Saturday, May 28, 2016

It's too early

I'm writing this moments after the Conservative Party of Canada, at convention, has voted to have a policy stating that having small amounts of marijuana would be decriminalized.

Up to that point, it was "too early" to answer a question someone asked me, who would win the Conservative Leadership.

I still don't have an answer, but I do know who is not going to win it, someone who wants to yank the party to the right. None of the current candidates are planning to do this.

Even with the 2/3rds support on same sex marriage, things were still unclear, it is more than one stance on one issue, and with this second policy we can start to see a trend that matches other things that I've heard.

It remains too early to pick a winner for the CPC leadership, but only now - moments before I began writing this - did it stop being "too early" to make an educated guess.

We now have information that we did not before.

I do realize I am being extraordinarily brief, and I will go into detail with a further post, but I am simply writing this because many people as of late have been asking me many questions and they all have the same answer, it's too early.

It's too early to truly tell how well Donald Trump will do. Ask again after the conventions.

It's too early to tell how the Australian Election is going, ask again in a week.

It's too early to tell who will win the election in Spain, or the UK Referendum on the EU.

You need solid information to make these kind of judgements, and such information is just not here yet on any of these, but on all of them, we will have much more information by June 8th.

Until then, it's too early.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Quickie: Donald Trump's Words

A quick thought.

Trump's greatest strength is that his faults are his words.

What has Clinton done. She's outright lied, she's murdered people in Benghazi, she's abused government and used private e-mails.

At least, that's what the people on the extremes believe.

What about Trump?

He's said that he would bomb innocent people, that he would bring violence into our schools, and he even claimed to be someone he was not in a telephone interview.

All things he's said.

VS all things she's done.

Trumps advantage is that his crimes are all his insane statements, not what he has actually done in the past, and this is one reason he may not do as poorly as people think.

The video that sparked my thoughts on this:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Provincial contributions to Canada

Statscan provides some tables that show how many Federal tax dollars are both collected in, and spent in each province.

I've adjusted this data to balance all federal budgets. Otherwise during times of large deficit all provinces would appear to be "taking" while during times of large surplus, all provinces would appear to be "giving". 

I've also some some adjustments to equally share (per dollar spent) expenditures outside Canada, such as military costs for foreign operations. 

Using this I've been able to determine a rough estimate of how much each province gives to the Federal government (in terms of dollars) or takes from the Federal government. 

I've produced not only a dollar figure, in millions, but also a percentage share, showing the share of expenditures VS revenue; so that a 200% share means the province contributes two times what it takes, while a 50% share means it's Federal tax revenue only pay for half of it's Federal tax spending. 

Here is the table:

The dataset I had only went from 2007 to 2014. I decided to use both these figures, as well as 2010, the year we had our largest Federal deficit. 

Unfortunately, we don't have data from after the fall of oil prices, so we'll have to work with what we do have.

Alberta consistently stays over 200%. This means that if Alberta were it's own country, it could maintain all federal services, while cutting federal taxes in half. 

New Brunswick meanwhile stays near 50%, meaning it would need to double federal taxes to cover all federal services. 

It's quite obvious why the Yukon and Nunavut remain Territories; their inability to fund themselves. The Northwest Territories has, at times, beat PEI, but the NWT also has less control over it's resources, and that helps the Federal government with money. It is my (educated) guess that until a territory is able to reliably contribute over 50% of it's federal spending in federal taxes, that no territory will become a Province. 

Interestingly, Ontario remains a net contributor, despite having fallen to have-not status. 

Either way, I've provided this for information's sake, and hope that it will be used as a data source for further discussions.

Edited to add:
Looking at what's happened to the provincial budget in Alberta, my guess is that the current number for Alberta would be closer to 190% or 180%. Wages in Alberta are still far higher than most other places in Canada, and the extra money taken in from Income Taxes explains why Alberta continues to contribute so much. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Magic Elbow

I thought, given all the bafflegab swirling around, I'd summarize what happened, in as short a manner as possible.

Information: Click here for the video.


1- One of the big themes of the last parliament was the opposition (IE the Liberals and NDP) saying the Tories (then government) were abusing parliamentary power to force though bills.

