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Six from the 6ix in early snow as 2019 winds down : Impeachment, Throne Speech, 1st Quarter, Birdhop at last

Posted: December 8th, 2019 | No Comments »
Jill Lepore, in her office in Robinson Hall at Harvard, keeping warm with a certain sternness for the political winter ahead.

At night, or very early in the morning, you feel the early December snow outside your window, and you contemplate half a dozen souvenirs of the strange year that’s winding down :

(1) Jill Lepore on “The Impeachment Hearings and the Coming Storm.” The Harvard historian who writes for the New Yorker (and has recently published an impressive fresh one-volume history of the USA today) has just revealed her honest understanding of the journey the US House of Representatives has now embarked on :

American historians have been asked for so long … Is this President really that bad? Is this unprecedented? Almost always, I bite my tongue. But, yes, he is that bad, and this is unprecedented … the abuses of office of which the President now stands accused are the very definition of impeachable … The madness lies in … how many people had to give up on the idea of democracy for things to come to this. The sadness lies in …. the unlikelihood of anything getting much better anytime soon … A farmer walks across a field, bracing against the wind. Hardness is what’s required to get through a political winter: determination, forbearance, sacrifice, not bitterness but a certain sternness.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Julie Payette (who he appointed in 2017), just before December 5, 2019 Throne Speech in Senate Chamber at Ottawa. In background in red dress is prime minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire.

It sounds like good advice to us.

(2) Meanwhile what about the Trudeau Liberal 2019 Throne Speech in Canada? To start with, the BBC back in one of the old-world “mother countries” doesn’t seem to have had much trouble figuring it out. See “Throne Speech: Six things on Trudeau’s to-do list.”

And the CBC here at home has summarized the only serious political reality right now (despite much other attention elsewhere) : “Tories, NDP won’t support throne speech but Bloc will back Liberals’ agenda if it comes to vote.” So the new federal minority government is certainly not going to fall right away (in case anyone really thought there was any chance of that).

(3) Looking back at our favourite counterweights article for January of the year about to end (soon enough) : “Starting 2019 with jazz at the Bluebird … It may well be that 2019 proves a difficult year on any number of fronts. But I was lucky enough to spend its first Thursday evening at one of the ‘top 21 new bars in Toronto’ … 2072 Dundas St W, at Howard Park.”

George-Etienne Cartier (left) and John A Macdonald (right) had taken money from railway interests in the Pacific Scandal, which prompted their Liberal Conservative government to give way to the Liberal Reformers in 1873 — inaugurating a political tradition in the Canadian confederation of 1867 that is at least still trying to persist to this day!

(4) Our favourite counterweights article for February 2019 : “Pacific Scandal is great grandma of SNC-Lavalin : but all ‘systematic organization of hatreds’ is obsolete today.” (Even if even we far northern North American political junkies had to spend far too much time entangled in these hatreds in 2019 — with scant relief in site for 2020?)

(5) Our favourite counterweights article for March 2019 : “‘While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’”. And our favourite passage from this piece is still : “Mr. De Leon’s March 25 tweet is in the tradition of the Great American Laughing-To-Keep-From-Crying Songbook : ‘Dear good white folks … I know that the the Mueller Report has been underwhelming. Do not despair. If necessary, please report immediately to a person of color near you. We are well versed in “Crazy Shit America Does” and have tons of “fucked by the system” experience. We can help.’”

Andrea Motis attends to an alto saxophone in Barcelona, as our Birdhop site in Toronto pays homage to jazz in Catalonia today.

(6) Finally, our companion arts and music site “Birdhop” has managed to pull its latest international jazz enthusiasms together (as too long promised) in “Remembering ‘Petite Fleur’ : Sidney Bechet, Andrea Motis, and the remarkable Municipal School of Music in Barcelona.” We quote from the vaguely anonymous author’s conclusion :

“With Europe and America at the 70th NATO summit clouding my mind, I find it o-so-warmly reassuring to see how some of the seriously great things the USA has given the universe are being cultivated in 2019 in Catalonia …

“Today Catalonia may or may not really want to be a part of Spain. Not altogether unlike Quebec in Canada, Canadians are bound to think. As the early snow rises around us in this year of climate change, crazy politics, and the 2-faced nice guy … still much admired on the street where I live.”

And we here “@counterweights … Canadian Political Magazine … Democracy in North America … Peace (and free trade) in the Global Village” will return soon enough, with at least our favourite counterweights articles for the last nine months of 2019!

On continuing the new liberal era in Canada (with minority government sworn in at slightly less formal Tent Room?)

Posted: November 25th, 2019 | No Comments »
MP for Saint Boniface-Saint Vital in Manitoba, Dan Vandal, from “a Métis family in Winnipeg,” is sworn in as a new stand-alone Minister of Northern Affairs in Justin Trudeau’s latest cabinet, at the Tent Room in Rideau Hall, Ottawa, November 20, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press.)

Just before the November 20, 2019 swearing-in of the new Trudeau Liberal minority cabinet — in the “Tent Room” at Rideau Hall in Ottawa — the counterweights editors brought a piece I did on the swearing-in of the first Justin Trudeau cabinet four years ago to my attention.

It was posted on November 7, 2015, under the headline : “On the new era in Canada .. Alexandre Trudeau, Mélanie Joly, Harjit Sajjan, and Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould.”

I was asked : what are the big differences between now and then?

Others have of course been asked the same question by other editors, and replied more promptly. During the afternoon of November 20 I seem to have heard more than once on TV that 2015 was “cinematic” and 2019 is “pragmatic,” or words to that effect.

For slightly later reporting see, eg : “Who is in Justin Trudeau’s 2019 cabinet” ; “7 new faces at cabinet table as Trudeau unveils his inner circle” ; “Reaction and quotes about the new Liberal cabinet” ; and “How Trudeau’s cabinet has changed since his first trip to Rideau Hall.”

Canadian federal Cabinet appointed November 20, 2019 — “the strong, diverse, and experienced team that will work together to tackle the big issues that matter to people from coast to coast to coast … making life more affordable for the middle class, taking action on climate change … keeping our communities safe” (PM Justin Trudeau). PHOTO : ADAM SCOTTI.

For the official list in “order of precedence” (a complex concept that I wouldn’t try to explain myself) CLICK HERE. And note as well “Trudeau seeks to keep eyes on Prairies with new role for Winnipeg’s Jim Carr” — regarding a former minister with unfortunate health issues who nonetheless remains of if not exactly in the cabinet.

Same Trudeau II era with more seasoned realism?

My first thought of my own about my November 7, 2015 article and now is that there really was the start of a “new era” back then.

What follows in 2019 will certainly be different in other ways. But it will still be a continuation of the Justin Trudeau Liberal era in Canadian federal politics — even though in 2019 PM Justin Trudeau (like his father on his second election as Liberal leader in 1972) has managed only a minority government with an uncertain shelf life.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier of Ontario Doug Ford share a laugh after Ford spoke French during a meeting in Ottawa on Nov. 22, 2019.” ADRIAN WYLD/CANADIAN PRESS.

