline.

        No, the Liberals were clearly believed to be a spent force for the rest of this decade after election night 2011, and with good reason. Their national infrastructure had been shattered, their local riding/constituencies had also been pounded into the ground, and they were massively broke and had still not figured out after 6 years how to change their fundraising into a successful method even after two leaders. With all of those negatives the best anyone could see for the Libs in the rest of this decade was maybe coming back into Official Opposition status AT BEST, and even that was seen as an at least two election cycle long shot.

        Indeed, one of the things that has most impressed me about Justin Trudeau and convinced me to sign onto his Liberal team this time out is how he managed to take a party that destroyed and rebuild it this effectively. He not only did it at the national level, he also did it at the riding/constituency level, and THAT is something very impressive indeed! It showed a level of political leadership ability and organizational management rarely seen in this nation, and he did so quietly one day at a time. Not to mention the way he fundamentally revamped the fundraising machinery into the competitive with CPC machine it is now.

        Whatever else, it seems clear Trudeau is well on the way to at least doubling or tripling his caucus size as the worst case scenario with the possibility of becoming PM Trudeau in either minority or even possibly majority as the best on Oct 19th. He has shown he earned and deserved his leadership win, and that his name may have gotten his foot in the door, but it was the rest of his skills and abilities that got him not just the rest of the way in but invited to stay for dinner. Trudeau is the only leader I see coming out of this election looking stronger and better for it at this point, whatever the final results in terms of who forms government, and that is in no small part because of how far he has brought the Libs back in so short a period of time, and done so with substance and hard work. This is no flash in the pan one shot effort that will fall apart after this election cycle ends, he truly rebuilt this Liberal party back into a real viable national party in ways his two predecessors could not, and they had had much more resources and a better position to do so with than he did.

        THAT is what makes this recovery that much more remarkable, and why I so strongly disagree with your assessment regarding where the Libs were and how they were seen after the 2011 election defeat debacle. At this point I think Liberals are entitled to feel more than a little self-congratulatory on this point, although I would also personally suggest waiting a couple more weeks before actually really letting themselves feel it given there is still an important election to be finished.

        • Vancouverois says:

          It showed a level of political leadership ability and organizational management rarely seen in this nation, and he did so quietly one day at a time.

          It was his family name.

          He certainly did the groundwork — he showed that he was capable of that the first time he ran for MP. So I suppose he deserves full credit for not coasting on his name, and using the cachet it gives him to full advantage.

          Still, it was his family name.

          • Scotian says:


            I’ve always acknowledged his family name gave him a good starting point, but to pull off what was pulled off, that takes a HELL of a lot more than just that starting point! My point is I watched as he went around the nation rebuilding his party from the ground up, I watched the day to day repair work he was doing, and sure, his name helped, but there was still a lot more organizational skill involved in making such full use of it to rebuild that broken a party into this level fighting shape, and in 2 years at that. In fact it was watching how well he did this that was what started me on the road of becoming a Lib partisan this election cycle, he convinced me despite my own expectations in his ability and his leadership skills, both politically and organizationally. So I’m sorry, but I think he deserves a LOT of credit on this one, and to simply chalk it to the name alone or even mostly is to seriously sell short the reality of what he did and how he did it, just as to not acknowledge that the name gave him a powerful tool to start with is equally wrong.

            My point is that he took that tool, his name, and he ran with it making few mistakes as he rebuilt a shattered national organization. That speaks volumes to me about real ability and his ability to attract it others and manage it, which is what I look for in a potential PM, someone that attracts that kind of ability and can manage it, because that offers the best chance for a competent cabinet and PM, whatever the party we are talking about. Isn’t that part of the core concept of how we get “good government” in our system of government? I always thought so.

          • Vancouverois says:

            I don’t chalk it up to name alone. I agree, Trudeau has worked very hard. But still, his hard work would never have paid off to the same extent if he didn’t have the name. Far fewer good organizers would have been willing to throw in with him; far fewer people would have shown up to his speeches.

            And nobody would have given him another chance after even one of his infamous gaffes, never mind all of them.

        • ralphonso says:

          I mean, this Trudeau as jesus stuff is a bit goofy. He did well and I think he’s going to win. But a big part of that is depressed expectations and the NDP fumble. He’s still incredibly unseasoned. He has gaffy moments that the other leaders don’t have. He sometimes can’t explain his own policies. He says crap that makes no sense. He’s excellent one on one but his credibility beyond this campaign is not set in stone.