2 - The supreme court ruled that our laws about euthanasia were unconstitutional and that the government had a year to change them. We received a 4 month extension on this, which ends on June 6th of this year.


3 - A government bill on air-Canada was nearly defeated when the opposition requested a vote at a time when they thought they had a majority of members inside the actual chamber.

4 - Likely as a response, the government announced it would change how the timetable of legislation is done (and hence, prevent #3 from happening again) but these methods would disempower the opposition in ways never seen before in Canada. This caused great anger among opposition parties, and, if I may inject my own opinion here, rightfully so.


5 - Debate on euthanasia.

6 - The NDP, in what many think was an attempt to stall and delay (as protest against #4) milled about in front of their desks rather than getting to their desks in time for debate and voting.

7 - The Conservative Whip, Mr. Brown, entered the house of commons, and walked towards his desk, but was seemingly prevented from doing so by the gaggle of NDP MPs milling about.


8 - This went on for some seconds.

9 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saw this. He got up out of his seat, and as the video clearly shows, walked very forcefully towards the incident described in #7

10 - Trudeau grabs Mr. Brown by the arm

11 - Trudeau attempts to pull Mr. Brown out of the gaggle with a jerking motion

12 - The jerking motion caused Trudeau's elbow to come into contact with NDP MP Brousseau's chest.

13 - Brousseau can be seen on the video pulling back in some shock.

14 - Mr. Brown later says he told Trudeau to let him go

15 - Trudeau is seen walking back to his desk

16 - Not all members witnessed exactly what happened, and information began to disperse. MPs are seeing doing various things (including Brousseau talking to NDP leader Mulcair)

17 - After some seconds, Trudeau again approaches the area

18 - Trudeau very shortly gets into a shouting match with Mulcair. The two men (video) appear visibly angered, and some say they worried things would come to blows.

19 - MPs from all parties spill on to the floor and approach the area

20 - Speaker rises and calls for order

AFTER (in no particular order)

21 - Trudeau apologizes to the house for getting out of his seat.

22 - Brousseau claims she was assaulted by Trudeau,

23 - Some NDP MPs claim that Trudeau's apology is equal to the apologies given by domestic abusers. [citation]

24 - Opposition MPs take to social media to discuss what they saw; conclude is Trudeau was in the wrong.

25 - Huge incident, breaking news, and all that. (this is where we are now)


I want to look at where things went wrong, what went wrong, and what was wrong. This is why I've broken things down into numbered steps, to ensure that one thing and another do not get muddied up in one another.

First off, the worst part of all of this, the one thing that is most unforgivable, in my opinion, is the following:

4 - Likely as a response, the government announced it would change how the timetable of legislation is done (and hence, prevent #3 from happening again) but these methods would disempower the opposition in ways never seen before in Canada. This caused great anger among opposition parties, and, if I may inject my own opinion here, rightfully so. 

This is really a clear over-reaction to events, and is the single key event that sparked off everything. This is the event that made me decide to let my membership lapse. This is not sunny ways.

The next and most important thing is this:

9 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saw this. He got up out of his seat, and as the video clearly shows, walked very forcefully towards the incident described in #7

Trudeau was mad.
Trudeau was angry and acted out of anger.
And because of that anger, he did this:

12 - The jerking motion caused Trudeau's elbow to come into contact with NDP MP Brousseau's chest. 

Without knowing, or, at the time, caring.

When in the house of commons, (if you are an elected member) you are at work. At work (IE in public) you can not allow your anger to become so great that you - literally - accidentally assault  someone.

And let me be clear, this was an accidental assault. The video is extraordinarily clear on the matter, Trudeau did not storm over there intending to assault Brousseau. It happened because he got angry and careless.

There are a few things that I take away from this, and that I consider important in judging how others react.

A - Liberals need to accept Trudeau did wrong, and more important, the Liberal Party did wrong by trying to stifle debate. These are truly draconian steps being proposed, and these steps are what caused this whole kerfuffle in the first place. Failure to accept that the party is in the wrong on matter #4 can be explained by no logic except pure partisanship.

