Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2019/ Federal Election Preblather

Federal Election Preblather

tl;dr: I am furious at almost everything about this election, and I do not know what to do.

Mad at the Liberals

Emotionally, I want the Liberals to lose this election. I want Raj Saini to lose his seat. I want Bardish Chagger to lose her seat. I want Justin Trudeau to be humiliated. I want the Liberals to be demoted to a third place party again.

Yes, a lot of this anger is related to electoral reform. On the one hand Saini says that he regrets that Trudeau let electoral reform die. On the other I am eagerly anticipating the "Only Raj Saini Can Stop Andrew Scheer" leaflet that he will be distributing the last few days of the election. I am especially angry with Saini because he is trying to have it both ways.

As I have written before, I am less angry that electoral reform didn't happen and more angry that the process was a charade. Trudeau and the Liberals never had any genuine intention of allowing proportional representation go through, but they wasted our time and energy in going through the process. In so doing, they set back electoral reform by ANOTHER two decades. The issue is dead now, and we have Trudeau's treachery to thank for that.

And what can I do in response? I can vote for the Liberals. They are benefiting from this betrayal. All they have to say is "we are less worse than the Conservatives" and we all fall in line and vote for them. We are going to reward Trudeau for blatantly lying to us by voting for him and his party. That makes me furious. There is no way to hold the Liberals accountable for their actions short of electing the Conservatives, and we see how well that is working out in Ontario.

I am also furious because Trudeau is pulling the same campaign shenanigans that made me mad with Harper and Mulcair last time around. Harper made a habit of skipping debates he did not like, and he extended that to all of his candidates. Now Trudeau is continuing the trend -- he is skipping debates left and right as well, because he does not want to be held accountable by other party leaders. (In his defense, he took some difficult questions during his speaking tour earlier this year, but he did not have to be accountable for his answers.)

The Liberal Record

Emotionally, I am furious at the Liberals. I am trying hard to separate those feelings from evaluating their record rationally. Have they been a bad government? Do they deserve to lose power?

I think is a good resource here. Unlike all the other Polimeter efforts, the organizers have done a good job of keeping track of Trudeau's campaign promises.

Campaign promises are not the whole story, however. (Ask Toronto City Council the degree to which Doug Ford campaigned to cut their size in half.) I have not found good summaries of what the Liberal government has or has not accomplished over the four years, and I wish I had them.

I am deeply skeptical of the Liberal campaign promises this time around. I do not believe a word of what the Liberals are saying about addressing climate change. I am not as freaked out about the purchase of the TransMountain pipeline as all the other lefties, but it is clear that Alberta's solution to climate change is "pump all the oil so long as it is worth something" and it is clear that the Liberals will never stand up to that.

Mad at the Greens

I am furious at the Greens because they violated my privacy. They correlated data about me and sent snail mail to my home address. Despite chewing them out about this during the last election, they STILL had my data on file, and were STILL sending me emails for this election. Worse, a little birdie told me that I was STILL listed as a snail-mail target for this election. How many hoops do I have to jump through to get off of their marketing lists?

Of course, I am angry at the Greens because they are behaving just like every other political party. Every party now has detailed databases about potential voters and opponents, so they can send misleading robocalls about polling stations to their enemies. (Oh no. The Conservatives totally didn't do that on a systemic level, and it will never ever happen again. Right?) The NDP has betrayed me worse; once the Council of Canadians got my email address, and I started receiving mail from the NDP. All these political parties are evil, and they are getting more evil as time goes by.

Apart from this, the Greens are a mixed bag. I am increasingly distressed that the Greens appear to be the Elizabeth May party. I think May is a strong leader, but there needs to be a succession plan. I am skeptical about their promises, but glad that they have finally costed their platform, because it finally admits that the Green solution to funding climate change mitigation is "tax the rich". Most of the money from their costed platform are taxes on the wealthy. Of these taxes, perhaps the most interesting is a tax on capital gains. But the days of pretending that we can just shift taxation to mitigate climate change are over, and good riddance.

