Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 in Review

For Canadians I think it is fair to say it was a year of significant change and conflict. Perhaps it is the events of the last quarter that coloured my perception (the federal election, the attacks in Paris, the ongoing tensions among ethnic minorities in North America, the refugee crisis, and on...).

On the political level Canada has seen a number of important transitions. Alberta elected a NDP government, ending the 40+ years of Tory dynasty. The long-term ramifications of this are still largely unknown. Hopefully Alberta will develop a more competitive provincial political scene. In the meantime it must wrestle with the economic stagnation from collapsing oil prices. The federal election on October 19th decisively ended the Harper era. If Trudeau upholds the commitments during the election the political landscape could change considerable, i.e. the Senate, our electoral system and transparency of the government overall.

In 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Committee released its report and long list of recommendations to heal the rift between indigenous peoples and non-indigenous Canadians. Several political leaders have committed to adapting the proposals. However the window for action is closing and the biggest risk is that this fresh opportunity slips through our fingers yet again.

Outside of the election two major political conflicts caught my attention in 2015. The first is the Senate scandal. The trial of Mike Duffy began this year. While Mike Duffy has become the face of the problems of the Senate the question of its legitimacy and usefulness in 21st century Canada has come under scrutiny. Prime Minister Trudeau has promised reforms, but there are real concerns that it is merely tinkering around the edges.

The second issue that consumed a lot of my attention was the Hurontario-Main Light Rail Transit. Brampton City Council refused to accept $400 million to build the line from Steeles Avenue to the Brampton GO Station. The debate has had interesting consequences by engaging a cohort of pro-urban, pro-transit, young group of activists. I hope these people stay involved in municipal politics and help move Brampton forward.

The ongoing Syrian civil war manifested in the collective consciousness by triggering a massive refugee/migrant crisis. The world has struggled to help the fleeing wave of humanity. The fear of immigrants and Muslims has manifested in disgusting ways in Canada and other countries. These trends are only too likely to continue with torturous ramifications for those on the frontlines and those caught in the middle of this geopolitical maelstrom.

Race has remained a major issue in 2015. While the issues in Canada have been quieter, the debate around carding and treatment of Black Canadians raises similar questions to what we're seeing in the United States. Emotions remain raw and tensions high in some American quarters. Police abuses continue to go unpunished and institutions seem more poised to protect the status quo rather than revise the existing racial dynamic. The year ends with no charges for the officers who shot and killed Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old boy. This year also featured a heated national debate briefly centred on the fight over the place of the Confederate flags in the United States.

For me personally this has been a big year of transitions. I began the year living and working in the Northwest Territories. I have spent the rest of the year unemployed. It has been incredibly challenging, especially with the moving, lacking in purpose and my difficult family dynamics. I am hoping things improve for myself in 2016 and I will leave it at that.

In the wake of a holiday that seeks peace on Earth it seems like that sentiment is badly needed in 2016. It has been a dark and troubling year. Perhaps history will show 2015 as an inflection point before things improve dramatically.

I would like to thank my readers for their ongoing support. You make this project worthwhile. The growing audience suggests that I am on the right path. I hope to make the blog better and continue to explore options for a whole new website. To my readers as we move into 2016 I would like to encourage you to look at your own community and ask how you can make it a better place. What can you contribute to improve the lives of those around you? Given the amount of suffering we have seen clearly in 2015 many could use a hand.

Best wishes to you all, and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Worth Reading - December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas and happy holidays readers, I hope everyone is enjoying their time off. I will not be posting a Worth Reading next week as I will be busy with my own holiday stuff. Things should resume on January 7th.

Martin Regg Cohn writes a scathing review of former Premier Dalton McGuinty's rose-coloured memoir

Also from Mr. Cohn, he writes here about McGuinty's legacy and the impact it is having on Premier Kathleen Wynne. 

As the federal government considers marijuana legalization this piece in the Walrus asks, why stop there

Politico outlines an interesting scenario, if Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination there could be a third party challenger from the Republican Party

A photographer has captured some of the apocalyptic fallout from the housing crash in Spain. 

Nathan Cullen (NDP - Skeena-Bulkley Valley, BC) has suggested that if a referendum is held for the new electoral system it should follow after Canadians have had a chance to try it

From Wired, how we will never see the end of the Star Wars series and how the "universe" phenomenon is shaping media. 

As many feared, the $75000 the City of Brampton paid for a facilitator was money wasted

San Grewal at the Toronto Star profiles the growing pains of Milton, Ontario. Grewal's piece implies that Milton is something more than a sprawling suburb, which it is. Sean Marshall offered some critiques of this article on Twitter suggesting gauging infrastructure by full parking lots is hardly useful.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Vision for the GTA's Future?

A vision for our future seems impressively lacking from our political class. This week I was wondering what Ontario, and more specifically, the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area will look like by the close of the century. Presently the GTA is estimated to grow from its current 6 million residents to 9.4 million by 2041, according to the Ontario Ministry of Finance. I find it difficult to imagine what the GTHA will look like by that time. While the province has introduced policies such as the Green Belt to encourage intensification it has utterly failed to halt suburban sprawl.

In the case of Brampton the current goal is to grow all the way out to our boundaries and completely fill the city with low-density housing when increasing evidence suggests that it is a fiscally and environmentally unsustainable form of development. Ontario and its cities are beggaring themselves in pursuit of an old and tired idea of urban development.

Municipalities still seek exemptions and encourage more suburban tract housing despite the province's (weak) intentions to curb them. If the province is serious about improving the urban form of the GTHA and preparing for the future then it should create more stringent rules about zoning and planning for cities to follow. These rules need not be draconian. Incentives should be examined to encourage apartment construction and the removal of barriers for intensification. Even in urban Toronto planning rules are impeding the development of mid-level buildings (4-10 storeys).

There is a catch-22 though. Increased density and urbanization would aid in transit development, but transit development would also aid in increasing densities and urbanization. Large sums are spent to support transit in suburban locales whose urban form makes it more expensive than it need be. Intensification would dramatically increase transit use and its overall viability.

