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Home stretch


 

Probably you’ve read Andrew Coyne today, but if you haven’t, you’re missing what everyone’s talking about. Next comes what editorialists call the to-be-sure sentence, and it goes like this: to be sure, any tightening is modest indeed. And it’s coming very late in the game. And Stephen Harper will deliver a platform on Tuesday, only six days after his inability to produce a platform became the punchline to jokes from coast to coast. Still, when Andrew gets excited about polls, that’s news in itself.


 

Home stretch

  1. Platform on Tuesday = “what do I need to say to get those numbers back up?”

  2. Still, when Andrew gets excited about polls, that’s news in itself.

    When are the mood swings of our courtier class not the news?

  3. Is this for publication?

  4. Obviously, Nanos numbers shouldn’t be accepted as high precision measures (they aren’t). Also, I find the significant numerical differences in the various polls to be downright bizarre (between Nanos and Harris/Decima, measured support for the Liberals is different by 8%).

    Nevertheless: it should be pointed out that the latest Nanos poll has the Conservative and Liberal support as statistically even (3% errors on each measurement). And the Conservatives have a downward trend whereas the Liberal trend could be flat or increasing.

    So, the phrase that comes to mind given these (highly uncertain) numbers is: “A week is a long time in politics.”

    This isn’t over.

  5. I tend to judge campaigns based in part on how the leaders are conducting themselves. I guess I share ac’s skepticism of polls.

    Recently, you had Dion visiting Atlantic ridings once thought to be safe. Even today he was visiting the North, where I believe all 3? seats belong to the Liberals.

    Today, you had Duceppe calling Harper a liar and a cheat (at least according to one translation).

    And you have Harper taking the day off.

    Are these leaders reading the same polls we’re reading? Doesn’t look like it.

  6. The polls have been roley-poley the whole time. With the Cons in the 35-38 area and the libs in the 25-30 area.

    Any given day could produce any result of that mix. So I would assume that ground organization and turnout will be what will tip this election into majority or minority territory.

  7. Although side-note, I bet every political pundit and nerd posits during the last week of the campaign that “ground organization” will be what determines the election.

  8. Dennis F, Harper’s behaviour has been baffling in the latter stages of this election. He manufactured this election specifically because he wanted to be sure to win a mandate before the economic meltdown. That much is obvious. But because the financial $hit hit the fan before he could be done with the election, it’s almost like he’s just going through the motions now; like suddenly he’s not even that crazy about being stuck with the PM’s job any longer. I mean, taking a day off with 10 days to go? Sure, it’s all about “pacing himself”, as he said to PW in a recent back-of-the-airplane interview. If anyone believes that, I’ve got some mortgage-backed securities for sale at a great price.

    Remember Harper musing about quitting the Tory leadership after the 2004 election? We’re starting to see that Harper again. He is NOT happy when things don’t go his way. He CAN’T be happy that he’s been sabotaged by his own staff’s incompetence (Ritz, Sparrow, speachwriter from five years ago, to name a few), and he certainly can’t be happy that the financial meltdown happened mid-campaign. That’s not the scenario he had hoped for, and when he doesn’t get what he wants, he doesn’t like the game so much. Worse still, he can’t hide it.

  9. Riley, it’s probably because it matters. It helped Gore win the popular vote in 2000, and Bush win a majority of support in 2004.

    In this election, my understanding is that the Greens have none. Liberals may or may not be motivated to help. These could be factors, no?

  10. Dennis F, Harper is not taking the day off.
    He’s writing his platform.

    Harper and his campaign are like that Sienfeld episode where the opposite of all of George’s instincts are true. With Harper its the opposite of what he says.

    Try it out;

    “A Conservative has increased funding to the arts'”
    “Our economy is sound” (While the USA’s goes down the bowl.)

    Easy isn’t it?

    Rob

  11. Yeah I wonder if being PM is looking that appealing now. The next four years will be miserable one in which to lead, the agenda driven by larger forces … maybe Steve is beginning to have doubts about this.

  12. Yeah, I hear he’s handing in his resignation tomorrow. The working title of his farewell speech is: “Why I’m Quitting”.

  13. Just prior to the last election Paul Martin declared that the Liberals would win the largest majority in Canadian history, according to the polls.

  14. Dennis F: “I hear he’s handing in his resignation tomorrow. The working title of his farewell speech is: “Why I’m Quitting”.”