Some of the new-era “sunny ways” optimism of 2015 has no doubt been superceded by a more seasoned realism as well. Jody Wilson-Raybould may be the clearest case in point. She did win re-election in Vancouver Granville in 2019 (with just under a third of the vote in a six-candidate local race). But she is now the sole Independent in the new House, and no longer eligible to sit in a Liberal cabinet (having wittingly or otherwise done her best to harm her former party’s fortunes in the SNC-Lavalin affair, pushed so hard by the Scheer Conservatives).

I seem to have four further quick thoughts as what happened last Wednesday settles into mind several days hence (here in Canada’s present largest metropolis at least, far away from any thoughts of winning the Vanier or Grey Cups) :

(1) The most intriguing feature of the new cabinet is the elevation of Chrystia Freeland to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

The prime minister and his new deputy, at her swearing-in on November 20, 2019 (and after she put her arm around his waist!). Governor General Julie Payette looks on. REUTERS/Blair Gable.

The Liberals won no seats at all in Alberta and Saskatchewan this time around, and the more populous Alberta especially (Canada’s Texas etc) has many grievances over the latest rumblings in its oil and gas economic base.

Ms Freeland has been a star of the 2015 Trudeau cabinet, much applauded for her role in renegotiating the NAFTA trade agreement with Donald Trump’s volatile USA today. This past October 21, 2019 she won 51.7% of the local vote in the upscale Toronto riding of University–Rosedale in Ontario. But she grew up in Alberta, where her father is still a “retired lawyer” who “drives a combine and harvests Barley on a 6,000-acre farm in Peace River.”

What will happen on this front remains a matter of great fascination. For the time being see, eg : “Deputy PM Freeland to oversee relations with US and provinces in Trudeau’s new cabinet” ; “Don Martin: Freeland wins a waiver from PMO control” ; “Alberta wants a champion, Trudeau needs a saviour. Can Chrystia Freeland be both?” ; and “Has Justin Trudeau set up Chrystia Freeland to fail?” Stay tuned here, of course, of course … much much more to come …

(2) A new dynamic duo in search of some energy and environment symbiosis — Jonathan Wilkinson and Catherine McKenna

“Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna speaks at the G7 meetings in Halifax on Sept. 20, 2018 while Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson listens. Photo by Alex Tétreault.”

One of Justin Trudeau’s main policy themes seems to be the need for some fresh creative symbiosis on the frequently warring energy and environment issues. It’s like love and marriage in the old song : you can’t have one without the other.

To this end he has now put a kind of energy industry guy — Jonathan Wilkinson from North Vancouver, BC — in charge of the environment as Minister of Environment and Climate Change. (See “Jonathan Wilkinson and a stick of dynamite … Shannon Proudfoot: The new minister of environment and climate change has a very hard job—and an intriguing background well suited to it.”)

On the other side of the symbiosis PM Trudeau II has put former environment minister and green policy activist Catherine McKenna — from Ottawa Centre, Ontario — in charge of (presumably) such things as building oil and gas pipelines (in some degree at least?) as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

Who knows where all this will lead, of course? But it could prove interesting down the road. (Or like Jody Wilson-Raybould last time around, it may just not work out. But hey … “Justin” is at least trying to do something new and relevant on two difficult but increasingly urgent issues!)

(3) New kinds of cabinet ministers for new times? Two (or even three) 2019 appointments have been understandably enough mocked in some quarters, but nonetheless reflect another interest in and willingness to try something different in new and increasingly challenging times :

The Tent Room at Rideau Hall, unoccupied, with copy of state portrait of Queen Victoria in centre of wall.

Former Liberal House leader Bardish Chagger from Waterloo, Ontario as Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth ; Joyce Murray from Vancouver Quadra, BC as Minister of Digital Government ; and Mona Fortier, from Ottawa—Vanier, Ontario, as Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance.

It will no doubt take a while to see how and if these appointments work out, and whether they actually do bring some fresh weight and heft to new kinds of key current issues in Canada’s present free and democratic society (and in the federal bureaucracy in Ottawa).

Meanwhile, at least someone is trying etc. (And for too easy if understandable scepticism see “New Minister of Middle Class Prosperity declines to provide clear definition of middle class.”)

(4) Why the Tent Room in 2019 etc? According to Wikipedia the Tent Room at Rideau Hall, where the 2019 cabinet was sworn in, is typically “used for slightly less formal gatherings” than the Ballroom.

“Fans gathered at the Blue Bombers street party at Portage and Main following the team’s Grey Cup win. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press).”

The Ballroom is “the centre of state life at Rideau Hall” where “honours and awards ceremonies take place, members of the Cabinet are sworn in, ambassadors present their diplomatic credentials, and large-scale state dinners are held.”

Back in 2015 the Ballroom was where the new Trudeau Liberal cabinet was sworn in. And maybe the difference between 2015 and 2019 is finally summarized by the switch to the slightly less formal Tent Room in 2019! That at any rate is the note on which I’m concluding this slightly less formal report — from the grass roots of the present largest far northern metropolis.

(With big congrats to Calgary on winning the Vanier Cup in Canadian university football, and to Winnipeg on its first Grey Cup in 29 years in the Canadian Football League. Does this mean the present bout of Western alienation is starting to fade? Probably not … but … we are still jealous back here in the wilderness of Central Canada, if that’s any help at all.)

Looking towards Justin Trudeau’s new minority cabinet in Canada (with Ms Motis from Barcelona at the back of our minds)

Posted: November 17th, 2019 | No Comments »
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who told reporters after their meeting that his support ‘won’t come free,’ and he’s prepared for another election at ‘any time.’ The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade.”

It is somewhat agreeable to turn from the latest tweets on the sorta-civil-war front south of the northern US border to our slightly less antagonistic federal politics in what the Constitution Act, 1982 calls Canada’s present “free and democratic society.”

It is still more agreeable to turn from Canadian federal politics to some brief but compelling weekend YouTube adventures with the brilliant swing jazz prodigy from Barcelona, Andrea Motis — and her equally remarkable mentor and jazz educator at the Municipal School of Music of Sant Andreu, Joan Chamorro.

To get the only somewhat agreeable scene out of the way first, the next big event in Canadian federal politics will be the swearing-in of Justin Trudeau’s new Liberal minority cabinet, on Wednesday, November 20.

Then the freshly elected Canadian House of Commons will convene on Thursday, December 5. And Governor General Julie Payette will read the new minority government’s throne speech in the Senate, outlining its priorities. As explained by CTV News : “Traditionally, the vote on the throne speech is considered the first test of confidence in the House of Commons … considering the minority dynamics, the Liberals will need allies on the opposition benches to vote in favour in order for it to pass.”

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Fran?ois Blanchet at his West Block office on Nov. 13. Mr. Blanchet signalled where the Liberals can expect co-operation from his party … The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade.”