B - Tories need to accept that it is because of their erosion of the powers of parliament - which I accept may have been continuing a trend that started with the previous government, and the one before that, and the one before that etc - is what allowed #4 to even be considered. The party just spent a decade in government eroding the power of Parliament, for them to suddenly be it's defenders is preposterous. Again, there is no logic to explain such a point of view except pure partisanship.

C - New Democrats need to accept that the assault was not intentional. It happened, yes, but for anyone to claim it was Trudeau's intent to elbow another MP in the chest (frankly a bizarre thing to do for someone known for punching a senator in the face) is again, without logical foundation, and again, pure partisanship.

D - Your party can do wrong, and the other parties can do right. Beyond the damage done to Parliament and the physical and emotional damage to Brosseau, the worst thing to come out of this is the flare up of such partisanship. Excuse me for using this 'soap box' to 'rant' on this issue, but if you honestly think your party can do no wrong and the other parties can do no right, you have no business being here. I write this blog for people who are actually interested in politics, and who care about this country, and the world. I do not write this blog for people who are willingly blind to reality so that they can feel comfortable in the little ideological box they've created for themselves.

Lastly. Lets hope this kind of nonsense never happens again. Too many things went wrong to lead us to here, and each of them was easy enough to avoid, that none of this should have happened.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Response: mea culpa

538 recently put out this article
Explaining how they screwed up predicting Donald Trump's rise.

While I tend to steer clear of US politics (the US has less of a political system and more of a personality system) I also made a terrible but similar mistake; but with Bernie Sanders.

While my error was not recorded on the blog, it was still something I said quite often, that Sanders has no hope in hell of winning.

While I encourage everyone to read the article linked above, I have taken one important note out of the victories of people like Rob Ford:

Voters these days are far more willing to accept an extremist candidate than they were just a decade or two ago.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Quickie: Electoral Reform

I recently tweeted this

My personal preference is for FPTP with Parallel PR fill-up seats, with the PR seats being about 20% of total.

I was asked if that is not simply MMP. And it is, sort of.

Lets take Ontario as an example in the last Federal election.

80 - L - 44.8%
33 - C - 35.0%
8 - N - 16.6%
0 - G - 2.9%

There are 121 seats in Ontario. 20% of that is 24. I know the new total is 145, and that of that new total, 24 is only around 16%, but this is what I meant when I said 20% (twitter limits you from being very specific)

Under a traditional MMP system, using d'hondt, we would get the following results
(feel free to use this handy d'hondt calculator to follow along you can put 448 for the Liberal vote, and 350 for the Tories, etc)
L = 61
C = 51
N = 24
G = 4
Since the Liberals have already obtained 80 seats, we can re-calculate this by removing the Liberal party, and, removing 80 seats from our total (145-80 = 65)
C = 42 (33 FPTP seats won, meaning 9 more are added)
N = 20 (8 FPTP, meaning 12 more)
G = 3 (0 FPTP, meaning 3 more)

Thus our end result looks like this

80 L 0 L 80
33 C 9 C 42
8 N 12 N 20
0 G 3 G 3

This is where my proposal differs. I use parallel proportional representation.

Go back to the calculator, and rather than 145 or 65, we are only going to worry about the 24 PR seats. Add the Liberal Party (at 44.8%) back in. From here our result is very easy to determine

80 L 11 L 91
33 C 9 C 42
8 N 4 N 12
0 G 0 G 0

As you can see, the Liberals, despite already being "over-represented" still win seats, but importantly, they win less than half the seats available.

What this means is you still have majority governments, but, you have the following 3 changes

1 - Every region should now see MPs from each of the major parties, no worries about lacking MPs from Rural Francophone Quebec, or Downtown Toronto.

2 - Effective Opposition. While it's not happened as much Federally as Provincially, we have seen oppositions reduced to 2, 1, or 0 seats in some provinces. This system means that never happens, and the opposition will always have at least around 1/12th of the legislature.

3 - Because this will reduce majorities slightly, it means very close elections can see their FPTP majorities turned into minorities; this means majorities are slightly less likely, but still occur more often than not.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why some Republicans want a Trump alternative

This will actually be a short post, as it's relatively simple to explain.

