Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Things fall apart

The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats (1921)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre (1)
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming (2) is at hand;
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi (3)
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries (4) of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

(1) Spiral, making the figure of a cone.
(2) Second Coming refers to the promised return of Christ on Doomsday, the end of the world; but in Revelation 13 Doomsday is also marked by the appearance of a monstrous beast.
(3) Spirit of the World.
(4) 2,000 years; the creature has been held back since the birth of Christ.

Thursday, May 31, 2001

Wipeout scenario predicted two full years in advance

In May of 1999 the forerunner of Michael Geoghegan Consulting, (Barlee Geoghegan & Associates) released a polling analysis predicting that the BC NDP would win 0 to 4 seats in the next provincial election.

The study had been authored by Bernard von Schulmann. Since Bernard is a federal Conservative, there were some within the BC NDP who accused the study and the author of having a right wing bias. So for the follow up study we got none other than former BC Green Party leader Stuart Parker to author it.

This second polling analysis, which was released in May of 2000, again predicted that the BC NDP would win 0 to 4 seats. Then in May of 2001 the BC NDP finally called an election and, as per our prediction, they won only two seats. Both of them ones we had identified as being amongst the four the NDP were the most likely to hang onto.

Wednesday, April 04, 2001

The wipeout scenario just won't go away

The `wipeout' scenario just won't go away Vancouver Sun Vaughn Palmer

VICTORIA - It has now been two years since a consulting firm led by a disaffected former New Democratic Party cabinet minister first raised the ``wipeout'' scenario -- the possibility that the governing party could lose every seat in the coming provincial election.

At first the notion seemed unlikely, even un-British Columbian. The NDP, and its predecessor the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, had been a presence in the legislature since 1933, never winning fewer than seven seats through 19 consecutive elections.

But the report from Barlee, Geoghegan and Associates -- Bill Barlee is the former cabinet minister, Mike Geoghegan is his former aide -- was based on a detailed analysis of voting patterns and opinion polls.

And since their study was first made public in the dying days of the Glen Clark administration, the wipeout scenario has been raised again and again.

The latest portent is an opinion poll commissioned by The Vancouver Sun and BCTV and conducted over this past weekend by Compas Inc.

The survey found that, among decided voters, 66 per cent were going to vote Liberal, just 17 per cent for the NDP. The gap of almost 50 points indicates the likelihood of a Liberal sweep as well as an NDP wipeout.

For a long time, the Opposition Liberals refused to entertain the wipeout scenario publicly, perhaps fearing they would jinx themselves.

Party leader Gordon Campbell routinely predicted that the NDP would begin moving up in the polls and into a position to win at least some seats in the next election.

But in a speech Saturday to a gathering of the party's candidates for the election, Mr. Campbell put aside all inhibitions. ``Every single one of you is going to be elected,'' he declared.

His ambition is not without foundation. True, a political party can win seats in the legislature with less than 20 per cent of the vote.

In the last provincial election, the Reform party won two seats with nine per cent, and six per cent provincewide was still enough to give one seat to Gordon Wilson's Progressive Democratic Alliance -- his own.

But those were special cases, where the votes were concentrated in a few pockets of support. For a more broadly based party like the NDP, a 17-per-cent share would most likely be spread too thinly to provide a winning margin in even one constituency.

Most analysts say the NDP needs to climb into the mid-20s in the popular vote before it can begin taking seats.

While I continue to expect the New Democrats will come back enough to win some seats in the election, I can't point to any evidence to show it is happening. Nor do the other parties pose much of threat to a Liberal sweep at this stage. The Greens were at seven per cent in the Compas survey, the Unity party had three per cent and the Marijuana party was at two per cent.

All of which raises the possibility of an Opposition-free legislature. I think that would be a bad thing because an effective Opposition is an important aspect of the British parliamentary system.

But it did happen in New Brunswick in 1987, when Frank McKenna's Liberals defeated Richard Hatfield's Conservatives 58-0. Premier McKenna tried to provide a semblance of Opposition. He allowed the leaders of the other recognized parties to appear before legislative committees and later to pose questions to cabinet ministers from a post at the entrance to the parliamentary chamber.

But that was no substitute for an elected Opposition inside the chamber, and at the next general election New Brunswickers provided the real thing.

It's amusing to speculate whether it would take the full four years to produce a full-fledged Opposition in B.C. in the event the Liberals were to take every seat. It takes only four seats to gain official party status in the B.C. legislature, with the attendant salaries, staff and privileges. And unlike New Bruns-wick, this province has a recall law.

If shut out in the next election, the New Democrats might try to organize the recall of a few Liberals and then re-establish themselves in the house via the resulting byelections. Alternatively, the Liberals might take matters into their own hands.

The party is a coalition, after all, and its 79 MLAs would not likely agree on every issue. Any four of them might break with their colleagues after a time, form a new party and -- presto! -- restyle themselves as the province's new but no-less-official Opposition.


Thursday, March 29, 2001

Downtown parking treat

Times Colonist (Victoria)
I and my family had stopped shopping downtown years ago and wondered why. However the answer came a couple of days ago when I had reason to be downtown in order to attend a meeting.

Luck was with me as I pulled up to the curb and found a meter with 10 minutes left on it. Unfortunately, although I had plenty of nickels and dimes in my pocket and a couple of toonies, I had no loonie and only one quarter. I inserted the quarter which brought the parking meter up to 25 minutes.

I noticed a commissionaire walking by. I smiled as I assumed they made their rounds down a given street about once an hour. So half an hour later I returned to my car and found that a parking ticket greeting me on my windshield.

By my calculations I had been ticketed two minutes after the meter expired and three minutes before I returned to my vehicle. I marvelled at the hyper-vigilance of Victoria's commissionaires.

I then smiled, not because I am a glutton for punishment, but because I serve as a member of Langford's planning and zoning committee.

With downtown Victoria's breathtakingly efficient ticketing service I was reminded about why more and more shoppers and retailers are abandoning the downtown core in order to move out to the Western Communities.

As I drove down the road I spotted the commissionaire that I had given me my ticket. I honked my horn and yelled, ``Keep up the good work.'' He ignored me but I feel it always best to be pleasant. After all, although it is unlikely, I might run into him again, when I am shopping ... at the mall.