The Weekly Writ for Nov. 3

Liberals set fundraising record and Manitoba gets a new premier

Welcome to the Weekly Writ, a round-up of the latest federal and provincial polls, election news and political trivia that lands in your inbox every Wednesday morning.

Good morning everyone! So, today I’m trying something a little different — what I’m calling the Weekly Writ. While most of what I’ve written on The Writ has been long-form analysis, I also want to try my hand at a more newsletter-like service. And here we are.

The point of the Weekly Writ is to get you up-to-date with all the latest election news and political polls every week. No more following the bouncing-ball of poll releases, leadership news or election results — I’ll bring you up to speed. The Weekly Writ will also have snippets from the #EveryElectionProject and alert you to upcoming political milestones that you can use to stump your friends.

Admittedly, this is a bit of an experiment. So, I’m committing to this until the end of the year, at which point I’ll be looking for some feedback from readers. The first Weekly Writ of the month, like this one, will be available to both free and paid subscribers, but the others will be for subscribers-only.

I’ll continue posting my analyses in between the scheduled Weekly Writ on Wednesdays and The Writ Podcast on Fridays.

That’s enough of the preamble. Let’s get to what’s new this week, including new fundraising numbers for the federal parties (as well as in Alberta), a new premier in Manitoba and a P.E.I. byelection whose candidates have now been selected.

Election headlines

Conservatives lead fundraising but Liberals set a record

The third quarter fundraising numbers have all been posted by Elections Canada, and there was a lot of money raised during the election and pre-election months of July, August and September.

Altogether, the five parties (the People’s Party isn’t yet required to report quarterly, but will in the future) raised over $24 million in the third quarter, nearly as much as they all raised in the first six months of the year.

The Conservatives raised the most at $9,843,840 from 50,185 individual contributions, which ranks as their third-best quarter ever. The problem is that the two better quarters were the (also election) third quarters of 2015 and 2019, when the Conservatives raised over $10 million. It means Erin O’Toole did not match the fundraising of last-term Stephen Harper or his immediate predecessor, Andrew Scheer.

The Liberals came up second with $7,648,139 raised, but that is actually a new record for their party, just beating out the third quarters of 2015 and 2019 when the party raised $7.3 million. With 57,146 contributions, the Liberals also set a record on that score.

At $3,994,678, the New Democrats had their best quarter in six years. Only in the second and third quarters of 2015 — when the NDP was vying for government — did the NDP raise more money. The party also beat its third quarter results of $2.6 million in 2019 pretty handily.

Despite their leadership turmoil and awful election results, the Greens still raised $1,326,696 in the third quarter, their best result since the end of 2020. But it is well below the $2.6 million they raised in the third quarter of 2019 and the $2.1 million they raised in the third quarter of 2015.

Finally, the Bloc Québécois set a fundraising record of its own with $1,228,726, beating the previous record of about $960,000 from the last quarter of 2020 and more than doubling what the party raised in the third quarters of 2015 and 2019.

With $1.9 million raised so far in 2021, the Bloc has already beaten their 2019 record for annual funding. The Conservatives, of course, are still on top by a mile with $23.4 million raised in 2021, followed by the $14.5 million of the Liberals, $7.2 million of the NDP and the $2.7 million of the Greens.

With the possible exception of the Conservatives, it seems unlikely any party other than the Bloc will set annual records in 2021. The Conservatives need to raise another $7.5 million to beat their 2019 record of $30.9 million, while the Liberals would need another monster quarter of over $7 million to beat their best year of 2015. And the NDP? They would just need to have the best quarter that any party has ever had to catch their $18.7 million record-setting haul in 2015.

Heather Stefanson wins nail-biter PC leadership

With just 51.1% of the 16,447 ballots cast in the Manitoba Progressive Conservative leadership, long-time MLA and cabinet minister Heather Stefanson won the contest over the weekend and will be Manitoba’s first female premier (and the only female provincial premier in the country). She defeated former Conservative MP Shelly Glover, who took 48.9% of the vote.

Well, that’s one version of the story, at least. Glover is challenging the results, claiming there were irregularities in the count. She had also previously claimed that many Manitoba PC members were not sent their ballots and so were unable to vote and has even gone so far as to claim that “I am the premier”.

I suppose we’ll see what comes of this, though Stefanson was indeed sworn-in on Tuesday as the new premier. Wherever this story goes, Stefanson is not exactly leading a united party — by comparison, her predecessor Brian Pallister was acclaimed as leader of the Manitoba PCs in 2012, and Hugh McFadyen before him won the 2006 leadership with 67% of members’ votes.

For now, though, caucus support for Stefanson’s candidacy was nearly unanimous, so discontent, if there is any, might be limited to outside of the legislature. The Manitoba PCs need things to get back on track, as the last poll from the Angus Reid Institute put the governing party five-points behind the Manitoba NDP.

Still on the docket in Manitoba: a byelection in the riding of Fort Whyte, vacated by Pallister.

P.E.I. byelection has its candidates

Speaking of byelections, there’ll be a provincial one in the P.E.I. riding of Cornwall–Meadowbank on November 15, and the slate of candidates was set on Friday when the nomination deadline passed.

Businesswoman Jane MacIsaac of the Liberals will be trying to hold the seat vacated by Heath MacDonald, who stepped down as the MLA for the riding after winning the seat of Malpeque for the Liberals in the September federal election.

Mark McLane, executive director of Golf PEI, will be carrying the Progressive Conservative banner, while the Greens will be represented by writer and musician Todd MacLean. The New Democrats will be fielding UPEI professor Larry Hale.