          And plus, Trudeau didn’t revamp anything himself. He’s the figurehead with the golden name. Good on the party organizers, yes. But let’s not pretend Trudeau went in and whipped up a team, strategy, plan infrastructure and candidates. In fact lots of top candidates stood this one out (or ran NDP) – to their loss.

          I think we should be proud of the Liberal party’s rise this time around but their “death” was greatly exaggerated. Right now the party is actually below its average support level that is has polled at over the past three years.

          Transpose this into a normal election length and the NDP’s rise to the top of the polls would be the normal vote-parking we’ve seen with happen with the NDP pre elections. They’re just not usually this long.

          We have a Prime Minister being the nastiest P.O.S. ever seen in Canadian politics, openly picking on pockets of Canadians, mocking other candidates and parties, and still winning. That doesn’t strike me as hi-five Trudeau time.

          • Scotian says:

            1) You shifted the goalposts there, you said, and I quote “As for writing off the party in 2011, pretty much no-one did.”. I disagreed and said that in the wake of 2011 that the Liberals were seen by one and all as a lost cause if they even survived more than a few months and that they would need AT LEAST two election cycles to come back into serious consideration, that was the generally accepted wisdom at that time including within Lib circles, and until Trudeau threw his hat in the ring it still was.

            You failed to show where I was wrong in my disagreement with your assertion that no-one wrote of the Liberal party federally in 2011, and you still haven’t. That WAS the belief at the time, and it could have very easily come true too. For all my respect for the man, I rather doubt Marc Garneau could have rebuilt the party anywhere near as fast in both national excitement/attraction and in local constituency/riding machinery rebuilding, indeed his members/supporter numbers compared to Trudeau in that leadership race make that point quite well. He is a good man and in a different time might have been a good choice, but if we had Lib leader Garneau now I suspect we would be seeing the fight between Mulcair and Harper, not Trudeau and Harper. The Libs needed someone with the pull of a Trudeau, AND they needed him to be able to harness it in rebuilding the party from the bottom up (which was the part most doubted him on), which is what he has done. Without that I really doubt they would be in contention in this election cycle.

            The fact that the Libs have come back this far this fast was NOT foreseen nor foreseeable prior to Trudeau running, and even after his win was still seen as a two election campaign for government. This is simply the truth of what it was like, and the fact that things have come this far and this fast under Trudeau is truly remarkable and unexpected. He clearly attracts talent AND he clearly knows how to manage it to get strong results, and that IS an important element in a leader whatever field we are talking about, and deserves respect and acknowledgment.

            2) I never said Libs should rest now, nor get caught up in patting themselves on the back, that this is better after the election is done, but that it would also be wrong not to acknowledge the incredible reality of where they are at this point and how unlikely that looked to be four short years ago. That was what my closing paragraph was all about after all.

            3) I’m not saying the NDP didn’t help either, but if the Liberals and especially their leader had not established their own credibility in this campaign (remember where they were coming into this campaign after all) would they have been able to reap the windfalls of the Mulcair/NDP mistakes (for that matter would Mulcair have felt pressure enough to make them), or would the anti-Harper vote stayed with Mulcair because they saw no other viable choice. While one should not understate the significance of the NDP misfortunes lets not overstate them either. Trudeau clearly has had a lot to do with shaping his own image and his strategy, and he is clearly not the empty suit sock puppet walking teleprompter so many have argued he is, such a man would not have managed as well in this long a campaign and in as many debates, especially the Monk debate where no notes were permitted.

            Remember, the only point I was really in fundamental disagreement with you was on where the Libs were seen at in the wake of the 2011 election result and in the immediate aftermath. I still think you are wrong to assert otherwise, I know I can go back via internet search and pull all kinds of post election analysis from all sectors of the political spectrum to make my case, can you to make yours? Even Lib partisans were at the time wondering how many elections it would take to rebuild, especially after watching what happened to the PCPC after the Mulroney years, so they had good reason to be expecting the long hard slog back if manageable at all. And that isn’t even going into the whole merger debate some within the Libs as well as NDP were doing at the time.

