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Catch 22 Campaign website shutting down

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Catch 22 Campaign website shutting down

Sent to all website members on February 28, 2015


In a couple of weeks, I will be shutting the website down. That's another way of saying (officially) that there will not be a Catch 22 Campaign in this year's federal election and I will not be registering a C22 Third Party with Elections Canada. The website was a campaign tool - one I'm proud of - but it was more or less obsolete the day after the 2011 election.  

I left the site active (at $25 a month) mainly because I wanted to see how politics would unfold under the Harper juggernaut. I think it's been an interesting - and sometimes exciting - 4 years in terms of the opposition to the Harper Cons.  LeadNow’s Vote Together campaign (with resources Catch 22 could never dream of) is working on a three-prong election plan that includes democracy & electoral reform along with the environment and inequality. There is a real, long overdue debate on proportional representation taking place in the Liberal Party of Canada. The NDP and Greens consider the election to be the referendum on proportional representation and will proceed in the next Parliament if they have the votes.

Given those positive factors, combined with the amount of time, energy and money it requires to mount a serious cross-Canada Third Party campaign. I decided not proceed again.

I also left the site up with all of its content - including detailed campaign plans and (sort of) internal discussions so that anyone thinking about these things for the next election could benefit from what others have tried. A lot of people put a lot of efforts into Catch 22 and our website and I remain thankful to everyone for that. 

Some of the innovative features we used on the website included:

  • Target riding profiles which showed how why we selected the riding
  • Target riding-level groups and other issue groups where people with common interests could gather and organize
  • Interactive google earth maps providing a visual display of the 2008 riding results along with poll-by-poll results
  • An online candidate endorsement process
  • Space for people in non-target ridings to discuss those ridings without losing our focus
  • Website membership and strict moderation in order to stay positive, stay focused and provide a safe, productive space for activists to have respectful, adult conversations.

 What does closing down the website mean for you?

  • First, we have your email address because you provided it to us when you signed up to the campaign website.
  • This message has been sent through the website’s “email blast” feature which will no longer be available to me. However, I will download a final list of email addresses, names and ridings before shutting the site down.
  • I may periodically send out messages. If you want to be removed from the email list, reply to this email and let me know or sign in to the website and delete your account.
  • I will not provide this list or any other personal information in my possession (including donor lists) to anyone although I may send out occasional messages on behalf of other campaigns. I have carefully observed our Privacy Statement over the last four years.
  • I will archive the structure and content of the website.
  • Your account will be permanently disabled.
  • Any content you may have contributed will no longer be available.

 What does this mean for the Catch 22 Campaign?

The Catch 22 campaign team effectively disbanded right after the election. The 2011 election was our sole focus. The Third Party wrapped up a few months later after we submitted our audited financial report to Elections Canada. Website traffic plummeted from 1,000s of hits a day to zero in just a couple of weeks.

Over the last four years, As an individual, I have used the Catch 22 website, email list and social media to promote several issues including NDP & Liberal party leadership races, Nick Fillmore’s One Big Campaign , Lead Now’s election strategy consultation process and theStop Election Fraud initiative.

As a Catch 22 “persona”, I will continue to moderate the Catch 22 Facebook page (which has over 2,000 likes). I will also continue with the Twitter feed. These are low-cost, low maintenance activities but I just want to make it clear that there is no C22 organization. It’s just me.

My work with Catch 22 has always been in the context of what I consider to be the strategic imperative of changing federal, provincial and municipal voting systems to some form or other of proportional representation.

I am working with Fair Vote Canada on its campaign to “Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election”. I would encourage you all to sign their Declaration of Voters’ Rights and join FVC if you haven’t already.

A few thoughts on strategic voting and electoral reform

“Strategic voting”, what others call “negative voting” or “tactical voting” is not an exact science. Nor is it rocket science. Nor is there agreement about what it actually is. Catch 22 identified our approach as “strategic campaigning”. Whatever you call it, in my view, SV is essentially the reverse-engineering of first past the post elections to swing enough votes to create a favorable vote split.

