Monday, March 25, 2013

Co-operation Plan Silliness, Part Gazillion

An interesting thing popped up today in the Vancouver Sun:
For those inclined to believe anything is possible in politics, Tom Mulcair or Justin Trudeau could be Canada’s next prime minister in 2015.

But no one should put any money on that, counsels retired University of Winnipeg academic John Ryan, an author and geographer who has recently been studying the near-term electoral prospects of the country’s centre-left parties.

Ryan, himself a lapsed New Democrat, has devised a scheme to challenge the inevitability of yet another Conservative win in two years time — in what would be Stephen Harper’s fourth successive victory.

... Ryan’s proposal envisions both parties maintaining separate identities, but agreeing to a common platform on a few fundamental issues, plus an electoral strategy as follows:

In ridings where the Conservatives lost in the last election, the sitting NDP, Liberal or Green MP would be the 2015 candidate.

In seats that Conservatives or Bloc MPs now hold, the coalition would run the candidate from the opposition party that won the second-highest number of votes in 2011.

By Ryan’s analysis of Elections Canada data, New Democrats would win as many as 130 seats in 2015. Liberals, 70.

Conservatives would be reduced to 107 seats, and the Bloc would be eliminated.

It is worth noting that Ryan’s plan does not account for electoral upsets in any given riding, a not-infrequent event.

So, some guy from a university puts out some numbers, and gets press in the Vancouver Sun. Of course, the details of how he's done this apparently expert analysis is not released, and I cannot find it anywhere. Hm, I smell something fishy here.

I don't know how Ryan did this, but I don't suspect its anything exactly complex. In fact, I expect that he just did a 1:1 vote transfer between the two parties, because you know, that's a thing. Sure.

That being said, I did a 1:1 vote because, why not, and I got 124 NDP, 113 Conservative, 70 Liberals, and a Green based on the 2011 results in 308 ridings. I may have buggered up somewhere, but I don't think so and its close enough, so let's run with this. I'll put the riding-by-riding numbers at the bottom of this post.

Of course this works, because 1:1 voting is totally a thing. And John Ryan is not wasting the Vancouver Sun's time, on top of everyone else's. Not at all.


Look, people. No one is denying that if co-operation were put into place, we wouldn't get more seats. In fact, it is extremely likely to net us more seats than we currently have, and even drop the Conservatives from majority government. Even in the 338-seat house, it could work. But it will not be as simple as people like John Ryan or Joyce Murray or Nathan Cullen are making it out to be.

Back in March 2012, I noted that even a 10% shift in votes from the Liberal/NDP combination, definitely a possibility, could de-rail this entire process. The Conservatives could earn a boost in their numbers based solely on the fact that there is no Liberal or NDP candidate in their riding, only this Frankenstein's monster candidate claiming to represent a united progressive coalition of parties that, in Ryan's words, retain their own "identities." Right.

And I said this in the face of a poll that claimed 60% of Liberals and NDP supported the idea, at that time being touted by Nathan Cullen. Do you know why? Because retaining only 60% of your support is a catastrophe that would likely hand the Conservatives an election. Even losing 10% of your previous voters is a serious problem.

Can you make up the loss of voters? Sure. But we're getting into the realm of maybe-if-this-happens, and that's not something to base your strategy on, especially not one with serious consequences to party organization.

Plus, let's not forget that under this plan, the Liberals would only be allowed to run 91 candidates in a 308-seat House, probably about 110 in a 338-seat House. That means that 2/3 of the ridings in Canada would be without Liberal representation, including no one in the Interior of BC, Vancouver Island, rural Alberta, most of Saskatchewan, rural Manitoba, most of rural Ontario, 90% of Quebec outside of Montreal, and only three out of ten New Brunswick ridings. Don't forget only two of the ridings in Halifax, and no representation in St. John's.