This leaves aside the massive technological and social changes we are likely to see. Many of them, of course, are impossible to predict, but it should be obvious that soon we will be living in a world of self-driving cars. However, it also seems evident that automation and smarter machines/computers are posed to devastate the current labour economy

Our political system is designed to deal with problems as they come and meet us and not particularly well-suited to create grandioise visions for the future. I am not suggesting our leaders need to present a grand vision. Instead they need to put some policies in place that will actually ensure a better future and not simply impose the past on us over and over again until it becomes untenable. It is an intriguing intellectual exercise to imagine what one's home might be like a century into the future. It brings into sharp focus the trends one may want to stop and the progress one might want to see continue. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Worth Reading - December 17, 2015

It has been a challenging week, so please forgive an abbreviated Worth Reading. 

Doug Saunders in the Globe and Mail writes about Donald Trump's far-right positions and how they have impacted the Republican Party. I wrote about a similar topic on Tuesday. 

Andrew Coyne questions the Liberal government's Senate reform strategy

New Zealand has a new flag to challenge the current one in a referendum. I think it is very fetching. 

Steve Paikin writes about the 'Derangement Syndrome' that dogs political leaders. 

Tim Harper writes that Justin Trudeau's fresh government is about to hit some road pumps with more controversial issues

Desmond Cole offers his take on the cabbie protests in Toronto against Uber. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The New Right in America

There has been a tremendous amount of media attention on the American Republican contest, and more specifically on the candidacy of Donald Trump. Trump has received a great deal of scrutiny from international press for his promise to forbid Muslim immigration and suggestion that Muslims should be identified. Some have questioned whether or not Trump is a fascist which has caused me to ponder the place of the New Right in America.

The New Right is a term that is used to describe the growth of far-right wing political parties in Europe. Disturbingly many of these parties have been making advancements in elections in recent years. Some examples include the Front Nationale in France, the British National Party in the UK, or Golden Dawn in Greece. Some common features are hyper-nationalism, emphasis of historical grievances, promise of the restoration of greatness, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim.

The New Right movement has been largely seen in European countries and not the so-called immigrant nations of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It has been assumed that this was because these countries had a more flexible sense of national identity and more tolerant. I think this view whitewashes the racist history of these respective countries, but it is likely a decent overall explanation. However, there is no reason to assume that this level of tolerance need to continue perpetually. Faced with a declining economic situation, ongoing international conflicts in the Middle East (ISIS), perceived threat of domestic terrorism, and the Syrian refugee crisis it is unsurprising that there has been a growth of more radical ideologies and acceptance of reactionary positions.

It is definitely possible to frame Donald Trump within other American traditions, such as Nativism or the Know Nothing Party. However I think his candidacy might be better framed within the New/Far Right. Of course the disturbing thing isn't that Trump is a candidate, but that he is a popular candidate. National polls have him at 41%. This would be a resounding defeat, but given his well documented extremism it is jarring.

As Trump's extreme positions gain popularity it compels other candidates to move further to the right and legitimizes these ideas. Unlike in Europe the New Right in America will not spawn a new political party but a faction with the Republican Party. The question is how much sway these types of candidates and this faction will hold when ballots begin to be cast in February in the Iowa Caucuses.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Worth Reading - December, 10, 2015

One of the things I care most about is electoral reform. Maclean's Magazine reports that support for the current electoral system remains quite strong

The Trudeau Government announced their plan for the Senate, Emmet MacFarlane offers his take on how to reform the Senate from the inside. It's far from ideal, but in our calcified system it may be the best we can hope for.

CBC has moved to bar comments on Indigenous stories. The reasoning for why is provided by indigenous CBC personnel reading out some comments

This is a history topic that I always find interesting. New evidence suggests that the Greenland Norse were not driven out of Greenland by cooling temperatures

Right-wing anti-Muslim politicians just aren't gaining ground in the United States. In a recent election the Front Nationale won a significant share of local elections

Jon Ivison suggests that the promise of electoral reform in Canada poses an existential threat to the Conservative Party

Finland is scrapping its social safety net in exchange for giving all its citizens 800 Euros per month.

Finally, Martin Regg Cohn writes that unless the province enforces the Green Belt a dire future is ahead for the suburban ring around Toronto. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Book Review: The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin

Most of the books I have reviewed on this blog have a Canadian focus, as do the overwhelming majority of the posts I write. When I first got interested in politics it was through carefully tracking American news. The rhetoric and debates in the United States were enough to turn me off so I stopped following so closely. As opposed to 24-hour cable news a more formal book on a specific topic is far more palatable.

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin is a history of the Rehnquist Court and the first years of the Roberts Court. Toobin is a journalist with a specialty in the Supreme Court and has written a number of books about the American judicial system.

The most remarkable aspect of the book, in my opinion, is the fascinating in-depth profiles of the justices of the Rehnquist Court; their histories, their philosophies, how they came to be appointed and their personalities. It is fair to say that the men and women who have made up the United States Supreme Court have been a somewhat eccentric bunch. Rehnquist Court was remarkable for its stability. The justices on that court served together a long time and saw very little turnover. Toobin depicts the insular, close-knit world of the Supreme Court well. To a great extent the facts speak for themselves. For example, John Roberts was a clerk for the Supreme Court and a pallbearer at Rehnquist's funeral.

It is  a jarring thought that nine individuals wield such incredible power, and yet receive very little scrutiny in a sense. While less true now, I think that was definitely the case in the period before the 1990s.  The turning point was, of course, Roe v. Wade. The legalization of abortion caused an incredible political shift in the United States, including within the judiciary. Toobin illustrates how a conservative reaction developed into institutions and schools of thought and advocacy groups for the anti-abortion movement and ideological conservatives. Antonin Scalia was an early member of this movement, but was relatively lonely and isolated until Bush's appointees.

One of the surprising aspects to the book is the seemingly ad hoc process by which American presidents appoint justices. Bill Clinton botched the roll out of his, and George W. Bush had the embarrassing episode with Harriet Miers and Alberto Gonzales. Toobin offers a wonderful inside look into the entire process.

Some justices loom larger in the book than others. Perhaps the most significant is Sandra Day O'Connor who was the crucial swing vote in the Rehnquist years. Despite being a lifelong Republican and a conservative she sided with the liberal side of the bench on a number of decisions that helped protect abortion rights and affirmative action.

With that in mind Toobin suggests that the Bush appointments may have radical consequences for American political and social life. The book was published in 2007 and so Toobin could not, at the time, know how right he was. Alito, and Roberts have given the conservatives a majority with Scalia, Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy. Toobin has very little respect for Kennedy and finds him to be a grandstanding justice, perhaps best exemplified by the 2000 case Bush v. Gore. In the years since 2007 there have been no shortage of radical decisions of the Roberts Court to overturn long-standing precedents.

