Thursday, December 08, 2005

Did the finance minister's office leak information?

Evidence suggests that Finance minister Ralph Goodale's office did leak information hours before an announcement to cut taxes on stock dividends, Wednesday November 23rd at 6pm.

While Goodale said to CTV "There was no specific advance notice whatsoever" -
  1. trading of dividend paying stocks increased more than usual that day and prices rose sharply reports the CBC;
  2. people were talking about an announcement that day, mentioning specifics, and used similar language to the language that the Finance minister used before the announcement was made - CTV found evidence earlier in the day of postings on of an announcement to "even the playing field" and "to make a more level playing field" specifically mentioning taxation on stock-dividends. Goodale's statement that evening: "We're going to help to level up the playing field as between corporations and trusts and we're going to be doing that by ending double taxation on dividends."
  3. at the very least, some people knew an announcement was going to be made - the associate executive director of Canada's Association for the Fifty Plus, William Gleberzon, told CTV "The day [the Finance Minister's office] made the announcement they phoned us and said something is going to be said."
The significance of a leak, if a leak happened:
  1. potentially not as significant as the opposition makes it out to be, because it would appear that Goodale had said an announcement for something would come before a vote of non-confidence and also the leak may not have come from the top of his office.
  2. it would, however, continue to build the case against the government's ability to be accountable.
Worth further investigation:
  1. How is the RCMP and Market Regulation Services investigation going?
  2. and who were the three brokers that did the most of the trading during that period of time and what are the relationships between them, their clients and members of Goodale's office.

SES Research Canada / CPAC / Decima / Globe and Mail Strategic Counsel Polling numbers

There has been some talk today about the latest SES Research and Decima polls. I am hesitant to add these polls to the latest poll aggregation for two reasons:

1) There is insufficient regional data. I can't find the regional Decima data. And the SES Research poll does not distinguish between the regions of Manitoba and BC, for example - in my view, a grave error.

2) I don't trust these polls. The SES poll seems out of whack. For instance, it has the Liberals with a 40 percent advantage in the Maritimes. 40. The latest EKOS poll puts that lead at 20. Such large shifts in voter intention are rare without any forseeable cause. The Liberal lead is also 20 points in Ontario. The most recent MacLeans poll put the Cons and Libs in a neck and neck race. The Decima poll, on the other hand, is online. Even though the sample size is a whopping 9,000, it is still online. I don't trust it.

The Strategic Counsel poll appears to be more accurate than these two. However, since there are no regional detailed numbers, I cannot add it into the aggregation. Thankfully, IPSOS and EKOS appears to be doing mid-week polls which are released on the weekends, which can provide a better idea of what is going out in the public.

UPDATE: I have just discovered that Strategic Counsel is publishing their regional data. See here for their latest example. This is good news. This means that there will be more frequent seat predictions and poll aggregation here on the Potent Pew. An update will occur as soon as the IPSOS poll is released.

Handgun ban: Paul Martin

Blogging will be light today. There are some interesting stories developing in this election.
  1. The Goodale office Income Trusts leak. Developing...
  2. The handgun ban proposed by the Liberal party has been receiving some really negative response. It seemed like a sure fire hit. However, after reading some information, I am not so sure.
See here. Apparently the handgun ban in the UK has actually, causally or non-causally, increased handgun crimes since the ban. By 40%.

Ironically, a handgun ban is practically in effect already in Canada. Handguns are only given to registered owners. It has been this way for over 60 years. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the electorate.

Obviously no one is in favour of having unrestricted access to handguns. However, it seems like a smokescreen announcement, given the fact that the gun registry has not lessoned gun violence. And that an all out ban in other countries have not been proven to be successful.

So how can handgun crime be lessoned? For starters, how about severe penalties for possessions of handguns outside of a government sanctioned handgun?

Secondly, there needs to be a study done on handgun crimes on guns that have been registered. If handguns used in crimes are typically registered, that is a good correlation to measure. If handguns in crimes are illegal, then any registry has proved to be ineffective. Thus, registered owners that do no harm ought not be punished.

Third, the root of the problem cannot be solved by a quick fix. It means an agenda of education of values, where people are taught that problems are resolved between people and the law. Not vigilante justice. Violent vigilante justice ought not be tolerated by the community.

