Cartoons are posted below but the most recent one is at least one week late.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 12, 2019
Odds of a minority government rise, Liberal chances drop as Bloc surges in polls
Who had a Bloc resurgence on their federal election bingo card?
The campaign has seen one bizarre twist after another without any apparent impact on the polls — until now. This latest twist is a little retro. The Bloc Québécois, pronounced all but dead after 2011, has been reanimated and could significantly upend the election plans of the Liberals and Conservatives.
The CBC Poll Tracker shifted suddenly in its latest update, with the Bloc’s gains in Quebec erasing the solid seat advantage the Liberals enjoyed over the Conservatives.
Since the beginning of this campaign, the Liberals had been favoured to win more seats than the Conservatives, regardless of which party was ahead in the national polling average. This was being driven in part by the party’s enduring edge in Ontario — but it was Quebec that made the difference.
Liberal support in Quebec has hovered around the 36 per cent mark the party hit in 2015. Because of the wide gap separating the Liberals from the other parties in Quebec, however, they could count on winning about 50 seats in the province, a net gain of 10 over the last election’s results.
But now, at just under 34 per cent, Liberal support is looking softer in Quebec. The Bloc, meanwhile, has picked up seven points in the last 10 days and has moved into second place in the province, with 27 per cent support.
That has dropped the Liberals into the mid-30s in the seat projection for Quebec, nearly tied with the Bloc Québécois. The Conservatives also have slipped and appear to be on track to win around 10 seats in Quebec, down from the 12 they took in 2015.
There is also now only a 25 per cent chance that either party can win a majority of seats.
The Bloc has been eating into the support of the Liberals, Conservatives and Greens in Quebec, though the seat impact has primarily been felt by the Liberals. That’s because the Conservative base of support in Quebec is concentrated around the Quebec City area, where polls suggest the party still holds a lead.
Not helping matters for the Liberals is the fact that the New Democrats appear to be building up some momentum of their own after a strong performance by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in Monday’s English-language debate. After posting poll numbers that would have given them about 15 seats nationwide, they are now projected to win around 24 seats.
So the coming week could prove to be decisive. After nearly five sleepy weeks, voters are wide awake and feeling volatile. Blink and you might miss the next twist. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday October 11, 2019
Liberal climate plan offers the most hope
The critics who claim this federal election is devoid of big issues have got it wrong.
The challenge of fighting climate change stands out like a mountain that rises above a noisy, crowded plain.
On Election Day, the opportunity is here for this country to move up that mountain as never before, just when the calls for action around the world have reached a crescendo and as scientists warn time’s running out to avert an eventual catastrophe.
Fully aware of this, the main four national parties are all offering an action plan. But while each has its merits, after weighing the pros and cons of each party’s proposals, this newspaper believes the Liberals’ strategy is the most substantial, balanced and workable.
Despite what some well-meaning ideologues insist, Canada cannot meet its carbon emission targets — far less the utopian dream of no net emissions — overnight or in a few years. Not unless it wants to shut down its fossil-fuel-dependent economy, which no government would ever do.
The Liberals realize this and are trying to marry environmental necessity and economic reality. The policies they’ve enacted over the past four years are on track to taking Canada more than halfway toward meeting its Paris Agreement commitment. That would see this country reduce its carbon emissions in 2030 by a full third from what they were in 2005.
So far, the Liberals have imposed a carbon tax on provinces, such as Ontario, which have not put a price on carbon emissions. Implemented in April at $20 a tonne — about 4.3 cents a litre of gas at the pump — the tax will rise to $50 a tonne by 2022 and possibly more after that. If re-elected, the Liberals would also regulate the carbon content in fuels.
In sharp contrast, the Conservatives would axe the carbon tax, ignoring the fact that because most Canadians receive more in a carbon-tax rebate than they pay out, their pockets are not being picked even as they’re being encouraged to change their energy-consumption habits. The Conservatives’ approach also flies in the face of what most economists have long agreed: pricing carbon works from every perspective.
The Conservative plan to invest more in green technology and force large companies to spend more on such solutions if they fail to meet new emission standards would take Canada into unknown territory. It’s impossible to say how much emissions would fall under these initiatives or if they’d fall at all.
For their part, the New Democrats would keep the carbon tax while cancelling the rebates to millionaires. The party would also aim for a more ambitious emissions reduction — 38 per cent below 2005 levels — by 2030. Persuasive details for how this would happen, unfortunately, seem lacking.
As for the Green party’s commitment to even higher carbon taxes, more aggressive reductions in emissions and an end to the expansion of all pipelines including the Trans Mountain project, it ignores the serious economic fallout it would surely create.
The Liberals’ plan is far from perfect and, indeed, is still a work in progress. But while they’ve been criticized for buying the Trans Mountain pipeline and trying to expand it, the Liberals realize the race to stop climate change will be more like an ultra marathon than a 100-metre dash.