I am very angry that Green candidates are talking as if we will elect a minority parliament. Maybe we will get a minority government and maybe we won't, but the composition of the government matters (is it a Liberal minority or a Conservative one?) and furthermore there is no way we can vote for a minority government.

I am somewhat irritated by the way that the Green platform talks as if they would form a government, but this conceit is relatively harmless. The purpose of a small party releasing a platform is so that big parties can steal their plans, and writing plans as if you are forming government aligns with that.

I do note that the Greens have given up any pretense of being environmentally conscious in their campaigning. Elizabeth May zooms around the country awfully quickly, and there are a whole-lot of Green signs made out of single-use plastic littering our roads.

Mad at the Conservatives

Ugh. Now that the Conservatives are not denying climate change outright, they are just denying that they have to do anything meaningful to combat it. They are proposing a lot of things to spread green technology across the world, but there is nothing saying that the government could not do those things AND have a carbon tax. In fact, a carbon tax would make it easier to fund those other initiatives.

I don't have strong feelings about Andrew Scheer yet, but I actively dislike that he is running on Stephen Harper's platform. The real threat is that Scheer becomes prime minister now that the rest of "The Resistance" (Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, and friends) have been elected. If Scheer gets elected then the carbon tax is dead, and some kind of carbon tax is the bare minimum we need to do to meet our climate obligations.

I am also furious at the argument that "Canada doesn't contribute much to global climate emissions, so we don't have to worry about meeting our targets", which I hear from Conservatives all the time. This is nonsense for several reasons. Firstly, Canada wants to pump all of the oil out of the ground and sell it, which means we enable others to miss their climate targets. Secondly, we are one of the richest countries in the world (largely because we are a petrostate). If we can't get our act together then we have no moral authority to order other countries to reduce their emissions. This argument is a classic free rider issue.

It is fair to say that I disagree with most of the things coming out of the Conservative party that I have heard so far, although admittedly I have not researched very thoroughly. I am uncomfortable with the xenophobia that comes out of "limiting illegals".

In the past I used to think of myself as being fiscally conservative, but really I don't want to vote for a fiscally conservative party. I want to vote for a fiscally responsible party, and as far as I can tell nobody is living up to that standards. The right wingers want to cut our taxes until we starve, and the left wingers want to pay for all our present desires with future money. Both of these strategies are insane. Why is it such a crime to spend what we have, as wisely as we can, without going into debt over frivolities?

Mad at the NDP

The NDP is well on its way to becoming the fourth-place party in Canada, and as a result they are snarling and snapping at the Greens.

Mostly I am mad at the NDP because they coronated Jagmeet Singh as their leader, and now they are revolting against his leadership. If Singh is humiliated in this election, then it will send the message that brown people who wear turbans are unelectable, and they should have chosen a nice safe middle-aged white guy instead. (But honestly I think Charlie Angus would have been a better choice. Singh did not have enough experience for the job of being a federal leader.)

Mad at the People's Party

I guess I am obligated to be mad at everybody, so Maxime Bernier's vanity project shall not escape my wrath. I suppose I should not be surprised that the party has attracted so many xenophobic wingnuts, but I am. I am also somewhat saddened that there is little chance that the PPC will bleed votes from the Conservatives, the way the NDP and Greens bleed the Liberals.

It will be interesting to see whether Erika Traub gets any votes in Waterloo. She ran for mayor during the last municipal election, and garnered a surprising amount of support.

I guess I am also angry that Maxime Bernier gets invited to the consortium debates, despite having only one seat in Parliament, which Bernier did not win under the People's Party banner. How many times did the Consortium move the goalposts to ensure that Elizabeth May would not be allowed into the debates? First the Greens were supposed to run candidates in every riding (but the Bloc did not), and then when they did that they had to have a sitting MP, and when they did that they needed to have an MP directly elected, and then when they did that they still did not get to be in the debates. The People's Party met none of those goals and they get to be in the big debates right away?

