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What if: America's four political parties – NBC News



WASHINGTON — New president, new Congress, same partisan divide, right? Already the familiar laments about the red/blue split in Washington have started and there are many signs those left/right differences are still alive and well. But as both parties deal with internal tensions, that simple binary color code might miss some important nuance in 2021’s politics.

The latest NBC News poll shows that both the Democrats and Republicans have clear divides within them as well and that could have real meaning in the months ahead on a range of issues.

On the surface the partisan identification numbers look very familiar.

About 4 in 10 registered voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic. A little less than that identify as Republicans or lean Republican. The remainder are what we call hard independents or simply don’t care to answer.

But dig into those two partisan groups a bit and the numbers change. In fact, four “parties” emerge in the data.

About 17 percent of those surveyed say they are Republicans who consider themselves to be mostly supporters of former President Donald Trump. Another 17 percent would characterize themselves as Republicans who are more supporters of the Republican Party.

And the numbers look familiar on the other side.

About 17 percent of those surveyed say they are Democrats who were supporters of President Joe Biden in the primaries. And another 17 percent of respondents say they are Democrats who were supporters of the further left-leaning candidates, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Yes, you read that right. That’s 17s across the board — all even. Of course, those numbers aren’t hard and fast. A different poll would likely find slight variances in the groups. And all together those numbers still leave about one third of the registered voters in the survey without a camp.

Still, there are clearly some real divides within the parties and when you look at other questions in the poll, they might have meaning in the year ahead.

Consider the way the two groups view the leaders of their respective parties at the moment.

That 17 percent of the poll that is made up of Trump Republicans doesn’t just like the former president, they are extremely enthusiastic about him: 99 percent of them give him a positive personal rating and 87 percent of that is “very positive.” To be clear, that is not a job performance rating; that is a measure of whether they have positive feelings about him personally.

Among the party Republicans, the number is still high, but a bit lower and not so solid. The “positive feelings” number drops more than 20 points to 78 percent and only 44 percent of that group is “very positive” about Trump.

For the Democrats, Biden has a similarly strong hold over his part of the party. A full 93 percent of Biden Democrats say they have positive feelings about the president, and 74 percent are “very positive.”

Among Warren/Sanders Democrats, the number drops. Just over 75 percent say they have positive feelings about Biden and only 27 percent say they have “very positive” feelings about the president.

There is some considerable daylight between each of the Democratic and Republicans groups. And those attitudes could shift over time as Trump’s post-presidency and Biden’s Democratic honeymoon periods wear off. Each party could find itself with some strong internal disagreements.

The fault lines between the segments become even more pronounced when you look at policy.

With Joe Biden in White House now and Democrats in control of the House and Senate, the question is where do each of these four groups stand on a Biden agenda. There are disagreements.

Among Republicans, the Trump part of the party is firmly against compromising with Biden in order gain consensus on legislation. Only 25 percent of the Trump Republicans favor that approach.

But party Republicans feel very differently. More than half, 55 percent, favor making compromises with Biden to gain consensus on legislation.

On the Democratic side there are also splits: 7 in 10 Biden Democrats want the congressional Democrats to work to pass the Biden agenda, while 20 percent of that group would rather “hold the line” for more progressive policies.

But among Sanders/Warren Democrats, the support for passing the Biden agenda falls to 60 percent, with about 30 percent favoring an approach that holds the line for more progressive policies.

Those are figures that at least suggest there could be some surprises in Congress in the coming months. They are not numbers that scream party discipline for either side.

Again, these data are from one poll and it came a very tumultuous moment. It was conducted from January 10th to 13th, just after the Capitol insurrection and before Biden’s inauguration.

But these splits are nothing new, they reflect divisions in the parties we have been tracking for years now. And the fact that these splits are this even and this clear as a new administration and Congress checks in may be telling. For all the social media chatter about a “civil war” brewing in America, these figures suggest the real story in coming weeks may be intra-party conflict.

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Liberals move to bar sanctioned Russians from Canada through immigration amendments



OTTAWA — The Liberal government is moving to ban Russians sanctioned over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine from entering Canada.

The government tabled proposed amendments to federal immigration law in the Senate on Tuesday to ensure foreign nationals subject to sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act are inadmissible to Canada.

The changes would allow the Canada Border Services Agency to deny entry to, and remove, people who have been sanctioned, and would enable Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officials to deny visas.

Once in force, the amendments would apply to all foreign nationals subject to sanctions by Canada, as well as any accompanying family members.

Since the start of Russia’s attack on Ukraine in late February, Canada has sanctioned more than 1,000 people from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Banning close associates and key supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime is one of the many ways in which Canada is holding Moscow accountable for its unprovoked aggression, said Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.

“We will continue to exhaust all options to uphold freedom and democracy, punish Russia, and support Ukraine,” he said in a statement.

In April, Moscow announced it was barring 61 additional Canadians, including politicians, journalists and military members, from entering Russia due to Canada’s actions against the country.

