Democracy Soup

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Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Party

Canadians think Justin Trudeau represents the real change from Stephen Harper

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The Liberal Party of Canada is back in power after a 9-year absence during the reign of the Harper Government. For the first time in 11 years, the Liberals have a majority government.

Canadians had the longest campaign — 78 days — in modern political history. The country wanted change, but had to decide between Tom Mulcair of the NDP or the Liberals’ Justin Trudeau. Though Mulcair and the NDP had the early edge, perhaps they got a little cocky. Trudeau took awhile to find his voice, but once he did, the Liberals rose in the polls.

Stephen Harper wanted nothing to do with the English language broadcast consortium debate. Tom Mulcair took the Conservative bait and said he wouldn’t be there if Harper wasn’t showing up. Mulcair made that decision when the NDP was doing well. By the time of the scheduled debate (which wasn’t cancelled), the NDP was in 3rd place. A chance to debate with all the non-Conservatives would have been valuable.

There were more debates than usual: 4 instead of 2. But that 5th debate would have helped the NDP.

Here are links to our 2015 Canadian election coverage courtesy of our sister blog,

2015 Canadian election: Some final thoughts

Section 331 of the Canada Elections Act gets attention south of the border

Justin Trudeau begins new era as Canada’s newest prime minister

Our 2015 Canadian election coverage comprehensive guide

Canadian Canadian politics coverage


Stephen Harper, Pauline Marois import GOP dirty tricks to reduce voting

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This column courtesy of runs here with complete permission.

Stephen Harper and Pauline Marois rarely have something in common, but that something is a trend that has been sweeping throughout the United States.

Though using different methods, Harper and Marois are trying to deny the right to vote to people who are eligible. We’ve seen these “voter ID” laws in several U.S. states designed to prevent those likely to vote against Republicans a chance to cast their ballot, even though they are registered to vote.

While the target audience for Harper and Marois are different, the target audience for both is those who aren’t likely to vote for their party.

Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, is working its way through Parliament.

Canadians have voter identification cards, which help identify them, and Elections Canada has allowed their use with another form of ID as proof of being able to vote. Bill C-23 would take away voter identification cards as a proof of ID. The bill also disallows vouching, where someone in the precinct of the riding can vouch for that person.

Bill C-23 allows bans Elections Canada from encouraging turnout, especially among groups that aren’t as likely to vote: youths under 30, ethnic minorities, Aboriginals and the disabled.

The legislation also removes the Commissioner of Canada Elections (investigators) from Elections Canada to be a separate office. The Conservatives have been the target of numerous allegations from overspending their budget to robocalls telling voters their voting spot had changed when it hadn’t. The change reduces the impact they can make on parties that violate election laws.

Previous coverage:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper copies Bush tactic of ejecting people from campaign stops

Like their U.S. counterparts, conservatives in Canada don’t have actual examples of voter fraud. Unlike their U.S. counterparts, conservatives have the power to change the law nationwide.

In Quebec, university students who are otherwise eligible to vote are being told that they aren’t eligible. The requirements for voting in Quebec is to be a “Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old, be domiciled in Quebec for six months.”

The key word is domiciled. The stories are pretty consistent. Even if people have been living in Quebec for longer than 6 months, and can prove those facts, they are still denied registration.

The Civil Code of Quebec states that “change of domicile is affected by actual residence in another place, coupled with the intention of the person to make it the seat of his principal establishment.”

In other words, you can be a student in Quebec, but if you no intention of living in Quebec after university, you can’t vote. And since that can’t be proven, those who aren’t francophones are being targeted as not likely to stay in Quebec.

These students are primarily living in Montréal, where anglophones and allophones are much more likely to be found.

Previous coverage:

2014 Quebec election preview; election set for April 7

Marois was also vocal about those outside Quebec (i.e., Ontario) were trying to pull the election away from the Parti Quebecois. The premier said there was an influx of illegal anglophone voters in 5 ridings. However, Chief Electoral Officer Jacques Drouin said that there was no abnormal rise in registrations.