    Really? That would be a surprise. Still, if he needs any ideas on the wording…

  15. As you said Mr Wells, THIS poll changes everything, EVERYTHING I SAY.

  16. Jack, why would it be a surprise? According to some here, of course a prime minister would call it quits because someone is calling him a liar and a cheat. Who wouldn’t?

  17. How is Harper dead if the results mirror the 2006 election? It means the knives can come out for Dion (the Liberals are still Canada’s natural party of government, and the 2006 election was their worst result other than 1984) as the Liberals initiate another leadership fight.

    It also means that Harper gets a honeymoon for the press, and enough support for his mandate to pass his crime bill, and possibly some other legislation. Moreover, by the time the Liberals have a new leader, the economy should be in recovery from the possibly recession/downturn, with Harper taking all the credit.

    Harper didn’t call this election because he was sure he could get a majority, he called it because he figured he could at least maintain the status quo, because he wanted any recession to take place after the election, and because he didn’t want to give the Grits time to fix their green shift.

    If he loses, it is even a potential boon to the Conservatives. If Dion implements his green plan around the same time as Canada enters a recession, Canadians may blame the recession on Dion’s policies (even if it is unfair, Harper has certainly set up that argument).

  18. hosertohoosier,

    My guess is that Dion will not implement the Green Shift under the current economic circumstances. He will only do so after the economic crisis has worn off, which will mean that Canada will be thrown into a prolonged recession. Something to look forward to, if this blog is something of an indication.

  19. You people are being foolish. The idea that a $10 per tonne carbon tax would cause a recession is absurd. If you actually look at some real economic analysis (while ignoring party messaging), you’d see that it’s barely a blip. $10 a tonne is about $4 a barrel of oil in additional costs. And that $4 doesn’t disappear, it causes spending elsewhere in the economy through decreased personal and corporate tax rates.

    Simply put, the green shift will hardly be felt by most parts of the economy. Harper’s government produced a report about this, which you probably should read.

  20. Andrew

    “And that $4 doesn’t disappear, it causes spending elsewhere in the economy through decreased personal and corporate tax rates. ”

    I’ve never said that the $4 disappears; all I have said that the in and out of taxes merely neutralizes the cost of energy (heating the home) for most citizens. Beyond that, the taxing of carbon will do more than that which tax credits will not be able to rectify.

    Dion says that a person making $60.00 a year will save roughly $1,300 in tax credits. If the heating cost of a regualar home and the cost of electricty use goes up by roughly $100 a month, (which is realistic under the circumstances) than the 1,300 will be used up for those purposes.
    Then what? The cost for truckers, for manufacturers,for everything we do, will go up. That difference cannot be paid for out of the taxes in and out.

    Now, a lower income family will get more credits in return (part of the wealth redistrubution plan under the Green Shift). But when all products will come to cost more, than the poos will start looking more and more to cheaper products, and those products will increasingly arrive from other countries, and namely countries which are advantaged by not paying into greenhouse gas emission standards.

    Andrew, which report are you talking about: “Harper’s government produced a report about this”

    I would like to know so I can read it.

  21. Francien: Natural Resources Canada considered the impact of carbon taxes applied at rates between $50 a tonne and $250 a tonne CO2-equivalent. They found that even at $50 a tonne, the economic impact would be negligible (less than 0.1% GDP drag).

    The report was obtained by the Green Party through an access to information request. It is available on the Green Party website, at http://www.greenparty.ca/carbontax at the bottom of the page. Hopefully WordPress doesn’t strip the url.

    Now, it is entirely fair to dislike carbon taxes for a number of their actual shortcomings, but uninformed shouting about economic depressions caused by mild carbon taxes doesn’t help that debate. Truthfully, I could see the CPC proposing a carbon tax, had the Liberals not already staked out that ground.

  22. I should add that income taxes are actually more distortionary to the economy than consumption taxes like GST and carbon taxes. That is, for dollar of revenue raised, income taxes tend to cause larger detrimental impacts on the economy.

  23. So Paul,
    What do you think of Harper’s future as leader of the CPC if he only gets another minority? Leaders remain leaders as long as they win (unless they lead the NDP). The first minority was seen as a success but I think that a second minority will be seen as a defeat by some in the Conservative party. I’m sure there must be Tories who are now thinking that if Harper can’t win a majority against Dion, what are their chances against potentially stronger opponents like Rae or Ignatieff. I’ve never understood the “Harper is the Devil” belief held by many of my friends but I think that if the Conservatives are held to a minority it’s because Harper is such a polarizing figure that he has become a liability. Will a second minority start an official or unofficial leadership race in the Conservative party?

