Archive for the ‘Ponderings’ Category

Contributions: A Bigger Picture Q2 2008

July 31, 2008 1 comment

Elections Canada has released its second quarter 2008 political party contribution report; therefore I have updated my compilation of contributions reports spanning from first quarter 2005 to now second quarter 2008.

With this data I have created five graphs: one on dollars contributed, one on the number of donors, one on average amount of money per donor, one on the percentage of total donors per party, and one on the percentage of total contributions per party.

Raw Data Chart (Word Document)

Contributions Raised Quarterly

Number of Donors Per Quarter

Average Contribution Per Donor Per Quarter

Percentage of Total Contributions Per Quarter

Percentage of Total Donors Per Quarter


  1. In the final quarter of every year, there tends to be a increase of contributions gathered. This probably is because donors want to ensure they get a tax credit for the next year.
  2. The large rise on all graphs in Fourth Quarter 2005 probably arises from the 2006 Federal Election going on at the time.
  3. The large rise on all graphs for the Liberals in Fourth Quarter 2006 probably arises from the Liberal Leadership Convention.

Contributions: A Bigger Picture

May 1, 2008 5 comments

Many bloggers have been discussing the first quarter political party contribution results from Elections Canada. However, what I have not see discussed on any of the blogs that I have read is a big picture view that examines previous quarters. So, with that in mind, I have gathered information on contribution results from First Quarter 2005 to First Quarter 2008 and made three graphs: one on dollars contributed, one on the number of donors, and one on average amount of money per donor.

At the bottom, I’ve placed some notes in regards to understanding the graphs. I’ll for the most part leave it to others to come up with their own conclusions and explanations (and/or spin).

Conservatives might not want to trust too much in these numbers, as they are from Elections Canada.

Data Chart

Contributions Raised Quarterly

Number of Donors Per Quarter

Average Per Donor Per Quarter


  1. In the final quarter of every year, there tends to be a increase of contributions gathered. This probably is because donors want to ensure they get a tax credit for the next year.
  2. The large rise on all graphs in Fourth Quarter 2005 probably arises from the 2006 Federal Election going on at the time.
  3. The large rise on all graphs for the Liberals in Fourth Quarter 2006 probably arises from the Liberal Leadership Convention.
  4. There seems to be a downward trend for the Liberals in regards in average per donor per quarter. Are the Liberals just adjusting to the general range exhibited by the other parties, or is there something else going on?

Beatty/Orchard Highlights Need For NDP Membership Reform

January 7, 2008 11 comments

I’m sure by now, most of you know about Dion’s appointment of Saskatchewan NDP MLA Joan Beatty as a candidate for the federal Liberals, and I’ve got my snarky comments on the issue in.

However, I think that this appointment highlights the need to reform the rules of membership for the New Democratic Party.

At present, anybody who wants to join the NDP must join both the federal party and the provincial party of the province in which they live (except Quebec). Individual memberships are handled by the provincial parties (as per Article 3.1.2 of the NDP Constitution).

So what if one wants to join the federal NDP but not their provincial NDP? What if one wants to join the provincial NDP and not the federal NDP? Well, one is out of luck; they must join both parts of the NDP.

The requirement to join both parts of the NDP is based on one faulty assumption: that the federal and provincial scene are the same and that if one is inclined to one part of the party, they must be inclined to the other. However, real life is much more complex. Sometimes people support the NDP in one political scene and support another party altogether in a different scene, for many different reasons.

The current NDP membership rules take away one’s right to political self-determination in all Canadian political scenes by forcing one to join both sections of the party. This unnecessary removal of political self-determination seems wrong to me.

Away from the philosophical, the current NDP membership rules have many practical negative effects on the NDP.

One is that the shared provincial/federal membership lists could be made inaccurate for a portion of the party’s purposes. For instance, if the provincial section was using the list, if might have people on it who have no interest in the provincial party, just the federal. The same could be true the other way around. This leads to a waste of resources: a section of the NDP could be wasting scarce time and money sending information letters, donation appeals, appeals to volunteer, and other things, to people who are not interested.