Toobin succeeds in giving us a glance in the small world of the United State Supreme Court. The writing is crisp, and entertaining and does not get bogged down in jargon. Toobin does a remarkable job in stitching together the story behind the scenes and humanizing the menacing figures in black robes. I think this book has a lot to offer anyone interested in recent American politics/history, and not just law. The court, Toobin concludes, is a reflection of its time. Now the court reflects the ideological divide that has shaped post-civil rights America. The author does well in selecting cases that illustrate the personality and dynamics of the court and presents them in a way a layperson can appreciate. Overall an engaging read on a sadly obscure topic of incredible importance.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Worth Reading - December 3, 2015

I found myself nodding a lot reading this editorial in the Brampton Guardian. The author is a little heavy on the importance of the LRT, but I think it was an important symbol for a revived initiative towards Brampton as a city and downtown in particular. 

Related, Forum conducted a poll in Brampton to see what residents thought of the dismissal of LRT funding. A majority disagree with Council.

I have recently had some very challenging conversations with friends about white privilege. I like this article because despite being a list it offers plenty of tangible examples of how white people have real advantages in American (but also our) society. 

In this piece by Desmond Cole, Cheri DiNovo (ONDP - Parkdale-High Park) offers some stern criticism for the federal NDP. Cynically, I have to wonder, would DiNovo have the same criticism if the NDP was swept into power?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a lovely toast to Queen Elizabeth II, check it out

Kady O'Malley in her rigorous dedication to Parliament wrote a handy guide for the new parliamentarians. I suppose it is helpful to onlookers too.

Sean Marshall offers some insights into where the GO Transit network has significant gaps

Speaking of transit, Mayor John Tory has proposed a 0.5% property tax increase to pay for transit and housing. Cue the anti-tax brigade. Heaven forbid Toronto build critically needed infrastructure.

The Ontario Government has moved to align the provincial ridings with the federal ridings. This will increase the number of MPPs to 122

Finally Prime Minister Trudeau has announced his government's parliamentary secretaries. A casual look makes it look like a lot of these secretaries will come from Ontario. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Syrian Refugee Crisis, Open Arms and Closed Minds

If you're anything like me your social media feeds have been inundated with commentary on the Syrian refugee crisis. It began in earnest during the federal election. The photograph of Alan Kurdi, the little boy, drowned on a beach in Turkey became a focal point for the entire crisis. The opposition parties (NDP and Liberals) competed for a more ambitious program to bring refugees to Canada. The Conservatives struck a different tone by emphasizing the security concerns. In many circles then Prime Minister Harper was criticized for fear-mongering. Since the election there has been a notable, and disappointing, reaction to the potential arrival of thousands of refugees.

If you have a presence in social media you've likely seen posts like this:

Here is a link to a Vice piece about all the false memes circulating on this topic.

The memes break down into a few categories, but all play into the fear of Muslims and a general disdain that these refugees are undeserving of help in general or from Western countries in particular. Perhaps before diving into this it would be valuable to discuss the origins of this refugee crisis. Five years ago the Arab Spring began in Tunisia. Sympathetic and similar uprisings took place across North Africa and spread to the Middle East. Concerns grew that as the unrest spread that things could become more violent and bloody as they entered the more totalitarian repressive regimes. In the spring of 2011 the Arab Spring manifested in Syria as a civil war. The Bashar al-Assad regime brutally repressed the uprising leaving only the extreme, militants behind. These groups became what we know as ISIS. In the intervening four years Syrian civilians have been caught between two murderous forces. This is a very short and overly simplistic summary, but gives an idea of what is happening.

In the fighting dozens of Syrian cities have been simply destroyed. Religious and ethnic minorities have been forced to flee their homes. The United Nations have estimated that over four million refugees have been displaced. Nearly half of them are in Turkey. Syria's neighbours have been overwhelmed and now the crisis has spread to Europe. What started as a brutal civil war has now spread to an international crisis. It is indisputable that Canada has a role to play, far more than the less than 3000 refugees already admitted. We are a rich, peaceful country more than capable of absorbing many thousands of fleeing refugees from Syria (and Iraq).

The criticism here in Canada have been incredibly short-sighted. These people are literally at risk of being slaughtered. They are fleeing Syria in leaky boats in desperation, not to pull off some scheme. Of course there are posts like these:

It's a common enough complaint, but it is an entirely nonsensical argument. Do veterans deserve our support? Do those with mental illness? Absolutely. For those posting these criticisms I have to wonder how much they donate to the Royal Canadian Legion, or CAMH, or other institutions that support the groups the purport to stand up for. It's a smokescreen. It is harsh but it has more to do with resentment towards refugees and fear of Muslims rather than any meaningful policy objection. We should do both, but it would require accepting the costs of affordable housing, which the public frequently objects to. This article from the Independent suggests that refugees are having a positive economic impact on their hosts

We have a duty to aid people in this conflict, especially since these are no clear good and bad guys we can lend military support to. In the war between ISIS and Bashar al-Assad neither as victor is good for humanity.  That being the case we should help those we can to give a good life to the survivors and let them join the Canadian community, if they so choose. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Worth Reading - November 26, 2015

Apologies for the short list this week, it has been a busy one. 

Sean Marshall took a look at GO Transit's fare system and found it unfair

The housing affordability crunch in the London region in England may be replicated in Canadian cities. The average London home sells for twelve times the median income, in Toronto it is eight times.

After the Liberals took government Finance Minister Bill Morneau (LPC - Toronto Centre, ON) announced they inherited a $3 billion deficit. Stephen Gordon says that this doesn't add up

What's next for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party? In a recent speech Patrick Brown (PCPO - Simcoe North) suggested a more moderate path to win seats in the GTA

This week territorial elections were held in the Northwest Territories. Eight sitting MLAs lost re-election, including the long-serving Minister of Finance. 

Steve Paikin writes that Hamilton, Ontario could learn from Brooklyn, New York as a post-industrial city in a big metropolitan area. I think it's a flawed comparison, but it might hold some value. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Diversity in Government

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (LPC - Papineau, QC) announced his cabinet one of the noted aspects was its diversity. A great deal of attention was given to the gender parity, but there is also substantial representation from visible minorities in the new cabinet. Admittedly it is not perfect, and the claim that cabinet now 'looks like Canada' is incorrect. Several prominent ethnic groups are not included in cabinet such as Chinese Canadians, or Black Canadians.