US elections, more than Canadian elections, are driven by turnout.

As such, lets make 100 sample voters. These represent the 100 people who voted in the last election. Along side them are 100 people who, last time, decided to stay home and not vote.

Now I know the turnout in the 2012 US election was actually 54%, but this is an example.

Hillary Clinton is the second least popular person to ever run for President, if the polls are to be believed. The problem is the most unpopular is Donald Trump, by quite a wide margin.

Now lets say that of our 100 voters, 50 are Democrats and 50 are Republicans. Because Clinton is not popular, many of these Democrats may want to stay home, but Trump is so very scary, most of them will probably vote anyway.

Trump however will almost certainly keep some Republican voters home. Lets say 5 of them stay home.

The problem is not that Trump will lose; Trump will lose even if all 5 came out to vote, the problem is downticket.

See elections in the US are grouped on one day. So you may end up voting for President, Federal Senator, Federal House Rep, Governor, State Senator, State House Rep, Mayor, City Councillor, County Councillor, and County Comptroller.

The problem is it's the Presidential race that drives turnout. That means where a Republican Senator could normally count on his 50 voters turning out, only 45 will bother showing up because of Donald Trump.

This is the reason why some Republicans want to get someone else to run. They could endorse a Libertarian, find a Social Conservative already running, find a Moderate to run as an Independent, or even do a patchwork of all of these in various states. The objective is to keep those 5 voters, Republicans who are so turned off by Donald Trump they'd rather stay home than to have to pick between Trump and Clinton - to get those people to get out and vote, not just for President, but for all those other offices.

As such I do actually think that they will find a Trump alternative, but it may simply be someone already running like Gary Johnson, the Libertarian. They may also try to help the Constitution Party gain ballot access in more states as the party is known for being more socially conservative.

While I'm certain some of the people behind this push personally dislike Donald Trump, that personal dislike has little to nothing to do with their pushing an alternative to him in November.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

UK Election results

There are still a small number of results to come in, PCCs for Wales, and the entire Bristol Council, including Mayor; however all the major and important results are in.

Northern Ireland:
In general, each party took the same number of seats they did last time, but there are a few changes.
SF lost a seat, and the SDLP lost two. In turn, the Greens gained a seat, and PBP gained 2. For those who don't know, or remember, PBP is the People Before Profit party, and is a party on the far left.

Both the Greens and PBP are "Other" parties; neither nationalist or unionist.

Nationalist parties won a total of 40 seats, on 36.0% of the vote; their lowest in modern times (since the 1996 forum)

Unionist Parties won 55 seats, the same number of seats as they've won in each of the 3 most recent elections. They've won 47.6% of the vote, compared to 46.5% last time, and 47.3% in 2007. Contrast this with 59 seats and 50.4% of the vote in 2003, and 58 seats, and 50.5% of he vote in 1998.

The big winners are the "Other" parties. They've gone from 4.9% of the vote and 6 seats in 2003, to 9 and 9.8% in 2007, to 10 and 11.7% in 2011, and finally to 13 seats and 15.0% of the vote this time.

As expected, the overall balance remains, but the big story is that "other" parties seem to be on the rise.

I've created a map that shows the results, but first, I want to share the map as displayed by Wikipedia.

This map shows PC in Green. PC is Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales. Sort of like a Bloc Quebecois for Wales, but this is a generalization, as the leader of PC does not even speak Welsh.

As you can see there are not only the normal riding / constituency seats, but also additional seats. This is proportional representation. I've decided to combine the two into one, and I've decided to use a shade of yellow for PC.

You can see I've cut the northern area and shrunk the map to only show the more densely populated region of wales. This allows you to easily compare the end results for each region, PR + Riding results, without having to use two maps.

While there is 1 Liberal Democrat, there are basically 4 parties who won seats. Due to the PR system, each of these parties has seats in each region.

The end result here is that a few things changed.

Labour has dropped from 30 seats to 29. They needed 31 for a majority government and so are almost certain to continue in minority.

The Tories have lost 3 seats while PC gains 1, meaning PC returns to the "official opposition" slot (though there is no "official" opposition, only various opposition parties) PC has been the second largest party for all but one term in the Welsh Assembly, and served in coalition with Labour for the term before they dropped to third, and Labour jumped to 30.