            Trudeau running and winning changed that dynamic tremendously, but it was clearly going to take far more than just his name and his being a figurehead to rebuild this quickly, capably, and competently this strong an organization. He understood how to make the party more accessible for both increased membership and fundraising needs from the grassroots side, something his two predecessors didn’t. He clearly understood that he had to be comfortable in his own skin to be most effective, especially with his skills as a retail politician. There are simply too many signs that he is an active partner in this machine that has been created, not just the figurehead some would see him as, AND that it was more than just his name and the talent it attracted to his team, it took his giving them reason to stay and work their best too, and that he doesn’t seem to get anywhere near enough credit for even from many Lib supporters and I find that puzzling.

  17. Felipe Morales says:

    As a general rule I think that every leader should avoid making ads in first person singular unless it is to refer to personal “values” and pledges. Tom Mulcair’s ads were “I will change…” and “I will clean the environment…”He also dashed for the Centre and now is desperate to reclaim the Left thus committing the other cardinal sin of a Leader “Thou shall not flip-flop” Finally, he forsake all of his best pre-campaign lines like “Harper bet the farm on 100$ oil”

  18. Kelly says:

    The election seems to be boiling down between a country of openness, freedom and togetherness versus a fend for yourself, authoritarian, snitch state.

    Trudeau is authentic and his brand is a “better together multiculturalism”. Harper is a wierdo who wants you to be scared of the state so his guys can push you around if you disagree with him (Hence you have conservative MPs openly musing about deporting the leader of the opposition). Mulcair is tough, mean and competent — traits that a lot of conservatives like, but they don’t like his policies.

    Most people — including enough traditional NDP supporters — would prefer a Canada like the one Trudeau represents. A small number of Canadians who vote Conservative and Bloc are OK with a country where people are attacked in the streets for their beliefs. They are OK with a government that abandons certain Canadians and fundamentally believes in inequality (they are social Darwinists, at heart). A lot of NDP support in Quebec has shifted to the Bloc since Duceppe returned to lead that party so the nationalists who were parked with the NDP are moving back to the Bloc and a few are moving to the Cons and this is effecting the national numbers — which are frankly meaningless in our phoney electoral system. These are all factors that are influencing the drop in NDP support — in addition to strategic errors from the NDP war room and campaign advisors. (In my experience the NDP usually overestimates the public’s support for its policies. Canada is a slightly centre-left progressive country — it is not (sadly, in my opinion) a real social democracy in the tradition of the Scandinavian countries and significant segments of Germany.

    Ekos notes that the anti-Harper vote is really determined this time. Trudeau is pushing the right buttons, Mulcair looks inauthentic. Look for a massive shift to Trudeau in the last week. I think the Liberals will be closing in on 40% by E-day.

    • Peter says:

      The election seems to be boiling down between a country of openness, freedom and togetherness versus a fend for yourself, authoritarian, snitch state

      What a perfect example of the smug self-righteousness I was talking about above. Quite apart from your ham-fisted positioning of yourself beside the angels, do you honestly believe most Canadians are looking at that “choice” and saying “Hmm, decisions, decisions.”

      • Kelly says:

        I characterized things in that way just to make a point … and to piss off Conservative trolls.

        The casual voter probably isn’t looking at that choice. In fact they aren’t really making any choice based on reason, rather on gut feelings. So, they are looking at Trudeau and saying, “Hey, I like him. He’s cool.” and then they are looking at Harper and saying, “What a prick.”

        The cool kids always win in high school and politics. Harper just has never had to run against a cool person. The last time a cool person led the Liberal party the Liberals won a bucket full of majorities. (It also didn’t hurt that he knew how to kick ass).

        • Peter says:

          Sorry, much too old to be upset by leftist rants, particularly the ones that haven’t changed much in a hundred years. However, I do take comfort in the thought such a predictable, patronizing dismissal of the intelligence of most voters will keep you out of power for some time to come.

  19. billg says:

    Ironic. The core NDP voter is a left wing socialist. They will not tolerate a move to the center.
    The core base of the Liberals and the Conservatives will tolerate just about anything as long as the other guy doesn’t win.
    Finally, things are back to normal.

  20. Jon says:

    What we’re seeing is a return to the general order of pre-2011. I expect the NDP support level to end up around where it did there, 17-19%, with the rest of the non-Con vote coalescing around Justin as the ABC choice. Whether the Liberal vote is efficient enough to win government will depend on whether they can tip enough seats in QC away from the NDP.

    At the door, what we hear is ABC! ABC! ABC!

  21. Lisa says:

    I remember the big rally the NDP had with Stephen Lewis back in August. It was like they had won the election already! To me, that was an end of campaign rally, motivate the troops and inspire the GOTV. It was downhill from there, with the move right, backing out of debates, etc. Just a really poorly planned campaign.

