New NDP ad spoofs anti-Trudeau video to attack Harper

Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats are launching a cheeky ad that parodies the widely viewed Conservative television spot known as “The Interview” in which four people pore over Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s resume around a boardroom table and decide he is “just not ready” to be prime minister.

The Tory ad has been running on TV since May, sometimes during prime-time sporting events, and polls suggest it has successfully created doubts in the minds of many Canadians about Mr. Trudeau’s ability to lead the country. It ends with one of the people assessing Mr. Trudeau’s record saying “Nice hair though.”

Airing on television starting next week, the NDP ad also depicts four people sitting in a boardroom, but in this case, they are critiquing the performance of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

It begins with one of them, a woman, saying, “We’ve had a lot of complaints.”

“Yeah,” pipes up a second woman, “election fraud, bribery.”

“Don’t forget Mike Duffy,” says a man.

“It says here he has the worst jobs record of any prime minister in decades,” says another man.

One of the women concludes that it is “time to let him go,” after which they all agree that Mr. Mulcair’s experience and priorities mean he is “up for the job.”

An announcer chimes in, saying: “Stephen Harper, it’s time to let him go.”

The commercial then ends with one of the men saying: “Nice hair, though.”

Brad Lavigne, the senior campaign adviser for the New Democrats, said in an e-mail on Friday that his party’s new ad highlights  Mr. Mulcair’s  readiness for the job of prime minister. It “makes the case why Stephen Harper should be fired and Tom Mulcair hired,” said Mr. Lavigne.

Perhaps concerned that political opponents will criticize the insertion of an attack ad into what Mr. Mulcair promised just two weeks  ago would be  a “very positive campaign,” Mr. Lavigne said the ad “is a direct reply to the attack ads the Conservatives have been running against Mr. Mulcair.”

In some ways, the New Democrats are just taking back what was lifted from them. The Conservative ad targeting Mr. Trudeau mimicked a 2011 Manitoba provincial ad used by the NDP against Hugh McFadyen who was then the leader of the Progressive Conservatives in that province.

Although the 11-week federal election campaign has now passed the halfway mark, the NDP has not spent much of its advertising budget, deliberately holding off until now to unleash what insiders say will be the biggest ad buy in the party’s history.

Stephen Lecce, a spokesman for the Conservative party, said he did not believe voters would buy into message of the NDP ad.

“We won’t be fooled by the NDP plan to impose an avalanche of taxes on Canadians,” Mr. Lecce said in an e-mail. “As taxpayers in Ontario and B.C. felt firsthand the devastating effects of NDP tax hikes, unemployment and deficits – for the NDP our message is: it’s always a bad time.”

Conservatives’ attacks on Mulcair not too effective, survey suggests

As explained in today’s story, new survey data from Innovative Research Group suggests the Liberals are having some success with advertising rebutting Conservative attacks against Justin Trudeau. But of course, they wouldn’t need to do so if those attacks hadn’t been effective in branding the Liberal Leader as a “not ready” lightweight to begin with.

To the much more limited extent that the Tories are going after NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, it appears they’re struggling to find an angle that’s similarly effective.

In the same early-August  survey in which it found the Liberals’ new ad has a significant impact on those who see it, the polling company also tested a pair of anti-Mulcair Conservative ads. Both use the same “job interview” format as the ones against Mr. Trudeau, but the attempts to cast Mr. Mulcair as an opportunistic career politician seemed to have more limited effect.

In fact, when Innovative Research screened the first of those spots (above) – asking respondents a series of questions both before and after they saw it – it found no statistically significant impact on either voting intentions or impressions of Mr. Mulcair relative to the other party leaders.

The second ad, which is slightly more focused on alleging Mr. Mulcair has wasted taxpayers’ money and less so on using his longevity in politics and his past as a (Quebec) Liberal to suggest he’s an opportunist, proved somewhat more effective. Among respondents who hadn’t seen it before, support for the NDP went down by five percentage points after they saw it, although it’s not clear whether that went to the Tories or the Liberals. And the share of respondents who chose Mr. Mulcair as the leader who most “cares about people like me” went down by seven points.

While significant, neither of those hits is huge when an ad is viewed in isolation. And on other perceptions of leaders’ qualities, such as competence and who cares most about the middle class, there was again no clear impact.

Considering how little these two ads have been airing so far, it’s possible the Tories aren’t using their best stuff against the NDP yet. But it’s worth remembering that, even with Mr. Trudeau, they spent a while running spots that didn’t really work before they hit their target. If they decide before this campaign is over to make Mr. Mulcair their main target, they’ll have a much smaller window to get it right.