Why does this matter? Diverse decision-making bodies are valuable because they can offer perspectives a more uniform group cannot. Different ethnic groups and communities experience criminal justice, policing, housing, and general discrimination is ways that it can be hard to know without personal exposure. Remember that an individual is not a single person but is tied into a family and a network of friends in a broader community and can speak to and for their experiences in Canadian life. I think the Trudeau governments gender parity policy was an admirable one, and one can hardly say the women in cabinet are not qualified for the posts they hold.

Recently an issue came up in Brampton that had me note that when governments do not accurately represent their people strange outcomes can be the result. A week ago or so a house burned down in Brampton, the cause of the fire was linked to fireworks during Diwali. As a result one of the city councillors, Grant Gibson, is proposing a total ban on residential fireworks. Being a resident of Brampton I find that fireworks can go off at strange times of year, and I have no idea why. I guess we're a pro-firework city, even if the city government is not. As you can read in the article there are already restrictions and permits required for fireworks in Brampton.

The four firework-approved holidays (New Years, Victoria Day, Canada Day, and Diwali)  are unequally matched with public firework displays. It's easy to impose these restrictions for Canada Day when the city puts on fabulous firework shows. As far as I am aware the city does no show for Diwali. Arguably if a total ban is going forward a city celebration should be put in place as compensation.

How does this question tie back to diversity? In the 2011 census the largest ethnic group was South Asians at 38.4% of Brampton's population. Obviously the "South Asian" group is difficult to parse and consists of many distinct ethnic and religious groups. Regardless, looking at Brampton's Council this diversity is not reflected. Elected in 2014 of the ten councillors only one is of South Asian origins, Gurpreet Dhillon. The 'White' community makes up 32.9% of the population, but nine of the councillors and the mayor hail from that group. Brampton has a Black population of 13.5% but no city councillor. Finally I will note there are only three women on council, Mayor Jeffrey, Councillor Moore, and Councillor Mills.

I do not believe that it is impossible for a person of one ethnic group to represent the interests of another, or that elected/governing bodies must be a perfect match for their constituents. What I am suggesting is that with a different composition conversations are likely to be less homogeneous and reflect a broader range of opinions and experiences. Creating a representative body is very difficult. Balancing ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, ideology and geographic is impossible, but certainly there should be an effort. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Worth Reading - November 19, 2015

On the lead up to the federal election there were a number of controversies over the selection of local candidates. It was easy to be critical of Trudeau and the central party rather than the candidates in these conflicts. The Edge in Yellowknife gives details on a controversy over the Liberal nomination in the Northwest Territories

I've seen this argument made numerous times before. From the Bramptonist, the election of five Liberal MPs means Brampton is poised to get special attention from the federal government. I entirely disagree. It suggests that the government runs solely on a crass quid pro quo model and is tantamount to corruption.

Hurontario-Main LRT advocates seem obsessed with the loss at Council, which has been frustrating for me. I like this piece from Fight Gridlock, a local organization, who suggests what supporters of the HMLRT should concentrate on next

On a related note, Brampton Council voted to have staff come up with alternatives to the HMLRT.  It's a frustrating position, I imagine, for city staff who already backed the Metrolinx proposal.

Martin Regg Cohn gives his take on the opaque and foolish decision by the Ontario government to sell off Hydro One

The Globe and Mail suggests that John Tory's proposed Smart Tracks plan has a major financial shortfall and that the 'Western Spur' may cost as much as $5 billion

In the wake of the tragic attacks in Paris there was an explosion on social media of professed support. My skepticism tends to put me in the camp that this was largely fueled by self-indulgence, self-importance and social pressure and little to do with the tragedy. This piece from The Atlantic offers a more positive interpretation

Andrew Potter takes a look at the Harper legacy and how while some parts are easily overturned by Trudeau the federal government has lost substantial power vis-a-vis the provinces. 

Finally, this piece from the New Yorker questions if polls are hurting democracy

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New versus Old in the Liberal Government

As the Canadian government transitions from the Harper to Trudeau leadership it may be useful to consider the changes Canada has experienced since the last time Liberals held power federally. While political parties are institutions that help preserve continuity the Liberal Party that has formed the government is very different from the one that last held power in 2006 under Paul Martin.

One of the strangest aspects of the Liberal win in October was the fact that their caucus contains such a huge group of rookies. From 36 to 184 seats in the House of Commons, even with some returning MPs, there will be a steep learning curve, and difficulty managing the green caucus. When selecting a cabinet Trudeau relied upon experienced former ministers such as Ralph Goodale, Lawrence MacAulay, Stephane Dion, and John McCallum to balance out new faces. Still, the Liberal Government is hardly a return of the one that was defeated, and the country it seeks to govern and the world it finds itself in has changed.

The political transformation over the last nine years have been dramatic. We saw the unification of the Conservative Party, which was table to construct a durable coalition to hold power, the separatists were obliterated/marginalized from federal politics, the NDP developed into a national force with a strong presence in Quebec, and the Green Party has gained a foothold in Parliament. Oddly, despite all the shake ups at the federal level continuity has been the name of the game in the provinces. Many of the provinces have seen premiers in power several terms, and successfully passed onto their successors. Notable exceptions, of course, include places such as Alberta. The new Liberal government must consider themselves in a two-front struggle more than any previous government in the preceding 20 years. The NDP represents a real challenge on the left and not the rump it was in the 1990s. However priorities have clearly changed as well. The Martin Liberals was a party who embraced balanced budgets and a tighter spending than what Trudeau has signaled, a definite shift.

Elsewhere on the domestic front Canada's economy has continued its evolution. The last nine years saw an economy buoyed by decent financial regulations and high resource prices. Canada's strength compared to G8 peers largely has to do with the fact that natural resources kept our economic growth going and Canadian housing increasingly became an attractive investment for international buyers. With China's economy flagging the demand for raw materials is plummeting. Prices for oil and other natural resources have declined, and with them the resource-dependent economy they brought. Canadian manufacturing continued is sad, steady erosion, and with it the provinces of Ontario and Quebec languished. Due to this changes Ontario seems far less willing to make sacrifices on behalf of the rest of the country, and is looking for tangible support from the federal government. This may become clearer given the importance Ontario played in the Trudeau majority. As a country we move forward to a potential demographic crisis as the Boomers prepare to retire. The looming economic and social problems associated with the graying of our population has not been adequately tackled or addressed by our leaders.

