Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Toronto - what I would do

First, I want to share a new map I've made of Toronto's 25 ridings, filled with my "prediction" of the election, with all the caveats that predicting councillor elections is both nearly impossible, and, aligning council candidates with mayoral candidates is, at times, even less possible.

So, what would I do with everything Ford has done. Lets presume his changes pass the Legislature; and, suddenly, I somehow find myself Premier, and, control a majority of the Legislature. What would I do?

The answer is both simple, and something I've felt Toronto has needed for a long time. I've even proposed it back when then councillor Rob Ford wanted to cut the number of councillors in Toronto.

For starters, I would make no changes to the council election. Toronto would have 25 wards, which would each elect a single councillor. I would change the Mayoral election.

Before I begin, keep in mind that Ford extended the deadline to September, and I would apply this to the Mayoral race, so that there is plenty of time for people to enter the race for Mayor.

For the winner, there'd be no changes. If you win the Mayoral election, you become Mayor. The process, however, would be radically different.

First off, instead of marking an X for who you want to see as Mayor, and the first person past the post becoming Mayor, you would now rank the candidates.

There would then be not one, but two counts for Mayor.

The first would be a simple preferential ballot with a single winner, the person who takes 50%+1 of all votes after, if needed, multiple rounds of counting.

Following this, a second count would begin for Toronto's 7 at-large councillors. The Mayor has already won, and as such, the first step is to re-distribute his ballots. Then you would elect the 7 at-large councillors using STV, similar to how Australia elects its Senators.

The largest downside to this is that while the Ward elections and even the Mayoral election could and would likely be finished on election night; calculating the At-Large results would likely take an additional day of counting.

There are, however, significant upsides. First, you go from 25 to 32 councillors. This whole idea of just adding 7 extra councillors is something that could be applied elsewhere if Ford wanted to apply his "wards = ridings" idea to other municipalities. Penetanguishene, where I live, which makes up a tiny proportion of the Simcoe North riding, already complies with this, as we only have 7 regular, and at-large, councillors, added to a separately elected Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

In fact, increasing this from 7 to 10 is not unreasonable. Doing so, and applying "Ford's Formula" would mean London goes from 14 to 13 councillors, Ottawa from 23 to 17, Hamilton would be unchanged at 15, and Mississauga would increase from 13 to 16.

Regardless, this is a tangent.

The main thrust of this two fold, first, is to increase the quality of candidates for Mayor, and, secondly, to better align Toronto's council with Toronto's electorate. I've shown the map and how divided things can be. It's quite likely that the 7 folks elected would help bolster the "winner" of the election in terms of ideology, be it left or right.

You may wonder "would this not elect folks like Faith Goldy, James Sears, and Kevin Clarke?" The answer is a solid "No!". Sears and Clarke in particular have run for office before and are not popular enough to win, unless something radically changes.

What would happen, especially in the context of this election, is people who now are facing re-election against another incumbent, would likely run for "mayor" with the intent of getting in on the at-large list.

Folks like Michael Thompson, Norm Kelly, Stephen Holyday, and Michael Ford, would likely run for "mayor", and, win as At-Large councillors, leaving the ward to be won by Glenn de Baeremaeker, Jim Karygiannis, John Campbell, and Vince Crisanti respectively. This could also be a "way out" for councillors on opposite ends of the spectrum - IE those unlikely to make a "deal" that one run at large and one for the ward. Anthony Perruzza is headed for a showdown vs Giorgio Mammoliti, and both of them would have to beat off not insignificant newcomers in the same ward. Both could simply decide to run at-large. Add to these 6 names Jennifer Keesmaat, or, John Tory, whomever does not win the Mayoral election, and you have your 7 at-large councillors.

edited to add: a bonus map I made for a meme, which actually, does an excellent job of showing the new vs old wards

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Why Ford's reductions won't last

Before I begin I want to make something clear; a recent poll shows half of Toronto opposes Ford's reductions, while a third supports it. Toronto was never going to reach 60 councillors, the public appetite was never there. Additionally, I am taking the long-term view, looking at how things will be 50 years from now, and not in 2019.

To answer why this won't last, I will simply show you two maps. These are taken from my federal election maps, but, show only Toronto.

