Friday, March 30, 2012

Thomas Mulcair Is Ready to Rumble! New NDP leader will challenge Stephen Harper in Parliament

His NDP victory promises a battle royale in Parliament and trouble for Liberals, Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday March 27, 2012

By Bill Tieleman

(View full Tyee version of article, links and comments.)

"Carry the battle to them. Don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don't ever apologize for anything."

- Former U.S. President Harry Truman, 1884-1972.

Thomas Mulcair's election as leader of the New Democratic Party and leader of the official Opposition means two clear things.

First, Parliament will see a battle royale like it has not experienced in many years.

Second, Mulcair is big trouble for the ruling Conservatives, the flagging Liberals and the nearly dead Bloc Quebecois.

NDP members on Saturday decided they were in the biggest fight of their party's existence -- and wanted the toughest, fiercest and most threatening parliamentarian possible as their leader to take on Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

They picked Mulcair, whose nickname was "grizzly bear" when he sat as a provincial Liberal environment minister in the Quebec National Assembly.

And Mulcair's assignment includes not just savaging the Conservative government but also taking out the third place Liberal Party and keeping the Bloc Quebecois a spent separatist force in la belle province.

Because in choosing Mulcair, the NDP is going all in -- aiming to be in position to challenge the Conservatives for power in the 2015 federal election.

Smooth moves

It's a tall order and the fight has already started with the Conservative party issuing talking points to its MPs that trash talk Mulcair, claiming he is an "opportunist" with a "divisive personality."

Mulcair easily brushed this off during interviews immediately after winning the leadership with 57 per cent on the final ballot, laughing on television at Conservatives trying to label him an opportunist when he joined an NDP in 2007 that had no Quebec MPs, no organization and few members.

As for the "divisive" tag, Mulcair didn't need to even address it after leaving a stage where he raised the hand of his main opponent Brian Topp after the victory and shook hands with former leader Ed Broadbent, who had been sharply critical during the campaign.

Mulcair also wisely announced that Vancouver-East MP Libby Davies, a Topp endorser, would return as deputy leader, a post she and Mulcair jointly held under former leader Jack Layton.

Besides, Harper has given the term divisive new meaning in national politics since taking office and antagonizing wide and growing groups of Canadians, something that he will turbocharge with this Thursday's expected slash-and-burn Conservative budget.

Taking up Jack's fight

Thomas Mulcair is not the late, lamented Jack Layton, nor was any of the other contenders.

Jack himself wasn't the Layton of 2011 back in 2003, when he became NDP leader.

But Jack's eight years of leadership and learning created the conditions for Mulcair and the NDP to attempt what the party has always dreamed of -- forming a national government.

It will be an epic battle through 2015.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Bill Tieleman gone to Mexico March 26 to April 2; John van Dongen gone to BC Conservatives for rest of political career!

Hola amigos!

I am on a week's holiday in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, so comments to my blog may be delayed somewhat. Thanks for your patience.

And then I find out BC Liberal MLA John van Dongen quit to join the BC Conservatives on my travel day!

Who is next - and can they please wait till I get back!

Hasta luego!

Bill Tieleman

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Congratulations to Thomas Mulcair on a great win to become the NDP's leader and Canada's Leader of the Opposition!

Thomas Mulcair wins New Democratic Party leadership!

The late Jack Layton, Bill Tieleman and Thomas Mulcair,
outside Hotel Vancouver, September 28, 2007
Congratulations to Thomas Mulcair, the new leader of the NDP and Canada's new Leader of the Official Opposition!

Tom is a worthy successor to our friend Jack Layton.  Tom's Parliamentary skill, experience in government and opposition and fierce determination will put Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the defensive - and acting Liberal leader Bob Rae on the sidelines.

It has been a long, gruelling campaign and every one of the NDP's candidates for leader has done an admirable job building the party as they toured across the country giving their own vision for Canada's future.

Now is the time for the NDP to unite behind Thomas Mulcair and provide an alternative government for Canadians to consider, a constructive alternative to the confrontational, divisive and regressive Conservative administration.

Good luck - bon chance - Tom and thanks - merci - to Brian Topp, Nathan Cullen, Peggy Nash, Paul Dewar, Niki Ashton and Martin Singh for all your efforts.


NDP leadership ballots show two different approaches to future of party


It looks very clear that Thomas Mulcair will take the NDP leadership in the upcoming fourth ballot after posting 43.8% support on the third round, versus 31.6% for Brian Topp and 24.6% for Nathan Cullen, who is now forced off the final vote.

Topp needs to take three-quarters of Cullen's former support to win, while Mulcair requires just one-quarter to succeed.  It is certainly do-able but really hard to see it happening.