When reflecting on the past nine years economically the looming presence of the Great Recession is hard to avoid. So much of Canadian life has been marred by its shadow. Instead of stable periods of growth or contraction we seem doomed to this prolonged limbo of stagnation. As a member of the struggling Millennial generation it is particularly evident in the lack of opportunities for my peers and I. Barring some international recovery Trudeau will have to manage growing social expenses while revenues remain low. This problem is already evident in the provinces which carry a much larger proportion of social service expenses.

Perhaps most striking thing for Canada's new government is the changed international landscape from 2006. In the early 2000s it was easy to continue to hold the post-Cold War image of 'America as the only Superpower'. Developments since that time has again and again shown that America does not have the power and influence to act alone and impose its agenda unilaterally. It has been my opinion that the world has returned to an era of Great Powers, such as in the 19th or early 20th centuries. Two striking examples of this has been the rise of China and Russia's belligerence on the international stage. Russia remains a threat to world peace: the invasion of Georgia, pressure on the Baltic States, and the military interventions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. China likewise has become more aggressive in its sphere of influence and appears to be making investments in its military to ensure its dominance is harder to challenge. Meanwhile the past nine years has seen a crippling crisis slowly unfold in the European Union. Canada will have to navigate a more adversarial international scene and perhaps might have to find a faction to align its interests with besides the United States.

In 2003 PM Chretien's choice to keep Canada out of the War in Iraq felt fitting, but the position of non-intervention and peacekeeping-only seems more and more naive in a world where ISIS and like-minded revolutionary movements burn across the Middle East and North Africa. Add in the Syrian refugee crisis a refusal to engage in global affairs, with military force if necessary, seems irresponsible. When countries such as Belgium and Denmark are getting involved in these international crises it will be difficult to excuse Canada's absence from these conflicts. Likewise Canada may have to finally take military spending much more seriously to effectively participate in the global community.

In 2006 there were 32.6 million Canadians, today there are roughly 35.7 million. Much of that growth can be attributed to immigration. Many thousands of Canadians, increasingly from the "Global South" move to Canada every year. In time this has changed the character of our country, fueled growth of our cities, changed the nature of our classrooms, and streets and enriched our lives. At the same time, while broad multiculturalism is accepted by many Canadians there is a growing tension. During the recent election the niqab debate was a strong indication that our belief in diversity may be more surface level than we like to assume. If you recall the Marois Government in Quebec tried to introduce the Charter of Values, which would also have restricted clothes associated with minority groups. The place of minority cultures that challenge Euro-Canadian ones still remains up for debate.

It is not as though the Canada of 2015 and 2006 are unrecognizable from each other, but I think it is clear that the nine years that Stephen Harper was in power saw significant transformation of the country, and not all of it due to the social and economic policies of his government. The Liberals under Trudeau cannot simply pretend that returning back to the policies and practices of the 1990s will work in the current context. Perhaps Trudeau, like many new governments, will find oddly more to take from his predecessor than he first assumed. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Worth Reading - November 12, 2015

Andrew Coyne suggests that the Conservatives need to take a harder look at the Harper years if they want to return to government

Jen Gerson writes about the reaction of the 'establishment' to the defeat of the Harper Conservatives. There certainly has been some jubilation at the end of the Harper era among the intelligentsia of this country.

Maclean's has a piece on how the Liberals won their majority with new voters

An editorial from the Toronto Star on the Hurontario-Main LRT

The Ontario government is pursuing a sale of Hydro One even though many point to the fact that it will end a sustainable revenue stream and offers no long-term positive outcome. 

Apparently Patrick Brown, the current leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, spent $2 million to win the leadership. Perhaps a sign of the increasing importance of money in Canadian/Ontarian politics. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Book Review: Paikin and the Premier by Steve Paikin

Since Confederation there have only been twenty-five individuals who have served as the Premier of Ontario. It is a small and exclusive club. Steve Paikin has been a reporter at Queen's Park for decades now and has a rare perspective. As Paikin writes, the books origins were in an observation that he was the only journalist to interview every Premier since 1971.

Paikin and the Premiers: Personal Reflections on a Half Century of Ontario Leaders is a collection of interviews and connecting biographies and histories. The interviews mostly consist transcriptions of interviews conducted at TVO. I found this perhaps the most disappointing part of the book. Paikin might be the best poised journalist in Ontario (or Canada) to land high-profile, challenging interviews. Former-Premiers Bill Davis and Mike Harris will not sit down for anyone, nor will current Premier Kathleen Wynne. When I began this book I assumed these would be new dedicated interviews with the Premiers on topics related to being a leader, governing Ontario, etc. The transcripts are fine and offer insight into the men and woman who have led the province, but at times it feels a bit like a square peg in a round hole. I cannot help but think this book would be substantially better with fresh interviews. I will concede this format did not work as well with me as I watched many of these interviews originally on TVO.

While most of the text is the transcripts of interviews I think the best parts might be Paikin's interstitial writing. The setup and context for each interview and the brief windows into Ontario's political history might be the most interesting aspects. Some of this is predictable given the subjects of the interview. Most of the interviewees were sitting Premiers. Their honesty and forthrightness could be, let's say, limited. Going into an election that one seemed doomed to lose (Eves, Rae) they were talking like victory was around the corner. It would be more valuable to interview them today and reflect back on that time.

The interviews with the men I was least familiar with were the most interesting. In particular, John Robarts, Premier from 1961-1971, had a fascinating and difficult life and remarkable premiership. The personal histories might be the real strength here. Paikin has a well-known sympathy and interest in politicians.

This book has a niche appeal. If you're interested in Ontario politics and snapshots of the past it may be of interest to you. I know it did not meet what I was hoping to find, but that's not to say it isn't interesting or compelling at points. Paikin's earlier books The Life: The Seductive Call of Politics and The Dark Side: The Personal Price of a Political Life are far stronger case studies of political life. Sadly, these interview may best be explored through TVO's archive of interviews rather than in written form.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Worth Reading - November 5, 2015

Punjabi Canadians have a growing presence in the halls of power and reflect the shifting demographics of the country. According to The Hill Times Punjabi is now the third language of the House of Commons, after English and French. 

The Brampton Council voted down the Hurontario-Main LRT through downtown. During the vote Twitter was very active. Through that I was exposed to some new and interesting voices, one of them Fatima, wrote a piece about engagement in light of the meeting. You can follow her @Fatima_Barron

From the Toronto Star's Christopher Hume, Brampton drives another nail into its own coffin with the LRT decision. 