  24. AMartin, I’ve written elsewhere at some length that I can’t agree with your prediction. Power is power to those who hadn’t had any for a decade before 2006. It’s only Liberals who perceive fine gradations in the quality of power. If Dion blows the week ahead, Liberals will have plenty of time to cure themselves of such finicky attitudes.

    I’m almost certain you’ll want to debate me on this, AMartin. You won’t get far. I don’t know whether I’m right, you can’t know whether you’re right, and that’s why I hate hate hate debating things that haven’t happened yet. You’re welcome to your theory. cheers

  25. Andrew:

    you mean: The Study, undertaken for Natural Resources Canada by M.K. Jaccard and Associates (MKJA)*, ?

    If so I had a look at that and wrote to Ms.May the following:

    “I am trying to read the The Study, undertaken for Natural Resources Canada by M.K. Jaccard and Associates (MKJA)*, and I must say it is quite a read. Have you read it? Because if you have read it, I would like to ask you what it means when the report states at the bottom of page 000158 :” Based on the financial standard of living, it rises with more consumption and services, and falls with less; however, each additional unit of concumption add a declining amount of welfare.” That particular sentence may seem straighforward to some but to me it seems rather complicated. Would it be possible for you, or anyone in your party, to explain that one to me. Sincerely, ”

    I wrote this to Ms.May on September 12 and have not received a reply as of today. But I will wait patiently, because I have heard Ms.May say on national tv, during a CBC cab-ride segment, that she (Ms.May) answers all her mail!

  26. AMartin: As far as I can see there is nobody waiting in the wings to replace Harper. At the grass roots level, I think the party is strong, something you can’t say about the Liberals. Another minority Conservative government is not such a bad thing for them. The Liberals will be as divided as ever, maybe another decisive leadership contest. And if Harper can bring Canada through the economic crisis in not reasonable shape, he may still get the majority he craves.

  27. Hi Paul,
    No debate. I asked for your opinion. You were good enough to answer on a Sunday night.
    Thanks.

  28. Andrew writes: If you actually look at some real economic analysis (while ignoring party messaging), then in later comments provides a link to a study described as: Natural Resources Canada considered the impact of carbon taxes applied at rates between $50 a tonne and $250 a tonne CO2-equivalent. They found that even at $50 a tonne, the economic impact would be negligible (less than 0.1% GDP drag).

    This, I submit, is Exhibit A of how E May and the Green Party selectively cherry pick data, and misrepresent it to the public.

    Yes, it’s true that the Jaccard study demonstrated that a $50 a tonne carbon tax would have a negligible impact on GDP, but it also stated that it would also fall well short of meeting Kyoto targets or post Kyoto targets, or the kinds of reductions the GPC claims.
    (forecast of only 76.3 Mt reduction by 2020 – see study table 3 page iv)

    Btw 2006 CO2 emissions = 721 Mt
    Kyoto target = 558.4 Mt

    I guess Elizabeth May “forgot” to mention that part of the study.

  29. I also think that Harper is spending today coming up with a platform. I don’t think that he really thought that he would actually have to do that. I suspect that the plan was to do what he did the last time: just come out on a regular basis with a series of promises to appeal to particular segments of voters.

  30. I have to agree with Don Martin regarding a platform. It’s one of the most artificial events of a campaign. The Tories have already released most of the policy planks of their platform. They just haven’t published the brochure yet, which an overwhelming number of Canadians won’t read.

    Then you have Dion, who changes his platform during an leadership debate. So….

  31. Dot: On the contrary. It is prudent to phase in the tax, and then adjust it when and as the economy will allow. We could try for $200 a tonne right away, but I don’t think that is a very good idea.

  32. Andrew, I don’t know if you have read the Jaccard report, but I like to add that the report itself was not commissioned by the Conservative party. The report was commissioned in late 2005, by the Liberal party wanting to set Kyoto into renewed perspective.

    You might notice that the report deals with a lot of ‘unknowns’ ‘incompletes’ ‘unpredictables’.

    These aren’t my assertions; the report states so within.

  33. Hey Dennis, so are we to assume that the issues that got Harper hot and heavy during his leadership race are to be part of the platform announced Tuesday? I doubt he’s going to recommend that the RCMP be dumped for provincial policing (because too much duplication in hiding his candidates and/or ministers from public scrutiny) or lambast the Atlantic for their culture of defeat (I’m betting he’ll leave that after they reduce his Atlantic numbers by half come Oct 14th)… As long as he isn’t turning to the ghost of Herbert Hoover for script approval, I guess things will be as they should, right?

