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Archive for February, 2011

I’ve been having some fun with the membership data that I have access too at the moment. If you’re wondering, that’s basically the information that Vaughn Palmer posted, no super-secret inside campaign data from me.  But I was wondering how to visualize this data, beyond colour coding the riding maps. This isn’t going to give you a accurate representation, obviously. Thus, I have created some cartograms.

There is some colour coding here. It is as follows:

  • Dark Blue: The North (8 Ridings)
  • Red: The Island (15 Ridings)
  • Orange: The Interior (16 Ridings)
  • Purple: South Fraser (20 Ridings)
  • Green: The Vancouvers (15 Ridings)
  • Light Blue: North Fraser (11 Ridings)

Most of these are fairly self explanatory, though some of you will note that only 14 ridings are covered by Vancouver Island. I’ve lumped Powell River-Sunshine Coast in with the Island because it is contiguous and has more in common, representation, demographics and voting patterns wise than it does with the Vancovuers.

The first cartogram isn’t actually a cartogram. It’s just the map. So here it is – your baseline.

This second one is the old membership system, where every member would get one vote, no matter where they live, and each of these members represent an equivalent amount of area on the map. Keep in mind that this was at the beginning of the race, but I do want to point out how inflated the Interior is. I would expect that the current membership numbers would see a significant bulge in the Lower Mainland.

This is the current system. Each of the ridings is equal in area (roughly, based on the restrictions of math). I would like to, once this is over with, get the riding member levels and do both the previous cartogram again, as well as an inverse cartogram to determine which ridings have the most valuable votes. I know I’m one of those valuable voters – I live in Vancouver Mount Pleasant, home of Jenny Kwan (When I told the party staffer at the office my address, I had to correct him twice saying that I was from EAST 13th, not west – I guess they had a hard time believing many East Vancouverites would join the party.)

This last one is more practical. I did my best to make a BC Shape.

 

 

 

 

I’ve been having some fun with the membership data that I have access too at the moment. If you’re wondering, that’s basically the information that Vaughn Palmer posted, no super-secret inside campaign data from me.  But I was wondering how to visualize this data, beyond colour coding the riding maps. This isn’t going to give you a accurate representation, obviously. Thus, I have created some cartograms.

There is some colour coding here. It is as follows:

Dark Blue: The North (8 Ridings)

Red: The Island (15 Ridings)

Orange: The Interior (16 Ridings)

Purple: South Fraser (20 Ridings)

Green: The Vancouvers (15 Ridings)

Light Blue: North Fraser (11 Ridings)

Most of these are fairly self explanatory, though some of you will note that only 14 ridings are covered by Vancouver Island. I’ve lumped Powell River-Sunshine Coast in with the Island because it is contiguous and has more in common, representation, demographics and voting patterns wise than it does with the Vancovuers.

The first cartogram isn’t actually a cartogram. It’s just the map. So here it is – your baseline.

This second one is the old membership system, where every member would get one vote, no matter where they live, and each of these members represent an equivalent amount of area on the map. Keep in mind that this was at the beginning of the race, but I do want to point out how inflated the Interior is. I would expect that the current membership numbers would see a significant bulge in the Lower Mainland.

This is the current system. Each of the ridings is equal in area (roughly, based on the restrictions of math). I would like to, once this is over with, get the riding member levels and do both the previous cartogram again, as well as an inverse cartogram to determine which ridings have the most valuable votes. I know I’m one of those valuable voters – I live in Vancouver Mount Pleasant, home of Jenny Kwan (When I told the party staffer at the office my address, I had to correct him twice saying that I was from EAST 13th, not west – I guess they had a hard time believing many East Vancouverites would join the party.)

This last one is more practical. I did my best to make a BC Shape.

 

 

 

 

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Well, “liveblogging” might be overstating it a bit, but I didn’t alter it in any way, so here goes. My as-it-happened recount of the BC Liberal Leadership Debate.

