Tag: Canada

Jordan Peterson Manipulates Language to Appear Smarter

Ellie McFarland | United States

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson rose to prominence after a video of him defending free speech against the Canadian human rights bill C-16 surfaced online. This bill, among other things, would make it a crime to misgender a trans person. Dr. Peterson’s assertions in the original video were clear and admirable, but further, it was a direct deviation from the current common discourse. He was rocketed into public intellectual stardom after the episode at The University of Toronto; booking speaking event after guest lecture after television appearance. He was, and still very much is, the freshest philosopher in the free marketplace of ideas.

However, with closer examination, it seems his transparency and edge are inconsistent in his current work. Specifically, in the now infamous Cathy Newman interview, Dr. Peterson jumped from hard-hitting clear claims about the nature of political correctness to vague and meaningless facts about lobster dominance hierarchies.

The Bridge Between Lobsters and Humans

Dr. Peterson’s constant metaphors involving lobsters are actually very important to the way he manipulates language. For instance, he might say something about how dominance hierarchies are inherent in human beings and then go on a tirade about shellfish serotonin levels. While both statements are correct, but they don’t inform each other in any relevant way. This is called a non sequitur and means “it does not follow” in Latin. When someone uses a non sequitur, the premises do not logically inform the conclusion, even though all parts of the argument may be correct. Even though it is true that humans naturally fall into hierarchies, and lobsters do have very similar endocrine systems to humans, those facts do nothing to prop each other up, or to prop up his point, which usually amounts the differences between men and women being biological rather than social.

All of these declarations are technically correct according to everything we know about both human and lobster biology. However, neither of them does anything to prove whether or not there are actual differences between men and women beyond the social sphere. There is astounding evidence that he does frequently bring up to prove men and women, our masculine and feminine strengths and weaknesses, are biological. But he very rarely brings them up alongside that specific issue. Instead, he uses them in conversations surrounding crime and antisocial behavior. When these facts, however rarely, are brought up in the context of the conversation they actually belong in, they are cheapened and sandwiched between lobster-talk and dominance hierarchies.

This is actually a spin-off of a well-known debate technique called Gish Galloping, where a debater will try and overwhelm their opponents with as many arguments as possible in the shortest time possible. Dr. Peterson tweaks this idea. Instead of overwhelming his opponent with a lot of arguments all at once, he opens into an explanation of something that has very little to do with his real point in hopes that his opponent won’t bother to address it. The truth is, lobsters have nothing to do masculinity or femininity. But that sort of niche diatribe does impress people even though, critically, it carries no real value.

Redefining the Words We Know

The second way Dr. Peterson manipulates language is through the changing of definitions. The most atrocious example of this definition hopscotch is when he speaks on the topic of religion. He has said consistently that he believes all people are religious because religion is “what you act out.” This is just an unhelpful shifting of meaning. According to this definition, prayer, martyrdom, and communion are all religious acts in the same way driving, making a salad, watching TV, or participating in Punk Rock are religious acts. After all, “you can’t be a disbeliever in your actions”. This is an intentionally blunt definition that detracts from conversational productivity. Sam Harris explained this best when he said,

“People have traditionally believed in ghosts, it’s an archetype you might say– the ghost: survival of death is certainly an archetype. And we know what most people most of the time mean when they say they believe in ghosts. And I say I don’t believe in ghosts, and you say ‘No no, you do believe in ghosts. Ghosts are your relationship to the unseen. That’s a ghost.’ So you have a new definition of ghost that you’re putting in the place provided, to which I have to say of course I have a relationship to the unseen. So yeah I guess I do believe in ghosts. You win that argument. But that simply isn’t what most people mean by a ghost.”

Peterson Manipulates Words for Conclusions

Redefining words is not always such a slimy debate strategy. In many instances, it can be very helpful in coming to a conclusion about rather nebulous words such as “good”, “evil”, or even “god” in order to further some sort of discourse and continue the conversation. Dr. Peterson’s redefinition of religion, though, is all-encompassing by design. This basically boils down to an equivocation fallacy. Dr. Peterson’s definition of religion is clearly not the same as the average religious person’s definition. Therefore, it’s meaningless within any conversation about its impact.

