Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Big day!

Canadian Federal Election


Big grant deadline - 3 grants, 2 PIs. (Well actually the deadline is tomorrow, but we need to get everything together today).

It's a good thing I can't vote, I probably wouldn't have time!

Wish me luck on both counts!

Normal service will resume tomorrow Thursday for sure at some point. Please talk amongst yourselves - especially Canadians who want to discuss the election! I will chip in whenever I have the time...


  1. Oh Canada, what have we done to you... Check out the awesome photo of Jack Layton on our blog !

  2. OK, I went and did my civic duty. I wanted to take a picture, given that this is the first time in 21 years I vote at a general election, but was not allowed to do so. Overall, fairly anticlimactic. Voted strategically, which sucks big time, but... no other viable choice. I want change.
    There is a chance that, by the time you become a Canadian yourself, there will be another election.

  3. Thanks all!

    Dr A, that is a great pic! Hooray for Canada!

    Okham, congratulations! I am jealous. Strategic is good this time around.

    Maybe (!!) next time for me...

  4. Congrats on finishing the first, and good luck with the others!

  5. Thanks both!

    Second one is done... just putting the finishing touches to the last one

  6. ...and, done! Packaged and ready to courier tomorrow morning.

    I just left my boss an email with VERY specific instructions about where the grants are and what he needs to do with them - just in case I get knocked off my bike or something! After all that work I just thought that someone else should know where they are! Paranoid, moi?

    Off home to watch the election results come in. A friend is coming over with wine...

  7. I share your grant pain! I have another one due on Friday. This one has been a right pain and left me ready not to see another for sometime, shame about that operating grant due in December!

    This election has been an interesting experience for me. I deliberately paid little attention partly as I don't have a vote (usually I would be into it big time), but also to see what someone who doesn't want to spend much time thinking about it before voting would experience. This has been a depressing experience - all I noticed were the really negative personal adds run by the Tories against Dion.

  8. unfortunately it looks like it might have worked... not looking so good right now, smug Tories all over the TV screen. :-(

  9. nothing more unbearable than smug Tories, the very thought makes me want to stay in Canada - to me at least smug British Tories are one thing worse than smug Canadian Tories.

    What a depressing commentary on an electorate if they only motivating factor for much of their votes is fear.

  10. Well, at least my TV is safe... the conservative candidate handily won in my riding with over 48% of the votes. It made no difference that the NDP candidate ran. On the other hand, look at this:

    Edmonton-Stratchona (Polls in: 210/223)

    Linda Duncan (NDP) 18434
    Rahid Jaffe (CPC) 18034
    Claudette Roy (LPC) 3843

  11. Okham - guess that is exactly why I don't fancy the "winner takes it all"... then again, I don't know what percentage those 18000*3 votes represent.

    ah well.... I haven't sen anything about the election in my [Swedish] paper, which is a bit strange. Haven't seen anythin in my US one ither but I'm not surprised about that yet....

    And Cath> wow with the grants!! impressive and good luck in getting them!! and not getting injured on theway to work today. all ok!?

  12. Vancouver Kingsway:

    NDP Don Davies 15,933
    LIB Wendy Yuan 13,134
    CON Salomon Rayek 12,417
    GRN Doug Warkentin 3,031

    I'm happy with that!

    Oh, and Mr Harper, 37.6% of the popular vote is hardly a mandate...

    Dr J, you are quite right, although it has been a long time since I saw a UK Tory looking quite that smug. Apparently (i.e. "my Dad says") David Cameron's initial appeal is wearing off, but Labour have just been in power for too long and I really don't see the Lib Dems doing it, unfortunately. I might even be moved to vote next time around, if I can figure out where I'm registered. Probably Glasgow, where a) there's no point voting for anyone other than Labour and b) I don't really have any ties any more. I wonder if I can switch it to my parents' riding, which is usually pretty close between the Tories and Lib Dems.

    Chall, the election is the main page news item on the BBC website. They were billing it as "the first major economic power to go to the polls since the credit crisis", but I still doubt that anyone there really cares!

  13. Edmonton-Stratchona is my home riding, so it's very interesting to watch this play out. Unfortunately I get to vote at my last permanent address in BC, a PC stronghold. PUKE.

    No coverage of the election on the west coast of the US either.. but I made sure to tell everyone I encountered yesterday about it. My "Get off your ass and VOTE CANADA" pin got some attention as well.

