Friday, May 15, 2015

Wayne Easter explains why the Liberals like bill C51

This is an email a friend got this week.  I explains why the Liberals think the new powers in C51 are a good idea for Canada

From: "wayne easter" <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 9:11:18 AM
Subject: RE: the vote today on C-51

Dear Mr.  

Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion on Bill C-51, the Government’s Anti-Terrorism Act.

The Liberal Party of Canada is voting in favour of Bill C-51 because it contains significant measures that will keep Canadians safe. We welcome the measures that (1) lower the threshold for preventative arrests, (2) expand the no-fly list, and (3) allow for greater and more coordinated information sharing between government departments and agencies involved in security matters.

Experts, including witnesses from the House of Commons Public Safety Committee, agree that these measures are necessary to ensure Canadians’ collective security. Without collective security, the individual freedoms we cherish as Canadians cannot exist. This truth is supported by the great majority of witnesses presenting before the House of Commons Public Safety Committee, who, while raising concerns about civil liberties, also recognized the need for additional security measures during these times. 

We understand Canadians’ concerns regarding oversight and accountability for this bill.  Liberals know that if a government asks its citizens to give up even a small part of their liberty, they must ensure that there are legislated transparency and accountability safeguards so that these powers are not abused.

That is why we tried to work with the Conservatives to make this bill better, proposing amendments that balance security and civil liberties based on conversations with Canadians like you. These measures are found in legislation crafted by a Liberal government in response to heightened international security following 9/11 and are similar to measures that are standard internationally.

Following the C-51 committee process, the Government submitted the following amendments that address the issues raised in amendments put forward by the Liberal Party of Canada:
  • Remove the word "lawful" prior to “advocacy”/ “protest”, so that legitimate forms of demonstration are not captured under this legislation;
  • Narrow the scope of information sharing from “with any person for any purpose”‎ to 17 government departments and agencies, therefore restricting the possibility for abuse; and
  • Limit and clarify the Minister’s intervention powers over Canadian airlines.
Further, due to public pressure the government clarified in law that CSIS is not a police agency and has no power of arrest.

These were needed and welcomed changes, but not enough. Canada is the only nation of its kind without national security oversight being carried out by parliamentarians. If the Harper Government will not act responsibly and legislate transparency and accountability measures into this bill, then the Liberal Party of Canada is committed to presenting these proposals as part of our platform in the upcoming federal election.

We also know that Canada’s response to terrorism goes far beyond legislative measure alone; it must include a robust plan for preventing radicalization before it takes root. This means that our security agencies must be adequately resourced so that they can carry out these new tasks required of them.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your opinion. It is through dialogue with Canadians like you that we can continue to ensure that the policies we support and create are representative of the values and needs of Canadians.


Wayne Easter, P.C.
MP for Malpeque

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Federal Political Public Opinion on Vancouver Island May 5th - 8th

The survey was was conducted between May 5th and 8th using Google Surveys to sample public opinion.  Here are the results:

I need a better tool for making graphs, please suggest one for me to use

Party  Vancouver South of North of
       Island    Malahat  Malahat
NDP     33.3%     33.8%    32.6%
Greens  22.5%     24.8%    18.5%
Cons    20.5%     14.7%    28.0%
Liberal 20.5%     23.5%    15.4%
Other    4.0%      3.2%     5.4% 

815 weighted responses - weighting based on age and gender.
247 weighted responses were undecided
568 weighted decided voters for all of Vancouver Island
318 weighted decided voters south of the Malahat
237 weighted decided voters north of the Malahat
Google Surveys were used as a the sampling method
Because this is not a probability sample of the population of Vancouver Island a statistical margin of error is not applicable.  Getting a true probability sample is virtually impossible to achieve, getting even close no longer possible.  You can read a basic explanation of sampling methods at this link

I have been getting back into the world of polling.   Back in the 1980s I ran polls for BCPIRG and then in the later 1990s to early 2000s from time to time for various First Nations.   

I have been unhappy with the quality of random data the various methods of sampling methods most pollsters are using.   I have been experimenting with various models since the 2013 BC election but found limitations to the various different ideas that made them less than ideal solutions.   About a month ago I came across Google Surveys for the first time.  I have run a number of tests of the Google Survey model since then and I have been pleasantly surprised at the statistical quality of the results.  I am still working through the math of the statistics and comparing the results from the surveys with the 2011 census demographics.   

I am comfortable enough with the results from Google Surveys from my tests that I have confidence that the results are a good statistical representation of the public

My intention is to run regular polls of federal political opinion in BC between now and October 19th.   The frequency will depend on how successful the crowdfunding campaign will be to pay for the work.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Top Ten All Time MP Occupations

This is the all time list from 1867 to 2015.   Data comes from this link.