Cullen ran an impressively strong and surprising campaign and can be proud of his efforts.  Initially seen as likely to be an also-ran without even a large base of regional support in BC, Cullen showed himself to be a potential future leader and a force to be reckoned with in the House of Commons in the days ahead.

One wonders if Cullen's controversial "electoral cooperation" plan that gained him much attention ultimately helped or hurt his campaign but without question NDP members responded to his personality and fresh approach in a major way.

Regardless, the NDP has to be breathing a big sigh of relief that the animosity some feared might break out on the convention floor between campaigns has not materialized.

Less happily, the apparent hacker attack on the online voting system has seriously slowed down the process by hours and possibly discouraged many eligible voters from participating, reducing turnout.  One can only hope that what happened is clarified and if it is indeed an attack, the culprits be found.

Guest NDP badge from 1961 founding convention - still called
the "New Party" then before name of New Democratic Party decided

A very tough first and second ballot result for Peggy Nash, as well as for Paul Dewar, Niki Ashton and Martin Singh.

Peggy worked so hard on this very long campaign and showed great grace in accepting the results of the third ballot.  I am disappointed in the result but not in her impressive efforts.

Paul, Niki and Martin all made significant contributions and have a bright future ahead.

Nathan Cullen, Brian Topp and Thomas Mulcair - well done - each of you has run strong campaigns and deserve to see that recognized by NDP members, as has happened.

Good luck to all!


Second and third ballots will determine which route lies ahead for future of New Democratic Party

Fascinating results from the NDP leadership first ballot show the two competing approaches for the future of the party:

1) Move to the centre to better compete with the Conservatives and win in 2015 while further marginalizing the Liberals or:

2) Focus on social democratic principles and build support for a more left of centre alternative.

Thomas Mulcair, Nathan Cullen and Martin Singh fall into the first approach.

Peggy Nash, Brian Topp and perhaps Paul Dewar and Niki Ashton take the second view.

And that, given the first ballot vote, appears to me to be the significant philosophical battle underway today - both in the leadership campaign and in the party itself.

But none of this should be overemphasized.  The most centrist NDP imaginable is still way to the left of the most liberal Liberal Party, even under ex-NDPer Bob Rae.

The second ballot will show whether Mulcair will be the eventual winner or can be defeated by the combined second and third choice ballots of candidates dropping out.

Mulcair needs to get most of Singh's votes -  as Singh urged well before the convention began - and pick up enough from Dewar and Ashton to get close to 40% and appear the unstoppable force.

My candidate, Peggy Nash, had an unquestionably disappointing result but is staying in and now needs to get ahead of Nathan Cullen based on the second choices of Dewar, Ashton and Singh, plus any live votes moving around.

Her route to victory is now more difficult but not impossible.  I predicted a final Mulcair vs Nash vote and that's still potentially in the cards.

Cullen has to stay in the race and get closer to Topp to position himself as able to challenge Mulcair in the final ballot.

Topp has to gain some second ballot support and solidify his position as the only alternative to Mulcair, then pick up a fair number of votes from whoever is forced off the ballot.

Lastly, all NDP supporters have to be disappointed with the low turnout in this first ballot, which is unlikely to increase in subsequent votes.

With just over 65,000 first ballot votes cast of just over 130,000 members, the NDP has only achieved a 50% turnout - ironically just about the same turnout as in the last federal election.

Apparently online voting is not having the desired effect of increasing participation.

For those of us political junkies who grew up on the drama of delegated conventions with their dramatic candidates moving across the floor to rivals and the abundance of straw hats and other bumpf, perhaps one-member, one-vote isn't the future of politics after all!

Here are the first ballot results:

Thomas Mulcair: 19,728 votes (30.3 per cent)
Brian Topp: 13,915 votes (21.4 per cent)
Nathan Cullen: 10,671 votes (16.4 per cent)
Peggy Nash: 8,353 votes (12.8 per cent)
Paul Dewar: 4,883 votes (7.5 per cent)
Martin Singh: 3,821 votes (5.9 per cent)
Niki Ashton: 3,737 votes (5.7 per cent)


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Christy Clark's bad week includes BC Liberal MLA walking out while she was speaking in Legislature, new poll, no by-elections call

Why the Delay Calling By-Elections, Premier?

Premier Christy Clark may need divine intervention to have a prayer of winning
 delayed by-elections, get out of troubles! BC government photo
With Port Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope by-election deadlines near and the NDP ahead in yet another poll, Christy Clark faces internal caucus dissent and external problems with own allies - apparently including an BC MLA

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday March 20, 2012

By Bill Tieleman

"For Premier [Christy] Clark to wait so long for political, not practical, reasons is a disgrace." 
-- Tri-Cities News editorial on delay in Port Moody-Coquitlam by-election.

