Election Blog - The Orca

Election Blog

The Orca’s 2019 federal election blog. Come along for the ride as we spyhop the four major parties’s national and BC campaigns.

Oct. 18, 2019

My Prediction: Tory Majority

A couple of years ago, just after Donald Trump shocked the world and became the 45th President of the United States, ICBA hosted an event with CNN senior political correspondent John King.

King made the case that elections in this social media-driven world, where every morsel of news is analyzed and re-analyzed and talked to death, are more prone to surprise outcomes than ever before.

This built on a thought I had after Christy Clark’s unexpected, improbable comeback in 2013: Elections will turn out the craziest, most unexpected, outcome possible.

With that in mind, I am ready to go out on a limb and predict a narrow majority government for the Conservative Party of Canada Monday night. Here are my four reasons why:

1. Elections are a referendum on the incumbent government, not on the opposition parties. It’s hard to argue that the leadership of Justin Trudeau has been anything but an unmitigated disaster. He has nearly halved his party’s support with a string of stupid political games, outrageous lies, terrible fiscal management, and the complete destruction of his personal brand.

He said he would balance the budget in 2019 – now the PBO says 2040ish. He was supposed to be a feminist, but his groping past came back to haunt him and then he fired two senior female cabinet ministers for standing up to him. He was supposed to bring Canada back to respectability on the world stage, and he got caught in blackface. Three times. He was supposed to clean up corruption in Ottawa, but he bullied his Attorney General to try and get a sweetheart deal for SNC-Lavalin (and was found to break ethics laws twice). His leadership has been a failure.

2. Scheer’s team knows how to win close elections (he endured 11 ballots to win the leadership of the party), and the CPC ground game is better than the other parties’. It’s not one election on Monday, it’s 338. And in the 80 or so most important swing ridings, the CPC will have the best data, best-trained volunteers, and best Get Out The Vote plan. If that ups their vote by a point or two, that will be a huge advantage.

3. Voter intention by age. Four years ago, Trudeau benefitted from an unexpected wave of young voters showing up and supporting his platform of a “new” Canada, marijuana legalization, electoral reform, and climate change. None of these have been a success. Check out Angus Reid’s latest poll to see the age breakdown of support.

Age 18-34: Liberals 35%, NDP 22%, CPC 21%, Green 10%

Age 35-54: CPC 34%, NDP 26%, Liberals 22%, Green 6%

Age 55+: CPC 37%, Liberals 28%, NDP 9%, Green 5%

Given that the older you are, the more likely you are to vote, the CPC’s double-digit lead with people 35+ is an excellent sign.

4. Finally, the enthusiasm gap. Liberal candidates are scrubbing Trudeau’s name from their signs and brochures. Singh’s surge has got the NDP back to the level of support they had in 2015. The Greens are irrelevant in all but 4 ridings.

But CPC supporters seem like they would walk over broken glass, while carrying the entire Saskatchewan Roughrider offensive line on their backs, to vote out Trudeau.

Some will argue that, based on my own philosophy of the craziest result happening, I should be picking a minority win for the Tories, with the Liberals-NDP-Greens combining every seat they have to form a coalition government. But that’s not the craziest outcome – it’s the one the media have settled on.

I predict a slim Conservative majority:

  • CPC 174
  • Liberal 106
  • NDP 22
  • Bloc 33
  • Green 2
  • Independent 1

Of course, the craziest outcome would be that I was wrong, so bet on that too.

Oct. 17, 2019

Election Grab Bag – October 17

Oct. 16, 2019

Election Grab Bag – October 16

Oct. 15, 2019

Ground Game

With millions voting now, and Election Day set for Oct. 21, it’s a close one, saith the CBC poll tracker:

Time for a quick reminder: this isn’t one election, nationwide. It’s 338 elections, in every corner of the province.

Looking at the Surrey, BC, results in 2015, I hypothesize that local candidates can add as much as 8 points in an individual riding (this is based on the CPC win by very popular former mayor, Dianne Watts). She had about as much name recognition and political goodwill as a local candidate can have, and it was worth roughly 8 points over similar ridings with lesser known candidates.

Can a local candidate add a few points? Or are they a net-negative? Is their campaign grinding through their voter ID, getting every potential supporter to the polls? Who is making the phone calls, knocking the doors? Whose data is the best?

In an election this close, the ground games in each of the 338 ridings will make all the difference.