Another negative effect is that a section of the NDP could be missing out on a lot of volunteers and money simply because the people who would provide these resources are willing to join one section of the party, but are unwilling to join the others. Let me use BC as an example. There are federal Liberals that support the BC NDP but do not support the federal NDP. Because they do not support the NDP federally, they cannot join provincially. If one can’t join, then why devote volunteer hours and money? If a federal Liberal wants to participate provincially in BC, the only real choice they have is the BC Liberals (which are more like Conservatives). So the BC NDP might not only be losing money and volunteers, but practically giving them away to the opposition!

So, the question is, how should the NDP membership rules be reformed? I propose creating a membership system in which one defaults as becoming a member of both parts of the party, but one has the ability to opt out of membership of a part of the party.

I think there is no question about it: the NDP has to change its membership rules somehow. Otherwise, we will continue to have negative media when a politician that supports one part of the party but not the other decides to switch political scenes (well, okay, Beatty has admitted that she did it because the Saskatchewan NDP is in opposition and the Federal Liberals might soon be not, but maybe other politicians might have better principles). Otherwise, we will continue to unnecessarily deny political self-determination for regular members. Otherwise we will continue to waste vital resources that we need to win.

Categories: NDP, Ponderings


December 18, 2007 42 comments

I think that some people need to learn a very important lesson.

One might have a point in an argument with an organization, but if one goes out to alienate the operators of that organization, if one decides to skip discussion and begin with ultimatums and bullying, well then, one is not going to get what they want. Not anytime in the near future.

Even if one has a point.

These type of tactics only result in one losing.

Edit 01/04/2008: It’s rather disappointing that many intelligent people are conflating a lack of support for a specific category for a lack of support of what that category is to represent.

Again, the more one backs organizers into a corner, especially those organizers that aren’t paid to tolerate bullies (that shamefully use a good cause to justify their bad behaviour), it is more likely that the organizers will be forced to stand their ground and one will not get what they want.

Categories: Ponderings

A Nation Of Nations

November 24, 2006 5 comments

I’ve commented on the tactical aspects of the nation resolutions, but I think that it is time to address the national question in a more comprehensive way.

I think that Joe Clark described the composition of Canada best: “We are a community of communities.” Unfortunately, he lost the election he said that in to the Austin Powers of Canadian Politics, who then proceeded to open up this constitutional mess.

The fact is simple; Canada is a multi-nation state. I would say that Canadian is a nation of nations. The word community would have been sufficient, but now the word nation is out of the bag so it is time to use that. The two nation resolutions going to the House of Commons are the beginning of the recognition of this fact.

But there seems to be quite a few people that would prefer to impose a single nationality on all of the people of Canada. They say that one can only be Canadian or be whatever nationality. I believe that this is a simple minded view that only serves to cause more fracturing in our society. One hears say on how Canada is a multi-cultural country instead of a melting pot; saying that somebody that lives in Canada can only be one nationality is akin to assimilation.

The thing is, one can be Canadian and Quebecois(e). One can be Canadian and Acadian. One can be Canadian and British Columbian. The sooner that we all recognize that we cannot impose uniformity on Canadians, the sooner that this this country will be more safer from separation threats from places like Quebec, Alberta, and Newfoundland.

Let’s have a look at the United Kingdom. It is a multi-nation state, made up of many nations, being English, Scottish, Welsh, and (Northern) Irish. But the people who make up these nations can say that they have another national identity which unifies them all: British. I think that Canada can be very much the same.

Neither is asymmetrical federalism the end of Canada. Let’s face it, we already live in a asymmetrical federal state for the simple reason that different areas of the countries have different needs. Quebec has certain powers over culture. The Maritimes have a special deal relating to offshore oil (the Atlantic Accord). Alberta collects its own corporate tax.

I’m also tired of hearing this argument from people: we should recognize Italians, Czechs, and whatever immigrant nationality. I respond by saying that that is a silly example that lacks common sense, and therefore we would not see any recognition of any nationality not based in Canada. It would be like designating Political Science Students a recognized minority next to black and disable people. Sure, we Political Science Students do make up a numerical minority within Canada, but we can all agree that we don’t need to be designated like a actually recognized minority.

So for all those people who are saying that Canada is doomed because of these House of Commons resolutions, I say, calm down and take a chill pill. This is only an symptom of growing pains; of Canada become a more mature state; A Nation of Nations.

Categories: Federal, Ponderings

Global Integration On OUR Terms

October 18, 2006 1 comment

Let’s face it: the world is becoming more integrated as we speak. The European Union, NAFTA, the Free Trade Area of the Americans, The Independent Task Force on North America (a.k.a. the “deep integration” guys).