It was another week of big problems for B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

Those include the resignation in disgrace of cabinet minister Harry Bloy, and Clark's new communications director Sara MacIntyre's controversial attempt to block media from asking questions at a photo opportunity.

The week also saw more questions about the blown $40-million deal with Telus to rename BC Place and the reappearance at the Port Moody-Coquitlam campaign office of a BC Liberal Party executive member who resigned for bringing a convicted attempted assassin to the B.C. legislature for the budget speech -- on a ticket from the premier's office.

Clark, who counted Bloy as her only provincially-elected supporter during her leadership bid, isn't exactly making new friends in caucus. Victoria sources say BC Liberal MLA Joan McIntyre walked out of the legislature's chamber Thursday while Clark was speaking, and a rumour later circulated that McIntyre was unhappy with the premier's personal attack on NDP leader Adrian Dix when Clark attempted to defend Bloy.

Reports also persist that McIntyre's West Vancouver-Sea To Sky seat is in play. Former West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones has said she won't challenge currently elected candidates, but that doesn't preclude the possibility that Clark would have -- or even has -- asked McIntyre to step aside. Would Clark prefer Goldsmith-Jones, or even former CTV news anchor Pamela Martin, who now works in Clark's office for $130,000 a year doing "outreach"?

McIntyre did not respond to email and telephone requests for comment.

Deadlines encroaching

Reflecting all of the above, it was another week where Clark failed to call two byelections in vacant ridings lacking any elected representation in Victoria.

But don't get the idea that Clark thinks it's a disgrace that Port Moody-Coquitlam hasn't had a member of the Legislative Assembly since Oct. 1, 2011 or that Chilliwack-Hope lost its MLA on Jan. 9, 2012.

Clark's response to media questions on why she hasn't scheduled a byelection more than five months after Port Moody-Coquitlam BC Liberal MLA Iain Black quit?

"Well the holdup is that I haven't called it yet and I will in a couple of weeks, so, probably -- you'll find out. I'll let you know when I know," Clark nonchalantly said on Friday.

We will definitely know by April 7 -- because that's the absolute deadline by law for calling the byelection, where former long-time Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini is expected to win. 

But while Clark hasn't found the time to call the byelections, she has spent a lot of spare hours campaigning in both ridings -- formerly safe BC Liberal seats now threatened by both the New Democrats and BC Conservatives.

Clark was in Hope on March 5 to tour around with BC Liberal candidate Laurie Throness, a former federal Reform and Conservative party staffer facing strong challenges from both the BC Conservatives' John Martin, a criminologist and newspaper columnist, and the NDP's Gwen O'Mahoney, a community support worker who took 33 per cent of the vote as candidate in the 2009 provincial election.

The BC Liberals are hoping Throness' long history with right-wing politics -- including a stint as ex-Conservative cabinet minister Chuck Strahl's chief of staff in Ottawa -- will stem the tide against the party in a riding comfortably held by former B.C. Attorney General Barry Penner. 

When asked by local media when that vote would happen, Clark again replied without giving a date: "Every day we're closer... the community needs an MLA sooner rather than later."
Clark must send Chilliwack-Hope voters to the polls no later than July 30, according to Elections BC.

Libs in rocky waters

And Clark also spoke at the Feb. 17 nomination meeting for Port Moody-Coquitlam BC Liberal candidate Dennis Marsden. The reason why voters in both ridings are being denied representation is very simple: the BC Liberals are in deep fear of losing both seats. 

Yet another indication came when Justason Research released a new poll on Saturday showing the NDP at 45 per cent support, well ahead of the BC Liberals at just 31 per cent. The BC Conservatives sit at 14 per cent and the Greens at eight. 

That means Clark's party has dropped 15 points since the 2009 election victory under ex-premier Gordon Campbell. 

The polling results and lengthy delay are raising concerns in the BC Liberal caucus about Clark's tenuous future.

The reports about McIntyre being asked to give up her seat so that the party can win at least one of the then-three ridings needing new MLAs are indicative of a desperate mood in the premier’s office.

But is even McIntyre’s riding still safe enough to hold? 

Another poll that makes it more questionable was released by Forum Research in late February and put the B.C. Conservatives neck and neck with the B.C. Liberals, at 22 per cent versus 24 per cent for Clark’s party.  The NDP were at a comfortable 42 per cent.

If Clark convinced a sitting B.C. Liberal MLA to step down and then lost a third by-election, it wouldn’t take a shark to tell there was political blood in the water.

And that could mean either a provincial general election or a B.C. Liberal leadership challenge – or both.

This already interesting year in B.C. politics is going to get even more fascinating in the next few weeks.