  14. Okham - guess that is exactly why I don't fancy the "winner takes it all"... then again, I don't know what percentage those 18000*3 votes represent.

    Chall -- I despise "winner-take-it-all" (the electoral system, that is -- the song by Abba is a classic), and am waiting for any majority to reform the electoral system in the direction of proportional representation. But until that happens, we progressives have to be realistic and ready to accept some compromise.
    To insist with casting votes which, well-meaning as they may be, end up favoring the conservatives, almost handing to them a riding like Edmonton-Strathcona where they should never win, is self-defeating.

  15. Okham - Are you saying that the link went to a place where the Cons won? Since it looked like NDP won that one?!

    Anyway, I agree that it will turn into "anything to keep the Bad guys out" - never mind who they might be.

    I still haven't seen anything in papers, and am a bit annoyed. They might wait until all the votes are counted and determined for real?!

  16. Okham - Are you saying that the link went to a place where the Cons won? Since it looked like NDP won that one?!

    I am sorry I did not make myself clear. I meant to show that the NDP candidate won by a squeaker (400 votes, in a riding where a progressive should always win), because of the dispersion of votes among NDP, Green and Liberals...

  17. Okham - why to you insist on blaming the electoral system as apposed to the electorate? Would changing the system really make that much of a difference if so many do not vote?? Looking at the Green Party and the Liberal Party Platforms there is very very little difference between them. On the major issues they had the same idea, just different degrees. Wouldn't all those people who voted green have a better chance of making a difference IF they joined a party and participated in developing the policy and choosing the leaders of the party? If the green joined the liberals, they would make a very strong and powerful voting block within the party?

  18. Dr. A, awesome pin! Where did you get it? I might need to get me one next time!

    Okham, not pure PR though, right? Please tell me that's not what you want... the popular vote was as follows:

    CON 37.63
    LIB 26.24
    BQ 9.97
    NDP 18.20
    IND 0.65
    GRN 6.80

    So no majority there either...

    It does piss me off that the Bloc got 50 seats with only half the actual vote that the NDP got, ending up with 37 seats... way too much Eastern power methinks, as well as a parliament that does not reflect the popular vote. People here were questioning why they should even bother to vote, given that BC has never once determined the outcome of an election. It's all over long before our polls even close.

    I'm sure there's a way to incorporate PR into the system... although they have been talking about this for decades in the UK and it hasn't happened yet, although it was incorporated into the Scottish parliament. Setting up a whole new system is easier than changing an existing one.

    Chall, I hope you're right that tactical voting of the kind espoused by the ABC (Anything But Conservative) campaign goes a bit better in the future!

  19. ScientistMother, our posts crossed. The Green party are in an interesting situation in that their primary goal is not to form a government - there's just no way that's gonna happen. Their aim instead is to force their agenda into the campaign, something I think they've achieved. It would indeed be very interesting if the leaders threw their weight and influence behind the Liberals in the future, but then I can't see the party voluntarily giving up their independence in that way...

  20. I get the point of ABC strategy however, if I want my party to continue to gain strength and be a real contender one day, my vote matters. The parties get $ for each vote, which is why I have never voted 'strategically'. That said, I may consider if the Liberals had a chance in my riding.

    Cath - I made the pin myself! A hobby. Today my pin says "Obama for yo mama". Also one on my bag that says "Riots, not diets"

  21. But that is my point exactly. If they really wanted to push their agenda, they would have more influence working within the party. The liberal vote + Green party vote was 33% = a much better chance of a plurality of seats with which to actually implant a very GOOD policy. All that happened now was that environmentalists that understand the importance of industry as well were forced to choose between 3 parties - 1 of which has a crappy policy. Together those parties would've made more of an impact on actually effecting change vs talking about. This time around, BC easily could've tipped the tories over to majority status if we went all blue. You may not like the eastern power, but all I kept thinking last night was THANK GOD for Quebec not voting blue.

  22. Dr. A - I agree with you about not voting strategically because of the $$$ issue. The NDP had a better chance of winning in my riding (they did) but I choose to give my vote to the liberals as I did not want $$ to go to the NDP. Though I was strongly tempted to go Green

  23. Man you really don't like the NDP, eh?!

    You are quite right about the Bloc saving us from a Tory majority. I still don't like secessionist parties though. I don't like seeing the Scottish National Party represented in the UK parliament either, despite agreeing with some of their social policies. But then I'm not Scottish (well 12.5%) or Quebecois!

