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Battlegrounds Canada: Stars align to the right

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http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/07/30 ... the-right/

Chance collision of factors, including the softening of social conservatism, may be responsible for turning the nation’s electoral map more blue over the next few months, as Canadians prepare for an unprecedented wave of votes.

In five out of seven provincial and territorial races, the Tories are poised for a win or a gain in seats. Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently boasted his new majority government is proof the Tories reflect Canadian values and have become “Canada’s party.” But analysts are hesitant to credit the widening support to a fixed ideological sea-change rooted in some sort of “aha” moment among voters.

They point instead to a powerful combination of personality politics, global economic anxiety, a desire for change in provinces with long-time incumbents and a “sweet-spot” strategy that together shore Tory appeal across the country.

University of Saskatchewan professor David McGrane said conservative parties found their so-called sweet spot by having effectively “neutralized” social conservatism — they have been near-silent on controversial issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. All the while, they have ratcheted the rhetoric on the new bogeyman in town: the economy.

Global economic anxiety is permeating voter psyche nationwide, said Fraser Institute vice-president Niels Veldhuis, citing the current U.S. debt crisis and the precarious situation unfolding in Greece. When people fear default or downturn, and when voters sympathize with pleas for austerity, conservative leaders become more attractive, Mr. Veldhuis said.

To be sure, an election is a finicky exercise, and observers are typically loath to predict the outcome. Still, conservative parties in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Yukon appear poised to retain power or at least pose a serious threat to long-time Liberal or NDP governments.

When the last of the ballots are cast in November, the small province of Prince Edward Island might be the only one to elect a Liberal government. (The Northwest Territories does not follow a party system).

Alberta is not necessarily facing an election, but the ruling Progressive Conservatives are in the midst of a leadership race, so the province will get a new premier. The leadership race has re-energized the Tories, rocketing the party from a low of 34 points last November to 54% support in a new Environics poll released this week. And the No. 2 party, Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Alliance, is more conservative than the Conservatives.

B.C. has a fixed election date of May 14, 2013, but ballots for the province’s HST referendum are due back Aug. 5, and Premier Christy Clark — whose Liberal party is actually an alliance of Liberals and Conservatives — has mused about a fall election.

It was not long ago that conservative leaders were painted as closet right-wing ideologues. During the 2000 federal election, Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day felt compelled to hold a hand-written “No 2-Tier health care” sign at a televised debate. In the years since, Prof. McGrane said, Tory parties have tempered their more extreme elements, managing to appeal to voters on the economy without alienating them on social issues.

The shirking of right-wing social policy has left opponents with less ammunition, and when they do lob the “hidden agenda” attack, it does not seem to stick. In Ontario, Liberals already tried to cast Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak as an in-the-closet champion of the anti-abortion movement — it was recently revealed that Mr. Hudak signed a pledge to de-fund abortion in 1998 — but that narrative has not seemed to stick.

“[Conservatives] aren’t shooting themselves in the foot by talking about privatization or cutting social programs,” Prof. McGrane said. “Conservatives, across the board, have been playing it safe.”

Myer Siemiatycki, a political science professor at Ryerson University, said Canada is “in a certain moment of time that favours” a Conservative up-tick. And that “certain moment” means different things in different election campaigns.

In Manitoba, where the NDP have been in power for 12 years, and in Ontario, where the Liberals have been at the helm for eight, incumbent leaders are facing rallying calls for change — a “natural shift” that often results in the turfing of reigning parties, said University of Lethbridge political science professor Harold Jansen.

In the Prairie province, Hugh McFadyen’s Progressive Conservatives are polling neck-and-neck with Greg Sellinger’s New Democrats, and Mr. Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives in Ontario have overtaken Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals in the court of public opinion.

In Saskatchewan, both personality and timing appear at play. Premier Brad Wall — the popular leader of the conservative Saskatchewan Party, who made national headlines last summer after he took on Ottawa over a proposed potash takeover — has cast himself as the likable defender of the Prairie province, where he enjoys a significant lead over the NDP. Beyond that, the province is experiencing massive economic growth and improved population-retention rates.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, where the Liberals hold four seats and the NDP just one, rookie Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s Progressive Conservatives will be defending Danny Williams’ 44-seat landslide victory in 2007. The Progressive Conservatives last fall rose to power in New Brunswick, too, where the Liberals lost their slim majority and were more than halved to 13 seats from 29.

