Jul. 31, 2019

We’ve got less than three months to go before were select the next federal government, for the traditional four-year term.

About three months ago it was all over, the Conservatives were accepted as having it in the bag and the Liberals were going to be severely punished by the voters. That’s what the polls said at that point, largely a reaction to the SNC Lavalin scandal and other Justin Trudeau faux pas.

In politics three months is an eternity. Those polls have turned around dramatically in that short period. I rely on the Calculated Politics aggregation of dozens of differing polls across Canada. Many of the individual polls are commissioned by the parties themselves and usually report what a particular party wants to hear.

In May it was the Conservatives inching toward a minority government, with the Liberals being taught a lesson. Now as of July 25, the Liberals and Conservatives are in a mathematical dead heat, but the seat count now favours the Liberals to win a minority government with 151 seats, compared to 135 for the Conservatives. The NDP would get 33 seats and the Greens four seats, picking up two extra seats on Vancouver Island. For daydreamers, that creates a couple of scenarios for either party to take power, with the help of the NDP. In B.C. we know all about how that works.

338Canada.com has very similar figures, showing Liberals and Conservatives in a dead heat.

Nationally, the Consevative stumble out of the starting gate has been a real disappointment to some supporters, and fingers are pointing at leader Andrew Scheer that he’s too Liberal-like, merely cloning the Liberal platform – Tudeau lite.

What many Conservatives had been counting on was a bombastic storming of the ramparts in this campaign, not unlike Donald Trump and Rob Ford who won elections with that approach. Their success was well rooted in voters wanting a butt kicker in power, enough of swamp of politics, but so far the be-nice approach is not working. Politics is a dirty game. So far, Scheer has not put on his kicking boot, if he has one. Just keep in mind, 80 days can be an eternity in politics. The countdown is under way.

In the over-all picture, it doesn't matter what we think, Ontario and Quebec call the shots.

FOR LOCAL FOLLOWERS, there has been little movement in poll support from the May byelection returns, with Paul Manly and the Green Party a virtually sure bet with 35 per cent support. Where it gets interesting is that the the NDP has moved into second place at 26 per cent and the Conservatives locally have dropped a couple of points since May, slipping to 22 per cent support while Liberal support in Nanaimo has also lagged, sitting at 13 per cent.

Putting that into perspective, Manly got 37.3 per cent on election night while the Conservatives got 24.8 per cent and the NDP 23.1 per cent. In other words, a three-per-cent swap between the Conservatives and the NDP and a two per cent gain for the Liberals, from the Greens.

Jul. 9, 2019

We all have things that rub us the wrong way every once in a while.

The latest issue to get me all steamed up is the news of a second sexual harassment settlement by the RCMP, for $100 million. That’s second such settlement.

There can be no discussion about whether the settlement was warranted, it was. For too long the macho males in the force got away with criminal harassment when it came to interaction with female members and female civilian staff.

So what’s the problem? Why should taxpayers be on the hook for the $200 million in total? The police force and the government need to go after the perpetrators and make them pay. Deduct it out of their pay, and for those who have already retired, deduct if from their pension payments. They created the problem, and it should not be up to the public to pay for their misdeeds. 

ON ANOTHER TOPIC – while a portion of the population continues to babble on about climate change and an imagined calamity, many people are beginning to finally focus on the real problem we can do something about. That is the ever-growing pile of plastic garbage in our oceans and landfills.

When we had bottled milk and bottled everything else we paid a deposit which we got back when we returned the bottles. Then along came plastic which too many people see as a disposable to be dumped where convenient.

Grocery stores have provided a false façade of caring about the plastic by asking if we need any bags for our groceries. At anywhere from two cents to a nickel, they seem like good value, and those who don’t want to pay for them feel really good about saying no to the plastic. 

Meanwhile just about everything in grocery stores comes prepackaged – in plastics of some form, so the nickel at the cash register is artificial righteousness.

What really burns me is a report in the past week which claimed that the grocery chains profit by millions of dollars over a period of time with the nickel bags.

Remember free disposable and recyclable brown paper bags? Time to bring them back, along with glass containers. It would be a start, and something real that we are able to do.


Jul. 6, 2019
Jun. 21, 2019

Canada could be in for a major shakeup in the October general election. I rely on the Calculated Politics (calculatedpolitics.com) poll, an aggregation of dozens of other polls, giving a much greater sampling. 

Four months from a general election, the current snapshot of the electorate is extremely interesting. In May, Calculated Politics had the Green party projected to win two seats, which happened with Paul Manly’s election. Now the Greens are forecast to elect six members of Parliament, five from British Columbia. Projections pick Manly and party leader Elizabeth May to win re-election, joined by MPs from Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, Saanich-Gulf Island and Victoria.

The Greens have just under 12 per cent of national support, closing in on the NDP’s 14 per cent. But based on national distribution of the vote, the NDP would elect 26 MPs. A lot could change in the next four months.

The race at the top is also eye-opening here in the West as the Conservatives have 35 per cent support nationally and the Liberals nearly 31 per cent. That would translate into 155 Tory seats and 134 for the Liberals, a minority government since there are 338 seats in the next election, needing 170 for a majority.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives have 32 per cent support with the Liberals at 26.3. The Greens are not far behind at nearly 20 per cent while the NDP is at 16.7. Seat projections have the Conservatives at 22, the Liberals at 10 and the Greens and NDP each at five seats in this province.

The Prairies are still Conservatives country, at 48.7 per cent for 22 seats. The Liberals have 22 per cent, projecting to five seats. The NDP has 17 per cent while the Greens have 8.4 per cent. 

Calculated Politics was accurate in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection, correctly predicting the Manly Green Party victory. The vote percentage was almost dead on at 37.3 per cent. Conservative John Hirst came in second with about 25 per cent and the NDP’s Bob Chamberlin finished third with 23 per cent.

The projections, up to June 20, confirm Green support in this electoral district remains steady at 38 per cent with the Conservatives and NDP still neck at neck. The Conservatives have 23 per cent support, and the NDP one point behind, well within the margin of error.  Of note, the top three finishers have already chosen their candidates for the October election, going with the same candidates. The Liberals who have not named a candidate, drop from 13 per cent in May to 11 in the latest poll.

The only thing we can be sure of is that all of these numbers will most likely change over the next four months.

Merv Unger is a retired journalist, living in Nanaimo, B.C.