This is not to say that Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is not intelligent, that he doesn’t have anything important to say, or that his philosophies outlined in 12 Rules for Life are immoral or fundamentally wrong. This is to say that not all of his proclamations are valid and we shouldn’t ignore his metaphorical talk-arounds of legitimate criticism. It is fine, even good, to admire Jordan Peterson. It is intellectually dishonest, however, to pretend he is flawless or doesn’t use manipulative language. In doing so, he makes himself seem more intelligent and convinces good-hearted people of positions with little merit.


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Some Thoughts on the True Importance of Grades

Craig Axford | Canada

School is supposed to be about learning. Tests to determine whether we’ve learned how to do something may be unavoidable, especially when it comes to the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. But even in those cases, grades should be part of a broader context that includes a degree of playfulness and creativity.

As a student myself, it’s impossible not to sound at least a little self-serving when it comes to the topic of grades, exams, and all the other various methods employed to evaluate us. Believe me, I understand society has an interest in making sure the desired information has been retained and that we are capable of using it appropriately. The certificate we frame to hang on our office wall needs to signal much more than merely the fact that we were able to scrape together enough money to pay our tuition.

But as great as our need to know that the professionals we encounter have at some idea what they’re talking about is, it’s at least as important that the fields they work in be populated with a few rebels who are willing to challenge prevailing opinions now and then. This doesn’t mean adopting skepticism for skepticism’s sake or rejecting the value of a good education. Rather, it calls for a strategic skepticism that rejects the orthodoxy that existing knowledge is sufficient.

We want our heretics to possess an understanding of conceptual weak spots and have the ability to look at old problems from new perspectives. Fostering the kind of playfulness, irreverence, and creativity this demands can be difficult in a traditional school setting. However, while it may be unrealistic to expect schools to abandon grades as an evaluation tool it’s not unrealistic to encourage students (and the rest of us) to stop seeing their grade point average as an adequate measure of their intelligence and potential future productivity.

Developing a firm understanding of a subject doesn’t always translate into an easy A. Arguably, for those truly willing to explore the philosophical and scientific thickets that lie at the heart of virtually every field it never does. Though Einstein developed the theory of relativity only after initially gaining an understanding of Newtonian physics, he did not endear himself to all his professors in the process. As his knowledge of physics grew, so did his understanding of the limits of the Newtonian worldview. His willingness to challenge settled thinking and ask difficult questions others could not answer made him a very difficult student indeed.

Likewise, Darwin was only able to formulate the theory of evolution by first becoming well informed about contemporary thinking about biology and geology. But first, he was a terrible medical student and a rather mediocre would-be divinity student with a tendency to take unrelated classes and develop hobbies like beetle collecting simply because he found them interesting. Had Darwin attended university now instead of in the 1820s, he could very easily have found himself enrolled for years, piling up student debt as he struggled to select a major.


The mission of any school should be to teach; the goal of any student should be to learn. But learning is a complex activity that involves the integration of new information that must be filtered through each student’s unique life experiences and personality. It is rarely if ever as linear a process as we tend to think it is. Given this reality, the correlation between “good students” and good grades is frequently as complicated at the ‘A’ end of the spectrum as it can be nearer the ‘F’ end.

A few years ago I took an osteology course to meet a requirement for my anthropology degree. It was the final year of an undergraduate program that included two degrees and that, for a variety of reasons, I was very much looking forward to finishing.

Cultural, not physical anthropology had been my focus. Bones were interesting but I didn’t see myself participating in any archaeological digs in the future. More problematic, however, was the expectation that students be able to very quickly identify bone fragments by the end of the course. Lab tests involved spending about 30 minutes with roughly 30 often very small pieces of teeth or bone, moving systematically from one to the other while the instructor timed us. I usually found myself spending the first 15 seconds at the next sample writing down my answer for the last one.

Given such identification probably involved hours of examination and discussion in the field, I seriously questioned the purpose of providing so little time with samples in the lab. It didn’t help that high-pressure tests requiring me to make very quick decisions also produce what I can only describe as mild panic attacks.