The Liberal Democrats lost all but one seat, that of their leader, who resigned as leader as a result. The party's new leader is a Member of Parliament in Westminster.

UKIP is the biggest story, they've had their biggest success, winning 7 seats, up from 0. Sadly for UKIP Wales, the party is already being rocked by a leadership challenge, so it remains to be seen how many of these seats they will hold on to in the next election.


Again, I'll start with the Wikipedia map:

This map uses yellow for the SNP, which again, is like the "Bloc Quebecois" of Scotland.

My map is as follows:

As you can see, I again needed to add in a region that was too far to make the cut map.

The SNP manage to win 63 seats, short of the 65 they needed for a majority, and short of the 69 they won in the last election. The SNP has previously governed in minority, and can be expected to do that again, or, to form a coalition. Given how close they are to the majority mark, they can form a majority coalition with anybody; most logically is the Greens, who have 6 seats and importantly, also support Independence. This could be crucial if the UK votes to leave the EU, as the SNP will be looking (almost certainly) for a second referendum for Scotland to leave the UK in order to remain in the EU.

Labour has dropped to third. They've had the somewhat hilarious trend in the past few years of tossing a leader because they are unpopular, and replacing them with a more unpopular leader, only to toss them and find someone more unpopular. Labour has never been in third in a Scottish election, and the last time they were third in Scotland (at westminster) was prior to the first world war.

The Liberal Democrats have dropped to only 5 seats and now sit behind the Greens. The party is not having the best of times right now.

The real winner in the election is the Conservative Party. For the first time they sit second in the Assembly, and are the "Official Opposition", with the same caveats as outlined in Wales. The win can be attributed to popular leader Ruth Davidson who is perhaps best known for being one of the few LGBT party leaders, especially rare among Conservatives. This is the first time since 1959 that the Tories have beat Labour in Scotland.


No maps, as they don't tell you much. but the results are clear. Sadiq Khan will be the new mayor. Khan is a member of the Labour Party and a Muslim. Backing him will be the 25 member council, 12 of those members will be fellow Labour supporters. There is 1 Liberal Democrat on the council, as well as 2 Greens, who may support Khan to get this agenda though. Joining all of them are 8 Conservatives, and 2 members of UKIP. Unlike Wales, the party has yet to tear itself apart here, but likely this is because UKIP in London already tore itself apart when it won 2 seats in 2004, whereupon both members quit UKIP to start a new party which lost all of its seats.


In the US, one third of Senators are up for election each election. Due to this, you'll sometimes end up with elections, like in 2016, where the clear majority of seats are held by one party, or the other.

Councils in the UK can be similar, and as such, looking at the total numbers is far less important than the changes.

RESPECT lost all the seats they were contesting, while the Liberals lost 1. This is not the same party as the Liberal-Democrats, but explaining who they are would be a waste of everyone's time right now due to how unimportant they are.

The Greens have managed to hold stable without any gains or losses, while local Residents parties are slightly up and Independents are slightly down.

Labour has lost 2% of their seats, while the Conservatives have lost 5%; overall, not important.

The Liberal Democrats are surprisingly up, gaining 15% more seats.

UKIP however has made the largest gains, up over 80% from the last election.

In terms of councils, Labour now controls 57, while the Tories now control 38, both down by one. The LibDems control 4, up by one, while the number of NOC councils is up by one to 24. NOC indicates no one party holds a majority of seats, and as such, there is "No Overall Control".

PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner)

For lack of a better comparison, these people are "police chiefs", though they do not actually serve as police officers, and rather, do the administrative work.

The wikipedia map is as follows:

I've had to edit one region as the wikipedia map is not fully up to date

As noted, the elections for PCCs in Wales are not yet complete. London also does not elect a PCC as policing in London is a matter for the local Assembly; as it is in Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

There are a few words of caution. First, is the very low turnout in most of these elections. Second is that these elections do not always match the way politics works in terms of party support.

