Citizen X on Canadian election 2015, VII : Trudeau-Mulcair, Just Trudeau, or what? .. we’re off to see Champlain

Oct 15th, 2015 | By | Category: In Brief

Justin Trudeau is presented with sage and a paddle-less canoe by National Chief Perry Bellegarde, following a speech at the Assembly of First Nations 36th annual general assembly in Montreal. Photograph: Christinne Muschi/Reuters.

As also happened back in late August, I have been assigned the thankless  task of suddenly announcing that the entire counterweights Toronto editorial office is shutting down, until this coming Sunday afternoon or evening, October 18.

The excuse this time is “Circles of Interaction: The Wendat and Their Neighbours in the Time of Champlain,” a “joint symposium of the Ontario Archaeological Society and the Eastern States Archaeological Federation.”

The symposium is being “held from Oct. 16 to 18 in Midland, Ontario –  the heart of historic Huronia” (aka north Simcoe County, between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay, less than two hours north of Toronto by automobile). It is meant to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s encounter with the “surprisingly sophisticated agricultural society of what the French called the Huron confederacy, known in its own language as Wendake.”

As also noted elsewhere on this site (Huronia/Wendake 2015), the “French encounter with the Huron in the first half of the 17th century marks the dramatic (and even traumatic) opening chapter in the modern ‘written’ history of today’s most populous Canadian province of Ontario.” And, as I and others were taught in elementary school, long ago, Champlain was the or at least a “Father of Canada or New France.”

Circles of Interaction symposium logo, by Christiane Vincent, a Huron-Wendat artist, illustrator and graphic artist who lives in Wendake, Quebec

Well, you might say, what about the 2015 Canadian federal election on October 19? As when we all went to Hawaii in late August and early September, aren’t we jumping ship yet again, at another crucial stage in the campaign – the three days before the actual vote ????

I was told to come up with an answer to this question. (Why I do these things I don’t know : the prospects for a raise around here are bad at best?) And I think I now have two of them. If you really must know what they are read on, and/or scroll below! Otherwise I will return on the evening of October 18 with some final election thoughts.

1. How crucial are the last three days anyway?

Stephen Harper on recent Toronto campaign stop.

Insofar as the remaining election questions are the kinds of questions that worry those of us who associate with this site, in one way or another, the crucial period in the 2015 Canadian federal election campaign is probably over now. At least as far as the opinion polls and media and mood-of-the-people are concerned. (The really crucial day of course is October 19, election day!)

There are still some analysts calling for a Conservative minority government. But it seems more widely noticed now that, given the utterly clear and repeated commitments of all opposition party leaders to not support another Harper Conservative minority government, any such animal will be promptly snuffed out by the opposition majority as soon as parliament reconvenes.

CON MAJORITY NOT LIKELY ???? So the Harper Conservatives need to win a majority in the Canadian House of Commons (at least 170 seats), or very close to it, to remain in the governing game. And unless the opinion polls we have at the moment are utterly wrong in almost every respect, another Harper Conservative majority on October 19 – in the manner of the Cameron Conservatives in the UK this past spring –  now seems unlikely. (And if such a thing does happen, then my suggestion that October 16, 17, and 18 are not crucial will clearly have been proved quite wrong.)

What about close to but still not quite a Conservative majority – say such that the votes of a much revived Bloc Quebecois would be required to defeat it, along with Liberals and New Democrats? That could be a recipe for Stephen Harper’s interim survival. But the current polling doesn’t hold out much hope for anything like this either. The numbers would have to move dramatically over the next three days! (And of course they always might, but … that’s not what usually happens.)

CON MINORITY CAN’T LAST ???? Going back to the Conservative minority that can be easily defeated by combined votes of Liberals and New Democrats alone, the October 13 update for Bryan Breguet’s Too Close to Call projection offers a tidy case in point :  CON 127 seats,  32.9% vote ; LIB 121, 34.4% ; NDP 88, 23.2% ;  BLQ 1, 4.0% ; GRN 1, 4.4%.

“Capping a deciding game filled with controversy, bad blood and just plain craziness, Jose Bautista's three-run homer propelled the Blue Jays into the American League Championship Series as baseball karma delivered Toronto a wild 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.”

The numbers here bear more than a passing resemblance to the numbers in the increasingly fabled Ontario provincial election of 1985, when the written Liberal-NDP Accord between David Peterson and Bob Rae soon replaced Frank Miller’s Conservative minority government. The seat allocation in this case was CON 52, LIB 48, NDP 25 – and (as in the Bryan Breguet projection above) the Peterson Liberals actually had a slightly greater share of the percentage popular vote (37.9%) than the Miller Conservatives (37.0%).

LIBERAL-NDP ACCORD IN OTTAWA 2015 ???? There are still those who say Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair don’t get along well enough to craft some similar Liberal-NDP Accord 2015 in Ottawa. But there has also been reassurance on this front lately. See, eg : “Mulcair and Trudeau have their differences, but can agree on need to turf Harper,” and Justin Trudeau’s further reflections on the matter in Althia Raj and Ryan Mulroney’s interesting Huffington Post Canada piece, “Trudeau’s Question Period Reform May Mean He’s Often Absent.”

It seems a good enough guess that, if the Harper Conservatives do wind up with the kind of minority government envisioned in the Too Close to Call projection above, we could reasonably expect some sort of federal accord between the Trudeau Liberals and Mulcair New Democrats, that would at least last for as long as it takes both parties to raise enough money to fight another election! (And here I should clarify that I am indebted for this insight to the lovely Ms. X!)