3:37 – The evening begins with the perfunctory one year reminiscence of the Olympics, which must happen now BY LAW.  I’m struck by the fact that I don’t know who the moderator is. He’s going over the rules now.

3:39 – Falcon begins the debate. H’s giving a very energetic speech. It actually reminds me a little of Gordon Campbell sped up. He calls for annual conventions , which is great (and straight out of the Clark party renewal plan) and jabs slightly at Clark with a caucus unity plug.

3:43 – His talk on the NDP is accurate, but I do sometimes find it perhaps a tad concerning that the most uniting aspect of our party is that we are not the NDP.

3:44 – Moira Stillwell is up at the podium. She is a doctor from Calgary!

3:45 – I’m actually loving her speech on training and building a knowledge economy. If, in the totally unforeseeable event that the Stillwell juggernaut does not run away with the vote, she’d make an amazing Minister of Advanced Education (or Universities and Science – whatever we’re calling it right now).

3:48 – Christy is up! She’s talking about reinvigorating the BC Liberals, and then slips right into the Families First pitch.

“We have to make sure that people can put money on the table. I mean, food on the table.”
-Christy Clark

3:51 – She plugs the Prosperity Mine and ways to fix the urban-rural economic divide.  Speech ends, giant yellow audience block rises in unison.

3:53 – Ed Mayne congratulates the people who had the courage to pass the motion. I have to say, as much as I support the change, the people who stood by their desire for a OMOV system in the face of overwhelming opposition (and, from the reports that I’ve heard, downright rudeness) should be noted for their courage as well.

3:57 – His whole campaign looks so SoCred. The suit, the haircut, the logo, the supporters. Its uncanny.

3:58 – George Abbott’s campaign has towels. Insert South Park joke here.

4:00 – I watch him talk, and I don’t really hear much beyond the standard points of BC Liberal goodness. Oh, he does mention that “there are differences of opinion”.

4:03 – Mike De Jong says that he wants them to be able to hear us cheering down the road at the BC Federation of Labour, where Adrian Dix is dusting off the destructive policies of the 1990s.

“I’ll let you in on something. The NDP have already elected Adrian as their leader. Their member will be informed of this in a memo, a post-dated memo…”
-Mike De Jong

4:06 – I think that this is one of the better speeches.  De Jong is a charismatic guy.

“I am against fuck six talented contestants” (I think he meant to say five…)
-Mike De Jong

4:08 – The moderator is apparently named Graham Bruce. He’s asking when we will be getting back into the red. Falcon says two years (based on the legislation) and talks about the need to restore grants to non-profits. Stillwell says we need to grow our way out of the problem. Christy – I’ve done this before, and promise that a balanced budget will come before tax cuts or spending promises.

4:12 – Can you restore trust in government? I didn’t really follow Ed Mayne’s speech. His voice is … sedate.  Abbott – We need to do better at sharing our decision making process with the people. De Jong wants us to release more information about how we spend taxpayer money.

4:17 – A question on education and stakeholders to Stillwell, Mayne and Clark. Stillwell is right on the money, mentions K-16, and the ability to live the lives where we want where we live. Clark talks about the work she did opening up the school negotiation process from just teachers unions and government to include parents and students. Both support standardized testing. I won’t say much about Mayne’s answer, other than that it … seems generally out of date.

“I think it’s time that we stop fighting about education, and start fighting for it.”
-Moira Stillwell

4:24 – I missed the question, and after hearing two answers, I can’t figure out what the question was. I think it was about globalism, or growth. All the candidates seemed to be mostly working to demonstrate that they understand the issue (whatever that was) and seemed to do a decent job. I do support De Jong’s focus on India.

4:28 – Where is our health care funding coming from? Christy says that the government needs to be there to support caregivers through tax credits for those who care for the elderly and people with disabilities. She wants to expand the role of non-profits in providing care, because they are on the ground and way more efficient for government. (I love this, incidentally.)