I barely passed the course, and then thanks only to an extra credit paper I wrote on the topic of rickets. But that paper enabled me to apply my cultural anthropology learning to osteology. To this day I still remember the results of much of my research for that extra credit assignment. In addition, due to the countless hours spent watching Youtube videos about the human skeleton and engaging with interactive anatomy programs, to say nothing of the time spent staring at images of Homo habilis and modern human bone fragments trying to identify the subtle differences between them, I can honestly say that my final grade did not reflect the amount of learning that took place that semester.


In his December 8th opinion piece in the New York Timesthe organizational psychologist Adam Grant argues it is among past students with grade point averages of 2.0–3.0 that we often find the best minds, not 4.0 or 1.0 and under. Grant writes:

Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.

In a classic 1962 study, a team of psychologists tracked down America’s most creative architects and compared them with their technically skilled but less original peers. One of the factors that distinguished the creative architects was a record of spiky grades. “In college our creative architects earned about a B average,” Donald MacKinnon wrote. “In work and courses which caught their interest they could turn in an A performance, but in courses that failed to strike their imagination, they were quite willing to do no work at all.” They paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating — which ultimately served them well in their careers.

Anyone who has ever had to bring home a mediocre report card, let alone a downright disappointing one, has likely reminded their parents that Einstein had a reputation as a poor student or that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were both university dropouts. Indeed, Grant provides his own list in his NY Times op-ed, pointing out that JK Rowling was a C student and Martin Luther King only ever received a single A.

Our parents were probably right to keep pressuring us to bring our GPA up. Though a great many great minds have been mediocre students, it doesn’t follow that mediocrity is necessarily an indicator of a mind functioning at the height of its potential. Usually, it’s just a sign of mediocrity.

Nonetheless, we need to be aware of what our grades are actually measuring, and in too many cases it is an ability to recite information we’ve heard or read rather than apply knowledge in new ways no one has previously thought of before. It’s one thing to know the dates marking great events in history or ace every spelling test, but it’s those able to apply the lessons of history to contemporary social problems or write great novels that really keep our culture marching forward.

If your goal is to graduate without a blemish on your transcript, you end up taking easier classes and staying within your comfort zone. If you’re willing to tolerate the occasional B, you can learn to program in Python while struggling to decipher “Finnegans Wake.” You gain experience coping with failures and setbacks, which builds resilience. ~ Adam Grant


Rule number five among the Dalai Lama’s 18 Rules for Living is “Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.” Finding ways to produce the same or better outcomes more efficiently without causing yourself or others harm means first learning the path conventionally followed by others to get there.

But a willingness to apply the information that comes our way in the classroom — or anywhere else — in creative ways is necessarily going to be risky, even when we carry out our experiments “properly”. First of all, we may find out we were wrong. But as social creatures, perhaps what’s most threatening to us is our innate fear of rejection.

Credit: Anna Jordanous, University of Kent School of Computing — Science Daily

Others often don’t appreciate the fact that we’re thinking outside the box, even when we’re proven right in the end. In a classroom setting, our teachers may not approve. At work, it may mean getting called into the boss’ office for a lecture on following company procedures to the letter.

Unfortunately, both mistakes and rejection are inherent risks of the learning process. While we need to be mindful of the lines we choose to color outside of, we still need to be willing to wander beyond them now and then. The lessons that really stick with us, whether from the classroom or elsewhere, are the ones that involved the most growth. If we’re honest, those experiences almost never include a perfect grade.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com


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British Columbia’s Carbon Tax Is Working

Craig Axford | Canada

If we’re ever going to get to a carbon neutral or carbon negative economy, placing a price on carbon is going to be a necessary part of that effort. With new U.S. Government and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports coming out this year warning of extremely expensive and environmentally significant consequences if we fail to act quickly, minor public policy adjustments here and there are no longer an option.

But just because strong action is needed that can be implemented both rapidly and at large scales, it doesn’t follow that the consequences of these actions on people either can or should be ignored. That’s particularly true when it comes to the working poor and middle class. As we’ve seen in France over the past few weeks, taxes targeting fossil fuels won’t receive the kind of public support they’re going to need if States implement them without sufficient regard for the people paying them.