Another poll that makes it more questionable was released by Forum Research in late February and put the BC Conservatives neck and neck with the BC Liberals, at 22 per cent versus 24 per cent for Clark's party. The NDP were at a comfortable 42 per cent.

If Clark manages to lose both byelections she delayed to the last minute, it wouldn't take a shark to tell there was political blood in the water. And that could mean either a provincial general election or a BC Liberal leadership challenge -- or both. 

This already interesting year in B.C. politics is going to get even more fascinating in the next few weeks.

Note: This is an updated, edited version of my Tyee column.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Peggy Nash – her possible route to victory in the NDP leadership vote March 24

Why Peggy Nash could be Canada's next Opposition Leader 

By Bill Tieleman

"Favourites win about 30-35% of the time, so in about two out of three races the favourite loses."
         - Good Horse Racing
If favourites were able to win every race, it could safely be presumed that Thomas Mulcair will be the next federal New Democratic Party leader at the end of voting March 24.
But as the odds show, favourites don’t always win horse races or political party leadership contests – which make it far more challenging to predict who will come out ahead.
In this NDP leadership race seven candidates are in the running but only two have a clear path to victory – Thomas Mulcair and Peggy Nash.
My view is that the final ballot will have just those two names.
Who wins will depend on a number of factors but Nash has a real chance to become Leader of the Opposition with a come from behind finish.
I endorsed Nash some time ago after interviewing and researching the perceived frontrunners and all the other impressive candidates, so you can discount my analysis on that basis if you like.
Bill Tieleman and Peggy Nash - after Vancouver
NDP leadership debate March 11, 2012
But you might also want to check my personal track record for political leadership contest endorsements – including Jack Layton, Gregor Robertson and Adrian Dix – as well as riding nominations, and find that it’s very good.
I also want to make clear that while I think Peggy Nash is the best person to lead the NDP, I very much respect and appreciate the talents of Tom Mulcair, Brian Topp, Paul Dewar, Nathan Cullen, Niki Ashton and Martin Singh.
Whoever wins March 24 will have my support – though that support is never unconditional, as regular readers know very well!
Why Peggy Nash Could Win
Here’s why Peggy Nash could win and has an excellent chance.
All political parties work towards internal consensus, notwithstanding the inherent conflict that leadership contests and local candidate nomination battles always engender.
Once leadership is settled, the only way a party can win is through unity of message, vision and public image.
The Progressive Conservatives demonstrated the perils of ongoing disunity starting in the 1960s, while the federal Liberal Party dominated government time after time.
When the Reform Party was created and split the PCs, both sides of the right-wing family were out of power until unity was restored.
And when the Liberals turfed out a three-time winning Prime Minister Jean Chretien in a bloodless coup by Paul Martin, the party quickly spun out of power and into the ditch, where it remains today.
Peggy Nash has significant and broad support in the NDP but perhaps even more importantly, is the person most able to ensure party unity after the leadership contest ends.
The challenge is to bring people together afterwards, not polarize the party with post-ballot internal politics.
None of this is to suggest other candidates can’t or won’t do that – but of the main contenders, Nash has the best ability to bridge the gaps.
Nash also has the best skill set and experience combination to immediately become Canada’s Leader of the Opposition.
And when it comes to the key issues raised by the other NDP candidates, Nash’s positions are nearly all very complementary to theirs, with some significant shared constituencies.
Nash is strong on protecting the environment – like Cullen and Mulcair – and outspoken in opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal.
Nash is outspoken on her social democrat values, and with roots in the labour movement – like Topp.
Nash is committed to electoral system reform – like Cullen, but without his controversial proposal on “electoral cooperation” with other parties.
Nash is an experienced front bench Parliamentary critic – like Dewar and Mulcair.
Nash is fluent in French – like Mulcair and Topp. 
And Nash is an impressive woman – like Niki Ashton - in a political system still dominated by men.
The Other Contenders
Mulcair is an outstanding politician who overcame Brian Topp’s early lead to become frontrunner.  His experience in government as a Quebec cabinet minister and front bench NDP MP are formidable.
But the animosity between Mulcair and Topp is significant and public.
 Quebec in particular has seen a significant division between the two candidates with deep roots in that province.
And Mulcair was quick early on to publicly criticize United Steel Workers’ Canadian Director Ken Neumann – a Topp backer – in a way that shocked many in labour.
Neumann is very well regarded in both NDP and labour circles, so Mulcair’s intemperate words – and claiming Topp was “beholden” to big unions – definitely caused waves.
