Nice call, Nostradamus

The next time the man on the white horse comes in, he may not be so benign. He could be a real racial hater or a divider of people.

 

Jim Squires, one-time spokesperson for Ross Perot.
Squires made the comment after the 1992 U.S. election, which showed that millions of Americans were ready to go crazy for a thin-skinned, TV-adept billionaire who promised to shake things up in Washington, D.C.

Quoted in The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism,
by Steve Kornacki (p. 209)

The Liberal record, updated

 The Tyee has posted the final version of our look at 15 years of Liberal rule in British Columbia.

You can read the full story here.

117 BC Liberal Falsehoods, Boondoggles and Scandals: The Complete List

The Tyee’s updated tally of 15 years of public messes, sourced and explained.

TheTyee.caDavid Beers is founding editor of The Tyee and Tom Barrett is a long time contributor to The Tyee and before that covered B.C. politics for the Vancouver Sun. Grateful thanks to other Tyee team members who assisted in compiling this list and checking its accuracy.

[Editor’s note: This list, which combines the Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark eras, grew from an original 98 items published last week to 117 after we invited Tyee readers to suggest additions. Some definitions: By falsehood we mean promises broken or assertions that proved demonstrably untrue. By boondoggle we mean significant public money lost to waste, overruns, or ill-conceived initiatives. And by scandal we mean moments when government was revealed to have seriously broken rules or caused harm either deliberately or through neglect or incompetence. The Tyee chose these categories with the assumption that all voters, no matter their political leanings, would prefer their government tell the truth, spend money responsibly, and avoid embarrassing breaches of ethics or the law. We also present sidebar items that don’t fit the categories, but also aren’t anything a premier might put on her podium sign.]

The BC Liberal record, part 2

The second part of the Tyee’s look at the British Columbia Liberal party in power is up.

98 BC Liberal Falsehoods, Boondoggles and Scandals: The Clark Era 53

Part two of 15 years of public messes, sourced and explained. If we forgot any, please remind us.

TheTyee.ca

 

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee and Tom Barrett is a long time contributor to The Tyee and before that covered B.C. politics for the Vancouver Sun. Grateful thanks to other Tyee team members who assisted in compiling this list and checking its accuracy.

BOONDOGGLE: Air Christy

B.C.’s high-flying premier ran up more than half a million dollars in private jet flights during her first five years in office, at times managing to squeeze in Liberal party fundraisers among the government photo ops. On at least two occasions, Clark flew on jets chartered from companies owned by wealthy Liberal backers.

BOONDOGGLE: Stanley Cup Riot Report Topped $300K, No One to Blame

After the 2011 Stanley Cup riot, the government hired former Olympics boss John Furlong and Former Nova Scotia deputy attorney-general Doug Keefe to co-chair an inquiry. Their report was criticized for letting Canucks brass, senior bureaucrats, police and politicians off the hook. The inquiry did manage to go over its budget, though, running up a bill well over $300,000. Documents showed that Furlong billed for four hours of work the same day he spoke to the International Olympic Committee in South Africa….

Read the full story here.

 

 

The BC Liberal record, part 1

The Tyee has just published the story below, which lists some of the more dubious elements of the British Columbia Liberal government’s record. I played a small part in creating it, along with David Beers and a bunch of other Tyee folks.

Opinion

98 BC Liberal Falsehoods, Boondoggles and Scandals: The Campbell Era 45

Part one of 15 years of public messes, sourced and explained. If we forgot any, please remind us.

TheTyee.ca

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee and Tom Barrett is a long time contributor to The Tyee and before that covered B.C. politics for the Vancouver Sun. Grateful thanks to other members of the Tyee community who assisted in compiling this list and checking its accuracy.

[Editor’s note: Pipelines? Tax cuts? A free-range organic chicken in every pot? Elections are a great time to argue about policy options. Something all voters can agree on, however, is they’d prefer their government tell the truth, spend money responsibly, and avoid embarrassing breaches of ethics or the law. In B.C., one party has been in power for 15 years, more than enough time to reveal its proclivities. As an aid to voters, therefore, The Tyee researched the BC Liberal government’s record regarding falsehoods, boondoggles and scandals. We tallied 98 items and now invite readers to suggest more.

Some definitions are in order: By falsehood we mean promises broken or assertions that proved demonstrably untrue. By boondoggle we mean significant public money lost to waste, overruns, or ill-conceived initiatives. And by scandal we mean moments when government was revealed to have seriously broken rules or caused harm either deliberately or through neglect or incompetence. So please comb our list, and if you think we’ve missed one or two BC Liberal falsehoods, boondoggles or scandals over the years, drop us a note at editor@thetyee.ca with the subject line: “Add this to the list.”