However, unlike 2011, which saw far more Independent candidates elected, this election does seem to generally follow the partisan pattern, as such, Tories who had previously won in Labour areas, and vice versa, have lost attempts at re-election.


Generally, things remained stable. There were changes in the various regions, but overall, things remained where they were, with the only UK-wide trend being UKIP growing slightly. While the Liberal Democrats did see drops, these drops were compared to 2011 and not compared to elections since then. As such, things continue on mostly as they were before.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

UK elections

Today various parts of the UK go to the polls, including Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, London, and many local councils across England.

My predictions are as follows

SNP Majority, with the Conservatives as the official opposition.

Labour minority with UKIP winning a dozen or so seats.

Northern Ireland:
No major difference in balance, but numbers may change quite a bit.

Labour win.

More UKIP gains and LibDem losses

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Australian snap election, Cruz drops out

Quite a few things going on right now beyond the fires in Fort Mac. I'll be brief, and, include other quick updates:

Ted Cruz has dropped out of the Republican Nomination leaving only Donald Trump and John Kasich.

Australia is going to the polls on July 2nd.

Spain is going to the polls.

Ireland's FF and FG have agreed to form a non-coalition.

Iceland will go to the polls this fall, Pirate Party is down to 30%

Also, you can look at this post: where, in the comments, I say this "Perhaps more important than any of these economically, is that if highway 63 in Alberta is cut north of highway 881, the entire oil patch is separated from the rest of the country."

Fort McMurray Fire.

Things will get worse tomorrow. In particular, the wind changes direction so the only part of the city that is not in serious danger, will be,

There is a real chance that by Thursday, the entire city will have burned to the ground.

Anyone who can help, please do.

Response: Core Blue/Red states

This is a response to this article:

The article is generally correct, Clinton has a massive advantage over Trump and will be the next President.

However it makes a key assumption that is incorrect; that of what states are solidly Democratic.

Of the "blue states" on the map, not all of them are as solid as one may think.

Florida is, of course, an issue, and the article addresses that, but there are 3 states in particular that could also cause problems.

Sure states like Washington and Minnesota could vote Republican, even New Jersey and Maine under the right circumstances, but in general, 3 of these "blue states" have vote patterns that could be concerning.

Excepting a short period in 2009-2010, the Republicans have controlled the lower house in this state since 1995, with the state Senate being solidly Republican since at least 2000 (before which I had trouble finding records)
Federally, both House and Senate delegations have leaned Republican in the last few decades.
The big hope is that the Governorship has been roughly evenly split, and that the state does trend Democratic in Presidential elections.
Despite this, there is clear support for Republican policies within the state that could cause concern for a Democratic candidate for President.

This state's transition from Democratic to Republican has been much slower, with the Federal (congressional) delegations leaning towards the Democrats (in the past few decades) Even the state legislature leans Democratic historically, but they've also elected Scott Walker, a fairly extreme Republican as Governor, not once, but three times, one of those being a recall election. This state can stomach the sort of "extreme" policies that someone like Trump or even Cruz may propose, and could well vote Republican.

while both the above states are trending towards the Republicans, Michigan has been doing so with greater speed and consistency; even if it's a bit earlier in the process. This has been caused by economic troubles, and can be seen in the daily national headlines as more and more "horror stories" come out of the state about the poor quality of it's public services.
While the state could take a strong swing in the other direction, should it continue on it's current path, it will be the first state to fall out of the "blue state" category, likely in or around 2020 or 2024. It is even possible for the state to vote Republican in this coming election.

All in all the article is a good read, but these "small " caveats are important, and do need to be pointed out.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

First video to come in May

A heads up to readers, our first video will come out sometime this month.

The video is for an American audience, and will explain the differences and similarities between the Canadian and American political systems.

It is designed to teach those from the US who know next to nothing about politics in Canada how things work here.

Our second video will be a similar video but for a British audience, while our third video will be designed for people from Britain, Ireland, and other similar places explaining how we count our ballots, and publicize that count, at election time.

I do have plans for other videos, but I want to see how well things go. In particular I want to see the quality of the videos, the popularity of the videos, and the time needed to make the videos.

If I find the balance between these three is acceptable, I will continue to make videos on a regular basis.