Topp has a lengthy and successful record at the senior levels of both provincial and federal politics, playing a major role in Jack Layton’s success, as well as that of the Roy Romanow government in Saskatchewan. 
And he has endorsements from many senior New Democrats, including Romanow and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.
But the criticisms that Broadbent and Topp have publicly made on Mulcair in recent weeks – including questioning Mulcair’s social democratic commitment and lack of support from veteran MPs – have created a backlash with some members and especially Mulcair supporters.
Nathan Cullen has run an effective campaign and is personally engaging – but his main idea of “electoral cooperation” through joint nominating meetings with Liberals and Greens to pick a single candidate in Conservative held ridings has split the NDP and is a non-starter for many.
Some, like myself, believe that had this strategy been followed in the 2011 election, the Liberal Party would be the official opposition today – not the NDP.  And that rescuing the Liberals now from their own self-inflicted troubles can only come at the expense of the NDP’s chances to form government in 2015.
Paul Dewar has also gone after Mulcair and his alleged bad temper and attack-style politics, saying in Vancouver that Jack Layton was a “happy warrior” and that Mulcair had only gotten down the “warrior” part quite well.
Dewar himself has created a different divide – over his perceived lack of ability in French and the impact that would have in Quebec. 
Niki Ashton has acquitted herself very well – demonstrating considerable ability and knowledge, and is multilingual – but isn’t in the running this time. 
Martin Singh was a complete unknown before this contest and unfortunately, while he has performed above expectations, he has now become ensnared in controversy over his and his former key staff person’s endorsement of Mulcair as their second ballot choice.
Throughout all this, Nash has run a positive and constructive campaign and avoided creating splits in the party.
Nash has also continued to build support in all regions of the country while emphasizing the importance of a social democratic opposition movement – not just a party – that will take on the Stephen Harper Conservatives.
And Nash easily meets all the requirements to become leader: a sitting MP with experience in Parliament; bilingual; tenacious but gracious, a demonstrated commitment to progressive politics and a belief in social democracy; real-life leadership skills to bring to the role; an ability to show poise under pressure and perhaps most importantly, a willingness to listen.
I was very impressed with Peggy’s performance at the Vancouver NDP debate – and I wasn’t alone.
Globe and Mail : "Fortitude and pragmatism"
Here’s what Globe and Mail TV critic John Doyle said after that televised debate:
“Peggy Nash’s presence, measured tone and nuanced answers had the strongest resonance. There’s a fortitude and pragmatism projected in her onscreen persona that’s vivid and, memorably, she uses wit, not put-downs.”
“There’s the air of a woman who has seen and heard plenty of male bluster but knows that bluster doesn’t get the job done. Interestingly, there were seven candidates speaking and debating, and some barely registered at all.”
“A series of TV debates is a darn good idea when choosing a new leader for a party. TV is the vehicle that takes a leader to power or oblivion, in the end,” Doyle concludes.
I heartily agree.
What Will Happen at NDP Leadership Vote?
So what will happen on March 24?
On the first ballot, Mulcair will be ahead – but by how much?
And what is his growth potential after that?
If his lead over the closest contenders is not substantial, he faces an increasingly difficult road to win.
Nash likely needs to be in second or third place on that ballot.
Topp, Cullen and Dewar each hope to be second or a close third – but they can’t all be in the same position.
Singh and then Ashton will finish low and be forced out in the early rounds, with their probably relatively few votes being redistributed to their backers’ second choices without significant impact.
Then it gets very tense indeed for all involved – and harder still to predict.
Several factors are at play – not the least being the provincial distribution of membership.
Alice Funke at her Pundits’ Guide website always has fascinating data and analysis – and points out that BC and Ontario “will have the lion's share of the say over the outcome of the NDP leadership race,” according to the party’s official final membership numbers.
That means notwithstanding Mulcair’s strength in Quebec – and Topp’s – that BC with 38,735 and Ontario with 36,760 for a combined 59% of all members – will hold the deciding votes. 
The NDP now has a total of 128,351 members but history shows that nowhere near a 100% turnout will occur – meaning Get Out The Vote efforts and superior organization will maximize vote counts.
In the 2011 BC NDP leadership contest that chose Adrian Dix, the party had close to 30,000 members and obtained a 71% voter turnout.
A similar turnout would be a reasonable expectation in this federal race.
Money and Polling
Money is one indication of organization, and as Pundits’ Guide again details, while Mulcair has raised the most with $238,000 to February 18, Topp is close behind at $214,000, Dewar at $170,000, Nash at $163,000 and Cullen at $155,000.