On all these matters we have quickly consulted, on the CBC and CTV sites : “Trudeau urged to give Freeland domestic portfolio, name her deputy PM” ; “May: Greens will vote against Liberal throne speech unless carbon targets toughened” ; “For the opposition, a dilemma: work with Trudeau, or cut him down early?” ; “Trudeau has a choice, work with NDP or work with Tories: Singh” ; “Would Blanchet go to Alberta to talk oil? ‘With pleasure’” ; “Blanchet spars with Kenney after meeting with Trudeau.”

Our initial quick and dirty sense is that the new Trudeau Liberal minority government is unlikely to fall right away on the throne speech. But how much longer it will last is no doubt anyone’s guess right now.

Both Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May seem to us to be pushing their initial demands harder than their actual numbers of seats in the Canadian House of Commons (and their current party treasuries) support. Yves-Francois Blanchet’s somewhat more weighty Bloc Québécois may be happy enough to help keep the new Liberal minority government led by a fellow Quebecer in office for some respectable length of time (18 months to two years on the historical experience?). And Mr. Trudeau probably can work sometimes with the NDP and other times with the Tories, despite Mr. Singh’s initial rhetoric. (Will even Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives vote against something crucial for the Trans Mountain Pipeline, eg?)

Andrea Motis playing “Petite Fleur” at 16.

Stay tuned for a further cautious assessment just before the December holiday season starts in earnest.

Meanwhile, listening to the 24-year-old Catalan jazz musician Andrea Motis and her mentor Joan Chamorro on YouTube this weekend has been both more entertaining and somehow more reassuring than keeping up with the latest North American political wrinkles (and much worse), even in Canada.

In some ways all this should be more properly dealt with on our presently o-so-gradually reviving companion site, BIRDHOP! Rumour has it that an article on “Remembering ‘Petite Fleur’ : Sidney Bechet, Andrea Motis … etc” has been planned for that cultural (as opposed to political — and economic) blogazine. And these few further words here are probably just a kind of teaser for this future article in another place, whenever it may finally get done in these too hectic times.

It may be best to start with a quotation from the often quite informative and not inaccurate Wikipedia : “Andrea Motis (born May 9, 1995) is a Catalan jazz singer and trumpeter who sings in Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese and English … From the age of seven, Motis developed musically at the Municipal School of Music of Sant Andreu, a neighborhood of Barcelona, becoming the school’s lead trumpeter and later saxophonist. In 2007, at twelve, she began to collaborate with the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, led by teacher and musician Joan Chamorro … In 2010, at the age of fifteen, she recorded an album of jazz standards, Joan Chamorro Presents Andrea Motis.”

Supporters of the Bloc Québécois in Canada could of course be happy about the Catalan separatist angle in Spain. (And Spain is having its own political crazy season on this and other fronts as well.) But what we find reassuring is how an assortment of often very young Spanish musicians of the early 21st century are bringing new life to the American swing jazz of the 1930s and 1940s. More will no doubt follow in the “Remembering ‘Petite Fleur’ : Sidney Bechet, Andrea Motis … etc” article on BIRDHOP, when it finally gets done.

Meanwhile again, here is a quick introduction to the subject on the remarkable musical resource that YouTube currently provides internet junkies like all of us :

(1) The best place to start is with the 16-year-old Andrea Motis’s quite enchanting rendition of Sidney Bechet’s 1952 classic “Petite Fleur,” as performed in Barcelona in 2011. Her mentor and teacher Joan Chamorro on this occasion is playing string bass. The youthful Ms Motis is playing a soprano saxophone — like Sidney Bechet himself. She also plays alto sax, trumpet, and sings beautifully (in four languages as above).

Andrea Motis (l) with Joan Chamorro (centre) and Scott Hamilton.

(2) Jumping ahead some four years — late 2014 or early 2015 — “Minor Swing” presents the altogether amazing young student musicians of Joan Chamorro’s Sant Andreu Jazz Band, aided by two senior musicians, the guitarist Jopsep Traver and the American swing tenor saxophone specialist Scott Hamilton. Andrea Motis plays trumpet here (and her younger sister Carla Motis also plays guitar). The piece features the young violinist Elia Bastida, underlining all its debts to the 1930s Quintette du Hot Club de France with legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli. (The work of violinist Elia Bastida, with a much smaller group including Joan Chamorro can also be sampled in a quite striking 2017 rendition of the Django Reinhardt classic, “Nuages.” Swing and other jazz in Spain today — even or especially in Catalonia — inevitably has European as well as American roots. And who would complain in the age of the global village?)

“Pedestrians cross Peel St. in downtown Montreal at the beginning of a major storm Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019… JOHN MAHONEY / MONTREAL GAZETTE.”

(3) Two numbers from 2015 offer intriguing sides of Andrea Motis’s work. In the first she plays alto sax in collaboration with the contemporary American altoist Jesse Davis, on the Duke Ellington classic “All Too Soon,” accompanied by the students of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band. In the second Andrea Motis sings the old American standard “Just Friends,” accompanied by the Andrea Motis Joan Chamorro Big Band — and of course in English.

(4) Just this past spring 2019 in Zurich, Switzerland the Andrea Motis Quintet (with “Josep Traver, guitarra ; Ignasi Terraza, piano ; Joan Chamorro, contrabajo ; and Esteve Pi, bateria) performed “Dan?a da solid?o.” Ms Motis sings (in Portuguese here, we’re guessing?) And plays trumpet.

Someone should invite some suitable version of these talented people to play for the swearing-in of the new Trudeau cabinet this coming Wednesday, November 20. (But of course too many taxpayers — in both official languages — would complain about the waste of scarce tax dollars, that could be better spent on pipelines and public pharmacare programs for all, etc, etc, etc, etc.)

Autumn leaves 2019 : watching US, UK, Canada from the northwest shore of the smallest North American Great Lake

Posted: November 8th, 2019 | No Comments »
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister (left) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are meeting in Ottawa in wake of 2019 Canadian federal election.

TORONTO, ON. NOVEMBER 8, 2019. FROM THE DESKTOP COMPUTER OF CITIZEN X. There was a little snow on the ground yesterday morning — unusually early in the season for Canada’s current largest metropolis.

(Between the former largest, still vital past in Montreal, and the future in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa-Gatineau, and beyond. The 10 Canadian Census Metropolitan Areas with the largest % population increase 2017–2018 included Peterborough and Kitchener-Cambridge- Waterloo in Ontario, Regina and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, and Halifax in Nova Scotia!)

Whatever else, the wild and crazy autumn of 2019 is also an unusual time for three of the many, diverse UN member-state narratives from which we the contemporary people of the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area view the new life of the 21st century :

(1) The American Republic next door. On what one Western Canadian correspondent has called “the train wreck south of the border” I think I feel about the same as I did a month or so ago, when I wildly and crazily came up with “Is Trump impeachment inquiry yet another boogie-woogie rumble of the dream deferred?” (October 4, 2019).

As of November 8, 2019, I would just add four further notes. The first two are embodied in the recent helpful Statista charts posted here : “US POLITICS : Do you think President Trump should be impeached?” (October 30) and “Impeachment: How Support For Trump Compares To Nixon” (November 6). What I take from these numbers is that what’s going on the USA today is more like at least a kind of civil war than anything else — and the analogy with what happened to Richard Nixon in 1974 is weak at best.

