Tag Archives: Guest Post

Trump Never Had A Chance

Guest Post by Chris Henderson

Seemingly every day, someone tells me that they’re worried Donald Trump will win the election. Aside from the natural anxiety that comes with a  potentially catastrophic (yet still remote) possibility, I really don’t believe Trump winning is even remotely realistic. Here’s why:

1. Trump has no ground game.

Every modern election is won on ground game. Candidates can’t rely on speeches and cable news appearances. They need an army of people and tools to reach out to millions of voters throughout the election, collect data and guide campaign decisions. This matters. It defines your strategy and it helps you convert voters on the margins – the ones that you need to help you win swing states.

Building this infrastructure is essentially the modern-day purpose of the US primary nomination system. Parties believe that the successful nominee will emerge with (and because of) a sophisticated and mature ground game infrastructure to head into the general election. Trump didn’t do this. He coasted on a unique mix of populism and the anger of 13 million voters to help him rise to the top of a diverse and crowded GOP nomination field. He went into the General with no ground game, he has failed to build one since. In fact, he’s been piggybacking on the (comparatively weak) Republican infrastructure to get him through. That was a bad strategy in the first place and now after the GTBTP (Grab Them By The *cat emoji*) debacle, that resource appears to be out of his reach.

2. This is not a professional campaign operation.

Professionalized politics starts at the very top – with the candidate. A candidate sets the tone, drives the policy and starts the strategy. They attract and retain talented staff to make it all real and turn it into votes. The campaign staff create diverse and smart opportunities for the candidate to go out and represent and augment that strategy and policy. While a candidate is in charge of the campaign, a professional staff will set limits. Professional campaigns do not allow candidates to rant on Twitter at 3am. They don’t allow a candidate to skip debate prep. They don’t film half-apologies at midnight. They don’t allow a candidate to spend a week fixated on a single non-campaign issue. They don’t allow the rest of the party to abandon its Presidential candidate. They don’t outright insult and alienate people like Mitt Romney and John McCain. Trump’s campaign is completely bereft of all of these qualities.

3. He’s checkmated himself with his own rhetoric and bluster.

Donald Trump has built a campaign on a style that attracts a large number of voters who, by and large, are disenfranchised with the direction of America and the type of people who have been traditionally tasked with leading it. That’s fair enough. And it was a smart strategy to win the GOP primary, especially with Obama in office. Applying that strategy to the General election has brought him within close to striking distance of a chance at winning.

Here’s his biggest problem. He needs more than this relatively reliable cohort to win. He needs to capture the votes of more moderate, independent voters who are mailable or undecided. With the stark nature of the offence in his GTBTP video, he needs to work harder to access those particular voters. But what he needs to do to access those voters threatens to alienate his original base of voters, which he also needs in order to win. They don’t want to vote for a guy that apologizes for “locker room talk.” That puts Trump in an impossible position that a talented, experienced candidate and team might be able to navigate out of – but, as discussed, Trump doesn’t have that.

4. He’s only been ahead for a fleeting moment in this election.

Take a quick look at polling aggregators. Only once – after the GOP Convention – has he ever been polling better than Hillary Clinton. And that peak was followed with his steepest decline of the last year. His polling has been over the place, but it hasn’t crossed Hillary Clinton’s horizon. And, at this point, it seems extremely unlikely that it will. Only the most charismatic, skilled politician could make up that structural polling deficit. He doesn’t have either.

These are all critical problems. Each of them would need to be rectified in order for him to be victorious in this election. No single debate performance, Clinton scandal, rally speech or publicity stunt can save him from these serious systemic problems.

Breathe easy – Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.


Chris Henderson has been working on campaigns since he was 11 years old. He once successfully convinced Dave Cournoyer to shave his beard. Today, he is a Strategist at Calder Bateman Communications.

Deron Bilous Payday Loans Alberta

Guest Post: How the Alberta government can reform Payday Loan rules

There are differing opinions on payday loans and the government of Alberta wants to hear yours. One thing is certain though, they are extremely expensive and targeted at Albertans living in poverty.

For many Albertans who need quick cash a payday loan may appear to be the only or best option. Seldom is this the case. On the face of it, it looks like a quick way out. This is exactly how the loans are marketed: quick cash with the loan being done and over with after two weeks. In reality this is not how it works. The average borrower takes out 8 loans before exiting the cycle.

Last week Service Alberta Minister, Deron Bilous, announced a regulatory review of payday lending. The review, expected to last through the fall, has started with an online survey, available until October 28. After Service Alberta analyzes the results they will lead in person consultations with lenders, borrowers, and other stakeholders to determine the path forward for regulation.

Payday loans are loans of less than $1500 with a term of less than 62 days. The average loan is $300 over 14 days. In Alberta, lenders can charge up to $23 for every $100 borrowed over the loan period.