4:30 – Ed Mayne was the mayor of the oldest town in Canada. In Canada, nobody should ever wait for treatment! If anybody is on a cot in a hallway, THE ENTIRE SYSTEM HAS FAILED! George Abbott talks about cancer care and how the percentage of elderly is going to increase in the next years (though not, notably, how we are going to deal with that fact without completely breaking the bank).

4:34 – Ferries! De Jong says we can raise the subsidy, raise rates, or reduce service. Basically, things are hard, and not everybody’s going to be happy. Falcon says that massive strides have occurred in the past ten years (which they have, and he should be commended for that). Stillwell identifies what her decision making process is. None of the candidates actually said anything about what their policies were.

4:39 – What is the deal with all this party discipline? Mayne wants more free votes on anything that is not a confidence issue. George Abbott … dammit, my phone rang and I missed the answer – I really wanted to hear this, because I’ve been really concerned about the crazy, California-style direct democracy proposals. De Jong says that we should be consulting more – haven’t we noticed that we’re really good at getting a hold of people over the past two months?

4:46 – Falcon says that the judiciary needs to be held accountable, and his Attorney General will work to ensure that justice can be done more efficiently, more fairly. It’s a great answer, but then again, I tend towards legislative supremacy as a concept.

4:48 – Why does Christy look so angry? It’s not like Moira Stillwell is saying anything offensive.

4:49 – Christy says that Ontario has some trial shortening policies that we should look at, and repeat offenders should be put in jail for longer.

4:51 – Closing statements, now in reverse order!

4:52 –  Mike De Jong says that deficits are the ultimate sign of disrespect to the taxpayer, and our future prosperity is dependent on how we position ourselves internationally.

“The only thing worse than fighting with your allies is fighting without them.”
-Mike De Jong

4:54 – George Abbot is very honoured. Very, very honoured. Super honoured by all of you. And so we need to reach out and talk with people to make policy. And develop resources, because we have a bunch.

4:56 – Ed Mayne does not have the name recognition of the other candidates – yet. I think this is actually a decent point. If (hypothetically) he were to be elected leader, its not like he’d be hiding. He’d become a household name overnight (and a permanent fixture in Political Science textbooks).

4:58 – For more on Christy’s speech, see most of her other speeches. She’s sticking to message, hitting all the points, and does what a frontrunner should do – ignore all the other candidates.

5:00 – I had to throw my computer on the floor to get up and clap. Delegate behaviour is Pavlovian in nature.

5:02 – Moira has this kind of slump/lean thing which she should pull out more. It says “I get it.” It’s reassuring.

5:04 – Kevin Falcon touts his commitment to the party, and how he’s always going to be there fighting for free enterprise and the BC Liberal Party. A nice ending note.

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I received an interesting piece of mail from the George Abbott Campaign the other day. Aside from being too long for a direct mail piece and besotted by the unfortunate graphic design choices of which the Abbott campaign literature is replete, the actual content of the letter appears to have done some damage to the Abbott campaign.

Heretofore, I had held this image of George Abbott as some nice guy, a reasonably competent minister, and, if he were to win, a decent if uninspiring leader for both my party and my province. I would have been perfectly happy to volunteer for an Abbott led Liberal Party. I would like to state for the record that I am a loyal BC Liberal, and will work with whomever is chosen by the party membership. This letter, however, raises serious concerns with me about the prospect of George Abbott premiership.

The materials that a candidate puts out into the world are a reflection of their character. They compose the public image of the candidate, and while they might not necessarily be a one hundred percent accurate reflection of the man behind the media mask, they are the materials that people are going to use to form their opinions. Sadly, the nice guy image, the quiet competence and unassuming nature of George Abbott that I had once possessed has been shattered by the direct mail piece, displaced instead by the image that the letter (and later the radio debate) has created. I perceive George to be like his letter – nasty, brutish, and much too long winded.