Cullen has raised the most in February as he gained attention but nearly 75% of his funding is coming from BC, which may indicate his national appeal is less than it seems.
But the money gap between these candidates is not extreme and it does not appear any are being restricted by funding shortfalls – not if the number of home phone calls from all camps is any indication!
Internal member polling released to the media by Paul Dewar’s campaign claimed that only three candidates have a path to win – Mulcair, Nash and Dewar – but take note that the polling was:
1) conducted for one campaign and
2) now dated, since it took place February 8-9.
Nonetheless, that poll and other information seem to indicate that Topp has been dropping and Cullen rising in party support – but will that be borne out in the results?
One very different and interesting and unique attempt to track candidate success is at website ThreeHundredEight – where Eric Grenier has compiled an ongoing “endorsement ranking” list.
Grenier gives a range of different points to candidates’ endorsers – with more points for veteran MPs than rookies and union leaders’ points are based on the number of members they represent, for example.
Currently Grenier has Mulcair at 27.9% of all public endorsements, Topp at 26.9% and Nash at 23.9 %.  The ranking drops considerably after that, down to Dewar at 13.2%, Cullen at 5.2%, Ashton at 3% and Singh with none.  Grenier doesn’t claim that the results are conclusive  - just an indication of where candidates may end up on the first ballot.
Grenier states: “Having endorsements generally means a better and/or more motivated organization, and a better and/or more motivated organization will more successfully deliver votes on the metaphorical convention floor.”
First Rounds of Voting
So with these various factors weighed and considered, let’s go back to the leadership voting rounds of March 24.
Whoever is in last place after Singh and Ashton have been eliminated in earlier rounds will be dropped.
Will it be Dewar, Cullen or Topp?  I’m obviously biased toward my chosen candidate but I certainly do not see Nash placing fifth, nor have most observers.
The Dewar polling – remembering the source and timing – showed that Nash is the dominant second choice candidate for both Topp and Dewar supporters, with 30.4% of Topp’s voters going next to Nash and 27.7% of Dewar voters.
Cullen voters’ top second choice is Dewar at 24.9%, followed by Nash at 18.6% and Mulcair at 18.2%.
If this polling is still roughly accurate, and if Mulcair is not in a dominant balloting position close to the 50% plus one needed to win, then Nash will get the biggest boost with second choice votes from either Topp or Dewar dropping out.
If Cullen is dropped before Dewar, Paul would get the most boost from those second choice ballots, though Nash and Mulcair would not be far behind.
And then other factors will also come into play.
Will there be a convention voting dynamic of movement as each ballot is dramatically announced?
Could there be endorsements of remaining candidates by fallen contenders in attempts to convince their supporter to go to one of those left in the race?
Will it make a major difference?
Yes and yes – and perhaps.
It’s important to remember that over 80 per cent of NDP voters will have cast their preferential ballots by mail or online in advance – and will not be voting live.
And to date, there has been no published schedule of how live voting will take place – or what how much time will take place between rounds of voting.
Given that the roughly 2,000 delegates to the Toronto leadership convention will need to physically vote on site, it could be 2 or more hours to vote and calculate results. 
That will mean online voters dropping off due to fatigue, other pressing demands, etc.  Not everyone will spend eight or more hours at the TV or computer waiting to vote each time.
That said, if the race is very close and a few thousands votes either way will determine the winner, then online and in person voting based on who is left will indeed be decisive.
Final Rounds of Voting
So back again to the next round of voting.
Everything depends on each candidates’ position in the race and how close a winner is to the 50% plus one mark.
If Mulcair is achingly close to that, the next ballot will likely make him the winner, since he will gain some votes no matter who drops off.
But if Mulcair is still a fair ways from 50%, he becomes increasingly vulnerable to being the frontrunner that loses on the final ballot.
In my scenario for Nash to win, Dewar, Cullen and Topp will need to be dropped from the successive rounds of balloting – in whatever order – with more of their votes going to Nash or a lower placing candidate still remaining than to Mulcair.
This is not an easy road to win but it is a familiar successful scenario to anyone who has long followed leadership contests of parties in Canada and around the world.
Often a candidate has the most initial support but not a majority within their party and their early lead is insufficient to win when party voters coalesce around the most viable alternative candidate.
Is Thomas Mulcair in that position? Hard to say but it’s certainly quite possible.
But Peggy Nash is definitely the most viable alternative candidate to Mulcair, in my view.
And for that reason, Peggy Nash could well become the New Democratic Party’s next leader – and Canada’s Leader of the Opposition.
We’ll find out on March 24.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