This will be an interesting race to watch. The Liberals have won this seat, or its predecessor ridings, in every election since 1986. Even in the 2000 provincial election, when the PCs won 26 of 27 seats, this area held for the Liberals, when it was then known as North River–Rice Point.

It was a pretty solid win for the Liberals in 2019, with Macdonald taking 47.9% of the vote against 33.2% for Ellen Jones of the Greens. The PCs finished a distant third with 17.6%, while the NDP barely showed a pulse with 1.9% of the vote.

But the P.E.I. Progressive Conservatives have been able to overturn big margins since they’ve been in government. They won the Charlottetown–Winsloe byelection held in November 2020 with 49.1% of the vote, after finishing third with just 25.6% in the 2019 provincial election in the same seat.

Winning Cornwall–Meadowbank might be more of a challenging lift, especially considering the historical ties the seat has with the Liberal Party. But the PCs are popular in P.E.I. — they had 48% support in the province in the most recent poll by Narrative Research, compared to 28% for the Greens and 17% for the Liberals. The results might give us a hint at not only the strength of Dennis King’s PCs, but whether the Greens have truly eclipsed the Liberals as the alternative on the island.

Alberta NDP raising more money than Jason Kenney’s UCP

The Alberta New Democrats continue to out-fundraise Jason Kenney’s beleaguered United Conservative Party, according to third quarter numbers released by Elections Alberta.

The NDP raised $1.4 million, edging out the UCP’s $1.2 million. Since the beginning of the year, the Alberta NDP has raised $4.1 million, compared to just $2.6 million for the UCP.

No other party raised more than $100,000. The Wildrose Independence Party, third in most polls, took in just $54,000.

Dave Cournoyer, past guest on The Writ Podcast, has more details.

Quebec Liberals boot an MNA

Quebec Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade ejected Marie Montpetit from her caucus over allegations of workplace harassment. This comes after a public spat between Montpetit and Liberal MNA Gaétan Barrette over what she perceived to be the former health minister trespassing on her critic portfolio.

Montpetit represents the riding of Maurice-Richard, located on the island of Montreal. The Liberals barely won this in 2018 with 29.5% of the vote. Québec Solidaire, at 27.9%, came second and the riding is high on their list of potential gains. The Liberals could have used an incumbent here, particularly when the party is struggling in the polls. With a divided vote — the CAQ finished within 10 points of Montpetit — this will be an unpredictable riding in October’s provincial election, and now maybe shouldn’t be off the CAQ’s target list, either.

This week’s polls

Trudeau still tops preferred-PM poll

Not a lot of polls over the last few days, but we do have the weekly Nanos Research poll, which is a four-week rolling survey. While most of the data is paywalled, Nanos does publicly release the results for the preferred prime minister.

Justin Trudeau is well ahead of his rivals and is the preferred choice for prime minister of 30% of Canadians, unchanged from four weeks ago (Nanos’s previous independent sample).

Erin O’Toole has fallen three points to 21%, putting him in a tie with Jagmeet Singh of the NDP. Distance from the election campaign doesn’t seem to be hurting PPC Leader Maxime Bernier, who is up two points to 7% over the last month. Yves-François Blanchet of the Bloc takes 4% and Annamie Paul of the Greens (who is, amazingly, still technically leader of the Green Party) got 1% in the poll.

Trudeau has a leadership advantage over O’Toole. Last week, Nanos gave the Conservatives a one-point lead over the Liberals in voting intentions, but O’Toole trails here by nine points.

On this day in the #EveryElectionProject

Laurier wins his third consecutive election

November 3, 1904

Already eight years into his time as prime minister, Wilfrid Laurier was at the height of his power when he called the 1904 federal election. He had already beaten Charles Tupper twice (in 1896 and 1900) and the 1904 election marked what would be the first of four contests Laurier would fight against Conservative leader Robert Borden.

The turn of the century was a time of rapid economic growth in Canada and a boom in immigration that settled the West. Tensions between English and French Canadians had died down under Laurier and all seemed well in the land to the (white, male) voters eligible to cast a ballot.

The Liberals were rewarded with what would be their biggest victory under Laurier and, with the exception of the 1940 election, the last time the party would capture a majority of ballots cast. The Liberals took just under 51% of the vote and won 137 of the 214 seats up for grabs, the equivalent of winning about 216 seats in today’s 338-seat House of Commons. They swept Nova Scotia, Borden’s home province, and dominated both Quebec and Western Canada.

Only in Ontario and P.E.I. did the Liberals fail to win the most seats.

The Conservatives captured around 46% of the vote and won 75 seats. But, despite the defeat, they’d stick with Borden. And they’d stick with him again even after he lost a second time in 1908. That patience would pay off when he would finally bring the Conservatives back to power in 1911.

Milestone watch

Horgan moves up the B.C. premier rankings

On Friday, B.C. Premier John Horgan will surpass Mike Harcourt as the 13th-longest serving premier of British Columbia.

After the New Democrats won the 1991 B.C. election under his leadership, Harcourt served as premier from November 1991 to February 1996. He resigned in the wake of the so-called ‘Bingogate' scandal, in which NDP MLA Dave Stupich purloined funds from charity bingo games for his own use and the use of the B.C. NDP. Harcourt himself was cleared of any wrongdoing a few years later, but was a political casualty of the affair.

Horgan underwent a successful surgery this past Friday to remove a lump on his throat and is now recovering. Wishing him a speedy return so that he can take down Boss Johnson in the 12th spot next February!

That’s it for the Weekly Writ this week. The next episode of The Writ Podcast will be dropping on Friday. As always, the episode will land in your inbox but you can also find it on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel, where I post interviews from the podcast, election videos and livestreams!