    Plus, both the NDP and Cons banked on Trudeau tanking. But of the 3 of them, he is the best retail politician and he more than stood his ground in the debates.

    Now we see if the NDP who have been saying anyone but Harper mean that, or do they mean anyone but Harper if it’s the NDP!

    • billg says:

      I think Liberals should keep telling the NDP supporters that their party sucks and if they were smart they’d vote Liberal to stop Stephen Harper.
      I also think Liberals should keep calling Conservative supporters racist’s and un-Canadian for even thinking about a Niqab or Burka ban in the PS, because, that’s a sure way to keep them at home on election day.
      The debate Stephen Harper wants isn’t about Refugee’s or the Niqab, its about how right wing voters always manage to show up and vote in massive numbers when they are called racist’s, homophobes, un-Canadian, Global Warming Deniers, and, pro-lifers.

    • Mike says:

      “Now we see if the NDP who have been saying anyone but Harper mean that, or do they mean anyone but Harper if it’s the NDP!”

      I suspect it is the latter.

      • Christian says:

        Sure and I suspect Liberals say the same thing. “Anyone but Harper so long as its the Liberals!” Hence the refusal to talk coalition. You Liberal supporters really do think your party is the Natural Governing Party of Canada don’t you? In your world anything else is an unnatural aberration.

        • ralphonso says:

          Anyone but Harper movements are one of the reasons Harper is still around.

          Harper is an ass but the hyperbole around him helps him.

          The NDP, to their credit, has been open to coalitions when they were at 20 percent and when they were at 34.

          The Liberals are the party that’s been blocking that path.

          There is much to criticize of the NDP but on this front the Liberals have been exposed as being much more self-interested.

  22. JH says:

    Well I guess it’s safe to say the TPP positioning has also ended any hope of a coalition government or progressive merger. Not that the mutual antipathy between the Libs and the Dips left much room for that anyway.

    • Jason says:

      yes, it also unfortunately check-mates the liberals when the speech from the throne becomes about passing the TPP.
      I had forgotten why the liberals kept getting screwed in the minority days on confidence votes, and now I remember.

      • fan590 says:

        Won’t happen.

        Justin is far more “street smart” than stuffy Iggy. Chretien will help broker the deal and it WILL get done. BET ON IT.

        • Vancouverois says:


          So the NDP will cave on both the TPP and the Clarity Act, and accept at very best the junior position in a coalition, all in exchange for… what, exactly?

          • ralphonso says:

            Clarity Act won’t be a coalition issue.

            TPP is good for the NDP now but screws them later on. It is high risk. If it doesn’t vault them into second (and it won’t) they are setting themselves up for disappointing anyone won over by their opposition to the trade deal.

            They will have to cave on this one. If Harper has a minority and the NDP doesn’t prop up the Liberals, their core support will revolt and the party will splinter.

          • Vancouverois says:

            If the NDP supports the TPP after coming out so decisively against it, won’t the party splinter anyway?

            There’s only so much you can ask party members to compromise on.

          • FlyingSquirrel says:

            Question, and this is from just an American observer of Canadian politics – even if they wouldn’t form a coalition, would the Liberals and NDP potentially be able to form a “confidence and supply” agreement where one forms the government and the other agrees not to vote no-confidence or defeat the budget?

          • Vancouverois says:

            Flying Squirrel: yes, absolutely. As long as they can agree on a budget, we could have a functioning minority government which was able to govern, if not get all its legislation passed.

            That would raise an interesting question about the TPP: would the Conservatives be willing to vote in favour of measures to enact it if they’re brought forward by the Liberals? And would the NDP be willing to risk that?

  23. Bill Templeman says:

    Warren, while I agree with your assessment of the Demise of the Dippers, this sinking of the NDP’s numbers could also have a lot to do with the coming of age of strategic voting, no? The ABC voters finally understand the game. Vote for the candidate in your riding most likely to defeat the Conservative. Maybe, just maybe, a lot of soft NDP voters are coming over to the Liberals for the strategic vote.(?)

    • Vancouverois says:

      You’re assuming that the number of strategic voters is significant enough to affect the outcome. Is that true?

      Personally, I still believe that most voters are still tuned out of most of what’s going on in the election. They just don’t follow the daily events the same way that commenters here do.

