Friday, January 29, 2016

Plan: Future of the blog

Just a very quick update.

For the next month I will be making structural changes to the blog that will help it last the long term. I will also continue to cover what little politics there is in february.

On a personal note, I've recently lost my job, so I will have a little more free time.

Note I'm always open to suggestions for posts, and the best way to reach me is to tag me on twitter, where I am TheNewTeddy.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Projection: Manitoba

A short post; I've done a map showing my current Manitoba projection, I've created this using current math as opposed to my previous attempts, which have been more based on history and the last time the Liberals were doing this well:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Alternate History: Cut in two, The story of Two Canadas

After the recent bridge failure, I started to think about an "Alternate History" scenario that I like exploring; where Canada is split in two, but not due to Quebec leaving, due to the West leaving. With the bridge situation sparking the idea, I asked myself... what if we never fixed the bridge?

I don't mean literally, I mean politically. What if we used this as a point to split Canada in half?

The dividing line therefore would follow the Nipigon river, as well as the Little Jackfish River (roughly) up to the Albany river, and out to the Hudson's Bay. I've drawn this on a google maps if anyone wants to see it.

First lets discuss the cut. Unlike outlined above, this cut is not on a provincial border, therefore we must slice up Ontario to fit these two new Canada's. Since the majority of the population of Ontario is east of the cut, we will keep the "Province of Ontario" in the the "Eastern" half of Canada, and cut off the remaining portions. What gets cut?

All of the Kenora District; about 55,000 people over 407,213 square KM
All of the Rainy River District; 20,000 people over 15,484 square KM
And part of the Thunder Bay District; It's difficult to know exactly how many people are east of the line, and would remain in Ontario but you can estimate it. Just as each riding is about the same size, give or take, each polling division, on average, is around the same size. Sure some will have many more than others, but if you are looking at a sample of 100 and divide them into random groups of 50, you'll likely not end up any worse off than a 55-45 split in terms of population.
Using this method and this 2011 map I've estimated the population remaining in Ontario at 10%. Meaning from that district, 130,000 people also get transferred, and about half, or 50,000 square KM go as well.

This gives us a "NorthWest Ontario" that has a bit over 200,000 people, spread over around 475,000 square KM. There are three ways to deal with this.

First, is to make NorthWest Ontario a territory, and to use various poll maps (like the 2011 map from above) to estimate what a legislature may look like.

Second, is to make NorthWest Ontario a province, and do the same.

Last, and what I'm going to do, is to add NorthWest Ontario to Manitoba. I feel this would be realistic, and is what would likely happen in real life.

This would bring Manitoba up from it's current 1,250,000 people and 650,000 square KM to a new total of 1,450,000 people, covering 1,125,000 square KM, making it larger than the current (uncut) Ontario in size.

Manitoba currently has 57 seats, making for one seat per 21K people. As such, I'll add 10 new seats from "NorthWest Ontario"

Don't fool yourself into thinking the Tories would not be competitive here; with the smaller district size, one or two Thunder Bay seats would be almost guaranteed to go PC, as well as another seat in the Rainy River area. At bad times, I'd expect the Tories to walk away with 1 or 2 of these seats, and in good times, they could take as many as 5 or 6. The remaining would be swing seats between the NDP and the Liberals. Overall, in terms of party balance in the legislature, I actually think such an addition would not impact Manitoba very much, except during those elections where the Liberals are doing well. During those elections, they could win up to 8 seats here, adding to their totals in Winnipeg and elsewhere.

Federally, we'd likely see the new Western government keep the 3 current ridings in the area as they are, while on the Eastern side, the now utterly gutted "Thunder Bay-Superior North" riding will be so small and have so few people in it, that it would be nearly certainly merged into the Algoma riding. Meanwhile, the parts of Timmins-James Bay that now find itself in the West would almost certainly be merged into Kenora; the same would be true for the Province of Ontario.

This results in a provincial Manitoba assembly with 67 members, and a Federal Manitoba with 17 MPs. The province of Ontario would go down to 119 provincial legislators, and 118 federal MPs.

Western Canada would get 27 Senators; but it's quite likely that the new government would change things quickly. 13 of them would be Tories while 8 are Liberals. This presumes all 24 Ontario senators stay in Ontario.