SV Checklist: Select target ridings. ID undecided, uncommitted “super-voters”. Identify issues. Make candidate endorsements. Deliver the message. Get out the vote. Do that successfully in enough ridings and voila, and the election might be "won". To do that professionally, more than a handful of volunteers sitting around a kitchen table as we did in 2011 are needed.

Catch 22’s basic premise was that the futility of the voting system with its privileging of ridings, parties and politicians over voters, required extraordinary efforts if we were to stop Harper. While Catch 22 wasn't able to have the kind of impact needed to help prevent Harper’s majority (we did reach tens of thousands of voters with robocalls and flyers), we did succeed in making the connection between strategic voting and our (antiquated, post-feudal) winnner-take-all voting system.

A lot more people get what split-voting is and what a 39% "majority" means, why it’s unfair to voters and why we need change. In my view, that makes the time & effort put into Catch 22 a worthwhile investment.

PR is a means to an end. It's not a panacea. It’s a tool that can be used to more democratically and productively address the ever-deepening economic, ecological, democratic and social challenges we face. No matter how hungry you are, you can't easily eat baked beans without a can opener. Whether you’re active in a political party or whether you plan to get involved with a strategic voting campaign this year to try and defeat Harper’s Conservatives, I hope that – in parallel - you will see beyond this election and demand the kind of electoral reform that will change the rules of the game and make strategic voting obsolete. 

You can read more of my views on the proportional representation imperative in this blog post I wrote in conjunction with last August's Peoples' Social Forum.


Gary Shaul

May 2013

Note: The Catch 22 Campaign officially ended with the May 2011 federal election. i am actively listening to what others are proposing, pondering the 2015 election but haven't come to any conclusions. 

Lead Now's Election 2015 Election Strategy

Gary's notebook

March 2014

The online advocacy organization Lead Now is proposing a plan for the 2015 election. They have initiated Connect - meetings across the country to give people an opportunity to discuss the plan and Lead Now's overall approach to effective campaigning and movement building, They've identified three broad themes: 

  • democracy / electoral reform
  • climate justice
  • inequality

I facilitated a meeting last night in Toronto attended by five people. We will provide our input to Lead Now and will see where things go. 

I'll have more to say sometime soon. 

February 2014

Thanks to everyone who donated to the Stop Election Fraud campaign. It's almost three years since the last election and there has still been no accountability or justice for the fraudulent dirty trick robo-calls and live calls meant to misdirect or turn off voters. 
The Conservatives have upped the ante with their so-called "Fair Elections Act" which will make it even harder to enforce or even report on election fraud. The Council of Canadians and Lead Now are both active on this issue along with SEF. 

One Big Campaign - A new project

Check out a new project:

‘One Big Campaign’ - continuing the fight against Harper Cons.

With every passing week of Stephen Harper’s destruction of the fabric of our country, more and more Canadians are following the development of the new, dynamic project, the Campaign to Build ‘One Big Campaign’ (CBOBC).

CBOBC is non-partisan and has been created by a small group of concerned, independent Canadians to help progressive organizations stop – or at least slow – the damaging advances of the Conservative Party and its irresponsible corporate partners. CBOBC will form partnerships with progressive groups and develop big campaigns to challenge Harper and others that abuse their power.The new group was launched by Nick Fillmore, one of the central organizers of the Catch 22 Campaign.  

CBOBC’s first project is a very active and edgy Facebook page that is facilitating debate on the most important issues facing the country. Visit their page by clicking here:

and, after you’ve had a look around, click on "Like "– under the On-to-Ottawa Trek, so that you too can take part in the discussions. You can see CBOBC's "mission statement" here.

Congratulations to Tom Mulcair

March 26, 2012

The New Democratic Party's leadership race is over. The membership have spoken and elected Thomas Mulcair as the next leader. Mulcair's main challenge is to defeat Stephen Harper in the next election and position the NDP to form a new government. He must build on the NDP's 2011 electoral success by holding on to Quebec and expanding support in the rest of Canada. 