Final piece about the Brampton LRT issue (for now), Sean Marshall is another great Tweeter you should be following, @Sean_YYZ, wrote a response to Council's decision

A lot has been written about Justin Trudeau's new cabinet. The inclusion of so many rookies makes it tough for even junkies like me to wrap my head around what it all means. In light of that here is a simple list of all the new members of cabinet

Electoral reform is one of Trudeau's promises that I will be following most closely. Martin Regg Cohn writes that this might be his greatest challenge

If you want to follow the Trudeau Government's commitment to their promises a website has been set up to track their progress on their 184 promises

I first heard about this article on the Idle Thumbs podcast. This is an article about the potential hazards of artificial intelligence. AI has become an increasing topic of fear in our media, so check out how paper clips could destroy us.

This was one of the most disappointing articles I've seen this week. MPs in all parties are expressing reticence in adopting the new powers given to them through the Reform Act

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Benefits of a Long Campaign

At several points during the election campaign I thought, "Thank God we have eleven weeks," or "How could we have done this in six weeks?" As you may recall much of the conversation at the beginning of the campaign was about the fact that the 2015 federal election was the longest campaign in modern history and therefore the most expensive campaign that would greatly expand the spending limits. Despite the added costs and challenge I think it is hard to say that the public did not benefit from a longer campaign.

This was the first election that I worked very closely with a campaign. I have volunteered on a few campaigns, but this was a different level of immersion entirely. I believe that the higher voter turnout, up to nearly 69%, can be attributed in part to the longer campaign. One of the first things you learn in a campaign is that voter contact is key to turning out your vote. Campaigns had eleven weeks to reach out to voters, compared to the usual six weeks. Add in the fact that election advertising had much longer to reach a greater number of Canadians and the media had more time to inform voters about the campaign and the issues. Every once in a while I'd hear a story about a voter who didn't know that there was an election on.

The short campaign benefits the incumbents disproportionately. In an era before fixed election dates this was even more the case. Incumbents can quickly secure their nominations, usually unchallenged and go on with the rest of the campaign. Challengers have to be invited to compete in a nomination contest, sign up members, hold a meeting and then try to bring together the local party afterwards. This directly affected Brampton South, my riding. The NDP did not nominate a candidate until August 17th. We were working towards an August 30th meeting when the election was called. The reason for the delay is quite simple. There are rules governing how the nomination meeting has to be run, such as at least two weeks notice to party members before holding a meeting sent by mail. Not to mention candidates need to sign up new members and want more time.

The longer campaign also made it a better, more substantial campaign. The initial "gotcha" stuff got out of the way pretty early, which in a standard campaign would have dominated the early third. Several substantive issues came to the forefront during the campaign including the Duffy trial, the Syrian refugee crisis, niqab and civil liberties, and debts and deficits. Historically our elections often only revolve around an election or two, but in the last campaign there was enough time to present a number of competing visions for Canada. The longer campaign also allowed time for more debates and gave local organizers more opportunity to prepare for their own.

It is not all upside, of course. The longer campaign means a heavier burden on candidates and volunteers. One of the most troubling stories during the last election for me was that an NDP candidate in Saskatchewan has to resign as the candidate due to financial pressures. Being a core volunteer for 11+ weeks was certainly challenging for me. Remember that candidates often have to take a leave of absence from work and are living off debt or savings during a campaign, or a spouse's single income. A longer campaigns, if not considered carefully, will exclude less well off candidates from running.

Overall I think it's clear that the benefits outweigh the cost and that perhaps as a country we should move the minimum length of an election 50 days. Though if we do other related parts, such as funding , need to be re-examined.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Worth Reading - October 29, 2015

Apologies for the shorter list this week, it has been a busy one. 

Now that the election is over one of the questions is whether or not political parties will avail themselves of the powers given to them by the Reform Act

David Akin breaks down some of the numbers from the election in Alberta. He has been doing analysis on his blog over the last few days on the results.

To the great frustration of many Bramptonians City Council voted against the downtown section of the Hurontario-Main LRT, which I suppose could just be called the Hurontario LRT now. 

I linked this in Tuesday's post, but if you missed it, and have a lot of time, here is Paul Well's exhaustive piece on the events of the 2015 federal election campaign

One of the interesting aspects of the 2015 election is the huge number of rookie MPs who have been elected. 

From the Hill Times, there are many reasons that the NDP lost on October 19th, but don't blame Tom Mulcair

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015 Federal Election Reflection

Now that eight days has past (has it only been eight days?), let's talk about the election.

For anyone who follows me on social media it will have been clear that I was very disappointed in the result. I am a member of the New Democratic Party and volunteered for Amarjit Sangha, the candidate for Brampton South. New Democrats were on the verge of forming government, but support peaked on August 27th at 37%.

There is a lot to write about in the election, I'll do my best to keep this succinct. If you want a great overview of the campaign I would strongly recommend Paul Well's very long piece about the campaign here

I was pleased to see turnout went up. Before the election I developed a infographic for a friend that suggested that when turnout went up dramatic shifts in power could happen, such as in the Alberta provincial election. I am confident that many of the new voters were drawn to the Liberals, but all three parties were motivated to get their vote out. However, it is important for those supporters to remember that Trudeau's majority is in fact arguably less legitimate than Harper's. Harper won a majority in 2011 with 39.6% and Trudeau won with 39.5%. Though with a larger overall turnout the sense of legitimacy from the country as a whole is stronger. Regardless the distortions of First-Past-the-Post continue.

The victory of the Liberals can be attributed to three things. First was the exhaustion of the electorate with the Conservatives. There was a strong case made by Tom Mulcair in the House of Commons and a long list of scandals drained enthusiasm and support from Harper which was only compounded by a bitter, angry, and Islamophobic campaign. In this environment the struggle was over who would be the best option to defeat the Conservatives. At the start it was the NDP, but as the NDP vote sank the Liberals gained momentum. Finally, the tremendously low expectations for Trudeau played into his hands. No serious gaffe or misstep marred his campaign. Meaning that as it went on the "He's not ready" meme worked less and less effectively as it rang hollow.

Trudeau's majority was built by sweeping Atlantic Canada, vote splitting in Quebec and a strong win in Ontario that mirrors Kathleen Wynne's provincial win in 2014.

