Saturday, September 30, 2006

Early results somewhat meaningless

Jason Cherniak ( is making a big deal of Dion's momentum having come in second after the first night of voting.

However, we need to put this inperspective. This weekend will elect ~85% of delegates. The other 15% are ex-officio and technically undeclared.

Last night ~15% of the 85% were elected. I.e. only 12.75% of delegates have been elected.

Here are the results so far in the grand picture.

To be elected 72.25%
Undeclared 15.38%
Ignatieff 3.57%
Dion 2.42%
Rae 2.30%
Kennedy 1.79%
Brison 1.02%
Dryden 0.77%
Volpe 0.51%
Hall Findlay 0.26%

So, essentially, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Friday, September 29, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: Liberal Party fines Joe Volpe $20,000

Click here for more info.

Volpe was fined for allowing his volunteers to pay for memberships of new signups despite rules to the contrary. They are not disqualifying him from the race because a) he and his campaign did not directly break the rules; b) his name is on the ballot this weekend.

If he does not pay the $20,000 within 30 days, then he is out of the race.

Cabinet comparisons

The Times & Transcript released today their guesses at who will be in Tuesday's cabinet. I was quite specific and forced myself to make some tough calls, where they did a lot of "maybe this or maybe that". So I've lined up our comparisons in the following table.

I've listed my thoughts followed by theirs and then whether or not we match. The match column can be the obvious yes or no, but also "maybe" in cases where the T&T has two guesses and one of them matches.

On a few occassions they suggested a minister I didn't think would be in and vice versa, in these cases the portfolio is listed as "n/a".

There is a blank column I'll come back and update after Tuesday to see who was right. (update - table completed on Oct 3)


We agree on a surprisingly high 4 ministers with another 3 maybes. Considering this is wholly guess work it is impressive to have any matches at all which suggests that perhaps those will be bang on the money.

I think Cheryl Lavoie will be in the cabinet while they do not. They think either Stuart Jamieson or Jack Keir will be in while I think neither will be and they also think Denis Landry will be in which I do not.


MLAnbpolitico saysT&T saysAgree?Right?
Hédard AlbertReg Dev CorpFisheriesNoboth wrong
Donald ArseneaultNatural ResourcesTourismNoI'm right
Victor BoudreauEducationEducation or HealthMaybeboth wrong
T.J. BurkeTransportation / Supply+Serv / Abo AffsJusticeNoT&T right
Greg ByrneFinanceBusinessNoT&T right
Dr. Ed DohertyCommunity Srvs / HousingCommunity Srvs / HousingYesboth wrong
Rick DoucetAgri&AquaAgri&AquaYesboth wrong
John ForanPublic SafetyPublic SafetyYesboth right
Roland HachéHealthTransportationNoboth wrong
Stuart Jamiesonn/aEnvironmentNoboth wrong, but T&T had him in cabinet
Jack Keirn/aEnvironmentNoboth wrong, but T&T had him in cabinet
Kelly LamrockHouse Leader / Higher EducationHigher Education or HealthMaybeboth wrong
Denis Landryn/anot specifiedNoT&T right to have him in cabinet, but didn't specify job
Cheryl LavoieWellness / Seniorsn/aNoT&T sort of right in that they didn't specify a minister and it went to the premier
Bernard LeBlancLocal Governmentn/aNoT&T right not to include him in cabinet
Roly MacIntyreEnergyEnergyYesboth wrong
Mike MurphyJusticeJustice or FinanceMaybeboth wrong
Ronald OueletteEnvironment / Populationnot specifiedNoboth wrong though T&T didn't specify
Carmel RobichaudFisheriesWomenNoT&T sort of right, but they didn't include her main portfolio
Mary SchryerBusiness / WomenLocal GovernmentNoboth wrong

nbpolitico pushes Kennedy into first place

I am very pleased to report that Gerard Kennedy is currently supported by more bloggers than any other candidate in the leadership race.

In a tight competition, Kennedy is supported by 39 bloggers, followed by Ignatieff at 38 and Dion at 36. Bob Rae and Scott Brison are tied in a distant fourth place with 7 each.

I am quite proud to be able to claim that I am the 39th Kennedy endorser on Cerberus' widely read list pushing him over the top into first place.

Let's hope this e-momentum is a sign of things to come this weekend!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Revisiting my mistakes

As covered in my election post mortem post, I miscalled 7 ridings on election night.

Some were honest mistakes:

  • Saint John Portland was listed as too close to call so I don't feel too bad about it. It stayed with the incumbent by 277 votes while I thought it would go to the challenger by a small margin. This was a case of collapsing NDP vote not going to the Liberals but instead to the Tories which we saw in a few places around the province.

  • Dieppe Centre-Lewisville I said I was confident would go Liberal. Despite this, it stayed Tory by the smallest margin of the night: 59 votes. This seems to have been due to the Tory areas of Lewisville joining the riding but we'll have to wait for poll-by-poll results to know for sure.

  • Charlotte-Campobello was another I was confident with but maybe I shouldn't have been, I always expected this to be a close race but I was sure it would be close in favour of the Liberal. It stayed PC by 282 votes.

  • Southwest Miramichi I had listed as somewhat uneasy. This was a seat the Tories had to pick up to win and when it started to go Liberal on election night, I knew my prediction of a Liberal victory had to be right. As I mentioned both in the post mortem and in early comments, it is a "small c" conservative riding, but Rick Brewer, a former minister, plays well here and has been a great constituency MLA.
The other three ridings however is where I really missed the boat.


This riding was listed as "too close to call" with my call being a PC gain. This was because I thought Louis-Philippe McGraw was a strong candidate. My own advice to myself was that McGraw had been out of the riding since he lost it so that would hurt him. Also Peninsula hospital downgrades had outraged people and sent them fleeing from the Tories but, I thought, the Liberal failure to promise to reverse the cuts, contradicting comments by Denis Landry and Hédard Albert, could give McGraw a boost.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

The final result? Landry 56%, McGraw 44%.

A win by over 1000 votes and 12% is not close. Not even a little bit. I really misread this riding.


Here was a real shocker. I can't wait until the poll-by-poll results become available here so I can better understand what happened.

While I thought I knew what I was talking about in Centre-Péninsule, I don't really know the area well, don't know any people from the riding and was doing a lot of guessing. Woodstock was a different case.

I said I was "99% sure of the outcome" in Woodstock. Quite frankly, I almost put it under the heading "I am more sure of the fate of this riding than of my age, name and sexual orientation". Fortunately I did not!! A number of other bloggers were calling Woodstock PC so, despite my certainty, I didn't quite put it in my top category. Thank God.

I know Woodstock. My father was born there. I have family there. I have friends there. I have been there hundreds of times.

Now, this riding is a lot more than just the Town of Woodstock but I thought I had taken that into account. The Town is the very north end (pretty much) of the riding while there are lots of rural areas to the south. The town and the few points north were outraged by the Valley hospital restructuring and were sure to vote Liberal. I guessed they would vote 80% Liberal, we'll have to see the poll-by-polls, but obviously this was wrong. Not only did David Alward win, he won huge. He won by 13% of the vote.

I did not see this coming. Quite frankly, I think if I had the choice between choosing 55 seats for the Tories and the Tories winning Woodstock by 13%, I would have chosen the former.

Clearly three things have happened here:

a) people in Woodstock aren't as angry as I thought
b) the population of Woodstock (town) must be a fair smaller fraction of that of the whole riding than I though
c) David Alward must be a far better constituency man than I gave him credit for


This, ladies and gentlemen, was the upset of the night.

I shifted this back and forth and back and forth between the Tories and Too Close To Call and finally unded up with it in the NDP column. It was only once marked as Liberal and that was in my preliminary projection which bore no resemblance to my final call.

I made a lot of mistakes here. First, let's revisit the facts as I understood them.

Brad Green was vunerable. He won in 2003 by a margin of 40% over 38% over one of the weakest candidates any party has ever put forward by the Liberals. Rick Miles was an unknown, but was certainly a better candidate than the Liberals put forward in 2003 and should have had the edge.

After that is where my thinking started to falter.

It was my belief that the NDP were a big challenge to a Liberal victory here. They had 23% in 2003, and though redistribution hurt them, they still had over 20% of the vote under the new boundaries. They had a better candidate in 2006 than they had in 2003. They had their leader running next door. These things told me that the NDP would at least hold their vote if not grow from there.

Therefore, if the NDP vote was going to grow, a Liberal victory seemed impossible. It was Dennis Atchison's NDP candidacy which first caused me to move this into the leans PC column.

The Atchison campaign ran radio ads, something impressive for an NDP campaign, and bloggers seemed to be saying that this was a race between Green and Atchison so, I jumped on the bandwagon.

At the end, though I wasn't really to confident to see this go NDP (I put it in the "ridings to watch"/"too close to call" category), I did call it that way. In my mind I thought that the NDP was going to pick up a riding somewhere, somehow, for sure. The best chance I could see on the map was Fredericton-Silverwood, so I made the call.

The final result was Rick Miles 47%, Brad Green 41%, Dennis Atchison 12%.