This map starts to give you an inkling of some of the possible problems. Toronto maintained 23 seats from 1979 straight through to 1993. However, in 1997 this is reduced to 22. Toronto was still growing, but the rest of Ontario was simply growing faster. As such the number of seats Toronto received, was reduced. This makes little sense when considering Toronto as a separate unit, especially in the context of reducing the members of City Council. Why should Toronto's City Council be impacted by the population growth of Markham or Mississauga?

However that's not the key problem; this is:

While Toronto's boundaries have matched riding boundaries in many elections, this is not a guarantee. Remember that Ontario's electoral boundaries match that of the Federal Government. The Feds are not going to care that Toronto wants self contained ridings.

This would either force Toronto to keep its boundaries frozen; which would mean an imbalance in the size of wards, or, draw new wards. This latter option is much more likely. This leads to the problem of "why 25 wards?" why not 26? or 36? or 66?

There are ways around this; for example, Ontario separating its boundaries from the Feds, but this would cost more money, which is something Ford is not keen to do. Ford could, however, make some sort of argument and agreement with the Feds that would see cities like Toronto and Montreal, have self-contained ridings. The simplest solution, however, for Ford, would be to add to the municipal act, that no municipality can have more than 25 councillors.

This, however, could simply be reversed by a new provincial government.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

How Ford did not achieve his own self-set goals.

This will me a somewhat short post.

Doug Ford, in reducing ridings (IE Wards) from 47 to 25 in Toronto, said he was doing so for a simple reason; to get things moving in Toronto politics.

I want to present to you a map, a little projection I made of the 47 seat council, and where it could well be after this election:

Note that these are not "party" colours. Blue are those who are liable to be Ford supporters, while Red indicates supporters of John Tory, and Orange, the supporters of Jennifer Keesmaat.

These "supporter" lines are always going to be quite fuzzy and soft. Minnan-Wong, for example, is an ally of Tory, but is also an ally of Ford. Which should he be marked down as? I decided Ford.

Regardless, the jist of this map is the division between the three, and the fact that no one "side" wins the election.

On that note I want to move on to the projection using the 25 riding wards:

As you can see, many Ford allies go down to defeat against other Ford allies, as do Tory and Keesmaat allies. And again, the city is split, with no one side "winning" the election.

Reducing the number of councillors does not solve this, the one problem Ford says he wants to solve.

Lastly, I actually do want to comment on this change. I will simply say this:

This municipal election season began on May 1st, with the opening of nominations. It ends in October.

This is similar to, but not identical to, when the writs of elections are dropped. Lets compare this to the recent Provincial election, where the writs were dropped on May 9th, and the election was on June 7th.

Imagine if you will, that the Federal Government had the power to change ridings in Ontario. Now imagine it decides to do in between May 9th and June 7th.

Because municipal election periods are overly long in Ontario, we get a skewed view of time. We can see, however, that what has happened is that Ford changed the rules in the middle of what what municipally is the "writ period".

Had these changes been made on April 30th, I'd have no problem with them.

That being said, they've been made, and however unethical, Ontario has no provincial constitution prohibiting it. As such it's done, and I will be moving forward assuming a 25 member council will be elected in October.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Thoughts on today's municipal chaos

I'm not going to comment on Ford's reduction of Toronto's city council. I think anyone who follows me knows exactly how I feel; that the proper procedure should always be followed. Saying any more is simply a waste of space.

I will comment on the chaos of today.

Patrick Brown has filed to run for Mayor of Brampton. It's very unlikely he can win, but anything can happen. What happens will depend quite a bit on how mad people are at him. He could take a quarter of the vote quite easily, but if people view his move as selfish, he could finish third, fourth, or worse.

Stephen Del Duca has not yet done anything; I keep checking the Vaughan election website, and his name is not appearing; but it is interesting to note only a single person so far is running for Mayor of Vaughan, and a two-person race would certainly get him some attention. It should be noted that none of the other websites have been updated for the latest information I'm bringing you in this post, so Del Duca may not be running, or, may have slipped under the radar in this chaos; my money is on not running.

In Toronto two new Mayoral candidates have caught attention. Faith Goldy, the racist euro-canadian nationalist who is famous for appearances on rebel media is running for Mayor. Of more significance is Jennifer Keesmaat. She was the chief planner of Toronto for quite some time, and has announced today she is running for Mayor. She, apparently, is running on a platform of Toronto being its own Province.

