Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Elections to come

The summer is drawing to it's symbolic close with Labour day coming within two weeks.

With that, I thought it was time to take a look at some coming elections and my predictions for them.


MUNICIPAL

The Toronto elections occur on October 27th 2014.
I uurge any residents of ward 24 to take a look at Dan Fox's campaign Dan is a Liberal who is running to replace Ford enabler David Shiner.

In my predictions for the last election I said a Ford victory in the Mayor's office was meaningless, as City Council would never take him seriously. I was wrong.

If you want to ensure competent governance, you need to elect a competent council.

Regardless, it is indeed the Mayor's race that gets the attention. From what I can gather though info I can find and poll averaging, the current race is as so.

37% - John Tory - Backing from many Liberals (for some reason I don't understand)
29% - Olivia Chow - The official unofficial NDP candidate
27% - Rob Ford - The begrudgingly default Conservative candidate

Tory has the clear lead right now, which may ironically be good news for some Liberals. The overwhelming majority of Liberals I have networked with here in the city are backing him. I personally despise him, but I report on numbers as they truly are, and not as I'd wish them to be (if the latter, this would be a 2-person race between Stintz and Soknacki)


SUB-NATIONAL

New Brunswick's election officially kicks off shortly. The Liberals have had a pretty strong polling lead for quite some time and should be able to leverage that into a victory. Unlike in places like Newfoundland, however, this is not a sure thing. Another party could still pull out a surprise victory.

Currently, I have the poll pegged at the following

51% - LIB
24% - PC
21% - NDP

This could result in an NDP caucus of half a dozen members, and a PC caucus not much larger.

I will be posting more on NB as the election draws closer. E-day is September 22nd.


Scotland will be having an independence referendum on the 18th of september.
Polls agree the NO side looks set to win.
From what I can gather, the polls are likely indicating the following outcome:

57% - NO
43% - YES

This would make it similar to Quebec's 1980 referendum in some ways.
I will also have more to say about this in the coming month as the polls (hopefully) solidify and converge



NATIONAL

New Zealand goes to the polls on September 20th. A prediction is difficult but as far as I can figure, these numbers for total seats seem most likely

62 - National (Incumbent) 
30 - Labour
16 - Green
6 - New Zealand First
7 - Various Maori Parties (likely mostly "Internet Mana")

I will also be posting a better analysis of this later on, including each party, what they stand for, and how NZ politics works.


Lastly, I have my eye on Sweden.
There are a number of major parties in Sweden. The Social Democrats usually take top spot in polling. The Moderates however won the last election.

Moderate allies include the Liberals and Centre party as well as the Christian Democrats.
Social Democrat allies have traditionally been the Left party and the Greens.

The Swedish Democrats, seen by many as "a racist party" is not in any alliance.

The Feminist Party, not currently in Parliament, would likely sit with the left-wing alliance if elected.

Currently, the following seems likely

175 - Left (Majority)
140 - Right (Incumbent)
34 - Democrats

As always, I'll keep you up to date on developments as they occur.
Read more...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What happens when "Humans Need Not Apply?"



The above is a very interesting, if alarming, video by a YouTuber named CGPGrey, who I've subscribed to for a while now and I suggest you do to if you've got an interest in random, well-researched videos on various topics.

The video, entitled "Humans Need Not Apply," is CGPGrey's longest and most detailed video yet, and touches on a subject that I've barely heard anyone, especially our political leadership, delve into. That is how our society today is not prepared for the fact that, at some point, automation will inevitably outpace human workers and there are going to be a lot of people out of a job, both low and high skilled.

The video explains it better than I can in one paragraph, so I encourage you to watch it. I know its an old trope to be worried about "the robots taking over!" but it is a serious question that has yet to receive an answer. An automated worker continuously works, its cheaper, it makes less mistakes than human worker, and it doesn't organize and antagonize against its employers. Robots can not only do the line work of assembly plants and the like, but also low-skill jobs such as your grocery store checkout, your Tim Hortons coffee server, or even my job as a taxi dispatcher (think Hail-O or Uber), in addition to even professional jobs. Watson, the Jeopardy-playing robot, has a full time job as a diagnostic robot. Lawyers also often siphon off their busywork of discovery to robots and computers, replacing interns.