Although political scientists often speak of two separate political worlds (the federal and the provincial, neither affecting the other), or even 10 separate worlds (each province is unique and election results are not contagious), Mr. Veldhuis said concerns over the economy are echoed across all the provinces.

With the debt-ceiling debate raging in the United States, and with Greece still teetering on the verge of default, the threat of an economic meltdown and the notion of austerity has penetrated the national psyche, he said.

“Canadians are looking around the world and they’re seeing very, very serious economic circumstances,” Mr. Veldhuis said from British Columbia, where municipal voters will elect new mayors this fall. “I think that’s why they’re looking to governments that are promising to rein in spending and balance the books.”

Those are precisely the promises Mr. Harper made during his hugely successful spring campaign, when he spoke almost exclusively about the economy — an issue the Conservative brand “basically owns,” said Prof. McGrane.

They are also the promises Mayor Rob Ford made during his “stop the gravy train” campaign, which swept through typically left-leaning swaths of Toronto and which echoed the conservative Tea Party rhetoric in the United States.

Nick Kouvalis — the man behind Mr. Ford’s campaign, and who plans to launch a nationwide Respect For Taxpayers Action Group — said conservatives would also do well to play up anti-tax messaging and talk about the management of taxpayer dollars.

“The whole, ‘It’s time to lower corporate taxes, it’s time to bring in businesses and create jobs, it’s time to increase people’s disposable income,’ is a relatively simple message, but it’s one that people understand,” Mr. Kouvalis said in a telephone interview from Greece, where the government is slated to receive another $8-billion in emergency loans this fall.

“That’s what Hugh McFadyen in Manitoba will be running on. That’s the discussion in the Alberta PC leadership race. We have a British Columbia provincial campaign coming up this fall or next spring, and Christy Clark’s Liberals — they’re the most conservative party there — will be going against the NDP and talking about these issues. That’s what we’re hearing in Ontario, too.”

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It basically says they have become closet socialists in order to bamboozle people.

Like past Liberal regimes didn't play at being fiscally conservative instead of the more typical tax & spend variety. :roll: They sure bamboozled folks for decades.

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It basically says they have become closet socialists in order to bamboozle people.

Like past Liberal regimes didn't play at being fiscally conservative instead of the more typical tax & spend variety. :roll: They sure bamboozled folks for decades.

Hey stupid....They only bamboozzled the Country into the biggest productivity boost ever and actually saved us from Bankruptcy after the crook Mulroney did his damage and where the Reformatorts will bring us once again being disciples of Mike "sell everything cheap and screw the poor" Harris. The triple A Moody's rating was earned by the Libs for their rationale approach and are the reaaon we are not sucking Hind teat to the Americans today.

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What a crock. :roll: Luckily the HypoGrits have been long enough out of power to be unable to claim any credit for the current rosy economic picture Canda enjoys which Moody's note is partly thanks to

sensible government financial policies

Face it, fossil, the days of fat cat Liberal regimes running federal and provincial government are over. This fall will see more wise voters kick the turgid party to the gutter where it and you belong.

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What a crock. :roll: Luckily the HypoGrits have been long enough out of power to be unable to claim any credit for the current rosy economic picture Canda enjoys which Moody's note is partly thanks to

sensible government financial policies

Face it, fossil, the days of fat cat Liberal regimes running federal and provincial government are over. This fall will see more wise voters kick the turgid party to the gutter where it and you belong.

Stupid is as stupid does=tcook052 a minimum wage bf

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Stupid is as stupid does

There's a good new Liberal slogan. :lol: A party of erudite and worldly geniuses somehow not smart enough to do anything while out of office but whine about things that are in reality doing fine without them. Maybe it's the party's advanced average age that tends to constantly look back nostalgically to "the good old days" which really weren't so great. The financial sky isn't falling, chicken little, no matter how you try and spin it and Canada weathered the downturn better than many other nation's and all without a Liberal in power. :lol:

Luckily it'll be a long while before the party gets anywhere close to returning to power and hopefully the smug arrogance you still display in every post will have become a thing of the past with a new, sensible generation of party leaders.