Today we begin with the years when Gordon Campbell was BC Liberal premier, from 2001 to 2010. Tomorrow we finish with the era of his successor Christy Clark, 2011 to now. Along the way we’ve tossed in a few sidebar items that don’t quite match any of our three categories, but did cause our eyes to roll. Do send items we may have missed. We promise to add any that fit our definitions. Next Monday we’ll then publish the entire list, spanning 2001 to today. So read closely and rack your memory. With your help we might end up topping 100.]

You can find the full story here.

 

After Several Fails, Should We Trust Election Polls?

It’s a key question, given the swarm of public opinion reports on the horizon.
By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

One academic cautions that election polls tend to underestimate support for the incumbent party. Photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Bonhomme by pmwebphotos Flickr.
One academic cautions that election polls tend to underestimate support for the incumbent party. Photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Bonhomme by pmwebphotos Flickr.

In recent weeks, pollsters have asked us questions about UFOs, cyberscams, the coming federal election and Metro Vancouver’s transit plebiscite. But there’s one question many of us are asking the pollsters: Why should we believe you?

The 2013 B.C. election fail did for the polling industry what the Hindenburg did for the dirigible as the last word in air safety. Since then, pollsters have been struggling to find ways to better measure what we’re thinking.

For pollsters, there’s no money in asking questions about elections and releasing the numbers to the media. They do it as a marketing tool to attract clients who want to know what people think about, say, shampoo.

Because the numbers in marketing surveys are difficult to verify, calling elections correctly is one of the few ways pollsters can show they know their stuff. Calling elections correctly, however, is becoming increasingly difficult. And bum results don’t attract clients.

University of British Columbia political science professor Richard Johnston said he understands their plight. “If I were in the firms I would almost ask myself, ‘Is it worth it to be in the prediction business?'” he said.

But if pollsters quit doing public polls, voters are left with less information, said Johnston. Voters have a valid interest in knowing how their fellow citizens are going to vote because it allows them to decide how to vote most effectively, he said. “If you can’t make sense of the polling information, then what do you do?” Continue reading

Pollster Calls BS on BC Libs’ Private Election Polls

‘Show me the numbers,’ demands Insights West president, who says voters simply changed their minds.
By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

"It's very easy after the fact, once you've won, to say, 'We knew it all along,'" says veteran pollster Steve Mossop.
“It’s very easy after the fact, once you’ve won, to say, ‘We knew it all along,'” says veteran pollster Steve Mossop.

A veteran pollster is calling BS on BC Liberal claims that the party’s internal polls predicted the May 14 provincial election result.

On the eve of the election, polls published in the media suggested a comfortable majority for the New Democratic Party. Instead, the Liberals won by more than four percentage points.

After the election, Liberal sources said their own polls had indicated they would win 48 seats. The party ended up winning 49 seats.

Steve Mossop, president of Insights West, says he doesn’t believe the stories.

During a recent panel discussion at Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre, Mossop was asked by an audience member about media reports that contrasted public pollsters’ embarrassing failures with the Liberals’ own polls.

“I knew the question would come up and my answer to that is, ‘I cry BS,'” he said. “There’s no way. I have never seen the data…

“Show me the numbers.”

Added Mossop: “Every insider that I’ve ever talked to, both in the NDP and in the Liberals, said they all thought they were doomed to fail that night. It’s very easy after the fact, once you’ve won, to say, ‘We knew it all along.'” Continue reading

A modest proposal…

May election results reveal a surprising new voter bloc for the BC NDP.
By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

Final results from May show the NDP made gains in some of B.C.’s wealthiest ridings. Orange champagne image via Shutterstock.
Final results from May show the NDP made gains in some of B.C.’s wealthiest ridings. Orange champagne image via Shutterstock.

As the B.C. New Democratic Party racks its neural tissues to discover how it blew a 20-point lead in the polls on May 14, it might be happy to learn that the news isn’t all bad.

Sure, the NDP was thumped in an election that everybody expected it to win. But it did make gains in some unexpected places.

Among the very rich, for example.

Final election results show the NDP made some of its biggest gains in some of B.C.’s wealthiest ridings. Ridings like Vancouver-False Creek, where the NDP increased its total by a healthy 3,479 votes over its 2009 showing. Ditto for Vancouver-Fairview (up 2,768 votes) and North Vancouver-Seymour (up 2,343 votes).

All three of those ridings are among the 10 constituencies with the highest median after-tax incomes, according to BC Stats. In fact, six of the 10 ridings where the NDP made its biggest gains May 14 are on that top 10 income list. (The figures, while the latest available for income by constituency, come from the 2006 census and are a bit dated. But heck, a riding that was wealthy in 2006 is probably still doing pretty well today.)