I should be clear. I am a die-hard Christy Clark supporter, and so the accusations may have stung more coming as they were against my candidate. When reading the letter, my face kept contorting into an expression somewhere between the disgruntled and the incredulous. However, in speaking with people committed supporters of Clark and undecideds alike, I am finding that the reaction has been generally, though not overwhelmingly negative. Interestingly, I haven’t found many people who have taken the attacks against Christy to heart – their somewhat nonsensical nature being, I’m betting, being the primary reason why they haven’t taken the membership by storm.

The problem for George Abbott is that this helps reinforce one of his developing campaign narratives, and one that he would want to avoid at all costs. I speak of the charge that Mr. Abbott and his team are rat fuckers – people willing to play dirty tricks to achieve their political goals, and not caring who gets hurt in the process. It started when his campaign created the kitties4christy website, several days before any mention of the cat happened in the media. I would like to think the best of the Abbott campaign, but I do not see how code for a website of this sort could be created without some kind of advance knowledge of the impending Whiskergate kerfuffle. Instead of taking the offending staffer to task for the website, he offered platitudes and evasions, and everything at the Abbott campaign continued apace. Like I say, I smell a rat.

The letter has its problems too, mostly stemming from the fact that the attacks that Abbott levels against Clark are poorly substantiated or specious. I’ve found a couple reviews of the letter, this being one of the better ones. These allegations – that Christy is afraid to face a by-election, or that the NDP are backing her campaign – are simply foolish. They don’t hold water. They just don’t make any damn sense to anyone who knows about the political process, and shouldn’t be given credence.

Still, they’re out there, and they are going to be part of the debate in the next election. Ignatieff wrote some of the most effective and resonant attacks on Dion. I don’t think that has happened yet, as the attacks are not really making any sense so far, but they could. George Abbott looks like he’s lashing out – the last flails and angry swipes of a trailing candidate – and it’s unbecoming of the office he’s seeking, and damaging to the party. I’d like to think that he is the nice guy I thought he was, but if he is approving this type of campaign literature, I might have to reassess that disposition. He really should know better.

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Hi there! I’m trialing the name Points of Information for my somewhat regular link-dump style posts, and here is yet another instalment of the linkstravaganza!

Quick note, I did consider linkstravaganza, but was told by my girlfriend that it was “a little bit ridiculous.” I give her points for humouring me.

Fantastic photo comparison here of Shanghai from 1990 and 2010. It’s absolutely astounding the sheer amount of development 20 years can do. With much talk recently comparing China’s  stealth fighter to the F-22, or it’s growing naval strength, I think this picture, more than anything else, encapsulates the rise of China.

Delta is considering walking from the Translink model and going it’s own, or forming a South of the Fraser transportation plan. This is the thing we will probably be dealing with for a number of years to come. With the chair and deputy chair of Translink being form North Van and West Van, south of the Fraser appears to be feeling even more shut-out than usual. I’ll have more on this in the future, but this is definitely something to follow.

In related news, Abbotsford doesn’t like it’s place in it’s transit world, and may be amenable to finally joining up with a larger South of the Fraser transit body. Stranger things have happened, like the Double Down.

A lot of this strikes a very NIMBYism chord with me, and I’ll have greater analysis later.  In the end, screaming about a lack of transit investment and then deciding to pick up your toys and go home doesn’t seem like particularly the best thing, especially when the future governance of the province is pretty up in the air. At best, it’s sabre rattling for more attention at worst, it’s throwing the baby out when the bathwater is about to be changed.

And also on a transit related note, from the good people down at seattletransitblog comes news that, once again, the Cascades rail from Vancouver to Portland, has broken new records of ridership. They continue that with a call to improve the service for greater speed and reliability, which I wholeheartedly endorse.