Two further notes point to first, a November 4 editorial in the Toronto Globe and Mail : “Donald Trump is a terrible person, but that’s not enough to stop him from being re-elected” ; and second, a November 6 piece by Michael Tomasky on the New York Review of Books website, called “A Dem for All Seasons?”.

Both pieces worry that the Democrats may be at least close to dropping the ball in the kind of civil war right now, and they come up with somewhat similar conclusions — though Mr. Tomasky’s inevitably draw on better inside knowledge (and a real commitment to progressive politics).

At the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa, 2018.

The (in a Canadian context rather conservative) Globe and Mail urges : “What will matter is whether white, working-class voters in key states believe that a return to adult politics won’t also mean the return of their perceived disenfranchisement and economic isolation … It won’t be an easy sell, unfortunately.”

Mr. Tomasky somewhat more optimistically concludes : “it might turn out that all this hand-wringing about the Democrats is misplaced … They need to put the Obama coalition back together. And they mustn’t choose between Obama-to-Trump white working-class voters and younger, more multiracial and “woke” voters. They need both.”

(2) There’ll always be an England — but what about the United Kingdom? Meanwhile, the wild and crazy world of Brexit across the North Atlantic — and everything else in current UK politics — now turns around the Thursday, December 12, 2019 election that close observers were predicting for some time before it was confirmed.

The new piece in the puzzle from my own limited-knowledge end of observation from a considerable distance has been my discovery of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s brain trust, Dominic Cummings. And a key source for me here has been a helpful article by the “British novelist and journalist” James Meek in the October 24, 2019 issue of the London Review of Books, called “The Dreamings of Dominic Cummings.”

“Boris Johnson (left) arrives at parliament on Thursday watched by his special advisor Dominic Cummings ? George Cracknell Wright/LNP.”

Cummings is, as explained by Wikpiedia, “a senior British political strategist and adviser. From 2007 to 2014, he was a Special Adviser to the then Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove. From 2015 to 2016 he was the Campaign Director of Vote Leave, an organisation opposed to continued British membership of the European Union that took an active part in the 2016 referendum campaign on that issue … In July 2019, new Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed him [to] the role of Special Adviser to the Prime Minister.”

Mr. Cummings has perhaps inevitably been compared to Steve Banon and Stephen Miller in the USA today. Yet my sense from a distance in both directions is that just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not finally as alarming and near-crazy a political leader as President Donald Trump, Dominic Cummings is a more impressive backroom big thinker than either Banon or Miller. Does this mean that the leader the London wits call BOJO is actually going to win the December 12 election and somehow resolve the current Brexit conundrum? My view would be : read James Meek’s article on Cummings (and/or even “Dominic Cummings’s Blog” — from at least one horse’s mouth) ; and then remember what William Davies said not too long ago in the London Review of Books — “Before very long, we will be witnessing an electoral showdown … only a fool would claim to know which way it will go.”

(3) November 8 : National Aboriginal Veterans Day in Canada. Canada is more sensible these days than either the UK or the USA — or so many among we Canadians think. (We recently more or less re-elected the Justin Trudeau Liberals, eg.) But …

Celebrating National Aboriginal Veterans Day at The Military Museums in Calgary, Alberta, 2019.

For one good introduction to the not-at-all sensible “Wexit rumblings” (echoes?) in the old British North America, see soon-to-retire CTV luminary Don Martin’s interview with Sandy Garossino on Canada’s Pacific Coast : “Where has BC been amid talk of Western alienation? … ‘We’re being held hostage by a bunch of guys on Facebook … If there’s a west, it’s in BC and we’re not going anywhere and we have no time for any of this.’” To which many on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario will of course just say Amen.

Finally note that today — November 8 — is being celebrated (or perhaps commemorated is the better word) as National Aboriginal Veterans Day in many parts of the geographically second-largest UN member state in the contemporary global village.

To cite Wikipedia yet again : “National Aboriginal Veterans Day is a memorial day observed in Canada in recognition of aboriginal [aka First Nations, Indigenous] contributions to military service, particularly in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. It occurs annually on 8 November … The memorial was inaugurated in Winnipeg [ancient homeland of the late great Canadian Métis leader Louis Riel] in 1994, and has since spread nationwide.” Note as well that “Canada” itself is an Aboriginal/First Nations/Indigenous word (as are, to become unbearably provincial and local, “Ontario” and “Toronto”). And so it is even progressive to commemorate and even celebrate the ancient warrior traditions of the most northern North America, and what they have so nobly done In Defence of Canada today.

What does it mean that second-term Prime Minister Justin Trudeau now seems to be using a Windsor knot on his tie?

Posted: October 30th, 2019 | No Comments »
Anne McLellan at the 19th annual World Partnership Golf Tournament in Edmonton, Alberta, held at the Glendale Golf and Country Club, early summer 2017.

Yesterday the media watching PM Justin Trudeau in the wake of the October 21 federal election reported that “Trudeau turns to two political veterans for advice on forming his minority government,” and “Trudeau taps French ambassador, Anne McLellan to aide in transition.”

(Canada’s ambassador to France, in case you are wondering, is Isabelle Hudon, not Anne McLellan, “a one-time Liberal deputy prime minister.” Ms Hudon is from Quebec, and Ms McLellan is from Alberta — two provinces that have in some degree protested against Mr Trudeau’s federal government in last week’s election.)

The prime minister has now visited Governor General Julie Payette (whom he himself appointed back in the summer of 2017, to take office on October 2 of the same year). As reported by the Canadian Press : “Trudeau and Payette were expected to talk at their meeting about a time for Parliament to reconvene, among other issues … The Prime Minister’s Office hasn’t released any details about what was said.”

We still don’t know just when Parliament will reconvene. But when it does there will be a “Speech from the Throne” in our old British North American lexicon. And the “first test of the Liberals’ ability to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons will be the vote on the Throne Speech, which will spell out the government’s priorities … ”

Meanwhile, when Justin Trudeau won his first (and that time a majority) Liberal government in 2015, “it took more than a month for MPs to be called back to Ottawa, though a new cabinet was sworn in far earlier than that … This time, Trudeau is taking longer to put together his cabinet.” It will be unveiled on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.

Justin Trudeau visits the White House on USMCA trade deal, June 20, 2019.

At the moment, when so much still remains unknown and subject to vast speculation, I find myself wondering about the implications for the political future in the recent change the prime minister has apparently effected in the method of tying his tie.

For evidence I submit two photographs. The first was taken when PM Trudeau visited the White House to bless the USMCA trade deal (aka NAFTA II) on June 20, 2019. The second is from his news conference in Ottawa, after the recent election, on Oct. 23, 2019.

In the first photo Mr Trudeau’s tie has been tied with what in my youth was jocularly known as a conventional reef knot (aka “Four in Hand”). In the second photo his tie displays some version of the more symmetrical Windsor Knot.