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Voters turn to conservative parties when fiscal matters worsen? What a crock from the professor. Suppose voters are fiscal ignorants. After all it was the conservative parties in Ottawa and Washington that drove up deficits and added to the debt. Mulroney outspent Trudeau and it was Chretien and Martin who had to clean things up. It was Reagan and Bush I who doubled the US debt and created a budgetary deficit that Clinton had to clean up. And of course we know the Bush II legacy of going from a surplus to a deficit in seven of his eight budgets and driving the debt up over a 100% making it impossible for Obama to do much more than add to it through this recession. (And of course it was VP Cheney who declared "Deficits don't matter!) Up here it was the Conservatives who, abandoning their fiscal orthodoxy, returned Ottawa to deficits.

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Always convenient to blame the next guy for economic problems that they have really only a small influence over.

Mulroney's biggest mistake was a press for cutting inflation at all costs, which meant skyrocketing interest rates, which exacerbated the economic slowdown, .... bigger deficit. Of course, there were plenty of "brilliant" economists advising him to do exactly what he did.

I'll credit Martin for being tough enough to hack and slash in what was a shockingly (for politics) effective and more-or-less correct manner. But it was also political pocket-switching as a good chunk of that budget correction was accomplished by dumping expenditures to the Provinces. Although, even that may have been good because it forced the Provinces to also get their acts together fiscally. Good finance minister but lost his rudder when going for the PM.

However, I believe when taking GDP, inflation, etc into account, that the worst spending pattern can be attributed to the Trudeau era.

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However, I believe when taking GDP, inflation, etc into account, that the worst spending pattern can be attributed to the Trudeau era.

Weak argument.

You need to read up on your history of the baby boomer age and what happened to every government in the western world when Trudeau was in power. We actually did better than most in managing the boomer expansion of our infrastructure needs.

If you think it through the conomists of the time said when it was time to pay the piper baby boomers would be tax payers. Mulroney screwed that up with his separatist love in

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However, I believe when taking GDP, inflation, etc into account, that the worst spending pattern can be attributed to the Trudeau era.

Agree. Over 16 years with Trudeau as prime minister, Canada's national debt skyrocketed by 1,200 per cent, from $17 billion to more than $200 billion.

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OP has started what probably is the dumbest political thread yet. The dysfunction of American governance comes about because the House is controlled by ideologues from the 18th century sworn to defeat the President and willing to bring down the economy to do it. A thoroughly unrepresentative Senate (in no way close to what the PM proposes) where a state with less than a million residents has as much power as one with 35 million! And where it takes a super majority of 60% to pass any legislation to overcome the Republican commitment to defeat the President. Finally, the President may be a Democrat but he has no control over the Democrats in either the House or the Senate, unlike a PM who sits in the legislature and controls his caucus and their votes. The US system was designed to prevent an elected president from wielding the power of a monarch, the Parliamentary system was designed for control and stability by a strong PM or in many countries a coalition. We've had several minority parliaments which have still managed to function quite well so the whole thesis of the OP based on polarization doesn't apply up here.

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OP has started what probably is the dumbest political thread yet. The dysfunction of American governance comes about because the House is controlled by ideologues from the 18th century sworn to defeat the President and willing to bring down the economy to do it. A thoroughly unrepresentative Senate (in no way close to what the PM proposes) where a state with less than a million residents has as much power as one with 35 million! And where it takes a super majority of 60% to pass any legislation to overcome the Republican commitment to defeat the President. Finally, the President may be a Democrat but he has no control over the Democrats in either the House or the Senate, unlike a PM who sits in the legislature and controls his caucus and their votes. The US system was designed to prevent an elected president from wielding the power of a monarch, the Parliamentary system was designed for control and stability by a strong PM or in many countries a coalition. We've had several minority parliaments which have still managed to function quite well so the whole thesis of the OP based on polarization doesn't apply up here.

Guessing you meant to post in the other thread

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=6108

about how dumb that OP was to compare the institutionalized chaos that occurs in U.S. with the much more efficient, though not perfect by any means, working of government here. As posted I agree it was a dumb comparison but unsurprising considering the source.

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