Oct. 15, 2019

Election Grab Bag – October 15

Oct. 10, 2019

Election Grab Bag – October 10

  • You’ve probably already seen this: Appearing on the New Mom, Who Dis? podcast, two very young children asked Justin Trudeau why he painted his face.
  • One Liberal candidate made national headlines the wrong way by suggesting “the black community loves Trudeau” for painting his face.
  • A look at one of Canada’s most nationally interesting local ridings, Vancouver-Granville.
  • The Conservatives fired a candidate, but she’s still running, can’t be taken off the ballot, and has refused to stop using party-branded signs.
  • A Chinese-language Conservative ad on Liberal drug policy appears to be misleading.
  • Like father, like son? Pierre and Justin Trudeau both started strong, then struggled to hold onto power.
  • Courtenay-Alberni candidates squared off in a local debate.

Oct. 9, 2019

Election Grab Bag – October 9

  • Stuart Thomson’s daily roundup lead with a promise for middle class tax cuts from Justin Trudeau.
  • David Staples: Elizabeth May boasted her plans for Alberta are “not nice” and everyone just kind of shrugged.
  • Victoria looks like a tight race, and a riding the Greens actually have a legitimate shot at.
  • None of the major party leaders are in BC today.

Oct. 9, 2019


In a campaign where the final vestiges of the Justin Trudeau brand have been ground beneath the heel of his past deeds, this kids’ show video has emerged:

That’s the Prime Minister of Canada, having to look two young children in the face, and answer their question about why he painted his face, and hands, brown. Trudeau blinks out a half-hearted apology, but never really answers their question (he’s good at dodging those).

It makes me cringe. And it makes me sad.

This is their Prime Minister. In 2015, Trudeau rode in on a wave of younger voters and suburban parents (with children like these two). And four years later, he has to look them in the face and explain his racist actions.

Sorry folks. Don’t tell me this election is about nothing. The policies may be taking a backseat to the character of the people running – but character cannot be underrated. I want a prime minister with integrity, who is true to the values they profess.

That’s not Justin Trudeau.

Oct. 7, 2019


Watched that debate last night and I must say, SHAME ON THE COMMISSION FOR THEIR GARBAGE FORMAT. Even Winston Churchill wouldn’t have been able to distinguish himself in that morass.

“Which of your planes brought that tie to town, Mr. Trudeau?”

Anyway, the debate seems to be whether Singh, Scheer or May won. All of which means Trudeau lost.

But I keep thinking about how out of step BQ leader Yves-Francois Blanchet seemed with the rest of Canada.

Referring several times to our country as “Quebec and the provinces” makes me worry. It damages Quebec’s already-fragile relationship with English Canada.

Western alienation is becoming a real thing again, and if Trudeau gains a minority government because of Quebec (and only has a couple of seats in the Prairie provinces), and he has to cut a deal with anti-energy Singh and/or May to hold power, all hell may break loose in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and non-southwestern British Columbia.

And that makes me fear for the future of our country.

Oct. 7, 2019

Quick hit debate thoughts

Two hours, six leaders, and almost as many moderators later, what did we learn?

The format…well, it sucks.
Some of the moderators were better than others, but it was the format itself that made the two hours feel like substantially longer.

First, audience questions felt like an underproduced gimmick (again, FIVE moderators, and they couldn’t be the ones to read selected audience questions?)

Worse, it felt chaotic and random; as the debate meandered from topic to topic and segment to segment, the various rules of engagement were hard to follow.

We all bemoan the soundbitization of politics, but cramming six leaders into smaller and smaller microsegments doesn’t allow for much else. “You have five seconds to respond, Mr. Trudeau” summed up the evening nicely.

Small party chaos.
It’s hard to watch Maxime Bernier debate Elizabeth May and feel like it’s anything other than a colossal waste of TV time. Combined, they represent the stated preference of about 10% of voters, and have three seats between them.

Similarly, I fully understand the reasons why the Bloc Quebecois must be invited, and don’t see a workable way around it beyond simply deciding that separatists can’t play (which would be a bad idea, for the record.) But on many issues – TransMountain comes to mind – their position simply isn’t relevant.

Okay, the format sucked. But who did the best?
Normally, I’d want a second viewing to see if my initial reactions hold up, but I’m not a masochist. Overall, I thought Jagmeet Singh and Andrew Scheer both did reasonably well, probably the best of the group.

Trudeau and Scheer took the most hits, but that’s to be expected; they’re the only two conceivable prime ministers.

Trudeau probably had the night’s single best line, telling May “a slogan is not a plan,” although Singh and Scheer had some decent ones as well.