As you can see Atchison was not even in this race. If I had known that, I would probably have called it safe Liberal as we have established that Brad Green was weak and in trouble.

Where did I go wrong?

1.) I thought Miles was a weak candidate. He was an unknown who I'd never met. The only thing I saw of him was the CBC TV profile on Fredericton-Silverwood in which he and Dennis Atchison had an argument about the merits of voting NDP. Atchison seemed relatively smooth while Miles performance was not impressive. I thought that this was an encounter CBC had staged, but it turns out it was a matter of two candidates being in the same place in the same time, cameras appearing and a reporter goading them for sparks. Miles performance here was not great, but I thought it was indicative of his overall performance. I was wrong.

2.) I thought Atchison had become "the" opponent for Brad Green. As I've said over and over, Brad Green was very vunerable and I thought all along he was likely to lose his seat. A strong NDP candidate was a saving grace for Green. An NDP candidate who gained the momentum could have done the unseating. However, it is clear that the consensus around Atchison did not exist, it in fact collased around Miles who, as the Liberal candidate, was natural.

3.) I thought Rick Miles was without experience. He, as I've discussed, was a newcomer to politics. What I didn't know was that his campaign was being managed by none other than Jim Mockler. Mockler was the campaign manager for the Liberals in Fredericton South in the 1998 by-election and the 1999 election. He knows the riding and he knows how to run a campaign. From 2000-2003, Mockler was on the provincial executive of the party, from 2002-2003 as president. Though the candidate lacked experience, his team did not and this can, as we saw, make all of the difference in the world.

I thought the Liberals had 30 seats without this one in their tally or even on their radar. They won 29. The differnce between 28 seats and 29 seats is the difference between a weak and a stable majority. The Liberals are very lucky I was wrong with this riding or else they would be presiding over the same sort of weak government that Lord had from 2003-2006 and might have been back to the polls long before 2010. Thanks to Rick Miles and his campaign team, they've probably got four years to govern.

GK all the way!

Per harrap's request, here is a post explaining why I am supporting Gerard Kennedy for leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

From the West

There is no disputing that Gerard is from Western Canada. He grew up in rural The Pas, Manitoba, then went to prep school on a hockey scholarship in Winnipeg. He did his first year of university in Ontario but then moved to Edmonton, Alberta where he did three years of studies and worked for three years feeding the hungry with the first real food bank in Canada.

From age 0 to 26, he spent 25 years in Western Canada. Even for those Westerners who hesitate to call Manitoba part of the West, his roots in The Pas, in Western, rural Manitoba, surely qualifies.

From Ontario

Notwithstanding strong Western Canadian roots and, more importantly, the ability to truly understand and relate to Western alienation, Kennedy also has politically matured in Ontario.

Recruited to run Toronto's struggling Daily Bread food bank in 1986, he turned it in to a lean, mean feeding machine. Despite offers, he refused to accept one red penny of government funding. In the meantime, he was involved both in Alberta and Ontario in pressuring the government to change policies which caused people to need the services of food banks.

In Ontario he became something of a celebrity. When he entered the 1996 Ontario leadership race, despite having only been elected to the legislature months before, his reputation and star power made him the frontrunner.

Experience in politics

He was elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1996 in a by-election to replace none other than Bob Rae. This was in a district that had never elected a Liberal before. Ironically, in the by-election to replace Kennedy it returned to the NDP perhaps suggesting that he has a real ability to attract the NDP voters that we have bled over the past two elections.

He served for 7 years in opposition to a neo-conservative government. As the high profile critic first for Health and then for Education.

Following that he served for 2 and a half years as minister of education. The Ontario Ministry of Education has a budget of $17 billion dollars. That is a larger budget than 6 of our 10 provinces. That is a budget greater than every federal government department except for Finance and Human Resources & Social Development.

So, though Kennedy does not have federal cabinet experience, he has experience in the cabinet of a province with 40% of the nation's population and overseeing a department larger than any department in the federal government save two. I think it is fair to say that Kennedy has de facto federal cabinet experience.

Roots in the Liberal Party

Kennedy is literally a life long Liberal. According to his declaration speech, his first Liberal memory is at the age of 7, holding Mitchell Sharp's brief case as his father, ironically named John Kennedy, toured Sharp around a crowd of Liberal's in a campaign stop for the 1968 Liberal leadership.

Despite living in Alberta in the post-NEP era, he was an active Liberal and was a delegate to the 1984 leadership convention.

Despite his involvement in the food bank community, which I would imagine is a hot bed of NDP support, he, as far as I can tell, never had anything to do with them.

A star in Liberal circles in Edmonton, he seems to have been the same in Ontario very quickly. Despite being there less than a year he was approached by David Peterson to run in the 1987 Ontario election and, I believe, was again in 1990.

Outside of party fighting

Kennedy was a Sharp supporter in 1968 (sort of) and in 1984 supported neither Turner nor Chretien. I don't believe he went to the 1990 or 2003 conventions, I can't find any record of it in any event.

Support in Caucus

Despite having never been elected federally and despite having not been very actively involved, at least recently, in federal Liberal circles, he has more support from MPs and Senators than all of the other candidates combined save Ignatieff.


I don't know if you have heard Kennedy speak but if you haven't, get out to an event near you soon.

He reminds me a lot of Frank McKenna. Not so much in delivery, but in practical optimism. He talks about making Canadians do better by giving them to tools to do so.

Despite his left-leaning credentials from his food bank past, his campaign's central theme is "enterprise". He wants to encourage the growth of the economy. He understands from my talking to him that the reason there are food banks is because there are problems with the economy. He wants that to change.

Contrast with the other candidates

Now if all of the above wasn't enough to make you sign up, here is a bit of a contrast between he and the other candidates on each of the points I make above:

  • Western Roots: No remaining candidate in the race can make any claim to Western roots but Kennedy. I am not naive enough to think that there is going to be a huge Liberal breakthrough in the West in the near future but there is no reason why we can't win more seats in Winnipeg and rural Manitoba, parts of Saskatchewan, Edmonton and all over BC. Kennedy is best positioned to do this.

  • Ontario Roots: No one else I think would have as much name recognition in Ontario, except Rae, the province that kept us in power for 12 years and a province that holds over 1/3 of the seats in the House of Commons and well over half of Canada's current Liberal MPs. As for Rae, his name recognition in Ontario is probably more of a bad thing than good.

  • Political Experience: In Ontario, the same ridings are used federally and provincially. He has been elected 3 times to a federal riding which elected a New Democrat in 2006 and a provincial riding that elected New Democrats before and after Kennedy. He knows how to take votes from the NDP. He is the only candidate in the leadership race that has experience sitting in opposition to a neo-consvervative government and, following that, defeating it. He has more government administrative experience in terms of size of the administration than any other candidate but Bob Rae and Ken Dryden. It might be fair to add Stephane Dion to this list because of his 9 years in cabinet, though 7 were heading Intergovernmental Affairs (less than $1 billion annual budget) and 2 years were heading Environment (also less than $1 billion annual budget)

  • Roots in the Liberal Party: I don't think anyone as strong as roots in the Liberal Party than Kennedy except for Volpe and, arguably Ignatieff. Rae was an elected New Democrat as recently as 1996 and joined the Liberal Party only in 2006. Dion was not active in politics, as far as I can tell, before he was drafted to the Chretien cabinet in 1996. Brison joined the Liberal Party in 2003 after a life as a Progressive Conservative. Dryden was mentioned as recently as 2003 as a potential leadership candidate for the PCs, how serious this would have been I don't know, but obviously shows he wasn't a known Liberal. Hall Findlay, I believe joined the Liberal Party in the 2000s (perhaps as recently as 2004?). Michael Ignatieff was active in the party in his college years and can't really be faulted for not being a member in recent years because due to his non-residency he was not eligible.

  • Party Infighting: Kennedy's leadership campaign is a strong blend of those who were on the Chretien and Martin side of past feuds. I have heard complaints that Kennedy is a Martin candidate from people I know in BC and a Chretien candidate from people here in New Brunswick and in Nova Scotia due to who is backing him. That sounds like he has a pretty good national blend. Rae is widely viewed as a Chretien candidate and Dion, though he has warmed up to and enjoys strong Martin support, was definitely on the Chretien side of the feud up to 2003.

  • Caucus Support: Kennedy enjoys the most support of any candidate but Ignatieff. Ignatieff who is an MP and has from day one been painted as the frontrunner is expected to do well in caucus. But Kennedy trumps the media's other favourite candidate Bob Rae by an obscene margin as well as all of the other candidates who are members of the Liberal caucus.

  • Vision: As far as I can tell Kennedy has released more policy than any other candidate save Dryden, though Ignatieff and Dion are fast on his tail. I like his policy, it is solid.
So, in summary, Kennedy is a great candidate in general and specifically to this race he is the best candidate by far.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Federal Liberal Leadership

The only post I can see that I've written not on New Brunswick politics was on the federal Liberal leadership back on August 9.

As a Liberal member, this is obviously an area that interests me. I have been following the race closely and am hoping to be elected this weekend as a delegate to the convention in Montreal.

Much as I did a lot of thinking about who would win in our 55 ridings in the provincial election, I have been doing a lot of thinking as well about who is going to win the most delegates this weekend for the Liberal leadership.