Essentially, no job - not even creative jobs, by the way - is safe from automation. That is a reality we need to deal with, and its not one we can push off to the fare future. I fully expect that within my lifetime, there is a good chance that up to 45% of the workforce, as mentioned in the video, could be out of work thanks to automation.

Now, whether that is a good thing or bad thing isn't necessarily the point anymore, because its already reality. Its a reality that political governments need to address now before the problem becomes acute - yet I really strain to find any mention of the issue in any Canadian political party platform. For the Liberal's part, I remember back in January that we had several motions regarding our flagging manufacturing sector, such as this one from the Cambridge FLA (just an example, not the end policy). It does address some issues in Canadian manufacturing, but not the main one killing it off, automation, which could also, ironically, save Canadian manufacturing by driving down costs for labour and so on.

Then there is the fact that low-skill, low-wage jobs are often the ones being targeted next for automation. When there are no Tim Horton's jobs left, where do the unemployed go from there? One could say getting an education and moving into fields that require specific knowledge and specialists, but eventually those are going to be targeted as well. It would also be a huge nightmare to try and shuffle millions of people through higher education, especially when enough of them may not have jobs necessary to pay tuition! What is our solution then, force people to go into debt to just get the education necessary to get a job just so they can then work to pay off said debt?

There are so many attendant problems coming, but no one is paying them any heed. Governments around the world have tax incentives and the like to get the unemployed into jobs, but what happens when those jobs don't want the unemployed! Are you going to legislate that businesses take in human workers and stop automation, thereby causing us to fall behind technologically and also, more seriously, in our costs of doing business; or are we going to have to ramp up our social security system in response so people at least have a basic standard of living, and all the problems that comes with that, growing national debt the least of them?

I don't know the solution, but something needs to be thought up, and soon. This is the future after all, and if anyone in Ottawa is serious about their jobs, they'll have to figure this out or watch things go to hell in the future, whether you're Conservative, Liberal, NDP, or whatever. That really is it.
Read more...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Cook Islands Election

Teddy here. If you are wondering where I've been, the answer is a combination of doing other things, physically moving to a new place, and the usual summer lull.

I do have an update however for today on last month's election in the Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands is a nation in "Free Association" with New Zealand. This means, in short, the country is a voluntary protectorate of NZ.

The Cook Islands has a population of under 18,000 making it equal to a "Town" in Canada, roughly equal to Thorold, Miramichi, Squamish, Cochrane, Deux-Montagnes, Midland, Huntsville, or Cobourg.

There are 24 seats in the Cook Islands parliament, and members are elected by the same first-past-the-post system we use here in Canada.

In particular, I want to address the following; the results of the election, in seats, and popular vote.

First, a disclaimer. One seat ended in a tie. I've decided for reasons outlined on the graphic, that I will assign this seat to the official opposition.

The results were as follows.

13 - 42.3% - Cook Islands Party
9 - 46.1% - Democratic Party
2 - 9.6% - One Cook Islands Party
0 - 1.2% - Titikaveka Oire (Village of Titikaveka Party)
0 - 0.9% - Independent

This may look to be the perfect case for Proportional Representation. I want to outline why it is not.



While I think the graphic speaks for itself, I want to outline why and how I came to the conclusion that this election is not a good example for why PR is needed.

First. Note the distribution of seats. This is the most important.
Rarotonga, the main island, with 72% of the population, only has 42% of the seats.
This is intentional. Cook Islanders have a concern that the wishes of the main island could drown out the demands of the remainder of the islands.

Looking at the Islands on an individual basis, we see where things fall apart.

On the "Individual" islands; that is islands with only one seat, we see the CIP winning most of them very narrowly. #6 is won with only a 8 vote margin. #10 by a 4 vote margin. The widest margin, in fact, is 19 votes on #7. Note as well the small number of total votes cast, in the case of #9, 61 votes.

The end result is 5 seats and 455 votes for CIP, 1 seat and 382 votes for the DPCI, and 0 seats and 88 votes for OCI.