  34. AMartin–“I’ve never understood the “Harper is the Devil” belief held by many of my friends…”

    Does this help?

    The name “Devil” derives from the Greek word diabolos, which means “slanderer” or “accuser”.
    — Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007

  35. What’s happening to the environment and what’s happening to the TSX are equivalent except there’s no 70B bailout that can restore the arctic ice shelf. Yet, Prime Minister Harper still talks about intensity. If people were to panic about the environment as much as Bay Street I’m sure they wouldn’t be all running to Uncle Stevie. I was at a local riding debate last night and the Conservative candidate started with the fear-mongering line, “in this time of global economic uncertainty.” I saw Naomi Klein on The Colbert Report and noted that she saw what’s happening in the markets as more Disaster Capitalism – politicians exploiting natural and economic shocks. I think, though, that the polls show that the shock is wearing off.

  36. hosertohoozier
    “Moreover, by the time the Liberals have a new leader, the economy should be in recovery from the possibly recession/downturn, with Harper taking all the credit. ”

    Can we agree that the Liberals will take 1 year from the moment of a lost election to select a new leader?

    And from that premise, here’s where I disagree with your conclusion. We haven’t yet had a recession in Canada. Those layoffs in manufacturing in the past year are still small fry; there is a 1 year delay for the s— to hit the fan up here from fallout in the States.

    http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/News/Local/2008/10/01/6938871-sun.html

    Other sectors:
    1. Forestry is down thanks to lower demand for lumber in states due to end of building boom.
    2. Oil is on its way down, thanks to a worldwide slowdown (below $100 today). That makes those tar sands projects uneconomical in the near future. Speculation about our own carbon taxes or carbon tariffs from elsewhere will do the rest.
    3. Agriculture – falling prices in step with other commodities; we’re in trouble there too.
    4. Mining – dropping commodity prices will hit hard here too.

    Bottom line, when the Liberals have a new battle-ready leader is when the economy will be at its worst. Harper’s only hope to survive long term was a majority, NOW.

  37. Dot: On the contrary. It is prudent to phase in the tax, and then adjust it when and as the economy will allow. We could try for $200 a tonne right away, but I don’t think that is a very good idea.

    Well, I don’t disagree with this approach. But, the fact of the matter is that the GPC has chosen a $50/tonne carbon tax some time ago (before they obtained the Jaccard report), suggesting that this was what was needed to meet the Kyoto/post Kyoto targets.

    So, when Elizabeth May selectively quotes the Jaccard study (the 1% GDP number, as she did in the English debate) without providing the other side of the equation (that $50/tonne is NOT sufficient to meet the targets), she is being disingenuous.

    She has publicly called the Harper plan “fraud” or “fraude” for failing to meet Kyoto/post Kyoto targets.

    How are her pronouncements any different?

  38. Andrew, as an aside, you are probably aware that Jeffrey Simpson co-authored a book with Jaccard (the author of the referenced study) that was released Fall 2007 entitled: Hot Air – Meeting Canada’s Climate Change Challenge

    So, he speaks with some credibility on carbon taxes etc. Note what he says about the GPC’s prediction of GHG reductions in his Sept 20th review of their platform:

    So where do the Greens stand? Their 119-page policy document, Vision Green, shows where – way, way out on the political left.

    It’s a general rule of politics that the further removed from power, the less credible a party’s platform, an observation that can be made about Vision Green. It gets one major policy largely right – the importance of tackling climate change with economic tools by taxing carbon emissions – but then overestimates carbon savings from alternative energies such as wind, solar and biomass, efficiency gains from conservation, public transit and vehicle emission standards.

  39. Fascinating that poll numbers for the CP drop so suddenly after the debate which Harper supposedly won. Or this drop because of the stock market crash? Or because of the bad press piling up on Harper’s shoulders? Or because Dion is finally starting to connect with Canadians? I suspect probably non of the above. That increasingly it is folks from Quebec and Ontario once again getting nervous with the thought of someone from out west and part of the scary Reform gang not only maintaining the PMO but looking to get a majority. But there is a problem with these ‘stats’. The problem is that while these types are quite prepared to make their views known pre-election to spoon feeding pollsters too many of them are too lazy or disinterested to actually get themselves to a polling station and actually mark a ballot. The Conservative voters are different in this respect – they will actually vote.

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