CalgaryGrit, Cerberus and DemocraticSpace have all come up with interesting methodologies.

Everyone puts Michael Ignatieff in the lead. CalgaryGrit and DemocraticSpace both put Gerard Kennedy in 2nd (and they both support him), while Ignatieff supporter Cerberus puts Rae in second with Kennedy in a close third.

They however are all projecting the first ballot at the convention in September. About 85% of delegates will be chosen in the Liberal "super weekend" that is right before us, while the other 15% are ex-officio delegates that automatically get to go to the convention based on their status in the party and do not have to declare who they will support.

I think it is very presumptious to guess who this 15% will support as they will likely have relatively fluid thinking as the candidates progress, as they raise or fail to raise money and, most importantly, based on how well they do on super weekend.

To me, the really big question is the Bob Rae campaign.

From people I have talked to Rae is nowhere in terms of on the ground organization. Despite this, he has tremendous support of big name thinkers and fundraisers in the party. He is also a darling of the media.

As I understand it, though the media has been painting Ignatieff and Rae as frontrunners from day one, this was not always the case for Rae. The media has created a self fufilling prophesy. The more they write that it is an Igantieff-Rae race, the more people who want to defeat Ignatieff support Rae thinking that that is their only option.

Notwithstanding this, based on this article and from what I have heard talking to fellow Liberals. It seems that only Ignatieff and Gerard Kennedy are running national campaigns. Stephane Dion is running something almost national, while Rae does not really have an organization in every province.

My prediction for super weekend is as follows:

Ignatieff - first place
Kennedy - close second place
(a fair bit of space between these two and the others)
Dion - third place
Rae - fourth place (very close to Dion, possibly these two are inverted)
(some space but not as much between 2nd and 3rd)
Brison - fifth place
Dryden - sixth place
Volpe - seventh place
(some more space)
Hall Findlay - eigth place

Now, though this might look grim for Rae (and maybe Dion), theoretically it is not. Rae and Dion both have very strong numbers among those ex-officio's who have come out and made statements of support. More importantly, Rae has the best fundraising machine - bar none - and this will be very important in translating delegates elected to delegates who actually pay their fees and make their way to Montreal to actually vote for leader.

Therefore, I think that if the convention were the day after super weekend, it could conceivably be Rae in second place (or at least a very strong third).

However, I wonder if the same media that pumped Rae up based on a simple glance at names on a sheet instead of an analysis of facts will ironically begin to take the wheels off of his campaign.

We could see headlines like: SHOCK: Rae finishes distant fourth and the like. Could these headlines send ex-officio supporters and worse yet donors away from Rae? And if so, does his campaign lose the ability to finish as strongly on the first ballot (still 2 full months and a bit away)?

Right now, I think it is unrealistic to talk about the first ballot. However, I think it is safe to say that Gerard Kennedy will not only finish second in delegates elected this weekend, but a strong second.

By the way, in the interests of full disclosure, I support Kennedy. If there is a desire from commenters, I would be happy to write up a post why.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Revised cabinet prediction

Based on comments from Premier-designate Graham in the media, I am assuming we will be looking at a slightly smaller cabinet than what is currently on the books. The outgoing Lord cabinet has 19 ministers, including the premier. I will forecast the Graham cabinet to have 18 ministers, including the premier.

Thus, I must cut two from the cabinet. There are two portfolios I will drop. 1.) a stand alone Minister of Labour; functions currently past of Post-secondary Education and Training will remain with Lamrock's portfolio, while the Office of Human Resources will return to its traditional home with the Minister of Finance. 2.) Tourism & Parks is a very small portfolio and one that under Liberal governments has tended to be a part of the Economic Development department, therefore I will peg Tourism to Business New Brunswick, parks may go there as well or may go to the Department of Natural Resources.

The two portfolios to trim was easy, trimming two ministers from the cabinet is more difficult.

First, I will withdraw Abel LeBlanc's name from consideration. The former longshoreman probably could be a liability in the cabinet with loose cannon tendancies, however I thought he would be an ideal candidate to negotiate with unions, having intimiate knowledge of the thought paterns and strategies of organized labour. Without a separate labour portfolio, it is hard to find him a home and, moreover, Saint John will have lots of representation anyway with MacIntyre and Doherty (and particularly if you count Schryer and Doucet as from "greater Saint John").

For the second minister to miss the cut, things become more difficult. We cannot remove anyone from Southeastern New Brunswick and the most logical woman to be left out, which I think would be a mistake anyway, is Cheryl Lavoie who seems to have accidentally confirmed she is in the cabinet today. It is hard to consider Carmel Robichaud as being from Miramichi and they would be very angry to be left from the cabinet table, thus John Foran must be included or he must be replaced with another area member.

The Upper St. John Valley through most of Restigouche County has only two Government MLAs and both must be offered a seat at the table, however, it is possible that Dr. Larry Kennedy would decline cabinet, as he has in the past, saving the premier a headache. Otherwise, the only remaining choice would be Donald Arseneault. So either Kennedy declines and Arseneault is in or Arseneault doesn't make the cut. I can't imagine Kennedy standing in the way of a young up-and-comer and I suspect he is still quite happy maintaining his medical practice, so I will say the second name off of my original list will be Dr. Larry Kennedy.

The resulting removal of members from the cabinet leaves us with the need to make some changes. Kennedy's departure frees up the Department of Supply & Services, LeBlanc disappears with a portfolio that I have removed, while Arseneault's Tourism portfolio has also vanished. It is not, however, a simple matter of giving Supply and Services to Arseneault as that file would not necessarily be a good fit.

So, here we go. Some people will not be moving, so we have the:

No changes

  • Greg Byrne, President of the Executive Council and Minister of Finance

  • Kelly Lamrock, Government House Leader and Minister of Learning, Employment & Innovation

  • Roly MacIntyre, Minister of Energy

  • Roland Haché, Minister of Health

  • Victor Boudreau, Minister of Education

  • Mary Schryer, Minister of Business New Brunswick and Minister responsible for the Status of Women

  • Mike Murphy, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Consumer Affairs

  • Dr. Ed Doherty, Minister of Family & Community Services and Minister responsible for Housing

  • John Foran, Minister of Public Safety

  • Cheryl Lavoie, Minister of Wellness, Culture & Sport and Minister responsible for Seniors

  • Bernard LeBlanc, Minister of Local Government

  • Carmel Robichaud, Minister of Fisheries

  • Rick Doucet, Minister of Agriculture & Aquaculture

And as a result of shuffling around my previous portfolios, we get the following changes:

Hédard Albert, Minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation and Minister responsible for the Northern New Brunswick Initiative

With the Liberal focus on the economy and on economic development, it makes sense to give RDC its own minister (as was the case under previous Liberal governments), in the meantime the Charter for Change promises to "assign responsibility for the Northern New Brunswick Initiatve to a Minister with an economic portfolio."

Donald Arseneault, Minister of Natural Resources

No real reasoning here, it seems to fit Arseneault and some pointed out that having a Minister of Natural Resources doubling as Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs would create a conflict so I wanted to move this away from Burke.

T.J. Burke, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Supply & Services and Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs

As I've said in the comments, I can't imagine Burke not being the minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. As for the rest, I thought it would make sense to put Transportation and Supply & Services together as both are largely concerned with government procurement.

Ronald Ouelette, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for the Population Secretariat

I've given Ouellette responsibility for the Population Secretariat as he has had the immigration file in opposition. Environment landed here simply because it fit, not for a specific reason.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cabinet Making (Part III)

The art of cabinet making is one that varies from first minister to first minister. I am not sure how they do it but in my mind, first you choose the cabinet and then you assign the portfolios.

Here are the remaining members that I was relatively easily able to find slots for:

Hédard Albert, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation
Mike Murphy, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Consumer Affairs
Carmel Robichaud, Minister of Fisheries
Dr. Ed Doherty, Minister of Family & Community Services and Minister responsible for Housing
Abel LeBlanc, Minister of Labour
Rick Doucet, Minister of Agriculture & Aquaculture
John Foran, Minister of Public Safety

Here I was less sure and I doubt these choices will be correct:

Ronald Ouelette, Minister of Transportation
Donald Arseneault, Minister of Tourism & Parks and Minister responsible for the Population Secretariat
Larry Kennedy, Minister of Supply & Services
T.J. Burke, Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs
Cheryl Lavoie, Minister of Wellness, Culture & Sport and Minister responsible for Seniors
Bernard LeBlanc, Minister of Local Government

What about Deputy Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs?

I think that Shawn Graham may follow in the foot steps of Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty and not name a deputy first minister (though strangely enough, after 3 years without one, McGuinty appointed one today). If he does appoint one, it will have to be a Francophone and would likely be Roland Haché, though Hédard Albert would have an outside chance (Victor Boudreau is ruled out by being virtually next door to the premier).

As for minister of intergovernmental affairs, this could end up anywhere. It may rest with the premier or it could go to the Health or Finance Minister because of their ministries being so connected to federal affairs. I will leave this one up in the air.