Now, on to the 3 larger islands, each of which has either 2 or 3 members.
One of these seats was won by acclamation. Of the remaining, the DPCI took 691 votes, while CIP took 635. CIP however managed to win 5 seats, compared to a total of 2 for DPCI. Island #4 in particular was very close in popular vote. Note as well that there was no CIP candidate in not just one but two of these seats.

Finally we get to the main island, Rarotonga.
At 2833 votes and 6 seats, the island was clearly won by the Democrats.
at 2409 votes and 3 seats, the Cook Islands Party made a respectable showing.
at 498 votes and 1 seat, OCI managed to elect it's leader in his own seat.

Now the math.
If we gave each Rarotonga voter the same votes-per-seat as voters in the remainder of the Cook Islands, we'd have seen between 2.4 and 2.5 members elected per seat. This would mean the Democrats would have ended the election with a total 1 seat lead over the CIP.

Here, however, is the crux of the problem.

Due to the design of the seat distribution - that is, 72% of the people in 42% of the seats - the CIP won the election. This distribution, however, was intentionally designed to do just this. It was designed so that a party that appeals mostly only to those on Rarotonga, as the DPCI did, would not win the election.

This is thus not a case for why Proportional Representation is needed.

It, however, could be a case for why representation by population - the idea that voters should be in roughly equally sized seats - is needed.
Read more...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Liberals Doomed! Ahhhhhh!

The headlines today are quite amusing:

Liberal fundraising slides to ‘scary’ numbers, says party official - MSN.ca
'Scary' Fundraising Numbers Show Stall In Trudeau's Momentum - HuffPo
Liberal fundraising momentum stalls - Toronto Insider

These are just small outfits too, I can't wait until the big three editorials - Globe, NatPost, and the Star - pick this up, not to mention the Sun newtork. The headlines then will be hilarious I'm sure.

 Now, I know the above articles say that it was the party's top fundraising official - in this case, Christina Topp - was the one being quoted as this being "scary." I received that e-mail to, and I know the purpose behind it is to put the fear into our quaking Liberal boots that we're going to lose all of the momentum we gained since Trudeau became leader.

I personally find this sort of tactic to be pretty silly and not at all effective, as it drives the narrative away from the Liberals - but hey, that's why I write a small blog and not work in the hallowed halls of the third party's headquarters. Clearly the decisions made there are superior, blah blah.

My only answer to this is the below chart, farmed from data organized by Pundit's Guide:


Since 2008, our numbers have steadily improved, helped by various pushes for elections. Our $2.8-million this quarter (2014 Q2) is not the best second quarter we've ever had, but that's because of exigent circumstances - 2009 Q2 featured our election-that-never-was push by Ignatieff, and 2011 Q2 was the May 2011 federal election. 2013's Q2, marginally better than our current quarter, was the leadership race.

In other words, $2.8-million raised without a big event and just after an amazing push by the party to earn millions... yeah I'm not concerned the sky is falling around us, guys. Maybe we should note this great success rather than trying to scare everyone next time.
Read more...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Democratic Dipper Values In Action

Oh, this is brilliant:
Long-time Progressive Conservative MLA Bev Harrison invoked the memory of former British prime minister Winston Churchill as he confirmed on Friday that he will run for the NDP in the next provincial election.

Harrison appeared with NDP Leader Dominic Cardy at a news conference on Friday to confirm that he will run for the NDP in the Sept. 22 election.

... The NDP’s riding of Hampton is in tumult with resignations, allegations of heavy-handed politics and party switching.

Pat Hanratty, the riding association’s president and a former president of the provincial party, resigned this week and posted on Facebook that he was quitting the "Un democratic party", adding, "I'll be back when the reign of terror is over."

And the riding’s previously announced candidate for nomination, Chris Rendell, has had his approval revoked suddenly.

Rendell said the party is pushing him aside in favour of Harrison.
"What's really going on is a cut-throat vicious group of people in Fredericton who are willing to do whatever it takes to clear the way,” he said.