(Full methodology for Innovative Research’s surveys are available from its website.)

Ask The Globe: Which parties favour proportional representation?

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Our third selected question comes from reader @stefanie__92 If elected, (which candidates would)fight for a proportional representation system in our elections? #AskTheGlobe #elxn42

Globe reporter Campbell Clark has the answer:  

There are two parties that favour proportional representation, and possibly a third, depending on how you count them. But there are some differences in the devilish details.

Both the Thomas Mulcair’s NDP and Elizabeth May’s Green Party say they will fight for proportional representation. Both say that if they won power, they’d change the voting system.

The Liberals also favour reform, but they are more vague on what kind. They promise to eliminate the current first-past-the-post voting system, but not necessarily to replace it with proportional representation. They’d have a parliamentary committee study it.

There are other differences between the parties on this issue. That’s partly because there are different kinds of reform, and different kind of PR. The Conservatives want to keep the current system, where the candidate with the most votes wins the seat. Most others propose change.

The NDP favours a kind of “mixed-member proportional representation” system.” As NDP democratic reform critic Craig Scott has described it, voters would get two ballots. The first would be to elect a riding MP, like the current system. The second would be to vote for candidates in a region, and the seats would be apportioned so each party’s tally would eflect the proportion of votes cast.

The Green Party also says they’d change the system to proportional representation, and would establish a multi-party Democratic Voting Commission to decide the details..

The Liberals have said they’ll get rid of the current first-past-the-post system, and set up an all-party parliamentary committee to look at various potential reforms. Mr. Trudeau has on many occasions said he’s not certain about PR, and expressed more interest in ranked ballots. That’s where voters rank their first and second choice, possibly more; if no one wins 50 per cent in a riding, then bottom candidates are dropped, and the second choices are used in a kind of instant run-off.

Ask The Globe: Have carbon emissions gone down in Canada?

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Our second selected question comes from reader @PatrykSzu have carbon emissions gone down in Canada? #AskTheGlobe #elxn42

Globe reporter Shawn McCarthy has the answer:  

In the debate last week, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said his government was “the first in history to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also growing our economy.” He credited the government’s “sector by sector” regulatory approach.

It is true that as of 2013 – the last year for which figures are available – Canada’s total of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions was 3 per cent lower than it was in 2005, the year before the Conservatives took office. Emissions dropped from 749 megatonnes (MT) in 2005, to 726 MT in 2013. It is also true the economy grew by 13 per cent between 2005 and 2013.

nw-po-qanda-emissions-web-620

But the drop in emissions came over two years – 2008 and 2009 – when the economy suffered the worst recession since the great depression, according to Environment Canada’s April 2015 submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Emissions bottomed out in 2009 at 699 megatonnes, and rose every year between 2009 and 2013, up 4 per cent in that time. Environment Canada forecast they would continue to climb without aggressive new measures. Mr. Harper’s claim to have reduced GHGs may be already out-of-date, given the likelihood of increased emissions in 2014 and this year.

His suggestion that his government’s regulatory approach has resulted in lower emissions is highly suspect. In concert with the Americans, Ottawa tightened automobile mileage standards, but the big payoff from that effort will only felt in future years, as the standards are increased over time. As well, the Conservative government passed ground-breaking regulations to force power sector to phase out traditional, coal-fire plants. But again, the coal regs won’t bite until the end of this decade, with the major impacts not seen until well after 2020. Mr. Harper has refused to regulate GHG emissions from the oil sands, the fastest growing source of GHGs in Canada.  The biggest decline between 2005 and 2013 came from the electricity generators. There are no federal climate regs that impact current emissions in the sector, but demand fell due to recession and Ontario phased out of coal-fired power.

Ask The Globe: “Who is the middle class?”

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Our first selected question comes from reader Andrea Jarman:  Who is the middle class? #AskTheGlobe #elxn42

Globe business reporter Tavia Grant has the answer:  

There is no single definition! This seems to be the defining trait of the middle class, partly because it’s so subjective. It also depends on where you live – the concept, and trends, are very different in the United States (where the middle class has been under more pressure) compared with Canada, or in Vancouver (where the cost of living is vastly higher) compared with Charlottetown.

But here are some of the views.

An easy definition is looking at where the middle falls in terms of incomes. The median after-tax income in Canada is $50,700 for all family units, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent data. This means half of the population has incomes below that point, and half are above. That $50,700 number compares with $50,400 in 2007 and $48,000 back in 1976, in constant dollars. (You can have a look at the trends yourself in this table).

