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What would the House of Commons look like under a Liberal-NDP merger? June 20, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Academia, Canada.
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It’s been a while since I did any Canadian politics ranting.

Coalition government and/or a left-wing merger in Canada is all the rage at the Globe and Mail, with a Globe and Mail editorial discussing the ramifications of a shift left, Jeffrey Simpson arguing that the whole thing is a stupid idea, and Neil Reynolds talking about the Whigs for no good reason. The arguments on all sides contemplate a merger or coalition of the Liberals and the New Democratic Party, which is the most logical assumption considering that the Greens are nonviable nationally (although I did enjoy discussing the “hypothetical Mango Coalition” that could result from the 2008 election if the red, orange, and green parties joined up).

I’m interested in the effect of a merger, so I’m going to make some assumptions, not all of which are warranted:

  • The Bloc Québecois is not party to any coalition. BQ voters will always vote for the BQ. (This is probably the weakest assumption, since the BQ actively campaigns for votes and almost certainly won marginal candidates.)
  • The Green Party is not party to any coalition. Green voters will always vote for the Greens. (Again, this is a fairly weak assumption and I might examine the hypothetical Mango Coalition in a later post, but they’re not considered relevant by the editorialists so I’ll ignore them. However, they would have made quite a difference in the model below.)
  • Ridings won with a majority by any party remain with that party.
  • A riding won with a plurality by a Liberal or NDP candidate would remain with the merged party regardless of the current vote split.
  • A riding won with a plurality by a Conservative or BQ candidate needs to be reconsidered. I’ll do so by assuming that 66% of the NDP vote goes to the merged party and the other 34% evaporates (to model voters being displeased by a perceived shift to the middle and staying home). Based on those numbers, the party with a plurality takes the seat.

There were some surprising results. The Liberal-NDP merged party ended up poaching 24 seats in total, including 17 from the Conservatives and 7 from the Bloc Québecois. In total, that puts the parties at:Pie chart of the House of Commons under a hypothetical merger

  • Liberal Democrats: 137 seats
  • Conservatives: 127 seats
  • Bloc Québecois: 41 seats
  • Independent: 3 seats

This puts a different spin on the current House. However, we must take into account the Bloc’s behavior. After the 2008 election, there was discussion of a Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition government. However, it is not in the Bloc’s interest to form a coalition, since the Grits’ position on Québec sovereignty is not compatible with the Bloc’s. As a result, we must consider this a non-coalition government – a majority run by the Grits.

It’s difficult to imagine this situation as being much better for the Grits. Dion would have run a minority government, but as a weak leader he likely would have been forced into an election some time between October 2008 and now. Ignatieff would still have been waiting in the wings to take over the leadership of the party in the ensuing chaos.

A merger is not a panacea.

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Quickie: Seal hunts and the Coase Theorem March 26, 2009

Posted by tomflesher in Academia, Canada.
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Andrew over at the Stackelberg Follower discusses the economics of the seal hunt and briefly touches on the world’s response:

[I]t is clear that a large part of the world either derives disutility from the seal hunt, derives utility from decrying the seal hunt, or some convex combination thereof. If it the former, there is a possibility for a Coasian bargain, i.e. the rest of the world pays off Atlantic Canada to stop the hunt/transport the seals somewhere else. If the latter dominates, then it is optimal for the hunt to continue.

A Coasian bargain is an application of the Coase Theorem, which in this case basically says that if the seal hunt imposes externalities on the rest of the world, then the rest of the world can pay Atlantic Canada some amount a) greater than or equal to the economic benefit derived from the seal hunt, and b) less than or equal to the economic cost generated by the seal hunt.

The Coase Theorem is applied commonly in tort law, where the cost of the tort is allocated to the party most able to bear it, and the parties are expected to negotiate out a more efficient allocation themselves (with failed negotiations penalizing the more-able party). The idea is that if the court’s allocation is inefficient, the parties are in the best position to make it optimal.

That said, neither of us is aware of any situation in which a Coase bargain has been attempted in a similar situation.

Separatists in the House of Commons December 3, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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Disclaimer: The title of my blog, “Heureusement, ici, c’est le Blog!”, is a pun, not an endorsement of the Bloc Quebecois. I harbor no particular affinity for the Bloc Quebecois. Though this post argues for acceptance of the Bloc as a coalition member, it does so solely on rational grounds which could be applied in any analogous situation of home-rule separatism.

There have been a number of complaints about the separatist/sovereigntist influence on the House of Commons under the proposed left-wing coalition in Canada. The concerns appear to be that A) Separatists are a bad thing to have in the national government, and B) It is undemocratic to topple the plurality government of the Conservatives. Behind the cut, I’d like to discuss these concerns.

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Quickie: Change-in-Government Roundup December 2, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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Quick roundup of news and editorials about the leadership crisis in Canada.

Background: After spending $300 million for an election to congeal his minority into a majority government, Stephen Harper made little progress and ended up with another minority government. This appeared to be well and good, despite the fact that a coalition of the left-wing parties plus the Bloc Quebecois could easily defeat the Conservative government in a confidence motion if it decided to do so. However, because Harper failed to deliver an economic stimulus package in his fall budget, the coalition is attempting to take over as government.

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Election Day! October 14, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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Polls open in Newfoundland and Labrador in less than an hour. The big thing on the blogs? Strategic left voting.

  • The Gazetteer has a stop-the-conservative Ivins Rule list up for the West Coast. Looks like a lot of work went into it.
  • Cyberwanderer links to AnyoneButHarper.ca, which allows you to input your postal code to find out who the correct strategic vote is.
  • AOL News quotes Robert Bothwell, director of the international relations program at the University of Toronto. “I think the absolute best result for Harper is a stalemate.” (Bothwell is suggesting that the economic crisis will cause Harper trouble.)
  • Finally, according to the Hill and Knowlton seat predictor, using the numbers from the latest polls at Nodice, the Conservatives lose one seat, the Liberals lose 14, and the Bloc gains 4. This may be thrown off by the fact that the Nanos polls are consistently a few percentage points higher for the NDP than anyone else’s polls. We’ll see.

Leftist long-division October 8, 2008

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Professor Judy Rebick of Ryerson University looks at the polling numbers and points out that a coalition government of the three left-wing parties (the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, and the Green Party) with the Bloc Quebecois would undoubtedly defeat the Conservatives in the upcoming October 14 election. Would it really require all four parties?

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Natural government need not be shifted October 7, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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It’s Tory Tuesday!

A number of commentators have discussed Stephen Harper’s attempt to move the government of Canada rightward as well as fill a niche as the “natural governing party” of Canada. That seems at odds to me – I would think that the natural government is a party of the radical centre, and that attempting to fill that niche would require a step centreward by a given party rather than an attempt to move the country.

My conjecture: Harper’s ideal of Canadian government does not match that of the average Canadian citizen. I’ll take a look at an editorial and a specific case, then make a prediction, after the jump.

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EdiToryal roundup, 26 september September 26, 2008

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This week, despite all of noted Green Party activist Stephane Dion’s attempts to kill the Liberal brand, Stephen Harper managed to show up and exist. After the jump, I’ll take a look at the methods he used to do so.

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These Grits are a little watery. September 23, 2008

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Two editorials from the Globe and Mail discuss the perception of Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion and the Liberal Party itself as weak.

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Polling numbers for week ending 19 september September 19, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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Here’s a look at the numbers from NoDice.ca, aggregated for this week.

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