I don’t know exactly when the prime minister began using a Windsor knot, after this past June. It also appeared, as best as I can tell, during the election debates on TV. One way or another, the prime ministerial Windsor knot seems a fairly recent innovation, “tied” to the election campaign and then to the new post-election minority government.

What does it mean? Two over-imaginative possibilities have struck me.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, on Oct. 23, 2019. ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS.”

First, the Windsor knot is more symmetrical and even more disciplined than the easier and more conventional reef or Four in Hand knot. Does this imply that the new Trudeau Liberal minority government of 2019–???? will somehow be more symmetrical and disciplined than the old Trudeau majority government? I certainly do not know myself, of course, but …

Second, though the Windsor knot is said to have been invented (or at least inspired) by a British monarch (the old Duke of Windsor who was briefly Edward VIII or possibly George V, who is said to have founded the House of Windsor), my sense is that it is today more popular in North America than in the UK.

And does that mean the Trudeau Liberal minority government which lies ahead will be somehow more North American than, say, European or other Old World?

(And what does that even mean, even if it is true???? I certainly do not know myself. But I’ll continue to wonder, as I observe what will be going on in Ottawa over the next while — remembering all the time that things in Canada actually look more sensible than in many other parts of a troubled global village, in the somewhat wild and crazy autumn of 2019.)

A “Pearsonian Liberal” minority government, facing some big challenges but still with Justin Trudeau as PM

Posted: October 22nd, 2019 | No Comments »

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. OCT 22, 1:30 AM ET. [UPDATED 8:45 AM ET]. Very quickly, before we close the office board room with the big TV, and go home for some sleep :

This time the pollsters came pretty close. As reported at the moment on the CBC News site the Trudeau Liberals are leading or elected in 157 seats with 33% of the cross-Canada popular vote.

Mr. Scheer’s Conservatives have 121 seats with slightly more of the total vote (34%, dramatically concentrated in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where they won all the seats with one exception).

Yves-Fran?ois Blanchet’s Bloc Québécois won 32 seats — all in Quebec but with 8% of the total cross-Canada vote.

Mr. Singh’s New Democrats have 24 seats with 16% of the cross-Canada vote, and Ms. May’s Green Party has 3 seats with 7%. (And to show that this 2019 Canadian federal election really has covered all possible bases, one Independent has been elected — Jody Wilson-Raybould, with 31% of the vote in Vancouver Granville.)

The Liberals and NDP together have 181 seats — in a Canadian House of Commons where a bare majority is 170. Bob Rae and others, however, have suggested that what Prime Minister Trudeau now has at his disposal, given the exact numbers involved, is a so-called “Pearsonian” minority government, similar to the governments Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester Pearson ran after the 1963 and 1965 federal elections.

After the 2019 election, that is to say, the Liberals won’t seek any particular co-operative arrangement with the New Democrats or any other party. They will run their government on a case by case basis, seeking co-operation on particular legislation from whatever opposition parties are most appropriate for the case in question.

On this theory (which may or may not prove correct), none of the BQ, NDP, or Greens can be interested in precipitating a new election all that soon. And in dealing with the need for compromise over conflicts between energy and environmental policies the Liberal minority government may even once in a while appeal to Conservative MP s — especially those from Alberta and Saskatchewan, which have just elected almost nothing but Conservative members (except for one New Democrat in Alberta).

It may or may not be worth noting that the two Lester Pearson Liberal minority governments 1963–1968 are widely regarded by many students of such things as among the most successful governments in Canadian history : inventors (with help from various opposition parties but especially the NDP no doubt) of much of modern Canada today, from the independent Canadian flag to the welfare or service state, official bilingualism, and the diverse democratic society based on a multicultural immigration policy.

There is no doubt that the new second installment of Justin Trudeau Liberal government will face many challenges and will demand some co-operative, inspired, shrewd, and even visionary leadership from the federal prime minister and his government.

On the positive side Justin Trudeau has had a kind of baptism by fire over the past four years, from which he may have learned a few wise lessons. He has done better than his father did in his second election as Liberal leader in 1972. And he has now received both an endorsement from former US President Barack Obama during this 2019 election campaign, and on just winning at least a minority government warm congratulations from current US President Donald Trump! Having received support from President Barack Obama and congratulations from President Donald Trump, PM Justin Trudeau just may be up to the challenges he faces now

Who knows in any event just what great conundrums may or may not lie ahead over the challenging next few years? Our congratulations in any case to all the candidates who ran, coast to coast to coast over a vast geography, and everyone who worked on all the campaigns, and breathed real life into the great treasure of what the Constitution Act, 1982 calls our “free and democratic society,” in the true north, strong and free.

2019 Canadian election log, VI : ???? (or is it finally starting to gel as Lib minority gov that will last who knows how long??)

Posted: October 20th, 2019 | No Comments »
Key members of Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet on their way to being sworn in by Governor General Roland Michener, early summer 1968 : “From left to right: James Richardson, D.C. Jamieson, Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Marchand, Gerard Pelletier. (Photo: The Canadian Press).”

[UPDATED OCT 20, 10:30 AM, 1:45 PM, 5:00 PM, 11:30 PM ET]. GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. SUN, OCT 20, 2019. 2:30 AM ET. According to Barry Tango on Twitter — “According to Ekos: ‘There are many ridings where the Conservatives have a slim plurality but will now win because of Liberal–NDP contests.’ Unless you want to wake up Tuesday to Andrew Scheer as PM, you best seriously consider voting strategically.”

At the same time the latest NANOS “Nightly Tracking, three day rolling average” as we write early Sunday morning (“ending October 18th, 2019, Released October 19th, 2019″) shows the Liberals slightly ahead even in popular vote for the Monday, October 21 federal election : Libs 32.6%, Cons 30.3, NDP 18.4, Greens 9.3, BQ 7.1, PPC 1.9. [UPDATE 10:30 AM, 1:45 PM : As a sign of just how volatile things do remain, the NANOS “three day rolling average ending October 19th, 2019 Released October 20th, 2019″ shows Cons 31.5%, Libs 31.0, NDP 18.8, Greens 9.5, BQ 7.0, PPC 1.8!! Updates on other projections noted below are being inserted as they become available on this quizzical Sunday before the election tomorrow.]

Similarly, the last three [and now six] of éric Grenier’s CBC Poll Tracker seat readings as we write do suggest a Liberal minority government at least — October 18 : Libs 133 seats, Cons 123, NDP 41, BQ 38, Greens 2, PPC 1 ; October 19 (morning) : Libs 139, Cons 121, BQ 40, NDP 35, Greens 2, PPC 1 ; October 19 (evening) : Libs 141, Cons 121, BQ 39, NDP 34, Greens 2, PPC 1 ; October 20 (1:12 PM ET) : Libs 138, Cons 123, BQ 40, NDP 34, Greens 2, PPC 1 ; October 20 (4:01 PM ET) : Libs 136, Cons 124, BQ 40, NDP 36, Greens 1, PPC 1 ; October 20 ( 10:46 PM ET) : Libs 138, Cons 124, BQ 38, NDP 34, Greens 2, PPC 1, Other 1.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speak after the October 7, 2019 English-language debate in Gatineau, Quebec. JUSTIN TANG/POOL/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES.