Of course, it is doubtful we are ever to see real vision on this issue. If people still want to kill each other, they will find a way. Whether that be a gun, knife, or some other method. The method is not the problem. The people controlling the method are. If violence is to cease, then people will need to smarten up. No statist law or regulation can instantly change people. If a government is to govern for the future, it needs to foster values - a hard word for a government to digest, let alone legislate.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Election Canada opinion poll rights

Know your rights. Know their obligations:

Rules for Publication of Opinion Polls

OTTAWA, Wednesday, November 30, 2005 — The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, reminded Canadians today that the publication of opinion polls during this general election period is regulated by sections 326 to 328 of the Canada Elections Act.

Under the Act, the first person or media outlet to release the results of an election opinion survey must indicate who sponsored the survey (for example, the news organization or political party that paid for the poll), who carried it out and when, the population from which the survey sample was drawn, how many persons were contacted, and the survey's margin of error. If a survey has not been conducted using recognized statistical methods, this must be stated. Print and Internet publishers must also include the wording of the survey questions and instructions on how to obtain the written report. The survey sponsor must make this report available to the public, on request, at a cost of no more than $0.25 a page. Any other media outlet that broadcasts or publishes survey results during the 24 hours following initial publication must provide the same information.

No new opinion survey may be published on election day before the polling stations close.

Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.

New Canadian Election Poll

Okay. Actually, the poll is old. That is why I am not adding it to any aggregate. It is done by MacLeans and can be found here. The most important data? The Bloc leads by 25 in Quebec, while the Conservatives and Liberals are tied at 37% outside of Quebec.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Election Canada 2006: Green party accuses Conservatives of NRA help

Is the NRA really helping the Conservative party in Canada? That is the question that the Green Party answers: yes.
This week Canadians learned that the U.S.-based National Rifle Association (NRA) would not only be supporting the Conservative party's campaign, but also providing it with strategic advice. "It's regrettable that Mr. Harper did not immediately reject these offers and send a strong signal to all Canadians that the NRA's mandate is not a sub-section of the Conservative platform," said [leader Jim] Harris.

This would be pretty big news, if it were as true as it sounds. The real story goes something like this: a person in the NRA is speaking at a session with the Canadian Shooting Sports Association. The CSSA is, in turn, looking to get more politically active. Some of their members are going to be supporting the Conservative party in certain Ontario ridings. This is a far cry from the NRA, in any official capacity, supporting the Conservative party. Further, the NRA isn't even providing the Conservatives with "strategic advice", which is clear from that Globe and Mail story.

THE GREEN PARTY may have some demons in its closet, too. Most notably is the fact that the Green Party of Canada has been active in other countries' politics. This seems to be the only reason why the Green Party objects to NRA support of a Canadian party. Green Party Review says this:
"just off the top of my head I can say Canadian Greens helped the Green Party of the United States with logistical support (the lapel pin that Ralph Nader wore during his last two presidential campaigns came from a GPC project, "Goods for Greens"), and, the leader of the Australian Green Party did a tour of British Columbia to help in their last provincial election."

So, must the Conservatives "renounce NRA support"? To recap, they don't really have their support anyway. And even if they did, would they renounce their foreign support?

Martin, Harper, passion and the polls

LET ME just note one reason why the Conservatives aren't dominating this election (since they have set the agenda since day 1). It does have to do, partly, with the leader. I know, I know. I just bashed people putting too much stock into the leader. But I suppose I more resist the "extremely flawed" hyperbole of Mr. Gregg. Mr. Gregg infers that people have made up their minds. I disagree. This does not affirm the possibility of people to change.

That said, I would like to argue that the reason Paul Martin is more favourable to most people is twofold. One, people are more likely to view the status quo as favourable, as long as it does not tangibly affect them. Thus, Martin is tolerated by many people, even if he is not liked.

The second reason that people like Martin is his passion. 'Let me be clear', you can't believe a word he says. And 'fundamentally', many people think he is a liar who will do anything to get elected. However, he does have a passion when he talks. It is attractive and rousing, even if you don't take a liking to the man.

Stephen Harper, conversely, is pretty plain spoken. Even in his new plain talk ads, he kind of drifts off. He says things like he is repeating them for the hundreth time. I have heard Harper speak in person. Personally, I found him to be a great speaker. If he could have that same fire all the time as when I heard him, people might take a greater interest in him.