The table below shows the wealthy ridings where the NDP vote increased the most. The margin columns show who won the riding in the last two elections and the winner’s margin as a percentage of the total vote.

Riding 09 Margin 13 Margin
Vancouver-False Creek Lib 28.9 Lib 15.5
Vancouver-Fairview Lib 4.9 NDP 5.1
North Vancouver-Seymour Lib 31.8 Lib 18.0
Vancouver-Point Grey Lib 10.1 NDP 4.4
Surrey-Cloverdale Lib 32.9 Lib 30.5
West Vancouver-Capilano Lib 53.0 Lib 44.7

As shown, two of these wealthy ridings, Vancouver-Fairview and Vancouver-Point Grey, abandoned the Liberals for the NDP. And the Liberals’ victory margins fell in all of the other four. Clearly, in B.C. the class war is riddled with quislings. Continue reading

The weight on a BC pollster’s shoulders

Many flubbed their May 14 election calls. Here’s one who thinks he knows why.
By Tom Barrett
June 21, 2013
TheTyee.ca

Ipsos Reid's Kyle Braid unravels the mystery of his election-night failure. Photo: Twitter.
Ipsos Reid’s Kyle Braid unravels the mystery of his election-night failure. Photo: Twitter.

Pollster Kyle Braid thinks he’s figured out how he missed so badly in the May 14 election.

Like almost every other pollster, Braid, a vice-president at Ipsos Reid, came up with results on the eve of the election that suggested a healthy victory for the New Democratic Party. When that turned into a healthy victory for the BC Liberals, Braid and the other pollsters were left with egg dripping from their faces.

The last Ipsos poll, taken May 13, suggested the NDP had the support of 45 per cent of decided voters, compared to 37 per cent for the BC Liberals. The final results were NDP 40 per cent, Liberals 44.

Braid told an audience at the Spur Festival in Vancouver this week that he thinks he adjusted his data when he shouldn’t have and failed to adjust it when he should have.

Every polling company adjusts, or weights, its samples. That’s because samples rarely look like the general population. They may, to take a simple example, contain more women than the electorate as a whole. Continue reading

Green gains likely came at BC Libs’ expense

Further election number crunching that suggests the centre-left vote split is myth.
By Tom Barrett
May 31, 2013
TheTyee.ca

Andrew Weaver, first Green MLA in B.C., on May 14 election night. Photo by Robert Alstead, Running on Climate.
Andrew Weaver, first Green MLA in B.C., on May 14 election night. Photo by Robert Alstead, Running on Climate.

The Green Party’s biggest gains in the May 14 election seem to have come at the expense of the Liberals.

During the campaign, the New Democrats seemed obsessed with losing votes to the Greens. The Liberals even tweaked the NDP by running a pro-Green newspaper ad in Victoria near the end of the campaign.

Maybe the Liberals should have saved their money.

The final count shows the five ridings where the Green vote increased the most were all in southern Vancouver Island. And in four of those ridings, the Liberal vote dropped more than the NDP vote.

One popular theory holds that the Greens steal votes from the NDP. If that were true, you’d expect the Greens’ gains to come at the expense of the NDP in these ridings. But that doesn’t seem to have happened.

In Oak Bay-Gordon Head, where Andrew Weaver won the Greens their first seat ever, the Greens picked up 8,392 more votes than in 2009. At the same time, the NDP vote dropped by 3,780.

But the Liberals, who won the seat in 2009, saw their vote drop by 4,110. Those votes don’t seem to have gone to the Conservative party, which is usually assumed to be the biggest vote-splitting threat to the Liberals. The Conservative vote increased by only 492 over 2009.

The numbers suggest that the Greens pulled a lot of support from former Liberal voters.

Libs suffered in Island ridings

Now, it’s possible that a whole lot of Liberal supporters stayed home May 14 and a whole bunch of new Green supporters turned out for the first time. Or a lot of Liberal supporters switched to the NDP and some NDP supporters switched to the Greens. But, given the size of the Liberal collapse, it seems likely that plenty of former Liberal supporters went Green.

The overall number of valid votes in Oak Bay-Gordon Head increased by 994, or four per cent, suggesting that Weaver’s support didn’t all come from new voters.

The Greens’ other big increase came in Saanich North and the Islands, which also went Liberal in 2009. This time, after all the ballots were counted, the NDP took this riding in a close three-way race.

The Green vote increased 6,913. The NDP vote dropped 2,363. The Liberal vote dropped 2,784. There was no Conservative candidate.

Overall, the vote in Saanich North and the Islands increased by 2,365, a hefty eight per cent over 2009. Continue reading