Russia had already barred many prominent Canadians from its soil.

Canada’s recent sanctions against Russians have been based on the grounds of a “grave breach of international peace and security” in the Special Economic Measures Act.

The bill introduced Tuesday by Sen. Marc Gold, the government representative in the upper chamber, would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to include these grounds and all others listed under the special economic measures law.

Foreign nationals who are inadmissible to Canada may have their applications for temporary resident visas refused or cancelled by immigration officials.

Those barred from Canada due to sanctions will still be eligible to have a refugee claim considered by the refugee protection division of the Immigration and Refugee Board, and will have access to a full pre-removal risk assessment, the government says.

NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said while it was encouraging to see the Liberals take action to bar sanctioned individuals, the government should work to get Ukrainians to safety quickly by dropping visa requirements for them.

In addition, New Democrats will continue to push the government to allow for sanctioned assets to be used to support Ukrainians, she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.


Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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Alberta premier to learn fate Wednesday in party review of his job performance



EDMONTON — Albertans are to learn Wednesday whether Premier Jason Kenney has enough support from his party to keep his job — but political observers say whatever the outcome, it won’t end the rancorous political melodrama.

“It’s going to be chaotic no matter what the result is,” political scientist Duane Bratt said in an interview Tuesday.

“(Kenney) has drawn a line in the sand that says as long as he wins (dissenters) get in line. Well, that’s going to lead to a purge in the party, either voluntarily walking, or him forcing people out.”

The United Conservative Party said in a statement it was going to count mail-in ballots Wednesday and announce results sometime in the late afternoon in a live feed on its website.

“We’ve taken extraordinary steps to ensure the security and integrity of this vote,” UCP president Cynthia Moore said.

Kenney’s office said that the premier was planning to speak about the results at the Spruce Meadows entertainment and equestrian facility in south Calgary.

The leadership review consisted of month-long mail-in balloting by as many as 59,000 party members on whether Kenney should remain leader.

If he does not get a 50 per cent, plus one, majority, he must step down and a leadership race called. Kenney has said if he gets any majority, even a slim one, he’ll stay on.

Normally, leaders set the bar of confidence much higher, at least three-quarters or more.

Former premier Ralph Klein left after getting a 55 per cent of the vote in 2006. Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford stepped down from the top job due to party pushback after each receiving 77 per cent.

Kenney has said this vote is different, that a lower number is OK, because the voting pool has been toxically diluted by two-minute members casting ballots to destabilize his government.

Bratt and fellow political scientist Lori Williams said Kenney and the party are battling not only disaffected members but trust in the review itself.

The party is still being investigated by the RCMP for allegations of criminal voter identity fraud in the contest that elected Kenney leader in 2017.

Documentation leaked to The Canadian Press indicates Elections Alberta is investigating the current leadership review over allegations of illegal bulk buying of memberships.

The vote itself was drastically altered at the last minute from an in-person, one-day vote of 15,000 members to a mail-in ballot open to all members. Critics say Kenney’s team forced the changes because he was going to lose the in-person vote. The party denies that.

Bratt and Williams said a low review number in the 50s would leave Kenney with a questionable mandate, while anything around 60 per cent or higher would prompt speculation the vote was rigged in his favour.

“I don’t see that this vote is going to settle anything,” said Williams.

“The divisions in the party and the province are profound.”

Kenney has been dealing with open dissent from party and government members for over a year over his COVID-19 health restrictions, a perceived failure to stand up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a top-down management style.

Todd Loewen, a UCP caucus member kicked out a year ago for openly demanding Kenney resign, said the UCP needs renewal and it can’t be done with Kenney in charge. The issue boils down to trust and Kenney no longer has that, he said.

“There’s no way he can win a fair, open, honest transparent leadership review,” said Loewen.

“If he gets over 50 per cent and stays, the party continues to splinter.”

Former UCP president Erika Barootes said she expects Kenney will get a majority, and said once that is done, it’s incumbent on the dissenters to decide once and for all if they are in or out.

Kenney, she said, has the experience and political skill to win a second term, adding that the party hasn’t a moment to lose given it’s facing an election in a year against a tough opponent in NDP leader, and former premier, Rachel Notley.

“(The dissenters) have got to respect that he won, and he needs to recognize that he’s not getting 95 per cent (support). So there’s work to be done,” she said.

Calgary-based pollster Janet Brown said, win or lose, Kenney is dealing with a sobering numerical reality.

“In 2019, Jason Kenney won the election with 55 per cent support from the general public,” said Brown.

“Three years later, and we’re speculating whether he can even get 55 per cent with his own base.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.


Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Ontario election: 4 ways Doug Ford has changed the province's politics – The Conversation



The dismal environmental record of the Doug Ford government in Ontario is well-documented. Despite some recent moves on “greening” the steel sector and electric vehicle manufacturing initiatives, the province is on track to see major increases in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from the electricity sector.

The government’s emphasis on highway expansion in the Greater Toronto Area is further evidence of this trend.