Now before we go on, there are reasons why increased integration is good and bad:


  • Could bring nations and people closer together.
  • Increases economies of scale.
  • Can improve mobility of people and goods.


  • Tends to be initiated and run by elites.
  • Tends to be run under a neo-liberal agenda with lower and middle classes being the losers and the rich being the winners.
  • Internal process tend not to be transparent

In this post, I’ll will use the assumption that integration is inevitable.

I notice that the Left in Canada tends to be anti-globalizationist and anti-integration; understandably because of the neo-liberal connections. But beyond that, the Left does not have an alternate; just “integration is bad, m’kay”.

However, I believe that alternate integrations agenda can be and should be adopted by the Left; with the key concepts being 1): ensuring that integration is done in an democratic way, not by elites; 2): That the middle and lower classes benefit as well as the rich; 3) respecting nationality; and 4) Ensuring Transparency. I think that if we don’t start defining what we, on the left, want out of integration, then we will get the junky neo-liberal type.

Possible Example: Canada, US, Mexico Integration

Now that I have presented what I think what the a progressive integration agenda should like, its time to apply it to an example. The (controversial) example I will use is Canada, US, and Mexico Integration.

Currently, the integration that is presently existent in these three countries is NAFTA. Now NATFA has been creating its own political institutions, such as courts; but at the same time, nobody really understands how those institutions work.

In this context, I think that this is the form Canada, US, and Mexico Integration should take, even if it is for a small policy area such as free trade.

There should be democratically elected representative overseeing any integrations activities. However, since Canada is small in population compared to the US, I think that the representatives should be representing States and Provinces in a 91 seat chamber; 13 for Canada, 50 for the US, 31 for Mexico. Any important decisions should be passed only with a “triple majority” 50% + 1 approval of Canadian representatives, 50% + 1 approval of American representatives, 50% + 1 approval of Mexican representatives. Any expansion of powers of the integrated institutions should also be approved by the national governments. A referendum conducted in each of the three countries to approve the establishment of any integrated institutions.

The executive of any integrated institutions should come from the 91 seat chamber; there is no need of repeating the European Union’s mistake of having an executive, the European Commission, appointed instead of elected in some form.

By doing this, we are being the process of integration into the light of day instead of leaving it behind closed doors of the meeting rooms. The best way to kill a vampire, after all, is to expose it to sunlight. And by ensuring that integration is democratic from the first step, the Left will have a new opportunity to improve the lives of a whole Continent.

Categories: International, Ponderings

ER: Executive Reform

October 16, 2006 2 comments

Electoral Reform, particularly Proportional Representation, has been a popular topic over the last couple of years. Proponents of Electoral Reform tend to want to change the political institutions of Canada to make it more democratic.

However, what is not often talked about is reform of the executive branch: the Cabinet and the Prime Minister. Most people know that in recent years, the Prime Minister’s office has been growing in power; so much, in fact, that somebody wrote a book calling Canada a “Friendly Dictatorship“. Another common complaint is that regular MPs don’t really have that much power. Maybe if one’s wants democratic change in Canada, they should have a look at the executive branch.

For interest sake, I’m going to throw out three proposals for executive reform.

  1. Cabinet Elected By Governing Party MP’s

    This is the most common proposal for executive reform that I hear. In this proposal, instead of the Prime Minister electing a Cabinet, the Prime Minister tells the caucus of the governing party how many Ministers he/she wants and then the members of caucus elect MP’s to fills those positions.

  2. Multipartisan Proportional Cabinet

    Right now, Cabinets tend to be all members of the governing party, arguably only limiting the Cabinet’s view to only one set of ideas. Maybe instead Cabinet should be multipartisan, with the percentage of seats that a single party receive in the cabinet being equal to the percentage of seats that that party has in the House of Commons; in fact, current House Committees operate in this way. Such a system might result in a more deliberative, cooperative government.

  3. Direct Election of Cabinet

    In this proposal, there is an election, like always. After that election is another election, this time for electing members of cabinet. Only current MPs could run for cabinet. As well, cabinet elections should be tightly regulated, with relatively small campaign finance limits and mandated equal media exposure time during the election. Such a system could be arguably the form of cabinet most responsive to the people.

Categories: Federal, Ponderings