Eastern Canada would get 78 Senators; of which 32 are Tories and 21 are Liberals.

In the House; Western Canada gets 110 MPs. 35 Liberals, 20 New Democrats. 1 Green (subtotal 56) and 54 Tories. The Territories tip the balance in this case. This house would need to pick a new speaker. It's likely that we'd see some sort of coalition on the left, but it's also possible that resignations, or defections, could tip the balance back to the Tories.

Eastern Canada would have 228 MPs. 45 Tories, 24 New Democrats, 10 Bloc, (subtotal 79) and 149 Liberals, so a very large majority.

Provincially, Eastern Canada would have 6 Liberal Premiers leading Majority governments. Western Canada would, at this time, have 2 New Democrats, 1 Liberal, 2 Independent Territorial leaders, and 2 people leading a party with their province or territory as the name.

So, where would we go from here?

It's very likely that there's an election in Western Canada within 18 months, and it's very likely it's won by the Tories. Given most of the really "big names" opposing Jason Kenney in a potential CPC leadership are from what is now a separate country, Kenney almost certainly becomes PM. There is a problem with a challenge to Kenney from the Liberals; lack of support from Alberta and Saskatchewan. Even in Manitoba, the support is concentrated in Winnipeg. In short, the prairies - especially the rural prairies - are very bad for the Liberals. In a country that has such a high fraction of it's electorate living on the rural prairie, the Liberals will be in trouble. In fact it is the NDP that would be better positioned to compete. I could see the Liberals becoming a "BC Party" within a few elections, taking what few seats they do outside that province from Winnipeg. This of course could change if the Liberals were able to knock the NDP out of the game in the same way Rachel Notley knocked her progressive opponents out of the game in Alberta. Regardless, unless and until there is a merger of at least 2 of the 3 progressive options available, we will likely see Tory governments, be they minority or majority, for the foreseeable future.

I for one can't see the government in Western Canada increasing the number of MPs much. Manitoba with 17 MPs for 1,450,000 people has about 85.5K people per riding, and it is possible that this would be the number applied to BC and Alberta in redistributions. If so, that would bring an additional 10 seats to Alberta, and 12 to BC for a grand total of 132, which could still fit into the current legislature in Regina if they chose that as the new Federal Capital.

In the Senate, however, I could see reforms. Likely starting with an increase to 10, if not 12 Senators per province, and having them elected.

In the long term it is likely that one left movement would take the lead, or perhaps, a merger would happen. Economically, the country would be heavily reliant on oil, and it's currency would be a massive petrodollar. On the world stage, it would almost certainly become extremely closely aligned to the US, to the point that many would accuse it of being a puppet. I could see it signing security deals with the US, allowing for free travel between the two countries in return to more US control over things like immigration and visa rights.

In Eastern Canada things would continue on. I don't see an election until the end of the term of the current Parliament.

Justin Trudeau would, obviously, remain Prime Minister. This half of Canada is much more progressive than you may think; in 2011 while the Tories won a Canada-wide majority, in the eastern half, the NDP was only 5 seats behind, with the Liberals taking 30 seats, while in 2008 the Liberals were only 2 seats behind the Tories. In 2004 the Liberals won a majority here, and retained a majority going back to 1993, as well as a solid block of Majorities between 1965, ending at the 1984 election. In short, this is the "Progressive Canada" that Liberals and NDPers think Canada is.

As a result, the country would become very much as progressives imagine it; and as it was under Trudeau Sr. Remember that in the 80's the Tories managed to win a majority, even in the east, and that Harper polled well in both Ontario and Quebec at various times. Also remember the NDP coming so close in 2011 to a plurality here. The Liberals can indeed lose government here, but this would not be something that would happen very often, or at least, so long as the party sticks to it's progressive roots. Within two decades, I fully expect our social programs to find themselves funded back at levels they were funded at during the 70's, if not in dollar terms, than in terms of what they can do (it's cheaper, for example, to just give someone money than to administer a program to provide a service)

Politically, I can't see much change. We would have 3 parties, each able to win a large number of seats if the circumstances are right, and a quebec-based Bloc to win a few seats here and there. The Liberals will likely dominate for a decade or so, but once people get tired of them, the Tories could win a majority, or even the NDP could. That, however, depends on retaining FPTP which is not something I could see if Trudeau remains in power, especially once the West is removed. If we opted for Proportional Representation I could see a full 5 party system develop, with the Greens regularly winning seats, and a Quebec party (likely not the Bloc) winning seats as well; this gives enough combinations to put together a coalition. After a decade, I could see the house being expanded with Quebec having closer to 85 MPs, and Ontario closer to 140, if not above it, while the Senate ends up looking similar to what it does today.