Women in the legislature or lack thereof

A lot of people have talked about the lack of women in the legislature and the Telegraph-Journal ran a piece on it today on page A1. I'll give some selected quotes:

Seven female MLAs is actually a slight improvement from the six female MLAs who held office when the legislature was dissolved last month.

Inside the new Liberal government, however, there will only be three female MLAs.


At one point, five female MLAs served on Bernard Lord's Conservative cabinet, but at best there will be three women on the new executive council.


The Conservative benches will have four seasoned female MLAs after Madeleine Dubé, Rose-May Poirier, Joan MacAlpine-Stiles and Margaret-Ann Blaney won re-election.


The commission recommended that financial incentives be provided to political parties in which women comprise 35 to 40 per cent of the candidates in the preceding provincial election.

Neither the Tories, nor the Liberals came close to meeting this mark in 2006. The Liberals had 10 female candidates on the ballot, while the Conservatives had eight.

The New Democratic Party, led by NDP Leader Allison Brewer, did the best overall with 15 female candidates seeking election.
Though I am a man, I have not been blind to the disgrace that is our system that well into the first decade of the 21st century sees 7 MLAs elected to the legislature - a feat first accomplished in 1987, so here we are stalled after 20 years - a mere 12.7% of members. It really is a sad state of affairs.

However, I have to give full marks to the Liberals (pause for groaning from the non-Liberal readers) which is something this article fails to do.

Though the Liberals ran only 10 and the Tories ran only 8 we need to look at the bigger picture.

The Liberals and Tories both had 25 incumbents. For the Liberals 1 was a woman, for the Tories 5 were. So The Liberals ran 9 new women, while the Tories ran only 3. 30% of the non-incumbent Liberal candidates were female. That is not too bad.

Also, the Liberals appointed someone to head up recruitment of women and had a great deal of success. Something that is not pointed out in this article is that in the 30 ridings the Liberals did not have incumbents, there were 20 riding where women came forward. However, of those 20, 11 lost their bids for the nomination.

A lot of work is left to be done, but I do commend the Liberal Party for their concrete efforts that got them to third base but not all the way around.

Politics is neither horse shoes nor hand grenades so being close does not really count, but you have to give the Liberals top marks for effort.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cabinet Making (Part II)

Keeping in mind that Shawn Graham ran on "Energy, Education and the Economy" these portfolios will go to his most prominent ministers.

Thus the "inner cabinet" if you will will be the Premier, ministers for the above 3, and of course the always important Finance Minister and Health Minister and the Government House Leader who will have to navigate through a complicated and close House.

So, here is a bold prediction:

Shawn Graham, Premier of New Brunswick

Now that the hard stuff is over... the the big six, I think five would be:

Greg Byrne, Kelly Lamrock, Roly MacIntyre, Roland Haché (who with Byrne co-chaired Graham's leadership campaign), Victor Boudreau

Some have suggested that Roly's recent health problems would keep him from a senior role but I cannot imagine that he would have run if he didn't plan to play a big role.

The sixth I think would either be Hédard Albert, Mike Murphy or a woman. There was some controversy over Carmel Robichaud who has the more experience and would be a good fit for education so she is a possibility or maybe Mary Schryer.

I also think Shawn will name someone else to be President of the Executive Council as Frank McKenna often did.

So depending on whether or not I get the six right, the rest of this prediction will fall apart.

I will put my money on Schryer for number six.

So, the big six:

Greg Byrne, President of the Executive Council and Minister of Finance
Kelly Lamrock, Government House Leader and Minister of Learning, Employment & Innovation
Roly MacIntyre, Minister of Energy
Roland Haché, Minister of Health
Victor Boudreau, Minister of Education
Mary Schryer, Minister of Business New Brunswick and Minister responsible for the Status of Women


Bryne is the obvious choice for Finance and the power I suspect he will have in this government will be similar to that of Greg Sorbara in Ontario who has played a similar role working with Dalton McGuinty up to forming the government as our Greg has.

Kelly's ministry was discussed in my last post and his role as House Leader is obvious.

Energy makes sense going to Saint John in any event and particularly considering Shawn's plans for the department and Roly spent some time as Energy Critic.

Roland is in line for an important role and it would be helpful for the Liberals to have a northern francophone as Minister of Health who is not from a Peninsula riding.

Victor spent 1995-1999 as executive assistant to Minister Bernard Richard who was Education Minister from 1998-1999 so he obviously knows the files.

Mary Schryer was left with the "left over" Business portfolio. Her experience in the financial sector will have given her experience with business and start up funds one presumes and this, much as it was under McKenna, will be a portfolio run in large part from the premier's office. Thus it gives her profile but also support from the top dogs if she needs it as she gets her feet wet in provincial government. As the most high profile woman in the cabinet, status of women makes sense as an add on.

So, that leaves us with:

Hédard Albert
Mike Murphy
T.J. Burke
Cheryl Lavoie
Carmel Robichaud
Mary Schryer
Ronald Ouelette
Larry Kennedy
Bernard LeBlanc
Ed Doherty
Abel LeBlanc
Rick Doucet
Donald Arseneault
John Foran

And the following portfolios (some of which will be doubled up).

Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Attorney General
Minister of Justice and Consumer Affairs
Minister of Public Safety
Minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation
Minister of Supply & Services
Minister of Transportation
Minister of Natural Resources
Minister of Agriculture & Aquaculture
Minister of Fisheries
Minister of Wellness, Culture & Sport
Minister responsible for the Population Secretariat
Minister of Family & Community Services
Minister responsible for Seniors
Minister of Labour (Office of Human Resources & WHSCC)
Minister of the Environment
Minister of Local Government
Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs
Minister of Tourism & Parks

Stay tuned for Part III.

Cabinet Making (Part I)

Current cabinet has 19 members (including Premier).

Graham is adding 1 (Spilting Agriculture, Fisheries & Aquaculture) while the posts of minister "responsible" for Seniors and minister "responsible" for Housing are unlikely to be stand alone ministers but instead be added on to others.

I also expect that Graham will appoint a minister of labour, however that may roll up in with the Office of Human Resources and parts of Training and Employment Development. Thus this is a net gain of 0.

Kelly Lamrock was critic for "Learning, Employment and Innovation". Watch for Training & Employment Development to get some new teeth and money for R&D and for him to be the minister here.

So now, we are expecting a cabinet of 20. Who is in?

The obvious
Shawn Graham
Greg Byrne
Kelly Lamrock
Hédard Albert
Victor Boudreau
Roland Haché
Mike Murphy
Roly MacIntyre
T.J. Burke

The have-tos
Cheryl Lavoie (one of three women)
Carmel Robichaud (one of three women)
Mary Schryer (one of three women)
Ronald Ouelette (one of two MLAs between Fredericton & Campbellton)
Larry Kennedy (one of two MLAs between Fredericton & Campbellton)

With those 14, the remaining six would be chosen for regional balance

Bernard LeBlanc (greater Moncton)
Ed Doherty (Saint John)
Abel LeBlanc (Saint John)
Rick Doucet (rural Southwest)
Donald Arseneault (central north & youth)
John Foran (Miramichi)

So, statistics:
Women: 3 (all)
Francophones: 8
Anglophones: 12

North: 5
Miramichi: 1 (2 if you count Carmel Robichaud who I've assigned to the North)
Greater Moncton: 4 (all - this counts Shawn Graham who may be a stretch to include in Greater Moncton)
Greater Saint John: 5 (if you count Rick Doucet in Charlotte-The Isles)
Greater Fredericton: 3
Upper Valley/Northwest: 2

This is a good balance. Now comes the tricky part assigning portfolios. I will wait for some comments on my picks for the cabinet and then will come back to the table with portfolio assignments.

Surprising ommissions: Stuart Jamieson (who I think should be named whip, a very important post in this situation, and will perhaps join the cabinet as minister without portfolio which has been done for whips in a number of other provinces) and Eugene McGinley who I think would be the wide consensus candidate for Speaker unless a Tory could be lured to sit in the Speaker's chair.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another reason why Lord's argument was senseless

Prime Minister Harper just sent the following release:

Statement by the Prime Minister on the results of the September 18, 2006 New Brunswick Election

September 19, 2006
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the results of the election in New Brunswick:

“On September 18, the people of New Brunswick exercised their democratic right and elected the Liberal Party of New Brunswick to be their provincial government. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend congratulations to Premier-designate Shawn Graham and his team on their successful campaign and I wish him success in tackling issues of importance to New Brunswickers.

“I look forward to working with him to build a strong New Brunswick within a strong Canada.”


As I've argued before, if anything Harper will be more cooperative with a Liberal government as it will boost his credibility and help him win traditionally Tory seats like Fredericton and Saint John in the next election.

Election post mortem

So, I think I got a B+ or an A-... I got 87% of the ridings right. Not a great score considering a lot of them were foregone conclusions. Though my seat totals being almost bang on (1 too high for the Libs and NDP and 2 too low for the Tories) is a bit of solace I guess.

Fortunately, my knowledge of "my age, name and sexual orientation" is confirmed in that none of the ridings I equated with that area went the other way.

The map below shows the ridings I got right in pastels and the ridings I got wrong (with winning parties colour shown) in deep red and blue.