Fortunately, there is a proven solution that facilitates the CO² emission reductions carbon taxes are intended to achieve while also taking into account the burden these taxes impose upon society; simply make the carbon tax revenue-neutral, taking special care to use the money it generates to prioritize tax reductions for the poor, middle class and rural residents that the tax affects most.

This is precisely what the Canadian province of British Columbia did when it implemented North America’s first carbon tax in 2008. This tax survived the financial crisis that reached its zenith just two months after its implementation. That alone is a testament to the fact that even during the worst of times, it is possible to persuade a skeptical and insecure public to support a policy if it truly reconciles environmental protection with equity and fairness.

As in the French countryside, residents of rural British Columbia often have no choice but to drive long distances on a regular basis. Unlike their fellow citizens in cities like Vancouver and Victoria, public transportation opportunities frequently don’t exist or are insufficient to completely replace the automobile.

When the carbon tax was first imposed in July of 2008, it started small. It began at $10 per tonne with incremental annual increases of $5 per tonne scheduled through 2012 until it reached $30. That meant that by July of 2012, the cost of gasoline would rise by 6.67 cents per liter. For American readers, that amounts to approximately 27 cents per gallon. To put that in perspective, the gas tax the French government had been planning to impose next month amounted to roughly 25 cents per gallon.

But unlike British Columbia, France was moving to implement its tax in one fell swoop. It also had no plans to offset the gasoline tax increase with middle and low-income tax cuts or use the revenue to provide other significant tangible benefits. As the British Columbia experiment with carbon taxes shows, phasing in the tax and making it revenue-neutral is crucial to winning public support for any carbon tax that’s going to be significant enough to make a difference.

One study into the effectiveness of the BC carbon tax described the steps the then Liberal government took to achieve revenue neutrality this way:

First, the BC government lowered the tax rate on the bottom two personal income tax brackets. For a household earning a nominal income of $100,000…the average provincial tax rate was reduced from 8.74% in 2007 to 8.02% in 2008. Two lump-sum transfers were also included to protect low-income and rural households. Low-income households receive quarterly rebates, which, for a family of four, equal approximately $300 per year, and beginning in 2011, northern and rural homeowners received a further benefit of up to $200. Finally, taxes on corporations and small businesses were reduced…Since residents’ tax burden did not increase, the government was able to promote the policy as a “tax shift” rather than a tax increase.

President Macron eliminated France’s wealth tax in 2017 in advance of his proposed gas tax increase, not in concert with it, so it proved impossible to claim that ending that tax was part of an effort to implement some sort of revenue-neutral carbon tax “shift”. More importantly, however, by putting the wealth tax repeal first and failing to offer low-income and rural households additional tax breaks to offset the impact of the gas tax, Macron signaled his willingness to let the poor and middle class carry most of the burden when it came to taxes on carbon. Had the BC Liberal government followed a similar approach in 2008, I don’t know if cars would have been burning in downtown Vancouver. But they almost certainly would have been trounced in the following year’s election.

Now, just when we need carbon taxes the most, the ‘yellow vests’ movement threatens to render them a political third rail few politicians will want to touch. Sadly, most environmentalists cheered Macron’s gas tax proposal when they should have jeered, costing them valuable credibility with working-class voters that they’re going to need for any successful campaign against climate change.

The phrase “carbon tax” too often triggers a kind of Pavlovian response in the environmental community, regardless of the impact they will have on those paying them. If the environmental policies these times demand are ever going to exist on a global scale, then we must abandon the view that sustainability and social justice exist in separate policy silos. People don’t like being treated as a means to an environmental end any more than they appreciate being treated as a means to any other end, nor should they.

Carbon taxes, whether they are revenue-neutral or not, will, unfortunately, usually face stiff opposition in the beginning. In British Columbia, the major opposition party had been in favor of taxing carbon, but it flip-flopped when the opportunity to tag the Liberal Party with the initially unpopular policy presented itself just prior to an election year.