(And the latest October 19 [evening] CBC Poll Tracker, like the October 19 NANOS Nightly Tracking, also puts the Liberals slightly ahead in cross-Canada popular vote : Libs 31.8%, Cons 31.4, NDP 18.1, Greens 8.0, BQ 6.9, PPC 2.7, Other 1.1. As updated Oct 20, 1:12 PM ET : Libs 31.9%, Cons 31.8, NDP 18.0, Greens 8.0, BQ 7.1, PPC, 2.4, Other 0.8. And, finally as updated Oct 20, 10:46 PM ET : Libs 32.1%, Cons 31.6, NDP 18.2, Greens 7.6, BQ 6.9, PPC 2.6, Other 1.0%.)

The two [and now three] most recent projections from P.J. Fournier’s 338Canada.com suggest a somewhat different but again broadly similar seat count — October 18 : Libs 137, Cons 123, BQ 39, NDP 36, Greens 2, PPC 1 ; October 19 : Libs 137, Cons 123, NDP 37, BQ 37, Greens 2, PPC 1 ; October 20 : Libs 142, Cons 125, NDP 35, BQ 33, Greens 2, PPC 1.

Finally, the most recent projections from the innovative prediction project of Hill+Knowlton Strategies and AI pioneers Advanced Symbolics Inc. offers yet another somewhat different but again broadly similar seat count — October 18 : Libs 146, Cons 123, NDP 33, BQ 32, Greens 3 ; October 19 : Libs 145, Cons 123, NDP 35, BQ 32, Greens 3.

Of course, all the polls involved in these calculations could be wrong. (Such things have happened in living memory and so forth.) In our view (and see as well eg M. Grenier’s probability calculations in the latest CBC Poll Tracker) there remains some serious enough prospect of a Conservative minority government, potentially kept in office long enough by Yves-Fran?ois Blanchet’s resurgent Bloc Québécois. [And the October 20 updates as of 1:45 and 5:00 PM ET do vaguely suggest some slight strengthening of Conservatives over Liberals, though the seat count numbers continue to suggest a Liberal minority government, that could be kept in office for a time by support from the NDP alone.]

Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Fran?ois Blanchet (l) and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer at TVA studios in Montreal, October 2, 2019. Joel Lemay/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo.

There is also an outlier-ish Lean Tossup.ca poll aggregator that uses “numbers available on the Mainstreet Research Daily Tracker, a paywalled subscription service.” Its latest projection as we write gives the Trudeau Liberals as many as 161 seats — just nine short of the 170 seat bare majority in the present Canadian House of Commons. (Those so inclined can use their imaginations from here. Grenier’s latest calculations give the Conservatives only a 1% chance of forming a majority government — and the Liberals a not all that much better 15% chance! And Grenier’s complete odds numbers here as of around 4 PM ET Sunday October 20 afternoon go PC majority 2%, Liberal majority 12%, PC minority 37%, Liberal minority 48%.)

It is equally worth noting that on all the projections noted above the combined Justin Trudeau Liberal and Jagmeet Singh New Democrat numbers do add up to slightly better than a bare majority of seats in the House — without help from anyone else, Green or BQ.

This further suggests that (again on these polling derived numbers from before the actual election at least) a Liberal minority government could be kept in office for some time by Jagmeet Singh’s NDP — much as Justin Trudeau’s father’s minority government after his second election was kept in office by David Lewis’s NDP, 1972–1974.

l to r : NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, his wife Gurkiran, and Liberal PM Justin Trudeau at the Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner in Gatineau, Quebec, Saturday, May 26, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang).

(There was some progressive shift to the left over this period in the first half of the 1970s. And maybe there will be again over the next few years, in the early 2020s. Or, again, maybe there will be a Conservative minority government, or some other more complicated kind of Trudeau Liberal minority government, dependent on more than just the Singh New Democrats. Or something else much wilder and unanticipated yet again.)

Meanwhile, just before 8 AM on the morning of this past Friday, October 18, 2019 Paqtasit Apsalqigwat on Twitter noted that “Today would be Pierre Trudeau’s 100th birthday and all I can say to this is thank you @JustinTrudeau for leading this country with grace and continuing the legacy of human rights your father started.”

Our parting thoughts here came when related research on Google finally led to a “life size bronze statue” of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, erected in 2004 in a suburban location just north of the City of Toronto (in the so-called “GTA 905,” in a community still known as Thornhill now officially in the City of Vaughan).

Barnabas Bozoki photo of Pierre E. Trudeau statue, artist unknown, erected 2004 in Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park, Vaughan/Thornhill, Ontario (just north of City of Toronto).

Looking at photos of the statue posted on the WWW by Barnabas Bozoki it struck us that it is not a good likeness of Pierre Trudeau, especially up close. We do not know just who created this admirable enough work of public art. But to us what’s depicted is more like how Pierre Trudeau would have looked if he really were an Old Ontario family farmer with some serious acreage, instead of the urbane and sophisticated, world-travelled Montreal man of means that he was.

But it may be the Thornhill, Ontario statue guy is closer to the Trudeau Liberal “brand” that this particular larger region of Canada — the current populous and increasingly diverse suburbs and exurbs of the “Greater Toronto Area 905”, once long ago a homeland of the North American family farm and now much different — may recurrently fall in and out of love with in some strange corner of its volatile twisted heart.

And at this exact moment in history this love may finally be one big enough thing that saves Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from leaving office altogether, in the election of 2019. (Or not, of course, of course … we must wait just a little while longer to see what all the people of Canada, in their infinite wisdom, finally do decide. And as of our October 20, 1:45 PM ET update our advice to congenital gamblers would be don’t bet the farm on any particular outcome just yet!)

Pierre Elliott Trudeau Public School in Oshawa, Ontario.

UPDATE 5:00 PM, OCT 20: Very finally (maybe?), as of around 5 PM Sunday afternoon, we’d just note a last-minute thought from David Coletto at Abacus Data : “If there’s going to be a surprise tomorrow it will come from these folks: 9% of Canadians haven’t voted yet, haven’t made up their mind, and say they are likely to vote tomorrow.”

And, if the ultimate outcome is a Liberal minority government, supported for who knows how long by New Democrats and possibly Greens too, the new required reading in our view should start with Alice Klein’s October 16 editorial in Toronto’s NOW magazine : “We need to start judging the Liberals, NDP and Greens by how willing they are to work together instead of how cleverly they pick each other apart … Each of the three progressive party leaders is disappointing and imperfect in their own way. But they also are generally well-intentioned … and have important perspectives to add. Their platforms actually speak more to what they have in common than what makes them opponents … Take a look around the world, my friends. From that perspective, Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May are an unusually impressive crew. What we need is for these party leaders to be frenemies, not enemies.”

(And many apologies for the Toronto reference from people fated to live and work here. Similar thoughts to Ms Klein’s are no doubt extant all across our vast and magnificent chunk of the global geography, including beautiful BC on Canada’s Pacific coast, where all major party leaders spent this last day of the 2019 campaign — because that is where this election might finally be decided, late tomorrow night?)