I messed up on 7 ridings. Of these 3 were in my "ridings to watch" column in which I did not have a huge degree of confidence and I think that that is ok.

They were:

From the "ridings to watch"...

Centre-Péninsule-Saint-Saveur - This riding was back and forth and around the block again several times through out my prediction and I actually had it down as Liberal in my first draft at a final prediction, however I didn't want to give the Liberals more than 30 seats as I thought that that was too optomistic so I moved it across the line. I was right about the 30 seats being about where the Liberals would end up, but should have moved Saint John Portland instead. Congrats M. Landry.

Saint John Portland - I was pretty confident that the Liberals would take this, Lord is strongly disliked in Saint John, this was the only Saint John proper riding that hadn't gone Liberal in 2003 and the NDP vote was likely to slip. However, Holder managed to pull it off and I tip my hat to him.

Fredericton-Silverwood - Whoops. I put this, hesitantly, into the NDP column but they weren't even close. Dennis Atchison got 11.6% and I didn't think it was possible under any circumstances for him to get less than 20%. Talk about misreading the riding. I did at some point some where say a win for Rick Miles was possible, but I didn't see it. I apologize to Mr. Miles and his team for underestimating them.

From "In my mind I feel confident, but I am somehow uneasy"...

Southwest Miramichi - I had this one in the Tory column from almost day one, but I always had it in the "leans PC" column until the very end. Something told me Rick Brewer would do ok here as he has been a very attentive and mindful constituency MLA and some of the folks in this riding would perhaps be turned off by the "elite" status accorded to Brent Taylor. Though Brent is by no means an elitist, tags like "former MLA", "sure bet for cabinet", "star candidate", etc could have given him that aura. Congrats Mr. Brewer!

From "I am confident"...

Dieppe Centre-Lewisville - A number of commentors advised me that Cy LeBlanc was in better shape here than I thought and evidently they were right. He won, albeit it narrowly with a 59 vote margin, but he still won. Congrats M. LeBlanc.

Charlotte-Campobello - I had this briefly in the PC column but became convinced as the campaign went on that the Liberals would pick it up. I was wrong. Congrats Mr. Huntjens.

From "I am 99% sure of the outcome"...

Woodstock - This was, to me, one of the biggest shockers last night. The rage in Woodstock over the hospital issue was intense. The rural areas in the riding are all to the south of the Town of Woodstock and many of them go to Fredericton for hospital needs and thus were obviously not as upset about this and were expected to make it a close race by supporting David Alward. I was surprised to see that the margin for the Liberals in the Town of Woodstock was not only not enough to put the Liberals over the top but also not enough to even make the race close. Mr. Alward won here with an impressive 13% margin! Wow! Congratulations sir!

Now that my prediction review is over, here are my other thoughts.

Very disappointing night for the NDP. For Dennis Atchison to get less than 10% and the leader to get only 12% in her riding blows my mind. Their popular vote is their lowest since 1974 - their second election and just after a major internal battle with "The Waffle". With no seat, that showing and few leadership prospects, it may be difficult for the third party to make a recovery. I wish them the best of luck.

Tanker's margin of defeat was quite a shock to me. A lot of people said he would hang on, though I was confident that that wasn't the case, I never would have guessed that he'd lose by 19.5%!

Only two cabinet ministers (Fowlie and Green) were defeated. This means that Lord/whomever succeeds him will have a very strong opposition team at least in terms of corporate memory and understanding of what files are where in departments.

Watch for my predictions on cabinet making in the next day or so.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Election Night commentary

8:29 - NDP leads in Caraquet eh? Only one poll but a very wide margin. I may have to eat a fair bit of crow served up by Alvy Singer.

8:42 - Anti-NDP bias at the CBC? They've been showing Caraquet as NDP for over 20 minutes but there is no sign of that on their graph at the bottom of the screen?

8:50 - NDP declared elected in Caraquet by CBC but still not on the graph????

8:52 - THANK GOD! CTV projects a Liberal government and, CTV also has called Caraquet for the Liberals. Seems that perhaps the CBC has their Liberal and NDP numbers inverted for Caraquet?

8:55 - CBC calls a Liberal majority!!!

9:01 - Fredericton-Silverwood called for the Liberals? Whoops... Congrats Mr. Miles!

9:20 - Brewer is conceding saying they won because they delivered their message of hope. Not to be harsh but she got only 12% in her riding, and got the lowest share of the popular vote for the NDP since 1974.

Election Day

Thank you one and all who have been reading my blog since I started about six weeks ago. I really am amazed at the number of people who have dropped by and read and especially those who have taken the time to comment either on the blog or by email.

For those of you who have enjoyed the blog, do not worry, I am sticking around with a bit more broader scope than just New Brunswick politics.

But, that is not the purpose of this post.

The polls will be opening shortly. For those of you who voted by advanced or special ballot, good on you for doing your civic duty. For those who haven’t, please make sure you take the time to vote. The polls are open until 8 p.m. and I implore you all to exercise your democratic rights. There is no excuse for being too busy. Under section 86 of the Elections Act you are entitled to “three consecutive hours for the purpose of casting (your) vote” (

For those of you who are not living in New Brunswick, please make sure you remind your friends and family of the importance of voting. In the last election, quite a number of ridings were decided by less than 100 votes. Your vote does count.

If you do not like any of your candidates, send the system a message by spoiling your ballot.

To all of the candidates who have put their names on the line in the name of democracy, I say thank you and wish the best of luck.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Final Predictions

Here is a list of all of the ridings, organized by my level of confidence.

I am more sure of the fate of this riding than of my age, name and sexual orientation

Nigadoo-Chaleur (Lib)
Nepisiguit (Lib)
Miramichi Bay-Neguac (Lib)
Shediac-Cap-Pelé (Lib)
Moncton North (Lib)
Albert (PC)
Saint John East (Lib)
Charlotte-The Isles (Lib)
Oromocto (PC)
Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak (Lib)
Carleton (PC)
Victoria-Tobique (Lib)
Madawaska-les-Lacs (PC)

TOTAL: Lib 9, PC 4... can't we stop here?

I am 99% sure of the outcome

Dalhousie-Restigouche East (Lib)
Caraquet (Lib)
Lamèque-Shippagan-Miscou (PC)
Tracadie-Sheila (PC)
Kent (Lib)
Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe (Lib)
Moncton Crescent (PC)
Petitcodiac (PC)
Riverview (PC)
Saint John Harbour (Lib)
Saint John Lancaster (Lib)
Fundy-River Valley (Lib)
Grand Lake-Gagetown (Lib)
Fredericton-Nashwaaksis (Lib)
New Maryland-Sunbury West (PC)
Woodstock (Lib)
Grand Falls-Drummond-St. André (Lib)
Edmundston-St. Basile (PC)

TOTAL: Lib 11, PC 7

I am confident

Campbellton-Restigouche Centre (Lib)
Miramichi Centre (Lib)
Tantramar (PC)
Dieppe Centre-Lewisville (Lib)
Hampton-Kings (PC)
Saint John-Fundy (Lib)
Rothesay (PC)
Charlotte-Campobello (Lib)

TOTAL: Lib 5, PC 3
RUNNING TOTAL: Lib 25, PC 14 - this number as minimums and all of the numbers above I think I can go to the bank with... an electorate can be unpredictable so I am less certain below

In my mind I feel confident, but I am somehow uneasy

Miramichi-Bay du Vin (Lib)
Southwest Miramichi (PC)
Moncton East (PC)
Kings East (PC)
Quispamsis (Lib)
Fredericton-Lincoln (Lib)

TOTAL: Liberal 3, PC 3

Toss ups - "nbpolitico's ten ridings to watch"

I've come to a bare Liberal majority so assuming some margin of error, the election will be won on the following ridings or, at least, the size of Shawn Graham's majority will be:

Bathurst (Lib)
Centre-Péninsule-Saint-Saveur (PC)
Rogersville-Koucibouguac (PC)
Kent South (PC)
Moncton West (PC)
Saint John Portland (Lib)
Fredericton-Silverwood (NDP)
York (PC)
York North (PC)
Restigouche-la-Vallée (PC)


So, essentially, I am predicting the Liberals will get at least 28 seats (though it could be 25 if the wheels fall off) and if people sense a Liberal win, the final 10 "ridings to watch" (of which I have 2 going Liberal for a total of 30) all could flip Liberal with an upward maximum of 38.

Thus, the Liberals have a heavy edge with a maximum margin of 38, while the Tories, in my view, could do no better than 30 (all the too close seats as well as three more where my gut is uneasy).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Shawn Graham vs. Bernard Lord

A number of readers, the Tory camapign and some in the media have often spoken about Shawn Graham's "weak leadership" and questioned whether or not he was ready to be premier.

I have always found this rather amusing. It was just over 7 years ago that Bernard Lord won a massive majority government and, at the time, there were similar questions about his ability to lead.

It really is not fair to compare Bernard Lord now, after 7 years in office, to Shawn Graham now. Whenever you elect a new premier, you are taking something of a leap of faith due to inexperience. I can't imagine any two-term premier who was less ready to be in office than a rookie to that job.