  24. Okham - why to you insist on blaming the electoral system as apposed to the electorate?

    Because I am not so presumptuous to blame millions of people -- I just wish every one of us could get the representation that (s)he deserves. I don't see why 1 million Green voters have to be told "sorry, come back another time", when two independents get elected with 50000 votes each. I am sorry, it's not my idea of democracy, regardless of who wins the elections. I think it sucks. Royally.

    Would changing the system really make that much of a difference if so many do not vote??

    What does the fact that many don't vote have to do with denying representation to those who do ? I don't get it, honestly. As for the difference that it would make, you judge for yourself. This is what the House would look like under the proportional system:
    Conservatives 118
    Liberals 83
    NDP 57
    BQ 32
    Green 21
    Others 4

    Coalition Lib+NDP+Green = 161 seats = 51.2 %
    Does it look like the same thing to you ? Why does the 37.2% have to govern ?

    Cath -- Pure PR ? I see nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all.

  25. From what I've heard, countries with pure PR have more minority governments and more elections than countries that don't. I would favour a mixed system like the Scottish one I keep going on about.

  26. Yes, the Scottish system does seem to be something going for it. It is quite right that in a federal election if one part gets half a million votes nationally that it should get representation in parliament - the people have spoken. From my European centric perspective I think though it is vital to have a system that is capable of producing strong government, otherwise you can end up having elections every year and no one being able to govern effectively due to constant deadlock, which is ultimately to the detrminant of all (there is a major European country that used to have just that problem).

    With PR, though, one must be very careful with the model used. The Welsh system seemed to get it wrong, they used a top-up system which entailed the elected candidates from the top up list having no electoral constituency and thus no one to answer to. They are free to just run around stirring up trouble! If one wants truly realistic representation then I think serious consideration should be given to forcing people to vote (it's not that difficult after all), upon pain of a penalty like they do in Australia. If none of the candidates are appealing then can be either a re-open nominations box like in student union elections, or spoilt ballot options. I know it sounds counter-democratic in someways, but in others it better.

  27. I would totally be in favour of a compulsory vote, with a "none of the above" option.

  28. From my European centric perspective I think though it is vital to have a system that is capable of producing strong government, otherwise you can end up having elections every year and no one being able to govern effectively due to constant deadlock

    DrJ, I respectfully disagree. I have heard that contention myself but in actuality I think that the "strong government" yielded by the majority system is often illusory, precisely due to the inevitable, deep divisions existing within most electoral alliances put together only to garner one more vote than the opponent.
    Italy a case in point -- despite winning the election, the center-left coalition headed by Romano Prodi collapsed after two years, because the only glue that had kept it together was the desire of defeating ... "that one" (I am sorry I can't even bring myself to writing his name). This is not a strong foundation for governing.
    Another example: during the first half of his first term, Bill Clinton enjoyed a majority in both houses, and yet could not implemented his proposed health care reform -- although they are all formally named "democrats", they span a very wide ideological spectrum and consequently their stands on the issue can differ greatly.
    And you know what ? That is a good thing, not bad. The notion that you can create a true "majority" by forcibly pigeonholing electors in two, three boxes is naive, in my views. People, political opinions, are more complex than that.
    Why create an artificial majority when none really exists in the country ? Plus, legislative and executive powers are separated, aren't they ?

  29. Shades of grey are all well and good, but not at the expense of getting things done. Do you really think it is a good thing that Clinton's reforms didn't go through?

  30. Do you really think it is a good thing that Clinton's reforms didn't go through?

    Me, personally, no, but Cath, if there is no majority in the country, you can't just say "oh well, this has to be done, I just know it is the right thing, so let's do it anyway...". Too dangerous.
    Is it a good thing that Bush had the numbers to pass the Patriot Act ?
    Is it a good thing that S(o)B can spend the next five years passing laws de-criminalizing his own crimes (most of which are disapproved by more than 50% of the people) because he got 48% of the votes ? I don't think so.