Vote fraud would be if these students or anyone else were voting in Quebec and in the province where their parents live. There is no proof or accusations of that happening. In fact, if a student from Quebec were going to school in Ontario or New Brunswick, by Quebec standards, they wouldn’t be eligible to vote where they go to school and would also be legally barred from voting in Quebec.

The students can’t vote in two places, but legally have to be able to vote in one place.

Reading the mind of the voter is literally an impossible task. As to whether graduates will stay in the province, this would depending on being able to find work. Quebec’s jobless rate is not good, yet the campaign has been more about sovereignty and language than the economy or infrastructure.

Residency is where you live. College students in the U.S. run into similar troubles, especially with the new anti-democracy “voter ID” laws since these states “magically” won’t take a college ID as proof of identity.

Voting is a civic duty that comes with being a citizen. The voting process is about opportunity and choice. Political parties — Republican, Conservative, and Parti Quebecois — that take away opportunity and choice from citizens are no better than the Third World dictatorships that the First World likes to admonish.

Canada has done a much better job in running elections than its southern neighbor in great part because a non-partisan group such as Elections Canada works to open up voting to citizens and fights back against rampant partisanship. The Harper Government wants to make elections more like the United States in the spirit of their cousins, the Republican Party.

Politics is supposed to be about ideas. When you run out of ideas, you try cheap, undemocratic stunts such as these. These tactics go against being a democracy. The best way to punish them is to respond at the ballot box.

Conservative politicians need food security solutions, not rhetoric

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The following column ran on and runs here with complete permission.

Some conservative politicians get upset over the idea of government helping those that need help (as opposed to those who don’t need help). They get really upset with the idea of helping people get food, even children.

We have two stories, one American and one Canadian. While the Canadian politician did eventually apologize, these two stories are a microcosm of an attitude, mostly in the United States, that helping people who are struggling with getting food is one of the worst deeds for government to do.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) is trying to stand out in a field to replace Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) in the Senate. Kingston’s views on school lunches will definitely make him stand out.

Rep. Kingston really has a problem with free school lunches, as he expressed to a meeting of the Jackson County Republican Party.

“But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel, to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch?”

Think that is too severe? Kingston is one step ahead of uh, something.

“Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch.”

Even by the standards of the U.S. South, Georgia’s children come up short. More than 25% of Georgia children live below the poverty line (already set pretty low), and the state has the 6th highest child poverty rate.

“Is it the government’s job — my job to feed my neighbor’s child? I don’t think so,” Canadian federal Industry Minister James Moore.

Moore said this in a radio interview about child poverty and hunger in British Columbia, Moore’s home province.

“Obviously nobody wants kids to go to school hungry … but is that always the government’s job? To be there to serve people their breakfast? Empowering families with more power and resources so they can feed their own children is I think a good thing.”

Moore hit on a conservative theme: giving more power to families to feed their own children. Or using private charity to help those in need. In theory, that sounds lovely. It doesn’t match the reality on the streets and in the neighborhoods.

To reiterate, Moore did apologize later for this remarks.

“Great work has been done to tackle poverty and the challenges associated with poverty. And while more work is needed, I know the cause of fighting poverty is not helped by comments like those I made last week. For that, I am sorry.”

Rep. Kingston is worried about poor children thinking the world is full of “free lunches.” MP Moore is worried about people thinking the government job is to feed children who need food.

Children, regardless of social structure and status, do not think about how much food costs. They don’t get that toys can be expensive, no matter how cool they look on TV.

If the children are poor, then they already know their world are not filled with metaphorical free lunches.

The government’s job isn’t to feed people. And food assistance doesn’t do that; food assistance allows people a boost so they can afford rent and food. You can treat it as a subsidy to farmers markets and grocery stores if that will make you feel better.

MP Moore’s suggestion of empowering families to feed their own children is a rather good suggestion, but neither the United States nor Canada is doing so.