  1. Lawyer 1,091
  2. Farmer 601
  3. Businessman / businesswoman 486
  4. Merchant 464
  5. Teacher 353
  6. Physician 213
  7. Manager 211
  8. Professor 182
  9. Journalist 176
  10. Consultant 153

Current parliament


  1. Businessman / businesswoman 52
  2. Lawyer 44
  3. Consultant 35
  4. Teacher 30
  5. Manager 23
  6. Director 22 includes the following occupations: artistic director, corporate director, director - minister's office, director general, director of fisheries, director of human resources, director of personnel, director of public relations, director of Quebec relations for the Grand Council of the Crees, director of recreational services, executive director, executive director - sustainable energy (not-for-profit), managing director, program director (radio station), railway company director, railway director, research director, safety director, sales director, stage director
  7. Professor 20
  8. Farmer 19
  9. Journalist 19
  10. Author 16 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Federal Political Opinion in BC created with a Google Survey

I have been testing out Google Surveys as a possible polling tool.   Here are the headline results

April 30-May 2
n=914 - decided voters only
Liberals - 28.5%
NDP - 27.5%
Conservatives - 23.5%
Greens - 15.7%
Other - 4.8%

I did a smaller one roughly at the same time - April 29 - May 1
n=545 - decided voters only
Liberals - 33.7%
Conservatives - 23.9%
NDP - 22.2%
Greens - 16.5%
Other 7.7%

I did a first one a week earlier - April 23 to 25
n=432 - decided voters only
Liberals - 31.3%
NDP - 26.2%
Conservatives - 25.5%
Greens - 11.8%
Other - 4.4%

For comparison, here are the EKOS results from April 22-28
n=400 - decided voters only
Liberals - 30.9%
Conservatives - 26.4%
NDP - 21.9%
Greens - 19.6%
Other - 1.1%

The numbers I am getting are in the same ballpark as the EKOS results but that does not mean my numbers are a useful representation of public opinion.   It may only be luck.  What I have been testing is how good the Google Surveys sampling method is, can it give me a demographically accurate representation of BC?

I think it may be a useful polling tool but in the testing I have made some observations that leave me feeling mixed about the quality of the results.  I will discussing the results in detail with Google on Monday,

Here are some quick observations:

  • Too many of the responses come with no demographic data which means when you start a survey looking for 1,000 responses you are likely to only 700, I am finding 30% of the responses are without demographic data.   The results above are weighted for age and gender which means all the responses with no demographic data are not counted in the results above
  • The geographic distribution of the results are not an accurate reflection of BC, it is far enough off that I am not happy with it.  I would like to calculate the weighting that would need to go into that to correct the number but I do need more information about how the locations are set.
  • The responses consistently have had more men than women answer meaning the female responses are given a lot more weighting and this makes the results less reliable.

I have lot more detailed analysis to do over the next couple days.  I also want to run one more test, this time targeted specifically to Vancouver Island, I want to see if choosing a specific region would remove most of the responses with no demographic information.

If Google Surveys can be made function as a opinion poll, I would like to run a weekly public opinion poll of federal voting intentions in BC till the election.  If I go ahead with this I will be crowdfunding to cover the costs, but feel free to drop me a line now if you would like to support this idea.

If you want the raw data, I will happily share it with you, just drop me a line.

Google Surveys can be very cost effective.  A single question survey within one province or the whole country costs only $0.10 per responses - a 2000 response survey only costs $200.

Google gets their respondents from people wanting to read content that costs but which by answering a survey you can read it for free.   

This is how a Google Survey looks:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Bold Alberta Election Prediction - a comfortable NDP majority government

I am going out on a limb here but I think the NDP will win 60 seats

Party  Seats Vote
NDP      64   42%
Wildrose 19   26%
PC        3   22%
Liberals  0    5% 
Alberta   1    2%
Other     0    1%

Why do I think this will happen?

  • There is a clear trend in the polls showing the NDP in the lead and not only in the lead but with a large margin over the second place party
  • The NDP campaign has been positive and has inspired people to get involved
  • Rachel Notley very clearly won the debate and looks like more of a premier than Jim Prentice
  • The Wildrose campaign has been bland and wooden with an acceptable but uninspiring leader
  • The PC campaign has gone from bad to train wreck  
  • The Liberals are a non event in the election and will lose most of their vote to the NDP
  • In 2012 roughly 230,000 people that would have normally voted NDP or Liberal voted for the PCs at the last minute for them to stop the Wildrose Party, this will not happen this time.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Federal Political Party Support in BC January to April 2015

EKOS has been polling consistently since mid January and with large enough national samples to allow for results in BC of around 500 respondents which is large enough to start to mean something
In the last three months support for the NDP and Conservatives are up in BC while for the Liberals it is down.