2019 Canadian election log, V: How about back to the future of Pierre Trudeau’s second election in 1972 (again) ??

Posted: October 16th, 2019 | No Comments »
The four main party leaders in the 1972 Canadian federal election : l to r, Réal Caouette, Social Credit ; David Lewis, New Democrats ; Robert Stanfield, Conservatives ; Pierre Trudeau, Liberals. Many tks to the old Canada edition of Time magazine.

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. WED, OCT 16, 2019. With the actual Canadian federal election now only four or five days away, it is hard to say anything altogether sensible about the ultimate result. Except that it does seem very close (in various respects) and impossible to predict.

We’re finding ourselves thrown back on the amusement of no doubt trivial resemblances between the current 2019 late-campaign polling and certain historical precedents, with special reference to the election of 1972 — also the second election that Justin Trudeau’s father faced as Liberal leader and Canadian prime minister.

Today, eg, the latest (October 15) editions of éric Grenier’s CBC Poll Tracker and P.J. Fournier’s 338Canada.com are projecting numbers of seats in the Canadian House of Commons that are remarkably similar to each other — and to the results of the election on October 30, 1972 (when two of the current six party leaders were still not yet born, one was only 10 months old, and the eldest was only 18 : see Appendix below).

In both major polling surveys dated October 15, 2019 the Liberal and Conservative popular vote is very close, with the Conservatives slightly ahead. But the Liberals still win slightly more seats, largely as a result of the bunching up of the Conservative vote in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Grenier gives the Liberals 135 and the Conservatives 132 seats. Fournier reports Liberals 134, Conservatives 132.

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, along with former US President Barack Obama, has now endorsed the Trudeau Liberals in the 2019 Canadian federal election. Photograph courtesy of Twitter/Toronto Raptors.

Compare this — just for fun as it were — with the actual results in Pierre Trudeau’s second election as leader in 1972 (and in a 264 as opposed to 338 member House of the day) : Liberals 109 seats, Conservatives 107. (Note too that, as legend has it, the finish in 1972 was so close that it was not clear just who had won the most seats until the morning after.)

So … what did happen after the 1972 federal election in Canada? Note here that the David Lewis New Democrats had won 31 seats on election day. And note too that in the October 15, 2019 polling surveys both Grenier and Fournier give the Jagmeet Singh NDP 34 seats.

In the fall of 1972 Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre formed a Liberal minority government that remained in office until the early summer of 1974, with the informal but quite open co-operation and support of the Lewis New Democrats.

Note, however, that in the October 15, 2019 Grenier and Fournier calculations, the support of Mr. Singh’s NDP alone would still make a strictly Liberal-NDP co-operative venture one or two seats shy of a bare majority. Such a thing would have to include the four seats both Grenier and Fournier assign to Elizabeth May’s Green Party as well.

“Leader of Canada’s Conservatives Andrew Scheer campaigns for the upcoming election in Essex, Ontario, Canada October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio.”

As already alluded to in this log, if something of this sort is what actually happens on October 21 we’ll be happy enough in this space.

We agree that New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh has become the surprise big star of this 2019 federal election campaign. Mr. Singh, it seems, has finally inherited the woke-charisma that Justin Trudeau wielded in 2015. And that is no doubt very good for Canada, in many different ways.

Yet like many others like us (and as also alluded to before in this log), we continue to wonder and worry about the increasingly serious prospects of a Conservative minority government that also continue to linger in the polling evidence.

The 33 (Grenier) or 34 (Fournier) seats for Yves-Fran?ois Blanchet’s Bloc Québécois in the October 15, 2019 surveys may or may not finally help Andrew Scheer. But they wield more weight and heft than the 15 seats won by Réal Caouette’s Social Credit party in Quebec in 1972. At first blush at any rate the also surprising late-campaign surge for the BQ in 2019 could very well point instead to Stephen Harper’s Conservative minority government of 2006.

“Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh rallies the crowd at Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Surrey, BC, October 13, 2019. ARLEN REDEKOP / PNG.”

We conclude here with two further possibly compensating thoughts for those who really do not want to see any kind of Conservative Government of Canada on October 22, 2019 — from the two newest individual polls surveyed in the October 15 edition of the CBC Poll Tracker.

  • From Darrell Bricker at Ipsos, “Down to the Wire: Outcome Remains Uncertain as Campaign Enters Home Stretch,” October 15 : “while Liberal popular vote sags, their underlying fundamentals remain relatively stronger, which suggests that some of the NDP or Green vote in particular, both of which shows softness, could come back to the Liberals in the final days of the campaign.”
  • From Marco Vigliotti at Mainstreet, “Liberals, Conservatives leading among early voters,” October 15 : “Advance polling was available from Oct. 10-14 … Compared to Mainstreet’s national daily tracking poll … early voters were more likely to vote for the Liberals and Conservatives, and were less likely to back the NDP, Bloc or Greens … Breaking down the numbers by region, a plurality of early voters cast a ballot for the Liberals in Ontario (42.4%), Quebec (41), Atlantic Canada (33.5) and British Columbia (31.7). The Conservatives were the most popular choice of early voters in Alberta (74.3%) and the Prairies (49.1).”

APPENDIX : Birthdays of Six Canadian Federal Party Leaders 2019 :

Andrew Scheer, Conservatives, May 20, 1979, third from l in photo ;

Jagmeet Singh, New Democrats, January 2, 1979, far r in photo ;

Justin Trudeau, Liberals, December 25, 1971, second from l ;

Yves-Fran?ois Blanchet, Bloc Québécois, April 16, 1965, second from r ;

Maxime Bernier, Peoples’ Party of Canada, January 18, 1963, third from r ;

Elizabeth May, Green Party, June 9, 1954, far l in photo of party leaders at English-language debate in Gatineau, Quebec, October 7, 2019!

2019 Canadian election log, IV : looking a Conservative minority government straight in the eye

Posted: October 12th, 2019 | No Comments »
The day after the 1979 Canadian federal election, when Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals were briefly replaced by Joe Clark’s Progressive Conservatives.

[UPDATED OCTOBER 13]. In its UPDATED ON OCT 12, 2019 AT 9:21 AM ET edition éric Grenier’s CBC Poll Tracker is now predicting 140 seats in the elected Canadian parliament for Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, with 32.6% of the cross-Canada popular vote, and only 135 seats (and 32.0% of the popular vote) for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals! [See October 13 update below!]

Neither party is close to the 170 seats needed for even a bare majority. But if these (or something very similar) are the numbers that prevail on Monday, October 21 then — on our view at any rate — the next public enterprise that will try to govern Canada will be a Scheer Conservative minority government.

Some will say that on these same numbers a Liberal minority government led by Justin Trudeau is still possible. M. Grenier’s October 12 Poll Tracker also gives 33 seats to the Bloc Québécois, 25 to the New Democrats, 4 to the Greens, and 1 to the People’s Party of Canada.