Canada’s Harper government robocalls scandal similar to tactics from the George W. Bush days

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If in this political season you are feeling forlorn for the “good ol’ days” of George W. Bush, you might enjoy the latest political scandal of Canada.

The Conservative Party is being accused of incorporating one of the Bush’s team classic tactic of steering people away from voting, this time using robocalls to misinform where people are supposed to vote in the last federal election in 2011. The Conservatives in Canada are also accused of making calls pretending to be Liberal candidates (unethical) and Elections Canada representatives (illegal).

The Conservatives aren’t taking this lying down, accusing the Liberal Party of being behind the calls. A Conservative backbencher from Saskatchewan puts the blame on Elections Canada.

Robocalls are nothing new in U.S. politics, but they are geared mostly toward slamming fellow candidates. These robocall accusations go much further, dipping into pure deception. Elections Canada is now reviewing more than 31,000 reports of robocalls.

U.S. conservative tactics have involved flyers in minority neighborhoods, telling them that Election Day has changed to a later date or intimating threats of deportation for Hispanics who go to vote.

Elections Canada has more power than the U.S. Federal Election Commission, but is running into a problem of not having enough people to investigate the extensive number of complaints.

If my friends in Michigan are any indicator, robocalls are alive and well. But when they try to throw people off from their democratic (small d) voting rights, then someone should have to pay substantially. These are tactics that First World democracies write off as happening in Third World dictatorships. We have plenty of examples that this is and has been going on in the United States and Canada. The only question is what we’re going to do about it.

Stephen Harper wins majority government in Canada; Jack Layton takes NDP to official opposition status

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While the coverage goes very late, here are the highlights of the 2011 Canadian federal election, via

Stephen Harper became the first Conservative PM to win a majority since Brian Mulroney and only the 3nd conservative with a majority since 1930. Jack Layton became the first NDP leader to finish as high as second, and so the NDP will be the official opposition party. Michael Ignatieff became the first Liberal Party leader to finish as low as third ever. Gilles Duceppe, the longest current standing party leader, won’t be after the Bloc Quebecois fell to about 2 seats.

Kim Campbell was the last party leader to lose the riding as well; Campbell inherited the PM chair as the Progressive Conservatives went down to 2 seats in 1993. Ignatieff (Etobicoke-Lakeshore in Ontario) and Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie in Quebec) lost their ridings as well.

Elizabeth May was a party leader who won her seat, the first elected MP from the Green Party, in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding in British Columbia. And the Greens will have about as much vocal power as the Bloc Quebecois.

For more details, click on the rest of the story.

Previewing the 2011 Canadian federal election: Blue, Red, or Orange

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[For extensive coverage of the 2011 Canadian federal election, check out all the articles at]

UPDATE: C-SPAN 2 will carry the CBC feed starting at 10 pm Eastern on Monday. The results can’t be broadcast nationwide until 10 pm due to Canadian law. The coverage is scheduled to go for 4 hours. Set your DVR for all the fun.

Hopefully by now, you are aware of an upcoming federal election in Canada on Monday. Canadian voters go to the polls to select a MP in their riding, and then in turn, the party in power selects a prime minister.

Now there are five choices for prime minister, though two of them fall into the “not likely” category: Elizabeth May is the head of the Green Party, and while the party had just under a million votes in 2008, there are no current Green MPs. Gilles Duceppe is head of the Bloc Quebecois, a party that is separatist and only running MP candidates in Quebec.

Canadian prime ministers have either been red (Liberal) or blue (Conservative), but if polls are to be believed, orange (NDP) may be the color of 2011. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Jack Layton will be the next prime minister. However, Layton may have a lot of say in the next government, assuming the polls hold up. But as the Greens can attest, the race isn’t about votes, but ridings. If votes are split, other parties can capture the seat, even if it’s close. And MPs often don’t get 50% of the vote in a riding.