That said, the Liberal Party (rather confusingly, BC’s most conservative major party) was able to retain control of the BC government in 2009 in spite of everything. In a March 2016 article on BC’s experience with taxing carbon, the New York Times reported that public opposition to the tax had dropped from 47% in 2009 right after implementation to 32% by 2015.

The left-of-center New Democratic Party (NDP) has since flip-flopped back to its original support for the carbon tax. With the help of Green Party members elected to the province’s legislative assembly, the NDP took control of the provincial government in May of 2017. BC’s carbon tax not only again enjoys support across the political spectrum, but is in the process of increasing by $5 a year through 2021. It is scheduled to hit $50 a tonne one year ahead of the federal government’s proposed carbon tax.

. . .

That just leaves the question of whether a revenue-neutral approach to carbon taxation can actually reduce carbon emissions. After all, if all the money raised through the tax is ultimately returned to taxpayers in one form or another, where’s the incentive to reduce spending on gasoline, the largest source of CO² in BC?

Source: BC Government, sustainability page

Well, it has worked. A 2015 review of the existing research on the tax’s efficacy found that up to that point, all the studies indicated a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of around 9%. Furthermore, that gasoline sales had dropped anywhere between 7% and 17%. One study found that commercial demand for natural gas had plunged a whopping 67% since the initiation of the tax (coal is not used to any significant degree in BC). These decreases occurred in spite of the fact that the province saw slightly higher annual economic growth than Canada as a whole in the years immediately following the 2008 financial crisis, as well as steady population growth.

It’s important to remember that even a revenue-neutral carbon tax can still function as a tax increase for a significant emitter of CO². The government hasn’t committed to making sure no one pays more in taxes, only that all the money the tax generates goes back to the public in one way or another.

Under a revenue-neutral carbon tax program, those inclined to use cleaner technologies can reduce their taxes considerably below what others in roughly the same financial boat are paying. A low-income person who decides to purchase a car instead of riding his bike or using mass transit still gets to pocket the quarterly refund payments. But unlike his friends who choose cleaner alternative modes of transportation, his refund payments will go entirely toward offsetting the additional cost of gasoline instead of groceries, rent, or other necessities.

It’s difficult to imagine citizens from the French countryside invading Paris to protest quarterly tax credits or reductions in their income taxes intended to offset a 25¢ per gallon gasoline tax. Even if polls indicated opposition to the new tax, as they did initially in BC, it’s hard to work yourself up into a lather about it when the government can demonstrate that your overall tax burden hasn’t really changed. And, in all likelihood, what was at first mild opposition or ambivalence would eventually become support once people began to realize the benefits.

The inescapable reality we now face is that whether we tax carbon or not, the cost of emitting so much of it will only be going up from this point forward. Whether it’s coastal buildings washing into the sea or houses built near the edge of a forest burning to the ground, there’s no avoiding climate change’s toll. A carbon tax that disincentivizes the use of fossil fuels ultimately benefits both the environment and people. Hopefully, from now on national, regional, and local governments will learn from British Columbia’s example as well as France’s mistakes.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him at Medium.com

Jagmeet Singh: Cheating the Canadian Political System

Alexander Robak | Canada

Following the resignation of now-mayor of Vancouver Kennedy Stewart from his seat in the House of Commons, the seat has sat empty, awaiting a by-election. The seat represents the constituents of Burnaby South. Since September 14th, 2018, this seat has sat vacant. Therefore, the people of this constituency have had no say in federal Canadian politics for about two months. However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has yet to call by-elections for the four vacant seats currently in the House of Commons. The ridings in question are Nanaimo-Ladysmith, York-Simcoe, Outremont, and Burnaby South.

It makes sense that he would be hesitant to call these four by-elections. After all, not a single one of them previously held a Liberal Member of Parliament, following the federal election in 2015. The New Democratic Party controlled three of the seats, while Conservative Peter van Loan held the last. By-elections, hence, are unlikely to benefit Trudeau. Many believe, in fact, that his inaction thus far is meant to preserve the political benefits of empty opposing parties. If true, it calls the prime minister’s integrity int question. Will he let these constituents remain unrepresented simply because it doesn’t fit his political agenda?