I was hoping to offer some insight in the aftermath about the specific vote in Brampton. Sadly, looking at all five ridings (Brampton East, Brampton North, Brampton Centre, Brampton South, and Brampton West) they were swept up in a Liberal wave that gave the Liberals almost every single seat in the GTA. The peculiars of each campaign in this environment are almost meaningless.

And what of the vanquished Harper? The near-decade long premiership of Harper has come to an end. He announced his intent to resign as PM and leader of the Conservative Party. Now the Conservatives will turn inward and must fight the urge to eat their young. First the party must find an appropriate interim leader and other Conservatives must debate whether or not they want to lead the 99 member Conservative caucus as the Official Opposition. The Conservatives should take heart though. They had 99 seats with a smaller share of the vote in 2004. It is fair to say the Conservatives had something of a fresh breakthrough in Quebec.

And what of the NDP? Upon reflection I think the NDP made the very common mistake of fighting the last war. If this election was the conclusion to the 2011 election, or a replay of it I think that Tom Mulcair could be the one picking cabinet members now. But this was not a replay of 2011 and the dynamic was very different. An interesting observation I heard from a journalist is that the NDP coalition simply became too unwieldy. It was a complex composition of voters with divergent opinions and interests. It forced the NDP to take positions that would alienate parts of its coalition. This was embodied in the niqab debate.

In my opinion Tom Mulcair should continue as the NDP leader. With the Conservatives wandering off into the wilderness the Trudeau government will need an effective opposition. Mulcair has proven more than capable at holding a government to account. The NDP managed to hold on in Quebec, which suggests the Orange Wave may have some lasting permanence. A number of 'safe' NDP seats were lost, that should be recoverable in the next election and 2015 was the second best result for the NDP in number of seats.

While Stephen Harper exits Canadian political life it is important to remember that Harperism will not leave with him. I doubt this is the last time we'll see an aggressively centralizing, media-controlling prime minister. The Liberal Party embraced many positions of the Conservatives over the last four years and heading into the election. Prime Minister-Designate Trudeau may have a challenging four years ahead of him. His caucus is large, but his majority is somewhat thin. It is heavily rooted in Eastern and Central Canada. With the growing size of Canada's House of Commons he will have a larger group of backbenchers, over 150 of whom are rookies, to manage. Expectations will be high for the Liberals and undoubtedly the Canadian public and opposition parties will be watching carefully. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

The End of the Track: Hurontario-Main LRT

Since the controversial marathon meeting in July Bramptonians have been impatiently watching City Council for a final decision on the Hurontario-Main LRT. After months of debate the council appears poised to make a final decision on the question of the LRT. Despite facilitation talks with experts council remains divided.

At the last vote the council took on this question there were five members opposed, five members in favour and one, Michael Palleschi, who seemed undecided but comments at the July meeting suggested he was opposed if a delay was not allowed to allow a facilitator to come in. Or if council could not come to consensus.

Since the July meeting a number of community groups have stepped forward to advocate for the Hurontario-Main LRT, such as One Brampton have popped up. The principle form of opposition in the community has come from members of Citizens for a Better Brampton and local notables such as former councillor John Sanderson and members of council. I won't bother revisiting the arguments between both sides in detail as a) they can speak for themselves and b) I have spoken in favour of the LRT previously. Any search on Twitter under the #HMLRT hastag will reveal an active debate.

The conflict between pro- and anti-LRT groups/individuals seems largely cultural. Watching deputations at council in July it was very easy to say that age played a significant role in people's perspectives. Younger speakers were generally pro-LRT and older ones tended to argue against. There is division among the downtown businesspeople, though this is harder to gauge. I think it's safe to say that many are concerned about the potential short-term impact, but young professionals, or those more involved in the new economy were inclined to support the LRT.

The real divide is about where your preferences lay. If you like cities, if you like transit, if you want Brampton to resemble more of an urban environment then you support the LRT. If you have lived in Brampton for decades and remember its days as a more sleepy suburb where auto-dependency still remains your preference then you see the LRT as an impediment to your personal travels.

One of the positives of the LRT debate has been a tremendous invigoration of local citizen advocacy/activism. New organizations and networks have developed to respond to these issues. Hopefully once the LRT debate is over they will not simply dissolve. Brampton has a budget coming up, and land-use planning has just as much with transit as anything else.

Even if council votes down the downtown route for the LRT it will be built to Hurontario and Steeles. The transformative impact on Brampton will be far more limited, but might acclimatize Bramptonians to the idea and make it less controversial when the time comes. Council, sadly, seems ready to reject the downtown section of the Hurontario-Main LRT, despite public pressure. There is no doubt to my mind that downtown is a difficult space and skepticism is natural. In my opinion Metrolinx made a mistake by trying to appeal to both sides. the Hurontario-Main LRT would be far more effective if they went with one of their proposals for a LRT-bike-pedestrian only area on a stretch of Main Street. It would simply planning significantly, but in auto-oriented Brampton it is a mental leap too far.

On October 27th council will hopefully hold the final vote, and not delay, then we'll see what our leaders intend for the future of Brampton and we can continue to the next city-building debate.

Tomorrow I will be posting my regular Tuesday post on the aftermath of the federal election. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Worth Reading - October 22, 2015

Well, it's over. After nearly 3 months of campaigning and politicking the election and over, and with it nearly 10 years of Stephen Harper's rule. On Tuesday I will write my reflections on the result, but this week I was still far too wound up to write anything valuable.

One of the biggest downsides of the election this week was the defeat of many impressive, valuable MPs. On Monday I watched great men and women be forced out of public life in Canada, and we are poorer for it. The Toronto Star came up with a short list of these defeated MPs

CBC has some analysis on how the election turned out and how the Liberals won

Luke Savage at Jacobin Magazine writes a critical piece on the celebration of the Trudeau victory and the faux-progressive nature of the current Liberal Party. 

One of the few things that give me hope is that this might be the last election under the First-Past-the-Post system. I am doubtful, but it might be...

Eric Grenier has been recording podcasts during the campaign. Here is his final pollcast on the final results

Adam Radwanski helps to explain what happened to the NDP

Chantal Hebert writes that Trudeau's selection of a cabinet, to be announced in November, will be critical in setting the tone for his government

A group of students at the University of Toronto put together a graphic about what happens after we vote

Sunday, October 18, 2015

2015 Canadian Federal Election Prediction

Well reader, tomorrow is the day. Across the country hundreds of campaigns are scrambling to complete the last bit of work before millions of Canadians cast their ballots. If polls are to be trusted (which they should not be) the election night will be a big disappointment to my fellow New Democrats and we will likely be in a minority parliament for the next couple of years. Many websites this time around have presented models and projections for what the outcome will be for each seat. It will be interesting to see how much egg ends up on their collective faces. I will be spending election day working for my local NDP candidate after I cast my ballot. Then I will be going through my long-standing tradition of watching the results with a drink and some popcorn.