For Bernier, just being there was no small victory. He exceeded expectations simply by casting a reflection in the mirror, and not bursting into flames.

Was anyone actively bad? I don’t think so. Did tonight change anyone’s mind? I honestly doubt it.

Oct. 4, 2019

The importance of being earnest

Andrew MacDougall has an interesting piece on Andrew Scheer being, well, uninteresting:

“He’s … beige.”

That’s how someone here in London described Conservative leader Andrew Scheer to me after watching his announcement on reprioritizing Canada’s foreign aid away from wealthier nations. Beige. As in bland.

The comment was meant as a slight, but dollars to doughnuts it’s the Conservative strategy. After years of Justin Trudeau’s celebrity flash, Scheer and his team are banking on bland. Who needs the all-singing, all-dancing, blackface sherwani-clad bandit when you can have the dad-bod in his crap cut jeans and Riders kit?

It reminds me of this piece I wrote for The Orca last spring:

There is no doubt that Scheer is very different in personality and tone from Justin Trudeau. Scheer is incredibly earnest – a Prairie dad of five who came up from modest roots. He’s not a fashion plate. He’s not famous for his socks. He’s not doing yoga poses or “accidentally” photobombing weddings and proms.

Listening to Scheer, he reminded me of some of the other dads on my kid’s hockey team. He just seems genuinely nice. He’s the dad that you stand next to at the boards and have a few chuckles with as the game unfolds. He’s the one who slips out at intermission and buys some coffee – and is kind enough to ask you if you want one too.

He’s definitely smart, but he’s not bombastic. He exudes politeness, not politics.

In an election of blackface and cult-of-PM-personality, beige may be the colour of victory.

Oct. 4, 2019

You’re on my last nerve, Mister

Elizabeth May sounds like an exasperated parent in dealing with Jagmeet Singh:

“It’s disappointing, honestly,” [May] said. “I thought more of [Singh]. We haven’t been gunning to hurt the NDP but they seem to be training most of their fire on creating fake stories about us. I have great patience and I try to find a wellspring of love and compassion for all, but Mr. Singh is straining my patience.”

With all due respect/wellspring of love and compassion, Ms. May, I don’t think the NDP or anyone else has to make up “fake stories” to convince people not to vote to you. They just need to let voters read your crazy platform – that will scare off reasonable folks all by itself.

Oct. 3, 2019

Just when you thought this election couldn’t get any uglier…

In an election campaign that hasn’t exactly bathed the country in glory, we may have found another low mark.

There is some argument as to nuance and precise translation, but the most direct translation seems to be:

“It’s yours. Opt for women and men who look like you, who share your values, who care about your concerns and who work for your interests, the interests of Quebeckers. Only Quebecers. Tomorrow belongs to you.”

Much depends on how you translate that crucial “qui vous resemblent.” For what it’s worth, Twitter’s translation bot renders it as a more defensible (but still slightly icky) “who are like you.”

Perhaps that’s the case. But the majority opinion seems to be “who look like you” is the more accurate translation – and while my French is pretty damn rusty, that was my initial read as well.

If that is the case…wow.

I don’t really have much more to add than that.

Oct. 3, 2019

Election Grab Bag – October 3

Oct. 2, 2019

Election Grab Bag – October 2

Oct. 2, 2019

What happens when virtue signallers run out of virtues to signal?

The Liberal campaign – which by any measure has been a failure thus far – rolled out some plans to limit guns.

Of course, gun control is not really a problem here in Canada. But the woke types in the Liberal campaign office watch a lot of CNN and follow a lot of Democrats on Twitter. So we get a little bit of gun policy and this Trudeau tweet:

A few obvious problems with this:

  1. Police chiefs don’t want the Liberals’ policy, or think it will help
  2. Trudeau’s platform has more money to send people camping than it does to address gun issues
  3. His whole plan is ‘breathtakingly stupid’

I’m not a gun guy. Never held one, never shot one, never wanted to. But I am a good policy guy, and this plan is definitely not that.

Oct. 1, 2019

Election Grab Bag – October 1

Sept. 30, 2019

Election Grab Bag – Sep 30

Sept. 30, 2019

3 weeks to go – we can do this, people

One week from today is the only English-language leaders’ debate. Three weeks from today is Election Day.

And this thing is tighter than a pop star’s pants:

This election can still be won – or, more likely, given this cast of leaders – lost. Someone can seize a moment, an issue and elevate their ticket. And it will be fascinating to see who will do just that.