BC Ferries have ceased their wrongheaded and outright contrary to the spirit of the law policy of posting all FOI’s to their website. This, on the face of it, good idea is done solely to try to prevent FOI requests by media sources, and remove the ‘scoop’ purpose for an FOI. What it does in practice is result in half-cocked journalism, as journalists pounce on raw data without doing the background research, allowing for mistakes and misinterpretations in the race for ‘the scoop’.

And finally, to leave you with a little happiness, here is a screenshot of today’s NHL standings. You’ll note the position of the Vancouver Canucks.

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To start, we’ve got a bit of a conversation going on over here at Matt’s last post about party membership cutoffs that I think is worth a read. I posted my counterpoint, and defence of membership cutoffs in the commentary.

I heard a number of bloggers, as well as members of the BC Liberal Twitterati opining over the past couple of weeks the lack of a regional breakdown of support.  After a fair amount of time with an Elections BC map (actually, two of them, bodged together), and heavily leaning on Sean Holman’s Loose Fish articles, I have the current map of Liberal endorsements!

First, I have a few caveats to offer. The first, and most important is, the endorsement of the MLA makes no guarantees about how the riding will sway in the membership vote; they are one member of the riding, with one vote. The second, and tied into that, is the idea that a number of candidates have drummed up support from former MLA’s, riding association presidents, etcetera, which could be viewed as just as important, if not more so.

The third caveat is that I have left out the ridings which are held by the NDP (could be a serious vote swing). Greyed out the independent ridings, even though we know Bill Bennett is a party member. I have also darkened the ridings of those who will not likely be endorsing, such as Gordon Campbell and those on the Officers of the House and Leadership Convention Committee.

Given my large number of caveats, it’s fair to say that I definitely don’t think this map is a be all and end all. It’s meant as a neat thing to view, and maybe to glean a few rough ideas out of, just like any other endorsement list.

So, here is the map:

Liberal Endorsements

(click for larger image)

Can I just start by saying, WOW the NDP holds a lot of territory! That’s a hell of a lot of Orange, if only it reflected seat totals…

One of the things that is really quite striking is that both Kevin Falcon (blue) and George Abbott (lightish red) have developed a broad base of MLA support throughout the province. Anecdotally, I found that Kevin Falcon was more likely to have support from ridings that are ‘not in play’, as in, not seriously contested by the NDP. The opposite of course holds true for Abbott, who holds primarily ridings which could be considered target ridings by the NDP. That likely is a reflection of the farther right stance of Kevin Falcon, and George Abbott’s push for the middle. Whether that means that close ridings have more moderate MLA’s, or just MLA’s who want the best chance of re-election is up in the air.

Obviously, Falcon has the vast majority of support in the Fraser Valley, and Abbott holds a lock on the Okanagan. The interesting thing is that they each have support in the others backyard, Abbott holding Abbotsford (yuck yuck) and Falcon recently snagging Westside-Kelowna, they can each say they have endorsements from across the province.

The Liberals still have a couple of ‘loose fish’ floating around, Donna Barnett, Ida Chong, Colin Hansen and Margaret MacDiarmid. If I had to guess, I would say that Ida Chong would lean more towards the Clark camp, same with Colin Hansen. I would assume that both have withheld their nomination due to the controversies surrounding them both, Chong for being the target of a now failed recall, and Hansen for, well, being Colin Hansen. None of these candidates particularly scream ‘game changer’ to me, but I am not a party member, and so could be wrong.

None of this really shows all of the picture, but what it does show is who the LIKELY head of the party machine in the riding is supporting. Presuming they have a robust political machine, and are actively campaigning for their candidate, I would presume to lean a good portion of those ridings in the direction of the candidate endorsed.

This also doesn’t take into account guerrilla tactics, like organizers from other ridings who have done large signups, or activists within the riding pushing hard one way or another.