So, really, New Brunswickers made a choice in 1999, and now they have to make a choice in 2006. Is Shawn Graham a good choice?

My answer is yes, he is more prepared for office than Bernard Lord was when he was elected. Moreover, he has a far stronger team than Lord has ever had and I honestly believe that despite Shawnisms or anything else, his heart is in the right place and his big goals for New Brunswick are the kind of out-of-the-box and forward thinking that we need today.

Now lets compare:

Bernard Lord in 1999Shawn Graham in 2006
Two degrees: A bachelor of social science and a bachelor of lawsTwo and a half degrees: A bachelor of physical education, a bachelor of education and part of a masters of business administration (he was studying part-time as an MLA but had to forfeit the studies when he was elected Liberal leader)
Political experience
Defeated candidate for Dieppe town council (1995); defeated candidate for the Legislature (Dieppe-Memramcook, 1995); Leader of the PC Party for 1.5 years (elected fall 1997); Leader of the Opposition and MLA for 8 months (elected to legislature October 1998)Senior staffer to a Minister of the Crown; MLA for 8 years (since October 1998 - the same day as Lord); Leader of the Liberal Party and of the Opposition for over 4 years (elected May 2002)
Strength of team
8 incumbent MLAs; 1 candidate formerly an MLA; no one with provincial government experience since at least 1987; no former cabinet ministers as candidates; "B team" slate of candidates chosen when party expected to have no chance to win; no one with federal government experience since 1993; campaign manager from Ontario with federal and provincial campaign experience (John Laschinger)25 incumbent MLAs; 3 candidates formerly MLAs; no one with provincial government expereince since 2002 (former civil servants) / 1999 (political officials); 4 former cabinet ministers as candidates; "A team" slate of candidates selected when party sure it would win; federal experienced staffers from 2006; campaign managers from New Brunswick, one NB Liberal Party executive director (Dana Clendenning), one former cabinet minister (Doug Tyler)

On the question of who is more ready to be premier, the answer is obviously Bernard Lord with 7 years in office. However, if you compare Shawn Graham today to Bernard Lord when he was first elected it is obvious that Shawn Graham and his team are far more ready to take office.

That leaves a question of vision, and I think that Shawn Graham's optomostic outlook for New Brunswick and comprehensive platform are a far, far better choice than Bernard Lord's tired government, led by a man who would not work with the legislature he was elected to lead in 2003 and who is anxious to move on to federal politics where he thinks he is more appreciated and who could only manage a platform with one deliverable for every 73 days in office.

I'm supporting Shawn Graham and the Liberals and I encourage you to do the same.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Getting closer...

Restigouche-la-Vallée - Leans Lib to leans PC

Though my analysis assures me that, all things being equal, this seat should slip Liberal. The massive consensus of media and other bloggers coupled with the Omnifacts poll showing the Tories dominating in these parts seems to suggest that either my analysis sucks or all things are not equal.

Campbellton-Restigouche Centre - Too close to leans PC

This riding has a Tory history, I have received several emails telling me that the Liberal campaign is in trouble and the poll here shows that the PCs have a large amount of votes which I don't think are coming from the two Victoria County ridings and I think La-Vallée will be close so the Tories must be winning somewhere else and this is the only choice.

Bathurst - Leans Lib to safe Lib

Considering the Liberal dominance in the poll for this region, I think it is time to call this safe.

Caraquet - Leans Lib to safe Lib

Considering the Liberal dominance in the poll for this region and the lack of NDP support, I think it is time to call this safe.

Centre-Péninsule - Leans PC to leans Lib

The riding was going to be and is going to be a nail biter. I think that the poll for this region though pushes the Liberals over the top.

Tracadie-Sheila - Safe PC to leans PC

I don't think the Liberals are going to win here but the lack of the strong PC incumbent and a Liberal surge in this region could pull it red.

Miramichi Centre - Leans PC to leans Lib

I have received more tips on this riding than any other since I moved to to leans PC. Everyone says it is staying Liberal.

Tantramar - Too close to leans PC

I hear that the Liberal candidate is being outperformed by the PC candidate and that the NDP is going no where. It could get pulled into the Liberal column if their momentum grows, but for now I expect it to go PC.

York - Too close to leans PC

I really don't have much of a feeling for this riding, but the Tory lead in Central NB means they must be doing very well in rural areas, this district included.


I need some real guidance on Fredericton-Silverwood. I think in the end the riding could go any of three ways and there are different school of thought on how.

I think that the NDP is doing very well here and will win if the Tories can hold on to government. Ironically, if the Tories lose, I think a Liberal surge will steal NDP support and allow Brad Green to hang on.

Alvy Singer thinks that if the Tories win Brad Green will carry on but a Liberal surge will steal PC votes allowing the NDP up the middle.

Then there is always the possibility that a Liberal surge will allow, you guessed it, the Liberal to win.

Please share your thoughts!

Polls and predictions

Just the other day, I said I wasn't going to make any more predicitions (except for moving seats towards close to call) until my final prediction on Sunday. However, the reason for that was because a lot of things are in flux and I was going to use polls to help me make final calls in close races.

As a lot of my readers have pointed out, polls are often wrong and that is true (largely because they are a snapshot of time taken at least a few days before election day and because they have a margin of error). So, though my method is based mostly on instinct, history and reader tips, I am using polls to push a result one way or the other if I can't quite make a decision by myself.

Today, Omnifacts Bristol released their final poll, something I was not expecting until tomorrow.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to make a semi-final prediction. I will still leave some seats as leaners but I am throwing out my rules of moving a seat only one position per day and will play to leave these results as is (moving the leaners to safe) on Sunday. However, this will give me two days grace where my kind readers can warn me of blunders.

So, first of all, here is a poll round up:

Omnifacts Bristol (Sept 10-13, margin of error +/- 3.1%) - link

Decided voters: PC 30%, Lib 29%, NDP 5%, Other 1% (undecided 27%, refused 8%)
Decided voters + leaners: PC 46%, Lib 46%, NDP 7%, Other 1%

They also include very good regional breakdowns which I will elaborate upon later.

CTV Atlantic/Innovative Research Group (Sept 8-10, margin of error +/- 3.46%) - link (PDF)

Decided voters: Lib 32%, PC 31%, NDP 8%, Other 1% (undecided 14%, refused/not voting 15%)
Just decided voters: Lib 45%, PC 43%, NDP 11%, Other 1%

They provide less detailed regional breakdowns.

L'Acadie Nouvelle/Corporate Research Associates (Sept 7-10, margin n/a)

Just decided voters: Lib 44%, PC 42%, NDP 10%


My read of these numbers is a dead heat with a statistically insignificant edge to the Liberals. The Omnifacts Bristol poll, the only poll the surveys undecideds for how their vote is leaning, shows that the Liberals gain ground with leaners.

Considering that the Liberals lost the popular vote by 1% in 2003 and, with that, would have won under these ridings, then I think things are looking pretty good for the Liberals.

Here are Omnifacts Bristol's regional numbers:

Northwest (Victoria-Tobique, Grand Falls-Drummond-St. André, Restigouche-la-Vallée, Edmundston-St. Basile, Madawaska-les-Lacs, Campbellton-Restigouche Centre)

PC 53%, Lib 38%, NDP 9%

My analysis: This is a substantial lead for the PCs, though they are expected to be doing well here due to the large marjorities they will take in Madwaska-les-Lacs and Edmundston-St. Basile, I think they will definitely be claiming Restigouche-la-Vallée and possibly Campbellton as well.

Northeast (Dalhousie-Restigouche East, Nigadoo-Chaleur, Bathurst, Nepisiguit, Caraquet, Lamèque-Shippagan-Miscou, Centre-Péninsule, Tracadie-Sheila, Miramichi Bay)

Lib 55%, PC 38%, NDP 6%

My analysis: An even wider lead here than for the Grits here than the Tories have in the Northwest, this suggests that perhaps the Liberals can hold on to Centre-Péninsule and will hold Bathurst. The low percentage for the NDP means that either Caraquet was under sampled or they are not as much of a threat there as some suggest

Central (Carleton, Woodstock, York, York North, Fredericton-Nashwaaksis, Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak, Grand Lake-Gagetown, Oromocto, New Maryland-Sunbury West, Fredericton-Silverwood, Fredericton-Lincoln, Southwest Miramichi, Miramichi Centre, Miramichi-Bay du Vin)

PC 52%, Lib 38%, NDP 8%

My analysis: This large and bizarre conglomeration of ridings that are very heterogenous are hard to project based on these numbers. However, the large lead for the PCs will cause me to give them the edge in rural seats.

Southwest (Charlotte-Campobello, Charlotte-The Isles, Fundy-River Valley, Saint John Lancaster, Saint John Portland, Saint John Harbour, Saint John East, Saint John-Fundy, Rothesay, Quispamsis, Hampton-Kings, Kings East)

Lib 45%, PC 42%, NDP 10%

My analysis: I am surprised the NDP is so high here but they have a lot of strong candidates which may get 15 or so percent in a lot of ridings, I don't expect them to win anywhere.