Then there are Stephen Harper (blue) and Michael Ignatieff (red). Harper has run the last two minority governments, stretching 5 years (the length of a standard majority government). And though Harper has come close to a majority, voters don’t seem to trust him or his party with that responsibility. While the Harper government doesn’t have the “super-scandal,” there are a lot of mini-scandals, including being the first government to be found in contempt of Parliament, which brought down this government and forced the election.

The Liberal Party is the opposition party (second most MPs in Parliament), yet is running third in the polls. And while the Liberals have dominated the prime minister’s office in the last 50 years, the party is lost. Not as lost as American Democratic politicians, but much more lost than the party has been.

Ignatieff is the 4th Liberal Party leader in the last five elections. And Stephane Dion, who ran as the party’s leader in 2008, was the first Liberal leader who ran in an election but stepped down without becoming prime minister since the 19th century. And Ignatieff has the baggage of spending much of his adult life in the United Kingdom and the United States. Plus, the Harper government has been running attack ads against Ignatieff long before the election started, a new precedent in Canadian politics.

Igantieff has proven to be a better candidate than Dion, and not the scary American monster that the attack ads tried to make him appear. In the English language debate, Ignatieff came across as fiery and passionate, while Harper ignored the rest of the group to robotically stare in the direction of the TV camera.

But Ignatieff’s ceiling for this election was prime minister in a minority government. He has ruled out an official coalition, talked into that by attacks from Harper. Then again, Harper has run an unofficial coalition for the last 5 years.

The safest prediction for Monday is that Canadians will give Harper yet another minority government, his third and Canada’s fourth in a row, dating back to 2004. But…

  • IF young people actually get out to vote, and the early voting numbers are significantly up over 2008.
  • IF the voting percentage gets back well above 60%.
  • IF more Quebec voters pick a federalist party instead of a separatist party.
  • IF the social media campaign — voter mobs, as they have been called — makes a vital impact.
  • IF Canadians who are unhappy that this is the 4th election in 7 years pick a government that will be around for awhile.

As for why Americans should care or follow what is going on: social media helped the 2008 U.S. campaign, but seemed pretty quiet in 2010. The young people, some of whom couldn’t vote in 2008 or 2010, will learn what worked and what didn’t in Canada from a social media perspective. Same continent, same primary language (French is Canada’s other official language; Spanish is the U.S. unofficial language).

The U.S. 2008 election had a higher turnout than Canada’s 2008 federal election, but that went against everything in the past. If history returns to form, the U.S. will want to know more about what makes Canada better, and if the downfall continues, that pattern will be worth studying.

If the NDP does come out of nowhere, the frustration in the American two-party system might be ripe to form a real third party.

The hope is that one of the C-SPAN channels will carry the CBC’s coverage of Election Night. C-SPAN carried the 2008 election coverage, and I know I watched the 2006 election coverage from somewhere; this might have been via C-SPAN as well. Check your local listings and/or stay close to for further updates.

Written by democracysoup

April 29, 2011 at 7:27 am

Canadian PM Stephen Harper copies Bush by ejecting people from campaign events

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Yes, our sister blog,, is hard at work covering the ongoing Canadian election cycle. And while not all of the nuances of the campaign will even make that Web site, the story of people being tossed out of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper campaign rallies had a memorable yet eerie familiarity.

Why it sounded just like what George W. Bush’s people did.

Harper has been justifiably criticized for striving to be a Bush wannabe on multiple levels. And Harper certainly pulled one out of Bush’s playbook.

Like the Bush scenarios, Harper’s people required guests to be registered. This made it easy for Harper’s people to find a political science major who had a picture of her with Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff on her Facebook page. Ignatieff had been to the same college Harper attended earlier in the campaign.

She was forced to leave, driven to tears, and removed by the RCMP, like the Secret Service in the States, designed to protect the leader,  not perform political stunts (like the Secret Service did for Bush).

For many more details, check out the story at