Federal Election 2011: May Barred From Debates

Another Federal election and another disappointment for Canadian democracy.  Elizabeth May had been barred from joining the debates.  Instead we will have 4 men debate the future of Canada.

I think it is time Elections Canada took over the debate setup.  There should be clear rules of inclusion.  For example if your party is receiving federal financing based on the results of the last election then you should be allowed in.  Or any other rule, but something that parties can aim for and not the arbitrary decision of a closed door meeting.

Let your displeasure be known.

Demand democratic debates!

Google Trends: Election 2008

Polls have become the addiction of the election world and I am hooked. After last nights debate I found myself scouring the web looking to see if there was any change. A few points shift here or there but nothing yet that indicates the debates had a major impact on the election.

So with polls not showing much I went looking for something else.  If you have yet to see Google Trends let me explain.  It allows you see graphs of what people are searching for on Google.  You can chart search terms against others, for example cat vs dog, and see the trend of searching over a period of time. You can even narrow it down to a specific country or region.  The amazing thing is the sample size compared to polls that usually only ask a few hundred people.

What can Google Trends tell us about the election?  Well take a look at the data that compares the 4 main national parties.  Interesting to see NDP and Greens well above Liberal and Conservative. Not really sure what it indicates.  Maybe people no less about the two smaller parties. The parties attract more young people then the other two, I figure more young people get there news via the internet then traditional sources.  It won’t probably help predict the winners but I find it interesting.

Google Trends: “Conservative Party”, “Liberal Party”, NDP, “Green Party”.

Google Trends: Harper, Dion, Layton, May.

Virtual Mudslinging

Well it seems that in just under 3 years the federal political parties in Canada have started to pay a lot more attention to their online campaigns.  In 2006 the Conservative Party of Canada pretty much copied the site from the Republican National Committee.

This election has seen a lot more online activity (mudslinging) from most of the parties.  Instead of putting everything on the national party sites there have been a horde of new sites created to showcase one issue or another.  Here is a list of some to check out.

  • sCandalpedia – Features a history of Conservative government scandals since 2006 with lots of focus on Harper.  An impressive list!  (Liberal Party of Canada)
  • Promise Breakers – A list of broken promises of Harper in B.C.  (Liberal Party of Canada)
  • Anything But Conservative – Danny Williams is not happy with the Harper government over some broken promises.  I think the site is interesting in that it is the provincial conservative party picking on its federal counterpart.
  • You Will Be Tricked – Tax, there is no other word that gets conservatives more worked up then this.  This site takes direct aim at the Liberal carbon tax plan.  (Conservative Party of Canada)
  • Not A Leader – This one goes right after Dion’s leadership.  Kind of reminds me of when the Liberals did the same thing to Stockwell Day. Site was made famous by the pooping puffin.  (Conservative Party of Canada)
  • Green Train – Well maybe the Greens are just too nice to get into the mud.  The site tracks May’s train tour of Canada.  (Green Party of Canada)
  • Democratic Debates – Probably one of the most successful sites so far this campaign – trying to get Green Party Leader into the debates.  Seems to have done its job.  (Green Party of Canada)

A second thing I have noticed is that the NDP seems to be buying up Google Adwords for the election.  On this sites’ political posts I have seen several NDP ads pop up.  Would be interesting to find out their return on this advertising expense.

I think it is too bad that the parties have spent so much effort in cutting each other down.  It would be nice to see a more adult debate on platform issues.  For example the Green Tax Shift – two parties have this in their platform – they obviously think that this will work and be good for Canada.  The Conservatives don’t share the same opinion but I have yet to see a detailed analysis on why they are so against it, “You will pay more!” does not cut it!

If you have found some other election related sites that are worth checking out then leave a comment with a link.

So This Is Democracy, Eh?

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Ok I am officially annoyed. Elizabeth May the Green Party of Canada leader has be blocked from entering the leaders debate for the 2008 general election.

First off let me be fully open, I am a Green Party of Canada member.  So I am biased.  Besides being a GPC member I am strong believer in voting and getting people to make informed decisions when doing so. This is the part of me that is so angry about this decision.

Backroom deals and incumbent political parties blocking another from participating in a debate, reads like the news out of some failed democracy around the world. This fact that this is being mentioned in conjunction with Canada should shame us all.

Every year the broadcast consortium has met behind closed doors to decide who is in and who is out of the debates.  Every year a party has been excluded for some new reason and while others that would have not passed the same test are included.  Every year the rules seem to change at the whim of these titans of our airwaves.

Here is the solution I propose.  The main broadcasters in the country or Elections Canada conducts a poll shortly after the start of the election.  Every party that meets a predefined and consistent threshold is included in the debates.  I don’t really care what threshold is used but only that it is applied the same every election, without exception.  I can suggest that 2% be used which is the same used for parties to receive federal financing. It would give every political party a goal to achieve – while treating them all fairly.

I was shocked to hear that one of the reasons for not allowing May into the debates was because 3 of the other parties refused to show up if she was there.  Maybe they are scared of breaking up the sausage party! In this case I find it hard to believe that the three parties would have dropped out of the debate leaving the Liberals and Greens with 2 hours of free air time!

The refusal of incumbents to show up to debates has also been used at the local riding level.  Last election the Liberal incumbent in my riding said he could not make it to a debate on poverty in the riding.  So the organizers canceled the debate, which played right into the hands of a MP who didn’t want this issue discussed.

Steve and the Conservatives – I guess I am not totally surprised about this one.  For a guy, that ran during the last election on a platform of making government more open and accountable, he has spent a lot of effort at doing the opposite.  The man has shunned the national media, only holding White House style press conferences – predetermined questions from approved reporters.  He refuses to scrum with reporters.  I can only imagine because he is scared of what might slip out!

Gilles and the Bloc Quebecois – I find it hard to believe that a national party would be excluded but a separatist regional party would be allowed to join in.  Crazy!

Jack and the NDP – I think this was the most disappointing of them all.  A party that has proportional representation as part of its platform and claims to fight for the little guys, has got to make you wonder when they pull something like this.  Layton has lost a whole lot of credibility in my book.

If you are still reading this then I ask you to go to the website below to sign the petition. Ask your friends to do the same.  You are not supporting the Green Party but supporting  a fair and open democracy.

Thanks Jamas

Let Elizabeth Speak

GO VOTE! – 2007 Election

Another election and another “go vote” plea from me. But wait this time there is a difference. You get to vote twice this time.

So like always I advise you to get out to vote on October 10th in the provincial general election. I won’t rehash all the reasons why you need to do this. (57% voter turnout last time, sooo sad!)

On October 10th you will also be given a second ballot. For the first time in 200+ years Ontario will get to pick how it elects members of the legislator. You will be given two choices: the existing first-past-the-post (FPTP) system and a new system, that was chosen by the Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform, called Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP). I think the members of the assembly did a great job. They spent 8 months studying all the different systems that are in use around the world. MMP is their choice for the future of voting in Ontario. You can see more about their work at: TVO

I encourage you to consider the new system. To me the best test of any electoral system is how closely the results reflect the will of the voters. By this test the MMP system is far better then our current system, FPTP.

FPTP is a great system for a country or province with only has two parties, this was the case when the system was first picked. I don’t feel that the diversity of ideas in Ontario can be well represented by just two political parties, and thus the FPTP system does a disservice to this diversity.

Remember that no electoral system is perfect. I encourage you to use the links below to find out more about your two choices. Figure what priorities are important to you and pick the system that best matches. (some are clearly for or against one system, it is worth reading both sides (minus the scare tactics))

I hope they help!