Keesmaat's problem is her appeal is limited. She's a part and parcel "twitter progressive", but "twitter progressives" only go so far. Some have tried to compare her to Valerie Plante, but I do not see it, as Plante had both grassroot support and a history of competent political leadership. Keesmaat, however, is much more similar to Jane Pitfield. She is not a Naheed Nenshi or a Melanie Joly, and I have strong doubts that she can go far, especially with such a radical platform.

A Tory victory of 10 to 20 points is much more realistic.

Very quick reminder to be mindful of the media

Today, as many of you know, Doug Ford announced changes to the coming municipal elections.

Chairman elections in 4 regions; Peel, York, Muskoka, and Niagara, have been cancelled. Additionally, Toronto is moving to 25 councillors by the decision of the provincial government.

In the press conference which just ended, there were many questions about the council election, which impacts the slightly under 3 million people in Toronto, but not a single question about the chair elections, which impact slightly over 3 million people in the impacted regions.

Be mindful that the media may not be asking the questions that are in your best interest. Toronto is a much sexier topic that Muskoka. Be aware of that when reading stories and be aware that more people are being impacted outside Toronto than inside of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Pakistan election

Early results of the Pakistani election are as follows:

119 - PTI
64 - PML (N)
43 - PPP
46 - others

However, I will not be covering it in detail. There are a few reasons for this that I'd like to detail.

As outlined here, one problem is simply that of readership. Not many people are interested in the Pakistani election.

Additionally, Pakistan is one of those 'grey zone' democracies, much like Russia, or Iran, where exactly "how" democratic the country is, is in question. This makes any coverage difficult.

Lastly, this election in particular has some very unique and very specific problems that tie it deeply to the culture of Pakistan, a culture I do not fully understand. 

These results mean Imran Khan has a leg up on becoming the next Prime Minister. Khan and his party can best be described as "Left-Populist" and he calls himself a "Liberal", but also seems to be interested in gaining power for himself. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Dougald Lamont - Big win, could have been bigger

I've used this sort of phrase a lot recently, with elections in Mexico and Turkey, that someone won big, but could have won bigger. I want to go into exactly what I mean using Dougald Lamont as my example.

Lamont, as you may already know, is the leader of the Manitoba Liberals. Last night he won a by-election and he will now sit as an MLA, giving his party the 4th seat they need for official status.

The results of the by-election were as follows:

42.0% - 2,625 - Liberal (Lamont)
28.3% - 1,770 - NDP
16.3% - 1,017 - Green
13.4% - 834 - PC

This compares to the last general election, where Premier Selinger's NDP was defeated. He then resigned his own seat - this seat - later on.

42.4% - 3,624 - NDP (Selinger)
25.9% - 2,211 - PC
19.5% - 1,663 - Liberal
12.3% - 1,048 - Green

Comparing the two, the PC Party (which actually ran the same candidate) dropped the most, losing nearly two thirds of its vote, while the NDP only lost half of their vote. The Greens managed a fairly stable raw vote total, but fewer voters means their share of the vote increased. The Liberals, meanwhile, saw the largest increase.

This is a big win. Lamont was last a candidate in 2003, in this riding, where he took 14.4% of the vote.

A victory of 42% vs 28% is nothing to ignore. A more "expected" victory would have been closer to 38% vs 32%. The latter would indicate the NDP could easily win this seat back at the general election, but this margin of victory is far more decisive, and indicates that Lamont and the Liberals will likely hold on to this seat.

Lamont won his leadership against Cindy Lamoureaux, who had been expected to win. To win such an unexpected victory, and then, to win this by-election by such a margin, indicates that he likely has an amount of personal popularity and charm that will serve him well as party leader.

As such, it is the margin of victory that leads this to be a "big" win.

However, this win could have been bigger, and I'd like to examine that in greater detail.

First, this is a seat that is not unfriendly to the Liberals. It was the most Liberal riding in the 1969 election in Winnipeg, and, elected a Liberal in 1973, interestingly, by 1 vote, over the NDP candidate who had been elected as the Liberal MLA in 1969. That NDP candidate would win the 1977 election and hold the riding right up to the 1988 election, where, again, this riding became the most Liberal riding in Winnipeg, and, in fact, the most Liberal riding in the province. It would remain so until 1995 when Kevin Lamoureux's personal popularity would allow him to win by larger margins in his riding. Federally, the area has also been historically friendly to the Liberal brand.