BC Liberal Executive who resigned post for inviting man convicted of attempted murder to February 2012 BC Budget Speech attends Port Moody-Coquitlam BC Liberal by-election event - with Stockwell Day

BC Liberal supporter Tariq Ghuman back in the party fold, attends Port Moody-Coquitlam by-election event with candidate Dennis Marsden, ex-federal Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day on Monday night

Liberal candidate Dennis Marsden, left, poses with party supporter Tariq Ghuman, centre, and former International Trade minister Stockwell Day at an event this week. (SCREEN GRAB from Flickr)


By BILL TIELEMAN, 24 hours Vancouver/QMI AGENCY

A B.C. Liberal Party executive member who resigned his position for inviting
a convicted attempted assassin to the B.C. Legislature last month appears to
be back within the Liberal fold.

Tariq Ghuman attended a campaign event for the party¹s Port Moody-Coquitlam
by-election candidate Monday night along with party nominee Dennis Marsden
and former federal Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day, who is
supporting Marsden in the as yet uncalled vote.

Ghuman resigned after questions about his bringing of Jaspal Atwal as a
replacement guest to the budget speech February 21 on a ticket from Premier
Christy Clark¹s office.

Atwal was convicted of attempting to murder a
visiting Indian cabinet minister in 1986.

Marsden spokesman Matt Stickney said the campaign was not concerned about
the optics of Ghuman¹s presence.

“He doesn¹t have any formal role ­ he just dropped in ­ it was a public event,” Stickney told 24 hours Tuesday. Stickney added Ghuman is not a donor 
to Marsden's campaign.

Radio India talk show host Gurpreet Singh says Ghuman has unfairly been made 
the fall guy for the B.C. Liberals in the incident.

”Tariq Ghuman has been made the scapegoat and the only one. What about all
 the other big shots who knew about this?” Singh asked.

Ghuman did not respond to telephone and text messages for comment.

After the controversy erupted about Ghuman bringing Atwal as a substitute guest to the BC Legislature on a ticket from the premier's office, he quickly resigned from the BC Liberal Executive, where he represented Metro Vancouver southern suburbs. 

Ghuman also resigned his position as President of BC Liberal cabinet minister Stephanie Cadieux's Surrey-Panorama riding association and similarly quit as federal Liberal Party of Canada riding president for Surrey-North after his connection to Atwal was made public.

Premier Christy Clark expressed shock at the time Atwal's attendance was revealed but a media report by Indo-Canadian radio station Red FM at the time stated that Atwal had attended and spoke at a Clark leadership event during her successful campaign. 

Clark communications staffer Shane Mills said this month that Atwal "may have" made a short speech at the event and shook hands with Clark but "that's it" - the premier "doesn't know him. He didn't have any role in her leadership campaign."

The Vancouver Sun's Kim Bolan, who broke the original story, has also reported this month that Atwal is a member of the BC Liberal Surrey Fleetwood-Port Kells riding association executive, which party executive director Don McDonald confirmed.

Atwal received a 20-year sentence for his part, along with three others, in the 1986 attempted murder of visiting Punjabi cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu.  He was shot twice in an ambush on a deserted road on Vancouver Island but survived.  Sidhu was later assassinated in India.

Atwal and his accomplices were linked to the International Sikh Youth Federation

In his resignation letter to BC Liberal Party President Sharon White, Ghuman wrote:

"I take full responsibility for inviting Mr. Jaspal Singh Atwal to the Budget at the Legislature on February 21, 2012 and I apologize for any issues my error has caused the BC Liberal Party and especially the Premier."

"The young people, I originally invited could not attend due to conflicts with their mid-term exams, and Mr. Atwal came in their place. I did not inform the Premier's Office that I was bringing different guests, and I am sorry for my oversight,” Ghuman wrote.

A shorter version of this story ran in Wednesday's 24 hours Vancouver print edition

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Premier Christy Clark's Conservative Conundrum - Preston Manning's "Iron Snowbird" not flying in the polls, cozying up to far right Conservatives not working

Premier Christy Clark - once proud federal Liberal reduced
to begging for praise from Preston Manning, Michael Coren, Tom Flanagan and
the flat earth society crew at "a conservative family reunion" in Ottawa

Christy Clark's Conservative Conundrum

Poll shows dip in BC Lib support as premier bizarrely called the 'iron snowbird' by ex-Reform Party leader Preston Manning spreads her right-wing.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday March 13, 2011