Right you are, Doc.

Scheer seems to have closed the “who would make the best PM gap” – but we will see. Hold on to your hats – it’s going to be a wild 21 days.

Sept. 27, 2019

Election Grab Bag – Sep 27

Sept. 27, 2019

Hey poor folks: your ship is finally coming in

Not every election platform policy is going to be a winner for everyone.

But you’d be hard pressed to find a more tone-deaf election promise than Justin Trudeau’s plan to give lower income people $2,000 to go camping.

I’ll defer to columnist Chris Selley for the obvious analysis:

“This is bananas. Imagine telling a lower-income family you have $2,000 to help them out, and then revealing that they have to use it camping.”

Another unserious promise from an unserious government.

Sept. 26, 2019

Can we talk about Green campaign art?

Today in Montreal, Green Party leader Elizabeth May spoke at a campaign rally.

That’s not unusual. What was remarkable was her podium.
Courtesy Justin Ling’s Twitter account:

I really don’t like this, for two reasons.

First, I don’t care for political art like this in general; it gives off a “Dear Leader” vibe that rubs me the wrong way. The Green Party won’t be seriously accused of being a personality cult, but that doesn’t mean borrowing aesthetics from one is a good idea.

Second, for a party that has been hamstrung by perceptions that it’s become a national support system for May’s seat, it’s not a move I would have recommended – especially given May’s year of public stumbles and missteps.

Is this a big deal? No. It’s inadvisable, but ultimately harmless kitsch. Does it reflect on May herself? Again, no. Party leaders are far too busy to sign off on minutiae like this – or for that matter, Photoshopped metal straws.

But for a party and leader that can’t seem to get on track this campaign, it just feels like another misfire.

Sept. 26, 2019

Tories come alive in the all-important 905

It’s a fact of Canadian electoral life that we Westerners just have to accept: Ontario controls our future. They have the hammer of dozens and dozens more seats than we do.

And it’s the 905 area code – the swing ridings around Centre of the Universe ™ Toronto that carry the most weight. Last week, the polls showed the Conservatives 16 points behind the Liberals. But quicker than you can say “I only wore blackface once, er, twice, er, three times)”, that has changed:

It’s a political knife fight in the 905 now!

Sept. 26, 2019

Election Grab Bag – Sep 26

Sept. 25, 2019

Election Grab Bag – Sep 25

Sept. 24, 2019

On Indigenous candidates

If you’re looking for a new, different angle on this election – or even just something that won’t turn your stomach – check out Dallas Smith on the 41 Indigenous candidates (9 in BC), the unique challenges they face, and why it’s important they’re divided across party lines.

Sept. 24, 2019

Election Grab Bag – Sep 24

Sept. 24, 2019

Jagmeet’s staggering lack of policy chops bites the NDP again

The collective wisdom on Justin Trudeau is that he’s a policy lightweight. One wonders what that makes Jagmeet Singh?

After a strong start to the campaign, and his beautiful, stirring and inspiring reaction to the Trudeau blackface mess, many Canadians were likely giving Singh a second look. Then he went on Vassy Kapelos’s show and delivered this blunder:

Giving any province a veto over projects in the national interest is stupid, dangerous policy.

Why even have a federal government if the power is going to be transferred into the hands of parochial premiers? This would gut the resource industry in this country and plunge Canada into economic disaster.

And it’s not even honest. If Doug Ford or Jason Kenney or another Conservative premier tried to block a Prime Minister Jagmeet Singh pet project, you can bet the NDP leader would override that so fast it would make your head spin. Expect Singh to walk this one back today.

Sept. 23, 2019

Indecision 2019: Victoria has nine candidates to choose from

Sweet, sleepy Victoria is quietly building a reputation for having some electoral barnburners – and 2019 may be a good one.

Widely expected to be a two-horse race, it’s a micro-bellweather riding in the battle for third place between the NDP and Greens.

It’s the kind of riding the Greens absolutely must win if they’re ever going to be more than a national support network for Elizabeth May’s seat. For their part, the NDP are expected to take a shellacking in Quebec, and simply can’t afford to lose seats in their Vancouver Island fortress.