In short, the win would have been bigger if the riding was not one that is "Liberal Friendly"

Additionally, this is only a win with 42% of the vote, not a win with 50%+1. 3,124 votes would have been needed for that. Beyond this, 3,625 votes, one more than Selinger took in the last election, would have also been a sign of a bigger win, indicating this riding as a lock for Lamont.

Neither of these two larger margins happened. This is why the win could have been bigger. Such a larger margin could have put the Liberals in prime contention to post a serious challenge to government, and while their current showing may bump them to first in the polls, a larger margin as outlined could have kept that bump going to and even through the election.

The Liberals will, thus, have an excellent shot at holding all 4 seats in the next election, and may even pick up another seat or three, which could force a minority pending how well the NDP and Tories do.

So in sum, the win was big. But, it could have been bigger.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Greyhound shuts down Western Canadian bus service

Along with politics, one of my keen interests is Transportation. I wanted to thus do a quick post about this.

For those who don't know already, Greyhound is shutting down bus services in Western Canada.

There are a few ways this will play out based on how this has played out in the past. To help set the stage I present this map as a google map: Click Here

The map is a bit of a mess so let me explain.

The black line is the existing VIA Rail line from Sudbury to Vancouver. It runs, if I recall correctly, runs two times a week.

Red lines show existing bus services provided by companies other than Greyhound. This is Ontario Northland in Ontario, Rider Express in Saskatchewan, and Red Arrow in Alberta.

The Yellow line, which might be a bit hard to see (by design) is the existing track where a new rail line could be run; it was one of the original VIA rail routes that went through Calgary and Regina. It would be fairly easy to again run a train on this route, but, I see it as very unlikely given the current situation politically.

More important is the Green lines. These are places where I fully expect some private companies to pick up the slack. In Ontario for example, the new Ford government has an MPP whose riding is losing its bus service. The MPP, who is also the minister for Northern Development, is almost certain to get a bus service to make up for this lack of Greyhound buses. Ontario Northland is already a private company that operates in Northern Ontario and it is thus extremely likely that Ontario Northland will simply be extended to Thunder Bay, if not Winnipeg.

Rider Express would likely opt to restart services to Estevan and Yorkton, both of which appear to have been stopped due to lack of demand. Without competition, it is likely these routes could see a re-introduction. Also possible is a line to Winnipeg. Should Winnipeg not be connected though both Ontario Northland and Rider Express, then we would most likely see a new bus company developing in the area to connect Winnipeg to both Regina and Thunder Bay.

Red Arrow, which seems to be the largest and strongest of the private companies we are speaking about, is likely to be the ones who would run any Edmonton to Saskatoon route, and, any route connecting Calgary either to Swift Current, or, more likely, Regina itself. I could also see Red Arrow running buses from Calgary to Kamloops.

BC would likely either see a new private company popping up, or, interestingly, the government step in. BC has a province-wide publicly owned bus company called BC Transit. While Vancouver has its own system, the bus in Victoria is simply known as "BC Transit" as is the bus in Kamloops, and Kelowna, and so forth. Given the current government in BC (NDP) my feeling is that BC Transit will simply start more intercity services, and that's why I have both Prince George and Kelowna in Green, even though both are more iffy in terms of profitability.

So what about beyond this?

Frankly, if your town does not have a green line on the map, you are probably out of luck.

I could see a Saskatoon-Winnipeg route though Yorkton, a Medicine Hat to Lethbridge route, a route from Edmonton to Grand Prairie, and a route through southern BC connecting Kelowna to Penticton to Nelson to Cranbrook and on to Lethbridge.

Each of these would have much more limited profitability than the other routes listed.

Other places, like Thompson, are simply too far "off the grid" to service via bus, and it is likely the only connections from these places to the rest of Canada for those without cars will be though the skies.

edited to clarify:

many of these routes are run with government subsidies, thats why politics count!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Look into the sort of regular tracking I do - Ukraine

While there have not been many posts recently - its the summer and politicians worldwide tend to be "on break" - but I am always following politics.

As a sort of preview and look into how I work I want to share this simple graphic I made.