LIBERAL MINORITY OR EVEN MAJORITY ???? Unlike  Bryan Breguet’s Too Close to Call projections, Eric Grenier’s CBC Poll Tracker has for some time now been showing the Liberals, not the Conservatives, with the largest number of seats. The October 13 update here is LIB 136 seats, 35.1% vote ; CON 118, 31% ; NDP 80, 23.3% ; BLQ 3, 4.8% ; GRN 1, 4.6%.

Under these circumstances, Stephen Harper would presumably resign (on his own theory, having not won the largest number of seats), and the Liberals could simply form a minority government with Justin Trudeau as prime minister. Support from the New Democrats would be required to keep this minority government alive, but this presumably wouldn’t require (though it could be accompanied by, if that’s what both parties wanted) a written accord or similar arrangement.

As noted by Randall White on this site recently, “polling guru Eric Grenier himself has raised a larger prospect in ‘What the final week of 2011 election might tell us about 2015 … the Liberals now appear to have the momentum. Compared with where they stood 10 days ago, the Liberals are polling about four points higher, and the New Democrats about four points lower. So if we apply the 2011 shift in the polls in the final week to the party with the momentum in this campaign, the Liberals might be heading toward a majority government.’”

See also : “Justin Trudeau says he is asking Canadians for a majority mandate …  Liberal leader says in French he’s asking for a majority, but campaign fears appearing overconfident.”

Nanos National Nightly Tracking, Three day rolling average, Oct 10—13, released Oct 14, 2015, 6 AM Eastern.

The last three Nanos Nightly Tracking rolling polls, up to October 13, have shown steady increases in Liberal support as well – 35.1%, 35.7%, 36.1%. The most recent EKOS poll puts the Liberals first at 35.6%, and the most recent Ipsos poll puts them at 37%. Based on past experience at least, these numbers would have to be still higher for a Liberal majority government (39% at least, or with the Liberals’ comparatively seat-inefficient vote, 40%, 41%, 42% etc). My own guess is that this remains unlikely. (Although this morning’s Nanos Nightly Tracking, which brings the story upto October 14, does put the Liberals at 37.1%. See chart below and “Nanos tracking: Liberals hit election high.”)

But if a Liberal majority does finally happen there will have been some big enough surge in Liberal numbers over the next three days. And while not crucial from the standpoint of just getting rid of Mr. Harper (which even the kind of Conservative minority government projected by Too Close to Call above would seem to accomplish soon enough!), that would no doubt be something important which we on this site will just watch happen from a distance, as most of us attend the sessions of “Circles of Interaction: The Wendat and Their Neighbours in the Time of Champlain,” a “joint symposium of the Ontario Archaeological Society and the Eastern States Archaeological Federation.”

2. The Trudeau-Mulcair vision of Canada ultimately looks back to Champlain’s encounter with the Huron confederacy in the summer of 1610

Tom Mulcair with National Chief Perry Bellegarde after addressing the Assembly of First Nations general assembly in Montreal, July 7, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz.

I finally think there is another somewhat more mystical but nonetheless compelling reason for our counterweights excursion to the symposium in Midland over the next three days – especially because there is an election of the sort there seems to be at the moment going on.

If we in Canada do wind up with a federal government based on some kind of Trudeau-Mulcair Accord, or if Justin Trudeau wins a minority (or even an unlikely majority) government on October 19, that will be partly because large numbers of voters in the most populous province of Ontario have voted Liberal – and NDP!

(Nanos Tracking for Oct 11—13, eg, reports the Ontario electorate as 45.2% LIB, 32.7% CON, and 17.6 NDP. EKOS for Oct 10—12 has Ontario as 43% LIB, 31% CON, and 17% NDP. And Ipsos for Oct 9—13 has Ontario as 43% LIB, 30% CON, and 23% NDP.)

It is similarly not too much of a stretch to say that Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in the land of  the Huron/Wendat confederacy in the middle of the summer of 1610 is one of various important founding moments in the modern history of the Canada we know today. And, subconsciously at any rate, the people who vote Liberal and New Democrat in Ontario today see this kind of founding moment 400 years ago as uniquely important.

Nanos National Nightly Tracking, Three day rolling average, Oct 11—14, released Oct 15, 2015, 6 AM Eastern.

People in Ontario today who vote for the Harper Conservatives, on the other hand, are more inclined to dwell on modern Canadian founding moments a mere 250 years ago, in the early 1760s, when the British empire took over from the old “French and Indian” regime in the most northern parts of North America.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking etc. And if everything does really go crazy on October 19 and the Canadian people elect a second Harper Conservative majority government by mistake, I will be quite surprised. And extremely annoyed!  And I will probably just keep repeating the immortal lines of Robert Service over and over and over again:

There are strange things done in the midnight sun

By the men who moil for gold;

The Arctic trails have their secret tales

That would make your blood run cold;

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

But the queerest they ever did see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

I cremated Sam McGee.

Meanwhile, Go Jays Go …

Former Liberal campaign co-chair Dan Gagnier.

UPDATE OCTOBER 15, 10 AM ET: LATE NDP SURGE ALSO NOW POSSIBLE ???? We received a report from one of our respected field analysts in Nova Scotia early this morning that has now been passed along to me. It points to the recent resignation of   Justin Trudeau’s national campaign co-chair Dan Gagnier “after it emerged he sent a detailed email to people behind the Energy East pipeline with advice on how and when to lobby a new government – including a Liberal minority.”  And it suggests that this could promote some last-minute surge away from the Liberals and towards the NDP. I’m a bit skeptical about this myself. Many old NDP loyalists who are voting Liberal this time to end the Harper regime, like Rick Salutin in the Toronto Star a few days ago,  already have a pretty low opinion of what the Liberals might do after they’re elected! On the other hand, I would much rather see a Liberal minority government dependent on NDP support than a Liberal majority government myself. So long as any last-minute switching doesn’t finally give us a Conservative majority government after all!

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