Latest Ottawa seat projections say bloom is off coalition rose .. for now?

Oct 4th, 2010 | By | Category: Ottawa Scene

California singer-songwriter and musician Katy Perry (“I Kissed a Girl” etc) helps celebrate Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, October 2, 2010. This of course has nothing to do with Canadian federal politics. But it is a photo feature on the Vancouver Sun website at the moment. And wouldn’t you rather look at Katy Perry than any of Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton, or Gilles Duceppe?

The Globe and Mail has just published some fresh but rather desultory seat projections for a next Canadian federal election, if it were held more or less right now.

They “are based on a weighted average of three recent polls conducted by Angus-Reid, EKOS Research and Ipsos-Reid between Sept. 21 and Sept. 28, and including the responses of 4,277 Canadians, far more than are usually interviewed in any individual poll. Taken before and after the controversial vote on the long-gun registry, the combination of these three surveys provides a clear picture of the divided political situation in Canada today.”

More to the specific point for some of us, the projections throw inescapable cold water on any notion of a Liberal-NDP accord as the best hope for a progressive way forward on the current Ottawa scene.

Fallen Angel Katy Perry on cover of Rolling Stone magazine, August 19, 2010.

Put another way, last Thursday the Globe and Mail itself ran an editorial headlined “The coalition of 2010 is Stephen Harper’s fantasy.” The seat projections published today just underline how much of a fantasy it is.

To start with, the average cross-Canada popular vote numbers on which the projections are based, rounded to the nearest single percentage point, are: Conservatives 34%, Liberals 29%, New Democrats 14%, Greens 11%, Bloc Quebecois 10%, and Others 2%.

The seat projections based on these percentages (with the current seats for each party in brackets) are: Conservatives 129 (143), Liberals 101 (76), New Democrats 24 (36), Greens 0 (0), Bloc Quebecois 54 (48).

There are two especially distressing aspects of these results from the standpoint of Liberal-NDP accord partisans – one right up front on the surface, and the other buried a little deeper.

Katy Perry photo shot for Rolling Stone magazine – but not used on cover!

First, even the combined number of Liberal and New Democrat seats on these projections (125) is not only 30 seats short of a bare majority (making the combined forces very dependent on support from the Bloc Quebecois – and very vulnerable to at least the bad optics of its alleged Quebec separatist agenda). The combined number of Liberal and New Democrat seats here is also still four seats short of the number of Conservative seats (129).  And the experience with the original late 2008 Liberal-NDP “agreement … to form an unprecedented coalition government, with a written pledge of support from the Bloc Québécois” arguably suggests that the Liberals and New Democrats together must have at least more seats than the Conservatives, to achieve the kind of broader public credibility without which any such agreement will not work.

Second, even a simple inspection of projected and current seats in this case can suggest that Liberal gains (101-76=25) are coming at the expense of losses by New Democrats (36-24=12) as well as Conservatives (143-129=14). And if you look at the more detailed regional results published in the Globe article, this trend becomes clearer still; eg: “the Liberals are projected to gain nine seats … in Ontario. Most of these are at the expense of the NDP … The Liberals … are projected to win 23 seats in Atlantic Canada, taking three seats from both the Conservatives and the New Democrats.” One of the crucial arguments for a Liberal-NDP accord is that it is supposed to stop the two progressive parties from fighting each other for the same seats!

Katy Perry “arriving at her London hotel wearing an amazing USA/UK pleather flag dress,” June 2010.

The Globe and Mail headline for its article here sums everything up quite tidily: “NDP pain means Liberal gain with Tories still on track for minority.” But you might say that the kind of third consecutive Conservative minority government suggested by this latest seat projection is, whatever else, bound to be less stable than the first two. A government put in office by just over a third of the votes cast by the Canadian people, and with just over 40% of the seats in the elected branch of the Parliament of Canada, cannot continue to carry on as if it has some vague democratic majority “mandate” to govern just as it wishes. (Or at least if it can, then democracy in Canada is in a lot more trouble than we think.)

(If you’ve never heard Katy Perry sing, and are wired for sound, you can check out “I Kissed a Girl” HERE or HERE! Or you could try “KATY PERRY PERFORMS CALIFORNIA GURLS AT MUCHMUSIC VIDEO AWARDS REHEARSALS in TORONTO,” June 2010, HERE. Or  “Teenage Dream” at the recent Munich, Germany event noted above HERE.)

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