  24. Jack D says:

    Kinsella hit the nail on the head with this one. Except, I’d disagree on one thing; no amount of attack ads against Trudeau are going to save team orange. They are hemorrhaging voters and they’re only option is to try and save the furniture.

    Can we all just admit that the NDP is unelectable unless they benefit from massive protest votes?

    I’ve noticed a remarkable tendency for Dippers to move to right as soon as government becomes a possibility. Which is probably because they fear their natural left-leanings are too off-putting for the broader base of voters, which in all fairness might be correct. But shifting into a central position is obviously not working for the NDP and its not a place they are particularly apt for.

  25. ottlib says:

    Good analysis but I believe it leaves out the one fundamental reason why the NDP is tanking, namely the fact that Canadians have only ever trusted the Liberal Party or a Conservative Party with national government.

    Although many were distracted by the NDP’s jump to Official Opposition the 2011 election just reinforced that fact.

    Now in 2015 there seems to a rather strong desire to change the government. At the very least Canadians are seriously considering it and so it should be no surprise that the Liberals are the party that has emerged as the most viable alternative to the Conservatives. It has been forever so.

    One thought, most people vote against something as opposed to voting for something, regardless of what promises the various parties make. In this election the Conservatives are desperately trying to convince voters to vote against the niqab in particular and Muslims in general while the Liberals are trying to convince voters to vote against Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.

    In the end I believe the Liberals will prevail.

  26. !o! says:

    The Niqab debate, disgusting and racist as it is, is hurting Mulcair, especially in Quebec, where it plays a lot differently than it does elsewhere. On the one hand you gotta admire the guy for being principled, but he’s just getting massacred. New EKOS poll has the CPC in first in Quebec. FIRST! In QUEBEC! Sure they’re 7 points back in Ontario and 5 back in BC, but I wonder how many seats are in play now for the conservatives in Quebec as a result of this grotesque theatre.

  27. Cam says:

    The turning point for the NDP was the Liberal promise to run deficits.

    • Jack D says:

      Actually, the NDP has been sliding since the beginning of the election –but the deficit thing certainly didn’t help them.

      I remember when the Liberals first announced their plan to run deficits and how critics just absolutely lost their minds. Calling it everything from a “huge political mistake” to “the final nail in Liberal coffin”. I argue, as I did then, it was perhaps the most brilliant move of election 42. It pushed Mulcair right into Harper’s court of “balanced budgets” and Harper dominates that court (rhetorically only, some would say). Since then the NDP has been trying to explain how they plan to provide any of the social programs they are promising and still balance the budget. Thus far, Mulcair has failed to do so.

      But if there were any turning points for team orange it would have to be the day the election was called and the day after the Radio-Canada debate. They peaked before the start of the election and have been sliding since. It was when they plunged in QC and when the ROC started taking notice that finished them.

      • Vancouverois says:

        It was certainly gutsy on the Liberals’ part, and so far seems to be turning out better than the pundits expected.

        However, I don’t think it would have worked so well if the NDP had been more realistic about their promises, instead of promising to balance the budget while ALSO offering so many goodies to so many voters. The most harm to NDP prospects was inflicted by the NDP itself.

        Also, as I understand it, this comes directly from the Wynne playbook. It worked for her in the last Ontario provincial election; but isn’t there some level of buyer’s remorse, especially now that Ontario so far into debt? If so, that could work against Trudeau in the last days of the campaign. The Conservatives have already used the “Justin Wynne, Kathleen Trudeau” line before.

        • ralphonso says:

          I don’t think it was the NDP overpromising – if anything, their platform actually raises revenue, whereas ours is revenue neutral. It is that they have less space to work with. What the public considers acceptable policy from the NDP is much narrower than what they will take from the Liberals.

          Had the NDP promised deficits, everyone would have been all over them. Their balloon would have poppped, rather than fizzled. Same old Dippers, etc.

          The deficit thing worked for the Liberals because they have more room to manoevre in the public’s eyes. It is like finding out the jock cool kid in class reads Game of Thrones too. No matter that the nerds have been into it forever. Game changer.

          • Vancouverois says:

            I hadn’t looked at it that way.

            Still, even if they would have been criticized for promising deficits, the NDP is now being criticized for letting the Liberals outflank them on the left. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, I guess.

        • Jack D says:

          I think ralphanso summed it up the best there. The NDP proposed such a vanilla platform because they were so afraid of being labeled “tax and spending Dippers”. So they chose to make promises that really weren’t interesting anyone. They might have sounded good rolled up in a bunch of platitudes, but they really weren’t peaking any interest.