Really? This is what some retired professor thinks would be a good option? Hell, for the NDP, it'd mean barely any representation in the 905 Belt, no one in PEI, and no one in NL outside of St. John's. I think they'll appreciate that. Also, the Greens would be allowed to run in two seats - May's and Dufferin-Caledon, the latter where they earned 14% of the vote in 2011.

How the hell is this fair? It deprives entire regions of their choice of non-Conservative parties, even in areas where the votes were actually close. I mean, in my riding of Burlington, where the difference between us and the NDP was 4%, is it really fair for the leadership of the NDP to say they need to pack up and support the Liberals now? Seriously? Even Joyce Murray's plan makes more sense than this - at least she says she won't do it in ridings where its Lib vs. NDP or something.

What is being advocated here is nothing short of stupid, but its also offensive to the voters. Not only does it deprive of them of choice, it treats them like they're too stupid to decide to vote for the candidate that has the best shot at winning, if that's their goal.

Nice plan, guys.


  1. The problem with this Kyle is that it doesn't mean that Liberals would support the NDP minority govt.
    And if in fact, the cons won a minority govt, one can't assume that the Liberals would support or be willing to forum a coalition govt with the NDP, just saying.
    Looking to the past, the Libs are more likely to form a coalition govt with the Conservatives, or support a Conservative govt.
    All the Liberal leadership candidates, and the front runner are campaigning on right of centre so that's their natural direction.

    1. I wouldn't call most of the Liberal leadership candidates, including Trudeau, "right of centre," as much as I'd call them "business-oriented," or more accurately, business-oriented because they think it will get them more support. It isn't as if Trudeau and co. are going to start talking about union busting or fetus rights anytime soon. But, that's a personal viewpoint.

      On to the bigger point you've made, you could be right. The Conservatives and Liberals do share quite a lot in common at times, and depending upon what was offered, the Liberals could be coaxed into supporting a Conservative minority, issue-by-issue. That of course depends upon what the issues are - as I noted, I don't see the Liberals en masse moving to support any extremely conservative legislation, it just isn't in their collective interests.

      I also can't see the Liberals supporting a Harper minority, there's just too much bad blood there. Even under a different leader, I can't see the Liberals entering into a coalition with a Conservative government. The only way to bring those parties together in a formal coalition is if they're facing a very radical NDP, which is not what we have.

    2. Anyways, the point of the above exercise would be an agreement between the Liberals and NDP in the first place. I can't imagine the Liberals not supporting an NDP-led government after agreeing to a co-op plan. That'd be pretty conniving.

  2. At most, a dozen ridings should be given to this co-operation idea, and, those ridings should be chosen nationally based on the national interest of the parties. Local associations should have no say in messing up national interests on this matter.

    The Liberals should be able to pick 6 ridings where no Green will run, and, 6 ridings where no NDP candidate will run.
    The NDP would pick 6 ridings without the Liberals and 6 in the Greens would not show.
    Lastly the Greens would pick 6 ridings without an NDP candidate and 6 without a Liberal.

    Parties could double up. For example, the Greens might pick Calgary Centre as one of those No-Liberal ridings, and, also pick the same riding as a No-NDP riding.

    To avoid arguments, the parties would pick based on party order. Example:

    NDP picks a Green riding.
    Liberals pick a Green riding.
    Greens pick a Liberal riding.
    NDP picks a Liberal riding.
    Liberals pick an NDP riding.
    Greens pick an NDP riding.

    Rinse and Repeat

    This is in the interest of creating a national government, in national interest, for national reasons. Local associations should not have the ability or power to veto the nation.

    1. ... and now you've lost me. Stripping away the rights of the local riding associations is the first step towards telling your grassroots that you're not really going to care or listen, so long as something is in the "national" interests - or, rather obviously, the interests of the people at the top. The Liberals have had to deal with this enough, I'm not interested in dealing with it any longer.

    2. You are not interested in making sacrifices for your party?

    3. I don't mind sacrificing time or money, but sacrificing my ability to choose who I want to represent me? Eh... No.