The Ford government’s record on environmental issues is an extension of its wider approach to governance. It has broken from the traditional norms of Ontario politics, which have emphasized moderation and administrative competence, as reflected through the long Progressive Conservative dynasty.

Looking back on Ford’s four years in power reveals four themes about his approach to governance — and what the next four years might have in store if public opinion polls are correct and he wins again on June 2.

Read more:
Why Doug Ford will once again win the Ontario election

1. Reactive governance

The Ford government’s agenda seems driven by instinct more than ideology. It came to power with scant vision for what a provincial government should do other than cut taxes, red tape and hydro rates. It’s struggled when confronted with more complex problems that required the province to play a much more active role.

The resulting governance model has been fundamentally reactive, and grounded in relatively short-term perspectives. The government has tended to act once a situation reaches the crisis stage, rather than identifying potential problems and taking action to prevent them.

This pattern has been most evident in the government’s hesitant responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. It tended to react to waves of COVID-19 infections rather than anticipating them and taking measures to minimize their impacts, even when given clear and consistent scientific advice to do so.

Ford arrives to a news conference at the Ontario legislature on the easing of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto in January 2022.

Issues like the environment and climate change are destined to do poorly under such a reactive governance model. They require taking action now to avoid problems in the future.

We are constantly reminded of this by the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and federal and provincial environmental commissioners. Only responding when problems have become too obvious to ignore tends to mean it’s already too late.

2. Creeping authoritarianism

The government’s run-up to the election has placed a strong emphasis on “getting it done” — it’s the Progressive Conservative party’s campaign slogan — in areas like housing and highway and transit construction, in particular.

The flip side of this emphasis has been increasingly aggressive exercises of provincial authority, particularly over local governments. One of the government’s first moves was to arbitrarily cut Toronto City Council in half. The province threatened to invoke, for the first time in the province’s history, Sec. 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, known as the notwithstanding clause, to get its way.

Read more:
Ford’s fight with Toronto shows legal vulnerability of cities

Ontario’s planning rules have also been rewritten, not only at the provincial level, but down to the level of site-specific development plans within individual municipalities, almost universally in favour of developers’ interests. Ministerial zoning orders — which circumvent local planning processes and public consultations, designating land use without the possibility of appeals — are no longer the exceptions they once were.

Instead, they seem the new norm for planning in Ontario. Broad powers have been given to provincial agencies, most notably the provincial transit agency Metrolinx, to build what are often poorly conceived and politically motivated transit projects.

The province’s most recent legislative moves have sought to further marginalize the roles of local governments in planning matters and to eliminate public consultation requirements as red tape.

The notwithstanding clause was ultimately invoked by the government as it pertained to its election financing legislation that seemed designed to silence potential critics.

Even local school boards were forbidden to adopt COVID-19 containment measures more stringent that those put in place at the provincial level.

3. Friends with benefits

While the Ford government has gone to great lengths to silence voices of critical constituencies, it’s been extraordinarily open to the voices that support it.

The government has demonstrated a distinct tendency to uncritically accept whatever its favoured industry lobbyists tell it to do. This has been evident in its approaches to COVID-19, housing and infrastructure, mining, aggregate extraction sites like gravel pits and quarries, energy and long-term care.

The overall decision-making model that has emerged is based on access, connections and political whim.

Small white crosses are displayed in a field with people's names written on them.
Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont.

4. Spend but don’t increase taxes

A final defining feature of the Ford government has been a tendency to disregard the fiscal consequences of its decisions. The focus instead has been on short-term savings for consumers.

The cancellation of the previous Liberal government’s cap-and-trade system immediately following the 2018 election cost the provincial treasury billions in forgone revenues. Hundreds of millions more were spent cancelling renewable energy projects.

Hydro rates are being artificially lowered through an annual $7 billion in subsidies from the provincial treasury, money that could otherwise be spent on schools and hospitals. The pre-election cancellation of tolls on Highways 412 and 418 will cost at least $1 billion over the next 25 years, while the cancellation of vehicle licensing fees will cost the province an estimated $1 billion each year.

A proposed cut to provincial gasoline taxes would cost nearly $650 million in annual revenues. And the projected deficit on the government’s pre-election budget was almost $20 billion, a record.

A man with blond-ish-grey hair in a navy suit speaks into a microphone, a large bulldozer in the background.
Ford makes an announcement about building transit and highways during an election campaign event in Bowmanville, Ont.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

All of this is at odds with previous Progressive Conservative governments in Ontario, which were largely fiscally prudent.

It isn’t clear yet to what extent the potential political success of a governance model organized around these four themes represents a fundamental break from the traditional norms of Ontario politics. If Ford wins again, is it due to the weaknesses of the alternatives being offered to Ontario voters, or does it signal a permanent realignment in the province’s politics?

Read more:
What Doug Ford’s shift to the centre says about the longevity of populism

Either way, June 2 could be a watershed moment in the province’s history, defining a “new normal” for politics in Ontario.

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