One recent paper, by Philip Cross and Munir Sheikh, which we wrote about here, puts forward several definitions of the middle class (one of the ranges it cites for families are incomes of between $40,000 and $70,000). It finds, broadly speaking, that middle-class income growth hasn’t kept pace with higher-earning income growth over the past 30 years, and that there has been a “slight shrinkage” of the size of the middle class.

The idea also depends on which kind of family you live in. Another range in this IRPP post on families with kids under 18, by Jennifer Robson, shows a range, with median earned income of $31,000 for a lone-parent family with one child, up to $99,000 among dual-earner couple with two kids.

She stresses that it’s important, when thinking about policy, to look beyond just incomes. “Even if you want to stick to quantifiable economic resources as measures of ‘middle class,’ I think assets and debt really matter too,” she notes.

That broader measure is to look at wealth – which includes assets like houses and pensions, minus debt. By net worth, the middle fifth of families had wealth of $453,300 in 2012, a Statistics Canada paper showed. (Its same study puts the middle quintile of family income at an average of $57,200, before tax).

Then there are subjective ways of looking at the middle class – such as lifestyle, aspirations and hope – whether one’s quality of life will match the previous generation. There is also self-identification – the vast majority of people see themselves as being middle class do, regardless of income levels.

We took a look at this question a few years ago as part of the Globe’s income inequality series. 

So what’s up with the oft-repeating phrase “middle class angst”? It may stem from the run-up in household debt or expensive housing, a changing jobs market, or it may come in thinking Canadian trends are identical to U.S. ones, which they aren’t. 

If you’re curious about middle-class trends in the U.S., a thorough examination was released by the St. Louis Fed. Unlike most Canadian analysis, it includes details on race. 

For more, check out this video.

Hudak bet Liberals wouldn’t bother to vote. Here’s how he was wrong

This morning, I wrote broadly about how some very incorrect assumptions led Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservative astray. It’s perhaps worth a closer look at a few numbers that tell the story.

Mr. Hudak’s strategy revolved largely around the premise that in battleground ridings, particularly in the Greater Toronto, turnout among PC voters would be higher than among likely Liberals. If it failed, members of his campaign team predicted, it would be because the NDP collapsed and failed to split the centre-left vote.

What didn’t seem to concern most Tories was the prospect of Liberal supporters being as motivated as their own – let alone more motivated.

And yet, if one compares this election’s results in those battlegrounds to the results from 2011, it appears that’s exactly what happened. Increases in Liberal votes surpassed increases in PC votes (if the PC votes went up at all) in virtually any riding it’s worth looking at, and not significantly at the expense of the New Democrats.

Here, for example, is the difference in 2011 and 2014 vote totals in Richmond Hill – the sort of bellwether GTA riding the Tories probably needed to take in order to win government.

Election results in Richmond Hill

That one, like a bunch of others, was at least kind of a wash – which is better for the Tories than what can be said about Mississauga-Erindale, where the Tories thought they had a chance of taking out an incumbent (Harinder Takhar) who didn’t even decide to seek re-election until the campaign had started.

Election results in Mississauga-Erindale

Not only did this phenomenon prevent the Tories from taking Liberal seats; it also accounted for them losing ones they’d long held. The most dramatic example, where the Tories seemed to also suffer for supporters deserting them for other parties, might be Durham – a riding that was vacated by veteran PC MPP John O’Toole when he retired:

Election results in Durham

And venturing over to the province’s southwest, where the Liberals were supposed to be losing seats rather than gaining them, here’s what happened to incumbent PC MPP Rob Leone in Cambridge:

Election results in Cambridge

I could go on, but you probably get the general drift.

As a side note, while still nowhere near winning anywhere, the Green Party experienced more growth than one might have expected. Whether that’s a tribute to Green Leader Mike Schreiner or just a reflection of none-of-the-above sentiments is probably best left to another day.

For now, we’re still sorting through why the Liberals did better than most anyone expected and the Tories much worse. An important caveat with the turnout story is that it’s probably not a completely straightforward one. For instance, the Tories may have motivated more of their base than previously, while losing some of their more moderate supporters to the other parties.

Still, looking at the above numbers, it’s hard not to think that the Tories vastly overestimated their motivation skills, and vastly underestimated how much Ms. Wynne – with a big assist from Mr. Hudak – could motivate Liberals.

Two surprising results for Toronto in Ontario election

Toronto saw a couple surprising losses in the Ontario election, with a long-time NDP MPP getting turfed and another politician in a key west-end riding also being voted out of office.