Mike Morrice

It seems as if half my social circle is volunteering for Mike Morrice's campaign, so I will probably tick off any of those people who are reading this. Oh wells. I have said some of this to Morrice directly and I am not ashamed of sharing with you.

Mike Morrice is the Green candidate for Kitchener Centre. For some reason people think he is a superstar because he founded Sustainable Waterloo Region, which cajoles for-profit businesses into improving their carbon footprints. To me he does not stand out from other Green candidates who have run locally. He isn't the strongest Green candidate I have seen. He may not even be the strongest Green candidate running locally in this election (I do not know her well, but I have had some interactions with Steph Goertz and have been impressed with her ability to get things done.) He strikes me as being very much a politician. He has this sheen of sincerity, and is careful to reflect back the words we want to hear, but he also speaks in vague platitudes and deflects questions like any other politician. Maybe he would be a good MP; he probably would not be an awful one.

Nobody wants to say this out loud, but let's also acknowledge that Morrice is yet another white cisgendered man with a business degree who is hungry for power. He is younger than the average politician and we can all claim that he is (somehow) different, but he does not seem that different to me, and it is telling that we are not willing to throw our support behind some of the excellent women candidates who are also campaigning this election. If Morrice gets elected he will make the demographics look worse, not better. I do not think that this should disqualify him from running or winning, but I do think we should at least acknowledge just how typical a candidate he is.

He deserves some credit. He has a good ground game, and is working hard on the conditions that are necessary (although not sufficient) for a Green to win a riding:

So Morrice is doing what he can to be recognised as a strong local candidate in Kitchener Centre (with one exception, described below). But there is no assurance of anything. With few exceptions (Elizabeth Witmer, maybe Catherine Fife) we do not vote for individuals. We vote for parties and for party leaders. If the Greens or Elizabeth May are popular then maybe Morrice has a chance. If they drop in popularity then it does not matter how good his ground game is -- he is sunk.

The exception to Morrice's ground game is that he is not a very good public speaker. I listened to one of his debates and he was pretty weak. He went over time consistently. He spoke in the aforementioned platitudes. He did not come across as knowing his issues any deeper than mandated by Green Party talking points. So far I have been underwhelmed. (But I was also underwhelmed by Laura Mae Lindo during her provincial debates, and she turned out okay.)

It is also important to recognise that Morrice is taking a big gamble: by choosing to campaign seriously and to win, he knows full well that he could split the vote with Saini, allowing Woodworth to sneak through and win the riding. He will not address this directly if challenged. Instead he will speak of hope and voting for what you really believe, and how there is some "Green Wave" because the Green Party did well in PEI. When I pressed him on this, he acknowledged that this was something he has thought about, but then claimed that other Green candidates did not have the money and organizing power he did. Fair enough, except that this makes things worse, not better.

I know the few of you who read this blog are sick of me harping (Harpering) on about First Past the Post, but here we go again. We live under First Past the Post, and probably will continue living under FPTP the rest of my lifespan. In order for Mike Morrice to win Kitchener Centre he has to earn more votes than any other candidate in the riding.

The Greens will tell you they get their voters from the grassroots (people who have never voted before) and from all other parties, not just the Liberals. I am willing to bet the majority of their votes come from people who are deciding whether to vote for the NDP, the Liberals, or the Greens. They get some Conservative voters too, but not a consequential amount. In this election, Morrice is threatening to take votes from the NDP's Andrew Moraga and from Raj Saini. Moraga's share of the vote is relatively inconsequential; I do not think he has a serious chance of being elected this time around. That leaves Saini, and the spectre of splitting the vote. I see the following possible outcomes:

What are the relative sizes of these windows? The first window is pretty small, because Saini is not a strong candidate and there is no assurance that without Morrice running he would win by a large margin.

