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January 12, 2006

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Election day most depressing of year
Vancouver Sun, Jan. 4
A U.K. psychology professor has created a complex formula to determine the most depressing day of the year, and for 2006 it is Jan. 23 - voting day. Simon Fraser University psychology professor Barry Beyerstein isn't so sure a formula can predict a day when every British citizen - or every Canadian, for that matter - might feel the most depressed. But he said there's truth to the notion that some people feel more depressed in the winter, and added there may be voters who don't want to talk to politicians, or others who may be too apathetic to vote on Jan. 23. “Depression kind of makes you feel like nothing matters and you can't make a difference. I would guess that if anything would add to the apathy factor, people might say, ‘What effect can I make?' and not bother to vote.”

How can we keep our best brains?
Globe and Mail, Jan. 2
The next age is here and its pervasive new technologies require huge economic and technical change. Almost a decade ago, economist Richard Lipsey argued that Canada needed to make deep and perhaps painful structural adjustments “as institutions and behaviour patterns that have worked for decades become obsolete.” Today the SFU professor emeritus concedes that everyone from governments to educators to labour leaders to private sector firms have come “10, 15, 20 per cent of the way along.” He adds, guardedly, “Changes have been made almost in spite of them. We are staggering along. We are going in the right direction but we have not got there. The federal Liberals have tried with some initiatives, realizing that governments have to encourage new technologies. I give them B for effort and C plus for performance.”

First negative ads appear: expect more
CBC News, Dec. 13
The first negative campaign ads in the federal election campaign have appeared - running in Quebec and targeting the Liberals - and some analysts say it's likely to be only the beginning. As well, the NDP has launched a series of ads asking Canadians to give the Liberals the boot for Christmas. Some political watchers say it can only have a negative effect on voters. SFU marketing professor Lindsay Meredith agrees that negative ads can be counter-productive. “Now we're going to vote for the party we presume will hurt us the least,” Meredith said. “Now, that's a pretty bad way to cast your vote. But in the end, it turns out voters are repelled from all people who are using it. Anybody who looks like he's in between and moderate and not part of that mud-slinging crowd may stand a good chance of walking away with some votes.”

Crime steals Canadian election spotlight
Agence France Presse English, Dec. 8
With guns and drugs headlining the news recently, law and order has become a sleeper issue in Canada's federal election campaign. Scores of young men have died this year in violent conflicts among gangs of ethnic minorities in the major cities of Toronto and Vancouver, prompting demands for better control of illegal guns. At the same time, a recent report showed that Canadian property crime rates have soared to among the highest in the developed world. In Vancouver, violence among Indo-Canadian gangs is behind the majority of 67 homicides. Law and order is an unusual theme in Canadian politics, but in this tight race, political scientist Doug McArthur of Simon Fraser University said it is “getting more attention than we've seen in the past” because polling “has shown a higher concern for public safety and local security.”

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