Southeast (Petitcodiac, Albert, Riverview, Moncton North, Moncton West, Moncton East, Moncton Crescent, Dieppe Centre-Lewisville, Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe, Tantramar, Shediac-Cap-Pelé, Kent South, Kent, Rogersville Kouchibouguac)

PC 48%, Lib 46%, NDP 5%

My analysis: If you factor out ridings where the Liberals aren't players and ridings where the Tories aren't players, I think it gives a slight edge to the Liberals in battleground ridings

A post will follow with changes.

Grossly irresponsible journalism at the Times & Transcript

The Times & Transcript runs with the headline today "Lord leads tight race"; to paint a picture for you here is what the frontpage looks like:

You may be asking, "if the Tories lead by 5 points, then why is that headline irresponsible?"

Because they are reporting on the third go 'round of the Omnifacts Bristol panel, which is not a random sample and the decided voters of which are down to 364 people.

Omnifacts Bristol conducted another poll simultaneous with this revisiting of the sample (which I restate, is not a poll). Here is what the results were according to their words in their news release (which they were kind enough to send me):

A random poll of 1,065 New Brunswick voters conducted by Omnifacts Bristol from September 10-13 shows that the Progressive Conservative Party led by Bernard Lord and the Liberal Party led by Shawn Graham are tied in a dead heat at 46% support each. The New Democratic Party led by Allison Brewer is in third place at 7%.

These new results virtually mirror the findings of the latest in three polls of a panel of voters conducted over the past several weeks by Omnifacts Bristol for Brunswick News Inc. Results of the most recent panel poll may be found in today’s editions of the Times & Transcript, Telegraph-Journal and Daily Gleaner.
That is right, the pollster says that the panel survey can be equated with this poll - which shows a tie.

The Telegraph-Journal gives the random sample more prominence and at the bottom of the survey, when they cite the non-random panel, they quote Craig Wight, the pollster:

"It's tied," Wight said.

"The panel is showing the same thing as the new poll," he added.
In the Daily Gleaner also played up the newer random sample and I quote from the mid-latter part of their article:

"The other one, within the margin of error, is also saying tie. The numbers show the Tories ever so slightly ahead, but that's still a tie within the margin of error," he said.

The third and final installment of the survey of a panel of voters was released Thursday.

The latest results from that group put the Tories ahead with 42 per cent of voters, compared to 37 per cent for the Grits.

Even though the Tories look like they have a slight lead in the panel results, Wight says the results still point to a tie because of the margin of error.

"Statistically, it's a tie," Wight said.

The copyrighted panel survey is not a random sampling of the public. It revisited the 653 men and women who participated in the first Omnifacts survey.

A total of 443 people responded to the third poll, pegging it at just below a five per cent margin of error.
So basically, the Times & Transcript in their headline that says Lord is in the lead have misled New Brunswickers and ingnored what their own pollster has told them.

Another post on the poll, a round up of recent polls and the impact on my predctions will follow.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Another poll puts the Liberals ahead

Another poll conducted about the same time as most recent CRA survey shows the Liberals ahead by a similar margin.

The full poll is here (in PDF).

The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday (while CRA went Thursday through Saturday) and it shows the Liberals at 45, the Tories at 43 and, the real story in my opinion, the NDP at 11%.

With the undecides in, the results are Liberals 32%, PCs 31%, NDP 8%, Undecided 14%. Again, I think the NDP is the story here. For them to be at 8% of the decided vote is remarkable considering that they have not had the best of campaigns and that Elizabeth Weir is off of the map.

It shows that the NDP has 11% of the decided vote in and around Fredericton. The results for "Central" which likely goes to Woodstock/Harvey/Oromocto/Minto is as follows: PC 35%, Lib 27%, NDP 11%. That is 15% of the decided vote for the NDP in greater Fredericton... zoom into the city and I think that that means that the NDP could have a real shot in both Fredericton-Silverwood AND Fredericton-Lincoln.

It is also worth noting that PC voters seem to be slightly over represented in this survey. Asked who they voted for in 2003 and 46% said PC, while 42% said Liberal. A four point spread, when the results were only 1 point apart.

The poll also showed that while voters thought Lord won the debates, Graham exceeded expectations.

In summary:
  • CRA results confirmed

  • Good news for the Liberals

  • Great news for the NDP

Less and less certain

I am moving one more riding into more uncertain territory.

Caraquet - Hédard Albert is one of my favourite MLAs and he speaks with tremendous passion in the legislature. I think it would be a real shame for him to lose and, due to the hospital issue, I figured he was more than safe.

However, Alvy Singer believes the NDP has a real shot here and, though I don't think I am convinced of that, a strong NDP candidate splitting the "angry about the hospital vote" could allow a Tory to sneak up the middle.

I am going to move this to leans Liberal.

Bernard Lord to cut income taxes?

As promised, here is my post on Lord's 20th of 20 promises: an 8% tax cut.

It has been brought to my attention that it may not even be a tax cut but, we'll cover that later. First, I want to explain why I think a tax cut is just about the worst possible thing we could do in New Brunwick right now.

First of all, Bernard Lord has been cutting income taxes modestly since he took office. However in order to make up the difference he rasied gas taxes (which he now promises to cut by more than he raised them in the first place) and radically increased fines and fees.

If he plans to lower gas taxes and income taxes how is he going to make up the difference? Double our fees again? Slash spending in departments? What if the economy, which has been chugging along with unprecedented growth for over a decade slips? What about contingency planning? Bernard Lord used to keep a "rainy day fund" but he already used that up in to keep the books barely black a few years ago.

Lord's definition of balanced budget operates over a four year cycle. So, he can run deficits in as many as three consecutive years, if he can manage to post a surplus greater than the sum of those three deficits in the fourth year. I think that this is wreckless financial management because you can never predict for sure that you'll get a surplus in the future because many aspects of the economy and revenue generation are outside of your control.

Anyway, as Lord hasn't completed a second four year cycle, we have some difficulty determining whether or not he is in a surplus by his four year measure.

Let's look at Lord's record (from the Office of the Comptroller):

Net Debt for the Province of New Brunswick:
  • 2000: $6.9353b

  • 2001: $6.7820b

  • 2002: $6.6036b

  • 2003: $6.7129b

  • 2004: $6.8161b

  • 2005: $6.7783b

  • 2006: $6.6557b
o there are two ways of looking at this.

1. Lord has lowered the net debt by, and therefore ran a cumulative surplus of, $279.6 million. Not too bad, though that is only an average surplus of $46.6 million which is a bit thin in my view. Lord himself used to want to set aside $100 million per year for contingencies, something that has long since gone out the window.

2. After a good couple of years in office, Lord blew it big in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, though he has managed to improve since then, his last four years in office show a cumulative deficit of $52.1 million. It is Bernard Lord's own Fiscal Responsibility and Balanced Budget Act that talks about "the objective of the Government of New Brunswick that, in respect of each fiscal period, the total amount of expenses for that fiscal period not exceed the total amount of revenue for that fiscal period" where most fiscal periods are "a period consisting of 4 consecutive fiscal years". The act however, starts with a "first fiscal period" which " means the period of 3 fiscal years commencing on April 1, 2004 and ending on March 31, 2007". The logical here was to get these fiscal periods in sync with fixed four year elections. However, it would be unfair to judge a new government on the sins of its predecessor and the spirit of the law is clearly to run a balance over the four year period leading up to an election, something Lord has failed to do here.
I am not going to get into a semantic war of words about whether or not Lord has run a balanced budget over a course of several years. We know he has run four balanced budgets and two deficits. That is, on par, not too bad after all.

However, I am using these numbers to illustrate a point. Despite a rosy economy, the years of Bernard Lord have given us budgets bordering right on the line between red and black. Through these years he raised gas taxes and fees in order to maintain budgets in the black most of the time.

Now he is pledging to cut gas taxes and cut income taxes, even if the economy continues to go well, it looks as though it would become impossible to balance the books. This is not something I could support.

SO, if Bernard Lord is telling the truth and he intends to make these cuts, it is probably bad for New Brunswick BUT, then we get into the question of whether or not it is actually is a tax cut he is proposing.

What do I mean? Lord has confirmed that all he is promising is that the income tax rate for someone making $50,000 per year will be 8% less in 2010 than it is today. That will probably happen anyway due to the good piece of public policy the Tories brought in to fight bracket creep by indexing tax brackets.

I quote from none other than the Times & Transcript of September 13, 2006:

The province delivered its provincial budget this year on March 28. In it Finance Minister Jeannot Volpé announced a commitment to lower personal income taxes by five per cent. So the new offer is really an increase of three per cent over something the government is already committed to. But even then, the premier's quote requires closer inspection.

Volpé said -... the provincial income tax credit amounts and tax brackets will continue to be indexed to protect against inflation, "..."

The inflation factor used in 2006 is 2.2 per cent applied to the 2005 numbers. If one assumes that inflation will continue at two per cent for the next four years, you'd believe that pure arithmetic would take the voter to eight per cent with the budget already presented.