The second window is pretty large, and gets larger as Morrice campaigns harder in the campaign.

The third window is pretty small, in my opinion. Morrice is doing whatever he can to convince us that it is large, but it isn't.

During his kitchen table talks Morrice was talking a lot about the "Green Wave", but I think that wave is fake: people say they are concerned about environmental issues when the economy is good, but as soon as things turn sour they go right back to jobs jobs jobs at the environment's expense. I also think that generalizing from PEI's experience is dangerous: it has a small population and everybody knows each other. Provincial politics in PEI is more like municipal politics here.

We live under FPTP now. We will continue to live under FPTP for the rest of my lifespan. For some reason I do not argue that the NDP should give up and dissolve to prevent the Conservatives from winning elections. So why am I so hard on Morrice and the Greens? I do not have a great answer to that, but I think it is because I don't want to be burned again. You are all too young to remember this, but I was around when Andrew Telegdi lost to Peter Braid (Peter Braid!) by 17 votes, partially because Cathy MacLellan was a strong candidate and many of us believed in her. I am worried that I am in a bubble.

That is the key question for me: am I in a bubble, or is there actually widespread support for Morrice? As previously mentioned, a lot of my social circle is volunteering for Morrice's campaign, which is probably a bad sign. I see a lot of lawn signs, but I have not explored the outer suburbs of Kitchener Centre to see whether only my neighbourhoods are supporting Morrice and the Greens. If I am in a bubble I expect many of us will be disturbed by the local election results; if not then maybe Morrice wins.


There are a lot of narrative a lot of forces want me to believe. I am trying to be conscious of these forces and resist them, but I am not succeeding:

Does this Election Matter?

Yes. Yes it does.

One question is whether the Liberals can be held accountable for their betrayal on electoral reform.

Another question is whether we will even pay lip service to taking climate change seriously, or whether we will double down, elect Andrew Scheer and go back to winning "Fossil of the Day" awards.

I wish this election had other issues on the table. I wish we were talking about lowering the voting age to 16. I wish we were taking serious steps to address housing. I wish we were talking seriously about getting rid of the Indian Act and putting in something less harmful.

Does it Matter if Woodworth Wins?

Sigh. I don't know.

I will not be happy if Woodworth wins. He will propose more embarrassing anti-abortion bills, and if we are lucky they will not get passed. But who knows?

On the other hand, if Scheer wins a majority having Woodworth in vs somebody else will not matter that much. So maybe Morrice will not be doing that much harm even if he splits the vote.

Mad at Polly

Now that telephone and Internet polling has revealed itself to be hopelessly inadequate, we have all concluded that AI will save us. The Agenda is obsessed with Polly, the anthromorphized election modelling system that sucks in social media feeds and spits out predictions about who will lose and win each riding in the election.

Polly has had a good track record so far, so we now treat her ("her"?) as an oracle. This has three downsides:


There are a lot of personal attacks that I do not care much about.

I don't particularly care that Trudeau dressed up in stupid costumes when he was in his early 20s. CANADALAND wants me to think this is a great big deal, and maybe it is, but I am upset at this idea that the only people allowed to run for office are those who have spotless records. There are a lot of people who would make fine MPs, but who did stupid things in the past. If only spotless people are allowed to run, then only rich people who have the money to scrub their histories will do so.

I don't particularly care that Andrew Scheer was not really an insurance broker, although maybe I care about falsifying credentials more than I care about brownface.

Election Campaigns are Broken

Why should the fate of the next four years hinge on moment-by-moment feelings of the electorate? It is a political truism that a lot can change over the course of an election campaign. Is that a feature or a bug? Individual events that are frivolous in the broader picture (Howard Dean's scream, for example) can make or break a campaign.

Political parties spend enormous time and money to manipulate us. We somehow reward the ones who manipulate us the best. This is the basis of choosing which government will rule us for the next four years?