Monday, June 28, 2004

So...what do we do about these pollsters?

Isn't this great? For all the talk about how this election was already over, the voters have proven that pollsters do not know everything. I'm sitting here watching the election results tonight and what do you know? The Liberals have slipped to a minority, but it's a solid minority. And with the results for the NDP, the Liberals have enough votes to govern.

Right up until the results started coming in tonight, the pundits were predicting that things were too close to call. Then the vote totals started coming in. The Liberals did well in Atlantic Canada, but that wasn't unexpected. Then they did well in Ontario, and you could see the puzzled looks all around. Then the totals kept coming in and it became clear that the Liberal numbers were solid, and the panelists seemed stunned. For awhile, they didn't seem to want to admit that what was happening was really happening...but it was. And it did.

I think I like this result, but I'm going to have to think about it for awhile. But for now, I'm just delighted that the poll that counted -- the one that we all participated in today -- turned out to be different from what everyone said was going to be the result. That makes me feel good. And I think it should give ammunition to those like me, who want to reconsider the role that polling should play in the election coverage.

This story certainly isn't over...

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Time for a change

And no, I'm not talking about the current federal election. Although that does seem to be the prevailing mood of voters.

No, I'm talking about a new look for my blog. I've changed the colours and the layout. But the best thing about it is that it's now standard-compliant. However, that won't mean much to most of you, nor to me, if the truth be known. But I like the new look, and I like the navigation changes that are incorporated in this new style.

I'm interested in what people think, so feel free to add your comments. And thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The morning after the big debate

I've been struggling the past few days with the Canadian election. What to say? I'm still amazed at the vitriol that the electorate has for the Liberals, despite the comparative good times we find ourselves in.

There seems to be little doubt that most Canadians are doing pretty well, especially compared to other countries, or compared to where they were 11 years ago, when the Liberals took power. But that's not good enough, apparently. I hear people say that things should be better.

It's not that they really think any other party would do a better job. It's more that the Liberals haven't done a good enough job. And they're arrogant. And they deserve to be given a slap on the behind and put in their place. And it looks like that's exactly what is going to happen.

The English debate between the leaders last night, and the French-language debate the day before, were not really debates. They were opportunities for the leaders to try to speak directly to voters, without the filter of sound bites, or the know-it-all reporter voice over. But they rarely work. Instead, the leaders have to shout to be heard, and they're forced to adhere to a tightly-controlled format that does not allow for any meaningful exchange of ideas. Instead, the leaders give well-crafted replies, even if they weren't asked. They have a message to get out, dammit, and that's what they're going to do.

Am I cynical? I suppose so. I'm tired of the transparent phoniness of what we're watching. Right now, in my riding, there are several candidates working hard to get elected. At least I think they are. I haven't actually seen any of them. Nor am I aware of exactly what they're doing. There are probably all-candidates debates happening but I haven't been told about them. I don't even know all the names that will be on the ballot, although a couple are obvious because I've seen their lawn signs. But my reality (and I suspect this is true for most voters) is watching the coverage of the leaders on TV, or reading about what happened on the national campaign the day before in the morning newspapers.

So what's to be done? If there's one thing that this campaign has exposed, for me at least, it's that our electoral system needs a significant shot in the arm. Roy McGregor has been traveling the country throughout the campaign, and he calls it the election without an issue. The only constant is that people seem pissed off with the Liberals. Not enthusiastic for anyone else, but definitely mad at the Liberals. I think that's significant. It points to a general mood among people that it's time to change the system. Not just the people in power, but the whole way we elect people.

I've been working on some ideas for what I think that could look like and I'll be posting them here in the coming days. It's sort of my own way to sort through my feelings about our democratic process in the last few days of this current campaign. I'd like to think it's the last one we'll be waging in this fashion, but I kind of doubt it.

One final thought. In case you think that your vote isn't worth anything, think again. Did you know that under the new party financing legislation passed this year, political parties will receive $1.75 for every vote they get in this election? That's right. And that money is available to every party that wins more than 2 per cent of the national vote. That's why this election is so important to the Green party. For the first time, they could have access to a significant amount of money to organize themselves for the next election. It also means that all parties will have more reason than ever to get their own supporters to the polls, regardless of whether they will make a difference to the outcome of the election. Every vote is worth money. It's kind of a nice twist on the old idea that you could be paid for your vote...Instead, you can negotiate with the various parties to sell them your support. Perhaps you can work out some nice options in exchange for your support on the big day...

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Rowing Update - Proud Papa edition

...much too long to get this post up. Both of my daughters, Jaime and Kelly Anne, were taking in part in the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Championships in St. Catherines this past weekend. And I'm proud to report that they each won a bronze medal!

Jaime won a bronze in the 63kg Senior Women's Single, while Kelly and her partner, Beth Harris, rowed a wonderful race to get a bronze in the Jr Women's Double.

Needless to say, I was so proud of them both, I could hardly speak. It was very exciting (who knew rowing was so action-packed?) and I admit a few tears were shed...

Best of all, my mother was visiting from Regina, and she, along with my sister from Edmonton and brother from Toronto, were all on hand to cheer them on. What a cool day it was.

You can check out the final results for Jaime's race and Kelly's race.

Kelly also made it to the finals in the Sr. Women's Quad and came sixth.

And if you want to see some pictures of the races themselves, here's one of Jaime and here's one of Kelly and with her partner, Beth.