Aside from the Big Four, Victoria has candidates from:

  • A surprisingly visible People’s Party candidate, whose signs are everywhere, has a Tesla painted up with her name and logo, and was apparently canvassing at the recent Great Canadian Beer Festival.
  • An actual Communist! Presumably he saves his most toxic venom for those irredeemable Marxist-Leninist splittists.
  • A Libertarian perma-candidate, most recently seen in the last mayoral election.
  • A Rhinoceros candidate, about whom so little is known his official party candidate page solely consists of his name and admittedly sharp pencil drawing of, you guessed it, a rhinoceros.
  • An “Animal Protection” candidate, semi-infamous in Victoria for “misleading” signs (let’s not mince words: they were straight-up lies) about the horse carriage industry and lying about them on CFAX radio.

Who’s going to win? From all appearances, both the NDP and Greens are all in. In a tight race, a ground game (volunteers and get-out-the-vote systems) is likely to be crucial; the more experienced NDP may have the edge.

Time will tell.

Sept. 23, 2019

Election Grab Bag – Sep 23

  • This week’s 338Canada polls show the Conservatives slowly taking the advantage – but it still looks very, very close.
  • Mike Smyth: As Trudeau stumbles, the fight is on in one of Canada’s most-watched ridings: Vancouver-Granville.
  • The UK’s Daly Telegraph, for some reason, has the most thorough look at the 2001 event our prime minister attended in costume and blackface (still so bizarre to even type that, much less process.)
  • Not so much racist as shallow and ineffectual, writes Leah McLaren about Justin Trudeau.
  • In BC’s South Asian hub, the Trudeau blackface…thing will have an impact.
  • The Justin Trudeau-Jagmeet Singh meeting/absolution will happen in private, but there’s no time set yet.
  • Lori Culbert: 10 make-or-break BC ridings.
  • None of the major party leaders were in BC yesterday.

Sept. 23, 2019

The politics post-blackface

Justin Trudeau’s multiple appearances in blackface are disgusting, disappointing, disheartening and racist. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that any 21st century Canadian leader thought this kind of behaviour was appropriate and funny.

The Liberals are in full damage control mode, and one must remind one’s self: what you read on Twitter (or see in the media) is not always an accurate reflection of what’s going on in the minds and hearts of real Canadians.

The parties, political twitter and the media are quick (too quick!) to move to the cynical question of whether Trudeau can overcome this and what it means for the election, which is 28 days away.

But here’s what I think about the political implications. This image is being burned into Canadians’ minds:

It is already becoming difficult to see Trudeau’s face (on TV, in the paper, online, in campaign material) without this blackface image sparking in the mind. The more we see these photos – and they are everywhere – the more difficult it is to separate Trudeau from them. Anytime he smiles, this image is invoked mentally.

Over the next four weeks, I wonder if Trudeau’s once-invincible “woke, sunny ways, feminist, diversity is strength” brand will continue to whither in many Canadians’ minds. It may not show up in every poll (especially these early ones), but I suspect the erosion of his image is unstoppable and irrevocable.

The human mind is a powerful thing – if this blackface image is constantly connected to Trudeau’s everyday campaign appearances, it’s going to be mighty tough to put a vote into a ballot box for him.

Sept. 20, 2019

Election Grab Bag – Sep 20

Sept. 19, 2019

Election Grab Bag – Sep 19

Sept. 19, 2019

Trudeau and Blackface

This is a day to hear a lot less from white reporters and analysts like me, and a lot more from reporters and analysts of varied ethnicities.

We expect our commentators to be experts; while I’m disgusted w/ Trudeau, I’m not an expert in experiencing racism.

So for me for now: 🤐

Sept. 18, 2019

Maybe not a Green Wave, but Green Ripples?

Interesting story on CBC about Liberal efforts to fend off a perceived Green tide in New Brunswick.

Two observations:
– Evidence of a green surge is based on two things. First, anecdotes (“support at the doors”) which are no predictor of actual turnout.

Second, the 2018 New Brunswick provincial election, in which the Greens won three seats and under 12% of the vote. Both records, and trending in the right direction, but hardly a tsunami.

– That said, the Liberals clearly see a rising Green vote as taking away from them. Compare that with this poll:

Granted, that’s a national poll, and New Brunswick may well be different. But in the 10 days between Sep and Sep 16, Green support *seems* to have been cut in half. The primary beneficiary? The Conservatives.

Anecdotally (there’s that word again) Green strategists in BC will tell you that’s not surprising. They say their own internal numbers don’t show they split/take/steal votes from the NDP, as you might expect, but just as many from the BC Liberals, and even more from people who wouldn’t otherwise vote at all.

So, are the Liberals right to worry that every Green vote is a lost Liberal vote? We’ll see.

Sept. 18, 2019

Election Grab Bag – Sep 18