Reaction was swift, and for some, sad.

As in the tweet above, some on social media were quick to assign blame. Liberal candidate Han Dong won by a margin of 6,917 votes.

In Etobicoke-Lakeshore, former deputy mayor Doug Holyday found himself without a seat less than a year after he won it for the PCs in a by-election.

Mr. Milczyn won by 6,201 votes.

Like Mr. Marchese, Mr. Holyday has had a long political career.

Who won in five key ridings

The polls have closed in Ontario’s 41st general election. Here are some key races that were crucial to deciding the outcome.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Doug Holyday (centre)   stands with wife Franca and PC leader Tim Hudak  after winning   the Ontario by-election as Doug Ford watches,  on Thursday August 1, 2013.  (Chris Young for The Globe and Mail)

Doug Holyday (centre) stands with wife Franca and PC leader Tim Hudak after winning the Ontario by-election as Doug Ford watches, on Thursday August 1, 2013. (Chris Young for The Globe and Mail)

Liberal candidate Peter Milczyn won the riding, deafeating PC candidate and former Toronto deputy mayor Doug Holyday.

Holyday won the riding by a tight margin in a 2013 by-election, beating out his former city hall colleague, Peter Milczyn.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore was the only Tory riding in Toronto. Mr. Milczyn’s victory returns the riding to the Liberals, who controlled it for 10 years before Mr. Holyday’s win.

This time however, Mr. Holyday didn’t have Etobicoke natives Rob and Doug Ford campaigning for him. The Toronto mayor is still in rehab.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore, 2013 by-election

Brampton-Springdale

Liberal candidate Harinder Malhi, right, campaigns door-door with members of the SEIU healthcare union in the riding of Brampton-Springle, Tuesday June 10, 2014.  (J.P. Moczulski for The Globe and Mail)

Liberal candidate Harinder Malhi, right, campaigns door-door with members of the SEIU healthcare union in the riding of Brampton-Sprindale, Tuesday June 10, 2014. (J.P. Moczulski for The Globe and Mail)

Harinder Malhi has won the riding, keeping it in Liberal hands.

The Liberals narrowly managed to hold on to this riding in 2011, when PC candidate Pam Hundal lost by fewer than 3,000 votes to high-profile incumbent Linda Jeffrey. Ms. Jeffrey gave up her seat in March, however, to run in Brampton’s mayoral race and was replaced by Malhi in this election.

NDP candidate Gurpreet Dhillon had hoped to sweep up the riding in the same orange wave that won Bramalea-Gore-Malton for the party in 2011. The NDP gathered just 15 per cent of the vote in the last election.

Brampton-Springdale, 2011 election

Peterborough

Jeff Leal , Minister of Rural Affairs, speaks to the media following the swearing in of Kathleen Wynne was sworn in as Ontario's first female premier, on Feb. 11, 2013. (Peter Power/ The Globe and Mail)

Jeff Leal, Minister of Rural Affairs, speaks to the media following the swearing in of Kathleen Wynne on Feb. 11, 2013. (Peter Power/ The Globe and Mail)

Peterborough has remained one of Ontario’s bellwether ridings, re-electing Liberal Jeff Leal.

Peterborough has voted for the party that won the most seats in that election since the late 1970s.

Leal, who was minister of rural affairs, was up against PC candidate Scott Stewart and NDP’s Sheila Wood.

Ottawa West-Nepean, 2011 elections

Niagara Falls

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, left, and local candidate Wayne Gates, right, speaks to supporters at the Italia Ice Cream shop during a campaign stop in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Thursday, June 5, 2014. Nathan Denette

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, left, and local candidate Wayne Gates, right, speaks to supporters at the Italia Ice Cream shop during a campaign stop in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Thursday, June 5, 2014. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

It looks like NDP MP Wayne Gates will head back to Queen’s Park, landing far ahead in the polls from his opponents with about 50 per cent of the vote, now that most polls have returned results.

PC candidate Bart Maves has secured only 30 per cent so far, a larger gap than when he lost to Mr. Gates by about 1,000 votes in a by-election earlier this year.

Candidates from all three major parties spent plenty of time trying to woo voters in the riding during their campaigns.

Niagara Falls, 2014 by-election

Ottawa West-Nepean

Liberal Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli takes questions from the media following Ontario auditor general Jim McCarter's press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto about the cancellation of the Mississauga power plant, on Monday, April 15, 2013.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matthew Sherwood

Liberal Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli takes questions from the media on Monday, April 15, 2013. (Matthew Sherwood/The Canadian Press)

Liberal cabinet minister Bob Chiarelli has managed to keep his seat in Ottawa West-Nepean.

