Wednesday, January 11, 2006

2006 federal election - episode 5

Warehouse Election Central

A week-and-a-half to go in the campaign and the pot is boiling over. Most polls show the current media-darling Conservatives in the lead, as Liberal bungling increases - now it's a furor over a pulled ad. The NDP is sticking to its guns, but will that be enough to prevent nervous voters starting to hear the "M" word (as oppposed to the "m" word) used next to the phrase "Conservative government" from fleeing, as happened last election.

How well did the debates go? Everyone thinks English moderator Steve Paikin was the winner! The WEC control room waited for Paul Martin to set himself aloft or flail a limb off. Stephen Harper resembled the stereotypical used car salesman, with the smirk that wouldn't fade. Jack Layton looked older than we remembered (though still spritely compared to the rapidly-aging Martin), clearly outlining party platforms, though he occasionally veered off-topic to stay on message. Gilles Duceppe was, well, Gilles Duceppe.

We asked the ghost of former Quebec premier Rene Levesque if he was flattered by the many references to him throughout the debates. Unfortunately, Rene continued smoking in the afterlife and his ghost cannot speak after surgery removed his ectoplasmic throat...though we thought we heard a curse when our resident clairvoyant indicated their next ghostly contact would be Pierre Trudeau.

By The Numbers: The Manor Rd Sign Count
The Bicycle Meets Its Local Candidates

What does the world need more than another weapon of mass destruction? An opinion poll! We here at WEC don't hire databanks, pollsters or think tanks to take our numbers. No siree, we do things the old-fashioned way: we look at the signs.

Our sample road, as it was last year, is Manor Rd East in Toronto. Located in the northeast corner of the St. Paul's riding, the street runs between Yonge and Bayview. Last year, the Liberals won the riding hands down, but barely squeeked by the NDP in its signage on Manor (13-12).

The numbers, as of 10pm, Jan 10/06, with 25 signs reporting in:
36% Conservative (Peter Kent - 9)
32% NDP (Paul Summerville - 8)
28% Liberal (Carolyn Bennett - 7)
4% Green (no candidate indicated on sign, riding link - 1)
0% Other - 0 (no "other" candidates in the riding)

Most of these signs have appeared in the past week, with a giant push by the Kent campaign - the count could have been higher, except for a couple of Tory signs seen aside last week's recycling pick-up. Also of note is that Bennett has stopped recycling signs from the '04 campaign, as new signs lack Paul Martin's visage.

We asked political scientist Gervaise Tarquin-Bong to provide analysis, but the only point we could comprehend was that the number of homes that continue to turn on their Christmas lights nightly is outpacing the number of homes with Liberal signs by a margin of 2:1. Mr. Bong also believes it is too close to tell which party will win the votes of homes that have received special messages from Boris or Yanous from Best Price Movers, but that voters who thought the line about the aquarium, "the one with the fish in it" was funny were less likely to vote Conservative.

Snapshot of the riding from the Toronto Star. The Election Prediction Project feels the Liberals will take St. Paul's.

Surfing The Seas of Small Parties
This time, we check out the other parties for signs of video life on their websites.

Canadian Action Party - apart from the animated intro we covered last time out, the only other videos on the CAP site are mail order feature-length flicks available for a John A. Macdonald.

Christian Heritage Party - Half of their ads feature leader Ron Gray speaking about the issues from a frozen pond, a group of wholesome kids playing shinny in the background. The other half feature wholesome heterosexual families. "Sense" is a common theme...which can give one a case of the willies.

Communist Party - no election-related media, just a page of bootleg-quality mp3s from old party conventions. Not effective for a campaign, but might be useful as a sleeping aid. It may be too late in the game for their video hopes to pan out.

First Peoples National Party - it looks like there are candidates running for this party, which had just gained status when we began our chronicles. No media downloads, other than a photo gallery.

Green Party - the only video downloads are a series of home energy tips filmed at the home of deputy leader David Chernushenko. Otherwise, there are tons of policy pdfs and Word docs for your perusal or as a test for your speed-reading skills.

Libertarian Party - apart from the World's Smallest Political Quiz (courtesy of everyone's favourite think-tank, the know-it-alls about everything, the Fraser Institute!), there's not a whole lot of shakin' goin' on here...we suspect they're off being as free as they claim to be.

Marijuana Party - no videos on their site yet. However, there is a picture of party leader Blair T. Longley that demonstrates he fits the stereotypical image of someone who might lead a party dedicated to the sweet leaf.

Marxist-Leninist Party - after a dry run, we finally hit some video spots...albeit in Quicktime only. Party leader Sandra L. Smith reads off cue cards in front of some office buildings. Nice plug to vote for any small party. Not sure if the endcard of the third-year bandana and long skirted university activist will attract much support outside campus clusters.

Progressive Canadian Party - zilch in the media department for the party trying to carry the flame of the Progressive Conservatives. Last on our list, last to comprehensively prepare their front page for this election.

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