So what does that commitment mean? While no one knows the way the inflation factor is really going to unfold, take the current 2006 figures and factor in an indexation of two per cent until the end of 2009. Then calculate the provincial Basic Personal Amount difference between over the four-year period - $666 - and then multiply it by the lowest provincial tax rate - 9.68 per cent. You end up with a tax savings of $65. Then take the difference between the first tax threshold limit over the same period - $2,767 - and then again multiply it by the lowest tax rate and you have additional savings of $268 for a combined total of $333. If we subtract this amount from what the taxpayer remitted in 2005, you'd have a net tax due for 2009 of $4,377.

If we approach the problem from a different perspective and discount last year's tax bill by eight per cent, the amount due in 2009 will be $4,333 - or within $50 - and the reality is that inflation will probably be closer to 2.5 per cent than two in our projections.

Lastly, if we take the $50,000 and plug it into commercial tax software and allow for the standard deductions, it looks like the tax liability is $4,235 in 2009.

In this context the tax commitment appears to be easily achievable. One of the interesting things to point out is that the indexing seems to suggest that a taxpayer continues to get a break as there is an allowance for inflation.

But what if the taxpayer experiences a raise equal to the same inflation increasing factors as in our example? The 2005 income increases from $50,000 by 2.2 per cent in 2006 and 2 per cent through 2009. Our model taxpayer is now earning $54,227. Interestingly enough, the tax bill increases to $4,861 up from $4,710 in 2005 - even though all we've done is increased the brackets, credits and income by the same percentage.
And from the Times & Transcript of September 14, 2006:

Still, one expert says the Liberals and Conservatives seemed to be adopting similar policies.

Roger Haineault, a Moncton-based tax expert and a Times and Transcript columnist, said both parties are simply committing to indexation as well as offering several tax credits.
The Liberals have long been on the record in favour of tax bracket indexation and it appears that Lord is either pledging to maintain bracket creep or to axe it and replace it with a nominal tax cut that will give the same effect with a bit more fanfare.

So in summary, either Bernard Lord is irresponsible in promising a tax cut that will send New Brunswick into a deficit in violation of his own laws or Bernard Lord is dishonest and is trying to mislead New Brunswickers into believing he is promising either the status quo or a new measure which will result in the same effect as the status quo.

Neither sounds very good to me. Here is what Shawn Graham said:

I love income-tax cuts, every New Brunswicker would love to have the ability to pay no tax, bBut we also have a responsibility to invest in our children with our education programs, we also have a responsibility to fund a public health care system and that's why we have to take a prudent approach.

As we continue to grow our economic base and generate the revenues to build a self-sufficient province, then there will be capacity within the budget to look at income-tax cuts, but we have to achieve the first goal and that is to build the economy, build our education system and that's what I'm committed to do.
That sounds like reasonable and sound public policy. What do you think?

I'll just post this quote and allow you to judge...

Bernard Lord from today's Telegraph-Journal:

He also suggested Graham's pledge to wean New Brunswick off equalization by 2025 is an empty election promise.

"I want to be off equalization by 2024. What does that mean?" he said. "We all want to be off equalization. The fact is ever since there has been an equalization program in Canada, New Brunswick has received some form of equalization. I wanted to be a professional golfer when I was young."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Some quick changes

As we approach the finish line, I expect that there will be a lot of manouvering on the part of the parties, potential gaffes and big moves, and lots of other things no one can predict.

I am fairly confident with most of my safe seats right now and until my final prediction on Sunday, I am not going to make any more safe calls. Nor will I make anything safer (no too close to calls will move to lean). However, in cases where I think the race is more open than I thought, I'll make those changes so, here are three:

Rogersville-Kouchibouguac - For some reason, I thought the margin here in 2003 was over 1200 votes, but in fact it was just over 200. A ~100 vote margin in 1999 and a ~200 vote margin in 2003 + redistribution that would have made the seat a Liberal victory in 2003. I am moving it from safe PC to leans PC.

Moncton East - I know I will be accused of partisanship, but I have received more than one email telling me that the students at UdeM are being very effectively mobilized by Brian Gallant and his organization to come out and vote Liberal. If the government changes, then this seat will be really close. If the Tories are re-elected, so will be Lord but by an even narrower margin than 2003. I am moving it from safe PC to leans PC.

Tantramar - With apologies to Alvy Singer and other NDP fans, I have it from a good source that, despite how it may look on paper, the NDP will finish third. I am moving it to too close to call only because of my rules I set above. Based on what I've heard of the Liberal candidates success here, I suspect if the NDP aren't taking off, it is leaning PC.

PC platform released

Bernard Lord released his platform today (5 days before election day, and one day after I noted its mysterious absence). It is an interesting approach.

Things that stood out to me:

  • He has a listing of all of his candidates and a focus on "The Team", this seems to be an unusual switch from his earlier strategy which was "All Lord, all the time". Maybe his polling numbers that show that Graham has closed the gap on his in leadership? All of a sudden, Lord is attacking Shawn vigourously and his platform is all about the team as opposed to the strong leader. Wasn't this campaign supposed to be about leadership?

  • I was amused that the platform begins with "At a policy convention held in Saint John, in April of 1998, members of the New Brunswick Progressive
    Conservative party adopted the following statement of aims and principles"... uhhh that was 8 years ago and before you were in power.

  • Looking for past success, this platform seems to be modelled on the 200 days of change from 1999. It has a 20 promise checklist.
So over all, I am very suprised by this platform. In that, it isn't really a platform. It has only 20 promised. Period. In 1999, the Tories had their infamous "200 Days of Changes" which outlined 20 things they would accomplish in their first 200 days in office. However, it was dovetailed with "New Vision, New Brunswick" and comprehensive electoral platform.

"Getting Results Together" is just some pictures of candidates, a summary of results (with shaky numbers), a summar of the 5-in-5 plan and then 20 promised.

In 1999, Bernard Lord delivered 20 promises in 200 days. This time he intends to deliver 20 promises over a mandate of 1461 days??? (assuming 4 years). And his platform is called "Getting Results"!?!???

I was going to break this down like the Liberal platform, citing some interesting planks, but where there are only 20 promises, here is how it breaks down:

  1. Cut Gas Tax by 30% - he raised the gas tax by roughly this amount since 1999

  2. Protect all seniors assets - the Liberals pledged this in 2003 and Lord campaigned against it, he has since voted against it in the legislature more than once

  3. Family Home Care Strategy - a good idea, kudos

  4. Comphrensive Diabetes Strategy - again, good, kudos

  5. $120,000,000 rural development fund - according to expert Donald Savoie, it should be a series of regional funds with a focus not a one-size fits all fund for all of rural NB

  6. Healthy Schools - I assume all parties are committed to solid infrastructure for schools

  7. Cap Property Tax Assessments - much like Lord did on the Sunday Shopping question, this downloads a problem to the municipalities rather than solving it

  8. Trades Training - Lord has failed to deliver on his own government report requiring more community college seats and has rejected the Liberal plan to increase the seats by 12,000

  9. Special Care & Nursing Home Funding - essentially a duplicate of the Liberal promise released simultaneously, kudos to both parties for good policy

  10. Enhanced Repatriation Strategy - considering Lord's record on this (a sandwich and a copy of the want ads), I guess that he is going to throw in a bowl of soup?

  11. $500 Tools Tax Deduction - according to my math, you would get $45 dollars in your pocket out of this deduction, a nice idea but a drop in the pot

  12. $500 fitness/culture participation tax deduction - see point 11

  13. Review of Workers Comp - the Liberals have called for this and the Tories have voted it down

  14. Lowers Class Sizes/More Teachers - every party has promised this for the past 10 years, for my analysis of Lord's results in this area, click here

  15. Child Care Expansion Grants - odd that if Lord wanted to increase the number of regulated day care seats, that he didn't sign on to the Liberal plan that would have given him money (even with Harper's cancellation) to do it until April 2007

  16. Job Search Allowances - this plan to give those on social assistances a bit of an overlap with some of their benefits to get back into the workforce is a great idea, however it was promised by the Tories in 2003 and not delivered

  17. A Forestry Action Plan - it has a some good ideas, kudos

  18. Medical Training - a reannouncment of medical training for Moncton and Saint John

  19. Environmental Pioneers Program (for schools) - might be ok, but is just fluff

  20. 8% income tax cut - this is such a bad idea, I am going to write a whole post on it
So there you have it folks, the entire Tory platform with my comments. 20 promises for 4 years.
Just some fun numbers to compare:

  • 270 - number of promises in the Liberal Party platform for 2006

  • 99 - number of promises in the NDP platform for 2006

  • 20 - number of promises in PC Team Lord platform for 2006
    And in case you think Conservative are, by their nature, conservative, and don't promise a lot, here are some more numbers:

    • 250 - number of promises in "Stand Up for Canada", the 2006 platform of the Conservative Party of Canada

    • 152 - number of promises in"Reaching Higher. Going Further.", the 2003 platform of PC Team Lord.
    And before you people jump all over me for being a Liberal hack, I want you to know (and you can choose to believe me or not) that I was planning to write a positive post about the good in the platform, but the lack of substance (I can't say it enough: ONLY TWENTY PROMISES) left me little room to be kind.

    So, if Lord serves 4 years, he is planning to accomplish one of his platform goals every 73 days. Wow. This is "Getting Results"?