Mulcair brings a number of strengths to Stornaway and Parliament Hill:

  • previous Cabinet experience
  • previous NDP (co)-Deputy House leader
  • well-known "native son" of Quebec and fully bilingual
  • excellent public speaker in both official languages
  • detailed understanding of the environment file
  • widespread support from the labour movement
  • demonstrated ability to build a positive, ideas-based campaign team
  • superior ability to think on his feet
  • willingness to carry on Ed Broadbent/Jack Layton's push for proportional representation to address Canada's "democratic deficit"

There are also a number of concerns in the progressive movement about some of Mulcair's policy positions and leadership style. Many of these criticisms were in the form of "sound-bites" which will stick unless he's able to pro-actively address them head on and expand his base. Issues of leadership style will be quickly demonstrated by the ways in which Mulcair builds his team and communicates with the party's rank and file. 

On policy, Mulcair can use his "honeymoon" to exchange views on these differences (or perceived differences) and to seek common ground with natural NDP allies who, as he said in his victory speech, are so important to the 2015 formula for success. 

Gary Shaul

Researching voter fraud

March 14, 2012

I am currently in the process of researching the financial reports of the Con candidates in all the ridings identified by the National Post in which complaints were made about either fraudulent or nuisance calls.

I also did a quick look at the financials for all the other registered Third Party campaigns in Canada. Guess what? Catch 22 was the only registered Third Party to use auto-dialing to deliver our message.
That means that all other auto-dialing (or phone bank) initiatives were conducted by either local party campaigns or central party campaigns. If the robocalling was outsourced to a Third Party, they did not register which is illegal if they spent more than $500. In the case of Guelph, we know that they did not list RackNine as a service provider. They did use two other survey/research suppliers.

See my latest blog post - Robocalling: One way to produce an "enemies" list for an overview of how the robo-calling process works.


May 3, 2011

See our initial look at the results below. We will be issuing an editorial on the weekend. A detailed report will be pulled together over the next few weeks. If you have any comments on the campaign, please email them to catch22campaign AT gmail DOT com.

Riding level results for the 2011 election are available at Elections Canada. 

The Catch 22 Campaign is registered as a Third Party with Elections Canada and is independent of all political parties, campaigns and candidates.

Key Info: Target Ridings; Campaign FAQ; Tips for new members

Catch 22's first look at the election...

May 3, 2011

This is a high level summary of campaign results in ridings identified by the Catch 22 campaign. Over the coming weekend, we'll publish an editorial. Then in a few weeks we'll put out a more detailed look at our campaign - strengths and weaknesses, what worked and what didn't etc. Once that is done, the campaign will be wrapped up.

Obviously, we did not get the overall results we were looking for. With less than a 2% increase in the popular vote, Harper was successful at boosting his seat count by 25 and forming a "majority" with the support of less than 40% of voters.

Here are a few stats from our campaign.

Number of ridings on Catch 22 list - 60

Number of first place finishes for opposition in C22 identified ridings - 15 (including 2 "too close to call ridings" won by opposition)

  • Number of Conservatives defeated from Catch 22 list - 4 (Surrey North, Saanich-Gulf Islands, Beauport-Limiloi, Pontiac)
  • Number of opposition ridings successfully defended - 11 (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, Welland, Malpeque, Burnaby-Douglas, New Westminister-Coquitlam, Edmonton-Strathcona, London Fanshawe, Western Arctic, Guelph, Kingston and the Islands, Random-Burin-St. Georges)

Number of second place finishes - 34

Number of third place finishes for Catch 22 candidates - 8 (Huron Bruce, Miramichi, Fredericton, Edmonton Centre, Brant, St. John, Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean, Montmagny-L'Islet-Kamouraska-Riviere du Loup)

Number of "too close to call" ridings won by the Conservatives - 3 (Essex, Kenora, Nunavut)

Number of ridings where recommendations were flat out wrong - 2 (Newton North Delta where the C22 recommended Liberal incumbent (31.5) was defeated by the NDP (33.4%) with Con right behind (31.3%). Both the Cons and NDP were within 10% of the Lib incumbent in 2008. Catch 22 should have stayed out of this one. In Montmagny-L'Islet— Kamouraska—Rivière-du Loup - the NDP beat the the Con by just 9 votes. We recommended the Bloc candidate to defeat the Con. after the Cons took it from the Bloc in a 2009 by-election. More on Quebec in the detailed report.


Catch 22 team



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