Let me go out on a limb and say that Gilles Duceppe is so liked in Quebec - and even in the rest of Canada - precisely because he shoots straight, but is also passionate about defending Quebec's interests. And it shows. Conservatives must be crossing their fingers, hoping that their leader can display some of the inner fire during the debates. Harper doesn't have to be angry. But he needs to be passionate. He needs spirit! As Kierkegaard said:
"our age is essentially one of understanding and reflection, without passion, momentarily bursting into enthusiasm, and shrewdly relapsing into repose."
Thus, any sustained passion by either leader is likely to overcome any doubts that people have about their leadership.

Globe and Mail/CTV Canada election poll

This Strategic Counsel/Globe and Mail poll uncovers some interesting data. It says that outside of Quebec, the Conservatives and Liberals are tied at 37%. This jives with the new MacLeans poll of a horserace between Conservatives and Liberals, at 37% and 40% respectively.

Let me be the first to say that excessive poll speculation is getting out of control I gather. Every day, Allen Gregg is in the Globe analysing polling numbers. In other papers, much of the same really occurs. But he should know better than merely editorializing every percentage point fluctuation that occurs in the polls. Take this latest story for example:
"Canadians look at two extremely flawed leaders and hold their nose."
For one, I honestly don't know where he is getting this. Canadians are not dumb enough to think that you actually vote for the leader of a party. That is American politics. Sure, leaders do affect people's perceptions of the party. But so what? Around 40 percent of people outside of Quebec are willing to vote for each of them. They can't be that bad.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Canada's Constitution: Judge McLachlin

Fuss has been made over Chief Justice B. McLachlin's speech in New Zealand this past weekend. My comments are after this short excerpt:
"The rule of law requires judges to uphold unwritten constitutional norms, even in the face of clearly enacted laws or hostile public opinion," said a prepared text of the lecture Chief Justice McLachlin gave to law students at Victoria University of Wellington late last week.

"There is certainly no guarantee or presumption that a given list of constitutional principles is complete, even assuming the good faith intention of the drafters to provide such a catalogue."

Chief Justice McLachlin set out a blueprint for when judges must rely on unwritten principles, which she defined as "norms that are essential to a nation's history, identity, values, and legal system."

Over at the Great White North, the emergency bells are ringing over this:
A duty to force the government to bend to the will of a simple majority of a group of nine men and women appointed without review by a Prime Minister.

This is why we need a Parliamentary review of and vote on all judicial appointments that are now made unilaterally by either the Minister of Justice or the Prime Minister.

I DO AGREE that there must be a better process in picking judicial appointments. However, I disagree with critisism of unwrriten principles. I think there are unwritten principles, such as the rule of law, that are applicable to Canadians. I think where me and McLachlin disagree is over the content of those principles.

McLachlin, likely, would like to obtain the authority of history for justifying what she discovers as a principle. Me, on the other hand, would let history decide what the principles are.

The difference between the two paradigms is emphasized in her belief that she must apply as supreme "norms" that are identical with the nation's "values." This is, likely, what AGWN is most upset about. And they have a right to be. For who can claim to discover a nation's values? If a nation has any values at all, those values are written down in case law or in statutes. Otherwise, they are mere whims. Likewise, discerning a nation's values is a task in transparent subjectivism.

A jurisprudence respecting history, conversely, is bound by history and history's conventions. Values are discovered in history, not used as justification for reporting on when a judge puts their finger in the air. Thus, this idea of hers becomes heresy to the idea of the rule of law: "Societal values change over time and the constitution document can be incomplete or open to interpretation."

Societal values change over time. Sure. Perhaps we need to change our system then. The separation of powers was intended to protect the legislatures from acting like courts. Now, we have the opposite problem. Courts are acting like legislatures. For how can people be guided by post facto discoveries of rights and values?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dec. 4 2005 Canada Election Poll Aggregate

HERE ARE THE latest polling numbers. As I have said before, the Ipsos poll appears to be the most "believable" poll. The EKOS poll, on the other hand, is very far from believable, in my opinion.

Take this example: EKOS has the Conservatives at 27% in the prairies compared to the Liberals' 34%. Every other poll I have looked at during this period has the Conservatives up at least 10 points, and in some cases up 14% in this same region. The same poll has Liberals up 10 percent in BC. All other polls have the Conservatives with a 3 to 9 percent lead. Keeping in mind that all these polls were done at the same time as each other, the EKOS poll appears to be an anomaly. Take these latest numbers with a grain of salt.

Latest polls (sample size in italics)
Poll 1: SES Research Nov.28-Dec.1 1200
Poll 2: EKOS Nov. 28-Dec.1 1308
Poll 3: Ipsos Nov.28-Dec.1 2450
4958 Total Sample