The Burnaby South By-election

Of the announced candidates for this proposed by-election, we have Guy Champoux of the Rhinoceros Party, Jay Shin, of the Conservatives, and Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party. All seems in order, considering Trudeau has yet to call the election. However, one this simply does not make sense, when inspected with a cautious eye.

Jagmeet Singh is from Toronto, not Burnaby. He has only put himself into this by-election only because it is a certainty that he will end up in the House of Commons. Jagmeet Singh has never sat in the House of Commons, despite being the leader of the New Democratic Party since 2017.

It makes absolutely zero sense for the people of Burnaby South to elect Jagmeet Singh to their seat. It is meant to represent the constituents of that riding, not give a soapbox to a failing political leader. Jagmeet Singh is not from Burnaby South. He has no idea how to represent the people of Burnaby South, considering that he himself has never been one. He does not have the interests of these people in mind when putting his name in this by-election. That is for one simple reason: he has no idea what those interests are.

Jagmeet Singh: Not a True Representative

Singh is completely out of touch from the people of Burnaby South and their interests. In fact, Jagmeet Singh has spent his entire political career inside the borders of Ontario; he has not once been politically active in British Columbia. He is exploiting a by-election in an NDP stronghold, simply to give himself a soapbox to spread his views in the House of Commons.

In doing this, he is completely cheating the purpose of the Canadian parliamentary system. If Jagmeet Singh wins the Burnaby South by-election, the people of this constituency will not be represented. It will be like the election had never occurred at all, for the people will still have no voice.


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How Canada’s Shifting Political Climate Will Impact its Parties

By Brennan Dubé | Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada

Result Last Election

After nine years in power in Canada, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were ousted from power and were relegated to second place with 99/338 seats (down from 166 in 2015).

Where They Stand Now

Party leader Andrew Scheer has taken steps towards speaking out against Trudeau’s Liberal government but many brand him as Harper 2.0. This has proven to hinder his ability to form his own identity within the mainstream realm of Canadian politics. The Conservatives are currently trailing Trudeau’s Liberal party in the polls, but only by single digits, and a lot can happen in the next 10 months.

How They Can Capitalize

All across Canada, Liberal provincial governments are collapsing and if this can translate, the federal Conservatives should see this as a positive. In June of this past year, the Ontario Liberals were decimated in Ontario and the Progressive Conservatives took power for the first time in 15 years. Not only did the provincial Liberals lose, but they also fell to third place in the provincial legislature as they now hold a mere 7 seats.

In comparison, the Progressive Conservatives won 76 seats, the New Democratic Party (more left-wing than the Liberals) won 40 seats and the Ontario Green party won their first ever seat in Ontario. In late September, the provincial Liberals in New Brunswick lost control of their previous majority government despite pollsters placing their odds to win at over 80%. The Conservatives beating the Liberals in New Brunswick was very eye-opening as it is commonly known as a Liberal stronghold when it comes to national elections.

Quebec is a place where Liberals have held power in the provincial government 13 of the last 15 years also, but in October the right-wing party, Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), which was only formed in 2011, ended up winning a landslide majority against the Liberals. The CAQ took 74 seats, surpassing the 63 needed for a majority. The Liberals only managed to secure 31 seats, and a far-left party named Quebec Solidaire more than doubled its support from the last election and took 10 seats, tying for third with Parti Quebecois. This win for a conservative party in Quebec meant that a province which has been known to lean Liberal may now be up for grabs in 2019.

The Quebecers are against mass-immigration and have shown much reluctance to be accepting towards the Syrian refugees the Trudeau government has brought in over the past few years. Quebec has been a place that has posed many challenges for Conservatives in the past. If they are able to be more successful there, as well as in other areas like Ontario and New Brunswick where they have seen recent provincial level success, they can surely be competitive with the Liberals come election time.

The Liberal Party of Canada

Result Last Election

Following decimation in the 2011 election and for the first time ever a relegation to third place, the Liberals rebuilt in record time and by the time 2015 rolled around Justin Trudeau led the Liberal party to a majority government securing 184/338 seats.

Where They Stand

Despite approval ratings hovering around 40% and people on the left and right criticizing Trudeau and the Liberal government, they still manage to look like favorites early on heading into next October’s election.