Elizabeth May, Andrew Scheer, and Jagmeet Singh at Maclean’s/Citytv National Leaders Debate in Toronto, September 12, 2019.

On these exact October 12 CBC Poll Tracker numbers even a progressive Liberal minority government supported by both Jagmeet Singh’s NDP and Elizabeth May’s Greens would still be half a dozen seats shy of even a bare parliamentary majority. (Just do the math : 135 Libs + 25 NDP + 4 Greens = 164 “progressives” where 170 is the minimum.) A minority government of this sort that was also careful to please the Bloc Québécois from time to time, however, could arguably survive for more than a few months.

Yet especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan where the Canada-wide Conservative vote (and the modern Canadian oil and gas industry) is so concentrated, a co-operative progressive government of this sort would be terminally tainted by the hard fact that its largest party was not the party with the largest number of seats and the largest share of the Canada-wide popular vote.

In this context, and in the interests of both the future of Canada and his own political career, if the federal election on October 21 does bring something essentially the same as the October 12 CBC Poll Tracker numbers, Justin Trudeau ought to (and almost certainly will?) resign — and advise Governor General Julie Payette to ask Andrew Scheer to try to form a government.

Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer, and Yves-Fran?ois Blanchet in French language leaders debate at Gatineau, Quebec, October 10, 2019.

If Andrew Scheer were Stephen Harper, and if 2019 were more like 2006, a cleverly managed Conservative minority government might arguably also survive for more than a few months. (On the October 12 CBC numbers, eg, a Conservative minority government that could rely on 33 Bloc Québécois MPs, led by the Yves-Fran?ois Blanchet who sounds somewhat like the current conservative premier of Quebec, could boast a parliamentary majority of 140+33=173 seats.)

In the real world of 2019 the best guess would seem to be that a Conservative minority government led by Mr. Scheer will likely enough not last very long. We will have to have another Canadian federal election soon, say at some point in 2020.

From the standpoint of the progressive values we see ourselves as standing up for here on this site, a short-lived Conservative minority government, while certainly disappointing, would at least be a better October 21 result than a Conservative majority government.

It would also raise a number of deep and possibly even troubling questions about the realistic progressive future in current Canadian politics. These questions were first raised by the almost 10-year history of Stephen Harper Conservative governments in Canada (only the 2011-2015 edition of which was a majority government, and even then with less than 40% of the cross-Canada popular vote). The ultimately somewhat surprising Liberal majority government won by Justin Trudeau in 2015 (also with less than 40% of the cross-Canada popular vote) set these questions aside.

Pierre Trudeau back when (1981 in fact) — who can ever really predict what the people of Canada will decide on election day?

All things considered in the global village today, we think a second Trudeau Liberal majority government would still be the best or at least the easiest and most stable progressive way ahead in 2019. But this seems increasingly unlikely at the moment. And we think a Liberal minority government (supported by the NDP as in Justin Trudeau’s father’s case in 1972) is the second best alternative. Yet it may be that progressive voters are finally going to reject either of these prospects in 2019 — and insist on looking the troubling questions about the realistic progressive future in current Canadian politics straight in the eye.

Meanwhile, as a concluding reminder that absolutely nothing is at all certain about October 21 at this point — just over a week away — P.J. Fournier’s alternative 338canada.com projections as of October 12 also have the Liberals and Conservatives effectively tied in cross-Canada popular vote. But they still give the Liberals 143 seats, and only 134 for the Conservatives. So of course, of course, stray tuned. It seems it really is going to be an exciting election a week this Monday (if that is quite the right word ??) …

UPDATE OCTOBER 13 : Today’s update of the CBC Poll Tracker still has the Conservatives slightly ahead of the Liberals in popular vote. But the Liberals are back ahead in the seat count : 141 to 134. (And a Liberal minority government supported by both New Democrats and Greens would have exactly 170 seats, for a bare parliamentary majority.) The week ahead should prove fascinating to Canadian political junkies everywhere. Meanwhile, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving tomorrow (or the day after), up here in the far north where the leaves fall from the deciduous trees earlier.

2019 Canadian election log, III : Is unstable Scheer Conservative minority government a real prospect … mmm yes ??

Posted: October 9th, 2019 | No Comments »

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. OCT 9, 6 PM ET/3 PM PT. A new Forum Research poll shows Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives suddenly pulling well ahead in the wake of the October 7 TV debate.

This at least raises the prospect that Green party leader Elizabeth May may have been wrong towards the end of this past Monday’s debate, when she rudely advised Mr. Scheer that he will not be the next prime minister.

To the uninformed naked eye this latest Forum poll, which puts Conservatives seven points ahead of Liberals Canada-wide, does seem to notably under-represent Ontario and over-represent Western Canada. And the companion or same-date Nanos Nightly Tracking shows no sign of a similar trend. (It puts the Trudeau Liberals one point ahead!)

Another post-debate online Leger poll has Liberals and Conservatives tied, with Jagmeet Singh’s NDP up four points. Still others may wonder about the latest Forum poll’s finding that the admittedly surging Bloc Québécois has now surpassed the Liberals in Quebec.

For no doubt further good reasons éric Grenier’s CBC Poll Tracker assigns the Forum poll a very low weight in its current polling average calculations, despite the very recent vintage.

At the same time, however much of a suspicious outlier it may appear, some later-campaign Conservative surge is the only possible conclusion from the latest Forum poll. And this does draw attention to vaguely parallel current prospects in the more moderate CBC Poll Tracker exercise (as just one case in point).

In his latest Poll Tracker update as of October 9, 10:33 AM ET éric Grenier does assign the Liberals six less and the Conservatives five more seats than just two days ago.

On these calculations the Liberals still have 17 more seats all told than the Conservatives. But they are now as many as 13 seats shy of even a bare majority in the House. And this draws further attention to the Tracker’s probability percentages for majority and minority governments.

In his October 9 update Grenier is still giving the Scheer Conservatives a very low 10% chance of reaching a majority government. And according to no less than John Ibbitson if the Conservatives don’t get a majority government they ultimately loose — because no other party with enough votes will support a Conservative minority government. (Well … unless it might be a last-minute-surging Bloc Québécois, as in the early times of PM Stephen Harper??)

Yet Grenier’s Poll Tracker October 9 probability percentages for Liberal or Conservative minority governments are not in fact all that different : 30% Liberals and 27% Conservatives.

The Liberals still do have a much greater chance at a majority government (32% on the latest CBC Poll Tracker). But if trends of some Liberal faltering lock in, it would seem that a Scheer Conservative minority government is almost as likely as a Trudeau Liberal one — on these current CBC numbers in any case.

Philippe J. Fournier at 338canada.com may be challenging this assessment in his October 8 article, “The Conservatives have fallen behind the surging Bloc, cutting the odds of seat gains needed to win the election.” But maybe not, exactly. In any case a Conservative minority government does appear to be something that very few of those most directly involved are paying much serious attention to … yet ???? And it does not seem unreasonable at this juncture to say that Elizabeth May could prove to be wrong. Who knows? Stray tuned, etc, etc, etc … .