What is also interesting is that other than one Conservative result on March 14th (the smallest sample poll in the series) the support for the big three parties has been in a fairly narrow range.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Federal Proportional Representation in Canada - is it likely?

Elections in Canada with the first past the post system means that MPs can be elected with less than a third of the vote and a party can form a majority government with only the support of around 40% of the voters.    The system is not doing a very good job of translating the will of the public into representation in parliament.   One of the answers is to adopt some form of proportional representation the question is which one.   I believe that Mix Member Proportional is not political possible in Canada whereas Single Transferable Vote might be.

In Canada there are two forms of proportional representation that have been either used or considered:

  • Single Transferable Vote, used in the prairie provinces from the 1920s to 1950s and proposed for BC and voted on in 2005 and 2009.   STV works very well in delivering a result that is a good approximation of the public will.  It is especially good at rewarding hard working representatives and eliminating the concept of a safe seat.  The problem is that STV, while be an elegant and sophisticated electoral system, the electoral system is not intuitive.   In STV it is almost impossible to useful game the system and no benefit to strategic voting.
  • Mixed Member Proportional - formally proposed in some form in the last decade or so in Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island.  As well often being suggested as a form to use for the Federal Parliament.  MMP was created after World War 2 to be less proportional than the electoral system used in the Weimar republic as a response to the fractured parliaments that happened.   Outwardly as a system the concept of how it works is easy but the system often has to have complex mechanisms to achieve the results and the math that goes into who get elected and who does not is very complex.   It is one of the most complex electoral systems in use in the world.   There are several ways voters and political parties can game the system and it encourages strategic voting at the local level

Right now the popular support in Canada is definitely much more in support of MMP than STV, though when provinces have held referendums on electoral reform the results for STV were the best in the country.

The federally the NDP is very much advocating for MMP and there is a moderate chance they could form a minority government which means we could see it being proposed in the next parliament.  It is an electoral system that appeals to the strongly partisan, such as core leadership of political parties, and looks fair to the public.   The question then becomes could MMP be made to work in Canada?

The problem with introducing MMP in Canada is that the number of voters in each riding is not consistent at all.    PEI has four seats for a population roughly the same single seat in Calgary.  Implementation would either mean fewer local MPs especially for BC, Alberta and Ontario or 85 to 225 more party list MPs in the House of Commons.  Either approach would have serious political opposition.

The ratio in most MMP systems is roughly 30% to 40% of the representatives coming from party lists.   To achieve something similar in Canada there would have to be 144 to 225 party list MPs as well as the current 338.  Even with only 20% being list MPs, this would entail another 85 members in the House of Commons.     Adding this number of new MPs would not be very popular with the public based on reactions to the idea of more MPs.   The party list MPs are most likely to end up being roughly proportional to provincial populations which would mean the six smallest population provinces would see their relative representation in Ottawa would be reduced.  

Party lists would be most likely balanced in such a way to get the most support for the party and this means not overloading it with people from Atlantic provinces.    With 85 list members it is likely that only six to eight of them would come from the the four Atlantic provinces.  Yes, a party could over load their list with Atlantic members but that is very likely to play badly in the four largest provinces.  As it stands, few people in BC or Alberta think it is fair that PEI gets four MPs.

The other direction would be to stay at 338 MPs and make some of the list MPs, but without a constitutional amendment only 56 could be party list MPs     The constitution mandates the minimum number of MPs per province and six of the provinces are at their minimum already.  The lost local MPs would all come from BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.  Quebec would have the smallest loss with only 3 being removed but Ontario would lose 26, BC 14 and Alberta 13     My own island would lose two of our seven MPs and Vancouver Island would have half the MPs for New Brunswick but a larger population.   I can not see any significant support in the four largest province for this approach.

If the constitution were amended to remove the restrictions on MPs per province the split could be 270 local MPs and 68 list MPs though in this would entail the six smallest population provinces losing seats.  Manitoba would drop five seats, Saskatchewan six, PEI three, Newfoundland three, New Brunswick four and Nova Scotia either four or five.   These six provinces would have to agree to losing MPs and I do not see that happening.

In my opinion MMP is not politically achievable in Canada unless the public can accept the addition of 85 or more party list to the House of Commons and Atlantic Canadian political leaders accept reduced influence in Ottawa.

STV could be introduced without changing the number of MPs and thereby removing all the oppostiion from the province .   The problem with STV is that is a system not favourable to centralized political parties and as a system feels to different for most people.

In my opinion STV could be acceptable to the general public with education but it is not going to be proposed by the NDP, Liberals or Conservatives.