This may look like a 23 percent interest rate, it’s not. It’s 23 percent for that two week term. In Canada, we compare the cost of financial products through the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) or annual interest. The APR on the average payday loan? 600 percent. Compare that to your credit card at 18 percent or car loan at 5 percent. No matter how you slice it payday loans are an incredibly expensive way to borrow money.

The people who go to a payday lender are largely the working poor but many borrowers could be receiving government benefits like Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped or Income Support. Bottom line: The people who can least afford credit are paying the most to access it. Income support dollars could be going to pay for payday loan interest. In Calgary, there are 82 payday loan stores, 69 of them are in high poverty areas of the city. Payday lenders know their target market.

So what can improve the regulations? Lowering the interest rates would be a start. Alberta has the second highest allowable rates in the country ($23 per $100). Manitoba charges only $17 per $100. This reduces the cost to the borrower but interest rates remain in the triple digits.

Another option is to mandate installment payments on payday loans. Currently, the full amount of the loan must be repaid in one payment. For many this means giving up the majority of their paycheque and taking out a new payday loan immediately to tide over the shortfall. Installment payments would allow for people to repay the loan over a longer period of time and so that payments take up less of their paycheque. This reduces the need for immediate re-borrowing.

What Alberta should not do is ban payday lenders outright. In the 14 American states where payday loans are illegal there is an unregulated industry of lenders who charge even higher rates. Not only this but choking off the supply of short-term, small dollar credit does not diminish the demand. Demand must also be addressed through competing products with reasonable rates of interest. This is already being done in Calgary with Momentum and First Calgary Financial offering a competing product to a payday loan, known as the Cash Crunch loan, which offers credit at a 12 percent annual interest rate.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what the provincial government can do to better protect consumers and regulate this industry. It is not only up to the provincial government to regulate this industry. Municipalities can regulate this industry through land use and licensing tools available to them. Calgary is already pursuing this, other municipalities can and have jumped on board, but not yet Edmonton.

Learn more about the high costs of payday loans, and policy options, here. Take the survey and let the Government of Alberta know what you think of payday loans.

Mike Brown is Public Policy Coordinator at Momentum, a non-profit Community Economic Development organization in Calgary. His work includes research and writing on developing a poverty reduction strategy for Alberta and research into payday loans and predatory lending reform in Alberta.

Advice for the next Premier of Alberta: Be Bold by being Boring

daveberta.ca

Guest post by: Anonymous

So you’re a new Premier, looking for a way to make a splash – to make the public forget about the previous regime. You could do something simple like reduce Cabinet to 20, which is essentially the size of Cabinet (Associate Ministers are not actually Cabinet ministers). But that’s not really bold. Bold would be to end the whole idea of creating ministries to fulfill or establish a political debt.

An issue rarely talked about is how cabinet shuffles increase costs, create inefficiency, and general serve little operational strategies, but political ones. Thomas Lukaszuk has alluded to it with the Jobs, Skills, etc ministry that was created to keep him happy about being demoted from Deputy Premier. But for the bureaucracy, the effect is real. There are divisions that have been shuffled 5 times in 6 years; needing to learn a new ministry, new corporate culture, rebuild networks and adjust to new processes. Why? So a ‘leader’ can fulfill a political debt, not to make for a more efficient or effective government.

To do something bold would be to reduce the number of ministries to 10 or 12, codify the departments in the Government Organization Act, and have any enactment past or future be tied to a specific department. The structure of government should be far more permanent than it is. This enables for more streamlined decision-making, and creates consistency for stakeholders and the public when interacting with government. It also reduces the number of senior appointments, reduces ‘make work” projects that come from a cabinet shuffle, like creating new websites, new letterhead, etc and it can consolidate internal services like finance, HR, policy, FOIPP and communications.

To me, the structure of government and ministries and any proposed changes to them should always receive the scrutiny of the House. Government structure is fundamental and yet its structure is set to the whim of the Premier and not the will of the House.

As a political benefit, this reduces the size of Cabinet, which inevitably improves the timeliness of decision-making. But what about paying back all those political debts? How does the Premier make sure Cabinet doesn’t run amok of what MLAs are hearing on the ground?

Committees can be a real answer. Being a committee chairman should have the same status as being a Cabinet minister. Some politicians are better in the executive and others are better in the law making. Effective committees can hold Ministers accountable, add more voices to the policy development process and ensures that the Legislature and not the bureaucracy is driving policy. Moreover, they give caucus a real means to engage in policy and keeping Ministers accountable.

Speaking of holding Ministers accountable, why is that a Minister rarely executes the powers conferred on him or her without checking in with Cabinet or the Premier? A leader allows others to lead, to succeed and to screw up. If a screw up is that bad, fire the Minister. And since you have a stock of experienced legislators, you have plenty of options to choose a replacement. Allowing your Ministers to use their powers frees the Premier to focus on the broad policy objectives, building relationships and to build the political machine.

Be bold by being boring. You’d be surprised how far it may take you in governing.


This guest post was submitted, on the condition of anonymity, by a hardworking member of Alberta’s public service.