How They Can Capitalize

Despite circumstances looking so poor for the Liberals, they look great. But how could that possibly be? On the negative end of things, the Liberals now face opposition from almost every province in Canada. Since being elected and forming government federally in 2015, the Liberals have lost leadership provincial in four provinces (British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick). Currently, no province from British Columbia to Quebec holds a Liberal government.

Moreover, Trudeau and the party have faced much criticism from both the right and the left-wing parties in Canada. The far-left New Democratic party has come out very hard against Trudeau criticizing the government’s recent tax cuts for major corporations and their decision in overriding the Canada postal service agency and forcing them back to work following a major strike. On the right, however, Trudeau has seen constant attacks from the Conservatives who are often critical of the Liberals every decision on social matters and carbon tax policy.

So how, despite the hate from both flanks, is the Liberal party still leading by 5-7 percentage points in most polls? The New Democratic Party is completely falling apart and new leader Jagmeet Singh (who does not hold a seat in the House of Commons), has not been able to reignite the New Democratic party’s energy that they had when they became the official opposition party in 2011. Even he has doubts about next year and many party operatives expect the party to get rocked in 2019, some even predicting they will lose half of their seats.

The Green party may benefit from some lost NDP support, but the Liberals will certainly benefit. The elephant in the room on the right end of the spectrum is Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada. The party is only a few months old but already has signed up over 35,000 members and has formed electoral district associations in 260 of Canada’s 338 ridings. Bernier’s plan to run People’s Party candidates in all 338 ridings is well on pace. If Bernier is able to get on the debate stage then the People’s Party will definitely continue its boom in support and continue to siphon off Conservative voters. The Liberals will potentially continue to benefit from the growth of the party and can be hopeful about their chances for re-election in 2019.

Another factor for the Liberals is Trump. Whenever Trudeau and Trump had their back-and-forth regarding trade over the summer the Canadian people felt a little more unified than usual, and Trudeau saw his approval ratings tick up. The more Trudeau looks like the leader to take on Trump the better for the Liberals as it makes Scheer and the Conservatives seem completely irrelevant.

The New Democratic Party of Canada

Result Last Election

Following their first ever 100 seat performance in 2011 when they became the official opposition securing 103 seats, the tragic death of party leader Jack Layton put them in rebuild mode. Liberals took much of their support in 2015 and the New Democrats fell to third place, as they won 44/338 seats.

Where They Stand

Current leader Jagmeet Singh is facing dark times as a leader. The party sits 20-25% behind the Conservatives and Liberals in most polls and some analysts believe the party will lose half its seats in the fall election. If the party wants to turn itself around in time for October, they must return to relevancy and change the narrative.

How They Can Capitalize

It was not even 8 years ago that Jack Layton led an orange wave across Canada that resulted in the Liberals falling out of the top two for the first time in Canadian history and it saw the New Democrats form official opposition for the first time in the parties 50-year history. A lot has changed in those 8 years, but not all hope is lost for the New Democrats.

Jagmeet Singh is youthful and when he was first elected as leader many thought he could rejuvenate the New Democrats, and he still can. Firstly, Singh must win his by-election which is taking place early in the new year. After this, he must lead the party back into the national discussion. He should take on Bernier, take on Scheer, take on Trudeau and take staunch stances against the Liberals to prove that his party is truly for progressives and hard leftists.

The People’s Party of Canada

Result Last Election

The party was announced by its leader and only elected official, Maxime Bernier, on September 14th, 2018.

Where They Stand

Former Conservative party leadership candidate Maxime Bernier decided to part ways with the Conservatives in August, citing the party was too ‘intellectually and morally corrupt’ to be reformed. Since September, the People’s Party has signed up a significant 35,000 members (15% of total Conservative party membership) and so far, have set up electoral district associations in 260 ridings. Bernier plans to have the party run candidates in all 338 ridings in 2019.