There was speculation that Chiarelli was in danger of losing his seat as the PCs tried to squeeze their way into the Liberal stronghold in the Ottawa region.

In 2011, he won by just 2 per cent of the vote against PC candidate Randall Denley, who was competing for the seat again in this election.

Ottawa West-Nepean, 2011 election

Kathleen Wynne leads Ontario Liberals back to power

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne delivered a victory speech to an excited crowd in Toronto after the party won a majority government Thursday night.

Supporters watch results at Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne's provincial election night headquarters in Toronto, June 12, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Supporters watch results at Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne’s provincial election night headquarters in Toronto, June 12, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The latest seat count:

In a speech Thursday night, Tim Hudak resigned as Leader of the Progressive Conservatives. 

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also addressed her supporters.

With the exception of a handful of stations, polls closed in Ontario’s election at 9 p.m. ET. (Get real-time riding results from across the province with our map.)

Snap analysis from Globe reporter Adrian Morrow:

While the Liberals seem stoked, it’s a very different story at the PC and NDP election-night headquarters:

See more reaction from supporters here.

Political junkies will have their eyes on these key five ridings. Toronto also saw some interesting losses, including the ousting of former deputy mayor Doug Holyday.

Meanwhile,  Éric Grenier of ThreeHundredEight.com,  weighed in on how well the polls did at predicting a Liberal majority.

Everything you need to read before you vote in the Ontario election

The Ontario election campaign is in its last few days, with voters set to head to the polls on June 12. Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne is pushing for another stint in office, while PC Leader Tim Hudak has offered a very different vision for Ontario’s future and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she would be a fresh face for the government.

Find everything you need to know about the leaders, their platforms and key events during the campaign right here before casting your vote. 

THE PARTY LEADERS

Ms. Wynne, Mr. Hudak and Ms. Horwath are busy touring the province to share their plans for Ontario. Learn more about the people fronting each party with this quick summary of their biographies.

The three leaders also offered up their respective elevator pitches in this video, which features each candidate making a case for the premier’s office with only 30 seconds to speak.

THE PLATFORMS

If you’re looking for more than soundbites on the major issues, use this interactive to compare platforms from the Liberals, PCs, New Democrats and the Green Party. It highlights eight topics, including heath care, education and taxes.

THE LEADERS’ DEBATE

Ms. Wynne was attacked for her party’s spending scandals by both her opponents during the lone leaders’ debate on June 3. Didn’t tune in? Catch up with Adrian Morrow’s article on the debate, or get the abridged version of events from Kaleigh Rogers.

The three leaders also participated in a Globe Debate faceoff, with each touting the virtues of their respective economic plans. Check out their write-ups, and if you like, vote on one and see how you compare with other Globe readers.

THE LEADERS’ TOURS

The party leaders have spent weeks criss-crossing the province — and where they’ve been says a lot about which regions they hope to win. Take a closer look at the leaders’ tours with our interactive.

THE PRESSURE POINTS

It’s not an election without a few tough words. Issues that have cropped up during the campaign include:

The cancelled gas plants: The opposition parties hammered Ms. Wynne over the spending debacle during the leaders’ debate, and they received more ammunition when provincial police ramped up its investigation.

‘Bogus math‘: Economists poked holes in Mr. Hudak’s signature Million Jobs Plan, though he stands by his numbers.

Internal rift: Dozens of NDP members accused Ms. Horwath of abandoning the party’s roots by voting down the Liberals’ budget.

MaRS:  The PCs accused the Liberals of secretly approving $317-million to bail out a real-estate development for a Toronto research centre.

The police: For the first time in its 60-year history, the union presenting the Ontario Provincial Police released a political attack ad. The television ad targets Hudak’s plan.

THE ENDORSEMENT

With the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives leading the race, The Globe and Mail’s examined their platforms and the state of Ontario’s government and finances through a series of editorials. The last of the four pieces backed Mr. Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives, but with a minority government.

You can also check out the earlier parts of the series here.

Part 1: Advice for the undecided voter

Part 2: Sense and nonsense from the Conservatives

Part 3: Uncertainty surrounds the Liberal platform

As well, we’ve complied a list of editorial endorsements in Ontario elections from 1981 to present. 

TIME TO VOTE

Polls open on June 12 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (ET). Find out more about the voting process here.