On the world stage, Canada would return to the role that people traditionally see it, as a voice for moderation and peace, but perhaps not as far in that direction as we've seen in the past.

Economically, we would see much less of a petrodollar. Newfoundland actually produces half the amount of Crude Oil that Saskatchewan does, and even less when all hydrocarbons are included. 95% of all hydrocarbon production would be in the West. (as per the CAPP) In terms of Royalties the situation is much better, Newfoundland takes in about 75% as what Alberta does in terms of petroleum royalties; but this is somewhat misleading, as Alberta takes in three times as much in Oil Sands royalties than they do "Petroleum". As such, the (Eastern) Canadian Dollar would likely move to around 82 cents or so and remain there, a rate where economists say Canada should be and where it fits.

In the end, cutting Canada in half may prove to be better in the long term for both halves of the country, but that is not something that everyone will agree on.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

USA: 300 days out

I've decided to do another short post about the US Election. In this case, we are 300 days from the election itself; I plan to do updates at or around 200 days, 100 days, 30 days, and possibly another a few days before the ballot.

At this time, my current projection looks like this:

I believe that Sanders may well just beat Clinton. His polling matches some of that Obama had 300 days out. Trump meanwhile still leads in the Republican field; and no one has yet been able to catch him, if they are unable to get their act together, he will win.

In the final matchup, I can't see Trump winning, but it's possible if Sanders runs from the left. As such I've highlighted the "toss-up" states in a lighter colour. Ohio and Florida actually should be very close, and will likely go Blue, but I've given Trump a bit of a boost on the assumption that he will run an economic and not the "I hate ethnics and people with disabilities" campaign that he has been running to date.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Off Topic - Single Point of Failure

An off topic post this morning, about roads, not politics.

Canada has been cut in two!

Now, as some of you may know, I'm a transportation geek. I actually know the only place you can cut Canada in two is not here, but right at the Ontario-Manitoba border. There are small back roads that will get you around the northern side of Lake Nipigon, but these roads are not the kind of thing you want to rely on. However, the Ontario-Manitoba border does contain something.

A single point of failure, which, if cut, causes the entire network to fail.

You can see the disaster caused by a cut in an area where there is actually an alternative, just an alternative that is extremely precarious. There are, today, people who are effectively stranded in one "half" of Canada who can not get to the other as they do not have a passport. Not everyone has the money to leave their car behind and take a taxi the rest of the way to or from Calgary.

This issue; this specific issue, that of how easy it is to slice our nation in half, is something that I've been harping on about for quite some time now. One only need to look at the Tasman Bridge disaster to see what impact they can have; and this was just on a small scale. Who knows how long it will take to repair our bridge, and for that entire time, every car with a BC Licence Plate you see in Ontario, or with a Quebec plate in Manitoba, is effectively stranded.

The idea of a SPOF, or Single Point of Failure is usually used in electronics and computing, but it applies to so much more. I've made it one of my personal missions to warn people about SPOF's in all sorts of systems, and often feel a bit like a Cassandra when it happens and nobody has listened; Unlike our mystical friend, I don't simply stop when I've been proven correct; I get very aggressive in order to ensure that such a thing never happens again.

From time to time I will point out some major SPOF's in our modern society, many of which exist on transportation networks across the country (one of which is listed above) but will not overwhelm you with all of them at once. My hope is that during the quiet times (winter, summer) I can make a few off topic posts to point these out so that, perhaps foolishly, I believe that these can be remedied before they turn into serious problems.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Quip - The BNP

This is the first "Quip" post, these are very short posts on select issues.

Today; the BNP. The British National Party is a far-right party in the UK that is, basically, racist. In 2009, at the EU elections (to the EU Parliament) the party won 2 seats. At around the same time they also won representation on the London council (municipal/county level).