          The other problem is that the promises they were making, the NDP was failing to explain how they would cost them. When they rolled out their costing it was perhaps the biggest fumble for them. That just added to the impression of NDP being incompetent on the fiscal front.

          All in all, the Liberals made deficits feasible when the NDP just couldn’t. They pretty much made wearing glasses look cool despite the Dipper nerds having worn them for so long. So far it seems Trudeau has done a pretty good job at selling the “deficits for investment” idea to Canadians. We’ll see what happens going forward, but as is seems now, this is a 2 horse race thanks to Trudeau’s positioning.

  28. Brent Crofts says:

    Honest question for all (but please, no crazed anti-Harper, anti-Trudeau or anti-Mulcair replies).

    Harper is doubling, tripling and quadrupling down on the niqab issue, but I don’t understand why.

    Yes it helps him in Quebec but there are only 75 or so ridings to be had there and roughly 60% of those wouldn’t vote for him if you put a gun to their heads.

    Ontario has 120-odd ridings and the polls (ALL polls except one) have been showing the Liberals pulling away there over the past week. Yet Harper keeps pushing the niqab issue (along with the TPP, in fairness).

    Is Harper flying a kamikaze mission? Or is he assuming a minority government with substantial Quebec representation would be tougher for the oppo to overthrow? Or do his internal pollsters know something we don’t?

    I don’t really grasp the strategy.

    • zing says:

      I don’t know either…maybe the reasoning is ‘oh we’ll get our supporters are rabid and fired up over this so they’ll come out and vote…that way at least we’ll stay viable’ Or something. Wasn’t that the theory behind Tim Hudak’s “Fire 100,000 people” campaign? It was absurd, made no sense, but was thought to be popular among the base?

    • Greyapple says:

      Because, contrary to the polls (which are suspect), the Conservatives are not going to tank in Ontario. They’re still poised to win over 50 seats, and I’m pretty sure their final Ontario tally will be somewhere between 50-70. Harper has still a week and a half to talk up the “surplus” and TPP deal and hammer Trudeau on his deficit spending promises, inexperience, and opposition to popular anti-Muslim policies and the war against ISIS (not saying they’re legally or morally right, but they’re popular), to bring out his Ontario base and soften Trudeau’s numbers. Quebec is just the icing on the cake. If EKOS is right (again, suspect), and the Tories are pushing 30%, you looking at around 25 seats, maybe more. This will offset any loses in Ontario and the Maritimes (where they will also likely do better than the polls indicate), and pave the way for another Conservative government. It’s all calculated, and I think/fear it’s all going to pay off. We shall see.

      • Vancouverois says:

        Don’t forget emphasizing Trudeau’s ties to Wynne — from what I know of current Ontario politics, that’s an association that may hurt Trudeau with a large swathe of the Ontario population…

    • fan590 says:

      It’s to get out his base.

    • Jack D says:

      Short answer? Wedge politics.

      Long answer:

      Its an issue that can be very polarizing and stir up a lot of emotions. Its something that voters can discuss with passion without necessarily having a background in religious studies or civil law; so it’s an issue that people talk about with less discomfort about lacking expertise. More importantly, it gives Harper’s voter base a reason to go out and vote. Most Conservatives are arguably a little more uncomfortable with foreigners than others. Not to say that other party bases aren’t, just that the accessible vote for Conservatives are more easily galvanized by identity politics. The biggest concern for the Conservatives is that their base will stay at home. This issue gives them reason enough to fight against what is perceived as an attack on their Canadian identity.

      It’s a smart(ish) strategy, but its akin to playing with fire near an open gas-line. Its going to get things heated up very quickly and light a fire underneath voters enough for Conservatives to take advantage. However, it can get very ugly just as quickly. If Harper over plays the identity issue it could hurt him in some part of Ontario and BC. Which is why you’ll probably see Harper trying to pull away from the niqab and more towards the economy during the winding days of the election.

      Ironically, the niqab/citizenship issue probably helped the Liberals more than Harper could’ve intended. It killed the NDP in Quebec and allowed the Liberals to establish themselves as the “hope and optimism” party and paint the Conservatives as the party of “fear and division”.

      I hope that was un-partisan as possible.

      • Vancouverois says:

        Good analysis.

        I think you’re right that Harper will try to draw the focus away from this niqab nonsense back to the economy in the last week — especially to the TPP.