  31. I am genuinely confused as to what you would actually like to see happen. I thought you were in favour of majority governments? And if that is not possible, of small parties (NDP) helping to prop up the minority goverment (Paul Martin?) What you are proposing sounds like one frustrating gridlock for all concerned. Sorry if I have misunderstood you, some of your earlier comments that I am thinking of were on other blogs and I am trying to extract myself from this conversation so I can go home. (It is all too interesting though - thanks to all who are contributing!)

    And no, I do not think the passing of the Patriot Act was a good thing! I would hope that MPs in a minority government situation would look at each vote as a separate issue. I am obviously not in favour of passing every single law that a minority government proposes. Or of blocking every single law...

  32. Hit Publish too soon! I meant to add that this is one strength of a minority government situation. The ruling party is dependent on, and therefore accountable to, its opposition.

  33. I would like a House that represents the ideological make-up of a country, including (if necessary) the few extremists. If there is no majority party, it means that there is no majority in the country. To take the strongest minority and artificially turn it into a majority by shutting down smaller minorities is arbitrary, unjust, and ultimately not conducive to a functioning democracy (just my opinion, eh ?).

    If there is no majority, well, then responsibility and compromise must be the name of the game. It means, for instance, that a leader of a party with, say, 15% of the vote, who, in exchange for his support to the government obtains from the PM important budgetary concessions ought not then cause the dissolution of the legislature and trigger an election just because he can not have it his way all the way. That is irresponsible.

  34. ahh... this brings back memories of PoliSci 101 in Vancouver. I was the only noncanadian.... coming from a "PR" country with a bit of even more "strange" things... We have a "equaliser mandets" in the parliament to make up for rural, scarse populated areas when lokoing at the over all voting in the country.

    Then again, we are a people of 9 millions and have 349 in parliament so we might be a bit overrepresented.

    Overall I would agree, the "winner takes it all" mandates more "pure" government which have the likelyhood of being more stable (seriously though, Italy is VERY strange even in Europe so I wouldn't use them as a good example) than minority/coalition governments as you more often get in PR.

    However, one strenght as I see it, is that PR allows for more than two parties without the third feeling left out. unless, as pointed out by Cath, the third party is a provincial one with strong support...

    The parliament in Canada is favouring East to West due to population increase the last 20 years in the West but the seats in the house haven't changed since that would open - again - the discussion about Quebec. So... my guess is that BC will continue to suffer mandate power over the fact that Ontario and Quebec are happy. And that the three (four?) provinces in the far east are still on the map - dispite a huge unemployment due to fishing industry dying....

  35. Italy is VERY strange even in Europe so I wouldn't use them as a good example

    Sure, I agree, my point is that it has become even more out of control under a winner-take-all system. The only difference is that, with a PR system, it was a continuous negotiation among different parties after the election, in order to keep the coalition together. Now the negotiation is done bothbefore the election, in order to create unlikely coalitions, and after the election, when they inevitably fall apart.

    And honestly, I don't think it is so different in the US. Call them all "democrats" as much as you like, regard them as a single homogeneous "majority", but I doubt if you would get a majority thereof to agree on a specific health care reform plan, for example. If and when that happens, I think that more than likely it will be the result of a centrist, largely bipartisan accord which will leave many leftist democrats unhappy.

  36. Okham, thanks for clarifying! It makes much more sense in a single statment like that. I still don't agree with you about a 100% PR system though. I would prefer to keep the current seats, with MPs designated to and therefore accountable to a specific constituency, but add more seats to the house that are determined by PR.

    Chall, thanks for the info! It would be interesting to study the history of the system a bit more. Hopefully soon! I just got my letter saying that my citizenship application has been received (but not checked), and they also sent me a booklet with all the answers to the citizenship test in it, but I haven't looked at it yet. (They are saying 12-15 more months to complete the entire process).

    Dr A, do you take orders? Seriously!

  37. Cath: Just pick up a book about politic history and you will find the things about Canada and the congress and the distribution of seats.

    If I remember correctly, which I might not, the main things when they were decided was west was small (before all people moved to BC and Alberta), Quebec was The French part and needed protection against the English speaking parts, the territories needed a few seats although they might not have the people for it.... I can not remember my excellent book from the class apart from the fact that it was green on the outside ;) maybe check the lit list of Poli Sci 101 at UBC and see if you can find it.


I promise to respond to all respectful non-spam comments! Don't be shy! Oh, and please don't type my surname in your comments; I know you all know what it is, but I'd prefer Google to rank other pages before this blog.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.