I took the 2014 Ukraine election and made notes on how well each party is doing - in terms of expected popular vote as per polls - compared to how well they did last time.

The People's Front is effectively dead in the polls, and their coalition partner, the President's Bloc, is polling at half what they took last time. This means the 21.82% of the vote they took in the last election has been reduced, roughly, by half. (To 10.9% in the most recent poll if you want to be specific)

The Pro-European Self Reliance party is set to see its halved, while the Pro-Russian Opposition Bloc is set to see their vote double. The Radical Party is roughly at the same level as last time, while Fatherland, lead by Yulia Tymoshenko is polling at three times their 2014 levels. The far-right Freedom party is level, while the Liberal and Pro-Europe Civil Position is at triple their former level of support.

A brand new party, lead by Mikheil Saakashvili, the former President of Georgia, is set to take somewhere around 6%-12% of the vote, or, for reference, between half and a third of the vote the unaffiliated People's Front took last time.

In summary, the "pro-europe" parties, last time, took roughly 64% of the vote VS 21% for the main others (Nationalists and Pro-Russians); while this time, they are set to take 44% vs 32% for the main others. Given these polls, the most likely outcome of the next election is a Tymoshenko victory (she leads presidential polls and has the entire year) and a pro-Europe and Pro-Tymoshenko majority in the Parliament.

I keep track of all sorts of countries like this. Greece may well elect ND to a majority but it will be close. Poland is shaping up to become a stable two-party system with PiS set to win the next election. The CDP in Japan has been able to shore up its position as the chief opposition. Other countries I'm following include Israel, Portugal, South Africa, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Australia, and Slovakia. The three most interesting countries right now are probably: Spain, where the Socialists are now in government, and the PP party has fallen behind C's in the polls; Germany, where we finally have a polled answer to what would happen if the CDU/CSU alliance were to ever end (it would be much better for the CSU than CDU) and Italy, where the regionalist Northern League now leads nationwide polls.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Mexico - some numbers

I've calculated some numbers for the mexican election.

Morena leader Obrador has taken nearly 53% of the vote, leading his JHH alliance to victory. PAN leader Anaya has taken 22.5% leading the PMF alliance. PRI leader Meade took 16.4%, leading the TPM alliance.

JHH has taken 69 senators, and 310 deputies, a majority in both chambers.
PMF has taken 32 senators, and 126 deputies
TPM has taken 21 senators, and 64 deputies

This is all the data I can directly find, however, I've made some effort to try to break out the actual results by party. I caution, this is likely to be inaccurate as this is based on assumptions, but, I've decided to present it regardless.

SEN - DEP - Party

59 - 265 - MOR
20 - 82 - PAN
14 - 44 - PRI
6 - 28 - PT
6 - 23 - PRD
6 - 21 - MC
4 - 17 - ES
4 - 13 - GRN
3 - 17 - ALL

This means Morena has a majority on its own in the house, but, does not in the Senate. Reminder: this is based heavily on assumptions, and may simply be incorrect.

This would give Morena a minority in the Senate, but, very easy paths to a majority by allying either with their coalition partner PT, or other left-wing parties PRD and MC.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Mexico - half of all ballots counted

Current ballots counted suggest Obrador has won with over 50% of the vote; currently 53.5%. If I understand the math used to produce a final result, his coalition has won 300 of the 500 seats in the Assembly, and 70 of the 128 Senate seats, give or take a few seats in each; a majority in both chambers.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Early results from Mexico

Mexico's election was held today; I outlined some specifics here, and here, and here if you want to read some context.

 The long-story-short of the results is as follows.

Exit polls were very clear and generally agree. Actual results are very, very low with 1K of 156K boxes opened and counted. Regardless, its generally thought Obrador has won by somewhere in the area of 47.5% of the vote. Mexico has no 2 round system so this is an outright win. Beyond that, his two opponents are expected to each be below 29%, making it a very clear margin of victory.

All other candidates for President have conceded defeat.

The question then comes when asking what about the Congress? The answer seems to be that Obrador's alliance of parties has managed a Majority in the house, and may even have won a majority in the Senate as well, but that one still remains to be seen.

Its a fairly significant victory for Obrador, and while the same could have been said for Erdogan a week ago in that "the win could have been bigger", the same reality is also true that this win is plenty big, and is big enough to meet his expectations.