        • Jack D says:


          Yeah, it seems like he is trying to shift the discussion a little bit. But Mulcair isn’t making it easy for Harper by fear mongering the TPP, so I don’t know if he wants to risk exposing the deal to any more criticism. Its probably wiser for him to sell the TPP as an overall success and move on.

          Its a tricky situation for Harper. We’ve got this Syrian stuff resurfacing again and the niqab issue taking on a new life of its own in the public discussion. This is probably the kind of controversy Harper would want to avoid so he’ll either have to return to the economy or go head-on into the identity debate. If the situation gets too out of control, we could see a GST reduction promise made in the coming week. But that’s just a wild prediction on my part.

          • Vancouverois says:

            I’m not sure I can see Harper make a dramatic promise at the last minute out of panic, the way Paul Martin did. It could happen, I suppose. But I tend to think he’s much more calm and collected than that.

            Besides: as our host has pointed out, the real question is what happens in the election after this one. If it’s a minority of any kind, we may be back in an election before the snow has melted. (Or, God forbid, even before it’s fallen… 😛 )

    • ottlib says:

      I suspect the Conservatives are worried about their base. In order to be remotely competitive they need them to come out and vote. If they stay home the Conservatives lose. Even if they do come out there is no guarantee they win but at least they would have a shot.

      By this time in 2011 the Conservatives were cruising. They had their base sewn up and they were fishing for votes outside of their base. This time they have done nothing but throw raw steak at it and they continue to do so. No one but the Conservatives can say for certain what their internal polling is saying but they must be seeing some troubling signs if they find it necessary to continuously attempt to energize their core supporters.

      • Vancouverois says:

        Actually, I’ve heard that polls show the Conservatives gaining considerably on this issue. As in, more than doubling the amount of seats they may get in Quebec, from 10 to 25.

        Guess we’ll see on October 19.

    • Ridiculosity says:

      Divide and conquer. The oldest (and most pathetic, lamentable, yet often effective) political strategy ever.

    • Matt says:

      Not so. The Liberals sudden favorite pollster Nanos now has the Liberals down 5 to 39 from their high of 44 this past Sunday and Monday.

      Now statistically tied with the CPC (39 to 36 with a MOE of 5.5%) from an 11 point lead of 44 – 33.

    • !o! says:

      1) It’s a distraction, they don’t want the debate to be about corruption, or the economy etc.
      2) It’s dog-whistle politics: it motivates racist elements, but reads as innocuous to the majority. While it’s obviously fueled by the CPC, the other parties have to wade into the debate, so whatever frustration about wasting time on non issues exists can’t be levelled solely at the CPC since all the major parties are talking about it.
      3) It’s an effective wedge issue– they are betting that they don’t lose much of their core vote over this, but even if they can convert 2-5% of the vote of another party, they’ve gained substantially over it (all the while preventing losses that they’d be sustaining if the conversation was about corruption or the economy).

      That said it’s quite risky. They’ve lost significant support already from newcomers from changes to citizenship/immigration. Although they don’t generally tend to poll well in urban ridings with diverse populations, this certainly isn’t helping in ridings like this that they may be competitive in. It also feeds the narrative about the Harper regime being mean spirited, divisive, calculating, and out for their own best interest rather than the interest of the country. Granted not everyone buys into this narrative, but however much traction it gains from the debate is lost ground for them.

      I think the long and short of it is that they expect to win more votes in Quebec than they expect to lose elsewhere. Prior to bringing in Crosby, their campaign was doing poorly, to say the least, so to a degree it was also a desperation play– high risk but high potential upside from their perspective at the time. imho.

  29. Lance says:

    The Niqab debate, disgusting and racist as it is………..

    This isn’t just in Quebec. Are over 3/4 of Canadians racist? Give your head a shake.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      Yes, France, where the niqab is NOT allowed in citizenship ceremonies, in public offices, and everywhere public, is the most racist country!


      And the European courts are racist too!

      • Nicole says:

        Does France have a barbaric cultural practices tip line too? While there is an slight argument about why the niqab makes people uncomfortable, this tip line is grotesque. Even Kellie Leitch seems disgusted when presenting it. To descend that low just to get the racist vote is disgusting.

        • SD says:

          France does have the barbaric cultural practice of requiring men and boys to wear tight-fitting swimsuits at public pools.

        • Vancouverois says:

          Quebec does. Not for barbaric practices, that is, but for reporting violations of the language law.