I've heard a lot of stories out of the New Brunswick NDP recently, some good and some, like above, obviously bad. This is clearly a sign of the times, as NDPers around the country are attempting to turn into Harper-lite groups in their attempts to win elections.

Now I'm not saying getting this sitting MLA to run for you is a bad idea, nor that my own party doesn't have its kinks and questionable practices here and there. As far as I'm aware though, we've yet to shunt aside a nominated candidate in favour of an incumbent aisle-crosser this year, and even if we have somehow, we don't ride high horses into town on a regular basis to begin with. The NDP, from coast to coast, do.

Its also confirming the trend of the NDP moving to a hazily defined "right," which is either characterized by crass populism, legitimate policy shifts, or bold-faced retreating from its traditional roots

I'm not a personal fan of this attempt to schmooze up the electorate from the NDP. Yes, its a good idea to moderate your policy positions in order to cast your appeal to the widest possible pool of voters.... but its not helpful to alienate voters at the same time. 

The recent Ontario election is a good example of what happens when, in an attempt to gain voters, you then start to lose them. Yes, Horwath gained new voters in Southwestern Ontario's smaller cities - areas where the population isn't growing, the voters are fickle, and your in competition with the Conservatives and thus need to modulate your appeal to Conservative voters. Meanwhile, she loses supporters in Toronto where the Liberals can pick up voters, take old strongholds, and help pad their own margins against Conservative competition in this fast-growing area.

Now, to point out that may be the right strategy to pursue for the NB NDP, considering their small stature and nowhere-to-go-but-up position in the province's political spectrum. So, who knows, maybe sacrificing their values that they tended to hold so high was worth it - or... well, maybe not. 

Either way, damn shame. Hopefully Mr. Rendell will find another party to join soon enough.
Read more...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Liberal Bloggers Are Taking Over the Party, Part 1 - Danielle Takacs

I’ve been relaxing this summer, so my activity on the blog has been a bit low, but I was asked to help out with an endorsement of a great candidate, a former blogger who is taking the big leap into federal politics – and I’m more than happy to do so.

I don't think I've ever met Danielle Takacs in person, but when I first became an active Liberal back in the 2008 campaign, and shortly thereafter discovered Liblogs and ProgBlogs, her blog Galloping Around the Golden Horseshoe was a wonderful read every time she put out a post. Not only is she intelligent and informative (demonstrated in this post on electoral reform, one of my first exposures to this idea), but I can honestly say some of her posts inspired me to further my involvement in this whole “Liberal” thing. Case in point was her excellent coverage of the 2009 Bienniel Convention in Vancouver that sparked my interest in attending this vast event featuring thousands of Liberals from across the country coming together – which I’ve done twice so far.

Danielle hasn’t been blogging for quite awhile now, but she has been very active in her career, community, and local Liberal association in her home riding of Brant, where she is currently running for the nomination to be the candidate for the 2015 election. I really want Danielle to win this, as I feel she would be a great candidate versus Brant’s current Conservative MP, Phil McColeman, who is just one of the many trained seals in the government caucus (along with my MP and many many others, especially from Ontario). She not only has the experience to be a great MP, but she has the right ideas that are will bring the issues and concerns of the residents of Brant to the forefront in a way that hasn’t been seen since 2008.

I especially believe her commitment to be an active voice for the Six Nations within Brant riding will be a positive change from the current situation, and one that should be emulated among all MPs representing ridings with First Nations communities, no matter your party’s colours. Danielle's commitment to make Six Nations concerns one of her priorities shows that she understands that fact.

But don’t take my word for it – her website lays out all of her well thought out ideas, priorities, and commitments for you to check out.

So if you’re at all interested in ensuring Brant has the best candidate for the next federal election (whenever its called), I urge you to support Danielle Takacs for the Liberal nomination. She is not only ready to represent Brant, but she is the right person to represent this crucial riding.

(And if you’re already supporting Danielle, whether you’re from Brantford, Paris, Six Nations, or any of the communities in the riding, or if you’re just a fan from outside Brant, every little bit counts, so don’t hesitate to ask Danielle’s team how you can contribute!)
Read more...