By Bill Tieleman

"I would rather go to any extreme than suffer anything that is unworthy of my reputation, or of that of my crown."
- Queen Elizabeth I, 1533-1603
Why was BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark -- a longtime federal Liberal -- speaking last week at "a conservative family reunion" organized by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning that was filled with Liberal-despising right-wingers?
Why has Clark hired three ex-Conservative operatives closely connected to Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- her chief of staff Ken Boessenkool, communications director Sara MacIntyre and senior advisor Dimitri Pantazopoulos?
Why hasn't Clark yet called by-elections in the Port Moody-Coquitlam or Chilliwack-Hope ridings, where incumbent Liberals in previously safe seats resigned long ago?
And why did ex-Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day visit Port Moody-Coquitlam on Monday to support BC Liberal candidate Dennis Marsden's campaign?
The answer is in the polls.
'Iron snowbird' dips
The BC Liberals are bleeding support to the BC Conservatives, who are a viable option for the first time in decades under new leader John Cummins -- a former Reform Party colleague of Manning's.
So Clark thinks shameless pandering to right-wingers is her only salvation to get back those votes, a big comedown for a federal Liberal once warmly thanked by then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion and someone who once worked in Ottawa for former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien's government.
And it may backfire, alienating those who have previously voted BC Liberal but fear Harper and Manning's style of conservatism.
A Forum Research poll conducted just after the Feb. 21 B.C. budget was tabled paints a grim picture: BC New Democrats at 42 per cent, BC Liberals at 24 per cent and the upstart BC Conservatives in hot pursuit at 22 per cent.
For Clark -- now dubbed the "iron snowbird" by Manning in some bizarre Margaret Thatcher meets Anne Murray moment -- it gets even worse.
In results not previously made public, Clark's favorability rating dropped to 31 per cent compared to NDP leader Adrian Dix's "dramatic increase" to 43 per cent from 35 per cent in January, Forum notes. Cummins is also up, to 27 per cent from 21 per cent.
NDP voters are "the most enthusiastic about voting for their party; Liberals least so," Forum found, with 62 per cent of NDP supporters "very enthusiastic," 52 per cent of BC Conservatives and 46 per cent of BC Liberals.
With those results, it's not surprising that Forum's projected seat count would give the NDP a "crushing majority government" with 63 of 85 ridings.
Polls present NDP gains
In an email interview, Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff said the poll was not commissioned by anyone and rejected suggestions posted by some BC Liberal supporters on Twitter that his firm's interactive voice response or IVR polling system was less accurate than telephone interview or online polling panel approaches used by other pollsters.
"We used IVR for both the Ontario and Saskatchewan provincial elections and were the most accurate poll of all the polls in both," Bozinoff wrote.
IVR polling allows a computer to call voters and record their opinions via the telephone keypad responses -- i.e. "press one for BC Liberal, press two for BC NDP, etc."
The Forum Research results also show that BC Liberal Party's $1-million attack ads and websites separately targeting Dix and Cummins coincided with Clark's decline in the polls, another ominous sign for the party.
But Forum isn't the only pollster asking questions in B.C.
Another poll by Innovative Research Group asks very specific questions about the negative or positive impact of the budget.
The online omnibus 20/20" includes questions about whether respondents think it will result in higher or lower unemployment, make the education and health care systems better or worse, if they will pay more or less user fees for government services, personally pay more or less taxes and if it will make the environment better or worse off, or make no difference in any or all of these.
Innovative president Greg Lyle was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell's election campaign manager when he was opposition leader in 1996, and employed Christy Clark's now ex-chief of staff Mike McDonald last year.
Innovative polled in the Vancouver-Point Grey riding in March 2011 to see if Clark could win the by-election forced when Campbell resigned. Clark narrowly defeated NDP candidate David Eby by just less than 600 votes.
Lyle said by email Sunday that his firm conducts its own polling about public responses to provincial and federal budgets and that the B.C. budget poll was not commissioned by another organization, but declined to say if the B.C. government is a subscriber to the 20/20 omnibus.
Lyle noted that government purchases are a matter of public record -- meaning that the finance ministry's annual public accounts statement would report any expenditure for his firm's services. But public accounts do not list what services those costs were for -- only a Freedom Of Information request could likely determine detailed expenditures.
Regardless of who does the polling -- and both Angus Reid Public Opinion and Ipsos-Reid polls have also showed the NDP ahead by a wide margin and the B.C. Conservatives gaining strength -- it's clear that the two impending by-elections could be catastrophic for Christy Clark.
Why else would she schmooze with hard-core right-wingers speaking at the Manning Centre for Building Democracy's "conservative family reunion?"
Those people include former Harper strategist Tom Flanagan, columnist and Sun TV host Michael Coren, current Conservative cabinet ministers Tony Clement, Jason Kenney, Joe Oliver, Diane Finley, Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose, ex-Harper staffers Dimitri Soudas, Guy Giorno, and Ian Brodie, John Mortimer, head of the anti-union group LabourWatch, National Citizens Coalition Director Stephen Taylor, C.D. Howe Institute CEO Bill Robson, ex-Fraser Institute staffer Leah Costello, Tom Long, campaign chair for ex-Ontario Conservative Premier Mike Harris and a raft of other former Conservative and Reform MPs and staff.
It may give Clark a slim chance at redemption, but the increasingly un-Liberal premier might also be on a right-wing road to ruin.