How They Can Capitalize

Bernier, the libertarian-leaning conservative who has sat in the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament since 2006, decided to start this party on the basis of forming a true conservative alternative to Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. Since its formation, the People’s party has not seen any other sitting elected officials join in, but this could be a good thing for what Bernier is trying to do. He stated that the party will use smart populism, and the rise of populist parties all across the globe as of late may give way for Bernier to pick up considerable support next fall.

Without any other elected officials joining the party Bernier truly looks like an outsider, and outsiders are becoming more and more successful in the age of anti-elitist election politics. While it is very unlikely that Bernier will win in 2019, the party has the potential to do some damage and become mainstream in Canada. To actually win a considerable amount of seats, Bernier must target more than disenfranchised Conservatives. The party needs to target independents and uninspired New Democrats if it wants to broaden its base and survive past 2019. The potential is there, the execution is what will await us.

The Green Party of Canada

Result Last Election

The federal Green party won a single seat last election marking the second time they ever did that. Elizabeth May and the Green party hope to win more seats in 2019.

Where They Stand

The Green party has always been significant in Canada, but never have they been so significant that they dictate hot topics during elections or challenge other parties for the government. They constantly get 3-4% of the popular vote federally while winning one seat each of the last two elections. Things may be changing: in 2017 the British Columbia Green party won 3/87 seats, which was good enough for third place.

They also managed to garner 16.8% of the popular vote in their provincial election. The 3 seats proved to be pivotal as the B.C NDP’s formed a coalition government with the Greens as they needed the Greens 3 seats added with their own to topple the Liberal government. This was huge for the Greens as they demanded hefty policy proposals before agreeing with the B.C New Democrats to merge to oust the Liberals.

In other provinces, the Greens have made major advances as well. In the Ontario election in June, the Greens won their first seat in provincial history in Ontario. In New Brunswick’s election in September, the Greens managed to win 3/49 seats and tally up 12% of the popular vote. Those 3 seats were the most they have ever gotten in New Brunswick history and it is important as it ended up resulting in the Liberals losing the election to the New Brunswick Conservatives. Also, in the province of Prince Edward Island (which is due for a provincial election next fall), the provincial Green party is leading the pack in the polls. While their lead in the polls is slim and still well within the margin of error with the Liberals, this is incredibly significant.

How They Can Capitalize

If the Green party of Canada can copy success from its provincial parties it can definitely make a splash and party history in 2019. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have been criticized by many progressives for not sticking to his hardcore liberal promises he made on the trail in 2015. If some of these progressives decide to throw their vote to the Greens as a protest then the Green party will see significant boosts.

The party is seemingly getting smarter with how it campaigns as well, and the Greens will be very regionally focused in 2019. To ensure winning more than just one seat the party will focus much of its advertising and campaigning in areas where provincial parties have done well. If this strategy pays off then the Greens can surely win a handful of seats and stun the Canadian political establishment come October next year.

The Bloc Quebecois Party of Canada

Result Last Election

The Quebec separatist party managed to win 10 seats in 2015, which is one of its lowest ever since formation in 1991. Quebec has a total of 75 seats, and the Bloc Quebecois famously only fields candidates in these 75 ridings.

Where They Stand

Currently, the party is in a state of destruction. In 2015, the party won 10 seats and its leader Gilles Duceppe stepped down. Since the 2015 election, the party has gone through massive turmoil. In February of this year, 7 of the 10 Bloc Quebecois MPs quit the party, citing disagreements with the leadership style of new party leader, Martine Ouellet.

Following this, those 7 MPs formed a new party, the Quebec Debout. Since then, party leader Ouellet has stepped down and the short-lived Quebec Debout dissolved as the MP’s all rejoined the Bloc Quebecois. As things stand right now, the Bloc Quebecois do not know who their leader will be for the election in October, they are set to decide upon a new leader in February. This will be their fifth leader since 2011.

How They Can Capitalize

The odds are against the Bloc Quebecois, and if the leader that gets elected in February is divisive, this party will be in danger of potentially losing every single seat they currently have come election day. The first step will be to unify the party in October. The next step needs to be taking strong stances against the Liberals and Conservatives. If the Bloc Quebecois can translate an image to its base that no other major party is listening to Quebecers, then they can broaden their base and bounce back in October.


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