          Strangely enough, nobody in the Liberal party or NDP seems to be making any sort of fuss over THAT anonymous tip line. As far as I can tell, they never have — even though it’s been around for almost forty years.

          It’s almost enough to make you think they’re playing politics as much as the Conservatives are. Imagine that.

        • KBab says:

          When minorities are centered out, belittled, and stigmatized by those at the top, then many others along the way right down to the electorate feel that they must be act. Lash out. Previously suppressed feelings are legitimized.

          Some leadership.

          That’s trickle down for you.

          And you know what else trickles down.

          That is what the Conservatives offer.

          What trickles down.

          • MississaugaPeter says:

            I see women in a niqab, and I don’t think religious tolerance, I think women oppressed. I think ISIS. I think women that get acid thrown at them.

            I guess the banning of niqabs in the world’s largest Muslim democracy, Turkey, is religious intolerance.

            Mulcair and Trudeau are calling the majority of Quebecers racists every time they speak. Good luck with that the next 10 days.

        • Matt says:

          That’s it, keep playing the racist card.

          All you’re doing is firing up the CPC supporters to get out and vote.

          • KBab says:

            Ya right Matt. It is me playing the racist card. Give your head a shake.

          • Nicole says:

            The barbaric cultural practices tip line IS racist. To pretend otherwise is nonsense. And the racist element of Harper’s base was already set to vote anyway. This kind of thing affects those in the soft middle who like Harper’s economic policies more than the others, but are starting to feel uncomfortable with this nonsense.
            As for Quebec and its language laws, those are not justifiable either. Separatism has always had a strong racist pure laine element to it, see Parizeau and his “money and the ethnic vote”. This lingering racism is why the niqab discussion is scoring points for Harper and Duceppe.

        • Derek Pearce says:

          You’re right about how Leitch looked during that press conference. Like she was chewing cat litter and thinking “oh god I’m not going to sleep for six months I feel so slimy having to do this.”

  30. fan590 says:

    Justin Vs. Steve for the final dash to the finish.

    Sleepy Tom follows Horwath and Chow into loserville.

    Election has been far more entertaining than expected, eh?

  31. ottlib says:

    Ok, now for something really, really, really important.

    Hockey season started tonight and my Habs began it with a victory.

    My prediction. Liberals win the election and the Habs win The Cup.

  32. SD says:

    While I think Justin Trudeau’s Liberal platform is utter crap, and that most of his promises will not come into fruition, he is capturing the anti-Harper vote.

  33. Vancouverois says:

    An interesting article by Andrew Coyne:


    According to him, the first use of these dog-whistle tactics in recent times comes to us from none other than Ontario’s own Liberal “Premier Dad”.

    That’s something to consider carefully. After all, it would be grotesque hypocrisy to condemn the Conservatives for this ugly type of politics if you don’t condemn everyone else who has indulged in it too…

    • Scott says:

      Coynes wrong about Dalton. Ontarian’s have always been a little off over Catholic school funding. Most felt there should only be the public system for all. The thought of more religious schools was too much for most people( me included). Had sweet f all to do with Muslims.

    • Cory says:

      Yep. I pointed out the fact that McGuinty used the issue of Islamic school to win an election in an earlier post. Funny how those complaining now were quiet then just as they were quiet when the Liberal government in Quebec introduced legislation which is exactly what Harper is proposing.

  34. dean says:

    96 comments? Add the ones you must have moderated and it’s probably even higher!

    What’s the record on this web page? Or is that proprietary? 🙂

  35. Scott says:

    Hey Matt….how do you like the new Forum poll? Lol

  36. justinvan says:

    As a voter who is undecided I was going to lend my vote to the Conservative party but I’m unsure again. The Niqab debate is just a distraction, I was with the Conservatives and their opposition to it during citizenship ceremonies but now they are just milking it with this ‘civil service’ employees ban.

  37. Lou says:

    DAMN IT WARREN … I have a routine in the morning , the usual things eat , washroom , shower , read a paper , refine my plot for world domination , spoil my Chesapeake retriever AND read your blog…the usual stuff….Warren , I live in the west , your postings are too late to read before I go in for my daily electroshock therapy , PLEASE post earlier… theres an election going on in case you were unaware , early rise Warren ..My blood runs CPC blue and despite the fact yours runs Lib red . I find you one of the most credible sources of unbias analysis and commentary during the campaign ..get it together for the next few weeks , consider your self on probation….. 🙂

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