General Thoughts

I think this election will be very tricky to predict on a seat-by-seat level. The strength of the NDP coming into the election, the resilience of the Conservatives and the growth of the Liberal and Bloc vote makes the likelihood of strange splits more likely.

My prediction is not based on sophisticated polling or modeling. It reflects a synthesis of the information I have looked at and my own gut instinct.

The North

I think it is fair to say that the Conservatives face an uphill battle in the North. The question is whether or not the splits will be severe enough to allow their election. At this point I'd say the NDP will be returned in the Northwest Territories and the Liberals have a good shot at picking up Yukon and Nunavut. They are likely to be close though, so keep an eye on them. If the Liberals or NDP could bring down Leona Aglukkaq in Nunavut it would be a big loss for the Tories.

Ridings to Watch: Nunavut

CPC - 0
LPC - 2
NDP - 1
GPC - 0
Atlantic Canada

The Conservatives seem doomed in Atlantic Canada. Their changes to Employment Insurance has disproportionately hurt this region. The opposition parties have both been buoyed as the Conservatives have slipped. The Conservatives have almost no hope to pick up new seats in Atlantic Canada, the question is how much they will lose. In Newfoundland it will be a sea of red, five of the seven seats should safely go Liberal. The NDP should be able to hold on to St. John's East, but it will be a fight between them and the Liberals to hold on to St. John's South-Mount Pearl.

The rise of the Liberals in Nova Scotia has put a number of NDP seats at risk. Popular MP Meagan Leslie could even lose her seat in Halifax, but I believe she'll hold on. The rest of the province will probably go to the Liberals.

New Brunswick is the Conservatives best hope in Atlantic Canada. They should hold on to three or four seats in that province. The NDP should continue to hold Acadie-Bathurst. More urban ridings in New Brunswick will be likely to flip to the Liberals such as Fredericton, and Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe.

PEI should return to a Liberal stronghold.

Ridings to Watch: St. John's South-Mount Pearl, Halifax, Saint John-Rothesay, Miramichi-Grand Lake.

Atlantic Canada

CPC - 3
LPC - 20
NDP - 3
GPC - 0


The biggest story of the last election, the Orange Wave, is being challenged in Quebec. At the start of the campaign it looked like the NDP might expand their advantage in the province. However the race broke apart with Conservative, Liberal and Bloc support growing. This is by far the hardest prediction/projection to make. With four competitive parties it is possible to win with a very small number of votes, comparatively speaking. I suspect that the Conservatives may enjoy a significant advantage from these divides.

Ridings to Watch: Trois-Rivieres, Saint-Maurice-Champlain, Quebec City, Marc-Aurele-Fortin, Louis-Herbert, Laurentides-Labelle, Beauport-Limoilou.

CPC - 15
LPC - 24
NDP - 35
GPC - 0
BQ - 4


If any party wins a majority it will from a breakthrough in Ontario. There are three regions in particular to look at in this election: Toronto, 905, and Southwestern Ontario. Toronto should see the Conservative get rolled up by a Liberal wave. The Liberal strength has put NDP seats in jeopardy in the downtown. The Conservatives built their majority with seats in the 905. Both the Liberals and NDP are poised to make gains against the Conservatives. Halton Region, Peel Region, York Region and Durham Region are real battlegrounds. Southwestern Ontario is a different beast. The NDP have been hopeful for years that their appeal could work in Southwestern Ontario. With Conservative support slipping there are real opportunities in places like Sarnia, Brantford and Essex.

Ridings to Watch: University-Rosedale, Oshawa, Oakville, Kenora, Eglinton-Lawrence, Brantford-Brant Brampton East.

CPC - 45
LPC - 59
NDP - 17
GPC - 0

The Prairies

Support in the Conservative heartland is waning which gives fresh opportunities to the NDP and the Liberals. However, the deeply unpopular NDP government in Manitoba is hurting that parties' chances. Therefore we're likely to see Liberal gains in Manitoba and NDP gains in Saskatchewan. The new urban ridings in Saskatchewan offer a real opportunity to the NDP to re-establish a presence in that province.

Ridings to Watch: Saskatoon-Grasswood, Regina-Lewvan, Elmwood-Transcona, Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, Churchill-Keewatinook Aski.

CPC - 16
LPC - 5
NDP - 6
GPC - 0


The idea of solid Conservative Alberta will likely take another beating on Monday night. With Conservative support down and a larger number of urban ridings the Liberals and NDP are ready to pick up seats in Alberta. Calgary and Edmonton are the most likely to yield results, but the NDP has been targeting Lethbridge as a potential area for pick-up.

Ridings to Watch:
Calgary Confederation, Edmonton Centre, Edmonton Griesbach, Lethbridge, St. Albert-Edmonton

CPC - 28
LPC - 4
NDP - 2
GPC - 0

British Columbia

This province might give the NDP the best news of the evening. BC has been more of a Conservative-NDP battleground than anywhere else. If NDP strength holds out a lot of seats could fall their way. The wildcard is Green support. The Greens early on showed a great deal of popular support on Vancouver Island, at times enough to win a second seat. The question is whether or not it will pan out.

Ridings to Watch: Burnaby North-Seymour, Fleetwood-Port Kells, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, Surrey Centre, Victoria.

CPC - 15
LPC - 10
NDP - 16
GPC - 1


CPC - 122
LPC - 124
NDP - 80
GPC - 1
BQ - 4

My gut tells me the Conservatives will win more seats than the models currently suggest, and perhaps even the most seats after tomorrow night. The NDP will make gains in parts of the country but their weakened position in Quebec will cause them to lose ground overall in the House of Commons. This outcome is very uncertain though. It is possible that the Conservatives may win the most seats with fewer votes than the Liberals, or that the splits result in incredible surprises, much like what we saw in 2011. Or, perhaps the Liberals have enough momentum to start their own Red Wave and form a majority. We'll know the general shape of the result around midnight Tuesday. Fingers crossed for no voting problems, everyone have a good E-Day!