Canada needs to be in this for the long haul. And it must be economically healthy enough to keep running. Better than their rivals, the Liberals realize these truths and, on this issue at least, have the best plan. (Source: Hamilton Spectator Editorial)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday October 10, 2019
Turkey Begins Offensive in Syria After U.S. Stands Aside
Turkey has begun its military offensive into northeastern Syria to force back Kurdish militants controlling the border area, days after President Donald Trump said the U.S. wouldn’t stand in the way.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the operation, code-named Spring of Peace, on Twitter and said it would also target Islamic State. Russia, Iran and a top EU official urged Turkey to act with restraint amid concerns that renewed chaos in Syria would lead to a jihadist resurgence and push the Kurds, America’s allies in the fight against IS, into the arms of President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey has battled Kurdish separatists for years and had repeatedly warned it would not allow the creation of a Kurdish proto-state on its immediate border. Once it seizes the area, Turkey plans to resettle 2 million Syrian refugees, most of them Arabs, in the border zone, further complicating a combustible situation.
A small forward group of Turkish forces first entered Syria early Wednesday at two points close to the Syrian towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, according to a Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Turkish planes and shells pounded the towns as the incursion began. Residents fled though Kurdish forces had vacated positions before the attack, which is expected to involve tens of thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers from NATO’s second-largest army.
Turkey’s advance follows a dramatic reversal of U.S. policy. Trump told Erdogan in a phone call on Sunday that dozens of American troops who’d been working closely with Kurdish forces in the fight against Islamic State would pull back, effectively clearing the way for a Turkish incursion.
The White House statement appeared to surprise allies at home and abroad. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said they would defend their “own people,” potentially relegating the battle against Islamic State.
The Kurdish YPG militia that forms the backbone of the SDF has been one of America’s closest partners in the fight against Islamic State and is holding thousands of jihadist fighters and their families in camps and detention centers in northeastern Syria.
While Trump said Turkey would become responsible for the detainees, who include foreign fighters from Europe, it was not clear if there was a mechanism in place to transfer them to Turkish custody. Trump was criticized at home for a decision that could see Islamic State fighters escape or regroup.
A number of Trump allies, including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, said the move was “a shot in the arm for the bad guys.” Analysts said a U.S. pullback could ultimately play into the hands of Russia, whose military intervention helped turn the tide of the Syrian civil war in favor of Assad. As the Turkish offensive got underway, the Associated Press reported that the YPG had asked Russia to mediate talks between them and the Assad government. (Source: Bloomberg)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday October 9, 2019
Can Jagmeet Singh build on debate-night momentum? It’ll be difficult, experts say
Experts say Jagmeet Singh, of all the federal party leaders, came out on top after Monday’s official English-language debate, but they caution it’ll be difficult for the NDP leader to turn that momentum into votes.
Doing so would involve breaking a campaign narrative established over the last month that paints the 2019 federal election race as a neck-and-neck battle between the Liberals and the Conservatives, according to McGill professor Daniel Béland.
“The challenge is that it’s widely perceived — and it’s true — that it’s a race between two parties, and it’s also a debate about who should not be the next prime minister,” said Béland.
Monday night’s event was the first and only English debate featuring all six federal party leaders in the 2019 election campaign.
Singh went into the evening “relatively unknown” to many of the Canadians watching and he made “an excellent first impression,” according to Anne McGrath, a longtime senior NDP staffer and now public affairs associate at Hill+Knowlton.
In what turned out to be a chaotic and time-crunched debate, experts agree Singh stood out during those two hours for his positive messaging and a few choice zingers.
Throughout the debate, Ipsos measured Twitter sentiment and volume regarding the party leaders, parties and issues exclusively for Global News.
According to the measurements of attitudes towards the leaders, Singh started strong and was the only leader to finish the night with a “net positive rating,” the results showed.
The question now is whether and how Singh can make that strong performance benefit his party — which has remained a distant third in the polls so far — in the lead up to Election Day.
A debate performance can end up meaning nothing or everything to an election campaign, according to Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“What typically happens is what we see on the debate and then what everybody says happened afterwards. And it’s the ‘what-everybody-says-afterwards’ that tends to have a bigger impact,” Bricker said. “We’ll know later in the week when we start seeing polling results coming out whether or not he’s actually moving ballots.”
Nelson Wiseman, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said he thinks that it’s “unlikely” Singh’s performance will move the needle significantly but he likely accomplished “cementing” support among New Democrats who may have been “wavering.”
While Singh is far behind the Liberals and Conservatives, Béland noted the NDP has pushed ahead of the Green Party in the polls in some provinces, which wasn’t the case just a month ago. Re-establishing a solid third-place standing is “an important thing” for the party, Béland argued.
“The NDP should emphasize the fact that if there’s a minority government, the NDP might have the balance of power and that’s something really important,” he said. (Global News)