In both cases, the party ended up fracturing due to internal divisions, and once the voting record of these elected representatives was known, none of them were re-elected.

There is a knee-jerk reaction among many that "crazy" political parties with "insane" positions need to be silenced.

The opposite, in fact, is reality in a modern democracy. Thanks to the focus on the BNP and what they really stood for, we now find ourselves in 2016, where the BNP has been deregistered as a party.

It is attention, not censorship, that will destroy any fundamentalist political movement.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A response: Quebec and the Liberals

A short time ago, there was a tweet by @ajiwapol whom I follow on
twitter. It said:

Not long ago, "LPC at 51% among francophones" would have been a deeply inconceivable statistic.

I disagree, and not only because the Liberals remained viable (simply unpopular) from about 1996 on.

Lets go back to when Canada was born. The French residents of Quebec, or Quebecois, had a certain view of what was happening. In their mind, Canada was a union of two 'peoples', the Anglo-Canadians, and the Quebecois. This is simplifying (as usual, I'm here to give you the class 101 run down and basis for my thoughts) but does represent the core idea behind their vision of Canada.

For the first few decades, Quebec was fairly 'neutral' politically; in terms of the lack of a marriage to any one political party. Liberals were elected, Conservatives were elected, and Liberal-Conservatives were elected. Only during and after WW1 did Quebecois feel betrayed by the Tories and the Conservative Party. WW2 shook their faith in the Liberals, but not enough to end their like of the party. Diefenbaker was able to win the province, but this was more based on "we are tired of the government" and less "we don't like the Liberal brand anymore"

We need to go all the way to Mulroney to find a Quebec that decided it wanted something that was not "Liberal". Why? There are a few reasons, but the core reason was the new Constitution. Even with a Joe Clark lead PC Party, it is likely the Liberal domination over the province would have been over, and while the Liberals may have won a plurality of the popular vote in such an alternate history election, they would never return to the heights they saw in 1980.

So, what's changed?

We saw the rise of the Bloc Quebecois. To many from outside the province, the Bloc was "The Separatist Party" and represented Quebec leaving the country to form a new, separate, country. However, to many Quebecois, the Bloc was a party that represented them. Quebecois from all across Quebec could count on the Bloc to bring up their issues and represent Quebec. In their minds, this was the perfect answer, to counter-balance the federal parties with one "made for Quebec"

This fell apart when Stephane Dion and Jack Layton tried to form a coalition with support from Gilles Duceppe. Quebecois realized, Canadians will never, ever, support any government that is so strongly backed by a "separatist" party. So, what to do?

An interesting side effect of Harper's decade in government is that Quebec found that on some specific issues, it agreed with Harper. More than that, they saw a government that didn't seem to play the same regional games that past governments did (like Mulroney) and a government unwilling to set one region against another. In effect, the "Pro-Alberta" Harper did not do very much for that province, at least, not as much as it was feared he would do as part of his "Secret Agenda"

At the same time, Jack Layton made Quebec realize that voting NDP was not as useless as they thought, ironically, by convincing them that it was 'only as useless' as voting for the Bloc at worst, and as good as voting Liberal at best.

Now that Justin Trudeau is on the scene, we have an interesting situation we've really not seen in a very, very long time. Quebec, and in fact, Quebecois, feel free to choose from either of the 3 federal parties. We saw a few years of "NDP vs Bloc" and before that, a few years of "CPC vs Bloc", at least, outside of Montreal. Before that, a good decade or two of "Liberal vs Bloc". Now the Bloc is no longer such a danger, such a threat, that in the minds of many Quebecois, it is "Liberal, NDP, or CPC" just as it is everywhere else in the country.

Thanks to breakthroughs by Chretien in Manitoba, Martin in BC, Justin Trudeau in Alberta, as well as McDonough in Atlantic Canada, and Stephen Harper (yes, Stephen Harper) in Quebec, we now, for perhaps the first time ever, have three truly national parties, all of which are actually and honestly capable of winning seats in all 10 provinces.

And for that reason, I disagree with the tweet quoted above. It is not out of this world that such a thing happened, it falls right in with how things are in our new reality.