And finally, most importantly, I don’t think this in any way discounts the Clark campaign especially, but also the De Jong campaign. Both candidates have signed up large numbers of people, throughout the province. Given the need to campaign in ridings they don’t control, and assuming a robust increase in the traditional Liberal wing of the party’s membership, they would be the well placed to ‘steal’ ridings from under the noses of it’s sitting MLA’s, or the NDP held ridings.

Stay tuned to the future, when I’ll be doing  a rough breakdown (including some more maps) of senior non-MLA support for each side, former MLA support, and how all of that plays into both Liberal ridings AND NDP ridings, which could really swing this election one way or another.

I heard a number of bloggers, as well as members of the BC Liberal Twitterati opining over the past couple of weeks at the lack of a regional breakdown of support,

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Keeping you out

Over the past month, I have been busting my ass trying to get new memberships signed and sorted for my candidate in the BC Liberal leadership race, one Christy Clark. Whether on the phones, in person, or over the internet, every spare moment I’ve had has gone towards getting people reengaged in the democratic process. This is by way of explaining why I’ve taken so damn long to get a post up, and why I’ll see if Pat will just let me buy him a bottle of whisky and be done with it.

Suffice it to say, its been a marathon, but a rewarding one. The ability to get people engaged in the party, and to speak to them about the different visions that are being presented to us has been exciting, stimulating and rewarding. There have been some high points – I know it sounds corny, but talking with a politically engaged 16 year old after she realized that she could vote if she joined the party was one of the highlights of this month – and some low ones. Many of these live on the quote board in the Christy Clark campaign office. So it’s been one of the toughest slogs imaginable, but wholly worth it. We’ve been able to speak with people about Christy’s plan for the province, and where BC should go.

I don’t think it would come as a galloping shock to anyone to say that the BC Liberal party was in need of renewal. I had not been feeling engaged with the party, which is really saying something, because at least nominally, I should have been one of the more dialled in people – I was the campus club President at UBC from 2008-2010. Still, I never really felt that there was a concrete way for my ideas and the ideas of those around me to be communicated to the decision making structures of the party. I cite specifically the fact that there, during my time at UBC, were only two policy conventions. By contrast, at the federal level, there was a policy convention in the province at least three times, and two national policy conventions. While both were non-binding (as they should be, mind you) it created a discussion amongst the party members which I found incredibly valuable. The BC Liberals, in comparison, made the policy discussions feel perfunctory and made the conventions feel more like pageantry than the highest governing authority of the party.

This is why it’s been fantastic that the party has really been making an effort to reach out to people and engage them in the leadership race. I only wish the same were true of the NDP. After all, even though our membership deadline is tomorrow, the NDP had their cut-off on January 17th. I don’t really think it would be that hard to say that the NDP is also rather out of touch from the voter on the ground. After falling into the Victoria trap (perhaps somewhat easier to do when the leader is from the riding where the Parliament Buildings are), they descended into the backbiting and inter-Nicene conflict that eventually led to members of their caucus being deemed dissident, and putched their leader right out of office.

This may all be fine in and of itself, but if a caucus revolt and palace coup (thanks Jenny!) aren’t emblematic of a need for renewal, I have absolutely no idea what is. The political apparatus could have been invigorated by new blood (or, if Harry Lali got his way, old, white blood), and the citizenry could have cast their vote for the direction they want the NDP to go.

I’ve always been against the three months membership cuttoff, for very personal reasons. I received notice of the Liberal Party of Canada in Alberta convention only about a month and a half before the actual event, having just joined the party in late 2003, and would not have been able to have gotten engaged with a democratic institution which has, I don’t hesitate to say, defined my political life. I think it is inappropriate to put such a high barrier to entry against people who genuinely want to be engaged in their party and in their province, especially when it precludes a real campaign of engagement by the leadership contenders. Instead, those vying for the leadership will just have to make the same old tired NDP event circuit, speaking to those members who were fortunate enough to remember to renew their memberships by the deadline. It really is an opportunity missed for the NDP.

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